Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life of Leisure?

The prep for the wedding saw my absolute peak of working out combined with not eating like a starved golden retriever.. (that is to say, stuffing anything, including shoe leather into my face).

I'm capable of eating healthy, balanced meals regularly- and I'm also capable of working out more than the average bear, but rarely do those habits coincide and result in losing those hateful 5 lbs which I'm pretty sure are the only thing between me and paid red carpet appearances...

The wedding however managed to inspire some serious effort (without total obsession) with regard to not eating crap and working out regularly at the same time.  When I say "not eating crap" I should clarify.  I still had pasta, and wine, and cheese.  But I typically managed less pasta, less wine and less cheese... or at least I managed not to cook with those three items as my primary ingredients for each snack and meal. 

Also, when I say "working out regularly" I mean 30 minutes with Ann Curry and Matt Lauer in the morning, stopping to sip on my latte and stretch ever 12-14 minutes.  I did couple this with seeing a personal trainer 3-4 times a week, but I have him sufficiently terrified of my lower back and left knee issues that I have probably sabotaged all but the most basic benefit from those sessions...

Those powers combined, I managed to loose probably 2 of the 5 hateful pounds ruining my life of leisure, which is admittedly closer than I've ever been before.

That is until The Boy and I went on our incredibly extended perfectly planned honeymoon.  Typically when I vacation I find myself departing in an adorably appropriate outfit for the locale but returning in something decidedly more tragic such as sweatpants and loose fitting tube top.  This is usually due in part to the extreme bloat and weight gain I am capable of in 5 short days, but also sometimes because of crippling sunburn which will end up preventing me from comfortably wearing anything from shoes with laces to a bra. 

Charming, I know.

Anyway,  imagine my surprise when after 3 weeks of 6 course meals and essentially brushing my teeth with wine instead of Tanzanian tap water, I returned home to my exact wedding weight.

(note.  I do not condone weighing oneself as a consistent measure of fitness.  Scales lie.  I know this. I have been both skinny and muscled at the same exact same weight that will other times prevent zipping of even my most forgiving jeans.  It's cruel)

What was I doing on a scale then you ask? well... in my absolute panic surrounding my limitation of 30lbs of luggage for safari I had rigged a rather elaborate scale system that allowed me to balance my bag on the bathroom scale while still being able to view the measurement.

Bigger minds might inquire as to why I didn't simply stand on the scale, weight myself, then pick up my bag and do the simple subtraction to learn the weight of my bag.   If I were clever, I'd say that I was avoiding having to learn - and then obsess about my own weight - but in point of fact this option just occurred to me as I'm typing this, so now I just feel silly.

Regardless of how I got there, I cannot overemphasize my complete and utter confusion at the thought that three weeks of total indulgence and gluttony somehow resulted in not ruining my wedding weight.  A stomach flu or two would have been an acceptable explaination, but I had nothing.

A friend finally hit the nail on the head (I think) when she deduced that my body just must really enjoy vacation.  In fact, I believe she said it must be "made for a life of leisure." 

Those women's mags always talk about how once you figure out your sleep cycle and drink enough water and take your vitamins and stretch and do yoga... the weight just magically falls off and stays off.

Apparently the "permanent life change" that my body craves is a five star resort on a tropical African Isle. 


Monday, March 26, 2012

Shamelessly.... lazy? (and a new casserole!)

So among the things that I am (apparently) horrible at doing regularly - I assure you that a long list of household chores is included in that statement - blogging appears to be one of them.

I will use the gold standard of excuses (which is anything WEDDING RELATED for those of you who haven't figured that out yet) and absolve myself of any real responsibility or accountability for much of anything else.

Sadly for me, I think the anything-wedding-related excuse window is running out - since... well, the Honeymoon was really the last box to check in that category.  sad for me. 

But since we were on our (totally fabulous wonderfully magical and completely exhausing) honeymoon, I don't feel bad about ignoring my cute little domestic blog.

I am choosing not to address the fact that the blog remained ignored for a few weeks upon our return.  I suggest you ignore that fact as well.

Thank you.

So! for my triumphant return, I bring to you a tried and tested recipe - and a casserole at that! cooked in my Le Creuset! If that doesn't sound domestic to you I don't know what would.  Maybe attaching mop heads to my feet so that I simultaneously scrub the floor while I chase the cat... who knows.

Chicken Tamale Casserole (courtesy of Cooking Light)


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1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided (I'm pretty sure I used more)
1/3 cup fat-free milk (I used Lactaid)
1/4 cup egg substitute (I used an egg)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (tablespoon!)
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (more!)
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn (ew. normal corn, RINSED)
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (Jiffy!)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (spicy!)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (I shredded a roasted chicken from the deli and used all of it)
 Preheat the oven to 400. and combine 1/4 cup of the cheese (I probably used more.. if you're noticing a pattern, good for you Gumshoe!) with the next 7 ingredients (through the chiles).  This should make a pretty lumpy, not too wet cornbread mixtrue.  Spray your 9x13 le creuset and dump it all in.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes - but error on the side of over cooking the bread/crust.  If the base is mushy, it's only going to get mushier and that's not delicious.
Then, the recipe calls for poking holes in the bread, pouring the enchilada sauce over it and covering the whole thing in chicken, then cheese and popping it back in the oven for another 15 minutes to warm, melt and get burbbly (technical term patented by my mom).

I decided that I wanted a bit more flavor so I chopped up some onion shallots that have been in my fridge for 2 months and a can of (rinsed) black beans to the chicken.  I think I also salted the chicken and gave it a healthy sprinkle of more chili powder.  I definitely did NOT use all of the enchilada sauce since the only negative reviews I saw were that this came out soupy and mushy.  (also, I cheaped out and bought some weird enchilada sauce that was on sale and I thought it tasted weird).

15 minutes for the second baking seemed perfect and the result was beyond delicious.  I used a few minutes of convection baking to really brown up the cheese and then let the thing sit for 5 minutes before dissecting it.  I garnished with sour cream (Cooking Light says "fat free" sour cream, but that tastes like crap) and some chopped avocado. 
I definitely used more cheese than called for...
 If I were to make it again, I think I'd consider more fresh peppers or onion in the cornbread and maybe playing more with the chicken spices before adding that layer.  All in all, totally delicious, minimal prep time and lots of leftovers so I won't have to cook again for a few days.