A Day in the Life of Edith

Edith is my 11-year-old cat, but she's basically my child. She's curious and moody and super-tolerant - both of my incessant smothering (a Penelope to my Pepe le Pew) and Morgan's misguided attempts to befriend her. Mostly, she's sweet and so, so adorable.

Ever wonder what your pet does when you're not home? I do. Since I'm around all day during the summer, I had a chance to follow Edith around one day and observe her activities. (Comically, I didn't manage to capture a pic of Edith eating, which she does OFTEN.) Overall, she really doesn't do anything interesting at all, but the exercise produced some pretty cute pictures :)


Brunch fabulousness

This past weekend, Morgan and I made a trip to Boulder for brunch. Boulder has an astounding number of great restaurants - especially brunch places - and though we have many favorites, we wanted to try something new. That something took shape in Centro Latin Kitchen, a place that has been around for years but one we've always overlooked somehow. Centro is probably better known for their drinks/happy hour, but we were so intrigued by a Latin brunch concept that we just had to try it.

Centro opens at 9:30 on Sunday mornings, so we made sure to be there right at that time to avoid a crazy wait. Good thing, too - when we left about an hour later, the place was nearly full. Anyway, as we were seated, we were given a regular menu and a happy hour menu. Whaaaa? A BRUNCH happy hour? What a cool idea.

The happy hour menu featured a bunch of menu items (drinks, too) priced between $2-$4. We assumed that the super-low prices must mean that these dishes were mere bites, so we ordered several. < Wrong. The plates were surprisingly substantial; I could have ordered two things and been completely content, if not full. So clearly, this happy hour brunch is a smokin' deal for this place (especially since they have regular brunch menu items priced all the way up to $15).

The food: well, it was incredible. Each dish was just special - a creative fusion of flavor in just the right amounts. The sweet dishes weren't too sweet, the spicy dishes featured a delicious heat. Here's what we ordered:

Coffee (with horchata [cinnamon rice milk] instead of cream)
Smoked cheddar biscuits & chorizo gravy (the only item from the regular menu)
Hash browns with pork green chile
Chocolate-chunk pancakes with blueberry-tequila syrup (< gluten-free!)
Burnt (bruleed) grapefruit 
Breakfast taco w/egg and ranchero sauce
Coconut-battered banana with vanilla anglaise

In all, the experience felt so contently unique to the average brunch meal. The ambiance is cool, the food outstanding, and we walked out of there with a second meal's worth of leftovers -- and a final bill of $22. Freaking awesome!


Food Revelation: Cauliflower Rice

I may never cook with rice again.

Earlier this week, I spied a recipe for cauliflower "rice" on Pinterest. Intrigued, I pinned it and figured it might be a useful recipe to try in the next month - especially since Morgan and I are trying to watch our carb intake before the wedding. We're big fans of cauliflower "mashed potatoes," and so using it to create rice didn't seem like a huge stretch. And when I decided to make crockpot Swedish meatballs for dinner tonight, the cauliflower rice sounded like a great replacement for the typical starch that would lie beneath these meatballs. 

It's so impressive to me when people think outside the box with food (particularly vegetables) and find new ways to use it. Cauliflower rice is a perfect example of this - it's basically just steamed cauliflower that was cut up to look like rice. Mild and soft, the cauliflower soaked up the meatball gravy just as well as regular rice or noodles. I'm sure this cauliflower would sub in well for rice in any recipe - maybe in casseroles or soup. 

Crockpot Swedish Meatballs with Cauliflower Rice

1.5# ground turkey, 3/4 c. fine breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 1/2 c. milk, 1/2 c. minced onion, 1 T. Worcestershire , 1 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, 1/2 t. garlic powder, 1 t. dried parsley

1/3 c. flour, 2 t. paprika, 1/2 t. pepper, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. garlic powder, 1 t. dried parsley, 3 c. boiling water, 1 1/4 c. sour cream or plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, milk, onion, Worcestershire, and spices in a large bowl. Drizzle 1/8 c. olive oil into a cast iron skillet. Roll meat into walnut-shaped balls and place in the pan. When all of the meat is formed, put pan into the oven and allow meatballs to brown, turning once. 

Lightly grease the crock pot and set to high. Dump meatballs into crockpot, cover and cook 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in the skillet, heat drippings, boiling water, flour, spices, and sour cream/yogurt. Pour gravy over the meatballs in the crockpot and allow to cook on high for one hour. Turn heat to low and cook 1-3 hours more before serving.

*Both the meatball and the gravy recipes can be adjusted to taste, and would adapt well to additions or changes. Next time, I'm going to add sliced mushrooms to the gravy, and oregano to the meatballs. 

1 head cauliflower, 1/8 c. olive oil, 3 chopped scallions, 3 minced garlic cloves 

Rinse and core the cauliflower. Cut into bite-sized pieces, and then whirl in the food processor. *A grating blade is the best, but if you don't have that attachment, just dice with the regular blade. Cauliflower should be small and rice-like (or resemble crumbled feta). 

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add scallions and garlic and cook over medium until the garlic is lightly browned. Add cauliflower and stir to coat. Crank the heat to med-hi and allow cauliflower to brown. Cover the pan (so that cauliflower will steam) and stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. 

In a bowl, layer cauliflower, meatballs & gravy, and peas. Yum!


Telluride - April 2012

We traveled to Telluride this past weekend to finalize several details involving our wedding ceremony, which is only a month away. OMG.

Anyway, it was a great trip - very productive. We met our wedding officiant, who is a wonderful guy and the perfect person for the job. We also secured the wedding site, and saved a little time to have dinner with local friends. I'm so excited to marry my best friend in such a beautiful place! 


 The view from our wedding hotel

 Pastries from Baked in Telluride + mountain 'scapes = heaven

Wedding Travels - San Fran

I've been lucky enough to travel to two fabulous places for wedding-related tasks in the past month, one being San Francisco. My sister and I went to San Fran at the end of March for the wedding dress fitting, and had a great time exploring the city. We toured Alcatraz and hung out with our ultra-cool relatives, Uncle Paul and Tete Bonnie. It was a blast, although too quick of a trip. I learned a few things on this adventure, too:

1) The San Fran public transit (re: bus system) is confusing and inability to navigate it may result in copious amounts of walking through multiple neighborhoods. 

2) When one is tired of walking said copious amounts, a sighted trolley may seem like an oasis in the desert. Be warned...the trolley is a dangerous, wild ride. How that dude controls a vehicle overloaded with annoying tourists - all  with one pulley-stick-thingy - is beyond me.

3) If one should ever master said bus system and actually board a bus, know that one might still look like a tourist (despite efforts to seem otherwise). In these cases, it's best to not speak to the self-proclaimed meth addict sitting across from you. Just FYI.

4) After a long day of walking and riding buses, French-owned coffee shops sell delicious almond croissants. 

5) Yes, it is possible to walk from Union Square to the Golden Gate Bridge. But it's a looooooooong way. :)

Here are a few pics from our trip...

 Prime hotel location

 Hang on around curves!

 Fisherman's Wharf cuisine

 Beautiful Golden Gate

 Bizarre/beautiful monument thingy...still not sure what it was/who put it there

 This was a steep hill. Believe it.

 Oh, my sister Summer...she makes friends where ever she goes!


Long-Overdue Update, Part One: Bridal Shower

I haven't had much time to post anything new in the last few months, mostly because time is short when you're planning a wedding! However, a bunch of great things have happened lately, so here's a photo summary (part one)....

Bridal Shower 3.3.12
My amazing friends - Elizabeth, Kasey, and Robynn - threw the most wonderful tea party bridal shower. The day included heirloom tea cups, specialty loose tea flavors, tasseography, and unbelievable food...as well as the company of some truly incredible women in my life. 
The beautiful tea cups...
...and the incredible spread.
Ryan was allowed to attend the shower, too - but only if he worked as the "butler." He totally has a back-up career option if he ever tires of teaching...
The joke of the day involved my tendency to make faces in photos; I freaking hate taking photos! Since I usually look stupid anyway, I'll take matters into my own hands and just create stupidity of my own. Example one: Sexy coffee maker photo
Example two: So excited (!!!) bamboo steamer photo
Example three: Almost-dropped-the-expensive-teacup-so-best-friend-had-to-help-out photo
Example four: Found-a-buddy-to-help-sabotage-photos photo
Hostesses + bride, stupid photo #55

Bad photos or not, it was a fantastic day - one that I won't soon forget. Coming soon: Long-Overdue Update (LOU), Part Two: Wedding Dress Adventure. Stay tuned!

Healthy Cookie Dough Bites

So...I have no idea how this recipe works, but it just does. These babies taste just like raw cookie dough - seriously! I traded the agave for brown rice syrup, but otherwise made just as directed. So delicious!

Raw Cookie Dough Bites
  • 2/3 cup raw almonds
  • 2/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 2/3 cup raw oat flakes (see note below)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw agave nectar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips
  1. In a food processor, process the almonds, walnuts, oats, cinnamon and salt to a fine meal.
  2. Add the agave nectar and vanilla and process to combine.
  3. Next, add the cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips) and pulse just to combine.
  4. Roll the cookie dough into balls (about 1 tbsp each) and place them on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper. Place the pan in the freezer for about an hour to firm up. Store balls in a tightly covered container in the freezer.


(Almost) Week 7: Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Bake

The past few weeks have gone really well with the diet. I've lost 12 pounds in six weeks - right on target! One thing I actually like about dieting is that my love for cooking is constantly satiated (and challenged) because these days I am always on the hunt for healthy recipes. I'm glad that this favorite hobby doesn't have to suffer in my quest to be fit.

Anyway, I found this recipe a few weeks back, and after making it again today, I feel it's too awesome not to share. It's loaded with cinnamon-y, reminds-you-of-autumn flavor, and highlights the superfood quinoa. Next time, I'm going to try replacing the pumpkin with banana and see if that results in something reminiscent of banana bread. Yum!

Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Bake adapted from www.healthfulpursuit.com

  • 2/3 cup milk 
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 T. maple syrup 
  • 1 t. coconut oil
  • 1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1.5 T. rolled oats or barley
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1 t. chia seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil a 4 cup casserole dish. 
  2. In a small bowl combine all ingredients, minus the topping. Stir until fully mixed, then pour into prepared casserole dish.
  3. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine all topping ingredients. After the 30 minutes are up, remove casserole from oven and sprinkle topping over top of the casserole.
  5. Return to the oven and cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Makes 2 servings.


Week 4 - Food Obsession

Wow, it's the start of week 4 already!

It's also the start of a new year for me, as today I'm 34. When I think about it, I've been concerned about my weight for nearly half of my life. Today is no different, as I struggle with the dilemma that arrives on every birthday - to eat cake, or not to eat cake? To indulge, or act like it's just another day? That's the problem with having a birthday in January (always a big diet month), and being a complete foodie. Food is how I've always celebrated the high points in life, and how I've consoled myself in low moments. I know that I've got to change this relationship.

It's funny to consider that I have a relationship with food, but there's no denying that I do. In fact, it's the one  relationship I need to fix - and since my human relationships are healthy and happy, why not work on this one?

I'm tackling this situation much like I'd tackle an unhealthy human relationship: separate, contemplate, replace/renew.  First, I’m going to focus on separation: stop connecting food to emotions. Because I’ve always celebrated and commiserated with food, this will be the toughest task. I find happiness/excitement in going out to dinner; I find comfort in a warm bowl of mac n’ cheese on a bad day. When my fiance lived out of state, my band-aid for loneliness/sadness took the form of potato chips or chocolate cake. And, because I was often bored and lonely, I would fill the time with researching new recipes or indulging in favorite ones. 

These past few days, I’ve had to really separate myself from food. Otherwise, the single day of my birthday could snowball into 4, 5, 6 days of overindulgence under the “celebratory umbrella.” It’s been hard - really hard. Especially when things that seem normal, like eating a piece of birthday cake, end up compromising the day’s points. It’s why I’m thankful for the WW tracking system, as I was able to see that eating an entire piece of cake wasn’t an option today...but that eating a few bites AND enjoying the company of my coworkers could be enough of a celebration. 

A last thing - my birthday present to myself was a digital scale, which, awesomely, arrived in the mail today! I’m excited to have a much more reliable version of a tool that will useful on my path to permanent weight loss.

It's going to be a great week!


2012 Resolution: Week 1

So, this first week of my resolution has been interesting.

It started with two days of a detox/cleanse, a.k.a. two days of hell/horror. Okay, it really wasn't that bad :) I thought it would be a good plan to trick myself into my 1200 calorie diet by detoxing right before. The idea behind this is that I'd be so sick of eating virtually nothing that I'd be EXCITED about 1200 calories. Guess what? It worked. By the end of detox day two (after 48 hours of nothing but mostly quinoa and vegetables), I was over the moon at the prospect of Wednesday's 1200 calorie menu. Coffee! Apples! Soup! Happiness all around.

The next four days were mostly painless. There was a slight low blood sugar issue on Wednesday, quickly solved when I realized I hadn't eaten any protein, but otherwise everything went well. The hardest part about this diet so far is not eating after 7 p.m. I find myself rushing to get dinner made by then, and if I'm still awake at 9, my mouth thinks it wants something sweet. So instead, I drink tea...and last night, I tried chewing gum. That worked well - my mouth was busy engaging with a delicious piece of Trident Layers Cherry-Lime. Perfect solution.

There have been a few nice surprises this week, too. First, I've discovered a really cool cookbook by Rocco DiSpirito. It's filled with all kinds of delicious recipes, all with low calorie counts - and, hooray - WeightWatchers point totals, too! Makes things much easier.

Ellie's Balsamic Chicken
Chicken Enchiladas
Another surprise was the high success rate of the two dinners I prepared for Morgan. They were scrumptious - and both under 350 calories and 8 WW points each. And while Morgan is almost always a good sport about diet food, it's a real bonus if he actually likes the meal and offers to eat it again. Click on these links to get to these recipes: Ellie Krieger's Balsamic Chicken + Spinach and Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde.

One final surprise - I lost four pounds this week! This is a quick drop, but it's not surprising; I think the detox probably had something to do with it. Regardless, losing is winning!

Looking forward to the upcoming week, as it marks the beginning of my exercise plan. I think this will be more of a challenge than the dieting...mostly because I don't love working out. We'll see how it goes!