Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIAW: The Uber-Caffienated Rosh Hashanah Edition

Time for another round of What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)!  WIAW, the ballerest potluck on the interwebz, is hosted by the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons.

I woke up this morning with only one cogent thought: COFFEE.  I slept terribly last night; for whatever reason, my brain likes to save all the nightmares it can come up with and then wallop me over the course of one night.  When I go to bed, I'm all cozy and happy...until a few hours later, when I wake up freaking terrified, clinging to the comforter for dear life, and wondering if my heart is going to beat itself right out of my chest.  Since last night was one of those nights (it's super fun, let me tell you!), I slept in fits and starts until about  5 -- which, conveniently, was 90 minutes before the alarm when off.


So, once it was clear that there was no time left for rest, I had to get my butt to the coffee maker, stat.  

Dear coffee: You complete me.  Lurve, Lillian

I started off with my beloved almond mocha latte:

Lite chocolate soymilk + espresso + almond extract
= a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

I knew that since I was sleep deprived like woah, protein would be key to me surviving the day -- so I added some eggs to my life.  (For the record, I looooove eggs.)
I also packed up a lunch that I hoped would keep me from dragging my butt too much: Amy's GF bean burrito, romaine lettuce, Greek yogurt, blueberries, and an apple.

Ah-ah-ah-ah, stayin' alive, stayin' alive...

I wound up making it through the day just fine -- it was actually the sort of day where I came home feeling all accomplished and like I might actually have my ish together.  I answered a ton of emails and got everything organized and prepared for a trip I'm taking for work next week, which makes me inordinately happy.  I feel a gazillion times better about life when I can get on the plane feeling calm and collected, not all OMGI'MTOTALLYFORGETTINGIMPORTANTSTUFF

No good can come of travel panic, my friends, so I try to avoid it at all costs.

Once I came home, though, I was a tired cowgirl.  I really just wanted to watch TV, but I forced myself to put in some time on the elliptical (this endeavor was aided significantly by the fact that Untold Stories of the ER was on...that show is like crack for Lillians).  Once hubs was home, I cooked up his favorite Mediterranean chicken dish while making pasta for myself.  Hoping to amp up the protein count in this dish just a bit, I added lentils to the noodles while they cooked.

I also made caramelized onions and garlic croutons -- the latter are basically happy, crispy, and totally GF slices of sauteed garlic, and they're delish.

To make the garlic and onion mix, thinly slice as much garlic as your heart desires:

My little heart, it seems, desires a ludicrous amount of garlic.

Add it to a hot pan with 3 TBS olive oil and sliced onion:

Did you know that onions, while sauteeing, release moisture?  This is apparently
referred to as onions sweating, which sounds about as appealing as
dirty gym socks that belong to a 13-year-old boy.  Unlike the socks, however,
after the onions schvitz, they get all golden brown and sweet.

Cook until they're browned and caramelized:

See?  Nothing like adolescent dirty gym socks!

Drain the pasta and lentil mix, steam some spinach, add marinara sauce to taste (I highly recommend the recipes presented by Karla at Karla's Veggie Noms), and top with the onions and garlic.

Et...voila!  A pasta dish that packs plenty of protein, healthy fats, vitamins A and C, and all the health-promoting benefits of garlic!

For dessert, in honor of tonight being Rosh Hashanah, we had the traditional apples and honey to symbolize a sweet an happy new year.  L'shana tova v'metukah!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Steel-Cut Oats

This mess has been our weather report for almost two weeks now - humid, rainy, cloudy, and generally gross.  It's an amalgamation of my least favorite weather patterns, and it basically moved in and made itself comfortable.

When the weather (or, well, just about anything) gets me down, I get cooking.  There's something inherently comforting about being in my kitchen preparing something I can enjoy and/or scarf down.  In the rare moment when I'm really honest with myself, I realize that I really enjoy domesticity -- I love nesting, I love cooking, and I love making my home feel like a giant bear hug.  Whenever I think about this, my love of all things domestic is quickly countered by the little voice in my head that screeches "No!  You're supposed to love your career more than you love homemaker-y things!"  But still, there are times when nesting makes me ridiculously happy.

Rainy days are, more often than not, one of those times.  During the entire month of August, I'd flinch when I heard the word "fall" -- fall is by far my favorite season, but summer went by ridiculously quickly this year.  I think that the wedding made things move at light speed -- I spent June and July scrambling to prepare for it, and then suddenly July 30 was upon us.  We came back from our mini-honeymoon (mini-moon?) in the Rockies a week later, and whoosh, suddenly it was Labor Day.

For the last month, I was all, "I'm so not ready for summer to end" and "Shorter days are going kill me" and "Wah, wah, wah."  Happily, though, as soon as September arrived...I was ready.  I had four discernible thoughts:

4)  I LOVE SWEATERS!  (I love lamp!)

Yesterday, I decided it was time to break into my stockpile of canned pumpkin.  My mother-in-law, who just happens to be awesome, sent me a ton of canned pumpkin when we had a regional shortage last year.  The pumpkin shortage was heinous.  It was only by the grace of my MIL's generosity that I survived, and now I stock pumpkin like the Soviets stocked nukes during the Cold War.

I decided to combine it with my other love, oatmeal.  Angela over at Oh She Glows recently did a post on steel cut oats (AKA pinheads, or as I tend to call them affectionately, steelies...maybe steely pinheads is a good combination?) -- she also has an amazing recipe for pumpkin pie oats, so I decided to combine the two.

I cooked 1/2 cup GF steely pinheads, added 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to taste, and brown sugar.  I would've added almond milk, had I not found it frozen solid in the back of the fridge.  (Boo and hiss!)  Even without the almond milk, though, it was still delish -- comforting, totally laden with pumpkin-y goodness, and enough to keep my mind off the sodden, mosquito-infested mess outdoors.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guiltless Tortilla Pizza

Back in my glutinous days, I loved me some pizza.  I went without it for over two years -- that is, until I met Brandon (AKA: Hubs).  Brandon is a phenomenal cook.  When we started dating, he made all manner of delicious gluten-free food, but GF lasagne and pizza are his forte.  And hot damn, they're delicious.

The only problem, though, is that I have no willpower whatsoever when faced with pizza made from scratch.  Whenever he makes it, I know that I'm ingesting 80 million calories in one sitting -- but I just.  Can't.  Stop.  Myself.  I'll eat the pizza until I'm sporting a huge Buddha belly and I have to change into elastic waistband pants to accommodate my stomach.

Soon after we started dating and almost immediately after I started housing all this delicious pizza, I realized that my thighs were expanding faster than the universe.  My butt was starting to look like it could be its own sovereign nation.  This was a problem.

The solution, obviously, was to cut back on the pizza (which I did) -- but those pizza cravings just wouldn't go away.  Then, I started seeing variations on tortilla pizza around the blogosphere and in a couple of health food magazines.  What a freaking brilliant idea!  I had to try this for myself, and oy, am I ever glad I did -- to whoever originally thought of these things: mad props.

My tortilla pizza is a GF version (duh) and fairly traditional: I use a GF rice tortilla, marinara sauce, spinach, and some Parmesan cheese.  

This, as it turns out, is a perfect use for GF tortillas - while they're the perfect size for making wraps, I find that they crumble faster than a mud hut on the San Andreas fault line.  The pizza allows it to stay flat -- and it gets it all nice and crispy, which is quite fantastic.

Oh, and it's fast -- like, uber-fast -- so it makes for a delicious and guilt-free dinner when you're pressed for time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WAIW: The "I want the rain to STOP" edition

I appear to have accidentally moved to Seattle, because it's been raining here for days.  I'd be lying if I said it wasn't driving me nuts (and really, at least if I actually lived in Seattle I'd be able to hang out with my best friend).  I once read a "You Know You're From Colorado If..." article, and one of the bullet points was that you start getting all mopey and cranky if it rains for more than a day.

I can confirm that this is true.

Being raised in the land of 300 days of sunshine a year does NOT prepare a girl for life on the East Coast.  Sigh.  So, with that, we'll call this edition of What I Ate Wednesday the "Rain, rain, go away" installment. :)  Rain aside, though, I'm glad to be getting back to WIAW -- it's a fabulous pot-luck in cyberspace, hosted by the lovely Jenn from Peas & Crayons.

5:45 a.m.:  Grumbling and kvetching as I rolled out of bed, I stumbled to the kitchen and plugged in my favorite new appliance: the espresso maker.  OMFG, this thing is awesome!  I brewed a double shot of the good stuff and made myself an almond-mocha latte (my favorite coffee drink ever): light chocolate soy milk, espresso, a smudge of amaretto syrup, and almond extract.  It's delish like woah.

After a workout that left me with a serious case of Elvis legs (hello, muscle exhaustion!), I made myself a recovery shake (or, because I'm a Middle East wonk, I occasionally like to call them recovery sheikhs).  These shakes, made with spinach, a frozen peach, a frozen banana, almond milk, and Vega Vanilla Almondilla protein powder, can only be described as baller.  Shakes containing spinach shouldn't be so damn good, but this one totally is.

After scurrying off to the office, I was in meetings all morning long -- which meant that by the time I returned to my desk...I had the hunger.  I had it something fierce.  I busted out a Southwest vegetable stew that I made over the weekend (recipe forthcoming in a later post!) and inhaled it.  

I then had to stay late at work, which meant...I had the hunger when I got home, too.  By the time I got back, though, I had no desire whatsoever to cook.  Well, I should revise that: I felt like cooking, but the idea of cleaning anything was enough to leave me sitting in fetal position in the corner, crying and begging for my mother.  Wanting to avoid such a fate, I went with my old standby: Thai food!

Drunken noodles with vegetables = happiness in a styrofoam box
Now it's off to bed, which, particularly when the weather is gross, is something I get really stoked about.  Is it lame that I find myself thinking "Man, I can't wait to sleep!  Sleeping is awesome!"? :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Randomly Inspired Quinoa-Millet Pilaf With Black Beans and Vegetables

There are times when I find inspiration in the strangest places. (No, seriously, it's bizarre.  Remember the song "'Things That Make You Go 'Hmmm'"? There are times when that's the story of my life.) Take tonight, for example: I have that scratchy throat/congested feeling that usually serves as the warning for an impending cold, so I had, like, zero desire to cook anything complicated.  (I think that easy meals might be a recurring theme here, no?  For the record, I really do spend most evenings being a lazy mofo.)   I was also out of soy milk for my morning coffee, so I schlepped to Whole Foods in search of some provisions.

While there, I saw a Santa Fe-style quinoa, millet, and black bean pilaf mix.  Now, I love me some quinoa and black beans, and I freaking adore pretty much anything that qualifies as being Santa Fe-style.  (The more black beans and corn you can put into salsa, the better.)  Suddenly, amidst the brain fog, an idea!  I grabbed some frozen Southwest mix vegetables and some roasted pumpkin seeds, and I scurried home.

However, I also forgot to buy the damn soy milk.  Insert long chain of expletives here.  Oy.

After kicking myself for, y'know, forgetting to buy the one thing I really needed to get, I got to work on dinner.  I put the pilaf mix in the rice cooker and sauteed some of the peppers and onions.

And then, another idea!  Tomatoes!  This would be great with tomatoes!  Happily, there was a can of fire-roasted tomatoes in the pantry, so I added a few tablespoons to the mix.

And then: Spinach!  This would be great with some spinach!  Some quick refrigerator reconnaissance revealed that we still had some fresh spinach (hubs and I go through that stuff like water), so into the pan it went.

After adding garlic, cumin, and salt, the sautee mix was ready to go.  I piled it on the newly-cooked pilaf and topped it with some pumpkin seeds and avocado.

And then, I sat my butt on the couch.  Thus commences the vegging out and doing nothing.

Yes, I'm totally watching Gene Simmons Family Jewels.  It rocks my world.