Sweet Potato Chips

I tried a new recipe last night:  Sweet Potato Chips.  We’ve been having delightfully cool weather this week, so I wasn’t concerned about turning on the oven.

I sliced the potatoes using our mandoline (careful to not slice off the tips of my fingers.  I don’t think Heather Finger Chips would taste good, no matter how much coconut oil and salt you put on them).  For the first batch, I laid down parchment paper as the recipe instructs, laid out a single layer of sliced potatoes, brushed coconut oil on both sides and salted both sides.  For the second batch, I put the potatoes directly on a cookie sheet and oiled and salted them. I put both pans in the oven at the same time.

The chips placed directly on the cookie sheet crisped up MUCH better than the chips on the parchment paper.  However, they had a tendency to stick to the pan, making them difficult to flip over.  So for the 3rd and 4th batches, I tossed the parchment paper, sprayed the pans with coconut oil cooking spray (which is really cheap at Trader Joes, FYI), and tossed them in the oven.  These batches turned out MUCH better – very crispy and pretty easy to flip over during the cooking process.

After the chips crisped up in the oven, I slid them onto a wire rack to cool.  The original batch that I made on the parchment paper seemed really under cooked once they cooled, so I put them back on a sheet and put them back in the oven.  They crisped right up, and turned out fantastic.

For my last batch, I added some chili powder and garlic salt to the chips.  Very good!

I had to cook each batch about 3-5 minutes longer than the recipe called for.  You have to keep a pretty close eye on these suckers.  The potatoes are sliced very thin, so they can go from perfect to burnt within a few seconds.

While this recipe is kind of a lot of work, we’ll definitely be making these again.  And by we, I mean me.  🙂  I’m not sure they end up being that much cheaper than Terra chips once you consider the costs of the food and the time, but these are much better for you.  Terra chips are cooked in canola oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.

I stored the leftovers in a Pyrex dish, and they are a little chewy this morning.  Maybe if I tossed them in the oven for a few minutes, they would firm up again?  If anyone has suggestions for how to store these to keep them crispy, let me know!

I’m all grows up

I had training in Minneapolis this week, and I could not find any loved ones to accompany me, so I had to go solo.  That meant driving 5.5 hours all by lonesome and navigating through some big city traffic to arrive at my destination.  I do not enjoy driving in general, and I especially detest driving in heavy city traffic, which abounds in Minneapolis.  I figured I better suck it up and get over it…so I did.

Fortunately the rental car company gave me a Ford Edge, replete with Sync and all sorts of comfortable amenities.  It was so nice to be able to plug in my phone and control everything with the massive touch screen in the car.  However, now that I see how nice cars CAN be, my sweet Fusion is starting to pale in comparison.  Sometimes I think the secret to contentment is not knowing what else is available – seeing the greener grass in all its convenient glory.  Anyway, I digress.  A friend of mine gave me the  Brief History of Time audio books, and after wrangling with my iPhone for a few hours, I finally figured out how to get the books loaded.  The books entertained me delightfully for the first 4 hours of the journey, when all of the sudden, the book started over at the beginning, right when I was learning about how the Earth is losing magnetism and how that might mean the end of the human race.  I really wanted to see how the story was going to end, so I was quite disappointed.  I evidently did not really figure out how to load the audio book on my phone.  I only figured out how to load a portion of the audio book to my phone.  Silly Hlo.  Anyway, I finished off the trip listening to the Robb Wolf Podcast, which was pretty entertaining.

The drive into the city was pretty uneventful.  I almost plowed over a car while taking an exit, but I DIDN’T actually plow it over, so all was well.  I checked into my hotel (a super nice Homewood Suites, well-equipped with full kitchen, king-size bed and ceiling fan), and set out to investigate the area.  I found a grocery store across the street, a Lululemon down the road, and a whole slew of restaurants – very nice area for a hotel.  I wandered through Lululemon, successfully talking myself out of buying $60 running shorts, then made myself a massive salad from the salad bar at the Rainbow Foods grocery store. I retreated to the hotel and was in bed by 9ish, wary of what to expect the next day.

The next day was actually really good.  I met and befriended the two other people in my class who were from out-of-town and promptly conscripted them to have dinner with me.  We had an excellent evening together despite horrible service and overpriced food.

The rest of the training went by well and quickly.  The instructor was amazingly organized and efficient and had a good read for when the class was starting to get disengaged.  It was definitely one of the better training sessions I’ve ever gone to.  One would hope that a Business Analyst Bootcamp would be well-run, since BAs are all about efficiency and taking care of the details, but I was  still pleasantly surprised.

By the end of the week I had made 2 new friends, learned how to write use cases, reconnected with a cousin I hadn’t seen in years, gained 2 pounds from eating lots of tasty food, ran 10 miles in total (and discovered a beautiful near-by trail thanks to our marathon-running class facilitator), faced my fears of driving in city traffic to venture to Trader Joes and my cousin’s, and finished two books (The Power of Now and Wool).  It was a very eventful week!  I’m actually glad that I ended up going alone because if I had gone with Tim or my mom, I just would have ended up staying in my comfort zone – hanging out with people I knew at places within walking distance.  It was a good learning experience, in more ways than one.

And now it’s back to work tomorrow.  I’m nervous about it, for some reason!  I feel as if I’ve been away a long time.  If it’s not too busy, I hope to review the notes from the class and update some of my templates and note a few things I want to implement.  I don’t just want to file the binder away and forget all the good tips I learned.

I wish you all a great week!  It’s beautiful here in Iowa.  I wish it would stay like this forever.

Lessons learned from the first 7 mile run of the season

Tim and I recently decided that we are going to run The Bix 7.  The Bix is an iconic 7 mile run that starts in downtown Davenport, shoots up Brady Street hill, winds through McClellan Heights, and then shoots back down Brady to finish by the QC Times Building.  We did the run last year for the first time.  We thought the race was too crowded (and people were not honest about where they seeded themselves, so we had to do a lot of dodging around slower runners) to do again.  But here it is a year later, and we have a hankering to do it again.

So far this year, my runs have been between 3 and 5 miles.  That’s my sweet spot – where I feel energized but not beat.  So we figured that we should do a full 7-mile training run to prepare for next Saturday (aka Race Day).  The run itself went really well.  Tim and I both finished strong.  However, as it’s been a year since I’ve ran that far, I forgot a few things:

1.  When you run sockless, you better put some baby powder or Gold Bond or something in your shoes.  Sweaty feet encased in sweaty shoes is no fun.

2.  When you are extremely sweaty, clothes rubbing against your skin is also no fun.   I didn’t realize it until I was done, by my tank top was chafing the tender skin on the bottom of my upper arm.  It’s amazing how stingy skin abrasions can be.  I bought a stick of Body Glide for use with the wet suit for the triathlon.  I’m going to have use that on race day.

The rest of my gear held up pretty well.  Evidently my running shorts are playing peekaboo with my cheeks though, so I’m going to have to get a new pair of running shorts before next Saturday.  I’ve been doing some research, and all the really highly rated ones are $50+, which is retarded.  I’m going to have to get a second job to fund my running habit.

Hope you have a great day!

Recipe Fail

I tried another new recipe this week, and I have to say, it sucked.   The recipe was for Zucchini Pasta with Avocado, Roasted Tomato & Bacon.  Sounds delicious, right?  That’s what Tim and I thought too.  But it wasn’t.  Not at all.  I think it was too lardy.  And the bacon was too limp.  Who wants limp bacon?  No one, that’s who.  Perhaps I made it wrong?  Anyway, I won’t be making this one again.

Next week I’m going to be in training in Minneapolis all week, and I’m already dreading what I’m going to feel like come Friday night. It’s so hard to eat well when traveling, especially when traveling alone.  Unless I work up the courage to befriend my classmates, I’ll probably be hitting up Chipotle for a burrito bowl-to-go every night.  I’ll need to stock up on Lara bars, beef jerky, and fruit so I have some healthy snacks in the hotel.  Otherwise I will for sure be eating a Snickers from the vending machine every night. Good thing Tim and I are doing the Bix 7 mile run on Saturday.  

And, that’s all I have to say.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately – about where to live, what do, how to make a meaningful, productive life.  I’m reading The Power of Now, which has gotten me thinking.  But I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, so I’ll hold my tongue, or my fingers or whatever.  In the meantime, all I will say is that I’m super impressed with myself because by using some internet sleuthing I was able to figure out how to get an audiobook onto my iPhone.  I’m a freaking genius.  

Porky Pasta

Hellloooooooo!  It’s Tuesday morning, and I have to go back to work today.  Bah!  Blurg! Tim had the day off yesterday, so I took it off as well and used some of the free time to do some experimental cooking.  My basil was going nuts, so I decided to make some pesto using this recipe.  It’s incredibly easy to make, especially with a food processor.  I left out the Parmesan to make the recipe more paleo, and neither Tim nor I noticed it was missing. I baked a spaghetti squash in the Nesco Roaster, shredded it up, topped it with some ground pork and then poured a sizable helping of pesto over the whole mess.  I stirred it well, added some salt and pepper, and wow.  Delicious.  Tim has named this recipe, “Porky Pasta,” which I think is funny.  I think this would taste great with some sauteed veggies (zucchini?) as well.  The recipe makes A LOT of pesto, so I poured the remainder into ice cube trays, covered each cube with a little olive oil, then pressed saran wrap into the cups and froze the tray.  This morning I’ll pop the cubes out and put them in a freezer bag.  Each cube should be about 2 T of pesto.  I’ve never frozen pesto before, so hopefully this works out well.  Pesto is too expensive to waste!!

I also tried a new Health-Bent recipe, Barbacoa Meatballs with Guac.  This was another insanely easy recipe.  You mix up an assortment of spices, add it to the meatballs, bake them, and you’re done.  The “guac” is a very simple recipe – avocado and lime juice and s&p.  The meatballs did turn out a little dry, but we found that drizzling them with olive oil took care of that problem.

And there you go – two easy recipes to try.  Hope you have a great Tuesday!