A few updates…

April 5, 2009

I have had a really crazy couple of weeks. Mostly, they’ve been crazy because of the time I spent studying for the MAT. Ideally, I would have stretched out my studying but one of the grad school’s I’m applying to has rapidly approaching deadline so I had to go ahead and cram in about a week and a half. Both James and I have had some terrible health news on both sides of our families. His sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor and my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. It will be a while before we know anything about the breast cancer but, thankfully, James’ sister had the tumor removed this past Monday and, so far, is doing well in recovery. Please keep both families in your prayers.

Another crazy thing that happened was my performance at Lip Sync. Every year, Southeastern Bible College puts on Lip Sync and, as the name describes, students put together acts and lip sync to their favorite songs. Two fan favorites are Jordan McDaniel and Josh Scott but they had decided not to do one this year and people were pretty disappointed. Josh and I were headed to lunch on Wednesday with a friend and he mentioned that it was too bad that the deadline had passed because he and Jordan had thought of a good lip sync. Long story short, we convinced student council to let us enter late (it wasn’t hard, a lot of people had been asking why Jordan and Josh weren’t doing one) and learned a really complicated dance on Thursday and Friday afternoon. Yet another cram session for Jess this week. Anyhow, we preformed Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” with me as Beyonce and Jordan, Josh, and David Miller as the backup dancers plus a cameo appearance from Andrew Bevel. Let me just say, there was definitely a time when I was little miss “get up in front of people and do something crazy” but that just hasn’t been me at Southeastern. It was SO MUCH FUN! I used to take hip-hop so it was fun to get my groove back on – even though I was pretty sore Friday and Saturday from practice. We didn’t win – two of the judges rated us as the number one act but the other judge gave us a 6/10 – I think it might have been a little too risque for said judge. I mean, you can only tone down Beyonce so much. We did get an honorary mention and probably the biggest crowd response and we got to perform it twice. Anyhow – I’ll try to post the video here once I get it.

Another update – so I took the MAT on Thursday and it turns out that I did really well. I don’t want to post my score here but let me just say that it was high enough for me to reconsider where I apply for grad school. Although I still really want to go to Denver it’s significant that some of these larger schools which are harder to get into have more money to give their students. If I could get a good scholarship somewhere, that would change a lot of things. Because of that score I think I’m going to also take the GRE. The only thing about it is that a lot of the application deadlines have already passed so I would have to do a January start. We’ll see how it all pans out. It’s exciting to have more options though.

What else? Oh, well, this is going to be a fantastic week! My best friend Kristen is coming down from Nebraska with her baby, Samantha, and we’re going to spend a couple of days at my Aunt’s cabin in Ellijay. I can’t wait! Then it’s Ryan and Jessica’s wedding on Saturday! Good times.

Alright, that’s all for now. Sorry there are no recipes. I probably won’t get around to posting any until next week. Wait with much expectation!

so sorry

April 1, 2009

Thanks to all of y’all faithful readers who keep on checking back! Don’t give up on me just yet. I’ve been preparing for the MAT and that has taken a lot of my time and energy. I take it tommorrow so I promise to post something on Friday – pray I do well on that test!

turkey-chili

James made us some delicious White Turkey Chili this week. It ended up CRAZY spicey since we couldn’t find canned tomatillos so we used tomatillo salsa instead and omitted the canned green chiles. It might have been bearable if we had taken the jalapeno out. Nonetheless, it was quite tastey. The recipe is below.

It’s been a weird week. Jumbo got an infection which was the demise of Monday for me. Spring break is uneventful. Reading for a paper, studying for the MAT, trying to be creative (which, I should note, is not conducive to creativity), and feeling badly about not having a job while James goes off to work. I know, it’s a lot for two days. Today I’m listening to some This American Life, painting a gift for a friend, and then headed to lunch with Jessi, my roomie from Samford who I haven’t seen in ages and then I’ll go for a run. I haven’t really run in so long and I really miss it. Hopefully it goes well.

Alright, here’s the recipe – it serves 6-8:

1 pound ground turkey

Salt

Cumin

1 slice white bread or 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 bay leaf

1 (28-ounce) can tomatillos, drained and chopped – or a whole bunch of raw tomatillos chopped.

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained

1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely sliced

2 cups chicken broth

2 cans Great Northern Beans

Chopped cilantro (optional)
Grated Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

1. Place the bread and milk in a small bowl and set aside. Place the turkey in a large bowl and sprinkle with a bunch of salt and cumin. Mush up the bread in the milk into a paste and mix the paste into the turkey. Make that mixture into a bunch of small meatballs.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add the onions and peppers to the pan and saute until the peppers are soft and the onions are translucent. Add the coriander, cumin, oregano, salt, and bay leaf and stir to coat the vegetables.

3. Add the tomatillos, chiles, jalapeno, broth, and beans and bring the pot to a boil. I should say now that we pureed one of the cans of beans to make a thicker chili and that was quite tasty. Once you get the chili up to a boil reduce it to a simmer, gently drop in the meatballs and push them down until they’re covered in liquid, cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Give the soup a taste and see what it needs adjusting in. Top with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and lime or just eat it plain. About 350-400 calories per serving depending on your toppings. Tastes even better the next day.

Belated loser food

March 13, 2009

So, I completely neglected posting a loser food recipe this week. Sorry about that. I was just going to ignore my own oversight and post next week but this morning I whipped up something so delicious I just had to post it. It isn’t really dinner food, I had it for breakfast, but it could certainly pass for dessert. If you try it and love it maybe it will make up for my neglect.

Before that, how about some updates.

Life is trucking along as usual. Nothing too eventful. Next week is Spring Break and I can’t believe my last semester at Southeastern is almost over. It’s just crazy to me. I’m hoping to spend the next week catching up on some things and getting ahead on some others.

Still no job for me. It gets me pretty down sometimes – I feel guilty more than anything. Thankfully, it’s not James that makes me feel guilty; he is so understanding and supportive. Susan, you did a great job with him! Anyhow, will all of this free time I’ve been able to spend some good quality time with friends which is a great thing since we’ll be parting ways in a few months. Also, this free time has given me a chance to try out some new things – particularly artistic things. That’s been great and I’m hoping to turn it into a way to make a little money.

Another fun thing I’ve started doing is walking Taryn and Herbert’s dog, Katie. I’ve only been doing it for about a week and she had never been to a park or been around other dogs or really been around many people so she’s been pretty rambunctious. She is learning though so I feel confident that she’ll eventually become a dog I can run with – that’s the goal anyway.

Ok, that’s all for now. On to the recipe. I used to be really into smoothies, especially ones with bananas and protein powder in them. However, once I started counting my calories I realized that those smoothies were a pretty caloric way to start the day. I switched over to some granola and milk or yogurt and peanut butter – or some other combination of the three. I’m ready for a bit of a change, at least on some mornings and I realized that I’m a little low on my fruit and protein intake so I thought I would try the smoothies again. I bought some frozen fruit yesterday and tried to whip up a lower calorie concoction this morning. What I ended up with was something more akin to strawberry ice cream than a smoothie and it was oh so delicious! Not only was it tasty but it’s only about 160 calories, packed with fruit, and has a nice dose of protein with 17 grams! Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 scoop protein powder

70 grams frozen strawberries (or a half a cup if you don’t have a food scale)

70 grams frozen peaces

Blend it up until nice and frothy! I set my blender on liquefy, did my make-up, and when I came back I had a nice foamy frozen deliciousness. It’s a nice big serving and it was really really filling. I nice, frosty, refreshing way to start the day or a tasty follow up for dinner. Hope you like it!

tomato1

Easiest soup ever. Ok, not the easiest. It is pretty easy though.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes – slice the tomatoes in half (or, really, you can leave them whole – sometimes I don’t feel like it either) and reserve the liquid

6 garlic cloves peeled and left whole

1/4-1/2 red onion – cut into 1″ cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 chicken bouillon cube or one cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil – oh, please use the fresh stuff if you have it. Just add it at the very end.

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

a splash of 1/2 and 1/2

salt

pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the tomatoes, garlic, and onion with the olive oil in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish or large roasting pan. Spread them into an even layer and give them a good dose of salt and pepper. Pop those in the oven for 30-45 minutes. I know, that’s kind of a broad range but you really don’t want any of it to burn. That’s why it’s important to leave the onion in fairly large pieces. So, check it after 30. A good way to test to see if it’s done is to check the garlic – it should be much softer than when you put it in there. The more raw everything is, the harsher the taste of the soup.

2. Meanwhile, pour the reserved tomato liquid in a small pot (or a larger pot if you have an immersion blender) over high heat along with the bouillon/broth, oregano, basil, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring that mixture to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered (if you use the larger pot, cover the pot entirely).

3. Put your roasted goodies, your tomato broth, and a splash of half and half into a blender and puree. Make sure you take the little insert out of the lid of the blender and cover it with a folded dishtowel and your hand. If you leave the insert in it will blow off – heat expands. If you have an immersion blender, just add the roasted vegetables and the half and half to the broth in the large pot and puree it that way. Less cleanup – I wish I had one!

4. Give the soup a taste. It may need more salt or pepper or even brown sugar. This recipe is pretty easy but it usually needs a little fiddling with at the end since I’m not altogether regular in my roasting techniques. The good news is that if you do burn some veg, just toss in a little extra brown sugar at the end to cut the bitterness.

Tonight we’ll be enjoying this soup with a small spinach salad and some feta stuffed pitas. We were going to eat these but we’re out of flour – how crazy is that? Fortunately, we’ve got some pitas leftover from when I made this last night – which, by the way, was amazing so you should try that too.

Anyhow, that’s the loser food for today. Two cups of this soup will be about 210 calories.

I Contribute to Society

March 1, 2009

Ok, well maybe I don’t contribute to society but I do contribute to a new blog. Here’s a description of what it is from the blog itself:

“Well, I’m here to answer that as best I can for the first post of Friendly Fire. The guys who will be regular writers here are all followers of Jesus, and wanted to start a sort of conversational community here for the purpose of asking what following Jesus means now, in our time and place. We’re not here to preach or merely criticize, but to ask real questions and hit on important issues that we think have, in many ways, been swept under a rug, poorly thought through, or even ignored totally. We want this to be a place where everyone with pure motives is welcome, and no topic is too basic, too ‘normal’, or too sacred to explore for the purpose of being truer disciples of Christ. So, to that end, welcome to Friendly Fire, and to the conversation.”

So, they’ve decided to invite a woman into the conversation. The other contributors are Michael Glawson, Ryan Junkin, and Chuck Hooten. If that all sounds interesting to you, hop on over and check it out at thefriendlyfire.wordpress.com

I’m neck high in missions conference shenanigans. I hope you don’t mind waiting for a new recipe until next week. I’ll try to post some pictures from the conference this week – the decor turned out pretty amazing if I do say so myself.

sweet-potatoThat’s right – potato chowder. I know what you’re thinking, I can’t eat something called chowder – it’s loaded with calories! If you’re thinking that now then wait until you see the ingredient list – 1/2 cup of heavy cream! What?!?! That’s not allowed! Well, guess what, it is.

Although this is a potato chowder it’s much better for you than your typical loaded baked potato soup. This chowder has sweet potatoes – these bright orange veggies are rich in vitamin A and C which are both vital nutrients and powerful antioxidants. Oh, and you get a good dose of B6 too.

As for the heavy cream, I reduced it by half from the original recipe and it only adds about 35 calories per serving. Although it’s fatty you’re not getting a lot of fat with this recipe so it fits into the moderation category.

The best thing about this recipe is that it is totally filling! You’ll get about 315 calories for two cups worth – that’s a lot of soup when it’s something rich like this. I toss a little spinach in some balsamic vinegar and olive oil and call it a meal.

This recipe is taken (with a few changes) from The Daily Soup Cookbook by Carla Ruben, Bob Spiegel, and Peter Siegel (1999).

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil (they call for butter – I’m fresh out)

1 large Spanish onion, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons salt (they call for the kosher stuff – once again, I’m all out)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

7 sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch cubes (they call for 4 sweet potatoes and 3 yams – well I’m sorry, WalMart doesn’t make those kind of distinctions)

1 cup frozen corn (they call for the fresh stuff off of two ears of corn)

1/2 cup heavy cream (they call for a whole cup)

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

they call for 1/2 cup chopped fresh curly parsley – I think parsley is gross.

How to do it:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sugar and caramelize for 10 minutes, until tender and golden.

2. Add the thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and stir to coat the onion.

3. Add the stock, sweet potatoes, yams, and corn (only if you’re using the fresh stuff – wait if you’re using frozen corn) and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

4. Stir in the heavy cream (and the frozen corn if you’re using that) until heated through.

5. Remove the bay leaves and puree about one quarter of the chowder in a blender or a food processor until smooth. If you’ve got an immersion blender that might work so long as you don’t blend the entire thing.

6. Return the puree to the pot and stir in the garlic.

Ladle that mess up and top it with some nasty parsley if you like.

Enjoy!!

Tofu again, I hope there aren’t too many of y’all out there that hate it. I love tofu for three important reasons: 1. Tofu is a flavor sponge – it morphs to happily join any type of cuisine. 2. Tofu is a good source of protein. 3. Tofu is CHEAP compared to the cost of meat. So, all I am saying is, “Give tofu a chance.”tofu1Did you know that I am an expert at Paint? Here’s the proof. You try drawing Todd the Tofu.

So, without further ado – tofu tacos. This recipe is “as few dishes as possible” friendly. You can measure out the tablespoons and teaspoons and all that jazz but you don’t need to. You’re making a marinade.

This recipe is based on that recipe.

Ingrediamentes –

1 package of firm tofu

3 big squirts of lime juice – about three tablespoons – from one of those little lime bottles which can be found by the real limes. If you’re feelin snazzy grab some real limes. I was feeling lazy, not snazzy at all.

2 swirls of olive oil (when I say swirls I mean that you should hold the bottle upside down over whatever pan you’re going to marinate the tofu in and tracing a big circle in the pan) – about two tablespoons.

2 swirls soy sauce – this is the one ingredient that there really can be too much so don’t go crazy.

4 shakes of garlic powder. You can use three cloves of minced garlic but this will dirty things and the bits of garlic may burn upon grilling/sauteing.

3 shakes of oregano

1 big pinch of minced chipotle in adobo sauce. Now, I cheat on this one. Chipotle is an amazing ingredient but it usually only comes in cans and I never use up the whole thing in one recipe (that would be suicide) and I always forget that it’s in my fridge and then it goes bad and then I’ve wasted a few bucks. This is no good. So, as a replacement I use Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Sauce & Marinade – Southwest Chipotle. I know, cheesy name. Nonetheless, it is a perfect replacement. If you use this, add a splash to the pan – more if you like it spicy.

1 large yellow onion

1 green bell pepper

2 more swirls of olive oil – not to be added to the marinade.

1 big pinch of sugar

8  6-inch Corn Tortillas

1. In a shallow dish – I used an 8 x 8 baking dish – mix the lime, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, oregano, and chipotle. Cut your tofu in half and then cut the two halves in half longways. You should have four thin rectangles. Place those in the marinade up to 24 hours and no less than 2 hours before you want to eat it and refrigerate. Flip them over about halfway through marinating time.

2. Heat your indoor grill to medium. If you don’t have one, heat a small pan over medium heat. Heat the second two swirls of olive oil in a large skillet. Slice the onion in half longways and cut each half into at least six long wedges. Remove the seeds and ribs from the bell pepper and cut the pepper into long strips. Add them to the hot pan and add a big pinch of salt. Let those saute a couple of minutes before moving on.

3. Dump the marinade minus the tofu into the pan with the onions and peppers. Stir in a big pinch of sugar and allow the mix to simmer.

4. Dip a paper towel in oil and wipe your grill or small pan down with it. Add the tofu. Cook until both sides are brown. The tofu will stay soft in the middle so be careful when you handle it so it won’t fall apart. Set those aside on a plate to cool.

5. Warm your tortillas one by one in the pan you used to cook the tofu. I find that about two tortillas per person is a good amount.

6. Keep sauteing and simmering those peppers and onions until they are soft. They should be soft by now but just in case.

7. To assemble – Cut each piece of tofu in half longways placing one small half in each tortilla you plan to use. Give each taco a big pile of peppers and onions. Enjoy the deliciosity.

I know, I’m so lazy, no calorie count and no picture of the finished product. I’m telling you, these are super delicious. Ok, alright, I’ll figure it out – it shouldn’t take too long

ok, one taco is about 150 calories so enjoy 2 for 300 :).

Anniversary and Loser Food

February 3, 2009

I have to admit, this is going to be a half-hearted edition of cooking for losers. I’ve got a headache, I’m kind of tired, and I’m kind of crabby. We’re not even eating this loser dish tonight, we ate it last Thursday night. Now, it’s half-hearted only because I’m going to estimate the amounts and I’m not going to go through the work of exacting the nutritional information. I am wholly confident that it fits within the guidelines and I know from experience that the dish is delicious. I would post what we’re eating tonight but I haven’t decided yet. So, the recipe with a finished product photo is below. The dish is SUPER easy—SUPER SUPER easy and full of flavor. Simple Sauteed Chicken and Spinach Parm Rice. So good. Before I give you that recipe – here are some pics from our festivus anniversary celebration! Five years! I can’t believe it. We were really blessed to spend the weekend at my Aunt Jill’s cabin – Mary Paul’s Morning Mist Cottage – a place dedicated to my grandmother. It is an AMAZING place. Tucked in the woods beside a creek with a big stacked fireplace and nice hot tub. It’s got two bedrooms with huge, snuggly beds, a living room full of overstuffed furniture, a pool table, cable, tons of movies, a big kitchen and adorable towns just down the road. We wished we could stay a week which is what we did for the first weekend of our honeymoon. It was very romantic to be back there.

A surprise from James – flowers and fun chocolate

white chocolate coconut, dark chocolate with chili, and milk chocolate with sea salt and smoked almonds

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James chowing on one of the four pieces of cheesecake I picked up before the trip – a friend had given us a gift card and it just had to be used up! Ok, maybe not all at once but whatever.

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Making a little breakfast.

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OK, so it was a big breakfast.

5th-anniversary-018

Homemade pop tarts. Drool is appropriate.

5th-anniversary-021

We heart each other. He hearts me even with no makeup.

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Feet in front of the fire.

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We went to downtown Ellijay and James wanted a picture with the bear.

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James found this and was pretty proud of himself.

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More cheesecake.

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James caught me reading the guestbook where I wrote some pretty

embarrassing and gushing things on our honeymoon and our first anniversary.

5th-anniversary-047

OK, we have a ton more pictures but I’ll make myself stop. We had such a great time!

Here’s the Loser recipe:

5th-anniversary-001

Ingredients:

1 package chicken cutlets

olive oil

salt

pepper

1 cup dry rice cooked according to package instructions – we used brown rice

1/2 bag of spinach chopped up into bite sized pieces

1 palmful of shredded parmesan cheese or you can use the grated stuff

1 clove of garlic, minced – we did add one more clove but don’t do that unless you really like garlic like we do – it doesn’t get cooked so it’s pretty strong.

1. Heat some oil in a pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken with a good dose of salt and pepper. Lay the cutlets flat in the pan. Cook three to four minutes on each side. Done.

2. Stir together the hot rice, spinach, garlic, a dash of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Give that a taste and adjust the seasonings. Done.

Enjoy. It’s probably in the 300-400 range. One day I’ll do the math for ya.