Christmas is coming…. No wait it’s here

Christmas Collage

There is an infestation of all things Christmas and holiday at my local Target. I ventured in yesterday to pick up a few groceries, since my Target is a Super Target, and would not have guessed that it was the first week of November. I’m all about Christmas, I love it and the candy and the smells and foods and everything. However I know most people feel that it’s way too early to start celebrating Christmas, because Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet! I pretty much agree, but I do know I’ll probably start listening to Christmas music soon because I can’t resist.

Speaking of things I cannot resist, I have to admit that I bought two of the things in those pictures… Sugar-free Peppermint Mocha Coffeemate Creamer and a small box of Candy Canes. Coffeemate’s version of the Peppermint Mocha creamer is by far the best! It’s my all time favorite flavor and the only time I can find the extra large bottle of the sugar-free variety is around the holidays. I’ll will definitely be stocking up. I also just love Candy Canes and feel no shame in purchasing these within the first five days of November.

ChristmasCandle2

One thing I will be going back for when I find a Glade coupon, which are usually easy to find, is this candle. I currently burn their 2 in 1 Apple Cinnamon Cheer and Creamy Custard candle all the time and love it. I will either be picking up this 2 in 1 version, or maybe just the Sparkling Spruce because it is a very light and sweet pine candle. I can’t wait till I put up my tree and decorate my apartment for the first time and string up all my lights and burn some Christmas candles. Enough about Christmas though, lets enjoy Autumn while we can!

Kale Chips

Everyone is crazy about kale. I’ve seen it baked, sauteed, fried, juiced, and made into cocktails. I myself like spinach and was very hesitant to try kale, hearing that it was a tad more bitter and greener. But I heard about the magic of kale chips, and decided I had to try it out! This experiment happened a few months ago actually, but I took pictures with the intent to eventually blog about. Clearly I’m on top of things. Here’s how it went.

kale

This is kale, go out and buy you some kale.

Pull kale off the stalks, and discard them. I used kitchen scissors to cut it off. Wash and dry the kale in your fancy salad spinner that you got on sale for $5 at Bed Bath and Beyond, because someone had drawn one line on the top with permanent marker. Thank you Bed Bath & Beyond clearance.

Pull kale off the stalks, and discard them. I used kitchen scissors to cut them off. Wash and dry the kale in your fancy salad spinner that you got on sale for $5 at Bed Bath and Beyond, because someone had drawn one line on the top with permanent marker. Thank you Bed Bath & Beyond clearance.

Toss kale with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. You can try a variety of spices but I went with some basic garlic powder.

Toss kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper, with the assistance of your T.A.R.D.I.S. and Daleck shakers. You can also add a variety of spices but I went with some basic garlic powder.

Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (because who likes cleaning?). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Take out when browning on the edges and crispy-crunchy.

Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (because who likes cleaning?). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Take out when browning on the edges and crispy-crunchy. I am currently in amazement that my oven was ever this clean, some how it is now very browned and in need of a good scrub down.

Try these crispy little leafy chips out....

Put on a paper towel to absorb extra oil and then try these crispy little leafy chips out….

The Verdict: I did not like kale chips. They had a very bitter taste to me, similar to brussels sprouts or other cooked lettuce-y things. I don’t like cooked lettuce or spinach (unless it’s in dip) or brussels sprouts. So this was kind of a failed experiment for me. BUT I am glad I tried them because I enjoy looking for ways to eat more vegetables.

Despite not loving these, I do love to eat veggies! Sometimes it feels expensive to eat healthy but I work vegetables into my meals without over spending, or wasting them, by buying frozen veggies. I have broccoli, zucchini, onions, peppers, carrots, corn, and green beans in my freezer right now. I always purchase the generic, store-brand bags of frozen vegetables and cook them up however I want. They are very easy to steam in the microwave, roast in the oven, or cook em’ up in the pan. Buying frozen veggies is perfect for me too, because I tend to let vegetables rot in my fridge when I buy them fresh.

Overall my kale experiment was a personal fail, but I’m interested to try other types of kale prepared in other ways. My co-worker eats it for lunch as a salad all the time and is a kale-aholic. Maybe it’s a love it or hate it kinda thing? But I know that if I ever come across the opportunity to try them again when someone else is preparing them I’ll give it another try!

Literature and Cheese… Why hasn’t this happened before?!

The Airship, a digital daily from Black Balloon Publishing, just published this amazing article pairing cheese with great literary authors. We’ve all heard about pairing wine and cheese, or creating the perfect cheese board, or combining cheese and fruit (a personal favorite snack of mine, apples and cheddar will get me through any hunger attack). But cheese and authors? Well the Airship does it perfectly with suggestions like this;

La Tur: F. Scott Fitzgerald

This triple-crème cheese is decadent and worthy of any decadent West Egg socialite bash. La Tur is made of goat, cow, and sheep milk, and a go-to for those with well-rounded, luxurious tastes. Not to mention its cake-like rind and gooey, soft interior. It’s the perfect cheese to impress a woman like Zelda Fitzgerald and whisk her off to a night of drinking and dancing on table-tops.

I’m not sure who’s idea it was to pair food and books together, but they found perfection in these witty, clever combinations.

Mexican Food is calorie free, right?

I’m in TEXAS! I currently live on the Eastern Shore where I’ve lived all of my life. But I’m relocating to be closer to Mr. Wonderful, who lives in Texas. In order to job search, interview, and look at apartments I am visiting him and his family for 10 days. I am very happy to get to see him, even though he works 8am-5pm everyday. I’ve visited this great state at least ten times in the past five years but I’ve never been able to think about living here. It has completely changed my perspective visiting. I am now trying to remember road names, grocery stores, restaurants, and just getting a feel for the area.

What I’m thinking that I’ll have to adjust to the most is the food! Mr. Wonderful lives in the southern part of the state, so the Mexican cuisine is out of this world. As is the barbeque. And the sweet tea. Usually when I visit I am in vacation mode, and we all know that calories don’t count on vacation! But will I be able to shake this vacation mindset when I move here?

So far I’ve had Mexican food every single day. From enchiladas to queso to breakfast tacos, I can feel the potential pounds packing themselves onto my middle. I’m getting in some casual activities, and all the apartments I am looking at have fitness center (no crazy expensive gym membership!), so I plan on being active once I call this state my home. But unless I run 20 miles a day, I think I’ll still have watch how much Mexican I eat. The biggest issue, which is also the most delicious issue, are the tortillas. Fresh, homemade tortillas are like no other food you have tasted. By themselves they are a belt-buster, but then you load them with meat, cheeses, and sauces and you are asking to go up a few dress sizes. The key, as always, is moderation. Boring, bland, moderation. Obviously the idea of moderation does not excite me. I think what’s better for me is only eating the things I actually want, not whatever is set down in front of me. I usually eat chips and salsa, rice, beans, sweet tea, extra tortillas, and extra tacos out of habit/convenience. If it’s right there, why not? I’ll have to instead put myself in the state of mind to eat what I want to eat, not everything in site. This is applicable to everyday life as well! Don’t think of it as saying no to some things, think of it as saying YES to the foods you want!

 

How a Pinterest Addiction can be a Good Thing

My addiction to Pinterest started very intensely. I created an account and within DAYS I had over a hundred pins re-pinned to my 8 boards. Since then, I started in about April of this year, I have pinned 3,278 pins onto 11 boards. I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and Doctor Who so they get their own boards, and other than that I have your typical recipe board, health board, hair and clothes, crafting, wedding (nope, not engaged or married), boyfriend board, a funnies board, and my two most recent- a Quotes board and a Christmas board. Lately though I have been getting the most practical use out of my food board. I pin new recipes all the time. Unfortunately on Pinterest the Food & Drink category has about 50% junk/chocolate/fried/cookies/tie-dye cakes/100-types-of-cupcakes-food and 30% “healthy” recipes, and 20% that have somewhat healthy recipes with ridiculous captions like “10 calorie peanut butter cheesecake chocolate milkshake, best I’ve ever had” that is most certainly not 10 calories once you look at the recipe.
Despite this imbalance of useful recipes for someone who is trying to eat healthy, I have dug through the pins and found some excellent recipes lately! I have made Chicken Pot Pie stew in the crock pot, Easy Garlic Chicken, Pumpkin Cupcakes/Muffins (its just cake mix and canned pumpkin!), The Easiest Pot Roast, Spaghetti Squash au gratin, Zucchini Tots, Spicy Hawaiian Chicken Burgers, and I have a few others planned for the days ahead. I’ve also gotten really into freezer meals, which is where you cut up, mix up, and prep the ingredients for a meal ahead of time to freeze until you need them. Last weekend I made about 14 freezer meals and they make dinner SO MUCH EASIER. For example, last night we wanted meatloaf. So yesterday morning I pulled the pre-mixed meatloaf out of the freezer to thaw all day, and an hour before we wanted to eat I put it in the oven. No fuss, no muss. NO MESS. I love cooking, when I have time. But working the 8-4/4:30/sometimes 5:00pm, it’s hard to want to cook because that involves a lot of work and a lot of clean up, not that I don’t have help from the family, but they all work too. Now we can eat healthy, easy meals courtesy of Pinterest Pinners everywhere.

So if you know anyone that you think is obsessed with Pinterest and has a “problem,” invite yourself over to their house for dinner sometime. Not only will you get a good meal, you’ll probably notice how crafty their house has become and how little blackheads they have on their face from their homemade blackhead remover and how prepared they are for their wedding despite their current relationship situation.