Chopped out

I’m not even going to try to be witty tonight because all I can hear running through my head is a repeating loop of chop this, chop this, chop this. I never want to see another knife or another veggie again. (I will probably change my mind tomorrow, though.)

Anyway, we had steak salads for lunch made with leftover steak from Saturday night’s grilling:

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Also in the salads: arugula from the garden (10 million times better than from the store — it’s super super hot and spicy), green onions from the garden, chives from the garden, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, feta, and drizzles of balsamic and herby olive oil.

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Dessert was a teeny bit (like 2 tbsp) of leftover carrot cake oatmeal with extra pineapple, apple, cinnamon, and cardamom:

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Mom and I forged on throughout the afternoon to make enough food for 30 armies to send to my dad’s house: chicken cacciatore, beef-kielbasa-barley stew, and pumpkin grapenut pudding. Mom was in charge. I followed her commands. Chop this, chop this, chop this. At some point, I had a minor breakdown and abandoned the kitchen in favor of a nap on the porch bench. I am not made to be a sous-chef, nor am I made for large-scale food prep.

My dad came over around 7pm to collect the goods, and mom gave him detailed serving and reheating instructions. Dad, I expect a full report as you eat these things!

Sarah Whiting (aka Ting) and her friend Nora came over for dinner. I completely forgot to take people pictures, grrrrr. But I did take food pics. I made chips from the stale whole wheat roll-ups and guacamole from two avocados, black bean and corn salsa, fresh tomato, fat free sour cream, fresh lime juice, and cayenne.

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We ate it all very quickly (a significant portion is sitting in my belly now). We also enjoyed more Golden Star sparkling white jasmine tea spritzers (1/3 tea, 2/3 plain seltzer).

The main course was chicken-pineapple-onion-green pepper-kielbasa skewers. I’m pretty sure I spent hours skewering these things. John started them off in the stone grill outside, but they weren’t cooking fast enough, so we finished the job inside with a quick broil in the oven. Ting and Nora brought an awesome pesto-bean salad with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The plate:

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The skewers may not have been able to finish outside, but the sweet potatoes did, however, do quite well in the stone grill with perfect char.

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Dessert was fresh watermelon:

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And pizelle cookies:

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Dinner with the girls was so fun — Ting and I needed the chance to catch up, and we had some very interesting conversations, not the least of which was my mom’s recounting of her competitive bodybuilding days. And like I said, I’m exhausted. And stuffed. I’m heading back to NY at some point tomorrow, though I don’t know my exact schedule. And I’m too tired to deal with the bus schedule right now!

I can’t think of a question. What question would you ask now, and how would you answer?

One down …

I’m almost there! Just one more paper due Thursday, and I will be temporarily free. Plus, since I got tomorrow’s paper done already, I will be free to spend my birthday lazing around and feeling sorry for my elderly status before I have to go to class πŸ˜›

Today, however, is NOT my birthday (although one premature facebook “happy birthday” seems to have started a chain of people unintentionally wishing me happy birthday a day early). Today is Mother’s Day and my sister Allison’s birthday! Soooooo …

Here I am with my mama in December:

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you.

And here I am with my Allie, meeting our first niece, Ella, in 2005:

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Happy happy birthday, Allie! I love you, too πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, I could not spend the day with either of these two ladies, as one is in Massachusetts, one is in San Francisco, and I am in New York! Instead, I spent the day writing a paper and fueling my way through the drudgery in the following manner. (Once again, this is an incomplete representation of all I ate, so don’t start to panic that I’ve stopped expanding or anything. Expansion is still
quite in progress.
Excellent.)

IMG_9425Today’s overnight breakfast cookie actually involved the last 2/3 cup cooked couscous-lentil mix from dinner at Quercy. Because the couscous was already cookied and quite moist, I needed to add dry things! Into the cookie went a package of freeze-dried strawberries and bananas from Just Tomatoes (it was sooooo hard to keep from eating all of these straight out of the package — they were delicious and crunchy and perfect), 2 tbsp dry milk, and 1 tbsp homemade pineapple-coconut-ginger peanut butter. My plan worked, and the cookie had firmed up successfully by this morning.

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I frosted my cookie with a mix of plain yogurt and Artisana cacao bliss, and I topped it with fruit salad:

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Later, I had the rest of my spicy spicy Indian food mixed with lots of yogurt and arugula. I sopped up the sauce and yogurt left in the bowl with some pieces of cornbread liberated from the freezer:

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In the afternoon, I had some pumpkin pie flax pudding with a dollop of the two butters of the day:

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I also did some serious baking in honor of the three special occasions going on, but more details will be arriving tomorrow. Just know that I ate a lot of batter.

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“Dinner” at this point ended up being more pumpkin pie flax pudding with oat bran immersion-blended in, chopped strawberries, and the two famous butters once again:

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Are you celebrating special days this month?

Nuts, balls, and freebies

So last, night, even through I was all caked up, I managed to have one last little snack before I went to bed: the last 1/2 cup of my chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt (unfrozen) from a couple nights ago.

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So so so so so so delicious. And there’s not even anything junky in it! Maybe I need to start having chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt at every meal …

This morning, I woke up at 6:30 even though I had time to sleep until 8. I love waking up to sunlight because it’s so easy — I just wish the sunlight didn’t arrive until at least 7:45 on weekends! Around 8, I made a too-much-cake-upset-tummy-settling bowl of oat bran:

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On the stovetop, I whisked 1 egg, 1/4 cup soymilk, and 1/4 cup water over low heat until it thickened custard-style. At that point, in went 2 tbsp oat bran, 1 tbsp ground flax, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/4 cup pumpkin, and a chopped Medjool date. Once it got “mealy,” I immersion blended to make it creamier:

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Around the outside is 1/3 cup of yogurt mixed with 1 tbsp PB2 (and sprinkled with unsweetened coconut):

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With soymilky celestial seasonings almond sunset tea:

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After breakfast, I headed up to Physique 57 for for the first of my two free classes with the coupon that Melissa handed out at the blogger brunch last month. I was quite a bit nervous for this class because I’ve been reading the reviews of it by some of my other NYC ladies — Ashley, Diana, Dori, Missy, Sara — and they scared me with their talk of quivering thighs and name-brand designer gym clothes! But, the class ended up being much more manageable than anticipated. Granted, I had sweat running down my face and I was certainly quivering at points throughout (I was also convinced my legs would burst into flame at any moment) but always had time to recover — and no one laughed at my four-year-old gym clothes from Target πŸ˜€ The instructors were helpful, patient, and encouraging, and I really enjoyed the class. I’m going back next Saturday for #2. Thanks, Melissa!

From Physique, I headed up to meet Vani at Penn Station, where we had planned to collect Danielle from the NJ Transit for our lunch date. Collection was successful, and the three of us enjoyed a summery (apparently, there will be no spring in ny this year??) 30-ish block walk from there to Peanut Butter & Co for lunch. Now, I’ve always wanted to eat at PB & Co. … yet I’ve somehow never managed to do so despite living in the city for nearly nine years, four of which were spent within a five-block radius of the darn place!

It was so airy and bright and cute inside:

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We ordered our food and then took pictures of it (though I think the best part of this picture is the random crazy child in the background) πŸ™‚

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I got a The Heat Is On sandwich with whole wheat bread, spicy pb, pineapple jam, and pieces of chicken breast:

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The sandwich came with chips and carrot sticks, but I don’t like chips so I got it with extra carrots instead:

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Mmm, simple on the outside but full of bite and zing on the inside. I kept offering Vani bites by accident and then forgetting she was vegan. Even though I couldn’t share with Vani, she shared some of her sampler platter with Danielle and me:

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What a great deal — all 8 flavors with plenty of extra to take home! I had some on a celery stick:

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And some on a melba toast:

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When we finished at PB & Co, Danielle requested we make a pit stop at Tasti-D since she’d never been. While there, I had a sample of their peanut butter flavor (because there’s no such thing as too much pb!).

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Vani and I spotted some balls across the street, so we raced over to get in on that action. I ordered an unsweetened almond milk tea. We posed with our treats:

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Next, we made a super-exciting stop at CVS so I could buy a box of band-aids since my feet were struggling to adapt to their first flip-flop experience of the season. Once I applied about 30 bandages, we were off again … this time to the Union Square Greenmarket. Somehow, I managed to get my hands on a million samples as we strolled the grounds. I don’t know how that happened. Scoring samples is very unlike me πŸ˜›

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Vani, caught in the act:

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All in all, it was a super fun day full of sunshine, perfect company, and peanutbuttery food.

In your opinion, what are the three most necessary components of an excellent day?

I’m off to take a very necessary shower and get ready for dinner. My mom and stepdad are passing through the city tonight as part of their massive East coast return road trip — Providence to Atlanta and back, all driving, stopping at several points along the way to visit family and friends — and staying overnight in Brooklyn. I need to think of a good place for us to go. Hmmm …

A thousand cakes

There was more work with eggs to be done this morning!

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I made french toast with two slices of whole wheat bread that my coworker Jessica gave to me earlier in the week and a batter that consisted of an EB egg, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a splash of soymilk. I turned the french toast into a sandwich with a tbsp of the spicy “south of the border” pistachio butter I made yesterday:

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Salty, sweet, and spicy … my favorite combination!

On the side, I immersion blended 1/2 cup yogurt, just under 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta, 1/2 cup pumpkin, the usual spices, and one chopped date. Joining the pumpkin yogurt this morning was a tbsp of ground flax and a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut:

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One at work, I broke out my Passover sponge cake and, coincidentally, Heather had brought in some farfel kugel that she had made from leftover Passover ingredients as well. Our second Passover took over the conference room. Here’s the view from my desk:

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Have I mentioned that the agency where I work was started by nuns?

Moving on, I had some Jewish cake and kugel:

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And then I had seconds of each:

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Since I sit right there, I kept taking more teeny pieces of each all day long. I don’t even want to guess how much of that is in my belly right now!

Lunch was my last serving of the mushroom agnostuff:

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And a couple of spoonfuls of Mildred’s gandules:

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And a piece of her bollo, which is made of cornmeal and milk, among other things. The texture was like polenta, but the taste was more like slightly sweet cornbread to me.

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And the piece of cheesecake flan that Vianni made and brought in yesterday in honor of Mildred’s birthday. I had asked her to save me a piece since I knew I would miss it!

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It was amaaaaazing. I shared a couple bites with Deborah, but mostly I inhaled the whole thing.

After lunch, I headed downstairs to work on an event I had helped organize. Some volunteer moms and their children came to the agency to do an art project with our families. At the end, we had snacktime with oranges and Girl Scout cookies …

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I had two plates like that … and then about four more of those little cookies in the background. Out of control, I tell you!

When I came up from the event, Mildred had put out leftovers of her actual birthday cake from her celebration at home. I know, does it ever end? πŸ˜€

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It was a pineapple cake with marshmallow frosting and sugar flowers. Maybe I’ll be sick of cake someday, but it hasn’t happened yet!

When I got home tonight, I had the final piece of sponge cake (I rescued it from its solitary perch on the conference room table as I walked out of the office) with the pumpkin banana yogurt I brought to work today but never got a chance to eat. The yogurt turned the cake healthy by association.

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And to end this post on a slightly healthier note, I did go to the gym this morning. I have special strength plans for tomorrow, so I focused on cardio today with 20 minutes on the Stepmill, 10 minutes on the rower, and 15 minutes on the elliptical (plus the usual jogs there and back, stretching, and abs). Stats: 1 hour and 16 minutes, 536 calories, 137 average heart rate, 174 max.

While at the gym, I did some interesting reading. Did you know that you would have to eat 11 pounds of rhubarb leaves in order to die of rhubarb poisoning? That’s word on the street, according to The Oprah Magazine. I had always kind of envisioned taking one bite of rhubarb leaf and collapsing unceremoniously to the ground. I guess I was wrong. Interesting fact #2 from the same magazine: apparently, the fatty acids that are stored in hip fat aid fetal brain development. So, ummmm, let’s get the fat flowing. Enjoy your cake!

Put the crumbs to use

When I got home from class yesterday afternoon, I had a few kitchen projects that img_8592needed addressing.

My sunflower seed butter having ridden into the sunrise with breakfast yesterday morning, I determined that it was time to inaugurate my Everybody’s Nuts “south of the border” pistachios. I sampled a few to make sure they passed the test:

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Oh my goodness. These are delicious. Mildly hot, mildly sweet, and super-spiced with chilli powder and cumin. YUM. I shelled a pile for the coffee bean grinder:

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And then ground away:

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Beautiful, right? I can’t wait until I have a real-live, sturdy, food processor someday. The thought of making more than 3 tbsp of nut butter at a time is mind-blowing.

My coworker Mildred’s birthday was yesterday, and since I wasn’t there due to my Thursday class, I wanted to bake her a cake to bring in today. Mildred doesn’t like chocolate (crazy), so I thought some Passover sponge cake would be just the ticket, especially since the recipe called for seven eggs and I had all that potato starch left from Passover. I obviously enjoyed the cake batter immensely. While baking, some “unfortunate” leakage occurred:

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The leaks conveniently doubled as taste-tests to make sure the cake was not poisonous:

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All clear. Phew.

Finished with a drizzle of the homemade black raspberry jam Wife gave me in Charlotte last weekend:

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I had both broccoli and smoked salmon (still from Tuesday’s egg event) on hand, so I set out to recreate one of the appetizers from Saturday’s wedding buffet for dinner.

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I’m so gourmet, right?

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For dessert, I knew I needed to incorporate all of these cake crumbs from the sponge cake I had just baked:

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I made chocolate peanut butter froyo with plain yogurt, part skim ricotta, unsweetened cocoa powder, PB2, ground flax, and chopped dates. Immersion blend, freeze for 20, stir, freeze for 20, stir, and then it’s done! Here’s my cake and ice cream bowl topped with coconut and pieces of chocolate-caramel-nut easter candy:

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Ahhhhhh, so so so so good! Even better than the Tasti-D I had earlier in the day, if you can believe that. (I also may have gone back and had several more bites of that Easter candy).

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When do you prefer homemade over store-bought?