New Gym Connundrum

This isn’t about food. I’m sorry in advance if that’s a problem.

The long weekend of New Years Eve started with a visit to a newly opened gym, so see if I could get back in the groove of working out regularly in a gym. This was in part due to the New Year push everyone falls into – partially due to the slump I’ve fallen into recently.

While in Albany, I worked out as regularly as possible at a close-ish, franchised gym that was reasonable priced, had plenty of parking, and had classes. Unfortunately, in Westchester – that sort of gym doesn’t seem to exist. Or at least I havn’t found it yet.

For a while, I was working out at Blink Fitness across the street from my office in the Bronx. This meant leaving for work an hour earlier, showering at the gym and eating breakfast at my desk. It was a routine I actually found that worked pretty well for me but there were some issues; the gym is very small, the weight equipment was always crowded with some intimidating groups (not the friendliest neighborhood), they didn’t have any sort of classes or really enough room to try new things. When Mister moved from Albany to Westchester, we shared a portion of our commute which meant that early mornings weren’t an option anymore and I cancelled my membership.

That was just about a year ago and since then, I have worked with a personal trainer in a private gym regularly, tried Soul Cycle classes sparingly (too expensive), tried one Barre Class (too intimidating), a handful of yoga classes (couldn’t find any that fit my schedule and were within my budget).

Lately, for the most part, I work out in my basement. We invested in a second hand elliptical a few months ago, I have two sets of weights, and a kettlebell. Motivation, and the cold, are my biggest hurdles now. The basement ceiling is too low for the elliptical, so we have to keep it in the garage. The unheated garage.

For reference it was 8 degrees when I woke up this morning. Thats about 30 degrees too cold to be working out in the unheated garage. Thats not to say I don’t do it – but I’m finding a hard time staying consistent.

When I pay for classes, I feel committed to going. But the cost adds up and I lose enthusiasm. For at home, I’ve tried the Beachbody workouts, and on demand – I don’t really have the space in our basement to be jumping around that much and try to stick to strength based workouts.

Suggestions? Great class recommendations? At home workouts worth the money? Motivation?

Oh and yes I did check out that new gym. The traffic getting there from the office, and the traffic getting home, were terrible. Like I would never want to be driving in that direction.

As if that wasn’t enough, all of the amenities advertised weren’t available yet;  i.e. the pool/sauna/steam room level weren’t set to be finished for a few months. But the gym bills itself as having those amenities, and therefore membership is more expensive then the locations that do not have them. Which is absurd to if you can’t use them.

Add to that, it was like trying to work out in a shark tank. The sales team was pushing hard to lock in a deal, and nearly every person working out there was either with a personal trainer, or taking a lot of pictures of themselves while listening to incredibly loud music via headphones. It wasn’t friendly, it wasn’t encouraging – in short I’ll never feel comfortable working out there.

The new gym versus my home gym

 

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Maybe Mister Has a Point

Maybe I do make too many soups.

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One pan meals are so popular, that one pot soups should be more popular. But they’re not because you can’t eat soup every night. Especially not boring ones.  Last night’s was pretty gloomy.

With the 12 degree weather I thought a nice cozy bowl of soup would be perfection. But I didn’t realize the recipe I had bought ingredients for was a slow cooker recipe until I started making it at 5:30pm.   I assumed the dutch oven would be fine; simmer for an hour or so and dinner would be perfect.

Except this recipe was sort of mushy and bland and not great. Don’t get me wrong, I ate it and I’ll eat it for lunch today as well; but I would prefer our go to sausage/kale/red potato soup recipe to this corn and potato chowder with chorizo.

The Trader Joe’s frozen grilled corn could’ve probably helped this soup. Or some greans maybe? The potatoes and corn seemed to suck up all the flavor in an incredible feat of blandness.

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At least it looks nice.

 

Sweet Tooth

I never want to arrive empty handed.

When we were traveling to Binghamton for Christmas, we had the entire trunk packed with presents for family but since those were to be giving out to different people at different times, I still felt like we were oddly arriving empty handed. I wanted to bake something.

Except I hate baking.

And I’m also bad at it. Like, if it didn’t come from a box with picture/cartoon directions I’ll mess it up.

Take Exhibit A for example:

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That’s what happens when I try to make “Easy Ritz Cracker Toffee” while also trying to get the Sirius App to play on my phone. I panicked and put this tray on our front stoop to cool – an unpleasant surprise for our poor mailman who now officially knows I cannot create desserts.

Fear not, I did try again; significantly better results the second time.

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Only one burnt cracker. Vast improvement.

It really is an easy recipe, and wholly user error the first time that resulted in such a mess.  I didn’t realize that the new Oxo scooper I had put in my sugar container wasn’t a cup.  I looked at the scoop, looked at my one cup measuring cup and said yup good enough.  The sugar to butter ratio was way off, and resulted in that mess.  The second time around, I didn’t try to use my Sirius app for music and I used a measuring cup.

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I did make a batch of Peppermint Bark also – this was an easy recipe for sure, but people seemed to like the Ritz toffee a lot more. While the peppermint bark packages nicely, I’m not sure I would make it again. Its fine, just nothing stellar I guess.

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I packed everything up in some tins I picked up at Michael’s  a few days before –  I couldn’t believe that the holiday stuff was already marked down 50% off more than week before Christmas. I guess tried and true Christmas bakers are more prepared than I am, and the sale was for amateurs and people who can’t even bake easy toffee.

 

After Saturday – Monday in Binghamton, we came back to Westchester with a stop at Dad’s house before picking up our girl’s and returning home for a few extra treats from Santa.

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Should Lentils Be More Popular?

Lentils are for lentil soup.  Curried lentils maybe.  Does anyone do anything else with lentils? They’re inexpensive, incredibly filling, can be flavored by what you’re cooking with.

Last night I made a “cleaning out the fridge” dinner – in part because we’re going away for the holidays, and as an attempt to use up any forgotten produce before our weekly groceries were delivered. [* shout out to the folks at Peapod who allow food to appear at my door every Wednesday night around 7pm]

Part of this plan of attack was to use up a bag of lentils I had bought a week or so ago for a sausage/kale/lentil soup.  After Mister’s comment that I’d been cooking an interestingly high number of soups in the past few weeks, I didn’t think it would go over well and it never happened.  That meant I still had this bag of lentils, and I wasn’t about to let them just hang out in the pantry with the 4 boxes of pasta I’ll politely ignore for a few more months as well.

There was no recipe, only the prayer that an edible meal would result at some point that night.

  1. 1 cup lentils, 2 cups water.  Simmered in a pot with whole smashed garlic cloves, salt, pepper, cumin, allspice014.JPG
  2. sweet Italian sausage in a large saute pan with olive oil
  3. once the sausage was blackened  crisped up bit, added veggies and garlic

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  • red pepper
  • yellow pepper
  • onion
  • mushrooms
  • peas

At this point, Mister was out of the house to grab some supplies for his kitchen renovation project.  Which meant that dinner was ready and he wasn’t home to eat it.  I turned the burners off and let everything sit for 20ish minutes until he was home.  At this point, I warmed them back up -plated and ate.

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On the side, some Olde York Farm Cacao & Maple Vodka mixed with some apple cider.  Just a splash of their vodka gives the cider a complex, mulled flavor that I’m completely hooked on.

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Here’s the thing about those lentils; they were already pretty mushy when it came to pack up the leftovers. And I wasn’t left feeling like, “man, we should eat way more lentils.” But, about two hours and one dog walk later, I was still uncomfortably full from about a quarter of a cup of lentils.  That’s impressive stuff.

Quick

I had already forgotten I was supposed to start blogging again.

One day was all it took. So I’m forcing myself back into it with a quickie.

Weekday dinners are hectic in our house – I usually have the gym or something similar after work, Mister gets to the train station around 6:15. With that being said, I usually try to cook something that takes less than 30 minutes so we can eat before 8pm.  Bonus points if its healthy, not leftovers, and we can eat at the table.

Last night was breaded chicken cutlets, oven roasted broccoli, and mashed cauliflower.  We still at at just about 8pm – but this was super easy.

  • try to remember to marinade the chicken in something
  • preheat oven to 350 degrees (fun fact – the knob on our oven is a replacement, so I have to set it to 450 to get it to about 320)
  • toss broccoli in olive oil and seasoning (I used Penzy’s Greek Seasoning)
  • put broccoli on foil lines pan – pop in the oven and then ignore until everything else is cooked
  • pull out Trader Joes frozen mashed cauliflower – put contents of the bag in a pot with some water (don’t measure, it takes too long)  Set to medium heat and stir when you remember what you’re doing with your life
  • Heat veg. oil in a pan that has sides so you don’t end up with grease everywhere. Praise yourself for frying something on the last night of Chanukah.
  • Chicken cutlets: dip in flour then egg then breadcrumbs
  • Pan fry cutlets, stir cauliflower occasionally
  • Season cauliflower with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Pray the ignored broccoli didn’t get burnt
  • Serve and eat.

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Fresh Start

May of 2016 was the last time I posted.

I moved, started a new job, didn’t have my own kitchen, moved again, got married, and bought a house.

So we’re starting again.

I promise nothing. I don’t know if I’ll even remember to post something next week with the holidays – but I want to at least try to get in the groove of sharing my dinners somewhere other than Facebook or Instagram. In all honesty, I think people are started to get weirded out by how many times I post pictures of my home made dinner on Instagram.  Without this blog there hasn’t been any alternative – poor Mister sees the dinner and the picture of the dinner. And he patiently waits for me to photograph every meal, even though it gets shared nowhere most of the time.

Last night I made pasta fagioli soup for dinner – I loved it. Mister said, “well you really like making soups.” I can’t tell if that means he didn’t like it, he’s sick of soups, or he’s sick of me asking if he likes things I make.

I did use a recipe – and actually followed all the steps with two minor adjustments. I added the following spices:

And I made way too much pasta for the pot.  Like a whole bunch too much. Oh well.

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That’s it for now – some good soup and an easy recipe I didn’t even make up.