Food

I’m back…and I look like a drunken lion.

I’m back…and I look like a drunken lion. 1

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Did you miss me? Wonder if I had stayed in SoCal to become a chubby, mediocre surfer girl? Assume I was dead?

Apologies for taking a longer blogging hiatus than originally planned. San Diego was fabulously exhausting and I just didn’t feel like writing anything when I made it home. Sometimes, you just have to carve out time to sleep, do the laundry, and sleep some more.

The good news is that San Diego was incredible. Scott and I had a blast spending time with my brother and sister, and my CrossFit Level One training was kind of the best thing ever.

cali

The very best part? Eating my way through Ron Burgundy’s hometown, of course. There were fish tacos, margaritas, ice cream, and of course…more fish tacos. Remember the scene in Charlotte’s Web where Templeton the rat eats everything in sight at the fair? It was kind of like that…just with a long blonde ponytail and (thankfully) no trash cans.

Luckily, my SoCal food frenzy didn’t just leave me with some extra plump thighs…I managed to pick up a few nuggets of foodie knowledge along the way. Here’s what four days and approximately twenty-thousand calories taught me.

 

Lesson 1: Put butter in your coffee

Per a suggestion via Instagram, I swung by San Diego chain Better Buzz Coffee for the Best Drink Ever.

Yep, that’s actually the name of the drink.

betterbuzz

I ordered a medium without actually knowing what I was about to slurp down…with a name like that, who needs to ask questions?

(Apparently, I do.)

“What’s actually in this?” I asked the barista after I swiped my credit card.

It was difficult to hear her over the roar of the espresso machine, but I could swear she mumbled something like “vanilla butter”.  Butter in coffee? Well, why the heck not!?

After visiting the Better Buzz website, I learned that I’m losing my hearing as the Best Drink Ever is 100% butter-free. It’s simply an Americano with a touch of sweetness, cream and vanilla. (Still…it was totally the best drink ever.)

I also learned that putting grass-fed butter in one’s coffee is actually a real thing! It allegedly tastes delicious, burns fat and boosts your energy and performance all day long. Normally I’d be skeptical, but I love butter on anything, so I’ll probably end up giving this a try sooner rather than later.

The moral of this first point? If you’re ever in SD, make sure to swing by Better Buzz for the Best Drink Ever, which surprisingly lives up to its name. Secondly…putting butter in your coffee no longer earns you fat kid status, so by all means, toss a dollop (or two) in there!

 

Lesson 2: Don’t dip your French Toast. Soak it.

On our last morning in Cali, Scott and I headed to La Jolla for brunch at the famous Brockton Villa Restaurant. We’d heard several rave reviews of their infamous “Coast Toast”, and I wasn’t about to leave San Diego without trying a bite for myself.

coast-toast

 

It was definitely one of the top 10 brunches of my life. In addition to a breathtaking ocean view (which smelled strongly of sea-lion dung…but who am I to complain?), and the most divine fresh squeezed OJ, the Coast Toast was out of this world. I pride myself in being a French Toast connoisseur, and I’ve got to stay, Brockton Villa’s version was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. I know several of y’all can’t stand the word moist, but you’re just going to have to deal with it because the moistness of this toast was the very thing that made is such a stand out. It was reminiscent of a lightly sweetened bread pudding. I may or may not have yelled “Come to Momma!” three times during the meal.

How did they make it taste so good? What was their secret? Could I bribe the waiter to casually sneak “momma” a copy of the super secret, extra moist recipe?

Imagine my surprise when I noticed a basket of free Coast Toast recipe cards on my way out of the restaurant. They’ve even posted it online!

Apparently, the secret is soaking the bread for at least an hour instead of just dipping it in batter. I suspect the combination of grilling it and then baking it in the oven also has something to do with it.

Long story short, I can’t wait to try to recreate this at home, and pretend I’m in sunny La Jolla as I sit on my balcony overlooking our humble little lake. (It’s not the Pacific…but at least there’s no sea-lion poop to be smelled.)

 

3. Do not have your husband take photos of you eating food. No matter how delicious it is.

You will think you’re being totally cute, but…well…let’s just say the proof is in the pudding.

My friend told me I looked like a drunken lion. I can't say that I disagree.

My friend told me I looked like a drunken lion. I can’t say that I disagree.

 

Visiting San Diego? Here are some of my other fave places:

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A slice of heaven, indeed

A slice of heaven, indeed 5

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If I had a dime for each time I’ve screwed up a magazine recipe, I’d probably have almost twelve dollars.

Let’s just say my finished product never ends up looking quite as good as the professional photo in the magazine.

But last Saturday, I got close. Really close. I’m proud to present, my first attempt at ‘Green Herb and Goat Cheese Pie with Potato Crust’ from this month’s issue of Shape magazine.

shape

Shape’s version

pie

My version

Not bad, eh?

Although if I’m being perfectly honest, the recipe probably turned out so well because I didn’t actually make it by myself. After noticing the phrase “Goat cheese pie” (ummm…yes, please!) while quickly flipping through pages, I decided to host an impromptu “potbrunch”.

Relax, it’s not a weed smoking brunch.

Think of it as potluck meets baking party. All of my friends from CrossFit were responsible for brining one of the ingredients over to my place after our Saturday morning workout. We all prepped, assembled, and baked the pie together.

I was responsible for making/refilling coffee.

(Like I said, this is probably why the recipe turned out so well.)

Scott — initially skeptical that we were making a “diet recipe from some girlie magazine” enjoyed the meal so much, he’s requested I bake it again this weekend. We’ll see how successful I can be when left to my own devices.

Want to try it out with me? The recipe is simple, healthy, and perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast. Here’s how to do it:

 

Shape’s Green Herb and Goat Cheese Pie with Potato Crust

  • 12 ounces Swiss chard
  • 8 ounces curly kale
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1.5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heaving whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 ounces  goat cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Melt butter in a 10-inch baking skillet over low heat. (We used a cast iron skillet, and it worked beautifully.) Make sure the bottom and sides of the pan are coated.
  3. Slice the potatoes (with the skins on) into super thin slices. You can use a knife, or do like we did, and bust out the mandolin slicer. (I make someone else do this part as I’m prone to slicing my fingers open.)
  4. Place the potatoes in the pan on top of the melted butter. Overlap them by about half an inch, covering the bottom and sides of your baking dish. This will be your crust.
  5. Remove the stems from the kale and Swiss chard and chop into medium size pieces. Toss the chopped up greens with the thyme and parsley. (I went out and purchased fresh thyme and parsley for this recipe, and then  forgot to add them. FML.)
  6. Press the green mixture firmly into the bottom of the potato crust.
  7. Beat the eggs, salt and heavy cream. Pour on top of the greens.
  8. Sprinkle the top with goat cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  9. Allow pie to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 8 wedges.

Nutrition per serving: 241 calories, 14g fat (7.5g saturated), 18g carbs, 13g protein, 3g fiber, 422mg sodium

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I hope you love this recipe as much as my friends and I did. The buttery potatoes for a crust? Brilliant. And let’s be honest…everything is better with goat cheese.

Also, I highly suggest picking up this month’s issue of Shape if you don’t already have a copy. They had so many amazing looking recipes, especially in the Cinco de Mayo inspired feature. Black bean tostadas and mango guacamole? I can’t wait to whip those up beg Scott to make them for me.

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Regrettable choices

Regrettable choices 3

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A series of stupid decisions I made over the weekend:

1. Eating a ridiculously hot chicken wing. To my credit, I was attending a 21st birthday party, and feeling kind of…well…old. Something about taking a risk and ingesting the wing tricked me into believing I was closer to 20 than 30.

(And to think, if I had managed 11 more I would have gotten a free t-shirt and my name on the wall!)

chicken-wing

2. Going through an uncovered drive-thru in the middle of one of the worst downpours I’ve ever experienced. Truly, the only thing worse than eating greasy fast food is eating greasy fast food that’s sopping wet.

3. Purchasing a high-waisted graphic print jumpsuit, complete with cutouts that are strategically placed over my Christmas hams. (That’s my affectionate nickname for “love handles”.)

4. Drinking an entire bottle of wine before hitting up T.J. Maxx. (Don’t worry — I didn’t drive. But yes…this may have been behind the Christmas ham jumpsuit.)

5. Dedicating my Sunday afternoon to the two-hour Breaking Amish Season 1 reunion special. (The worst part? It was on-demand, which meant I selected it from dozens of  more preferable viewing options out of my own free will.)

6. Ordering “The Tour of Italy” at–cringe–the Olive Garden. (Scott still doesn’t know about this.)

7. Willingly drinking a giant glass of Mountain Dew. I hate Mountain Dew! I judge people who drink Mountain Dew! (Let’s just say it’s kind of a long story.)

8. Willingly drinking a giant glass of Mountain Dew fifteen minutes before bedtime. Pretty sure that stuff is made of nothing but caffeine and mildly toxic food coloring.

Truly, my only sound decision of the weekend was finally getting around to starting season 1 of Vikings. Ragnar Lothbrok is pretty much my new hero. Can you blame me? He’s strong, has awesome hair, and has probably never allowed a drop of Mountain Dew through those rugged Nordic lips of his.

Seriously…why are all the bad choices I make a direct result of the things I put in my mouth?

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The Fab Five: April 2014

The Fab Five: April 2014 8

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So…we got four inches of snow yesterday. Isn’t Holy Week supposed to be…I don’t know…warm? Or at least warm-ish?

Thank the risen Lord that sixty-degree temps should be rolling in just in time for Easter Sunday. Meanwhile, here’s my five April picks that have been helping me cope with life in Smalltown Winterfell.

 

1. Trader Joe’s Light Champagne Vinaigrette

salad-dressing

 

In search of the most bomb-ass salad dressing that ever was? Look no further, blog friends. This stuff is delicious, cheap ($1.99 if purchased at Tradey’s), and light enough that it won’t sabotage your diet. I love it with organic spinach, and just a pinch of nutritional yeast flakes. Yum.

 

2. Loreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream

bb-cream

I purchased a tube of this at my hometown Walgreens back in Washington last month. I’d mistakenly packed foundation that was  way, way waaaay too dark. (Think a less severe version of the NJ tanning mom.)  I grabbed this stuff on a whim, hoping it would carry me through the rest of the week, and somewhat blend in with my neck.

Let me just say that “magic” is a gross understatement. This tiny bottle contains a primer and super-sheer foundation that manages to hide shine and even out your skin tone, while making it look like you aren’t actually wearing makeup. Go treat yo’ self to some! Because you’re worth it.

(Sorry…couldn’t resist.)

 

3. Sahara Pendant Necklace

sahara

 

Is it humanly possible for me to be more obsessed with this necklace from Stella & Dot’s brand new summer line?

No. No it is not.

At only $49 bucks, it was well worth the investment. Particularly as I plan on sporting it errrday, all summer long.

 

4. Sugar Shack Country Candles

sugar-shack

 

At the risk of sounding like a cheesy candle spokeswoman, these candles have completely changed the ambiance of my home

Our good friends from college brought us a small sampling as a housewarming gift, and I’ve been hooked ever since. These babies are potent! One tiny candle has the power to make your entire house smell like heaven.  Plus, each product is handmade in Edgar, Nebraska — so you can feel good about supporting a small, privately owned business with each purchase. I’ve yet to come across a scent I haven’t loved — Fresh Bamboo is particularly refreshing as we (hopefully) head into the warmer months.

Also? I just tried on of their bars of soap this week. Life = changed.

(At least the small portion of my life that is spent in the shower.)

(And now I’m sounding like a cheesy soap spokeswoman. Apologies.)

 

5. FitBit One

fitbitI’ve owned my FitBit for several years, but only recently started wearing it again this month. In spite of six intense workouts a week, I’m not super active during the majority of my day.

In other words, I sit at a desk, sipping on coffee and typing emails. Usually at least one dog is in my lap.

I was inspired by Jessica Simpson, who shed her post-baby weight with a combination of Weight Watchers and taking at least 10,000 steps daily. Taking a note from Jess’ weight loss handbook, I’ve vowed to take 12,000 steps (approximately 6 miles) a day.

So far, working towards this goal has been really fun! When the weather’s nice, I take the dogs on a daily walk around the 3-mile loop that surrounds our house. As for snowy days like yesterday, I blast Missy Elliot on my headphones while strutting full speed around the indoor track at the Y. Indoors or out, I’m starting to remember how much I enjoy walking. It’s such a great way to relax, de-stress, and have some time alone with your thoughts. (And the lyrical stylings of Missy Elliot.)

My tiny FitBit One tracker has made reaching my daily step goal fun and easy. It’s small enough to be worn effortlessly and can remain hidden if necessary. It tracks my calories burned, steps taken, miles walked, flights of stairs climbed and sleep patterns. It even syncs wirelessly with a personal dashboard that I can access on my laptop or iPhone.

dashboard

Four years later, I’m happy to say my FitBit is one of the best $100 investments I’ve ever made. If you’re in the market for an activity tracker, I highly recommend it!

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What are you guys loving this month? Anyone else completely enamored with their FitBit? Still…I think my favorite thing on the list is that salad dressing. I’m not joking when I say I could drink it straight out of the bottle.

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Psst! Want more Fab Five goodness? It’s all right here.

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