Progress.

Hard work and perseverance really do pay off.

Tonight, I tried on a dress.

I bought this dress five years ago. We went to a wedding in Miami, and I had planned on wearing this dress. At home in Seattle, it fit like a glove. Once we got to Florida- with the heat, humidity, indulging in some local bbq and dropping the ‘gluten free’ regimen, I had swelled just a smidge and busted the zipper a few minutes before we were supposed to leave for the ceremony. Thankfully I brought a backup. (That one broke too, but that’s a different story).

As soon as we returned home I had the dress mended, but have not been able to fit into it since. I always said that when the seamstress replaced the zipper, she took it in, and that’s why it never fit again.

That was 5 years ago.

On a whim tonight, I tried it on… and with a little help, it zipped.

For everyone who has ever questioned how or why I can be so strict about my diet when I’m doing something like ‘grain free’ or Advocare, or whatever else- that dress, and this moment is why I set rules, and never break them.

This space on the web is reserved for my love of food, which has gotten me into trouble in the past, and let’s be honest, probably will again in the future. This progress is truly overwhelming for me- this has been a long journey, and it’s not over yet. The closure of one zipper can mean so many things, and bring so many emotions.

We have another wedding to attend this fall. Now I know what I’m going to wear.

Turkey & vegetable soup

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After eating out (and drinking) every day for over a week, it was time to detox. Enter Advocare herbal cleanse: 10 days of clean eating and gut cleansing.

To a skeptic, this could seem like a difficult eating plan: focus on protein and vegetables, no sugars, alcohol, white grains, dairy, refined foods, red meat, etc. dining out is tricky, but you eat really well.

So, soup.

Take some ground turkey (or chicken if that’s your thing) and brown it in a little olive oil.

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Remove meat from the pot, add a little more oil and add a diced onion. After a few minutes, add garlic, then carrots. Let it brown and get pretty.

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Add more vegetables of your choice -I used orange bell pepper, yellow squash and zucchini.

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Now, go crazy: add a can of rinsed white beans, green chilies, crushed tomatoes (San Marzano is the best), diced tomatoes and the meat.

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If your soup is too thick, thin it out with stock. We had homemade vegetable stock in the freezer.

Simmer and season as needed.

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Green chili, chicken & white bean soup

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Back in February, we went to a friend’s birthday party. I had just finished the cleanse phase of the Advocare 24 day challenge, fresh off a nearly 2 week sick spell, and apprehensive about there being anything I could possibly eat on my restricted diet.

Though pork was technically not okay to eat yet, I couldn’t resist this fragrant pork stew. Aside from vegetables, the stew was the only thing that I “could” eat, so I did. And it was divine. I’ve made it twice now, but with chicken as I was still “dieting”, and now I’m “watching what I eat” (or whatever).

Green Chili Chicken White Bean Soup

Here is my version of the make you swoon green chili, chicken & white bean soup:

– One whole chicken breast
– One box chicken stock (I used Trader Joe’s brand – just make sure your stock is from chickens not treated with hormones/antibiotics, and free of MSG and other weird stuff that has no business being in stock if you don’t have any homemade stock)
– One can Hatch green chilies (we used mild for this batch)
– One can white beans
– One medium sized onion, chopped
– Three cloves garlic, minced
– 2 organic carrots, chopped
– Dash of oregano
– Salt & Pepper to taste
– Cooking oil of your choice (either used Grapeseed or Extra virgin olive)
– Green cabbage
– Sesame oil (about a teaspoon-ish for “frying”)

I started this process Tuesday morning – take your chicken breast, throw it in the Crock Pot (okay, don’t literally throw it..), add the box of chicken stock. Cover, set on low, and go about your day.

Hours later… shred the chicken, which will require a minimal amount of “effort” with a spatula.

In a large pot (I used my favorite Dutch oven), heat your favorite cooking oil on high-ish heat. Add onions and let them sweat. And brown a little. Then add the garlic, then carrots. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Then add your stock and chicken. Cover for about 30 minutes. Take a shower, or whatever you need to do.

Add the chilies and white beans, and simmer a little while so everything gets warm.

Right before you are ready to eat, chop up some cabbage into big chunks and do a quick fry in some sesame oil. Trust me on the sesame oil, it’s right.

Grab a bowl, put cabbage on the bottom (at least, that’s how I prefer it), then pour on the soup!

Salmon: making stuff up

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Salmon was on the menu tonight as the protein, and broccoli as the vegetable. I recently did the Advocare 24 day challenge, and the whole ‘protein & vegetable’ thing kinda stuck.

Also we had some bacon that needed to eat, so I consulted the Flavor Bible and decided on a Dijon lemon sauce-ish with sage. With steamed broccoli on the side, I think this might be a winer.

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Y O W Z A !

Yikes. I never forgot about my flog (I’ve always hated the word “blog” having “grown up” on the internets with Livejournal… but I digress), but “the holidays” start in September (honestly, more like June in my world of the jewelry biz), so taking photos of my home cooked meals then writing about them after work is just not a realistic idea.

HOWEVER

I now have a smartphone. Trumpets please, Ms. B has joined the world with an “out of date” smartphone from a product line represented by a piece of fruit.  If you’ve seen my phone, this is a huge leap.

Again, I digress.

My camera is *full* of photos of food, like our fabulous Thanksgiving dinner (oh my love!) and random meals over the past number of months.  I would be lying if I said “oh, I’ll get around to uploading those and talking about them”… they are MONTHS OLD!

So, I’m going to get back into the game. The pictures will be all instagram-y, but I’m okay with that. It is actually great to have a “camera” that makes a mediocre photo look cool (but not necessarily hipster cool). If you care to follow, I’m at blythejarrell. Which is still not my real name. yet.

So, I’ve said my peace. I think. For tonight, I’m going to nurse my Maker’s manhattan and chow down on some baked buffalo chicken “tenders” (or whatever you call the breast cut into smaller pieces) and slow roasted tomatoes.

Quick mojo de ajo prawns

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Since I saw District 9, I can’t help but think of creepy aliens they called Prawns.  Yet I digress.

Two years ago tonight, my husband and I were in Puerto Vallarta celebrating a milestone birthday for me.  We were still boyfriend-girlfriend, living together on the same car insurance, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to pop the question.  Before we went away, a few friends tried to drop hints (ahem, that’s rude), and a few comments from him made me confident I didn’t have to think about a proposal on that trip. Ha ha funny.

I promise this has something to do with food.  After the “oh my god what are you doing” incident after he got down on one knee, we decided we should get dinner.  It was late and restaurants were going to close soon (mid-week, old town, off-peak season).  We ended up at the Burro Bar on the beach, and ate mojo de ajo prawns and drank Pacificos as we watched the sun go down.  That was a pretty awesome meal, and to commemorate it, I tried to recreate it (somewhat) tonight.

mojo de ajo

Normally I would have done black beans and some type of rice, but we got a late start to dinner, and had some leftover pasta in the fridge.

Here’s what we had:

  • 12 wild gulf prawns (one was funky so we ended up with just eleven)
  • One lime
  • 5 big cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat coconut oil in a skillet, then melt butter.  Over a medium-low heat, add the garlic and simmer.  Add the juice of one lime and simmer some more.  Just make sure you don’t burn the garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.

Once the garlic is nice and soft, throw in the prawns until cooked.  We threw them (and that butter-coconut oil-garlic sauce) atop angel hair pasta with seared zucchini (salt, pepper and grapeseed oil).

We’ll see if I have nightmares tonight… that was a lot of garlic.  I’m hoping since it was so fresh (my parents grew it and the zucchini… love homegrown food), that I might be able to sleep through the night.

Grilled pork tenderloin with chunky salsa

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Driving home from yoga last night, I realized 1) we have pork tenderloin on the menu for dinner, and 2) we had no idea how we were going to prepare it.  Then I remembered we had a ripe avocado in the fridge, and I’m running low on my newest favorite thing: Zico chocolate coconut water.  And I was thinking about picking up some protein powder and coconut milk beverage for breakfasts.  So off to Trader Joe’s I went.

We already had:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 natural hormone/antibiotic free pork tenderloin
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can organic black beans
  • Fresh out of the ground organic garlic (thank you parents!)

I bought:

  • 3 limes
  • 1 carton of organic heirloom grape/cherry (??) tomatoes
  • Cilantro

Method:

Juice a few limes and smash a couple cloves of garlic and chop up half of the cilantro, and throw it in a big resealable bag with the pork and a bit of kosher salt (new favorite thing).  Do this first so the meat can get some good flavor.

Next, make the salsa.  This batch is a little corny (ha!) because I had a full can of corn, and none from the cob.  Drain and rinse a can of corn and black beans, add chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, juice of 1 lime, [chipoltle] chili powder and salt.  Save the avocado for last so it doesn’t get brown.

Now, for the tricky part.  It’s getting late and the meat needs a way to cook.  Show a little skin, and nicely ask husband to warm up the bbq.  Grilled to perfection. Not kidding.

While the meat is cooking on the grill, add avocado to the salsa and season if needed, and try not to eat it all with crack-like Juanita’s tortilla chips.

Slice and serve.  Leftovers are pretty good.

Bacon Pancakes.

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Man, it’s been a while since I’ve been here.  Time to play catch up.

A few days ago, I was poking around on Pinterest, and found this picture.  Then I dreamed about it that night.  So this morning, we made them. Bacon pancakes.  It was so easy (and tasty)!

Make your pancake mix (in my case, Trader Joe’s buttermilk pancake mix; add vanilla.. now that I think about it, I probably should have used 2 eggs for the amount of mix, but they still were awesome).

Next (or simultaneously), fry bacon.

In a new pan (we used a non-stick pan with butter).  Do as the picture looks: lay down a pice of bacon, cover it with pancake mix, then cook like a regular pancake.

Slather with maple syrup and smile.

Grass fed New York steak with green beans & roasted tomatoes

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Back from Vegas, and slightly inspired by our dinner at Smith and Wollensky… at least the green beans. We had a fantastic dinner on Sunday night, consisting of trio of scallops with tomatillo sauce, Wollensky salad, gorgonzola steak and green beans with cashews and gorgonzola.

I was dying to have steak every night.  That didn’t happen, but we started off the trip with an unforgettable meal.

Tonight was my first kitchen adventure in a while, so I decided to make it a good one.  I pan seared the New York steak in olive oil and butter, then finished it off with some red wine.  After removing the steak from the pan, added some more wine, butter and chicken stock to make a little sauce.

In another pan, I attempted to caramelize some shallots.  Distraction created somewhat burnt shallots, but still good, none the less.  Toss in some green beans, add a little fresh lemon juice, and serve with crumbled blue cheese.

As for the tomatoes… olive oil, sea salt and garlic powder. Simple. Delicious.

It’s good to be home.

Roasted Vegetables and …

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I’ve always known it as Israeli couscous. But at Central Market, it’s labelled Middle Eastern couscous. Politics and food… oy.

Font change. huh.

I digress. Today we went to the farmer’s market and got some goods. Specifically beets, carrots & asparagus, which I forgot to add to my roasting tray. boo.

Determined to have lunch for the next few days without going to the store in frustration (I’ll touch on that eventually), I made lunch.

Chop red pepper, grape tomatoes, onions, beets and carrots, toss them with salt, pepper and olive oil, then roast. About 350 degrees for about a half hour. Probably should have roasted the beets whole, but that brings back weird memories that I’d rather not mention while writing about food.

A prepared cook would have thrown in asparagus. And some of that purple kale that’s living in the crisper.

Lay it all out on a tray and roast.

In the meantime… Take your Israeli/Middle Eastern couscous and cook it in chicken stock. Remember, it’s only 1 part couscous to 1.5 parts liquid or so. I doubled the liquid since it’s been so long since I’ve made this stuff.

Let it cool, and for the love of Pete, don’t eat it all. That’s the challenge here.

Mix it all up, and store it for safe eating. I haven’t determined if I’ll heat it up or not. Probably will. Just because.