Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jambalaya and Hurricanes

By Natalie

I haven't set foot in New Orleans since '03. I'm ready to go back, but I will NOT be trying a hand grenade. Those babies are lethal.

I made Mel's Kitchen Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. It was very tasty. Feel free to have a heavy hand with applying the Chachere's.  After it was done cooking, I added the rice and let it sit together for about 30 minutes. This made the the jambalaya pretty creamy. Like Mel says in her post there are many different types of jambalaya. This one isn't very tomato-ey. If you love tomatoes, I think it would be fine if you add another can of Rotel. 

I had to make a Hurricane to go with it. There are many, many recipes out there for hurricanes. I just searched until I found one that I had all the ingredients. This is more of a summer hurricane. Here's the recipe I used:
  • 1 oz of Orange Liqeur 
  • 1 oz of Bacardi Rum
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 1 tbsp of lime juice
  • slice of pineapple for garnish
The whole time I was making this drink, "Here I am, Rock You Like a Hurricane" kept playing in my head. Too bad that's all the words I know......

I didn't wake up in time to go for a run. But, if you want to go for a run in these parts you'd have to wake up at 6 AM. That's for the birds. I decided to do Wii Fit yoga. The Wii was pretty dismayed that I hadn't been on in 177 days.

I'm not that keen about the Wii Fit yoga. I wish the program would suggest modifications.  That's what yoga is all about, doing poses at YOUR level. Also, it's pretty hard to have zen moments during this work out. I wish it had salutations or flows.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lemon Chicken and Quinoa Salad

By Natalie

We arrived home from Maui at 5:00 AM on Wednesday morning on little sleep and extremely jet lagged.  Micah got some sleep on the plane, I felt like I slept for about 10 minutes. It's a loooong flight and my foot was as fat as a sausage.

Nonetheless we had a hard time going to sleep last night. We probably went to sleep around 2 AM. I woke up this morning at 8:20. Quickly changed into my yoga gear for my class that starts at 8:30. Luckily my gym is so close, and takes about a minute to get there.

After yoga I went to Target for some grocery shopping and then later I went to Sprouts to get produce and meat. I'm really making life hard by going to 2 grocery stores in one day.

Work Out
Two weeks ago my knee became very sore after my yoga class. I don't think it was my yoga class, but maybe the running that I did the days before.  I've been taking it easy for 2 weeks. So sad. I ran 2 miles on the beach and felt pretty good. This morning when I woke up I felt a little sore, which is probably due in part to the flight.  Yoga is so awesome for stretching! The instructor always asks if anyone is hurting before she starts the class. I told her about my knee, and she checked in frequently with me during class. It was great. I'm feeling good now!

I made Lemon Chicken and Quinoa Salad. It was really flavorful. I doubled the lemon (on accident). I put 2 tbsp lemon juice in the pot to boil, and then added 2 more tbsp after the quinoa was cooked. It was pretty tasty this way! Quinoa didn't photograph well, it's tastier than it looks!
Since I'm still missing Maui I made a skinny pina colada, which is actually not that skinny. It is about 140 calories, but I made a double batch. It was a little strong to me, so I added more pineapple juice. I bought the coconut water at Sprouts. They have several different kinds. I've had coconut water out of a real coconut, and did not like it AT ALL.  But, this was actually tasty.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Currently Coveting at the Limited

By Natalie

I went to Collin Creek mall in Plano. That mall is sliding down hill at a very rapid pace. The Ann Taylor Loft and Gap have closed down and been replaced with no name stores. I went into the Limited not expecting much. But, everything at the Limited is 40% off. I wanted so many things, but I showed restraint! The Limited is my secret weapon sometimes for finding cocktail dresses on sale. Except, I have no need for a cocktail dress at the moment.

I want this dress

and this ruffle tank

Oh, and this top is nice too! I wouldn't tuck it in....

Harry Potter

By Natalie
Mom came over early to help me finish painting the inside of the game room. Glad I have her around to paint doors. Doors are super tricky!
She's glad that I have her around, because I've fed her lunch 3 days this week. I packed us a picnic lunch with delicious sandwiches, green apple, chips, and Dove Promises. We headed up to the theater one and half hours early to wait in line for Harry Potter. I bought the tickets online a few days ago, but I needed to pick them up at the box office. We arrive at 12:30 and there really wasn't a line. I can't believe it! I thought it was going to be packed! We go to Barnes & Noble and eat our lunch then head back over to the theater at 1:00. We wait outside of the theater in the AC for about 30 minutes. We watch all the boring "First Look" previews and commercials. Except mom fell in love with the new dolphin movie that has a prosthesis. The previews are about to start and the projector turns off and the lights come on.  We wait around 11 minutes, and then they give us free passes. After a few more minutes they parade us over to the 3D movie, and finally we get to watch the movie. The movies was great. I'm sad the series is over, and Voldermort is dead! Hooray!

Mom and Dad recently received a Big Green Egg.  Soon everyone will in the family will have one. Mom wanted to make a brisket, and  Dad was in charge of inviting everyone over. We had brisket, salad, new potatoes, and corn on the cob.  For dessert Katy made snickerdoodle blonde brownies (they are as good as they sound) and peanut butter cup cookies (equally amazing). Micah brought over some key lime pie ice cream. We left the ice cream over at mom's house, now we won't be in charge of eating it all.
 I got to see sweet baby Harper. She was mesmerized by her new lady bug shoes. Scott didn't even realize she was in the car because she was quiet and staring at her shoes.
 Mom picked figs from her yard. She was braver than us all and tasted one right off the ground! What should she make with the fresh figs?

Mom and Dad's dogs:
Ace, fearful of thunder, and great at posing for pictures.
 Dax, I could only catch the tail end! He has a helicopter tail.

Barley has some company this weekend. His dear friend Drago came over. He loves Drago. Barley looks so vicious when he's playing with Drago. I've never seen his teeth come out like that!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Painting at the Break of Dawn and Brisket Tacos

By Natalie

I awoke at 6:09 AM without an alarm clock, and put in my contacts. I changed into my painting clothes, and went outside and started painting the 2nd coat and the door. The sun was coming up as I was starting to paint. Painting doors is tough, especially for a terrible painter like myself.

When I had finished painting I was washing the paint brushes and rollers in the backyard, and Micah comes tearing out of the house. He thought a pipe had burst. I guess he didn't even realize I was already out of bed painting the house like a mad woman.

Work Out
I met Brandi at LA Fitness for yoga class. We worked on our hips. My legs are sore, and my knee is killing me. When I went to class my right knee was hurting me a little bit. But, now my left knee is aching. Not good.

I took a co-worker some brisket tacos and was planning on taking her key lime pie ice cream. I prepared the ice cream, and was about to pour it into the ice cream maker when I realized that the insert was not frozen. Micah and I do not want to eat all this ice cream by ourselves!

Gilmore's Brisket Tacos

  • 2 lb roast
  • 4 chicken bullion cubes
  • 1 jar of pepperocinis with juice
  • 1 packet of dry Italian dressing seasoning
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 roughly chopped onion
  • tortillas
  • mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
Put all of the ingredients through onion in your crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over warm tortillas and sprinkle cheese on top. They are delicious!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spinach Tomato Pasta Shells

By Natalie
 Tonight I made Spinach Tomato Pasta Shells. Of course I could not get the sauce to thicken. When you add the 1/2 c of chicken broth, I would scale back to 1/4 c or eliminate it all together. I even added about 9 oz of spinach, 4 more oz than the recipe required. The recipe was really easy, I'm just terrible with sauces! 
Micah insisted that I pose the food this way:
Work Out
Yesterday,  Micah comes home and announces I can not go running there is a heat advisory going on until Thursday morning.  So, I go to the gym and run 5 miles on the treadmill at a 9:30/mile pace. Even though I can get pretty bored on the treadmill yesterday wasn't so bad. Finally there was something good on the TV, Friday Night Lights. I think it was the pilot episode, all the characters looked so young.

Today, Micah rode 10 miles on his bike and then set off to run 2.5 miles. Hmmm, isn't there still a heat advisory going on?! I tell him to wait for me, and we go running together. We take it pretty easy, because it is super hot. I ran about a 10 minute mile.

After my run, I thought I deserved this tasty treat (Summit Maibock & grape tomatoes):
To-Do List
My to-do list is shaping up nicely thanks in large part to my parents. I don't know what I would do without them. My mom came over early and helped me paint our latest renovations that took place in April. We had a 3 pane sliding glass door in the game room, we took that out and put in one door. You can't even tell!  We got the first coat put on, and in the process almost died of heat stroke. I caulked some nail holes, and the 2nd coat will cover those up. I supplied us with smoothies for our hard work. I also gave mom left overs  from last night for lunch. She literally licked the plate!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2 Meals 1 Sauce

By Natalie

On Monday, I made Tilapia Puxa Vida from Baked Bree. The sauce was so fresh.

First you chop some onions, jalapeno, and roasted red peppers in the food processor. Can you believe it? I actually used onions!
 Then sautee the veggies with garlic, 1 can of roasted tomatoes, and 1/2 can of coconut milk.  Then pour the tomato mixture over the tilapia and place in the oven.
I cooked it for 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  I cooked it at a higher temperature than Baked Bree recommended. I'm impatient.
Side note: I finally found out the secret to Road House's baked potatoes. Road House has the best salty potatoes. First, I always microwave my potatoes for 3-4 minutes. I sprayed Pam on the outside of the potato then rolled it in kosher salt. Wrap them in foil. Then put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Do you have any baked potato secrets?

The recipe made so much sauce, that I refrigerated it and used it today. This was even after I halved the recipe. I flew by the seat of my pants for this recipe today. I boiled some egg noodles that I had lying around in the pantry. I sauteed some chicken breasts that I sprinkled with s & p, and Tony's. I reheated the sauce, assembled it all together, and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top. It was really simple, and will be great reheated.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mundane Monday

By Natalie

Yesterday I told Micah, "Tomorrow you have to go to work, and I have to get massage." He glared at me, and the lady next to us laughed. My massage got canceled, I guess that's what I get for rubbing it in. Today I made a billion trips to 1,000 different stores. Okay, I'm exaggerating but that's what it felt like.

First I went to PetCo and bought dog food. I decided to switch it up because our 114 lb beast has suddenly become picky.

Then to Target to buy some groceries.  I don't buy meat at Target, it's disgusting.

Came home and unloaded groceries.

Stop off at the vet to return a Furminator. It's a hair brush. It costs $50. Barley does not deserve a $50 hair brush. Micah bought it, and he's crazy.

Drive to Plano to Charming Charlie's to buy flip flops for Just Expressive's flip flop exchange.

Then to the 2nd grocery store of the day, Central Market. This is where I buy my meat. I love buying my meat from the butchers at Central Market. They are so friendly. I must always go at 3:46 to avoid the crowd.

Came home and unloaded groceries.

Final stop, the liquor store. We've need vodka for awhile. I need it to top off my homemade vanilla extract. 1 liter of vodka was $34 and 1.75 liters of vodka was $36. You do the math, you would get the giant bottle too? Right? And as an added bonus the clerk gave me a piece of chocolate.

Today, I also finished up Season 1 of Swamp People. I know, I should be ashamed of myself. But, I've learned so many things from that show. Like,  overalls are still in, cajuns are the worst dancers on the planet, and what "tree shaker" means. If your front tooth is missing don't worry about it. You now have a special slot for cigarettes. Now, I really wish my Granny would make me some gumbo.

As a special treat, Micah came home for lunch and brought me Jimmy John's. I love their veggie sandwich. The avocado spread is delish!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Healthy Living Tips

By Natalie

1. Take cokes out of your diet. Take them out of your diet for a week and see what happens. A friend of mine said that his doctor told him, "If you have to choose between a diet Dr Pepper or a beer, you choose the beer." His liver had become fatty because of the sodas he was drinking. My doctor said he has seen a correlation with his patients and MS and diet soda.

2. Don't eat out. Whatever you currently eat out, try to cut that in half. It's almost impossible to eat healthy when you eat at restaurants.  These restaurants are sly. I ordered a portobello burger at Cheesecake Factory thinking I was being semi-healthy, and it was 1100 calories. Umm, might as well of had a bacon cheese burger.

3.  Don't buy temptation foods. It is so easy to say "no" one time at the grocery store than to say "no" over and over at your house.  I would stand in front of the pantry all day long snacking, so I try to just have healthy choices on hand. Don't get me wrong, I have chocolate and cheddar bunnies as my go to snack. I just limit the quantities.

4. Get a buddy. For the 7 years that Micah and I have been together, he rarely worked out with me. I'm so thrilled that we can work out together now. We keep each other honest. We encourage each other and play devils advocate. When I don't want to work out, he makes me. And vice versa.

5. Pack your lunch. I work in a school setting, so I really don't have the option to go out. You save money and you save calories by not eating out. Sometimes this is a very difficult habit to break. If you eat out 5 days a week, try to shave it down to 3. Just try and cut back the best you can. Pack a sandwich, or have frozen lunches at the office. Make extra when you cook dinner. After we finish eating dinner, I pack the left overs into portable lunches. Feel like you are left out of socializing? Get a group together to make lunches together. When I worked in Houston some teachers set up a lunch rotation. Each teacher would be in charge of preparing lunch 1 day a week.  You'll need to keep this group small to not feel overwhelmed.

6. Bribe yourself. Set a long term goal, and go for it. Micah's motivator was a beer festival in September in Colorado. If he lost 30 pounds he gets to go to GABF, and he made it! Long term goals, don't work for you? Make a short term goal. "When I run 3 miles I get to buy $135 shoes." "When I work out 3 times a week, I get an ice cream cone on Friday." You know what motivates you. Take a picture, write it down, and put it on the fridge to remind you!

7. Broadcast it. Get the news out there that you are making changes, losing weight, and working out. When you spread that news, people will ask you about your progress. This is a great checks and balance.  Sometimes when I run I think about how excited I'm going to be to tell FB or Twitter that I ran "this many miles" or I did it in "this amount of time." It keeps me motivated to not disappoint my friends and family.

8. Set a work out goal. I do really well when I know what I'm working for. I set up a training schedule, and I treat it like the gospel. Right now Micah is working towards Hotter N' Hell 100, this keeps him motivated to ride. He made a schedule and put it in his iPhone. I set up a weekly schedule that I stick to. For example, Mondays-long run, Tuesdays-spin class, Wednesdays-swim & strength train, Thursday-yoga, Friday-off, Saturday-long ride, Sunday-off. Write down your schedule, and schedule outings with friends around this.

Make it that simple. Convince yourself you want to change, and you will. People can change all the time. Just look at Micah, he's down 40 pounds since January.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ice Cream Debacle

By Natalie

For 4th of July weekend my parents planned a family reunion at the river in New Braunfels. They rented 2 awesome houses for all of us.  The view:

At one point we had 32 people to feed on Saturday night. I had high hopes of serving chocolate ice cream, key lime pie ice cream, and strawberry basil sorbet.
A few Christmases ago my fabulous Aunt B gave every family a cuisinart ice cream maker. Micah and I use ours all the time. I told everyone to bring there ice cream makers to the river. I had dreams of having 3 ice cream makers going at one time. Once we arrived around 5:00 PM on Saturday, I put the ice maker inserts into the fridge so they could freeze up.

Wake up the next morning, and they aren't frozen. Check all day long and they still aren't frozen. I'm so disappointed. I blame the fridge. I've never had this problem at home. My second cousin, Tandy had joked about bringing a hand crank ice cream maker. She thought it would be fun for the kids. I thought she was crazy! Turns out I'm so glad she brought the hand crank. She made vanilla ice cream and they cranked it out in about 30 minutes, everyone took a turn. This vanilla had raw eggs!

Nobody could wait to lick the ice cream blades.

Later in the evening the ice cream inserts had still NOT frozen, so we hand cranked the chocolate ice cream. Micah had spent HOURS making this custard. It's rocket science to make this recipe. It takes 16 egg yolks since he made a double batch! The kids took turns hand cranking it out, and it was amazing. We even had macadamia nuts for toppings.
We are a bunch of savages, and had to stick our fingers in the ice cream right away!

Thank goodness for Tandy and the old fashioned hand crank ice cream maker from the 60s.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Man Love

By Natalie

When Micah and Gilmore get together they giggle. They crack each other up until they cry, and are usually full of mischief. Last night was no exception. I invited myself out on a boys' night to the Ranger game. Our tickets were up in the third deck. I never sat in my designated seat the entire night. After the second inning Gilmore had the genius idea to move down to the first deck. He chose section 10. Little did we know that section 10 was guarded by the ball park Nazi, Dewayne. Dewayne has served the ball park for over 8 years.  We had no idea what we were up against.

We try to casually sit down in section 10 and in no less than 30 seconds, Dewayne is all over us. He asks us for our tickets. We explain that our tickets are in section 325. He says, "Well next time spend the $65 if you want better seats." Gilmore begs to stay gesturing over the completely empty section. Dewayne kills us with kindness by saying, "please. Please. Please." We move.

We journey over to first base far from Dewayne, and have no problem sneaking in over there. We have a great view of Dewayne, the great ball park enforcer. Many people try to get into section 10 but no one lasts more than 1 minute. He's on to the interlopers like white on rice. Gilmore deems section 10 the "chasity belt of the ball park." I don't think I watched the game at all, I was too entertained by section 10. Side note: Rangers won.

Gilmore, Zach, and Micah come up with the plan to simply write with a sharpie "section 10" on our ticket. Surely we'll get in that way.  Zach signs his by Nolan Ryan. Micah signs his Ron Washington. Gilmore ponders that we'd had more of a chance sitting next to Nolan Ryan than getting into section 10.

At the bottom of the 8th inning we decide that we are going to try and sneak over to section 10 again with our "official" tickets. We make it over there and low and behold they are letting just anyone get in section 10. What happened? Apparently they let people sit there for the post-game fireworks. What a let down, I was ready to see Gilmore and Dewayne go head to head.  A ball park employee informs Micah that they knew no one bought tickets to section 10 and that's why Dewayne was on high alert.

Micah and I leave for the night, and meanwhile Gilmore makes a new best friend. Gilmore & Dewayne: