Here are pics from three recent eating events. Lindsay and I invented the Little Baby Ho Ho Ho Pie (don’t ask), Mandy and Dana came over for posole, and Kent made some of the best paella I’ve ever had. Not pictured: Chorizo taco night and stuffed acorn squash night. Homecooked happiness, Portland-style!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ok, off to Wisco I go! Merry Christmas!


Anyone around?

I’m sure, if you’re actually checking this periodically, you’ve wondered the same thing about me.  “I thought she started blogging again,” you’ve most likely wondered.  Well here’s sitch – I’ve been up to my eyeballs in fudge, lemon bars, sugar cookies, limoncello, bubbly, dinner parties, chorizo (both vegan and pork varieties), new music (!), happy friends and family, work, and almost-daily spin class. 

While I’ve refrained from going too far off the deep end this season, I certainly don’t appear to be shedding any dress sizes.  Therefore, Weigh-in Wednesdays will resume in 2k12 🙂  Through all of the wild times this month, I’ve been really preparing myself (and my people) for a major lifestyle change in January.  Between Keri’s birthday and Mandy’s birthday I will not drink, not eat out and will also be following the Take Shape for Life diet.  More on that later…

For now, though, Lindsay’s cat, Zoe, is keeping me company while I prep for a dinner at her apartment (I’m catsitting).  Tonight’s menu:  Vegan Posole (Mexican hominy stew) with salad and jalapeno cornbread!

Tomorrow night with Kent and Steph:  Paella and kale salad

Stay tuned for pics once I get a chance to upload them to my own computer.

Holiday dinner party to cook for?  Make this Posole ASAP!

three christmas baking parties in eight days.

I got out of baking duties during Party #1 (Koza Family) and Party #2 (Manlovers + Sonny at Corianne’s) by crafting (snowflakes and jewelry). It’s important to save my baking stamina for the yearly Peterson party (#3), which was extra fun this year with the addition of Baby John. The leftover lemon juice I’ve had staring at me from the fridge all week ended up on center stage this evening in my first-ever batch of lemon curd bars. My online search for the perfect lemon dessert kept falling short, and then it dawned on me. Check one of your cookbooks, fool. The Joy of Cooking to the rescue! The recipe is posted below.

Mom, don’t you think lemon biscotti would be swell? I think we should try it during Baking Party #4 (Ripon!).

Here is a super random mix of phone and point-and-shoot pics from the week’s events. (Seeing all of these wonderful people this week eclipsed any sort of sugar/butter/egg/flour guilt.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lemon Curd Bars
1 1/2 C flour
¼ C confectioner’s sugar
12 Tbsp cold butter

Preheat oven to 325F
Line a 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper (not necessary, but it makes the whole thing easier, and helps to prevent leakage).
Sift together the flour and confectioner’s sugar.
With two knives, pastry blender, or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour, until crumbly.
Press the dough into the pan evenly.
Bake for 20 min or until very lightly golden brown.

6 large eggs
3 C sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
1 C plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
1/C flour

Reduce temperature to 300F.
Whip the eggs with a whisk.
Whisk in the sugar.
Whisk in the zest and lemon juice.
Lightly sift the flour on top of the mixture, whisking it into the egg mixture to prevent lumps.
Pour it on to the baked crust.
Bake for 35 min. or until set.

Homemade takeout for Missy

Missy and I have plans for tonight that leave little time for cooking. So I made takeout Chinese to take her! The chopsticks are just a prop to remind you of the Asian flavor profile. Yes, that is whole wheat spaghetti… Fred Meyer didn’t have soba noodles (which are supposed to be the healthier, higher protein option). This dish required three pots going at once – one for the pasta, one for the tofu and another for the sweet potato. Once the sweet potato was done, I threw it in with the tofu (which was frying in peanut oil and soy sauce) and used its pan for onion, garlic and ginger. Once THAT was done, I added water chestnuts and mushrooms. From there it’s a free-for-all, and everything gets mixed together with random splashes of sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha, soy sauce, and chili sauce. Dash, dash, dash until it tastes like you like it. Beward of the saltiness getting out of hand.

I think she will like.

Lots of spinning so far this week… hoping to reverse some of the damage from the past two weeks. Weigh-in Wednesday tomorrow!

Dinner Club, White Elephant-style

My energy level has been non-existant today. I actually got to the gym, parked my car, GOT OUT of the car, got back in immediately… and left. No workout. And today of all days required one since it was our Dinner Club this evening. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow… and Mondays mean Chrisanthi Spin class. Instant mood enhancer.

The Limoncello went over well. If you find yourself in inner SE Portland, stop by for a sample, I have plenty left to share! I ended up mixing it with champagne and club soda for a sparkly, lighter option.

Other made-from-scratch dishes included: Cheese fondue, mind-blowingly-delicious green salad (with wasabi almonds and rice wine dressing), olive oil bread, leek gratin, tofu pot pie, pumpkin-stuffed pasta, and a pear galette and an apple galette for dessert.

Then we fought over white elephant gifts, and I ended up with a piece of raku pottery. Score! (My second choice totally would have been the fish cribbage board.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

24 lemons

This month’s Dinner Club theme is Make-Something-You’ve-Always-Wanted-to-Make-From-Scratch-but-Never-Have. Since it’s my turn to make the drink, Limoncello it is! And since we’re going to have more than our usual eight gals in attendence on Sunday, I decided to make a double batch, requiring the zest of over twenty lemons. Yes, that took forever, and yes, I lost some blood in the process. The vodka is currently mingling with the zest in a “cool dark place,” but once I sugar it up on Saturday, I’ll let you know how it tastes and will post the recipe.

After the zesting, I put the lemons back in the fridge unsure of what their next purpose would be. So today I began juicing with the intent of making a rad marinade/dressing of sorts.

All this citrus yielded about 3/4 of a liter of juice:

I used about 1/4 of that in a dressing that didn’t turn out so great… way too garlicy and tart. Refusing to add more than a tablespoon of honey, I made do. It ended up in an orzo pasta salad as well as a tofu marinade. Meh. Not worth sharing. The Limoncello better be worth the tang I’ve endured today!

Highlight of the day – Stacey teaching Spin class! Chrisanthi had an emergency, so Stacey plugged in her Ipod and led the class. I was very proud of my BGF. Good work, gal! You’re a natural! I snuck a quick shot:

weigh-in wednesday

Up a pound.

Ahh! The story of my journey – I find a positive groove and success – and then I botch it. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

This is a promise to myself to take off the two pounds I’ve put back on over the past two weeks by next weigh-in.

Part of my getting-back-on-track-after-Vegas strategy has been soup. Soup is filling and flavorful and can be very light in carbs. It’s a great vessel for protein and veggies, and I find it relatively guilt-free when I’m famished after work or working out. If only it was more photogenic!

This Sausage-Kale-Sweet Potato Soup is from Cooking Light magazine:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chopped onion (about 2 large)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound sweet turkey Italian sausage 8 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)
5 cups water 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package prewashed torn kale

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Remove casings from sausage; add sausage to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Add potato, 5 cups water, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and beans; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

I think I will have had three big and three small meals out of this recipe. And it’s foolproof – the longer the dish sits, the more the potatoes breakdown, giving it a heartier, stew-like consistency. Not going to lie though, it’s not easy on the eyes. Cooked kale is nothing but ugly.


Jaime’s Rock and Roll Wedding Weekend in Las Vegas

Please forgive me. Las Vegas derailed me a bit on the blogging and healthy living.

After flying in from our respective states, Keri, Carol and I met at the airport and made our way to the Monte Carlo on Saturday morning to begin celebrating the marriage of our childhood pal, Jaime, and her longtime fella, Will.

Pre-travel research informed me of a pretty nice (and free!) hotel gym for guests… and of course I had grand visions of using it all three days. I packed the workout clothes but only used them at the gym once (on Saturday after we checked in). On Sunday we got up early and walked the strip, window shopped, oohed and ahhed at the Bellagio’s glass art and Christmas displays… trying to burn a few calories before The Buffet. After the walk, we met Team Wedding back at the hotel for brunch.

I’d like to think I made the most of my first Vegas buffet experience: Prime rib, eggs benedict, shrimp and grits, UNLIMITED MIMOSAS!

You can find me in Portland this week at the gym, drinking gallons of water and eating kale and eggs at home 🙂 Weigh-in Wednesday will most likely NOT be my favorite day this week.

I’m still going through the pics, but here is one of us (on Saturday before the Michael Jackson Cirque show!) and the couple during the post-reception Keller Williams show. Let me know if you want to see the full Picasa album, and I’ll send it over!

Congratulations, Jaime and Will!

Turkey bone bean soup

Ty saved the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving, so we made soup out of it last night. The gray hue doesn’t exactly make this dish attractive, but it’s mindless and really healthy.

You’ll need: Turkey leg bones and meat removed and chopped, 2-3 boxes chicken broth, some chopped onion, carrot and celery, three bay leaves, a bag of TJ’s Bean and Barley mix. We started it in the Crockpot for a couple hours and moved it to stock pot to finsih off the beans. Easy does it when you’ve got a baby and toddler in the mix!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Baby John is the bee’s knees, isn’t he!?