Monday, July 29, 2013

Brown Sugar Taco Rubbed Salmon

It's cooled off beautifully here, and I'm loving it. The afternoons are still toasty warm and mostly sunny, but the evenings are cool enough to cook and sit in the living room (instead of hibernating in the AC'ed bedroom).

Since I'm dutifully trying to clear out some of my stockpiled freezer, I decided to make some salmon for dinner, and I knew exactly what to do with it.

Andie's blog is a fantastic combination of weight loss memoir, personal narrative, and amazing recipes. I found one particular recipe for brown sugar chili rubbed salmon with avocado crema.

Almost immediately upon embarking on this recipe, I realized that I was missing chili powder. Rather than giving up, I decided to get a little crazy and use Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning instead. TJ's is my favorite taco seasoning because a) it's preservative and chemical free, just straight up spices, and b) it's perfectly spicy and heated without that flat flavor, burn-your-tongue variety of hotness.

So I mixed up the taco seasoning (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) with the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and rubbed it allll over the salmon. Pan fried away, and voila!

Holy moly, it was deLICious. Like, insanely good. Perfect carmelized crust, smoky sweet flavor, and moist, just-right salmon. I paired it with some roasted corn on the cob, brown rice, and zucchini. The avocado crema was the perfect topping for the Ready Rice shortcut I used.

Suffice to say, this was a hit and will definitely be my preferred method of cooking salmon for quite some time!

(Sorry for the pitiful lack of photos. I was lazy and hungry.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Watching: The Business of Being Born. I'm pretty middle-of-the-road when it comes crunchy stuff (for instance, I use a lot of all natural skin and body products because I have sensitive skin, but I can't bring myself to pay the prices for that free-range meat, and I will continue using Tide for the foreseeable future of my laundry). That being said, I'm all about this whole "normal birth" movement. Yes, I know we feel pain as a consequence of our fallen state. Yes, I know we've made huge strides in the world of medicine, and I'm thankful for the knowledge of doctors to intervene when there's a problem. But? Women's bodies were designed for this. We can do it!

Eating: Pretty much obsessed with roasted garlic hummus and pita chips. Crunchy, salty, garlicky...yum!

Enjoying: The cooler weather and pleasant breezes. I'm not even using air conditioning right now!

Looking Forward To: Summer school ending next week, and leaving for vacation a few days after that! Colorado, San Diego, and Adirondacks, aww yeah.

Reading: Just finished the first Game of Thrones book. Headed to the library tomorrow, with my trusty reading list in hand. Any suggestions from readers?

Celebrating: The successful completion of TWO 5k's!! Sister and I ran the Electric Run this past weekend, and while it wasn't the fantastic experience of the Color Run, it was still fun, and we feel very accomplished.

What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

6 Things I Learned from Indiana Jones

My friends, you know I'm kind of a nerd.

So it probably shouldn't surprise you that when Ambler Theater offered Indiana Jones: The Raiders of the Lost Ark, I jumped at the chance to see a Harrison Ford in his prime leaping heroically across the big screen.

I've seen this movie many times before, and I'll take Indy over James Bond or any other nonsense heroes any day. However, in this particular viewing, I learned several things from this archeologically driven stud.

1.) Doesn't matter how heavy that rock/statue/piece of wall is. A little grunting and a moment of perseverance, and you'll break through.

2.) Machine guns (automatic weapons) are waaay more effective in the hands of the good guys. Seriously, those Nazis are so disciplined in everything else, why can't they hit a target point-blank?

3.) Fair maidens can fall quite a distance, hit an ancient statue on the way down, and still be up and fighting within 10 seconds, bruises nonexistent. In the same vein, apparently Indy doesn't suffer from what we mere mortals would find the morning after a nasty beating and being dragged behind a truck going roughly 45 mph: basic muscle stiffness and soreness. Promptly swim a hundred yards through the ocean and climb aboard a submarine (that for some reason doesn't actually submerge)? No problem!

4.) God takes many shapes, including some unearthly banshee that transforms into a face-melting skull.

5.) The U.S. government is hiding billions of artifacts that would lead to world domination (I can only imagine) in wooden boxes. Somewhere under the White House. (?) (? = utter confusion. This is an action movie, not a conspiracy theory!)

6.) Snakes are the worst. Especially en masse.
(I actually like snakes, and yet the writhing mass always elicits a shudder.)

I'll save you!

Did you grow up with Indiana Jones, or another hero? Is there a particular theme song that makes you grin no matter what?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Color Run Philly!

Guess what I did this weekend?

I ran my first 5k! 

Sister and I did the Color Run, which was a totally awesome experience.

I've read allll about 5ks, since I was pretty nervous. So like a good runner, I laid out all my stuff the night before.

This is mostly amusing because I'm so not a "runner." I just happen to occasionally run.

We set our alarms for nice and early--4:15, to be precise--and got ready, complete with (temporary) tattoos and Color Run gear. 

Annnnd GO!

The run itself was a nice easy course. It was pretty humid out (thank you, Philly summers), but not unbearable. Sister has a heel thing (something like plantar fasciitis, we think) so long stretches of running were uncomfortable for her. We wanted to stay together, so we ran through all the color zones and did a good amount of walking the rest of the time.

Freshly through the Yellow Zone. 

Blue ahead!! Yes, the dust gets in your mouth, but it's just cornstarch. 

Mostly, it was just about the fun of it and experiencing a 5k. There was so much energy, and people were so excited and enthusiastic!

We made it!! 

I think our time was something like 35-40 minutes. Like I said, we were just doing it for fun, and since we did a fair amount of walking I was ok with that time. It's a really low-key run, they don't even officially time it, it's just about getting out and enjoying yourself!

Color bomb!

Clearly it was a blast. 

We're doing the Electric Run (the Color Run's nocturnal cousin) next week with a couple other friends. I'm super pumped!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer Readin'

One of my favorite pasttimes is heading to Barnes and Noble, preferably with a good friend, buying a chai tea latte, and wandering the aisles to my heart's content. It's relaxing, interesting, and I inevitably come away with a new addition to my reading list. Every time I set foot in a bookstore or library, I'm reminded of just how much I love to read.

Luckily (maybe?) for my parents, this has always been the case. I would behave myself for hours if I had Laura Ingalls Wilder to keep me company.

(Of course, I also tried to read at the dinner table, so maybe the whole reading-is-good-for-you has its limits.)

Anyway, something I love about summer and only working part-time is having time to read. I have a running list on my phone of all the books I want to read, so if I'm ever in the library and not sure what book to check out, I know where to look.

A few books currently on my list are:

  • 1984, by George Orwell 
  • Peter Pan, by J M Barrie
  • The Dante Club, by Michael Pearl
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer 
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Aaron Ralston
  • The Plantagenets, by Dan Jones

(This is only a sample...)

I showed this list to a friend recently and she gave me an odd look when she finished reading. That odd look made me realize what an eclectic mix of reading I do. Of course I love the classics (Count of Monte Cristo), but I'll also read biographies and histories (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot) with gusto equal to contemporary novels (The Sweet In-Between, by Sherry Reynolds). I'll tackle fantasy (Game of Thrones) and children's literature (Jerry Spinelli and Beverly Cleary). Recently I've even tried out some theological books. 

Reading has always made my life better, more interesting, and certainly teaches me things I never knew. 

What about you? What kinds of books do you like? Do you struggle to answer "what's your favorite book?" 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Friends, Food, and Phils!

Our looong weekend has finally come to a close.

Womp womp.

Dan was especially distressed, because he's not working half days during the summer. Also because he likes to lie around and watch hours of his current favorites on Netflix and Amazon Video, while I get antsy within a day hour or two.

Anyway, we finished the loooong weekend with a bang. On Saturday we decided, along with some friends, that we needed to do something different and interesting and AIR-CONDITIONED.

Did I mention we had a heat wave? Whoa boy, it was crazy. 100ish heat indices with plenty of humidity at night. Brutal.

Thankfully it cooled off, but not before we found some ways to beat--and then embrace--the heat.

Saturday we went to....

Even the boys were game. And hey, it was air-conditioned, there was stuff to look at, and Dan even bought some chip clips.

Yep yep, big spenders here.

We made up for it afterward, when we were joined by another couple for dinner at the new-to-us Cantina Feliz.

It was awesome. We're all pretty big fans of Mexican food, and Mad Mex is a regular dinner destination (especially for happy hour--great drafts and appetizers on the cheap!), but Cantina Feliz took it up a notch.

I recommend the fish tacos. And the Elotes Loco, which is this awesome Mexican style corn on the cob, grilled with a spicy cream on the outside. Delicious.

On Sunday, we braced ourselves for the heat and headed to....

Citizens Bank Park!

Sister had awesome tickets from a family at her preschool, so she treated us. We provided a six-pack of water, which started the day lukewarm at best, and by the end of the afternoon would have made a lovely bath in December.

And of course, our sweat and electrolytes were traded for sweet victory.

Go Phils!

We even stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home. Even my slightly sunburned back agrees that it was an awesome end to a loooong weekend.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 3rd Goods

I hope you enjoyed your Fourth of July celebrations as much as we did! We had an awesome looong weekend (four days, yo!) with plenty of good food and friends and all that jazz.

I wanted to share with you what I made for our annual July 3rd party (which, 'round these parts, is the real deal when it comes to July 4th parties). Every year the host, who is one of our best friends, informs me that I'm to bring my 7-layer dip.

It's a delightful combination of all things fake Mexican, and it's absolutely delicious. Seriously.

It's always gone by the end of the night. And sometimes before that.

Really, it's the simplest thing in the world to make, so here's the rundown:

Grab yo-self some refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. Put them in a dish, in that order.

If you use two cans of refried beans and roughly 16 oz of each other ingredient, you'll have enough for a 9x13 dish.

Over that, sprinkle some grated cheese (I totally cheat and buy the bagged stuff--again, about 12-16 oz) and some finely chopped lettuce on top.

(Every year I dither about for approximately 8.4 seconds about the order of ingredients in the dish, and then I realize that once you scoop it up on some chips the order matters notatall. So go wild.)

N.B. -- the 7th layer is supposed to be chopped olives, which I nixed this year because a) I don't like olives and b) I was cranky and in a hurry in an unfamiliar grocery store and didn't feel like hunting down olives when I'd already prowled the same three aisles 8 times looking for all the aforementioned ingredients.

So technically this year it was 6-layer dip.

My other contribution to the party was brownie mix cookies, one of my favorite quickie desserts. I always stock brownie mix because, why not? Brownies are quick, easy, and delicious, plus I can make them into cookies.

I use the Six Sister's method of turning brownie mix into cookies. There are simpler methods out there, but I love the way these turn out. Chewy and perfect.

One note: I used an 18 oz box of mix, which is slightly smaller than the box the Six Sisters call for. I used all the liquid the recipe called for, but probably could have done with only one tablespoon of water. After baking one sheet of cookies I added an extra tablespoon of flour to my dough, and the consistency was much better (not that the pre-extra-flour cookies were inedible, or even "off," it was just better after).

You can add on basically anything you want, which is another perk. I've done peanut butter, chocolate chips, and this time I used white chocolate chips.

Oh, plus? $1 platter from Target. Yes please.

Looks like a fiesta to me!

So that was our holiday! Did you do anything exciting for the 4th? Or 3rd or 5th? I'm liking this whole holiday-on-a-Thursday-might-as-well-take-Friday-too thing. Awesome.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Philly Summer

Whew, I thought once summer came I'd be projectin' and cookin' and bloggin' like crazy. But then you know what happened?

It got hot. And humid. And sticky. 

Anyone who's spent any amount of time in the Mid-Northeast (Virginia-New York? Maybe bits of New England?) knows that we don't just do hot.

We do muggy. We do you-might-as-well-be-wearing-a-swimsuit-because-you'll-be-dripping-with-sweat-in-10-seconds.

Philly didn't really have a proper spring this year. It was chilly and damp really late into the spring, and then the temps just skyrocketed. Without drying off. So we're still getting copious amounts of rain, so it's just humid heat. Like a blanket of moist, suffocating heat.

(Which, I'm hoping, is why my tomatoes look so stunted. Especially compared with our neighbor's bounteous beauties [they have raised beds, whereas my little plot floods in the torrential downpours we've been receiving]).

Anyway, like any normal human being, I've retreated to the air-conditioned bedroom for the hottest parts of the day, emerging only to refill my water bottle and stand as far from the stove as humanly possible while still fixing something that vaguely resembles a nutritious dinner.

I can already feel my body adjusting though (it always takes a couple days for me to get used to feeling sticky and sweaty all.the.time, and then I don't mind it as much). As mentioned here, I hate the cold with a deep and abiding hatred, so excepting the days when I need gills to breathe the unbelievably humid air, I don't mind the summer heat.

Heck, when it's 85 and low humidity with a nice gentle breeze, I'd even say it's nice.

All this to say, regular posting will resume (since I have time, that foreign concept that means something like reading books for fun and experimenting with fruity popsicles and organizing my closets) in the near future. Tonight is the annual July 3rd shindig, where I'll be toting 7-layer-dip and brownie mix cookies and enjoying some overcooked burgers and delightful friends.

Huzzah for summer!