Sunday, April 12, 2015

Work In Progress...


I suppose it is fitting that I chose my birthday to submit my first blog post in over four years. I promise I never intended to stay away that long! Back when I last blogged (around the holiday season of 2010) I had reached the point where writing and updating the blog became a chore that I know longer looked forward to. Perhaps it was 'writer's block', I'm not sure. The 'job that pays the bills' was keeping me very busy. I really couldn't think of any topics that I wanted to cover and at the time there wasn't anything new to excite me. Part of my reason for starting this blog was as an outlet for two of my passions: cooking and writing. I suppose with everything that was going on in my life I just got 'burned out' and that 'passion' and excitement was gone. I even took a longer than expected break from Twitter (something I regret now).

Quite a bit has happened during this four year hiatus. I was involved in a major system migration project at work that consumed all my time, energy and focus. In late 2012 I had a bit of a health scare (featuring my first trip to the emergency room as a patient). Last year at this time I celebrated my 40th birthday. I'm still single but my household has increased by one feline (much to the chagrin of resident feline #1). During this time I would always renew my domain name just in case the urge to blog hit me again. 

Feline #2 (Perdita) with her favorite flying squirrel Rocky


As I entered my fourth decade of existence I have had to make changes to my diet. I am facing a new reality that I can't continue to eat whatever I want. Well, I could continue if I wanted to but the end result would be feeling like absolute crap. At the end of the day, is it really worth it? My 3rd decade wasn't the greatest; I experienced some personal losses and challenges that threw me for a loop. I really let myself go and as a result I was in poor health and horrible shape. I'm determined that my 40s will be much better for me in terms of my health. I plan to share some of the changes I'm making to my diet, my lifestyle and perhaps a few recipes and other goodies/occasional 'splurges' along the way.  It won't always be sugar-free and granola, I promise.   I'm going to try my best to update the blog more regularly.  You can always follow me on Twitter (apologies in advance for straying 'off-topic'; I happen to be a big sports fan). I also have an Instagram account; I just haven't gotten around to uploading any pics yet!  Updates are coming soon.

Even though I'm turning 41 today I still like to think of myself as a 'work in progress' with plenty of room for improvement. This blog will hopefully reflect that. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

-Tina


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Project Lumpia: The Post-Thankgiving Edition

While trying to come up with different ideas for utilizing Turkey Day leftovers, my mind kept going back to lumpia.   Maybe it's because I hadn't had any in a while, but I was thinking it might be another way to use up the remaining turkey and spare veggies not used for the holiday stock or stuffing/dressing.

I had my first taste of the crispy fried spring rolls as a child when my Filipina stepmom made a huge batch for a family get-together.  I've loved them ever since but only recently have I attempted to make my own (I would normally depend on the kindness of a good friend for my local lumpia fix).  As you'll soon see, my lumpia rolling technique needs a lot of work, but I plan to get more practice in over the next few weeks.

As a reference point, I turned to a recipe for Lumpiang Shanghai from one of my favorite food blogs, Burnt Lumpia.   I made a few changes for this Turkey/Shrimp version (I decided not to add ginger and opted for slightly less garlic).  For this recipe, I used roasted turkey thigh meat.  I'm usually more of a "white meat" gal, but for this recipe the higher fat content of the thigh meat makes it more ideal.   I also decided to throw some shrimp into the mix as well-just because.  In retrospect, I think I should have followed Marvin's instructions and made them a bit smaller (he suggests cutting each lumpia wrapper in half-I think I'll do that next time).  The lumpia I'm used to are usually the size of cigars-don't ask me why I decided to make them larger!  This recipe yielded 10 large lumpia and should yield about 20-25 smaller ones.  Recipe follows after the jump...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sweet Potato & Cranberry Nut Bread

Have a few extra sweet potatoes left over from last week's holiday feast?  Here's one way to put them to use!  This quick and tasty sweet potato and cranberry nut bread is great for breakfast, brunch or anytime snacking.  If fresh cranberries are a bit too tart for you, use sweetened dried cranberries instead.

Sweet Potato & Cranberry Nut Bread
(yields one 9x5 inch loaf)
2 cups cake flour (or all purpose flour, sifted)
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinammon
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sized tater)
1 cup fresh cranberries or ¾ cup dried sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt and spices.  Add the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed (scraping the sides of the bowl) for about 1 minute.  
Fold in mashed sweet potato, chopped pecans and cranberries.
Pour batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Indulging My Sweet Tooth


I normally don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I recently indulged a bit while attending The Broke Socialite Does...Sugar Coma Festival.  The event brought some of Atlanta's best bakeries, caterers, ice cream shops and restaurants together under one roof (Le Fais do-do on Atlanta's westside).   Since I'd missed previous tours, I figured that I needed to have the full Sugar Coma experience at least once.  This was the perfect venue and opportunity to do so!

Talk about sensory overload-I didn't know where to start sampling!  The venue was jam packed with everything from cakes and pastries to truffles and tarts.  Cotton candy, petit fours, little marshmallows, brownies, and cupcakes.  Tons and tons of cupcakes.  Cupcakes as far as the eye could see...


Somehow I made my way to the Peacecake table, which is where I began my sampling.  I was really impressed with the Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes and their Gluten Free Brownies.  Delicious stuff!  You can order their Organic, Vegan & Gluten free brownie, muffin, cupcake and cookie mixes online at their website, www.mypeacecake.com.

There were so many treats to sample and after a few I'd had my limit (I tihnk I may have suffered from Red Velvet Overload).  Among my favorites:  a mini pear frangipane tart from Konfections by Kristina,  the Whoopie Pies from West Egg Café, and a wonderfully refreshing Meyer Lemon Sorbet from High Road Craft Ice Cream and Sorbet (love!).   I'm kind of kicking myself for not sampling their Citrus Ginger sorbet (which received raves from several Sugar Coma Fest attendees).  A delicious Patrón Margarita cupcake from CEO Custom Cakes (purchased at the Sugar Coma Marketplace) was the perfect ending to a sweet afternoon.

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