I originally learned about the Fitbit from The Pioneer Woman and spent quiet some time weighing the pros and cons if I should invest in one. When I orignially heard about it, my research basically told me it measured my steps, my sleep, my calorie intake and calorie burn. That was enough for me to decide it wasn’t worth getting one and here is why.
- My steps- I work out, so why do I really need to know how many steps I take. My work entails some sitting and some walking and I don’t need to spend $100 on a product to tell me that I’ve been sitting for way too long at my desk and that maybe I should get up. I should hold my self accountable for my own activity level.
- My sleep- I know I wake up several times in the night, and I know that I am restless at night when I feel like I am not ready for my morning run or just anxious about the next day. So how is a little device going to help me sleep better? I don’t think so
- My calorie intake and calorie burn- This, quiet honestly, I do my own math on. I have tried apps to measure it and failed. I just don’t have the patience to sit and enter in all of the information. I think if I was really trying to achieve a certain goal that required a strict diet I would have to learn to discipline myself to be religious about counting my calories, but I don’t think I am at that point. I know what food is good for me and what should be eaten in moderation and that is enough.
So I decided I didn’t want one. It did not make sense and I could see myself getting bored with this toy.
But then I started running. I’ve been running 3-4 times a week for little over a month now and have started to get into it more than I ever have in the past. I owe it all to my running buddy, Joni. After the first two weeks I saw how commited I had been to waking up at 4:30am during the week to run. I didn’t want to let Joni down and more importantly I knew this was only for my own good and that I should take this positive light in my life and make the best of it. So I looked back into the fitbit. I was still not convinced I needed one but I felt that there was some benifits from it that I wasn’t understanding. Instead of doing research like a normal person and being responsible about it (who wants to be responsible all the time, anyway!) I started mentioning to Husband that I wanted it eventually. So as an anniversary gift, he got me a Fitbit and from that very moment I was addicted.
- My steps- The first day I used was this past sunday when I had my 6 mile run. When I got home and saw the measurements it had taken I became so incredibly motivated to meet daily step goal and surpass it by atleast a few thousand. I’m usually not very competative with myself or with others but this Fitbit has pinned me against myself. In a really good way too!
- My sleep- I am still not very concerned with this part, but I think once I have worn my Fitbit for a month and collected good data (I’m a chemist…data matters!) and looked at it (analyzed it to be exact :) ) I think I can move further from there and see if there is anyhting I can do. It’s not a priority because I know I get good sleep most nights. I haven’t quiet figured out the tapping to turn on the sleep mode, but I did try the feature that allows me to go back and log sleep for days that it had not collected data. This was the cool part. When I entered the general time I went to bed and the time I woke up it showed how much I slept, how restless I was, and the number of times I wake up. Pretty cool! I didn’t think that would impress me but it did!
- My calorie intake and calorie burn- I still am not driven enough to use this part of the App but that could always change.
Right now I am more driven to beat my own goals with the exercise level it measures. It really neat how it charts my activity level through out the day. Who knew pacing quickly in the kitchen or grocery shopping could turn into a moderate activity level. Like I said, it makes me want to get those green bars and smiley faces on my App screen. I still think it depends on what your goals are. If I was comfortable with my running distance and speed, I would probably like I wasn’t getting much out of it. As I serisouly begin contemplating whether or not I want to do this half marathon in November, I think this Fitbit will help me make that decision. Either way I won’t be disappointed
My Little Sister is finally back from her trip to Texas. She went to visit her Aunt and her two cousins. It was her first time on a plane and she said she had an okay time flying. She is one tough girl which is why I think she may have been trying to hide some feelings about leaving and being away from her Grandmother for so long. I can tell she is close to her Grandmother and that they do have a special relationship. It is also obvious that she loves playing with her cousins from the way she always brings them up which is why I know she had a great time visiting them
I wasn’t able to talk to her as much as I would have liked when she was gone which is why when she got back I made plans to take her to the pool the first chance I got. I had not been to our neighborhood pool since we bought our house and because it has a mini water park it always taken over by little kids. After I became a Big Sister, I had an excuse to go to the pool and actually run around on the water park…Finally! Who isn’t tempted to run around in a water park with slides, guns that shoot water, and stand under buckets to have water dumped on them?! It’s like a piece of my childhood summers! So, last Friday I went to the water park with my Little and played all sorts of fun little kid games around the slides as well as all the random rule changing games she would come up with. We played chase, tried to spray and dump water on each other, raced in the pool, tried to do flips and hand stands, and lastly we tried to get the perfect timing to get soaked by the massive bucket that dumps water! Here was the result!
She LOVED it! I had to keep telling her to keep her back towards it so she wouldn’t get hurt because she really wanted to see the water fall (see picture on bottom left). We waited about an hour to perfectly time this and it was worth it. She left exhausted but begging to go back to the pool as soon as we can. I can’t wait either because it was fun to get to run around and be a kid again! She really helps me take things less seriously and I know I have a lot to learn from this 8 year old. The best part was at the end of the night when I was driving her home she said, “Sonal, I love hanging out with you. It’s like you are my sister.” :)
We have chicken wings again! I can’t help it. This time of year is just full of all the reminders of wings. It’s August, which means football season is starting and what better way to enjoy football than beer and wings! It’s apart of the culture and you can’t have one without the other. Actually I take that back. You can have wings any day but it just taste better with football. I’m not a big football fan but I am surrounded by die hard football fanatics of all teams and levels…College, NFL, CFL, I can’t avoid it. As a result I am learning to enjoy it and wings just make it even better!
Which is why when it came to finding a chicken or meat dish for this 7 course meal, wings was an easy pick. I know its not exactly classy, and chances are if you were to go to a fine dining restaurant you probably won’t get wings but thats not what this 7 course meal was about anyway. Since this meal was to combine many of our favorites it was only right to make the wings for this dish. Steak would have probably been a classier option, but I am not bold enough to cook steak yet. I have some research and learning to do in the beef department.
I made two kinds of wings. The first one was Husbands favorite and the second one was mine. He likes the classic and I like an asian style wing, both of which I have made before. The more time consuming recipe for the asian wing can be found here, but the recipe I am going to share with you is just as tasty and only require a quick basting every so often for both wings.
Asian Wing Sauce
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1tbsp sriracha (use less for less heat)
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (use less for less heat)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
Buffalo BBQ Wing Sauce
- 1 bottle of buffalo sauce
- 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili flakes (more or less to your taste)
** You could make 48 wings total with both sauces, or half as many with each sauce**
Blue Cheese Dip
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup blue cheese
- a small squeeze of lemon juice, about 1-2 teaspoon
- pinch of salt and pepper
- mix all the ingredients specific to each sauce and poor into a storage container you plan on marinading the chicken wings in.
- Marinade the chicken wings in separate sauces for a few hours to 12 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F
- Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and place the marinaded chicken on the sheets. One sheet for asian wings and 1 sheet for the buffalo bbq wings.
- Keep the marinade and baste the wings in the sauce every 10 to 15 minutes while flipping them each time you baste.
- Bake for 45 minutes and the last 3-4 minutes place under broil to crisp up the skin with the sauce.
- Mix all of the ingredients for the blue cheese dip while the wings cook or the day before.
I haven’t met one person that does not love Bang Bang Shrimp. The light and crispy shrimp coated in a creamy sweet and spicy sauce makes them so addicting that we all know Bone Fish Grill does a huge disservice by only giving us an appetizers worth of this scrumptious dish! You order it wishing you didn’t have to share it with your friends or family because you know you could just eat all of it yourself, and maybe even order 2 more plates of it if you knew no one would judge you. Am I just speaking for myself? If I am, I still don’t care because maybe I will just have Bang Bang Shrimp for an all you can eat dinner at my own house since I found a recipe I love!
So selfishly when I read that course 6 in a seven course dinner is a seafood dish, I was all over the idea of making Bang Bang Shrimp. I wanted to make it so bad that I overcame my fear of deep frying. If you don’t want to deep fry or have a fear like I did don’t let this discourage you from trying this recipe! After making it, I realized this recipe could work equally as well with shrimp that is pan fried or even baked. I decided since it was my anniversary, I would try and learn something new and go all out which meant I would deep fry if I had to. I found this recipe to make the shrimp but after following the directions to make the sauce I felt it lack serious flavor and tasted like a sweet mayonnaise. I added about 3 teaspoons of sriracha but that did nothing for it. So I started adding my own ratios of sauces and spice. I though starting with the thai chili sauce as a base is a better idea because then you can add mayonnaise to it until you feel that it has the right amount of flavor and creaminess. Adding the thai chili sauce to the mayonnaise left me feeling I was over compensating for the texture and lack of flavor the mayonnaise had. I also felt I wasn’t achieving the proper bright red-orange color because of the white mayonnaise that was just so overpowering. It resulted in using the entire bottle of the thai chili sauce and lots of sriracha to get it to a flavor I liked and the bright appetizing color that makes our mouth water. Luckily, I had an extra bottle of the thai chili sauce (I knew this recipe was going to be a repeat in the near future) so I made up my on concoction.
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup corn starch (more if needed for coating shrimp)
1/2 cup Thai chili sauce
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise (depending on how creamy you like it, adjust it to your taste and preference of sauce color)
2 tsp garlic chili sauce (Same brand as sriracha but comes in a screw cap bottle. Add more for more heat)
1-2 bunches of butter lettuce or any lettuce you want to use as a wrap.
- Heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees.
- Mix the thai chili sauce, mayonnaise, and garlic chili sauce and set aside
- Lightly coat shrimp in corn starch and shake off excess before placing gently into hot oil. You will know the oil was ready when the shrimp float to the top.
- Cook in oil for 2-3 minutes and remove and drain excess oil by placing the shrimp on a paper towel for just a minute.
- Place the shrimp in the sauce and coat while hot.
- To serve, place a few shrimp on a lettuce leaf, wrap or roll the leave and enjoy!
As I mentioned earlier, next time I won’t be deep frying because I don’t think it is necessary to enjoy it. You could just as easily cook the shrimp in a sauté pan or bake the shrimp and coat it with the sauce. But for the full Bang Bang Shrimp experience, this deep frying time is quick and super easy if you have never deep fried anything before. I would just recommend having a kitchen thermometer that can gauge temperatures over 360 to ensure the oil is ready.
This recipe comes to you as part 1 of a seven course meal I made Husband for our 2nd anniversary. I wanted to do something really special and since we are big time Foodies I thought I would try to recreate a 7 course fine dining meal like we had the night we got engaged. The items on the menu I made were not at all like what we had that night. Instead each item had something to do with us. I want to start with dessert because all meals should start with dessert, right? Right! The next few blogs will be a series that takes you through the 7 course meal working our way to course 1 from course 7. Here are the courses. I will further explain each course in their respective blog.
Course 1: Cajun Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Course 2: Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque
Course 3: Caesar Salad
Course 4: Peach Sorbet with Fresh Blackberries and Raspberries
Course 5: Buffalo BBQ wings and Asian Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing
Course 6: Bang Bang Shrimp
Course 7: Turtle Cheesecake
The story behind turtle cheesecake is very simple. I love making cheesecake and Husband loves eating them. When I found out that his sister and Vancouver Dad LOVE cheesecake, I knew I had to make it a priority to learn how to become really good at them. Since then I like to make a new kind of cheesecake every time I make one.
When it came to deciding on a dessert for this meal, I simply asked Husband what kind of dessert he wanted and he replied with TURTLE CHEESECAKE! Pretty enthusiastically I might add! So it was agreed I would make turtle cheesecake. I didn’t want to make a large cheesecake since we really shouldn’t have desserts sitting around the house all the time, so I decided to make individual single serving portions. I have pretty much learned the main ingredients of a cheesecake so I completely winged the recipe so that I could come up with just enough to make 2 ramekins of turtle cheese cake. This recipe is perfect for 2, cooks in half the time of a regular cheesecake and super easy because you don’t need all these different measuring utensils. That is my goal when I try to create a recipe. I try not to use 5 different measuring utensils when I bake or cook if I can help it.
1/4 cup pecans
1 full graham cracker (2 squares)
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp melted butter
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips + 12-15 more pieces
6 pieces of carmel chewy candy
1/2 cup heavy cream (all may not be used)
1/8 cup chopped pecans + 2 full pecan pieces
- Pre heat oven to 325
- In a food processor blend the pecans, graham cracker and sugar. Once its finely mixed, add melted butter until so that it is a moist consistency that will hold a shape if pressed together.
- Pour half of the pecan crust mixture into each ramekin and press down firmly.
- Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool after taking out.
- Use room temperature cream cheese and add sugar and sour cream. Mix until blended.
- Mix in flour and then mix in egg and vanilla
- Pour half of the mix into each ramekin.
- Bake in a water bath for 35 minutes at 325 or until it is a firm jello shake look.
- Allow to sit in the oven with the door cracked for 30 minutes before removing and chilling in the fridge until you are ready to decorate
- Make a double boiler and melt chocolate in the bowl.
- Once it is almost melted add about 2 tbsp of heavy cream and blend into chocolate
- Remove from the bowl from heat and add in the remaining chocolate pieces and blend into chocolate.
- Drizzle some onto the cool cheesecake.
- Melt carmel candies in microwave in 30 second increments watching carefully since carmel can expand and spill over in the microwave.
- Once melted add 2 tbsp of heavy cream and mix until blended.
- Drizzle onto the cool cheesecake.
- Chop the pecans into small pieces and sprinkle on top of the drizzled chocolate and carmel
- For the Candy Turtle, lay a piece of parchment paper on a plate. Spoon a small amount of melted carmel onto it to form a circle. Drop a small amount of melted chocolate onto of the carmel and place a whole pecan on top of the chocolate. Cool in the fridge until it hardens and then place onto the cheesecake
You can make as many candy turtles as you want to put on the cheesecake or none at all. I think the candy turtle puts it over the top and definitely makes a statement as to what kind of cheesecake it is. Plus it is very easy especially if you have some left over chocolate and carmel from decorating!
Course 6 coming up next!
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had since marrying my carnivore would be making Indian food that both of us will like. It is very important for me, now more than ever, to learn how to cook Indian dishes because a lot of Indian culture is conveyed through food, and we want to be able to pass on the culture to our children one day. Indian food varies from each state in India, and my Fijian Husband has his own Indian food culture that I think is very important for us to keep up with as well. I find making Indian food a challenge for us because of two reasons.
- Husband does not like vegetarian food (I have converted some of his taste buds which I am very proud of) and most of the Indian food I like is vegetarian Indian food.
- I didn’t like Indian food that had meat in it because I grew up vegetarian so learning to like chicken and lamb with Indian spices was a big transition for me.
Luckily, we are willing to try just about anything. I know I am more than he is since I can already see the look of distaste when I introduce anything vegetarian to him, but he reluctantly tries it for me. I have to admit that I started to learn to appreciate Indian food with meat when I had it several times at my in-laws house. We are always greeted with big pots of lamb and fish curry when we arrive in Vancouver. Although lamb is still growing on me, one of my favorite salmon dishes is now fish curry. I will have to learn how to make it one day but as I mentioned before, something’s are always better when Mom makes it :)
Until then, I wanted to share this recipe that I call a break through. I’ve made chicken curry a few different ways now. Each time it is slightly different than the last from using non marinated chicken to marinated chicken. But this was a whole new ball game. Instead of making a curry base for the chicken, I made a marinade for tandoori chicken drumstick. One thing I had to remember is that when making a curry, you get to flavor the curry with the spices and aromatics at the beginning by cooking them in oil. This allows the spices to really open up with their flavors and aromas, and build a flavor foundation for the meat or vegetable. Since I wasn’t going to make a curry, this flavoring step was nonexistent and I had to pack as much flavor and spice as I could into the marinade. Some would say I let things marinade way too long because the last thing I want to taste is a flavorless piece of chicken or meat so I let this tandoori chicken marinade for 4 days. I don’t know how much of a difference it would have made if I cut the time shorter but there was no harm in letting it sit for 4 days in the fridge so that is what I will stick with.
A true tandoori chicken is made in a tandoor oven, but since I am not in possession of a tandoor, I had to improvise. I knew that I was going to bake the chicken to cook it but I still wanted the charred look and taste so that is why I added a broiling stage. Spices in this recipe can always be adjusted to what you like and more heat can be added in the form of additional peppers or chili powder. You can always add more or less garlic. But, a must have is tandoori powder. You can get that at any indian specialty store as well as all the other additional spices I added.
I know tandoori chicken is very intimidating but I promise this recipe is fool proof! I actually took measurements this time but it is for a large quantity. I don’t think it will be hard to scale in half if you need to. Trust me! Left overs of this is not a bad thing!
- 1 Large container of plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup of tandoori powder
- 1 heaping table spoon of minced garlic
- 1 long seranno chili, minced
- 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tbsp coriander and cumin powder mixed (you can mix them together or add 1/4 tbsp of each, I have a pre made powder of both I keep)
- 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
- spicy chili powder to taste
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 6-7 pieces of whole clove
- 1/4 cup honey
- red food coloring to enhance the red color if you want. I
cheated added it.
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- Mix everything from the yogurt to the red food coloring in a large container you plan on letting the chicken marinade in for a few days and add more salt if you would like to taste.
- Add the chicken and massage the marinade into the skin and chicken.
- Allow to marinade for 4 days. I’ve heard people marinading tandoori chicken for a week so it is flexible.
- Place marinaded chicken on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet and back at 425 for 1-1.5 hours depending on the size of your chicken drumsticks. No need to turn in the middle
- Broil for 5-8 minutes on the top rack of your oven until you start seeing a nice char.
- Cool for a few minutes before eating.
This post is a big deal for me because I never thought I would ever be able to call myself a runner. My working out habits have been a roller coaster since undergrad but making the decision to start running has taken me to a new level. I felt that I needed to share this because it is a huge accomplishment for me.
For the past month or so I’ve been waking up at 4:30 every MWF to start a 5am run! This would not be possible without my running buddy, Joni!
We talked about running a few times before she set a day and made it happen. I admit I would get excited about the idea when we talked and then when the time came to really make plans I would get nervous about how slow I was and shy away. Whats awesome about my running buddy is there is no judgement and only encouragement. We joined a local group in town called Moms Run This Town (MRTT, and no I’m not a mom but all women interested in running are welcome) and originally planned on running with them but decided to get a routine going until we could find time in our schedules to make it to a run with the group. Since then, we have skipped a few days here and there and she was deployed with the Air Force for two weeks which slowed down my running, but we started back up again this morning and man was it brutal! I find myself slowing down a lot towards the end of our 3 mile runs, but today I struggled to finish 2 miles. It’s amazing how cutting back on running while she was gone really affected me. My run this morning would not have been as successful as it was had she not been there to push me. It gave a whole new meaning to running with a buddy!
Joni is doing a half marathon in November which has been a dream of mine to do, but I want to try and see how my running habits evolve between now and then before I sign up. Luckily you can sign up the day of the half marathon. It’s called the Soldier Marathon, and sounds like a lot of fun from what Joni has told me and what I’ve read. It’s definitely something I think about a lot and I’m hoping I can keep up with training to do the half. This will probably mean running on Saturday so until I can commit to that, I hope to be able to improve on my MFW runs. If this really becomes a regular thing, I will probably try to blog more about it :).
Happy Hump Day!
There is more to this cheesecake than lemon and strawberry swirl! There are fresh strawberries, lemon curd cream, and….AND CANDIED LEMONS! My work has a monthly lunch for all the birthdays and for the month of July we combined the June (mine was in June) and July birthdays and decided to have a pot luck. We have more food than people sometimes which is wonderful since Husband gets to usually get two lunches that day! I usually go 50-50 on whether I bake a dessert or I make something savory, but the last two times I have made a cheesecake and it was a hit! This time I wanted to work more on the look. I know I have my cheesecake baking in the bag, but I need to practice on decorating. I channeled inspiration from this the internet, family, friends, pictures, and then finally I knew what I wanted to make. A lemon and strawberry swirl cheesecake with lemon curd cream, fresh strawberries, and candied lemons.
I followed these recipes for the cheesecake, candied lemons, and lemon curd.
Changes I made were…
- I added twice as much lemon zest to the batter and then split it in half.
- I poured half into the cheesecake can and mixed strawberry puree into the second half. I cheated and added red food coloring to it because it wasn’t pink enough. (Ignore if you think this is a sin).
- For the lemon curd cream, I made the lemon curd following the recipe above from the link and chilled it in the fridge. I then made whipped cream using 1 cup heavy cream and whipped it until it had stiff peaks. I lastly folded the lemon curd into the cream and spread it onto of the cheesecake.
This cheesecake was pretty time consuming but it worth the efforts. I don’t recommend making this the day you want to serve it. It needs the night to chill in the fridge, and if you do everything else wrong, do one thing right and use a water bath! It is life changing in the world of making cheesecakes!
Hey Ya’ll! Sorry for being MIA on here. I let life get the best of me and completely neglected my blog, and I feel really bad about that. But I hope my readers and followers forgive me <insert me on my knees begging :)>. My husband has been reminding me regularly to get back to it and with our 2nd wedding anniversary coming up I wanted to keep working on something that is still very important to me.
With that said, I wanted to share a quick recipe for Candied Lemons. I followed this recipe except I covered the pot when the lemons were in the simple syrup. BIG MISTAKE! I think this is why my lemon slices came out soft. Had I left it uncovered I think some of the water would have evaporated.
They went on my Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd Cream Topping, Strawberries, and Candied Lemons. The candied lemons, I think, took the cheesecake over the top. It was for my work pot luck and it was a HUGE HIT! A co-worker got up and announced how much she loved it and everyone, I MEAN EVERYONE, started clapping! I was so embarrassed but flattered at the same time. I will share that recipe this week. It’s the perfect summer cheesecake in my opinion.
Some of the other things I’ve made recently are…
- Tandoori Chicken and Paneer Bites
- Mint Chutney
- Layered Eggplant Lasagna
- Fresh Tomato Sauce (NO CANNED TOMATOES! :))
- Shrimp Tacos
All of these will make an appearance on the blog so stay tuned!
We are less than 2 weeks from Husbands birthday and I can honestly say I am more excited than he is :/. I will say that he is excited about this cake! We talked briefly a few days ago about what he wanted and I even stocked up on some more cocoa powder from TJ this weekend. I sketched out my ideas a few times and here is the winner. Please excuse my penmanship. Husband told me just a few things he wanted for sure. The rest is my added touches- more like what I wanted :).
- Ice cream layer
- Cake layer
Already sounds like my kind of cake!
I wanted to do a topping of some kind but since it will be an ice cream cake it becomes a little limiting. I would have loved to do chocolate covered strawberries on top but I dont think we would enjoy nawing on a frozen strawberry. I also didn’t want to frost the top of the cake and sprikle and just drizzle stuff on it so I thought about making mini ice cream balls to stack on top to keep with the ice cream theme. I’m not sure how I’m going to form these mini balls yet but I think if I can work fast and keep the ice cream cold (taking it in and out of the freezer) it can be done. I guess we will find out with the finished product!
Up next, flavors and cake recipe!