Rumblings Around the Web

Here are just a few things that caught my attention recently…

The Healthy Everythingtarian is giving away a blender – yes, a blender!  Enter this fabulous contest here.

Healthy Living, One Day at a Time is giving away an awesome Oikos package.  Here’s the link.

Check out Mel’s recap of Iron Cupcake Milwaukee: Beer.  I wish I could have been there to try the cupcakes.  Maybe Mel can slip me her recipe. 🙂

Here’s a funny clip of the interception given up by Favre last night.  (NSFW – He drops the f-bomb)  I think it’s pretty funny.  And, a bit bittersweet because it brought up the 2007 playoff game against the Giants.  (I was surrounded by Giant’s fans)  Bitter because that memory ain’t so sweet, but at least it wasn’t the Packers this time. 🙂  I think my reaction was, “There he is!  It’s the Favre we know and love to hate!”

I’d better get going.  The husband is attempting his version of Vegetarian Hodge Podge Chili tonight.  I’m excited.  🙂

What a weekend!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the *best* weekend.

Friday was going really well.  I visited my grandparents during the day, Dan and I met my parents for some Five Guys action and I actually found some clothes for teaching.  (I HATE shopping!)  We got home and took the dog out and *BOOM* – I fell on my butt on some black ice outside of my apartment and my ankle hurt like hell.

We went to the doctor the next morning and I suffered a severe sprain on my right ankle.  Thankfully, nothing is broken.  But, I’m starting to worry that the ligaments actually tore.  It isn’t really getting too much better.  (They told me I should be able to walk in 2-4 days, or there is something wrong)  I can put some weight on it, but it’s limiting me from doing anything but sitting on my butt.  I can’t drive because it is my right ankle, which really, really sucks.

And, to top it off – I start student teaching tomorrow!!  I’m going to hobble around in front of a class.  That’s just fantastic.  🙂

I always considered myself lucky that I haven’t suffered any leg injuries.  I have the shoulder pain, but I know lots of people are so limited by ankle and knee pain.  I didn’t want that to be me.  Hopefully, this heals well and I can continue biking and kickboxing.  I was really bummed this morning when I couldn’t wake up and go kickboxing.  It was going to be the last time before student teaching….  *sigh*

The husband has been taking really great care of me.  Making me dinner, getting me ice and pain pills and taking care of the dog.  He works today so for me to get around is a challenge – but I’m coping as well as I can.  Thankfully, the dog seems to be pretty tired, so he’s being somewhat calm.

My next mission is to see if someone can work for me tonight.  Crutches on a pool deck isn’t the *best*, is it?  I feel terrible because I was supposed to work this weekend at a swim meet.  I rarely miss work – so it is difficult.  If I have to go in, I’ll have to convince the hubby to drive me.  🙂

The good news of the weekend is that my sisters are home from their study abroad adventures!!  I’m so excited to hear all of their stories and look at their pictures.

I hope everyone had a better weekend than I did.  I apologize for the Debbie Downer post.  I’m trying to look at the bright side (Think of all the time I have to work on school stuff!), but it’s hard!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Mmm…Comfort Food

Hey y’all!

Just thought I would post quickly and share our dinner tonight.  Life has been a bit crazy with a lot of family issues and preparing for student teaching.  I can’t believe that I actually start on Tuesday.  I don’t feel ready at all – but I know I’ll get through it.  I get to start just in time for for the state of the union address.  I’m such a political nerd.

For dinner, we borrowed a recipe from Nicole over at Baking Bites.  If you haven’t checked out her blog, do so.  It’s full of lots of great information and recipes.  I’ve made her salted white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and they are to-die-for.  My husband just asked me, as he was reading over my shoulder, “When are you making THOSE again?”  I guess I’ll have to make them again soon…  🙂

Which brings me to dinner.  We tried Nicole’s chicken and dumplings.   It was delicious and pretty easy to make.  I would say it was super easy – but there was a bit of kneading involved. (Not a lot, though!) However, it was still easy enough.  🙂  It was filling and fits right in the “comfort food” category.  The husband almost ate the entire pot.  I guess it was a winner!

The only thing I might change is adding the thyme.  It’s just my own personal taste – I don’t really care for it.  I had it in another recipe the other day and I wasn’t too crazy about it.  I just have to come up with an alternative….

I hope everyone is having a great week.  🙂

A Total Loss

It’s been a crazy day in Milwaukee.  Overnight, a fire consumed a few local restaurants on the East side of town.  Consumed by the fire were the restaurants Pizza Man, Grecian Delight, Cush Lounge and the Black and White Cafe.  In addition to restaurants, there were apartments on the 2nd floor.  The damage has been declared a total loss.  However, thankfully, there were only a fewminor injuries.  The pictures are absolutely amazing – and there is no question that the neighborhood around the area will be changed by it for a long time.

I’m blogging about it for a couple reasons.  The first reason is that I love the neighborhood that it’s in and the personal connection I have to it.  I used to live a few blocks away and went to UW-Milwaukee (which is close – and most UWM students spend their weekends there).  My Aunt Jane lives only a few blocks away too.  If I spend any time in Milwaukee and I’m not downtown, I am on the East side.  (Which isn’t very often anymore…)  I’ve been to Grecian Delight and The Pizza Man before.  And, judging by the amount of devastated people that have commented on the night’s events on radio shows, Twitter and other mediums, there are a lot of connections to the area.  The bottom line is that the area won’t be the same – and it’s sad.

Perhaps the biggest reason why I’m blogging about the night’s event is because of my appreciation of local history and local restaurants.  And now, I’ve really learned that I have to practice that even more within my own community.  Chains should only be visited sparingly.  I’ve always loved little local restaurants and I think they’re a remarkable link between the community and the people within it.  Unfortunately, in the age of convenience and big chains, local restaurants get lost in shuffle.  I know I am guilty of it too – I go to Applebee’s and I’m a sucker for Panera and Starbucks.

However, when my husband and I go out of town, we  will not go to any chains.  We want the local experience.  When we’re in Chicago, we want real deep dish pizza – the original.  When I’m in DC, we will travel to U-Street just to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl.  It is so important to us, we will wander for a long time until we find something that’s acceptable to us.  For Valentine’s Day, my husband asked me where I’d rather go – a local steakhouse or a chain.  We like them both equally – but when it came down to it, we’d rather give money to the local business (no matter how cramped it may be).  🙂

Local restaurants are part of a community’s history.  They tell a story, and most importantly – they are part of a story.  The story of an area, a city – a small town.  It’s the story of how two people met, how a family spends time together or the best night you’ve ever had.  And, most of the time, they have some of the best food you’ll ever eat!

I encourage you to patronize local restaurants.  Go out of your way.  Don’t be afraid to walk into a strange place.  There may be a few duds (not everyone is perfect), but I think I can almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find something that you’ll talk about for a really long time.

This Stewp’s for you!

Well, today was another day of getting my butt kicked by kickboxing – which is awesome.  🙂  My foot started hurting again, but I just worked through it.  The hubby promised me a good foot rub – let’s see if he’ll deliver!  Tomorrow, it’s spin, weight training and possibly some walking or ellipticizing.  My workout buddy bailed on me today – let’s hope he shows up tomorrow!  (To be fair, his knuckles were bleeding after kickboxing on Monday, so I understand – a little bit)

For dinner, I thought I would make another soup.  Or, to borrow a word from Rachael Ray, a “stewp”.  I had a few things that I needed to get rid of in the freezer/fridge before they went bad.  I worked off of a recipe on allrecipes.com again.  But, it turned into my own after awhile.  Here’s what I came up with.

Beef and Barley Stewp

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 t salt

1 t pepper

4 – 6 cups beef broth (I mixed chicken and beef – it’s what I had in the fridge.  Add more or less broth depending on how thin/thick you like your soup)

1 1/2 cup chopped baby carrots

1 medium onion

1 t garlic powder

1 t dried thyme

2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce

1 cup quick cooking barley

Heat your dutch oven or large saucepan with oil.  Add meat, flour, salt and pepper.  Mix so the flour coats the meat.  (You can also place the meat, flour, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag and shake to coat.  I just don’t like wasting the bag.)

Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes – just enough to get a good sear on the meat.

Add a little bit of the broth and get any yummy brown bits off the bottom.  (Scrape with a wooden spoon)  When the bottom is clean, add the rest of the broth, carrots, onions, garlic powder and thyme.

Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 25-30 minutes (or until the veggies are almost cooked through).

Add the worcestershire sauce and barley.  Cook until the barley is cooked through (my barley took 10 minutes).

Serve nice and hot!

It was simple and yummy – and freed up a lot of room in my fridge.  I used about 4 cups of broth, so my consistency was close to a stew, which I happen to really like.  I paired it with some beer bread (see recipe below).  It was the perfect accompaniment!   This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Let me know if you decide to make it.  I want to know what changes you made.  What veggies did you add?   What didn’t work for you?  I want to know all the details.

Here is the recipe that my mom has created over time.  We love Pampered Chef’s beer bread, but it can get a big costly, especially when you consider what’s in it.

Mom’s Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 12 oz bottle of beer/can (Our family stands by our choice – the best beer for the bread – is, hands down, Leinenkugel’s Red Lager)

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients just until they come together.  The batter doesn’t need to be smooth.  Add to a greased 9″ loaf pan.  Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes.  Let cool.

Play with the sugar and salt.  This seems to be the combination that we like.  Some recipes don’t even call for sugar – just self-rising flour and beer.  If you don’t have self-rising flour, don’t worry.  Just add some baking powder and salt.  According to CD Kitchen, you can substitute – for one cup self-rising flour – one cup all purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 t salt.

Time for me to watch “Ugly Betty” and get a foot rub – hopefully.  🙂

Biggest Loser Challenge: Week 1

Hello All!

My first week on my self-perscribed “Biggest Loser” challenge was successful – a loss of 2.6 pounds.  I feel awesome about it.  I was still able to go out because I stayed on track at every other meal.  And I know that this is a week one result, I changed my habits drastically and I shouldn’t expect this every week. But, let’s hope the trend continues.  I hope I don’t have the curse of a “Biggest Loser” week 2.  🙂

For dinner, I made a new concoction.  For three servings, I mixed 3 Jenni-O turkey bratwursts (sliced), 2 cups of a pepper/onion mixture (from TJs), 3 servings of low-carb pasta, 1 1/2 cups peas and a little feta (I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but it did!).  It was pretty good and simple to make.  I was able to get away with not using any oil. I cooked the meat through and removed it from the pan.  It left enough fat to cook the peppers, onions and peas.  Meanwhile, the pasta was cooking.  After the veggies were done, I added the meat back in and warmed it up again.  I combined everything together and added a little feta to the top.  (I love feta and put it on just about everything.)

If I did my math correctly, it comes in at around 400 calories (per serving).  Not too bad.  It was nice and filling and tasted like it was about 600 calories.  I’ll take it!

Alright – off to finish “The Biggest Loser”!  My DVR actually taped it this week.  (I was devastated last week!)  G’night, all!

It’s a Sad Day in Wisconsin…

…because the Packers lost!  What a game, though!  I only watched the second half – which turned out to be the better half.  What a crappy way to lose a game.  Aaron Rodgers will never be able to get that out of his head, that’s for sure.  Bummer!  Now, if I don’t want the Vikings to win, I have to cheer for the Cowboys?  Gross.

On the outside of the Packer craziness, life certainly hasn’t slowed down.  I had my first full week as a new coach and it went well.  A little shaky because I didn’t know anyone – but it got easier.  I’m not quite sure where the time is going.  I thought I had all of this time before I started student teaching, but I only have two weeks!  Yikes.  I had better get crackin’ on those lesson plans.  🙂

The diet has been going pretty well.  I definitely didn’t get to the gym as much as I wanted to – but when I did go, it was intense.  Kickboxing and spinning can certainly get you moving – and sweating!  I think I found my Jillian – her name is Monica and she works at the club.  She’s the kickboxing instructor and she knows how to kick my butt.  I burned 600 calories in one hour!  I love it.  This week, I need to focus on getting to the gym a lot more.  I’m starting tomorrow – with Monica.  That will be a great start to the week!

Sticking to my calories has also been a little tough.  I really, really hate measuring (Yes, I know.  I have to do it!) and I just got a little lazy here and there.  And, we went out to eat twice this week.  I did stick to my calories on Friday because we went to Applebee’s and I tried another “Under 550 Calories” entree.  I love it when restaurants do that.  But, I’m not a huge fan of chains.  And, it’s difficult for non-chains to do that.  Oh well – I know there are healthy choices, I just have to find them.  🙂

Tonight, I made an Ina Garten inspired dish.  Overall, it was pretty yummy.  However, I need to follow it exactly next time.  I normally follow a recipe perfectly the first time around, but I didn’t want to spend money on fresh shrimp when I had some frozen shrimp in the freezer.  So, I had to improvise!

Here’s the recipe from the January/February 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine (pg. 95).  This is how it is written.  I added my notes at the bottom.

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp (Ina Garten)

Serves 6

2 pounds (17-21 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

Good Olive Oil

Kosher Salt & Pepper

1 pound angel hair pasta

4 T unsalted butter, melted

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place shrimp on a sheet pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Toss well, spread them in one layer and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, just until they’re pink and cooked through.

2. Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil in a large pot of boiling salted water water (Note: I skipped the oil), add angel hair and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes.  Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid.  Quickly toss the angel hair with the melted butter, 1/4 cup olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper and about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid.  Add the shrimp and serve hot.

Notes: I used precooked frozen shrimp.  I simply warmed them in a pan on the stove.  I think the dish would have been better if I had roasted the shrimp.  Oh well, next time.  🙂  I reduced the amount of butter to half.  The husband did think it was too lemony.  I didn’t mind it.  (That might be the Greek in me!)  You might want to taste as you go.  We also added some asparagus and some asiago cheese.

I really enjoyed the dish.  It was really quick to cook up – about 20 minutes.  It was nice and light.  The asparagus was a really nice addition.  I would’ve needed a lot more if I didn’t add it.  🙂

For dessert, I made some buttermilk pound cake.  I had to buy a larger container of buttermilk for a recipe and I wanted to find something to do with it.  It was a success!  Here is the link to the recipe.  (I apologize for the lack of pictures!)  I did make a small change – instead of lemon extract, I added almond.  I prefer almond and I didn’t have lemon.  I absolutely love pound cake – but I am limiting myself to one piece.  And, I’m taking the second loaf to my mother.

Tomorrow, I get to pick up the new-used car.  We decided on a Ford Focus – which I didn’t expect to do in a million years.  But, it was a fantastic deal – almost too good to be true.  It’s a little smaller than I wanted, but I can deal with it.

I hope your Monday is just as exciting!  Jackson says “hello”!  He’s still enjoying the snow.  🙂