Just a Casual Monday Night Dinner

I think I’ve mentioned I’m the weirdo who works out while staring at the Food Network.  It’s a double whammy, right? Not only can I probably not eat 90% of the recipes shown, but I’m the only overweight person at my pretty person gym. Whatevs. I’ve got my playlist bumping and the Pioneer Woman is cooking up some beef and a cake.  There’s only so much news and Sportscenter a girl can watch. 

This past week, I ended up watching Guy’s Big Bites, and he whipped up this delicious scallop and andouille sausage dinner. I’ve been craving scallops ever since. So yummy! 

I didn’t end up making that recipe, but I did wander into Whole Foods on Saturday, high noon, a wee bit hungover and starving after 18 hours without food. First of all, oops. Secondly, I’m normally prepared with at least some raw almonds, but I got caught off guard. What do you get when you wander into Whole Foods in these conditions? 

Two bags of random food and a much lighter wallet :



Let me be honest here. I’m a big Whole Foods fan, and I’ve shopped there very economically. This is done by checking out their sales flyer and building my meal plans accordingly. Steak on sale? Great. Do it. Buy the fruits and veggies featured, since they’re normally in season and at a great price. I got amazing organic apples for $1.30 a pound this week and omg they are insanely good. 

I also bought pre-made Cajun crab cakes and a third pound of giant scallops, along with some vegan chocolate treats, the Enjoy Life Chocolare Chunks for when I finally make those damn chocolate chip cookies, and a bunch of other stuff. Can I just blame the bagger for packing so efficiently? He was a gem. 

The weekend ended up being too busy for cooking, so I have had the best Monday night dinner ever. 

I left work a bit early to avoid a repeat of Friday’s near two hour commute home, but mostly so I could hit the gym. I parked my pink clad behind in front of HGTV and The Pioneer Woman (treat. yo. self.) and planned out my dinner.  And can I also mention how much I love the scenic hikes available on treadmills these days? I select my speed and average incline and they do the rest. I’m obsessed and wish my time on the elliptical was so fun. 

Back at home, I wasn’t sure how long to cook the crab cakes, but it turns out a sear on each side in my cast iron skillet then oven finishing at 350 did the trick! 



For the scallops, I followed Guy’s guidance, so even though I couldn’t cook them in adouille sausage fat, I patted them dry as can be, seasoned and plunked them into my buttery spread-filled pan. 



Look at that sear! So crisp and delicious. Two minutes each side and they are perfect. 

I also tossed up a super sprout salad (thanks Whole Foods) and I have a very happy belly. Lunch for tomorrow, too, because there’s no way to physically eat two crab cakes. They’re six ounces each and woo. I’m stuffed. 



The white sauce is a jalapeño and horseradish tartar. The crab cake was so tasty I barely touched it, but it was definitely delicious.  I’m pretty sure it’s the gluten, and next time I should probably make my own gluten free version. My cheeks are already flush. 

Now where is that magical elf to wash my dishes?  Please?  Sigh. 



I Bought a Mixer! A Hot Pink Kitchenaid!

Oh geez, so excited.  I think it’s from watching Pioneer Woman all through the holidays with my family.  She has a super snazzy hand painted version that costs $1350 smackers (does that include tax and shipping?) but I can work the fabulous hot pink with a glass bowl!  Does it match my kitchen?  Nope.  Any of my stuff?  Nope Nope Nope.  But it’s PIIIIIIIIINK and I love it.  Excellent price from our friends at Amazon, too.  I’ve been stalking it for a while and when the price dropped to an agreeable level, I pulled the trigger.

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She’s so pretty.  I’ll have to check to see if Anthropologie makes an owl cookie jar with some pink, just to tie it all together.  Three owl cookies jars isn’t enough, right?  Sigh.  That glass bowl.  The shine of the paint.  Love!  One of the guys I work with is a fierce baker in his free time, and he essentially said his Kitchenaid would have to be pried from his cold, dead hands.  He advised that I get one of the beaters with built in spatulas, and after my experiments this weekend, I agree! Not having to scrape the sides during the mix will be very helpful.

First up – pancakes.  PANCAKES!  My mom was a gem and made up little individual baggies of the dry ingredients to make gluten free pancakes.  And can I give you a pro tip here?  If you happen to run out of regular coconut or almond milk, and all you have is the tasty, tasty chocolate?  Oh, it’s delicious.  You will have gorgeous chocolate pancakes.  If you want to mix them with God’s Great Glory of Chocolate ‘Mega Chunk’ Chips (made by Enjoy Life Foods, available at my Target in the ‘hood as well as the regular grocery store in Springfield, MO) then you’ve got something SO GOOD. I might have added the part about God’s glory.

Not good for what it is, mind you.  Just good.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t add syrup.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of them.  What’s wrong with me?  I guess that’s how fast they went into my belly.  I just fell into a rabbit hole, didn’t I?  SQUIRREL!   And now I’m thinking about the equally delicious gluten and dairy free chocolate chip cookies mom made.  Again, just good.  Not good for what they are, just good.  It’s those damn chocolate chips.  They’re out of this world.

Anyhoot, here’s what my first batch of pancakes looked like on Saturday morning, right next to my much improved second batch:

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Julia Childs always reminded us to Not. Crowd. The. Mushrooms!  What a mess, right?  Clearly a disaster.  Well, I learned the hard way to not crowd your pancakes.  Also, use medium-high heat.  You’ll all be relieved to know that they were delicious once I figured it out.  I risked a gluten attack and used a tablespoon of my super amazing Woodinville Whiskey Company Maple Syrup.  It’s pricey, like all maple syrup that happens to be put into casks formerly used for making bourbon and rye and bundled into beautiful bottles would be, but it’s a worthy purchase.  Thanks Jason and Ben for introducing it to me!

Pancakes, check.  What’s next?  The three overripe bananas on my counter commanded me to find a recipe for Banana Nut Bread.  I made muffins because I figured that would be easier to portion out, and less risk of a burnt crust and raw inside.  They’re so good!  Here’s the recipe, thanks to the Civilized Caveman.

I had to leave out the cinnamon, which was kind of a miss, but the coconut oil was a great sub for butter and some organic peanut butter I had lying around from my experiment with gluten free bread (disgusting) worked too.  I might try to make my own gluten free bread, but it looks insanely complicated and I’m just not there yet.  Maybe another six months of watching cooking shows will inspire me.

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The crumbled up friend on the right is what you get when you try to dump out the muffin pan too early.  I only have one and wanted to get the next batch going.  I guess I didn’t sufficiently re-grease the pan and got a little aggressive when slapping the back of it. Oops.  I ate it anyway, and it made for a funny pic.

These little guys have been paired up with eggs and Applegate chicken sausage links for breakfast the past few days and it’s as good as can be!  Much more decent on the calorie content than I thought – 174 calories and 13 carbs.  Don’t ask me about the fat content, but you can take a wild guess based on the coconut oil and peanut butter.  At least they’re satisfying?  Plus they’re made and served with egg whites, which helps.  Kind of.

One more cooking discovery this week – Thai food!  Well, I need to explore it in a broader scope, but Target has some Archer Farm dinner kits that didn’t have any of my allergens.  The panang curry was seriously delicious, and God bless coconut milk.  I have dinner plans with a girlfriend on Thursday, so I’m going to check into a few local restaurants and see if I can make that magic happen out and about too.  I LOVE curry.  Both Thai and Indian food use a lot of coconut milk, so maybe if I avoid the paneer I can make it work.

Cheers!

Surviving New Year’s – Boozy Treats, College Football, and Cooking

Happy New Year, everyone!

This might be the first year I haven’t made any resolutions – I made all the bad behavior changes I cared to make in October.  For 2015, I resolve to give up beer!  Lasagna!  Bubbles and cheese plates!  Oh wait…already did all of that.  I will keep working towards my goal of getting healthy and feeling better, though, and I definitely need to bank more time at the gym.  I’ll probably find myself at the complex gym by the end of the day, because it is way too nasty to venture outside.  I purposely dressed in gym clothes today, all the way down to my kicks and sports bra, so no excuse to not go.  And hey…no hangover!

It’s been ages since I went “out” for NYE.  I’ve spent the last few years hiding out from drunks and crazies with Jason and Ben or hanging out with friends at their annual house party.  The party skipped a year, thanks to an out of town wedding, but luckily for me, Jason and Ben extended their Dallas visit and were in town!  Yay!  And with the doggies too, which is such a treat!!!  Love them.  Anyhoot, if I’m remembering last year correctly, Jason made homemade alfredo sauce, oodles of pasta and ridiculously good rosemary bread, and we no doubt drank many bottles of wine and other boozy treats.  None of that for me this year, but fortunately the boys were totally on board with my plan for steak, brussels sprouts with bacon and potatoes.

I rarely cook meat unless it’s in a slow cooker or warming up pre-cooked chicken sausage  (Aidells!  I’m addicted. Thank you for selling in bulk at Costco.)   Maybe I’m just paranoid because of my overly sensitive stomach, but I’m always afraid I’ll poison myself.  Cooking classes definitely need to be added to my developing list of hobbies.  My knife skills are atrocious.  Ask anyone who has spent thirty seconds in the kitchen with me.  I’ve been playing around with a new cast iron skillet, though, and thanks to my growing adoration of The Pioneer Woman, I made perfectly done steaks!  SO GOOD!

Cooking shows, what?  I know, I know…why torture myself with food porn?  It’s a fun new game where I try to redo every single recipe with foods I can actually eat.  The jury is permanently out on macaroni and cheese.  I’ve found excellent gluten free pasta, and the Daiya cheese is okay for certain things, but it’s just not the same, will never be the same, and I remind myself that I always felt like hell after eating it anyway.  So there.

You know what doesn’t make me feel like hell?  Bacon grease, at least in moderation.  Have I mentioned that the foods I can eat aren’t necessarily healthy?  And I swear I’ve consumed more salt in the past two months than I did all year.  That’s why I’m using the food tracker too – I love that I can see every detail and track what I’m really taking in for the sneaky things like sodium, iron, calcium, cholesterol, etc.  Frying bacon was an excellent way to continue seasoning my skillet, and it made for even more delicious brussels sprouts.  Sure, I should have roasted them, and I normally would (thanks for teaching me how, J!!) but what a nice treat!  Set those aside, sear the steaks for 90 seconds on each side and toss that skillet in the oven to finish.  Thanks again, Pioneer Woman!  I can’t just read a recipe, apparently, I have to watch it happen too.

So that was my NYE meal, and I’ve had excellent leftovers for football watching today, but where do the boozy treats come in?  College football without beer?  Toasting the new year without champagne?  Madness!  As for as liquor goes, distilling supposedly removes all gluten.  The Celiac foundation doesn’t agree, though, and I just don’t want to risk it.  Reading other blogs about gluten intolerances over the past couple of months has made me very leery.  Surrendering my beautiful bottle of Grey Goose L’Orange was painful, but it’s good in the long run.  Besides, I’m sure I can stock up on potato vodka next time I’m in Idaho, and I can even support (sort of) local business and drink Tito’s Vodka and Deep Eddy Vodka.  Win!

I’ve been a fan of Deep Eddy Grapefruit for ages now, and though I had to quit Deep Eddy Cranberry thanks to my sensitivity issue, finding substitutes has been no problem.  I was even fortunate enough to find two 99% corn distilled bourbons when I went to Nickel and Rye last month.  Such a good treat!  That said…alcohol is a well known inflammatory aggravator.  It’s a stomach and intestine irritant and increases gastric acid.  I already have enough issues with bad belly, nausea and throwing up, so I have to be very cautious about my consumption level.  Club soda is a good friend, though, and alternating a vodka/soda with a soda/soda keeps it pretty level.

Beer wasn’t a major loss, though I will miss going to breweries and trying craft. Oh, that chocolate stout at Icicle Brewery in Leavenworth! And a Guinness beef stew! For every day boozing, though, I’ve always preferred hard cider – generally gluten free.  Yay!  It’s packed full of sugar and will murder some calories, though.  Woo.  Other than the occasional Summer Shandy or Blue Moon, though, I haven’t had much beer in ages.  All of the Seattle sports teams sold cider in their stadiums and most bars have at least one on tap.  Easy breezy.

Speaking of sports…tough day for my Baylor Bear friends and a beautiful day for my Michigan State fans, but what an exciting game of college football!   I love a good come back against all odds, except when Baylor did it to TCU.  Bah.  At any rate, I’ll admit that quilting and drinking water at home isn’t quite as fun as watching at Buffalo Wild Wings with friends, but I certainly feel pretty good.  (And by the way, at BWW, have the naked tenders with mild or medium sauce with fries.  Not a “healthy” choice but gluten, soy and dairy free!)

Signing off for now – over the next week I’ll check in on cooking shows and substitution games, madness at the gym, dating adventures and of course, any more progress towards getting into my grad school clothes.  They’re in my closet in a plastic tote, just waiting for me to fetch them!

(p.s. – made another lucky stars quilt square today!  Showed Jason how to paper piece last night and I can’t wait to get to Urban Spools and use the gift card they bought me for Christmas on a new project.  I was so spoiled for Christmas!!!)

Cheers!