Weekly Check-In

Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:
Sunday the 19th
: Asparagus Parmesan Couscous (I went into this one alone.  Lacking a little flavor, so it wasn’t my favorite, but it was hearty and healthy).
Monday the 20th: Firehouse night (Miss Hop-a-long hobbled to Firehouse to gorge on brisket.  Worth it).
Tuesday the 21st: Blistered Green Beans and Tomatoes (served with a side of French Bread, this veggie mix was tasty).
Wednesday the 22nd: Chicken with Artichoke Pan Sauce (this was amazing!  It would have been just as good vegetarian without the chicken).
Thursday the 23rd: Lunch leftovers (Free lunch at work means Monte Cristo for dinner.  Greasy delight, though I have to admit it’s harder for me to eat something like this anymore.  My stomach prefers the healthier, less dense meals).
Friday the 24th: Ginger Basmati Rice (holy moly.  This recipe was deceptively easy in its creation, but a delight on the taste buds).
Saturday the 25th: Food Poisoning Night (don’t ask)
Sunday: Draining the swamp (food poisoning day.  Don’t buy meat at Wal-Mart).
Monday: Pesto Potato Salad (not what my hubby – let’s just call him Omar – expected at all, but amazingly good.  By far top three of this year so far).
Tuesday: Risotto Primavera (Not my favorite mix of flavors so far, but a filling meal.  And I love making risotto).

Progress on the Trail:
Sunday, 19 February: 8.0 miles
Monday, 20 February: 0 miles
Tuesday, 21 February:  2.8 miles
Wednesday, 22 February: 4.9 miles
Thursday, 23 February: 4.3 miles
Friday, 24 February: 4.1 miles
Saturday, 25 February: 3.1 miles
Sunday, 26 February: 1.8 miles
Monday, 27 February: 4.0 miles

Week Seven/Eight (1/2) Total: 33.0 miles
Distance to Go:  1,847.65 miles (2,190 miles total)

King’s Cage

kings-cageAuthor: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #3
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Then you’re both stupid, my brain screams.  How many times does one wicked boy have to betray you people before you learn?

Well.  Huh.  After all my excitement and anticipation and hyperventilating as I waited not so patiently for it to arrive from the library, what a let down.

King’s Cage, as one might deduce from the title, begins with Mare confined in Maven’s castle.  Surrounded and shackled by the one substance that can detain her, Mare is powerless, a pawn at Maven’s mercy.  Inside, her temper boils at her confinement.  On the outside, there isn’t much for her to do but mock her guards, play nice with Maven, and squirrel away tiny objects to mount an escape.

And so King’s Cage goes… for three hundred pages.  That’s right, there’s little to no action until about 300 pages into this beast of a novel.  King’s Cage drags it’s hobbled feet through most of its girth.  Even the multiple narratives do nothing to help with its pacing.  Still, I kept on trucking.  I hit the 300s and thought, ‘finally.  Now we’re getting somewhere.’  And then, to my dismay  but not surprise, the pacing plummeted back down to absolute zero.  After a burst of energy that made me hunch over in bed as I read with greedy eyes, Aveyard peters out and limps to the finish line.  For the fans looking solely for the romance, the story will likely keep you entertained.  For fans looking for action, fighting, and powers, we’re left still wanting after 500 pages.

The overall feeling of King’s Cage is that it is a filler novel.  War is brewing on two fronts, but Mare is stuck in a situation of no power or authority.  Cal is destined to be a prince, but all he wants it Mare (yeah, sure).  And Maven is just insane in the membrane.  While some might point to the politics in this novel as the exciting factor in the plot, I felt it was bottled down by all the internal monologue.  While Aveyard leaves herself an out with the epilogue, teasing perhaps better things to come in the next installment, I’m torn.  I half want to give her another chance and half want to donate the copies of Red Queen and Glass Sword to the library.

NERD ALERT

In which I blow your mind with the depth of my nerdiness.

I finally found a piece of artwork my hubby – let’s just call him Jeevan – finally let me buy.  It’s not a compliment to our Yosemite one in the living room, but it definitely matches our style.  Booya:

Love it.

Also, I’m finally on the bandwagon for decorating a baby’s bedroom.  I’ve always thought it was ridiculous to paint a baby’s room based on its sex.  To be fair, I still do.  But I’m coming around to decorating a child’s room.  I’m not going to be painting any walls pink or blue or light green or yellow, but I’m thinking we’re going to design our kid’s room (should we ever have on) like a spaceship.

Just imagine.  A black ceiling (once I get rid of this pesky popcorn ceiling – how did that ever become a fad?) with this monster design across almost the entirety:

That’s right. No stupid glow in the dark stars for my kid.  If your name is gonna be Luke Kirk [insert my last name here], you’re gonna be full on nerd.  I will, of course, install thick glass plates with water in between them to shield my baby from any radiation.  I’m not crazy.

And then, since you can’t just leave the walls completely bare, something along these lines:

Not this exact one in particular, because it wouldn’t make sense to have the earth both above and next to you in these viewpoints BUT you get the idea.

I’m half tempted to do this to my bedroom.  So much fun!

Damn Day One

In which my body doth protest.

Today was going to be a day of reckoning.  I was going to get up when my hubby – let’s just call him Cal – got up to get ready for work.  Instead of laying in bed and snuggling with the dog for an extra twenty minutes, I was going to get up and get my cardio in early so I could start on my weight training in the evenings (and yoga to help with my now chronic back pain).  I was ready to start making more of a dent in my BikingTheTrail challenge and make up for my recent slower progress and missed days.

Instead, this happened:

That invincibility we felt as kids is hitting me hard these days.  My dyslexic body thinks it’s in its sixties, not its twenties.

So not only did I not start out my new era with a bang, but I fell even further behind.  Still, I will not be dissuaded.  It means I have to work twice as hard once I get back on my feet (or, to be precise, my knees).  Pain is weakness leaving the body as they say.  I’m feeling strong today and ready to give it another go tomorrow.

If I can drag my sorry butt out of bed.

Back on Track

In which I hope 2016 finally ends

What a crazy month it’s been.  Is it just me or does it feel like 2016 hasn’t ended yet?  All these “2016 problems” have bled over into 2017.  And they didn’t stay in January like I had hoped.  But February is calming down (about time), so here’s to brighter skies for the rest of the year (and no more major home improvement budget busters).

These past two weeks have been highlighted with chaos, so unfortunately I had a bit of a backslide on both annual challenges.  I did the best I could, and am full focus forward now.

Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:
Sunday the 5th
: Tabbouleh with Beans and Feta (I couldn’t find bulgar so I substituted couscous.  It appears I might have botched the substitution, for it made wayyyy too much couscous.  And then I accidentally left the leftover in the car overnight later in the week.  Wait a waste.  But it was pretty good).
Monday the 6th: Fragrant Red Lentils with Rice (yum yum in the tum tum.  My first foray with lentil and Indian food did not go well last year, but this one hit the bullseye.  Will try to get the recipe up)
Tuesday the 7th: Pizza night (sometimes the hubby just has a bad day and wants his comfort food)
Wednesday the 8th: Mini Crab Cakes (a classic case of miscalculated conversions led to half the amount of crab needed for the crab cakes – why can’t we just use the metric system, I swear – but they still turned out delicious.  They were a pain in the butt to make, too forever, and I’ll never make them again, but they were good).
Thursday the 9th: Orzo with Chicken, Broccoli, and Pesto (we are still on a mostly vegetarian kick, so I kicked the chicken from the recipe and substituted the premade pesto from last week’s recipe to use it up instead of making a pesto from scratch.)
Friday the 10th: Crab Bisque (my lord, what a delicious recipe.  I discovered Cooking Light has recipes on their website – which takes you over to myrecipes.com.  I found this one here.  Sooooo good.  I substituted white wine vinegar for the vermouth and it was to die for).
Saturday the 11th: Moving Day (moving day was a nightmare of epic proportions – which lead to the aforementioned ruined couscous – so it was another pizza night.  You’d think I’d be tired of it by now.  And actually, I kind of am).
Sunday: Brats night (hubby wanted to man the grill and I was still too tired to cook.  And ran out of time to hit up the grocery store)
Monday: Creamy Parmesan Orzo (another Cooking Light online recipe you can find here.  I was out of fresh basil so I used dried instead.  This recipe was the first time I tried pine nuts.  Definitely had an unique taste, but was good).
Tuesday: Creamy Indian Lentils and Rice (recipe can be found here.  I used basmati rice instead of brown rice and subed mustard powder for the seeds.  It probably would have been delicious, but my 70s stove struck again.  Even on the warm setting, it overcooked the heck out of it and burnt a lot of it to the bottom of the pan.  I might blame Valentine’s Day on this one.  I have the worst luck with V-Day.  And the movie we watched – Arrival – didn’t fare much better).
Wednesday: Hibachi night (our real Valentine’s Day celebration)
Thursday: Ravioli night (Hubby cooked)
Friday: Pizza night (don’t even ask at this point)
Saturday: Family dinner (We rocked the Metro Diner)

Progress on the Trail:
Sunday, 05 February: 7.4 miles
Monday, 06 February: 6.2 miles
Tuesday, 07 February: 6.0 miles
Wednesday, 08 February: 6.0 miles
Thursday, 09 February: 6.0 miles
Friday, 10 February: 6.75 miles
Saturday, 11 February: 7.15 miles
Sunday, 12 February: 6.3 miles
Monday, 13 February: 6.0 miles
Tuesday, 14 February: 6.5 miles
Wednesday, 15 February: 0 miles
Thursday, 16 February: 9.15 miles
Friday, 17 February: 7.1 miles
Saturday, 18 February: 0 miles

Week Five/Six Total: 80.55 miles
Distance to Go:  1,880.65 miles (2,190 miles total)

Fancy Tofu Ramen

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This recipe is derived from the Soba with Sesame and Tofu recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $2.00 / plate

Ingredients:

  • 3 (3 oz) ramen noddle packages
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 package (12 – 14 oz) firm tofu
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 cup (sliced) green onions
  • 1.5 Tbsp sesame seeds

Kitchenware:

  • stove
  • large saucepan
  • Asian strainer or colander
  • cutting board
  • kitchen knife
  • measuring spoons
  • peeler
  • small saucepan
  • small mixing bowl
  • large mixing bowl

Steps:

  1. Cook the ramen noodles per package directions, omitting the flavoring packet, in the large saucepan.  Once cooked, remove from the saucepan with the strainer or drain in the colander.  Add to the large mixing bowl.
  2. In the small mixing bowl combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ground ginger, sugar, and sesame oil.  Mix until combined well.
  3. Drain the tofu and cube it.  Add to the small mixing bowl, tossing to coat evenly in the sauce.  Set aside.
  4. Peel and thinly slice the cucumber.  Thinly slice the green onions.  Add both to the large mixing bowl.
  5. In the small saucepan, heat the sesame seeds over medium heat until toasted (approximately 2 minutes).  Add to the large mixing bowl.  Toss the noodle mixture to combine well (this may take a while as the ramen noodles can tend to stick together).
  6. Divide the noodles into four bowls.  Top with the tofu and sauce.
  7. Enjoy!

Green Bean Pasta

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This recipe is derived from the Fusilli with Green Beans and Oregano recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $1.00 / plate

Chef’s Note: I ran out of rotini pasta, so combined bow tie pasta to make do.  Rotini works better though.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz dry/uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1/2 pound green beans
  • 1/2 cup (chopped) flat-leaf/Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Kitchenware:

  • stove
  • large saucepan
  • medium saucepan
  • colander
  • cutting board
  • kitchen knife
  • measuring spoons
  • garlic press
  • large mixing bowl

Steps:

  1. Fill the large saucepan halfway with water.  Wait for it to boil, then cook the rotini pasta as directed.  Drain and add to the large bowl.
  2. While the pasta cooks, fill the medium saucepan halfway with water.  While the water brings to a boil, snap the green beans (into about 1 – 2 inch pieces).  When water is boiling, add the green beans and cook about 5 minutes until tender.  Drain, rinse in cold water, and add to the large bowl.
  3. While the pasta and green beans cook, chop the parsley and thinly slice the green onions.  Peel the garlic clove, then press it.  Add all three to the large bowl.
  4. Add the oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper to the bowl.
  5. Once all have been combined, toss well to mix.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
  6. Enjoy!