Hot Mess Cocoa

As winter re-affirms its presence and I get re-acquainted with the feeling of snow in my pants, I crave a hot beverage to melt the ice that’s surely forming on my face. I also want something that will make me forget how cold it is and how numb my fingers and toes are. All my wildest winter dreams came true in the form of…

…Hot Mess Cocoa…

…a delicious blend of coffee and cocoa with enough of a kick to keep you warm well into the night.

Ingredients:

1 package hot cocoa mix without marshmallows (I prefer the no sugar added kind)

½ serving instant coffee (I used Starbucks Via Columbia blend)

10 ounces hot water

Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum, to taste (I think I put in about 2-3 shots, or 3-4.5 ounces)

Mini marshmallows

Mix the cocoa powder and instant coffee, add hot water and stir. Once everything is blended top with as much rum was desired and some mini marshmallows.

Then enjoy. You’ve got yourself a scrumptious hot beverage that packs a hidden punch and will keep you well warmed even after the last drop is gone.

I enjoyed two yesterday.

Snow Day

Glorious, glorious, freezing cold, not good for packing snow! It started snowing yesterday at about 5pm and hasn’t let up since. It’s not huge flakes, but the persistent heavy flurries have left us with quite a few inches of white fluff. I, having spent a lot of my life in the dirty dirty south, am in no way prepared for this kind of weather.

That was evident in my attire on my walk over to Starbucks this “morning” (a little before noon) for breakfast. But it was worth braving the cold in my ridiculous I’m-not-from-around-here outfit for that breakfast—hot coffee (my first cup in a while) and their Perfect Oatmeal with dried fruit. After reading about so many yummy oatmeal breakfasts on Carrots N Cake (and a few other blogs) I’ve been craving a yummy warm hearty bowl of goo. Despite the fact that I go to a Quaker school, the dining hall sucks at oatmeal (think slimy cardboard with no fixins’). I also had half a piece of their vanilla almond biscotti to dip in my coffee. A Perfect breakfast on a blistery cold “morning.”

Now I think I’m off to play in the snow (this time with a few more layers). After which I think I’ll be in the mood for some Hot Mess Cocoa (the recipe is on its way) and a bowl of warm soup.

If I don’t freeze first.

Friday Lunch: Indian

So far today has been a great day of eating. Breakfast showed me that I’m finally learning to figure out what I really want to eat (easier said than done). I ate about ½ a not-quite-ripe pear (which was pretty good, surprisingly), some whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, plain yogurt with granola and a tall Vanilla Rooibos tea from Starbucks. The perfect breakfast.

Lunch was my Indian excursion and it was so yummy!

The restaurant didn’t look terribly impressive from the outside, but the inside was nice. Considering most of my crew and I knew little-to-nothing about Indian food we decided on the buffet (only $8). Normally I don’t trust other people’s hygiene enough for buffets, but this one wasn’t bad and it was the best way to taste a bunch of food.

I couldn’t tell you everything I ate, but I know I loved the chicken tandoori and the cabbage (so much flavor for such a bland food). I even went back for seconds on the cabbage. The naan was good, but not the best I’ve had. There was some spinach, onion and cauliflower deep-fried ball that reminded me a little bit of a hush puppy. It would have been great had there been more of the veggies. The soup (no clue on the name, but it had peas and potatoes) didn’t tickle my fancy at all. The potato dish and zucchini dish were both chock-full-o-flavor, but the zucchini was a little too mushy for my taste. I had quite the FoodBaby after this lunch, which I named Assad.

Overall, I give this restaurant a B+ for food, and an A for affordability.

This was such a lovely outing (the restaurant is near another college, so there were a handful of really cool shops we explored) the gang and I are thinking of making Friday lunch out a regular thing. There’s a design-your-own pizza place that’s supposed to be amazing, said the guy in the Santa hat. So I think that’s next Friday.

In the meantime, I may stupidly hit the gym again and try not to cough up a lung or freak out the other exercisers with my painful/gross/fatal/contagious-sounding cough.

Adventure is Not my Middle Name

Sorry for not posting yesterday. It was a boring eating day. Lunch and dinner were identical (chicken veggie soup with red pepper flakes, wild rice pilaf with cranberries and cilantro) and breakfast was gross.

While lunch and dinner were identical today, they were at least more exciting.

Of course Sushi Thursday is exciting! Today I decided to step away from my beloved crunch (but not my beloved sriracha or carrots) and try something more raw and healthier, enter:

Spicy Tuna Roll

Believe it or not, I’m not exactly an adventurous eater. I tend to find something I like and stick with it. So it was kind of a big deal that I switched it up. Not only did I try a new roll, I tried some sashimi. And you know what? I loved it all. My roll could have been rolled a little better with another cucumber or two, but besides that it was delish!

You know what else is delish? Animal crackers!

I never really got to eat too many of these as a child. My sister did, though, so when she was younger and there was always a giant jar full I would make a habit of stealing handfuls (she didn’t need ALL of those). They have just the right amount of buttery sweetness with a whole lot of crunch. And they’re fun to eat. Biting the head off first, followed by eat individual limb. Sounds a little violent, but really, it’s the humane way of eating one. I promise. I bought a giant bag for $1 from Target the other night (how could I have passed that up? Really?) and have been slowly nibbling them. Another child-like weakness.

As far as working out goes things haven’t been so peachy-keen. Asthma and a sinus infection aren’t exactly conducive to working out so, before today, I had been MIA from the gym for a WHOLE WEEK! I don’t remember the last time that happened. So I went today because 1) I had a bunch of free time and 2) my buns of steel had turned to aluminum from lack of use. That turned out to be a bad idea. I guess I’m not nearly as healthy as I though because after a short, easy workout I was dead and breathing worse than before. It seems my buns will just have to wait a little while longer.

Tomorrow’s lunch should be equally exciting as today’s. A few friends and I are trying out a new Indian restaurant. Suggestions of what I, the naïve Indian food-eater, should get?

Bag Full-O-Childhood

Amazingly enough, I feel almost not shitty today. Wonders never cease.

Breakfast: Starbucks Vanilla Rooibos tea, cous cous with dried cranberries, ½ grapefruit.

Lunch: Asian chicken lettuce wraps

Snack: a couple of French fries (not exactly healthy, but pretty tasty)

Dinner: baked fish with Texas Pete, braised cabbage, peas, cucumber slices

Dessert: CANDY!

Yes, I ate a yummy handful from my new bag of mixed candy.

Explanation:

You know how every little kid begs their parents to let them go into the bright and colorful candy store at the mall? Well I’m an adult, so I don’t have to beg my parents. I just go. I even drive myself to the mall. Ha! Adulthood!

There’s a great little candy store in a mall near campus. It’s small, but still has enough of a selection so that I can get something different every time.

My staples:

Mini gummy bears. Despite the fact that I’m a loyal and devoted Haribo eater, there’s something about these little gummy cubs that I just can’t resist.

Chocolate covered gummy bears. Again, I’m cheating on Haribo, but this is the best of both worlds—a chewy, gummy treat covered in a thin layer of creamy chocolate.

Jelly Belly watermelon flavored jelly beans. There’s something about the two-colored bean that makes me forget all about the fact that it tastes nothing like watermelon.

Chocolate covered cashews. Salty-sweet combo, nuff said.

My newest selections:

Sundrops. Like Peanut M&Ms;, but much smaller and with sunflower seeds.

Mini Swedish fish. Classic.

Jelly Belly juicy pear and Dr. Pepper flavored jelly beans. I always try to pick some fruit flavor and this one is BY FAR one of the most realistic fruit flavors of anything. And Dr. Pepper, while it doesn’t taste exactly like Dr. Pepper, is still delicious.

So there you have it, some of my child-like weaknesses. Hopefully this ½ lbs bag will last me longer than the last one (I finished that one in the car. Talk about FoodBaby).

Are You Ready for a Throwdown?

With my health and normal diet still nowhere in sight (today was a lot of wheezing and simple foods eaten with a spoon), allow me to tell you of something I (re)discovered last night which has kept me company as I’ve laid in bed failing at being productive.

Obsession:

Throwdown with Bobby Flay

Of course I’ve watched this show countless times before. I watch Food Network like most people breathe. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a TV on the regular so I’ve been going without all my good friends, like Ina Garden, Guiada de Laurentis, Bobby Flay, Duff, and Anne Burrell. They don’t even have the shows on Hulu! The horror! Then last night my roommate made a wonderful suggestion that I don’t know why I didn’t think of sooner: YouTube. I check and sure enough there are oodles and oodles of episodes of everything I love and miss. Sure, they’re broken up into a few pieces, but who cares? Its Food Network.

After a little bit of debate, I decide to watch an episode of Throwdown (the blondie episode). After those 22 minutes of commercial-free viewing I’d remembered all the reasons I love that show—competition, interesting foods, hidden gem restaurants, experimental recipes, and a genuine surprise at the end.

Already I’ve watched blondies, grilled cheese, ice cream and sushi. All amazing. All made me hungry. I think fish and chips or pizza is next (if I can quit coughing and finish my homework).

Until we meet again remember—if Food Network gives you a TV special with a cutesy name, it’s probably a throwdown.

Tea Time

In honor of my recent sickness (and because said sickness has made my eating bizarre and scarce) I thought I’d offer up a cup full-o-healthy goodness.

Allow me to introduce a longtime obsession of mine:

Rooibos (red) tea.

I’m a tea drinker from way back. Mother was a tea drinker (thus no coffee in the house). I discovered coffee in tenth grade, but after a not-exactly-brief stint of taking a few too many caffeine pills a little too often I decided to distance myself from the strong stuff for a while.

Enter: The Republic of Teas’ Be Well Red Teas in “Get Clean,” “Get Energy,” and “Get Some Zzzs.”

Rooibos teas are naturally decaf and grown in the south of Africa. They can either be considered “red” or “green” depending on their oxidation process. Some people consider green healthier, but I prefer red (and it’s cheaper!). Rooibos tea is a naturally sweet tea, usually served with a slice of lemon and sugar or honey instead of milk (I take mine plain). It has been shown to help with allergies, asthma, digestive problems (especially infant colic), tension, fever, insomnia, and inflammation. If applied to the skin (through a tea bath) it can even help such dermatological problems as eczema.

I like to start everyday off with a hot cup of “Get Clean” (with a serving of Benefiber) and end most nights with a cup ofGet Some Zzzs.”

Next time you’re at Fresh Market (the only market I know to consistently carry the line) I suggest you pick up one of Republic of Teas’ rooibos tea. While I can only speak of those three, I’m sure the rest are equally delicious. And if you’re not willing to make the commitment of a while jar (about $10 for 36 bags), Starbucks’ offers some delicious Vanilla Rooibos. I say skip the tea latte (and the 120 calories for a tall with nonfat milk) and enjoy it how it was intended—plain.

Sickness Sucks

I woke up this morning to a canceled game and a fever. After consulting Dr. Brother (he’s in no way a real doctor) I was convinced it was mono.

Sickness made for a strange breakfast because nothing seemed appetizing: a small bowl of Golden Grahams and Cheerios with soy milk (I forgot just how much I LOVE cereal), a piece of sliced turkey, half a hard boiled egg, a couple of baby pickles and a couple of cucumber slices.

After a long day of the doctor and CVS (no mono, just a serious sinus infection) I forced myself to eat a banana, blackberry, milk “smoothie” so I could take my giant horse pills.

A loooong afternoon of napping on and off was just what the doctor (as in I) ordered. Dinner was a bowl of bootleg soup, which means I had some leftover chicken stock from yesterday, some peas and corn, and a few noodles all topped with a bit of sriracha sauce. And a few bites of the most delicious free brownie I’ve ever eaten. Is it better because it’s free? Probably.

Off to disobey all logic and party a wee bit.

Team Bonding: Pot Pie

Today I was reunited with a long lost friend: the kitchen. How I have missed thee.

Tomorrow is the first game of the season and I felt we needed some good ole fashioned team bonding (and some good ole fashioned chicken pot pie). So yesterday I spent a lovely evening grocery shopping (I really do love to do it) and recipe searching. After an hour of finding recipes that weren’t quite right I decided to hell with rules and wrote my own. Risky, I know, considering I have never made a chicken pot pie, but I was feeling invincible.

So with homemade recipe in hand I laid out my loot and began cooking.

I had some help from my lovely teammate/teammom for chopping all the veggies I put in.

^Look at that steam. Can’t you almost smell it?^

Once the huge piles of veggies were softened we added 2 qts low sodium chicken stock, a splash of soy milk, and began reducing (which took far longer than I anticipated). In hindsight, I should have A) added a tad more flour or B) let it reduce longer.

*At this point my helper and I were hungry and in need of an escape from the hot kitchen, so we trekked across the street for some surprisingly delicious Chinese food (I never have high expectations for strip mall restaurants, but this one was great) served by the cutest old Chinese man. We each got egg drop soup then shared salt and pepper calamari with peppers—DELICIOUS, I forgot how much I love calamari—and chicken lettuce wraps—also good, especially with the mushrooms. After lunch we returned to our positions and assembled my creation.*

I was making two pies—one with chicken (marked with a C) and one with navy beans instead of chicken for the vegheads (marked with a V).

I was going to take a picture of the finished product, but the team was waiting hungrily, so I didn’t have time.

So here’s the finished finished product. 11 women; less than 20 minutes; 2-10” pies; devoured. For dessert we polished off 2 batches of triple chocolate brownies and a can of whipped cream, courteously of my roommate (I ate two mini ones). I had no idea we were that hungry.

While everyone raved (I think they were just excited to not be eating dining hall food) I wasn’t terribly happy. It came out a bit too soupy (thus more reducing next time) and a bit bland. I only added salt, pepper and thyme. Next time I’ll add more of each and probably a little rosemary. It’s a process.

(I’ll post the recipe later, once I have tweaked it a bit.)

Wish me luck at the game tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t come back too bruised or broken (though after Wednesday’s practice I can barely put on my coat without pain). We’ll see.

Sushi and Sriracha

Amazing (food, workout, everything) day! Breakfast as usual and then a nice long workout. Can you say power circuit? Elliptical, weights, elliptical, different weights, elliptical, abs, bike, stretching. I love those workouts.

Lunch was sushi (rice, nori, tuna, crab, shrimp, crunch, sweet and hot sauce) covered in sriracha sauce.

I realize the sweet and hot sauce isn’t the healthiest, but I just love heat. And it was white rice, but I ended up taking most of it off. I also noshed on some baby carrots.

Between the carrots and a slightly bigger breakfast, I wasn’t terribly hungry so I only ended up having a couple of sushis (what is the plural of sushi?). You know what that means…

Sushi for dinner! With some leftover corn and peas.

Finally, I feel like I’m getting a decent balance of vegetables.

I snacked on a couple of those to-die-for pretzels, but I’m really trying to limit my snacking. Or at least follow some strict, but healthy snacking advice—“If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry.” Not exactly the most exciting snacking mentality, but logical.

Now I’m off to bake chocolate chip cookies. Hopefully I can keep dough tasting to a minimum.

PS- I realized some people may not know what sriracha sauce is. It’s an asian red chili sauce that’s super spicy, but super delicious. I suggest you try a little bit next time you’re enjoying some rice. But be careful, a little dab will do ya.