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.


Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

These two ingredients made appearances in my kitchen today.  Not together – separate appearances.

This morning, I tried pumpkin oatmeal for the first time.  I saw it here and here and decided it was time to give pumpkin + oatmeal a try.

…and I’m glad I did!  I modified the recipe a bit, I used:

1/2 c-3/4 c water

1/4 c old fashioned oats

1/4 c wheat bran

1/2 c canned pumpkin

pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, splenda, sugar free maple syrup, or anything else you like in your oatmeal!

a few chopped almonds sprinkled on top

Bring water to a boil.  Add oats, lower heat, and cook until oats have absorbed the water, but not quite sticking to the pan yet.  Add wheat bran and stir.  Add pumpkin, spices, splenda, syrup,  and stir. Top with almonds. I also like to top mine with a little milk, but don’t cook my oats with milk. It rocked my world and I’m officially into pumpkin oatmeal. Actually, I’m into pumpkin. period.  I even ate the same thing for lunch as I had for dinner last night. Pumpkin + Marinara = love.

Ok, back to this morning. Since I already had my pot out, I decided to cook some hot cereal samples I got forever ago. In separate batches, of course.

I cooked them and put them in the fridge for later.

This afternoon, I attempted a recipe I had seen here for flourless peanut butter cookies.  (PS, if you haven’t read this blog, it rocks.  Joy is really funny/creative/talented.)

I used TJ’s peanut flour + water + splenda + 1 egg.

These were supposed to look like peanut butter cookies.  Mine looked like runny peanut butter, thus had to make them into bars.

Unfortunately, they still didn’t turn out as I had hoped.  I am admitting defeat, but might still try to make a “healthy” version of this recipe later on. Nonetheless, I snapped a pretty shot, but these aren’t quite ready to eat in this form.

Not every recipe can turn out perfect, right?  Well…

I opened my cupboards and refrigerator to come up with an alternative.  I found chocolate chips and cream cheese, and remembered this recipe and decided to make my own version.

I stuck the bars + 2 oz fat free cream cheese in the food processor and mixed them up.  I then melted 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips in the microwave (1 minute) and put them in a baggie.  I cut the tip off of the baggie and piped the chocolate over the top.

Viola! I got 15 balls out of it and they turned out WAYYYY better than the bars… Victory!

I think Gertie is frustrated because she can’t itch her eye OR update her facebook!  However, the cone didn’t stop her from dancing with me earlier!

Last but not least, I found a really cool app for my iPhone called Instagram.  It’s free and lets me add fun filters to pictures taken with my phone.  I’m having a lot of fun playing with this, so be patient with me if there are some funky looking pictures – I’m exploring my creative side!

I really do love Trader Joe’s

I have a love-love relationship with Trader Joe’s.  Since moving to western Washington, I’ve never lived more than a few miles from one. They have the best products for the price, and in some cases, they have the ONLY products (I can never get enough Cat’s Cookies!).  But, like most great guys, he’s still not perfect.

Here’s what the nutrition facts label for their Whole Wheat and Corn Tortillas reads:

Here’s what two of them looked like next to each other (they were pretty different in size):

Here’s what my scale reads:

And despite a variation in size of each tortilla, they actually weighed almost the exact same amount- as did every other tortilla in the entire package.

The consistency in weights of each tortilla tells me something: that the tortillas are purposely measured larger than what is reported on the package.  People eat these thinking they are consuming 57 grams of tortilla (120 calories) but in reality, they are consuming between 75-77 g (158-162 calories).   In my food law class, I remember there being a percentage that manufacturers were allowed to “differ” from actual values, but can’t remember exactly how much.  I’ll look it up (even if it means digging through hundreds of pages of codes/regulations).

I’ll admit, my scale could be off, but 20 grams seems to be a pretty significant difference, no?

I found the same to be true when I measured the Bran Flakes.

The amount listed was for a 1.1 oz serving, but when I measured 3/4 cup, it was 1 1/2 oz.  1.1 oz (or 30 g) came out to look more like 1/2 cup.

1.1 oz (or 30 g) came out to look more like 1/2 cup (note: I don’t usually use a liquid measuring cup for dry ingredients, but I wanted to be able to illustrate the measurement).

I’m not going to stop buying/using these items, but it’s really good to know what I’m actually consuming! Also, if you like this kind of thing, here is a really fun site.

Last night I had to take a CPR class so I didn’t get home until 10:30.  So, regardless of what the label said, I made a tortilla topped with pumpkin-pizza sauce, some black forest ham, leftover roasted veggies and mozzarella for dinner.  I stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes to heat it up, and it was yummy!

Pumpkin Pizza Sauce

Equal parts:

Traditional Marinara Sauce from Trader Joe’s (my FAVORITE marinara sauce!!)

Solid pack canned pumpkin

Mix together and spread on to “pizza”! Use as much or as little as you like.  It’s definitely thicker, but it adds a little bit of oomph to your regular pizza sauce.

Finally, an image of my pathetic dog:

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the first thing I did when we got Gertie was look into what to feed her.  I keep going to the pet stores with the intention of purchasing the “good” dog food, but can’t bring myself to spend $22 on a 3 lb bag.  That would be more expensive than just making my food.  Gertie and I have been talked to a few times about a “raw” diet, but it still kinda freaks me out.  I was really happy to get validation from this video.

Has anyone tried raw food with their dog? What has been your experience?