The spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten

October 17, 2014

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This, my friends, is the spiciest dish I have ever eaten. It’s a Thai green mango salad, and it was delicious. The waiter asked if I wanted it spicy and I said yes, but wow! I guess I shouldn’t have insisted so thoroughly that I could handle it.

I ate it with a tissue in one hand to catch my tears haha, but I still count it as a great experience.

Carrot Mash

October 15, 2014

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This is another quick tip more than a real recipe. I was in the mood for mashed sweet potato the other day, but only had carrots in the pantry. I also wanted to sneak a little more protein into my lunch.
Step one:
Cook your carrots. I used 6 medium carrots and boiled them on the suggestion of Martha Stewart.
Step two:
Add the cooked carrots to the food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese ~ 14 grams of protein. Pulse until smooth.
Step three:
Add seasoning. This could be roasted garlic, butter and salt, or even sugar and cinnamon if you like that sort of thing with your sweet potatoes (not for me – I like to keep that stuff savory.)
Optional fourth step:
Depending on the whey content of your cottage cheese and the water content of your carrots, you might prefer to firm the mashed carrots by baking them in a casserole dish at 350 degrees until toasty on top.

I packed these up with a bed of spinach which wilted nicely when I heated my lunch. It wasn’t really like sweet potato, but it was a tasty lunch dish on the lighter side. Next time I’ll experiment by adding ginger!

Blogs to read: Scrangie

October 13, 2014

Scrangie. Of course Scrangie. So much so that it’s probably silly to write about why you should read Scrangie since everyone already does! But I’ll do it anyway, because maybe, just maybe, there’s a noob out there who doesn’t realize all that Scrangie has to offer.

Here’s why her blog is the ultimate nail polish blog:

-Pictures. Ok, she has perfect nails. They are long and pretty and even when they are shortish they are long and pretty. Ugh! And the photos she takes are always nice and crisp.

-The archives go on nearly forever.

-She reviews many brands that I hadn’t even heard of.

-She’s opinionated and not afraid to say when she hates something.

-She writes excellent color and formula descriptions accompany every opinion.

-There are video game references hiding everywhere!

Same is true of everything she reviews: makeup, perfume, lotions.

I also wanted to send her awesome happy internet vibes since it’s her blog that first told me about Depression Awareness month in October. I love her openness – it helps me have the courage to talk about it myself. Hope you enjoy her blog as much as I do!

October – Depression awareness and a fitness challenge

October 10, 2014

First off, why am I blogging about nail polish and food and now riding my bike? Because it makes me feel better. I know the things that come out here are a little random, and certainly written as casually as is possible. But October is Depression and Anxiety Awareness month, and I’m going to say right here that writing these posts has been part of a deliberate plan to combat a creeping depression. I’m diagnosed bipolar II and am doing ok now, but one of the reasons October is a good time to discuss mental health is that the dwindling daylight can trigger depressive symptoms and Seasonal Affective Disorder in some (namely me!) and I take the responsibilities of being neurodiverse seriously.

I’ve had fun maintaining this thought-dump blog that represents a teeny tiny sliver of the things that distract me, and now I’m going to add a fitness challenge to further boost my mental armor. I will ride my bike 40 miles in October, using Runkeeper to track my progress. This did not seem like a very ambitious goal, but I’m a week behind now… Essentially, I plan to try to get out there three times a week, which is great for my mental and physical health. The big question is, if I make it, what should be my reward?!

Browned butter panko… Goes on everything

October 8, 2014

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This is sort of a recipe, sort of a tip for packing lunch. Last year, I fell in love with crunchy Bosc pears on bitter salads. This lunch box has a baby kale, pickled radish, and sliced pear salad, quinoa pilaf, and kiwi slices. When I made my pear + greens salad over and over again, I found it came out best when I added a salty/crunchy element. This time I had some leftover browned butter panko – so good. You can press these browned butter bread crumbs onto cauliflower, broccoli, meat… or make a little fried goat cheese for a salad. Here’s how you do it:

Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into slices. Add to a pan over medium high heat and allow to melt, but stand by with a spatula or scraper. When the butter starts to foam up, stir it. The little bits of proteins and sugars in the butter sink to the bottom and stirring will help you brown them evenly. When the butter has reached a level of browned-ness you like, add a cup of panko or breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or herb of preference) and salt to taste, stirring constantly.

Allow the panko/bread crumbs to soak up the butter, then watch and stir as they start to brown. When they are golden and toasty, take them off the heat quickly and throw them on top of whatever is nearby!

To make fried goat cheese, slice your chevre about 1/4 inch thick. I then placed the slices in the freezer to firm them up, but I still got a messy result (hence no photo). Dredge them in flour, then beaten egg, then press it into your finished browned butter crumbs. Because the crumbs are already browned, just barely fry the goat cheese in a little oil. I almost regretted making the first one because they were frequently requested after that…

A new Neeka photo

October 2, 2014

I think I forgot to post this one when I last talked about Neeka. Please ignore the embarrassing outfit photo. I don’t feel right taking it down but I also hate it. ANYWAY

A black plum inspired me to put Neeka on again, and look how sparkly!

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This one never disappoints, even when I apply it lazily and have a secret bald spot that I didn’t see until just now. And it wears like iron! I think this one will be on rotation this fall.

National Coffee Day – with Philz and Zoya Casey

September 30, 2014

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I love a good coffee… Might as well put this here since it’s National Coffee Day!

Philz makes a strong cup of pourover coffee, then shakes up really rich cream, creating a foamy effect without steaming the milk. It’s delicious.

The photo doesn’t show the color, but I’m wearing Zoya Casey, my absolute favorite “vampy” color. It’s way overdue for a re-shoot, so I’ll put that on my to do list.

Shishito pepper snack

September 30, 2014

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These little shishito peppers came in my CSA box from Farm Fresh to You (the code MARI2172 will get you $10 off and get me a $25 credit, but I expect everybody who wants to do this has already signed up). I tried them a bunch of different ways, and they were all good, but this quick “dry” fry was the best!

Add a good tablespoon or two of oil to a hot pan (canola, grapeseed, olive – just be careful of the smoke point), add the peppers and a substantial sprinkling of salt, and cook until blistered, stirring frequently. Voila! A snack that tastes excellent with beer. Grab them by the stem, bite off the pepper part, and stack your stems next to your beer coaster as proof of your mighty conquest.

I think I paired them with a Stone IPA. Let me know if any other combinations are outstanding. :)

Brunch this weekend?

September 26, 2014

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The best brunch meal that could ever be – crab cakes Benedict. This one is from Cafe Flore in San Francisco and features perfectly poached eggs sitting atop petite crab cakes and smothered with hollandaise that’s rich but not greasy. I’ll never look at another Benedict again, baby, my eyes are for only you. A quite honorable mention goes to their brioche french toast, though – if you can eat hazelnuts, the flavor profile is outstanding.
<3 weekend <3

Kefta for dinner and lunch

September 25, 2014

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One of my favorite things is when cooking once gets me more than one meal. This, my friends, is one of those recipes. It’s a bit of an adaptation of the Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs recipe from my go-to food blog, Smitten Kitchen. I tinkered with it enough times that I’m confident I can whip these up on a weeknight with stuff I most likely already have in the pantry. I’ve had good luck doubling the recipe, so adjust the quantities to reflect your hunger, the number of times you want leftovers, etc. – I just bet that they would do fine in the freezer. (We never have any left after a day or two, so I haven’t tried it myself.) These little grilled meatballs have the savory-spice flavors from my favorite falafel restaurants, and the toasted pine nuts give them a great bite! Plus they fit nicely in my lunch box.

Obviously, you can substitute whichever ground meat(s) you’d like to use. Unlike Deb, I’m a huge fan of lamb – I just have ground beef around way more often. I wanted to try one final iteration before I hit publish, which was to substitute chia seeds for the panko/bread crumbs. The chia seed binder will allow this recipe to be used by people looking for low-carb option. Throw some roasted beets on the side – delicious! I have paired them with this mashed cauliflower recipe, but it was way too garlicky for me.

1 small onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley (I’ve skipped this without harming the recipe)
1 pound of ground beef (or lamb, or turkey, or bison, or pork, or whatever! They weren’t even dry with 96% lean beef.)
1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped and then toasted – this gets you more toasted surface area, but you can also use already toasted pine nuts and roughly chop them.
2 tablespoons chia seeds OR 1/4 cup panko/bread crumbs
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Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then form into 1.5 inch meatballs. Throw them under the broiler for 3 minutes, turn, then broil until just cooked through – 3 more minutes.

Grab some yogurt dip and dig in!

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