Wednesday, May 30, 2012

paleo!

Something I've failed to mention in the blog this year is the change in Chris' and my diets. Last December, Chris decided his body could not handle multiple Big Macs per week anymore. The late night pizza rolls were catching up to him, and he needed to change things. Thus, in typical Chris fashion- he chose an extreme method to change his ways, The Paleo Diet Lifestyle.

Paleo, short for Paleolithic, refers to that period in history - Caveman times. The nutrition plan is based on what people think Cavemen ate; lots of meats, wild vegetables, but no refined sugars or complex carbs. I don't want to get into the politics of the diet, because I did not choose it, nor am I following it, but I do want to discuss how it's changed our meals at home (something I should have done months ago).

On January 1, 2012 Chris began a change in lifestyle. And, being the supportive roommate that I am, I helped him out by only cooking Paleo meals at home, and rarely buying things that he couldn't eat. With the help of the Paleo Solution's 30 Day Meal Plan, we quickly found a few recipes that were quite tasty and easy to prepare. I should have shared them ages ago, but, better late than never, right?

Turkey Curry - We eat this a lot and it allows for lots of variations depending on whatever veggies are on sale.
1 lb ground turkey (we use 94/6, since it's cheapest at Sams' but I'd actually prefer leaner. You could also use ground beef, pork, or chicken)
1/2 onion, diced
8oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 can coconut milk (full fat is better tasting, but I've used both)
Handful of cashews (raw, unsalted)
1 Serrano pepper, diced with as many seeds as you can tolerate (depending on how spicy you like it)
LOTS of baby spinach, chopped
curry powder, or curry paste (or a medley of the two)
red pepper flakes
paprika
salt and pepper
Basmati rice - optional
Broccoli - optional
zucchini or yellow squash - optional

Note: If you're making this with rice, you should get that going first. I suck at making rice, so hopefully you can figure that out on your own. If your rice skills are as bad as mine and you still need a little carb fix, I've also made this with whole wheat pasta, but pita bread or naan would be really delicious too. mmmmmm naan!

1. In the biggest skillet you have, or a wok, turn the heat to med. high. Cook the turkey until almost browned, but it's okay if some pink remains. Typically I season the meet with salt, pepper, curry powder (just a bit), paprika, and some red pepper flakes.
2. Without draining the grease, add the onion, mushrooms, and any other veggies (not the Serrano). Add a few more seasonings and saute it up for a couple of minutes until the turkey is browned and the veggies are cooked to perfection.
3. Meanwhile, pour half the can of coconut milk into a larger container (a 2 cup measuring cup works well). Add about 2 tbsp curry powder, a bit of paprika, and some more pepper. Stir it up so the coconut milk turns red/green/yellow (depending on your curry-color of choice). Then pour it into your saute pan.
4. Stir it up, add the Serrano and the cashews.
5. Add the spinach in handfuls, stirring frequently so the spinach wilts. You can use as much spinach as you want, depending on how soupy you want the curry. Because we don't always eat this with rice, we tend to use a lot of spinach.

Taste it. It might need more salt. Add some! If it's not spicy enough you can top it with Rooster Sauce. Chris loves doing that, but technically it might not be Paleo-approved.

PS: Next time I make this I'll try to remember to take pictures so I can add them in.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vacation Dreams

Chris and I went to Houston this weekend to visit his family. On Friday night, our first stop was the surprisingly hip Katy wine bar, The Cellar Door. If you’re ever on Mason Road, this place is definitely worth a stop. I tried their GNO Peach Wine (tasted like fruit juice) and the 14% ABV Viognier. The cheese plate and flatbread caprese pizza was also delicious. While we were drinking and dining Chris brought up how depressing my last blog entry was. I know, I’m sorry, it was bad.

So, to contrast that, this next post is 100% positive.

Lately I have been thinking more and more about my goals and dreams. There are a lot of places out there I want to visit someday. I hope to get to all of them, and as long as I keep saving money, I definitely think they are possible.

Harry Potter World

All the US National Parks (or, as many of them as I can, because there's a lot of them)
Grand Canyon

Yosemite

Glacier (and the rest of Montana!)

Big Bend

Attend Coachella and Bonaroo
Visit New England in the Fall – drink Yingling
See the Cherry Blossoms in DC
Cruise the Mediterranean – Italy, Greece, and Spain
Australia (Oprah definitely reinforced this desire)
Switzerland and the Alps
Machu Picchu
Polynesian Islands... Bora Bora, Fiji, Tahiti, etc. This one will probably have to wait until I make the big bucks.

Sometimes when I think about all the places I want to go, I start to get mad at myself for not going to them now. What am I doing wasting my time with regular life? I have to tell myself to relax and reflect. I've been extremely fortunate to have already seen a bunch of amazing places and hopefully I'll have the chance to see a bunch more places too.

Where do you want to go? What am I missing from my list?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Car Accidents

This really isn’t a serious blog, but events of the last week made me realize I’d like to say something.

Earlier this week I read about the 81 year old man who was hit by a car while walking on the trail downtown.
(Source)
Out of nowhere.
The driver didn't make the turn tight enough, jumped the curve, and ended up hitting two people on the trail. One of them died.

One of my daily reads, The Hairpin just lead me to this article about a recent incident in NYC. Nobody was punished for any of it.

Then there was the UT student who got hit by the bus last week (the student is okay).
(Source)

Last week a bicyclist was killed on Highway 360.
(Source)

And this morning, on my way to work, a bicyclist deliberately rushed through a red light to cross the intersection. I sat, one car back, wondering why we weren't moving toward the green light yet. He so easily could have been hit.

While I know car accidents occur commonly, I know I can do more to make sure I, personally, am never a part of one.

Pay attention while you drive. Don’t text. Don’t close your eyes.

I feel like it might be because we do it every day, several times a day, we get lazy, we think it’s easy, and we lose focus. Remember how you felt when you were 16? Or 14 in Kansas (FOURTEEN!) and first learned to drive? Hands at 10 and 2, no radio allowed, tennis shoes required. I had equal focus then as I had taking my AP Calculus exam.

It’s just really sad. People should be outside getting their exercise. Austin is trying to promote green transportation. That's even more challenging if the fear of being hit by a car overshadows everything.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The time I won $8

The week before last, I returned to Vegas with 8 other girls to celebrate the end of Katy’s singledom. She’s getting married in three two weeks! Vegas was crazy, as expected, and I think Katy had an amazing time.

Friday
3:40am - Woke up, pushed GO on the coffee maker.
My genius idea (if I do say so myself), move the coffee maker next to my sink so it can brew as I get ready.

4:05am- Left the house to pick up Jaime at her house. Jaime and I were on the same flights to/from LV. We had debated asking Chris to drive us to the airport, but after discussing exactly how early we’d have to leave, we thought it’d be a lot nicer of us to drive ourselves.
5:15am - I realized I left my phone in the car. Shoot. I had texted Jaime when I arrived at her house but I failed to put my phone in my bag. I considering running back to the car to get it, but I probably wouldn’t make it back to the airport in time. I considered asking one of my friends who was joining us in Vegas to use a spare car key to get my phone and then bring it to me on their flight. However, I don’t have a spare car key. So, I decided I probably wasn’t going to be alone at any time during this trip and I should probably just tough it out and live in the 1990s.
---fly to Phoenix---
---change planes, fly to Vegas---
9am - arrive in Vegas. Woohoo, we made it! It was about 65 degrees, sunny, and time to hit the pool! Katy’s sister (the MOH) had reserved us two rooms at the Signature at the MGM. It’s off the strip, but has access to all of the MGM’s pools. Jaime and I spent several hours soaking up some rays while we waited for the other girls to arrive and for our room to be ready.
Once our stomachs started yelling at us, we had lunch at Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill at the MGM Grand. Jaime and I had a tough time meeting up with the other girls, but thankfully, she and I are friends, so we shared a delicious pizza and two glasses of red sangria. I’m not sure if it was the sun, the drinks, or the hunger, but this meal was seriously incredible.
After lunch we went back to the pool and saved chairs for the rest of the girls. We learned the hard way that poolside drinks are expensive ($17/one cocktail) so I had made plastic cups for everybody to bring down. Our whipped-cream flavored vodka/Diet 7 Up drinks were deliciously refreshing.
Weirdly, the pool closed at 5pm. Jaime and I wanted to check into our room, so we went back to the Signature to move our bags into our proper room, shower, and grab the 9th gal, Natalie. The timing was perfect and we saw Natalie arrive just as we were checking out the view from our 4th floor balcony.
Before dinner, Friday night.

That night, we walked over to the Cosmopolitan to find a place to eat dinner. Without a reservation, dinner for 8 can be hard to arrange. Only 8 girls, you ask? Ha, Ericka didn't exactly make it to dinner. She had too much fun at the pool all day. Vegas can be tiring!

We ended up having dinner at a cute Italian place, DOCG. Jaime and I continued our romantic weekend, and split the Arancini (fried risotto balls) and arugula salad.

That night, Courtney had reserved us bottle service at a totally-hip club, Tryst, at the Wynn. She knew somebody who worked there, so we only had to pay $20/each. At first I thought that was too much, however she really hooked us up. We got our own table, tons of drinks, and the best chocolate cake of my life. And, a surprise to us all, Ericka joined us before the night was over!
I lasted until around 3:30am (5:30am Austin-time)

Saturday
Once everybody was awake, Ericka, Jaime, and I went to brunch at the infamous, Hash House a Go Go. We had about 40 minutes to wait, so Jaime and I hit up the penny slots to get some mimosas. Jaime borrowed $4 from me and ended up winning about $13 for herself. I spent $1 on the slots and $1 on my drink and came back with $8! And an amazing mimosa! And our meal was incredible!
Gigantic portions

After our meal (I HIGHLY recommend this place) we went to the pool to meet up with everybody else.
After a few hours in the sun, Ericka, Natalie, and I went inside the MGM to play some more penny slots. Also, I really wanted a pina colada. Natalie was up $20 but refused to cash out (uuugh!). We left empty-handed, but not empty-bellied!
Seriously, so good.

Saturday night we all had dinner at Battista’s. The Dailey’s (regulars to Vegas) recommended this Hole in the Wall for our dinner. A very affordable option with a lot of character, Battista’s worked our really well for the 9 of us.
That night we also had an hour-long limo ride, and tickets to Thunder from Down Under. The limo was cool although not really necessary for transport. And the show? Well... personally, it wasn't really my thing, but I know Katy had a great time. If you're into man-butt, then you might want to check it out. But if you're into talented theatrics, I might recommend Blue Man group or a Cirque Show instead.
Sunday
Jaime and I left the hotel at 7:30am and made it back to Austin around 6pm. Veeery long day, but definitely worth it for the two days prior.

After being home for about two weeks, I've had enough time to rest and I'm already anticipating the next weekend out there. Vegas is one of the weirdest cities ever, and exists for the sole purpose for people to have a good time. I'd say, we did that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lifelong Friends

I met most of these girls in sixth grade. I met the rest of them freshman year of high school. We’re still friends. Hard to believe it’s possible!

I can proudly say that we’ve all grown up a lot since then. I think we’re all a lot more responsible and a lot nicer than we used to be, but we’re still very much the same girls.

My Easter weekend was excellent.

Next weekend?

Vegas with another amazing group of girl friends. This time next week I'll be winning it big in my (completely unnecessary) new shoes.