Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wheat Berry Enchiladas

Wheat Berry Enchiladas

For months I've been staring at the bag full of cooked wheat berries in my freezer. I keep moving them around watching the freezer burn slowly take over, but I had no idea what to do with them. I'm not even sure why I had them in the first place.

Then, I saw a wheat berry enchilada recipe in a cookbook. Brilliant.

I didn't follow the recipe, though. Instead, I took the lazy way out. I used random veggies from the produce drawer that I needed to use up and canned enchilada sauce. Sometimes winging it just works. Feel free to try any veggies you like or swap brown rice for wheat berries.

I was pooped anyway. My parents were out of town for the day and asked me to stop by to check on their dog, Hannah. She's had terrible allergies and has been on meds so they are nervous leaving her in her crate for too long.


How can you say no to a face like that? So, I took for a long walk around the block. My high school friend's dad even gave her a treat when we stopped to say hi.

That still didn't stop her from politely begging for a Pup-Peroni.


She didn't get one. I love Hannah. I didn't like her much as a puppy because I still missed my childhood dog, but she's grown on me. Now she's probably the most spoiled dog I've ever met. I can't wait to get a dog of my own.

Wheat Berry Enchiladas
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
3 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small zucchini, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup salsa
3/4 cup or so cooked wheat berries
salt and pepper to taste
8 small corn tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar
cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat a large skillet with oil over medium high heat. Add the vegetables and cook a couple of minutes until beginning to soften. Add the oregano, chili powder, cumin and garlic and cook until the vegetables completely soften — about 5 minutes. Stir in the wheat berries and salsa. Season if necessary.

Warm the tortillas according to package directions. Spread a little of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 cup of the vegetable/wheatberry mixture and roll up. Place seam side down in the dish and repeat until all tortillas are filled. Top with the rest of the enchilada sauce and the cheese.

Bake 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortillas are crispy. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Spanish Chicken and Rice

I'm procrastinating. I should go to the gym, but like always I find a zillion and one other things to occupy my time — like cleaning the bath tub, folding laundry, etc. Things that could wait and things that aren't enjoyable, but are apparently more enjoyable than exercise.

Some argue that housework is exercise. And it is, in the sense it's better than sitting on the couch watching TV. But, I don't think of it as a replacement for cardio or strength training.

As soon as I'm done with this, I'll go. I always feel better when I'm done. Plus, I've been doing really well this week with eating and exercise overall. I met my old coworkers from my last company at a local chinese takeout place for the lunch special. I skippped my egg roll and didn't even eat my whole entree. I was satisfied, but not stuffed. That's unlike me when chinese takeout is involved.

Even if the scale isn't as kind.. I'm just glad to have made progress with saying no when I know I'm satisfied. I think like lots of people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight, I'll eat just to eat or because it smells good or tastes good.

Last night's dinner definitely smelled good while it was cooking. It wasn't anything super special, but it tasted good. It was Spanish Chicken and Rice. It had so much going on with the peppers, onion, tomatoes, parsley and olives that it was hard to make it look as good as it tasted. It's one of those one pot meals that are good for busy weeknights.

I cooked my chicken and tented it while the rice cooked and added it back at the end to warm through because I use a thin chicken breast. But if it's thicker, definitely cook the chicken with the rice to get it to cook through.

Fried Rice

After I get back from the gym, I'll heat up the leftovers of this for a late lunch.. vegetable stir fry and snow peas, minus the egg roll. Just a basic fried rice recipe with mushrooms since I had some in the fridge. No real recipe. Just stir frying the veggies with ginger and garlic in some oil, cooked the egg.. added in the brown rice and doused with a little sherry, soy sauce, and sesame oil and cooked through.

OK. Seriously leaving now. No more excuses.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Staycation Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

Yesterday started off rough. I woke up at 4 a.m. sweating, with all the covers kicked off, and it was really stuffy in my bedroom. The air conditioning was on because my allergies have been bothering me, so I was really confused. Why was it so freaking hot? And you know that smell when you first turn on the furnace for the first time in the fall? That hot smell? Well, that's what it smelled like.

At first I thought I was dumb and switched on the heat instead of the A/C. That's something I would totally do. It did said it was on cool, but the thermostat also said it was above 85 degrees in the apartment even though it was set to 85. To make matters worse, hot air was blowing from my vents. Ugh. The A/C broke and because it was so hot, I couldn't fall back to sleep.

Luckily, maintenance fixed it yesterday while I was at work, but work was torture for my sleep deprived body. The good thing about being up so early, though, was that I got a yoga workout in. I guess when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

I wanted to get another workout in after work, but I was way too tired. Instead, I grilled up the hamburgers I put out in the morning. I wanted something I could grill without having to turn the stove or oven on — since I wasn't sure when they'd be able to fix my A/C.


It's nothing out of the ordinary.. just a burger with lettuce, ketchup, mustard and pickle relish. Just the way I like them. I also had a beer, because a.) I had a rough day and b.) I was on VACATION.

I woke up this morning with the sun streaming through my window. It really felt like I was on a vacation instead of just hanging out around town. To celebrate, I made buttermilk oatmeal blueberry pancakes. I used a Weight Watcher's recipe, but I'm not sure why I did. I never have much luck. These were OK, but not something I'd make again. Might be my fault because I only had old-fashioned oats. I ground them up, though, to make up for the fact they weren't quick cooking. It could have affected the outcome, truthfully. But in general, WW recipes don't usually work for me, and it's rare for me to make on of their recipes more than once.

I also altered the recipe by skipping the cherries and low cal syrup, threw blueberries in the batter and topped with real syrup.

Now, I'm off to wash my car and get a workout in. Then, I'm picking up the cupcakes my sister ordered for a tasting (she's having cupcakes at her wedding instead of wedding cake), going with her to meet with the florist, and spending time with my family while she's in town.

Question: Did you take a vacation this year? Where did you go?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Late Summer Chili

Late Summer Chili

It was beautiful today. Not overly cloudy and not too hot. In fact, we've had a cold snap recently. It barely reached 70 degrees on Sunday. It feels like the first taste of fall although it really hasn't been a hot summer.

It might be feeling like fall, but I have my "summer" vacation coming up this week. Tomorrow's my Friday already. If only every week could be this short :)

I'm really looking forward to some extra time off for rest and relaxation. Seems silly to be in only for two days, but these two days ended up being needed to finish up some things and set stuff up for my co-workers who are covering for me while I'm gone.

I spent most of my afternoon going over loose ends with my co-workers, actually and by the time I made it home I was STARVING. Since it's been so cool outside I've been craving soup. That's when I remembered seeing this chili and I knew I had to make it.

It's a beanless chili, which some argue is the correct way to make chili. What I loved about it, though, was that it was chock full of vegetables — zucchini, corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapenos. It was really hearty even though it lack beans and made the best of summer produce.

I used 93/7 beef to make it leaner and cut back on the oil. If you want to add beans, I think black beans would be good, but it doesn't need them in my opinion. It's delicious all on it's own. And, it made a GIANT bowl of chili, which I was definitely thankful for. I topped the bowl with pepper jack cheese and scallions and had a small hunk of corn bread on the side. Seriously good.

And now it's bedtime. Hopefully everyone had a great Monday!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rerun: Monterey Jack, Corn, and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Monterey Jack, Corn, and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

I've been on a corn kick lately. Friday's dinner was a repeat of an old favorite: Monterey Jack, Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto. This didn't come out quite as well this time as I normally does, but I didn't exactly spend the right amount of time stirring it. I was hungry, impatient and multitasking.

Oh well. Still pretty good. Read the original post for more detail.

Overall my weekend was really tame. I spend most of Saturday afternoon trying to find shoes to go with my sister's skirt I thought would be my size. It ended up being two sizes smaller than I thought it was, so I guess my search for shoes wasn't necessary. Now I need to find something else to wear to her bridal shower in two weeks. It's casual, but all I have is jeans, and I'm not sure I want to be that casual. It's a shower thrown by her future mother-in-law, so maybe it doesn't matter what I wear. Who knows.

Today was mostly errands and cleaning, but that's fine. I'm off work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a staycation of sorts. It's been a while since I took this much time off, so I'm looking forward to it.

Tonight I made grilled chicken with a two corn polenta for dinner. I didn't plan on making this, but after I thawed out the chicken I realized I was missing a main ingredient in the meal I planned to make. Oops.

Grilled Chicken with Two Corn Polenta

I grilled the chicken with Mrs. Dash Southwestern blend, but any grill seasoning or spice blend you like would work. The two corn polenta is something I made occasionally — usually in summer. I also ended up using the Mrs. Dash in the polenta, too, just to give it a little oomph. Chili powder, cumin and garlic powder would be a good substitute if you want to make it southwestern-flavored like I did. Or, just a pinch of red pepper, which I always use in polenta. I made two servings, but can easily be doubled.

Two Corn Polenta

2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water (I used chicken broth for flavor)
1/2 cup polenta or cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed or fresh corn cut off the cob
1/2 tsp or so Mrs. Dash
1 tsp butter or more to taste

Bring broth or water to a boil over high heat and slowly whisk in the polenta. Add salt and drop the heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes, or until the polenta starts to thicken up. Stir in corn, seasonings and butter and cook until butter melts and corn is warmed through — about a minute or two.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nothing fancy


Today's been sort of busy, but good. Work itself was quiet. Usually it's a madhouse when my boss is out, but it hasn't been this week. I'm sooooo thankful for that. And even the lecture on social media this afternoon was entertaining. It's really interesting to see what some companies are doing and how YouTube makes overnight celebrities out of people.

I'm still not sure I get the lure of Twitter, though. I have subscribed to one useful feed that I actually use for work, but other than that — not so much. I'm not sure my life is interesting enough to give a minute-by-minute update. Oh well. I guess I can never say never, right?

I squeezed in a super quick workout this afternoon because I told my mom's friend I'd help her with her Web site. It might over my head, though. I redesigned this site with trial and error so I'm sure if I play around with it I can get it to do what she wants. I work with Internet at work and know a few technical things, but I'm on the content side not the IT side, so my knowledge is limited.

Because I had to meet up with her my dinner was on the run — Quiznos. I had the veggie sub minus the cheddar and the dressing with an apple on the side. The photo's a little dark, but you get the idea.

I'm guessing the sandwich was about 350 calories, 14 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. I had it on whole wheat. I'm guessing the NI only because their Web site doesn't differentiate between the cheeses. I asked for just the mozzarella and to put just the amount of mozzarella they would normally put on it.

It was OK but not Earth shattering or anything like that. It was better than the veggie sub at Subway, though. Plus, I was craving guacamole and figured this was a better choice than Chipotle.

Then, after getting the details on my mom's friend's Web site, I went to Best Buy to purchase a new USB cord for my iPod shuffle. I am so happy to have something that works. The crappy docking station that came with it broke all by itself within 6 months and the dang iPod's batteries ran out. Good thing I checked the ratings on the docking station. What a rip. I ended up with a cord from some other company that works so much better! Now I can listen to my music when I work out instead of the '80s and '90s hits they blare in the gym.

What kind of music do you listen to when you work out? My iPod is all over the map. I've got Justin Timberlake and Amy Winehouse in there, but I also have tons of Kings of Leon, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Cake and Arcade Fire.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Black Bean Burgers with Corn Relish


I am so proud of myself today. Although my afternoon was busy and I couldn't get downstairs for a workout, I still ran today. I actually headed straight for the gym after work. Amazing and unheard of in my world.

I'm usually starving and tired, but today I really wasn't either of those things. And, I upped my mileage a smidge.. about a quarter of a mile, which with my slow pace is about 5 minutes give or take. I guess that's the advantage to going after work. I can take all the time I need.

I headed home and pulled together a quick dinner since it was getting late. Tonight was black bean burgers (of the Morningstar Farms variety) and put it on a whole wheat bun with a little corn relish I came up with. On the side was a salad with cukes, tomatoes and whatever relish didn't fit on the sandwich dressed with olive oil and vinegar. And a peach.

It was a bit of a Mexican fiesta today considering I had a whole wheat veggie quesadilla and black bean salad from the cafeteria's healthy meals today. Oh well. Lunch and dinner were MILES ahead of my craptastic dinner last night so I'm a happy gal.

Now off to have a fudge bar while the season premier of Top Chef!

Corn Relish
Serves 2

1/2 cup frozen corn thawed or fresh corn cut off the cob
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime and a drizzle of olive oil
salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and serve.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bombs of the month: Curry Crunch Salad and Pink Pad Thai

Pink Pad Thai

I'm wearing khaki pants I haven't fit into in more than a year. Makes my day happy, that's for sure! I'm confused, though. The scale says I haven't lost much weight but yet I'm down several sizes. My mom swears my scale is broke. Who knows. I'll enjoy the smaller size regardless of what the scale says.

Today was pretty much a blur otherwise. I'm exhausted and ended up heading down for an iced coffee mid-afternoon for a pick-me-up. Afternoon workouts do are better than coffee, but I had a 2 p.m. meeting scheduled, and I don't like to go over the lunch hour when it's pure insanity.

Keeping on the cold food on a hot day theme, tonight's meal was Curry Crunch Salad. And it was truly, truly awful. Inedible, truthfully.

It seemed like an interesting twist on a classic chicken salad. But holy cow a whole tablespoon of curry for two servings was just too much. I used regular plain yogurt instead of greek yogurt so that might have changed things some. It ended up being this bright yellow concoction — as if I made a chicken salad made with yellow mustard. The curry, tumeric and cardamom was so overpowering.

I didn't even bother taking a picture. I pretty much knew it would be bad just looking at it, and I was right.

That makes two meals destined for the trash can in a week. Last week's bomb is above: Pad Thai. It was supposed to be a veggie pad thai, but instead I'll call it Pink Pad Thai. The recipe didn't fail this time — I failed.

It called for tamarind paste, which I couldn't find. And in case you're wondering, yes, you really need to have tamarind paste. Leaving it out isn't really an option.

It's pink, by the way, because the purple cabbage bled out. But I suppose it almost looks good in spite of itself.

I usually don't like sharing when I crash and burn in the kitchen, but I seem to be on a roll with some freakishly colored food. Anyone else have a recent bomb of a dinner they want to share?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

It is so freaking hot outside. It's so hot I used the max air conditioning in my car while running errands yesterday. That's practically unheard of. I'm always cold, so if I'm actually hot enough to crank the A/C, it's because it's freakishly hot and humid.

I did head down to the gym downstairs this afternoon knowing I wouldn't want to go anywhere near the Y tonight. The YMCA is big on fans, but not so much on air conditioning. At least the work gym is as cold as the rest of my office building.

I was such a slug last week that it felt really good to jog again. I've been working toward a 5K, and I'm sure I could run the whole thing but I'm super slow. I don't have that kind of time in my work day so I usually work on speeding it up rather than working for distance. I've always been a slow runner but a few years ago I was able to easily run a 10 minute per mile pace. Now I struggle. I'm slowly but surely getting back there.

I hit up Costco on my way home and picked up a gigantic container of salad greens. It didn't cost much more than my usual small clamshell at the grocery store, surprisingly. So, considering the heat, tonight's dinner was a salad — Grilled Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Dressing.

It was good, but maybe not outstanding. It's the dressing I'm unsure about. It's similar to the lime vinaigrette from Newman's Own that I can't stand. The dressing on this salad, though, is tolerable. But I would say just tolerable is a good thing. Maybe I just don't like lime salad dressings. If you do, you'll probably like this. I liked the spiciness of it, at least.

The chicken, though, was the standout. I didn't let it marinade for the full hour.. maybe 20 minutes? But it was still really good. Just the right amount of citrus, smokiness and garlic. I would actually make this chicken as a stand alone without the salad bit.

I think this chicken would be really good for soft tacos or anything else where you might want a garlicky lime grilled chicken. Yum.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Grocery Store Sushi


Today was incredibly busy at work. Didn't surprise me, actually. My boss was out today. I can't figure out if this is what a normal day for him is like or if the universe likes to test my patience when he's gone.

Either way, there were moments where I wanted to throw things at my computer screen or bang my head against my desk. I just couldn't catch a break. I have faith tomorrow will go smoothly. Things were starting to fall in to place in the last 30 minutes of my day. Hopefully the trend will continue.

Meanwhile, my allergies were kicking my butt today. I know they're allergies — not a cold — because I'll feel like crap, then nearly normal, then like crap again.

Needless to say, I just didn't feel like cooking tonight. So, I stopped by the local health food store for brown rice sushi. Unfortunately, they were out. I have the hardest time finding brown rice sushi! None of the regular stores carry it.

I ended up with this spicy salmon roll. It totally hit the spot. I've been craving sushi lately.

My evening continued to get better when I FINALLY found the instructions to attach my bike rack to my trunk. I've searched high and low for the instructions for almost two weeks and found them in the least obvious place, of course. If it's not raining and not scorching, I'll go for a ride this weekend.

I'm pooped, so it's off to bed. Hope everyone has a good Friday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rerun: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

I needed to be working on a story this afternoon, but honestly, all I could think about was how the sinus drainage from my allergies might make me gag at any moment.

When I wasn’t thinking about the drainage, I was thinking about how the decongestants made my head feel like it was slightly detached from my body. Remember those cold medicine commercials where people’s heads turned into balloons and floated off their bodies? Well that’s how I felt.

Not to be complain-y (OK so that’s exactly what I’m doing), but my day started off poorly to begin with. I was on my way to work this morning when a car suddenly pulls from a dead stop out of the left-hand turn lane in my lane, which was a straight lane. No biggie, right? After my car accident in September when an uninsured driver (minus valid license, of course) changed lanes into my car without looking, I now expect people to make last minute lane changes without warning and without paying attention.

She then pulled up to the stop bar and stopped even though we had a green light. And it's not like it had just turned green. It was green before she even changed lanes. I guess changing from a turn lane with a red light to a straight lane with a green light confused her? So I honked.. long and loudly.. and yet, she didn’t move, forcing me to also stop. I was just about to go around her when the light turned red.

She was on her cell phone. That’s my pet peeve. People will go on and on for days about how they talk on their phones while driving and how they’re a safe driver and they’re not any more distracted than talking to a passenger, etc. No doubt she was in that camp. But there she was yakking away on her phone, oblivious to the color of the traffic light. She was lucky I pay attention when I drive. I know quite a few people who probably would have rear-ended her.

The whole event put me in a rotten mood.

Anyways…I’m stepping off my soapbox now and on to my eats. My dinner last night was not successful and wasn’t very good so it made for an equally unsuccessful and unappetizing lunch. That led me to inhale sandwich cookies from the vending machine AND a Larabar this afternoon.


Tonight’s dinner was a rerun of these black bean and sweet potato enchiladas that were every bit as good as I remember them being. I opened a can of black beans for my favorite southwestern salad this weekend and was left with more than half a can. This was the best way I could think of to use up the remainder.

The side view... get a look at that filling.

Serious deliciousness.

Salsa Verde
I cheat. No roasted chili sauce for me — it’s jarred salsa all the way.

The original recipe came from a gluten-free blog so it called for special gluten-free ingredients and included a homemade a roasted chili sauce. So naturally I adapted it to my lazy cooking style and used jarred salsa verde. It may not be roasted chiles, but it at least it’s still green.

After dinner, my throat was still sore and my head still pounding so before I knew it I was stuffing this generic knock-off of a Weight Watchers’ giant fudge bar in my mouth. I had a love/hate relationship with these. I love them because they’re fudgy goodness but hate them because they’re really just corn syrup and polydextrose (aka faux fiber). I don’t qualify them as a real food since ice cream does not have 5 grams of fiber, but occasionally I give in.

It wasn’t a day for model eating, but oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Adapated from Karina's Kitchen Serves 4.

15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 lime
2 heaping cups cooked sweet potatoes, smashed
4 ounce can diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt and black pepper, to taste
Salsa verde
8 small corn tortillas
shredded cheese monterey jack or pepper jack cheese
chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl combine the black beans, smashed sweet potatoes, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper.

Spread a little bit of the salsa in the bottom of 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Warm the tortillas according to package directions. Once warm fill a tortilla with about 2 tbsp of filling and roll it up. Place in the dish, seam side down and repeat until all the tortillas and filling are used.

Top enchiladas with more salsa and shredded cheese (amounts are up to you) and bake 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chicken with Edamame Corn Salad

Chicken with Edamame Corn Salad

My weekend was quiet, which was good. Monday's calendar is full of meetings. At least I have the leftovers from tonight's dinner to look forward to.

I first saw a version of this salad in Clean Eating magazine but I didn't know what I would eat with it. Then I saw Sautéed Chicken With Corn and Edamame and I really liked the idea of pairing is with simple chicken browned up in the skillet.

But I didn't really feel like bacon tonight so I boiled up the edamame and tossed the fresh corn in the water and let it sit off the heat for a minute to soften it up. I drained it and tossed in the red onion and dressed it with a little olive oil, rice vinegar and salt and pepper. It worked out really well.

Not much else happened today. Caught up with my sister, finished laundry and my mom stopped by to borrow my sewing machine. I lead such an exciting life. ;) I love lazy Sundays, though. After dinner it was just me and Bella chilling on the sofa catching up on the DVR.

(Bella loves being on the blog)

And now it's time for bed. Hope everyone has a good Monday!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mahi-Mahi Soft Tacos

Mahi-Mahi Tacos

I'm really rested this morning for a change. I helps that I fell asleep on the couch at 7:30 just after dinner. I woke up at 11 and went to bed but otherwise slept straight through until just after 6 a.m. I feel great.

Last night's dinner was actually just an egg sandwich. It's all I could handle before passing out. BUT I made these Mahi-Mahi Tacos last Friday. There's no real recipe. It's just Southwest Blend Mrs. Dash rubbed on the mahi mahi and seared. I'm usually not a fan of these seasoning blends, but these were really good! The blend would also be good on chicken, beef and roasted vegetables. I'll probably be using it again.

The real standout was the Pico de Gallo. I made it fresh. I've known how to make fresh salsa like this for years, but I rarely spend the time. In fact, fresh salsa was one of the first things I've ever made. In middle school we had Spanish-themed food days in Spanish class and I brought a fresh salsa from a Weight Watchers cookbook my mom had. It was very much like this Pico de Gallo, but Friday's salsa was a lot better. No question.

What was the first thing you remember making in the kitchen?

On the side was organic canned refried black beans which are not bad for you and surprisingly not horrible. I do prefer to make my own, but these work for nights I just don't feel like it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grilled Pork Chops with Maple Syrup Sweet Potatoes

Grilled Pork Chops with Maple Syrup Sweet Potatoes

I'm back! I've been at my parents the past few days dog sitting and tonight was my first full night back in the apartment. My only personal computer is a desktop and I forgot to ask what my parents' password to theirs was before they left. Oops.

I should definitely consider a laptop since this desktop is 6 years old, but even $400 seems like a lot to spend. I have plenty in savings.. but I have trouble parting with that much money. I suppose I could cut back somewhere else and patiently set money aside? Probably the best way to go, but it's still tempting to sock that money away. It's funny, though, what a difference a few years makes. I never used to be a saver.

Are you a spender or a saver?

Speaking of saving money, one of my new favorite places to shop is Aldi. Even in the 6 months I've been shopping there they've improved. More and more healthy options like whole wheat pasta and "fancier" items like bagged mixed greens are showing up on the shelves. And the pasta sauce I bought the other day actually had ingredients I could pronounce.

Over the weekend I picked up these pork chops for less than $3 a pound. I knew they were destined for the Grilled Pork Chops with Maple Syrup Sweet Potatoes I saw in a recent Real Simple.

Now, my sweet potatoes aren't nearly as perfectly grilled, but the rest came out great. The maple syrup added just a bit of sweetness to the potatoes, but not too much. Just the way I like it, actually. I cut back on the oil a bit, though, and compensated with high heat cooking spray. Otherwise it was as originally written.

A great dish for a quick summer meal.