Passions should make you passionate: Coconut Shrimp Soup

Well this has been an eventful few weeks. I wish it were more positive, but a slip is a slip and I tend to go nuts and lose track of things. Three solid weeks I was on a roll. Go me! But I’m remembering just how difficult it is to get back on track for me. But anyway–!

I went apple picking in Elijay! We were able to eat apples right off the trees! Yum! Picnic didn’t work out like we’d hoped, but everyone could still enjoy the chocolate chip pumpkin brownies I made. We’ll ignore my evening at my part-time job that same day. I’ve had just about all I can take in that respect. And later on I made an unsuccessful apple pie with my half peck of apples, but I ate it anyway. Not wasting those apples for anything!

Panda Wrimos united!
Panda Wrimos united!

We’re also coming up on NaNoWriMo!! I met up with people in my area and we’re going to be meeting every week at this adorable coffee house. I might swing by on a night they have their jazz band come in. Although I think it’s a Saturday which means that’s not happening in the month of November. Bring on 50K!! I’ve never written with people before so maybe that’s what’ll get my writing off the ground.

Almost couldn't get me out of the dress for sheer excitement!
Almost couldn’t get me out of the dress for sheer excitement!

I think I’m getting kinda semi-serious about cosplay. My friend inspires me. I don’t think she thinks highly enough of the work she can do, but she’s quite talented and she’s going to help me with my Aurora dress. She’s also busy with school and life so I sympathize with her stress levels. Then I got the idea to perhaps get back into burlesque via nerdlesque because it combines two things I enjoy. And I don’t have to build two completely separate costumes necessarily if I’m doing a cosplay. I like to streamline things. Haha! But I don’t know if Atlanta has a nerd troupe like that. I mean I can still do NOT nerd related burlesque, but I think that’s my next goal as my brain frantically follows all of my interests simultaneously. I’m watching performances on youtube for further inspiration. What an incredible machine, the brain.

Featured recipe: Coconut Shrimp Soup by The Meanest Momma

Happy soup season!
Happy soup season!

It’s soup season! I could’ve started the season with a hot bowl of thick squash-type soup, but that wasn’t what my brain told me to do. My brain said, “Brenna, it’s a shrimp week. Don’t worry about needing 3 1/2 pounds of shrimp between the two recipes you found. Just get it at Kroger!” That was a mistake. The cheapest suitable shrimp was still $8 a bag and I had to devein it. Wow. Lesson learned. But shrimp was the theme of the week so I made both garlic butter shrimp over roasted broccoli and this lovely soup with a hint of heat. I’m not a pepper kinda girl and I don’t do spicy food. This was an adventure into both and I’m quite pleased with the result! The recipe is super simple and once you start cooking, it takes no time at all.

It feels so good to have a full fridge again. Maybe that’ll jump start my next clean streak. I swore that by my next convention I’d be the healthiest I’ve ever been in all my life. I’d like to hold myself to that.

 

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Confucius say: Deep thoughts go well with Crockpot Cashew Chicken

That scare two weeks ago has me in full blown health and happiness mode. I’m game! I can even plan treats and slowly accumulate ingredients without as much fear of eating or drinking what I bought before I’m ready to make the recipe. That’s right. Who has two thumbs and didn’t take shots of maple syrup while making clean caramel for the first time? THIS GIRL! Also, I’m happy to say I am the newest member of the writing crew for the site Libertarian Gaming! I’m working on a piece comparing the world of The Walking and The Last of Us to a real life apocalypse. Y’know, when the dollar crashes simultaneously with Ebola regenerating its victims’ bodies. Also, HOCKEY IS BACK MOFOS!!!

So here’s my self high five.

::selfhighfive::

Good thing I’ve been on such a roll lately. A number of stressers are squirming into my life right now. We’re starting the next performance at work which is extremely popular with schools and families. Bring on the crying children being waved in our faces. It’s no Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, I’ve been told, but just the fact that you have to bring THAT show in to make the distinction worries me.

Also, Facebook is bumming me out lately. Due to algorithms and a general lack of popularity, about 90% of my 317 “friends” don’t see my posts. Another 7% don’t care. Just not sure why I bother there. It sounds like I’m fishing, and I don’t like feeling that way. I guess what irks me is that I already know I have just a little handful of wonderful friends. The number fluctuates as people come and go, even people I didn’t think would go. I take the word “friend” very seriously. I don’t need Facebook to remind me that I’m not a social butterfly and that high school and college were just extended social torture.

It shouldn’t be such a big deal. While definitions are important, so is not stressing out over labels for the people in your life about whom you care. I have convention/cosplay buddies and libertarian buddies and writing buddies and theatre budies. I care about them a lot! That’s all I have the mental energy to think about.

Now let’s talk noms!

Featured recipe: Crockpot Cashew Chicken

You ordah cashoo chikin! You ordah now!
You ordah cashoo chikin! You ordah now!

I have a confession to make. I’ve never ordered cashew chicken from a Chinese restaurant. I have no idea what it tastes like, but I can sort of imagine that thick, dark sauce and the soaked cashews over likely breaded and fried chicken breast chunks. This is not that, but it is something special. If you’re looking for that salty, MSG taste without the saltiness and MSG, you found it. I did substitute liquid aminos for coconut aminos, which could make a significant difference. Again, I just don’t know  for sure, but I like the end result, especially the bits that got charred in the crockpot. Topped with scallions. . .Yum!

I served it over riced cauliflower. . .uh. . .not my favorite idea. I had leftovers for brunch with broccoli. Much better. I might splurge on some rice on a special occasion or maybe use veggie noodles to mimic lo mein. Cauliflower rice to mimic steamed rice just doesn’t do it for me. That, or I’m completely over cauliflower tasting like cauliflower right now. It happens. Just like I’m so over chicken tasting like chicken. Unfortunately chicken is super cheap. As in a pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs is less expensive that one organic head of cauliflower. Such is life. I give the recipe a thumb and a half up.

Happy October – Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole

How many times have I said, “Every day is a new day to start over”? Well y’know what? I will keep saying it because it’s true! Over the weekend, the real weekend, I had a bit of a wake up call. 3 weeks of fairly consistent binging on straight SAD style sugary sweets left my body reeling. It was pretty excessive. Before I started with Primal eating, I allowed myself these treats on occasion or so I thought. I never thought twice about it. As I think on it now, it was much more often than I first considered. Every dine out meal came with dessert. Every break at school came with a trip to the vending machine. Every outing with friends came with some snacks and sweets. Now that I follow Clean Eating, when I break down as addicts will do sometimes, I binge and eat like a week’s worth of junk in a night. At least twice or thrice a week. Yeah. It’s bad. And it hurts.

There comes a time where you have to say, “Enough is enough.” I don’t know if this is that time, but I am 6 days into a new clean streak. I’ve told myself I’m allergic to the Primal/Paleo no-nos: grain, processed sugar, soy, legumes, and bad dairy. “I’m allergic!” is the be all-end all whenever I catch myself thinking obsessively about sweets. It’s not far off. I am definitely intolerant of these things. The word allergic has a scary connotation and it worked to snap me back to reality and move along. I’m willing to take those measures to create better habits for myself. When I can trust my logical brain, I’ll adjust my wording.

Only the good stuff in these bad boys.
Only the good stuff in these bad boys.

I finished off last week’s food, which was partially food from the week before that wasn’t used on days I ate crappy junk. I got through Monday and Tuesday on organic tomato soup and Applegate beef franks. That’s all Kroger had for me. Of course silly me had to wander to the Manager’s Special rack. Bad idea, but I survived the encounter. To kick off my weekend, I made myself totally clean chocolate chip cookies with Sunbutter and Green & Black chocolate pieces. Weekends are worth treats. I modified the recipe since I didn’t have Macademia nut butter or chocolate chips. The universe might break if I ate these made with Macademia nut butter.

What else is on the menu this weekend? Maybe some empanadas. Maybe some salmon cakes. And how about a way to make chicken bearable again? A POX ON YOU CHICKEN!!

Featured Recipe: Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole

Punkin' Chunkin'. . .into my mouth!
Punkin’ Chunkin’. . .into my mouth!

This recipe reminded me of the Pumpkin Chicken Thighs recipe I made a while back. Since October is here and autumn can no longer be denied, I figured it was time to cheer myself up with some pumpkin goodness. I love me some punkin’! I used zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti squash and I think it works fine as a substitute. I just needed to use the third zucchini to have enough to really create a “crust” on the bottom of the casserole. It would also help if my oven had a broiler. A nice browning on top would’ve been awesome! I had more roasted cauliflower than anything else, but it makes a nice middle layer. This is an easy to cook and layer recipe and a great way to heat the apartment in the fall and winter.

 

21 Uncommon Romantic Gestures That Would Make Any Girl Melt

I’m in a long distance relationship so most of these are near impossible at the moment, but it’s the thought that counts. n__n

Thought Catalog

1. Play with her hair while the two of you are watching TV. It doesn’t have to be complex, just a little light head touching/hair-messing-with will put her into a near-meditative state.

2. Get your dessert to-go at the restaurant so the two of you can eat it at home while watching a movie/your favorite TV show.

3. Instead of just asking her where she wants to go for dinner — because you know that she loves when you put in the effort to choose, but is really picky when it comes to what she wants — give her three options that you want to go to (including one or two you haven’t tried before, if possible). It’s the best of both worlds.

4. If you spend the night at her place (or even if you share the place) make the bed while she’s in the shower or getting ready.

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Holiday Prep – Pumpkin Pie

Sometimes it’s good to run on a whim. Sometimes it leads to binges. Sometimes it’s worth it.

I’ve been struggling a little mentally since I’ve returned from NJ. Basically my vacation brain hasn’t shut off quite yet. The lever is stuck in this weird limbo notch where my dreams aren’t of vacation, but of the future and how I should be reaching those goals. Having a steady full time job is certainly not hurting, but I decided to be much more active in pursuing my interests. Currently those interests are writing and cosplay. I’m not looking to be a professional cosplayer, but I do have a couple of short story drafts written since my return three weeks ago.

Booyah!

Of course one of my other passions is baking. On a whim I decided I was going to bake a pumpkin pie. Ask my co-workers! I said it right there at work, “I want to bake a pie.” I found a Paleo recipe and went straight to the Farmers market after work for ingredients. Not shabby for a first time! Then a few days later I realized I had the ingredients necessary for Paleo sugar cookies. More holiday practice!! Those, too, were not shabby at all! Next time I want to add whipped cream for the pie and frost the sugar cookies. I was going to make them look like Pac-Man. Next time.

Featured Recipe: Paleo Pumpkin Pie by The Paleo Mom

20140913_081525 I’ve never baked pie before. I followed the recipe to the T and I’m extremely satisfied with the results. Here’s my helpful advice: even if the recipe doesn’t specifically say to grease your baking dish, go ahead and grease it. My co-workers and I had to jackhammer into the crust. It wasn’t a tough crust, it was just baked to the dish. My food processor is a little small for a big ol’ pie so the filling didn’t mix as well as I’d like. I think it looks rustic and I appreciate that. Also, I have a 9.5″ pie pan and the recipe calls for a 9″ or deep 8″ dish. That actually made a difference!

All in all, this was a successful attempt and I hope I will be making it again before Thanksgiving. Need to practice!

 

 

 

 

Eating Habits – Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

I had a dream I was in high school, but with my middle school and college classmates. The college classmates, the boyfriend as well, were doing the procession through a super fancy bathroom. I’m talking marble floor and walls, high tech massage chairs, a winding maze of perfect stalls. Then we all had to make arrangements for our senior trip to somewhere in Florida and I had to take the drive with a girl with whom I’d rather not take the drive instead of my best friends from middle school. Suddenly I realized I had one night to find someone to watch my cats. Then I thought about how long the trip would be and that maybe they could get by a few days with a dry food feeder.

Talk about when worlds collide!

I’ve been having strange, vivid dreams the last few days. I’m definitely attributing these dreams to what I eat within a few hours of bed. Raisins one night, heavy protein dinner another night, olive oil baked potato chips last night. It also screws with my eating habits. Working screws with my eating habits. It makes me think I’m hungry at work when really I have enough stored up fat and sometimes some immediate-burn sugar to get me through the day. I got through all of yesterday without eating at work. And I didn’t even go straight home afterwards! I got through most of today having only eaten two small slices of homemade pumpkin pie for breakfast. More about pie later. Bodies are funny things.

So this week is my first attempt at daily cooking instead of bulk cooking on my weekend. So far so good even though I went over budget a little and didn’t get ingredients I needed for some recipes I planned. I made a coconut milk butter sauce to go over some yellow squash noodles. Totally impromptu! It wasn’t pretty so I didn’t take photos, but it turned out pretty good! Nice and garlicky just how I like it! Mixed with chicken and broccoli. Yum! Then I made Salisbury Steak! But part of that mess with not knowing whether or not I was really hungry at work had to do with my not wanting to eat such a heavy dish like Salisbury Steak. I think I’ve concluded that I just wasn’t hungry or I wouldn’t have minded eating the steak.

The real challenge will be keeping up my positivity so I can keep my dishes clean and my food on the table and my will during work. Wish me luck!

Among other things on my mind, I BAKED A PUMPKIN PIE FOR THE FIRST TIME! Not too shabby. If I’m spending Thanksgiving on my own, or maybe an orphan Thanksgiving, I want it to be a sweet one! Recipe post for that is one its way. (I’m not lying! Some things are less time sensitive than posts specifically regarding multiple days around your birthday! I’m sorry!)

Featured recipe: Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy by PaleOMG

20140911_195416This is one of the recipes I recall fondly from childhood. My mom made juicy, rich Salisbury steak. It was like a doped up hamburger. For real. I’m pleasantly surprised with mine. It could use a little more cooking, but a little pink in the center never killed anyone. . .with a well adjusted immune system. . .

The meat was quite flavorful and the gravy reduced well. I recommend stopping the gravy reduction sooner than later though. Don’t want to burn it or turn it to condensed savory jelly. Not if you have a light stomach like mine. This is a savory dish.  So much so that when I wasn’t hungry the next day, but still forced myself to pack lunch, I was afraid to eat it. It’s rich. It’s dense. It’s a hardy winter dish. So this one needs to wait for the chill to settle in. But still YUM!

 

Vacation Log

It’s a good feeling to get your act together. It’s not fun when cravings hit, but it’s fun to beat them! What’s life without some challenge, yeah? Like how you feel when you beat a video game by yourself. I haven’t experienced that in a while. Better bust out my DS again soon. And my brother reminded me of making a food log so I can see my victories and struggles. I used the template from the 21DSD. Funnily enough, the timing for 3 weeks of information covered the week before vacation, the week of vacation, and the week following vacation. It’s good to be honest when vacation is arriving. And damn I was good!

Seriously, the only “bad” days were Labor Day and the very last night before I got back into Atlanta. And Labor Day was planned. Oh man, I’m so glad that day went well. Mine and the boyfriend’s parents met for the first time. @__@ Seriously, all that morning you could’ve cut the tension with a knife. Not that *I* was worried. I was cool as a cucumber in the freezer of an Eskimo in Alaska that fell through the ice of a frozen lake. . .yup. Cool. Soon as my folks arrived, everything was lovely. I mean, other than being blatantly asked by our mothers when we’re getting married. I do love my mama. And his mother is lovely too. But c’mon ladies! Yes, I’m talking to you, mom. You know what you said. . .but it was nice to have you both there while I made whipped cream for the first time.

Our featured recipe comes from Labor Day too! I wanted to bring something because no one should show up as a guest empty handed. Finally decided on fruit with homemade organic whipped cream and organic deviled eggs. My brother and I got the ingredients from Whole Foods, made our own mayo, whipped those bad boys up, and apparently they were the greatest deviled eggs known to man. 🙂 Wasn’t expecting that. And that whipped cream. . .WOW! Never having canned crap again! It was also  really nice to spend time with my friends again. A lovely day and week all around. Apparently I’m not too bad at Pitch & Putt too. The boyfriend sounded like my mom teaching bowling when he was teaching me to golf. That’s probably the best compliment you can ever receive.

The trip up was prepped with ham and cheese slices, cashews, seaweed slices, and leftover gluten free cookies. The trip down was PaleoKrunch. And my first night home was the best meal I’ve had literally in MONTHS thanks to my brother. Glorious steak done in butter/garlic sauce and basil with a side of broccoli. Oh my freaking Grok. Close to being the highlight of vacation. But then there was the boyfriend. He’s pretty special. And discovering Child of Light, the basis for my next cosplay.

I knew coming back to Georgia would be rough although I didn’t anticipate how rough the first week back to work would be. But that’s why I kind of forgive myself for last Wednesday night’s discretions. But if that’s the worst I do–Wendy’s pretzel bun cheeseburger, some small cookies, and popcorn–I’m damn proud of myself. I decided when I got back I would throw myself into my passions. I’m writing and getting inspiration by watching Nika Harper on youtube. If you like to write and don’t know Nika Harper, go get yourself an education. I’m also going to get started on cosplay for POC and maybe even Halloween if I can wing it. The point is, I’m occupying myself with things I really love and the positive mentality is keeping my spirits up and my kitchen clean and my belly happy so as not to distract me from the important things. Things are going quite well. I hope this lasts longer than ever! We’ll ignore the raisins I just shoved down my throat. n__n

Featured Recipe: Deviled Eggs with homemade paleonnaise

These devils NEVER cry. #gamergirl
These devils NEVER cry. #gamergirl #nerd

Holy yum, Batman! This is probably one of the easiest recipes you’ll come across in all your life. Hard/Soft boil your eggs, take the yolk out, mix it with mayo and seasonings, put the yolk back in. Boom. Done. The trick is making them look pretty enough for your “in-laws” to appreciate which is when my mom taught me the spooning technique. Y’know there really should be a better term for addressing your significant other’s parents before y’all are officially in love according to the government. Oh gubment.

Anyway, the hardest part about this was making the mayo. It’s easy to wiz the four or so ingredients together, but there’s a tricky balance. To me, since my brother let me take charge in terms of taste, it started off tasting too oily. We added a dash more vinegar. Then it was too much vinegar. But we made it work once we added it to the egg yolk along with our other seasonings like garlic powder and salt and a hint of pepper. Like I said before, apparently these were the best deviled eggs ever made. They were quite delicious. Go team organic!