Friday, August 24, 2012

A Week In Review

Song of the day:  Santigold - The Keepers

I've been trying to make an effort to:
     1. Make home cooked meals for dinner, and 
     2.  Actually make/do some of the stuff that I repin on Pinterest.

So far, so good.  Some things this week were more fun than others, but I tried something new, and that's the whole point, right?

FYI: Many of the links will send you to the 'pin' on my pinterest page, not the original page they are from.  Follow the digital trail to get the recipes, and repin!

     + Ranch dressing from Pinterest: The flavor is amazing!  And the decrease in calories is even better!  The problem is it's really thin and runny.  If you like a thicker ranch (like I do) I would recommend slowly adding the milk until it's the consistency you want.  I even put it in a mason jar that I had so it even looks like the pinterest picture!  Win!
     + Chicken nuggets and chips with honey mustard from Cooking Light:  I found this recipe in the September 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine.  It's easy enough, but very involved*.  The marinade of dill pickle juice and buttermilk made the chicken taste SO GOOD!  Apparently this is what Chick-fil-A does with their chicken.  Because of Kyle's lactose allergy, I used low fat plain kefir instead of buttermilk.  From what I can tell it turned out fine, and I'll be making this substitute for other recipes as well!  I think a combination of my microwave power, how thick/thin the potatoes were cut, and how much oil was on them all contributed to the sogginess of the chips.  I would recommend thinner than 1/8" and barely any oil.  I ended up abandoning the microwave and broiling them after the nuggets were cooked.  I then put the nuggets under the broiler to make sure they were hot and crispy right before serving.  The honey mustard sauce was really good, but I did add an extra tbsp of honey.  I know they're trying to be healthy so they use the minimal amount of sugar, but I thought it was a little heavy on the mustard.  Because the meal isn't something that is easily whipped together, I've dubbed this a "weekend meal," and trust me, we will definitely be making it again!  NOTE:  The honey mustard sauce does not keep well in the fridge overnight.  Make what you'll need for the meal, then make more the next day for any leftovers.
     * This is the meal where I set the plastic bag (that held the chicken/panko bread mixture) on a still warm burner.  Don't worry, the plastic came off as it cooled.
     + Catfish from Pinterest: About a week ago Kyle came home from the grocery store with catfish.  We put it in the freezer, and I wasn't really sure what to do with it.  Like many people, outside of batter fried fish, I'm not really sure what to do with it... and I don't even batter fry fish at home, I get that at Syl's (AMAZING).  So, like any good 21st century 20 something, I went on Pinterest and found a recipe.  SO SO GOOD!  We will definitely be eating this again!  Mine didn't turn out like the picture, but whatever, it still tasted amazing.  I also added 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper to the fish.  When I think catfish, I think a little kick, and it was definitely a good add.  SIDE:  I served it with quinoa and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

     + BBQ Pulled Pork from  What's not to love about a good pulled pork sandwich??  I used extra lean pork tenderloin because I really don't like trimming meat.  I used Sweet Baby Rays for the sauce base, and instead of 2 tbsp of mustard I used 1 tbsp yellow mustard and 1 tbsp dijon mustard.  I also added 1.5 (ish) tbsp worcestershire sauce.  Thankfully I read the comments before making the pork and I definitely agree that you should dump all of the broth after the pork cooks instead of just skimming the fat (keep the onions).  I was afraid that I needed some of the broth that I had already dumped, so I did add about 1/4-1/2 cup of water after adding the sauce to the pork.  AMAZING.  This is one of our favorite meals.  There's enough meat for leftovers and to freeze another meal!  SIDE: We served the pork on wheat hamburger buns from the bakery, and topped it with coleslaw from the deli.  For sides we had potato salad from the deli and steamed bell peppers and garlic*.
     *1 green pepper chopped, 1/2 red pepper chopped, 6 cloves of garlic halved.  Stir in 1 tsp of lemon juice, Salt to taste.  Steam in pan (add a little water so the veggies don't stick) over medium high heat.

     + Pistachio-Chai Muffins from Cooking Light: I've made these muffins before, but this time I used kefir instead of buttermilk (last time I just used milk) and I 86'd the pistachios.  So really they're just chai muffins.  I wanted to be able to give Elliot one without worrying that he'd chock on a pistachio.  I did forget to spray the liners before putting the batter in, so they stick to the sides a little, but not the end of the world (we all know the top is the best part anyway).  Elliot and I both had one this morning and they're so good!  Elliot thinks they're cupcakes, lol.  I did add the frosting (so yeah, kinda cupcakes) before the 5 min cooling period ended, so it ended up running all over the place, but having only a thin coating of sugar on the muffin is probably a good thing :)  I'm planning on making another batch and freezing them for quick breakfasts for the semester. 

Random Pinterest Ideas:
     + Morning Yoga:  I'm really trying to make an effort to at least do something every day.  I've been having really bad lower back pain, and figured one of the many "do this every day" yoga/exercise pins that I've re-pinned might actually work if I actually tried it!  I am definitely liking this routine!  I just do a plain downward dog in step 3, between steps 5 and 6 I added warrior II, and I also added a few child's pose here and there.  I did the routine three times alternating with some core/leg/arm workout/activities that I've taken from a few workout dvd's that I've done along the way.  Overall, my back isn't hurting as bad and I'm not as stiff in the morning, or throughout the day.  This is definitely something I'll keep doing.

     + Detox Bath:  I've been feeling really crappy this week because of a head cold that will not go away, so I really wanted this to work.  I did have a few ingredient hiccups, and I'm hoping that's why it didn't.  I didn't have plain epsom salt, I had Dr. Teal's Relaxing Epsom Salt (which is amazing, but not for a detox), but I figured since oils were also an option that maybe my salts would be a two for one kind of deal.  I also used the ground ginger option.  According to the website you should fill the tub with comfortably hot water.  I filled our tub, but as it was filling, the water got cooler, so I had comfortably warm water.  It also says that you should start sweating within the first few minutes.  I didn't sweat at all, which leads me to believe that it's the hot water that causes you to sweat, not the ingredients... or maybe the ingredients are activated by hot water, I don't know.  Either way, it didn't work.  I stayed in there for the full 40 minutes (while reading Twilight..... I know, I know... but I didn't care if the book got wet, or if I couldn't get to a good stopping point).  It didn't detox me, but I did smell good.

All in all, not a bad week of trying new things!  In regular news, on Tuesday I picked up my school books!  I also became "that person" who takes the free text books sitting outside the bookstore that the school is no longer using.  But the topics could be helpful, and they seem really interesting - one is meant for teaching students, "Teaching children to read and write" that will be a beneficial read!  My classes this semester are Introduction to Scientist-Practitioner (psychology), Research Methods (psychology), Principals of Behavior Modification, Field Training (psychology - I find out where I'm going on the first day back to school!!), and Ballet I.  I'm ready for school to start, but I'm nervous about how it's going to affect the kids.  One thing that I'm bummed about is they won't be able to spend the whole day together like they do now.  I don't know how that's going to affect their relationship, and it really has me considering in-home care (nanny).  But I wouldn't even know where to begin in finding a nanny, and worry about reliability.  

One thing that I'm trying to do to make this semester more productive cooking wise (last year we ate A LOT of Pizza Hut and other take out) is make meals that can be frozen.  I just ordered the cookbook "Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer" after seeing it recommended on Pinterest.  I'm really excited to get it!  One thing that I do hate though, is that a lot of quick and budget friendly recipes have cheese in them.  And not like, "top with cheese if desired" but "and throw 3 cups of 3 different kinds of cheeses into the bowl."  Kyle is allergic to lactose (no, not intolerant, anaphylactic shock allergic) so I can't make anything with cheese, because there's not really a GOOD substitute.  I know there's substitutes, but please, I'm from Wisconsin.  

This week it looks like I gained almost 2 lbs.  I'm not really sure how that's even possible, so I'm chalking it up to water retention and overall feeling yucky.  I took my measurements, and even though I'm "down" only 3 ish lbs, I've lost a little over 5" total (2 coming from my waist!), so I don't care what the scale says, I'm definitely changing for the better!   

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