Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's here!! My 100th post and a give-away!

Wow, 100 posts! I started this blog in the summer of 2007 when I was just discovering the world of cooking and food blogs. I took breaks here and there when work was really busy or while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with this blog, but here I am today!

Don't worry, I'm not getting all emotional or anything. I promise.

Anyway, I think this past year is when I started taking it more seriously and started participating more in the blog community. It's been great getting to know more of you and I hope to continue to do so.

So enough of all this mushiness, let's get down to the goodies!

As you can tell, a lot of my food posts have a definite slant towards Indian/South Asian food. That's because that's what I grew up eating and as much as I love discovering or recreating favorites, I also like to share them with you guys.

I know a lot of people who like Indian cuisine but are often too scared to try it on their own. Believe me, I've been there. It seems so complex with all the different spices, but really once you have a good stock of the basics, you'll find that most recipes rely on some key spices in varying proportions.

So with the hopes of luring more of you into trying your hand at Indian food, I give you Spiceaholic's Cookbook & Spice Kit:

That's right, I'm giving one lucky reader:

  • A copy of The Everything Indian Cookbook, by Monica Bhide, which is a great intro to Indian cooking.
  • A few basic spices so you can start cooking! Starting at the top left and going down are ground cumin seed, tandoori seasoning, and garam masala. Starting at the top right and going down are panchphoran (a Bengali spice blend), ground coriander, and turmeric.
  • A packet of my favorite lychee-flavored gummy candies (that's just for fun!).

Sound good to you? Can't wait to start cooking away? Wondering how you can be the lucky winner? Here are the different ways you can enter:

  1. Leave me a comment telling me what your favorite Indian dish is or what dish you want to try.
  2. If you have a blog, please link back to this post and clue your readers in to this give-away. Then leave me a new comment telling me you've done so and with a link to your site.
  3. If you don't have a blog, send an email to spiceaholic80 @ gmail dot com with "Spices" as the subject line.
You have until midnight on the evening of Friday, May 8th to enter. I will be out of town that weekend, but will announce a winner no later than Monday, May 11th. The winner will be selected via the random sequence generator at random.org. Due to shipping costs, I do have to limit entrants to U.S. and Canada residents.

Good luck everyone! Hope to see both new and familiar faces. :D

Shopping is fun!

Since I'm on the verge of post #100, I figured it was time to gather the rest of the goodies I'll be giving away in my next post.

I hit up World Market because I wanted to see if I could find anything to bring for my mother-in-law when we go to Florida next weekend. Yes, I'm such a good daughter-in-law. :P

I swear World Market and Target are like crack for me. I go in there for a purpose and end up spending WAY more than I intended. I found something for my MIL, I also spotted a mirror I want for the house and a cool carved jewelry box that would be perfect for my ethnic jewelry. I held off on the mirror and jewelry box for now.

I did find some of the Cadbury Crunchie bars that Sweetie Pie was teasing us about the other day, so I got one to try and stocked up on some other chocolates.

Don't worry, I got exactly what I wanted for the giveaway! You'll just have to wait until tomorrow when I post about it! But I think quite a bit of stuff for me found itself into the cart that I didn't really need but I bought anyway. Sigh.

Hope everyone is having a great Wednesday! Tonight is the 100th episode of LOST, so you can bet I'll be glued to the TV tonight!

For some midweek cheer, check out all these cool give-aways going on:

Tina at Carrots 'n' Cake is giving away a Flogg Daily planner

Sweetie Pie is giving away some of her favorite treats in honor of her 100th post

The Fitnessista is giving away a great-looking vegan cookbook (and some cookies!)

Kelly at Happy Texans is giving away some awesome treats

See ya tomorrow!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Red Enchilada Chicken

This recipe really could not be any simpler. And it's so versatile -- if you're watching carbs you can eat it with salad or veggies, if you're not watching carbs then you can serve it with rice or in a tortilla. Oh and it looks so colorful and pretty, so there's really no reason not to try it!

Red Enchilada Chicken

12 oz. thinly sliced chicken breast (this equaled about 3 slices for me)
1 cup red enchilada sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/3 cup sliced green onions
additional seasonings for chicken (I used fajita seasoning)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take baking dish and spray with cooking spray. Spread half the enchilada sauce on bottom of baking dish. Season chicken breasts and lay in dish. Pour remaining sauce over chicken. Sprinkle cheese and green onions on top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Here's a closer shot, in case you needed more convincing! :D

Spicy Supreme Pizza Pasta Sauce

The idea for this sauce came to me at the most random moment -- as I was in the middle of my torture session at the gym yesterday. Weird, I know.

Anyway, I'd bought some hot Italian turkey sausage a few days back and was trying to figure out what exactly I should make with it. I had pretty much settled on doing a baked ziti type dish, when I thought of a supreme pizza inspired sauce. I envisioned crumbled Italian sausage, turkey pepperoni, olives, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and sauce. Yum. At first I thought it'd make a cool baked pasta dish, but then realized it could just as easily be a regular pasta sauce or the makings for a pizza. Here it is!

Spicy Supreme Pizza Pasta Sauce

1.5 lb hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
2 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
8 tbsp sliced black olives
24 slices turkey pepperoni, halved
1 cup sliced canned mushrooms
2 cups pasta sauce
2 tsp olive oil

Heat a large deep pan over medium high. Add oil and heat. Then add onions and garlic, cook until onions begin to turn translucent. Add the sausage and break up into crumbles, stirring constantly. Once sausage begins to brown, add green pepper, olives, and mushrooms. Add the turkey pepperoni and heat through. Now add the pasta sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

This made about 5.5 cups of sauce. You can always add more pasta sauce to increase the total amount, especially if you're using the entire batch for a baked pasta dish.

I figured about 1/2 cup per serving, since it's pretty rich from the turkey sausage.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Friday to You!

Happy Friday to you, Happy Friday to you, Happy Friday dear whoever-you-are, Happy Friday to you!! :)

In case you can't tell, I'm glad it's Friday! This week has been deliciously slow at work -- lots of people took PTO to recover from tax season, nobody except the managing partner expects us to get any work done, and the weather has been lovely. I haven't done much work -- first half of the week I was busy helping coordinate the surprise office lunch we planned for Administrative Assistant's Day. Since then I've been happily perusing the internet, clearing out my recycle box, cleaning off my desk, and slowly getting to my post 4/15 to-do list.

As for weekend plans, tonight I'm meeting some girlfriends to watch The Haunting in Connecticut (we're suckers for scary movies), then tomorrow I have a torture session with my trainer and then an afternoon tea party. Sunday is free for now, will probably be my usual groceries, cooking, and tv/cuddle time with Mr. Spice.

I've been enjoying catching up on food blogs too and have noticed more people posting their daily eats. That's probably a great accountability tool plus it's a fun way to get new ideas. If I ever manage to get my act in gear I may have to start that too. The only sticky part for me is if I go out to eat -- not sure I feel comfortable taking pics of my food in restaurants yet. Do you ask permission before snapping pics or do you take stealth pics? I know if I'm with Mr. Spice I can't get away with it, he's pretty adamant about it. Pfft.

I'm so excited about the give-away I've planned for my upcoming 100th post! I think this is # 95, so just a few more to go! Hope you guys enjoy it!

That's it from me for now, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recipe Review - Lemony Salmon with Yogurt-Dill Sauce

Doesn't that look soooo good?

I've talked about my cookbook buying obsession before on here. It was pretty bad last year -- I don't even want to think about how much I spent! Well, I figured it was time I started cooking out of them. And since I'm back on the healthy eating wagon, a good place to start was with my Weight Watchers cookbooks. I wanted something that was easy to put together after coming home from work and that didn't taste diet-y. I think I picked a good one!

Lemony Salmon with Yogurt-Dill Sauce

From Weight Watchers TurnAround Program Cookbook, pg. 106

1 lemon
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces

Zest lemon so that you get about 1/4 tsp. Cut lemon in half and juice one of the halves and reserve other half for later.

Combine the zest, juice, yogurt, dill, and some salt in small bowl.

Take remaining lemon half and squeeze over salmon fillets, then sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat -- I heated about 2 tsp of olive oil, but cooking spray can be used instead. Add salmon fillets and cook until opaque in center, about 4 minutes each side, or to your degree of doneness.

Serve salmon with sauce on the side.

Makes 4 servings.

I steamed some broccoli and tossed in olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, and some garlic and served with the salmon.

Another big thanks to Mr. Spice for taking the picture of the salmon -- I might have to make him my food photographer!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bring on the bentos!

Wow, it's been a while since I've done a bento post! I'm hoping to get back into it so hopefully you'll see more of these! Let's see what I packed for tomorrow at the office . . .

The left container has 4 of the mini frittatas I posted about earlier. When I said mini, I wasn't kidding! These are about the size of a quarter! I plan to have those with some oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow. I also have some cucumber slices and a Laughing Cow wedge. The right container has some leftover lemony spinach couscous with parmesan and some garlic shrimp I cooked up to go with dinner last night. Just need to figure out an afternoon snack and I'm set!

I also want to remind you that my 100th post is coming up -- this one is #93! I plan to do a give-away of some awesome stuff like spice mixes, maybe a cookbook or two, and maybe a couple of surprise items. Intrigued? :)

Getting back on track . . . and a BSI entry!

Ahhhhhhh, what a nice break I had! Got lots and lots of relaxing done and although tomorrow is the start of another work week, at least it will be a normal work week.

Tomorrow will also mark the start of getting back on the weight loss wagon for many of us who were thrown off during tax season! I don't have a formal plan for this, since I don't want to get back into my all or nothing mindset and set myself up for failure yet again. I haven't decided yet whether I will go back to Weight Watchers or count calories instead. I think that I will focus on making healthy choices and watching my portion sizes for a couple weeks to ease into things.

I think where I do need a formal plan is for exercise. I met with my trainer this past weekend and he said if I want to see progress I really need to be doing cardio 4-5 times a week and strength-training 3 days a week. That sounds like a lot to me right now considering I haven't been doing much, but it's something to work toward. So I'm thinking about aiming for 3 days of cardio and 2 days of strength-training for a couple weeks and then moving up from there. Once I'm set on exercise I think the eating will follow.

Anyway, that's enough of that for now! Let's move on to the recipes. :)

First up are some mini sausage, spinach, and cheese frittatas I made for breakfast this week. I'm sure everyone's seen some variation of the mini egg quiches that South Beach Diet devotees swear by. This is mine, inspired by the egg muffins featured on Kalyn's Kitchen.

Mini Sausage, Spinach, and Cheese Frittatas

3 Jennie-O fully cooked turkey sausage breakfast links
1/2 cup fresh spinach, shredded
1/4 cup shredded cheese, any flavor
1/2 cup egg beaters

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take a silicone muffin pan and spray with cooking spray. I used a mini muffin pan that yields 12 mini muffins.

Heat up breakfast links in microwave, then cut each link into fourths. Place a fourth into each muffin well. Divide spinach and cheese among the muffin wells. Add whatever seasonings you want. Pour the egg beaters into each muffin well so that each is filled up about 2/3 of the way.

Bake mini frittatas for about 20 minutes or until egg is cooked through and cheese turns golden brown.

This makes 12 mini frittatas - I figured 3 servings of 4 mini frittatas each.

Next up is my submission for this week's BSI contest. This week's ingredient was lemon and I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to make. In the end I decided to tweak a tried-and-true recipe I've made a few times for a lemony couscous salad. I found the original source of this recipe via the WW message boards, which in turn came from this article. My first tweaking of the original was to substitute parmesan cheese for the feta cheese that was called for. For this week's BSI I thought about tweaking it a little more in order to get . . .

Lemony Spinach Couscous with Parmesan

1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
1 cup fresh spinach, shredded
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Combine shredded spinach with dry couscous. Add 1.25 cups boiling water, stir, and cover. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then fluff with fork. Add lemon zest and olive oil, and stir to combine. Allow couscous to rest and come to room temperature. Now add in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

This makes about 4 servings and tastes great cold or at room temperature.

A big thank you to Mr. Spice for taking this picture!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yay for 4-day weekends!

I did it! I survived another tax season! This one really didn't seem as horrible as past ones, but working 55-60 hour weeks and working on Saturdays will still wear you down.

Didn't get to sleep in much this morning thanks to my allergies -- I woke up sneezing up a storm but thankfully the Claritin-D seems to have finally kicked in.

I'm not quite sure what to do with all this time off. I'm seeing my trainer today for a much-needed torture session. I ended up putting on some more weight this tax season and really need to get my butt kicked into gear. Tonight I'm meeting a friend to go check out this photo exhibit at Emory about Bangladeshi women. Sunday I have my massage and facial. That's it as far as planned activities. I'm very tempted to spend the rest of my time watching tv and reading. Very tempted. But I have a feeling I'll get pulled into doing stuff around the house that have been neglected these past couple months. Like cleaning. Blech.

One thing I will do this weekend is do a submission for this week's BSI contest! I've been so out of the loop the past few weeks so it took a while before I was able to get up to date on this week's host and ingredient. Krista of Krista's Kravings has chosen lemons as this week's ingredient. I'm very excited about this and can't wait to see what everyone else submits.

When you have a few days off do you go into couch-potato mode or do you keep yourself busy?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The light at the end of the tunnel

I'm counting down the hours until our office closes up early so we can head out to our well-earned 4/15 party. Of course what makes it better is that I'm on the events committee so I have to leave a little early to make it to the party site. Nice planning on my part, right?

We get tomorrow off as a office holiday and I'm taking Friday off so that I get a nice 4-day weekend out of it. I'm sooo looking forward to it. I plan to sleep in and be lazy for most of it. There's even a facial and massage planned for this weekend.

But what I'm really looking forward to is getting back into blogland. I missed it so much these past few weeks. I tried to read a little when I got time, but definitely wasn't able to post or cook like I wanted to. So do look forward to some posts from me again. And keep an eye out for a give-away in the next couple weeks as I head towards my 100th post!

And remember to get your tax returns in!! :)