Tofutti!

My week began with a food mishaps. I woke up and the only thing on my mind was mac n cheese. I had an Easy-Mac-style bowl bowl of low-carb mac n cheese I ordered offline. One bite and Beauty got the bowl. Unfortunately, Beauty wouldn’t even eat it. Ha! I began to think, and a light bulb went off! I have instant grits! Oh and I have apple butter!

So, I originally tried grits for the first time when I was about 10 years old and my mom’s boyfriend at the time took us out for breakfast. Grits were totally new to me. I really wasn’t a fan until my mom asked for apple butter for her biscuit. I tried the apple butter the Cracker Barrel that the waitress brought and it was sweet and even better on the warm biscuit. With this in mind, I placed a bit on my spoon and then tried  the grits once more, and ever since then grits and apple butter go hand and mouth in my mind. Get it? Like hand and hand? 

Okay, after that drawn out story… you can guess what was for breakfast:

WP_004489

I debated having a can of soup for lunch. Once I heated up this soup that I’ve never had before by a brand that I’ve never tried and it, too, went right into Beauty’s bowl. This, too, Beauty turned her nose up to. I grabbed some crackers and PB to hold me over and the went to Zumba, as I usually do on Monday evenings. I came home with a growling stomach, with every intention of making a shake. After experiencing this first evening of the Fall chill, a shake was the furthest from my mind. I rushed home to warm up and steamed up a Green Giant box of green beans and almonds (one of my absolute favorites), followed by some more steamed vegetables. My food plans didn’t work out the way I planned, but it makes me happy that I made things work.

WP_004492 WP_004494

I changed the sheets on my bed to flannel ones, took a hot shower, and snuggled up under the fresh covers in my toasty pajamas and crashed. I sent this picture to my parents because it reminded me of my childhood anthem:

Tuesday was a relatively early morning of giving. I headed off to the Blood Bank to donate blood. I try to do so as often as I can.

WP_004499

After running a bunch of errands, I was super hungry when I got home. I was so tempted  to pick up a donut for National Donut Day, but all I could think about was a Boston Cream Pie protein bowl! Bring it! I topped it with some crumble Gnu Espresso Chip! Then some fresh raspberries! Delicious!

WP_004504

I went off the work around 3pm and , like I’ve said before, being clerk for the evening is hit or miss. Wow!  I don’t think that in the two and a half years I have been at the hospital, I have EVER been as busy on the desk as we were Tuesday! It was nuts!

WP_004506

Luckily, I had some savory pumpkin quiche and roasted veggies to power me through the shift, and a chips ahoy cookie for a treat. I headed to Barry’s after work, having a heck of a time kicking a headache and belly ache. I even woke up Wednesday still feeling a bit out of sorts.

WP_004507To get out of a funk, Barry and I headed off to the mall, again. We have been to the mall so much, lately. Last week, we got hooked on a store called Teavana! Barry has been dying to go back since last week. We went back and grabbed a few flavors to take home and a brew to walk around the mall with. I never thought that I would drink hot tea without sweetener, but Teavana proved me wrong.  Last week, I had one that smelled like hot oatmeal, and this trip I combined Zingiber Ginger Coconut and CocoCaramel Sea Salt to make a tea that smelled like an almond cookie fresh out of the oven! Last week, we picked up White Chocolate Peppermint Tea! It smells fantastic and tastes like holiday! Ahh! Its magical!

WP_004510

WP_004509Before heading home to make lunch (steamed veggies for me and mac n cheese topped with steak-umms for Barry), I came across a few awesome and intriguing coffees. Hot Buttered Rum? Mhmm… Tiramisu? Duh! Candy Corn? Uhhh…….

Has anyone had that??? Fill a sista in!

WP_004511I took a nap at Barry’s to try to rid of my headache, only to be woken up by a car alarm 3 hours later. On my way home, I stopped by the local Payless store to pick up an order. I had a birthday coupon and ordered a Christmas present my parents will be giving me (some new work shoes), along with a new pair of kicks. With the coupon and BOGO special, I would up paying a little over 10 bucks for these cross trainers! Sweet! I couldn’t wait to break them in!

I killed time before work by sending out more resumes and experimenting with SF syrups. I added white chocolate and creme de menthe to my hot chocolate/coffee mocha, and it was awesome! I attempted to catch a few Zzzs before my night shift, but not even this cuddle buddy could shut my brain down for a nap!

WP_004515

WP_004516I headed off to work a little anxious about food and finding a job, but like always, work put me in a better mind set. I finished off the very last bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. I must make this, again! Soon! The caf surprised me, also, when they switched up the veggie options. Last night, there were radishes and asparagus! I was a happy camper. Two dum-dum suckers and a coffee also helped power me through my shift.

I must say that the highlight of my shift was at 0500, when one of the nurses asked me if I would mind drawing her labs. One stick and I was in! Sweet! I’m always asking if they have labs they want me to do so I was stoked when she asked me! I was even more excited when I kicked butt on the lab draw!

I came home from work knowing I was hungry and actually eating like a normal person! Yay! While I whipped up a 2 egg white omelet with hot salsa, I snacked on a handful of waffle pretzels and a tsp of the best peanut butter, Peter Pan’s Crunchy peanut butter. Never, ever, have a found another PB with soooo many peanuts! Ahh, its delicious! Once dad woke up, I brewed us some coffee and whipped him up a Higgins breakfast classic.

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, makes stuffing loaves every Thanksgiving, and give everyone in the family one to take home. The next morning, Black Friday, we slice up the stuffing, fry it, put a slice of cheese on it and top it with an egg over-easy. I took out two slices from the freezer, and fried one up for dad, and topped it with scrambled egg whites, fat free cheese, and hot sauce.

WP_004522 WP_004523

WP_004524After dad left for work, Barry came over, and I whipped him up a similar dish with two eggs, over-easy. I spent the rest of the day waiting at my dads place for a package from DaVinci (you know I love my SF syrups). After a can of green beans and onions, I headed back to moms, battling the rain.

I spent the remainder of my afternoon sending out resumes. I’ll tell you… job hunting is a job in and of itself. Its really a bummer, too, because I’m fully in love with my job and the company I work for, but I need to use this license that I’ve worked so hard to obtain.

I started not to feel so great so I grabbed a shower and dad picked me up to run to the store. Ginger ale to the rescue! When we got back, I found out dad had not eaten since the breakfast I had made him. With the remaining tofu, left in the fridge from the Hot and Sour Soup, I whipped up the following based off a recipe I saw on Everyday Health.

Spicy Peanut Tofu Stir-fry

based off Tofu With Peanut-Ginger SauceWP_004527

serves 2

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp Better n’ Butter, low sodium
  • 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, low sodium
  • 1 tsp sugar free pancake syrup
  • 1/4 tsp ground, dry ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sriracha, more if desired
  • 7 oz  firm tofu
  • 1 12oz bag frozen stir-fry vegetable blend
  • 2-3 cups spinach
  • 1 cup mushrooms, largely chopped
  • 1/4 in slice onion, chopped

Whisk together the water, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, syrup, ginger, garlic, and sriracha. Set aside.

Drain the tofu, and slice into 8 slices. Place on paper towels and pat dry. Continue to change out paper towels to remove moisture, about 4 paper towels.

On medium-high heat, spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Break the slices of tofu into about 6 pieces each and lay in the pan in a single layer. Allow the pieces to turn golden brown on the bottom, then toss and brown the other side. Meanwhile, microwave the frozen veggie blend for 4 minutes.

Once both sides have turned golden brown, add spinach, onion, and mushrooms. Carefully transfer the microwaved vegetables into the skillet, and toss with previous veggie and tofu mix. Pour the previously-made peanut sauce over top, toss the contents of the skillet, and lower the heat to medium low.

WP_004528

Serve as is or over brown rice, like dad did.

“I’d eat that, again.” Can I quote you on that? That you want to eat tofu, again? “Oh yeah!”

Ladies and gentleman, dad wants to eat more tofu!

I loved this dish! It had the mild saltiness from the peanut butter and soy sauce, and the slightest kick from the siracha! MMM! I actually grabbed some bell pepper slices and lapped up the sauce left at the bottom of the dish. It was just that yummy!

After my mom had her gastric bypass surgery, she has had a  hard time digesting meats. Throughout my cooking, I’ve found that soy products, like tofu, are the only things that don’t upset her stomach. She was eating her meal chanting, “Tofutti!!!! Tofutti!!!”

I guess that means she likes it!

This Thursday evening is ending with a mug of hot decaf mocha, with SF pumpkin spice syrup, and a ginger snap.

Ode to Kathleen and Drinks Before Noon

I can honestly say, that even as a college student, I have never once drank before noon.

This week started off with excitement: the LAST two days of clinical of nursing school!

Mondays features were coffee and cafe… I saw OIKOS Cafe Latte Greek Yogurt, and I was curious. But I really liked it! It was smooth ans creamy with a mild coffee flavor, not espresso like I was expecting.

WP_002252

Monday was miserable! It was pouring and gloomy. The best way to combat one of these days is with some soup: Lentil soup with some grilled ham and cheese! I still can’t find affordable raspberries, so I improvised for dessert to get my kick: Breakstone’s Raspberry Cottage Cheese Double, sprinkled with cocoa powder.

WP_002253 WP_002254

Now, onto Tuesday!

This is it! Its so surreal! I finished all my paperwork and projects, and this is the day. The LAST day of clinical as a nursing student! I was very attached to two of my patients and both they and I were said that I was leaving. I feel like I will visit them, though. I was actually contemplating applying for a job at this facility. I work with kids, but maybe my calling is to be with fragile patients. I’m not quite sure if a nursing home is the right start for a career for me, though.

WP_002260

After we were finished on the unit, I hugged my patients, and met up with friends at Border Cafe, as we had done a few weeks earlier. I learned, today, that I really am a light weight. One rum and coke and I was toast! And it wasn’t even noon yet! Oh boy!

After I sobered up I headed home to prep tonight’s dinner.

Kathleen is a nurse that I work with. She also happens to be a Kappan alumnus (referring to Phi Theta Kappa). Anyway, Kathleen and I have a lot in common. She has been very supportive of me throughout my entire illness and recovery, as well as a cheerleader for my continued education. One thing Kathleen and I have consistently found in common is our love of food, especially ethnic foods!  Although Kathleen and I usually talk about sushi and Indian food, I’m dedicating today’s recipe to her, as Kathleen is a vegetarian, and newcomer to the blog, and today’s recipe uses tofu.

I’ve made this recipe before and loved it! Now, for a little tweeking.

Tofu and Eggplant Stir-fryWP_002264

serves 4

Sauce: (you will be making this recipe three times)

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp. reduced-sodium/lite soy sauce
2 tsp. sweet Asian chili sauce
1 no-calorie sweetener packet (like Splenda or Truvia)
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Meat:

1 large peeled eggplant cut into 1″ cubes
1 (14oz) package lite firm tofu

2 tsp. minced garlic

Vegetables:

1 md. onion, cut into thirds and then quartered

2 bell pepper

4 cups frozen broccoli

3 oz baby carrots

6 button mushrooms, quartered

Combine all ingredients for the sauce except the cornstarch and set aside. Drain the water from the tofu and slice into 8 slices. Lay the slices between a towel, and weigh the tofu and towel down with a pan (I used a nursing text book). Allow the tofu to sit for 30 minutes and for the towel to absorb the excess moisture.

Spray a pan with nonstick cooking spray and “dry-fry” the tofu (AKA brown the tofu), pressing with a spatula occasionally to remove excess liquid. Once one side is toasty brown, flip and press the tofu again. When browned, remove from heat and let cool. When cool, cut each slice into 6 pieces. Place cubed tofu in a resealable baggie and pour in the sauce. Allow to marinate at room temperature, turning the tofu occasionally. (The longer the tofu has to marinade, the more flavor it will pick up. I marinated mine for about 4 hours).

Meanwhile, roughly chop vegetables into large pieces and cube the eggplant. After marinating the tofu for a while, its time to cook.

Spray a wok or large skillet with non stick spray, and on medium high heat, add the cubed the eggplant. Toss every so often to brown the sides and until the eggplant becomes fragrant. Add the minced garlic and empty the contents of the sealed marinating bag (tofu and marinade) into the skillet. Meanwhile, steam the vegetables as you would prefer to do so. (I used the stove).

Make two batches of the sauce. Combine the water and cornstarch and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. (Remember to make two batches). Toss the eggplant and tofu and pour one completed batch pf sauce over the “meat” and toss. Lower the heat to medium/ medium-low. Add the last batch of sauce, toss, and allow to thicken.

Toss all ingredients together and enjoy!

WP_002255

cube up the eggplant

WP_002256

press and dry-fry the tofu

WP_002257

cool and cut the tofu

WP_002261

marinate

WP_002262

rice boiling, vegetables steaming, and “meat” cooking

WP_002263

Reading this recipe back, it sound a lot more complicated than it actually is. I promise!

I love the sweet and spicy notes of this meal! Plus, I got dad to eat tofu! (Another added bonus: each serving is around 200 calories). I served dads meal over brown rice and mine over the remaining bag of Miracle Rice. I also made a samosa salad with a thinly sliced cucumber, some onion, and a tablespoon of seasoned rice vinegar.

Eggs and Doctor’s Day

Prepare yourself for a recap of the last day and half, complete with a crazy amount of pictures.

Wednesday night, I ate some homemade wonton soup I found in the freezer. Yum!

WP_001666 (1)

It was an easy shift since I was placed in a 1:1. Although I did not have any school stuff with me to pass the time, I spent my night researching downtown San Jose and eateries to better prepare myself for next week’s trip. I found a variety of places including Indian, sushi and vegan!

Arriving home, I made a cup of decaf tea and sleepily waited for my uncle to drop of some much anticipated cookies. Ever since my grandmother passed away, he has turned into “Barry Crocker.” His specialty is ricotta cookies. I love his ricotta cookies! The texture is so unique! He typically makes Lemon Ricotta Cookies that I devour every time! I mean, these cookies go fast! Everyone wants them! He called me and said he would drop off his latest creation: Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cookies! They looked like chocolate chip scones, but wow! They had the same texture as before, but no with a chocolate treat. One word: Addicting!

WP_001670

I’ll talk to him and see if he’ll share his secrets with us!

After a brief nap, I woke with one focus. As promised, I used those strawberries in a shake: Chocolate Covered Strawberry:WP_001672

2 scoops Chocolate protein powder

1 Tbsp unsweetened Cocoa powder

strawberries

handful of spinach

1/4 tsp xanthum

water

ice

WP_001673

I spent the remainder of my afternoon taking a brisk walk to the supermarket for some few essentials for the weekend, then tidying up the house, and doing a bit of ab work.

Before I left the house, mom really wanted to make some popcorn. Last year, when I was in Nashville, TN for the International Convention, I picked this up. I though the novelty of it was too cool! Its a cob of corn… to make popcorn! You just slide this, what looks like Halloween corn, into the provided bag, fold the bags edge closed, and pop away!

WP_001675 WP_001678

I arrived on night shift apt! I don’t know why… this energy, though, helped power me through a night of 10 patients! I was greeted on the unit by these little dudes:

WP_001687

I forgot we had an egg decorating contest to help raise money for the asthma foundation. In first place, was Angry Birds.

WP_001688

I had one of the best night shift meals in a while! I told you that falafel dip was going to be a Bundo house staple, and I meant it. I mixed the remaining dip left over from the falafel with some tuna fish. I laid this on a bed of spinach, along with tomato and onion and wrapped in an Everything tortilla! At work, I lucked out and found some roasted red peppers on the salad bar and threw those on there, too! To join the party… some celery and carrot sticks with reduced fat Ranch dressing and a fresh and crunchy bean salad, also from the salad bar. Dessert was a Fiber One brownie!

It figures that the one day I mess up on eating meat, it would be the morning of Good Friday! Ugh! My girlfriend and I split some chicken fingers! I haven’t eaten them in ages!

During this shift we also decorated for our unit’s Doctor’s Day. Our night shift crew prepared everything for breakfast while today;s day shift staff will set up lunch. We had bags of Quaker Quakes, Fage yogurt, coffee, fruit… etc.

WP_001683 WP_001686 WP_001689 WP_001690

But the niftiest of all was the cake! We filled empty sterile syringes with red icing and med cups with M&Ms:

WP_001684

I headed home in fun because I ate a bit more than I had wanted. After chatting with mom for about an hour, I started to feel a hungry stomach (which kind of cheered me up slightly knowing that I recognized what my body wanted). Before heading to bed, I pulled out OIKOS Pomegranate Greek yogurt and topped it with chia. MMMM I forgot how much I liked this one! (And my Scooby Doo spoon from the bottom of the Rice Krispies box, to embrace some childhood).

WP_001692

I was able to get about 2 hours of sleep before I woke up. I guess I turned off the alarm I had set for Church, but I still woke up on time. I guess the Big Guy really wanted me there! This is something I look forward to every Good Friday. (Today is Good Friday, by the way… the day Christ die on the cross.) Every Friday during Lent we celebrate what is known to Catholics as the Stations of the Cross, marking key points leading up the the crucifiction. On Good Friday, the congregation meets a few blocks away and processes towards Church with a large wooden cross. We pause at intervals to read the stations, and as we process we sing hymns. I love the unifying feeling of this event and the fact that we take time to reflect on our lives, faith, each other, and our blessings.  I am a lector at my Church as read a station every year. This year, I also acted as song leader, leading the congregation in the hymns between stations. I wanted to be more involved this year, and I helped carry the cross in between two stations. I had three favorite parts about today’s procession: 1) all the new faces, 2) it was my mom’s first time attending, and 3)even the little kids got involved this year!

WP_001693 WP_001694 WP_001695 WP_001696 WP_001697 WP_001698 WP_001699

Afterwards, I whipped up a new recipe that I guarantee you will see again on this blog! My mom and I love eggplant. I eat mine in any way but fried, and my mom ONLY eats hers fried, therefore, I am always looking for healthy eggplant recipes to snag my mom from the dark side. I used Hungry Girl’s recipe for an eggplant stir-fry and let me tell ya, I was impressed! I find with some of her recipes, that theres a potential for bland-ness or that I need to acquire the taste, but not with this one! And an added bonus what how absolutely easy it was!

WP_001700

To top it off and add some different textures, I steamed up some frozen stir-fry vegetables. I can’t wait to try this with tofu! I’ve had a decent amount of requests from readers about tofu recipes, so this is a contender.

WP_001702

MMMM! It was everything you’d expect! Sweet and sticky and just a little kick!

I had gotten a coupon for Payless Shoes for 20% off my purchase  and since I’m going to be hitting California soon, I thought I could use a nice pair of black staple pumps. After playing around with some shoe indulgence and a fashion shoe (haha puns!), I decided on a comfy pair of peep-toes.

My absolute favorite!

My absolute favorite!

Feeling like a superstar!

Feeling like a superstar!

The winner

The winner