2 years ago today…

There must be something about the day after Christmas because 2 years ago today was the last time I posted anything on this blog. Here I am again, the day after Christmas, without an idea as to when the last time I posted was until I logged on. In short, I’M BACK!!!

I’m not going to pretend that I will pick up right where I left off because a LOT has changed in these past 2 years. For one, I’m married now, have a acquired a 3rd dog (I’ll have to tell you that story later), have moved back to Tacoma (which is something that I never thought in a million years that I thought I would do), graduated from USC and am now an MSW, a LICASW actually. I have a kid in high school now, too. Lots of changes.

Now that the holidays are mostly over, I find myself reflecting on what to do now. I am thinking about how I am going to clean up my diet after all of the cookies, pies, and other goodies these past couple of months. I am also thinking about how to clean up my finances because I don’t know about you all by I spent a lot of money on gifts this  year. I am grateful that we’ve been blessed with the ability to give nice gifts to the kids and our family members but still, it was a lot. Man, kids’ gifts get more expensive as they get older don’t they? On top of that, my grace period is ovnew year new me BSer and I have to start paying back my student loans (eek!).

Ok, now, please be advised that this is NOT a “new year, new me” manifesto. Those are annoying, no offense. I am making a promise to myself that I will do more of what I want to do from now on. What are those things? Well, cooking and blogging of course. Grad school kicked my ass and sadly I have not been cooking as much as I used to. No cooking, means no blogging. So there will be more blogging, too. Running. I have had “half marathon” on my list of things to do for about 5 years now. That’s just ridiculous and indicative of the how many excuses I have given for why I have not done it yet. This post is already getting long so I’ll spare you those. Travel. Now that I’m back in the PNW I have to make to Canada this time. I say this time because during the 12 years I lived here before I never went (I know, a shame).

For the first matter of business, I will be coming back with a new project to overhaul our finances like I was saying earlier. We are like most American families and have a ton of debt. Most of it is mine from student loans and I won’t tell you how much because I’m embarrassed to but I will tell you I should have about 6 master’s degrees by now with the amount of student loan debt I have. We also have a bit of credit card debt from our wedding. What does this have to do with food? The grocery bill, duh. I am super meticulous when it comes to tracking our bills but other than bills I am lazy when it comes to our spending and that includes groceries. So, to remedy this, I am considering going to the envelope method where I will budget out our expenses and put cash into the respective envelopes. I’m wondering who else have actually done this and have it work. I see a million Pinterest pins from people who explain what it is and how it worked for them to pay off a trillion dollars in debt in a year but are they for real? That can’t be real, can it? Irregardless (I know that’s not a word leave me alone) I am going to try it and see how it goes.

The budget for groceries for our active family of 4 is going to be – drum roll please – $500. Is that insane? No seriously, I want to know. I did a quick calculation in my head, and I think that’s about how much we spend. I am going to take out $200 every 2 weeks and use the last $100 as a buffer so we don’t go over. Whatever is left over I guess can roll over into the next month, or we can save for a nice dinner out or something.

Ok so that’s about it for now. You will be reading a lot more from me and could really use any suggestions on how to lower costs for food for a busy family. That’s if anyone is reading this… Oh well, if you’re not. See you soon!

For the love of zucchini!

zucchini

Check out this really great article and recipe ideas that use zucchini.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/09/08/magazine/bittman-zucchini-recipes.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=MG_ZA_20130904&_r=0

Zucchini is super cheap right now and can be used in so many different ways. My personal faves are grilled (simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil), as fries (especially from Zinburger – yum!), and grated and turned into pancakes. I have yet to use them as noodles but it is on my list of things to try out. How do people get them all curly and noodle-y? I’ll figure it out. Probably some cool kitchen tool is all I need.

Fresh herbs from the market

20130809-202825.jpg
Yesterday, I visited the San Agustin Farmers Market for the first time. It was great. I really miss the farmers market crowd. Anyway, I picked these great herb starters for a great price. Plus, the lady that sold them to me gave me these great tips for when I plant them.

First, she said to put the chives in the middle and the basil around because the basil will die with the frost in the winter but the chives will survive. Then, she said once the basil died out to replace them with cilantro and parsley. In fact, she said, cilantro prefers the cold. Who knew? Also, she warned me that Tucson soil and water is very alkaline so it helps to add old coffee grounds to the top to increase the acidity.

I woke early this morning to make sure they get a good start.

Deviant behavior and chipotle ice cubes

 

I confess, my progress in weight loss was quickly stunted by my indulgance in some delicious enchiladas espinacas (spinach enchiladas) from our favorite Mexican place here in Tucson, Guadalajara Grill, last night. They came drowning in cream sauce and monterey jack cheese. Needless to say I feel heavy today and a little guilty. Well at least I didn’t order the house margarita like I usually do! Baby steps.

Usually when I over indulge, I do not wake up very easily the next day and today was no different. Instead of starting the day with a nice cup of hot lemon water and fruit to start the detox process, I had some Greek yogurt (pumpkin flavor) and two Trader Joes Joe-Joe cookies (the Jackolantern-faced ones) for breakfast with my coffee. I think my stomach is mad at me now because I hear it yelling at me. I’ll make it up to you, Stomach, I promise!

So my plan for the rest of the day is to show my stomach and body some love and enjoy some tasty fruits, veggies, and brown rice. I have to go out for lunch because I didn’t prepare my lunch since I woke up late. Maybe hit up Whole Foods? For dinner, it is going to be brown rice, steamed veggies, and kale salad. I am going to try to get in for some yoga tonight at 8:00 pm but we’ll see – I’m dragging today big time.

Last night, after I woke up from my food coma, I cleaned out my fridge to be able to fill it with wholesome lovely foods when I found an opened can of chipotle in adobo sauce in the back of my fridge. Oops! I use it for a chili two weeks ago and completely forgot to properly store it in another container. Then in my cheese-induced funk, it dawned on me to freeze what was left in ice-cube trays so I can keep them already divided in the perfect amounts in the freezer. I went ahead and lined the tray with plastic wrap and put one chipotle pepper with some sauce in each slot. It perfectly filled six slots. That’s 6 chili recipes worth! I have no idea if it will work out once it is frozen or if I will even be able to get them out. We will see tonight and I will show you the pictures.

That’s all for now. I feel better now that I confessed my deviance from my diet and feel more motivated to get back on track. Until next time…

T-G-I-F !!!

amazing!

After a long hard week, this is just what I needed… Friday night cocktails at home. This little concoction is my own recipe and that’s Tajin on the rim. Don’t know about Tajin? Its this  great salty, spicy, sweet, tangy powder that many of us Mexicans down here in Tucson put on fruit, jicama, candy and just about whatever we want. It is absolutely delicious on the rim of my citrus margarita here instead of salt. I used my favorite tequila for this one, Milagro and fresh orange and lemon juice. It’s refreshing and has a great kick that mellows me right out.

Today was the last day of the quarter for me at work and I was pushing hard and long today to get everything in on time. When I was done and realized that I had accomplished just what I set out to do, emptied out my inbox, and left the day with an organized desk, I knew I had to show myself some love for the hard work. This one hit the spot.

Moral of the story: celebrate even the littlest victories of your day. You might be the only one who recognizes them, so guess what? that means you are in charge of celebrating them. Show yourself some love today and do something that you really enjoy. For me, tonight, that is making a delicious cocktail at home and curling up with my hubby, kids, and the dogs. What do you really enjoy?

Quick Tuesday night dinner

Image 

Last night I was especially tired. I had gone on a long run yesterday morning and a ended up staying late at work. By the time I got home, I was hungry and wanted something quick to eat. Good thing that while I was out in the field for my job, I went passed one of the best Mexican bakeries in Tucson, Estrella bakery. This place has the best tortillas! They are so authentic and delicious. If you are ever in Tucson, you must go to this little, humble bakery. 

Armed with delicious tortillas and a can of vegetarian refried beans in the pantry, all I needed to make was some delicious rice for an amazing bean burrito. I am kind of on a saffron kick right now, so I decided to make yellow rice. I used Arborio rice because the brown rice I had in my pantry was just not going to work for this. Arborio rice is usually for risotto but cook it like regular rice and it is still has a nice tender texture without the creaminess.

Image

 

I started out with some oil in my pan and sauteed garlic, white onion and the rice until the rice was slightly toasted. Meanwhile, I steeped some saffron threads in salted water. Once the rice was toasty, I poured in the saffron water, brought it all to a boil, then covered the pan, and cooked like regular white rice. Yum! It came out sooooo good and it only took about 15 minutes.

I cut a tortilla in half then spread the refried beans, put on the rice, added some chopped cilantro, green onions, and fresh tomato – done! Delicious weeknight dinner perfect for taking in front of the TV to eat while I watch New Girl. 

I went ahead and made a burrito on a full tortilla with the same ingredients so I can have it ready for my lunch today. I am going to take some salsa in an empty baby food jar and I’m sure I’ll be the envy of the office. I skipped my morning run today for an extra half hour of sleep but will show my body some love later with an hour of yoga. Happy Wednesday!