Sunday, November 30, 2014

What's Cooking In My Kitchen

Here's an update on some of the things I've been cooking lately. 

The neighbors gave us some apples so I made baked apple doughnuts and cooked down the apple peels and cores to make apple-cinnamon pancake syrup. I gave both items back to them as gifts.  

The baked apple doughnuts turned out so great that I made them again a few days later for my nephews. One of them said it was be best doughnuts he had ever eaten. Nice!

Sonny D and I made crispy sweet potato chips in the microwave. He took the leftovers to lunch the next day, a nice way to trick him into eating veggies. 

Great idea from my friend Heather, roast a butternut squash whole in the oven. No peeling, no cutting, just toss it in there for an hour at 350 degrees. Came out so great without all the dangerous cutting and peeling. It was a bit too soft, so next time I'd do it a little less. 

Next up was a Pinterest pin that I actually made (as opposed to all those other the things I pin and then never go back to), gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) sauce on pasta. I used a little less of the hot pepper sauce to ensure it wouldn't be too spicy for Sonny D. He liked it. I ate the leftovers with sriracha to get it nice and spicy. 

Made my first dish that my friend Heather and I prepped for frozen slow cooker meals. This is creamy Italian chicken and tomato soup. We modified it a bit, I added 2 cans of cannellini beans and it could use even more tomatoes and less chicken. 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumped! My Weight Lifting Workout

I've had some people ask questions about the weight lifting routine I've been doing so I wanted to write a post about it.  I've been weight lifting several days per week since I quit my full-time job in September. Right after I was done with my job, I signed up for the annual membership to the gym at the local rec center right near our house. For about a month I was exercising pretty much every single day but Sundays -- weight lifting (every weekday but Tuesday), Zumba on Tuesdays, and Core Fusion on Saturdays. But when we got a dog it changed things. He has to be locked in his crate if we're not home because he'll chew everything up, and I already lock him up in the crate on Thursday afternoons when I go to work, so I felt bad also locking him up in the morning so I could go workout. On Fridays I work most of the day so Zipper goes to hang out with grandpa so I adjusted my workout so I do both the Thursday and Friday exercises on Friday afternoon before picking up Zipper and then Sonny D.

The Nitty Gritty

My weight lifting plan is the female workout program on  I had to modify it because my gym doesn't have barbells, so I do everything on a machine or with dumbbells.  I set up the workout on the Gain Fitness app on my iPhone, so when I complete an exercise it tells me what the next one is and it does it all as a circuit, repeating each day's set of exercises three times.  I had to modify some of the exercises because I didn't have the same exact exercise names in my app.  Eh, close enough.

I start with a warmup of 7 minutes on the elliptical on the cross-coutry setting and the 5-minute "cool down".  Then I head over to the equipment to focus on whatever set of body parts I'm working for the day. I don't care for the squats or deadlifts, but I like the leg presses and the dumbbell shrugs (I've got super-powerful shoulders!).  The whole time at the gym takes me about 45 minutes. 

How Is It Going?

I'm supposed to be increasing the amount of weight and reducing the number of repetitions to gain more muscle, but since I'm still getting into this and I haven't been able to work out all the times per week as indicated, I'm still in the initial stage of doing 8-12 reps of each exercise.  I've been increasing the weight as I become more comfortable, so I'm generally doing what they recommend, but not quite.  My only disappointment is that my gym doesn't seem to have 12-pound dumbbells, so if I want to go over the 10 pounds I'm currently lifting for some of the exercises, I'll have to jump up to 15 pounds.  I don't know if I'm currently strong enough for that.

I'm definitely building muscle in my shoulders but I don't really feel like any other parts of my body are particularly different.  I probably still need to increase the amounts on some exercises but I like to make sure that I'm not rushing things and doing the exercise with proper form and technique.   Someday soon I might actually get enough guts to advance to the next stage where you increase the amount of weight so much that you can only do 6-8 repetitions.  But I still have days where it's the same exercise I've always done, but it's still quite hard.  It's a journey. 

Wanna Chat?

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of November 24

Last Week

On Monday I went to Sonny D's preschool to read a book and share a treat with his room. After I dropped him off for the morning I hurriedly made apple oatmeal raisin cookies, they turned out great. Unfortunately the whole thing didn't go well for him, he cried. I think it totally throws him off any time I'm at school other than pick-up and drop-off times.

On Tuesday I took Zipper dog to the vet for a follow-up visit.  No more tapeworm, intestinal parasite, or fleas, so that's good.

On Wednesday Husband Jeff rode the Amtrak train up to Minneapolis to work from his company's headquarters up there.  He stayed with his brother and family, they live only a few minutes from the office. 

On Thursday I took Sonny D to his four-year pediatrician visit.  I knew he was going to get one shot (flu shot), so we had been talking about it beforehand so it wasn't a surprise.  It ended up that they gave him two shots so he's completely ready for kindergarten (which is two years away!) and a flu mist up each nostril.  Not a good time.  I had planned we would go out to lunch at Noodles & Co afterwards, but he wasn't in a good mood so I dropped him off with grandpa and went home and ate lunch by myself.  Nice and quiet.

Last week at my taste training we smelled and tasted pig's feet to understand the "barnyard" scent/flavor.  Surprisingly it wasn't bad at all, just really rich and fatty.   We also had Spam to get familiar with "piggy" scent/flavor.  I grew up eating Spam occasionally but haven't had it in a while.  It was interesting to be reminded that Spam isn't bad, but it isn't very good either.  We also tried low-quality lunch meat, yuck. 

On Saturday Sonny D and I drove up to Minneapolis to meet up with Husband Jeff.  Sonny D got to hang out with his cousins, they had a great time.  We ended up cutting our trip short by a day.   We were supposed to drive back down on Monday, but they were forecasting a lot of snow, so we all came back on Sunday.  All that time in the car made my lower back sore. 

This Week

  • Monday - cheesy gochujang (Korean pepper paste) spaghetti with chickpeas and roasted butternut squash with feta cheese.
  • Tuesday - no dinner planned because I've got Zumba class. Typically Grandma & Grandpa pick up Sonny D, but Grandma has a cold so they might skip it this week.  Don't know what we'll eat for dinner if Sonny D is here.  I'll probably suggest fried egg and cheese sandwiches since it's a set of ingredients we actually have in the house. 
  • Wednesday - My friend Renae's birthday!  Happy birthday, Ren!  Dinner is Italian chicken and tomato soup made in the slow cooker (a frozen meal my friend Heather and I put together) and maybe bagels.  Hopefully also hanging out with our friends Jim & Isabelle, they live in Seattle and are coming here to visit his family for Thanksgiving.
  • Thursday - Thanksgiving on Husband Jeff's side at Aunt Nancy's house.  It appears that we're not on the hook to bring anything, so we'll just sit back and coast.  I don't have a dinner planned so hopefully we're full enough from lunch that we don't really need much to eat later or that we bring leftovers home with us. 
  • Friday - Since Sonny D doesn't have school because of the holiday and I don't work this week, I'm hoping we can go grocery shopping during the day.  Not the most exciting thing for him, but I love grocery shopping.  Dinner is chicken and shrimp paella.
  • Saturday - Core Fusion class in the morning.  I'd love to go downtown and maybe see a kids' performance and then out to lunch, but maybe just out to lunch.  Dinner is Hungarian potato soup.
  • Sunday - We're getting together on Sunday morning to have Thanksgiving lunch at my mom's house.  Mom and I are completely un-traditional when we plan our holidays, this time we're having a taco bar! Once again, I hope we're really full from lunch so we don't need a real dinner.  My only thought was leftovers. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of November 17

Past Weeks

I've been too lazy to sit down at the computer and write up our menu plan, but don't worry, we have have still been eating.  :)  I've found it's hard to sit at the computer when I'm off doing other things around the house.  A lot of it is hanging out with our new dog Zipper.  We spend a lot of time gated into the kitchen to ensure there aren't any accidents or eating things he shouldn't.  I'm working on figuring out his potty schedule so I'm not taking him out every two hours, but we're still having accidents.   
Zipper modeling the latest winter jacket.

I've been continuing my taste training for work.  The lowest point has been the day we tasted liver, the highest day is any day we have bacon (has happened a couple times).  The whole thing is all about experiencing things, so it's neat to sit down and taste and smell things like "brown spice" (spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg) or "sweet brown" (sweeteners like brown sugar, molasses, agave, honey, etc.)  And we're all doing better at narrowing our estimates of intensity of the basic tastes, which means we're getting closer answers in the same range.
My setup at the tasting panel.
I've also been doing weight lifting several times per week.  I was supposed to advance to the next level, which is all the same exercises but with a heavier weight where you can't do as many repetitions, but I've stuck with the same workout for a while since I'm still trying to figure out what my maximums are.  Plus I don't get to do my four days at the gym since I feel bad putting Zipper in his crate two times in one day (once for the gym and once for work that I've got work) so I skip it on Thursdays. 
My dinner last week had a head. And eyeballs, teeth, fins, etc. Whole fried tilapia Veracruz.

Sonny D's fourth birthday is on Monday and we've been celebrating all weekend.  This past Saturday we went to play time at a gymnastics place with some of his little friends and we all had a great time.  Several kids didn't want to leave, but that's understandable when you're having so much fun.  And on Sunday morning we went to JC Penney's for his birthday photos and hit McDonald's afterwards for a chocolate shake.  Then had a family birthday dinner on Sunday evening.  It has been several days straight of pizza and we're sick of it. 
Sonny D's birthday, construction dress-up clothes so he can be just like Daddy.

This Week

Our freezers are so full! I'm trying to plan that our dinners will come from the freezer, but I don't think we'll end up eating much of it because of other plans.  
  • Monday - Sonny D's birthday!  In the morning I'm going to visit his preschool and read a book and bring treats.  Dinner is tacos.   
  • Tuesday - Our little dog Zipper has a follow-up vet visit to ensure he's doing good after coming to us with fleas, tapeworm, and an intestinal parasite. He also needs his final distemper shot so he's all caught up on immunizations.  I wasn't planning dinner since Grandma & Grandpa pick him up and I've got Zumba class, but that might change.
  • Wednesday -  Husband Jeff is riding the train up to Minneapolis to visit his office up there so we'll be on our own for dinner of swai fish and broccoli bites.
  • Thursday - Sonny D has his four-year checkup visit at the pediatrician, he'll be getting a flu shot, so it's not going to be the most fun day of  newly-being 4.  Maybe we'll go out to lunch together afterwards.  I've got taste training in the afternoon.  We'll have home-frozen waffles and pancakes and chamchi kimbop (tuna Korean sushi rolls)
  • Friday - My big taste training day of 5 hours.  We'll have a quick dinner of meatballs or hot dogs along with gnocchi or wontons and then find something to do for Me & D night.
  • Saturday & Sunday - We're hanging out all weekend with Jeff's brother's family so we tend to go with the flow of whatever ends up happening. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!