Saturday, February 20, 2010

Picture Perfect Days

Rye Bread's fast asleep, snuggled up in my bed after a full day of fun, eating and playing. We woke up and had Fruity Pebbles for breakfast (we debated over our bowls, because I like Fruit Loops MUCH better!) then wandered into the living room to watch Sponge Bob and to play games on the computer. When we were good and ready, we got dressed, ate our leftover pizza and then went to get another slice each at the pizza place because we were still hungry. The slices were ENORMOUS. We should have just gotten one and split it, but it was fun trying to eat it all. (We went HERE).

It was a gorgeous day out and it hit 50 degrees so we drove to the pottery place with the sunroof open and the music blasting. Good times...Rye Bread chose to paint a penguin (said pen-GU-Innnn like in the cartoon) and I opted for a spoon rest. It was a fun time. I was worried though, because it didn't take as long as I thought it would. But since we were so close to campus, I asked if she wanted to see where I work. I enticed her by telling her there was a huge elephant there...she was impressed. Since it was such a nice day, we stopped for ice cream on the way home-even though I knew we'd be having chocolate pudding pie for dessert, I figured I don't get to spoil her very often, so why not, right?

The rest of the day was nice and lazy. We re-watched the movie we rented last night (Ice Age & Dinosaurs, or something like that-very funny) and played Guestures again. And then we made pasta and chicken meatballs from scratch.

I made the dough and rolled it through the pasta machine first because she wasn't as excited about it as she was when she was little. But when it came time to cut it into spaghetti, her face lit up and she found it to be very cool. We loaded our plates up with freshly made pasta and meatballs and drank our orange soda while we talked. She said it was the best pasta she's ever had and asked for 2nds. :) My favorite part of the day was when we were watching TV after dinner and she climbed on my lap to cuddle.

I put her to bed about an hour ago and even though she said she wasn't tired, she fell asleep in about 2 minutes. We're going to try to wake up early tomorrow so that we can go to the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown. I'm not sure we'll make it, but at least we can try. We have a long day tomorrow with the drive back down to CT, so I don't want to push it, but I think she'd really like the parade...so we'll see! I'll post pictures for sure if we go.

I love when my Rye Bread comes to play!

PS. Bella hates her. :(

Friday, February 19, 2010

What's Cookin? Rice Cake!


Many of you asked here and in emails if I would post the cake recipe I put together for my friend's birthday this week. I would have done so in the beginning, but, well, I wasn't sure how it would taste, so...you know. I waited. But I have to tell you, this cake was a HUGE hit. It is delicious and you don't for one minute miss anything. (Well, except frosting, but you can top this however you wish!)

Feel free to bake this cake for personal use ONLY. You may not re-post this recipe without my written permission.

Sorry about that...some food blogs are quite aggressive in re-posting recipes. And now, without further ado, the recipe.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 C. Brown Rice Flour
1/4 t. Salt
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
2 Eggs
1/2 C. Vegetable Oil
1 t. Vanilla Extract
1/2 C. Sugar
3/4 C. Unsweetened Applesauce
1/4 C. Water*

Method: Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8 inch round cake pan.

1. Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Lightly whisk together to combine. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar, apple sauce and vanilla. Whisk and add oil.
3. Combine the dry mixture with the wet mixture and add water. Stir to combine and pour into cake round.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes until cake springs back when touched, or when a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes and turn out onto a baking rack. Cool completely and top as desired.

*I generally don't advocate using just plain water in a baking recipe but because my friends food allergies are so severe right now, this is what I opted for. Like I mentioned before, no one missed any of the fat or flavor.

Friday is Ryeday!

First, I'd like to wish my very good friend Mo the happiest birthday ever...I hope you have a day that is just as wonderful as you are.

***
I had another bad night of dreams last night.  I woke up at around 5am and couldn't get back to sleep because my brain wouldn't stay quiet.  I just hate those dreams that take hold of you and smack you down.  I prayed a lot last night.  I prayed for a quiet brain and for certain things to slip away.  When I couldn't think of anything more to pray about, I just said the Our Father over and over until I fell back to sleep.  At around 7am.  When my alarm went off. 

Right now, I am actually feeling pretty good, but it's early.  I did have some wardrobe malfunctions this morning though, so my bedroom looks like a bomb went off.  There are clothes strewn everywhere and also a mountain on my bed.  Bella is sure to have a fun time laying in them today.  And it's a short day at work for me today, because my Rye Bread is coming to visit me for the weekend!!!  I'm so excited.  This is the first time she's sleeping over in my new apartment and also the first time she's staying over with Bella.  It should be interesting.  I had a pep talk with Bella this morning.  I'm crossing my fingers all goes well.

I have a fun weekend sort of planned for us.  Today we'll just lay low, I think, and have pizza for dinner.  We'll make a chocolate pudding pie for dessert for tomorrow.  When we wake up tomorrow we'll eat breakfast and maybe watch some Sponge Bob and then head out either to a movie OR to paint pottery...she gets to decide.  When we get home, I think we're going to make pasta from scratch.  I did that with her when she was about 4 and she loved it.  Hopefully it'll have the same effect on her now.  We'll also make meatballs too, if she's up to it.  Then, of course, we'll eat chocolate pudding pie for dessert.  Before I bring her home on Sunday we might go to Chinatown.  It's the Chinese New Year and there is a street fair to celebrate, including a parade.  It's free.  Which is good because Aunt Mags is B-R-O-K-E. 

I hope she'll have a good time.  No doubt she'll ask me to play Lego's with her because that's what she always does.  Which is funny because when I was little I used to bug one of my older cousins to do the same thing.  I had Lego's at my own house, but it was more fun to use his.

***

Things at work are good, for the most part.  Because I'm still new, people don't often come to me for help which is frustrating.  People go to another girl who's been here for ages.  She was away for 2 weeks and during that time people came in and did ask me because she wasn't here.  She came back, and it's back to the same thing.  Sometimes people come into the office and don't even acknowledge anyone else.  It's quite rude and annoying.  How the hell am I supposed to meet people and prove myself if they don't even talk to me?  I've started chiming in or listening to conversations and stories-sort of forcing them to address the whole office.  This might be rude on my part, but damn-she's not the only person here!  And this has NOTHING to do with her-I love her to death.  She's the sweetest person and she is knowledgeable.  I'd probably ask her too.  But really-it's annoying when these people do that, especially when they are here to see my dean.  Anyway...that's my rant for the day.  And now it's off to work and then off to play.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It Was GOOD!!

As you can see from the picture below, the cake was a huge-HUGE-success. No one could believe it was free of mostly everything they love about "real" cake.

The texture on this is amazing, considering it's made with rice flour. It was super moist and just tasted yummy. Many people came back for 2nds, which is always the true proof that it really is good.

Rice Cakes

Today is my friend Laurie's birthday and usually in our office, that means cake. Unfortunately Laurie has been having a rough few months with gastrointestinal flare ups and allergies and she's pretty much had to give up everything she eats. And they have no idea why, or even, really, what she can't eat. Poor thing, it's really hard to watch her try to figure it out. In any case, today is her birthday and I wanted to make her something that she could eat, even if it is a tiny bit of a cheat (because of the sugar in the cake)...yes, she's had to even give up sugar. She and I talk about food a lot and over the last week I've pulled info out of her so that I could make a cake. I used unbleached rice flour (because oddly enough, she can eat rice no problem), no dairy (I used water instead of milk) and knocked the sugar content down by half and added unsweetened organic apple sauce. The fat is oil, so again, no dairy.

It doesn't sound so hot, when you list all of those ingredients, right? But I thought I'd give it a whirl because at least it'll give her a little taste of something good on her special day. The batter tasted really good and I even licked the spoon when I was done. It was a little gritty because of the rice flour, but not in a bad way, if that makes sense. I chose to bake it in an 8 inch round pan because she can't have frosting so cupcakes would have seemed sad. This is what the cake looked like when it was done. It's actually quite pretty!

The texture looks great.

And who says plain unfrosted, gluten free, dairy free and mostly sugar free cake has to be ugly?! Not me!

If nothing else, it looks good, no? I have a feeling it'll taste good too. I'm having a lot of fun playing with alternate flours. If it really is tasty, I'll post the recipe for ya.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Randomivity

I read this on a kitchen website regarding cracking eggs:
"I'm told I'm unique in this from quite a few people -- but I actually use my knuckles. I just hold the egg in my left palm, tap with my right in a quick motion, making sure to pull back."
Is anyone else wondering what the eff kind of knuckles this lady has?!?

The people downstairs are weird but the wife (girlfriend?) is super annoying. She sort of screeches a lot. Or maybe she just talks loud. Either way, I don't like it.

I'm waiting for her to complain about a noise I make (I'm actually really quiet) so that I can say, "Really?! After listening to you screech all of the time and then having to listen to you having sex and cooing afterward...I'm pretty sure you should shut up."

Saying someone isn't Asian because they are Hindi is like saying someone who is White isn't Catholic.

Some of the male ice dancers in this years Olympics are really quite homely. I mean, really.

I'm in the process of rewriting my dating profiles. I don't know how to say what I want to say without sounding bitchy but I'm really sick of men contacting me by asking me what's up or telling me I have a pretty smile. PUT SOME EFFORT INTO IT!

I think it's funny when people I have dated come up in searches on dating sites. I clicked on one just to see what's new, but the rest I just pass. Still, funny.

Men don't wear sweatpants in public very often and I'm glad about that. I'd forgotten that it's mildly embarrassing to watch because you can see all of his junk plain as day. Without even trying.

Rye Bread is coming to visit me this weekend!!!!!!

I didn't cook last night because the snow was coming down pretty hard all day. I didn't hear from The Mom and fully expect to get reamed out by The Dad if he's home.

Sometimes I marvel at what my parents neglected to teach me growing up. I don't know what I've missed until someone tells a story or I hear another parent teaching their child something that I wasn't told. Or, when I figure it out myself...

Like what direction girls need to wipe after going to the bathroom.

It's heartbreaking to watch someone mess up in the Olympics.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It Wasn't An Itch...

The other night a few of you may have seen me update my Facebook status saying that I had "satisfied a craving". It was my intention to post about it last night but because I misplaced my card reader I wanted to hold off until I had pictures. Not that they are anything to do cartwheels over, but I think it's better than just writing "I made myself a donut".

It was late enough that I had my pajamas on but I really wanted a donut. I just couldn't fathom jumping in my car and driving down the busy main road and across town to the nearest donut shop. only to find stale donuts. So what do you do if you have a craving and you're not afraid to test a recipe? You make a donut!

Now, I say "a" donut because that's exactly what I wanted. After searching the Internet for a few minutes I found a recipe that seemed to be OK and I cut it down by 12 so that I'd only have enough dough for one donut and one hole. That way I wouldn't eat all of them-and let's face it, living alone allows for that! So I whipped together the dough (I added more cinnamon than the recipe called for)

Cut a hole in that sucker...

and fried it. Then I rolled it in powdered sugar...

and devoured it.
And it. was. good.

And yeah, I'm totally glad that I did NOT make more than 1!!

Flax Muffins

And so it begins...low carb livin' for me. So far, so good. I know it's only 10am, but hey, it's something! After the flax seed bread debacle (yes, I'll call it that now. I'll still eat the stuff, but it's not that good.) I was determined to find a recipe that used this miracle seed. As I mentioned before, breakfast is the meal I have the most trouble with so I wanted to use it for muffins. After searching the net and comparing recipes, I found this one:


8 T. Butter, melted
3 Eggs
1/4 C Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Splenda
1 T. Vanilla
1 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Nutmeg
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Baking Soda
1 C. Flax meal
1/4 C. Soy Flour
1 C. Blueberries

Actually, the recipe included walnuts and coconut, but I eliminated them. I prefer female baked goods (no nuts) and while I like coconut, I didn't need the added fat. I also eliminated the nutmeg and added a teaspoon of cinnamon (making the total cinnamon count 2 t.). I just like cinnamon a lot and it's also good for you!

The batter was thick. It didn't drop freely off of the spoon and I had to use another spoon to coax it into the muffin tin. When it baked, they rose just over the rim and where firm to the touch-not crispy, but not springy like a "normal" flour muffin. I was worried about the texture, but truthfully, it's really good. Yes, they are grainier than a "normal" muffin but that's to be expected. It's like ground up nuts in the muffin and for some reason, this does not bother me. The flavor is pretty fantastic. There's none of that weird soy taste and the Splenda is not significant enough to make the muffins overly sweet. In fact, the only real sweetness is from the blueberries (which I got at an awesome price at TJ's, I might add). This batter made 12 muffins.

The best part about this recipe is that each muffin has only 6 net carbs. Not only that, but I get the benefits of flax and blueberries while tricking my brain into thinking I'm eating flour. Really, it's a win-win situation and even when I introduce carbs back into my diet, I think I'll keep this recipe. I will, however, change the heavy cream to milk to get rid of some of the fat. Otherwise, it's a keeper!

Lunch today is Chicken Adobo and garlic cabbage...both of which I made last night. Looking forward to it! What are you having for lunch?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Flax Experiment #1

I had several photos to go along with today's post, but I can't seem to find the stupid gadget that I need for my stupid camera to transfer pictures. Oh how I miss my real camera...but that's another story. So anyway, sorry there are no photos to go along with the post. (Where the heck can it be? Grrrrrrr)

Today's the day I started my diet-yet again. I have a very specific date set as a goal and a big event to prepare for, my sisters wedding. This will help me a great deal, I think, having a deadline and a goal weight for that date. I know that a low carb diet is a proven way for me to lose weight (the only way that really works for me, actually) and so that is what I'm doing.

Over the last few weeks I have been doing some research about alternates to white flour. Natural choices are soy and almond flours. Just when I was about to go buy some to try them out (I've baked with almond flour before, actually) I stumbled upon flax meal. Clearly not a flour, this ground up substance was touted as being a great alternate while also adding in omega 3 fatty acids. It's said to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and is very low in carbohydrates and saturated fat. Bingo! I knew I had my winner.


The biggest meal I struggle with on a low carb diet is breakfast. It's hard to eat on the go (which is something I always seem to do for breakfast) and oatmeal is not an option (another thing I eat while at work at my desk). So I started looking for flax muffin recipes. I saw a few that seemed worth trying and was ready to write the ingredients down when I came across a bread recipe using only flax meal. Reviews were mixed but if I could tolerate it and it was truly a good alternate I would be in heaven. It would mean being able to have sandwiches for lunch while getting essential omega 3 fatty acids in my diet and eating low carb. I had all of the ingredients for this bread, and so the adventure began.

This is where pictures would be good....

Flax seeds, as I mentioned are said to lower cholesterol (especially in women) and are great for the heart. It's really quite inexpensive, too. I bought my bag at whole foods and it was only about $3. It's very nutty in flavor and texture unless is ground fine. My bag was flax meal and so it remained rough. I think the next time I make something, I'll grind it down a little more so I have a smoother texture in my baked goods.



The recipe called for 5 eggs and only a little bit of oil. It required a chemical leavener (baking powder), salt, a little bit of artificial sweetener (to keep it low carb-I'm sure that real sugar would work too) and water. When I mixed all of the ingredients together, it was a little soupier than a dough would be, and naturally so; there is no flour (gluten) in this mixture. After letting the batter sit for about 2-3 minutes as required by the recipe, it did thicken up a bit and I poured it into my bread pan.

The most obvious difference in baking the bread is that there wasn't that yummy yeasty smell wafting through the house. The aroma was very nutty, but only when I opened the oven door to test for doneness. When it was finally finished, it smelled sort of like...chlorine. Very subtly though...this worried me but I let the loaf cool a little bit and the sliced off my very first taste of flax bread.

It's strange. The texture is not strong enough for sandwiches, that much I figured out right away. When I tried toasting it, all of the fat that was used in baking seemed to seep out and bubbled at the surface. It never really got crispy but it did firm up a little bit. This could be a good way to eat it for breakfast in the morning.

As for the flavor, it's not bad. It is sort of metallic though, sort of like an aftertaste. Because it's my first try eating this stuff, I'm not sure if that's supposed to happen or if that's normal. I'll be honest, this morning when I began eating it for breakfast, I had to stop and make an egg to put on top of it. I noticed that after the 2nd bite I was chewing for a long time without swallowing. And it's not because it's hard to chew...it's more that my body just didn't want it to go down. And really, it's not disgusting. The recipe could use a little less salt, but otherwise it's not horrible. But my brain just couldn't compute that this was bread and that I should swallow. Because money is very tight right now, I will eat this loaf as I did this morning, with an egg on it, but I won't make this recipe again.

I will try out the muffin recipe I found. Because I'd be adding in blueberries, I think that it'll be good. Plus, it's more acceptable for muffins to be bumpy in texture than bread. I feel like I have to find something that works with this. The health benefits are too great for me to just give up. And maybe it's just something I need to get used to, like eating tofu, though I still can't pallet a whole tofu based meal.

I know this was riveting stuff...if I ever find my camera card reader, I have another less healthy post to share.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Somehow, It's Fitting The Abbreviation is VD"

I thought that this Valentine's Day was going to suck. Not that past Valentine's Day's have not sucked, but I just thought it would be worse this year. The day is young, so I might be speaking out of turn, but so far, it's been pretty OK.

I got these flowers delivered to me at work on Friday...

Finally ate one of the gifts from my neighbor, Filet Mignon with lobster stuffing on top. (Still have one left for tonight! Though I might pick up a potato to make it extra special.)

And then, at 9am today, I got a phone call. I never get phone calls anymore. All of my communication with my friends is done via email. (Sad, no?) But also, it's Sunday. At 9am. So I ignored it, even though the area code was a MA number.

And then someone knocked on my door. No one knocks on my door, unless I'm expecting them. I stayed perfectly still (because I still haven't put a shade on the door and part of it is frosted "glasstic". And then my phone rang again. So, because I'm very smart, I deduced that the person at my door was also the person phoning me. (Yeah, I know...you wish you were as smart as me.) So I picked up. And a man with a very foreign accent said, "Cactus delivery! Come downstairs please!"

Who says that? Cactus delivery? Yes, he was delivering a cactus, but still...it made me giggle. And at least the element of surprise was taken away when I opened the door to see this:

My parents, who I think are starting to worry I will end up an old maid, sent me a cactus. I'm not sure why they (I think it was my dad) chose a cactus, but I like to think it's because they know that I'm rarely home long enough to water plants and a cactus won't die on me when I am working 2 jobs or playing with friends. But somehow, I don't think that was the reasoning. Anyway, it was such a nice surprise to have a delivery on Valentine's Day! And the good news is that Bella won't eat this. She sniffed it, got a little prick on the nose and backed away. Which is perfect. (I did have to take out the weird twigs that were sticking out of the plant. It made it just look dead.)

And then, since my Valentine is Bella, I gave her the gift I bought for her-a plastic ball thingy from the children's section of Target. She didn't quite know what to do with it at first...

But then I kicked it and she got the idea.

I'm hoping this provides her with some fun while I'm at work. But for some reason, I think she'll only play with it when I initiate it. Or when she bumps into it by accident and it freaks her out.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!