2012: Goal me

I’m one week in to the 838 daily challenges I decided to take on in 2012. Planning out daily tasks to check off a to do list is what I live for. Slightly dramatic, but it works. Also, maybe a little Type A, but I swear there is nothing better than marking something off a list.

I take back the claim about 838 daily challenges…that would just be setting myself up for failure. Six sounds better, right? (Still sounds like a lot…)

1. Photo a day. Same deal, different person, different year. I’ve never attempted this before, so I’m confident. I’m not blasting my daily photos to Facebook like others because we all know I have Milo photos for just that purpose. Rather, I am posting a weekly roundup on the blog.

2. 2012 Declutter Calendar. Right up my alley. And Beth gives fun “days off,” like “Be honest about which restaurant you want to go to.” Finally I can  remove the endless “I don’t care”’s from my vocabulary. I love getting rid of clutter. Probably too much. So far I have organized my spice/coffee/tea lazy Susan and cleaned off two cabinet shelves. Success! Goal is to just keep up and try to do most of these on weekends.

3. Thought of the day. Saw this idea on Pinterest, and I started a few months ago, but haven’t really kept up with it. I’m going to try to fill in cards (two months worth) and start again. Love the idea of seeing what you we’re doing on each day 10 years back. So nostalgic.

4. Daily cleaning calendar. I haven’t started this yet, but I think the idea (also via Pinterest) has some merit. [Example] I love when the house is tidy, but the problem is I let the cleaning go until I have to spend three hours on a Saturday scrubbing the floors and folding laundry. A little a day is definitely better than three hours on a Saturday. Anything is.

5. Food from fridge. In the last few months of 2011, Nick and I were so easily swayed to eat out. A lot. Plus, I just felt a little uninspired in the kitchen. So we made a little pact to only eat out one lunch and one dinner a week in the new year. (exceptions – work lunches, food that we don’t pay for, travel). Even though this goal does have savings implications, it’s really more about eating simple, good food and trying new things in the kitchen.

6. Running. Not daily, but three times a week is almost daily. Still following my half marathon training plan, so I think this counts as a “daily” calendar.

A lot to do each day. Big goals, but I know that life will go on just fine if they don’t get accomplished. I’m okay with it.

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From Pinterest, who would’ve thought.

Daily Pixels 1

A weeks worth of photos. Because everyone’s doing it.

1/1 – 1/7

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Best fuzzy slippers ever. Via Target.
[I discovered Instagram! Now it takes me 15 times as long to take a photo because I need to try all the filters.]

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All birthday presents should have some part that happens
six months after your birthday. Coldplay in June!

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First run with my fancy-pants Garmin watch. It times me, tells me how far I’ve gone, translates my pace aka kicks my butt into gear in the last mile, speaks French/Spanish/Portuguese, can name any song, and reads your mind.

I’ll let you decide which of those is a lie.

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Looks like a good book. Added it to my “to read” list on the iPhone.

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Mini Beyonce gets some window time.

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I call this reflective froyo. So artsy.

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A token Milo photo because I missed a day. She’s really at my parent’s house right now, but I feel like I have to include a cat photo for this to be realistic.

Well Body Ricotta Pancakes

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Well Body Natural Foods is a hidden gem in Lubbock.  Okay, it’s not really hidden.  It’s out in the open on 34th Street, but it was hidden from me until I ventured in about a year ago. 

Though I have visited their grocery and bulk bin sections, I had never order food from their café until a few weekends ago.  Boy, was I missing out or what.

I order the Ricotta Pancakes with the berry mixture on top.  I didn’t realize I was ordering enough food to feed Kate + Eight.  The pancakes were creamy from the ricotta, and I could see strips of cheese pulling away from the insides of the pancakes with each bite. Dipped in syrup, these pancakes were the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

Well Body also had great coffee, and they served packets of Stevia along side the Raw Sugar.  Perfect.

If you don’t live in Lubbock, try this Ricotta Pancake recipe the next time you are in the mood for pancakes.

If you do live in Lubbock, try Well Body for Sunday brunch sometime soon.  They also make great juices (think fresh vegetables and fruits combined) that are fun to try. Just ignore the sketchy website attached to the Google places page.  I have no idea what’s up with that.

Cornbread Sludge

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I attribute my adventurous palette to my grandmother.  You’re bound to get used to strange eats as a 10-year-old when someone serves you fried Spam and pimento cheese on a daily basis.  Of course, this was completely normal to my 10-year-old self, and I probably wouldn’t complain if it was served to me today.

Fried Spam is just that good.  You know you love it.

Other strange food my MawMaw taught me to enjoy:

Mushy, Sweet Cornbread.

I’ve heard this is a Southern thing, but I’m not so sure.

I really think it’s a “add sugar to anything and Kendall will eat it thing.”

But, I digress.

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First, your Grandma crumbles up a couple-of-days-old cornbread in a glass.

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And you’re magically transported back to 1955 with a spoonful of sugar ready to go.

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Sugar down the hatch.

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Milk, you say?  At least it’s nonfat, right?

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I enjoyed this in 2010 on a dreary November afternoon.  My MawMaw would’ve been sweetly and mushily proud.  This cornbread and milk dish drink sludge is a cross between cold bread pudding and cereal. I just like it because it makes me feel like I’m 10 again and I can just be a silly kid and experiment in my MawMaw’s kitchen all day, microwaving strange ingredients and stinking up the house.

Let’s just be glad I’m not featuring crazy microwave experiments on this blog.

The Tuesday Tab: 11.16.10

I’m thankful for…

1. Making it to Book 7 (finale, yes) of Harry Potter.  I’ve spent at least six months with this crew, and I’m hoping for a good ending.

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Harry, why is your chest hair showing? Not flattering.

2. Frozen chana masala.  This froze so well.  Pop it in the fridge from the freezer the night before you want to eat it.  I might become the master at freezing and reheating meals…or bread.  Is your bread about to go moldy? Freeze it in it’s normal packaging and then microwave defrost piece by piece.  I usually toast it also, but I love toasted bread.

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3. This song.

4. Being able to spend time with family and friends this weekend.  My mom is coming in for the Texas Tech football game!

5. The Yoshi Blade, which was purchased from Bed, Bath and Beyond or as my dad refers to it, the As Seen On TV Store. It’s ceramic, pretty and a nice change from the one knife I always chose to use out of a drawer full, which I think is actually a filleting knife.

6. A cat that cuddles under the covers at night.  Even if it’s only because she’s cold. And I’m not mentioning how I freak out and wake up each time she nestles her way to the middle of the bed (yes, under the covers) because I’m afraid she will suffocate. 

7.  The ability to step away and take a break, but be able to return to this blog at any given moment.  Thanks for sticking with me!  Food will surely follow…

Sweet Lentil Chili

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Tonight I filmed Chopped: Lubbock. 

In my head, of course.

Mystery ingredients:
Cooked Lentils
Zucchini
Squash
Carrots
Chili Powder

Okay, so it wasn’t that hard to figure out what to make, but I crafted dinner pretty easily with limited produce in my refrigerator.  This recipe shows taking many nothings and creating a scrumptious something.

Sweet Lentil Chili
Serves 4

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Vegetables:
1/2 cup leftover squash
Large zucchini, chopped into large chunks
3 carrots, chopped (Yes, four are pictured, but I didn’t want to turn orange, so I put one back.  And, no, I didn’t peel them – so rebellious.)

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2 cups cooked lentils (previously cooked, frozen and defrosted) (the best thing ever)

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Broth of your choice and spices.

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Heat 2 t. olive oil in a large pot and add vegetables, cooking a few minutes.  Next add 1/3 cup broth, turn heat to high, and cover pot with lid.  Mock pressure cooker status Simmer vegetables in liquid for 7 minutes, or until brightly colored and steamed.

Add lentils.  Gosh that was easy.

Spice time!

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1 1/2 T Chili Powder

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1 t Cumin 

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1/2 t Cayenne

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It was missing something, so I added about 1/4 t. Garam Masala.  This is the sweet in the Sweet Lentil Chili.

Simmer on low for 5 minutes.

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At 30 minutes, I threw my hands in the air and declared victory.  Really, I think you could recreate this in 20 minutes and give Rachael Ray a run for her money. 

But first, freeze some lentils.

Freak Show Pumpkin

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Yes, there is a freak show fair winning pumpkin in this post.  It’s unbelievably huge.

But, first, this week’s favorite posts from a few of my favorite blogs.

If I lived near Andrea, I would show up on her door step every day for an after-work snack.  These Pumpkin Whoopie Pies look delectable.

Kailey’s posts usually make me laugh and smile, but one in particular this week touched my soul.  She promised candid, but I think reader’s got a lot more.

Want more soul touching?  Read this series of posts about a topic that should be discussed more than it is – depression.  I’m looking forward to reading the happy ending.

These engagements photos are adorable.  We went out to the South Plains Fair, too, but I never pictured it as a location for a gorgeous photo shoot. 

My photos are little more food and animal oriented, though….

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And if you’ve ever wanted to peek into the livestock + crop winners of the fair…

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Yes, above is the winning pumpkin. That’s a really big ribbon, FYI.

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I admit…I didn’t know peanuts were grown in soil.  It’s not like I thought they grew on trees, I just honestly never thought about it.  I like the idea of a peanut fairy better, though.

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This is what your shirts probably made of.

If you guessed cotton, you are correct.

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Lots of different produce entered in the fair.  I want a garden.

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He gave llamas a bad reputation.  Wouldn’t look at my camera.

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I tried to take this one home.  So friendly!  I didn’t have time to pick the lock because we were headed to the monkey show.  So goes life…

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Once again, people were wondering why I was talking to the animals in baby voices…piglet was adorable!

This one however, was not.

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I see an uncanny resemblance to Rupaul.

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Ridiculous fair games ensued….

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Yes, I’m trying to launch a rubber frog onto a rotating lily pad. 

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Nick won me a friend.  Just another fair prize to add to the collection.

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Butternut Squash Apple Soup

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The first 21 years of my life I thought Campbell’s was brilliant.  Soup in a can was pretty awesome, but the soup to go? How convenient!

In my wise age of 22-years-old, I realized the convenience was plagued with chemicals and ingredients I couldn’t  even pronounce.  At 23, I decided to take on the world of homemade soup. Plus, cooking over a large pot on a drizzly Saturday morning couldn’t really get any better, right?

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Simple ingredients:
Butternut squash from the local food bank farm
5 small apples from your boyfriend’s granddad’s farm
Half a week old onion
1 T. Olive Oil (coconut oil would be great, too!)
Precious Garam Masala
2 chicken bouillon cubes (in a perfect world, this would be organic vegetable broth)
2 cups water

First, I roasted the butternut squash, which is cut in half, de-seeded, faced down on a cookie sheet, and standing in water.  Roast at 450* until brownish and tender.  I think this took 35 minutes or so.

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While the squash is roasting, sauté chopped apple and onion in a large pot.  I’m not sure I’ve ever used this pot before (remember I was a Campbell’s girl for 21 years!).  It made me feel really Ina Garten-like.

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While the apple and onion are getting friendly in the pot, check on the
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It should be roasted and ready.  If it’s not, shame on you.  Plan accordingly.

I am without photos of preparing the butternut squash.  Things to remember:

1. Let it cool ( I did not)
2. The skin should be easy to peel off (not if it’s hot)

I sliced my peeled squash and threw it in with the apples and onions.  Then I added these guys.

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Bouillon + 2 cups of water + 1 t. Garam Masala, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Transfer chunky parts of soup to blender with a ladle.  A little bit of the broth is good to use to.

Blend until desired consistency and pour back into pot.

Now for the ultimate taste test.  Of course I added more Garam Masala.

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Butternut Squash Apple Soup served with a grilled cheese + jelly.

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It’s really as good as it looks.

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I added some almonds for a crunch.

This soup is what Campbell’s is not: thick, velvety, and spicy with an Indian twist.  I’m definitely a fan.

Portabella Mushroom Strips – The Other White Meat

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I was on the verge of a breakdown looking at these furry portabellas.

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I had planned to make Grilled Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms, using shrimp, vegetables and cheese.

Honestly, my first thought of this combination was “It will be such a pretty photo for the blog.” 

I didn’t consider if I would like it or if it sounded appetizing.  I just knew it had to be cooked and photographed for my blog.

I flipped the mushrooms over and starting cleaning out the hairy bristles, but the mushroom on the right started to crumble before my eyes.  I had a problem. 

“No, mushroom!  You are supposed to be perfectly hollow and ready to be stuffed, not broken and flimsy.”

Enter meltdown.  Prior meltdown possibly occurred when I was talking to my food."

After declaring how the mushrooms were going to ruin my blog post, I decided to take revenge.

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Take that portabellas.

Then I asked myself what I really wanted for dinner.

Answer – Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets.

Solution – bread the mushrooms with egg in an Uncle Sam crushed cereal coating and bake at 425* for 20 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes. (Uncle Sam – I don’t get the whole flaxseed?  This goes against everything I’ve ever been taught.  Grind the flaxseed, yo.)

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Side note about my blog photo ridiculousness – I’m really particular about my mushrooms.  They either have to be really good and cooked down or raw.  In between is not good for me, so there is no possible way I would’ve liked the Grilled Stuff Portabella Mushrooms.

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Portabella Mushroom Strips & Vegetable + Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad

I decided to add on a random pasta salad just in case my strips didn’t work out.  Turns out there was no need, but the added vegetables were a plus.

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In the Mix – Zucchini, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Elbow Whole Wheat Noodles, Pesto, Feta, Shrimp.

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And the star of the show…

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I think if I wouldn’t have been whining to Nick all night about the portabella mushrooms, he would have never guessed this wasn’t chicken.  It doesn’t taste like chicken, but the texture is similar, the “meat” is white, and the mushroom taste was not prevalent what so ever.  I was amazed.

Please go try and fool someone into thinking these are chicken strips and report back.  Over and out.

The Tuesday Tab

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1.  I’m the weird girl jumping up and down and grabbing all Larabars in sight.

2. Ironic that It’s Turn Off Your TV Week during fall premiers? Sorry, I’ll turn my TV off later.  I’ve got to watch Glee, Biggest Loser, House,  Real Housewives, Jimmy Johnson Survive Nature Survivor, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Aarti Party, 60 Minutes, Lie to Me, The Office….I’ll stop now.  I think my DVR might explode.  Can you get more space for those precious contraptions?

3. I’m on Harry Potter Book 5 right now.  I’ve been reading these off and on since around May.  I never got hooked on the craze as a child, but my boyfriend is another story.  Nick is obsessed with HP (obsessive is wanting to take the book everywhere until you finish, right?) and reread Book 5 – 7 in a two week span.  I have to finish the books before the movie premier in November!

4. No football game in Lubbock this week.  What am I going to do with myself?

Answer – yoga, shopping, eating, baking, organizing…ahhh free Saturday.

5. Emily’s kitchen inspires me to organize my bundle of stock bin goody bags.

6. Still obsessed with grilled cheese + jam sandwiches.

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And an egg with 2 whites.
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7.  Mama Pea made laugh out loud.  Again.

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