Oh, it’s been a while! After easy I was super-wrapped up in getting ready for vacation, and while in sunny Florida I didn’t open up my computer. I had too many other great sights to see, including:
(view from our beach chairs)
(view from our kayak)
(view from sunset cruise)
However, now we’re back and it’s time to get back into a routine. One of the toughest things about going away is coming back to reality. I’ve been having a tough time getting into it, and my healthy eating and exercise haven’t been where I’ve wanted them to be. But, I’ve got my camera battery recharged, my fridge restocked, and my heart rate monitor and sneakers out where I can see them.
Here’s to getting back into being healthy! (And trying to keep some of that vacation no-worries and relaxation feelings!)
One of my absolute favorite kitchen appliances is our Keurig. And since I tell everyone how much I love it, I figured I should post on my blog about it too.
Hubs & I used to be hardcore Starbucks drinkers – we’d go there at least 3 times a week (sometimes multiple times a day!) and get our coffee buzz. When the baristas knew us by name and drink order, we realized we might be overdoing it. Plus, I started tracking how much we were spending and it was RIDICULOUS! Really now, we could put that money to much better use.
When it came time that we were moving into a new apartment, one of the things I wanted to get was a coffee maker. Basic item, I mean, who doesn’t have one? However, hubs pointed out that he would never actually make coffee, as it involved using filters, measuring things out, getting the water in the machine, etc. I agreed, and realized that it may no be the best fit for us. Now, I have to give him full credit for suggesting the Keurig as I still had some hesitations. I wasn’t sure if it would have coffee varieties that I liked, how would I entertain and serve coffee to lots of people (even though we rarely have lots of people over), etc. Finally though I gave in, and am SO glad I did!
The Keurig brews each cup individually, and you pick your “K Cup” to insert into the machine to brew in your choice of 3 different sizes (our machine has that, but you can get a cheaper version that has only 1 or 2 brew sizes). We’ve gone through the variety box, and a few other flavors, and here are our picks:
- Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend (medium, smooth coffee with great overall flavor)
- Caribou Coffee Daybreak Blend (lighter coffee)
- Gloria Jean’s French Vanilla (good, although it doesn’t beat DD)
- Gloria Jean’s Hazelnut (nice nutty flavor)
- Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea
- Bigelow Earl Grey
Definitely a great buy and makes coffee and tea making (and cleaning up!) much easier.
Anyone else have one? Any flavors that you’d recommend?
Happy Hump-Day! This has been a tough week so far, so I’m very happy we’re in the home stretch. And although I love cooking, not having to do much this week has been a nice break.
Monday included a lot of leftovers from cooking Easter dinner. This was my food for the day, meant to get me through from 8:30am-5:30pm. Breakfast was the bag of Kashi & fruit, I had the pita chips mid-morning for a snack, the 3-compartment tupperware and fruit tart was my lunch, and the carrots and half the hummus were munched on in the afternoon. Now that I think about it, the salad and sugar snap peas are still in the office fridge…….need to clean that out!
Hubs isn’t much of a leftover kinda guy, so we went to an Italian restaurant around the block (we can walk there – love that!). He had angel hair pasta with grilled chicken, sausage, and arugula and I had penne arrabiatta (penne, hot peppers, mushrooms, spicy tomato sauce). Mine was SO good. So good in fact, that the leftovers (huge portions!) were part of my Tuesday food for the day. Yesterday I did eat everything I had brought with me, plus about an ounce of mixed nuts.
And apparently we can’t get enough pasta, and went out again last night (this time roping my parents who live nearby to treat us!) and I got the same thing. This time the leftovers were enough for both of us to have for dinner. I doctored mine up by serving it on a bed of spinach, and mixed some Trader Joe’s Chipotle Chicken Sausage into Hubs’. Verdict – mmmmm.
Hopefully I can get into a better pattern of photographing meals and posting them, but they’ll be a little sporadic, although definitely a few times a week.
Easter went great. There were a total of 6 of us, and we managed to squeeze into our apartment just fine. Everyone loved the food too, which made me very happy! Here’s what I served:
- Apps: Hummus with carrot sticks and pita chips; Baked Brie en Croute with Raspberry Preserves and Herbes de Provence Flatbread
- Salad: Organic spinach and arugula with roma tomatoes and evoo/lemon juice dressing
- Dinner: Baked Honey Ham, Steamed Asparagus, Boiled “Confetti” Potatoes (red bliss, yellow fingerling, and blue potatoes), Peas, Carrot Souffle, French Rolls, Cranberry Harvest Rolls
- Dessert: Trader Joe’s Chocolate Dilemma Cheesecake Assortment and…..Fruit Tart!
The fruit tart came out great, which is good, because it actually takes quite a bit of work. Here’s how I made it, with full recipe and proportions available here .
I started with preparing the Pate Sucree – this is a basic pastry dough, modified for sweeter dishes with the addition of egg yolks and extra sugar. A food processor makes this recipe a whole lot easier. You start with combining flour and sugar in the food processor.
Once blended, add 2 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Separately beat the egg yolks and ice water, then add to the food processor while it is running to create a well-formed dough. The dough should not be sticky, and if it is too dry, add additional ice water. Once dough comes together, remove from the food processor and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least one hour. You can also make the dough up to a month ahead of time and store in the freezer.
Next step….Pastry Cream. There was one thing that intimidated me about this recipe – it called for vanilla beans. I’ve never actually used vanilla beans before, but have seen others use it, so I thought I could handle it. However, when I looked for them at the grocery store I couldn’t find them! Turns out they keep the vanilla beans (and the saffron) behind the customer service desk because people steal them! Why do they steal them? Because they think that $15 for a jar of 2 vanilla beans is too expensive. Yea, I think so too, but I pay for them like I should.
First step for the pastry cream involves placing the milk, vanilla bean, and sugar in a pan to heat until almost boiling.
In a separate bowl. egg yolks are mixed with sugar, cornstarch, and flour. The cornstarch and flour act as thickeners to turn the liquid mixture into a creamier pudding—like consistency.
When the milk mixture is heated, you remove the vanilla bean and slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, while whisking constantly. It’s important to start off pouring just a little bit of the hot milk mixture, and then whisking to temper the eggs – this means bringing the egg mixture slowly up to temperature without scrambling them. If you just poured the entire hot mixture in you’d have some pretty fancy scrambled eggs.
Once everything is combined, you bring it back to the stove and heat until 160*F before transferring to a large bowl and whisking in a small amount of butter. Let this chill until completely cooled before using.
I made both the Pate Sucree and Pastry Cream yesterday, and put everything together this morning. First step was rolling out the dough (using my Williams-Sonoma French Rolling Pin and Pastry Board) – the recipe called for making a 9-inch tart, but I had an 11-inch pan so I made it bigger.
Press the dough fully into the tart pan and prick all over with a fork. Line with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans (ummm, I lined with foil and used a glass pie pan on top to weigh it down – tart ended up sticking a little to the bottom so my lesson is that I need to buy pie weights😛 ). Dough is then baked until golden brown and left to cool.
Separately, heavy cream is whipped with sugar to form soft peaks, and then is folded into the pastry cream.
Spoon mixture into cooled shell add berries, and ta da! The recipe calls for glazing the berries with jam, but at that point I was tired and went the route of powdered sugar – just as good.
Aaaaaaaaaand….instead of a traditional Easter basket, my parents brought an arrangement from Edible Arrangements . LOVE THOSE!!! It’s all fresh fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew & strawberries) made to look like flowers. Mmmmm, I’ll be eating this all week!
Sorry for the long post! Fruit tart is complicated😛. Hope everyone had a great weekend!
This morning was gross! Cold, rainy, and not very good for running errands – but a good morning for a nice, hot breakfast. I don’t usually cook eggs, but this morning wanted an egg white omelet. Unfortunately, I haven’t made one in a while and ended up making an “inside-out” omelet where the spinach and feta I meant to put inside the omelet, didn’t quite make it there! I also mixed chopped red peppers into the egg whites while they cooked.
Inside-out egg white omelet with red pepper, spinach, and feta; toasted whole wheat bread with raspberry preserves, Caribou Caribou Blend coffee.
Close-up of my omelet – I put the feta on top and then folded it again into quarters.
After breakfast, lots of cleaning went on around here. I’m hosting 6 people for Easter, even though our kitchen table only fits 4! My parents are bringing over an extra small table and chairs and I’ll just have to keep everyone in the living room until it’s time to eat! Can’t wait until we have a house (currently in a 1 BR apt).
Anyways, after breakfast I got up the motivation to go to the gym. Did my strength workout (see previous post) and thought about going for a run outside but the weather still hadn’t let up. Of course by now it has, but I’ve already showered and dried my hair😛.
Lunch was a quick one, some Progresso Lentil Soup and a half grilled cheese (cheddar on Oatnut Bread). I also tried some Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Green Tea with Mint – love it! I love unsweetened green tea, and the addition of mint gives a great flavor. This will definitely live on my grocery list this summer!
I still have more prep for tomorrow’s dinner to do, including making Pate Sucree and Pastry Cream for a Fruit Tart – look for those pics later today!
Ok, quick exercise background. I’ve always been fairly active and have pretty much maintained my weight for the past few years. However, I would like to feel more in shape and work on improving my strength and toning. I worked with a personal trainer recently to develop a strength program that can be pretty tough. I try to do it 3 times a week, but sometimes fall a little short. Here’s the program (all exercises are 12 reps, 2 sets, sorry if the name isn’t exactly right, but I know what they mean!):
|Leg press machine||no add’l weight|
|Step ups onto bench||8# dumbbells|
|Seated leg curl||40#|
|Front Raise on Bosu||3#|
|Side Raise on Bosu||3#|
So that’s strength….and I’m still crazy enough to think I’ll have energy to run some days too!😛 There’s a nice track nearby, so Hubs & I will go to it a few times a week. I have no endurance when it comes to running though, so I found the following program that I’m trying to stick to Runner’s World 10-week Training Program . I’m still on the first week, but glad that I have a program.
Tomorrow I’m planning on starting the day with a good breakfast (maybe some egg whites in some type of omelet) then hitting the gym. I’m hosting Easter this Sunday – menu to come! – so I still have lots of prep to do!
Hello blog-world! Well, after months of reading and commenting on other food blogs and wishing I had my own, I decided to do it. So, here I am!
I love food, and always have. I’m hoping that this blog will be as much fun for others to see as I’m planning on it being to create. I’m planning on blogging daily with information about food, health, and fitness and how it works into my everyday life.
Pictures and foods will begin tomorrow, so check back soon!