Changing habits.

Lately I have been thinking about changing up my environment every once in a while.  Working from home, I find myself feeling stifled often and while I do have an office I have the option to go into, it is 50 minutes away and full of transient consultants.  My HR colleagues are never in the office, so that defeats the purpose of going in to socialize.  I need to start going to coffee shops, and since a CERTAIN MONOPOLISTIC BRAND has taken over every small coffee shop in this area, I have one choice and one choice only.

image from starbucks.com

We do have a really nice Starbucks just 5 minutes away from me so I wonder why I am not taking advantage of that- probably because I am the cheapest person on the planet and can’t bear to pay for a coffee drink when I can make a perfectly good one at home.  A Vanilla Rooibos tea would be delightful though.  I need to start a new routine where I pack up and get out once a week because while I’m not going stir crazy (take note I am essentially a recluse so I love being home for work), my weekday routine is precisely this: work at home all day, take  run outside, make dinner, sit on the couch all night either watching the DVR or reading blogs.  I don’t even want to know what I will turn into once I have babies.

I found that I was dreading my scheduled interval run yesterday afternoon so I thought that instead of doing my usual route that I am quickly becoming tired of, I would run on the treadmill.  It helped that it was 86 degrees outside so 78 in the gym was sounding mighty cool.  I came to the conclusion that I certainly need to find a new running route because I usually avoid the treadmill at absolutely all costs.

It was actually a great run, usually I am much slower on the treadmill, but I think that I kept the same interval paces as I would have run if I were outside in perfect weather, though I was embarrassingly DRIPPING in sweat while I was leaving.  It was disgusting, and I swear people were staring.

I also created a new recipe last night out of necessity and it came out really delicious and was the perfect balance I needed after my workout.  I was planning to make THIS chicken dish, but realized I had bought tenderloins instead of breast, so I re-worked it into something new.  I of all people know how hard it is to have cheap nutritious meals but depending on the price of feta and tomatoes in your area, I think this could be a great option to fit in your healthy food budget!

I know you can’t tell, but I feel obligated to bring to your attention that I am not a professional photographer

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Consolation cookies

I wish somehow that weekends weren’t so fattening, but then why eat so well during the week and work out and put in all that effort to not be able to enjoy one’s self?  I’d probably be miserable and I generally thrive in this happy medium which is eating healthy and feeling good during the week, working out 5 times per week, and not feeling guilty for my sugary indiscretions on the weekend.

I think we all deserve it.

Our Sunday was spent at the dog park and then my husband turned into a couch bound stupor with eyes glued to the television.  Since the Patriots were playing and I had already spent 3 hours on ONTD, I gave my eyes a rest and did this

Then because football games last FOREVER, I decided to make cookies (BROWN BUTTER Oatmeal cookies!).  I am relieved that the “celebratory cookies” quickly turned into consolation cookies once the Patriots took the rough loss.  I always secretly wish they don’t make the playoffs because a. I’m evil and b. I want to have FUN during the Superbowl, not be stressed out over my husband’s fragile feelings over football.  FOOTBALL.  I mean I can appreciate the sport and the camaraderie (really the beer and wings though) that comes along with it, but it’s not that serious, people are just getting paid millions of dollars to throw a flipping ball.  Back to more important things.

Brown butter is so delicious and a staple over on Jessica’s How Sweet Eats (<- recipe), however I couldn’t really taste a difference in these Oatmeal Cookies when comparing it to a recipe using room temperature sticks of butter.  These are good though, they don’t spread much so you might want to press them down after scooping them onto the sheet, but personally I liked the gooey result of these cookies being so tall and fat.  They aren’t too sweet and decadent which makes them a perfect weekday treat when craving chocolate – because let’s face it I always do.  Please note in considering the calories – my batch made 23 smaller cookies, damage is for one cookie, which is really annoying because they are TINY!

Damage: 151 calories/20g carbs/8g fat/2g protein/1g fiber/12g sugar

PS: I still maintain it is better to have one tiny cookie than  a few gross diet cookies with fake sugar/chemicals galore. =)  Also, sorry to you Patriots and Falcons fans, ideally I would have made cookies for all of you.

The old normal

Everything is now back to business as usual.

I ran my intervals for 3 miles at around a 9:30 pace (I HAVE SHORT LEGS), and I COOKED something last night.  That is revolutionary for me lately.  Our family has been living off of salads for the past few weeks since hurricane flu struck our household and miraculously I gained back 2 of the 5 pounds I lost during the illness even though I haven’t changed my strange eating habits at all since then.  It must have been that one piece of vanilla bean cheesecake from the weekend.  Did anyone else get the below cards during the holidays?  My family knows what I like, since we got over $100 in gift cards to Cheesecake Factory. I’ll take it as, “Raychel, you are far too skinny and need more fat and sugar on your tiny frame”.  (HAH)

So many gift cards…we already used up two!

Last night I made a new favorite pasta dish that doesn’t involve red sauce.  There are a lot of different variations of this on the internet, and it’s clearly not a hard or expensive dish to make, so play around with it.  This will definitely be added to my list of go-to inexpensive weeknight dinners!

Prosciutto Parmesan Pasta

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 16oz whole wheat penne or other favorite pasta shape
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2-1lb asparagus, chopped
  • 4-6oz prosciutto (I picked mine up at the deli counter,go for Prosciutto di Parma if you see it), cut into small strips
  • Pepper to taste
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Boil pasta according to package directions
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet with smashed garlic cloves to infuse olive oil with garlic flavor
  3. Add asparagus and saute for about 3-5 minutes
  4. Pepper the prosciutto, then add to pan and saute with asparagus for another 2-3 minutes, until the prosciutto loses its color and the asparagus is tender
  5. (Optional) remove garlic cloves from your pan
  6. Mix in Parmesan cheese to desired taste.  I used about 1/2-2/3 cup total, and topped it with additional cheese after plating

Damage: 411 calories/55g carbs/12g fat/22g protein/8g fiber

**VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless you want to gain 3 pounds in water weight in one night, DO NOT salt this dish- the prosciutto and Parmesan have all the salt and flavor you will need.

The last thing I made in 2012

Peppermint Bark Brownies!  All of the fine chocolate that was required took this off my holiday baking list because I am as cheap as they come; however when my mom asked me to make a dessert for a family gathering, I was all over this with her debit card.  You can find the recipe and much more appetizing photos over at Love & Olive Oil.  Ghiardelli chocolate was used for every component, however  the white chocolate was tricky.  I bought chips for this part, and maybe that was the problem, but the white chocolate was acting like it was scorched even before it melted.  I omitted the shortening (because I never use shortening in anything) and used canola oil to thin out the white chocolate “bark” topping.  It still hardened in the refrigerator and it came out as the recipe intended.  I would have also added more peppermint extract to the brownie batter, but it’s all a matter of preference because many were complimenting me on how they liked that the brownies did not overwhelm their taste buds with peppermint flavor.

New Year’s Eve day was spent on the road to Charleston without incident (thank goodness)!  We had excellent wings downtown and brought in the new year over disgusting free champagne and a live band with college friends.  It was fun and I have no photos to offer since I don’t blog or anything.

I NEVER make resolutions, however I broke that by thinking of a few things I’d like to change that just happened to coincide with the dawning of a new year.

  1. Sign up for a mother freaking race.  I do want to run a half marathon, but since I’m so intimidated to do that, why not start with a 5k?  I need to do a 5k this winter for sure or else I’ll never sign up for a half marathon.
  2. Spend a little more money.  We save over our minimum 10% of our income every month.  Stop freaking out over every single penny and enjoy life a little bit.
  3. Put as much love into my house as I do into my food.  I complain that it’s not “cozy” and it’s nobody’s fault but my own.  I already have plenty of cheap ideas to make it feel more homey that I’m going to work on next month.

My only plans so far this year is Colorado Springs for my brother in law’s wedding in June.  2012 was seriously a whirlwind that started on a high note and got progressively worse until November when it mellowed out.  I did chose to be happy throughout it all and see the humor in everything, which I do think is the key to surviving life.

I’m definitely glad to be back in Florida.  I don’t know how I became such a southerner but while the below is pretty to look at, I got sick of it after 1 day.  It also burned my lungs for 12 hours after running in it.  No bueno.  All done.  Warmth forever please.