Category Archives: Food & Drink

Thanksgiving Redux

Last year we cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal for three. Neither Travis nor I had ever made a turkey or managed an entire Thanksgiving meal, and I documented that cooking endeavor here (along with a good tip about thawing a frozen turkey).

This year our guest list has grown a bit and we are hosting my parents, my aunt and my 87 year old grandma.

Here’s some fun family trivia:

My mom just had surgery. The kind that messes with your hormones.

My aunt is the classic first child. Bossy. Needs to be in charge. Opinionated. Put her in a busy kitchen with three more first-borns (AHEM – me, my husband and my father) and you’re guaranteed a good time.

My grandma is 87. She doesn’t travel anymore. Except when she is guilted into it by her daughter who just had surgery (AHEM – mom). She also has a preoccupation with her pregnant granddaughter’s weight. Yeah! Bring on the pie, G-Ma!

If you live in the Reno-Tahoe-Sparks-Nevada area and don’t have Thanksgiving plans hit me up. We’d love to have you at the hormonal napalm cocktail at our Thanksgiving meal.

I’ve been planning Thanksgiving since I found out we are hosting. The menu has been posted on our refrigerator and this week I realized, “Holy turkey Batman! Thanksgiving is next week!”

Time to get shopping/prepping/cleaning.

Here’s my menu with links to the recipes:

Appetizers

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms – Travis and I wing this recipe so I’ll post later.
Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup – I’m making this as more of a Thanksgiving lunch. Something to keep us going while we chop/Iron Chef/Pray our way through Thanksgiving.

Main

Roasted, Brined Turkey – I’m planning on using The Pioneer Woman’s Turkey Brine and roasting the same way we did last year.
Smoked Turkey – This is a family tradition and results in the most delectable, moist turkey. I’ll do a complete post on this bad boy.

Sides

Buttermilk Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes – I’m thinking about doing these in the slow cooker to save time and get them out of the way.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts Salad with a Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Sausage Stuffing – This is my recipe that I created last year. It was delish.

Dessert

I could buy these, but I’ve never made a pie and am looking forward to trying this year. Plus grocery stores are open on Thanksgiving. You know, in the event of complete pie catastrophe.

Pecan Pie – I started out with a Cooking Light Pecan Pie recipe and then I was all, “Really? You’re preggo and you’re going to skimp on the Pecan Pie this year?” Huh, no!

Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin Tart – I’ve got to get my booze in somewhere. Even if the alcohol is cooked out. Plus it takes the Grandma’s edge off. That and her special “lemonade.”

Dreamy Apple Pie – Another Pioneer Woman Recipe. I heart her recipes and her site.
This year’s menu is a little more complex than last year’s, but it’s not every day that your 87 year old grandmother, bossy aunt, recently hospitalized mother, kitchen Nazi father, and adorable extremely rugged and handsome husband gather for  a meal.

Another fun fact: As of this morning we are preparing for a blizzard! Woo-hoo! Come on out west G-Ma! You’re going to love it!

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A post for Camie

Tight Buns for Hot Jeans Contest Recipe of the Week

I’m still working on my fitness and I should have new results for you soon. I still feel great, even though our wedding is now 2 months away and is stressing me out and I’ve had a couple of really trying days at work. During these times I find that my body (and mind) feels so much better if I get into the gym. Funny how that works, eh?

Anyway, my amazing trainer Camie, started a contest for her clients and it’s based on results in the gym and tasks that she gives us weekly. This week’s task is to share a favorite recipe.

So, in hopes that I will be a contender in Camie’s Hot Jeans Contest, here’s my favorite fish taco recipe:

A couple of filets of a mild white fish (if you’re in the money go with Halibut, if not Cod or Tilapia will work just fine)
Cumin
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder
Salt
Pepper
1 Mango
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Red Pepper (diced)

1 tablespoon olive oil
A splash of lime juice
Coleslaw (I buy the kind from the store that has the coleslaw mayonnaise mix, probably the ingredient Camie will cut first)
Corn or Flour tortillas

Instructions

1. Thaw your fish. That kind of sounds like something a Mafia guy would say. Like, “I thawed his fish.” Maybe not?

2. Grill or bake your fish. If you’re baking then I recommend making little packets out of foil. One filet goes in one foil packet. Sprinkle the cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper over each fillet. You could season both sides if you want to be fancy like that. Or not. Whatevs. I bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. You know it’s done when you can flake the fish using a fork.

3. While the fish is cooking start preparing the Mango Salsa. Damn! You didn’t see that one coming did ya? That’s what they would call a “Secret Ingredient” on Iron Chef.

4. You’re going to need to dice a mango. I find this ridiculously hard as mango are quite slippery once they have been peeled. Alas, I use a vegetable peeler, peel the mango and then cut slices off that I later dice up. I try not to lose any fingers in the process. Put these mango pieces in a bowl. Add the white wine vinegar, diced up red pepper, lime juice, a little salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and put it aside.

5. Make your coleslaw. The directions are on the bag.

6. Add a little fish, a little mango salsa and a little coleslaw. You could also make some black beans if you want. Eat the tacos.

Wish me luck! First prize is a $300 gift certificate to Fine ‘n Funky.

The Great China Debate

I’m not talking about the country. I’m talking about dinnerware. Waaaay more important.

When we registered Travis and I had a big debate over registering for china. We went in to Bed Bath and Beyond thinking that we would not add china to our registry. After all, we are_not_the_type of people who need fancy shmancy plates. We didn’t imagine having a lot of dinner parties or entertaining a lot of family over the holidays. We are a wolf pack of two here in Reno.

But…..

Then I saw this:

Lenox - Chirp China

Lenox - Chirp China

And this:

Me love.

Suddenly, my thoughts went to dinner parties, garden parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, hosting family, friends, neighbors. Basically, I would invite anyone over who wants to eat off of my china. Anyone. Call me.

I don’t know what it is about the Lenox Chirp china pattern. It instantly caught my eye. I love how fresh it looks. How it’s traditional, but not.

I picture myself in an apron, preparing a Martha or Barefoot Contessa approved meal. Then I serve that delicious meal on my Chirp china.  I’m wearing pearls and my hair is in a curly bob. Fantasy? Hmmmp. I don’t even own an apron.

My sudden departure from the “China Plan” caused Travis some distress. “But we’ll never use it,” he said. “Let’s register for every single kitchen gadget and appliance instead.”

A lot of our married friends were all, “I registered for china and now I’m trying to sell it on eBay.” Or, “Oh, yeah, the china. It’s in the garage in a box somewhere.”

But, I’m a Capricorn, which means I am sentimental and love traditions. My grandmother had Lenox china that she gave to my mother. We eat off of it at Christmas and Thanksgiving. It’s an antique pink rose pattern. I aksed my Grandma Betty about it and she said that women in her generation would register for a set of 8 pieces of china. Then when they were throwing a dinner party they would borrow their friend’s china if it was in the same pattern.

See, here I go again with the traditions…sigh.

I totally get that the idea of fine china is a little outdated. People don’t really throw dinner parties the way they used to. I just can’t help myself. I love the idea of having an heirloom that I can pass on. This moment in my life will be a short, sweet one in the end. I want my grandchildren to imagine me throwing fabulous dinner parties and using this china.

Or maybe fabulous barbecues. Barbecue and fine china mix. Right?

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Sugar+Carbs=metabolic ecstasy. Really.

Is it strange that choosing our wedding cake may be my favorite wedding task so far?

We had a long list of cake and icing flavors to choose from. I was thinking of choosing something tropical and alcoholic (hello, rum cake), but then I had a revelation – coconut cake. Wait, it gets better.

Coconut cake with chocolate frosting. Oh wait, it gets even better.

Chocolate Ganache frosting. Wait – one more.

Chocolate ganache on the outside, chocolate buttercream on the inside.

Lets take a moment to let it sink in.

You like?

Yeah. Me too.

Here’s some shots of chocolate wedding cakes:

Cute, right?

Kind of has a Phantom of the Opera thing going

That looks creamy (I mean dreamy)

C'est Mangnifique

FYI – TheKnot has a great wedding cake gallery. Your welcome.

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Eat to Live

Have you ever found yourself up in the middle of the night watching a P90X infomercial? No?

Ok, let me give you an idea of what it’s like:

Tony Horton shows you how easy it is to look like a beach God/Goddess while about 1,000 buff, gorgeous people give testimonials about how they went from flabby, couch sitting, beer drinking fatties into gorgeous, toned, muscle-covered beauties. They even have before and after photos of themselves…in bathing suits.

I get sucked into this infomercial just about every time it comes on and it always peeks my interest. Considering that our wedding is a little over 5 months away I really wanted to start getting into better shape so I reached out to one of my old high school friends who had done P90x after having her third baby (yes, her third baby and she still looks as gorgeous as she did in high school!).

My goal was to find out if  P90x was really realistic for someone who hasn’t been to the gym since oh, I don’t know, October, could do P90x and not die. She shared that P90x is challenging and requires a lot of dedication – you work out six days a week for an hour or more.

But, this post isn’t about P90X. In the course of telling me about P90X my friend (shout out Diana!) mentioned that she had read a book called Eat to Live and that it had changed her perspective on food and helped her lose weight after that third baby. Being a glutton for any sort of diet/nutrition book, I looked it up on line, found out it wasn’t another fad diet, and went to Barnes and Noble that night to pick it up.

Read Eat to Live for more info on a nutrient dense diet

The Eat to Live plan is based on eating a diet that is primarily cooked and raw vegetables and unlimited amounts of fruit, with limited animal fats, oils and processed foods. The book is full of studies and numbers on the effect of eating a mostly vegetarian diet. There were some really positive studies about this diet’s effect on cancer, heart disease and auto-immune diseases. Some people have even reversed heart disease and auto-immune diseases. Being someone who suffers from an auto-immune disease, I am delighted by the idea of getting back to being really healthy, having to take less medication, and the idea that weight loss is a possibility.

Eat to Live has a strict six week plan that requires you to eat no dairy, limited amounts of meat, hardly any oil, and tons and tons of fruits and veggies. After the six weeks, you can slowly add things back into your diet while watching how they affect your body and weight. It’s a lot like an elimination diet.

First Week’s Results

After a week on Eat to Live, I can honestly say that I noticed differences in my body right away. I didn’t feel as much anxiety, I slept better and I didn’t have any stomach issues (ahem, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea – thanks Pepto Bismol for that nifty jingle that I can’t get out of my head).

I lost 2.4 lbs. and Travis lost about 4 lbs. We did cheat – having steak one night and going out for a weekend breakfast. The funny thing is that after eating the heavy breakfast we felt kind of gross immediately after. It wasn’t a good feeling so while we enjoyed the breakfast we were glad to have cheated and felt the difference in our bodies.

Recipes

I found that cooking more vegetarian meals is a new challenge. I’ll post some recipes later, but here’s a quick list of what I made last week:

  • Vegetable Soup (made with eggplant, cilantro, brown rice, kidney beans, and a whole lot of veggies)
  • Grilled Eggplant
  • Vegetarian Chilli (made with butternut squash, black, kidney and pinto beans, celery, mushrooms, and carrots)
  • Spiced apples in the Crockpot
  • A whole lot of salads

The Challenges

A week without refined carbs, sugar and dairy left me craving one thing and one thing only. Cheese. Probably didn’t help that we watched an episode of the Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network and the topic was cheese. Other than that, I didn’t find eating this way difficult. I like fruits and veggies.  I was never hungry and watching the scale go down was great motivation. More to come on this as we tackle the next five weeks Eating to Live.

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