Project List Update

Where has the time gone?  It’s officially Spring – and I have yet to Spring Clean (though I have been keeping the house “surface cleaned” and company ready).  I had big plans to break the deep cleaning up all through the month of March, but I was so bogged down with studying for an exam at the beginning of the month that I barely even registered it was March (side note – I found out last week, I passed the exam:  5 A.R.E. exams down, 2 to go!)

And then there’s my project list…with all the deadlines long since past.  I am working on them though – particularly #2:  home office/gym renovation.  We have stripped the walls down to the studs, ripped up the carpet, upgraded the electrical panel for the house that is located in this room, rewired a few of the circuits, replaced duct work to the den that previously ran through the kitchen cabinets now relocated into a fur down in this space, and stripped paint off of the ceiling beams.

Image from Houzz.com (my favorite website)

Image from Houzz.com (my favorite website)

 

I don’t have a picture of our room, but this is similar to what the ceiling looks like in the space – except that the beams have been painted (currently, they are a horrible yellowed off-white color).  We are working, one room at a time, to get the beams back to natural wood.  It’s not a fun process.

Apparently, at one time, the entire room – exposed decking, ceiling beams, walls, and all – was painted teal.  We’ve previously renovated the living room, and that entire room was painted mauve.  I really question what the previous owners were thinking, but then again, the house was built in the 50’s.

Anyway, home office/gym renovation is in full swing  and when we get that finished, I will be able to tackle the filing system (#1 on my project list) – as we have already designated a space for a beautiful new filing cabinet.  Most people probably don’t think a filing cabinet is a thing of beauty, but this should tell you how out of hand my current system is.

#3 on the list, clean out the storage shed, will happen one warm weekend.  We’ve had a recent return of winter, and there’s no way I’m going to tackle that dark, damp place in 30 degree temperatures.

#4 – lose 10 pounds – that’s the one I’ve been concentrating on the most.  Halfway there.

Well, at least there’s progress.  Who needs deadlines?

 

 

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SlowCooker Thai Chicken and Vegetables

Dear Crockpot, my love for you never fails.  You work hard all day, cooking dinner while we are at work.  By the time I come home, the house is filled with a lovely aroma, and dinner is ready to be devoured by my hungry husband.  Thank you for your hard work.

Yesterday, I made Thai Chicken and Vegetables for dinner in the Crockpot.  My husband and I love Thai food, but there is not a Thai restaurant in the city where we live.  There are 15 pages of restaurants in the phone book, a plethora of hamburger and pizza joints, but not a single one that offers authentic Thai cuisine.

Not that I can promise this recipe is authentic Thai….but it is delicious!

Slower Cooker Thai Chicken and Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 Can (13.6 oz) Light Coconut Milk
  • 7 tsp Red Curry Paste, divided
  • 1.5 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 large head Cauliflower (I used a whole small head)
  • 1 Lb Potatoes
  • 1 med Red Pepper
  • 2 med Carrots
  • 1.5 Lbs Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 C Cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 Tbsp Peanuts (I used 2 Tbsp per serving…)

Directions

  • In slowcooker, mix coconut milk, 4 tsp curry paste, and salt until blended.
  • Wash, peel, and chop veggies (cauliflower, potatoes, red pepper, and carrots) so that the pieces are similar size; add to slow cooker and stir to coat veggies in coconut mixture.
  • If the chicken breasts are large, cut them in half to assure they will cook thoroughly; rub 2 tsp curry paste on chicken and place on top of veggies.
  • Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  • Remove chicken and chop or shred; set aside.
  • Stir peanut butter and 1 tsp curry paste into slow cooker until blended – being careful not to smash the veggies.
  • Add chicken back to the slow cooker, along with cilantro and scallions.
  • Serve, topping with 1 lime wedge and 1 tsp peanuts (or 2 Tbsp as I did…)

1 serving is about 1.5 C; recipe makes 6 servings.

Couple of Notes

  • If you’re in to Weight Watchers, each serving is 5 original Points (6 if you add more peanuts like I did); 8 PointsPlus.
  • I usually cook chicken on low for 7-8 hours; since the veggies would get too mushy if cooked that long, I added the tip about cutting the chicken if the breasts are large.  I had to cook them a little longer in the oven because I did not do this.
  • I love cilantro and would add more.  If you’re not a fan of cilantro, it didn’t overpower the dish, so don’t be afraid of it.

Rambling about the New York Marathon

Warning:  This is completely off the usual topics of this blog...

Found from Google

Found from Google

Sometimes I wish I had a magic button to push to make the right decisions for me.  This would come in handy when I want to watch TV rather than put away laundry or when I want to eat popcorn for dinner instead of cooking (they both happen).  In truth, those are easy decision – where the “right” choice is clear, even if I don’t want to do it.  Not everything I need this magic button for is so clear though   Today’s conundrum:  Do I run the ING New York Marathon this year?

Four years ago, when I LOVED to run, I read a book about the New York Marathon, A Race Like No Other.  It was truly inspiring – and it made me want to run the NY Marathon.  I could say that then, because as I said, I loved running, seemed to have all the time in the world to myself, and I had not yet run a marathon nor gained 30 pounds.

Paula Radcliffe = awesome.  Image from Google.

Paula Radcliffe = awesome. Image from Google.

I entered the lottery to get in that year, along with a running buddy I convinced to sign up, and of course what I had guessed happened:  he was selected; I was denied.  The Marathon has a system in place that if you’re denied from the lottery three years in a row, you have guaranteed entry the fourth year.  Though I was a little jealous my friend got in, I just kept telling myself “2013 will be my year”.  I entered the lottery the next two years, and was denied, so as of last April, I’ve been sitting on a guaranteed entry into 2013.

Then a few things happened in 2012:  I got married, which means I no longer have all the time in the world to myself; I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, after which I decided I never wanted to run one again; and Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City – causing them to cancel the Marathon last minute.

Since then, I have not known if they would still guarantee entry to those who had been denied three years, as the NYRRs were trying to find resolutions for the runners of 2012.  Then today, just 10 minutes ago, I received an email saying I still have guaranteed entry.

Part of me hoped that they would not guarantee entry.  I would have been furious, but I would not have to debate if I should run it or not.  Running the MCM hurt, but more than that, training took up every spare moment I had – and I didn’t have any.  That meant I had to put other things on hold – like studying for my remaining ARE exams.  I still don’t have the time to spare for training.  And then there’s the money issue:  $250 entry fee, $450 for a plane ticket, and who knows how much for a hotel room and food.  And that doesn’t even touch on the moral dilemma.

So in truth, maybe there is a clear “right” decision:  90% of me says “Save your money and time and don’t do it!”.  But then the 10% I’m attributing to my Type A personality says “You’ll never have another chance! (since they’re doing away with the denied 3 times rule)  You wanted this!”.   I’m sure the husband will weigh-in his thoughts – and I have as late as May 24 to decide….but for a while, I can tell this is going to be on my mind.

Anyone want to make this decision for me?

Repurposing Leftovers: Boiled Potatoes to Potato Soup

After a few days of cramming for my ARE exam and eating away from home because I couldn’t spare the time to cook (or clean for that matter), I was ready for both to be over.   My exam was Monday (won’t find out if I passed for 3 to 6 weeks….), so back to our regular schedule.

One of those crazy stressed out days of studying I did manage to set up the Crockpot for a stress-free meal at home.   I made Crockpot Roast with potatoes and carrots.  There are several variations of this, but the staples of the recipe are roast, potatoes, carrots, and a sauce of at least Lipton Onion dry Soup Mix, cream of mushroom soup and water.  I admittedly didn’t pay much attention when I was peeling and washing potatoes, but after all the roast and carrots were gone, we still had a ton of leftover potatoes.

What to do with leftover cooked potatoes?  Last night I made them into Loaded Potato Soup.

I started with a recipe I found at Skinnytaste.com, then modified it a bit.  I was happy with the way it turned out.  Here’s my soup recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Onion – chopped
  • Leftover potatoes, mashed – estimating 1.5C mashed
  • 1 ½ C Milk
  • 1 ½ C Chicken Broth
  • ½ C Sour Cream
  • Salt and Pepper – I go light on the salt, heavy on the pepper – my preference
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • Bacon – fried and crumbled – for topping
  • Shredded Cheddar for topping

 

  • Melt butter in large pot over medium heat.
  • Sautee onions in butter until transparent.
  • Add leftover potatoes, milk, and chicken broth; bring to a boil.
  • The original recipe said to use an immersion blender to blend soup.  I don’t have one, so I just used my potato masher to smash them a little more.
  • Add salt, pepper, oregano and sour cream; simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve and top with bacon and shredded cheddar (and chives, but I didn’t have any).

 

A couple of other options for repurposing I looked into were mashed potato casserole, salmon and potato cakes (wasn’t too sure about that combo) or potato salad…but I love soup, so it won.