Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Eating my Brussel Sprouts

Someone pointed out to me that I haven't posted anything in awhile, so I figured I would post something tonight and give an update.

I am still cooking and a large portion of my dinners have been located via Pinterest. I don't remember everything I have made, but I will give you some of the high points. First I should probably note that the Sunday before last I decided to try a wheat-free diet for a couple of weeks to see if I notice an improvement in allergies, energy, etc. I am not calling my diet "gluten-free" because I am really only avoiding wheat based products and gluten is often found in salad dressings and other such condiments. I don't have celiac disease, so I figured a little gluten isn't going to kill me. That being said, here are a few of the things I have been eating.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Black Olives, Garlic, and Feta via Food and Wine - I made a few alterations to the recipe by using Quinoa pasta to make it wheat-free and exchanging mozzarella for the feta and basil for the parsley. It turned out super delicious.

Quinoa Taco Salad via gluten-free goddess - I didn't really follow the recipe per se but used it more as inspiration. For my version I used some spring mix for my "lettuce" and added some quinoa on top. Then I added some black beans and roasted vegetables (corn, red bell pepper, and red onion), an avocado, and then topped it all off with some cilantro-lime dressing.

The dressing is something I just threw together, but it turned out delicious. I put about 1/2 a carton of sour cream in the blender along with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, the juice from one lime, and a bunch of fresh cilantro. I blended it all up and it was scrumptious.

I have been craving something sweet and through the magical search feature in Pinterest, I came across these PB 'Nana Cream Bites from the Nom!Nom!Nom blog. I was super excited since they are easy and look delicious. Unfortunately I have to report that I am not a fan. I like the three flavors together but apparently not when they are frozen. Next time I might just simplify the idea down to a cut up banana with some peanut butter and a few chocolate chips sprinkled on top.

Tonight I was feeling a little tired and not really in the mood for cooking "from scratch" so I went with a go-to meal that is easy to make in a pinch. Basically it consists of spaghetti, a sauce, and some additional ingredients. This is what I went with tonight.

Quinoa pasta + sun dried tomato pasta + black olives + artichoke hearts + fresh Parmesan cheese = YUM

I also added some meatballs that I had in the freezer  to make my husband happy. The meatballs are quick and easy to make and freeze well. I base the recipe on one from The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook. You can find the original recipe for the New Favorite Meatballs here. I follow the recipe for the most part - substitute fresh diced onion for the dried and then I change it up by adding different herbs. Sometimes I use fresh basil and other times I might go with cilantro. Anyway, it is a good base recipe to work from and you can change the flavor easily by just adding the herbs and seasoning of your choice.

And then as a side to the pasta, I served some sauteed brussel sprouts.

I think brussel sprouts get a bad rap. They are tasty and good for you. I challenge you to give them a try!

I kept this dish pretty simple. I cleaned the brussel sprouts by peeling off the first few layers of leaves and then cut off the bottoms. Then I cut them in quarters, sliced them in to little pieces and sauteed them in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil along with 2 minced garlic cloves and salt and pepper. They turned out pretty yummy.

So, those are some of the things that have been cooking in my kitchen lately. What have you been making?

<random side note>

Oh, and I have failed miserably at the decluttering goal I set for myself at the beginning of January.

<additional random side note>

BUT, I have been doing pretty well in my photography class. Here are a few of my favorites from the pictures I have taken so far.

You can check out the other photos on my portfolio page if you are interested.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hominy Chili with Beans Recipe

The other night I made this Hominy Chili with Beans Recipe via Pinterest and My Recipes. It was super easy and DELICIOUS! I amended the original recipe a bit by sauteing a diced onion, a jalapeno, and about double the garlic before adding the other ingredients. I basically doubled the recipe and added about half a can of chicken broth into the mix to thin it out a little, plus I added some fresh cilantro. I think cilantro pretty much makes everything better. I used two cans of diced tomatoes instead of stewed.

And the result was delicious. I am going to guess it is pretty low and calories and fat as well. The only "fat" used was the olive oil I sauteed the onion and garlic in. I had planned to add sour cream and cheese to it, but liked it without so I left them off. Quick, easy, and healthy. Can't ask for much better.

Random product shout-out - Costco has been carrying the brand S&W, and the canned tomatoes are delicious. They taste very fresh, and Costco usually has the organic ones for a decent price. I have gotten the S&W black beans from Costco as well and they are also yummy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Eclectic Mix of Thoughts

So, the other day when I dropped Dylan off at school, his teacher ran over, got him, gave him a hug and told him good morning. And I thought, at what point in education do teachers stop greeting their students and letting them know they are happy to see them? Middle school? High school? And more importantly, why do teachers (myself included) stop doing this?

I am not suggesting that a middle school or high school teacher hug each of their students as they enter the room, but standing at the door and greeting them goes a long way. When I taught in an actual physical classroom, I tired my best to stand at the door and greet student as they came in AND, I tried hard to let them know I was happy to see them (even if I sometimes was exhausted and didn't feel all that happy.) Occasionally I had to make a visit to the "facilities" during the passing period and there were times when my students said they missed seeing me at the door ushering them in. So, I KNOW they notice and that it makes a difference to at least some of the students and that makes me happy. I like to know that something as little as a, "Good morning," or a, "Hello," can perk up a student's day and put them in the mood to learn.

Enough about education, let's talk about food. :) I haven't been posting my daily dinners, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. So, let's take a look at some of the recipes I have come across on good ol' Pinterest lately.

Last week I made this pasta with tomato cream sauce via Pinterest and The Pioneer Women and let me just tell you this dinner was an EPIC FAIL. Let me just say that the recipe is good and I think had I actually followed it, our dinner would have turned out well... but I didn't. When I went to buy the supplies, the store was out of cream so I gt half and half. I also FORGOT to get fresh basil because I usually have it in the garden but it has died due to the cold. So, half and half and dried basil are NOT the same. Plus, I had a genius idea of trying rice pasta instead of my usual. Yeah, it was slimy and GROSS.

The next night I decided t make chipotle pork tacos with corn tortillas via Pinterest and Our Best Bites and they were okay. I followed the recipe exactly, but think if I make them again (which I am sure I will), I will ramp up the amount of adobo and not cook the red onion. I tend to like the red onion fresh. Although not a grand slam, these tacos are certainly worth a try.

And tonight I made roasted tomatoes with shrimp and feta via Pinterest and Real Simple. It was quick, easy, and pretty tasty. I served it with a mixed salad (spring mix, tomatoes, carrot, beets, and black beans) and fruit salad (apple, pear, grapes, and blackberries). Dylan has never had shrimp before so I wasn't sure if he would like it. It turns out he is a big fan. He ate EIGHT pieces of shrimp plus his entire salad and fruit salad. I guess I will be making shrimp more often.

I didn't even attempt to take photos of any of the food this week. Eh, whatever. I did, however, take pictures for the photography class I am auditing, and here they are. This particular assignment was to take some photos and then play with cropping using Pixlr. It was really fun and now I am a huge fan of Pixlr. It is a super easy and fun way to touch up your photos.

So, what has been happening with you this week? Make any good recipes?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Little on the Late Side

So, here is my belated post from Thursday's dinner. Wednesday and Friday we just had lefovers so I don't have anyting new for you there.

Thursday I decided to try the white checken enchiladas recipe I keep seeing come up on Pinterest. I'll go ahead and say, this recipe is not really my usual taste, but I thought I would give it a try and I new my husband would like it. The only thing he ever orders when we eat at Mexican restaurants is sour cream chicken enchiladas. So, I made these babies from Joyful Momma's Kitchen.

They looked and smelled pretty tastey when I pulled them out of the oven! And honestly, they were pretty good, but just not my thing. I followed the recipe exactly except for the addition of some black beans. If I were to make them again I would decrease the amount of sauce and I would add to the enchilada mixture - onions, garlic, and some spinach.

As I said, they were good, but they were too heavy for my taste. Dylan didn't like them either. He tried a bite and then opted for the green beans and corn I served as sides.  So, they got a mixed review at my house - Kyle enjoyed them; I thought they were okay, and Dylan wanted nothing to do with them.

They are worth trying if you like chicken enchiladas, but you might tweak the recipe a bit to make it fit your personal tastes.

On a random and unrelated note, Dylan and I drove to Iola, Texas, yesterday to visit my best friend since second grade (that's a long time, folks). We had a good visist and Dylan had fun playing with her kids and running around in their yard. Here are a couple of the photos I took while there.


What are you looking at?

That's a chicken folks!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Journey Through the Exposure Triangle

So today I did not attend yoga or do any other form of exercise. My head still hurts from my yoga debacle yesterday. Seriously ridiculous.

I also did not make dinner. We ate leftovers and finished up all of the veggie enchiladas I made on Monday. They heat up well.

Basically today I graded papers and did some planning. I have my first LiveLessons for three weeks tomorrow. The engaging topics will be reading comprehension practice for my remediation group and research paper plans, thesis statements, and citations for my LA 8 kids. Jealous?

I also did some learning. I completed my 2nd and 3rd assignments in the photography class I am auditing. Basically they were get to know my camera and some photography jargon. You can check out my responses on my portfolio page. We are working in Module 4.

After reading through info about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, I have decided I need photographers to write more simply. I have condensed my knowledge for you guys.

Shutter speed = how quickly your camera shutter opens and closes
Aperture = hole that lets light in
ISO = measure of the sensor's sensitivity to light

Anyone dare to guess how the above things effect the photo?

BTW - Tomorrow I am shooting for yoga, cooking dinner, AND completing the last two days of decluttering that I have blown off.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Collapsing Crow and Dinner

So I took time out to go to yoga today even though I was tired (didn't sleep well) and felt like napping instead. If you think I am going to say, I am glad I went. I'm not.
I had an awful class. I took the core class which is usually one of the easiest for me, but I guess my body WAS actually tired and would have rather I listened to it and took a nap. I know this because when I attempted my second headstand I fell... somewhat gracefully. And if that isn't enough, when I attempted Crow/Crane pose I fell forward on my head. Seriously, the front of my head. I'm not going to lie. It hurts. I did, however, get back up and finish the class because I am nothing if not a trooper.

I am hoping for some decent sleep tonight and a good yoga class tomorrow. We will wait and see how it goes.

Oh well, at least dinner was good. I made Creamy Broccoli-White Bean Soup today via Pinterest and Whole Living. I actually did take some pictures but they were awful, so I decided not to share them. :) The soup was VERY tasty. I changed up the recipe a bit by adding double the garlic and double the beans. I pureed part of the soup but not all of it because I like to have some whole pieces. I also just threw the broccoli in the stock because I didn't really see the point in steaming it first. Anyway, it turned out yum. I served it with a piece of french bread.

I did use the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese for garnish, and I can't believe I'm saying this because I LOVE cheese, but if you are trying to cut calories, I think you could leave off the cheese and not miss it. Easy and awesome.

Hopefully I will start taking some better photos soon since I began the online digital photography class I am auditing today. I did my orientation and made my online portfolio page. Yay me! Hopefully you will see evidence of learning happening there soon.

What did you make for dinner? Was it good?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Recipe Challenge Day 2 and Other Stuff

Today was my first day back to work in three weeks. Let me just say, I had a lot of grading and webmails to catch up on, but fortunately, I am a fast worker and am pretty well caught up now! Woo hoo! The kids start back tomorrow, so I'll have lots of calls to make as well as some lessons to plan. Today I got to try working while Dylan was home with me since his school was closed, and I did have to work past my scheduled hours to get accomplished what I planned to, but I did AND Dylan and I walked and fed the ducks (which I a counting as my exercise for the day) so all is good.

And now to the good part... food. Tonight I made Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas via Pinterest and Perry's Plate. I even took some photos (although the one's on Perry's Plate are better.) The finished version was quite tastey. I did deviate from the recipe a bit as far as ingredients go. I roasted the following veggies for my version - poblano pepper, red pepper, carrots, red onion, garlic, cauliflower, corn, and black beans. Here is a close-up of the pre-roasted beauties.

I used pre-made salsa, white corn tortillas, spinach, and a cheddar-jack mix for the after roasting step. I used more cilantro than the recipe calls for and added a couple of tomates to my salsa because I only had a little salsa. I think this would have tasted even better with homemade salsa, but I worked with what I had and the veggies I needed to use. I opted out of sour cream because I just wasn't feelin' it tonight, but I am sure it would be a tastey addition.

Here it is all melted and bubbly.

I served it with some fresh fruit salad (just cut up apple, orange, and strawberries) and called it a meal. This little guy enjoyed it, so I guess I did something right.

And in other news, I have a "lead" on one of my goals for this year. One of my friends asked me to audit the on-line photography course he has put together, and I jumped at the chance! I am hoping to learn some photography tips and tricks especially since I have been trying to familiarize myself with my dad's camera and its plethora of lenses.

Oh, and I am also following the declutter and organization plan over at My Simpler Life. Today's assignment was to set up a donation station which I already have - my garage (well a corner of it anyway.) The goal is to work consistently throughout the year to get rid of the excess I have and hopeful put it in the hands of someone who might need/want it via Freecycle, giving to friends, and/or donating to charities.

So, what about you? What did you do/cook today?