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Posted on Nov 16, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 18 comments

Balsamic Braised Red Cabbage

I’ve already admitted to you how “bad” I’ve been with my cooking lately. With the exception of Monday’s triumphant return to the kitchen, it’s barely been happening at all. Aaaaand while technically I did help “cook” a little bit during last night’s fondue session, I realize that dipping cubes of white bread into bubbling vats of cheese isn’t exactly the kind of healthy cooking I should be striving for (but oh, was it delicious!)

Luckily, where motivation fails, monetary incentives prevail (who wants to pay me to lose these last 20 lbs? Anyone?) So when a Clever Girls Collective opportunity with Marzetti Simply Dressed Salad Dressings presented itself, I jumped! They sent me a coupon, so I picked up a jar of the balsamic vinaigrette at the grocery store and forged ahead with another culinary adventure.

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CABBAGE!

Despite a lifelong avoidance of the stuff in salads and a grudging acceptance of it as a topping for fish tacos, I’ve been obsessed with red cabbage lately. At my dad’s birthday dinner last month, I had the most incredible braised, sweet, sour, and savory dish of it. It had this barbecue-like flavor to it… oy, just thinking about it now is making my mouth water! So, having absolutely no experience cooking red cabbage, I winged it (er, wung it? Wang it?) and ended up with a beautiful, delicious, easy-peasy dish that bore an amazing resemblance to the dish I was trying to replicate, for once!

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This salad dressing ended up working really well because it had this great creaminess to it (which probably accounts for the 90 calories per 2 tbsp serving instead of your typical 45 calories or less for vinaigrettes — but I digress.) If you happen to have a more watery vinaigrette on hand, however, you could probably try adding some yogurt or cream at the tail end of the cooking process to simulate a similar texture. The Marzetti’s Simply Dressed dressings pride themselves on containing “a minimal number of all-natural and simple ingredients” and no preservatives, HFCS, or artificial colors/flavors, but if you wanted to cut out the processed-foods middleman altogether, you could also just experiment with using straight balsamic vinegar.

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Balsamic Braised Red Cabbage
Print this recipe!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes active, 30 minutes passive

This sweet, tangy, and colorful dish would make a fantastic addition to any holiday feast. It’s melt-in-your-mouth tender and has a subtle smokiness that’s sure to perk up your plate. To lighten it up even further you could forgo the butter, but why would you want to? Each 1-cup serving is packed with flavor at only around 150 calories!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 head red cabbage, chopped/shredded (about 5 cups)
1 cup balsamic vinaigrette of choice (I used Marzetti’s Simply Dressed, as noted above.)
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
1 tablespoon white vinegar, optional

Instructions:

1. Melt butter in a large pan on medium heat. Add red onion and cook until slightly soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add cabbage and, if using, sprinkle sugar evenly over it. Saute until cabbage begins to wilt, about 5 – 7 minutes.
3. Add balsamic vinaigrette and water, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced almost completely, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust flavors with salt, vinegar, and additional sugar as needed. Enjoy!

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Might not look like much, but it tastes like heaven. Nom.

Et voila! A perfect side dish for me to consider adding to my potential Thanksgiving For One next week. Womp womp, that’s right. With no leave on the books and a Federal-holiday dictated job that doesn’t give me the day after Thanksgiving as a freebie, it;s looking more and more like it’ll just be me and the pups for Turkey Day this year. If anyone else in the area is on their own this T-Day, mayhaps we should arrange a potluck? I can bring the cabbage. Also, schnauzers.

I was one of the bloggers selected by T. Marzetti Company and Clever Girls Collective to host a Marzetti Simply Dressed review. They provided me with product to test myself and compensation for my time. However, my opinions are entirely my own.

PS: If you haven’t already, check out the article I wrote for MochiMag earlier this month on coming to terms with my body type!

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Posted on Jun 9, 2011 in Pup Posts, Reviews | 5 comments

Sponsored Post: All Dogs Go To… iPhone?


Thank you to Cube Dog for sponsoring this review. For more information about Cube Dog please visit the Facebook page or download it on iTunes.

So here’s the deal: I love my dogs.

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I mean, this shouldn’t be news — you guys already know this! You’ve been with me through birthdays, health scares, and even Daxter’s misguided attempts at blogging. You know these dogs are my life.

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And while I would be lying if I said that I didn’t think everyone’s lives would be better if they had a canine companion of their own, I also understand that’s not always possible. Whether it’s because of an allergic spouse, a stubborn landlord, or just because you’re a cat person (shudder), having a pupster to cuddle up with might not be a reality for you.

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Enter: Cube Dog.

Cube Dog is an app that you can download for your iPhone or iPod that gives you the ability to create a hot diggity dog of your own — with none of the mess! (Which even I will admit would have been a nice alternative to cleaning Harry’s puke off the floor two days ago… hahaha!) The app comes with several customizable “parts” for you to make your pupster your own. See that little guy above? His name is Haxterry (get it?), and while I think the bro would probably flip his lid if I actually tried to dye Daxter purple, with this virtual guy I can go nuts. Plus, this little guy is way more talented than either of my lazy mutts are:

Yup. This dog is a ninja. NBD.

As tends to be the case with most free apps, it comes with a small selection of customization and trick options to begin with, and then provides additional items that you can purchase. Personally, I see myself opening this app anytime I need a laugh throughout the workday. The reactions when you “pet” your Cube Dog are pretty great, and the clarity of the app make it look really sharp. The coolest feature is definitely the ability to take a photo of your “pup” in real time, using the actual camera on your phone. Here’s Haxterry chillin’ out at the foot of my bed:

Baaaahahahaha. And while I can’t say that an app like this will ever come close to having the real thing, it’s fun nonetheless.

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In the spirit of integrity, I do have to say that this is the kind of app that I would probably phase in and out of enjoying. Like, I’d play around with it for a day or two, then forget I had it, then after a while I’d see it hanging out in a folder on my phone and the cycle would begin again. Maybe it’d be more perpetually engaging if you could feed and take care of your Cube Dog. You know, to feel more engaged? Like a Tamagotchi! Hahaha. But hey, it’s a free app, and if you’re like me and always need to have some kind of procrastination fodder available on your phone, it’s a great one to kill time with!

If you’re curious to learn more about the (I reiterate: free!) app, check out Cube Dog on Facebook (where they’ll be running a fun contest between June 13th and 17th!) or watch the following vid:

While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

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Posted on Apr 19, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food, Recipes | 16 comments

Updating My Traditions

 

 

Thank you to Log Cabin for sponsoring my post about updated traditions in my household. To learn more about Log Cabin Syrups (which are all free of High Fructose Corn Syrup), breakfast for dinner, and other new ways to update traditions in your home, click here. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

 

 

 

If any of you loverly readers out there have perused the sidebar of my blog, you’ll see that under my shining face is a li’l mini-bio of yours truly complete with the word “Whasian.” For those of you who are unaware, “Whasian” is a portmanteau (check out that word usage!) term for people of combined Caucasian and Asian heritage. For example:

White (like my Oregonian Father):

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Plus Asian (like my Chinese Mama):

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Equals Whasian:

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The first photo is of my siblings, myself, and our equally Whasian cousin. Naturally I tried to pick photos that highlight my “mix” the most. Since, you know, I currently look like this:

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True story: When my family and I went on a cruise vacation after my Freshman year of college, the boat photographer thought that I was Ben‘s GIRLFRIEND, not his sister! Augh! Gross! The humiliation!

ANYWAY. Growing up, my mom would make us fantastic, home-cooked Chinese meals that she had learned from her mother, that her mother had learned from her mother, and so on, and so forth. Tradition is a HUGE part of Chinese culture, and it also happens to play a big role on Pop’s side of the family tree as well. It’s always been important for me to try and incorporate traditions of both sides of my family into my daily life.

Fully inspired by both my Chinese and Caucasian heritage, I offer you…

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Sweet ‘N’ Whasian Tofu
Print this recipe!

This was a brand new recipe for me because until Sunday I have the added challenge of making everything I ate vegan as well, but I think it still definitely embraces its purpose. It’s a healthy, vegan update of one of my mom’s most famed and delicious traditional dishes, Sweet and Sour Pork! Her traditional recipe includes pork butt (heehee) and a sauce that includes a good deal of sugar. I added in some good old fashioned American touches by way of Vermont (maple syrup, a lower calorie sugar alternative) and even good ol’ Oregon in the form of grapes (channeling those Willamette Valley wines!) and a few berries (of the blue variety.)

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Sauce:

2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup (normally I would have used organic ketchup, but I was lazy and didn’t want to go to the store, hahaha.)
1 tsp corn starch or flour (I used whole wheat flour)
Salt & Pepper

Whisk sauce ingredients together. Set aside. Ta-da!

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Main Dish:

1 block extra firm tofu
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup edamame
1 cup red grapes
1/4 cup blueberries

Press your tofu. You can either do this with a tofu press, which I obviously don’t own, or by putting the block of tofu in between two heavy things lined with paper towels, with more heavy things on top.

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See, Laura? I’m already putting my birthday wine to good use! 😉

After the tofu is even firmer and a lot of the moisture has been pressed out of it, cut it into adorable little cubes. Chopping tofu is so fun! If you like, you can throw a quick little marinade over it in a bowl – I did 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to let the flavor really soak in.

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Then toss into a sauté pan, heated to medium heat with the oil of your choice (I used coconut.)

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I’ve found the secret to really great tofu is to let it sit and cook long enough until it starts to really brown. Mm-mmm. Next step is to toss in the veggies (but not the fruit!)

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Remember that sauce we set aside? Add it, yo!

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Let the sauce simmer and sizzle and reduce until it’s all delicious and thick and nom-tastic.

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Finally toss in the grapes and bluebs, then dish it out! I served up mine on a half-cup of quinoa, so I guess you can add another dimension of America (as in, South, get it?) in for this dish, hehehe.

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Consume with chopsticks or fork, at your leisure. 🙂

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It turned out great! Sweet, savory, a little sour and totally delicious. Success! What are some ways that you’ve updated some family traditions of your own?

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Posted on Apr 13, 2011 in Dear Diary | 25 comments

What’s Your Spring Celebration Announcement? (GIVEAWAY!)

 

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly as part of the Clever Girl Collective.

 

Birthdays always get me nostalgic. I think that turning another year older just gets those memory wheels a-turning, and I’ve found myself thinking about past birthdays a lot these past few days. I don’t have a ton of happy memories of this time last year, to be honest. I wasn’t in a particularly happy place then, so it makes sense. But it makes me a little sad now to think of what a sad state things were in then. Aside from getting Daxter around this same time last year, things weren’t really so great.

Early April 2010

A year ago, I was very overweight. I was stuck in a job that made me absolutely miserable and had little else going on in my life so I took out my anger and frustration the only way I knew how: on my body. I stuffed my stomach full of fat-laden fast foods and sugary sweets on a regular basis, channel surfed as my sole form of exercise, and was honestly pretty depressed. Things only got worse from there, too: Steve and I went through a fairly serious hiccup in our relationship over the summer, a 12-week old Daxter had a freak accident and spent 3 days in an oxygen cage at the Doggy ICU (he very nearly died), and I started withdrawing from friends and social events. Even causes for celebration, like Mothers Day and my best friend’s wedding, were not the joyous occasions they should have been. In photos I might have been smiling, but each experience was tainted by unhealthy living and my poor self-image (and frankly, poor physical image, too. I was at least 75 pounds overweight, for cryin’ out loud!)

Mother’s Day 2010

Bethany‘s Wedding, May 2010

It’s been one year since then, and it’s been even less time than that since I began this weight loss journey and took control of my health (and my life!) In this one measly little year, things have turned around completely. I feel like my life has taken a 180, and the 50 pounds I’ve dropped since then are honestly just gravy!

January 2011 – Cruise Vacation

When I try to answer the question, “What’s Your Spring Celebration Announcement?”, I realize that I can’t even identify a singular thing I’d want to announce, because there are just so many! You would all be getting about a trillion announcement cards, celebrating everything from the average third-grader I’ve lost in weight to the healthy relationships I’m in with the boyf, my family, my friends and, arguably most importantly, my self.

My 22nd birthday at Zaytina with my family last year.

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Celebrating my 23rd birthday at Founding Farmers this past Monday!

I am so happy to know that in the future when I’m looking back at photos from this year’s birthday celebration, I will be able to remember being legitimately happy. Because I am, right now, really, truly happy. And while my journey isn’t quite over yet, I feel like I already have so much to celebrate!

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I know it sounds super cheesy, but I honestly am so excited at the thought of being able to chronicle my journey in a photo book. My sister has made some really awesome photo books in the past with wedding photos, vacation photos, and one year she did one as a Mothers Day present for my mama. It has been my intention from the beginning to do the same thing with my weight loss journey once I get to the end.

This process, this lifestyle change I’m embracing, I don’t want to forget it. I don’t want to forget the low points because they were instrumental in bringing me to my current high point! Photo books are a fantastic, tangible way to see memories, progress, and change. And it’s not like I don’t have a plethora of photographic evidence of this journey to utilize, right? 🙂 The fun news for you is… that I want one of you amazing readers to be able to do the same!! Welcome to my very first giveaway EVARRRRRR!

Giveaway: Win a free 8×8″ hardbound photo book from Shutterfly!

Create your own personal hardbound celebration of something momentous happening in your life this Spring! Are you graduating this May? (Graduation Announcements) Or do you have a little Spring bun in the oven perhaps? (Not that I’m biased or anything, but April babies are the BEST!) (Birth Announcements) Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve simply gone through a lot of personal growth. Don’t shortchange yourself — that is most definitely a serious cause for celebration!!

There are three ways you can enter (do all 3 for more chances to win!):

1. Leave a comment telling me what you’re celebrating this Spring!
2. Tweet about this giveaway, then comment that you tweeted! Be sure to link my Twitter handle  and back to this post! Here’s an example you can to copy/paste: Check out this giveaway from @shrinkinggretch and enter for your chance to win a photo book from #shutterfly! http://tinyurl.com/3n2krat
3. If you have a blog, post about this giveaway to your readers, then comment with the URL. If you don’t have a blog, you can still have a third entry by sharing on Facebook. Be sure to comment and let me know you did!

You can do any one of these things, or all three if you like! I will be selecting a winner via random number generator on Friday, April 15th.

Are you a blogger, too? Click here to register for a chance at 50 free announcements!

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Eeeee! This is so fun! 😀

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