Well, I’ve been out of touch! Sorry about that. A lot has happened since the last post. I’ve started my new job in the medical ICU. It’s quite a change…. and quite a challenge… but I’m definitely happy. It’ll take some time for me to feel fully comfortable in my new role but I suppose that is to be expected with any new job.

I’m still sort of recovering from the marathon with a bum knee. The aching waxes and wanes, and I’m confident it’ll disappear one of these days. But it’s not stopping me from exercising although I’ve drastically reduced my mileage for the meantime.

Fall and winter are my favorite seasons for fashion. I’m dying for some skinny cords like these. Also, these boots and these boots make me swoon. I could spend all afternoon posting links to things I want to buy but won’t buy.

What’s up with you guys?

Two days ago it was almost seventy degrees in Chicago. Today? It’s in the thirties. You gotta love Chicago weather. It keeps us on our toes! With even chillier days ahead, I anticipate turning to indulgent food to keep my tummy warm (in moderation, of course). I’ve been cooking a lot these days and I want to share some of my recent favorite indulgent recipes. 

1) The Pioneer Woman’s spicy stewed beef.  Ok. This recipe was a serious hit with the man in my life, and I think it would be with the man in yours, too. It’s definitely a cowboy dish at heart with the hardy red meat but who’s to say a girl can’t like it, too? I loooove chipotle in adobo. I just love it. I need more of it. I do add a little bit of chulula to make this meat dish extra spicy because the Walkers like to bring the heat. Also, The Pioneer Woman made cheese grits as the base of this dish. I opted for the easy and slightly healthier parmesan cous-cous. Near East brand. Buy it. It’s like the adult version of kraft mac & cheese.

2) From Allrecipes.com down east pumpkin bread. I’ve been making this for several years now. I guarantee this tastes exactly like Starbucks pumpkin bread. It’s dense. It’s moist. It’ll clog your arteries. One trick for this pumpkin bread recipe is that you can substitute unsweetened applesauce for the vegetable oil in a 1:1 ratio. It truly doesn’t change the flavor or the moistness and it becomes a much more reasonable afternoon snack on a cold, snowy November day.

3) The Pioneer Woman’s chicken tortilla soup. I wish, right now, that I was wearing those aforementioned skinny cords with a chunky turtleneck sweater and those Frye boots sitting on my couch slurping up this soup while a dusting of snow covered the ground outside. Is there anything more winter than that visual? I made this soup over the weekend but instead of a trendy outfit I was probably in my uniform of yoga pants and a sweatshirt (cute).  And it was seventy degrees and rainy. Anyway, this chicken tortilla soup hits the spot and satisfies without a guilty aftertaste. I did make a couple tweaks to the recipe. I added corn to the soup and omitted the various toppings. I kept it simple with avocado and plain old tortilla chips atop the soup. I’ll definitely be making it again… but not for a while… because we’ve now had leftovers for three days in a row. 

4) How Sweet Eat’s favorite sweet potato fries. Have you jumped on the sweet po fry bandwagon? If not, then you are totally off of your rocker. And you know what’s a great arm work out? Cutting through a thick sweet potato with a dull knife. Not that I would know.  I love How Sweet Eat’s suggestion of placing a wire cooling rack on the baking sheet and lining up the frites prior to baking; it allows the fries to cook on all sides so that they have a nice crunch all around. Genius. You know what else is a great arm workout? Scrubbing the bejeezes out of the baking sheet because you didn’t line it with aluminum foil and the sweet po drippings have hardened. Not that I would know about that either. Just do yourself a favor and make sweet po fries if you haven’t already.

5) ValSoCal’s Greek meetballs with orzo. I’m convinced that the cinnamon in these meatballs is what makes them amazing and Greek-y.  And feta cheese? Maybe one of the best cheeses ever. Ground turkey is a nice alternative to red meat and turkey is always appropriate in November. Mmmmm.
I feel like I should share a couple of original recipes with you guys. Except my own dishes are so simple they don’t even require recipes. When I make dinner sans recipe it consists of a seasoned lean meat, rice/cous-cous/quinoa and steamed broccoli. To be honest, that is the menu most nights at the Walker abode. But I do really enjoy following recipes and making new things… I just don’t want to stretch our waistlines. In fact, I’m all for shrinking the waistline. Easier said than done. My next venture in the kitchen? Butternut squash.

Drool of the day? Chex Mix Muddy Buddies. Aka puppy chow, which I haven’t had in years. I didn’t even know this existed until I saw a friend post a picture on instagram. This is no where near happening. Not even going there. Just doing a little healthy drooling.

is there anything better than puppy chow?

And there you have my tidbits for this chilly Tuesday afternoon. Hope that all of you are doing well and staying warm. Cheers. 

xoxo, lw