Mashed Cauliflour

Want a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes but not a fan of sweet potatoes? You might like this recipe. It’s a recipe for mashed cauliflour. The original pin on pinterest claims it tasted just like mashed potatoes. I had a head that was going to waste so I opted to try it. Directions are simple:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 to 7 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and then drain well and transfer cauliflower to a food processor. Add oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and purée until smooth. (Or, mash cauliflower with a potato masher). Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Health facts:

Per Serving:110 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol,330mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 3g protein

Results:

image

Mashed cauliflower with Balsamic chicken

Consistency is a lot like mashed potatoes. In fact, if you smothered it in gravy you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The challenge is when it’s not covered in gravy. It doesn’t taste like mashed potatoes. it tasted like cauliflower. I happen to like cauliflour (in small doses) so I didn’t mind the taste. The problem I had was that it tasted like Olive oil. It actually killed it for me. I used a little more than a tablespoon. I think that was the problem.

Grade: Cost: Time:
B- $1 for cauliflour 20 minutes including water boil time.
Level of Difficulty:
Easy
What I Would Change:
Use less olive oil. Eat with gravy or mix in some other spices
Overall Impression:
Not bad, but tasted just like cauliflour. it’s not a bad side dish, but I’d try to spice up the flavor, or eat it with something that had a gravy. If you eat it just plain it’s pretty boring.

 

Before Ever After: A Novel

NO SPOILERS INCLUDED.

Recently, I finished a short little novel called A Feast for Crows. Rounding the bases at 852 (kindle) pages, it’s not for the feint of heart. If you’ve ever had the privilege to read one of the books in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice Series, you know what a feat it is. After you’re done, you’re completely exhausted. It’s like running a mental marathon.

I put a number of books on hold during my time in Westeros. After resurfacing, I realized I have 8 books in various states of due dates. Before Ever After was one of those. In 6 days the e-book was set to expire. Time to get going.

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Here’s a summary from Amazon:

Three years after her husband Max’s death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max’s long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo’s claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn’t he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max’s stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her “happily ever after.” And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

 

Review: 

I finished this book in just over 3 days. At first I didn’t know what to make of it. The language seemed “haughty” to me. I felt the author was trying too hard to use big words. Once Paolo appears, the pace begins to change. Now, rather than wallowing in grief for Max, we’re presented with a mystery and an adventure. I started to become invested in the story. Sometimes her writing style became a distraction, but after a while I got used to it. It began to compliment the story really well. There is a lot of jumping around time-wise but I felt the author handled it nicely. There was a rhythm to it. Present, 5 years past, and story from history.

I enjoyed a lot of things about this. First, it was a quick read. The chapters were short. For 300 pages, she crammed in a lot. The history lessons were refreshing. It wasn’t bogged down by the mundane facts. It focused on a story and told it. You as the reader lived the historical moment with the character. My favorite (and the most heartbreaking) of the historical stories is the last one. As someone obsessed with that time period, it was the ultimate way to end the story. It really put things into a new perspective.

I was slightly disappointed by the ending. It felt anticlimactic and a bit rushed. The plane ride (where Paulo and Shelly discuss the historical stories) takes up most of the book. It only leaves the last 60 or so pages to wrap everything up. It wasn’t a bad ending, but not what I expected.

Regardless of the ending and the slow start, I would recommend this book. It takes a little while to get in to, but once you’re with Paulo the story improves dramatically. This book offers so much. It’s a romance, a mystery, a little fantasy, and filled with humor and heart. By the second half I began to feel for the characters. Not only were the main characters well built, but the side characters were too. Before Ever After makes you think, without forcing ideas or suggestions down your throat. It doesn’t say “You should do this”. It shows you the flaws and strengths in the human characters. Soldiers are getting closer. Do you stay hidden, hoping they don’t find you or the other you’re with, or do you give yourself up, sacrificing yourself but saving another? Do you have courage to stand up against what’s wrong. Are you willing to forgive the past?

If you decide to read this book, leave me some comments. I’d love to see how someone else feels about this. I’m already planning to give it to my mom to read.

Grade: Cost: Time:
B+ / A- Free (library) 3 Days
Level of Difficulty:
Adult
What I Would Change:
N/A
Overall Impression:
The beginning is slow, and characters are stereotyped, but once you get into the book it has a heart that it really unique. The modern story is a little dull, but the 5 year flashback and the historical stories are what make this book. It gives it a whole new life. I’d recommend reading it. Once you’ve met Paulo, you’re on the up and up.

Old Fashioned Homemade Pancakes

I don’t own pancake mix. Why? Good question. I don’t know why. While I was looking through my pinterest boards, I decided to check out my dusty “breakfast” board. I can’t remember the last time I was in there. Turns out the last thing I pinned was for old fashioned homemade pancakes. Mmmm. pancakes…. Since it was Easter on sunday, I wanted to make something special.

Here’s the recipe (from PocketChangeGourmet.com)

Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk {a little less or a little more is fine depending on the consistency you like}
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
Instructions
  1. In a large measuring cup, whisk together dry ingredients
  2. Add wet ingredients and mix well
  3. Heat griddle and spray with non-stick cooking spray
  4. Pour batter onto hot griddle
  5. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, flip and cook other side
  6. Note: batter makes 1½ cups – use ¼ cup for each pancake, it will make 6 large pancakes

Result:
image

I used Almond Milk. I don’t own regular milk. Wish I had used more. Even with 3/4 cup, the pancakes doubled in height. It was ok at first, then it just felt heavy. I’m glad I only made 3. The last one was a struggle.

Grade: Cost: Time:
B- Free (it’s all basics) 10 minutes
Level of Difficulty:
Easy
What I Would Change:
Use regular milk, or add more almond milk
Overall Impression:
They were ok. They felt old fashioned.  I think I expected something more like regular pancakes (from the box). I think they would have been better if I added more milk (so they weren’t as thick) and if they had fruit in them. The taste was kinda bland.

Fightmaster Yoga

I have a hard time sticking with workout routines. I’ve never been a fan of working out. I know the health benefits of it, but after a few weeks I lose interest. I’ve tried all types. My latest trend is yoga. In the past I’d do the yoga moves, but I’d follow the pictures. I wouldn’t watch any of the videos. My sister sent me one that she tried and I absolutely hated it. I shut it off within two minutes. I felt like she went too quickly through all the movies. It was the athletic version of yoga. I’ve decided I prefer the calming version of yoga.

I found this other video routine with the following description:

Free Yoga Class (Vinyasa Yoga 45 min Class) – YouTube – This is probably the best yoga workout video I’ve found. The instructor has a soft relaxing voice, but the workout is also challenging and there are options for modifications. Enjoyable music to help keep the breath in rhythmn.

I decided to give it a shot. The “soft relaxing voice” intrigued me. Maybe this video would succeed where so many others failed.

46 minutes later…..

Wow, was that really a 46 minute long class? Time just flew by! Anytime I did cardio or weight lifting the time just dragged. 5 minutes would feel like 5 hours. For this one, 46 minutes felt like 15. It was a great surprise. I loved the instructor’s voice and the music she chose wasn’t a distraction either. They came together to give me the most relaxing 46 minutes in awhile. The moves also for the most part beginner moves. If anything is beyond your skill level she reiterates to skip that move and go back to child’s pose.

Another part I love is that her routine focuses more on the breaths than the moves. Every move has a breath that accompanies it. Inhale cobra, exhale down dog. I’ve found that it’s much easier to do the moves once you’ve mastered the breaths. If this video seems too challenging, I’d recommend checking out her youtube channel. She has a least 200 videos and is adding more almost daily.

Benefits of Yoga

I’ve changed from the 45 minute vinyasa class (above) and started her yoga fix 90 program. It’s “90 days to a healthier happier you.” Most days fly by. The videos are anywhere between 15 and 40 minutes. Each day’s routine is different from the rest. I give my best to try all the moves, even if they seem impossible. In that 10 day stretch I’ve seen a major change in my strength. My stomach hasn’t changed, but I feel stronger overall. My arms are especially stronger. Lifting weights got my toned, but yoga has gotten me stronger.

I’ve also changed how I look at yoga. To me, it’s not a workout. It’s a mental break in my day. I use it as a transition from a stressful work day into a productive night. At the start of each video, Leslie encourages you to pick a focus for the class. Mine are usually bigger goals, like doing another chapter in my homework, writing another blog post, etc. I keep the tv and music off and just listen to Leslie as she walks me though today’s class. I shut off the outside world. When the class is done, I use that focus towards the goal I set at the start.

I’d really encourage you to check out her classes. The moves are challenging, but she’s also very encouraging. I haven’t checked them out yet, but if there are moves you don’t know how to do, she has videos that walk you through each move. I’m excited to be doing this yoga fix 90 class. As I said earlier, I’m not doing it for a workout. I’m doing this for my own mental benefit.

Grade: Cost: Time:
A Free 45 minutes
Level of Difficulty:
Beginner/early intermediate
What I Would Change:
Listen to Leslie. Modify any moves you can’t do and listen to your body.
Overall Impression:
Really glad I found this video and her youtube channel. Some of this video is a little complicated. There are back bends. She’ll tell you before the harder moves that if you aren’t comfortable to skip them. I agree with her. It’s better to work up the strength in the rest of the body first. You don’t want to risk injuring yourself. I’m going through her Yoga Fix 90 class now. if this isn’t your style, maybe try that class. She switches it up. Some days are more legs, others arms, another more cardio. Find the style that fits you.

 

Honey Balsamic Chicken Tenders

My cooking lately has been in a rut. I feel like we’ve been making the same meals every week. I needed something new. I had a side dish in mind, but no main dish. I looked for something that would be complimentary and found this honey balsamic chicken tenders recipe.

Here’s the recipe (from BudgetBytes)

  • 2 medium (1.5 lbs) chicken breasts $2.99
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar $0.80
  • 1 clove garlic $0.08
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (divided) $0.24
  • to taste salt & pepper $0.05
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.10
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar $0.40
  • 3 Tbsp honey $0.33

Directions

  1. Slice the chicken breasts on a diagonal into six strips each. Place the strips in a quart sized zip top bag along with ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, one clove of garlic (minced), 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients in the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

    Marinate the chicken for the honey balsamic chicken tenders recipe.

    Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.

  2. When you’re ready to cook, heat the second tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the strips until browned on both sides (about 2-3 minutes each side). You may have to do two batches. Place the cooked chicken on a clean plate.

    Cooking chicken for honey balsamic chicken recipe.

    Cook chicken thoroughly

  3. Turn the heat down on the skillet to medium-low and add the butter and last 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the skillet. Use a spoon to stir the mixture and dissolve the sticky bits off of the bottom of the skillet. Once the mixture has dissolved together, add the honey, increase the heat, and allow the sauce to simmer until thickened (about five minutes).

    Creating the sauce for the Honey Balsamic Chicken Tenders

    Letting the sauce simmer

  4. Once the sauce has thickened, season to taste with salt and pepper (I just used a pinch of each). Add the chicken back to the skillet and toss to coat in the warm balsamic sauce. Serve immediately.

    Honey balsamic chicken with glaze.

    Finished honey balsamic chicken with glaze on top.

Review
The smell! Oh wow, open your windows when you cook this one. The smell was terrible. My boyfriend purposefully stayed in the other room because of it. I was quickly losing confidence in the recipe. How could something that smells that bad be good? Well, stick it out folks because this is a good one. The flavor of the chicken was rich and moist. The sauce was a nice glaze with a kick of sweetness. I was pleasantly surprised and so was my boyfriend. We ate up the entire recipe, and I regretted not making more. I would have loved some more for lunch the next day. I think the chicken would taste excellent on a salad.

Grade: Cost: Time:
A+ around $6.
I had everything.
Plan about an hour. Marinate for 30 minutes, then cooking is anywhere from 15-25 minutes.
Level of Difficulty:
Easy
What I Would Change:
Open a window or turn on a fan. The vinegar smell is nasty, but the end result is great.
Overall Impression:
I’d love to try this and use the pieces on a salad. I think it would be delicious. The smell was really a turn off, but the end recipe was a nice mix of the tart balsamic and the sweet honey. I wanted something different and this proved to be a good choice.

Skewer Appetizer

You want these. I know you do.

You want these. I know you do.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love green olives. I always have and always will. I will put them in any savory dish, anytime.  I love them.  The How I Met Your Mother/Marshall and Lily Olive Theory is real and it is how we handle olives in my house.  Cut to me scrolling Pinterest, as I am wont to do, and I come across this pin, which leads me to this website, which leads to this website, which Google translates for me.  This appetizer contains green olives, goat cheese, and sausage.  Pretty much my 3 favorite foods.  I had to have this and I had to have it ASAP. I sent Alex to the grocery store (a pretty risky move on my part) and he really came through for me.

Assembling them was hella fast and easy.  Let my pictures show you the way.

MMM smoked sausage.

MMM smoked sausage.

Goat cheese, get in my belly!

Goat cheese, get in my belly!

Olives!

Olives!

They didn’t last long, I we gobbled them up pretty quickly.  To me they just scream fancy grown up party with wine, but what do I know.  Try them for yourselves and let me know.

Grade: Cost: Time:

A++

Less than $10

10 minutes

Level of Difficulty:
Easy
What I Would Change:
I definitely wouldn’t take anything out of this appetizer, but I know not everyone loves green olives like I do.  Banana peppers, mozzarella, black or greek olives could all be substituted to make this your own.
Overall Impression:
When I put this together, I had a ton of fun.  It was so simple, but delicious.  It reminded me that you don’t need to be a culinary virtuoso to make tasty food.  I would absolutely recommend this for your next party.hors d’oeuvres
Ohh you fancy, huh?

Ohh you fancy, huh?

Reusing Candle Jars

Does anyone remember when I tested removing the wax from candle containers?  The first time around, I used the newly clean jars to make more candles (which was a great idea).  As I burn candles, I put the used up glass jars in a closet in my house.  When they start to really collect, I pull them out and clean them.  I did this recently and found myself with a good amount of jars with lovely metal lids.  Instead of turning these back into candles,  I thought I would reuse them to store bathroom supplies as shown in this pin.

All my life I have had chronic ear infections so I know not to put things in my ears.  My boyfriend, however, is not so concerned with direct instructions not to do so and he uses cotton swabs daily to clean his ears.  He insists on buying the largest container of swabs as he can find and he just sits them down on the back of the toilet like so.

Not a great look.

Not a great look.

“But Katie,” you ask, “why not just stash the box under the sink?”  I would, dear friends, if I knew he wouldn’t just pull it out and stick on the back of the toilet again. Now that I had these lovely lidded jars, I decided to make this little corner of our bathroom slightly more appealing.  I filled my clean jar with the cotton swabs and put it on the back of the toilet – for now.

Much better.

Much better.

I need to fill another one with cotton balls for my make up remover and clean up the countertop in here so I can move these over there.  For now though, it looks nice and he really appreciates it.  I know he wants easy access to these since he uses them everyday.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to convince him that they aren’t as good for his ears as he thinks.

Grade: Cost: Time:

A

Free!

Once they are clean, no time at all.

Level of Difficulty:
Easy
What I Would Change:
The basic premise is perfect, but you could always jazz up the jars with paint or by putting some decorative paper around the inside to hide the contents.
Overall Impression:
This was pretty cheap and cute. Buying something similar would be almost silly when a lot of people have candles like this lying around.  If you don’t, ask a friend.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 633 other followers

%d bloggers like this: