Personal snow day.

In case you didn’t hear, it snowed in Seattle this week.  Facebook was filled with #snowpocalypse and #snowmageddeon.  Everyone complained of being “snowed in” and not having power.

I loved this video, it’s a perfect depiction of how Seattle responds in the snow:

I ventured out into the snow each day  of the “storm.”  I work at a hospital in a department with a direct impact on patient care, thus, we must be present.  Since I’m the manager, I can’t tell my employees they are required to be at work while I stay home.  Nope, I played taxi to some employees and was at work by 6 AM every day during the “storm.”  I really would have enjoyed having a few days to do projects around the house, but I didn’t.

Luckily, ski lessons this weekend were cancelled, so I used my day off as an opportunity to create some baked crafts.  I’ve seen cupcakes in a jar on blogs, and a local business sells mini pies in a jar, and since I’m basically obsessed with mason jars, I decided to try to make these things on my own.

First up, cupcakes in a jar:

Mayonnaise Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This recipe is very special to me.  My late grandmother used to make it, and even in later stages of dementia, she knew the recipe by heart. It comes from the days of food rations, mayonnaise replaces the eggs and oil in this recipe.  I promise, you can’t taste it.

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used ~1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Best Foods is the best!!)
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla

I used my mixer to combine the ingredients and poured the batter into 12 muffin tins (they were pretty full and made giant cupcakes).   Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes (or until you lightly press the top of the cake and it bounces back, my preferred method of checking cake doneness)

My Mom’s Frosting Recipe:

(I doubled this recipe and got 9 jars worth of cupcakes and had enough frosting to generously frost the remaining 3 cupcakes)

  • 1/3 c butter, softened
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 2 TBSP-1/4 c milk (don’t add too much, you want THICK frosting!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix the ingredients well with your mixer.  My mom always checks for “doneness” by using a spoon to see if it “plops”.  It shouldn’t be runny.

Cool the cupcakes completely before putting in the jar.  Break in half, stick the bottom portion in the bottom of a 1/2 pint mason jar.  Add a layer of frosting  (use a cake decorating tip if you have one) and then break up the top of the cupcake, and add another layer of frosting.

Give the jars away, and keep the 3 remaining cupcakes for yourself and your spouse to allow for moderation.  That’s my RD advice.

I also made mini apple pies in jars.  Although tedious, they turned out very cute.

I used this recipe for the crust: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/butter-flaky-pie-crust/detail.aspx

(I have issues with shortening so I looked specifically for a recipe with butter only.  It takes a little extra time because you have to refrigerate it for a while, so be prepared).

And this recipe for the pie: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/apple-pie-by-grandma-ople/detail.aspx

I doubled the pie crust recipe and probably could have halved the apple pie recipe.  I had lots of leftover apples and topping.  I highly recommend the recipe, it rocked!

I used 4 oz mason jars.   I rolled the dough out to be pretty thin because when you put it in the jar it gets a little crowded.  I used a ~6-7″ Pyrex bowl as my “cookie cutter” and sort of jammed the dough in there.   I made it so there’s a little edge hanging off for my “lattice” to adhere to and then cut off all of the excess with a knife.  I used a fork to press all of the edges together to look more like a real pie.  However, the recipe requires you to pour a sauce over the top of the pie, so the edges are hidden by gooey-caramel-goodness.

These actually come out of the jars quite nicely,  Just run a knife around the edge and turn it over onto a plate.

You could use any pie or cupcake or frosting recipes for either of these, I am excited just thinking about the possibilities!  The local pie place sells these for $5 each.  I’m sure they’re delicious, but mine cost way less.  The jars were about $0.75-$0.90 each and the ingredients were also relatively inexpensive.

I need more of these days to do crafts!

The magic of yogurt (and other probiotic banter)

Before I start my own rambling, I encourage anyone reading to check out my friend Jessie’s blog. She’s also a registered dietitian but studying to be a certified yoga instructor.  If you live in Seattle, she teaches at the Northgate 24 Hour Fitness.  We’re not only RD friends, but we were roommates in college.  The two sides of our refrigerator could not have looked any more different (mine filled with diet foods, hers filled with a bunch of expensive organic stuff) but we are both passionate about nutrition.

Ok, moving on to yogurt.  I’ve featured it a lot on my blog, mostly mixing it with things like flax and fat free whipped topping and berries and almonds and you get the point.  I love a yogurt from Fred Meyer and QFC (Kroger stores) called “Carbmaster” because it’s low in sugar and has the same nutritional stats (as far as cals, protein, fat, calcium, etc) as other yogurt.  I also love it because it’s regularly on sale for $0.30 or $0.40.

I’m sorry dear Carbmaster, but you’ve been upstaged.  By Fage (which yes, I frequently pronounce FAY-JE) pronounced “FA-YEH” Greek yogurt.  It is thick and creamy and a little tangy and delicious.  The 0% variety has 100 calories, no fat, and 18g protein per 5.3 oz container – it is magical.

(giant Costco sized container)

I discovered the magic of Fage at work.  I get a certain credit worth of free food at work (I know, I’m incredibly lucky) and decided to get one of these little beauties.  I mixed a couple packets of Splenda in with it and have eaten the same thing 2-3 times a day since then.  I wish I were joking.

It reminded me of cream cheese frosting but without the nausea afterwards.  Or maybe like the sugar sweetened dip that people serve with fruit, or the “sauce” on Fruit Pizza (please someone tell me you know what I’m talking about).  It’s glorious, and it keeps me satisfied for hours.

Guess what? I found a combination that keeps me even MORE satisfied.  I do not get hungry for four hours (this is a big deal for me) after eating the above yogurt + Splenda + 1/8-1/4 c SF maple syrup + 2 scoops TJ’s Soy Protein powder.  It has the consistency of cookie dough or cake batter for no more than 250 calories.  I’ve been eating it twice a day, so I’m sure I’ll get sick of it eventually, but for now, I’m in love.

I’ll post some of my other yogurt creations on the recipe page.

Another reason yogurt rocks?  Probiotics! You’ve probably heard tons about them, but probiotics are “good bacteria” that help keep things functioning properly in your intestines.  There has been research to support the use of probiotics in a clinical setting (not acute, but for other patients).  If you decide to buy a pill probiotic, look for something that is in the refrigerator.  This means that the cultures are live and active and will actually work.  I find them in the natural foods section of Fred Meyer in that refrigerator.  They are more costly, but they will work.  You can also find probiotics in yogurt (make sure the label says “contains live active cultures”), refrigerated pickles (look at the label), kombucha, kefir, and other fermented products (like kimchi).  Nancy’s brand yogurt is a particularly good source of live active cultures.

I was buying kombucha at the store for $3/bottle and got tired of spending so much on it.  I really liked the taste (although a lot of people don’t like it, it is kind of vinegar-y.  The dietitians I work with hate it) but again, it just wasn’t worth it.  So, I decided to get on Etsy and buy some Kefir grains.

(The floaties are raisins.  Read my last post if you’re looking for poop)

I chose to buy water kefir grains, but you can also buy milk kefir.  They are really easy to maintain.  I should have killed them about 15 times and they’re still kicking.  It goes a little something like this:

Add kefir grains to jar.  Stir in 1/4 c sugar (I usually use less to keep the calorie count down, but mine don’t replicate as quickly either) and 1/8-1/4 c dried fruit.  Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon.  Let sit for two days (or two weeks if you are me).  Strain your kefir + raisin (now practically grapes), put the liquid into a separate jar to drink later and rinse your kefir grains.  Repeat.

(kefir close up)

This liquid is a little brown because of the raisins.  You can use any kind of fruit, or even use fruit juice instead of sugar water.  The possibilities are really endless, and the more sugar you add the more your kefir will duplicate.  When you get too much (you only need about 1/4 c per batch) you can share with friends!

What other ways do you get your “healthy” bacteria?   What is your favorite kind of yogurt/greek yogurt?  I’ve heard good things about Chobani, but have never had it.  Let me know!

My eternal quest to make a non-pizza that tastes like pizza.

I’ve actually got a couple of things to share.  Some recipes for non-pizza pizza and pictures of poop.  I’ll save the latter for the end so you don’t leave before you finish reading the post.

First, pizza.  I really like pizza, but find that the stuff that tastes the best is typically pretty unhealthy.  Believe it or not, there was once a time that I would sit down with a medium or large Papa John’s pizza and eat almost all of it.  And then I dipped the crusts in that delicious garlic butter.  And if dared, I’d eat the banana pepper (which I call “pepperoncinis,” but apparently that’s not what Subway calls them).   Those days are long gone, but I still really like pizza. Thus my quest to find some sort of satisfying substitute for pizza.  Because quite frankly, I just can’t eat this, like, ever. (I know, I always tell people “Everything in moderation” but I often can’t bring myself to eat even this kind of stuff).

First up, the most pizza-like non-pizza pizza.  Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough with Trader Joe’s Marinara Sauce (which is absolutely amazing if you’ve never had it) and part skim mozzarella OR 2% milk cheese.  If I have veggies around or already cut up, I’ll throw them on, otherwise, that’s it.  Since I only use about half the package of cheese ($3.99 at TJs) I figure the whole thing is less than $5.  Be sure to bring your Pam and Patience though because the dough can be tricky and really likes to stick to the bottom of the pan (if anyone has suggestions as to how to prevent this, I’m open to any and all suggestions).

(I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of this, I guess I will have to make this for dinner again soon).

Second up, if I’m really desparate, I will make what I call “Bread Pizza.”  This is simply a slice or two of bread (either OrowheatDouble Fiber or Light 100% Wheat), put some TJs marinara on it and sprinkle a little cheese over the top.  Put it under the broiler for 3 minutes (approximately) and viola! Pizza.

(again, no picture.)

Third, I’ve found this stuff called “socca”.  This site has a lot of socca variations, but I like to keep it simple.  Equal parts garbanzo flour and water (sometimes I’ll use a little more water, like 1 1/2 or 2 times the amount of flour), salt and a little seasoning (I love rosemary).  Let the batter sit while your oven/pan heat up. Pre-heat your oven and stick an 8″ round pan (metal only) that is sprayed with cooking spray in a 450 degree oven.  Once the oven is pre-heated (or about 10 minutes), pull the pan out and pour your batter into it.  It will sizzle a little.  Put it back into the oven.  Bake for about 10-20 minutes (it depends on how thick your batter is) and viola, a round piece of dough-ish stuff.  I usually invert the pan onto a cookie sheet (like you would do for an upside-down cake) and then put toppings on it (TJs marinara, veggies, cheese, etc.) and put it back in the oven for a few minutes.  Viola! Pizza.   I love the texture of socca and the flavor is really versitile.  I also love the fiber and protein that are packed in garbanzo flour.  I found Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo flour at PCC for like $2.50.   There is also Certified Gluten Free G-bean flour, but it’s at least twice as expensive.

Last but not least, my latest non-pizza pizza discovery, from Foods of April.  I modified a couple of things, but was really excited about the result.

  • 2 c diced, peeled eggplant,
  • 2 scoops of TJs Soy Protein (plain),
  • 3 egg whites,
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal,
  • fresh basil leaves,
  • one clove of garlic,
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt

Put it all in the food processor and turn it on.  It processed for a couple of minutes (I wanted to make sure it was all combined) and spread it out (kinda thin) onto a cooking-spray greased cookie sheet.  I put it in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes, and then removed it, added some TJs marinara sauce, a little ham, some leftover roasted veggies and a Laughing Cow wedge (good idea, April!) and viola! Pizza!!!!

After I ate half of the pizza, Brian and me decided to take Lil’ G for a walk around the hood.

(By the way, she is more of a breadstick/crust girl)

Guess what we found?

If you can’t tell what that is, it’s a giant BEAR turd.  Yep, I can’t think of any other animal whose poop would look like that.  Plus, we saw the paw prints in the grass (we think it walked through the construction dust of one of the new houses being built).  Crazy!!

Gertie kept trying to sniff/eat the poop.  It was gross.  Almost as gross as me posting a picture of bear poop on my website.

A Day in the Life of Gertie

I wrote this post back in February, but thought I would post since I took the time to write it… I would like to be back in blogging action soon!

My life is busy.  Now that ski season/lessons are just about over, I can start thinking about the other parts of my life that I enjoy, you know, like sleeping.

I’m super jealous of Gertie, who seems to get to sleep all the time…

(In a pile of Brian’s dirty clothes)

(On a computer with a “Cone of Shame”)

(Her eyes are open but she’s probably actually sleeping)

(Not sleeping, but rediculously adorable)

Gertie’s day revolves around eating and going pee, one of which she does only at the time and location we determine.  (She didn’t get the nickname “Gert and Squirt” for no reason!).

I’m planning to do a more thorough update post, but since I  prepped this one several months ago, I thought I’d post 🙂

Christmas Marathon Part I

So, I’ve spent a lot of time with my lovely family  over the past couple of weeks.  The events were well documented, and I’m sure all involved are anxious to see the resulting photos (seriously, you’ve all been waiting not so patiently, right?).

(Brian’s mom’s “Funky Santa”. I call it “Creepy”.)

Christmas eve started at Brian’s aunt’s house.  We had Chinese food.

My plate:

Because it looked so awesomely awesome, I had to photograph Brian’s cousin Ben’s plate:

And while I’m not entirely sure what this means, I can tell you that Fortune Cookies might be one of my favorite foods.  Crazy? Maybe.  Ashamed?  Nope.

Not too long after dinner, we headed home because I was sleepy.

I always have to plan to run on Christmas, as it is the one day out of the entire year that 24 Hour Fitness is closed entirely. Unfortunately, it is also a day that I desperately need a good workout.  I managed to go about 10 miles this time, which was really nice.

After my run, Brian was anxious to get going (presents, presents, presents!!!!) so we headed out. Gertie joined us for the affair.

(This picture cracks me up.  I’m not sure why her ears stick up like that sometimes, but I think she looks like Gizmo)

Brian’s mom gives really awesome stockings.  She fills it with “essentials” like toothpaste and deoderant and gum, but this year, there was another theme: Trader Joe’s!

And if you haven’t tried these almonds, I highly recommend them.

After we opened our stockings and presents, we headed to the other side of the mountains to see my dad.  What did we have for dinner?  Pizza.

What happened to ham/turkey/prime rib on Christmas? He selected this vegetarian thin crust pizza for me.  I brought a salad along to eat with it.  Of course, I was the only one eating it.  When I questioned why no one else partook in the salad, my dad said “I thought the vegetables were on the pizza?”

Clearly, my dad doesn’t know me.   Except he does, because he knew to buy a vegetable pizza.  My only complaint is that Papa Murphy’s uses a cream based sauce, and it’s way healthier to select a tomato sauce.  I didn’t want to complain to my dad, but if I had known I would have requested a red sauce.   Side note: you can always order your pizza with half the amount of cheese.  You’ll save yourself quite a few calories.

Speaking of calories, every year I make my dad a batch of these cookies:

We always call them Russian Tea Cakes, but I think they are also Mexican Wedding Cookies, or some other variation.  My dad loves these and basically eats the whole plate on his own.

Gertie was really happy too.

I also saw my best friend this weekend (she lives 5 hours away from me).  She has twins who will be 2 at the end of April (I guess that makes them something like 20 months, but I start to get confused when counting things in months.  Why do we do that?)

Regardless, they are rediculously cute. (especially when they eat chili and stick it in their nose and get it all over their face and stuff).

So, as if we hadn’t had enough Christmas already, we headed BACK to Ellensburg on NYE to celebrate Christmas/New Years wtih my mom, stepdad, my sister, and my brother and his family.

The details of that adventure will be featured in the next post.  I have too many pictures in this one and my computer is going slow and I have limited patience.


Meet my mom (and the tale of the “Round Bread”)

So, I must start this post by introducing you to one of the most important people in my life: my mother.

She’s a really great person and is where I inherited my love of cooking and baking.  When we go home for holidays, she cooks up a storm.  What she sometimes struggles with, however, is her sense of style.  Evidence: her outfit she wore during our travels to Mazatlan.

My sister and I informed her that gaucho pants are out of style and it’s inappropriate to wear black socks with tennis shoes.  I will be buying her some ankle socks for Christmas.

My mom can dress up too, she looked good at my wedding.

So, the reason for this post isn’t to critique every outfit she wears.  It’s to discuss this bread that she ranted and raved about.

It. Is. Incredible.  And only found at a store called MEGA in Mazatlan.  My mom and step-dad have a timeshare in Mazatlan (where we are staying this week) and have made many a trip to MEGA for groceries.  My mom discovered this bread on one of her trips and came home with this description (several times, did I mention she repeats herself?):

“There is this delicious round bread, it’s a great, big, round loaf [hands curve around to describe size and shape of bread] that you find at MEGA.  It’s really soft and just delicious.  And it’s cheap, like 80 cents.”

So, when Brian and I came to Mazatlan for our honeymoon, I set out to MEGA to find this “great, big, round delicious bread” that I had heard so much about.  We found it. And ate the whole loaf.

So yesterday we went to MEGA and bought two loaves and also wanted to try a pan dolce, because we never had and because it looked so freaking good…

We also had some yummy bread with some Chihuahua cheese as a snack.

Actually, what my mom my mom likes most is flan, and has become somewhat of a flan connoisseur.  She has determined that the hotel flan is the best.

The flan is creamy and the top is caramelized just right.  Oh my gosh, it is incredible.

I also tried something else I really hadn’t before tonight: Mole.  We went to Te Amo Lucy’s, mainly because Topolo (where we’ll be going this week) was closed.  It was AWESOME.  I highly recommend it.  They prepare all of the sauces and food on site (much like most restaurants in Mazatlan) and it is all fresh from the nearby market (which I’ll show you in a future post!).

I had chicken breast in Mole and a side of refried black beans.

My mom had chicken enchiladas, which were also incredible.

While it was definitely worth the wait, it took a little bit for us to get our food.  Lexie got behind the lens and took some pictures of my mom and me.

Serious…

Posing…

Silly…(my mom was now irritated with my sister for pointing the camera at me and not at both of us, or her)

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I’m a little bit goofy, and so is my sister. So when we get together, things like this happen and we think it is hilarious.  It is evident that my mom does not.

After dinner we headed out for a stroll around the old Plaza before we went back to the hotel.  They created a tree out of wine bottles and it was awesome.  I think I took about 400 pictures of it.

It’s time to hit the hay.  I hope you enjoyed my mom as much as I do (most of the time!)

Merry Christmas to ME!!!

So, I’ll start by saying my blog is officially going to the next level.  No, I haven’t purchased my own domain name, but I did receive an expensive camera for Christmas from my wonderful husband!  That means I get to take lots of real pictures, no more iPhone pictures!!!!

I’m also on vacation (!). Yes, I started a new job about a month ago and am already taking a vacation. I made arrangements before I even applied for the job.  I have to say, going on vacation when starting a new job is both a blessing and a curse. It’s awesome because the first weeks can be really exhausting, but a curse because I’m just getting into things and am quite busy.  Oh well, I’m happy to be here!

Where am I? Mazatlan! Brian and I came here for our honeymoon earlier this year and had a blast.  I decided to come back with my mom and sister and we’re staying at my parents’ timeshare.  We’re staying in a different part of the city than my husband and I stayed, but it’s absolutely beautiful.

As part of our travel, we had a short layover at LAX. If you fly Alaska Airlines regularly, you know that the food choices are pretty limited in that terminal.  There’s Burger King and Starbucks and See’s Candies and a bookstore.  My mom and sister had sandwiches from BK and I had a grape/carrot/cheese plate from Starbucks.

I actually kinda like the area because there is a lot of seating and a fountain soda dispenser.  You can literally re-fill your drink for the two hours you are stranded, which is usually what I do.  So, since I didn’t buy my own drink, I re-filled my sister’s drink and we shared.  Sharing is a nice thing to do with your sister sometimes.

(That’s how she feels about sharing stuff with me, I think.)

Unfortunately we didn’t eat again until dinner, and we were famished, like to the point that I ate my whole meal before I had a chance to take a picture.  Luckily, my sister couldn’t stop talking and hadn’t consumed her whole meal yet.  She had octopus!

After dinner we went back to the room and straight to bed. I’ve already slept enough to compensate for the lack of sleep over the past few weeks and managed to eat my weight in seafood!

Tonight we went to a restaurant on the beach just down the street from where we are staying.  I brought my camera to dinner and took pictures of what we were eating. The waiters asked me to take lots of pictures of them making bananas foster.  I did, but really tried hard to explain to them that I just have a fancy camera, I’m not a professional. Those pictures didn’t turn out as well, but the food pictures looked pretty delicious…

Chips and salsa…

Yummy fresh baked rolls. They were kinda sweet. I’m not sure what was in them but they were so delicious!!

Lobster…

Beans and guacamole and tortillas! It was all sooo yummy!

The Bananas Foster pics (definitely not professional)

Time for bed! More fun/yummy/non-professional pics throughout the week!