Kitchen Adventures: Summer Kickoff

Since Memorial Day Weekend starts off the summer season, I thought I’d make a beach vacation favorite- crab cakes! I found a great recipe for Crab Cakes with Spicy Mayo on Pinterest. (You had me at spicy.) I swapped plain, nonfat Greek yogurt for mayo in salads and dressings a few years ago, mostly for the taste (I like the tanginess of Greek yogurt) and did the same for this recipe. I also added some Dijon mustard to the mixture for a little extra something. Here’s where I really went rogue: I put the spicy mayo in the crab cakes. Mixed it right in with the crab meat and half the Panko crumbs. It was a good decision. Lightly crispy outside, creamy melt-in-your-mouth goodness inside. When I make these again, I’ll probably make a little extra mayo so I can put some on top, too. I’ll be having the leftover crab cakes tomorrow morning for Crab Cakes Benedict.

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Photo courtesy of foudefoodmtl.com, as that guy really knows what he’s doing

I’ve given up on good food photography of my own. My dish looked exactly the same, just without the mayo on top.

Farmers’ Market Brunch

I’m baaack. And I brought brunch! We’ve had an exceptionally nice Spring, which has motivated me to take my fitness outside (who can stand to spin in a dark, sweaty room when there’s fresh air and sunshine in which to play?!) and has inspired me to cook with fresh ingredients. I love spending Saturday mornings at the farmers’ market, scooping up fresh produce and other goodies. With this weekend’s haul, I made a tasty Sunday brunch: roasted beet and goat cheese salad, sweet potato and kale hash with an egg over-easy, and fresh-baked rosemary bread (to dip in golden, runny egg yolks). Fresh strawberries provided the perfectly sweet complement to the savory fare. If you want to get a little fancy, try your strawberries with a balsamic reduction to really enhance their flavor (I happened to have used up all my balsamic vinegar last weekend on eggplant and tomato stacks- another fresh veggie treat).

 

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This just may have been one of my favorite brunches. Almost as good as the crab cakes Benedict and Bloody Mary made with bacon-infused vodka at Mad Donna’s in Nashville. Build-your-own Bloody Mary bar? Yes, please! I might need to work on that for my next brunch…

You too can be happy. Really. A Q&A with Shawn Achor

LWaines:

My favorite quote (and lesson): “A rhinoceros is on a treadmill, and it’s sweating and running as fast as it possibly can, and it’s looking up at this poster of this beautiful unicorn. So it’s trying to run as fast as it can to be a unicorn, and inherently it’s creating greater levels of frustration, because it’s not a unicorn, it’s a rhinoceros, and it should be the best rhinoceros that it can be.”

We can’t find happiness by looking at other people. Contentment and success start with accepting ourselves for who we are, without judgment of “good” parts and “bad” parts.

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Photo courtesy TEDxBloomington.

Photo courtesy TEDxBloomington.

“We think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier. But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order,” said Shawn Achor in his charming, immensely popular TED Talk from TEDxBloomington, “The happy secret to better work.” Achor is the CEO of consulting firm Good Think, which conducts research on positive psychology and helps people apply it to be happier and more effective at work. His 2011 talk drew on the research from his bestselling book on positive psychology, The Happiness Advantage, and since then he’s had a new question on his mind: Why are some people able to make positive changes in their lives, while others remain stuck in their ways? His latest book, Before Happiness, published last week by Random House, addresses just this question. In it Achor describes the five essential elements that are needed to develop a…

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Chocolate Stout and Irish Cream Whoopie Pies

LWaines:

I recently read that February 24 is National Cupcake Day in Canada. Even though I’m not in Canada, that shouldn’t stop me from celebrating, right? Plus, it’s for a good cause. In that spirit, I share the best cupcakes I ever made. So, they’re actually whoopee pies, which I think are actually much better than cupcakes. They’re easier to eat, and you get a taste of cake and frosting in every bite. What could be better? When I made these Chocolate Stout and Irish Cream Whoopie Pies, I had to give them away so that I wouldn’t eat them all in one weekend. So, yeah, they’re that good.

Originally posted on bake me away!:

Chocolate Stout and Irish Cream Whoopie Pies

I think this marks my first time posting a festive recipe several days before the actual holiday.  Shocking, right?  Unsurprisingly, this was kind of an experiment that I thought about doing awhile ago.  I didn’t come up with the recipe, but did try a different execution of it.

Did you know that I made a wedding cake almost a year ago?  It was this already huge chocolate stout cake recipe tripled and it was ridiculously delicious.  If you’ve never had chocolate stout cake, I think you should change that very soon.  It doesn’t taste beer-y, but has an even deeper chocolate flavor.  And just so you know, even beer haters like it. :)  By the way, all three winners of that Scharffen-Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest (remember?) incorporated stout into their cupcakes.  That’s saying something.

Anyway, I think Deb basically halved that cake recipe (she’d made it into a

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4 scientific studies on how meditation can affect your heart, brain and creativity

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Many people have tried to sell me on the idea of meditating. Sometimes I try it, and have an incredible, refreshing experience. But usually, as I close my eyes and focus on my breathing, while I know that I’m supposed to be letting all thoughts go, more and more fly through my mind. Soon I have a laundry-list of “to-dos” in my head … and then my legs fall asleep. It’s all downhill from there.

Today’s TED Talk, however, might actually convince me to give meditation another shot.

“We live in an incredibly busy world. Our pace of life is often frantic, our minds are always busy, and we’re always doing something,” says Andy Puddicombe at the TEDSalon London Fall 2012. “The sad fact is that we’re so distracted that we are no longer present in the world in which we live. We miss out on the things that…

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Kitchen Adventures: Breakfast Edition

I tried out some new breakfast ideas for an alternative to my spinach-and-(mostly) egg white omelets. One was a success. The other, eh.

Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

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from Damn Delicious

This was the one I really enjoyed. Great flavors and really filling. I’ve also seen a version for apple cinnamon breakfast quinoa and other varieties to try.

Banana Chia Pudding

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from Rooted Blessings

I didn’t love this one, but it was mostly a texture thing for me. The consistency was similar to tapioca pudding, which has never been my favorite. It was a little runny (maybe I used too much milk, what with the not measuring and all). I did add some Pb2 powder (like a peanut butter banana!), which helped to thicken it up a bit.

Any other healthy breakfast ideas?

Embracing Doubt

In one of my first posts, I wrote about overcoming self-doubt. I’d like to revisit that topic. I think there is a step between experiencing doubt and overcoming it. I think we first must embrace it. Embrace it because doubt can be a good thing. Our first reaction to negative emotion usually is to try and make it go away, push through it, stop it somehow. We do this because negative emotions hurt, and we believe that if something hurts, it must be bad. But as Lesley Hazleton points out in her TED talk about doubt, sometimes these negative emotions open us up for something far greater. Doubt, for example, allows us to have faith. (If we had all the answers, why would we need faith?) Doubt allows us to feel accomplished when we prove to ourselves or to others that we can do something we (or they) didn’t think possible. I’ve learned that doubt shows us what we want. So maybe we don’t need to overcome it at all. Maybe by opening up to doubt, by moving with it rather than through it, we can experience something new.

Kitchen Adventures

I tried out a new recipe this weekend that made me so happy from start to finish that I had to share. Turns out it would be really good for a quick and easy weeknight meal. I had been drooling over Iowa Girl Eats’ Grilled Thai Beef Salad and decided to make a version of it. However, I was in the mood for fish after seeing some beautifully hot pink tuna steaks at the market, so I adapted her recipe slightly. I briefly marinated a tuna steak in sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic (I don’t measure things, so follow her recipe if you like exact quantities). The smell of sesame oil and garlic had me very excited for the flavors to ensue. I would probably eat just about anything that involved sesame oil and garlic. While that was marinating, I toasted some sliced almonds on the stovetop. Again, yummy smells making me very excited. After searing the tuna steak for about 1 minute on each side over medium-high heat, I piled that and the sliced almonds, along with a few grape tomatoes, on a bed of kale. I lightly drizzled the salad with more sesame oil, rice vinegar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The contrasting texture of the crisp kale and crunchy almonds with the melt-in-your-mouth, warm tuna was lovely.(How’s that for mindful eating?!) And there you have my Seared Tuna and Kale Salad.

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Snow Day Hunger-Buster Soup

We had a rare snow day in the South this week, so I took the opportunity to make a hearty sirloin vegetable soup.  There’s nothing like simple, filling comfort food on a cold day. As pretty as a little snow can be, I’m glad the Polar Vortex is moving on out. I just hope it takes Justin Bieber with it… Anyway, all that business about insatiable hunger was definitely taken care of by a bowl of this soup and a yummy, gooey, grilled cheese sandwich.

I started by marinating some sirloin beef tips in worcestershire sauce, garlic, and spices (can’t remember exactly which ones I used) and chopping up lots of veggies. I used zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, celery, grape tomatoes, onions, green bell pepper, and potatoes. Supposedly potatoes are good for curbing hunger pangs.

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Then, everything went into a slow cooker with vegetable broth and bay leaves. Adding some tomato juice probably would have been good, too, but I had none. I seasoned very lightly with salt, as I try to keep a low-sodium diet and have a penchant for salty, crunchy snacks and would rather have my salt there than in food with plenty of other flavors.

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A couple hours later, and it was ready to enjoy. As for the grilled cheese, I went with a classic version, but some of these updates are begging to be tested…