Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's That?

That's the batch of marshmallows I made today. Before I cut it. So it's one giant sheet of marshmallow that I had peeled out of the pan and was coating in powdered sugar/potato starch.

Gnocchi Del Casentino

I have Tuscany the Beautiful Cookbook and Gnocchi Del Casentino is one of the recipes from the book that I have made many times. We call them spinach balls. We went to Costco yesterday and bought the super big bag of spinach and I got some ricotta cheese today so that we could have some tonight. They turned out great. They always do.

Gnocchi Del Casentino
slightly less than 1kg spinach
300g (1.25 c.) ricotta cheese
1 egg
150g (5 oz.) Parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot cook the spinach in a little boiling water until tender.
2. Drain the spinach, wrap it in a cloth, and squeeze out all the water. Be careful not to burn yourself!
This is the drained and squeeze dried spinach.
3. Finely chop the wrung-out spinach and put it in a bowl.
4. Add the ricotta, half the Parmesan cheese, egg, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Mix thoroughly.
Kinda looks like spinach dip.
6. Dump some flour onto a flat surface and roll small amounts of the spinach mixture in the flour to form a ball.
7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
8. Roll each spinach ball in the flour again to fully coat it and keep it from breaking apart in the water.
The flour forms a clear coat on the gnocchi kind of like rice wrapping on a spring roll.
9. Add the spinach balls to the water in small batches and boil until they begin to float.
10. Remove gnocchi from water and place into warm bowl.
11. Cook the remaining gnocchi in the same way.
12. In the meantime melt some butter with the sage over low heat.
13. When all the gnocchi are cooked drizzle the sage butter and remaining Parmesan cheese over them.
14. Nom nom nom.

They might not look appetizing, but they are.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snowboard Trip #2 of the Season

Ross and I headed up to Pennsylvania again last Saturday for another round of snowboarding. We were excited because they had gotten some real snow, and it was supposed to continue to snow. When we headed out in the morning it was raining pretty heavily. I checked the forecast, and it said again that it would be fine on the slopes. It took us forever to get to the ski slopes. The weather was bad, so we weren't speeding, and then we passed the exit we were supposed to take. When we were almost there we found out that some buses were blocking the final way into the resort (if you can call it that), and we had to take a detour around the back side of the hill on some back roads.

We finally got there, got all suited up, got our passes, and got on the slopes around 11. It was very different from last week. The snow was fluffy and soft--not packed down and hard. There was some ice, but not like last week. I feel like I got much more of a work out this go 'round. My thighs were burnin'. I tried doing the toe dig again, but would either chicken out, or fall onto my face. My knees didn't take as much beating this week, but my right knee still looks pretty bad from our first trip, and it feels sore.

I managed 9 runs this time--3 of them on the longer blue course. Man, three-quarters of the way through those runs I would feel like I needed a break! It was tough on my thighs and hips. I did much, much better coming off the lift this week, but I did manage to fall over into a rock and get snow all down my pants.

We took one break during our 4 hour time and had some hot chocolate with a shot of espresso in it. I think I had a Kashi dark chocolate oatmeal cookie, and Ross had a gigantor blueberry muffin. When we were all done we changed into some dry clothes and headed to Logan's Roadhouse for some food. What to eat, oh what to eat? I just wanted Logan's rolls with lots of butter. I had 3 and a half. I also had a baked potato and a bowl of chili. Oooph. That was a mistake. That was way too much food. I should have just had 4 rolls and a side salad. Lesson learned.

It was late when we finally got home (I drove because Ross had Roadhouse Tea.) We took a bath and then went to bed. I slept half of Sunday away. This trip really drained me. My knee needs a rest. Ross is planning on going by himself on Friday.


I had pizzoccheri when we were in Bellagio on Lake Como and completely fell in love. It was basically buckwheat pasta with local veggies and cheeses--whatever they had around. I think I've tried to make it once since. I can't even remember. Anyway, on Sunday night I made up a batch of buckwheat pasta and assembled a crazy pizzoccheri.

250g buckwheat flour
150g brown rice flour
enough water to form a smooth dough

The recipe I found in one of my books said to use fine wheat flour, but I decided to try something different. You know me. I can't follow a recipe. Using the rice flour makes it gluten free in case you're into that.

Other ingredients
swiss chard--boiled, drained, and chopped
fontina cheese
goat cheese
turkey bacon--cooked till crispy and finely sliced
olive oil
whatever other veggies you want to throw in

1. Combine the flours with water until a smooth dough forms. Knead gently for a couple of minutes.

This is what my dough ball looked like.

2. Roll out the dough. I took small batches of the dough, pressed them out flat, then ran them through the pasta roller on the thickest setting. Then I laid them on a lightly floured board.
My pasta roller, which hadn't seen the light of day in years.

3. Cut the pasta into thick strips. I think I cut mine a little too wide.
My pastry board with cut pasta.

4. Boil the pasta for about 3 minutes then drain. I did it in about 3 batches because I didn't want them all to stick to each other.

5. Assemble the pizzoccheri. I kind of just layered things. One layer of noodles, a drizzling of olive oil, some chard, some turkey bacon, and lots of cheese. Then I did a couple more layers.

The assembled dish.

6. Bake the dish at 350 for about 10 minutes--just until the cheese starts to melt and everything is hot.  I skipped this step and just heated my serving up in the micro. Ross thought it was warm enough and just ate it.

The leftovers we had last night were awesome, and we will be having more tonight. Traditionally this is made with chard, fontina, and potatoes, but when we had it in Bellagio the man who made it said that you just use whatever you have around. It's almost like hiding leftovers in pasta. Oh, and I forgot--I also put mushrooms and garlic in there. Can't forget the garlic!

I have some high hopes for making gnocchi this coming weekend.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weight Loss Challenge

We are having a weight loss challenge at work. There are 5 or 6 of us who chipped in 25 bucks apiece for prize money. There will be a weigh ins at 6 weeks and 12 weeks for prize money. The official weigh in (at work) says I've lost 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks. I lost 4 in the first week. I don't feel like I really put much effort into my work outs last week. I just don't think Gillian Michaels stuff is for me. Last January I tried to do the 30 day shred and I hated it. I hate plyometrics. I hate jumping around. So I'm going to go back to my old standby---The Firm--and I'm going to try some P90x (I'm scared.)

As far as the diet goes I'm trying to stay under 1500 calories a day, and I'm trying to eat a 30-40-30 balance. 30% fat, 40% carbs, and 30% protein. It's hard to eat 30% protein. Most days I'm low on protein and high on carbs. I'm going to try and turn that around. It's hard. Lots of calculations. Lots of planning. And no cake.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ginger Pumpkin Muffins

Of course---I jazzed up the recipe I found on

Ginger Pumpkin Muffins
1/4 c. minced candied ginger
1/4 c. golden raisins
2 Tbl. whiskey

1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbl. ground ginger
ground cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. flax meal
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 egg whites
3/4 c. brown sugar
6 Tbl. dark agave nectar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Line 19 (yeah, I know, I can never get the number just right) muffin tins with paper liners.
3. Mix ginger, raisins, and whiskey in a small bowl.
4. Microwave ginger mix for one minute.
5. Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl.
6. Whisk pumpkin, milk, flax meal, and vanilla in another bowl.
7. Beat egg whites and egg with electric mixer until foamy.
8. Add 3/4 brown sugar to egg mixture and beat for about 2 minutes.
9. Beat in agave nectar to egg and sugar mixture.
10. Alternatively add dry ingredients and pumpkin mixture--blending well after each addition.
11. Stir in ginger and raisin mixture.
12. Divide batter among muffin cups.
13. Bake muffins until tester comes out clean--about 15 minutes.

Divided over 19 muffins each muffin has 120 calories, 1.1g fat, 24.4g carbs, and 3g protein.

I couldn't taste the pumpkin in these--even though I doubled the amount in the original recipe. I did like the candied ginger and I'll add some to the flax muffins I'm going to make today--along with the leftover pumpkin puree.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Snowboarding of the Season

Yesterday we ventured up to Pennsylvania for our first snowboarding trip of the season. Ainsmar joined us--but he decided to ski. My first run was great. I had a little trouble getting started, but I made my first run without falling down. That didn't hold. It seemed that I was able to make it down the hill, but at the end of each run I would slow down too much and fall over. At least three times I fell over right onto my knees. The snow was packed at the end of the run--basically ice.

I used all my new gear: The helmet Ross got me for Hanukkah, new goggles, my new snow pants (which make my butt look good), my boots, board, and bindings. We need to make some adjustments to my bindings. I wore a pair of snowboarding socks that I bought for Ross, and he wore the pair of socks I made him. Unfortunately the socks I knitted had a hole in them at the end of the day. Oh well, I'll fix them.

We thought about going back today. But I couldn't imagine landing on those bruises again, and Ross was just too worn out from yesterday. I'm glad we went. I had fun and manged 8 runs down the hill. I tried to go down the hill facing upward, but it was tough. The muscles in my legs were on fire after just 30 seconds. It seems that I'm a lot more comfortable leaning back on my heels than forward on my toes. I'm not sure what to do about that. I'm sure practice would help, but it hurts

I may be bruised, but I had fun, and that's that most important part. Also, no one had any sprains, strains or breaks. Well, Ainsmar's jacket suffered tear, but I've already fixed that up.
Oh, my poor bruised knees.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Black Hand

Sometimes I think I have more than a black thumb. I have a black hand. We had a couple of really cold nights, and I think my violet, Patty, was too close to the window and froze. Now she's dead.

Despite my plant-killer black hand I still buy plants. In fact, I just bought a hyacinth bulb. The thing has grown very quickly and it tried to commit suicide by jumping out of it's vase. Seriously. I came home and it was fallen over onto the counter. The flower has opened up, and it is very fragrant.

I've also killed my rosemary and most of my mint is dead. Bailey has chewed up the jalapenos so bad I'm not sure they are going to survive.

The good news is that my Jade and my Cactus are still okay--even though they were on the window sill, and still are. I've had the cactus since 2005. I think that's the longest I've ever had a plant.

That reminds me----I should probably water my plants.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oh, I'm Gonna Miss Football

When I went grocery shopping this weekend it was insane. You see, I've been totally spoiled by Ravens games. I go to Wal Mart or the grocery store during the game, and it is a rather pleasant experience. No crowds. No lines. When football is gone, what will I do? I've gotten used to game-time shopping.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goals for 2012

1. Get back to 140 lb. I have a plan, and I'm going to stick with it. I have so many reasons to get back in shape....and no excuses. We are having a weight loss challenge at work--that gives me extra motivation.

2. Complete one sewing project. I have lots of sewing projects I'd like to do--I need to start by just completing one.

3. Go to NYC twice.There's no such thing as too many pairs of shoes. And I absolutely love eating in NYC.

4. Take reusable bags to the grocery store. I never take the reusable bags I have--and I end up with a ton of  plastic bags all over the pantry. I recycled a huge batch of bags, and now I need to stop bringing more into the house.

5. Put things away. I have a tendency to just dump things on the floor, and then our house turns into a crap-hole. I'm going to work at putting things away instead of just dropping them wherever.

Last Year's Goals

Looking back at last year's goals it looks like I accomplished about half of them.

I finished the Dark Tower series by Stephen King and I finished reading a novel in Spanish. I read El Alquimista. I wanted to read a book originally written in Spanish, and I already had this one so I read it. Turns out it was originally in Portuguese. Oops. Close enough. I really enjoyed the book. It was about learning to listen to your heart and the universe in order to fulfill your destiny.

I finished more than two knitting projects. And I've already started my first one of this year.

We went to the Drive In, and to New York City. I'm not sure if we went to the Drive In three times, but I did enjoy the times we went, and I went to NYC twice and got me some boots!

I did not get back to 140 lb. In fact I'm starting off the year just about where I was last year. I'll give it a real try this year.

And I didn't make any progress on the rest of the goals. Time for some new ones.