The Name, "Alamo"

Bad food, good time: Back from San Antonio!

I’m back! (And I think I’ve gained weight…)

Three colleagues and I went to the Southwest Texas Pop Culture Conference and presented research concerning cyberbullying on a panel.

Our presentation was awesome! We did such a great job! And, after we presented, the audience asked questions and discussed the topic amongst themselves.

So far… my best graduate school experience. :)

Now… about San Antonio…

FUN!

The drive down was not fun…

Getting cut off in Austin, Texas
The Ford Focus above cut us off WITHOUT giving us a wave. Um, really?

In Kansas, in case you were unaware or in Kansas City, it is customary to send a wave of thanks if someone lets you in and send a wave of “Oh, God, I’m sorry!” if you cut someone off and almost kill them. (That last one I made up, but the same applies!)

Austin, Tex. is a terrible place to drive, especially when there is a three-car accident taking up ALL FOUR LANES.

Pam and I were not pleased.

Stuck in Austin, Texas traffic
Not pleased.

However, traffic did eventually clear up, and we got in to San Antonio around 8 p.m. According to the hotel, we were upgraded to an executive suite. Lie. We just got a king-size bed because they didn’t have any doubles. Whatever. The view was neat-oh!

View from the 29th Floor
San Antonio Skyline

Of course, when we got there, we were STARVING! And, not knowing the area well, we opted to stay at the hotel and eat. We split this thing…

Food for Two in San Antonio, Texas
The Texas Sampler: Wings, Steak Nachoes (omg) and Chicken Quesadillas

Oh, that’s Pam!

What did we do after dinner? We went to bed! After a ten hour drive, it was necessary. Plus, we had plans for an adventure the next day.

San Antonio, Texas - Alamo
We began our adventure at the Alamo.
The Alamo Library
A library we were not allowed to enter.
Statue at the Alamo
This statue was covered in effigies of the men who fought and died at the the Battle of the Alamo.

Much more to see at the Alamo… but we weren’t allowed to take pictures. So… this is really all I got!

Next adventure? McDonald’s.

McDonald's has free wi-fi at 11,000 locations
The only way for Pam and I to connect to the Internet was to go to McDonald's because the over-priced hotel we stayed at charged.
McDonald's McCafe Iced Vanilla Latte
There goes my calories for the day...

After walking around the Alamo, the River Walk and downtown, Pam and I went back to the hotel to rest. We were pretty exhausted. We watched a movie and worked on our presentations before lunch. We found Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub not far from the hotel on the River Walk. Can you say Irish Fries?

Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
I suppose she is Durty Nelly. :)
Blue Moon and Peanuts at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
They had peanuts on every table and a Blue Moon for yours truly.
Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
The pub was empty when Pam and I got there. It picked up. One server. Many people. Zomg, busy.
Deli Sandwich at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
I got a pastrami deli sandwich in effort not to eat more fried food. It was not very tasty. :( (I didn't eat the chips!)
Irish Fries at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
French fries, cabbage, corned beef COVERED in melted cheddard ale cheese...

We’re so bad… But Pam and I shared the fries, didn’t finish them and fed them to our friends.

Eating on the patio at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
These ladies forced us outside the bug-free air conditioned pub and on to the patio.

And there were bugs on the patio. One tried to drink my Blue Moon and I rescued another bug from my friend’s Blue Moon. I have discovered something about the people I cahoot with… We all like Blue Moon.

A group of students and teachers on the patio at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
Look next to the lamp post. I'm hunkered down next to the blonde. :)

I was FAIL former server at the pub. We rearranged the entire patio to fit all nine of us at three tables.

(Please ignore the hand signals. If you have a dirty mind… They don’t know what that means, and it was far too late to stop them. In some cases, I think it means something else. And if you also don’t know what it means, don’t ask.)

After lunch, Pam and I went with two professors to see the vendors at the conference. I found a book for Husband: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter. (Husband very much likes Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Rowling. He DOES NOT like Twilight.) The book makes the case that the Harry Potter novels reflect the same themes in C.S. Lewis’ and Tolkien’s novels, which are also found in…?

You guessed it! The Bible. I find this literature very interesting, as does the husband.

While browsing the vendors (and trying not to buy every book I saw), I began a conversation with some folks from Baylor University Press.

What’s so special about that, Shae?

Oh, I’m just supposed to e-mail them if I’m interested in doing some copy writing for them. Who has two thumbs and didn’t goof around on the trip? This chick!

We went to dinner with our professors and another student and walked around for a bit longer, but we eventually quit for the day and went back to the hotel for bed. We had an important presentation to give in the morning.

Sunset view from the 29th floor in San Antonio, Texas
Too many clouds and light pollution really killed the sunset, but pink is still pretty.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, we headed to the conference. I was on computer duty.

skinnyshae at the Southwest Texas Pop Culture Conference at the Marriott River Center in San Antonio, Texas
I was in charge of the slides! :)

No pictures during the presentation please. Here’s our panel. According to one of our professors, we did WSU proud! (He also watched the entire presentation and asked questions!)

Cyberbullying presenters from Wichita State University
J.D., me, Pam and Gio after we presented our cyberbullying presentations to a small but wonderful audience.

We did not dress to match on purpose. :)

Thankfully, the drive home was much less annoying than the drive down to San Antonio. We spent only one half hour in Austin and celebrated when we FINALLY got to Oklahoma. Texas is too big to visit; it’s impossible to feel like you’ve gotten anywhere when you’ve only just reached Waco.

I got bored with driving…

skinnyshae's gross foot
I took a picture of my foot...
Finally out of Texas on I-35
18 police vehicles and several hundred miles later and we crossed in to Oklahoma. We were happy! Well, I was happy. :)

It took us nine hours to complete the drive. Only nine hours. Go us! We were expecting to get home around 8 or 9 that night. Two points for booking it? Yes.

I have to be responsible when I get back to work tomorrow. Today, I need to do laundry.

Until next time! (Forgive me my eating sins!)

Tea! (It probably won’t kill you.)

Tea from the tea plant (Camellia sinesis) is not an herbal tea, which come from flowers, leaves, seeds, bark or roots of certain plants but do not contain real tea. Tea from the tea plant has many health benefits, some of which include fighting cancer, decreasing heart disease and reducing tooth decay.

(Finally! Something that probably won’t kill us.)

How can tea help your heart?

The polyphenols found in tea are effective in preventing cholesterol from oxidizing and damaging blood vessels. Green tea has been shown to improve the health of the delicate cells lining the blood vessels, which help lower the risk for heart disease.

How can tea prevent cancer?

The polyphenols –catechins in particular –in tea may help prevent or decrease the growth and spread of certain cancers. They scavenge oxidants before cell injuries occur, reduce the incidence and size of chemically induced tumors and inhibit the growth of tumor cells. In studies of liver, skin and stomach cancer, chemically induced tumors were shown to decrease in size in mice that were fed green and black tea.

How can tea protect your skin?

Not only has tea been shown to be effective in decreasing cancer risk when consumed orally, but it may also be beneficial when applied superficially to the skin. Some research has shown that when green tea is applied to sunburned skin it decreases the development of cancerous skin tumors. This evidence has led many cosmetics companies to start adding green tea to their skin care products (i.e. Proactiv).

How can tea fight Alzheimer’s disease?

Both green and black teas have been shown to hinder the activity of two enzymes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Although tea consumption cannot cure Alzheimer’s, it may be another part of the puzzle in treating or slowing down the development of the disease.

How is tea good for your teeth?

Compounds in tea protect teeth by increasing the acid resistance of tooth enamel and acting as antibiotics that kill off dangerous, decay-promoting bacteria. Tea also contain fluoride, which is essential for keeping teeth strong and healthy.

Which tea varieties provide these health benefits?

All real teas, which include green, black and oolong teas, are beneficial to your health. These teas are derived from the same tea plant –Camellia sinensis –and contain numerous helpful compounds including polyphenols, tocopherol and vitamin C, among other antioxidants. The polyphenols are believed to be responsible for most of tea’s role in promoting good health. Although black, green and oolong teas have different polyphenol compositions due to processing differences, they all have been shown to provide the health benefits.

The main difference between green, black and oolong teas is how the leaves are processed.

Green Tea (i.e. Japanese, Chinese, Gunpowder)
Green teas are the freshest and least processed because they are not fermented. Green tea has the lightest and most subtle taste.

Black Tea (i.e. Darjeeling, Earl Grey, China Black, Jasmine)
Black tea is green tea fermented for six hours. Fermentation turns the green leaves black and alters the polyphenol content, though it is still high in antioxidants. Black teas have the strongest taste. (And the best.)

Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is made from green tea that is briefly fermented (a mix between black and green in both taste and color).

This will probably be my last post for the week. Sad, I know. But I’ll be busy at a conference and probably have no time for blogging :( Poor Husband will be home alone all weekend. Poor Ivan the German Shepherd will miss his mommy. Poor Hobbes… wait, no… not poor Hobbes. (Our cat is a jerk.)

Bye Friends! (Pictures and fun to come Sunday!)

Soy: Will it kill you? News at 11.

(Yes. I think I’m funny.)

Does everything kill us?

Apparently, yes.

According to Denis Faye, from Team Beachbody, the soy bean, which was once used strictly for livestock feed, is under scrutiny for its health benefits.

The Food and Drug Administration called soy a complete protein, which means soy beans are as good as meat, eggs and dairy at fulfilling amino acid needs. But are these claims true? Is the soy bean really a miracle food?

Pro-Soy advocates prove that soy is good because the whole of the Asian continent have been eating the bean for centuries. Of course, this is true, but those cultures do not consume vast quantities. A 1990 Cornell University study concluded that the average Chinese diet consisted of approximately zero to 58 grams of soy a day, an average of half an ounce.

The secret to eating anything –healthy or unhealthy –is moderation. (And what do Americans do? Pour more than half an ounce on their cereal every morning. That’s what.)

But protein is what the bean is meant to provide.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, soy is a fine source of protein. (Soy scores higher in digestibility than beef and peanuts with eggs and milk.)

Unfortunately, we do not consume soy in the same manner we consume other protein products. Instead, we have added countless chemicals to make soy imitate bacon, sausage and chicken, among other food items. Soy dogs? No thank you. And with those chemicals comes sodium. Lots and lots and lots of sodium.

For example, a soy burger contains about 230 milligrams of sodium while a regular beef patty only has about 55 milligrams of sodium. All natural meat is better than its soy counterparts –at least better for you –not so much for the animal. Sorry vegetarians! Milk, tofu and soy beans are still safe.

Another soy bonus? Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Aside from flax and canola, soy is one of the few non-animal sources of omega-3s. You could just eat fish, but whatever.

Another argument said that fermented soy, such as that found in miso, natto, tempeh and pickled tofu, is nutritionally superior to unfermented soy. However, proof is iffy so you don’t have to eat a whole bunch of gross for health benefits.

Most miracles and scares resulting from soy studies are considered to be flimsy research and lead to inapplicable results.

So what do the parties agree on? Isoflavones.

Isoflavens are a type of phytoestrogen, a plant-produced chemical that acts like estrogen when introduced into an animal’s body, such as human.

(Totally positive soy makes the tots bigger. So I try to avoid the stuff.)

Soy good, soy bad! I guess, as they say, do as the… Chinese… do. Eat in moderation. :)

Sodium and Sugar: Out tastebuds love them

The government distributed new guidelines for living a healthful life in order to battle obesity and weight-related diseases.

One of their suggestions is to reduce salt intake, which isn’t a surprise for diet and fitness experts who believe that getting rid of hidden sodium will lead to better health and faster weight loss.

The Lowdown on Sodium

Just discontinuing salting your food is not cutting sodium out of your diet. Salt you never see is in every processed, prepackaged food item in the grocery store and in many food items eaten at restaurants and bars. You don’t notice it, and often cannot even taste it. Boo. :(

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults are supposed to eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily (about one teaspoon); but they are eating more than 3,400 milligrams, which is a far jump from the reduced intake of 1,500mg for “persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.”

Why is it affecting the health of more than 73 million Americans who have high blood pressure?

Sodium restricts blood flow to the heart, not only causing high blood pressure, but also leading to heart attack and stroke. And, according to the CDC, “every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event.” Bad news.

Even if your blood pressure isn’t hypertension high, it may be higher than it should because of hidden sodium in your diet. –Linda Van Horn, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine

What  has society already done to counteract sodium-lover’s bad habits?

The New York City health commissioner began an initiative to pressure the food industry and restaurant chains to use less sodium (after already banning trans fats). The United Kingdom have printed salt content on food packaging since 2004, using color-coded labels to warn people about sodium levels.

Until the whole of America catches up with the health of America, we need to take precautions against sodium buildup in our diet.

Shaking the Old Habit

How do we escape?

Rethink how you cook and take the time to check food labels. I’m guilty of salting water when boiling and putting extra salt on foods that seems bland. And when I check food labels, sodium usually isn’t on my top priority list (under calories and fat grams, as well as how much fiber and how many vitamins and minerals are in the food item).

Instead of adding soy sauce and salad dressing, try these simple techniques to remake your (sodium-reduced) diet…

  1. Choose frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned: A can of sweet peas has close to 400 milligrams of sodium, but fresh and some brands of frozen peas have little or none at all. I guess I’m doing a good job here! I buy frozen, if not fresh. If you do choose canned (Husband ONLY likes canned green beans), then rinse the contents before cooking and choose cans labeled “low sodium.”
  2. Think outside the box: Prepackaged rice and pasta mixes swim in sodium. Think Ramen Noodles. Instead of dumping in a spice packets, try any of these: herbs and spices, wine, balsamic vinegar and real (not cooking) sherry.
  3. Only salt the surface: Cook your meal salt-free, and then lightly sprinkle salt where you can easily taste it –on top of your cooked food.
  4. Watch condiments: Ketchup and mustard have WAY more sodium per serving than you think. Keep an eye on those labels. (This includes ALL condiments.)
  5. Eat foods high in potassium: While sodium can raise blood pressure, potassium can lower it. The average American woman needs 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily, so pull out some bananas!

Healthy Results

Cutting way back on processed foods plus spending a few days a week at the gym can seriously reduce your blood pressure. After weaning themselves off sodium, many women found themselves losing weight (because foods without sodium generally have less calories and fat grams). Avoid heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure AND lose weight?

Heck yes!

What else do the U.S. Dietary Guidelines say? A lot, actually, and it’s really more of the same.

  • Eat whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese or fortified soy beverages (I drink almond milk), vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut and soybean, and seafood.
  • Eat less of foods with added sugars, solid fats, including saturated and trans fats, refined grains and sodium.
  • Eat more fish and dairy products, in general.
  • Eat less well-marbled meat, poultry skin, bacon (NO!), sausage, butter and whole milk products and foods made with vegetable oils that have been partially hydrogenated, such as cookies, doughnuts, pastries and crackers.
  • Eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.

According to nutrition advisor Alyse Levine, to promote weight loss, calories consumption needs to be decreased, which is one of the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Levine promotes the healthy eating habits recommended by the government, as well as tools available on Livestrong.com, such as MyPlate.

Read the whole interview with Levine here.

Well, I have addressed salt lovers. Now, I believe it is time to address those addicted to sugar. Debra Pivko wrote for Beachbody: Sugar Addiction Detox (101).

According to the article, weight gain isn’t the only consequence of having a donut…

Over-consumption of processed sugar can contribute to a number of conditions: tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, overgrowth of candida yeast, chronic fatigue, severe PMS symptoms, anxiety and even wrinkles.

In contrast, if you cut sugar out of your diet, you can shed excess weight, increase your energy, improve your concentration, improve your moods and possibly steer clear of diabetes.

But why do we crave sugar?

Sugar increases the levels of serotonin –a mood-elevating hormone –in our brain. When our body and brain begin to depend on the increased levels of serotonin, we become sugar addicts, relying on it for our well-being. When serotonin dips, we reach for cookies, candies, chocolate and more. Sugar also increases the levels of endorphins in our body (much more readily than exercise). Endorphins –the brain’s natural narcotics –make us feel good, and we get used to that feeling, even needing it during times of stress.

All of that sounds pretty okay, right? WRONG!

Sugar gives your mood a spike to happiness, but that spike doesn’t last very long. You will crash, which leaves your body craving more sugar. Why? Sugar takes away more energy than it gives. Think empty calories. What does it do to us? It makes us anxious, moody and exhausted.

So what are those other ways sugar can affect us negatively?

  1. Suppresses the immune system
  2. Increases risk of blood clots and stroke
  3. Contributes to hyperactivity, depression and difficulty concentrating
  4. Can lead to hypoglycemia, kidney damage, elevated levels of harmful cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and tooth decay
  5. Helps speed the aging process (wrinkles and gray hair)
  6. AND MORE!

That is exhausting!

 The first step in breaking sugar addiction is making the decision to stop eating it completely for at least a few days to get it out of your system.

Sound hard?

It is. Sugar inspires cravings the more you give in to them. The only way to break the cycle is to stop feeding the beast, and then your craving should subside substantially. You are going to be upset! Prepare thyself.

Ask yourself why you are eating sugar before you put it in your mouth. Habit? Special occasion? If you keep a food journal, write down the sugar you eat and why you ate it.

Americans eat the equivalent of about 31 teaspoons of added sugar every day (500 calories). Our bodies are not designed to handle that much sugar! The American Heart Association recommends that sugar be limited to 6-7 percent of your total calories, but that doesn’t include naturally occurring sugars in fruits and dairy products.

So what do you do?

Simply cut out foods with sugar, white flour and high fructose corn syrup (I know – anything delicious). Also, remember to check sauces and dressings… hidden sugar!

Eliminate it by removing ALL of these ingredients…

  • Agave nectar/syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate (apple, grape, or pear)
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucrose

Whole lot of everything… That is also exhausting! But it’s what’s best for you.

Here are a few more tricks for your taste buds.

Use spices and herbs to trick your taste buds into thinking you’re eating something sweet. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and other sugar-free flavors kick up many bland dishes and drinks.

Eat a healthy breakfast, too. What you eat for breakfast will actually influence your food choices for the next 12 to 15 hours, and influence your energy levels, moods and overall sense of well-being. We know that eating a healthy, balance breakfast can help us in the weight department, but it can also provide you energy through the day, stabilize blood sugar and reduce sugar cravings! Go oatmeal!

Eat throughout the day. I am doing much better at this than I used to. None of my day-time meal/snack servings are bigger than the size of my fist and usually do NOT consist of anything fried and unhealthy. Dinner is usually a larger portion, but it’s also my final portion! And I usually stop eating before I’m full. Eating through the day helps me, and many others, avoid impulse eating (like binging at the snack machine during my night classes).

Finally, find alternatives for when you have a craving. Fruit is always satisfying, and an apple will fill you up.

Check it. Diet Food for Sweets Addicts

The article also agrees that America’s love of sugar is an addiction –even more than that –researchers found that chocolate addicts exhibited cravings, behaviors and psychopathology similar to drug addicts.

Whatever will we do? Lots of suggestions!

  • Frozen Yogurt (low-fat or fat-free)
  • Sugar-Free Gelatin (I love Jell-O!)
  • Vanilla Wafers (Be careful with these… I can eat an entire box if I’m not paying attention.)
  • Fruit
  • Imitation Whipped Cream (made from skim-milk

Ladies, just because we’re made of sugar and spice and everything nice, we cannot fall victim to cookies. We must stay strong against chocolate chips… Shoot. Now I want some cookies! Wish me luck? I’ve already had some this week.

Blessings, conferences and friends

On Monday, April 11, my laptop was stolen from my car in a shopping center parking lot. While my car and my body came to no harm, I lost several months of graduate research, more than that in notes and more than more than that is electronics.

Plus, it was the laptop Husband got me for Christmas :(

Not to mention all of my personal information. I had fun changing every password I could possibly think of this week. I got ’em all!

But because it was taken, I’m terribly fearful that whoever took it is going to come get me.

I know. I’m paranoid.

Of course, we’ve got a security system and a gigantic noise-maker (i.e., Ivan the German Shepherd), so I’m super safe in my home; I’m still freaked out.

Sigh.

Here is the good news (and it’s really good news):

My sweet husband and his wonderful parents got me a new one. Yes. A new one. After my idiotic head got the first new one stolen.

I am blessed for my family. I am so blessed.

While my last post was suuuuuuper depressing, this post is much more uplifting, don’t you think? :)

My friends, too, helped me so much. My classmates sent me notes, gave me copies of evaluation forms and let me borrow textbooks, which I’ll probably have to borrow again. They can’t replace my research, though, I have to do that. Boo.

And Ashley R. has been so supportive and let me curse and moan about stuff even though I know she hates it when I cuss. She’s so sweet!

So, while I have returned with new hardware, I will be missing AGAIN because I have a conference to go to. Don’t give up on me! I will be free someday!

Until then… please enjoy what I ate for dinner tonight. :)

Mesquite BBQ Pork Loin (Hormel – It was pre-made), Bush’s baked beans AND…

Crunchy Onion Mashed Potatoes
Ingredients

  • 3 cups  prepared hot mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup  sour cream
  • 1/4 cup  milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1 1/3 cups (2.8 ounces)  FRENCH’S® Original or Cheddar French Fried Onions
  • 1 cup  shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
MIX mashed potatoes, sour cream, milk and garlic powder. SPOON half the mixture into 2-qt. casserole. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup French Fried Onions and 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining potato mixture. BAKE at 350 degrees F for 30 min. or until hot. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions and 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 5 min. or until onions are golden.

Pretty tasty. Use reduced fat sour cream, skim milk and sharp cheddar cheese to cut down on calories.

Last night I made a whole chicken!

Chicken with Rosemary-Garlic Butter
Ingredients

  • 1 cup  butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 teaspoons  chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons  salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • (5- to 6-pound) whole roasting chicken

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, combine butter, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Rub butter mixture under skin and on outside of chicken. Truss chicken with butcher’s twine. Place chicken, breast-side up, on a rack in roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and continue baking, basting occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in thigh reaches 180 degrees. Remove pan from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. To serve, slice chicken and pour pan juices on top.

I enjoyed this, too, even if Husband was a bigger fan of today’s dinner.

Have I been working out? Not so much. If it’s any consolation, Ashley R. kicked my butt with stadiums on Thursday. I hurt…

(She made me do a weird track exercise, and I stopped early, and she said, “Do two more.” And I looked at her like a 12-year-old looks at her mother when she says, “Eat your broccoli.” Then, we laughed.)

I’m back… and pissed

I know.

I disappeared. Not sure if you were worried, but I’m back.

And pissed.

Why?

One seriously messed up reason.

Some piece of crap jerk bag stole my laptop (as well as an expensive textbook and several months worth of graduate level notes and almost ALL of my graduate research).

Put simply… I was distraught.

That is the reason I’ve been missing lately. I had to catch up for school. I’m not, but I’m better.

I’ll be around more later. I need to replace what I lost, and that is going to take a while.

Cheers, kids! See you after grad school (or maybe before – I’ve got some recipes!)

Dinner Tonight! Roasted chicken thighs

I made good food!

If you weren’t aware… Everything I have created lately has tasted pretty, well, terrible. I’m talking NO flavor or all the wrong flavors or just generally disgusting.

Luckily, last weekend, my I-suck-at-cooking streak ran dry, and I roasted some delicious chicken thighs!

Roasted Chicken Thighs, Baby Potatoes & Tomatoes with Olives & Mint
Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6   bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh thyme leaves (Thyme leaves are almost IMPOSSIBLE to remove from the little twigs. It took forever.)
  • clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon  kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 8   8 chicken thighs (about 6 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and skin (When the recipe says “trimmed of excess fat and skin,” take it with a grain of salt. Chicken thighs are covered in excess fat.)
  • 12   baby white or yellow potatoes (1 pound), halved
  • 1 pint  grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4   slender scallions, white and green parts cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1/4 cup  olives, preferably Nicoise or Picholine, pitted and chopped (Gross. No.)
  • 1/4 cup  slivered fresh mint leaves (Gross. No. I like mint in my tea.)
  • teaspoons  capers, drained, rinsed, and roughly chopped (Absolutely NO. I hate capers.)
  • I added steamed peas at the end, too. I love peas.

(But would I really be me if I didn’t change a few things?)

Directions
Stir together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the bay leaves, thyme, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. (I marinated for two hours, and it worked fine.)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the chicken skin side up at one end of a large rimmed baking sheet. (Discard the bay leaves, garlic, and any marinade. I totally left all of that on there. I must have not read this part, but that little mistake made for some good chicken!) Sprinkle lightly with salt. At the other end of the baking sheet, toss the potatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and spread in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken with the pan juices using a brush, turn the potatoes, and roast for another 10 minutes. Baste the chicken and turn the potatoes again and roast for 5 minutes.

Stir the tomatoes and scallions into the potatoes and roast, basting and turning once or twice, until the chicken and potatoes are golden and crisp looking, and the tomatoes and scallions are soft, about 15 minutes more.

Stir the vegetables, transfer with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl, and stir in the olives, 2 tablespoons of the mint, and the capers. Season to taste with more salt. Baste the chicken and transfer with tongs to a serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons mint, and serve hot.

Make Ahead Tips: For this recipe, you can marinate the chicken as soon as you get home from work and cook it in an hour or two. Or you can toss all the ingredients together quickly in the moring and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator all day.

Finally, something came out of my oven and tasted fabulous! I recommended this recipe (of course, with my alterations) to everyone who loves a good chicken thigh. And who doesn’t?

Crazy people, that’s who.

As for my workouts, well, it’s been getting harder and harder to complete more than 10 minutes of stair-climbing at work. I try to take walks, but I’m pretty focused on my papers and presentations right now.

Luckily, I’ll be finished with two papers and two presentations by the last week of April. Of course, during the first few days of May, I’ll be busting out the other two papers, one of which I’ll get done in a few hours because it’s mostly finished. The other… whew… I don’t want to think about it yet.

High five to skinnyshae though! I went to yoga on Saturday with Ashley R. and have a renewed desire to get fit and healthy and toned so I can wear shorts to yoga practice! That’s a good motivator. I never wear shorts.

Bye Friends (Make the chicken!O