Sunday, February 28, 2010
I also ordered Thai Thai for an appetizer, which reminded me of an Indian samosa with a Thai twist. It was chicken mixed with potatoes, onion, and curry, wrapped in an egg roll skin and fried. Both were very good, and extremely generous portions, so I was able to have leftovers for lunch today. I think Josh and I could split that the next time we go. The restaurant is on 50th Street, just east of Slide.
Tonight Josh was finally back in town (hooray!) and we went back to West Crust Pizza. And once again, it was great! This time we tried the West Tuscan, which has Italian sausage, basil, mozzarella, carmelized onions, parmesan, and is suppose to have sundried tomatoes, but for some reason they put roasted red peppers on ours instead. I actually didn't even notice until I was just looking over the menu, so it obviously didn't bother me! I liked the mixture of the spicier sausage (along with the red pepper flakes I always douse my pizza with), contrasted with the sweet carmelized onion and basil. I love that the crust there is thin and crispy too-so delicious! You can find their website here.
Exercise on my part has still been minimal...well, actually, almost non-existent to tell the truth. I have allowed my busy schedule and laziness to take over. I brought my running shoes all the way to Tyler with me and had the best intentions of going for a run, but the chance to sleep in a bit was just too tempting! The weather in Lubbock has been cold, and we have had quite a few wet days as well, so the great outdoors is not exactly calling my name. I enjoy some cold winter days, but after having had some warm, sunny days, I am ready for the spring weather to come and stay for good!
Someday soon I will be giving you a real update of wonderful cardiovascular feats accomplished by yours truly, or at least I keep telling myself that.
This morning we had brunch at Caffe Tazza. It is a great cafe and coffee bar. For brunch I had an omelet with green bell peppers, salsa, and cheese. I also had this wonderful skinny vanilla latte, which was so delicious, and nice and foamy! I love the atmosphere there, it has a sleek, modern, and comfortable design. You can find their website here.
On Saturday night we made a big meal of burgers, sweet potato fries, homemade salsa, and guacamole. We also had La Diosa Sangria to go along with it. This sangria is from La Diosa, a wine bar and one of my favorite places in Lubbock. You can buy this at many grocery stores or anywhere else that sells Texas wines (even if you don't live in Lubbock). To prepare it, pour the bottle into a pitcher and mix with a liter of Sprite. It tastes great with sliced citrus fruits too!
For lunch on Saturday, my mom and I went to a new restaurant in Tyler called Oliveto. It was good Italian food that was fairly inexpensive in a nice, casual, modern environment. My mom and I split this asiago cheese bread for an appetizer. It had a lot of flavor, and was $4.50-not too bad!
For our meal we split a pizza with pesto sauce, carmelized onions, chicken, and sundried tomatoes. It was pretty good, and we were able to split it, but I think I would have still been hungry if we had not ordered an appetizer.
The service there was good, and they apologized for taking too long getting our food out (although we didn't notice it being too long), so they gave us a free dessert! It was their large cookie with ice cream and milk shots (that was a first, wasn't sure what it was then they first brought the shots out). It was okay, but I felt like the cookie was dry, and didn't taste too fresh. However, it was free, so I can't complain! You can find their website here.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Josh left town this morning for a mock trial competition in Phoenix, so we decided to have a little breakfast date before he left. I made bacon, scrambled eggs, and whole wheat toast. I bought this new pomegranate jelly that was really good on the toast. It was nice to enjoy a meal together before he had to leave.
Last night we went out on a date to a new restaurant in town called Rain Uptown. It is on 98th St. between Quaker and Slide. I had been wanting to try it for awhile, so I was glad we finally got to check it out. The atmosphere in the restaurant was pretty nice, and we thought the food was okay, but nothing great. At dinner they serve all Italian dishes, and it's a bit pricey. We don't go out for Italian much, because it is so much cheaper to make it at home, and at most restaurants it isn't that much better than at home. It seems like making above average authentic Italian dishes is an art that few have mastered (especially in West Texas). Also, the wine list at the restaurant was mostly cheap wines you can buy by the bottle at the grocery store for almost the same price they were charging for one glass. If I am going to pay that much for a glass of wine, I would rather it be something unique. I have heard that the restaurant has a really good breakfast, and I think their lunch menu might have a little more variety, so we may try it again, but probably not for dinner.
I will be here in Lubbock by myself tonight, but tomorrow I am flying to Tyler to see my parents. I am looking forward to spending time with them. I am actually flying in to Dallas, and we are going to go out to dinner there, so I will write about where we go, as well as anywhere we eat out in Tyler.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
To start, I marinated 2 chicken breasts in this great Teriyaki sauce, which Josh and I both love. I then cut up the chicken into cubes.
This was my prep area before I began. It helps me to have everything prepped and ready to go when I am about to cook. I have here the chicken, chopped zucchini, lightly salted roasted peanuts, chopped carrots, diced green onions, and 1 diced red bell pepper. I also have my wonderful wok! You can make this in a regular pan, but the wok is just so much more fun!
First, I heat the wok on medium-high heat (make sure it is pretty hot before you start cooking), pour about 1-2 tablespoons and make sure it is spread well around the pan. Next, pour carrots, green onions, garlic, and red pepper in the wok. Heat for a few minutes, then add zucchini. It is good to add this later, because it will get mushy if it cooks too long. After a couple of minutes, add chicken, and cook until it is cooked through. Add peanuts at the end and mix around. Serve on top of steamed rice.
We like to top ours with soy sauce, a little more of the teriyaki, and this hot chili sauce (so good). You don't need much of it, it's pretty spicy!
Monday, February 22, 2010
On Sunday night I made a last-minute dinner of breakfast quesadillas. I cooked bacon and scrambled eggs, then folded them over in a tortilla. Next, I grilled it in a pan with oil and topped it with chili powder. I served it with my homemade salsa. It was a nice, tasty, quick dinner!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Today I went to the Tech Rec Center and worked out on the eliptical machine for 30 minutes, which was good. Then, at home I did some weight and ab workouts. I haven't been doing much running/cardio workouts, but I feel like I have been able to do strength and core exercises since they are easy to do at home.
I have 2 big motivators to help me get in better shape (which is very helpful). First, for Spring Break (which is less than a month away), I am going to Florida with my brother and his family, so swimsuit season will be coming sooner than expected. I just ordered a new swimsuit from JCrew today, and I am hoping it fits well! Also, my sister is getting married in May, and I would like to look good in those pictures (and my bridesmaids' dress)! So, I will keep trying to be healthy and exercising to get ready for both of those events!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
For the sweet potato fries, I cut the potatoes into blocks first, which is much easier than peeling, and makes more even, matchstick-style fries. Then, I cut them into thin, rectangular strips. I put them on a baking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, then sprinkled the same seasonings from the chicken over the fries (cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper). I then baked them in the oven at 475 degrees for 18 minutes (same temp and time as chicken). They were still not as crisp as I would have liked at that point, so I turned the broiler on and put them back in for a couple of minutes, which gave them a nice texture. Just keep an eye on them, they can burn fast!
I served the chicken and fries with the chipotle mayonnaise from the night before and sprinkled with parsley. I like sprinkling fresh herbs on dishes like this to give them a more fresh, colorful look. My theory is, if your food looks good, you will enjoy eating it even more!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Last night I looked at what we had on hand at the house, and decided to make some yummy grilled sandwiches (good comfort food). I made the sandwiches with turkey, smoked gouda, bacon (one piece on each sandwich), and made some chipotle mayonnaise for it as well. I grilled it with olive oil over the stove. The gouda is really tasty but not too melty (to use a technical term), so another cheese might be better.
To make the mayonnaise, I placed mayonnaise and a couple of chipotle peppers (they can be found canned in the Latin foods section of your grocery store), in my small food processor and pulsed them together. It was very spicy (which we like), and added great flavor to the sandwich. I think this sandwich would also taste great with avocados or guacamole.
Last night, I decided to try a little at home work out. We have instant Netflix, so I took advantage of it, and tried a pilates video. It was a really good workout, especially for a core workout. I love having instant Netflix and being able to try different workout videos.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The best part of the meal was the steak. Josh and I both love steak, and we are pretty picky about how it is cooked. An overdone steak just isn't the same. We both like ours cooked more medium-rare. So, since we have been married, we have tried and failed many times in an attempt to make the perfect steak. We use to always grill them, but recently I have been trying pan-searing then baking. This time, we finally achieved success! We had thick steaks, and depending on the size of the steak you cook, times will vary. I put 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan and melted it over medium-high heat. I patted the steaks dry with a paper towel, then seasoned them on both sides with salt, pepper, steak seasoning, and dried chives (I had them on my spice rack and figured I would give them a try). Then I seared all sides of the steak in the pan of melted butter (about 3-4 minutes total). After searing them, I cooked them in a 375 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes (you can leave them in the same pan you seared them in as long as it is oven-safe). Then, I placed them on our plates and let them rest for about 5-7 minutes. I covered them with the remaining butter and bits from the pan. Man, these were great steaks! My dad would be very proud of me for these (although he may not be too sure about not using the grill)! Josh said it is one of the best steaks he has ever had!
Josh's favorite dessert ever is funfetti cake (just the Pillsbury box mix). It is really funny how much he loves it. I can make cakes from scratch, and although he likes them, nothing compares to the funfetti! They usually have seasonal kinds, so I bought him the Valentine's box and baked it yesterday. I decided to bake it in this Le Creuset heart-shaped dish we were given for our wedding (note: I did not register for this, but Le Creuset is a great brand, so even though it is heart-shaped, I didn't complain)! Well, this was a bad idea. I don't think these were made for baking. The inside did not bake all the way through very well, so although it looks cute, it was a disaster, our first ever funfetti to throw out...oh well (now I know to stick with casseroles for this dish)! Next time I will go back to baking it in my metal cake pans.
Before dinner, we sat in our living room watching the Winter Olympics (which we love), and had this great appetizer. Just take a block of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, and top it with raspberry chipotle sauce, or any kind of pepper jelly. Serve with organic wheat crackers and good wine...yum!
I bought bacon from the deli counter at the grocery store, where you can buy it by the slice, and it is nice and thick. Then I sprinkled cracked black pepper over it and cooked it in a pan until it was nice and crispy. After removing the bacon, I drained most of the grease (but left enough for some good flavoring for my eggs), then poured the eggs in the pan (after removing it from the heat, because the pan is very hot).
For the fruit, I placed chopped strawberries and blueberries in a bowl, then sprinkled about 1/2 tsp. of sugar over them. Mix it around, and let it sit, and it gives the fruit a nice sweet flavor! This would make a great dessert too.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Last year we discovered a great local graphic artist named Dirk Fowler at the Lubbock Arts Festival. He is well-known for his "gig posters," which he prints individually for various concerts. Many are Texas musicians, but he has a wide variety. At the time, we bought a poster he had made for the Buddy Holly Music Festival a few years back. We later decided we should buy 2 more of his posters to hang with it above our bare fireplace (it had been empty awaiting inspiration). So, we finally ordered 2 more, a Lyle Lovett poster, and a Merle Haggard one (you've got to support great Texas musicians, right?). Now Buddy is not alone on the mantle! We are very pleased with the new look. If you want to check out Dirk Fowler's work, his website is here.
Today I finally got around to working out again! I went to the Rec Center at Tech and rode an exercise bike for about 30 minutes. I like working out on the machines there because each of them has a television, so I was able to watch Food Network as I exercised. The exercise bike always tricks me because while I am doing it I don't think it is too hard, but once I get off, my legs remind me I was working pretty hard!
Tomorrow I am cooking lots of delicious food for Valentine's Day, so there should be some good recipes to come!
Friday, February 12, 2010
I love celebrating special occasions with Josh this way because we really get to enjoy each others' company, with great conversation and an escape from our normal routine. For one night we pretend like we make tons of money and that fancy dinners are normal for us. I would highly recommend doing this. It may seem strange to spend so much money on something consumable, but I feel like the value of these dinners is so much higher than any present Josh could give me (and don't get me wrong here, I love presents).
Last night we decided to have our special Valentine's date at the Double Nickel here in Lubbock. You can find their website here. We had been there a few times before and really like it. Usually the only time we go there is if our parents are in town and are feeling extra gracious! This restaurant has amazing steaks in a nice, romantic atmosphere. We had great service last night as well. We ordered the lobster roll for an appetizer, which was something neither of us had tried before. It was okay, but nothing special. Most of the appetizers were seafood, and I think Josh and I have come to the conclusion that most seafood in Lubbock is mediocre (we are a long way from the coast in the middle of nowhere). So next time we will just order soup or salad ahead of time rather than one of the appetizers. They also bring out good bread before your meal. I ordered the 8 oz. filet, which came with creamed corn and mash potatoes. It was really good, and cooked perfectly! Josh ordered the bone-in ribeye, which he enjoyed so much I could hardly get a word out of him! We ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir, which I can't remember the name of anymore, but it was really good. The wine there is pricey by the bottle, so be prepared! We skipped dessert this time because we were so full. All in all, it was a wonderful date. If you haven't checked out the Double Nickel before, give it a try for your next special occasion!
We bought this bottle of Le Grand Pinot Noir during our last visit to World Market. It is very tasty, and pretty inexpensive. I thought I would share this recommendation.
I mentioned previously that I was going to climb in the Tech climbing competition this weekend, but it is not going to work out. Maybe next year! Anyway, I will try to get a good workout in with a run or something.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
So, I mentioned in my previous post that I made the amazing Smoked Gouda and Chorizo Jalapeno Poppers for our Super Bowl party, but did not take a picture. Well, have no fear! I made them again just so I could post a picture for you. Well, actually I made them because I love them so much, and just couldn't resist making them again with all the ingredients just sitting there in my fridge staring at me. I decided to make them and a plate of nachos for Josh and me for dinner last night. It was a 2 appetizer meal. Nice for a Monday night when you are tired and want to veg in front of the TV.
Tonight I had my last basketball game (to coach), and came in late. So, we had Chick-fil-A for dinner. Usually I try to stay away from the fries, but I couldn't resist it tonight! I also had a Diet Coke, which I have been trying not to drink as much. I had made a rule that I would only have one a week, but this week I think I have had three. Someone brought it to our Super Bowl party, and left it here afterward. It's too hard to resist when it is sitting there in my fridge!
Exercise update: Well, not much of one, I have to admit. The weather has been cold and wet, and life has been busy (still not a legitimate excuse, but it's the truth). I am going to try to do some indoor exercise tomorrow (it's going to be cold in the morning). Also, I am planning on climbing in the Tech climbing competition this Saturday. Just for fun, not because I am planning on winning or anything. I will let you know how that goes!
Monday, February 8, 2010
I was a little nervous making this dish because it is Josh's favorite thing his parents make. I had never made it before, and did not know if I could live up to the expectations. I was really pleased with the final result-it was great! And Josh liked it too!
So, here is the recipe for Collins' Family Jambalaya:
- 1 whole cooked chicken (you can make this on your own, I just bought a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to save time), torn into pieces
- 1 lb. Jimmy Dean sage sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup white rice
- 2 cups water
- Creole seasonings, salt, and pepper
- Brown sausage and onions on stove (put a little olive oil in pot ahead of time).
- Add chicken, rice, and water to pot. Bring to boil and stir. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.
- Season with Creole seasonings, salt, and pepper.
I also made Smoked-Gouda Chorizo Jalapeno Poppers. This is a recipe I saw on Cooking for Real on Food Network. I made these at our Christmas party this year and loved them, so thought I should make them again! You can find the recipe here. The only changes I made were to use light sour cream and 1/3 less fat cream cheese instead of the regular stuff, you can't tell a difference. I forgot to take a picture of them in all the craziness, but trust me, you want to try this recipe!
In preparation the night before, I shredded the smoked gouda with my awesome food processor. It begins as a solid block of smoked gouda.
Place it in the food processor with the shredding blade on, and in seconds...
Shredded cheese! Voila!
I also made some of my home made salsa the night before. I made a "New Orleans Spicy" version, and an "Indiana Mild." I also bought the nacho cheese sauce you buy at concession stands at football games with tortilla chips and even the little plastic trays you get them in at games. It is one of my guilty pleasures, I try not to have it too much, but I figured this was a special occasion!
Our friend CJ made Shrimp Po' Boys we had seen on Tyler's Ultimate on Food Network. They were really good! He just did shrimp, no oysters, and instead of an actual sandwich, just put the shrimp on top of a slice of bread with the mayo. It was very good. You can find the recipe here.
I ordered a cheeseburger with green chiles and grilled jalapenos. Mmm! It was really good! I have never tried grilled jalapenos, but it was delicious. We also got an order of fries to split, which were very good as well. Overall, the food was good, and the atmosphere was nice too. We had to wait a little while to find an open table, and noticed a few others doing the same. However, I think once the newness wears off a little, there will be less waiting there. They do not have a website, and are located on 98th St., just west of Quaker.
Sunday morning I made my "Hippie Yogurt" again, this time with blueberries and chopped strawberries. I knew I would be eating tons of junk at our Super Bowl party, so I tried to have a healthy breakfast and lunch.
I also had a cup of coffee in my Cafe Du Monde mug to support the Saints!
For lunch I made these bagel sandwiches, which were a toasted whole wheat bagel with scrambled eggs (which I cooked with chopped jalapenos in them), shredded low fat Mexican cheese, fresh chopped cilantro, and my homemade salsa. Pretty tasty!
Friday, February 5, 2010
Tonight we had meat samosas for our appetizer. They were really good. And I was so hungry, I gobbled it down before even thinking of taking a picture (I had a salad for lunch, so I was starving)! For our meal tonight, we asked the waitress for a recommendation. One dish she mentioned was the palak chicken. It is spiced chicken breast with fresh creamed spinach and spices all blended in curry sauce. It was so good! It came with rice, and we ordered a side of naan as well. CJ had the tikka masala and really liked it.
Here is the thing I love about Indian food, it has such a wonderful balance of savory and sweet flavors, with just the right amount of spices. You take the first bite and think it is pretty good, and as your taste buds begin to absorb the flavors even more, it just gets better. You begin to taste different spices, and it makes for such a wonderful dining experience! Anyway, I just think it is delicious, but you will have to try it yourself!
Today I finished reading the book, The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. It is a great book that I would definitely recommend. It is short and explains the parable of The Prodigal Son really well, teaching us about Christ and the people who are the "Younger Brother" and those that are the "Older Brother." In the last chapter, he is discussing the importance of community (the church), and the feast that the Father gives for the son. As he explains this feasting, and how it is a symbol of community and a picture of heaven (among other things-I am giving you a condensed version), it made me think about how wonderful food is, and that eating and drinking together is one way we enjoy God's people and his gifts to us. As I sat at the dinner table tonight with Josh and CJ, enjoying conversation with them and savoring the amazing flavors, I was reminded of that feast I had read about. It also makes me realize that while tonight was wonderful, heaven will be infinitely better than even my greatest feasts here on earth.
I have been thinking about food, and about heaven and earth a lot recently. A friend of ours, Emily Mulkey, passed away last week. She was someone I was just beginning to know, but who was the sister-in-law of some of our best friends here in Lubbock. She was a 26 year-old wife and mother to a 3 year-old daughter. She had cystic fibrosis her entire life and had received a double-lung transplant about a year and a half ago. She had been sick recently and passed away from complications with that illness. You can find more details at her blog, here (a friend of hers has been posting since the time she got sick).
It was really hard to see her go, and to imagine what life will be like for her husband and daughter. It is also difficult to see our friends have to face such sadness as well. Her funeral was on Monday, and among many of the things said there, one of the people speaking mentioned how Emily enjoyed things in life, like food (Dr. Pepper and Mike and Ikes to be exact), because she knew her time on earth would be short.
I know food has no saving powers, nothing sacred in itself. However, I do think that throughout Scripture, the Lord shows us that enjoying food and drink on this earth can be a way to glorify God. We can soak in the good things God has given us. We can sit with friends and family around a good meal and experience a wonderful sense of community. And in these things, we can be pointed to the greatest feast, the feast where we will all sit around His table, with an abundance of food and drink..and this feast will never have to end!
6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.
This Silk French Vanilla Creamer is a favorite of mine. I tried it one time because I knew it would be much healthier than other creamers that are full of sugar, fat, and chemicals. It became a fast favorite, and a regular staple in my fridge. Well, Wednesday morning I was out of this wonderful creamer, and tried to substitute with regular soy milk-no bueno. I couldn't finish my coffee. It was pretty sad (it is also sad that the perfect coffee is so essential for my day). Needless to say, I was very happy to have some this morning.
Today I came home for lunch and made this salad. I topped organic baby spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, walnuts, cotija cheese (feta would be better, but I didn't have any), balsamic vinaigrette, and salt and pepper. It was pretty good. Josh really liked it. I think I will make a few changes next time. The strawberries were a little tart, so it might be good to toss them with a little sugar ahead of time. I also might try a home made dressing that would mix with these flavors better.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Last night I was going to make a chicken and rice dish, but just before starting to cook, realized the rice was expired (I thought it lasted forever, but I guess I was wrong). So, I looked at what we had on hand, which was not much, and decided to do nachos, but this time with chicken and homemade tortilla chips.
I saw the recipe for the tortilla chips on Mexican Made Easy on Food Network. You can find the recipe here. These chips are baked, rather than fried like most chips, so they are much healthier. They are also cheaper! I added chili powder and Julio's seasoning for mine.
I baked the nachos in the oven like last time. This time I topped them with black beans, roasted green chiles, chicken, low fat shredded cheese and my homemade salsa.
Last night I did some weight exercises at home, then for some reason had the motivation to try a yoga video (I found it through instant Netflix). I have always wanted to try getting into yoga, but never have. I really enjoyed doing it. It was relaxing, yet still felt like a good workout.
I finally got paid, so no more empty fridge! I did a quick grocery trip tonight, but look forward to stocking up this weekend. We are hosting a Super Bowl party this weekend, so I will be stocking up on lots of food. I look forward to sharing the recipes and pictures Monday!