Archive for January 2011


Curried Chickpea Pizza

January 31st, 2011 — 1:36pm

A couple of weeks ago I was at a loss for what to have for lunch and pulled gluten free pizza dough out of the fridge, then I added tomatoes, peppers, and thought to myself, “I need protein.” so I added chickpeas.  It didn’t quite feel complete so I added olive oil and curry powder.  The result? O.M.G. I’ve now made this pizza multiple times and it’s been requested for a party.  I thought I’d share with y’all.

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Ingredients:

-GF pizza dough (I like Udi’s)
-1 cup stewed chopped tomatoes
-1 cup rinsed chickpeas
-1 small bell pepper, sliced, or 5 mini bell peppers, sliced
-10 kalamata olives, sliced
-1 TBSP olive oil
-2 tsp curry powder
-Salt to taste

Instructions:

-Preheat oven according to pizza package.

-In a bowl, toss together all the ingredients, except the dough Smile

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-Place mixture on the dough.

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-Bake until the dough is crisp (about 10 minutes)

-Enjoy!

Next time I may add some chopped up fresh cilantro after I remove it from the oven-YOM!

2 comments » | Gluten Free, Recipes

Foodbuzz 24×24: Iron Chef Throwdown!

January 30th, 2011 — 2:55pm

A few months ago I went to a girl’s night and met Amy who told me about a cooking competition that she did with her friends.  They all picked a Food Network chef and cooked an appetizer, entrée, and dessert from that chef and could not stray from the recipe.  All their friends would vote and then someone was crowned the winner.  I thought this sounded so fun and thought it would be great for a Foodbuzz 24×24

When the call for submissions from Foodbuzz came out, I impulsively submitted the idea and got picked!  I had a week and a half to find 2 friends to cook and to get a dinner party.  Guess what?  I pulled it off and (with the help of my sister) even had a trophy to give out!

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First I secured my fellow competitors.  My sister gladly accepted the challenge as did our friend Shannon.  We threw around some chefs and settled on three; Thomas Keller, Alice Waters, and Ming Tsai.

Lu picked names out of a hat cup and we were assigned our chefs!

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Shannon-Thomas Keller
Lissa-Alice Waters
Chelsea-Ming Tsai

We each had to make an appetizer, entrée, and dessert following the recipes with no deviation.  We were unable to keep who made what a secret but we did keep which chef we had a secret from our guests.  Part of the fun was them trying to guess who we had!

We all got to researching-checking out cookbooks from the library, searching online, looking at You Tube.  We kept what we were making a secret from one another but we talked all week about how hard this was and how much we were cooking.  It was seriously SO fun.  In the process of preparing my meal I used my Vitamix, Cuisenart, hand mixer, stand mixer, double boiler, every pot and pan I own (except one and even my wok!) , every type of knife I own, and a mortar and pestle.

I started shopping on Wednesday and cooking on Thursday.  I know my competitors were just as committed.  I think each of us had an anxiety dream about this competition!

Finally the day was here! The table was set:

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The ballots were ready!

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The Iron Chef’s were putting their final touches on their masterpieces!

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Appetizers!

Shannon: Parmesean Cups with Chevre Mousse

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Lissa: Citrus Salad with Olives

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Chelsea: Potato Pancakes with Apple Scallion Cream

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We all sat down and there were many “oohs” and “ahhs”.

Our judges left some fun comments.

For Shannon: “Good explosion of flavor!”

Lissa: “Palate Cleanser-REFRESHING! I <3 Spring!”

Chelsea: “Loved the crunch with the creamy chutney”  One comment did tell me to “Lighten it up!” Ha!

Entrée:

Shannon: Pork Cassoulet

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Lissa: Beef Braised in Red Mole

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Chelsea: Black Pepper Garlic Shrimp with White Rice

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I was blown out of the water this round.  Seriously.  The Cassoulet and the Mole were AMAZING.  My sister cooked with beef cheeks for goodness sake!  Shannon’s had every type of pork that you can imagine-who can compete with bacon!?!?!  Both were simply delicious.

Comments from the judges:

Shannon: “Mmmmmm….PORK!!!! Smile

Lissa: “Loved the Mole (best I ever had) and I’m not a mole girl.”

Chelsea: “Light-yet deep flavored sauce…the lemon-the pepper.”

It was a tough one folks!  All of the food was delicious-too delicious.  I stuffed myself.

During all of this craziness Lu was hanging out and being a saint! She had been talking all day about “People coming over!” and was very excited.  While we were eating our entrée she drew everyone a picture and brought it to them, one by one.  It was so sweet and so outside of my little shy girl’s comfort zone.

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After the entrée, she bid adieu and Daddy took her to bed (don’t worry she got some dessert this morning).

After the entrée we were very full and getting quite inebriated! There was much discussion!

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And lots of wine!

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That’s only half of it!  The ChocoVine was a HUGE hit.  Wow that stuff is delish.  Shaun liked it a little too much and now hates it Winking smile.

When we were finally ready to stuff more food into our faces, it was time for dessert!

Shannon: Coconut Cake

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Amazingly, this was the first thing ALL NIGHT (other than a side of bread) that had gluten!

Lissa: Chocolate Pave (no gluten or dairy!) and Chelsea: Chocolate Mousse Sundae with homemade ganache and whipped cream

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Comments from the judges:

Shannon: “Incredible balance with frosting and cake! Cake was moist with the right flavor and texture.”

Lissa: “Deep. Dark. Rich. Orgasmic!”

Chelsea: “OMG”

We were having so much fun we almost set the house on fire!

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So who won?

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I was shocked when it was me!  I thought for sure that the shrimp had done me in and the other food was SO GOOD. The appetizer and dessert were apparently a hit.  Can we just forget my shrimp?

Really? I won before ever getting that trophy.  I had so much fun cooking for my friends and having this experience with my sister and Shannon.  It was so much work.  SO MUCH work! I want to thank them for doing it.  It was no easy task and they took it very seriously.  Throughout the dinner you could tell how much thought and effort had gone into every dish. I’ve dined at 3 star Michelin restaurants and that didn’t even compare.  This was so much better because people I loved had made it.

Too bad we couldn’t get a good picture of us:

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Some of the guesses?  No one could figure mine out.  They all thought I had Paula Dean! (I did use a pound of butter and 50 ounces of heavy cream!) Very few people could believe that I had an Eastern influenced chef-ha! After some hints, Thomas Keller and Alice Waters did come out. 

Pardon me while I go do dishes.

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19 comments » | Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday-1.27.11

January 27th, 2011 — 2:13pm

I truly have so much to be thankful for.

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But today I want to talk about work.  I am thankful for my job.  I work for a company that allows me to work from home.  I am able to set my own schedule and as long as I get my shiznit done, I’m good.  I have a fabulous manager. I am paid well.  My benefits are amazing. I work on a fun team.  I work with my best friend.  I get to go to fun places and out to fun dinners.

I have a good job.

2 comments » | Uncategorized

Bikram Yoga-A Review

January 25th, 2011 — 8:28am

I recently got an email asking me to give a review of bikram:

Trying to find a measured, non-sensationalist review of Bikram is damn near impossible….As a sane person whom I trust, I’ll have to rely on you.  :-)  I’m interested in learning more about what you perceive to be the superficial body mechanics benefits — putting aside for the moment any kind of spiritual stillness, endocrine cleansing, emotional uplift, yadda yadda stuff.  What’s your take on the upshot for muscles, joints, range of motion, flexibility, strength, etc.?  Maybe in contrast to traditional yoga, or traditional stretching?  The heat certainly would make a difference in terms of helping warm up your muscles, but other than that?
Sorry if I sound at all grumpy about the topic.  I seriously just spent an hour trying to find stuff online…There are a few people who speak in a very straightforward, intelligent way about it, but most of them don’t delve at all into what it does for their body.  They’re much more focused on how it makes them feel, how their skin looks, how it makes them sleep better, etc.  That’s all awesome… but I want the exercise science geeky goods!!!
I suppose I’ll know more when I try it, but I doubt one time will tell me as much as you’ve learned through regular practice.

I had been planning on doing a review of Bikram and this email gave me a kick in the pants.

I want to start by saying that I am still really new to Bikram and I am by NO MEANS an expert.  I know very little but I can tell you what I think.  Bikram teachers go to 9 week intensive training to teach and learn this stuff so trust them more than you trust me. Winking smile

Here’s a regular persons take on Bikram:

Muscles-if you do the postures correctly you WILL strengthen your muscles. After doing it for 17 days, my biceps are defined for the first time in 3 years.  My arm strength has improved tremendously and I’m working on my leg strength.  My spine strength is through the roof.  Since I started my spine is SO MUCH stronger.

Joints-It actually helps your joints because it uses compression so you stop blood flow to certain areas for a period of time and then go into savasana where the blood rushes to those areas and flushes out that area. My joints feel MUCH better. If you follow what the teacher says, your joints should get better and should be protected.  They are big on joints!

Range of motion will increase-the 26 posture series works all ways.

Flexibility-I’ve always been flexible but now I’m like OMG flexible.  I can now bend from my waist, put my hands beneath my heals, fingertips forward, bring my stomach to my thighs and my head to my calves with no gap at all and then I can straighten my legs until my knees are locked.  I can almost now with my legs in front of me sitting with straight engaged legs and a straight spine touch my head to my toes. I am naturally flexible but I’ve never been this flexible.

Some people will be really strong and need to work on their flexibility and others will be really flexible and will need to work on their strength (that’s me).  Everyone gets to work on their balance Smile

I’m really concentrating on my leg strength, most specifically my inner thighs!  My middle spin is not flexible yet but I’m working on it 🙂

I haven’t had a sore neck or back from tension since starting my challenge.  My lower spine was sore after one class where I pushed it too much.  You get cardio too.  My heart rate and cardiovascular system does more in a Bikram class than I used to do in a spin class-hands down, no joke. And just to throw it out there-my digestion has been amazing and I’m sleeping better-for real 🙂

All that being said, the beginning and ending breathing exercises are freaky and weird and some of the stuff they say at first struck me as silly and kind of bogus but if you can recognize that for what it is then it’s no biggie. I will say though that more I have practiced that they stuff they say is actually happening so maybe it’s not silly or bogus-I try to keep an open mind.  I do think you can most of the benefits of a Bikram practice without buying into all the claims though.

Breathing-Breathing during class (not during the beginning and ending exercises) is really important.  Bikram says that if you can come into the room and just breath for 90 minutes then you are already gaining benefits.  You should breath normally throughout the postures (that’s your goal) with your mouth closed.  The deep, audible breaths that they encourage in other yoga practices is not encouraged in Bikram.  Your goal is to breath deeply but quietly and “normally”.

Other Tips-You’re not really supposed to talk during class, you can’t leave class (unless you are going to puke), you have to be 5 minutes early (at least), you can’t really talk in the studio, and you can’t drink water until the first three postures are done.  After that you can only drink in between postures so that you don’t distract other people in class.  You have to save your questions for afterward. 

The teacher DOES NOT do the postures with you.  They walk around and talk you through the class.  As a beginner, you should never set up at the front of  the room because you’ll need to watch the people in front of you for some of the grips and postures. A girl did this weekend (it was packed) and I offered to switch with her and she totally blew me off and told me that she had done yoga before and that she’d be fine.  She was so lost and disrupted class because she was so clueless and didn’t have anyone in front of her to watch. The poses are very specific and doing other types of yoga before is helpful but you’ll still need to watch.

The standing postures (at the beginning) work to warm you and that’s where you will really notice where the strength stuff comes in.  However, all of the postures really do use strength (if you are doing them correctly).  If you don’t feel anything in a posture then you’re probably not doing it right.  I know that in Eagle, other than focusing on balance, I didn’t really feel much.  After the clinic this weekend, I feel TOO much almost Smile

I hope that helps.  I am seriously addicted to this type of yoga.  My mind is in a much better place ever since I started and everyone around me can tell.  I’m very happy and grounded.  I’m working harder in all areas of my life because of Bikram.  That being said, I think it’s a very polarizing type of yoga.  You either love it or hate it.  I can definitely understand why people don’t like it.  It’s intense, it pushes you, it’s very repetitive, it’s hot, you sound like a barking seal at the end of class, the teacher yells at you, you’re not allowed to close your eyes, etc., etc., etc. I’m one of those people that loves it.  I’m so thankful that I’ve found it and that it has become part of my life.

10 comments » | Uncategorized

Day O’ Bikram

January 23rd, 2011 — 6:40am

Yesterday my Bikram studio brought Lynn Whitlow (a master teacher) in for a posture clinic. The day started with a normal 90 minute class taught by Lynn, followed by a 5 hour posture clinic.  I had no clue what to expect but I was excited!!!

In preparation, I had to think about fueling myself.  They were going to have food but usually that means I can’t eat anything. I packed a TON of food:

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Kombucha, coconut water, carrots, roasted chickpeas, rice crackers, 3 protein bars, a “sandwich”, GF brownie, and an apple.

I ended up eating the Kombucha, coconut waters, a few crackers, the “sandwich”, brownie, and then hummus and olives that the studio provided.

My “sandwich”:

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I took 2 brown rice tortillas and put hummus on one side, mashed up avocado on the other, and shredded carrot in the middle. It was SO good and a great option for whenever I need to bring a lunch somewhere (like a plane! No more crappy airport food!)

I also made GF brownies, knowing that they’d have some sort of “treat” and that I’d want some:

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These were from a Namaste mix and  were really good.  Tip-do not use grape seed oil for nonstick purposes!  It doesn’t work very well!

So I packed all my food, packed 2 different yoga outfits, 3 towels, and various other odds and ends and set off for my 8 hours of yoga.

First off the class was, by far, the hardest class I have ever taken.  Lynn had a way of explaining things that made the postures so much more effective and hard.  She was using the dialog but what she chose to focus on or highlight made a difference. She was also not shy about coming around and adjusting.  I had to keep reminding myself that I COULD do this and that I was strong.  It really helped that I knew what was coming next and knew how close I was to be done.  I did not give up hope!

After class we got to take a quick shower (boy did we all need it) and change.  Then straight back into the studio where we ate and started talking.  The studio was down to 80 degrees at this point-no worries!  Lynn joked at the beginning that she could talk to us for 12 hours straight but she’d try to make it fit into 5 hours.  I thought she was nuts and didn’t know how I could sit there for 5 hours.

We then proceeded to talk through each of the 26 postures and breathing exercises in detail.  When people had questions she would have us do the posture and she would correct us and adjust us. O.M.G. I felt some of the most intense stretching/strength training of my life. I think we talked about the first breathing exercise and how to and for a good 45 minutes.  It was so enlightening! I had so many “A Ha"!” moments it’s not even funny.  I used to think triangle was hard, now I think it’s excruciating. Holy SHIT.

The day FLEW by and we ended up going until 5:30 (we were supposed to end at 5) and she had to speed up the last few postures to get through them all.  We could have sat there and talked for another 7 hours easy!  I can’t wait to go to class today and put to use everything I learned! 

It was an amazing, amazing day which was followed by an amazing night!

My sister came over and cooked us dinner.  Megan and Luke came too (their first trip outside the house with Porter other than the doctor) and Lissa’s in-laws were here.  I literally got home at 5:45 and by 6 I had a house full of people.  My awesome husband even cleaned (which I was not expecting him to do!).

My sister re-created the seafood feast from New Year’s-she loved it so much and couldn’t stop talking about it, so decided to make it herself.

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She put the sausage on the side (for me).

The table was ready!

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We chowed down!

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We also got some BABY TIME!

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Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE my life?!?!?!?

4 comments » | Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday-1.20.11

January 20th, 2011 — 12:09pm

Today I’m thankful for kind words.  In the last 24 hours I’ve gotten 2 emails from people that were so incredibly nice.  These people had no need to email me and yet they did and what they said just made me smile. So thank you Smile

To make YOU smile, I’ll share a blurry phone picture from this weekend:

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I got a hat like that for Christmas from a close friend and Lu LOVES it.  When I found one at Shopko (like a local KMart) for $5, I knew Lu had to have it.  Her Daddy was letting her be a daredevil and stand in the cart.  I love how happy she is in this picture.  I strive everyday to have moments of happiness like my daughter.  Today in yoga during the final savasana, the teacher said, “A happy life is about happy moments, go make those happy moments.  If you sit back and wait for them, you won’t be happy.  Go be happy.”

Go be happy.

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Tired

January 19th, 2011 — 1:56pm

I always feel strange posting when I’m out of town so I usually don’t.  This week I had to go to Richmond, VA for work-a quick “one night” trip.  I flew out Monday morning and back Tuesday night.  My meeting ran late, I almost missed my flight out of Richmond, and then when I got to Chicago my plane was delayed 4 hours.  I didn’t get home until 3:30 last night Sad smile I was up at 7:30 with Lu and made it to Bikram.  I’m now ready to pass out which I may just do…

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My Year

January 14th, 2011 — 4:30pm

Looks like this:

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I’ve been collecting images that appeal to me as part of the Artist’s Way.  This week’s task was to put the ones that spoke to me the most into a collage.  Evidently, I really like flowers Smile. Oh and that baby?  It’s there because I want to experience joy like a baby or child.  They can enjoy so much more that adults can and I want to relearn that skill!  Shaun thought I was trying to tell him that I wanted another kid.  Umm, no.  I don’t think I’d tell him that way either!

On a completely unrelated note, I was listening to Science Friday with Ira Flatow on NPR and he had Ralph Keeling on to talk about CO2.  Keeling explained what happens when you “burn fat”. I’ve always wondered this.  The answer?  It is expelled through your breath!  How awesome is that?!?!

2 comments » | Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday-1/13/11

January 13th, 2011 — 11:01am

Today I am thankful for Porter Rainn:

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Isn’t he beautiful? He made me want a baby again…for about 5 minutes-a record I think!

We got to meet him on Tuesday and it was amazing.

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I love him SO much.  Way to go Mommy and Daddy!

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Symmetrical Binary Dates

January 11th, 2011 — 8:29am

Two in a row! 1.10.11 and 1.11.11.  How cool is that?

1.10.11 was a wonderful day and today is shaping up to be just as good. Loving life! Smile

Last time we met, we were trying to get Baby Loaf out. That night, Megan and Luke came over for burritos and Lucy implored Baby Loaf to come OUT!

It worked and Baby Loaf is here but I’m waiting to tell you any details until Megan has a chance to share her story.  It’s a good one and it’ll be worth the wait.  I will tell you that he’s a boy, he’s cute, his name is awesome, and I’ve cried happy tears many times over the last few days.

Lactation Cookies, Mac N’ Cheese, and Stuffing Bombs are on the horizon Winking smile

I captured many cute videos this weekend, it was a great weekend.  Here’s Lu cooking Mommy some “rice and sauce”.

Her repertoire has broadened to include “meat” and “mac n’ cheese” but I didn’t get that on video Smile. I think someone has been watching Mom in the kitchen.

It really was a wonderful weekend, I noticed on Friday night that I was talking very sternly to Lu a lot.  I decided to shift my frame of mind and to approach things differently with her.  I’m a control freak and sometimes I just need to let go.  She needs to behave and listen but there are ways to get her to do that without me talking sternly or getting upset. I tend to push, push, push to get her to do things my way even when there are other ways to do things.  If I just sit back and let her figure it out, she’s happier and I’m happier.  Ever since making the decision to approach things differently, I’ve only spoken sternly to her once and it was completely appropriate for the situation. 

Last night she completely shocked my by saying “L-U-C-Y. Lucy!” Clear as can be.  We’ve been spelling her name with her every night before bed with the letters on her wall since she was 6 months old.  She’s never tried to spell it out but then yesterday busted out with it perfectly.  As part of our bedtime routine, after we spell her name she lists out other people in her life and we spell those.  Tessa is always spelled right after Lucy.  Apparently, according to my sister, Lucy has taught Tessa that her name starts with “T”.  I had no clue!  She’s a smarty pants, that one Smile

Today was day 9 of yoga. If anything, it’s shifting my frame of mind and I’m much happier and peaceful.  I’m loving this challenge!

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