Smooth Operator

(First of all – for those of you waiting for the 20-pounds-lost photos, I’m waiting until Saturday when I weigh-in to make sure that I’ve kept the weight off. :)  Plus, Nathan is crazy busy being a really good photographer.)

(Also, I’m taking a blogging class through UT’s Informal Classes, so you might see some changes around these parts.  Because of the class, I officially decided to buy http://loveweights.com.  Hooray!  It’s like my blog had a baby!  Er, something.)

Last night, I bought a blender.

My dearest Walter had to have some serious dental work done yesterday.  I mean, 2 root canals, enameloplasties, and temporary crowns.  **shudders**  He was a mess of numbness (yet somehow still pain) when he got home, so I bought him a blender and a bunch of stuff to make smoothies!

The one pictured here: frozen blueberries/raspberries/blackberries, fat free vanilla yogurt, skim milk, and bananas.  I’m not giving you measurements…because I didn’t measure anything.  Who needs a recipe for a smoothie??  (Um, apparently me – I called my mom to ask her to find me one.  “You don’t need a recipe!  You just throw a bunch of things in a blender!”  Thanks, Mom.  Tuna sprout cheerio smoothie, here I come.)

Our smoothie turned out pretty well.  It was a little heavy on the dairy – I would rather have way more fruit, I think.  Anybody have awesome smoothie “recipes”?  Let me know, because I want to use this totally badass blender!

For anyone who follows me on Instagram (@lizmlove), you might have seen the slew of food photos lately.  While I was house sitting in Bastrop, I cooked 5 nights in a row.  FIVE NIGHTS, I TELL YOU.  This absolutely HAS to be a Liz Love record.  I got this new, totally wonderful, kickass Weight Watchers magazine with about 80 recipes that I have never seen before from WW.  The intrigue with this particular set of recipes is that all of them either have only 5 ingredients or take only 15 minutes.  This is most definitely the best thing that’s ever happened to me, cooking-wise.  Because I’m lazy and inept!

Here are a couple from this week:

Whole-Wheat Pita Pizza with Fontina and Onions, Spinach, and Mushrooms

Spaghetti with Zucchini, White Beans, and Feta Cheese

Both of these were delicious, filling, and so healthy!  It has definitely made me more excited about cooking, and, as my friends and family know all too well, that is a feat of strength.

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Liz Love, Top Chef

I’m aware that this weight-loss blog turns into a food blog every once in awhile, but get over it.  I like food.

I’m housesitting for friends out in Bastrop this weekend, which means that I have a gloriously large kitchen with which to work, and a beautiful porch on which to drink wine. It honestly doesn’t get much better than that.

Last night, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, with a list of ingredients to make Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and some roasted vegetables.  As you may have noticed, I don’t usually cook dinner.  It just seems like so much damn work for not enough payback.  But while I was at home with Mom and Dad, I was inspired.  They cook together almost every single night, and they make such incredibly delicious and healthy food.  (In fact, you saw a very similar meal in this post.)

My dad always tells me that cooking isn’t hard – it’s just reading instructions, and you need a little experience to improve your cooking prowess.  I understand these things.  I am also a little lazy.  However, last night I was on fire.  I left work, drove out to Bastrop, got everything I needed at the grocery store, and immediately started cooking when I got home.  Walter was totally beat from his day at work, so I insisted that he didn’t help me.  I wanted to do it on my own, and I was friggin’ determined!

That was until I realized you have to peel a squash.  Why had I never thought about this before?  Of course you don’t eat the squash skin.  But when have I ever had to peel a squash??  Man.  It was a feat of strength.  Seriously:

Shit got real.

Also, note to self: do not get a manicure and then immediately peel a squash.  That skin is so damn thick!  And it’s an awkward shape!  Why does it have to be so delicious???  My life is so hard.

But I did successfully get the vegetables in the oven, without any major mishaps.  Walter came to the rescue for the chicken – it needed to be flattened into a manageable thickness for cooking, and he’s a man.  Raaawwwrrrr.  There were a few other bumps in the road: I realized at the end of cooking the chicken that I had cooked only 2 chicken breasts, but enough sauce and sun-dried tomatoes for 4.  I burned my finger on the door of the oven (why do I ALWAYS forget that is hot as well??)  My timing was off with vegetables vs. chicken, and the roasted vegetables were done a little too early.  I had to call my parents at least 3 times to ask questions about the whole debacle.  Blah blah blah.

BUT!  At the end of it all, we had an incredibly delicious and healthy meal that I had made! All by myself!  (OK, almost – I had a couple of assists from the awesome Walter.)  My mom is right – it always tastes better when you make it.

LOOK AT THAT!!  I was so excited that I e-mailed the photo to my parents…and then I called them about 2 minutes later to check if they had seen it yet.  I was so proud of myself – it was a little ridiculous.  I mean, people cook meals on their own all the time, all over the world.  But those people are not me.  I had to lay down afterwards.  For awhile.

Hooray healthy cooking!  Hopefully, this is a step towards more consistent culinary adventures.  Tonight – whole-wheat pita pizzas!

Killer Squash

Yesterday, my mom brought this home from the store:

HOLY KILLER SQUASH, BATMAN!!  Seriously, what??  There are squashes (squash? what’s the plural here, people??) in existence that are this gargantuan???  So very many question marks.  It totally blew my mind.

We’ve been eating roasted vegetables for dinner ever since.  It’s brilliant:
• Cut up killer squash, slightly less murderous potatoes, carrots, and any other veggies you love into 1-inch pieces.
• Put all of your yummy cut-up vegetables in a big bowl, drizzle oil over them, and mix them up with a spoon (or your hands, you know, whatever works) to coat them thoroughly.
• Spread them out on parchment paper on a baking sheet (so that you don’t get your baking sheet all oily and gross).
• Bake in the oven at 450° for about 45-60 minutes – as brown as you’d like them!

And lastly, eat meals like the ones pictured below with the people you love. :) Delicious!!

Chew While You Cook

(If you aren’t currently humming “Whistle While You Work” to yourself, we’re not friends.)

Today’s tip:

Chew gum while you bake and/or cook.

A co-worker let me in on this little secret.  Um, how genius is that?  Hopefully, it makes you think twice about little bites and tastes while you’re baking or cooking.  Or, if you taste it, it’s disgusting because you’re chewing gum.  EWWW.

Not that this really applies to me.  Because I barely cook, and I certainly don’t bake.  Oh well.

That’s all I have today.  On a completely unrelated note, here is a photo from my walk around Town Lake the other day:

Love this Austin place.