Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lace, Workouts, and Stovetop Popcorn

I'm sure I'm not the only person on the face of the planet with lots of things I'd like to do.  I've got projects coming out of my ears.  Sometimes I settle down long enough to get something done... other things are just on-going, never-ending, infinite projects.

Like cleaning.  Cleaning NEVER ENDS.  And just when you think you've got it done, something gets messy again.  I'm sure you've all been there... especially all you parents out there.

Anyway, enough ranting.  I'm not here to talk about that... instead, I'm going to give you all a little snap shot of my life.

My current lace project is starting to look super awesome:

I'm really excited for this one.  I've been working on it whenever I have a moment (which is not often) but it's really coming along nicely.

On to the working out thing - I know, I know, you're all thinking 'What?! The lazy wife doesn't work out!' or maybe 'Exercise? Do you even know the meaning of the word?'  Yeah. I'm lazy. I dislike "working out" - I dislike being sweaty.  But I've started to find that I have no energy, my bones ache, and I'm about 50 pounds heavier than I should be for my health.  Oddly enough, that's not due to my pregnancy, but because I slowly put on more and more pounds before I got pregnant.

All that to say that I'm working on getting healthier, lighter and more energetic.  And since I'm posting about it, hopefully I'll stick with it.  Here's my "plan":

1. I started using the RunKeeper App on my phone - I'm doing a 5K training.  Not that I'm actually "running" so much as walking and occasionally jogging until I start wheezing and die can't keep it up and walk again.  So far, so good - note that I've been doing this for all of two days.  Still, it's a start.

2. I'm doing an hour of yoga every Saturday.  Well, every Saturday that I can.  I used to do yoga a lot. It really helped with my thoracic scoliosis. Since that's been giving me a lot of pain recently, I really need to do yoga.  Lucky for me I have my own personal instructor (my husband used to teach yoga).

3. I'm trying to eat healthier.  This one is sort of touch and go.  I never thought of my diet as all that bad, but I am trying to eat more veggies, fewer empty carbs, and more small meals rather than bigger ones.  I am also trying to drink more green tea.  I'm going for life style changes rather than just temporary dieting.

And now, one of my favorite snacks: Stovetop Popcorn!

I learned this from a friend - its super easy, tastes awesome and doesn't have all the junk that microwave popcorn does.  I will give two BIG warnings.
1. It's super easy to burn this popcorn.  A smoke filled home is not our goal.
2. It's super easy to burn yourself while making this popcorn.  I got myself really good one time while making this, and I had a scar for 2 years.  I burned myself while tipping the pot to dump the popcorn into a bowl.  So don't burn yourself.  Be careful, and be aware of how you're holding the pot so you don't end up with a very painful burn.

If you're brave enough, here's the simple recipe:

About 2 Tbsp coconut oil (I don't carefully measure, I just put in what seems right at the time.)
1/2 cup popping corn (make sure you get the kind for making pop corn)
Some salt to taste

In a large pot, add the oil and the corn.  Turn up the stove to medium high heat.  I find that for my stove the sweet spot is about 3/4 of the way to high - it's has to get pretty hot to pop the corn, so you may need to use high heat depending on your stove.
Make sure the lid is on your pot!  You don't want popcorn all over your kitchen.
Just like when making microwave popcorn, wait until the popping has slowed down, then turn off the heat and remove from the hot burner.  This usually ensures that the popcorn doesn't burn.  I've made this popcorn lots of times and I still occasionally get what I call a "burnerated" batch. So, keep an eye on it.
Once off the heat, sprinkle with salt and pour into a bowl.  The coconut oil adds a nice flavor and the right amount of oiliness - It's delicious!

Weird tangential story: when I was a kid, my parents had a air-popper for making popcorn.  It was this awesome machine that would spin the kernels in a heated section and the popcorn would jump out of a chute and into the bowl.  It had a metal section where you could melt butter, but we never put butter on our popcorn (I was raised SUPER healthy).  We did put soy sauce in a spray bottle and sprayed that on the popcorn when it was done.  It was actually really delicious - so if you need something low sodium/low calorie to spice up your bland air popped popcorn, you might just give a spray bottle of low sodium soy sauce a try.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Steak, Potatoes and Spinach with Blue Cheese

So... it's been a while.

Let me see if I can catch you all up in just a few sentences...
I'm two years older.
I've had a baby. She's adorable and getting cuter every day.
I've done a lot of decluttering and reorganizing to streamline my life.

I think that about sums it up.

Now, on to the reason for the post.

Isn't that gorgeous.  I made up some of it, and while I was cooking I said to my husband, "if this turns out well, I'm totally going to make a lazy wife post about it."  And it turned out amazing.


Steaks with Red Wine butter - derived from Les Halles cookbook by Anthony Bourdain
The following measurements are not exact and should be tweaked to suit your own tastes.

1 small red onion (the original recipe calls for shallots)
1 cup red wine (I used Merlot, you can get inexpensive red wine but make sure its something you wouldn't mind drinking)
2 sticks of butter

Enough steak to feed your family
Salt & Pepper

To make the flavored butter:
Mince your onion, and put it in a pan, and a pinch or two of salt (depending on your tastes).  Add the wine and bring up to a simmer.  Stir occasionally until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Cool to room temperature. Soften the butter and blend the butter with the onion.  You can do this in a food processor, or a mixer, or by hand.  Just make sure it's fully incorporated and there's no large sections of plain butter.  Then get out some parchment paper or plastic wrap, and make a log out of the flavored butter and chill in the fridge.
You can also freeze the butter and use it at a later time - I have a bit in my freezer that I pull out any time I want some quick, easy, and delicious steak.

For the meat:
Salt and pepper one side of the steaks.  I like using top sirloin, but you can use whatever steak you like. Preheat your oven to 350.  Also, preheat an oven safe pan on the stove - I have a lovely cast iron skillet that works great.  Once the pan is hot, sear the seasoned side of the meat and season the other side with salt and pepper.  Sear all sides and then put the pan in the oven and cook until it's done to your liking.  My husband likes his steak well done, so I get everything else going before I turn the oven off and take the meat out to rest.  Once the meat is done, take it out of the oven and put a nice pat of butter on top and let the meat rest for 5 - 10 minutes so all the delicious juices get redistributed and the butter melts.  Mmmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Pan Fried Potatoes and Onions
I eat this for breakfast most days with a fried egg, but they're just as delicious for dinner.

3-4 medium sized Yukon Gold Potatoes (about 1 medium potato per person)
1 medium-large onion
1 Tbsp butter (you can use the wine butter in place of regular butter)
Dried Thyme (optional)

I use a 10" ceramic non-stick skillet for this recipe.  Preheat your pan on medium heat.  Chop your potatoes and onion into bite sized cubes (for breakfast, I like to slice them more thinly) Melt the butter in your preheated pan. Add the onion and potatoes, and sprinkle a pinch or two of salt and dried thyme.  Cover, stirring occasionally (or do that awesome chef-flick to flip everything) until the potatoes are soft.  Then remove the cover and still stirring occasionally, cook until it gets deliciously caramelized and browned - you may have to turn the heat down so it doesn't get blackened.

Creamed Spinach with Blue Cheese
I just made this up last night, so my recipe is very inexact.

1 bag frozen chopped spinach
1 tsp better than bullion chicken broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder (more or less depending on how much you like garlic)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

In a sauce pan on low/med-low heat, add frozen spinach, chicken broth, garlic powder - put the cover on until the spinach has thawed.  Once thawed, add milk and stir occasionally while it simmers for about 15 min.  Add the blue cheese and stir to melt it in.

Then you serve it all up and feel like you're eating at a 5 star restaurant.  I'm so glad I added that blue cheese to the spinach... and I'm also glad that I made enough last night that I have left overs to eat for lunch today :)