Cooking · Self-reflection

Hot Chocolate Kind of Mornings

Diet or not, some mornings were made specifically for Big Mugs of Hot chocolate. When the wind is blowing against the walls of my house, and the snow drifts across the roads where the fields are, I already know it’s going to be one of these mornings.

Oddly enough, this new outlook on life and my cravings, makes me shut the lid on my Large Hot Chocolate from Dunkin’ Donuts and crave the feeling of a mug of nice green tea. This girl no longer runs on Dunkin’.

Work’s been stressful. So enough of that.

I made a healthy Macaroni and Cheese the other night, and while I was really worried about some of the substitutions I’d made – I was extremely happy with the result.

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Macaroni and Cheese – a healthy Makeover!

Cooking · Self-reflection

The Comeback and the laziness of a Friday

This post is incredibly overdue.

It feels like it’s been weeks. Months. Years.

219f11f4829b11e2842d22000a1f9ada_7As I sit on this slightly chilly Friday in Upstate York, I am perfectly content.  I have my Chai from one of my favorite places to eat here, First Cup.  I also have a delicious breakfast sandwich on an everything bagel – which does nothing for my breath but everything for my soul. Music in my ears and snow falling gently outside, with my best friend sleeping in a curled up pile of shedding fur on my bed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted and so much has happened! I have no idea where I could even start.  So let’s just address the biggest things and I’ll attempt to fill in all the rest later on in other posts and side stories.

Last August I got an iPhone which in itself is not all that important other than I’ve become an app fiend.  Play me on Ruzzle! Dice with Buddies! Magic Piano!  I found a calorie / workout app called MyFitnessPal that has since changed my life.  I started keeping a food diary in mid August and while I haven’t done it every single day I’ve been brutally honest about portion sizes and overeating so I can learn.  Since then I have lost 30 pounds.  In January I decided to take it up a notch and got a Gym membership to Planet Fitness.  I love it, nothing clears all the stress of work and a long distance relationship than planting yourself firmly on an elliptical trainer and just blasting music and “running” for an hour.  I can already see noticeable changes!  I’ve been trying to do my Zumba on days when I can’t make it to the gym.  I’ve also been trying really hard to change my entire eating life style.  I use Skim Milk or Almond Milk, whole grains instead of normal white or whole wheat, Vegetarian and vegan alternatives, smoothies, ect.  It’s been going pretty good but every now and then I’ll have a “cheat” meal so I can stay on track and not get run off my health road by cravings.

I only have one downfall.

This Chai is like my crack.  I’ve had three this week.  Bad Nemmie.

I’m going to try and get back to my SuperFruit Green Tea by Good Earth to deter myself from slipping into the delicious silky smooth flavor of Oregon Chai.

This evening I’ll be experimenting with a Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta and Almond Milk to make Mac and Cheese for dinner, I’m a bit nervous. I love my Mac and Cheese.  I’ll cry if it tastes bad.  Bawl even.

Work has been work.  I’m looking forward to training in the Cash Office if I can ever get time to get in there and learn.  I’ve been trying really hard since New Years to get Full Time status so I can get my own place and start working on making my Long Distance Romance a Not-so-Long-Distance one.

I’ve had some health problems lately.  I was put on Trazadone for insomnia  and it’s been working, it’s so wonderful to finally get some sleep.  I was also diagnosed with an Ovarian Cyst last August and rechecked in November.  Still there.  My Birth control keeps her (I’ve named my cyst Francine, after four months of constant cramps and pain) at bay for the most part and keeps Francine from growing but as a naturally anxious person I have a lot of worries about just the fact that I have a Cyst and that there’s really nothing being done about it. I wish it was as easy as serving a body eviction notice.  Get Out Ms. Cyst, don’t come back.

Progress Photo Time!

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Time to get back to the real world and paying the rest of my months Bills.

Tata Lovelies,
Nemmie

Cooking

Summertime

…and the living is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high…

Here in Syracuse, the past week has been up and down with the temperature. Just when I get used to being a hot and sweaty mess, it drops to 60 and I have to go and hunt down my blankets again.  I’m surprised I haven’t caught a cold yet, but I’m not going to complain. Where’s some wood? I need to knock on it.

About a week ago, I made this amazing recipe that I found over at Born To Entertain, I tweaked it a bit to what I had in the fridge/freezer and added an ingredient, it’s now quite possibly my favorite pasta dish.  Except for Mac and Cheese, that’s got a permanent spot in my heart. So, let’s get down to Business:

Rotini with veggies, chicken and a light Lemon Cream Sauce!

Cooking

Cooking, it soothes my soul

There aren’t many things in life that I can really just zen out an enjoy.  Reading is one of them, gaming is yet another of them.  Cooking however is the main one.  I could cook all day – and I have!  Two years ago I tackled Thanksgiving Dinner, no turkey – but I did make a giant beast of a ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, honeyed carrots, dinner rolls, sweet potatoes, and that’s all my now hungry brain can remember.  It was an entire days worth of work, but it was one of the best cooking memories I have!

This past week it was ridiculously hot in New York, especially at my house where we live in the dark ages of no Air Conditioning and no Central Air. I have a small tower fan and two windows, and a very energy usage conscious mother.  Turning on a TV in my room makes it feel like a Sauna, so I can tell you it was not a fun place to be at 90 degrees.  This did give me the opportunity to spend lots of time downstairs however to cook! Currently my oven is out of commission due to a Natural Gas Leak as well as a since fixed rodent issue with the insulation between the range and the oven.  As in, they took it all away.  Nice little pests we have.  it would make sense I’ve never wanted to make cookies as much as I have since pretty much the second they shut the gas to my oven off.

But let’s talk of happier things! And Peppers! This recipe is good Hot or Cold in my opinion, uses a lot of salt though so prepare your taste buds and your body for a little water retention.  Or you can experiment with different spices to add flavor boosts as you will.  I found this recipe over at the Pioneer Woman and had to adjust it to fit what I had in my pantry and fridge.  The substitutes I used worked perfectly though! It is important to know I doubled this recipe so I’d have lunch this week at work!

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce over Pasta!

Cooking

Comfort

Whether it’s snuggling in a comforter, wearing your favorite sweater and worn in pair of jeans, or just eating a bowl of warm homemade food everybody at some point craves comfort.  Lately here in Upstate New York, the weather has been cold, damp and miserable.  Don’t get me wrong, for a couple hours every other day there’s been some sun but since the beginning of May it’s been grey and rainy just about every day.

Sydney, my loving but huge Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Now, I’m pretty lucky – I have a giant beast of a dog who loves nothing more than curling up next to me on my bed and creating a nice heating pad.  However some days, even my Sydney is not enough to keep the chill out of my bones.  This past week I’ve experimented with a couple recipes that are perfect for those days when you just want to feel warm and cozy.

First Up:
Chicken and Dumplings from the Pioneer Woman who adapted this amazing recipe from Gourmet Magazine.  I altered two things with this recipe.  I didn’t use a whole chopped chicken – though if doubling the recipe I might just to save money – I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin.  I also added 1/2 teaspoon of tarragon – it gives it a new depth of flavor.  I adore tarragon and chicken.    My dumplings didn’t come out so much like big round dumplings but little bits here and there – which I actually prefer.  I also added a whole cup of Heavy Cream so my outcome was much thicker.  This dish served over mashed potatoes or even just by itself is delicious and I cannot recommend it enough!

Second Dish:
Chicken Pot Pie Biscuits These are amazing little pockets of deliciousness.  I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out but I can’t wait to make these again! I eyeballed the amount of pearl onions and again added tarragon.  The biscuits I used were the flakey kind, I might try buttermilk biscuits next time and see if there’s any big difference.  I ended up with way more filling after only using one package of 8 biscuits so I might suggest trying two for a total of 16 and just going a little easy on the filling.

Today I’ll be making two batches of Wookiee Cookies for an upcoming trip to Boston, MA next week.  I’m trying one batch using Crisco Baking sticks – butter flavor and one batch using unsalted butter.  Hopefully I don’t eat too many of those after they come out of the oven!  I found the recipe in a Star Wars Cookbook but it can be found online here.  They are almost like a combination of a snickerdoodle and a chocolate chip cookie with two different types of chips.

Last week we had almost 5 straight days of constant rain, so it’s amazing out now that we finally get some sun.  All the trees and fields are this deep shade of green and the air smells fresh and crisp.  While it’s a little annoying to have to deal with the April Showers as late as May it’s nice to finally wash away the stale air of winter.

~Nem