the weekend: governors island, etc. and a house update

bob

I decided to take the day off on Friday at the last minute and I’m glad I did. It was one of those weeks at work that felt turtle’s-pace slow. Since we had to postpone our Charleston, SC vacation plans indefinitely, I’ve been using my PTO days sparingly and I’m mostly saving them for when/if we move within the year. That’s what’s so difficult about the unpredictability of a short sale.  We have no idea when we should expect to move. Though speaking of which, we got news last week that the seller accepted our offer! We just need the bank to sign and then we’re in official attorney review (negotiations about the condition of the house, time frames and whatnot). Our realtor is confident that the bank will accept the offer too, so it looks promising. The timing is perfect because the company that we’re renting from now just sent us a lease renewal contract over the weekend. They’re raising the rent up by $100! Pfft.  Oh! And we just now discovered what may or may not have had a leak in our coat closet over the last few months. And possibly some mold. So yay. We’ve since removed all of our belongings from the closet and placed them on top of our radiator in our already-cramped bedroom. What an eyesore. It’s like the universe is sending us signals to leave the apartment. Okay universe, I’m trying my best here! Tell the bank to hurry up and sign that contract!

buildings

ferry

Now on to more weekendy things. If I were to give you any advice about Governors Island, it is to go on weekday afternoon in the middle of September. The weather’s that perfect mix of warm and cool and the place practically belongs to you. At least, that’s how it felt for me and Bob on a disgustingly gorgeous Friday afternoon.

giraffe

chris christie2

Oh hey, Chris Christie ( aka perhaps our soon-to-be governor)chris christie

swinging

But if you’re not going to visit, that’s fine too. You can live vicariously through these pictures and just admire those views. Most notably, the ever-elegant and shiny One World Trade, an appropriate and important visual reminder given the week in September.

walking

We soared around the island on our rented bikes for a couple of hours and then laid out on the grass with our iced drinks and sandwiches. It was incredibly leisurely.

me and bob

board

iced tea

The rest of the weekend was pretty great too. We tried (and loved) the much-talked-about brunch at Sanfords, followed by an evening of the Mets losing (what else is new?) and some fireworks after the game. It was my first time in a long time at a baseball game and I have to say, it’s much more interesting to watch live than it is to watch on TV.

Admittedly, the promise of a fireworks show at the end of it was what really kept me going ;) I’m a sucker for an ostentatious lights show.

how i eat: last week in dinners (Sept. 1- Sept. 4)

Last week was a successful one, in terms of dinner. I enjoyed each and every meal/recipe listed here, so if you’re looking for a good variety of easy and healthy weeknight dinners then I’ve got you covered. Click on the links for the recipes.

Monday: Crunchy Cabbage and Kale Salad with a Creamy Thai “Peanut” Dressing

Crunchy, delicious Thai salad

I try to have at least one raw dinner, particularly a big salad, every week for a few reasons:

1.) I like to switch it up.
2.) It’s a dinner comprised mostly of vitamin-rich veggies, yet still satisfying.
3.) Most of the food isn’t cooked or denatured, so we get the maximum amount of nutritional benefits.
4.) It’s easy.

Of all the Thai salad dressings variations I’ve tried, this one has to be my favorite. I could have drank it up on its own, it was so good. It’s a flavorful dressing that uses sunflower seed butter as the main ingredient, although I think any nut or seed butter would work well in this. Make it! And when you do, make extra.

My parents gave me a whole bunch of bell peppers from their yard, so I got to use them up in this salad. Raw bell peppers don’t cut it for me, so I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil, salt and smoked paprika and it added a savory bacon-like flavor to it. Smoked paprika has been having a moment in my kitchen lately. I’m loving the strong smokiness and I’ve been using it a ton, mostly on vegetables.

Tips for people who just can’t get behind the idea of salad for dinner: 1.) Start small – add cooked foods to it. Toss in some baked shredded chicken, roasted veggies or a poached egg. It adds texture and loads of flavor, while still keeping it a healthy salad. Steer clear or go light on add-ins like bacon, shredded cheese and processed dressings. Try to stick to veggies, nuts and seeds and find creative ways to make them tastier for you. For example, I like to take raw walnuts with a tbsp. of soy sauce or tamari and a couple pinches of cumin and cayenne and mix them into a ground beef-like texture using a food processor. I sprinkle it over the salad for a meaty, salty bite. It’s awesome! 2.) Use different types of greens for variety and texture. No boring salads here! 3.) A great homemade dressing is key.

Tuesday: Sweet and Spicy Burrito Bowl Plate.

Sweet and Spicy Burrito Bowl.

Again! But this time no sweet potatoes , which is fine because it simplifies the process a bit, yet doesn’t skimp on taste. It’s a starchy meal for sure, but still abundant in fiber, potassium and folate, which are all beneficial for maintaining optimal heart health.

I make Bob brown rice, while I have white. I bought a huge tub of brown rice, but I completely forgot that I loathe brown rice so I’ve been making two batches of rice. This can get blah sometimes but it’s better than letting it go to waste or forcing myself to eat something I don’t like.

Wednesday: Herb Brown Butter Mayo Shrimp Rolls (with a side of not-pictured broccoli)

Brown Butter Mayo Shrimp Rolls

“Shrimp in hot dog buns?”. Bob was incredulous and so was I, but for different reasons. Shrimp rolls sounded weird to him, but I just couldn’t believe he’d never heard of them before, especially since I made them twice last summer. He gave me his usual “I don’t think I’m going to like this” speech, but that just made me determined to make it extra special. And it was! I’d never made my own mayo before so that was a little daunting. It’s a workout, I will say that, but it’s still very easy. Good arm muscles are recommended, though ;) And the brown butter? Bonus yum. I normally wouldn’t make something so high in cholesterol, but I thought it was okay to make an exception, especially since the meal is also high in healthy fats, protein and vitamin B12. If I were to give you any tips on this one, it’d be to toast the buns. Makes all the difference!

Bob’s take? “Good. But it’s still weird eating shrimp in a hot dog bun.”

Thursday: Summer Vegetable Chowder

Summer Soup

I made very few, small changes to this soup. I substituted the milk for homemade cashew milk, as I tend to do with any recipe that calls for cream or dairy milk. I added more smoked paprika—obviously. I sauteed a few smashed garlic cloves with yellow onion for more flavor. No green onions, so I used chives which I like better anyway. The soup is thick and and hearty enough to stand on its own (love that) but a crusty loaf of bread to dip in is always a good call!

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*I can’t seem to recall what we had on Sunday nor do I have the pictures to jog my memory. Fridays and Saturdays are usually “eating out” days.

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For more on How I Eat, see here:

How I Eat: The Introduction

How I Eat: June

How I Eat: July 

 

labor day bbq 2014

food1

Is Labor Day weekend the end of summer? No no no, I refuse to believe this. Bob and I have arguments about it. I say, It ain’t over ’til it’s over! and he says, Labor Day is the unofficial end to summer. Get over it. This week is going to be a hot one so I think this helps my case a lot. And the peaches. There are still peaches at the market! Summer is, for now, here to stay. Let’s enjoy it.

the men

Unless, of course, you’re going back to school. Then yeah, it’s over for you babe. Sorry.

kids1kids2

If you haven’t guessed by the title, these are my Labor Day pics. Correction, it’s two days prior. My mom and dad had a bbq, which mostly means my dad makes hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch and then dinner is rice, corn and roast pork, which is made indoors. But we eat it outside, so it’s still legit.

food2

me and janey2me and janey1

bob

mike

burgers

sophie

janey and jax

white sangria

pouring

Not pictured: the amazing peach and raspberry pie we brought from Astor Bake Shop (wow), breaking my no-alcohol streak with a glass of homemade sangria (no regrets), the crazy aggressive bees that tormented us for a good hour and the adorable bunny family that made a home in the neighbor’s bushes. It might be the last outdoorsy family get-together we have for a while, but it was good one to go out on. We laughed a lot, ate a lot, played with the neighbor’s adorable dog Sophie and just plain ol’ had a good time with good company. It went too quickly! Just like the long weekend. Just like my favorite season.

27 seconds of pure Mason

This kid.

↑ You can view this with the sound off.

My nephew Mase just discovered that he can listen to music on his Nabi (basically an Android tablet for kids) and so he’s been walking around with his mirrored sunglasses on, headphones plugged in and putting on a show. I’ve been told he’s been dance-walking (think: John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever) and holding up his Nabi on his shoulder like a boombox. What decade is this kid from?!

Janey Mase and Jax

↑Taken from my sis’s Instagram

click on these

pretty red flowers

  • Pick a year and be prepared for some serious nostalgia.
  • DIY ways to make your home smell amazing. I sometimes do #4.

Happy Labor Day weekend!

sweet and spicy burrito bowl (vegan)

Sweet & Spicy Burrito Bowl (vegan)

I’m normally someone who doesn’t like my food to touch, but there are some exceptions and this sweet & spicy bowl is one of them. Everything touches and I love it! Did I just make that sound a little strange? It’s just that I’m really excited about how the sweet, spicy and savory flavors in this just go come together so well. It makes me happy when I make dinner for me and Bob and both of us can wholeheartedly agree that it’s the bee’s knees. Because there are times when I’m, OMG this is great and he’s all, It was okay. This mostly happens with soup though. I am a huge soup lover. He’s not. And yet! I make soup almost every single week. I’m convinced that one day he will turn around and tell me, “I love soup! I want you to make soup every day!”. Or something like that. That’s not really how he talks.

Sweet & Spicy Burrito Bowl (vegan).

I was inspired by this vegan Cuban bowl, but like always, wanted to put my own spin on it. I knew I wanted to fix a simple salsa and include the black beans so as to impart the spicy and fresh flavors to the beans. I also knew I wanted some of the salsa juice to seep into the rice (yum!) so the salsa had to be the layer just above. And the sweet potatoes and plantains were to be roasted and fried (respectively) in lightly sweet extra-virgin coconut oil. The avocado would have been great, if not for the completely rotten inside. I swear, every time I cut into a bad avocado, it’s like my hopes are dashed. “Noooooo!”, is what I scream in my head. And this one was bad, people. All brown, stringy and dried out so much that nothing was salvageable. What’s funny is that the next day, I had the perfect avocado. It was truly a thing of beauty. Take a look for yourself.

Anyway, my point is find yourself a good avocado and put it in this. It’ll be grand.

Sweet & Spicy Vegan Burrito Bowl

Trust me, this is easy easy stuff that doesn’t require you to stick so strictly to the recipe. I love that. In a nutshell, it’s this: roast the potatoes, fry the plantains, make the salsa and boil the rice. Add as much spice as you can handle. Put it all together and sweet, spicy, salsa-y magic happens in your mouth.

Sweet & Spicy Vegan Burrito Bowl.

 

Sweet & Spicy Burrito Bowl (adapted from The Wanderlust Kitchen)
serves about 6

3 large sweet potatoes
3 sweet plantains (the best are the ones that are almost completely black)
About 6 tablespoons coconut oil (half for the plantains, half for the potatoes)
2 cups of rice, white or brown

Bean Salsa:

1 15oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes (though I used 1 in this instance)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime, or 3 tablespoons lime juice
1-2 tablespoons raw honey (or maple syrup to make this completely vegan)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons cayenne powder (more or less. I usually just eyeball the amount)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped avocado (optional, but recommended)

Sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel (or don’t peel) and dice the potatoes into small, bite-size pieces. Toss with coconut oil, a pinch of cayenne powder, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet (I had to use 2) and place in oven for about 20-30 minutes or until soft.

Salsa: Dice the tomatoes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the black beans, lime juice, cumin, garlic powder, olive oil honey, cayenne, half of the chopped cilantro, salt and pepper and mix. Taste and adjust along the way. Let sit.

Rice: Boil 2 cups of rice according to the package directions.

Plantains: Cut off the ends of the plantain. Use a small, sharp knife to cut down the creases of the plantain. Then peel. Slice the plantains into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces. Heat up about 2-3 tablespoons (or enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan) of coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Place the plantains evenly in the pan. You might have to do this in a couple of batches if they don’t all fit in one pan. If this is the case, take note of oil situation. If the pan dries out after the first batch, add another tablespoon before frying the second batch. And so on.

Assemble the bowls: Rice first, then bean salsa, plantains, sweet potatoes and avocado (if you have it). Finish off with the rest of the cilantro. Serve.

Sweet & Spicy Burrito Bowl

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