Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cinnamon: Not just for dessert anymore.

Recipe post! Whoop!

This is a very simple pork chop recipe that I've made a couple of times now. RDub has added it to the top 5 list, so it'll stay in rotation.

Credit goes to Sarah Fragoso at Everyday Paleo -- it's from her cookbook.

Apologies in advance for the picture quality - until I start using a real camera, the settings on my phone will continue to make weird colors. I'll get better eventually.

Okay, here we go.

Thinly slice an apple (I used 1-1/2 because mine were pretty small) and about 1/2 an onion.
Melt 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat and add the apple and onion. Cook them for about 5 minutes -- the apples should still be a little firm.

For the chops, all you need is salt and cinnamon. Just sprinkle both sides -- and don't skimp on the cinnamon. It may not sound like the right spice, but trust me (and Sarah) that it's tasty.

Remove the apples and onions from the pan and add another tablespoon of coconut oil. On medium-high heat, sear the chops on each side about 2-3 minutes, just to get some color on the meat.

Now the fun - add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white wine. This guy just happened to be hanging out in my fridge.

I'm sure broth or water would work just fine if wine doesn't hang around your house.

Bring that to a simmer, then put the apple/onion mix back in the skillet. Reduce to medium-low, cover, and cook for 6-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chops.

When it's cooked to the temperature you like, remove the chops and top them with the apples. Easy peasy, and very tasty! The smell while it's cooking is divine - must be the cinnamon!

I was feeling lazy about a side dish, so sweet potato it is!
Note: The quantities here were for three chops. Scale up as needed for more. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Habit forming.

It doesn't take long to fall out of a habit -- as long as it was a good one...which I consider blogging to be. Let's just jump right back in, shall we?

The Monday after we got back from our cruise (SIX weeks ago! How did that happen???), I started boot-camp style training with a personal trainer. I haven't worked with Jen in a couple of years, but I knew it was time to shake things up. Jen trains out of her home, and is a Pilates instructor from way back. I always felt good when I was doing Pilates regularly, so that had appeal. She also does weight training, and we talked about a crossfit-style approach (maybe), and setting me up to do other sessions on my own. I made her agree to one very important ground rule once we settled on three times a week: I don't get makeup sessions. In the past, she's been generous if you had to cancel a session. For me, it gave me an excuse (cramps, headache, tired...) and I needed to suck it up. Money talks, and I wasn't going to waste it.

We set up an eight-week plan, three times a week with her, one or two sessions of either cardio (running or elliptical) or stretching/weights on my own. My weight has been stuck in the same 5-pound range for almost six months and I'm getting annoyed. Those last 30 pounds (or 35, depending on where I am in the 5-pound range!) need to leave. So my goals were weight loss, of course, but toning and strength were a big part of it as well.

During our sessions, I've done Pilates (until death, cuz that's how she rolls), Reformer (the machine that uses cables and body weight), Barre (kinda love this one), various push up/pull up routines using bands and different counters in the house (so freaking sore I couldn't move), Chi ball and stability ball, and probably a few I've blocked out of my mind. Other than one Saturday I had to miss because of a college visit, I've consistently seen her three times a week for either individual sessions or a small group class. On my own, after the first three weeks I haven't done as well getting another two in - sort of hit or miss there.

The result?
Yeah, that's not me. Just making sure you're paying attention.

Stupid scale will not move, so the pounds are still on. But...two pair of jeans and two dress pants I was wearing in January don't fit well anymore - too loose. I kept telling myself to take my measurements when I started, but I hate doing it. I'll do it at the end of the eight weeks and report back then.

I know that the next step is changing some of the food choices -- staying Paleo, but cutting out down on the good fats that make up more of my diet than they should in order to lose weight -- avocados, nuts, bacon. *sob

It's onto the next phase of meal planning -- I've continued to use the chart, and still love it. But now I have to branch out into some new recipes, more make ahead/freeze type, so I will quit taking the easy route of cooking only what I know.

This was a fun one a couple of weeks ago - one of the prettiest side dishes I've made lately.

Roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes, tossed with kale and pecans.
The steak was pretty awesome, too.

I'm going to try to take pictures and force myself to do at least one new recipe a week for the next month. It'll be a chance to get me back in the blogging habit, too.

There you have it, folks. My life the last month as I've made muscles hurt that I didn't know I had.

Have you tried anything lately that got you out of your comfort zone?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cruise Report! Part 3

First, my deepest apologies to the two of you who have been waiting around for Part 3. It's been an insane week and not in a good way.

Second, if you are my mother or my child, stop reading now. Seriously, there was nothing happening during this part of the trip you need to know about.

Third, if you were on the trip with me, apologies in advance for the editing that's about to happen. It's because I know my daughter and my mom well enough to know they completely ignored my directions above.

Our last stop on the cruise was Cozumel, where I've been several times before, and that I love every time we go. All of us opted not to take excursions on this stop. The ship docks right at the pier, so you can set your own schedule and just walk down to the shops in town. It's very touristy and cheesy and I love it all. We left about 10 that morning after watching the Carnival ship park next to us.

You're blocking my view, honey.

 If you've never been, the pier shops in Cozumel is a lot of this:

We don't know any of those people, but holler if you recognize yourself.
Shops sell all kinds of stuff you don't need.

It's kinda like the airport gift shops - stuff just to prove you were in Mexico.
We split up and shopped for a couple hours. Of course, like any highly-functioning group of travelers, you must have a plan to meet up later. Where could we go that everyone could find in a strange place?

Oh, right. That place you can't miss just as you get off the ship.

No adult beveragess had been consumed at this point.
It'll only get worse from here.

"We don't have beer, just tequila."
"What's tequila?"
"Uh, it's just like beer."

I have no explanation for this. The donkeys were just THERE.
We were planning to eat. Rafaela, our waitress had other plans.

Yep, that's what she's doing. She said her record for "breaks" in a shift was 11.
And we didn't knock them off as we took them from her, either.
This was how it started. At some point, there were sombreros...

I told you they would pose for any camera.
 ...and there were shots that had some inappropriate touching involved. No pictures. You're welcome.

They told us to say "tequila" instead of "cheese." We didn't argue.
Seriously, this was so much fun. We headed back to the ship and the entire restaurant was sorry to see us go. No, really. They told us.

Of course, there was the brief stop at one of the shops where we were met with shouts of "TOO MUCH TEQUILA" by the greeter, I suppose to warn everyone we were there. Given that Kelly proceeded to knock a bunch of pieces off a chess board, it was probably a good warning. In her defense, they were set really low and her purse was just the right height...She probably shouldn't have tried to pick them up, though...

And back to the ship we went!

Another day of forced leisure...don't know how we could stand it.

Dinner was a party...and the waiters were in it!
Luis, Marius, and our headwaiter (who's name escapes me and he is hiding his nametag). 

Baked Alaska! And it was worth every bite!

We were in our last night on the ship. It was time to get serious. There was a lot of work to do...

Those stylin' hats are now the property of a bartender, a keyboard player, and a DJ on the ship! I fully expect to see them wearing them on our next cruise. We were the favorites at the club that night!

Is anyone shocked that Kelly had the tiara? Yeah, we weren't either.

There was a little of this...lead singer wearing the hat...
We don't know the guy in black...but he stared a lot.

And some of this -- it was the keyboardist's birthday! So the lead singer (the one on the left if you couldn't tell) gave her the hat!

My hat ended up with the DJ, who politely asked if we wanted it back when we got ready to leave. What am I going to do with a dinosaur hat? Wear it to the gym?

And that, my dear reader(s), is that. We could not have asked for a better group to travel with, and the food and service was incredible. If you've never cruised and want to, feel free to comment with any questions. If you've cruised and loved it, tell me! If you have no interest in being in that much water, I understand and I'll pray for you.

Here are just a few of my favorite parting pictures. Deckers and Gibsons -- love you all!

This one needs that head floating in the background, a la Olan Mills.

i don't know the people int he background, but my husband never smiles in pictures!

Look! He's smiling again!
I guess if I take him on a ship and ply him with drink, he'll do it!

Thanks for hanging around for the recap. Back to our regularly scheduled blog soon!