Monday, September 19, 2016

An Exercise Post.


Trigger Warning: weight talk.
TL, DR; I am struggling with weight and felt like talking about it.

Today I realized that, despite calling myself a "writer," I rarely express myself much further than "this recipe is good and here is why!" on this blog.

Perhaps it's because the feedback from the casual blog follower tends to be "I just scroll down to the recipes." Has that subliminally affected my content? Who knows. But I do know that this is my blog, and I need to let myself shine in it a bit more. So, that said, here's a topic I'd like to talk about.


Still with me? Good. Because I'm not going to tell you pain is gain and nothing tastes as good as skinny feels and all that bogus. Because it IS bogus. I'm of the opinion that tough love and shaming yourself into the process is just never going to work. One of the reasons I had a major issue with the Whole 30 official plan. It didn't for me--I'd end up frustrated and crying and giving up so I would stop that racing feeling in my chest that made me feel not good enough to continue.

Literally the last picture where I feel confident about my body. It's from 2012.
For about 24 years of my life I was effortlessly skinny. I never once had to think about what I ate or how much, and aside from struggling through gym class every other day in high school, I never really did any exercise. Then comes 25 and the Ass Fairy paid me a visit and never left. I went from a size 4 to a size 8 seemingly overnight, and it's been a steady crawl to a size 10-12 ever since.

And despite having a fiance who thinks I'm the sexiest being on the entire planet (and who, yes, tells me this every day), my self confidence has plummeted below the ground and caused me all sorts of anguish. I look in the mirror and think, "this is not my body, where did my flat belly go?" all while the outside world would probably still consider me thin by most standards. And with the knowledge that weight doesn't matter, there are worse things than being "fat" but the idea of the bitchy girls from high school or my ex's ex who hated me would look at my pictures on FB and think "wow, she really let herself go" would keep me up at night.

The body I used to have.

And, sadly, the little voice in the back of my head reminding me that if my dad had gotten control of his weight just a little sooner, maybe he'd be alive today...

My food blogging didn't help, but my typical diet wasn't enough in and of itself to be responsible for the extra poundage. I knew I was just fighting my aging ass as well.

So I got gym memberships. And I hated every minute. My long hair gave me a headache when it was in a ponytail for too long. I had to go home to shower before going out. I couldn't wake up early enough and was too tired after work. I hated the way the sweat felt. I hated the little hives I'd get when I worked too hard. I went for a solid month and saw no results. Then I tried classes like Zumba or Jazzercise and failed hard at both--I could feel all eyes judging my out of step moves, even when I knew no one actually cared--I even tried running through Austin's gorgeous landscape... and was embarrassed I couldn't keep up. I attempted Whole 30 and Paleo and calorie counting and each one ended way too quickly. How can I get through this without wine? And sugar? But how do I do this and still feel satisfied? I did more crying about my weight than action.

2013, when I began to feel less confident

If only I had a workout buddy, I'd think, someone to hold me accountable... then I'd reach out to people who weren't interested, or would flake (or I would flake) and then get sadder and lonely feeling, adding to the heap of negative feelings about the situation. So I'm a blob with no friends? Great.

Step one was realizing I was suffering from depression, and the resulting body dismorphia was a product. The meds I was put on ("please, not the ones that make you gain weight!" I begged my doctor) helped even me out. I still hated the idea of sweating, and avoided the gym, but the crippling anxiety about the whole situation was quelled.

Then my wedding date was set and the idea of having pictures that hang in my house forever showing me marrying the love of my life was the motivation to try one more time. And I know, it's silly and superficial and it's not about pictures at all--but sometimes I'm silly and superficial. I freely admit that. And whatever works, right?

Now it's been nearly three months of three workouts per week. With Austin's Class Pass I've found a system that works for me. I found Barre, while still dance-inspired, is slower and more my pace, but results in a deep burn the next day that I know means it's working. Piloxing Barre is even better, because it has bursts of cardio. Class Pass is five times the price of a discount gym membership ($50 for beginner, $90 for unlimited) and at the limit of my budget, but the ability to check out a variety of gyms in my area keeps it interesting for me. Plus, once I reserve a spot, I'm tied to it, lest I lose my money or one of my allotted monthly classes.

Thanks to my medicine, the anxiety and sadness surrounding exercise are gone. It's still not my favorite activity, but I don't spend all day dreading it. The endorphins have yet to kick in, but the energized feeling I get after the class is over gets me motivated to do the little things I need to do--like clean my house, make a healthy dinner, catch up on work.

I got a Fitbit HR, to get the most accurate calorie counts for my activity levels. Before, keeping myself to 1200 calories just because that is the "magic" weight loss number was impossible. Now, I know that if I burn 2000 in a day, I can have as many as 1500 and still be on track.

No weight loss yet, but my tummy looks flatter and my arms have lost a bit of jiggle already. And the scale tends to trend on the lower side of my usual range.

I guess the point of all this is... This is what I'm doing, and so far, it works for me. Weight loss and, more importantly, getting healthy, are so hard. If it's important to you, you can find a way to do it. Don't beat yourself up if the first or even the tenth try doesn't get you where you want to be.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Plenty o' Pickles Courtesy of Wheatsville! Easy Fridge Pickles


Fall is in the air--and that means the harvest is nigh! How do you preserve your delicious summer fruits and veggies, and how do you do it in a unique (and tasty!) way?

Pickle that stuff up.

So, to be honest, I'm totally new to pickling. I took the "easy" route and did them all via the "fridge pickle" process. This means that they're not shelf stable, but they'll last a long while in the refrigerator.

Austinites are lucky: at Wheatsville Coop, we have a plethora of fresh, organic, and local goodies to choose from! Take a look at the haul I got.

All of that gorgeous produce got pickled in a variety of ways.

First, I did a very basic pickle: cukes, onions, garlic, dill, and brine, with this neat pickling spice mix I found at Wheatsville.

Then, I got a little crazy. I have no idea what I'm going to do with all of these pickles--I think I need to have a fancy hors d'ovres party or something.

Basic Pickling Process

  • 1 cups vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp pickling spices
  • 3 large cucumbers
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin

-In a pot over medium heat, mix together the vinegar, water, salt, dill, and spices. Let boil until steamy and the salt is dissolved. Let cool to room temp.

-Place sliced cucumbers and onions in a glass jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. Pour brine over the cucumbers and refrigerate for 2 days.

Please note: these will not be shelf stable. Keep cold at all times.

Creative Pickles (variations)

Blueberry Fennel
-sub 1/4th cup of the water for red wine
-sub 1/2 cup of the vinegar for balsamic vinegar
-add 1/4 cup brown sugar to the brine
-sub the cucumbers for blueberries
-sub fennel for the onions

Asian Carrot
-sub 1/4th cup of the water for mirin wine
-sub the vinegar for rice vinegar
-add 1 tbsp sesame oil
-add 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
-add 1 knob of peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
-sub the cucumbers for carrots

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The last day of Bacon Month - Potato Salad

If you've just noticed, me and a whole bunch of bloggers (wrangled together by Julie of Bread Booze Bacon) made bacon recipes ALL MONTH!

For the LAST DAY of Bacon Month, I wanted to challenge myself. I set lofty goals. I was going to make a maple bacon Dutch baby. Fluffy, eggy, sweet and savory goodness.

Then why do I have friggin potato salad?

Because life had other plans. Note to self: taking on hefty blog projects when one has multiple improv shows a week is a recipe for failure. I burnt no fewer than FIVE Dutch baby pancakes. Two because I literally LEFT THE HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF MAKING THEM, two because I had my measurements off, and one because I fell asleep. And then, homegirl was out of eggs.

So, here you have something totally different and hopefully not too underwhelming. A potato salad with amped up bacon. Yes, I had made it beforehand for dinner. But it DOES include delicious bacon, and we all know bacon and potatoes is a match made in heaven.

Dijon mustard. Friends: I am never making potato salad without it again.

Check out the last day of Bacon Month's recipes!!

Bacon & Egg Stuffed Baked Potatoes from Love Bakes Good Cakes
Bell Pepper & Bacon Cheese Ball from Bread Booze Bacon
Spicy Bacon Whiskey Soda from Nomageddon
Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese from A Dash of Sanity
Chocolate Caramel Bacon Milkshake from Around My Family Table
Bacon Waffle S'mores from A Simple Pantry
Skillet Breakfast Potatoes & Bacon from Kleinworth & Co.
Bacon Fried Apples from It Is A Keeper
Bacon Potato Salad from Forking Up
Maple Bacon Cheesecake from Ashlee Marie

Bacony Potato Salad
1 lb red potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
5 slices bacon, crumbled
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp dried chives
1 tbsp chives
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar

-In a pot of salted water, boil the potatoes until done and easily pierced with a fork--about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temp.

-While potatoes are boiling, cook the onions and bacon together until bacon is to desired done-ness (I like mine a bit chewy). Drain well and set aside.

-In a small bowl, whisk together all other ingredients. When potatoes are cool, gently toss with the mixture and sprinkle in the onions and bacon.

-Serve with extra bacon. Because bacon.

Friday, August 26, 2016

#BaconMonth Bacon Stout Risotto


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary Lodge Cast Iron skillet for #BaconMonth for the purpose of creating a recipe

Sidenote: more (and better!) pics coming soon as I have temporarily misplaced my SD card...

If you've just noticed, me and a whole bunch of bloggers (wrangled together by Julie of Bread Booze Bacon) are making bacon recipes ALL MONTH!

 Check out my first post to see what amazing prizes you could win.

Guyssss #BaconMonth is almost over! And I couldn't let it pass without a serious shout-out to the best cast iron producer of all time: Lodge Cast Iron. Fun fact: my fiance has done Revolutionary War reenactments his whole life. I've attended a few, and we go ALL OUT. This means using cast iron for all the cooking, over a campfire. We always use Lodge and it is seriously the best.

For #BaconMonth we used Lodge for, what else, BACON! I loved how evenly the bacon cooked. It's really perfect!

I've been wanting to do a beer-based risotto for a while. I think the main thing I need to point out here is that you want LOW SODIUM broth. The bacon adds more than enough salt, so any extra and it's going to be too salty. But the beer reduces beautifully and the flavor profile is awesome.

Risotto really isn't as hard as people think! Give it a try :) Bacon makes everything awesome, so you'll be safe.

Check out the other recipes for today's #BaconMonth roundup!

French Onion & Bacon Dip from Around My Family Table
Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn from Cooking in Stilettos
Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Bread Sticks from A Dash of Sanity
Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Balls from A Simple Pantry
Coffee Maple Bacon from Nomageddon
Southern Bacon-Fried Cabbage from Love Bakes Good Cakes
Bacon Stout Risotto from Forking Up
Maple Bacon Monkey Muffins from It Is A Keeper

Bacon Stout Risotto

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup aroborro rice
  • 1/2 cup dark stout beer
  • 4-6 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • handful of shredded cheese, for topping

-In your lodge cast iron, fry the bacon until desired done-ness (slightly crispy is always a good bet). Add the onions and garlic and cook until transluscent.

-Add the rice and stir until the rice has soaked up most of the bacon fat. Slowly add the stout, and stir until absorbed.

-Continue adding the beef broth, a half cup at a time, and stirring until liquid is absorbed. Once rice is soft, remove from heat and stir in the parsley. Top with cheese.

Monday, August 22, 2016

#BaconMonth Peanutbutter Banana Bacon Muffins

Disclaimer: I received a bunch of free bottles of Torani syrup for #BaconMonth for the purpose of creating a recipe

Don't worry, everyone, BACON MONTH still has some steam left! If you've just noticed, all month me and a whole bunch of bloggers (wrangled together by Julie of Bread Booze Bacon) are making bacon recipes ALL MONTH!

 Check out my first post to see what amazing prizes you could win.

Today's recipe is brought to you by the oh-so-wonderful Torani syrups! These little muffins get a bit of a kick from the brown sugar cinnamon syrup (though the bananas keep it pretty sweet!) better yet, they're gluten free!

I adapted a paleo recipe I use regularly, so these are gluten free and HIGH PROTEIN! Feel free to grab one as an after workout snack... or breakfast. Whatever you'd like.

I always see peanutbutter and chocolate with bacon... but never just PB & Bacon, so I stopped myself from pouring in the chocolate chips. While I think the chips would make a fine addition, these are pretty baller just on their own.

 Before we get to my recipe, check out all the other #BaconMonth recipes today!
Bacon & Egg Puffs from It Is A Keeper
Bacon Scalloped Potatoes from Kleinworth & Co.
Beer Bacon and Cheese Dip Recipe from Bread Booze Bacon
Sticky Bacon and Salmon Kebabs from Hey Grill, Hey
Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pull-Apart Rolls from Love Bakes Good Cakes
Peanutbutter Bacon Protein Muffins
  • 4 slices bacon, crumbled
  • 2 ripe bananas, smushed with a fork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp peanutbutter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/8 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp apple pie spice mix
  • 1 tbsp Torani brown sugar cinnamon syrup

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 6-welled muffin tin with liners.

-In a stand mixer set to medium, mix together the bananas, eggs, butter, peanutbutter,  Torani brown sugar syrup, and vanilla.

-In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

-Slowly add the dry to the wet, mixing well between each addition. Finally, fold in the bacon.

-Fill the muffin cups 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#BaconMonth - Dark Chocolate Bacon Cookies


Hey y'all! You know the drill! It's BACON MONTH and all month me and a whole bunch of bloggers (wrangled together by Julie of Bread Booze Bacon) are making bacon recipes ALL MONTH!

 Check out my first post to see what amazing prizes you could win.

Can a cookie be brooding? I feel like if it could, these dark chocolate bacon cookies would be all emo and such. They just look unhappy... even though they're quite delicious.

Be sure to use dark cocoa. If possible, grab yourself a bag of black cocoa from your local pastry specialty store or Amazon. If you can't get that, then the Hershey Special Dark will do in a pinch. It really gives it a deep chocolate flavor.

The bacon perfectly balances the richness of the chocolate with a burst of salt. These cookies may sound strange, but they're delicious!

Bacon & Egg Breakfast Burritos from Love Bakes Good Cakes
Maple Bacon Fudge from Ashlee Marie
Breakfast Bacon Fat Bombs from A Simple Pantry
Bacon Stuffed Waffles from Around My Family Table

Dark Chocolate Bacon Cookies
  • 1/2 cup +2 tbsp butter, softened*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used bourbon vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 5 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

*sub the extra two tablespoons for bacon fat for more bacon flavor!

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

-Cream together the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.

-Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring well between each addition. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more butter or bacon fat to get it to a slightly sticky consistency. Fold in the bacon and chocolate chips.

-Let chill for 1 hour

-Form into balls and place on a silpat-lined baking sheet (or parchment paper) and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the dough has set but is not sticky. Let cool.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#BaconMonth - Bacon Smores Cocktail


Hey y'all! You know the drill! It's BACON MONTH and all month me and a whole bunch of bloggers (wrangled together by Julie of Bread Booze Bacon) are making bacon recipes ALL MONTH! It's been fun to get creative with this, and this was only my second recipe.

 Check out my first post to see what amazing prizes you could win.

I have some savory recipes coming soon, but it was fun to try to put bacon into a drink! It didn't come out tasting totally like a s'more with bacon, but all flavor suggestions were definitely there. If you can find it, I bet a bit of bacon flavored vodka would really put this over the edge.

Before I get to the recipe, check out all the other amazing recipes the bloggers have put together today:

Bourbon-Bacon Slaw from Bread Booze Bacon
Bacon Bourbon Caramel Cheesecake from Kleinworth & Co.
Avocado Bacon Grilled Cheese from A Simply Pantry
Champagne Miso Bacon from Nomageddon
Bacon S'Mores Martini from Forking Up
Elvis Trifle with Bacon from Love Bakes Good Cakes
Bacon Hot Fudge Sauce from A Dash of Sanity

And now, onto the drinks...

Bacon S'mores Cocktail
2 strips bacon
1 graham cracker, crushed
1 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz creme de cacao
1/2 oz Torani toasted marshmallow syrup
optional: 1/2 oz bacon flavored vodka
Torani caramel chocolate sauce

-Prepare the glass: carefully line the rim with the chocolate sauce, then dip into the crushed graham cracker. Drizzle sauce in glass, set aside.

-In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour in the liquid ingredients. Crumble in one strip of bacon and 1 tsp or so of the cracker crumbs. Shake well, then strain into the glass.

-Garnish with other bacon slice.