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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shrimpalicious! A Red Lobster Adventure

A huge deal for me tonight--I ate shrimp.  Those who know me understand my deep dislike, suspicion, and  the utter gross-out factor that seafood had always played in my life.  I couldn't even eat fish sticks as a kid.  Lent at McDonalds?  I would take the fish off the bun and eat the melted cheese with the tartar sauce on the bun  ( it was pretty darn tasty, too).  I ate cod in Ireland but it was covered with sauce and I had some lovely Irish cider to wash it down.  At least two pints.

So I have taken toddler  steps towards eating seafood since I met Bud.  He likes it all, and in the name of love and healthy eating, I've attempted to make fish and I do make shrimp scampi for him on occasion.  I mostly eat the buttery sauce with a good dipping bread.  Maybe a few shrimp.  Fish, not so much.  I have tried, but just can't do it.  Although I will say drinking wine along with seafood blunts the taste; and a ton of sauce on the seafood also helps me forget I'm eating fish.    Almost.  And discard the healthy factor as I add more sauce.

So Bud and I went to Red Lobster tonight with his parents.  I've been there before, and usually order the only chicken dish on the menu.  This time (and without any alcohol at all) I decided to make the bold move and try some shrimp.  Never mind that this seems to be the one key ingredient on the Red Lobster menu.  I thought they would have more choices, but no, shrimp was featured in just about every item  except for the entrees that had lobster, crab, and scallops--ick. I chose a two combo platter, with shrimp scampi and cajun shrimp.  I was hoping the caesar salad and two cheddar biscuits I had  before the shrimp would satisfy my hunger, but leave me open for trying some shrimp.  I knew Bud would eat whatever I didn't so no money wasted.

I did eat most of the shrimp and it was good.  I also tried Bud's coconut shrimp and grilled shrimp with bacon.  We all know bacon makes everything better, and in this case, it completely obliterated the taste of shrimp!  Go bacon!

I think Bud was proud of me.  I actually ate shrimp and didn't get grossed out.  I am now full to bursting thanks to the fries, salad, and biscuits I inhaled along with the shrimp.

I draw the line at eating a whole fish.  No way.

Don't even get me started on mushrooms.                                                      

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Don't Know What I Made, But It Was Delicious

My plans with Bud fell through tonight, so instead of making soft shell tacos, I decided to use some ingredients I had left in my kitchen to make something for supper that I would eat, but Bud probably wouldn't touch.

I had pita bread left over from some Chicken Caesar Wraps we made earlier in the week, and I really wanted some pita tonight! So, I made a quick Mexican dip/salsa from what I had in house:  Defrosted  corn, a can of black beans (rinsed), chopped tomatoes, diced green onions, and diced avocados.  I tossed in some chopped cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and chili powder along with a splosh of vegetable oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then mix.  I didn't measure anything; this is a huge problem with me.  I just thought it looked good and it made a huge bowl of stuff!  I also had jicama but was way too lazy to peel and dice it.  It would make a good addition to the dip.

Next, I heated a pan, buttered my pita, and warmed it up.  After flipping the pita, I added cheese to the pita, then dumped some of the dip/salsa on top of it and let it sit on the stove for awhile until I decided it was warmed through enough to eat.  Slide in onto a plate, and devour!  Kinda   like a Mexican Pizza thingy.

So now I have enough to eat for a week and only a few pitas left.  Luckily, I do have plenty of tortilla chips!  It would probably be good on top of some scrambled eggs in the morning.  Is that too gross?!

Now I need something sweet... I heard about lemonade cookies today at the gym (how appropriate) and I decided that they were something I had to try.  After Googling a recipe, I am now ready to tackle some cookies.  I'll let you know how they turn out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finding the Joy Again One Hill at a Time

I haven't written about my running efforts for a while, so I thought I'd bring everyone up to date.  My half marathon is mere weeks away, and the panic firmly settled in last week, when I realized the farthest I'd run was four miles.  Wow.  Bad.  All the will in the world isn't going to make running 13.1 miles a very good experience if I haven't trained at all!

I started last Friday making a determined effort to run farther; my goal was 6 miles.  I accomplished that on Monday after a weekend of running a 3 and 4 miler.   The weather has been downright fantastic and has made the running a pleasure.  I put some new tunes on my Super Wee Pod, and that helped me immensely--listening to some new stuff took my mind off the run.  I felt tired and sore afterwards, but it felt good--like I'd accomplished something.  I also realized that since training for my marathon two years ago, I had shortened my stride quite a bit.  It was making me run much slower, and keeping my hips really stiff.  Duh.  I lengthened my stride just a bit, and what a huge difference that made!  Much more comfortable, and gee, I was running faster.

Unfortunately, I had to work that night, and by the time I got home at 10:30, I was wiped out and ready to sleep.

I took Tuesday off from  running, and decided while the weather stays warm and sunny, I would run some hills after work today.  I drove over to my sister's house.  She lives on a hill, and all the streets around her are perfect for the torment running up and down hills will bring to a soul.  I don't listen to music when I run in neighborhoods because I like to pay attention just in case some rogue car decides to drive up the curb and take me out.  I don't want "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen to be the last thing I hear!

 I ran around this neighborhood.  It was maybe two miles, but all hills.  I was very proud that I got all the way up the longest hill without stopping.  So, I've locked into hill running.  For the next three weeks, I will take at least one day a week and run like a mad woman up and down hills, chanting to myself "Hills are my friends.  Hills are my friends."  

Every running magazine, book, and article on the net swears that hill running will help you run farther and faster since your legs are used to working hard to get up hills.  We shall see in a few weeks!  My next long run this week:  8 miles--rain or shine.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Joy of Pesto, But Not So Much the Dill

I posted earlier this week that I was going to try a new recipe each week for the next month.

My glorious plans of spectacular side dishes didn't happen.  Somehow the week got away from me.

I did try one new recipe, and  I had mixed results.  It's from Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens by Jennifer Schaertl.  The recipe is for a Balsamic Egg Salad.  I like egg salad, but I have to be in the mood for it, and it has to be very simple:  eggs, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.  This recipe put in balsamic vinegar, green onions, and fresh dill with no mustard.  I thought, ok, easy recipe.  I made it and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to let everything meld together.

Thursday morning, I made a sandwich and took it to work.  I must confess the brown tint of the egg salad made me pause, but I made it, so I knew it wouldn't  kill me.  Full steam ahead!  I ate half the sandwich for lunch and here is what I discovered:

I hate dill in egg salad.

Otherwise, it tasted pretty good.  The balsamic vinegar mellows out pretty quickly when mixed with the mayo, and adding plenty of salt and pepper always perks up an egg salad.  Even the green onions complimented the eggs.  I am person who enjoys salsa with my eggs, so I'm not surprised the green onions were good.

I did make another recipe from the same book, and it was really good--Pesto Potato Salad.  It's very simple:  Cook some red potatoes until just done; cool and cut into chunks.  Add 1/4 cup basil pesto and 1/4 cup mayo, chopped fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, and sun dried tomatoes.  Gently fold it all together, taking care not to destroy the potatoes.

It's really really good, and really really rich.  The sun dried tomatoes add a yummy taste that helps cut through the pesto.  I ate too much the first time I tried it and had a stomach ache, but it didn't stop me from eating it again for the next few days.  Try this with some grilled chicken or a steak.  Bud did not have a chance to try this, since I made it last week and I was pretty sure he wouldn't care much for it.

Anyway, check out the cookbook.  For those of us who have very tiny kitchens that are in desperate need of a remodel, it's full of great tips on what  gadgets you can live without and still make great meals.  I know this to be true, as I've fed many people out of my kitchen with no counter tops and very limited space for moving around.  All you need is love, right?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Every Bloomin' Thing

I came home from work today driving in  balmy 80 degree weather, wondering if I'm in for a long, hot summer.  I hate extreme heat and humidity.  It gives me headaches and makes me cranky.  I pulled up to my house, and saw tulips blooming in the front yard, and a surprise blooming in the back yard:

My bleeding hearts somehow magically popped up, grew quite tall, and bloomed without me noticing until today. They are gorgeous.  
It's been a strange spring so far.  I have tulips blooming everywhere; last year only a few showed up for the party. I just assumed they were all done for, since I had planted them years ago.  Now this spring, they all show up again.  Must be a combination of a warm spring with just enough rain to make a difference.  I've purchased Dahlias, Ranunculus, and a purple spiky thing called Liatris Spicata to plant around the yard for some new flowers this year.  I'll be outside this weekend working in the garden, planting my bulbs and getting ready for the annuals I'll plant later in May.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's Time to Challenge Myself (again)

I've been reading blogs where people decide to take it up a notch and challenge themselves with a new goal or just tackle a to do list that's gathering dust.  The weather is much warmer this week, and the flowers are blooming ahead of schedule.  It's the perfect time to try something new, so I'm dusting off the recipe books and challenging myself to try new recipes each week for the next month.

Bud is always willing to eat what I make, even if it's something strange looking.  He says he'll try it once, and always lets me know if it's a go or a toss.  I've managed to come up with a handful of new meals because of our experimentation.  The grill is fired up, the patio furniture is being readied for use, and I'm looking over my cookbooks and marking recipes to try.

I will have to say I tried making quinoa the other night from a Giada De Laurentis recipe I saw on her show.  It looked and sounded delicious--full of lemon juice, chicken broth,  and fresh herbs.  I didn't realize a cup of uncooked quinoa makes a giant bowl of the stuff, so  I've been eating it for a few days.  I think I made a mistake, because it seemed kinda gummy.  Bud ate it, and said it tasted ok, but "lemony".  I love lemons, so I may have put extra in the quinoa.  Oops.  So back to the drawing board.

Tuesday night will be my first new recipe for this week.  I don't know what I'm going to make so stay tuned for the results!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mattress Shopping--TMI

My mattress is needing replacement.  It sags in the middle and makes me constantly wake up all night every time I turn in bed.  I wake up with a sore back and not feeling my best.  Bud and I decided to check out a local furniture store that was having a mattress sale.  This is what we found:

No one wants you to just buy the mattress--you must buy a set.  The prices in the sale ad are only if you buy a set, and they charge more if you only want the mattress and not the box spring.

Lying on mattress after mattress in a store does nothing but confuse you and make your back hurt.  After awhile, they all feel either pretty good or uncomfortable, but you can't remember which is which, cause all you're thinking is that your back hurts!

My sales clerk sleeps with her dog in bed, and eats in bed.

My sales clerk really likes the mattress protector, and the pillow protector, because she drools at night.

It's ok to spend gobs of money on a mattress because we're, you know, "aging", and need that comfort.  (Again, from the sales clerk).

Our mattress won't wear out as much as hers would because we're "normal sized" people.

Bud really doesn't like the sales clerk.

I like the really expensive mattress.  You know, the one I can't afford, but would probably give me the best night's sleep I've had in years.

I don't want to know about my sales clerk's bed habits.

It will be a few months before I buy a mattress.  But, I do know the one I want.  The expensive one.  I probably will buy it somewhere else, where the sales clerk is friendly, but doesn't give Too Much Information!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Lemon Drop Martini Night

On Good Friday, I had a very enjoyable evening with Bud, eating nachos, watching TV, and drinking Lemon Drop Martinis.  I have discovered over the years that when I do drink a mixed drink, I prefer something tart--my days of peach schnapps are long over!

My brother introduced me to the Lemon Drop, and I am lucky enough to have his recipe, and my sweetie Bud ready to mix up a drink at a moment's notice.  My brother also makes a wicked Margarita, but that's for another blog.

Here's the Lemon Drop Recipe:

1 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1.5 oz Simple Syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated over the stove until  the sugar dissolves.  Store in the fridge)
2 oz Lemon Vodka

It's really important to use fresh squeezed lemon juice.  The artificial stuff tastes terrible.  And,  you have an excuse to buy a really nifty juicer!

Just dump it all into a shaker, add a few ice cubes, and shake until chilled.  This recipe makes two drinks. You can adjust the simple syrup to make it sweeter or more tart.  I usually immediately have Bud make another batch, although two is my limit.  Well, probably three is my limit.
Give them a try if you're looking for a new drink.  I love 'em!  I believe my days of drinking beer out of a plastic bucket are over.  There are some good things about growing older!  This is one of them.  

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's the Shoes, Stupid!

Tuesday I went out to run, determined to get up the hills at my local park.  It was going to suck, but I was going to do it!

A few things went wrong.

First, while sunny and warm, the wind was blowing so hard I got a sand facial running into the wind.  This also proceeded to slow down my already slow run.

Second--hills are much larger in person than they appear in your imagination.  Especially when you have to run up them.

Third--I discovered my shoes were hurting my shins, feet, and pretty much everything else.  So I managed to get around the park twice, although my dreams of running at a clip, with the theme from "Rocky" zipping through my mind, a gentle breeze blowing in my face,  was not to be realized.  The burning lungs, sweaty face, and side cramp were there to greet me instead.

Wednesday I went to Running Wild to buy a new pair of shoes.  My old shoes are still pretty new, but apparently aren't what my feet like when running.  The guys at Running Wild are really good at helping pick out the right shoes for your foot.  My eyes immediately gravitated towards a purple pair that would look fantastic on my feet, but after a quick mental slap to the forehead, I realized that pretty won't help with the shin pain.

After having me walk around the shop to see my stride,  the clerk proceeded to bring out 6 different pairs of shoes for me to try on.  The shoes I had been running in were for people who had needed  a lot of arch support, which I don't need, and it was creating stress on my feet that made my shins hurt.  Glory be!  I was suckered in by the "on sale" price of those shoes, and didn't bother to really try them out.  Lesson learned.  They will be used for short errands around town, but no running.

After trying on each shoe, I was down to two pairs.  One was just slightly more comfy than the other, but the clerk assured me the shoes would loosen up over time and relax.  He then told me to go outside and run around in them to see if they felt ok; telling me I could return them within two weeks if I discovered they just didn't work out.  No shin pain!  My feet felt great!  I quickly paid and left, hugging my shoe box with a big ol' smile plastered on my face.

I now have a new pair of running shoes, and tried them out this morning on a three mile run.  No pain in my feet or legs.  Yippee!  It really is the shoes, stupid!

Happy feet in new running shoes!