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Jumped on the Two Ingredient Pancake Bandwagon

23 Jan

When I told you how cold it was yesterday, I don’t think I properly conveyed how miserable I was feeling.

IMG_1920[1]THIS IS NOT OKAY. Seriously, I am not in Boston and I’m not in Milwaukee, so don’t try to play off sub-freezing temperatures  over here in the mid-Atlantic and expect to get away with it, Mother Nature. I’m calling you out.

I received a cute shirt in the mail yesterday that I had ordered from Loft (60% off sale items? Yes, please!) but I know I’m not going to be able to wear it for months. However, I am eagerly anticipating the $11 black corduroy pants I ordered, though! Very winter friendly. Best part is it didn’t cost me a dime, thanks to a gift card from my dear aunt for my birthday a few months back. Thanks, Aunt Rebecca!

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I am the worst at handling extreme chill. And by extreme chill, I mean anything below 70-ish degrees. You know that line in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ when Billy Crystal says to Meg Ryan, “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out”? That’s me. I am pretty sure Stefano considers it more of a liability than a charming quirk. Before inauguration, he did a full once-over of my outfit before he deemed it appropriate to keep me warm.

Luckily, my girl Colleen is on the same page, so I know I’m not alone.

Since the weather outside is truly frightful, a warm breakfast was a necessity to a) warm my belly and b) give me an excuse to stand next to the lit stove.

The two ingredient pancakes craze happened sometime last year, but I didn’t pursue it because it has bananas and I really don’t care for bananas. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me and I had to try it out to see if it could be done.

What You Need:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 whole eggs

I’ve seen some modifications of the ingredients list to substitute egg whites for whole eggs, adding various spices, etc. I decided to keep it real simple just to see if it could be done and if I enjoyed them, first.

What To Do:

  1. Mash the banana really well and mix in with the eggs. If you want the texture to be really smooth, use a hand mixer to really smooth out the banana chunks.
  2. Turn the stove on medium-low (this is key!) and spray with some kind of oil. It is really important that these pancakes cook for a longer time at lower heat, otherwise they will stick to the pan and fall apart when you try to flip them. Have a little patience and you will be rewarded!
  3. Add batter slowly. Since it s primarily egg-based, the pancakes spread out fast and tend to be on the thin side. Add the batter slowly so you can keep them the size you want (start small!)IMG_1922[1]
  4. You want the pancake to start looking pretty firm before you flip it, otherwise it will fall apart. That’s why it’s so important to keep it on low heat so the the outside doesn’t burn. Once you flip it, you only have to keep it on for a few second before you’re good to go!

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I topped mine with wild blueberries (via frozen bag from Costco – but they must have been wild once, right) and had a little bit of plain Greek yogurt on the side.

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The verdict? They were pretty tasty, especially considering the fact that I don’t like bananas. Next time I will add some cinnamon to amp up the flavor, but I don’t think it needed anything in the way of sweetener – the bananas add plenty of sweetness.

One thing I will say is that you have to give up the preconception of what you know pancakes to be – light and fluffy. These are definitely on the denser side and turn out quite thin. It’s hard to say anything bad about them though, they’re just so darn easy!

I love meals that don’t use too many ingredients – five is usually my max, which is probably why I don’t get around to a lot of baking. I may have to start, as it’s really nice to feel the wave of heat when you open the oven.

Food For Thought: What’s your favorite quickie meal? Have you ever tried pancakes using anything but the usual ingredients?

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think!

Pho and Cupcakes

18 Jan

Boy oh boy are the temperatures dropping in DC this week! Between the clear skies and the wind chill this morning, it was a freeeezing walk to the bus stop. It sure is a beautiful day, though.

IMG_1897[1]Last night was spent celebrating my roommate’s 25th birthday! We went out for dinner at a Vietnamese place nearby, which serves up delicious bowls of pho and a killer avocado smoothie.

The birthday girl and her avocado smoothie!

The birthday girl and her avocado smoothie!

With the cold temps outside, a big bowl of hot soup sounded like the perfect way to end the day. In Seattle, the pho places around the campus of the University of Washington has choices for different sized bowls, which range from extra small to extra large. The extra large bowls are big enough to bathe a small baby inside, which, after explaining this to my other roommate, he suggested performing baby baptisms in pho bowls. Somehow I don’t see that catching on.

IMG_1878[1]I love adding lime and basil to my bowls of pho so they take on a nice citrus-y flavor. I am convinced that a big bowl of this stuff will cure most ailments.

After dinner, it was back to our house for some funfetti cupcakes, specially requested by the birthday girl. I didn’t use any substitutions or try to ‘healthify’ them – they were just some good, all American, straight-from-the-box cupcakes.

IMG_1880[1]Complete with frosting from a container, of course. The boys seemed to enjoy them.

IMG_1894[1]Sorry for the blur – they were just too speedy for my camera.

By the end of the night, the cupcake count was as follows:

K: 5

Birthday girl: 1

Me: 1 (plus inordinate amounts of frosting)

M: 3

Stef: 3? 4? I lost count, because he kept cutting them in half and filling them with frosting to make “cupcake sandwiches”

Attempted house picture while hopped up on sugar.

Attempted house picture while hopped up on sugar.

It was a lovely celebration and reminded me once again of how awesome the roomies are.

This morning, it was time to get creative in the kitchen. I do my grocery shopping on Friday evenings, which means the morning before I go grocery shopping is usually slim pickins. After preparing my lunch, I scrounged together enough ingredients to make a pretty delicious omelette, with a side of sweet potato and juicy red grapes.

IMG_1895[1]Inside the omelette:

  • 3 eggs
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Three sliced mushrooms
  • 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss
  • A few tablespoons of salsa

Good combination of carbs and protein – I’m a fan!

I’m not sure when egg yolks got turned into the bad guy, but I can’t see myself ever tossing them out – I can’t bear to waste any food! I know there’s lots of cholesterol in them, but who ever heard of someone dying because they ate too many eggs? It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

The first part of this weekend is looking pretty low-key, so I’m hoping to get some reading done. I started a book that I picked up at the used bookstore when Stef and I were in Old Town last weekend.

IMG_1898[1]I really like this author, who is Italian (though the book is in English). I read one of his other books, called ‘La Bella Figura’, which is about trying to explain Italian ways of doing things to foreigners. Being a foreigner, but having lived in Italy, I found the book to be totally hilarious in its accuracy. If you have ever lived in Italy, or even visited on vacation, I recommend you read it. In this installment, Severgnini turns the tables and tries to explain the United States from the point of view of an Italian. I am really enjoying it so far and I’m looking forward to reading it on my lunch break today.

Food for Thought: Do you have exciting plans for the long weekend? For fellow DC-ers, are you planning on going to the inauguration?

I am trying to prepare my outfit for Monday, because it’s supposed to be freezing and we’ll be standing out there for hours. Layers, anyone? I’m totally okay with looking like the Michelin Man for a morning if it means I’ll be comfortable.

For your viewing pleasure:

The birthday girl is a huge 90s music/boy band fan like I am (which explains why we get along so well) and she introduced us to the wonder of boy band satire, as presented by a group called 2ge+her (pronounced ‘together’). Their repertoire includes masterpieces like The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Is Getting Your Stuff Back), with lyrical gems like these:

“You borrow stuff every time I turn my back.
(hey that’s mine!)
I can’t believe I went out with a KLEPTOMANIAC!”

You’re welcome.

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!

Letting Go Of Control

10 Jan

Confession: I am a control freak.

Most who know me can readily attest that I like to have a handle on my life and, more often than not, try to micromanage the lives of those around me. Why? The answer is uncomplicated and arrogant: I think I know what’s best for people more often than they know what’s best for themselves. I am the annoying friend who gives unsolicited advice and sighs in exasperation when they don’t listen and then regret their own decisions.

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You will regret your decision to not buy this tea. Finally replenished my stock for work.

My mother likens me to Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy in Greek mythology. Cassandra is bestowed with the gift of prophecy by Apollo because he was enraptured with her beauty (that’s not the similarity my mom is referring to). When Cassandra rejects Apollo’s advances, he punishes her by placing a curse on her gift: She will continue to make predictions, but none will be believed by those around her. This curse becomes an unyielding plague on her life and eventually drives her mad.

Sounds like fun, right?

It may seem bossy of me, but the reality is that it’s a defense mechanism. I try to control the lives of my loved ones, because if things go wrong, I have to see them suffer and it hurts.

Right now, some people who are very close to me are going through extremely tough times. One hates their job – a job I advised them not to take, while everybody else around them was enthusiastically telling them to accept.

The other is fighting some deep emotional and physical battles with themselves which makes even getting out of bed a daily challenge.

Listening to them talk about how unhappy they are everyday and how much they dread each morning upsets me and it is physically painful to hear about their desperation. Hearing about their misery makes me feel miserable.

For many things in life, empathy is a valuable skill – it helps motivate us to make the world a better place for those who have less, it helps communities come together after tragedies. The downfall to empathy is that it makes us vulnerable to things outside of our control. I live my life in such a way that if there is something I’m not happy or satisfied with, I change it. I control my environment as much as possible, because that protects me from feelings of hurt, anger, fear, and sadness. The problem with being in relationships with people is that they affect your environment without giving you control.

So what is a control freak to do? Let go, of course. It’s easier said than done, though. One of my favorite quotes is part of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr and it goes like this:

“God grant me the serenity

 to accept the things I cannot change; 

courage to change the things I can; 

and wisdom to know the difference.”

The prayer was adopt by Alcoholics Anonymous and has since been used as part of the 12-step programs many use during recovery of various addictions. I guess you could even call my need to control my environment an addiction.

My love for smoked salmon is on its way to becoming an addiction, too.

My love for smoked salmon is on its way to becoming an addiction, too.

So in this new year, my challenge for myself is to let go of control of others. My life is mine and their lives are theirs. They are meant to go down a certain path, to learn certain lessons, and I cannot dictate that path for them, even if I think it’s for their own good. I do believe that there is a reason for everything that happens in life and what is meant to be, will be.

For now, I am learning to sit with my feelings of discomfort. I am learning to take a deep breath and acknowledge that it is painful to hear the struggles of those I care about, learning to bite back all of the times I want to say “If you’d only listened to me, you wouldn’t be struggling right now!”  The only thing I can do is offer comfort, support, and love and hope that, for whatever purpose, these lessons are meant to strengthen them.

A Sore Return

9 Jan

Whew! Either the two weeks out of the gym completely took it out of me or maybe I’m still recovery from being sick, but the Cardio and Tone class I went to during lunch yesterday has left me s-o-r-e. Like, waddling around, bracing myself to sit on the toilet sore. Definitely didn’t see that one coming, but it was a fantastic workout. The instructor was upbeat, knowledgeable, and offered varying levels of difficulty for each of the exercises so it was good for all fitness levels. The class was set up like high intensity interval training (HIIT), except there wasn’t much rest time from what I could gather. It was basically a bunch of supersets (one exercise immediately followed by another), taking a rest break when you absolutely needed to. Wowza!

The nice thing about going to the gym during lunch is that I get to go home straight after. There was a package waiting on my doorstep when I arrived home. How I love getting mail!

IMG_1813[1]My dad had wanted to buy a winter coat for me for my birthday, but waited until I was home in December so I could try them on myself and see what fit best.

IMG_1817[1]It’s so warm and cozy and purple! I love it. It looks pink in this picture, but I assure you that it’s purple. Also, don’t mind the fact that I’m wearing PJ pants underneath the jacket – I may or may not have changed right into them as soon I got home from work. Major plus on the coat?

IMG_1823[1]Thumb holes! I love them.

After modeling my coat for myself, I went downstairs to rummage for some food because if I’m not at the gym, I’m eating (duh). On our recent Costco trip, I bought two pounds of cherry tomatoes and a box of individually packaged Sabra hummus to bring to work in lunches, so I decided to break them out and see how they were.

IMG_1825[1]Sabra is not really my favorite hummus, but the individual packs are a perfect serving and will pair well with some sliced cucumbers (my fave) and the tomatoes.

Then I parked myself on the couch and watched the rest of season 1 of Downton Abbey. Whoops. I had big plans to clean my room and do laundry and all that fun stuff, but it was thrown by the wayside in favor of the drama of the Crawley family. I won’t give anything away for those who haven’t seen it but the episode with the Turkish attaché just knocked me on my butt. Touché, Julian Fellowes, touché.

While on the phone with Stef last night, we were discussing our plans for this weekend. Our anniversary is on Friday so we are hoping to do something a little more romantic than our usual Trader Joe’s grocery date. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend my Friday night than walking in a giant room full of food with my boyfriend. I’m kidding, I think.

Anyway, the weather is supposed to be really nice this weekend, get a load of this:

IMG_1827[1]Highs in the sixties over the weekend??? Tell me this is actually the middle of winter. With warm temps on the horizon, we are hoping to find something fun to do outside over the weekend.

This morning’s breakfast was a lox and cream cheese wrap using some smoked salmon from Trader Joe’s.

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It was also featured in my omelette yesterday and I’m having a salmon fillet for lunch – overkill? I also had a bowl of honey Greek yogurt (the best flavor) mixed with some frozen wild blueberries that I briefly thawed in the microwave. The smokiness of the salmon really made the wrap and the juice from the blueberries turned my yogurt a beautiful shade of purple. Simple and so delicious.

Body Pump is on the books for tonight, though my muscles are fatigued and I don’t know how effective my workout will be tonight. It’s pretty amazing what two weeks of being sedentary will do to you after months of regular activity.

Food For Thought: Do you go through periods where you eat the same thing repeatedly? What are some of your favorite food regulars?

 

 

 

 

 

Costco Treasures

8 Jan

There is a new Costco that opened up in DC, which great because it means Stef and I don’t have to drive out to Maryland to go to the one near the University of Maryland in College Park.

It has been awhile since we have made a trip to Costco and I definitely needed to replenish some of my staples, namely the big bags of frozen vegetables and frozen berries I like to keep handy. The veggies are great for throwing in just about anything to get an extra handful of vegetables when you can. I also love the berries because they are perfect for smoothies – no ice needed! I just mix them with Greek yogurt and some soy milk and they’re good to go!

This time around, a discover a new-to-me Costco treasure: frozen salmon fillets! I am always hesitant to buy fresh fish, because I worry that I won’t make it before it goes bad, so the pre-packaged frozen servings are a wonderful discovery for me.

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I decided to try them out for dinner last night and cooked the salmon (after letting it defrost in the fridge overnight) on the stovetop with some garlic and herb seasoning. It took about 7 minutes on each side at medium heat.

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I broke out my new bag of frozen veggies and sautéed those quickly, while a sweet potato cooked in the microwave for 4 minutes. It still blows my mind that you can cook sweet potatoes and squash in the microwave – it saves so much time!

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A little Greek yogurt adds some nice creaminess to the sweet potato.

I finished off the meal with two chocolate chip cookies and an episode of Downton Abbey. I had never seen the show, but people all around me are really into it so I decided to give it a go once I realized I couldn’t get the channel for the BCS game last night and Downton Abbey was on Netflix.

I love period movies and shows (hello, I’m a woman!), but I’m not hooked on this one yet. I’ll give it a few more episodes before I pass judgment.

I went to bed nice and early last night so I was awake before my alarm went off, which gave me a little extra time to make this masterpiece:

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That’s a three egg omelette with tomatoes, half an avocado, some sliced mushrooms, a few piece of smoked salmon, and a sprinkle of feta. It was as massive as it looked and I had a bit of trouble flipping it, so the end result was a bit burnt and didn’t look so pretty.

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Nothing a little salsa can’t fix, though! I have to say that I am super full and will have no problem waiting for lunch.

I am contemplating a lunchtime ‘Cardio and Tone’ class because I want to get home earlier and didn’t manage to do a morning workout. Does anybody have any tips on getting to the gym in the morning? I always end up sleeping through the morning workouts because I know I can just go to a class in the evening and sleep sounds so much better.

Food For Thought: What time do you exercise? Is there a time of day when you tend to have more energy?

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