Two Lives, One Lifestyle

Aunt Laurie’s Rainbow Chard + Bacon by Katie
September 12, 2010, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Grilling

If anyone’s keeping track (we have at least  two regular readers!), Kelli nor I have exactly been on top of this whole blog thing.  There are a lot of updates I want to make but basically anytime I’m in front of the computer I feel obliged to do job search related things.  Then it just got overwhelming how behind I was and I stopped updating at all.  Give up because there is too much to do? Doesn’t sound like me.  Well I got the push I needed.  Last night there were plans for dinner at my Aunt Laurie’s house and around 3 she called.

Laurie: “Hey, what are you doing?”

Me: “Applying to jobs and chasing flies around the house with McSchultz.”

L: “Okay well make sure you bring your camera tonight.”

Me: “Alright… why??”

L: “Because you have a blog you’ve been neglecting and I have beautiful chard!”

It’s true.

Cooked up with some onions and bacon, topped with pine nuts. Please enlarge that picture. Everything is better with bacon!

It was yet another example of how delicious simple and fresh can be with a few ingredients.

Actually, the whole dinner was just that- simple ingredient lists and incredible flavors.  Roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary and chives, roasted broccoli with pickled peppers, roasted beets, grilled pork tenderloin, and skillet cornbread.  Oh have I mentioned Laurie is a good cook?? And shout-out to Uncle Scott’s grill skills.

Thank you for the photo opp, great dinner, and encouraging me to get back on the blog!

Greens and Beans by Katie
August 23, 2010, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Katie

Simple, cheap, healthy, fast, filling, delicious. You could say this is some sort of wonder food.  I was not a fan as a kid but I’ve discovered a new found appreciation.  Ready?

Chop a head of escarole into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a 1/4 cup of good olive oil and a few cloves of chopped garlic over medium heat.

Add the escarole, cover the pan, and let it wilt, stirring pretty often for about 10 minutes- basically until everything is a nice bright green (as you cannot see in the picture below- not much light over the stove!).  Then add a can of cannelini beans or chickpeas- whichever you love.

Stir everything together and remove from the heat.  Let the flavors marry for a bit and eat up!

It makes an excellent side dish or a cheap meal in itself.

The Spaghetti of Mexican Food by Katie
July 26, 2010, 2:04 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Katie

John’s favorite meal when we go out is a big plate of cheesy enchiladas.  Since my mom had never made enchiladas and I learned to cook mostly from her, by default I assumed they were complex.  I reserved them as a indulgence worthy of a restaurant trip (we rarely ever went out to restaurants growing up, it’s pretty impressive on my mom’s part now that I realize what cooking every night after work and driving around 3 kids would take).

Anyway, tangent over.  Enchiladas are to “Mexican” food as spaghetti is to “Italian” food in terms of  easy pantry items.  All you need are tortilla shells, meat or beans, cheese, and enchilada sauce.  Just like spaghetti sauce, you could make your own more time-consuming enchilada sauce.  However, many jarred enchilada sauces have the same minimal ingredients as tomato sauce.

First, cook some chicken. This could be done ahead and then marinated in a bit of enchilada sauce.  Use a little thinned out (add water) sauce to coat the bottom of a baking pan.  Then, roll a bit of chicken with a tiny sprinkle of cheese in a tortilla and place seam-side down in a pan.  Cover with the rest of the sauce and sprinkles of cheese.  Put it in the oven.  Since the chicken is pre-cooked, decide when the cheese is melted and bubbly enough for you.

Making enchiladas at home where you can control the amount of cheese and oil makes them infinitely healthier than most restaurants.  Unless your home is with Paula Dean. I used a few tablespoons of guacamole and Greek yogurt (sour cream) to finish mine off.

On the side I made black beans.  I saw some delicious looking black beans at the Whole Foods hot bar recently and instead of buying them, read the ingredient list. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 can black beans
  • few shakes of chili powder
  • ~1 tsp of cumin
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion, sauteed
  • 2 Tbsp chopped jalapeno, seeded and sauteed
  • 1/8 c. orange juice

I brought it to a boil and then reduced it to medium to simmer.  The orange juice is what I remembered from the WF ingredient list- it gave the beans a really nice citrus sweetness!

John said that the meal looked like it was from a restaurant which I took as a great compliment!  So glad I have leftovers for lunch too!

Tomatoes and Rice by Katie
July 21, 2010, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Cravings, Dinner, Family, Grilling, Katie, Original Recipe

Simple, straightforward name for a simple dish.  This was my all-time, hands-down, ultimate favorite dish growing up.  I still love it, though I find it tough to decide on a single favorite now.  Outside of my family, I don’t know anyone or anywhere that eats this so let me know if you have because we are probably soul mates.

The steps are simple enough: find good tomatoes and dice them.

Then cover the tomatoes in Italian Dressing and refrigerate.

To make it “perfect” use Wegmans Parmesan Italian Dressing.  But of course with Wegmans far away from me, I can’t always achieve perfection.

The Newman’s Own just did not have enough zesty flavor for tomatoes and rice, though I like it in a salad context.

While the tomatoes marinate and chill, make white rice.  Another key to tomatoes and rice is white rice.  I prefer brown rice for just about anything else except this.  It’s the childhood favoritism coming out.

Finally, cover the hot white fluffy rice with the cold marinated tomatoes.  Enjoy.

To really live it up, have some grilled zucchini on the side.  This was my requested birthday dinner for many years (until I discovered Mexican food and margaritas).

The zucchini was marinated in ground pepper, salt, balsamic vinegar (nice caramelizing), and a really small touch of oil.

What would your “birthday meal” from childhood be?

Mango Fish Tacos by Katie
July 9, 2010, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Grilling, Katie

Up front, let me apologize about using my BlackBerry for these pictures.  My camera batteries were charging and I had to take some pictures.  This dinner was so easy, delicious, and great for summer since there was no stove or oven usage.

There is a little cafe in Fort Collins with fish tacos that I’ve become borderline obsessed with. I could eat them for lunch daily.  Since that would get expensive, why not figure it out on my own?

First, I made some guacamole- I think that part is self-explanatory? Avocados + tomatoes + garlic + cilantro + spices.  Then into the fridge it went for flavor marrying purposes.

Next, I made a simple marinade a la Bobby Flay with oil, lime juice, chili powder, and a jalapeño.  I placed a mahi-mahi filet in the marinade and turned on the grill.

After 15 minutes of marinating, the fish went on the grill until the flesh was solid white in color.  This was my first time grilling fish- not too shabby.

Then, John warmed up some corn tortillas on the grill and we topped them with flaked fish, mango salsa (mango, corn, peppers, black beans, garlic… it was made the other day), and guacamole.

Perfect flavor combination!  And since the grill was used, cleaning up was simple. More time to enjoy some porch wine in this perfect 75* weather.

PS- If I were to make this for Kelli, imagine it with shrimp. I do believe shrimp, guacamole, and mango make her top ten favorite foods ever list.

The Beef with Fat by Katie
June 30, 2010, 1:00 am
Filed under: Dinner, Katie

As I mentioned, I’m staying with my “aunt” in Denver for the time being.  I don’t know exactly when and what I’ll be cooking or taking pictures of, but I’ll be here!

In the interim as I figure out my life- no big deal or anything- this is a picture of a very nice (expensive) steak I bought at the Highland’s Farmer’s Market.  It was local, grass-fed, no hormones or antibiotics, etc.  All those details that make a food-and-nutrition-loving girl swoon.  I totally see at this price point why beef would be less of a necessity and more of a special occasion deal.  It was a bit chewier than the usual stuff but since I knew the grass feeding was to blame, it didn’t seem like a compromise.

John cooked it while we were house-sitting and he seasoned and grilled it to perfection.  Topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms, it couldn’t have been simpler either.

Though the price might not be in my typical budget, it was interesting to try the grass-fed steak.  I would love to be able to always have this more naturally, humanely raised and slaughtered beef but my budget right now is, well, that of an unemployed former graduate student.  You can use your imagination there.

After all the environmental aspects, and hormone/pesticide contamination worries, and the general bacteria safety, let’s look at nutrition. [Tangent: does anyone ever call you a “hippie” because you are interested in your food source and nutrition?]  Did you know that when cows are raised while grazing naturally over many years rather than fattened on a corn-based diet that the meat is richer in the omega-3 fats than the old adversary, saturated fat?

A favorite fat- avocados turned guac.

I think the fat topic is so interesting because there are many people devoted to a low-fat diet, putting all fats in the same group and equating dietary fat to body fat.  It’s like saying “all beer is gross” without differentiating between Natty Light and Fat Tire. Hm, maybe that’s a bad comparison since both have a special place in my heart and palate.  How about… “movies are boring.”  You can’t lump chick flicks and action movies and documentaries together.  Some are once-in-a-while indulgences, while a few are favorites, and others nourish the mind (or body).  I’m thinking a blog-oriented bio lesson on fat metabolism is in store.  Any interest?

Note: I link to some science articles in my ramblings.  If reading science makes your brain turn off, skim to the last one or two lines of the abstract, which will contain the study results and conclusions!  If you want to chat or more info, email me.

Working It Out by Kelli
June 29, 2010, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Food, Kelli, Workout

Happy end of Tuesday!  I hope you all had a wondrous day.  Mine started out hot and sweaty with a workout in my  home made gym!  Here was my workout…

Warm Up

5 minutes on the treadmill @ 3.5 – 5.5 mph


Incline bicept curls- 3 sets of 12 with 8lbs weights

Tricept dips – 3 sets of 15 with my own body weight


5.5 mph for 1 min

7 mph 45 seconds

5.5 mph 1 min

7 mph 45 seconds

4.0 mph 1.5 minutes


Bent over fly – 3 sets of 12 with 8 lbs weights

Bent over row- 3 sets of 15 with 15 lbs weights

Repeat Previous Cardio


Chest Press- 3 sets of 10 with 15 lbs

Push ups- 3 sets of 10

Repeat Previous Cardio

Lunges and squats

8 minute abs video


The whole workout took me just over an hour.  When I was done I was sweaty and ready to dig into a delicious protein filled breakfast…

1 egg, 1 egg white scrambled with mushrooms and onions and hot sauce.  All served with a side of grapes.  My meal was enjoyed out on my back patio, which is quickly becoming my favorite place to enjoy breakfast while looking at my new back yard.

I have really been trying to cook healthy dinners that both the husband and myself like.  He is a pretty picky eater so it has been quite a challenge.  My new goal is to cook an actual dinner (find a recipe, shop for specific ingredients, etc.) twice a week.  If it is a dinner the husband likes he will be able to take for lunch the next day as well.  I will get him to eat healthier and save money!  WOOHOO!  Another goal I have is to spend $150 a week or less on ALL food.  That means groceries, dinners out, and I am even including lunches in that number.  I am confident that by planning ahead and shopping more efficiently I will be able to achieve this goal 🙂

Do any of you have money-for-food budgets?  How do you stick to them??

Dinner was a meal that is quick, easy, delicious, and healthy (4 of my all time favorite words!).

I mix broccoli, walnuts, some parmesan cheese, and about 2 Tbsp olive oil in a casserole dish and roast everything for about 30 minutes.  The broccoli comes out nice and crispy, the walnuts warm, and the cheese melted.  Serve over pasta or brown rice and you have quite a meal 🙂

Delicious, and best of all, MEAT FREE!