Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Absurditea! - Rolling Wave (Personal Blend)

TEA JOURNAL - Several months back, I was given a bag of loose Jasmine Pearl Green tea from Ten Ren.  It was subtle and elegant with a quality of lightness that pleased the senses.  No wonder it had that effect, considering the correspondence of jasmine and third eye stimulation.

I have recently purchased a few ounces of Citrus Lavender Sage, a new herbal tea from Teavana which was previously sold as a blend with Oolong with much success, but was recommended to be blended with Jasmine tea.  Excitedly, I took this cue and brought it home to mix and match with my preexisting tea collection.  The Jasmine Pearl Green from Ten Ren was naturally my first choice.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spinach & Chive Linguine in Impromptu Pesto

There's nothing like working a ten hour shift and coming home to bags of goodies from Trader Joe's.  This week's find was Spinach & Chive Linguine  Yum.

My family decided that it would be best kept simple with a bit of olive oil, but that wasn't for me.  I was, however, inspired by the idea and decided that it has been far too long since I've last made pesto!  But what was I going to do?  I didn't have any fresh basil!

That's okay, though.  My winter reserve of dried Basil served just fine.

While the linguine cooked, I quickly dug through my cabinets for some sea salt and black pepper to grind, the aforementioned dried sweet basil, some extra virgin olive oil, and my trusty blender.  From the fridge, I snagged two fresh garlic cloves, some grated (vegan) parmesan, a container of Shedd's Spread Country Crock, and my stash of hempseed left over from my summer pesto.


HOW TO MAKE THE IMPROMPTU PESTO:

QUICK PREP:
- scoop 2-3 tablespoon-balls of country crock into a cup
- add 2-3 tablespoons of grated (vegan) parmesan
- melt/soften the mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds on High
- mince two fresh, peeled garlic cloves and add to mixture

WHAT TO BLEND:
- country crock, parmesan, and garlic mixture
- 3 tablespoons of hempseed
- 3 tablespoons of dried sweet basil
- 3-5 tablespoons of olive oil
- fresh ground sea salt & black pepper to taste



After blending all these ingredients into a thick paste, add this glorious concoction to the drained linguine and stir, keeping the pot on low heat.  The outcome should be a creamy, chunky, lactose-free and nut-free pesto over spinach & chive linguine.  Serve with some garlic toast for a quick and easy any-time meal!  DEEEEE-LISH!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MUSIC: Tri-State Conspiracy - "OUTBREAK!"

NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- On Saturday, November 12th, New York City based swing-ska band Tri-State Conspiracy celebrated the release of its newest album "Outbreak" with a crowd of rowdy, dancing fans at The Studio at Webster Hall.  Showcasing tunes from their new album, TSC headlined an eclectic line-up of musicians.

The Rudie Crew kicked off the night with some ska/reggae that had the crowd dancing right off the bat followed by the gypsy/cabaret style of Amour Obscur and a rousing set from The Cryptkeeper 5.  Overall the night was an exciting success to fit a variety of musical tastes and to celebrate yet another musical victory for Tri-State Conspiracy.  Their album is available now on Itunes and CDBaby.


After years of following this band across the tri-state area, I am pleased to see how much they have grown together musically and technically over the years.  They never cease to impress me and I have never brought anyone to see them who hasn't excitedly come back for more.  I wish these amazing artists the best with their new album and in all their future endeavors... which I hope there will be many more of.  They have kept the heart of the scene that I remember loving so much growing up alive in every up-strum and brass instrument on that stage.  Their fans are loyal, amazing people, who are always happy to dance with a stranger and make a new friend.  I have a deep respect and admiration for these men and am thankful for many years of musical celebration.

If you've never seen Tri-State Conspiracy live, please check out the video below for a taste of what you missed!  More video is available on youtube (skablog).  Please show your support!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BANANA-KIWI-ORANGE JUICE SMOOTHIE


If you don't already know me very well, you will quickly learn of my smoothie obsession.  Fruit smoothies, veggie smoothies, combination smoothies mixed with tea... you name it.  It all started once upon a time at Jamba Juice when I got hooked on Razzmatazz but found out through the grapevine that they were not the healthiest of choices in fruity beverage.  I am, however, impressed with their new Orange Carrot Karma which contains Orange Juice, Carrot Juice, Mango, Bananas, and Ice... in fact, the one at Port Authority used actual carrots now that I think of it.  If you're on the go, definitely try that. I, however, am trapped inside studying and creating lesson plans so something I can quickly whip up myself at home is in order.

Behold: The Banana-Kiwi-Orange Juice Smoothie!

Made simply of 1/2 banana, 1/2 kiwi, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1/4 cup water, this smoothie is light and delightful, not to mention full of Vitaminy goodness!  Primarily we're talking about Vitamin B6 which is our little friend that helps us process amino acids, break down food like carbohydrates, and helps us ladyfolk out with some of the pains of, well, being a woman on a monthly basis.  This vitamin not only helps support your cardiovascular health and gives you an excellent boost of energy if you are feeling sluggish or getting ready for that early morning jog (or in my case yoga) but it is also going to help out your nervous system, regular your mental processes, and improve your mood!  It probably helps if you hum bananaphone while eating it, but if you're not in the mood for humming, just nibbling away on a banana can do you a world of good.  Even frozen ones are excellent snacks and make a delicious alternative to ice pops.  I've even added a couple of tablespoons of soy milk to them and mashed them up a bit with a couple raspberries for some tasty raw ice cream.  Bananas are your best friend.  On top of improving your mood, their potassium content will help your bones and soothe achy feet... so if you're like me and find yourself standing for eight or more hours at a clip, keep one in the breakroom and have that on your fifteen instead of coffee.  Bananas also contain tons of dietary fiber, a bit of sugar, and Vitamin C.  Oh, and don't throw out those banana peels!  They can be used to stop the itch from mosquito bites or can be used to compost in your garden.  Why not share the wealth of health benefits?  Trust me, your roses will love them!

But enough about bananas... let's not forget about those cute little kiwi!  These tiny fellas pack quite a punch!  Did you know that kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange, more fiber than an apple... which, by the way, improves digestion and is excellent for decreasing your chances of getting colon cancer... is rich in potassium just like bananas, helps to prevent high blood pressure, reduces respiratory health problems, and is rich in flavonoids which help protect our DNA from mutations and damage.  This means that the combination of banana and kiwi have your body's main systems covered!  (Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Nervous, and Digestive).  And remember, these little guys sweeten with age, so grab 'em while they're fresh, let them build up nutrients, and eat them BEFORE they turn to mush!  Remember, you're blending them anyway, so you might as well enjoy them!

FUN FACT:  Kiwi mixed with water and vodka as an astringent to tighten and tone skin!

Our last two friends are water and orange juice... which are going to help to hydrate your body and boost your levels of Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is an important antioxident that also helps to decrease bad cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, and protects against inflammation.  The combination of all these goodies into one refreshing drink can work wonders... and will cost you less than $5 for nearly a week's worth the kick-start smoothies if you're buying everything fresh... so no excuses!

Not sure how to make it?  Let's go over our 60 second smoothie prep:
- peel the banana, break it in half.  you can freeze the second half in a plastic bag for later!
- peel the kiwi carefully with a knife as you would a peach for cobbler and slice the fruit inside into discs
- drop 1/2 the banana and 1/2 the kiwi into a blender or magic bullet cup
- add 1/4 cup fresh squeezed (or tropicana if you must) orange juice
- add 1/4 cup water to thin it out into a light juice
When your prep-work is over...
- blend until liquified!

Now that you know all the benefits, try it out and let me know how it's affecting your life.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

30 DAY YOGA CHALLENGE: MONTH #2

Two months ago I began the 30 Day Yoga Challenge and made the move toward a better, more mindful existence.  My dedication to the challenge evolved into a dedication to myself and to being present in every moment.  I grew stronger inside and out.  I saw my legs as the trunks of great redwood trees, anchored to the earth by my toes like roots.  My body grew lighter as my posture improved and the weight of the world gave me a break for some tea.  Living, laughing, and loving came easily.

I managed 23 classes in 30 days, and by class #22, I had changed the focus of the challenge from "30 days. 26 classes." to "30 days to being more mindful."  I realized that reaching my goal did not mean nearly as much as the beautiful flower emerging on the path along the way.  It was time to live my practice, to "be where I was."  It was MY yoga, after all.

The challenge ended the same week that Grad School began.  I found myself out of money, out of time, and wondering how and why I had thrown myself back into the mess that is my University and all that comes with it.  By week two, Grad School was there, larger than life, stomping its big hairy foot on my daisies and really stinking up the place.  It made itself at home in the void left by yoga and before I knew it, managed to devour my every moment.  I started losing focus, losing hope, and losing my footing.  I started to fall... asleep, mostly... at really inopportune times... like during a Calc lecture.  After my sixth all-nighter in three weeks' time, I decided that I needed to seriously detox... with a tea & yoga retreat.

And that, my friends, is how I found myself all alone on a bus to Boston at 7am, napping next to a stranger while snuggling with my copy of Pause-Cafe.  This, however, is a story to be told at a later date (with pictures and flair!) so I will provide you this brief summary of my excursion: vegan food, tealuxe, singing beach, and yoga.  After three tea-filled and meatless days, I was ready to get back on my feet.

It was time for Unlimited Yoga.

Monday arrived and the universe granted me safe passage back into my formerly blissful mindset.  I was miraculously not scheduled for work, my classes went well enough that morning, and I was decently awake when I found myself in savasana, covered in a blanket, and on a guided tour of my subconscious mind by way of Yoga Nidra.  I experienced discomfort midway through, but began to realize that I was sweating out the toxins I let build up during the month that Grad School ate my soul.  Afterward, we discussed our experiences and what the colors, poses, and other elements of our meditation symbolized and surfaced.  I found myself in awe and at peace for the first time since school began.  I was ready mentally for asana practice which followed.  Those three hours helped to begin the realignment of my body, my mind, and my life.

Tuesday came and I planned to heal by sleeping in.  I had the day off and wanted to take full advantage.  Good thing I received an e-mail from Lotus offering a FREE 11:15am Yoga Power Hour class the night before and found an alternative to Margie's 9:30am class.  I made myself a meal and headed downtown to hunt for parking and settle in before the class.  Apparently there was no rush necessary, because I was the only one who showed up.

This was the first time I have ever had to OM by myself while in the presence of another.  It was a strange, but unifying feeling.  Judy and I have the same pitch.  I closed my eyes as Judy read aloud from her copy of Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh about being present in the moment.  I'd nearly forgotten the wisdom I'd come to embrace just a few weeks prior and felt refreshed by the reminder.  She then explained that the full moon was in Aries that night and that if there was something in my life that I wanted to change or which needed to change, that now was the time to do so.  This particular alignment of the moon would help me along... especially because I was born in Aries myself.  I felt as though I were meant to be there at that moment... that Judy and I were meant to cross paths and help to improve one another's day.  This thought inspired me and further motivated me while also helping me to understand why I suddenly felt this tugging need for change and reacted so impulsively about bringing it about.

The asana practice which followed was challenging; my body was just beginning to readjust to the postures and poses... but Judy's words rang like a gong of motivation.  Her reminder that in every twist we are squeezing our toxins and that lions breath releases everything that we no longer need served to make each breath and asana meaningful and productive.  The image of myself as a tree of plenty as I stood on one leg with my arms outstretched and holding gyan mudra helped me to feel empowered and confident.  I felt my figurative roots beginning to shoot through the ground and anchor me into steadiness as my self-love and inner strength were given the water to grow with the reminder that everything a yogi needs can be found within... that all the love and acceptance we require can be found within ourselves.  I left the class sure that I would return again as per Judy's request.  I was once again balanced... grounded and light.

When I returned home from the class, I attempted to do homework and passed out for hours.  My body was reclaiming my life at last, and if I wasn't going to let it recharge, it was going to imitate my phone and shut itself all for a while until I did something about its drained battery.  I woke up just in time for another yoga class that night.  Teresa is always good for inversions.  She did not disappoint.  Inverting your view of the world can often make it appear more clearly, we are after all seeing everything upside down.  The blood rushing to the face also helps to keep it young.  Headstands reverse the effects of gravity on the body and energize the brain.  Inversions also help to regulate the metabolism and calm the mind.  If you have never tried one of these poses, find a modification that best suits you (like folding as if you are going to touch your toes, leaning your back against the wall and hanging for a few minutes... or sitting on your couch upside down with your head hanging toward the floor and your legs on the backrest) and you will quickly understand what I am talking about.

With that said, I will cease to bore you with my personal yogic revelations.  I will close by saying that the last two weeks of yoga have helped to calm my mind and to improve my focus in all aspects of my life.  I am becoming more mindful and therefore more at peace.  I am excited to say that I have successfully accomplished many a headstand (something which made me nervous to try before) both spotted and unattended, have increased my muscular control, and have pushed myself to new levels.

To tell you the truth, this whole post was initially inspired by the class I took this morning.  With a room of yogis using ugia breath in Warrior One after about 45 minutes of rigorous vinyasa flow movement, the instructor commented that he understood why we might use modified arms in the pose because we had tight shoulders TODAY but that we should not make that our permanent practice.  He suggested instead trying to reach the full extension of the pose because if you do not push yourself at all, you will never let yourself grow.  That statement reflects directly on my attitude toward his class as a whole.  I had been previously avoiding Carlos' class because I heard that it was extremely tough and by no means at novice level.  I originally intended on David's 8:30am class (my favorite) with a short break in between to head over to Dan's 12pm class at Lotus... but the fates gave me a gentle nudge back into dreamland this morning and I overslept.  Carlos' class it was!  And I must say... it was TOUGH.  So tough in fact, that I actually felt proud of myself while I was walking out at the end because I was so relieved that it was over and so happy that I had been able to keep up.  A few hours later, I even found myself wanting to go back because I was craving that challenge.  Finally, I was leaving my box.

And that, boys and girls, is where you find me tonight.  Reflecting in respectful meditation through writing to balance my world before finishing up my assignments for tomorrow.

I am glad that I could share with you... and thank you for listening.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DELICIOUS SIMPLICITY - 5 MINUTE FRESH LEMONADE

Everyone's heard of the KISS Method (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and if for some reason you hadn't prior to right now, well, you have now.  I am going to give you a quick and easy way to satisfy your craving for lemonade and/or lemon-limeade (your choice, just add the lime for lemon-lemonade!).  Ready? Okay.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MINDFUL QUOTATIONS

“Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Updates! Updates! Updates!

So much has happened since I have last been here to update you.  The 30 day yoga challenge went well and ended up with me taking 23 classes in 30 days (with the last three missed because of inclement weather & labor day closings).  I chose a new career path, or well, tweaked a former one, and consumed a lot of tea in the process.  There are pictures to post, shenanigans to tell stories about, and wisdom to share.

More updates soon.  Stick tight!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

30 DAY YOGA CHALLENGE: Day 16-17, Class 13-14.

The storm is coming, yes.  The rain has come down outside in downpour spurts, trickling for a while and then repeating the cycle.  I hear the storm is around Virginia now and is about 8 hours away from hitting us hard.  Everyone is driving like they are in the middle of it already... and have been since yesterday when, big shocker, it wasn't even raining yet.  Panic is all around us and in the middle, I am in Savasana.

We talk a lot at yoga about being fully present and to "be where you are."  On the mat you find yourself in difficult postures... twisting, bending, arching back, balancing on one leg with your arms wrapped around your body like a pretzel in a bind... which demand your focus and concentration fully.  You breathe with each posture, taking note of how you are feeling that day, and you "do what is available to you" so that you do not push yourself too hard and cause an injury.

When you sit on the mat, you close your eyes.  You release all thoughts, memories of the past, and worries about the future.  You sit with yourself in peace and silence.   It matters not what has happened to you prior to stepping on to the mat and preparing for meditation, they are already done and they cannot be changed... so why waste your thoughts and time?  Right now is all you really have.  You breathe in calm and radiate peace and light, picturing the breath as it cycles from the center of your chest up to your third eye and back down again, creating a circuit.  You clear your mind and visualize your positive intentions like an aura around you, allowing it to radiate outward, cradling all living things.  You sit in stillness and allow vibrations of positive energy to radiate forth.  It is almost like you are floating on the energy.  Relax, focus, and enjoy the present's presents.  "Be where you are."

DAY 16, CLASS 13: ALIGNMENT
Last night's class was an overall success for everyone involved.  Having had a rough day dealing with the shenanigans of trying to get back into the swing of yet another semester at University, it was nice to step on the mat and leave all that outside in the muggy weather.  There was a fantastic amount of warming up and preparation during practice which was just what I needed in contrast with some of my previous instructors... and Iwona's accent was a nice break from what I call the "Yoga Voice" that too many instructors seem to think they are supposed to use.  (If you've been to a class where they did that "calming" voice where they drop to a low tone at the end of every phrase, you know what I mean).  Savasana was mellowing, rejuvenating, and leveling... enough so that when we walked outside, people verbally noticed.


DAY 17, CLASS 14: CORE YOGA - NO EXPECTATIONS
I took this class two weeks ago and was not a fan.  However, to keep striving toward my goal, I needed to take it today... especially if classes for tomorrow are already canceled in anticipation of the storm.  Gee, thanks, Irene.  Luckily for my sleepy eyes, I have taken enough yoga and invested enough into my practice to find the motivation to continue.  The second the thought to not go crossed my mind during breakfast, I countered this thought by reminding myself not to have any expectations for my practice.  With a clear mind and nothing to anticipate, I was able to be fully present and take the class for what it would be.  I am happy to say that with no expectations, there was no disappointment, only satisfaction that I was once again on my mat with the fan gently blowing on me as I continued my practice.  I did not need to look around, I did not need to compare myself, this is my yoga practice.

I pushed myself as far as I could, understanding my limitations which today came in the form of Flying Crocodile (where you are in low lunge, leaning forward, with both your arms extended outward, one directly out to the side and the other passing under your leg to extend outward).  Trying the pose, I fell, laughed a little, and returned to a modified Crocodile as I shook my head and said, "Nope, not going to happen."  My neighboring yogi laughed in agreement, obviously not even going to attempt it since it was his first yoga class ever.  Other than that, the core and side workout today in addition to the workout on my shoulders and forearms from doing a modified version of Vasisthasana (Side Plank) were enough to get me through the weekend.  Savasana was relaxing but filled with all sorts of strange memories about which teachers I was assigned to in Grammar School and how the other 3rd Grade class hatched baby chickens... and then I completely dropped out of consciousness until we were instructed to come back to the room and I remembered where I was.  I have been relatively mellow since.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

30 DAY YOGA CHALLENGE: DAY 15, Class 12.

The focus of today's practice was surrender.  Waking up and feeling extremely grounded and solid with both weight and form without heaviness or discomfort, I made the mistake of eating a scrambled egg.  From that point forward, I felt heavy, nausiated, dizzy, and moderately exhausted.  I should have left my stomach 1/4 empty, perhaps more.  At this time, the egg was too filling.  My body and meat are also not friends, so I am sure that did not help my cause by any means.  Despite how I was feeling, I vowed to remain dedicated to my practice and shuttled off to the studio.

I was the only one to arrive prior to the beginning of class.  Although that initially made me nervous, I gathered my thoughts and reminded myself of my intentions, hearing the words in the back of my mind, "They will be thankful if even one person shows up, so let it be you."  I ascended the staircase, laid down my yoga mat in the usual spot near the windows and fan and kindly greeted the instructor.  She was considerably sweet and set me up with a block to place along my spine and one to rest my head so that I could relax and meditate while opening up my chest, breathing deeply and calmly until any others arrived.  Shortly later, in a burst, they did.

The class was not my favorite as far as Asanas and flow are concerned.  I felt that I needed more warming up prior to twisting and stretching than I normally do today.  I believe it was my body anticipating the forthcoming rain and hurricane to follow.  My joints were cracking constantly today and I felt a bit like the Tin Man.  I need to flaxseed oil them up.  I noticed that putting in seven consecutive days of work with no summer vacation to be had this year and little to now sleep in the last month or so has really taken its toll on me.  Normally calm, collected, strong, and enthusiastic in my poses, I found myself unable to focus or find peace in my practice.  There was much discomfort mentally due to some recent disappointments and a natural hormonal shift and imbalance as yet another month comes to a close.  Half way through practice, I found myself wishing it to be over.  It was not until the instructor began to share with us the truths she has come to reflect on this week that I was able to decide the intention at which I needed to dedicate my practice.

The focus of today's practice was surrender.

Turning our backs to one another and our gaze outside through the windows at the trees, we stood in tree pose, hands at heart center pushing together gently in prayer, up through the mid-line, above the head, and out into tree pose, holding the energy and my focus like a ball of energy between my palms as I watched the trees steady and strong swaying gently in the wind outside.  My particular focus was on a tree planted along the sidewalk in a small patch of dirt.  I identified with it.  A lonesome organic organism standing tall and strong, rooted in the city amid man-made industrial constructs.  My toes extended down into the floor like the roots of the tree as I closed my eyes and felt fully present for the first time today.  I surrendered to who I was.

The focus of today's practice was surrender.

I struggled a bit through the other poses, not fully stretched because of my overworked mind during the asanas prior, but managed to come to a relaxing savasana.  Savasana is always different for me.  Sometimes it is full of visions... ballerinas, the stage, parading in a pale green gown with flowers in my hair as I dance through Central Park on a bright sunny spring afternoon... sometimes I picture myself falling backward through my body, through the floor and the darkness into what seems like an endless abyss like a droplet of water hitting an endless deeply purple sea of universal unity, oneness, and peace.  I feel my body gently rocking with the waves as they absorb me fully.  Today, however, I focused on surrendering to the thoughts and situations that had been plaguing me through class and resolved to sit with them presently, then pass.

The focus of today's practice IS surrender.

I have a long night ahead of me tonight at work in the bookstore.  Today's practice was completely necessary to give me something to focus on during the often taxing and stressful points in my work-night.  Now that I am aware, I can breathe in and out deeply, bringing oxygen to my brain and clearing my mind to properly move through the situation.  Let's hope that by surrendering to the situation, remaining present, and breathing hope and positive energy into even the most negative patron, tonight will pass quickly and smoothly and I can return to a restful state tonight before practice in the morning.

More Insanitea!

Today was our second trip to Insanitea... and today we learned that it is absolutely impossible to only allot one hour of our night to drink tea there.  Sadly, however, that was all the time we had to enjoy a pot of tea each before closing.

Karina chose the Angel's Dream, a mix of maple and wild blackberry that "enhance a blend of teas from sri lanka, taiwan and india to create a heavenly, full flavor black tea."  Her tea was indeed heavenly and delicious with a fantastic burst of flavor, but perhaps too much for my taste to have wanted to finish an entire pot for one.

I, on the other hand, chose the Chai Green Tea which is a green gunpowder tea from Shri Lanka complimented by "warm notes of cinnamon, clove, and cardamom."  The first cup was very light and mildly flavored in comparison to the Angel's Dream, but as the tea remained in the pot to steep longer, the flavor began to come out.  After an hour and multiple cups of the tea from my glorious little white teapot, the flavor was so potent that you would never have guessed it to be the same tea as the first cup.

On the side, I got an iced version of their Granny's Green Apple as per the recommendation in the menu. I had some difficulty tasting the apple, perhaps because of the caramel-typed flavor over-powering it?  I did, however, notice the similarity in lingering after-taste also present in the Bohemian Raspberry but taken down a notch from the floral-patterned-shirt-with-big-glasses-in-a-loft-apartment-in-williamsburg-brooklyn vibe.  This, too, tasted better after allowing to sit a while and in fact grew better with time.


IN LIGHT OF IT BEING LATE AT NIGHT & HAVING YOGA IN THE AM...

FULL UPDATE WITH PHOTOS LATER!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

30 DAY YOGA CHALLENGE

Summer is in full-swing which means that I find myself working the strangest combination of shifts on nearly every day of the week, the sun and I have become strangers, and that I have had one too many plates of seasoned waffle fries at 3am.  Usually by this point I will have strategically planned some elaborate $500 vacation for 5-8 days that will have me dancing in the streets and cartwheeling someplace warm.  However, this year's vacation fund went to a new laptop for grad school.

All work and no play was making Jenny crave yoga... especially after standing all day.  Those hammies get tight!  I needed some serious sun salutations and lucky for me, that angel came down to help me in the form of a Groupon.  My two long months without a single forearm stand were about to end... at Shiva Shanti Yoga School.

Hesitant at first because I hadn't much experience with Vinyasa Flow before, I snagged up my friend Rich and invited him along as my motivator.  The class was nice and mellow, giving me the stretch that I needed to lose sight of the day and find myself fully present in each and every pose... enjoying and breathing... breathing and enjoying... and enjoying breathing.  Yoga was that leveling, grounding, peaceful outlet I needed to counteract the negative effects of being on my feet for 30+hrs per week.  I was hooked instantly.

Friday came and I had my braces removed.  This was a remarkably exciting day for me and was the first day of my newly transformed images of self.  I took the time to reflect on how far I have come in the last two years, breaking out of my shell and coming more into my own, finding security in my silver sidewalks like training wheels to help me on the road to becoming a better Me.  I decided that with this new phase of life, I would develop new habits, attitudes, and a more positive demeanor... and I did this in the best way that I know how... a challenge!

Although I am often not a fan of competition, but very competitive when you pit me against someone, there is no person in the world who can motivate me to continue on toward victory than the person whose reflection I see in the mirror every day.  I am my most worthy opponent and my most dedicated competitor.  Yes, I find myself tough to beat at times, but in the end we are proud of what we've been through and are at peace again after the journey.

That said, I devised a plan grow outward and inward:
THE 30 DAY YOGA CHALLENGE.

The plan was to take 6 classes a week for 4 weeks, totaling out to 26 classes in 30 days.  Here is how the challenge has panned out thus far.

DAY #1, CLASS #1: THURSDAY - 8:00PM - Vinyasa
DAY #2, REST... BRACES OFF!
DAY #3, CLASS #2: SATURDAY - 10:30AM - Core Yoga
DAY #4, CLASS #3: SUNDAY - 8:30AM - Vinyasa
DAY #5, CLASS #4: MONDAY - 6:00AM - Energize Early Morning Vinyasa
DAY #6, CLASS #5: TUESDAY - 9:30AM - Vinyasa

NEXT GOAL: WEDNESDAY - 9:30AM - Shiva Shanti Yoga

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COME BACK OR FOLLOW @SKAJENNY ON TWITTER FOR UPDATES ON MY PROGRESS!

Monday, July 25, 2011

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS: A Film for the Nostalgic Romantic

Tonight was brilliant.  Having heard from multiple sources that Woody Allen's latest masterpiece, Midnight in Paris, was the perfect film for a girl of my taste and cultural education I ventured out to one of the few obscure theaters that were playing it in NJ.

If you know me at all, you understand that even without my profound love for Woody Allen's work, I could never resist a film about a modern-day writer and nostalgic romantic for 1920s Paris (in the rain).

This particular dreamer stumbles out of a bad day with his fiancee (who is preoccupied with an obnoxious know-it-all douchebag dripping with pretention) and finds himself traveling through time on a journey of self discovery and creative inspiration with the help of various musicians, artists, poets, and novelists whom he views as idols.

Although I absolutely loved the film for its culturally literate references, it is not something I can imagine those who are not well versed in literature, art, music, and the culture of that time period would find interesting or stimulating.  However, if you are a fan of Picasso, Rodin, Hemingway, Cole Porter, or F. Scott Fitzgerald... and of course, Woody Allen... you should take the hour and a half out of your day to sit down with a box of Junior Mints and see this film in the theaters.

Let me know your opinion of the film once you do!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

INTEGRATION!

Welcome to the new & improved blog!

We are in the process of integrating multiple blogs into one... so sit back, relax, and enjoy the renovation!

Friday, July 15, 2011

TEN DAY PASTA CHALLENGE!

July 15th is my absolute favorite day of the year... mainly because it sports my two favorite numbers in a combination that for once isn't 157.  It also, however, is a marker of the midpoint of summer and thereby serves as a nagging reminder that warmer weather has been poking me in the shoulder and saying to come out and play before it has to go away and nap for a while.  Now, if I am going to properly celebrate summer, I am going to need to feel comfortable and confident running around half naked in polkadot spandex.

How ever am I going to make that happen!?

Well, it all started with a promise I made to myself mid-March that I would reclaim the body I lost the last time summer went into hiding.  It is shameful to admit that I compensated for its company by baking like a fiend and gobbling up tons of sugary sweetness to the point where I cringed every time I stepped onto scale or looked in the mirror while dressing.  I began practicing yoga more often, went back to dance, and borrowed a copy of P90X from a friend.  I then combined this with eating lighter, better, and more raw.  It was a tough ride but brought back my confidence as the pounds began to melt away.

I am happy to admit that of my 20lb goal, I have lost 10 officially, but am disappointed to say that I have been fluctuating between losing and gaining the next 5lbs.  Frustrating as that has been, I still have the last 5 after that to lose and am still motivated to do so!

My solution:  The 10 day pasta challenge.

The 10 day pasta challenge is my attempt to lower my pasta intake (which is currently about 1/2lb or more per day... yikes!) in hopes that those last few remaining pounds will stop clinging to my tummy and thighs and will take a permanent vacation.

The limit: whatever skinny little noodles fit into the bottom of the bowl of soup I am eating... so basically two ounces or less per two cups of soup.

Okay, Okay.  I may be a lady, but for the sake of science and this dieting experiment, I have been fluctuating between 126 and 128lbs for the last two months.  My normal diet (which includes 2 visits/week to the diner to satisfy that post-night-shift craving for seasoned waffle fries and a few beers while out with friends) will remain the same aside from the limit on pasta intake and after 10 days (today is day #4) we will see the success of failure of this diet.

Today I am at 128.  Six days left!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DETOX: Day 2 (Improvements & Results)

I have been on this veggie juice detox for two days and have already dropped four pounds of toxins.  I am amazed at how quick and effective these healthy concoctions have been at helping me achieve my ultimate goal of streamlining my figure, increasing my energy, and clearing out my vessel to promote efficiency.  I have been notified that the average person must detox for approximately two weeks to achieve maximum cleansing.  Hopefully at this rate I will have reached my target weight in the process and helped to revitalize my skin and hair with all of the vitamins and minerals I am taking in on a daily basis.  Start now, stay healthy for life, right?

Today I made some improvements to yesterday's recipe.  These improvements should serve to cater to those who have a bit of a distaste for veggies because the blend is so fantastically smooth in texture and taste.  Behold my creation!


This little beauty took all the health benefits of yesterday's Carrot-Apple-Ginger-Flaxseed Smoothie and added in a bit of style and grace: Cucumber and Orange-Tangerine Juice!  This tiny alteration sweetens up the smoothie exponentially and makes for a happy tum.


Ingredients.
- 8 tiny snack carrots (or two large carrots).
- 1 red apple (peeled).
- 1 inch of fresh ginger (skin removed).
- 1/2 cucumber (peeled and sliced).
- 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds (soaked to make flax water)
- splash of tropicana orange-tangerine juice with calcium

Blending the veggies.  Follow the directions from #5: Spring Cleaning Detox and add your peeled and sliced cucumber just before the flaxseed-water combination.  Splash the tiniest bit of Tropicana Orange-Tangerine Juice with Calcium onto the top of the mixture and blend until smooth.


If you are trying this detox along with me or want to suggest some other smoothie ideas, let me know by leaving a comment.  Your feedback is always welcome!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

SPRING CLEANING DETOX

That's right boys and girls, moms and dads.  It's time for some spring cleaning.
Contrary to popular belief, spring cleaning is not simply limited to your house, home, apartment or cubicle... spring cleaning is an all-encompassing cleansing of the mind, body, and soul!  Why not fully de-clutter your life?  Shed those toxic people who brought you down all winter!  Shed those toxins in your body that has caused you to plateau just above your target weight for the new year!  Shed all toxic thoughts and comments that caused you grief, depression, or feelings of defeat!  Put an end to your exhaustion!  Try putting something good into your body and releasing the bad.  Think happy thoughts!  Eat healthy foods!  Exercise away stress and anxiety... and don't forget to water your vessel!  Why not coast through life a little more smoothly... with a SMOOTHIE!


Today's detox: Carrot Apple Ginger Flaxseed Smoothies!


Feast your eyes on this cup of possibility!  All you need to enjoy the benefits of this little wonder is a blender and a few simple ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon of whole flax seeds.
- 1 red apple, peeled and sliced.
- 8 snack-sized peeled carrots (or 2 normal carrots, peeled and chopped).
- 1/4 inch nub of fresh ginger root, skin removed.  (should be moist)
- 1 cup of lukewarm water.


Soaking your flaxseeds & making flaxseed water.  Gandhi once said that "Wherever flax seed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health."  This is true because flax seeds are packed with the fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals needed for a happy and healthy life!  Just one teaspoon of flax seed added to one cup of lukewarm water will release the slippery mucilage necessary to gently shed toxins through a natural laxative process.  The seeds need to soak for a half hour to begin this process and once in the system, you will experience their glorious efforts 20-40 minutes later.  You will know that you have successfully created flaxseed water when the water above the seeds appears to have a film and the seeds have become gooey.

WARNING: Don't try this if you have somewhere important to be within the hour or will be driving a long distance.  These seeds are small, but mighty.  After the above description, I shouldn't have to say more.


Blending the ingredients.  Throw your peeled & chopped carrots into your blender or magic bullet followed by your peeled and sliced red apple, and your quarter-inch long nub of your freshly peeled ginger root.  Pour the water and seeds into the blender (you might need to use a spoon to transfer the gooey seeds!) and start blending!



Enjoy.  Swirl lightly and breath in deeply, inhaling the brilliant mixture of ginger, carrot, and apple before sipping slowly from your cup or through your straw.  Simply inhaling the scent of this health-promoting masterpiece will make you feel revitalized.  Within the hour, the flax seeds should do their job, helping you to shed toxins miraculously and gently... leaving you feeling lighter, cleaner, and ready to conquer your day!

Let me know how this works out for you!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life is but a dream.


Riding a bicycle with only one speed up and down hills, through the glen and along dirt paths, stopping to photograph the flowers and weeds as I went.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dining for the Chakras

BREAKFAST: I kick-started my day with a delicious fruit smoothie made of blueberries, blackberries, mango, peach, and orange juice.



ACTIVITY: Breathing exercises, chanting, and yoga practice.

 
LUNCH: My mid-afternoon meal consisted of a small bowl of whole grain spaghetti in garlic tomato sauce with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.

ACTIVITY: Showering and cleansing of the body.


SNACK: Veggie & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips made from carrots, tomatoes, spinach, garlic, red beer, and onion


DINNER: I will be enjoying some veggie nuggets with garlic & sage butter mashed sweet poatoes and mint green tea.

ACTIVITY: Dancing, hula hooping, and cardio aerobics.

PURPOSE: Grounding
CHAKRA: Root
INGREDIENTS: potato, garlic, tofu, soy, carrot, beets, onion

PURPOSE: Creativity
CHAKRA: Sacral
INGREDIENTS: fruit.

PURPOSE: Self-Esteem & Self-Love
CHAKRA: Solar Plexus
INGREDIENTS: pasta, cheese, mint, flax seed

PURPOSE: Healing Emotional Hurt
CHAKRA: Heart
INGREDIENTS: green tea, sage, basil, spinach

PURPOSE: Speaking One's Truth
CHAKRA: Throat
INGREDIENTS: herbal tea, fruit juice, peaches

PURPOSE: Awakening Third Eye Senses
CHAKRA: Brow
INGREDIENTS: blueberries, blackberries

PURPOSE: Opening/Clearing Spiritual Communication Center
CHAKRA: Crown
INGREDIENTS: air, sage

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5 MINUTE GARLIC & SAGE BUTTER SWEET POTATO MASH!

I came in from yoga with a nearly uncontrollable craving for sweet potatoes.  Thank heaven I found a heaping pile of them freshly purchased and abandoned in my kitchen.  Mwahaha.

Over a year has gone by since I last made Garlic & Sage Butter Sweet Potato Ravioli, but by some stroke of chance due to a lack of clean forks in the silverware drawer, the glorious recipe has been revived.  In the interest of time, I decided against the full ravioli embarkation and settled for a quick fix of mashed goodness.  When I began to boil the water, however, my stomach roared and growled in impatient protest, demanding that I take the quickest route possible in satisfying it’s craving and silencing the voracious beast within.  My solution?  The microwave!

Quickly, I peeled the potato, chopped it into little thumb-sized chunks, and threw it into the microwave on high for roughly three minutes.  I then added a tablespoon of Country Crock (since butter is illegal in lactose-freedomland) and approximately a teaspoon of ground sage.  One minced clove of fresh garlic (or the smallest pinch of powdered garlic) came next to give it a hint of warmth.  Some mashing, mixing, and a little light salting & peppering later, my meal was complete.

Ta da!  And what you see before you is my delightful creation… with it’s warm garlic and ever so cool, lingering sage fullness to round out every bite.  Perfect for the busy, lazy, or exhausted!  Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

SPAGHETTI WITH HEMPESTO MARINARA

Stuck between two equal but opposite cravings, I was struck with a bolt of inspiration!  Seeking the cool taste of pesto but desiring the warmth and heaviness of my creamy marinara concoction, I decided to try a bit of an experiment and mix the two… giving birth to Whole Grain Spaghetti with Creamy Hempesto Marinara!

The flavors beautifully compliment one another, keeping the opposite in check.  The parmesan and butter in the pesto calm the marinara’s natural acidity, blending together into a creamy and flavorful speckled sauce.  The melted Veggie Shreds (Mozzarella Flavor) help to give the smooth, light sauce a bit of weight so only half as much need be consumed to reach fullness and satisfaction.

The three basic steps:

STEP 1: Boil up 1/3 lb of Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti (my favorite).  It should be perfect in 7-8 minutes.  Drain.

STEP 2: Hempesto!  Melt 2 tablespoons of Country Crock in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Stir gently.  Take 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped, and add it to the mixture.  Add 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of dry basil (or 3 teaspoons of fresh basil), 2 tablespoons of hempseed, 4 cranks of seasalt in a grinder, and 10 cranks of black pepper in a grinder.  (Salt and pepper are done to taste, though.  The recipe is just MY taste).  Throw all your ingredients into a Magic Bullet or food processor and grind it down into a thick paste.  Mix that into your pasta a spoonful at a time.  You want it to be lightly coated but not overdone.  There should be some left over for later.

STEP 3: Melt 2 handfuls of Veggie Shreds (Mozarella Flavor) into about 1/4 cup of Francesco Rinaldi Marinara sauce, stirring gently.  Add this mixture to your spaghetti & hempesto until the pasta turns a light pink color.  Add more to taste.

NOTE: If you don’t want or have spaghetti, some lovely penne will do the trick!

If you try this recipe out, leave a photo comment of your creation and let me know how it worked out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NOM BLOG|CHAIN - HOULIHAN'S FAJITAS

I have searched far and wide for the perfect (and convenient) fajita with a side of guac.  Alas, Suburban New Jersey leaves much to be desired by way of genuine restaurants.  It instead supports chains which mass produce salty foods with a side of fattening fries.  HOWEVER!  Every now and then one of those chain restaurants produces a real gem.

Presenting: Houlihan’s Chicken Fajitas.

I stumbled upon these by chance when seeking out a late night place to dine one Thursday night that wasn’t a diner.  Believe it or not, that is a fairly difficult find.  Lucky for me, I knew a few college students who were in the know.  Originally directed to their Route 46 West location, my food restrictions and allergies prevented me from ordering very much on the menu.  I reluctantly ordered the fajitas for the sake of a bit of guac, but much to my surprise, they were considerably more appetizing than anything I had ordered locally in the past.  It actually tasted BETTER when reheated at work the following afternoon!  Who knew!?

I returned on a later occasion for dinner and excitedly satisfied my craving for fajitas.  It is during this meal that I found out the salsa in the Chips&Salsa Appetizer could be switched out for guacamole.  Excellent.  I also tried the Parmesan Fries, but they left much to be desired and were quickly dismissed as an option for the future.

A few weeks passed and I ventured North bound on Route 17 to visit a friend who excitedly suggested we dine at the Houlihan’s near the state line.  Craving guac (as always), I happily agreed… and me oh my was their food good!  The chicken was tender and juicy, lightly salted, and grilled to perfection.  The plate was piled with ample amounts of onion, red and green pepper, and fresh lime.  Their tortillas were soft and sturdy.  If I thought I enjoyed the first time I had this meal, THIS time blew me away.  The chicken was still gloriously juicy the following day, even after microwaving!

Need I say more?

If you are looking for a decent meal of deliciously well prepared fajitas with a side of smooth and creamy guacamole (which is VERY mellow), Houlihan’s on Route 17 North is your spot.  When trapped in a state where anything which isn’t fast food is ungodly overpriced, this meal is a happy medium.  Try it out!

VEGGIE OPTION: If you're not an omnivore, try ordering the veggie fajitas!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NOTEBOOK ENTRY #3: MY CUTTING METHODS

Tomatoes-on-the-Vine
I am very particular about the way I like my tomato cut.  Anyone who has cooked with me knows this.  I like consistency and accuracy.  My method uses a pairing knife (which is to me very much like the x-acto knife I used to use for all my artwork) to carefully, but efficiently cut the tomato into strong little cubes.  When you try this method at home on a ripe tomato, you will see what I mean... these cubes are so sturdy and consistent in size that they will not lose their shape when mixed in guacamole nor will they be easily destroyed by even the most zealous chip dipper.  Now, let's get started.

Tomatoes-on-the-Vine are my personal favorite, but really any fat, ripe tomato will do.  I have recently been on a fairly tight budget, so I began buying those 4 packs of tomatoes from the grocery store.  They are not perfect, but they are not bad when you are paying only $2.50 for the lot of them.  If you can head over to BJ's or Costco, however, grab a six pack of the Tomato-on-the-Vine.  It will be well worth it to your tastebuds.


Our first order of business is removing the stem.  Take your knife and cut a small circle around the stem, much as you would a pumpkin before carving.  This will allow you to pop it out neatly with one gentle twist.  You are now prepared for removal of what I refer to as "the guts" (once again, like a pumpkin(I suggest carefully pulling the tomato from the vine and cutting a small circle around the stem (much as you would with a pumpkin before carving).  This allows you to pop it out with a gentle twist and prepares you for removal of what I refer to as "the guts." (once again, like a pumpkin). 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Broiled Steak & Mashed Potato

Shopping List (FOR 2)

  • 2 Steaks
  • 2 Potatoes
  • Fresh Chopped Garlic
  • Cali Garlic Powder
  • Ground Cumin
  • Ground Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Country Crock
  • Soy Milk
  • Basil

Rumor has it that it is going to snow tonight. In light of this, I have been food shopping for basic necessities... such as tofu, avocados, tomatoes, soy milk, ravioli, soy yogurt, green tea with coconut milk ice cream, and limes. (I know, I know, these sound like silly "necessities" but if you've ever met me and know anything about my personal eating habits, I wouldn't have survived being snowed in for five minutes without these goodies about!) After working all day and then shopping, however, I wanted to eat something a little less involved.

Enter: My Mother.

Low and behold, there were three little steaks sitting in the refrigerator just waiting to be prepared for dinner that night. How on earth did I overlook them? Well, that's simple. #1 they weren't mine and #2 I've only recently been trying to convert back to an omnivore. Anyway, they were there and they were about to be cooked. Lucky me.

Now, my mother had plans to broil these steaks lightly seasoned and to the point of near charcoal. (she likes everything VERY well done) and I decided to save mine from that horrifying fate. Originally asked to simply find some fresh garlic and chop it up to perfection, I found myself once again digging through my cabinets in search of the goodies I knew were hidden somewhere within its depths to further enhance my dining experience. Out from the abyss came some ground cumin, california garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Delighted, I sprinkled generous portions of each respectively and rubbed it in to the meat with my fingertips. Flipping the steak over, I rubbed this mixture into the other side. Finally satisfied, I grabbed the garlic I'd been chopping and sprinkled it on top of both mine and my family's steaks, giving them a double dose of flavor by pressing the garlic into both sides of the meat. (I really should have sliced little incisions into the meat and placed the garlic INSIDE while it broiled, but I didn't think of that until now. Next time!!!)

My mother took over from here and placed the steaks in the broiler... for I'm not sure how long or on what setting... but I do know that it was far longer than I ever would have. The steaks came out "well done" for lack of a better phrase.

Okay, so the steak is cooking. Meanwhile, we began debating what sort of side dish to include. French fries were apparently out, even though I was itching to try out my newly acquired deep fryer. Baked potatoes were also dismissed because no one really seemed interested. My solution? Mashed Potatoes!

Alas, we did not have enough time to make the mashed potatoes. ("But but but, there is photographic evidence that you DID in fact MAKE THE MASHED POTATOES," you might say? Well, I am getting to that point, so hang tight.) There was not enough time before the steak was cooked to make the mashed potatoes traditionally. My next best bet (because I could not lower myself to using instant when the resources were right there in front of me to make fresh ones) was the microwave.

Grabbing two of the biggest potatoes in the bag, I quickly peeled them and threw the skin in my bin to compost. I then made tiny incisions on all sides of both potatoes and threw them in the microwave for a little while to soften up. I tried the potato button which took longer than I anticipated, but still not nearly as long as if I'd tried boiling them. Low and behold, my idea was a success. The potatoes were cooked and soft enough to mash with a fork and spoon together (much like mashing avocados). I added a bit of soy milk and country crock to make them creamy and continued mixing in some dried basil, fresh garlic, sea salt, and pepper. They were quick and simple. That was just what I needed after such a long day on very little sleep.

The steaks were done by the time I was finished and I divvied out the mashed potatoes onto each plate alongside the meat. Realizing that I did not prepare any gravy for the potatoes, I used the juices and spices left in the pan from the steaks to create a light sauce that I poured on both the steak and potatoes. It was a little tough due to how long it was cooked, but overall the meal was successful despite limited resources and time.


What would I do differently next time?

Cook the meal for less time. I would also improve the gravy.

All in all this was a great learning experience to reintroduce myself to the world of meat

I, however, would take seitan over steak any day... but that's just me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

WELCOME TO MY NOTEBOOK: ENTRY 1

I am having one of those days where nothing that I am looking for has been here. On the flip-side, I have been on a mad cleaning spree and have discovered many useful household items I had previously deemed lost or swallowed by my living space. For example: my Tabasco is missing, so all hope of making some delicious buffalo chicken vanished... but I found not only my hair dryer (which has been missing since I moved back in September and apparently didn't make the cut when I was chaotically unpacking) but also found not one, not two, but six assorted bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Lucky me... that should save me a trip to the store for at least four to five months.

Anyway, in light of my recent findings and new year's resolution to Peter Pan my life if I have even the most minuscule desire to fly (aka: "Think Happy Thoughts") I turned my gaze to the bright side... I have defrosted my chicken breast and still have Chili Powder and Tomato Sauce. HOORAY! Mexican dinner night came early this week... and at lunch time no less!

Digging through my cabinet, I rounded up some sea salt, black pepper, and a bit of ground cumin... and with a bit more digging, I uncovered some 10-Minute Rice. Excellent. (If you are cooking along with me, please throw a quart of water with a pinch of sea salt on to the boil... and make sure your chicken breast is defrosted... NOW!) Now, what are we working with... 1 Chicken Breast, 1 bag of 10-Minute Rice (white or brown, your choice. I use white.), 1/2 jar of Tomato Sauce (I suggest Francesco Rinaldi Sweet & Tasty Tomato), fresh ground black pepper, fresh ground sea salt, Vegetable Oil (to cook the chicken), McCormick Original Chili Seasoning (it's the BEST... if you can get your hands on it), a sprinkle of ground cumin, and (if you have it) 1/4 cup Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth. (If you're like me and are limited on time, I suggest multitasking the quick and easy way... with Lipton Ring O'Noodle instant soup. Just add the packet to 4 cups of boiling water and stir for 5 minutes! I will warn you, however, if you are using soup BE SURE TO DRAIN OUT THE NOODLES!)

Got everything ready? Good. Let's cook.

Let's start by slicing your chicken while all that water boils. You want dimensions the size they would give you in Chicken Lo Mein at the Chinese Food Restaurant... this means small rectangles. Got that? Good.

Let's turn now to the stove top...

Your three ring circus should now consist of a quart of boiling water (for the rice), 4 cups of boiling water (for the soup), and a frying pan to cook your chicken in.

BURNER #1: Drop the bag of 10-Minute rice into the quart of water... for 8-10 minutes.

BURNER #2: Dump your packet of Lipton Ring O'Noodle soup into the 4 cups of water... for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

BURNER #3: Coat the bottom of the frying pan with Vegetable Oil, turn the burner on, and start frying up your chicken. While one side cooks about half way, be sure to grind some sea salt and black pepper onto your chicken slivers. Repeat on both sides. Next, shake a light dusting of Chili Seasoning Powder onto your chicken and begin to stir fry. Keep the chicken moving as you add 2 tablespoons of Tomato Sauce. Cook until you can slice the chicken in half and it is white on the inside. By the time you are finished with this, the soup should be done. Turn off your burner when the chicken is cooked.

BURNER #2: Turn off the burner when your 5 minute alarm sounds. Carefully drain 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and place it to the side. You can now drink or store your chicken soup for later.

BURNER #1: Your 8-10 minute rice alarm should be sounding now. Turn off the burner. Then, carefully remove the bag from the boiling water and let drain. I now suggest placing the bag of rice into a separate bowl while you snip the top off the bag off.

BURNER #3: Leave the chicken in the frying pan and turn the burner back on to a medium heat. Dump the bag of rice into the frying pan and begin to stir fry. Dump the chicken soup and remaining Tomato Sauce into the frying pan. Continue to stir. Smell your concoction... if it doesn't smell spicy enough, add more Chili Seasoning Powder. Add more sea salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle a tiny bit of Ground Cumin across the top of the rice & chicken mixture and continue to stir. Put the burner on low heat now and allow to reduce into a sticky-paste sort of mixture. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the frying pan and/or burns. When you feel as though you could scoop the mixture out with an ice cream scooper and it would remain in a ball, turn off the burner.

LET THE MIXTURE COOL (AND "SOLIDIFY" MORE) BEFORE REMOVING IT FROM THE FRYING PAN!


Take and eat... or or or! You can grab a whole grain tortilla, soften it in the microwave for 15 seconds, plop a generous portion of the rice and chicken mixture in a small line at the center with some fresh chopped tomato and perhaps some onion, fold two of the ends in about an inch, and roll the tortilla up like a burrito... before popping it in the oven at 350 for 6-8 minutes and enjoying with some salsa and guac... but I mean, that's if you're feeling ambitious. Today, I am happy with just the Spanish Rice.

For more recipes, tips, tricks, and reviews, please visit my website: http://peaceloveguacamole.com

MEXICAN RICE (WITH CHICKEN)


SHOPPING LIST:
  • 1 Chicken Breast
  • 1 Bag 10-Minute Rice
  • 1/2 Jar Tomato Sauce (Francesco Rinaldi Sweet&Tasty Tomato)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Ground Cumin
  • McCormick Original Chili Seasoning
  • Chicken Stock/Broth
  • Ground Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper

I am having one of those days where nothing that I am looking for has been here. On the flip-side, I have been on a mad cleaning spree and have discovered many useful household items previously deemed lost or swallowed by my living space. For example: my Tabasco is missing, so all hope of making some delicious buffalo chicken vanished... but I found not only my hair dryer (which has been missing since I moved back in September and apparently didn't make the cut when I was chaotically unpacking) but also found not one, not two, but six assorted bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Lucky me... that should save me a trip to the store for at least four to five months.

Anyway, in light of my recent findings and new year's resolution to Peter Pan my life if I have even the most minuscule desire to fly (aka: "Think Happy Thoughts") I turned my gaze to the bright side... I have defrosted my chicken breast and still have Chili Powder and Tomato Sauce. HOORAY! Mexican dinner night came early this week... and at lunch time no less!

Digging through my cabinet, I rounded up some sea salt, black pepper, and a bit of ground cumin... and with a bit more digging, I uncovered some 10-Minute Rice. Excellent. (If you are cooking along with me, please throw a quart of water with a pinch of sea salt on to the boil... and make sure your chicken breast is defrosted... NOW!) Now, what are we working with... 1 Chicken Breast, 1 bag of 10-Minute Rice (white or brown, your choice. I use white.), 1/2 jar of Tomato Sauce (I suggest Francesco Rinaldi Sweet & Tasty Tomato), fresh ground black pepper, fresh ground sea salt, Vegetable Oil (to cook the chicken), McCormick Original Chili Seasoning (it's the BEST... if you can get your hands on it), a sprinkle of ground cumin, and (if you have it) 1/4 cup Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth. (If you're like me and are limited on time, I suggest multitasking the quick and easy way... with Lipton Ring O'Noodle instant soup. Just add the packet to 4 cups of boiling water and stir for 5 minutes! I will warn you, however, if you are using soup BE SURE TO DRAIN OUT THE NOODLES!)

Got everything ready? Good. Let's cook.

Let's start by slicing your chicken while all that water boils. You want dimensions the size they would give you in Chicken Lo Mein at the Chinese Food Restaurant... this means small rectangles. Got that? Good.

Let's turn now to the stove top...

Your three ring circus should now consist of a quart of boiling water (for the rice), 4 cups of boiling water (for the soup), and a frying pan to cook your chicken in.

BURNER #1: Drop the bag of 10-Minute rice into the quart of water... for 8-10 minutes.

BURNER #2: Dump your packet of Lipton Ring O'Noodle soup into the 4 cups of water... for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

BURNER #3: Coat the bottom of the frying pan with Vegetable Oil, turn the burner on, and start frying up your chicken. While one side cooks about half way, be sure to grind some sea salt and black pepper onto your chicken slivers. Repeat on both sides. Next, shake a light dusting of Chili Seasoning Powder onto your chicken and begin to stir fry. Keep the chicken moving as you add 2 tablespoons of Tomato Sauce. Cook until you can slice the chicken in half and it is white on the inside. By the time you are finished with this, the soup should be done. Turn off your burner when the chicken is cooked.

BURNER #2: Turn off the burner when your 5 minute alarm sounds. Carefully drain 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and place it to the side. You can now drink or store your chicken soup for later.

BURNER #1: Your 8-10 minute rice alarm should be sounding now. Turn off the burner. Then, carefully remove the bag from the boiling water and let drain. I now suggest placing the bag of rice into a separate bowl while you snip the top off the bag off.

BURNER #3: Leave the chicken in the frying pan and turn the burner back on to a medium heat. Dump the bag of rice into the frying pan and begin to stir fry. Dump the chicken soup and remaining Tomato Sauce into the frying pan. Continue to stir. Smell your concoction... if it doesn't smell spicy enough, add more Chili Seasoning Powder. Add more sea salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle a tiny bit of Ground Cumin across the top of the rice & chicken mixture and continue to stir. Put the burner on low heat now and allow to reduce into a sticky-paste sort of mixture. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the frying pan and/or burns. When you feel as though you could scoop the mixture out with an ice cream scooper and it would remain in a ball, turn off the burner.


LET THE MIXTURE COOL AND THICKEN UP BEFORE REMOVING IT FROM THE FRYING PAN!


Take and eat... or or or! You can grab a whole grain tortilla, soften it in the microwave for 15 seconds, plop a generous portion of the rice and chicken mixture in a small line at the center with some fresh chopped tomato and perhaps some onion, fold two of the ends in about an inch, and roll the tortilla up like a burrito... before popping it in the oven at 350 for 6-8 minutes and enjoying with some salsa and guac... but I mean, that's if you're feeling ambitious.

Today, I am happy with just the Mexican Rice.