Thursday, April 25, 2013

My New(est) Favorite Recipe x2

I have a couple recipes that were a huge success lately. Well, huge success with J. 

I don't know what order to put them in. So let's pretend this is dinner. For dinner, we are having Shepherd's Pie. Then, for dessert, Tropical Zucchini cake, with vanilla ice cream. 

I don't know what I was looking for when I found this Vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe. It intrigued me, and I decided to try it. I used the cool allrecipes feature to slim down the recipe to 4 servings, since J was deployed and I was only feeding myself. Also, I have yet to follow the exact recipe. 

First, I don't like celery. So I never use it. I will sometimes add celery salt instead. Second, I used real dairy. I wasn't going to go buy a bunch of stuff just for one recipe. BUT, I loved it. I gobbled that shit up! Really, it was amazing. I used Smartground meat substitute. 

I used the same recipe when my MIL came to visit to make a Cottage Pie. 

Ok, ok. let me 'splain. Gordon Ramsay done taught me that there is a difference between Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie. See, a shepherd herds sheep, and therefore his pie would be made with lamb. A cottage would have a few cattle, and their pie would be made with beef. SO, if you use beef, it's a Cottage Pie, and if you use lamb it's a Shepherd's Pie. 

ANYWHO....

I made cottage pie for Dora, and also used sweet potatoes instead of russet potatoes. It. Was. Awesome. Seriously, we loved it. 

I made it again yesterday for J. A real Shepherd's Pie this time. Lamb, but no carrots or celery. I had some fresh zucchini and chopped it up in there instead. It was freaking amazing. Again. 

So no, this is not about my cooking. I really think this recipe is amazing. It's a very basic recipe and is easily adaptable to whatever dietary needs or wants you have. Aside from the servings feature, you can easily make it carnivorous, vegetarian, or vegan. It takes a little work, but you can do most of it ahead of time, like I did yesterday. I cooked everything and put it all in the casserole dish, then in the fridge until we were ready for dinner. It took an extra 10 minutes in the oven. I bet you could freeze it and bake it from there. I might have to test that.

Now time for dessert. 

My Grandma Millie (the crazy one) used to make zucchini cake. I loved it. I think I may have been the only one in my family that liked it, but I have fond memories of that cake. It was moist and sweet without being too sugary sweet. She had some kind of white frosting on it that I can't quite duplicate. Yet. 

While Mom was cleaning out Grandma's house, she found the recipe for Tropical Zucchini cake, and emailed it to me. It calls for coconut, which Grandma never used, probably because I don't like coconut. So I obviously didn't use it. She never used nuts either. Same here.

Here's what I had to work with:
2 cups sugar (1 1/2 c. brown sugar)  
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs or 6 egg whites 
1 cup oil 
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda                                                  
3 cups flour                                                
1 medium #2 can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 cup nuts                                                   
3 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cup coconut-optional                        
1 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
 
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I know it went in a 9x13. I decided to mix everything by hand, which I will not do again. I used the brown sugar and whole eggs. I mixed all the wet ingredients and sugar, then added the dry. By the way, a #2 can is the small can of pineapple, about 8 oz. My oven tends to take the full baking time or a little longer, and it did. I chatted with Mom and decided to make a cinnamon roll frosting from the Better Homes & Gardens big red checkered cook book (you know the one). It wasn't as thick as what I remember Grandma using, but it was nice. 

And J approves. He told me that it is not cake, it is awesomeness. He calls it zucchini awesomeness. It's awesome with some simple vanilla ice cream. 

It really makes me happy that he likes it as much as I do. I don't really know why, but it does. Maybe because it's a happy memory of Grandma, before she started being so crazy. She used to cook and bake all the time. She would make pancakes in animal shapes and she was awesome at it. As we all got older, she started trying to make everything "healthy" and her food went downhill. Like an avalanche. But I remember this cake and how much I loved it. And now I get to share that with J, just a little. /mushy moment

So anyway, these are my latest successes. I might think about trying a cream cheese frosting next time. I think it would go well, just like it does with carrot cake. And no, sorry, I don't have any pics of any of this food. But trust me, it's tasty.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Been A While...

I know, I haven't written much lately, but I kinda feel like writing right now. So here is a general update.

J and I are getting into a schedule. He's working, but not pulling late nights *knock on wood.* He gets to do his own PT and loves that. He gets up early to run, bike, or swim a few days a week, and we hit the gym twice a week. He'll work out over lunch sometimes, and of course on weekends.

I'm trying to run, of course, and hitting the pool once a week or so. Like I said, I'm hitting the gym twice a week with J now. And that means the weight room. He's showing me how to use the Hammer Strength machines, which are like a machine/free weight combo. We do a few things with dumbbells and yesterday did incline sit ups. I feel good when we go, even if I'm sore the next day. When it's nice enough and not too late, we ride our bikes to the gym, which works as a warm up. I even tried a spin class. It was exhausting, but I could feel that certain muscles in my legs were lacking, and I think it could help me. I'll try to do that once a week at least.

We're looking into different protein sources for a quick post-workout protein boost. So many options out there. Whey protein, casein protein, soy, pea, egg... It's a lot to absorb. (See what I did there?) I personally want one that isn't very high in calories or carbs since I'm still working on losing the last 10 pounds to reach my goal weight.

As for the running, I got a new pair of shoes! J and I ordered the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail shoes. They don't make my color anymore, like the other pair. Also like the other pair, I totally love them. I plan to start wearing the trail shoes more for our little dirt track, and save the Neos for road work. Totally in love with Vivos. They are doing some casual shoes now, too. Still expensive, of course. Especially for a cheapskate like me.

OH YEAH! I did the World's Fastest 10K again this year! I ran it last year while recovering from a stomach bug, so I actually ended up finishing with an average flat 10K time for me. This year was much better. I wasn't sick, and the run felt amazing. I finished at 51:58. Check out the stats as recorded on my Strava app.

Not much time left till the Five Trails in LV. And May is shaping up to be a busy month. Good thing we get some vacation in June! Well, kinda. J has the Death Ride Tour. But he loves that crazy shit. He's crazy. I'm only somewhat crazy.

So... yeah. My update is mostly about working out. But I think you've come to expect that of me. So there you go. Yeah. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

From D to D

It's official! The Big D (deployment) is over for us. J is home safe and sound. It was a long, tiresome trip home for him. He's already at work today.

Because today starts the next D - the Rear D. J is taking over the Rear Detachment Battery for the Battalion. He gets to shadow the current Rear D Commander for a while to see what the usual routine is. This means work, and probably plenty of it. Rear D Leaders often have long days, work on weekends, all that fun stuff.

It was almost surreal to know he was headed home to me. I had my trip to KS to distract myself. Short trip this year, but good as usual. I actually expected his trip home to take longer and was surprised at how quickly they got it all arranged.

He came home yesterday. I was nervous, which I hadn't expected. A good friend who has been through a deployment told me it was good to be nervous. He was exhausted from the long trip and very little sleep, so we just came home.

It wasn't like what you see on TV. Since he returned by himself, I just picked him up a the airport. We hugged and kissed, held hands as we walked to baggage claim. Even Remy was more subdued than I expected. It was like his daddy had just spent a reeeeeeally long day at work. But he is definitely happy. He shadows J around the house.

It's still a little dream-like. He's at work right now, so it's almost like a regular day. Or, what our regular days have been for the past 6 months. Except I might see him at lunch. And he'll be home for dinner. I have to start cooking for 2 again.

It will take some time to adjust, for all of us. Duke insisted that I get up to get him a drink from the bathtub, even though J was up and in there. Remy is pretty tired still from his time at the kennel (he loves it there) and then 2 days with his friend Johnny.

So here we are. Whatever else comes our way - long hours, drama, meetings, all that - he's home. Now we focus on getting the rest of them home safely.

I can only imagine what my friends going through longer deployments will feel like. You all know I'm still here for you.