Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recipe #3: Halibut and Sauteed Spinach

Since Ryan and I are both trying out this weight watchers thing, we decided to test out a recipe that comes from the weight watchers book! There aren't very many recipes, but the halibut caught our attention! It seemed super easy to make (and it was!) and it was only 4 points per 4 oz. piece of halibut. I had been craving sauteed spinach (don't ask....I don't even know), so we found a recipe here, from foodnetwork.

Working on the spinach! Beware...it is really scary when you first put it in because the oil sprays on you!! Oh, but it was so worth it!

Sittin' in the oven, almost ready to come out! How pretty do those look?!

And yes, of course we had a bottle of Charles Shaw (aka 2 Buck Chuck) with our dinner! I don't mind if I do!

For the halibut: Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray, and place the halibut on it. Then drizzle lemon juice (maybe 2 tsp per fillet) and brush on the olive oil (1 tsp per fillet). Put a thin layer of bread crumbs (1/2 tablespoon on each one) and put on the capers, salt and pepper. And that's it! Put it in the oven, and wait for 15-20 minutes!

And there you have it! It was such a quick meal to make, we were almost upset by how little effort and time it took (if that's possible)! And it definitely filled us up! So what was the total damage? Well, since our halibut pieces were 5 oz each, that part was 5 points. For the spinach, all of the points actually come from the olive oil, which is (gulp) 1 point per teaspoon. Geez. But it's okay, because I managed to make the spinach with 4 teaspoons, making it 2 points for each of us. Lastly, we had wine. Now, for the most part, wine is 2 pts per 4 oz. A bottle is about 25 oz, so that means there are 12 (ok, maybe like 12.5, but whatever) points per bottle. That give us 6 points each. So, the total comes to a mere 13 points!! Not bad for a filling meal, complete with a bottle of wine!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Scrapbook, Part II

So my original plan for Ryan's calendar was to be done by last weekend, but that didn't exactly happen. I tried my hardest to get the pages done, but there was just no way (I already had a ton of schoolwork, and I had been staying at work a little later than normal). However, I was able to finish 4 more pages over the last two weeks! Ok, well I didn't exactly finish them, but I definitely did most of the work! In case you forgot what I've already done, take a look here, at the first 5 pages. And now, here are the next 4 pages:

6. October, Wine Tasting in Russian River Valley

This was our anniversary trip in 2007. We went to the RRV and did some wine tasting!! Yum! Anyway, I chose the song "Whatever You Like" by T.I. because I wanted some variety on this CD I'm going to give him! And trust me, this song is soooo much different than all of the other songs! Luckily, he has recently taken a liking to this song, haha. Anyway, this page is a little plain, but I do like it, and I think the quote works out quite nicely (although I'm talking about bottles of wine, NOT patron!).

7. September, Kern County Fair
As you can probably tell, I'm not quite finished with this one. BUT, I know he'll love it, because he is obsessed with this song. It's an old one by Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam. He was so happy to hear a song about his beloved Bakersfield. Haha, and this page worked out, because we were in Bakersfield, enjoying the county fair!! I'm not quite sure how I am going to lay out the rest of the page, but I will be sure to include the final product in my calendar review! Oh and I just want to make a comment about how much I like the background paper! So, I am going to try to keep as much of it uncovered as possible....

8. May, Baseball Games!

So, Dannelle totally got me into sewing! I have used this technique before, but kind of forgot how doable it is....although it does take a long time! I only used it a little bit on this page (see the two large circles?). Anyway, I like this page, even though the pink may be a little girly. Oh well, he'll live! I like how the whole thing is circles!!

9. November, Tahoe

This was our latest anniversary trip, to Tahoe! We saw a gorgeous sunset on the beach, and I kind of wanted to think of those pinks and oranges, but I decided not to make those the main colors of the page. I used them in the title, which I love! I also decided to use buttons (Buttons Chung!) on this one, because I found some that worked well with the color scheme. What do you think? Oh, and the buttons took FOREVER to put on, because I had to sew each and every one onto that paper! ahh!

So there you are, the second installment of Ryan's 2009 calendar. My new goal is to have it finished by January 29, which is the next time I'll see him. I have to start and finish the last 3 pages, as well as put all of the final touches on each of the other 9 pages. Also, I have to make a (simple) front and back cover! Wish me luck! I'll definitely keep you all updated!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Recipe #2: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Gluten-free, no less! So first of all, sorry about being horrible at updating! I've been super busy! I'm hoping to update a few times this week, to make up for last week!

Anyway, Carlee and I went to Sur La Table last Wednesday and took a baking class! There were 4 recipes available: waffles, blueberry muffins, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and red velvet cupcakes. Well, there were 6 of us in the class, and we were each supposed to pick a recipe (and some had to share), so me and Carlee darted for the red velvet cupcakes, since they were the things we were most excited about!!!

Now, for the actual recipe:

The Cake:

1 3/4 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten (room temp)

1 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup sorghum flour*

3/4 cup tapioca starch

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 oz red food coloring**

1 Tbsp cocoa

So first of all, preheat the oven to 350! Then mix the oil and sugar....or rather, cream it. This kind of took a while, and me and Carlee were convinced we ruined it. But trust, it will get creamed! Anyway, you then add one egg at a time, with the mixer still on.

Next (or beforehand) mix the dry ingredients (minus the cocoa). While the mixer is still going, you should pour 1/4 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/3 of the buttermilk, and so on (ending with the flour mixture!).

Then, you mix together the cocoa, red food coloring, and vanilla. TRUST, this is where the "red" part comes from....omg, it was all soooo red. Ok, so you mix that in with the rest.

For cake, you bake it for 25 mins, but apparently cupcakes take less time...but we aren't really sure how long, since the oven got turned off somehow. Oh well

The frosting:

1 box confectioner's sugar

8 oz. cream cheese

1 stick butter

1 cup chopped nuts (OPTIONAL!!)

1 tsp vanilla

Cream the first three ingredients, and then mix in the vanilla and chopped nuts (if you dare...we didn't).

Here is Carlee chopping the "optional" nuts...we chose not to include them on our cupcakes, because neither of us are too fond of walnuts or pecans, or whatever they were!

"Are they done yet?" Nope....because someone accidentally turned off the oven part way through! Haha, don't worry, they turned out OK!

YUM! Me putting frosting on...I'm trying to look serious, but I kept laughing.

Semi-finished products! They were soooo good!

Anyway, overall I really enjoyed the class!! They gave us wine, and cheese and crackers! How sweet! And, we got to try everything that was made, and take home leftovers if we wanted. In fact, I would love to take another class at Sur La Table. I think what I might do is buy a gift certificate for Ryan for Valentine's Day, so that we can take a class together at some point! How fun!!

So now for the big question....are these weight watcher friendly? umm, no not really, haha. I looked up info online about Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes, and based on that, they are 12 points. WELL, our cupcakes were definitely smaller, and had probably about 1/3 of the amount of frosting, so I went with 6 points (maybe it should have been 8, just to be safe). Whatever, I had my extra 35 points to start using, so no big deal!! I didn't even cheat =)

Lastly, I would like to apologize for the annoying spacing issues with this post. Maybe it's jus tthe browser I'm using, but I can't seem to get the "single space" function to work. Any thoughts on how this can be fixed? Ugh, it's super annoying!!

*you can also use something called "Jowar" which is found in Indian stores. Or, if you really can't find either of these, you can substitute it for rice or potato flour.

**by the way, in case you are like me and Carlee, and you look at the bottle of food coloring and say "Um, how do we measure 1 oz??" Well, it's the whole bottle. Yikes!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weight Watchers!

So, this is part 2 (part 1) of my weight watching adventures! And, just as the title suggests, I am trying something new: Weight Watchers! This probably sounds a little crazy, and I was definitely overwhelmed at first. I spent last weekend (the one after new year's) learning all about the point system. I haven't officially joined, but am thinking about it, especially if one of you will do it with me! I'm not planning on going to the meetings. One, it's more expensive than the online version, and two, I just don't know if I can devote an hour each week to doing this, especially if I need to go the same day every week (is this the case? I don't even know).

Anyway, if you don't want to hear about weight watchers, I suggest you stop reading now, because I am going to enlighten you all with a bit about the system. Please keep in mind that this is all in my own words -- please look at the website or whatever for more info! So pretty much, based on your age, gender, your weight, your job (how active you are at work), and something else, but I forget, you get assigned a daily point value. Mine is 21. Then, you eat accordingly! I get 21 points per day, and trust me, it's not a lot! Oh, I should also let you know that I did a trial run this past week....and yes, I ate at Melting Pot, and still I did not cheat! I will explain this phenomenon later on! Ok, so you can find TONS of info online that has point values for different foods. The good news is that there do exist zero-point foods....a lot of veggies are zero-points, for example.

One thing I really like about this program is the fact that you can eat whatever you want! I mean, it might be the case that you can only have one bite of it, but that's your decision. It teaches you to eat your veggies, so you can have other, yummier things! It's also very helpful if you plan around your schedule. For example, if you know you are going out to eat one night, you should conserve points by eating low-point foods for breakfast and lunch. Another BONUS is that you get 35 extra points each week. This is how I managed to eat at Melting Pot, plus I conserved some of my daily 21 points for the occasion. I feel like it's doable, because, I mean, can I really afford to be eating out more than twice a week anyway (money wise and food intake wise)? Probably not.

Still not convinced? Ok, well this doesn't really apply to me, but you can also get extra points by exercising!! So for those of you who like to run, you can earn a couple of extra points each day. That may not seem like a lot, but every point counts! I find that I have zero time for the treadmill during the week, but on the weekends, I am going to try to get a 30-40 minute walk in (uphill walk). Even with that, it's only 1-2 points per day, but it's a nice little added bonus!

So, does anyone want to do it with me? We can trade yummy low-point recipes! And even though I am considering joining online (I think there is a special that's $65 for the first two months -- including the one time sign up fee -- and then $17 each month after that), you don't have to! I am more than willing to help you scoure the internet for resources (and as I said before, there are TONS!). There are also plenty of point calculators online, such as this one, so you can find the point value of foods you have at home. There is a formula...I forget what it is at this second (it's a little complicated, so I prefer using the tool). It uses calories, fat, and dietary fiber to come up with the point value. So if you have that information, you can very easily convert your food into the points.

In conclusion (haha, as if I'm writing an essay or something...), I think WW will help me a ton with portion control. This is one thing I had never practiced before. I do not consider myself to be a large person, but there are times I consume as much food as those "too fat to move" people on the TLC specials. I eat too fast, and therefore I eat too much, and don't realize how completely stuffed I am until it's too late. So, with the WW plan, I have to watch my portions, and although I was kind of craving snacks the first few days last week, I really do feel a lot better now. Cleansed, if you will. Even though I splurged a bit on certain days! So, who's with me? Please think about it, and let me know! It will definitely help if I have a close support group (Ryan is my support group right now, but we're only together ~every other weekend). I promise we can make it fun. Oh, and just for you all...here's a site that gives point values for alcohol.

Sorry for the seriousness of this post!! Do you think I'm crazy? Are you crazy enough to join me?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Merry Belated Christmas!!

Okay seriously...Christmas was 2 weeks ago, and I'm not really close to finishing Ryan's calendar. I do have a few pages to show, but most of them aren't completely done yet. And honestly, if I have time (although I doubt I will) I want to redo a couple of them. I just wasn't very inspired for some of these, and I don't know why!! I think Michael's just didn't have as many cool things as I wanted. Hmmm, oh well! Ok, so without further ado, I present to you the 5 pages that I've worked on:

1. December...I think? This one is the first one I did, and it's kind of plain, but I like it more and more each time I see it. Whatever, I can live with it! I just need to find a good title for this one...
Oh, and in case you can't really tell, the thing in the middle (and the one on the bottom) is a ribbon with "pearls" on it. It's inspired by the beautiful necklace I'm wearing in the pictures!

2. June! Graduation! I like this one....I think the ribbon looks pretty (oh, I love ribbon, by the way! It look a lot of self-control to keep myself from using ribbon on every page).

3. April or May. I do not like this one, and I'm definitely going to redo it if I have time! It's unfortunate that I chopped up the pictures so much, because I'm going to have to print more!

4. July...even though this was in Vegas for Ryan's 21st, which was in June. Oh well, graduation wins and got to be June instead!

5. March - snowboarding in Reno! Yay, it's the black and white one! Anyway, this is the one that's the closest to being done. I already have the title picked out, AND (this is a little something extra that I decided to do) it has a short line from the lyrics! The only thing that is missing is something a little extra by the title. I have these really cute stamps I want to use, and I bought a silver stamp pad, but when I tested it out, it was not turning out at all. I'm going to have to keep trying....any ideas?

Ok, so I still have to add the lyrics to the rest of the pages, so if it looked like each one kind of had a blank space, that's why! I'm trying to figure out the best way to do it...some will be printed, some will be handwritten and some will be "sizzixed" (like the one above).

I still have a long way to go, but I'm hoping to get a few more pages done this weekend, so I'll keep you all posted!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Public Speaking 103

Ugh....I HATE public speaking! Ok, let me back up a bit. As you all know, I'm in school right now, trying to get my Masters in MS&E (don't ask....just think 'business'). Well, this was also my ungrad major, which means I've taken all of the prereqs for the courses I'm taking now. That is NOT the case for everyone. A lot of people have to take certain math, science, probability, computer science, etc classes in order to finish the degree. But not me! That means I "get" to take electives, since we have to graduate with a certain number of units. I can't take just anything though. There are certain requirements that have to do with the subject and the course number and such, but I won't bore you with those details.

Anyway, let's fast forward to this quarter (which just started yesterday). I thought I had found 3 great classes to take, but it turns out that one of them can't really be taken online, which is a problem, since I'm working full time. Sorry....but why would you have your lectures taped if you were going to penalize people for not coming?? So pretty much, my grade would suffer, and I need all the help I can get! So the search began....

After scouring through the online courses, I decided my best option was to take a night class. This is not something I want to do, and it's something I very very rarely did as an undergrad (the only class that comes to mind is French Porn, and even then it was only a Monday night movie). I kept searching until I found this gem: Engr103: Public Speaking. Ok, only once a week (or so I thought), 7:30-10pm, 3 units....bring it on! But I should mention how very terrified I am of speaking publicly. BUT, it is something I told myself I would try to get better at, and the class fit my schedule, and there are no tests or problem sets to worry about. So yes, I'm taking it.

I had my first class last night, and there are about 25-30 people in the class. Luckily, quite a few of them don't exactly speak English (ESL, if you will), so at least I have an advantage there! WE did have to make a mini speech last night, and I was kind of freaking out, but whatever...there were so many people before and after me, and I wasn't being funny, so I am pretty sure no one remembered my 30 second explanation about why I would be a bear, if I had to be an animal.

Now I need you all's help (ok...that sounds more hickish than "y'all" but whatevs): next week we have to give a 2-3 minute narrative speech. So, I need a story. It should be one I know well, so I can cut parts out if necessary, and so I don't need to worry about forgetting anything. Anyone have any ideas? Nothing too funny (for I might laugh in the middle) and nothing too boring and dry (because a lot of people are funny and I don't want to look like a dud!). Let me know if you have any ideas! Hey....if you help me out, maybe I'll even practice in front of you (ok, not! that actually won't happen). Sweet! See you all tonight =)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Watching Weight?

Ok, so I really like food, so for me to lose weight, I've always decided that I would rather work out more, and then be able to eat the same amount. Well that doesn't quite work out...for a couple of reasons. One, I don't work out very often. I'm always so tired after work, and I never feel like it, and I just don't have time! Two, I eat more even though I'm not working out, because I am planning on working out. So anyway, I have bought into SEVERAL gimmicks...that may or may not work. I don't really know, because the truth is, I just can't get myself to do
anything! Here are a couple of my most recent ventures...

Slim in Six.
I don't even remember what the title means...but I know it doesn't mean 6 minutes...maybe 6 weeks? months? years? who knows. Anyway, the only thing I really used from this was the 11 minute ab routine, which I would often do in lieu of going to the gym. Probably not the best idea, and I never did it regularly enough to see results. Oh, and do you want another fun fact? This thing wasn't cheap, and I accidentally purchased two. I don't know, my browser was slow or something, and I guess I clicked the "buy" button twice. All I know is that I was charged double, received double, and then somehow managed to miss the "return by" deadline. Anyone interested in buying my extra copy?

10 minute training.
This one is hysterical. The guy is a doof, and really, it's NOT easy!! It's 10 minutes...I guess. They have a 10 minute program for legs, abs, total body, maybe arms? I don't really know. I've tried the legs and abs one, but it really is hard. I have never finished the abs one because one of the moves requires you to prop yourself up using only one hand, and I have horrible wrists. It killed my wrists to do this, and so the two times I tried, I stopped at that point. The leg one....very hard! And I thought my legs were strong! I guess if I did it more than a few times, it would have been okay. The problem is, my legs were so sore for the next few days, I couldn't even try again. Another bust!

Making the Cut.

Okay, actually, I didn't mean to buy this one. I got it off of amazon, and I meant to buy the workout DVD (below), but accidentally got this book. I mean, they look so similar! Anyway, instead of returning it, I thought it would be good to use the recipes in the book. Nope, never did. In fact, I didn't even really look at the recipes yet. I'll have to take a look at these during my weekly cook-offs!

30-Day Shred.
I saw this on weddingbee, and everyone said it was like the best thing ever! It's the trainer from The Biggest Loser, so I thought....if fat people can do it, so can I!! It's about 20ish minutes long, and I've done the easiest one a few times. It isn't too hard, but it's not all that easy. I think part of the reason is because I was using 5 pound weights....but I now have my 3 pound weights back, so I'll have to try it with those. I just kind of feel like I'm not getting a great workout, but I don't know! Maybe I should stick with it!!

Has anyone else tried one of these? Has anything worked? Lemme know!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Recipe #1: Steamed Mussels

First post of the new year! And it's my first official cooking post! 

This past weekend, my boyfriend Ryan and I decided to make steamed mussels! There is a recipe I found about two years ago on foodnetwork.com, compliments of Tyler Florence. Here's a picture of the final product:

These are pretty easy to make! All you need is: 3 pounds of mussels, 4 garlic cloves, olive oil, butter, white wine, 2 leeks, fresh thyme, and parsley. Oh, and salt and pepper to taste. 

First you put a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter into a big pot and throw in the garlic, leeks (white parts only), and thyme (I think it said 1/4 of a bunch...I just guessed). I cooked them for about 4 or 5 minutes, and then threw in the mussels and a cup of white wine. Then you cover the mixture, and let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until all of the mussels open up. Once that's done, throw in 2 tablespoons of butter, and drizzle some olive oil....and voila!! You've got yourself some yummy steamed mussels. Of course, I put in about twice as much garlic, because I'm a garlic finatic!

Lastly, don't forget the bread for dipping and the wine for drinking! YUM! Enjoy! Hopefully there will be more recipes to come...