Charlie’s 2nd Birthday

Hello eaters!

It’s been a fantastic day for so many reasons, not the least of which that I absolutely needed a day off and I took a yoga class for the first time since I broke up with Bikram.

The real reason that today was so great, though, was because it’s Charlie’s birthday!

Yes, my sweet baby puppy is two years old. We’ve had him for about thirteen months and I want to write an entire post about what’s changed since getting a dog (because I think choosing to get a pet is a huge decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly), but today all I want to talk about is how freaking cute Charlie is. And how happy he looks all the time.

Because he’s the happiest, cutest dog in the world.

macon06

We started the day off by letting Charlie cuddle between Leon and I this morning, which is his favorite thing ever. Every time he gets in bed he tries to get in between us and then I have to shoo him over to the other side of me, so letting him roll around between us was a huge thing.

The real excitement didn’t start until after I got home from yoga when Leon and I decided to walk down to Best Way for beer. It’s about a mile each way and Charlie loved the exercise and the chance to sniff pee he doesn’t get to sniff everyday.

After a quick break inside to cool down in front of the fan, we all headed to the yard.

Grilled cheese on the side with some grilled bread.

Grilled cheese on the side with some grilled bread.

Leon grilled some pineapple and ham (leftover and frozen from Easter) kebabs. And Charlie got his first present.

Kong Air squeaky toy. The best ever.

Kong Air squeaky toy. The best ever.

Dog owners, get this toy for your dog. It’s made by Kong, so it’s pretty much indestructible. And it’s a squeaky toy with an on-off switch, for when the squeaking gets annoying. How awesome is that?!?!

charlie's 2 birthday02

charlie's 2 birthday03

Charlie loved it.

After kebabs and beer, it was time for cake.

Banana and peanut butter pup cake.

Banana and peanut butter pup cake.

Please excuse the sloppy icing. It was hot and the icing didn’t turn out quite right. But who cares, because this banana cake/bread with peanut butter icing was delicious. (I’ll post the cake/bread recipe soon.)

charlie's 2 birthday07

charlie's 2 birthday06

And Charlie, after demonstrating his only trick of staying until we tell him to eat, loved it.

charlie's 2 birthday08

He licked it a few times and then proceeded to eat the whole damn slice in one bite.

How many bites does it take to eat a slice of cake?

How many bites does it take to eat a slice of cake?

charlie's 2 birthday10

charlie's 2 birthday11

One bite.

One bite.

It wasn’t graceful or polite, but it was gone in a flash. And then he wondered where it went.

Where'd it go, you guys?

Where’d it go, you guys?

Once we all finished our cake, we went inside for presents. Leon thought it would be funny to wrap all Charlie’s presents in newspaper.

As to be expected, Charlie was a little afraid of it. He sniffed it a few times, but made no moves to get into it.

charlie's 2 birthday15

charlie's 2 birthday16

Leon flipped the bundle over and Charlie was…still a little scared. (He’s a huge scared-y cat.)

charlie's 2 birthday17

charlie's 2 birthday18

Eventually, after several tries, he was able to overcome his fear of the newspaper enough to retrieve the cheese and bacon stuffed bone.

And then he was gone.

charlie's 2 birthday19

Seriously, he carried the bone off into his room and just now, two hours later, he emerged for the first time. It’s hilarious.

So all in all, I’m pretty sure Charlie has had the best birthday ever. And of course, he doesn’t understand what a birthday is or why we’re being extra nice to him today, so he’s probably a bit confused. But he’s also very very happy, which makes me very happy.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you throw your pets birthday parties?

What’s the best birthday present you’ve ever gotten?

Later eaters!

WIAW: Lots of Eggs

Hello eaters!

It is Wednesday, right?

I didn’t do anything on Monday and will work on Saturday, so I keep forgetting what day it is. But I keep seeing lots of WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) posts going up, so I’ll follow the crowd.


Breakfast:

Scrambled eggs with asparagus and a plum with peanut butter.

Scrambled eggs with asparagus and a plum with peanut butter.

I promise I didn’t plan to eat two of my favorite seasonal foods right after I posted about them. But they were delicious (though that plum would have been better with sunflower butter rather than peanut butter).

Oh, and I added a couple of dollops of spicy mustard to my eggs before I scrambed them for some extra flavor.

Lunch:

Zucchini noodles topped with a couple of fried eggs.

Zucchini noodles topped with a couple of fried eggs.

Leon and I keep thinking that our fridge is over flowing with things, but in reality we have a ton of produce, a few random leftovers, and almost no protein. Hence why I’m eating eggs two meals in a row.

I also had a few bites of leftover carrot cake from this weekend.

Crossfit:

WIAW663

Row row row my ass.

I drank a protein drink — chocolate GNC Wheybolic protein — and then came so closed to puking it up during this WOD.

We got to choose between running or rowing and I would have run, but after a warm up of 10 minutes of jump roping I knew my shitty shins couldn’t handle it.

Honestly, I don’t know which was better. I wanted to die many times throughout those 5,000 meters.

Dinner:

I feel like it’s been raining for weeks straight, so Leon and I were thrilled to get to grill last night. We split this big plate of grilled vegetables.

Mixed grilled vegetables.

Mixed grilled vegetables.

And this giant chicken breast.

Grilled barbecue chicken breast.

Grilled barbecue chicken breast.

Fyi, we buy whole healthy chickens from Earth Fare and then Leon butchers them. Not only are they cheaper than at Whole Foods (and way cheaper than buying bags of chicken breasts), but they’re also much bigger from Earth Fare. This was, by far, the biggest breast we’ve ever gotten.

Dessert:

A few beers with a friend, because I’m still in denial a bit that I’m done with college.

And I was home before midnight. Man, do I love getting a full night sleep.

Celebration:

Charlie thinks our king sized bed is his. It's a constant battle.

Charlie thinks our king sized bed is his. It’s a constant battle.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Leon and I bringing Charlie home. I can’t believe it’s been a year.

Oh, has it been a wonderful year. I want to do a whole post about what having a dog has changed for us, but I think I’ll save that for his birthday.

Your turn, eaters:

How much sleep do you get a night? How much would you like to get?

What’s one thing that you always have in your fridge?

Later eaters!

A Berry Vibrant Glaze

O’m’gah eaters!

I kinda feel like my head is about to explode.

School and work are kicking my ass — three huge assignments all due the same week and 25 boxes of shoes we don’t sell and weren’t expecting arriving after I gave the stock guy the day off.

Yeah, I’m a wee bit stressed.

But there will be a time, soon, when I’m not stressed. And there was a time, not too long ago at all when I wasn’t stressed.

And during that time when I wasn’t stressed I hosted a little dinner party.coconut pound cake with berry glaze3

And there were appetizers and festive napkins.coconut pound cake with berry glaze4

And there were fresh flowers (as opposed to the half dead ones I have now).

And there was cake.

Isn’t that cake gorgeous?coconut pound cake with berry glaze1

Oh, and it was so delicious.

And while the prudent thing would have been to make a recipe from my thesis (though I did make my version of engagement chicken, which is from my thesis) because I have a couple of cake recipes that need testing and never feel like having a whole damn cake around the house, I decided not to.

I decided not to stress about making a two-layer vegan chocolate maple cake or a big peach cobbler or…um…any of the other dessert recipes I wrote.

I decided to keep it amazingly simple instead. And amazingly vibrant.

Because there is nothing that makes you feel more capable and accomplished, more like a sexier, less khaki Martha Stewart than uncovering a cake that took you no time at all to make and having a handful of grown ass men “wow.”

So while I’m literally pulling my hair out and charting out (and then ignoring) my days in 10 minute increments on post-its, at least I know that in the not so distant future, there will be more cake.

(Or in this real life situation, beer. And Jell-o shots. And a rock wall and inflatables.)

Coconut Pound Cake with A Berry Vibrant Glaze

Cake

1 c butter, softened

1 ½ c sugar

1 t vanilla extract

5 eggs

1 ½ whole wheat pastry flour

1 c AP flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

1 c canned coconut milk

Put the butter, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low until smooth. Continue beating on low while you add each egg separately.

In a mixing bowl quickly whisk together the flours, salt, and baking powder.

Add half the dry mixture to the bowl with the wet and, using a rubber spatula, gently mix in the flour until mostly incorporated.

Add the coconut milk and fold everything together.

Add the remaining flour and mix gently until there are no clumps.

Pour the batter into a well greased bundt cake pan. Bake in a 325^F for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Glaze

1 c frozen mixed berries

1 T sugar

1 c water

½ t lemon juice

½ t vanilla extract

1 ½ c powdered sugar

Put everything except the powdered sugar into a sauce pan over low heat. Stir slowly until the mixture forms a kind of sauce.

Once the berries have broken down strain the mixture through a fine strainer or a cheese cloth to remove seeds. Mix the seedless sauce in with the powdered sugar until all the clumps are gone and a smooth glaze forms.

Drizzle the glaze generously over the top of the cake. Serve any remaining glaze in a bowl on the side.

Trust me, people will want more of this sauce.coconut pound cake with berry glaze2

Your turn, eaters:

Got any tips for handling stress? I’m sure we could all use some.

What are you looking forward to?

Later eaters!

Help Me With My Homework

Hiya eaters!

Things are chugging along nicely over here. I’m working and working out as much as possible before classes start back and it was warm enough on Saturday for Leon to smoke up a big rack of ribs.

So yeah, things are good.

And now, here’s a blog:

Yup, this is for real. So please, m’dear eaters, help me.

Email me at kara_h_thomas @ yahoo . com and let me know about any dietary restrictions or allergies, and I’ll set you up with a recipe from my little cookbook.

 And then I’ll thank you personally in my thesis/cookbook. You’ll be like a celebrity. Except on a very small scale.

Fried Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze

Yields ~2 dozen

Donut Ingredients

2 ½ c all purpose flour

1 c whole wheat pastry flour*

4 t baking powder

½ t baking soda

1 t salt

1 t ground cinnamon

½ t ground ginger

1 c sugar

3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

1 t vanilla extract

½ c buttermilk**

1 c pumpkin puree

canola or vegetable oil, for frying

*Regular whole wheat flour is too coarse for this recipe so only use whole wheat pastry flour or more all purpose flour for this cup.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl and whisk together until evenly combined.

Put the sugar and butter into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium until the sugar is dissolved and everything is smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla to the bowl and then use the electric mixer to beat everything on medium until evenly combined.

In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk and pumpkin puree until it is clump free.

Turn the electric mixer on low and add a third of the dry mixture to the bowl and beat until everything is evenly incorporated. Add half of the pumpkin-buttermilk mixture to the bowl and beat until it is evenly incorporated. Continue alternate adding the dry mixture and the pumpkin-buttermilk mixture until everything is added and mixed until completely incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

With floured hands, scoop out half the dough onto a very well floured surface and, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a ½” thickness. Using a ~3” circle cutter, cut out as many circles from the dough round as possible. Then using a ½”-1” circle cutter, cut out a circle from the middle of each large circle. Remove the small rounds to fry as donut holes. Continue rolling out more dough and cutting out donuts and donut holes until all the dough is used.

Heat ~4” of oil in a pot or deep pan to 360F-375F, as gauged by an oil/candy thermometer.

Carefully drop 4 donut holes or 2 donuts at a time into the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes, using tongs or a large slotted spoon to flip halfway through. Once done remove the donuts to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

Glaze Ingredients

2 c powdered sugar

1 T maple syrup

½ t vanilla extract

3 T buttermilk

Put the powdered sugar into a small, cereal-type bowl. Add the syrup and the vanilla and mix everything together with a fork or a whisk. Add the buttermilk, half a tablespoon at a time, and mix thoroughly until the glaze is free of clumps and thick enough to coat the fork or whisk.

Carefully dunk the top of each donut into the glaze.

This recipes produces a mountain of absolutely delicious donuts. They’re not huge like Dunkin Donuts and they’re not super pumpkin-y, both of which are positives in my book.

And in case you’re wondering, this recipe will accompany an essay about my, and a lot of women’s, struggle to have it all and to decide what “it all” is. And it starts by discussing the Queen of England.

Your turn, eaters:

If you could write a book, any kind of book, what would it be?

You wouldn’t happen to know anyone in publishing who you want to pass my name along to, would you?

Later eaters!

 

Paleo Cookie Cake

Hiya eaters!

I could talk about how terrible the massacre in Connecticut was. I could talk about how unbelievably gut wrenching the idea of someone killing dozens of completely innocent children is. But, I’m not going to.

I’m much more of a fan of doing extra living in times of tragedy.

And luckily, this weekend I got to do lots of living because a bunch of friends rented a lake house for the weekend.

We ate lots of pizza.

Drank far too much.

Lounged in a hot tub.

It was fantastic!

And now I’m detoxing from all the fun by drinking liters of water and eating a massive salad.

Mmmmweekend.

But if you aren’t detoxing from beer Olympics and eating two pizzas in one day or if you’re still looking for some festive living, here’s that paleo (I think) cookie cake recipe I teased you with on Wednesday.

Possibly Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

First, is agave paleo? I’ve got no clue. Second, this can definitely be paleo if you want to splurge on egg protein instead of the more common whey protein. I know GNC has AWESOME egg protein.

Also, this was adapted from this Purely Twins recipe.

1 ½ c almond flour

½ c vanilla protein

½ t salt

2 eggs

3 T agave

½ c coconut oil

½ c apple sauce

1 T vanilla extract

large handful of chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or carob chips

a few shakes of rainbow sprinkles

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix all the ingredients together.

Grease an 8”-9” cake pan and bake in a 350F oven for 20-23 minutes.

Once the cake has cooled slice it up and dig it.

I suggest slicing it into 6 pieces because this cookie cake just happens to be perfectly Zone balanced at 12 total blocks, meaning that you can easily enjoy a 2 block slice.

And if you’re feeling extra festive I suggest mixing a little bit of honey and vanilla with some Greek yogurt to make icing.

Because what’s cookie cake without icing?

So here’s to living a little more in the face of realizing just how lucky we all are to be living.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s your favorite style of cake — cookie, traditional, or ice cream?

What’s your favorite part of the cake — cake or icing?

G’night eaters!

A Food Manifesto

‘Ello eaters!

I hope you enjoyed my pictures from last night. As you can tell, I’ve very proud.

Hell, I’m very proud anytime I can do something on the computer. I’m a bit of a Luddite, don’t ya know.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about my views on food. They’ve obviously changed over the years, especially since I’ve had this blog. And while I’m absolutely positive they will change more over the years, I figured it was worth tacking them down as they as now.

Kind of like a manifesto time capsule, if that makes sense.

So, without further ado, here’s my food manifesto as it stands today, December 11, 2012.

Sprinkles don’t have calories. Or carbs.

Eat one serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal.

Bacon should be thick cut and crispy.

Food becomes exponentially better when you eat it with your hands.

Condiments make food exponentially better.

Any cut of BBQ pork is the right cut as long as it’s saucy.

The more colorful the food the healthier it is, with regards to fruits and vegetables.

Tofu is not just for vegetarians.

Salads are the best packed lunches.

Eat at least one snack a day.

Dessert isn’t healthy. If it’s healthy than it’s not dessert, it’s an after dinner snack.

Never skip meals.

Nuts should be roasted and salted.

Donuts are a perfect food.

When you don’t know what to say, bake a cake.

Smoked paprika is the best spice, second only to pepper.

Cheese.

Strawberry banana is a very over used flavor combination.

It’s always worth it to make it from scratch. At least once in your life.

Eat locally and seasonally; it’s cheaper, among other things.

Never turn down crusty bread.

Pizza is also a perfect food.

Sausage is not just for ball games and barbeques.

Wine should be dry and shared.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things that I have lots of other views on food, those are all I can think of.

Your turn, eaters:

What are some of your views on food?

Any of my views that you disagree with?

G’night eaters! 

Papa Turns 60!

Hiya eaters!

Leon and I got home from Virginia Beach not too long ago and we’re both a little worse for wear.

But this whirlwind little trip was more than worth it.

In case you missed it, this weekend was my dad’s 60th birthday party, so Leon and I (and Charlie!) made the short drive up to Virginia Beach to party with all my dad’s friends and a few family members.

We really didn’t have time for much besides the party (and a trip to Trader Joe’s), but it was well worth it.

My stepmom had most of the party catered with some of Papa’s favorites —

Pastrami sliders, which were my favorite.

A poached whole salmon, which was tasty but super ugly.

Cheese-stuffer burger sliders, a brushetta bar.

I ate so much of that smoked gouda.

A really lovely selection of cheeses.

And mini Boston crème pies and tiramisus.

There were also two kegs, a huge selection of liquors and mixers, a beer pong table, and a new dart board.

So pretty much, this party was set up to be awesome. And it was!

The neighbor ladies like my dad.

We made Papa wear silly hats.

I learned to throw darts.

Doesn't my grandma look amazing for having a 60 year old son and five other kids? She also has 14 grandkids AND a great-granddaughter (with another great-grandkid on the way)!

Leon got to meet the family AND see embarrassing pictures of me as a baby.

Yup, it was a hoot and a half.

But I woke up with a killer headache — bordering on a migraine — despite only drinking a small handful of low ABV beer. My headaches from drinking have been getting a lot worse lately. I’m talking a level 7, all day headache after drinking two beers. And no, these are definitely more alcohol triggered headaches rather than hangovers.

That’s something I need to clear up, but despite my still tender head, this weekend was DEFINITELY worth it. (Oh, and I got to do laundry for free, which was a plus.)

And that’s all I’ve got for you. Sorry for the lackluster post, but I’m exhausted and pretty brain dead.

What do you think, eaters:

What’s your favorite mini party foods?

Any idea how to get rid of my alcohol-induced headaches?

G’night eaters!

WIAW: Cheesy

Hellooo eaters!

I’m smack dab in the middle of another busy day and I’m trying to keep myself pumped up and going.

Ya know, #SoProductiveItHurts.

So let’s do this…


Breakfast #1:

Self explanatory.

Do you know what this means?

It means I finally bit the bullet and went to Crossfit at 6:30am on a day when I worked 10am-3pm and then went to class from 4pm-8pm. And I’m so glad I did because…

Crossfit:

I don’t remember anything about Crossfit yesterday except for the fact that I DID KIPPING PULL UPS!

I did several pairs of kipping pull ups. And I was so shocked and excited when I got that first one that I almost jumped down off the bar.

It was freaking awesome!

Breakfast #2:

Savory oats with spinach, cheese, chia seeds, and a fried egg.

Can you tell that my fridge is getting bare?

Oh well, this was tasty and pretty darn close to Zone balanced.

Snack #1:

A carrot with sunflower seed butter. Half a cheese on rye sandwich. Assorted Jelly Bellys.

I didn’t get to take my break and eat my snack until much later than I had hoped, so I went with the carrot and sunflower seed butter and DIDN’T scrape the container clean in hopes of not ruining my appetite for lunch.

Lunch:

Leftover seitan chili with cheese.

Leftovers are my favorite, especially when I can use someone’s microwave to heat them up.

Ya, I don’t have a microwave.

Snack #2:

After my second cup of coffee and my first class I scarfed down my mini cheese on rye sandwich with a side of Jelly Belly. Then I spent two hours playing with text on Photoshop.

Dinner:

Baked chicken breast stuffed with balsamic Swiss chard, and roasted red and sweet potatoes.

This was already in the oven by the time I got home from school, which was beyond wonderful.

Dessert:

A sliver of cake and an extra hot cup of tea ended my night and warmed me up a bit in my extra cold house.

Did I mention the gas for our heat isn’t getting turned on until Monday? Yeah, this cold business is getting old.

Side note — Did you see how I managed to work cheese into most of my meals/snacks yesterday? I only missed breakfast #1, snack #1, and dinner. Oh, and dessert. Does that make me a winner?

Your turn, eaters:

Do you eat dessert at home?

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? How many is too many? Same question about cheese.

Later eaters!

Emotionless Chocolate Guinness Cake

G’day eaters!

Today has been just lovely, which is rarely said about a Monday.

Not only did I reach a new clean max at Crossfit — 83 lbs! — but I got a lot of errands done on my break between classes and I ate some delicious Italian wedding soup at Earth Fare for lunch.

Oh, and now I’m doing a fun craft, which I’ll tell you all about soon.

Anywhoo, remember how I mentioned that I made a chocolate Guinness cake this weekend?

Well I made it because Leon’s paternal grandfather passed away on Thursday.

I’m not going to go into it anymore because it’s not my place to lifecast Leon’s life. AND because you totally come here to hear me talk about myself. So back to me.

I’m awkward with emotions.

Generally, I have no clue how to handle emotions or comfort someone. Got a problem you want to calmly discuss without crying?

I’m your girl!

Want to angrily vent without tears?

Hit me up!

But as soon as tears or worse — nondescript sadness that you don’t want to talk about — pops up, I’m gone.

Unfortunately, I can’t avoid emotion forever. So I’ve learned a wonderful way to cope — baking.

And what says “I’m a concerned neighbor/church goer/friend that wants to cheer you up” than a bundt cake?

Well, probably a Jell-o mold with little pieces of canned fruit inside. But let’s pretend it’s a bundt cake.

In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I didn’t create my recipe for Chocolate Guinness cake. Sadness is not a time for experimentation, after all (and I didn’t want another one-and-a-half-carrot-cakes incident like this summer).

Instead, I turned to Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake.

Changes I made:

  • I halved the sugar.
  • I used nonfat plain Fage Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • I used Guinness Extra Stout (her recipe doesn’t specify).
  • I poured ~1/4 c stout over the cake after I removed it from the mold.
  • I eyeballed it for the ganache, but I did use semi sweet chocolate, heavy cream, ~3 T stout, and 1 t vanilla extract.

The cake turned out fabulous.

It’s dense and moist and rich and satisfying with hints of stout breaking through the chocolate.

But most important, it made Leon feel a little better.

Of course it didn’t fix everything, but I think at least it made Leon remember he’s not alone and that, despite my awkwardness, I’m there for him.

And he’ll be reminded of that for a long time because that cake is deceptively large and we’ve got a bowl of leftover ganache in the fridge. And if that doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will. 

What do you think, eaters:

What says “I’m your friend and want to cheer you up” to you?

What the heck should I do with a bowl of ganache besides eat it with a spoon?

G’night eaters!

Excess

Hello eaters!

Another weekend is coming to a close. And I’m kinda more than okay with that.

Ya see, eaters, when I left you Thursday I told you all about my grand plans for the weekend.

Beer. Candy. Sleeping in. It was going to be great.

And it was great. But it was also excessive.

I ate an excessive amount of candy.

I drank not quite an excessive amount of beer, but certainly more beer than I normally do.

I baked an excessively large cake and then proceeded to eat an excessive amount with a spoon while standing at the kitchen counter.

A chocolate Guinness cake, which I'll share the recipe for tomorrow.

I sleep an almost excessive amount (but since I’ve never been known for marathon sleep sessions or even regularly getting enough sleep, in general, I have a hard time thinking any amount of sleep is excessive).

Leon and I ate an excessive amount of steak.

Ribeye steaks were on sale at Whole Foods.

I spent an excessive amount of time in bed, often eating.

And while it was absolutely great and necessary and rejuvenating, I am so ready to get back to my almost Spartan life with regards to sweets and sleep and laziness.

And right about now I’m kinda wishing that I’d drank just one fewer beers and gotten out of bed before noon and not put the spoon on the cake stand and actually done anything to prep for the week. But I didn’t.

Oh well, no one’s perfect, right?

Your turn, eaters:

What kind of excesses did you allow yourself this weekend?

What do you kinda wish you’d done/not done this weekend?

Later eaters!