Assembly Instructions – Fajitas

November 10, 2014

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If I said something was quick and easy before… this is far beyond even those descriptors. Overview: buy some stuff at Trader Joe’s, do a little slicing, a little searing, and then assemble a really tasty meal. Pack away the leftovers and you’ll have a really tasty lunch. Your time commitment is minimal.

Beef Fajitas for Four:

Trader Joe’s Carne Asada package, which is already sliced, just needs to be cut into manageable pieces

3-4 bell peppers, mixed colors, cut into strips

1 large yellow onion, sliced thick or thin

sour cream

chopped jalapeno (optional)

tortillas – the mixed corn/wheat ones are my favorite so far

Preheat a cast iron pan on the stove. Meanwhile, slice up your peppers and onions. Add a little bit of oil to the pan, then the onion and bell pepper (and jalapeño). Cook until soft and a little charred, then set aside to keep warm. In the same pan, add your carne asada pieces. Don’t crowd the pan – you may have to do two batches. I cook the meat until browned on the outside, red on the inside, so you may want to cook it a little longer. While the meat cooks, I like to warm up my tortillas in a separate frying pan on low heat. Once the meat is cooked to your liking, pile a little bit of everything with some sour cream into a tortilla and enjoy!

For my lunch the next day, I packed Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream and popped tortilla halves into the toaster to warm them up. It was the kind of lunch that had me planning fajitas once a week for a while. By the way, the Trader Joe’s is within walking distance of my house, which is why every ingredient in this quickie meal can be purchased there.

Lolita Wild Ale

November 7, 2014

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This is a beer/wild ale (?) that I tried at a lovely San Francisco bar called the Sycamore. Goose Island appears to make some unusual brews! This one tasted fresh and tart, like the raspberries they age it with. I would recommend it for the upcoming weekend to take the edge off that rich fall food I seem to be craving about now. ;)

October Challenge Update

October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!!! Bet you’re thinking I didn’t make my October goal. Wrong!

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Plans change, eh?

My initial idea of riding my bike for mental health was that I could hop on my bike after work and ride for about 30 minutes, 3 times a week. When I tried to put this in practice, I found that it was far too dark to ride after work, even darker before work, and that my weekends were filled with prior obligations that precluded bicycling. HOWEVER, I decided to include stationary bike miles! I hate the stationary bike, but it’s been really nice to be able to go to the gym at work when I can’t ride at home. I’m trying to be flexible with myself – bipolar people can sure get hung up on little things. I count this as a big victory. Also I got one nice ride in the rain, so there.

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Yes, I look this dorky. Always.

It’s the end of Depression Awareness month, and I have one last little tip. If there’s someone in your life that you want to send a little love but don’t know how, the way I prefer it is a note/text/email saying “thinking about you!” without any expectation of response. One of those little things it’s easy to get hung up on is how behind you are on responding to email, calls, etc. Telling someone that you appreciate them even when they aren’t feeling well enough to be with you – that’s a a beautiful thing. Be well, everyone! It’s going to be a great holiday season!

 

 

 

 

Kiss Halloween nail strips

October 30, 2014

These were fun! I could not pass them up in Walgreens… in September.

I waited until October to wear them, even though it was difficult for me! (Though secretly I was stoked that I’d picked them up when I did because they disappeared in two weeks.)

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These simply press on like a sticker, then you file the edge smooth. They smell/feel like polish, but the tipwear is a little bit worse in my opinion. Here’s my stumpy thumb so you can see the pattern.

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I really like these! Even though I’m not a big fan of the funky French manicure aspect, I would buy again. Anyone else try these for Halloween?

Veggie Salad + Ricotta Salata

October 29, 2014

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This lunch includes some leftover chicken from takeout, sliced apple, and quick-pickled dill-radish salad atop carrot slices and arugula with chopped hazelnuts and batons of ricotta salata to eat as is or to crumble on the salad.

Today I’m giving an example of how I pack my Laptop Lunch box.

Salad for lunch again is boring! Usually. This time, though, salty ricotta salata and crunchy hazelnuts save the day. Thanks to my CSA delivery, I frequently have a lot of fresh vegetables to use in my lunch box. The challenge for me is to get away from the usual carrot sticks/radish slices and pack an exciting lunch. I’m not the kind of person who will pass up restaurant lunch for carrot sticks!

I almost always pack my lunch the night before. This time, the radishes were sliced, then packed by themselves in an apple cider vinegar, diced shallot, and olive oil dressing with sprigs of dill. They marinated in one of my spill-proof medium containers. In the medium open-top container, I put arugula, carrot slices, and ricotta salata so that nothing would get too soggy. For the same reason, the toasted hazelnuts went into the smallest container and that went into the section with the sliced apple. Everything fit neatly inside without leaking or making anything soggy.

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When lunch time came, I shook up the radishes in dressing with the arugula, sprinkled the nuts on top, and had a tasty meal. I later crumbled some of that cheese up – I definitely recommend ricotta salata for your salads or snacking. The flavor is fresh, like farmers’ cheese, but it’s very salty and crumbly. I sometimes use it as a substitute for feta in recipes, but it’s less creamy than feta. What do you do to liven up your fresh veggies?

Quick mushroom cream sauce

October 23, 2014

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This is a fast weeknight dish I threw together (apparently in the dark). It’s based on another Smitten Kitchen recipe, but where she puts the resulting buttery, mushroomy goodness on perfect little toasts, I put it on some farmers’ market ravioli.

I can never quite find white bread perfect enough for tiny mushroom-topped toasts, do you have that problem? The slices would have to be crunchy AND soft, rich but not overpowering, and at least half an inch tall. I prefer whole wheat toast with my sardines. Maybe I’ll talk about sardines soon, too. ;)

    Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 pound brown (Cremini) mushrooms or whatever mix you like
2 tablespoons butter
1 tender white portion of leek, 2 small shallots or 1/2 an onion (leeks are my favorite), sliced thin
1/2 cup white wine or sherry
2 glugs cream or half and half
salt to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped chives, according to taste
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to taste

Clean and dice your mushrooms. Melt butter on medium-high heat – when foamy, add the mushrooms, salting liberally. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release some of their moisture. If using onion, add it to the pan sooner. If using shallot or leek, reduce heat to medium and cook until barely translucent.

Next, pour in the wine and let simmer, covered, for around 3 minutes. At this point, evaluate your sauce. Is it nicely reduced or too liquidy? If it needs to reduce more, remove the lid until you like the looks of it. Reduce heat to low to avoid curdling, then add your glugs of cream, stirring well to get the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan. Once your desired thickness is achieved, take the mixture off the heat and add the chives and parsley.

Toss with pasta and serve!

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?!


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