Sunday, May 30, 2010

Panchito's Birthday Party

Dulcinea's first friend, Panchito, turned 1 on May 25th and today his parents hosted a birthday party for him at the doggie park. Holy cow there were a lot of dogs, but it was certainly fun! Dulcinea saw all of her friends and got to meet some new puppies too. Christian already posted the pictures on the special dachshund website that Panchito's dad created. Have a look!

Friday, May 28, 2010

All About Food

Lately I have had a new obsession with food...but in a good way. I am enjoying being in the kitchen and cooking up new and delicious meals as well as eating less processed foods. In fact, last weekend when my fave cousin was visiting (recap to come hopefully this weekend), I didn't do so well with the processed foods thing. You know how it goes when someone is visiting, you do things you don’t normally do and eat out and the whole works. Anyway, one of the nights we were in Viña, we had a BBQ/Mexican food night and we started out by eating chips and guac. The bad thing was that I started eating potato chips--for the first time in like over a month--and then I had a choripan (minus the pan—for those of you who haven’t been to Chile, a choripan is like a bratwurst-sausage type food that is eating in a bread bun similar to a hot dog bun but much better. I ate mine without the bread). As soon as I ate it, I felt immediately sick. Like so nauseous that I had to go lie down in the other room and not participate in the fun karaoke that ensued after eating the fajitas that Christian made. Just the smell of the food being cooked was making me so sick I had to go outside for a bit and then just went to lie down and sleep away the pain. It was horrible. No one else got sick, so it wasn’t like my food was bad—and it happened literally after I ate it so not like food poisoning either. So, yea, don't think I'll be eating choripans for a while. But back to the fun stuff....

I have started trying to plan on a weekly, if not monthly, basis our lunches and weekend meals with the hopes that we will use more of our pantry items and get to try different foods. Plus cooking at home is better and cheaper than eating out. I seriously have a google spreadsheet for each month and a list of recipes I want to try and I match them up based on what we have going on, what food we have, etc. I also send all the recipes I get through the various food blogs I follow to a special email address. Then I sort them with the labels in gmail into which food category they are—breakfast, sweets, drinks, main dishes, side dishes, salads, soups, etc. It is like my virtual cookbook!

For breakfast, we normally have a meal replacement shake, although twice now I have made protein pancakes (using a mix of Angela & Gina’s recipes) topped with cut-up apple, almond butter with milk and a tiny bit of syrup--heavenly!

Lunch is really the big meal of the day for us because in the evenings we like to do something small and quick--a fruit smoothie with protein powder, chia seeds & flax seeds, or perhaps eggs in a tortilla or pan con palta (bread with sliced avocado). Simple, low calorie meals that don’t take a long time to make. I hope to continue this tradition in the States, but I know it is hard because we eat reverse there. I do think that in general big breakfast and lunches are the way to go and just have a very light dinner or snack in the evening, unless for some reason you are very active in the evening in which case you would have to eat sufficient enough calories to keep your body fueled.

Some of the recent meals I have made that are:
  • Chana Masala---first time making Indian food! It was better the second day so I will now make this a day in advance of eating it. I put it over couscous which helps us eat up the ton of couscous I have in the pantry. For some reason, I just am not that into couscous anymore so I like to eat it with strongly-flavored foods so I don’t notice it.
  • Minestrone soup—I used a mix of recipes to this and since it is supposed to be made with seasonal veggies, I just used what I had on hand: carrots, butternut squash, potatoes, tomatoes, peas and onion with black & white beans.
  • Butternut squash & black bean soup—I use a cream of veggie or cream of chicken soup and just add cooked black beans and boiled butternut squash & potatoes (until they are softened). This is a rich and yummy dish.
  • Chicken noodle soup--using my mom's recipe
  • Quinoa and Black Bean Bake with Mozz. and Avocado—I made this super spicy and the avocado helps mitigate the spice. I also just used shredded parmesan since real mozzarella is hard to come by here.
I am totally on a soup kick with this cold weather. I want to eat soup like 24/7. Never before in my life have I been so into soup. And I can't get enough new soup recipes to try. I want to try something with leeks in it. I have never had a leek...ever...that I am even aware of......but from the recipes I have seen they look like they are yummy and I hope to try one soon. They are called "puerros" in Spanish. Kind of a weird word, but whatev.

This weekend, I am hoping to try out some curry chopsui a la Heather, Chicken with Artichokes and Angel Hair, Spicy hummus for a weekday snack, and Indian Lentil Soup for lunch on Monday & Tuesday. I’ve never had lentis either—to my knowledge—so I’m excited about trying this soup!

During the work week, I have two snacks throughout the day. In the mornings, I normally eat some sort of granola or the healthiest edible cereal I can find. Or maybe a bit of nut mix (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds). In the afternoons, I normally eat a fruit snack. My FAVE this week has been apple with almond butter.....seriously, my small $10 jar of almond butter is disappearing faster than you can say almond butter. I bought it at Organisk, the organic market close to my house. I used to not like almond butter, in fact, trying to eat a spoonful makes me feel like I can't swallow and that is why I never liked it. But with apple you can't tell it is so sticky and with a bit of milk in the microwave it makes the perfect pancake topping too. I am hoping to experiment in making some of my own, but first I want to try homemade peanut butter....I have non-salted toasted peanuts waiting for me at home.

Basically Sunday afternoons are spent in the kitchen preparing lunch for Monday & Tuesday. Our housekeeper normally cooks us lunch on Wed. so I only have to make sure we have ingredients for something and then Wed. nights I try to make lunch for Thursday & Friday. Those meals definitely have to be simple and quick. On Sunday afternoons I have more time to experiment with new food.

Man, all this planning makes me excited for grocery shopping tomorrow!

Who's Your Dachshund: A New, Slightly Musical, Trick

Dulcinea is back to showing off her tricks--check out this newest one over at Who's Your Dachshund!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who's Your Dachshund: DD is for Destructive Dulcinea

All children, human or animal, misbehave once in a while.  Read about Dulcinea's behavior here, pictures included of the destruction.

Who's Your Dachshund: My Oh My We're Already in May

Check out what is new with Dulcinea since the earthquake here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Back to the Basics

One thing I'd love to do is take some cooking technique classes. Not actually to learn how to cook a meal, I've got that covered....but to learn how techniques like cutting fruits & veggies because I seriously take foooooorever! Christian is wicked fast when it comes to dicing up the ingredients for our meals so I always try and recruit him to do it. I guess doing so means I don't get in as much practice, but I am much more interested in learning and practicing the correct way to do it than just trying to figure it out on my own. I'm not quite sure what other techniques would be useful.....maybe learning about herbs and spices to a point where I know its flavors and what it goes best with in my head. I do use a lot of spices in our meals, but working with fresh herbs would be awesome and I know there are a ton of spices I have never even heard of let alone eaten!

Learning how to make sushi would be pretty cool too, except I am not big on touching raw meats of any kind (again, recruit the husband) and I'd probably be worried about the fish going bad.....but it would still be fun! I guess I could always learn to do vegetarian sushi and wouldn't have to worry about any of that.

On a somewhat related note, Christian and I have been cooking up a storm since I decided to drastically reduce my consumption of processed foods. It has been nice to spend time in the kitchen with him, preparing a delicious meal and then eating it together. Yesterday, for example, we made bistec and soup for lunch (Chris the meat, me the soup) and in the afternoon we made mozzarella-tomato-basil salad and breakfast potatoes. I know that is kind of a random combination, but it was yummy. Chris then proceeded to help me finish cutting up the veggies for the spaghetti I planned to make for lunch on Monday & Tuesday. We decided to use half of the ground beef that we normally use, along with the veggies I picked out (zucchini, button mushrooms, tomatoes, & red bell pepper) and it turned out even better than normal. I think reducing the meat was key. Later this week I plan on making some butternut squash-potato-and-black bean soup to get us through Thursday and Friday which are supposed to colder.

On of my favorite things to do lately has been to build up a strong recipe collection. I can thank all the food blogs I follow for the help. I am thinking about how to best organize them all, but for now I have them in a gmail address, with labels according to if they are a dessert, breakfast, side dish, etc. I have hundreds of recipes waiting to be cooked!

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.