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I'm a runner with a baking habit.  I'm constantly on the lookout for awesome desserts, freezer friendly recipes to pack in the lunchbox, and quick dinner ideas.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thai Sweet Potato Noodle Bowls

This recipe had me at sweet potatoes.  And then I found out about the almond butter and coconut milk and was on my way to the store for the ingredients faster than you can say obsession.

It was also a chance to break out the spiralizer.  I put off getting one for a long time (more gadgets=less kitchen space) before finally breaking down and forking out $25 for this one.  So what should you do if you don't have a spiralizer?  My vote would be to chop the potatoes into thin matchsticks.  It won't be as entertaining as stir frying endless orange spirals, but it will get the job done and get you a good lunch.

The noodle bowls are good hot or cold.  I usually eat the first serving hot, and then barely heat the leftovers.

Yield: 4 servings
Recipe from: Cooking Light 

  • 14 oz extra-firm tofu
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • Olive and sesame oil for frying
  • ½ cup canned light coconut milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons red thai curry paste
  • 1 lime
  • Cashews for topping


 Slice up your tofu (more info about how I prep tofu here).  The original recipe had just 8 oz of tofu, but grocery stores in my area sell it in 14 oz blocks, so I was happy to up the amount (c'mon I know it's Cooking Light, but how many calories does tofu have anyway?)

Place tofu between layers of paper towels and two cutting boards and weigh it down with whatever canned goods you have on hand for about 20 minutes.

Next stop: sweet potatoes.

 Peel and slice the ends off.

Pop one end on the spiralizer.

Spike the other end.


Keep cranking.  As you become buried in sweet potato spirals, you may doubt the initial claim that this recipe only makes four servings.

The spiralizer will leave you with a few scraps, I chop these into small pieces and cook them up with the spirals.

I tried to spiralize a bell pepper once, and it ended badly.  Someday I'd like to try again, for now I'll settle for dicing.

It's action time.  Heat up a few spoonfuls of olive oil with a few drops of sesame oil.

Pan fry the tofu in batches, a few minutes each side to get a nice tan.  Set aside when finished.

Meanwhile, whip up the sauce.

Grease the tablespoon for ease of detaching the almond butter.

Whisk the coconut milk, ¼ cup water, and almond butter until smooth and combined.  What to do with the rest of the can of coconut milk...portion off the leftovers into half cup servings and freeze until needed.

When it comes to curry paste, I take the term "tablespoon" very liberally.

 If you're new to curry paste or don't have a spicy palate, you may want to take the measurement literally or even conservatively.

Add the red pepper to the pan you cooked the tofu in.

Load in the sweet potato noodles and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Saute for five minutes or so, add ¼ cup water, and cover the pan.

Give them another five minutes to soften and cook down.

Pile on the spinach.

Stir until it wilts.

Pour on about half of the sauce.

Drizzle lime juice on top.

Portion out the bowls and drizzle on the rest of the sauce.  Top with cashews and chomp.

I don't know why the sweet potatoes made a frowny face, maybe because they were about to get eaten.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Weekly Eats - Monday Nov 6 - Sunday Nov 12

A weekly round up: what we ate, worked out, watched, and read

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Avocado Management: how to make them last for more than one serving

I've lost track of the number of times that I've heard someone say "I love avocados, but I never eat them because they go bad so quick".  This statement pains me to the core, because this used to be me.  I used to live in a world of low avocado consumption because I didn't know how to halt their tragic aging process from glorious green to darkest black.  But then, thanks to advice from my mother and a few searches on the internet, I figured it out.

Today's post is a Public Service Announcement that you too can have avocados in your life.  Let's take a look at how to get serious mileage out of your avocados.

First, let's talk about some popular methods that I don't use:
  • Coating the leftover portion with lime or lemon juice and storing it in a sealed container.  In theory this is supposed to halt the oxidation.  In practice this is the best way I know of to waste both a lime and an avocado. Real life results: F-. You've seen me add lime juice to guacamole, but this is for taste, not preservation.
  • Coating the leftover portion with oil and storing it in a sealed container.  In theory this is supposed to add a barrier against oxygen.  In practice I've found that this makes a mess and doesn't do anything to stop the browning.  Another F-.
  • C'mon, a little browning never hurt anyone.  Man up and ignore it.  I love this take on avocado management, but my inner picky child doesn't want to sit down to a plate of browned out avocado.
Now, let's talk about what does work:
  • Leave the pit in the unused portion and wrap in saran wrap.  Eat up over the next few days, taking care not to detach the pit from the unused portion.  How many is a few days?  My personal best is six days.
  • Plan B if this approach isn't for you or if you can't find a ripe avocado when you need one.  Holy Guacamole 100 calorie packs are a decent substitute.  I don't like them for avocado toast, but they're great on burrito bowls and tacos.
Let's put this into practice and review a recent avocado toast week: four servings in four days.

Day 1: get up dark and early.  Slice into a brand new avocado.

Admire the green goodness.

Leave the pit in the unused portion.  Wrap in saran wrap and tuck away in the fridge.

 Egg up.

Toast up.  Thinly slice avocado in the shell.

Lightly squeeze the shell to extract the avocado.

Tap on a dusting of onion powder.

Add egg.

Day 2: oh no!  The dreaded browning.  Whatever will we do?

Answer: cut off the portion that you're going to eat.  Note that the new cut reveals pristine green.

Slice off the microscopic brown portion and ta-da, you have perfectly good avocado underneath.  Rewrap the unused portion and send it back to the fridge.

Dig into to the eggy avocado zen.

Day 3: oof, way brown on the outside.  Still emerald green on the inside.


Day 4: the pit finally comes out.  Battle scared on the outside.

Still emerald green once the outer layer of brown is removed. 

After three straight days of avocado toast, it's time to mix it up.  How about an avocado,  sausage, and cheddar scramble?

Dear avocado, thank you for your service.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Chicken Salad

Oh my goodness you guys, this was one busy summer.  My special someone and I took a special step, and on the other side of happily ever after it was time to sell the Birchwood Mansion.  I haven't decided what to do about the blog's name yet.  On one hand I didn't change my name so maybe it makes sense not to change the blog's name, but on the other hand the Birchwood Pie Project is no longer coming to you from Birchwood Street.

The Birchwood Mansion wasn't hard to sell (good market, desirable location, etc) but man it was a lot of work.  Every weekend I went out for a long run and then headed over to Birchwood to take care of maintenance and moving stuff.  Yep, just because you don't live there anymore the lawn still grows.

But it wasn't all drudgery.  Along the way, I revisited my chicken salad skills.  There's nothing wrong with the recipe that I posted back in the day, but I was in the market for something new.  I kept honing my skills until I found a worthy tried and true version that I could whip up after my runs and dig into before heading over to my other house.

The changes: I halved the recipe since chicken salad doesn't have a long shelf life, and eliminated the walnuts to free up more calories for mayo.

Yield: enough for 4-5 sandwiches
Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen

  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 tablespoon onion or shallot
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chicken salad begins with...chicken.  Get yourself two cups of chicken meat using your method of choice.  For me, it's my go to poaching method.

While the chicken is cooking, head out to the garden and help yourself to plenty of fresh dill (these plants were transplanted from the amazing volunteer dill crop that grew year after year in the Birchwood gardens, a living link between my old home and new one).

What do you do if you don't have a garden or if it's winter?  Easy, grab a generous pinch of dried dill.  Sure, it won't have that special garden magic, but it's still pretty darn good.

 Dice up the dill.

Dice up some celery.

 Start building the salad.  Mix the celery, dill, cranberries, and vinegar.

Add the chicken.

And oh the creamy goodness of the mayo.  The days when I saved calories by using light mayo and light sour cream are long gone...these days I go for the good stuff only with full fat mayo.  But there's still a fine line between just enough and too much.  I always start with 6 tablespoons (that's half of ¾ cup from the original recipe) and add a dash more if needed.  Take a taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Load it up on a sammie.

And eat away.