the mice, they are a-playin’

At least this one has been…  Playing, and school-working, and running and cooking…   I have been a BUSY girl these last few days, filling my extra free time to the max!  So busy, I haven’t even had time to BLOG-gasp!

Let’s see…where did I leave off?

Well, Andrew’s long gone, but I can’t not post about the fantastic dinner we had Wednesday.  Foreign!

I pulled this recipe for Banh Mi sandwiches out of a Food Network magazine back in 2008 or 2009.  It has, literally, been sitting in my “to try” recipe binder (in the fish section), waiting for such a time as this.  Well, the stars aligned last week and I finally made them…

You can see the fish peeking out from under the watercress and carrot.  The seasoning for the fish was super easy and really good–I just sauteed coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) for a minute or two, added some Thai red curry paste and cooked it a little longer, then slathered it all over the fish before broiling.  It smelled SO GOOD.  I’m keeping the recipe because I think it’s such a unique flavoring, and the asian sauce you make to go with it was a winner, too.

Andrew left Thursday, which was the night I made my hawaiian pizza.  Check out my solo dinner set-up:

Disclaimer: About a minute after I took the photo, I traded the magazines for the laptop and perused my usual: Kath’s blog, Facebook and  I call them my guilty pleasures.

Check out that perfectly browned cheese!  With a good red sauce, hawaiian pizza cannot be beat.  Although I don’t know that I’ll be using fresh mozzarella next time for pizza; it’s best reserved for caprese salad.

Thursday night was also the night I chose to clean the WHOLE house…kind of like a mini-spring cleaning.  I always clean when Andrew leaves…  The way I see it: the earlier I get the place cleaned up, I longer I get to experience a clean house without having to pick up after anyone else!  It’s been glorious…

The next morning, at 6:30 a.m. no less(!), Emily and I did one of our Made to Crave discussion dates over the phone.

Is it bad that I was eating at the same time I was discussing a Bible study about CONTROLLING eating???  I suppose I should fess up and admit I printed out TWO cookie recipes from King Arthur Flour’s ‘best cookie line-up’ just moments before this shot was taken…

Also, note the “cookie-like” object on my plate…  They’re called “Anytime Cookies” and they’re from an online site called Nourished Kitchen.  I made them a day or so before Andrew left and WOW.  Loved them!  Super easy, SUPER healthy (no added sweeteners–just sweet from dried fruit) and the texture was great.  They’re kind of like a mini-muffin more than a cookie.  But at only 127 calories, they’re easier to have as a snack with some fruit or yogurt (or both) than something bigger or heavier.  I’ve shared them with some local loved ones (and Susy in her pre-half-marathon care package–tell me what you think!) and they raved.

Recipe is linked.  They use coconut flour and unsweetened, shredded coconut.  Coconut flour is higher in protein and fiber than regular flour.  Most grocery stores with a ‘natural/organic’ section should have coconut flour there, or in their gluten-free section.  That’s also where you’ll find the unsweetened, shredded coconut–the kind in the baking aisle is (heavily) sweetened.  If you absolutely can’t find the unsweetened kind, use the regular and perhaps decrease some of the fruit.  Or you’ll just have sweeter cookies, which if you’re not used to things like plain yogurt and unsweetened applesauce, might be a good transition for you, anyway.

OK, now that I’ve COMPLETELY digressed from my weekend re-cap…

I made this recipe for sweet potato and coconut soup, the recipe for which has been hanging on the fridge forever…  I knew I’d have leftover fish from the Banh Mi, and I thought a coconut-flavored soup would be perfect. PCC Natural Markets is a ‘chain’ of co-ops in Washington State and a friend from the co-op here sent me a link to the soup awhile ago.  Thanks Mary!

I roasted the sweet potatoes instead of steaming like the recipe called for–check out these babies!  Like dessert, I tell you.

Friday was filled with school-working, since I cleaned all night Thursday…  Chem lab to finish, two Micro labs to finish, Chem practice quizzes to prep for the actual quiz, Stats homework… Not to mention paying bills, random emailing and phone-calling, co-op blogging

Friday night I enjoyed my soup topped with a dollop (I love that word, don’t you?) of plain lowfat yogurt (to sub for sour cream, of course!), cilantro and chopped peanuts, paired with leftover fish, edamame and white wine.  As my friend Regina said when she saw the photo (I sent her a photo of my food–I AM that weird)…”Def not an Andrew meal!”  Nope, not an Andrew meal, although he does eat all of these things (points for him), he does LOVE any of them.

Saturday morning, I read the paper!  What a relaxing pastime…  Now I know why people sit and read the paper on Saturday mornings…  I’m usually up and going early on Saturdays, either the gym or early-morning shopping at Wegmans to beat the crowds (I like shopping so much I’d rather get up EARLY and go to enjoy myself than be rushed and crowded–grocery shopping, to me, is an EVENT).

If you look close enough, you can see yours’ truly’s byline on the front page, ABOVE the fold…(!)

I did hit the gym later that morning and tried a “punk rope” class.  It’s basically a circuit-training class with jump ropes, and while it wasn’t as high-intensity as it could have been, it was a nice change and a great time slot (8:30 to 9:15) for a Saturday morning workout.

I spent the afternoon with Carolyn bridesmaid-dress shopping…

…and we found a winner!  She’s liked this one from the beginning, and was finally ready to declare that this was it.  Ours will be black with a black ribbon, and Abigail’s will be black with a hot pink ribbon.  If you’re reading this and you know Abigail, you know that that is SO her.

I’d made plans with Regina for later that night (when was I supposed to get any of my Chemistry done, you ask?  I was asking myself the same thing…), but we didn’t know if we were going to stay in, or go out, so I decided to have something ready just in case.  Enter Triple Ginger Biscotti.

Yet another recipe that’s been hanging around for awhile… Not even sure who sent it to me…?  Susy, was that you?  They turned out well, but the recipe made A TON.  Should have halved it.

Regina and I stayed in and enjoyed out biscotti and tea after walking Hadrian.  So glad she was up for a walk despite the chilly temps; I’ve been thinking a lot lately (because of Made to Crave) about how EVERYTHING we do (socially, at least) is centered around food–meeting for drinks, dessert, coffee, lunch–the list goes on.  Now that the weather is getting nicer, it will be easier to meet up for more active activities like walks or runs.  Just something I’m trying to start doing to decrease foods’ ever-present status in my life…

(STILL chastising myself for not getting a photo of dear Regina…I’m such a terrible blogger!)

Sunday mornings are normally my run mornings, since it’s easier to run outside around the house than get to and from the gym before church.  Despite my late bedtime Saturday night–Regina and I were talking until at least 10:30–Hadrian got me up at 5:45 and I decided to go with it.  After polishing off some coffee, biscotti, the last Anytime Cookie and a banana, I headed out with Hadrian for our 3.4 mile loop.  I’d decided to do a long run (a.k.a. something in the 9+mile range for me), so after dropping him back off at home, I set out for my 7.4 mile loop around Orchard Park.  The stop at home was perfect; I was able to shed a pair of gloves (I wear two!) and add my sunglasses.  And since no one wants to run 10.8 miles, I added a 3-minute loop near the house, which upped it to more than 11.1.  Not an even number, but at least 11.  I was tired, but satisfied.  I hadn’t run more than 7 miles in a LONG time, so busting this out was good for me.

All that running done by 8:45 a.m.!  Still plenty of time to refuel and meet Andrew’s family for church.  I read my friend, Emily’s blog (a fellow RD-in-training here in Buffalo, not to be confused with the oft-mentioned Emily with whom I’m doing M2C) a couple days ago and she had a ‘toasted marshmallow cheesecake‘ oatmeal that I HAD TO TRY.  I knew it would be perfect post-run.

Yes, that is Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter melting on the top.  Deliciousness, and pure indulgence.  At least with peanut butter one gets a little protein; cookie butter is just dessert, people.  Also, I had to leave out the ‘mallows, I was fresh out!  But, since I’m not a huge marshmallow fan, anyway, (love ‘smores!), it wasn’t a big deal.  SO GOOD, I could have liked the bowl.  In fact, I might have.

After church and lunch at Panera with everyone, Carolyn and Ben and I headed to Target for some errand-running.  So fun to see what they registered for!  I treated myself to some new gym towels–mine were getting pretty ‘tired,’ for lack of a gross-er word–and some other things I needed.

LOOK!  The pineapple in action!

I packaged up every last piece of that biscotti!  Had to get it out of the house for my waistline’s own protection.  Note: this photo was taken at about 4 p.m. Sunday, at which time I had YET to start any Chemistry…  I had completely one practice quiz the night before, but still had two to go.  My procrastination drugs of choice: 1.) baking 2.) cleaning 3.) anything else that needs to be done around the house.  That way, I still feel productive while ‘wasting time.’

Oh, and I also changed out my purses for spring!  Goodbye my lovely green leather (but ridiculously heavy!) bag, hello Paris purse!  The blue striped bag was a Target purchase to corral all my giftcards and coupons, since the red bag is a bottomless pit.  Not a single pocket to be found inside…

Biscotti packed up…now on to Chemistry! I did a practice quiz, followed by leftover sweet potato soup and veggies and hummus for dinner, then another practice quiz.

After taking the dog for a brief, and chilly, walk, I sat down for the real thing.  Deep breaths abounded…

And I was handsomely, and shockingly, rewarded with a 100%!  Holy smokes!!  Seriously, I know I whine and complain about Chemistry, and while I have an A in the class, it’s still super hard and I never quite know what’s really going on with all those electrons and ions and things swimming around in solution…  Anyway, I’ve NEVER gotten a 100% on a quiz in either semester of Chem so far, so this was huge.

Except that it wasn’t.  The quiz took all of 15 minutes since EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM WAS ONE THAT HAD BEEN ON THE PRACTICE QUIZZES.  I repeat: I had the answers in front of me.  Seriously. I mean, on all the past quizzes there have been a handful (maybe 5 or 6) problems that matched up with practice quizzes, but never ALL of them.  My theory?  Dr. Barton rewards those who do the practice quizzes, because that’s the kind of guy he is.  Let’s just say I was in total shock and had to keep checking to make sure I’d taken an ACTUAL quiz and not another practice quiz.  And for fear that you think I exaggerate about how bad Chemistry is, this 100% will allow me to drop the 72% I got on the last quiz…

And it was a HUGE blessing, too!  The extra time I gained by finished the quiz so early allowed me to prep my breakfast:

Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Bread Pudding.  It’s essentially a ‘breakfast casserole’ but less egg and assembled like a bread pudding.

I order to lighten it up a bit (and it is just me by my lonesome), I halved the amount of sausage.

I am, as I type this, enjoying a bowl of this and a pear for breakfast.  YUM.

Signing off now–whew, this was a long one!

i miss ‘us’

That phrase was uttered by our good friend, Dave Diercks, this past weekend during our recent trip to Ohio.

And then it was seconded.  And thirded.  (Is that even a word?)

Anyway…  Here are some highlights from the trip!  (As usual, I didn’t take enough pictures…so I’ll do my best to describe how we used a door as a table, and my two-scoop ‘small’ sundae.

-We brought cupcakes!  I’m a huge fan of Firefly, the new artisan cupcake shop on Main Street here, and we wanted to gift Emily and Dan with goodies.  Since Emily and I are trying to be good and watch our calories, we decided we’d save our splurges for Graeter’s and Rita’s.  But, Dan and Andrew can indulge!  We brought a ‘chocolate-covered strawberry’ for Dan and a Vanilla Bean for Andrew.  The picture doesn’t do them justice…they’re packaged in their own little cellophane bags with the cute Firefly card on the front.

-As usual, we stopped at Chick-Fil-A in Erie for a late lunch.  I really had been craving CFA…I got a 2-strip kid’s meal with fries….

…and a small cookies and cream milkshake to drink!  I love them 🙂  Andrew actually did a decent number on the shake, so I probably ended up having only 3/4 or less of it anyway.

-While I was “setting up” my food in the car (I have a method), I realized it would make a perfect blog post.  “On how I eat in the car” coming soon.

-OK, here’s where the pictures begin to fail me…

-We made another stop near Dublin (skipping Jeni’s! A travesty!) for a Starbucks run for me.  Using the blessed iPhone, we found not one but TWO in grocery stores just feet away from where we were after taking the wrong exit off the highway… thank you, Jesus!  AND, the nice lady behind the counter was offering samples of their vanilla scones.  LOVE samples.

-We got into the Wilhelms’ around 8 p.m. and bounded into welcoming arms.  Within moments we were perched on the couch, debating the age-old question, “To where will we go for dinner?”  Silly us, we thought maybe we could quickly come up with a place with little conversation…  One thing we’ve realized is, the six of us (particularly the four Wilhelms and Layers) are PARTICULAR about our food.  And not necessarily in a bad way; we just really want to enjoy our meals, especially those together.

-The Wilhelms had been anxiously awaiting our arrival so we could go out for a nice, long, drawn-out dinner, which they’ve dubbed a “Layer dinner,” in honor of yours’ truly.  A “Layer dinner” is one in which you order drinks, then appetizers…and then shoo your waiter away and don’t order dinner until you’ve eaten said appetizer, and then you might even stay for dessert or coffee afterward.  They are infamous and can last upwards of two hours if you do it right.  Truthfully, these dinners started for us on or first trip to Europe, where people have long dinners all the time (in fact, often you have to flag your waiter down to even order your food, and they wouldn’t dream of rushing you out the door).  Now, if we have the time, we make it a point to stretch out our meals as often as we can.

-We almost unanimously voted for Thai 9, one of our favorite places to eat downtown, and got as gussied-up as our packed-clothes would allow.  We started with drinks (Belgian wheat for me, hard cider for Dan, cocktail for Emily and I can’t remember what Andrew had….) and appetizers.  Andrew and Dan split the chicken spring rolls and Emily and I split the crab rangoon–my mouth is watering just recounting the details!

-I LOVE going out to eat with Emily.  Our tastes are so similar, so we typical end up splitting one or more dishes.  This is something I can RARELY (if ever) do with Andrew, and it makes it so nice for me so I can enjoy multiple things on the menu.  I hate having to choose!  Emily and I wanted exactly the same things–pad thai and sushi–and that’s exactly what we got.

-Unfortunately, we were all too full by the end of dinner to splurge on Thai 9’s homemade coconut ice cream topped with fried banana pieces and honey (if you live in Dayton, you must order that as soon as possible), but it felt great to say “no, thanks” and leave without being over-stuffed.

-Emily and I are also early birds and exercisers, so we enjoyed a light breakfast the next morning while doing the first DVD session of our Bible study, before hitting up the workout room at their apartment complex.  Thirty minutes on the treadmill flies by when you have someone to whom to talk!  (Ain’t that the truth, Susy?!)

-The primary reason for the trip to Dayton (although who needs a ‘reason’ to visit friends?), was to meet little Aiden, Dave and Jen’s little boy who was born in January.  We arranged to meet them at Panera for brunch.  Isn’t he a cutie??

-After we ate (I splurged and got a cinnamon crunch bagel with honey walnut cream cheese–haven’t had one of those in YEARS–and smartly ate the top half and forced the bottom on Dan to prevent myself from eating it), Dave headed to his track meet and Andrew and Dan took Aiden home while Jen joined us for some shopping.

-We MADE OUT at TJMaxx!  M philosophy is that a true workout-aholic can never have too many items of workout clothes, and that is the place to go for a bargain.  I scored tons of awesome stuff, although the terrible overhead lighting washes everything out.  All of those colors are so vibrant–I couldn’t resist any of them!

-After bagging our finds at TJMaxx, us girls headed home to pick up the ‘two men and a baby’ we left behind and raced over to Dave’s track meet at Cedarville University.  Dave throws the javelin and is competing for a chance to go to the Olympic trials this summer.  He ended up scoring a 68-meter throw at this meet, which is just 10 meters shy of qualifying for a spot at the trials, and the most he’s even thrown in a season-opening meet.  Go Dave!  Check out his facebook page for more information; he’s also involved with Athletes in Action (a Christian organization geared toward outreach in the field of athletics) and is partially sponsored by PowerBar!

-It was pretty chilly, so we scooted out of there as soon as he was finished and headed back to chez Diercks, or as it’s affectionately called in our circle, ‘the cave.’   Seriously, between their huge comfy couches and lack of natural light in the living room, it’s very ‘cave-like’ in the coziest way possible.

-Yet again, we foolishly thought we could pick our dinner option from a hat…literally.  We all threw in names of various local establishments from which we could get take-out, and after turning our nose up at Chinese (what were you thinking, Dan??), a small contingent of us strong-armed the others into City BBQ.  Dave did what he does best and placed our order online while I arranged who was going where to pick up food; Emily and me to City BBQ (don’t forget the sweet tea!) and Andrew and Dave to Kroger for a rotisserie chicken and Cadbury mini-eggs.

-Upon arriving back to the Diercks’ lair, we found a door (yes, a DOOR) being placed on their oversized ottoman and topped with a shower curtain/tablecloth.  Don’t mind the handle, Emily…  If only I’d snapped a photo…

-We were all enjoying our food family-style with Ghostbusters on the in background, when it hit me.  These people are FAMILY to me.  Like, seriously family.  I mean, with whom else can you just sit and do nothing for hours on end, and it be totally fine?  (Especially if you’re in the cave.)  The six (now seven) of us have formed a bond like I’ve never had with anyone before, in particular in couples.  There are others with whom Andrew and I share this relationship (Heather and Silas, for sure) and I think that’s why God brought us to Ohio.  To make these lifelong friends.  (And to be near Andrew’s grandparents, but that’s another story.)

-By 8 p.m. Emily and I were getting a little stir-crazy and ready to walk around after dinner, so we convinced Jen to join us on another shopping trip–this one to Goodwill!  Beavercreek has the best Goodwill…there are NO good Goodwills here in NY…sad.  So, we left ‘three men and a baby’ to go stretch our legs.  I scored a pair of Gap trouser-jeans!

-We ended our night on a sweet note with a trip to Graeter’s, where I convinced the manager to give me two SMALL scoops (instead of only one) in my small sundae so I could have two different flavors.  LOVE. THEIR. WHIPPED. CREAM.

-The next morning, we all met at First Watch (one of my absolute favorite places!) for breakfast before church.  Again, Emily and I did our usual and split an omelet with pancakes on the side.

-Upon walking to our cars, Andrew and I realized we’d been fished!  I know I’ve blogged about it before, but haven’t the slightest clue as to when or under what title…  The short story: Dave and Jen own a giant stuffed fish and they (along with Emily and Dan) once hid it in our bed while we lived in Ohio.  It’s been traded back and forth between us three couples ever since.  The orange shirt it’s wearing?  It says “East Aurora” and was how I dressed it when I shipped it back to the Diercks after we moved here.  Gotta brainstorm its next trip to Ohio…this time to surprise the Wilhelms!

-Trader Joe’s is just across from First Watch… $86 later, we were stocked-up on goodies!  Favorites? LOVE their chocolate-covered almonds, sunflower seed butter and a new find, chocolate-ship brownie bars with oats.

-Before heading out of town, Andrew and I stopped into the nearest Graeter’s to redeem our ‘Sweet Rewards’ points for a t-shirt.  He always lets me choose.  What a sweetie.  Outside the doors, we met an Easter bunny!

-After meticulously choosing my shirt–I even made the young man behind the counter climb up and check the size of the one tacked to the wall–I settled for a child’s extra large (which was surprisingly big)  hoping it would shrink.

-We resisted the urge for more ice cream (well, I had to resist; I think Andrew has willpower of steel!) in favor of a stop at Rita’s on our way out of town.  I made the mistake of trying their new chocolate peanut butter flavor… (Back story: I grew up with Rita’s in PA and LOVE IT.  Mango is my ultimate favorite.  I try different flavors all the time, but mango is where it’s at.)  Anyway, I LOVED chocolate peanut butter and all of a sudden couldn’t choose!  It’s not like I could get one, knowing I could come back any time for mango.  Thankfully, Andrew opted for a large mango, which allowed me to order a chocolate peanut butter gelati–which features their vanilla custard.  I was in sugar heaven.

-We got on the road and had an enjoyable trip back to NY, filled with menu-planning and grocery-list making for me, (no Jeni’s AGAIN–we were too full of Rita’s!), a Wendy’s stop (apple slices for me, nuggets for him and a tiny Frosty to share) and then things went downhill.  Emily HAD to remind me I’d forgotten to take some of the dark chocolate-covered raisins off her hands…which led to a crazy craving!  We stopped at a gas station and ended up stocking up on Doritos, Swedish Fish (my favorite) and Hot Fries and an energy drink for Andrew.  And I might have gotten into the cookies Susy sent home with me…

-We drove straight to Wegmans since I knew our house was devoid of food.  Well, at least the fridge was. As in, EMPTY.  No fruit.  No yogurt.  No bread.  No nothing.  If we didn’t shop now, we’d have nothing for breakfast the next morning, and since I had to pick up the dog IN ADDITION to my normal routine, there wasn’t going to be any ‘going out for breakfast’ for us.

-$123 dollars later…

-We’re all settled back in at home now (we should be, it’s THURSDAY) and I can’t believe this post took me so long…  Notes to self:

-take more pictures!

-post along the way!

Here’s to next time 🙂

a list

1.  I start school tomorrow.  I’m uncharacteristically nonchalant about this.  I’m prepared and ready to go back, but not nervous in the slightest.  Have I, dare I say it, grown up?

2.  I made a friend today!  Actually, one of Andrew’s friends.  Is that weird?  One of Andrew’s friends from high school found me on Facebook, started reading my blog (yay!), then emailed me.  We really hit it off and met for coffee today, then the BOGO shoe sale at the local running store.  She and I are very similar (which makes sense, I suppose, since Andrew and she were good friends) and are looking forward to a dinner date with our respective spouses.

3.  Speaking of running shoes… I bought two pairs for what I paid last summer in Carmel for one.  Sheesh.  Good running shoes, for me, are akin to air, water and peanut butter, so at the end of the day, I’ll pay a pretty penny if I have to.  But, scoring a good deal for your pair of choice online isn’t always easy, so I was jazzed that the shoe sale today yielded another pair of my current style and a trail runner with support for me to wear in the snow.  SWEET!

4.  All I wanted to do this winter break was cook and bake, but with three trips in as many weeks, I didn’t exactly have the free time I’d anticipated.  However, I’ve been making up for lost time these last couple days! I’ve made two loaves of sourdough, a giant batch of sourdough waffles to freeze, pumpkin granola, ham stock with the leftover Thanksgiving ham bone (destined for ham bone soup tomorrow), pumpkin-cranberry rolls and a menu for the week chock full of new recipes, to include cod and mung beans (not together).  I. CANNOT. WAIT.

5.  I made the best kale ever tonight–Andrew said it was a ‘Top 10,’ which is saying something since he’s so picky.  It’s a recipe I replicated from something I got at Earth Fare this past week in Ohio.  I’m blogging about kale this week for the co-op, so be sure to check it out there for my recipe!

6.  I also made some great cauliflower (Andrew said “he’d eat it again”) tonight using a recipe a gal we met while in Canandaigua sent me.  It’s a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.  In terms of cauliflower, it was fantastic.

7.  I was reading the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light on the elliptical this morning.  Mistake.  EVERYTHING in there is awesome.  (Except that I can’t make half of it due to Andrew’s dislike of cheese.)  Sad.

8.  This month’s Cuisine at Home is also a winner.  Between the two of them, I found recipes for Pad Thai and Tom Kha Gai soup–my two favorite things to order when we go out for Thai food.

9.  I’m trying to figure out a new gym schedule for next semester that includes a yoga class…  All the good ones are at times I’m unavailable!  It’s either going at night (not my first choice) or cutting it close between the gym and class.  Decisions, decisions.

10.  There is a pair of boots I’ve been drooling over since before Christmas, and I’ve been itching to order them ever since.  Theoretically, I have the fun money to do it, but after all Hadrian’s trips to the vet, our traveling (gas, food, Starbucks…), random impulse buys (ahem, the shoe sale and those $20 LOFT pants that fit like a glove), I feel like I need to keep waiting.  Again, I ask, does this mean I’ve grown up?  (No, probably not, since I’m also daydreaming about this awesome J.Crew dress I found to wear to not one, but TWO occasions this year…)