Love and Roast Chicken

It’s funny how much better food tastes when you’re in love. Yeah, you read that right:  I’m in love.  He’s kind, generous, loving, handsome, and best of all, he loves me too.  *cue singing woodland animals and rainbow-farting unicorns*  I adore spending time with this man. He inspired me to go running while we were still in the flirting stage. And I mean running in the park, not running after the ice cream truck. I even stopped to take a picture at the park to prove to Facebook that I actually ran:



I wanted to write about the restaurant where we had our first date but for once, I neglected to take any food pictures; I was too busy looking into his big brown eyes and trying not to appear awkward or crazy. So instead, I give you a quick post about the first meal I cooked for he who shall henceforth be known as Guapo. 

Roast chicken: 



I packed the space under the breast skin with butter, garlic, chopped parsley and thyme. The cavity and exterior got the same mixture with some added minced leek and olive oil.

Roasted red potatoes:

I went with an easy olive oil, butter, sea salt and ground pepper for the potatoes. 

Green beans with pancetta:I asked Guapo to blanch and drain the string beans while I chopped up the pancetta. Fried the pancetta up and tossed the beans in the rendered fat along with a little ground black pepper and congratulated myself on being fake-fancy.Too bad I didn’t know he is not a string bean fan! 

And two different créme brûlées, vanilla-orange (not pictured) and Earl Grey:

Surprisingly, the Earl Grey créme brûlée, which we’d both been looking forward to tasting because of our mutual love of Star Trek: TNG, was an experimental dud. One-dimensional, slightly bitter and flavorless, I kept waiting for the bergamot flavor to show itself but it never did. In other words, blech. Captain Picard would never have approved. 

The vanilla-orange one, on the other hand, was bright with citrus flavor and warm with vanilla. 

There was wine, lots of talking and flirting. And falling in love. I adore this man. 

Advertisements

14 Day Spending Freeze: Day Four

I overslept today and was in such a frenzy, I forgot to grab my lunch bag and now have to buy my lunch. FML. 😦 

 

Not digging this. Not digging this at all. I feel the profound guilt of a bad Asian daughter.

Vegan Quinoa Chili

Recently, I joined a bunch of friends in a health and fitness challenge. While I didn’t lose any weight *shakes fist at cosmos*, I did increase my cardio exercise by about 50% and now I look for ways to walk as much as I can as fast as I can. I tried out hot yoga the week before I left for my vacation on the Jersey shore.

Much to my dismay, hot yoga does not mean a roomful of exceedingly attractive individuals standing around in various Gumby-like poses; it means the room temperature is the rough equivalent of sitting inside the sun. 😮

While I’m never going to become a vegetarian or a hot yoga fan, I vowed to cut out red meat for the duration of the health challenge and to consume more well-balanced vegetarian meals, and maybe even work in some vegan dishes.

To that end, I decided to make a vegetarian chili stuffed full of veggies and boosted the fiber and protein with quinoa. It also added some subtle texture without trying to replace ground meat. The only thing I would do differently next time is to reduce the carrots; the chili was a little sweeter than I like. Feel free to add other veggies of your choice!

Vegan Quinoa Chili
8 to 10 servings

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers (any color you like, I chose green because it’s cheaper), diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS ground cumin
2 TBS ground chili powder or to your taste
1 zucchini, diced
1 TBS tomato paste
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 26-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 15-oz can pureed tomatoes
1 10-oz can corn niblets
1 TBS ground black pepper
1 TBS Frank’s Hot Sauce (optional)
Salt to taste

Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan, bring to boil and simmer, covered, over low heat until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

In an 8-qt stockpot or other large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, peppers, carrots, celery, and jalapeno, and cook until soft, about ten minutes. Stir in ground spices, garlic, and zucchini; cook for another five or so minutes or until fragrant.

Add remaining ingredients as well as the quinoa and stir to combine. Simmer on low for 40 minutes. Serve with chopped avocado, cilantro, green onion, lime wedges, and additional hot sauce. Add shredded Cheddar and sour cream or Greek yogurt for a non-vegan meal.

 

Vegan Quinoa Chili topped with cheese. Not so vegan!

Vegan Quinoa Chili topped with not-vegan cheese

14 Day Spending Freeze: Day Three

You know what’s been nice about this challenge so far? Besides saving money I would have spent on dining out for lunch, I mean. It’s forced me to cut out meat, which costs a ton of moolah even when it’s on sale. Of course, it’s easy to say this when I’m still eating the veggie quinoa chili I made on Sunday night!

I’m not gonna lie, all this extra veg and bean consumption made me pretty gassy at first (sorry for the TMI), but it really didn’t take long for me to get used to the additional fiber and I’m actually feeling pretty good right now. While the vegetarian lifestyle isn’t for me, it also doesn’t hurt to cut way down on meat in general. My arteries are probably sighing in relief.

My latte longing has not lessened in a substantial way and I’m starting to think they’ll have to either become a line item in my budget or I’ll really have to buy that Nespresso. I wonder if there’s a rehab center for latte addicts?

The hardest part about not spending any money is walking past all the places where I like to dine and while I’m not quite a spendthrift in terms of stuff, I do like to wander the local shops and admire the pretty things. I have a harder time saying no to beauty products. So now I don’t go anywhere that tempts my wallet. It’s less of an issue when I’m busy working because I’m so busy running from one office to the other that I don’t really have the time to roam the shops anymore.

I’m slightly terrified about the coming weekend though because I won’t have work to distract me. In my head, I think, ‘Now I have time to put up that elfa closet I’ve been putting off for a year’ but I know I won’t want to do it when the weekend rolls around. That’s work, dammit, and I donwanna work!

I’m screwed, right?