Monthly Archives: November 2010

Who da man?

The last set of Project Tasteless challenges was a hot one.

Project Tasteless Challenge #5: I Am, in Fact, Trying to Seduce You and Project Tasteless Challenge #6: Easy Like Sunday Morning Bangover 911

The twist on this one?  The main ingredient from the sexy dinner had to make an appearance in the morning-after breakfast.  Okay, got it.

There was just one problem.

I’m a widow.  A start-up-widow.

Meaning: most evenings, my very hardworking husband dines at his office, while I dine with the stand-in man of the house.

But was I going to let that stop me from making a come-hither dinner?  No, I was not!  Complete with two things that every guy loves: meat and whiskey.

What guy could resist a Bangin’ Bourbon Brown Butter Filet?  Here’s whatcha need:

– 1 large or 2 medium sirloin steaks
– 1 TBSP unsalted butter
– 2 TBSP bourbon
– 1 TBSP honey
– Coarse sea salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Press salt, pepper and red pepper flakes all over the meat.  But first, call the man of the house into the kitchen and show off the goods.  If he likes it raw, you can give him a little teaser.

Good luck getting him out of the kitchen now!

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high.  Add butter and cook until deep golden brown, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to medium.  Whisk together honey and bourbon and add it to the skillet – careful if you’re using an open flame burner!  Cook until the intense bubbling and foaming stops and you’re left with a lovely brown glaze, 1-2 minutes.

Add steak and cook, turning over every couple of minutes, until done as desired.  My filet was quite thick and took about 10-11 minutes to get to the very rare end of medium-rare.  (Just like my little helper, I like it raw!)

So, easy enough, right?  But here’s the secret: babysit that steak while it’s cooking and constantly brush the glaze from the pan over it while it cooks.

No licking the meat, though.  (That’s – um, not what she said.)

Delightfully charred on the outside.  Soft and tender on the inside.  With a side of taters and a simple salad.  Perfection.

Time for date night with Pat and Vanna.

And a seduction fail.  Because everyone’s asleep on the couch by the time the real man of the house gets home from work.

Such is the life of a start-up widow!  But clearly I’m proud of the hubs and supportive of him as he works his tail off on this business.   So supportive, in fact, that I got up super early this morning to make him breakfast.

Morning Meat Breakfast Tacos

His and hers.  Flavorful and easy.  And not one, but TWO leftover ingredients from last night’s dinner!  So brush your teeth, toss that JBF hair back in a ponytail, and get cookin’:

– 1 TBSP butter
– 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
– 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
– 1/2 C mashed potatoes
– 1 egg
– 1 TSP mayo
– Leftover steak, thinly sliced along the grain
– Cayenne pepper, Paprika, salt and red pepper flakes
– 1 thick slice of cheddar cheese
– 2 small tortillas

Melt butter in a medium skillet.  You can even use the same skillet from last night’s steak, if you couldn’t be bothered to do the dishes because you were, um, indisposed.  (In my case?  I was just lazy.)

Add shallot and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes.  Add onions and cook until tender, an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in potatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and mayo (and no, you may not use Greek yogurt here).  Add a dash each of cayenne, paprika, salt and red pepper flakes and mix in to eggs.

Push the potato-onion mixture to one side of the skillet and add the egg to the other side.  Once egg begins to hang together a bit, scramble it with the potato-onions.  Add steak and cook until everything is heated through.

Tastes better than it looks.  Kind of like you, first thing in the morning.

Divide in to two piles and top with cheese; cover skillet and turn heat off.  Once cheese is melted, transfer each pile to a warm tortilla.

Too much meat for this taco?  Nah.

And with that, the hubs hurried off to the office once again.  Such is life.

But ya know what?  One sit-down meal a day is more than we usually get together, and if it has to be a breakfast – well, I’ll take it.  And eating dinner on the couch alone is a whole lot better when you seduce yourself with a delicious meal.

Happy dinner dates and bangovers to all!  Can’t wait to read the rest of the entries!  Meanwhile, there’s a furry guy in my bed just waiting for a mid-morning rub-down.  I think he likes being the stand-in man of the house.

All I want for Christmas

Dear Baby-Jesus Santa-in-the-Sky with Diamonds,

I am having a cranky Monday.  Finding any or all of these things under my tree would make me feel a little better.  Pretty please?

1) A personal horn.

Hey, right-turning driver!  TA-DAAAA!  HERE I AM!  I am a runner who would like to cross the street!  Hey!  Heeeeeeey.  Okay, I’m going to cross now since you’re not mov – HOLY CRAP!  STOP!  Multiple expletives!

See why having a personal horn would just be easier?  For both of us?

2) A ban on Christmas music in commercials.

Apparently, “special holiday events!” on everything from underwear to boat insurance necessitate bad renditions of holiday songs.  No.  Just stop.  Stop.  STOP. There is enough crappy Christmas music on the radio.  I don’t need to hear it on TV, too.

And when did the SUV Tied With a Giant Bow become the universal symbol of Christmas?  Has anyone ever known anyone who actually tied a giant bow to a vehicle?

26 more days of this.  26.  26.

3) A jobby job.

Repeat after me: I love that I’m pursuing my dream and it will pay off in the long run.  I love that I’m pursuing my dream and it will pay off in the long run.  I love – oh holy hell, you know what I would love right now?  A freaking paycheck.  And some interaction with actual human beings once in a while.

The grass.  It is always greener.

4) 356,321 rakes.

That’s one for every resident of Raleigh.  I will personally distribute them, so that everyone has their very own personal rake.  Maybe such an abundance of rakes will inspire people to use them on their sidewalks.  Because those pretty crunchy leavesThey are no fun when they’re piled a foot high on a crooked sidewalk.

Please clear off your sidewalks, people.  At least a little bit.  I know, it is a pain.  When I lived in Ohio I would spend hours scraping leaves and snow off of our front walk so that pedestrians could pass safely.  But it’s worth it.  Because then you won’t ever have to deal with me.  Pounding on your door to use your phone to call a taxi because I’ve sprained my ankle on your leaf-covered sidewalk.

5) My very own elf.

Exactly.  All of the above, please.

I have not always been the nicest girl, Baby-Jesus Santa in the Sky, but I don’t think I’m on the naughty list.  So please, make a girl’s dreams come true.

Yours in the holiday spirits,

(And by that, I mean vodka,)

Shelby

Today’s EAT: Tonight’s dinner is on the hush – thanks to Rachel’s latest Project Tasteless challenge, I have to roll dinner in to breakfast.  But it was excellent, and will be blogged tomorrow!

Instead I’ll leave you with my delicious pre-dinner snack:

Sliced Gruyere with fig jam.  I am completely addicted to this lately.

Today’s DRINK: Oh hey, look –  a semi-decent red wine!

On the heels of Thanksgiving-aganza, the wine rack is definitely stocked with a slightly better selection than normal.  I picked up this P.K.N.T 2009 Carmenere from a local wine shop on the staffer’s recommendation, and I wasn’t disappointed when I opened it tonight!  It’s a solid, medium-bodied red that packs a nice little bit of spice – not sharpness, but actual spiciness.  I approve.

Today’s RUN: While dodging clueless turning motorists and narrowly avoiding leafy ankle traps, I managed to have an okay run today.  4.25 miles at ~8:30 pace.  With lots of calf massaging afterward.

Today’s QUESTION: What’s on your holiday wish list?  Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Picky pines

The hubs and I have survived a serious test of marital compatibility: picking out a Christmas tree. Our differences started before we even left the apartment.

“What are you wearing?” I asked, shaking my head at his loafers and overcoat.  “You’re going to get all of that dirty when you have to get down on the ground and saw.”

He raised a brow.  “Where exactly are we going?”

We were going, of course, to cut down a Christmas tree.   My family did this every year when I was a kid, and now that I once again live in an area where evergreens grow?  Heck yes, I was going to a cut-it-yourself farm instead of a grocery store parking lot!

“What about those ones that are already cut?” the hubs asked, as we pulled our 4-Runner across a muddy ditch and in to a parking spot, of sorts, at the edge of the farm.

“Nah, those are more expensive,” I said, dismissing a little group of prissy-looking pre-cut Noble Firs.  “Plus, you don’t get to saw.”  The hubs sighed.

The next two hours were spent tromping around the quaint little farm, trading comments like:

Him: “What about that one?”  Me: “Oh NO, it’s way too fat.”

Me: “Hey look at this!” Him: “That one?  It’s balding on top.”

Him: “What about this one?”  Me: “Ugh, seriously? There’s a weird lump on its backside.”

Me: “Here we go!” Him: “What, thatThat misshapen thing?”

So judgmental, we are.

Eventually we were able to come to an agreement.   And after a brief discussion on how one actually goes about felling a tree with a tiny dull saw, we had harvested our little Virginia Pine and were on our way home.

It’s a little…crooked.  And on the verge of falling over.  Methinks we need a better stand.

Lights?  Decorations?  Eh.  I’m sure I’ll put some lights on it, at least.  Honestly, I am not a huge holiday decorator.  I like Christmas trees mostly for their wonderful smell.

Today’s EAT: Dinner was a hot dog and movie theater popcorn; we saw the new Harry Potter movie tonight.  (It was just okay – not as good as its predecessors.  I liked those Hogwarts kids better when they were little and cute.)

Today’s DRINK: Post-movie beer.  (Wouldn’t going to the movies be more fun if the concession stand sold booze?  I’ve been to a few small independent theaters that do this and it’s awesome.)

Anyway, I’ve had this Abita S.O.S. Pilsner in the fridge for a while now.  It’s like, a charity beer for coastal restoration.  Or something.  Cool.

Fairly light, just slightly bitter, and a bit of pucker (grapefruit?).  Easy to drink at 7% ABV.  Tasted slightly summery and beachy, which I suppose is fitting!

Today’s RUN: Five miles – again.  I’ve done a lot of fivers lately.  Here’s how the week shook out:

M – 5.14 easy (43:51, 8:31 pace)
Tu – 3.86 easy (34:15, 8:52 pace)
W – OFF
Th – Turkey Trot 8K w/hubs (44:14, 8:47 pace)
F – OFF
Sa – 3.84 easy w/hubs (37:45, 9:49 pace)
Su – 5.04 easy (41:08, 8:09 pace)

22.9 miles.  I was trying to keep it around 20.  I’m still having some stiffness and aches in my stupid Achilles, especially first thing in the morning.  It feels fine when I’m running and throughout the rest of the day.  But I’ll continue to keep the mileage low and baby it for a while.  Stupid crankle.

It does seem to be progressively getting better, so I’m not too worried.  And it’s kind of nice to take a break from speedwork and long runs – and to run a couple of times a week with the hubs!  But I’ll be glad when I can up my mileage a little.

Aiming to hold it to 20-25 again this week.

Today’s QUESTION: If you’re a Christmas tree person – real or fake?

Race virgin no more!

Guess who survived his first race!  Way to go, hubs!

(Over my shoulder: “Is that going on your blog?”  And then, looking closer: “Did you like…draw on it?  You are such a dork.”)

Watch it, hubs.  I’ve got MSPaint and I know how to use it.

Obviously, I am extremely proud of him.  He’s never been much of a runner but has started going out pretty regularly the last few months and is logging 15-20 miles a week consistently these days.  We ran together the whole time and finished just over 44 minutes.  Instant PR for the hubs, and a nice morning run for me!

Anyway.  I know that blogland is overrun right now with people posting pictures of turkey and yammering about their Thanksgiving recipes.  But I worked really hard on this meal.  So I’m going to jump on the bandwagon.

Have a seat!

Chow time.

Sweet Potato Soup with Toasted Marshmallow, Crumbled Pecans and Fried Sage

Yams make a velvety-smooth soup, but you could sub pumpkin or squash.  And melted marshmallow in the center is pretty and fun. I followed this recipe from Food Network, then added a toasted (in the oven) marshmallow, sage fried in butter until crispy, and a bit of crumbled candied pecans.

Autumn Salad with Pumpkin Bread Croutons and Maple Vinaigrette

This small, flavorful salad was a great warm-up.  Greens, candied pecans, goat cheese, dried sour cherries and pumpkin bread “croutons” in a maple vinaigrette (apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, a little spicy mustard and olive oil).

Turkey, of course.

I’m not a briner.  Or a bagger.  I am a butter-er.  And this turkey was slathered with it – along with tons of finely chopped fresh herbs and salt and pepper – before roasting.  Moist, flavorful and delicious.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Pancetta

This is one of the dishes for which I did a trial run last weekend, and I’m so glad I did!  This recipe (from the Pioneer Woman episode of Throwdown) seemed promising, but came out a little dry when I made it the first time.  The second time around I added a pound of pork sausage, a cup of milk and a about a half cup more chicken broth.  It was very soggy-looking when I put it in the oven, but after baking for an hour, it was absolutely perfect.  Certainly the best stuffing I’ve ever made – and declared to be the best he’d ever eaten by one of our dinner guests. :)

Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce

Followed this recipe pretty faithfully – except I nearly doubled the actual cranberries.  It was perfect!

Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes

Inspired by this recipe from Cate’s World Kitchen, but I didn’t really follow a recipe for these.  I just made normal mashed taters (Yukon Golds with the skin left on, milk, butter) and then added a bunch of onion rings that had been cooking with butter over low heat for almost an hour.  They were deep golden brown and added a wonderful texture to the potatoes, especially alongside the bits of skin.  Yum.

Roasted Haricots Verts with Browned Butter and Crispy Shallots

Remember when I was all hating on green bean casserole the other day?  That stuff is an injustice to green beans everywhere.  Simply roasting them with butter and salt, and tossed with some caramelized shallots (I cooked them right alongside the onions for the potatoes) is much better.

Maple Pecan Tartlets

Who wouldn’t love a palm-sized pie?  I followed this recipe but instead of making a normal tart/pie crust, I pressed the dough into the cups of a mini muffin pan.  (Cooking time was more like 15-20 minutes.)  With a side of vanilla ice cream, these were fun to eat and still delicious on Thursday night, even though I made them on Tuesday.  (I am actually surprised they survived that long, as the hubs was constantly trying to swipe them!)

So there ya have it.  Hours of planning went in to that meal, and it was worth every minute.  At the risk of sounding like a self-congratulatory jackass, I’m going to say that this was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had.  With a killer food coma to match it.  (Still working that one.)

How was your Thanksgiving feast?  Have you come out of your food coma yet?

Lies, damn lies and truths

The following conversation transpired between the hubs and I yesterday morning.

Hubs: So what time is this Turkey Trot on Thursday morning?

Me: 8:30.  [pause; put on super-excited-encouraging face]  YAY!  Aren’t you excited for your first-ever race?!

Hubs: Uh…I guess so.  It’s only 5K, I can handle that.

Me: UM.

Hubs: What?

Me: It’s…8K.

Hubs: You are such a liar.

For the record, I never said it was a 5K!  I am pretty sure (meaning: 50% sure) that I explicitly stated the distance of the race as 8K when I signed us up.

In any event….he’ll survive. :)  Still nursing my tender Crankle, I’m planning to run the race with him instead of racing it.  It will be fun!

Today’s EAT: The fam is in town, and even on the eve of a national eating holiday, it would be a crime not to take them to Raleigh’s most famous restaurant.  So we had lunch today at The Pit.

Pitmaster Ed Mitchell and me?  We are like THIS.  (fingers crossed)

Anyway, it was fantastic, as always.  Carolina spareribs or baby backs?  It’s always a tough question.  I went with the spareribs and they didn’t disappoint.

A few people have asked about my Thanksgiving menu.  Hopefully at this point, you’re not reading and are at home celebrating with your own family or are out at the bars getting shitfaced with your high-school friends, but in case anyone is still curious?  Here tis:

To Start:

  • Sweet Potato Soup with Toasted Marshmallow and Fried Sage
  • Autumn Salad with Dried Sour Cherries, Goat Cheese, Pumpkin Bread Croutons and Maple Vinaigrette

Main Course:

  • Herb Roasted Turkey and Gravy
  • Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Pancetta
  • Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes
  • Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce
  • Roasted Haricots Verts with Browned Butter and Crispy Shallots

Sweets:

  • Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce
  • Maple Pecan Tartlets
  • Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Nom nom.  All recipes are here, in case you’re scrambling desperately.

Today’s DRINK: I opened this to make cranberry sauce…

…aaaaand then I drank it.  Womp womp.

For a $9 bottle of wine from Target, it’s not bad!  I’ve seen this Toasted Head Old Vine Zin around but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it.  Pleasantly surprised.

Today’s RUN: I logged an easy 4 yesterday, and took today off.  Trying hard to keep it under 20 this week.  It’s a struggle, when Raleigh has probably the most beautiful weather in the country right now, and I would love nothing more than to go on a 10-mile trail run!

Today’s QUESTION: How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Fun and fabulous holiday wishes to everyone!

November Playlist: Slow it Down

When I run with music, it’s typically fast paced, high energy and occasionally angry.  You know, music that will inspire you to push harder and run faster.  Because that’s what we all want to do, right?

Well, not always.

Coming back from injury, I’m taking it slow and low.  The other day, I realized I needed a running playlist that would chill me out a little.  I scrounged my iTunes library and voila – fifteen great songs that have enough of a beat to keep you awake, but will promptly make you think of sipping a beer on a sunny patio somewhere rather than tempting you to pick up the pace.

1. Never Had Nobody Like You (feat. Zooey Deschanel) – M. Ward: This song makes me want to sway back and forth and clap my hands.  (But like…in a fun “I love this song” way, not in an “I have issues” way.)  [listen]

2. Landed – Ben Folds: With trademark Ben Folds aggro-piano and earnest vocals, this song’s energy steadily builds.  [listen]

3. Beg Steal or Borrow – Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs: Most Ray LaMontagne is quite lovely, but a little too slow and soulful to run to.  This song has a nice beat that makes it perfect for a mellow run. [listen]

4. Mistaken for Strangers – The National: This one borders on being too high-energy for a playlist like this one, but I think it’s just laid-back enough.  [listen]

5. Armada Latina – Cypress Hill (feat. Pitbull and Marc Anthony): Oh my god, well, you all know that I love Pitbull.  And I also love classic rock samples – the Crosby Stills & Nash so works in this song.  BAM.  LOVE.  [listen]

6. Careful – Guster: I like Guster, but am I the only one who thinks all of their songs sound really similar?  Anyway, their mellow rock style is perfect for a playlist like this.  Sub any Guster song you want and it would probably work just as well. [listen]

7. History of Lovers – Calexico and Iron & Wine: I know – Iron & Wine?  Running?  But this song has a little zip to it and it’s perfect for an easy run. [listen]

8. Young Forever – Jay-Z: Yeah, this song is kinda played out.  But I like it.  See earlier comment about classics and hip-hop getting in bed together.  I’m a sucka. [listen]

9. Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis: Leona Lewis just has a beautiful voice.  The beat of this song reminds me oddly of early-90s Mariah Carey.  But it works. [listen]

10. Come On Get Higher – Matt Nathanson: Oh, Matt Nathanson.  With your soulful guitar plucking and gushy lyrics.  You have mastered the art of morphing from an average-looking paunchy dude to a total hot guy.  Now don’t go all John Mayer on us, please.  Dave Matthews is a far better role model for you, sir.  [listen]

11. Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare) – Kid Cudi feat. MGMT & Ratatat: I’m not sure why I love this song so much, but I do.  It reminds me of the sort of song you’d listen to while pulling out of a Denny’s parking lot as the sun is coming up after a mega bar night.  (Because…that is something I’d do.  Like, ten years ago.  Sigh.) [listen]

12. The Angels Hung Around – Rilo Kiley: Jenny Lewis.  Girl crush.  Enough said. [listen – crappy copy, but the best YouTube can do, apparently]

13. Right Me Up – State Radio:  Fact – I loved Dispatch in college.  Fact – I sat next to Chad Urmston on a flight from Cleveland to Boston once.  Fact – I love State Radio too.  Fact – this is a great song for just about anything, including running. [listen]

14. What I Got – Sublime: Another great “anything” song.  With an added bonus that it totally reminds me of my junior year of high school. :) [listen]

15. Tha Crossroads – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony: I recently got in to a very intense debate over which Bone Thugs song was most well-known.  I argued vehemently on behalf of “Notorious Thugs,” while my adversary insisted that “First of the Month” was clearly the answer. Unfortunately he won on a technicality, as “Notorious Thugs” is actually a Biggie song.  What.  EVER.  Anyway, Crossroads is also one of my favorites and perfect for rounding out a nice mellow run.  And then retiring to your balcony with a 40.  [listen]

That’s all, folks.  A nice short playlist for a time when many of us are doing nice short runs.  The fall marathon season is done-zo.  Time to coast until spring training time!

Today’s EAT: My kitchen is going to see major action this week.  So I took the night off and picked up some tofu Pad Thai from Noodles & Company:

Authentic?  Not at all.  Quick and convenient?  You betcha.

Today’s DRINK: At least my beer was authentic.

Big Boss is a local Raleigh brewery, and I had the pleasure of tasting their Harvest Ale at a bar over the weekend.  It was fabulous – shades of pumpkin pie, but a million times better than actual pumpkin pie, because well…because it’s beer.  And beer > pie.

Anyway, I spotted the Helle’s Belle from Big Boss at Whole Foods so I snagged a six-pack.  This Belgian is quite light – a little cloudy and a little lemony, almost more like a Hefeweizen.  Delicious in any event, and well worth sipping at 7% ABV.

Today’s RUN: I took my mellow playlist on a nice afternoon run-break: 5 miles, 8:30 pace.  It is still ridiculously gorgeous here.  75* and sunny today!  And the crunchy leaves are still abundant.  I’m kind of in love with running right now, and that is a great feeling.

Today’s QUESTION: Do you ever opt for chill running music?  What would you add to my slow-it-down playlist?

Hooray!

Are you ready for an explosion of positivity and good cheer?  Because I had a fantastic weekend.

HOORAY for beautiful weather and running and crunchy leaves!

Perfect.  Just perfect.  65 and sunny in late November?  Okay, I can see why people love the South.

I logged an easy 4.4 miles today.  Minimal pain in the Crankle (I only felt it when I was going up a steep hill) – and I’m very happy about that.  I’m committed to taking it easy, though – no long runs, no speedwork – for the next couple of weeks.  Honestly, I don’t even care if I have to run short and slow.  I’m just so happy to be out there in the sunshine, tromping through the crunchy leaves.

HOORAY for personal grooming!

Before Saturday, I had not had a haircut since June.  Thanks, Holly at Hairdos, for hacking off my split ends and taming my frizzy mess!

HOORAY for douchebags!

Yeah…that too-good-to-be-true gym I posted about?  Definitely a no-go.   There isn’t even a pool at the location closest to me.  So…yeah, I’ll skip the douche-scene for now and hold out hope for a YMCA membership sale instead.

HOORAY for mini-Thanksgiving!

The hubs and I hosted a pre-party for Thanksgiving dinner tonight with a few friends.  I needed to try out a couple of my planned recipes before the big day.  Thanks Ellen and Caroline for being my guinea pigs!

And also Zach for, um….pretending to help cook. :)

All went well and I’m good to go for Thursday’s main event.   I’ll be slowly checking things off of this page for the next couple of days…

HOORAY for ambitious and complicated shopping lists!

What did you HOORAY this weekend?  Congrats to all of the Philly marathoners and half-marathoners!

Is it a sign?

As an economics nerd, I’m fond of phrases like: “There’s no such thing as free lunch.”  Or: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

However, when I plucked this flier from my mailbox today, it seemed like fate.

After a week of grousing about my lack of access to a pool, I get an ad for a brand new gym?  With a pool?  For 29 bucks a month?

It seems too good to be true.  Therefore, it probably is. But I’m gonna check it out anyway.  Tomorrow morning.  With swimsuit and goggles in hand.  (Not that I love swimming, but it’s the only form of cross-training that would really get my heart rate up without causing any Crankle issues.)

Anyone wanna guess on what the fatal flaw of this gym might be?  My guess is: packed with douchebags.  Or staffed by robots who don’t realize that the place is going to go bankrupt in six months by giving memberships away practically for free.  I guess I’ll find out soon enough!

Today’s EAT: This dinner came out looking quite appetizing.  I wish it had tasted as good as it looked.

I roughly followed an Eating Well recipe for Honey Mustard Chicken, and it was just really boring and bland.  The accompanying big salad with goat cheese and pine nuts was definitely the more exciting half of this dinner.

Today’s DRINK: Happy Beaujolis Nouveau Release Day!  I’m celebrating….

Picked up my bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolis Nouveau at Costco today.  So what is this stuff – and why should you care?  From Wiki:

Beaujolais nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France. It is the most popular vin de primeur, fermented for just a few weeks then officially released for sale on the third Thursday of November. This “Beaujolais Day”, or “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” sees heavy marketing from the producers, with races to get the first bottles of the vintage to different markets.

Which is to say…it’s really not anything that special, but it’s kind of a fun thing to celebrate.  The wine world’s equivalent of a Hallmark Holiday.  Some say that, because it’s such an early release, its flavors are a sneak peak of what’s to come.  But serious wine people tend to turn their noses up at it.

As a totally non-serious wine person, I enjoy it for what it is – a very young, very fruity wine!  A little cranberry, a little blackberry, a little licorice…definitely not a wine to pair with a fine steak, but fun to drink nonetheless.  It would make a great Sangria wine, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. :)

Today’s RUN:  I ran today!  First time in nine days.  I was to the point where I wasn’t feeling any pain in the Crankle, just a little stiffness now and then, so I headed out for a couple of very mellow miles.

I felt a teeny tiny bit of pain during the run – so faint that it made me wonder if I was making it up.  (Dear injury paranoia: I hate you.)  Post-run, the Achilles definitely felt a little achy.  I guess I’ll see how it feels tomorrow.  If it hurts, I’ll resign myself to more time off.  (At least maybe I’ll have a pool to swim in?)

Today’s QUESTION: Do you belong to a gym?  Is it packed with douchebags? I remember when I lived in LA, walking into an LA Fitness, taking one look around, and walking back out.  I am so not in to sceney gyms.  I really wish I could swallow the ridiculous initiation fee that our local YMCA charges, because I think that would be more up my alley.

Thanksgiving: the Uninviteds

If asked: what’s the best part about hosting a holiday meal? Most people would probably respond with something like: Oh, of course it’s welcoming people into my home and the warmth of the season and rainbows and unicorns and blah blah blahhhh….

Or perhaps some would be more pragmatic: It’s getting to stay home!  Who wants to deal with airports and traffic and all of those hassles?

I’m going to be perfectly honest: The best part of hosting Thanksgiving is getting to control the menu.

Thanksgiving has been mostly a “friends holiday” for the hubs and I over the last decade.  Amtrak to DC to visit friends!  Big raging party with classmates!  Camping in Joshua Tree!  Hot-tubbing with friends at their Hollywood apartment!  Yay, Thanksgiving is just a four-day weekend for fun!

Climbing in J-Tree, Thanksgiving '06. I used to be so much cooler.

This year, we’re doing things a little more traditionally, though, and I’m excited about it!  We’re hosting a small family gathering in our new apartment and for the last week, I’ve been poring over recipe websites trying to narrow the field.

A few dishes that will definitely be making an appearance beside the Turkey:

  • Stuffing.  Probably my single favorite Thanksgiving item.  I’m in agony over the number of options here, though.  Cornbread or sourdough?  Sausage or bacon?  Apples – in, or out?   Sage or thyme or both?  My head, it explodes.
  • Cranberries.  Homemade cranberry sauce is so freakin’ easy to make.  And while it may be a bit player on Thursday’s table, it’s the star of the show when it comes to Friday’s turkey-cranberry sandwiches (drool).
  • Salad.  Okay, you all know that I LOVE salad.  And while it may not be entirely traditional, I love incorporating Thanksgiving flavors (candied pecans, dried berries, pumpkin bread croutons, a hearty nutmeg vinaigrette) in a big salad to have as a first course.

And a couple of dishes that will NOT be invited to the party:

  • Green bean casserole. Seriously, I just don’t understand this dish.  I mean…it’s okay, but what is so special about mixing together slimy canned green beans and bland soup?  I’ll be serving fresh haricots-verts, roasted to perfection in browned butter, instead.  (Yes, I know I sound like a snot.  Whatever.)
  • Pumpkin pie.  Maybe it’s because canned pumpkin makes me want to gag, but again – what is to special about a plain ole’ pumpkin pie?  I mean, again, it’s okay.  But the crust and the ice cream on top are the best parts.  I’m thinking about serving a pumpkin bread pudding (a la Bobby Flay on the Thanksgiving Throwdown) instead.
  • Gravy.  I am just so indifferent to gravy.  I know I’ll end up making it because it’s not Thanksgiving without it, and I really can’t think of a creative substitute.  But gravy is always an afterthought for me.  I prefer my turkey and potatoes without it.

So…yes, I suppose those may be unpopular opinions.  But holiday eating always comes down to trade-offs and choices, right?  With such an abundance of options, there’s no reason to eat something if you don’t truly enjoy it.

Back to tinkering with my Thanksgiving spreadsheet. :)

Today’s EAT: Butternut squash soup from the freezer + corkscrew pasta, with a plop of Greek yogurt and some crumbled bacon.

Not a bad dinner for one!  I really did not feel like cooking for myself tonight and very nearly flopped on the couch with a box of cereal and called it a night.  I’m glad I looked in the freezer and saw this soup first!  Dinner was defrosted, boiled and stirred together in fifteen minutes.

Today’s DRINK: Meh – no wine tonight.  Just not in the mood.  However – if you have a sec, check out the new DRINKS page I’ve been working on!   I hope this is helpful to you guys – although honestly, I’m doing it as much for my benefit as yours, so I can keep track of what I have and haven’t tried. :)

Today’s RUN: Er, workout.  On your wise advice from my workout video rant the other day, I decided to give Jillian’s Yoga Meltdown a chance (thanks Kelly and GeekGirl!)  It was better than I thought it would be.  I was, at least, sweating and shaking a bit (in a holy-planks-you-want-me-to-hold-that-for-how-long? way, not in, like, a blood-sugar way) by the end.  I give it a 6/10 and would do it again in a pinch. :)

Today’s QUESTION: Which traditional Thanksgiving dish is your favorite – and which one could you really live without?

I ain’t no video ho

It’s official.  I don’t like workout videos.  Or…DVDs, as the kids call ’em these days. (Also, get offa my damn lawn.  And turn down that rock ‘n roll music.)

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Yup – I’m just not a video ho.  I have tried.  And I have failed.  I would rather flop around on my yoga mat like a beached manatee than follow along with a workout video.  Inevitably, I start them and then, five minutes in, grow frustrated with the pace and say to myself: “This is stupid, I’ll just do a hundred million crunches and push-ups instead.”

Which is what I did yesterday and today.  And now, I think my pecs are bruised.  And my abs?  Well, they hurt when I laugh, and that’s a big problem when you spend a big part of your day scouring the internet for hilarity.  (Recent wins?  Here and here.)

So tell me: aside from things like P90X/Insanity and 30DS (which I can’t do because they are too jumpy – bad for my ailing Achilles and also my relationship with our downstairs neighbors), are there workout videos that are intense and effective and…well, actually good?  Where do I find them?   Do I need to try these Core Fusion things?  Help!

Today’s EAT: Good grains! I do believe I’ve come around to the point where quinoa is a legitimate substitute for pasta.  (Remember when I wrote this skeptical and slightly condescending post?  I’ve come a long way!)

With shrimp and pesto, quinoa is a totally reasonable substitute for a giant plate of pasta.  (And I even paired it with a huge pile of arugula, because I have an even huger pile of arugula in my fridge to use up.)

Recipe: Pesto Quinoa with Prawns (EDR original)

Today’s DRINK: This Marques de Montanana, a Spanish Grenache, has been in my wine rack for quite a while.  I honestly don’t remember where I got it, but I’m sure it was inexpensive ($10 or under) given its position on the rack (it’s an intricate system).

It’s not bad!  Fairly mild and mellow, but strong enough to have some actual flavors (berry foremost among them, in my opinion).  I’ll look for this wine again!

Today’s RUN: Aside from the aforementioned frenzy of push-ups and planks?  I did nothing today.  In fact, I didn’t even leave my apartment today.  I did shower, though.  (That counts for something, right?  Oh, the specious standard of personal hygiene that I adhere to when working from home.)

Today’s QUESTION: What’s your go-to at-home workout?  Are you a video ho?