Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spicy French Toast

Sunday mornings are a good time for me -- I get to sleep in a bit, have some quiet time for myself while Mr. Spice sleeps away, and I usually end up making us both breakfast, which is something I never get to do during the week.

This week's BSI is being hosted by Mark at Training Fuel, who chose eggs as the ingredient. Once I found out, all I could think about was making french toast for breakfast on Sunday. But this is no ordinary french toast I was dreaming of.

I've always preferred salty/spicy tastes to sweet. So is it any wonder that I prefer my french toast on the salty/spicy side? It really isn't that much of a stretch -- it's just a spicy omelet batter that you're dunking the bread into rather than a sweet batter. There are no powdered sugar and syrup toppings on this french toast -- I used sliced green chilis and spicy mango pickle to adorn my spicy, golden, eggy triangles.

Intrigued? Read on!

Spicy French Toast


4 slices bread
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. sliced green chili
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion -- I was too lazy to chop up fresh onions today
1/2 tsp. ginger paste
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
curry powder -- one of my few sanctioned uses for curry powder, as a flavoring not a spice

Combine eggs and everything below on list. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high.

One slice at a time, soak bread in egg batter on both sides, then cook in pan until golden brown on each side. Make sure egg is cooked through all the way, or else you'll be putting it back into the pan to cook more like I had to!

Slice each piece diagonally and top with spicy ketchup, hot sauce, or hot mango pickle if you have any.

Serves 2-4

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This eating thing

Sooo you know how quite a few posts back I announced I was giving up dieting and learning to accept myself? Yeah, bad idea during tax season. Somehow in my mind, not dieting became license to binge. That is not what I intended, it was meant to develop a healthier relationship with food. I took it seriously and even started up a "feelings" blog to help me do this, which I would like to keep up with.

But like I said, bad idea during tax season. I need to remember not to start anything new during tax season.

At work we've had a resurgence of what someone accurately deemed "born-again nutritionists." They were the ones who you KNEW were dieting because they announced it and talked about it constantly, analzying what they ate and how much weight they had to lose. Keep in mind, I wouldn't consider any of them overweight to begin with, so it got pretty old for me. Couple that with the self-policing amongst them and I think that I began eating crap out of spite. As in, yeah look at you depriving yourself, but I get to eat whatever I want, neener neener! But of course, the scale is having the last laugh.

I don't know if I mentioned it here or in my other blog, but I've been dieting on and off for almost half my life and while I know deep inside it's hurting more than harming, I'm torn. I'm so used to it being in the background that to give it up would feel like something's missing. But on the other side of it, if I'm so used to it then why can't I just do it and follow through?

Someone whose opinion I value greatly regarding this journey suggested that maybe I do need to go back to dieting for a while, that it may be part of the process I'm undertaking to go back several times. And I'm strongly considering it.

My natural reaction is to go back to Weight Watchers, since I lost about 25 pounds on it about 7 years ago. I've of course gained it all back and then some but that's all my doing. I figure it worked before, so I'll do it again. And so I've dutifully gone back many times since then but can never regain the magic. I've never been able to get that freakin' 5 pound star they give out. I've come close, but I keep yo-yo-ing and then just give up. For some reason in my mind I can't commit. It's the same with other diets too -- eventually I feel like I don't like the rules and that I can't and won't go on.

This lack of commitment is a familiar thing for me. I start projects with gusto but never finish. I've started to write many stories but never finish. I started knitting projects, but they languish in a corner of the guest bedroom. I even started the 31-day yoga challenge out here in blogland earlier this month but only completed the first week.

It's like I have a mental block against success.

But that's not true either -- I studied for my CPA exam a few years back and passed it on the first try (shameless bragging). I made it a priority, giving up a social life to concentrate on this very important thing. So why is it I can't apply this dedication to my health?

Let me ask you -- how many times did it take before you were able to stick to it and find success? What was different for you this last time?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Less than 4 weeks to go!

The tax season countdown is still underway! Four more weeks to go, which is good and bad. Only four more weeks of long hours and being too tired for anything else. But only four weeks left to get a lot of stuff done -- we're probably extending a lot of returns as it is, but you still need to know if people are going to owe. The joys of being a CPA. :)

So this is why I'm being sporadic about posting. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to cook as much as I'd like, let alone pack lunches in my bento boxes. I try to keep up on everyone else's blogs during the day for some sanity breaks, so at least I have that to look forward to!

Reminding you (and me) of this week's BSI, being hosted by Christina at Dinner at Christina's -- cabbage!

Hope everyone's having a great week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Having fun with my oatmeal

I see so many of you in blogland happily eating your delicious oatmeal concoctions and I've been inspired.

I don't have a picture of this, but just imagine how good it tastes.

Chocolate Raspberry Almond Oatmeal

1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
Splenda or other sweetener
1 Dove dark chocolate

Let oatmeal, almond milk, and raspberries sit overnight in fridge. Cook in the morning, add splenda, more almond milk if necessary, and chocolate. Let chocolate melt into oatmeal and savor.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

BSI entry: Sweet Strawberry Samosas

When Laura at Hey What's For Dinner Mom announced this week's BSI ingredient was strawberries, my mind immediately went to work on ideas. I had so many I wanted to try, but knew I needed to pick something that was fast and reasonably reliable.

I immediately thought of a sweet samosa. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of eating a samosa, I'm sorry for you. Imagine a rich pastry dough stuffed with savory fillings such as potatoes and peas or spiced ground beef, which is then fried to a golden goodness. The varieties are endless. Think of the Indian equivalent of an empanada and you'll get the idea.

Anyway, when I make samosas, I don't make the dough from scratch because I'm too lazy. I've experimented with eggroll wrappers, phyllo dough, refrigerated pie crust, and puff pastry sheets. I also don't like deep frying, so I end up baking my samosas. Not 100% authentic, but it definitely hits the spot. Of all these methods, I would have to say the refrigerated pie crust produces the best result, but I noticed after happily scarfing these down that they tend to contain lard, which I try to avoid. Puff pastry doesn't produce the traditional look, but it's easy for me to use. Plus there are some Bengali snacks called "patties" that use puff pastry, so whatever. See my October Book Club Tea post for examples of "patties" and how from-scratch samosas look. My friend Lopa has perfected the dough for the ones from scratch, although she makes the Bengali version of samosas, called shingaras. Yes, I know I'm being confusing, sorry!

So back to my BSI entry. I have been toying with the idea of making sweet samosas for a while now. I figured using strawberries as the filling was the perfect opportunity to experiment. I was initially going to use phyllo dough but it's so fiddly, so I went to my reliable puff pastry dough. I thought of adding some chocolate to the filling because what goes better with puff pastry than chocolate? Think of pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) and you'll see what I mean. The results were good. Very good. I may have to take the leftovers to work tomorrow so that we don't scarf them all tonight.

Sweet Strawberry Samosas
1 sheet puff pastry
1.5 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. sugar, separated
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. orange extract

Thaw puff pastry for 40 minutes.

While puff pastry is thawing, take prepared strawberries, and add honey, 1 tsp. sugar, and orange extract. Mix well, and let sit for approximately 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

After puff pastry is thawed, cut into 9 squares. Take strawberries and drain any remaining liquid. Add chocolate chips and combine.

In each square, place approximately 1 tsp. of strawberry mixture in center. Fold up corners diagonally to form a triangle. Press edges shut. You may need to adjust filling amount as necessary so samosas are not over-stuffed.

Once all samosas are made, lay on cookie sheet. Spray more cooking spray or spray butter on tops and sprinkle remaining tsp. of sugar over samosas.

Bake approximately 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.

Let cool and drizzle chocolate syrup over samosas if desired.

Now as you can see, I definitely over-stuffed my samosas, since they burst open at the sides while baking. However, I still think they looked good this way, since now I don't have to cut them open to show the filling! :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Pi Day!!

So this morning I walk into the break-room at work and notice some pies on the counter. Then I open the fridge to get my almond milk for my oatmeal and notice more pies in the fridge. I'm puzzled for a minute or so. I know one of the partners here has a big birthday coming up and he likes pies, so I thought it was part of a birthday thing.

Then I realize what today's date is -- 3-14. Pi! It's Pi Day, so we're clearly having pies at some point today! Me so smart, and this was BEFORE my ritual morning Coke Zero! :)

Make sure you have some pie today to celebrate Pi Day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sleep the impossible sleep

I seem to be having a hard time with this time change.

I haven't slept well at all the past few nights. Yesterday I felt like a zombie at work. This morning I somehow woke up at 3 am and tossed and turned until about 5 am. That's when I decided I might as well get up and do some yoga, since I missed the past couple days. I did about an hour and went back up to bed and managed to fall asleep finally, waking up in a panic around 8:30 because I'd forgotten to reset my alarm clock! Oops!

Anyway, I'm awake and at work now!

Has anybody else been having a really hard time sleeping lately? How do you stay asleep or go back to sleep if you wake up?

I hope to have a dinner picture for you guys tonight. I've been so tired from work I haven't been cooking much, let alone taking pics.

Here's a couple things going on in blog-land:

Laura at Hey What's for Dinner Mom is hosting this week's BSI

Heather at Heather Eats Almond Butter is hosting a Turtle Mountain product give-away

Missy at Missy Maintains is hosting an Erin Baker's give-away

See ya for now!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Who wants to be a BSI winner??

I do apologize for the lack of pics lately -- I've been posting from work, so no camera here.

Anyway, on to business! :D

As you know, I was waiting in anticipation for the submissions and I was not disappointed!

Here was the line-up:

Mara at What's For Dinner: Basil Chavrie-Stuffed Burgers

Sweetie Pie at Just Sweet Enough: Sunny Basil Orange Salad

Beadie at What I Ate Yesterday: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

Laura at Hey What's For Dinner Mom: Pesto-Glazed Vegetables over Feta Infused Polenta

Brandi at BranAppetit: Basil and Strawberry Scones

You guys did a great job with your recipes and I cannot wait to try them all. It was very hard for me to choose, so I enlisted some outside help (husband, a couple coworkers, a couple friends).

Everyone had at least a couple favorites, but in the end there was one clear winner.

And yes, I'm dragging this out on purpose!

Who is the winner?

Drumroll . . .

BRANDI!! Brandi's entry of Basil and Strawberry Scones definitely drew everyone's attention because of the intriguing and creative combination of ingredients.

Congratulations! Email me when you get a chance so we can get details hammered out.


I'm not done yet! I still have to pass on the BSI torch!

Please join me in congratulating Laura at Hey What's For Dinner Mom. Laura's blog is a pleasant new discovery for me and I love her focus on healthy but delicious foods. I'm excited to see what she picks for the next BSI contest!

Congrats again, Brandi and Laura!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Weekend plans and BSI reminder!!

I actually have some hint of a life this weekend, yay!!

Tonight, Mr. Spice and I being all intellectual and catching a foreign film at the High Museum of Art -- we'll be watching Africa Paradis. It's in French but has subtitles, which is good since my French is a bit rusty now. Le bwahahaha.

Tomorrow I'm at work for a few hours and then we're going to try to watch Watchmen depending on how tired and brain fried I am. I would like to enjoy some of the nice weather we're supposed to be having this weekend. It's supposed to be near the 70s. Remember, last weekend was the weekend of thunder snow. What huge swing in temperature!

Sunday, don't have much planned, which is just how I like my Sundays. :D

Oh and of course I have to remind you about getting those lovely BSI submissions in! Midnight Sunday evening is the deadline!

What are YOUR plans for this weekend?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reminder about BSI: Basil!

Sorry, don't have much to talk about today, work wiped me out.

Just wanted to get in a reminder about this week's BSI contest -- I've already received a couple submissions and look forward to more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yet another busy day

I'm well in the middle of tax season right now, but there is an end in sight! I believe it is EXACTLY six weeks until April 15th! Wohoo! It's going to be a rough six weeks, but I will be sooo happy once it's over. The firm gives us the 16th off and I'm strongly considering taking the 17th off and just having a much-needed 4 day weekend.

In the meantime, I try to keep myself sane by taking frequent trips to blogland during the day. By doing so I have discovered some cool contests going on! Who doesn't like free stuff?

  • Sweetie Pie at Just Sweet Enough is celebrating her 50th post by giving away some yummy looking snacks here.

  • Alisa at One Frugal Foodie is giving away a HUGE variety of goodies like breakfast cookies, brownie bites, granola, and mini cookies here.

  • Katie at Chocolate-Covered Katie is giving away an entire case of Jocolat here.

And of course, this is your friendly reminder about this week's BSI contest! Your lovely basil creations are due by midnight on Sunday, March 8th. I already cannot wait to drool over the entries.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A long delinquent lunch post!

After seeing all the yummy oatmeal combos people keep posting, I was inspired to do one this morning. Last night I took oatmeal, vanilla almond milk, cherry Craisins, and some slivered almonds and put it in the fridge to soak overnight. This morning after yoga, I heated it up and proceeded to add some brown sugar and some orange marmalade.

Sounds good so far, right?

All that anticipation as I was making it, and after I took a couple bites I just didn't want it. It tasted fine, but I was running late for work and for some reason I changed my mind about the oatmeal. So it's sitting in the fridge for tomorrow. I forgot to take a picture of it too.

Part of the reason I was running late was that I was packing my lunch and since I haven't done a bento pic in a while I was busy taking pictures and then uploading to Flickr.

Not only have I not done a bento post in a while, but I haven't used my little sandwich box in forever! I forget how handy it is!

Today's lunch is a turkey, havarti, and spinach sandwich on whole wheat bread. I have a small campari tomato and some strawberries on the side. Not pictured are some peppercorn ranch Sunchips and the last couple squares of my dark chocolate with orange peel.

Hope everyone has a great day!


Sweetie Pie was kind enough to remind me to remind everyone about this week's BSI, which is BASIL! You have until midnight on Sunday to submit your creations, which I look forward to drooling over.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The perfect weekend . . . and a special announcement!

Can I just say how perfect this past weekend was? Minus having to come into work on Saturday for a few hours, of course! :)

Saturday afternoon after I got back from work, I relaxed a little and dozed off for a bit. Then Mr. Spice and I attended a Thrashers hockey game -- we haven't gone to a sporting event in a while. It was great! We splurged and got seats that were in the middle section, which I felt made a difference, since I was actually able to see what was going on! The energy at the game was great and what made it even better was that we managed to win during the last minutes of the game.

Sunday as you know, we had a bit of thunder snow to liven up the day. It was the best kind of day to stay in and do absolutely nothing. I cooked a little and watched a LOT of TV. I also did some yoga and felt fabulous afterwards, I'm really glad I decided to take part in the 31-day yoga challenge at Carrots 'n' Cake. I'm looking forward to getting back into yoga and hopefully being more consistent with it.

Oh right, I promised you a special announcement!

I was very pleasantly surprised and honored when Sweetie Pie at Just Sweet Enough asked if I would like to host the next BSI! I've just recently begun participating in BSI and it's so much fun! What a great way to challenge one's culinary creativity! Not to mention it's a great way to discover other people who love food as much as I do.

It was really hard deciding what ingredient to pick for this week's contest. In the end, I decided that this week the ingredient will be BASIL!

Basil not only smells and tastes great, but it is also good for you! I did a little research at The World's Healthiest Foods site and was surprised to learn that:

  • The flavonoids in basil provide DNA protection and may also have anti-bacterial properties

  • A component of basil's volatile oils may have anti-inflammatory effects that may provide relief for people suffering from such problems as rheumatoid arthritis or IBS.

  • Basil is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as a good source of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium!

Here are the rules for this week's contest:

  • You can use basil in fresh or dried form

  • You can use basil seeds

To enter the contest:

  • email your recipe and photo to spiceaholic80 @ gmail.com OR

  • post the recipe on your blog and email me a link

The deadline to sumbit an entry will be midnight, March 8th -- which is also when we start Daylight Savings Time, so I guess that means that's one hour less to submit an entry!

I'll update this post with submissions as I receive them -- please check back for updates!

The prize will be an assortment of Indian spices as well as a surprise!

I'm really excited to host this week's contest and cannot wait to see what everyone submits!

Sorry for the lack of pictures -- I'm typing this up at work. Shhhhh!

** Like I promised, here are the current entries for this week's BSI contest:

Mara at What's For Dinner: Basil Chavrie-Stuffed Burgers

Sweetie Pie at Just Sweet Enough: Sunny Basil Orange Salad

Beadie at What I Ate Yesterday: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

Laura at Hey What's For Dinner Mom: Pesto-Glazed Vegetables over Feta Infused Polenta

Brandi at BranAppetit: Basil and Strawberry Scones

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thunder snow and some good eats

Yes, thunder snow. As in it's been snowing this morning and now I'm hearing thunder. How odd. Even growing up in Kansas, home of weird weather, I've never experienced thunder snow.

Anyways, I decided to snap a pic of the snow to document it since it's such a rare occurrence here in Georgia.

Today's been one of those perfect hang out at home days. I slept in a bit, then did some yoga since I'm participating in the 31-day yoga challenge at Carrots 'n' Cake.

I also decided to putter around the kitchen a bit today. For reasons still unknown to me, I decided to buy some produce at Costco last week when it's only the 2 of us and the fact remains that I have tendencies to not go through fresh veggies fast enough before they go bad. So that's why you've seen a lot of spinach and tomato in my recent posts. I thought I'd better cook something that would make good use of them since they're still doing pretty good in the fridge.

I wanted something colorful, healthy, and spicy to counteract the blechhyness going on outside. Looked in the pantry and cabinets and spotted some chickpeas and potatoes and realized it'd been a while since I've made a good veggie dish.

Spicy Chickpea, Potato, and Spinach Curry

2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 green chili, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp. red chilli powder (this stuff is HOT, use regular chili powder or paprika)
salt to taste

1 medium potato, chopped into small pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained

3 cups fresh baby spinach

1/2 tsp. garam masala

Heat oil in large pan over medium high heat. Add onion pieces and cook until they start to brown. Add green chili, ginger, and garlic, cook for a couple minutes. Add tomato, cook a minute more.

Now add the spices and combine thoroughly, adding water as necessary. Add potato and chickpeas. Add about 1/4 cup water, bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir and add water as necessary.

After potatoes are cooked through, add baby spinach, and mix everything so that spinach begins wilting. Cover and let steam for about 10 minutes. Once spinach is wilted, taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Finally, add the garam masala, stir, and let sit for 10 more minutes for flavors to mingle.