Archive for March 2010

30 March 2010

Out of portion control

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food, Random

I’ve mentioned before that I’m very conservative with money. Okay, I’m borderline cheap.

I find that I’m really cheap because I want to make sure my money has value. I hate wasting money. And I don’t run around spending money in a crazy way because, rent has to be paid!

So if I’m not getting a value for my money, I’m hesitant to spend it.

Case in point: food.

I love restaurants with big portion sizes because I know I’m getting a lot for my money. This could mean a gorge-fest for $9.99 or leftovers, aka two meals for the price of one.

Large portion sizes, plus my cheap nature, are a lethal combo for me.

Sometimes my brain cannot distinguish when I should stop eating or it won’t automatically tell me to cut the meal in half for leftovers. And this leads to yummy leftovers or my stomach so full I could nap for two days. I hate that awful feeling but sometimes, I can’t stop myself.

I don’t seem to know when enough is enough.

It’s a sick mentality. I even sometimes feel cheated when there isn’t enough food for me to take home because it’s a properly portioned and balanced meal.

For example, last week we went to Blackbird for Chef’s Week and had a lovely meal. Yet for my money I felt almost a little cheated because it wasn’t heaping platefuls of food. It was a good size serving and I was full and satisfied after, without feeling like I needed to puke. And I felt…cheated? That is seriously wrong.

I’ve battled this for a while, trying to savor and enjoy food rather than shovel it in as fast as I can so I can be off to the next thing. I grew up a fast eater and I’m still that way now. I even still struggle with making healthy food choices because it may cost a bit more whereas fast food is, well fast and cheap.

Since I’ve started Kitchen Adventures here, my grocery bill has gone up a bit, collecting ingredients for my pantry and trying new foods and recipes. I love it, but a little part of my head is like, “your grocery bill IS GOING UP, how much longer are we doing this?”

I have no idea what prompted this post, maybe a mix of jeans being snug this weekend and Jamie Oliver’s ABC show.

I don’t really even know if I have a question to ask everyone. So tell me if you have struggled with portion control or how you rationalize the increase in your grocery bill for healthy foods. Heck, even if you have had trouble making healthy choices when dining out or grabbing food on the go!

New movie review is up: Alice in Wonderland in 3D. YES! (Note: I’ll be calculating the Macy’s giveaway entries this week and will post the winner shortly!)

29 March 2010

Kitchen adventures: Slow cooker pot roast

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

I am back in slow cooker action and it feels good! I swear, my slow cooker cried in joy when I took her out of the drawer on Sunday.

And ever since I got her, I’ve wanted to make a pot roast. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods and I was dying to try it.

The only issue: all of the pot roast recipes I found were high in calories, so I had to find something lighter. I love dinner, but hate consuming a large amount of calories at the end of the day.

So I looked around and found an easy Slow Cooker Beef Pot Roast recipe on CookingLight.com that was less tha 300 calories per serving and required minimal ingredients. Sounded perfect!

Here’s how it turned out:

(I tried to show that it was tender and juicy, hope it doesn’t look gross instead)

Ingredients

  • 1  (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
  • 1  (8-ounce) container refrigerated prechopped green bell pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4  cup  plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/4  cup  water
  • 1  tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  pounds  boneless shoulder pot roast

Preparation

  • Place mushrooms and bell pepper in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray
  • Combine ketchup and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until blended
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan and roast with cooking spray. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place roast over vegetables in cooker; pour ketchup mixture over roast. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW; cook 6 to 7 hours or until roast is very tender. Serve vegetables and sauce over roast

The verdict: Win! Yes!

With one taste, I remembered why I love pot roast. I love when the meat falls apart on your plate and juices that make you want to eat the dish with a spoon. I reheated this tonight and still enjoyed it. I just have to pace myself to make it last this week :) Pot roast is hard to say no to. I’m so glad this turned out because I was really looking forward to it.

Notes:

  • You can substitute the bell pepper for other veggies, like carrots, and it’s still delish
  • I skipped the entire searing and hour-long cook on high and it still turned out great
  • I recommend stirring the veggies while it’s cooking. I know you shouldn’t but they kind of stick together so a stir might help that
  • I would downplay the ketchup the next time I make this. I found that it had a slight lingering aftertaste, which is okay, but not how I like my pot roast :)
  • I would also add a little flower to the sauce to thicken it up as it’s a little runny

I’m super happy this turned out and I even have another half of a roast in the freezer to help me make this again.

Also, I’ve been hearing lately from a few people that made recipes I’ve featured on here and I have to say, that makes me SO happy. Being a non-cook, hearing that others have something I recommended really makes me smile. So thank you!

What are your favorite comfort foods to make or indulge in?

28 March 2010

Weekend recap: Movie nights and photoshoots

By: Jessica B.

Happy Sunday everyone!

I promise there are no new stories to share about bone marrow or octopus, I stayed away from trying new things this weekend :)

In fact, this weekend was pretty low-key, which felt really good.

On normal weekends, I run around the city a lot doing errands and going out, so laying low barely happens (until late Sunday night).

And I definitely had to lay low because things in the money department are a little snug until I get paid this week.

Why? Well fortunately, it’s all for good reasons, like that I’m going to see these guys in May:

And bought my airfare to this:

Bloggers in Sin City

I’m super excited about all of them, but that means I must be a very good girl for a bit. Credit card debt looks bad on me.

So to keep my wallet out of trouble, my weekend mission was low-key, affordable fun.

And that included a Saturday photoshoot with some local photographers and bloggy friends for fun in Millennium Park where I got to practice my ANTM smizing and Zoolander Blue Steel poses. I was also reminded how badly I take direction too during photo sessions. I am AWKWARD. Photos are still coming in but I’ll keep you posted on the final results.

Also, the best way to unwind from a photoshoot is with cupcakes. That’s a fact.

My low-key weekend also included a blissful Saturday night in with laundry, movies, food and shirtless werewolves. Yes, you read that right. I had a hot date with this guy.

Yep, I did not mind staying in to watch this on my big screen. AT ALL. I also didn’t salivate as much during this movie as I did in the theater (progress!)

Fact: Sometimes, a night in with movies and junk food is more fun than going out. I need to have more of those in my weekend routine!

How was everyone else’s weekend? What’s your idea of the perfect night in?

Final call for giveaway entries! The Macy’s gift card giveaway ends tomorrow night so this is your last reminder to enter here for a chance to win a $50 Macy’s gift card!!

25 March 2010

I love my DVR

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: television

I really love my DVR. I may say that cell phones, laptops even iPods are my favorite household items (each with its own merit) but seriously, I really f*cking love my DVR.

Once you go DVR, you do NOT go back. Fo sho!

Because once you have it, you don’t have to worry about running home to catch the beginning of Gossip Girl or The Office, you don’t have to worry about the VHS tape running out or the quality being bad. And you can stock up a ton of shows and watch them whenever you want.

Oh and you can fast forward through commercials. That is my favorite!

A fellow DVR-fan and I were talking about our “avoid ad” strategy, which includes starting a live TV show 10-15 minutes into it so we can flip through commercials and catch up with the show before it’s over. And then “poof!” the show is done and I didn’t have to watch any commercials.

One of my friends *gasp* doesn’t have a DVR. I forgot what that life was like. But I’m a good friend and offer to record things for her and then have her come over to watch. See? I’m not that heartless.

But as much as I rave about the DVR, it’s not perfect. Like any relationship, there are ups and downs. Like when it cuts off the recording early because of the guide or it doesn’t record things I ask it to. Yeah, that really irritates me, but I still love it :)

My favorite kind of Friday night includes: People magazine, an ice-cold soda and a week’s worth of DVR shows to catch up on. Actually, that’s a perfect Saturday morning too.

So in closing, DVR, you complete me. Miss Jess loves you big time. I wish everyone could have one. And if I had to give up my cell phone, laptop, iPod or you, that would be a really tough decision. MWAH!

What about you? Do you have DVR and love it as much as me? Or if you had to give up your laptop, cell phone, DVR or iPod, which would you choose?

Macy’s Giveaway! You can still enter to win a $50 Macy’s gift card here on my review blog! It closes Monday!

23 March 2010

Kitchen adventures: Simple mushroom garlic pasta

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

I was really looking forward to making a slow cooker pot roast for this week, until I realized I won’t be eating dinner at home for two nights, so there isn’t a need to make an entire roast.

So that has been postponed until next week (sad face!)

But after I realized I was postponing the pot roast, I scrambled to see what else I could make without going to the store again. I dug around in my kitchen and found the following: butter, pasta, olive oil, salt, pepper and mushrooms (originally intended for the pot roast).

I knew I could make an sauce but wasn’t 100 percent sure how, so I texted Rebecca for some help and she coached me through it, literally helping me create this by text message. Wave of the future.

And here it is: a simple Mushroom Garlic Pasta recipe

Daylight savings time = food photography W-I-N

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter (salted)
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Mozzarella cheese (or Parmesan)
  • Pasta (I used a mix of whole grain/traditional spaghetti)

Directions:

  • In a skillet, combine the EVOO and butter. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes
  • Then stir in the mushrooms and cook until soft, adding a pinch of salt and pepper, then turn heat to low
  • Cook the pasta 8-9 minutes, until al dente, save 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the cooked pasta’s water
  • Combine the garlic, mushrooms, butter, EVOO mixture to the drained pasta and toss, mix in the pasta water
  • Add cheese and additional salt/pepper as desired

The verdict: DELISH!

It’s light and the color of the mushrooms against the pasta was gorgeous and adding the pasta water really gave it some additional flavor and moisture. Considering I had to shop my pantry for stuff, I’m pleased :) And very excited for the pot roast next weekend!

The other big share, due to my cooking and “planner” nature, I bought prep cups at Crate and Barrel this weekend! You can check out the ones I bought here.

What are your favorite, easy work night means. No joke, cereal is always a back-up for me :)

Review blog updates: You can still enter my Macy’s $50 gift card giveaway and check out The Runaways review!