Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t want to miss my daily blog post, but the kids came home from a half day at school and absolutely would not nap (preferred screaming) so it’s been all hands on deck.

I was planning to make my apple and pumpkin pies and the cranberry sauce tonight but I felt like I got run over by a truck (and by “a truck” I mean “endless toddler screaming x2”) and I told CW I might have to just make one pie and wait until Friday to make the other one. He was like, “OK, that’s fine! Whatever you need! Let me know how I can help!”

But then after the kids went to bed he immediately put on his apron and got me a drink and we made a game plan together to get all our prep done. He had already been planning to do the green bean casserole and then he jumped in and made the pumpkin pie filling and decorated it and did the cranberry sauce. All I had to do was the apple pie filling and the dough rolling (and I latticed and decorated the apple pie, which I’d been ready to forego, but I had the energy to do it with some of the other tasks taken off my list).

We always share the workload, but today was a real gold star for the team. Everything got done and we had a good time doing it. Phew.

Thanksgiving Prep

Let’s chat about Thanksgiving! I love getting prepared for the holiday and planning and making all of the food. So cozy! So festive! So much opportunity to drink coffee or wine or whatever and hang out in the kitchen.  It’s just the four of us on the day, but we’ll have friends over Saturday for pie and drinks. So far, we have planned our menu and done the shopping and made a plan for executing everything. Here’s what we’re doing:

Breakfast: cinnamon rolls, bacon, mimosas and/or Bloody Marys.

Turkey: CW is fully in charge of this. Will do Thursday, obviously.

Mashed Potatoes: also CW’s domain. He will probably make these on Thursday, but may do them ahead of time.

Roasted Root Vegetables: This one is mine. I’m doing sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onions with some simple olive oil, salt, and herbs, roasted until they start to caramelize. So good. Will do these on Thursday.

Green Bean Casserole: CW does this one. Will assemble Wednesday night and bake on Thursday.

Cranberry Sauce: Mine. Do you have a favorite recipe for this? I seem to remember not loving the one I did last year (too runny). Will do this Wednesday and chill overnight.

Apple Pie: Mine. I do a double crust with lattice and/or braiding of some kind. Crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Pumpkin Pie: I do a single (traditional pastry) crust with some ornamentation on top. Filling recipe from the Libby’s can but I add more spices.

I’ve made the dough for the pie crusts already (did this tonight after the kids went to bed and enjoyed a glass of wine while working on it — perfect example of the spirit of Thanksgiving) and will make fillings and bake them both tomorrow evening.

In the past, I have also done a Tofurky or Celebration Roast for a vegetarian option, but this year, I think I will just stick to sides as vegetarian options. (I am the only person who cares and I just have limited resources and don’t want to make an additional protein if I’m the only one eating it.)

We don’t generally do stuffing, so I should probably pick up some bread or rolls or something, right? I forgot about that. I also need to buy some sugar, which I just realized we are almost out of.  Hmmm. Am I forgetting anything else?

 

Recipe: BBQ Tofu Salad

If you don’t like tofu, this tofu may convert you. If you don’t like salad, well, then just skip this one.

File Nov 16, 7 13 27 PM

The best thing about this recipe is the tofu procedure, to be honest. It makes tofu that is flavorful and has a great crispy-chewy texture. It’s my favorite way to make tofu lately.

Tofu Prep:

Freeze the block of tofu overnight and thaw in the morning by placing it in a bowl of hot water in the sink. If you don’t have time for this step, you can skip it, but don’t blame the sub-par tofu texture & flavor on me. Freezing it causes all the water in the tofu to expand, making little holes throughout the block, essentially turning it into a sponge after you drain it — all the better to soak up your marinade. It also creates a chewier texture in the end, making the tofu better in all ways that matter.

Squeeze the block of tofu between two cutting boards or just between your two flat palms. Be gentle enough not to break or crumble it, but firm enough that you see A LOT of water draining out. The more water you get out, the better. You’re going to replace this water with delicious flavor.

Cut into small cubes (or triangles, if you feel fancy)

Tofu marinade:

  • 1-2 T oil (olive or vegetable)
  • splash liquid smoke (this shit is key)
  • splash hot sauce (your fave – I used Cholula today)

Bake the Tofu:

Toss tofu in marinade. It should immediately soak up all the liquid because you’ve made it into a sponge.

Spread out pieces on a baking sheet (lightly prayed with non-stick spray if you like)

Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are getting browned and slightly crisp.

While the tofu is baking, skip down and make the salad & dressing but don’t forget to come back up here and glaze!

Glaze the Tofu:

Put pieces of baked tofu into a non-stick pan over medium-low heat with about 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. I use some from a bottle and I have no shame about this. Our favorite is from a local restaurant, but if we don’t have the time to go there, we’ll grab a bottle of Stubb’s Sweet Heat at the grocery store.

Stir occasionally. When the glaze is reduced and sticky, you’re ready to go. It should take about 5 minutes.

Salad:

  • shredded kale from a bag (pick out and discard the stems, I beg you)
  • shredded red cabbage
  • corn (use grilled corn if it’s summer and you have some; canned or frozen otherwise)
  • 1/2 avocado

Salad Dressing:

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 part oil (olive or vegetable)
  • celery seed to taste
  • grainy mustard to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make the Dressing:

Heat apple cider vinegar and sugar over low heat, stirring just until sugar is dissolved. Add oil and seasonings. Let cool.

File Nov 16, 7 13 44 PM

Assemble:

Toss kale in dressing, “massaging” (I’m sorry) the kale until it’s wilted a bit. Then add cabbage and toss again. You don’t need to “massage” the cabbage.

Top with corn, sliced avocado, and sticky glazed tofu.

Take this to the next level with some pickled red onions. (I’ll share that recipe another day!)

 

Fitness & Food Highlights: Week 3

Happy Monday, friends.

This morning, I attempted to start my Monday as I have so many Mondays before: with a workout at the campus rec center, a shower, and then a day at the office working on work stuff. ALAS! I was thwarted! It’s the week between semesters, so I should have known better, but I failed to check the rec center schedule and arrived there at 7:45 this morning, dressed in my most fashionable spandex and ready to work out, only to find that they would not be open until 11:00. Well, shit.

So there I was. My only real option was to head to my office and work, planning to return to the gym at the end of the day instead. Not wanting to waddle up to my department wearing workout gear, however, I stopped on the way there at the student center to change clothes in the bathroom.  I had not showered (because I would have done that after my workout, of course) and I didn’t have any of the usual beauty/hygeine items with me because they were in my locker, at the gym, which was not open.

As I write this post, I am in my office, unshowered, with greasy hair, no deodorant,  no makeup, and no workout. And I had to get dressed in a bathroom stall. How very, very Monday of you, MONDAY.

Well. Let’s what happened last week, shall we?

Fitness goals: Run ten miles (YES!), do at least one strength workout (no!), workout at least 5 days (yes!)

Monday: Elliptical (45:00). I have been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. while on the elliptical. A++, would recommend.

Tuesday: Ran 2.1 miles with the twins in the jogging stroller (26:00). I improved a bit on this jogging stroller run, running more of the total route. The heat-humidity-hills combo is totally killer, but I am making it work.  Can I get three miles next time?

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday: Ran 3 miles on the treadmill (32:22). This was, I believe, my fastest 3 miler postpartum! I ran the first and last miles at an easy pace and did intervals during the middle mile, one minute fast + one minute slow. Fast pace was about 9:30 and slow pace was…I forget. 10:30, maybe? Felt pretty good!

Friday: Arc Trainer (20:00) and inclined walking on the treadmill (30:00). First time trying the Arc Trainer, which was not my favorite. Something about the movement feels a little herky-jerky to me. I’m not sure what the difference is between this and the elliptical exactly, or if one is supposed to be “better” in some way, but this was not my favorite (which is why I only stayed on for 20 minutes).

Saturday: Rest Day.

Sunday: Ran 5 miles on the treadmill (55:00). Woo hoo! A pretty nice new postpartum personal distance record (PDR)! This felt really good. I slowly increased the pace for the first four miles (while still keeping it relatively relaxed) and then slowed back down during mile five. This is the run that brought my weekly total up to the 10 miles I’ve been shooting for, too, so it was a double win.

Thai tofu salad with zucchini instead of lettuce 👍Latergram from Saturday night. Pear and Gorgonzola ravioli.

Food Highlights from the week: My Thai tofu and peanut sauce served salad-style with this shredded zucchini and carrots. So good, and the leftovers were just as nice. Also, I had a lovely pear and gorgonzola ravioli for dinner Saturday when CW and I went out (taking the babies with us, because we don’t have our shit together enough yet to get a babysitter). Lovely and delicious and probably way too many calories, but enh. I stuck to my goals the rest of the week.

This week’s weigh-in revealed a 1.6-pound loss, for a total of 7 pounds down so far. Feeling pleased. Let’s see if I can keep the streak alive this week!

No Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils, but I Did Put Lunch in a Jar

Fall semester started yesterday, whether I liked it or not. I am in most ways looking forward to the classes I’m teaching this semester, but over all I have a strange feeling of anticipation about the semester because, as I mentioned before, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the end if the babies show up early. At this point, I am just acting as if everything is going to play out the way I’d like it to. And, of course, creating a plan B.

The first day of classes didn’t feel like a significant moment for me, really, because I was working all summer. Instead of going from time off to full-bore work, like many of my colleagues do when fall starts, I just went from some work to more work. Fairly anti-climactic. I didn’t even get need to buy new school supplies.

I am back to packing my lunches this semester, which I did not do over the summer. Buying lunch on campus is ridiculously expensive (you can’t get a sandwich and drink for less than about $10) so that’s a no-go. In the past, I used to be fine just bringing some combination of yogurt, fruit, and granola bars, but this semester that’s not going to cut it. For this week, I made a batch of baked tofu and quinoa and put it into mason jars with some massaged kale and peanut sauce. You can see the jar sitting in the background of this photo, my obligatory first-day selfie:

It's the first day of school. Let's do this thing.

One basic formula for things like this is a grain, a protein, and a green. Just add interesting sauce and you’re good to go! Put in Mason jars, obviously, because that’s where all the cool kids are putting things these days. Keep it cool on the air conditioner in your office because no one unlocked the office break room before classes. You’re welcome.

Please Allow Me to Talk about Food

I’ve been eating. A lot. Gaining weight is something I am truly good at, and at least this time I have a good reason (or two) for packing on the pounds.

While it’s been enjoyable to eat dessert (sometimes more than once per day), deep fried food, or other delicious “junk” food with no concern for the calories, I am trying to keep my food choices healthier on the whole. Not going to lie: I love French fries and cupcakes and cookies and candy and nachos and pizza, and I’m going to eat those things when I want to, and I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty about eating things like this. I don’t like to associate guilt with food. Nonetheless, these obviously aren’t the healthiest choices and I can’t eat that food exclusively. So here are some of my more moderate but also delicious selections of late:

Untitled

Greek yogurt (I like Fage 2%) with fresh berries and granola. I am basically obsessed with fruit lately, especially berries and cherries. I can’t get enough, and this is one of my favorite ways to eat them. I don’t know how or why, but these blueberries were magical.

More yogurt. Fancy yogurt. Two-hundred-eighty-calorie yogurt. This shit is good, y’all. The strawberry rhubarb flavor is my favorite so far, but I didn’t snap a photo of it, so you’ll have to accept this peach version. Still extremely delicious. I eat it with granola (I can’t stand yogurt or other creamy things without adding some other texture to the mix).

Second Breakfast

Avocado toast. This particular bread wasn’t anything special, but when made with some really great crusty French bread from the bakery? Divine. I can’t get enough avocado right now.

Dinner

Eggs. These are my husband’s perfect poached eggs on french bread with mushrooms and tomatoes. Potatoes and Brussels on the side. CW is some kind of poached egg savant. He can’t really do scrambled, but his poached eggs come out uncannily perfect every single time. I don’t know how he does it, and — as long as he keeps making them for me — I don’t need to know.

Tacooooooo Salad!

Finished product. So good.

Salads. Striped salads. With chicken. The taco salad on top was tonight’s dinner, and it’s a version of something I make all the time, except this one was made with chicken breast (marinated in Tapatio!) instead of my usual tofu. The second salad is a Cobb salad inspired by a room-service meal I had in Kansas City. The Westin’s was pretty good, but mine was even better, if I do say so myself.

Eating meat (especially chicken, not sure why) still bothers me on many levels (aesthetic, ethical, environmental, etc.), but I am trying to see it as 1) a means to an end, and 2) temporary. It’s quite honestly a struggle, but it is helping me successfully get to my calorie and protein target* almost every day.

*Recommendations range from 2700-3500 calories and 100-125 grams of protein per day.

Why yes, I AM the proud owner of a new waffle maker. Thank you for asking!

 

Waffles. Delicious, wonderful waffles. Needless to say, these also provide a terrific vehicle for my berry obsession. I finally bought a waffle maker, something I’ve been meaning to do since CW and I moved in together, and it is already paying for itself. I’ve been using this recipe for Greek yogurt waffles, which makes about 3 waffles, each with 128 calories and 8g of protein. I usually eat two and generously give the other one to CW. Usually.

Spring Break in Florida

We spent a few days in Florida over spring break, which now feels like a thousand years ago. It was a great, much appreciated little getaway, though, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

CW went down a few days ahead of me for a huge conference in his field, and I stayed here in town to finish out the school week, then drove down to Tampa to meet him.

Jellies
Us & Shark

That night, we attended a work-related party at the Florida Aquarium, where I got to get up close and personal with all kinds of sea creatures. (Yes, that’s a shark in the background above.)

Seen on the run this morning. Tampa, you're all right with me.

Just Browsing

The next day, I spent my time running along the riverfront, browsing used bookstores, and drinking wine at lunch. It was lovely.

Saturday Market

Sunflowers

Tomatoes

The next day, after the conference was finished, we moved across the bay to St. Petersburg for a little recreation. It is such a lovely town! We lucked out in that our stay there coincided with their big Saturday Market, so we got to browse around, eat arepas from a food truck, and drink Bloody Marys while shopping.

Light

We spent the afternoon in the Salvador Dalí Museum, which is completely lovely. A few snaps of the fun architecture, incredible art work, and, beautiful gardens:

Spiral Stair
CW
Bubble
Purple
Mustache

That night, we basically ate our way through town.

Appalachiacola Oysters

Ceviche at Ceviche

We ate fresh Appalachiacola oysters (I rarely eat animals, but these were a nice treat), drank wine at an adorable wine bar with a little balcony overlooking the street, and then had tapas at the restaurant adjoining our hotel, Ceviche. Recommended.