Monday, June 23, 2008

Seriously, Y'all....

Cook everything the Pioneer Woman suggests, because omg, it's good. (And if this English major says "omg" for emphasis, you know it's good. Her recipes are not designed to be calorie friendly, but I'm finding that because she uses simple, everyday, pantry-stuffer ingredients, substitutions are a breeze. A delicious, delicious breeze.

This week has gone really well. I cooked every night except one. (!) I'm finally settling into a routine with my eating, and it's showing! I'm down to 200.4 this week. I just knew I was going to be in the 100's this week, but now I've got a goal for next week. I usually have a tall glass of skim milk and hershey's syrup for breakfast, I graze while I'm at work (500 calories or so) and then eat a dinner with my honey. Oh yeah. I said it, with my honey. God, I'm such a sap. Let me tell you about our dinners, because you all need a love story in the morning, right?? (I know there's at least 2 of us PMSing here...)

This is my honey. We met because of Jazz (his favorite: Ella Fitzgerald. My favorite: Miles Davis). My alma mater (that just sounds fun!!) hosted a yearly event called the Cullum series, and a whole year of events revolved around the theme that they'd chosen. In 2007, it was Jazz. A few academic classes were offered, and there were jazz classes and workshops every week. Dustin and I both took a jazz class, but different ones - he, the history of jazz, myself, the language of jazz. It was in this class I became enamored with Thelonious Monk. I went to Best Buy to get one of his albums, and lo and behold, a cute boy was working. (That's always a good thing, I don't care how old and taken you are.) This cute boy had been in my Shakespeare class a few semesters previous, but because he felt the need to advertise his fraternity with every t-shirt he put on, I thought he was a douchebag. Luckily for him, he was wearing a Best Buy shirt, and not a Delta Chi one, because I was willing to talk to him for hours on end. About jazz. About organized religion. About the inability to dance. About being fat kids at heart. About how much I instantly liked him and wanted to knock him on his feet with smooches. Wait, we didn't talk about that last one, but I felt it. I walked out of Best Buy that day full of all the silliest emotions we love so much. I called my brother (who worked appliances at Best Buy) and asked if he knew him. "Yeah, he's cool," came his praise. Before I left him standing at a CD tower, we promised to look for each other at the next show. I've never agonized over what to wear to a jzz show, or whether or not to show up early or late, or if I should let him find me, or if I should find him, but pretend that I hadn't, or if red lipstick would be a bit much for this??, but after that concert, in which he deftly acknowledged my fidgety nature, we were inseparable. When he, unawares, bought 2 rounds on our first date that just happened to be my 2 favorite beers ever, I knew he was mine.
And now? Now we eat dinner in our PJs, and at 9:00 at night. But we eat dinner together. We eat dinners with the food that he bought, and that I put together. And we eat it while listening to jazz. When Dustin first moved in with me, we were really bad about sitting down with dinner in front of the TV. We were also really bad about going out to eat all the time. But now? Now we enjoy the food we eat, and we enjoy it with Miles Davis in the background. It gives us time to enjoy each other, too. And talk. And stare at each other dumbly. And tell stupid jokes. And kiss until our food goes cold. It's a wonderful thing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sister, Why are You Here? Pasta

**Update!** I forgot the most important part! How can a recipe survive without a soundtrack, right? The beauty of almost any pasta dish is that noodles and sauce cook remarkably well with jazz vocalists in the air. This recipe turns out beautifully with a Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan mix. So go forth, and procure the vocalists.

Work has been incredibly slow lately, and the boyfriend has worked every night until 10 for I don't know how long, so I've been going a bit stir-crazy being by myself all the time. So yesterday, I called my Mom and Dad, made sure they didn't have dinner plans, and told them I was going to cook dinner for them. The title comes from what my brother says to me every time I'm home. Ah, sibling love.

I pulled this recipe from my new favorite website,, and it was a decided smash. It has a lot of steps, but it's super easy. Le promis.

You will need (for 6-8 servings):
  • a box of penne or similarly small noodle (whole wheat, of course)
  • a pound of jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (and dethawed, as I would learn)
  • EVOO and/or butter
  • small onion, diced
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (if heavy cream is too full of delicious, delicious calories for your liking, you could probably be all health-conscious and diet-smart and substitute half of the cream with half-and-half. You know, if you wanted to go there.)
  • 5-6 basil leaves, parsley, salt, pepper, and basically any other spice you want
  • veggies, optional. I added a zucchini to the mix and it was delicious
Connect the Numbers:
  1. Put on a pot of water to boil for your noodles. It will begin boiling at just the right time.
  2. In a saucepan (big enough for your sauce and noodles), heat olive oil. While your EVOO is heating up (but not too hot!), run cold water over the shrimp. Add the shrimp to the oil, and let them cook through until just pink. You want to avoid overcooking as they'll go back on the heat later. Remove shrimp prom pan and allow to cool on chopping board.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to saucepan, cook until a pretty gold color.
  4. While the onion and garlic is cooking, chop the cooled shrimp into tiny pieces.
  5. Pour a glass of white wine into the onion and garlic (after savoring a sip or two or three for yourself, of course). If you don't like wine, 1/2 cup lo-sodium chicken broth will do fine, although wine is delicious. Really, really delicious.
  6. Add 8 ounces tomato sauce, stir together.
  7. Add 8 ounces heavy whipping cream, stir together.
  8. Now add your spices. I used dried. Fresh herbs are tastier and prettier, but dried are lazier and from a bottle.
  9. Add the chopped shrimp to the mix and let it heat through again.
  10. By this time, your penne should be cooked al dente. Drain the pasta, and add to the saucepan, stirring it all around to coat each and every single last noodle with delicious sauce-y goodness. It's as simple as that!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Arrogant Little Voices

I had this post planned before I wrote it. I was driving to the gym, and the arrogant little voice in my head was planning to casually mention to all of you that I started the Couch to 5K program this week, and the first run was a breeze. The arrogant little voice had plans to be deceptively humble, and say that the transition from elliptical to treadmill was really going to be the challenge, because I'm already able to run 30-40 minutes (2.5-3 miles) on the elliptical without stopping. Oh yes, this arrogant voice had plans.

And then I stepped on the treadmill. And then I warmed up. And then I began running. The arrogant little voice in my head run and hid. I don't know what it was about the first C25K workout that was so hard--perhaps it was just getting adjusted to the transition of elliptical to treadmill. There is, after all, a lot more stress on the joints, and a considerably less fluid motion of the legs and arms. I get tired more quickly on a treadmill, my heart rate spikes more highly on one (182 yesterday, yikes!!). Perhaps it was the stop-and-go nature of the first workout (jog 60 seconds, walk 90, repeat for 20 minutes). I'm used to slowing down and speeding up, but never walking. I wanted to quit in embarrassment.

But I didn't. I wanted to absolutely die from the combination of sweat, a too-rapidly beating heart, a face red from heat and embarrassment, and sore boobs, but I didn't. I completed the workout. I have motivation to move on to the second. And the arrogant little voice? He's peeking furtively around corners making sure no one sees him.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I'm at 202 today! I was a little worried that my weight would hike again this week, but I'm glad it didn't. I wasn't super-diligent about my plan this week, nor did I completely avoid sodas (I think I had about 60 ounces or so?). This week's challenge: Write down everything I eat. I log all my food on, but I don't have internet access at home, so I'm really good until I get home from work at 2 each day. The evenings and weekends are what get me each week. I need to come up with a good way to track this even when I'm at home.

Another thing I want to work on this week is getting back into the gym. I went on Wednesday last week for my yoga The instructor kicked my ass. She moved us into the bound warrior pose (image below), which was difficult, but I finally got my fingers locked around each other. Good, right? Until she wanted us to stand up on one leg. I don't know the name of the pose, but if leg-warmer girl was to slide her legs together, and then stand on her left leg while holding her right leg up with her crazy-tangled arms, you'd have it. I was sore for a few days and my lower back is still complaining from all the boat poses we did.

Did everyone have a good weekend?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Roni's Sweet Chicken Salad Ashley-Style

I love Roni's GreenLiteBites. She posts the recipes she's created while on Weight Watchers maintenance. Once a week, she does a video post with her son, "the toddler." It's easy to search and navigate, and even better, every once in a while, she posts a "how-to," which is very good for someone like me, who just today, had to be taught how to cut a mango. 

I tried one of her recipes for the first time tonight, and I will not longer be hesitant to try something on her page. I've had a bunch of fruit sitting in the fridge, so when I saw her post for Sweet Chicken Salad, I had to give it a try. Only, I had completely different fruit. This is Roni's original recipe, and here comes the Ashley G. redux. 

My measurements makes a very large single serving, or small double portions. 
  • 6 oz chicken breast strips, cooked and cut to bite-size pieces (I use the frozen chicken strips that come in a huge bag)
  • Half an apple, cut bite sized
  • a small mango
  • 3 oz grapes
  • 2-3 tbs plain lo-fat yogurt (add this in small increments to your liking)
  • a dash cilantro (I used parsley)
  1. Mix all together. Serves well with pita. 

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday Morning Weigh-In

I'll try this week, I promise. I'm up 1 pound to 205 this week, but I'm not letting it bother me. I was on vacation Thursday-Sunday last week, so only a pound gain while lounging at the beach is nothing to be worried about. I am going to lose it this week, though, and hopefully more. 

This week's personal challenge: No sodas! Only water, milk, tea, and lo-cal, lo-sugar juices. (I'm still motivationally challenged, so I'm going to give myself a weekly challenge to meet. If you'd like to join in, go for it. I could use the support.)

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a few highlights of our trip...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday Morning Weigh-In

I'm still getting used to the idea of a Monday morning weigh-in. Frankly, I've been so out of practice that I completely forgot to step on the scale today... until, that is, I'd gotten out of the shower, put on my clothes, ate breakfast, and still had my wet hair wrapped up in a towel. (Did I mention that I've still got residual period bloat and it's 93F and humid outside and my hair holds a lot of water and I was wearing really heavy clothes???) Okay, I'm making excuses for my 3 pound gain this week. I'm at 204.

This is not a good start to the summer block party challenge...