Dec 222014
 

xmas

My office had a holiday potluck recently and I made some cranberry bread to take with me. I’d discovered a recipe on pinterest for an amazing looking cranberry pistachio bread and wanted to make it but it was really involved. More than I wanted to do on a Thursday night at 8pm. So I found a similar recipe that was a little more simple. Here it is:

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 12-16 servings

Calories per serving: Around 180

From: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-cranberry-pistachio-bread/5a7637ac-2edc-4d58-8bf4-8ac68367d2bd

Ingredients

  • Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded peeled apple (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom only of 8x4-inch loaf pan. In large bowl with wooden spoon, mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Beat in oil, 1/3 cup cider and eggs until smooth. Stir in apple, cranberries and 1/3 cup pistachios. Spoon and spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  5. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough of the 2 to 3 teaspoons cider for desired glaze consistency. Spread over top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pistachios.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45071

I mixed everything in the Kitchenaid mixer (I love this thing) and then poured it into the mini loaf pan that I have. Using that instead of a regular sized pan I got 3 loaves of the bread out of it. The only change I made to the recipe was using the Splenda Blend instead of regular sugar.

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Using the Splenda blend I got calories down to around 135 each slice. I baked the bread for less time than the recipe called because the loaves were smaller. The recipe called for a glaze, as well. I skipped that for a few reasons. It was late in the evening and I didn’t want to do it and I honestly don’t think glazes or frosting add a lot to a recipe except for calories!

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How was the bread? It was really good! It was dense, not dry but dense. I think next time I make this I’d use plain Greek yogurt instead of vegetable oil, and maybe a little applesauce. I liked the mild flavor. There was a touch of sweetness from the cranberries and apple chunks but it was mild. It would be a great recipe for someone trying to watch their sugar intake.

Since I made the mini loaves, I had an extra one that I ended up taking to a friend’s house for her holiday party.

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Every few years she throws a house warming/holiday party and then we all go and walk along Peacock Lane. Peacock Lane is a short residential street in SE Portland that gets all decked out for Christmas. It’s actually a requirement for the homeowners to decorate!

Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas. Mostly Tudors, the houses are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Be forewarned: this is a very popular Portland tradition and the crowds can get quite thick. It is wise to park several blocks away and walk, rather than drive through the area.

It’s a fun thing to do to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s not really necessary to do it every single year, we generally go every other year or so. So I took a loaf of cranberry bread and a bottle of wine to Sam’s house and we all hung out, eating (she made these turkey meatballs with a BBQ sriracha sauce that was amazing) and drinking before walking down to Peacock Lane.

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We had a great time at the party and then a bunch of us walked down to Peacock Lane. With Bella! It was raining pretty hard but we still had a good time (and got totally soaked).

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Bella did a great job! There were so many people that I think she was overwhelmed and so she didn’t bark at anyone. It was great!

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My cousin Anna and her friend came to the party and they walked Peacock Lane with us. It was fun! We chatted, they snuck a little adult beverage in non-see through cups and shared with us as we tromped around in the pouring rain looking at Christmas lights. :)

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I’m so proud of Bella! She’s really growing up. She’s not freaked out by strangers as much anymore and I’m excited to be able to take her more places and not worry about her being scared of everything that moves. Anyways, we went back to Sam’s house after walking Peacock Lane, soaked through and through, said our goodbyes and called it a night. All of us were very very soaked. My jacket is still drying out.

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Dec 152014
 

Saturday morning I went to the Warrior Room for the Kettlebell Conditioning class. This class focuses more on the kettle bell moves and perfecting form. We worked on “complexes” this class. A complex is basically three or four moves put together in a sequence without putting the kettlebells down or resting in between the moves. The complexes are a lot harder because of this–no resting! Power through it!

Here is an example of one of the complexes: With one kettlebell, rack the bell (basically holding the rack position with the kettlebell close to your body) like this:

frontsquatkb
Then we put one leg bag, kneeled down and put the other leg back and kneeled down. Then with one arm out (similar to above photo) press the kettlebell up for 4 reps, then stand back up and with the kettlebell still in the rack position, 4 squats. Then it was a set of lunges followed by 6 one-armed kettlebell swings. (Here is a good video of the alternating single arm swing to give you an example of good form–even though in class we didn’t do alternating swings.) That was one set. Then the same thing on the other side. Doing these complexes always gets my heart pounding and I do find that I fatigued quicker than when we do regular sets. But the complexes are fun to do and clearly are a good workout:

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The class also included lots of burpees, mountain climbers and hill sprints. It was a fantastic class and I felt strong throughout the entire class, which was nice!

Later that day I went grocery shopping to get a bunch of veggies and stuff to make this new recipe I wanted to try. I don’t know where I found this recipe–maybe Pinterest? But it sounded so tasty and I love curry.

I substituted kale for the swiss chard. It had been ages since I’d had kale and when I was in the grocery store looking at that glorious green bunch of kale, I decided to just get that instead. Plus I’ve never cooked with swiss chard (or eaten it I think…) and wasn’t really sure if I’d like it. I knew I loved kale. Also, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs because we didn’t have thighs. I liked the breasts in this recipe better anyway; it was easier to chop into small bite-sized pieces.

Green Chickpea & Chicken Curry with Swiss Chard

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Calories per serving: 624

From: http://www.thecrepesofwrath.com/2014/02/14/green-chickpea-chicken-coconut-curry/

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat your olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add in your cubed chicken and cook over medium heat until almost fully cooked, about 6-7 minutes.
  2. Add in your shallots and continue to cook until the shallots are softened, about another 5-6 minutes. Add in the curry paste, chili paste, kosher salt, ginger, coconut milk, and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil.
  3. Add in the additional cup of water. Bring back up to a boil, then add in the drained and rinsed chickpeas and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. After simmering, add in the trimmed and sliced Swiss chard. When you're trimming the chard, the thicker, whiter parts are generally too tough to eat, but the smaller, more tender colored stalks and all of the leafy greens will soften as they cook. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve alone or with some naan or pita bread.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45137

The kitchen smelled so good while I was cooking this! It was a little higher in calories than I would have liked but it was a healthy, filling recipe so I tried not to give it too much thought. I used light coconut milk to lighten it up a little bit. Really, the calories come from the chickpeas.

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While it was cooking it seemed like there was too much liquid but I still followed the recipe as it said. When I added the kale it soaked up a ton of the liquid! Mystery solved. I let it simmer for another 15 minutes and then it was done.

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I served it with a piece of sourdough bread. The dish was delicious with one exception. OMIT THE SALT. I have no idea why the recipe called for salt at all. Maybe it was because I used jarred chili paste and green curry that already had salt as one of their ingredients, but it was JUST on the borderline of being too salty.

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I liked the spice in this and the flavors. I would make this recipe again but would not add any salt. I had a glass of crisp chardonnay to go with dinner, which was a nice balance to the spicy food. I’d also get some naan next time I make this recipe. Anyways, after dinner Michael and played a few rounds of the Sequence game. I love that game!

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We brought Bella’s bed into the dining room to try and get her to keep us company while we played. She kept going back to the couch instead. I think she likes staring at the Christmas tree lights. She finally came back in and relaxed once Fat Kitty took her bed. :P They are too funny. Look, ALMOST cuddling. Almost.

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I got a few new board games recently and we’re going to have some friends over soon to play them. I’m excited! I will let you know how the new games are soon.

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