Discovery of the Day: You say tortilla, I say tamale

My SO turned out a very nice dish the other night that was totally Project Weeknight-worthy. He started with this Tortilla Pie from Epicurious, cut back on the cheese, subbed white corn tortillas for wheat, and used more salsa instead of adding the tomato sauce.

It tasted good, but the texture didn't thrill us. It didn't hold together very well without all of the cheese. The black beans and corn just kind of fell out.

We discussed possible tweaks. Mashing some of the beans, perhaps in the style of this recipe, would stick it together. Yep, this could work.

Then today I stumbled across this (non-vegetarian) Polenta Tamale Pie and was instantly smitten. Oh polenta, how I love thee! I also like that it calls for refried beans, and simmering everything together before baking. I'd sub a can or two of black beans for the ground beef. It makes a big old batch, so I'd probably make two smaller pans and freeze one.

The baking time is 35 mins, which indicates it might not fit Project Weeknight guidelines, but I'm excited to try it. I'll let you know how it comes out.



Discovery of the day: And the scale sez...

A whopping six point five pounds! That's the difference between my scale and my SO's. I was totally relieved that it wasn't all me, until I realized that I don't know which scale is closer to correct. And I can't think of a good way (weigh? ha!) to check. I'm guessing it would take something at least 25 lbs for a true test, and I don't think I have a known-good-25-lb thing around.

In the meantime, I can check myself on my own scale, and even though it's better, it's still plenty distressing. I'm up 5 or 6 lbs since fall. Doesn't sound like a lot but it's just enough to tip me back into my larger pants.

I wish it was all a matter of watching what I eat, but that's really not it. I am simply not moving through space enough. And what's worse is that I don't particularly want to do anything about it.

I'm hoping once February passes and it starts to smell like Spring, I'll get motivated to start walking at lunchtime again.

Poor February. I blame a lot of things on February. When March comes I'm really not going to have a lot of excuses left, am I?


Project Weeknight: Quinoa Soup w/Avocado & Corn

Oops! Almost forgot this one. I moved in with the SO this last weekend. Friday night, the night before we got the U-Haul, we wanted something quick, easy, and decent for dinner. We knew we'd be eating out a lot over the weekend and wanted something we could make with mostly stuff on hand and little fuss.

Enter Quinoa Soup with Avocado and Corn. I spied it on the Cheap Healthy Good blog, which adapted it from this Seattle Times article.

You gotta love a recipe with a mere handful of ingredients. Broth, check. Quinoa, check. Corn, check. Salsa, check. Cilantro, blech! no way. All we lacked was an avocado, which was easily obtained, and we were golden. (What? You don't have quinoa on hand at all times? Shame!)

It cooked up in maybe 20 minutes total, almost no time at all, as advertised. We even had a little left which we put away for Saturday's lunch.

And Saturday is when we learned the secret, alternate, unspoken name of this soup: The Soup That Never Ends. The quinoa had soaked up the remaining broth overnight, requiring another couple cups of stock to return it to soup status. At that point, what had been maybe enough for one serving grew into enough for another two full servings. In fact, there was a little left but I insisted we finish it so we wouldn't have to repeat the process on Sunday.

Tasty, quick, and cheap, if you can find avocados at a reasonable price. I didn't get to serve it to my son, but I'm still going to give it a Project Weeknight full thumb's up.



Discovery of the day: Easier to quit

Things around here are at maximum chaos. I'm in the middle of moving, and although I've been trying to stay within my guidelines (and thought I'd been doing OK), I got on the scale this weekend and was shocked to find that my SO's scale weighs several pounds heavier than mine. Or at least I hope that's what's going on here. I haven't done a direct comparison yet, but if the difference is less than 5 lbs, I'm in big trouble.

Part of me just wants to say 'screw it', close up the blog, and fuhgeddaboudit. Eat what I want and let the pounds fall as they may.

But that's what I always do. Hello, my name is Liz and I'm a chronic yo-yo dieter.

So instead, I'm going to keep up the blog (hopefully more regularly) and document what in the hell is going on. I really would like to not have to hit bottom (again) before finding inspiration to pick up the good fight one more time.

Tonight I will unpack my scale. I will put both scales side by side, and when I get up tomorrow morning, I will step on one, then the other. I will find out if I have, indeed, gained ten pounds back since November.

I certainly hope not.



Discovery of the day: Lettuce-free?

Apparently I am having a lettuce-free February. I certainly didn't plan on it, but so far that's how it's gone down.

There's just so much going on right now, I can't seem to get myself together enough to pack a lunch. I've had one lonely pack of romaine sitting, un-prepped, in the fridge for almost two weeks now. That's just wrong.

Can't see as it's going to get any better in the short term, either. I'm moving this weekend, and it's going to take me some time to get my new morning routine ironed out.

I'm doing the best I can to minimize the damage, but I have a feeling this is going to cost me....


Project Weeknight: Veggiecakes

I did this one over a week ago, and darnit if I can't remember now how the final recipe evolved. The original inspiration came from Karina's Kitchen, (don't they look fabulous?) but I ended up using techniques and proportions I gathered from other sources, most likely one of Mark Bittman's books.

I *love* potato pancakes, hash browns, and all sorts of those fried-potato-y kinds of things. When I saw Karina's recipe, I knew it would be a great excuse to make potato pancakes and serve them as the main dish. Score!

Here's what I ended up doing:
Inspired by Karina's Savory Vegetable Pancakes and probably a Mark Bittman recipe

2 med. potatoes, grated (I used yukon gold, scrubbed, unpeeled)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 med. zucchini, grated
1/2 onion, grated
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs,lightly beaten
1/3 cup AP flour
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

Combine grated veggies in a colander and let drain, squeezing out as much liquid as you can. In a mixing bowl, combine veggies with remaining ingredients. Mix well, adding salt & pepper to taste.

In a heavy frying pan (cast iron works well), heat about 1/4" of oil until a small bit of batter dropped in immediately starts to fry. Scoop batter into pan in golfball-sized scoops, just a few at a time. Leave lots of room between them. Flatten them to about 1/2" thick.

Cook several minutes. Don't turn them until they are very nicely browned, like in Karina's picture. Peek if you have to. Flip, then cook on the other side for a comparable amount of time.

Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with eggs, or with a little sour cream, or some drained yogurt or other soft cheese.

Next time I might try the sweet potato and maybe the cabbage as Karina mentioned.

The verdict? It got a huge thumbs up all the way around the table. This definitely is on the repeat list!



Discovery of the day: Acceptance

I must accept that I probably won't be posting daily for awhile, at least not in the near future. I blame February, traditionally my worst (read: lowest-energy) month. Also, I'm getting ready to move again (fourth time in 2-1/2 years) and even though I don't seem to be making much progress, it sure seems to be sucking up a disproportionate amount of mental energy.

On the plus side, I do seem to be making good progress with the Project Weeknight dishes, so there will be more of those posts.

My son and I did make up a list of dinner choices for the week, and I even made it to the store today to pick up the missing ingredients. So that's one small step in the direction of order, at least.

Why does the shortest month seem like the longest?