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Mangoes and Chia

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Wow, now that the world has stopped careening in every direction, I actually have the motivation to write.

To start with, we are no longer a two dog household. On August 30th, we were forced to make the impossible decision to put the Lucy dog down. What started as just her back acting up turned into refusal to eat or drink, and she had been whimpering for at least five hours before we finally decided it was her time. It sounds silly to say that we are still grieving the loss almost a month later, but it’s true. I knew this dog for almost seven years, and it is hard to get used to using phrases that only imply one dog. Like feeding the dogs- dog. Or letting them- I mean Cooper, go outside. Which just reminds us again of the wonderful, hairy, needy, most patient dog ever.

Monkeybear is still very confused as well. Every time he sees a yellow lab, it’s like he gravitates to them in a strange attempt to understand the situation. It’s as if he knows that it’s not HIS Lucy, but it looks like her, and he misses her. At least, that’s all I can figure. How do you explain death to a 20 month old?

Cooper the dog is very confused by the change of dynamic as well. The first week after Lucy died, he was in super guard dog mode, being the only dog to protect the family. He’s settled down a little bit now, and I think he is mostly “over” it. But I do wonder. I had hoped that Lu would pass at home so that Cooper could SEE that she was gone, but that was not meant to be. We’ve tried to give him and Newt (who is completely indifferent to the whole situation) extra love, but who knows?

We had to quickly push that on the back burner though, with Ironman Lake Tahoe looming. We went up there a week before the race, and I have to say; If you can go during off-season, absolutely do it. We stayed in the Olympic Village, and I cannot put into words how fantastic it was. The first half of the week, it was a ghost town. Walking around all the shops, we got to actually stop and talk to the workers, and talk to them about the race, and their excitement about getting business during their slow season. There is a little place called Wanderlust Yoga Studio, and I was able to get in four classes with three different teachers, and all I have to say is that I am utterly impressed with all of them, as well as their facility. And the view! It was the perfect place to practice, and they were able to accommodate Baby-to-Be and me without any difficulty. We got to acclimate to the altitude early on, so by race day, we were walking around without any problems. Mr. IMLT got to do his taper week training on the course, so was able to get a better feel for it.

Now, onto the race.

The day before was horrendous; pouring rain that slanted at a steep angle due to the wind where we were, and snow at higher elevations, combined with the cold. Many people decided not to even start the race because of that alone, and I cannot say I blame them in the least. The day of the race was windy and cold, but clear. I didn’t get to see the swim start, but I have seen the pictures my brother took of the racers disappearing into the mist coming off of Lake Tahoe; the water temperature was in the mid-sixties, and the air temperature was in the thirties. Ouch. Monkeybear and I got to cheer on Mr. IMLT, and got a few chuckles at the sign we held up for him, “ Dad, this is NOT a Parade!” Maybe I will share the story behind this whole Parade business someday. We also got to see him on the run course, and while at the time I couldn’t keep track of his place, I did know that he was doing very well comparatively.  I was blown away by his results at Vineman, but those are in no way able to beat what he did at Ironman Lake Tahoe.

Since anonymity is going to essentially be shot but this, I’ll just use his name. My husband, Timothy Mallen, with an official time of 10:18:31, placed second in his age group, was the 6th fastest amateur, ranked 30th overall (beating some of the professional men and women), and qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Did I mention that this is only his FOURTH Ironman distance race? And that he’s only been doing triathlons for 3 years? Yeah, this man also told me just this morning that he needs to get super strict with his diet again, because he’s had a bad weekend since the race. Riiiiight.

I cannot really fathom my own pride in him. Was this his fastest Ironman time? No. But considering 21% of the field did not even finish the race, and considering how well he did, I am still in awe.

The downside? I have 9 months after I have Baby-to-Be to get back into a swimsuit. Shit.

In baby related news, we found out that Monkeybear is going to have a little brother. As more time goes on, the more excited I am about that; boys are just plain fun. Not to say that girls aren’t fun, because they totally are, but I will say that I am looking forward to NOT having to deal with princesses or One Direction just yet. We’re still thinking of names, but I have landed on a pretty sweet fox theme that I am very excited about. Both Monkeybear and Mr. Kona-Qualifier have had the chance to feel Baby-to-Be, which is suprising since Mr. Kona didn’t get to feel Monkeybear until I was about 26-28 weeks along, and I just hit the 22 week point Saturday. Then again, I am showing a lot more at this point than I was with Monkeybear, so it could be the whole stretched out uterus thing. Maybe? It’s the only this I can figure.

As for me, I was hoping that after Ironman Lake Tahoe, I would be able to come down from some of the stress of that, combined with the loss of Lu and prepping for a new baby, but nope, now I have to start planning for a trip to Hawaii (I know, it’s so hard right? Poor me.) On top of all that, my sciatic nerve has decided that no, I do not get to walk around pain-free in my own home. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor, but it honestly hasn’t been helping all that much. At least it hasn’t made it worse. My weight gain was going excellently up until the week before the race. Now, I’m just trying to slow it down so that I can be comfortable with it. Which is very difficult, since I essentially want to eat everything in the flipping kitchen, which wouldn’t be good. Because we have lots of chocolate that Mr. Kona-Qualifier bought up in Tahoe. And the Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Peanut bars. I swear those things have crack in them.

The story behind this recipe is really simple. With how terrible this week has been calorically and nutritionally, I was looking for a light snack that would be filling, healthy, quick, and easy. It is literally 3 ingredients, and is idiot proof. I didn’t even realize how good it was going to be until I tried it, I was just planning on eating it despite what it may taste like. My walking buddy once said that if someone told her that cardboard was a superfood, she’d eat it, and I’m very much the same way. That being said, this was excellent, or I wouldn’t be sharing it with you.

Chia is considered a superfood because of its high fiber content, omega-3 fatty acids (which are excellent for baby brains), and mineral content. It doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor, but it gives a really nice nutty hint to whatever you are using it in, and absorbs liquid like crazy.

I used frozen mango that is pre-cubed for this, but fresh would work just as well. It’d probably be better, in all honesty, but since I don’t have that on hand, I’ll use what I do have. Mangos have a ton of Vitamin C, as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, and fiber.

For this recipe, Chinese Five Spice is an absolute essential. I do not authorize the use of anything else. Go out and buy it if you have to. This is what makes the whole thing come together. Trust me.

 

Mangoes and Chia (Makes 1 serving)

 

Ingredients:

1 cup mango, cubed

1 tbsp chia seeds, raw

Chinese Five Spice to taste (a few dashes should do it, no more than a 1/8 tsp)

 

Method:

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Eat glutinously.

Split Pea Soup and Irish Soda Bread

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So, in light of yesterday’s tell-all post, I woke up in a great mood. That is not to say we had a great day; first thing, I see blood on the floor, and I know it’s from the big girl, Lucy (one of the “Two Dogs”). This, of course, freaks me out, because for the past few days, her legs have been going out. I inspect her, and find that it’s a coming from a small sore, so nothing life threatening, but heartbreaking nonetheless. Then I try to get her back legs under her, since she is struggling to stand, and failing miserably.

This does not go as planned.

I put my hands under her hips and lift. I get her legs underneath her temporarily, but pushing on her abdomen before she has had a chance to do her business outside… and a log escapes. She is immediately panicked, because she knows she is not supposed to go in the house, and I have to reassure her that she is, in fact a good girl. I have her lay back down, and wonder what the hell to do next.

First, I call my walking buddy, who I know is on her way to my house. I ask if she’ll help me carry Lu outside once she gets here, and she automatically agrees. I get off the phone with her, and call Mr. Going-To-Ride-the-Height-of-Mt.-Everest. Lu was his dog before she was ours, so I make sure to keep him extra updated on her. I tell him what is going on, and he says, “Can you drag her out on her dog bed?”

Uh, dur. I should have thought of that. But it’s a brilliant idea, and I decide to go for it.

After a few very worried looks from both Lu and Cooper, who is prancing around us like, “Hey, what’s going on? Why are you doing that? Is this play? I am very skeptical of this whole affair”, we finally get Lucy outside.

So far, Lucy has been okay. Just okay, but hanging in there. She’s moving without assistance now that I gave her Tramadol and Glucosamine, but it’s slow, and frankly, I’m not rushing her. She’s almost 14, which is old for a lab, and unfortunately, this is a chronic condition that we have been to the vet for already. There is no cure, except to make her comfortable, and hope she bounces back. She did the last time, so we’ll see.

With all that being said, I am still in a really good mood. I think, in part, because my focus on eating has been twofold today: getting in the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals rather than looking at calories, and getting enough water. Seriously, look up how much water you should be drinking, I think you’ll be surprised.

Now, onto the recipe.

Like I just said, I have been focusing today on my nutritional intake rather than my caloric intake. I had already been planning on making Split Pea Soup, as I am trying out recipes for when Baking Baby gets here. I looked at vegetarian recipes, and found a few that looked promising, but I was after something simple and healthy. I prepped all the ingredients last night, popped them in the fridge, and dumped them into my slow cooker this morning. It really doesn’t get a lot easier than that. This soup is high in dietary fiber (about 19 grams), protein (again, about 19 grams), vitamin A, and Iron. As for the Irish Soda Bread, it seemed a sin to NOT serve this soup with a nice, crusty loaf of bread, and I wasn’t about to go to the store for a loaf, when I know just how dead easy it is to make this bread. Even the bread is high in protein (10 grams), and it is whole wheat.  One serving of both the bread (which is about a quarter of a loaf) and the soup (which serves 6) adds up to about 500 calories total, so you can feel good about having something that is filling and wholesome.

 

Split Pea Soup with Irish Soda Bread

For the Soup:

1 lb (aka 16 oz.) of dried split peas

6 cups water or vegetable broth (or be bad like me and use chicken broth)

Half a large yellow onion, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp Herbes de Provence

1 tbsp sea salt

1 ½ tsp. ground pepper

1 ½ tsp. chili powder or flakes

 

For The Bread:

4 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 ¾ cups buttermilk (or just under that plus 1 tbsp vinegar, allowed to curdle for 10 minutes)

1 egg

 

Method:

1. In a large crock pot or slow cooker over low heat, add in all the soup ingredients. Cover, and let cook for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve. No, you’re not missing any steps, it really is that easy. You don’t even have to stir it if you don’t want to.

2. About an hour before the soup is done, preheat your over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a fork, cut in the butter, pressing it into the flour until it resembles a coarse crumb. In a separate bowl, add together the buttermilk and the egg, whisking to combine.

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir until it forms a sticky dough. Dust with a handful of flour, and knead until it forms a soft, smooth dough, dusting with additional flour only if necessary.

4. Form the dough into two equal balls, and place both on a baking tray. Press an “X” into the top of each. This is not just for looks, trust me. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow if you “knock” on the bottom. Let cool slightly, and serve alongside the soup.

Ravioli and Kale in Chive Garlic Sauce

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Today has had its ups and downs. A great way to start your morning is not getting on the scale, nevertheless, it’s a ritual now. I figure it keeps things consistent, at least, to have one set time to check these things. Mr. Brings-Me-Jamba-Juice-Because-He-Knows-I’m-Having-A-Bad-Day frequently tells me that you have to look at weekly trends rather than daily fluctuations. Nope, still doesn’t help.

Needless to say, I was not where I wanted to be. I’m trying to gain that perfect amount of weight, but my pregnancy with Monkeybear proved how seemingly impossible that is. The only reason I gained just 35 pounds was because I got the stomach flu at 34 weeks, which is obviously not the right way to go about things. Things like that can induce pre-term labor, which I am decidedly not interested in.

It’s hard to break the cycle of obsession with regards to weight gain or loss. On one hand, you count every single calorie you consume, down to the last single pistachio, because 5 calories makes all the difference (not really). At the same time though, this vicious cycle does by no means bring about happiness. True, you may be at the weight you want to be at the next day, but that doesn’t mean you get to stop. Oh no. That is just confirmation that you need to keep doing what you’re doing, because it is giving you the results you want. And if it isn’t, then it’s your fault, because you were not strict enough with yourself.

As for me, I have not just my life at play, but another’s as well. So every day, I get more panicked as the scale creeps up, though I know logically that it is not only healthy, but normal to gain weight during pregnancy. My mother-in-law has told me about her pregnancy with her oldest, the entirety of which was in Germany. The German doctor told her that she was only allowed to gain 17 pounds total, if I am recalling this all correctly. This was, of course, the 1970s, so things have changed. There are new standards, and more research has been done. I do not want this pregnancy to be like that. Or like it has been, for that matter. Obsessing about how many calories I am consuming, or burning off, just so that I hit that perfect 25 pounds. The agonizing about, “Well, If I eat this now, it means I can only have celery and raisins for dinner” (an exaggeration, but you get the point).

While thinking about tonight’s dinner, I knew I only had about 400 calories to play around with, considering that I took a nap instead of doing my hour and a half yoga routine I usually do while the Little Sir takes his nap. I started with the worrying about which ravioli I should choose; one sounded better, but the other one was lower calorie overall. And then it hit me.

It isn’t about the calories, really. It’s about eating healthy; making sure that the baby currently baking and I are getting vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats we need. While being pregnant does not get me a free pass to eat for two, it does put the responsibility on me to make sure that I am giving both of us the right fuel.

I ended up choosing the lower calorie of the two ravioli’s I purchased, not because it was lower calorie, but because it was higher in protein, lower in saturated fat, and had more vitamins than the other type. I bought the packages of the premade fresh raviolis, but if you have a recipe for homemade, absolutely use it. If you have a brand or flavor you like, use it. A serving of this, as I made it, has about 400 calories, which is great. But don’t stress about it; that is my lesson for the day. If you worry constantly about small things, it makes it harder to recognize the small, everyday miracles. Like sending your son’s kisses to his daddy through the phone.

Ravioli and Kale in Chive Garlic Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

16 oz. ravioli

½ c starchy cooking water, reserved

2 c. kale, ribs removed

2 tbsp unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chives, minced

Splash of white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook your ravioli according to package or individual recipe instructions. Drain, reserving ½ c of the cooking water for the sauce.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the garlic and chives, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the kale, and stir to coat. Cover the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the kale is fully wilted down.

3. Add a splash of white wine and a splash of the starchy cooking water and cook until it thickens slightly. You may not use all the cooking water you reserved. Stir in the ravioli and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Asian Fish Platter

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Our household has been prepping madly for Ironman Lake Tahoe.

This means that every spare moment of my husband’s time is devoted to getting in as many open water swims as possible, doing as much maintenance on his bike as can be conceived, testing out new gear, nailing down nutrition, roping friends into riding next to him while he runs so that it isn’t so mind-numbingly boring, and, like he did Saturday, riding the Ironman course as much as he can.

After only a few interrupted hours of sleep, Mr. Pre-race Madman and I get up at some ungodly hour, and start getting ready. Now I know what you’re thinking. He’s choosing to get up and do this. Why am I going? Well, dumbass me thought it’d be a great way to spend the day.

So we get up, throw stuff in the car, and head up into the hills with our friend Don riding shotgun, and of course, the Monkeybear. About an hour outside of Truckee, however, we have to stop, because mornings, winding roads, and Monkeybears are NOT, as we say in our household, “an excellent combination.” I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say, we will be driving up Highway 80 to go to Tahoe from now on.

So now I have to wrestle with a pukey Monkeybear, while exhausted and increasingly round-bellied, in a town I’ve never been to, earlier than most normal establishments are open. Joyous.

I park Monkeybear and myself in a hole-in-the-wall diner. I down a few cups of full-caffeine coffee, a bowl of fruit, and the portion of the pancake that Monkeybear didn’t eat. He, his stomach obviously empty, devours two sausages, some pancake, and half a Pemmican bar. The coffee only serves to heighten the rawness from the fatigue, and put me on edge. I have known for years that caffeine and I are not friends, so this is entirely my fault. Thankfully, the waitresses are very friendly, flirt with the Little Sir, and I have a few moments to mentally prepare myself for the rest of the day.

Truckee is a very pretty town, and by mid-morning, I am ably to consciously recognize that. We get to see lots of bike riders, dogs, and a train come into the station. Around that time, Don decides that he is done with his ride, and Mr. Madman continues on.

Don and I talk for a few hours about a wide variety of topics; he is from a Criminal Justice background like I am, so the topics bounce all around there, and head off into his current job, which has absolutely nothing to do with either his bachelor’s nor his almost-master’s degree. We talk recipes, flavor combinations, and meatloaf in a mug (yes, this is, in fact, a thing. Look it up, and be appalled).

I tell him about the current creative rut I am in. I have made a lot of really good things lately, but nothing that has really impressed me, or if it has, it is blatantly not mine. And he encouraged me to write anyway. To write the things that go well, and the things that go wrong. To write to keep people interested. To not let what critics say about my zucchini brownies get me too down.

This blog post is for Don, who encouraged me to keep posting, even if I am feeling less-than-inspired as of late. And for talking food with me for an afternoon.

So, I mentioned in a prior post that I would share my version of the Seared Ahi Platter from Ashland’s Dragonfly restaurant.  I shall deliver now. The reason I am calling it a “fish” recipe rather than an “ahi” recipe is because of the simple fact that fresh, sushi grade ahi is not easy for your everyday Madman’s wife to come by. That, and I’m not supposed to be eating raw fish for another 7 ½ months.

I will warn you: This is definitely not a weeknight dinner. This is very much a special occasion recipe. This is a dish to impress. It may give you a panic attack. It has several different components that have to be prepared separately, but the end result is one of the best culinary experiences I’ve had the pleasure of having. I will also note here that I am writing this for Swai, a nice, mild white fish. If you can get your hands on some sushi-grade ahi, absolutely use it. Marinate it the same way you do the Swai, but sear it on a high heat instead of cooking it all the way through.

I still haven’t QUITE achieved the greatness of the dish that inspired it, but it’s pretty damn close.

 

Asian Fish Platter

Serves 4

Ingredients:

40 Wonton wrappers (homemade are best, but you can and probably should use store-bought for convenience)

2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded, and halved

4 cups edamame in the pod, steamed

Coconut Rice:

                2 cups rice

                1 13 oz. can full-fat coconut milk and enough water to make 4 cups of liquid

                Salt to taste

Swai:

                ¼ low-sodium soy sauce

                 1 tsp garlic, pressed

                ½ tsp ginger, finely grated

                1 tsp sesame oil, plus additional for cooking

                2 tbsp sugar

                4 Swai fillets

Wasabi Cream:

                2 tbsp unsalted butter

                ½ c. heavy cream

                The juice of 1 lemon

                1 tbsp. wasabi

                1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

Sweet Soy Sauce:

                Reserved Swai marinate

                3 tbsp sugar

                ¼ c. water

 

Method:

1.  Start your coconut rice. Add all the coconut rice ingredients to a large pot over high heat. Stir to combine, and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce to the setting just above the lowest one on your stovetop, and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and keep covered for an additional 10-15 minutes minimum.

2. Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of sesame oil on medium in a large skillet. Cook the wonton wrappers until crispy and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes total. Add more oil as needed. Drain on some paper towel, and reserve.

3. Start on your Swai. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and sugar to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat until it just simmers, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

4. Place your Swai fillets in a heat-proof dish. Pour the marinade over the fillets, and let them soak while you work on the rest of the platter.

5. Make the wasabi cream. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Whisk in the soy sauce, cream, and lemon juice, then bring to a boil. Cook until thick, and remove from the heat. Whisk in the wasabi. Set aside for later use.

6. Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Remove your Swai fillets from the marinade, and reserve the marinade for later use. Place the fish into the hot oil, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the fish is cooked through and flaky.

7. Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade, sugar, and water into a small saucepan to finish the sweet soy sauce. Bring to a boil, and reduce until just thickened. Remove from the heat, and let cool.

8. Final Assembly:

                Slice each avocado half into strips, keeping the shape intact. Place onto the platter.

                Stack 10 wontons into a small tower next to the avocado.

Press the coconut rice into a measuring cup, and then turn out onto the platter, keeping the rice in the shape of the cup.

                Pile one cup of edamame onto the platter.

                Place one fillet of Swai onto each plate.

                Repeat with the remaining platters.

                Serve with generous amounts of sweet soy sauce and wasabi cream.

 

If you have made it this far, I congratulate you. And beg you not to hurt me.

Cowboy Style Pizza

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So, now that I am posting…and eating again, I figured I would do a real update about how we are doing, as well as another recipe.

Monkeybear is growing like a weed (33 ½ inches tall and 27 lbs!), and has been in the process of getting 6 new teeth. Yes, 6; two canines, his bottom molars, and now his top molars. Insane, but he is taking it like a champ. He gets more verbal every day, and wants to explore and climb on everything. He’s currently sitting on a chair at the dining room table with me and trying to type the rest of this post, so I’m sorry if there are typos.

Mr. Parade is doing well; he has been getting ready for Vineman, which will be the last weekend of July, and Ironman Lake Tahoe, in September. Suffice it to say, almost every spare moment that he isn’t at work or with Monkeybear and me, he is training. Even tonight, we are going down to Lake Natoma so that he can get in some more open water swimming. I am always so amazed at his hard work and determination. Drives me up a wall sometimes, but it is amazing nonetheless.

I haven’t mentioned much of the two dogs, nor the cat, so I will take a moment for them, too. Cooper is still a puppy at almost 5, and has lately taken to sniping food from James. He’s also in super guard dog mode, I assume because I’m pregnant, so every sound from outside automatically calls for Code 3 barking. Lucy is…well, not great. She’s becoming more senile, more stressed about everything in general, and is slowing down a lot. It’s really sad to watch, but Monkeybear has been amazing with her. As he gets older, he is learning to be super gentle with her, and give her soft pats, and good cuddling. She is also learning to handle the fact that the Monkeybear is in fact touching her, and that it’s okay. Newt too is finally getting used to the fact that Monkeybear is touching him is not an entirely disgusting thing, and is letting the Monkeybear chase him all over the house.

As for me, I’m doing okay. Though I’m still nauseous quite a bit of the time, it isn’t as bad as it was, which is a plus. Baby-to-be is about 10 weeks now, and I am starting to show, but at this point, most of the “showing” is just my uterus pushing my belly flab into a more prominent position. But there is a definite bump. I’ve also been exercising almost every day, doing at least an hour of yoga, and walking about 4 miles a few days a week with my friend M. I’ve also become obsessed with calories, because while you have to eat about 100-300 more calories while pregnant than you normally would, I also don’t want to gain as much weight as I did with Monkeybear. We’ll see how that goes.

Now, onto the food!

You know those days when you know you need to actually make dinner, but have no idea what you have in the fridge? I was having one of those days just last week. All I could think of was “Crap. What can I make using ground turkey?”

I had tomatoes, which was something. I also had a half-used bag of pre-shredded cheese, and a few leftover green onions. Then I looked in the door of the fridge. You know the place; it’s where all the dressings and sauces get regulated, and often left to expire before you use the whole container. There, nestled between a bottle of Tapatio and a jar of pickles, was the Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbeque Sauce.

It was game on from there. I knew what I was making.

The dough recipe is incredibly versatile, and you can use it with a variety of sauce-based and sauce-less pizzas. If you’re good, I’ll post my recipe for Shrimp and Sage pizza, and it uses this same dough as well. It mainly comes from the food blog Kristin in Her Kitchen, and the link to her recipe is: http://kristininherkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/no-yeast-pizza-dough-with-whole-wheat.html. I add a few things to my method that she does not, like rolling out the dough and pricking with a fork. This keeps it super thin, which goes well with this style of pizza.

 

Cowboy-style Pizza

For the dough:

2 c. whole wheat flour

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

¾ c. water, plus 1-2 tbsp if necessary

¼ c. olive oil

 

Toppings

1 tsp. olive oil (regular, not extra virgin, if possible)

1 lb ground turkey

¼ c barbeque sauce

2 tomatoes, sliced thinly and seeded

1 onion, sliced thinly

2 cups grated cheese (I used a mix, but almost any cheese would work)

3 green onions, chopped

 

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place all the dough ingredients into a bowl, and knead until the mixture becomes a smooth dough, about 2 minutes. Place the dough onto a well floured surface, and roll with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4” thick. Place the dough onto a baking sheet and trim any excess. Prick the dough all over with a fork to prevent it from rising, and bake for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

2.  While the crust is baking, prepare the toppings. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat about 1 tsp olive oil. Add ground turkey, and cook until nicely browned all over. Make sure to break the pieces into bite sized chunks. Remove with a slotted spoon, and reserve.

3. On your prepared crust, spread a thin layer of barbeque sauce evenly over the top. You may not use the whole ¼ c., or you may use more. This is your pizza. Do what you want with it.

4. Layer the tomatoes, onions, and turkey all over the pizza evenly. Sprinkle with cheese, and top with green onions. Bake for 5-8 minutes, and serve.

Caramelized Mushy Peas

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I understand that the name itself isn’t all that appetizing. Caramelized sounds good, but mushy? Mushy peas? But hear me out on this. Trust me. I gave you zucchini brownies. Have I lead you astray yet?

In the days before Monkeybear and Baby-to-be, Mr. Two-Ironmans-in-a-year-is-a-GREAT-idea and I went to the British Isles for our honeymoon. We’d already been to England once when I was still in high school, but this was to be a three week getaway, and our first as a married couple.

I sincerely disliked fish at the time. Now that is not the case, but at the time, I really didn’t care for it. But I decided one evening, before seeing Spamalot (which was a riot), that I would try traditional Fish and Chips.

The fish was decent. I didn’t have any trouble eating it. The chips, which to us are really steak fries, I enjoyed. On the side of the plate, however, was this green almost-mashed potatoesque lump of…what was it? Oh. “Mushy peas.” Already out of my comfort zone, I took a bite.

I love peas, but I was in heaven after that. Words cannot describe how marvelous these were.

A few years later, watching a YouTube video on how to make fish and chips, (which in and of itself was interesting. The recipe called for pureed bell pepper instead of egg) I saw them again: the mushy peas. I was instantly reminded of my experience with the real thing in England, and had to make them again.

Now, this is a recipe that has been conglomerated from a few different ones, and I in no way, shape, or form claim that these are anywhere near traditional. But these are one of the few things I have been able to eat during my first trimester, and I have never had my mushy peas turn out anything less than brilliant.

I dare you to try these. Once you see the ingredients list and method, I think you won’t be nearly as turned off by it. I hope.

 

Caramelized Mushy Peas

 

3 cups peas (either fresh if you can get them, or thawed from frozen if not), patted dry with paper towel

1 tbsp butter

1-2 tbsp milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

1. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter until it is just turning light brown. Add the peas, and stir to coat the peas in the butter. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Some of the peas should be caramelized by the end. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

2. Add in one tablespoon of the milk, and mash using a stick/immersion blender. Some peas should be left intact, but not many. Add more milk if necessary; it should be about the consistency of mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Whole Wheat Gnocchi

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So, as a result of being pregnant, I find myself not wanting to eat… well, a whole lot of anything really. The other night, Mr. This is NOT a Parade and I were watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and Jabba’s Palace made my stomach turn.

I have watched countless drunk people vomit all sorts of fantastic colors. You’d think I’d be able to at least LOOK at Jabba. Nope. Not even for a little bit.

This was something I think I could eat any time. Gnocchi is a potato pasta-like dumpling, so its main purpose is to be awesome in some form of sauce. I chose an Alla Vodka sauce (that wasn’t very good, to be honest, but that’s what I get for buying it in a jar) and some peas, but the gnocchi really did end up being the star of the meal.

The first time I made gnocchi was an absolute disaster. I boiled and steamed the potatoes as instructed, and ended up having to add a ton of flour and at least 3 eggs to get it to turn out. I have, however, figured out the secret to non-soggy gnocchi dough: baking the potatoes. Or, you can use my cheat, which will make some of you cringe, but I have no shame in it whatsoever. I microwave my potatoes. The average potato will be perfectly cooked in the microwave by popping one in there for five minutes on each side, so ten minutes total. If you do two, increase the time per side to 7.5 minutes. And make sure you prick them all over with a fork, you don’t want them exploding. Microwaving the potatoes gets them done faster than my oven can (which oftentimes picks and chooses what it will or will not bake, and it will NOT bake potatoes even under threat of death), and they turn out perfectly fluffy and cooked on the inside.

I very much multi-tasked during this recipe. Once I had the potatoes cooked, I set my water boiling, and then made the dough. Once I had the dough made, I made the gnocchi, and put them into the water as they were ready, while continuing to roll out more of the awesome potato dumplings. The way I did it was much quicker than the traditional method of baking the potatoes, making the dough, making the gnocchi, boiling the water,  cooking the gnocchi in batches, then eating. Nope. Not going to happen.

I will say this: this recipe from start to finish took me about 2.5 hours. So this is not a quick weeknight meal. If you do it right, it can still be a weeknight meal, but don’t expect to put it on the table in 30 minutes.

 

Whole Wheat Gnocchi

2 lbs potatoes (choose a Russet or a Yukon; stay away from the waxy potatoes)

1 c. Whole Wheat flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 egg

 

Method:

1. Bake the potatoes; either on a baking sheet in the oven for 50 minutes or on a plate in the microwave for 10 minutes, five on each side. Once cooled, peel the skin off the potatoes, discarding the skins and placing the innards into a bowl. Using a potato ricer, process the potatoes in small amounts until all of them are “riced”.

2. Set a large pot filled with salted water on high heat. Bring to a boil while you do step 3.

3. Add the flour, salt, and egg to the bowl, and knead with clean hands until it forms a dough. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces.

4. Taking one of the eight portions of dough, roll it out on a clean surface until it forms a rope about ¾ of an inch in diameter. Cut the rope into segments approximately 1 inch in length. Roll each individual segment into a ball. Taking a fork, roll each segment along the back of the fork, so that there are ridges from the fork on one side of the dumpling, and an indentation from your thumb on the other. Place the dumplings into the boiling water as you make them. Continue this process on the remaining 7 portions of dough until they are all done.

5. Take the gnocchi out of the boiling water using a slotted spoon or spider once they pop up to the surface, about 2-3 mintues. Shake off any excess water, and reserve until needed.

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