August 13, 2022

VEGAN RECIPE REVIEW: Mexican Quinoa

It's been a while since I made this recipe, so hopefully I can remember my thoughts about it! Last weekend was a nightmare with the floor issue, so I didn't have time to write up the post. And just now, I had to search through my two week history to find the recipe--I couldn't find it anywhere. Thankfully, I'd pinned it on Pinterest and was able to find it that way. There are several recipes for something similar to this, but this one sounded the best to me.

The recipe I chose to review is One Pan Mexican Quinoa, which you can find on Damn Delicious. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post.) I love anything that I can cook in one pan! 

Like all of the recipes I cook and review, I made it exactly as written--except I forgot the cilantro. I'm not a big fan of cilantro, so that was fine with me. The ingredients were all pretty simple (another reason I chose this recipe): olive oil, garlic, jalapeño, quinoa, vegetable broth, black beans, fire roasted tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, lime juice, avocado, and cilantro.


You can tell, based on the ingredients, that it's probably going to taste like typical Tex-Mex food (which I love!). 

This recipe is pretty much TOO easy, and I almost feel guilty for posting it instead of something else I've made! I do cook a lot of new recipes (probably four a week?) because I love trying new vegan recipes--and it's especially fun to see if my family likes them. If they enjoy it, then it's probably something that anyone would enjoy!

I only took one picture as I was cooking this because it's so simple that there is really not much to share. First, you just heat the oil and cook the garlic and jalapeño for a minute. Then you add everything else to the pan, except for the lime juice and avocado (and cilantro, if I'd remembered to buy it).


Then you just bring it to a boil, throw on a lid, and let it simmer until the quinoa is cooked through. Then you add the lime juice and avocado, stir it together and serve! I love recipes that let you walk away from it until it's done cooking.

It looked really good when it was done...


I wished the avocado had been a little more ripe, but I couldn't find any riper ones at the store.

Overall, I thought it was really good! Like I said, it had the typical Tex Mex flavors. It reminded me a lot of my Beans & Rice recipe, which is a long-time favorite of my family. Since this recipe uses quinoa, it's definitely more nutritious; and I happen to love quinoa.

I wanted Jerry to try it because I knew he'd like it a lot (he loves my Beans & Rice), but he ended up eating leftovers instead. I couldn't understand it! The next day, I heated up leftovers of this quinoa and asked him to at least taste it. He'd never really eaten quinoa before, even though I've been cooking it on and off for at least 10 years.

Just as I thought, he loved it! He was very surprised to like it as much as he did and he said he thinks he actually prefers the quinoa over rice. So, Jerry has recently turned into a quinoa lover in addition to being obsessed with tofu. I still can't get over how much he loves tofu--haha! I know someone asked me for the recipe I used for the tofu that Jerry likes so much--it's the lemon pepper tofu from this website. I think the reason it's so good is because I use oil-based marinade (which is better explained in the recipe post). It's a VERY mild lemon flavor, so it's really versatile. I bake it a little longer so that it's very firm (not mushy at all). Jerry likes to eat it plain as a snack; I like to add it to bowls with grains and veggies and sauce or dressing. Anyway, this post isn't about tofu! Moving on...

(Okay, before moving on... I just realized that the lemon pepper tofu recipe I just linked to is actually from Plant Powered People--that's the podcast I just wrote about on Thursday!)

The kids are so busy these days and they weren't home to taste the Mexican Quinoa. I'm going to make it again and see how they like it--they really like the Beans & Rice and since this is so similar in flavor, I think they'd like it. The quinoa might make them decide that they don't like it even before they taste it, though ;)

This recipe was definitely a winner (at least for Jerry and me). I'm going to add it to my "favorites" book--yes, I print recipes and put them in a three-ring binder. I don't know why it bothers me to bring my computer in the kitchen and just use the website while I cook. I always scribble notes about our thoughts on it so that I know what we liked or didn't like and what I might change if making it again.

Now, I've got to go make dinner--it's been another long day! Both of my brothers came over and along with Jerry, they made some good progress in the bathroom (mainly rerouting the plumbing). If Brian is able to come over again tomorrow, we may have our bathtub/shower installed. Once that is done, we can work on building the new closet and then my least favorite task in the entire world: drywall. Every time I tape and mud drywall, I swear it will be the last time I ever do it. Once that is done, though, we'll just have the fun cosmetic stuff left (painting, installing the vinyl planks, and stuff like that).

Okay, I need to eat! Here is a link to the Mexican Quinoa recipe on Damn Delicious. It's not anything super special, but I didn't expect it to be--like I said, it's very simple and it tastes good. A perfect weeknight dinner when you don't want to stand at the stove and cook!

August 12, 2022

Friday Night Photos

Good grief--I just looked at the clock and realized I spent literally all day folding clothes and prepping clothes that I want to alter in some way. I got a lot done, but it feels like the entire day is gone with nothing to really show for it. I cleaned out my closet, getting rid of clothes that don't fit anymore or that I just don't want. And I did a week's worth of laundry--since the bedroom was torn apart, Jerry and I had clothes all over the inside of the bedroom closet and a hamper by the laundry room.

I don't have a ton of photos for today (well, I have about ten million on my phone, but they are mostly pictures of our progress on the flooring). I don't want to get redundant with those, so I'll just share a few of the things I worked on...

This is a screw gun that my brother brought over to screw in the plywood subfloor. Nail guns are common, but had no idea there was a such thing as a screw gun. It's super fast to drive a screw (you just pull a trigger and push down for a second) but I couldn't get the hang of doing it quickly. Brian could have done the whole room before I did one board, but thankfully, a good old fashioned drill is probably my favorite tool to use. I just turned on a podcast and glued and screwed the boards by hand. It's kind of relaxing, actually.


On the other hand, I'm not a fan of the circular saw. Unless I use a straight edge as a guide, I always wind up with wonky cuts. (And from this picture, you can clearly see I wasn't using two hands--maybe if I did, I'd wind up with better cuts!)



My least favorite tool, by far, is the sawzall. It vibrates so hard when using it and it gets heavy when you have to saw through boards with it. Brian insisted that *I* cut the wall, though, while he took pictures of me struggling with the sawzall ;) 



I also took out the wall that was to the right of the shower. And then I discovered that the person who screwed the bottom of the wall to the floor screwed it right through the floor and into the AIR DUCT. Seriously?! 



At one point, Jerry was walking across the joists and he fell right down into the crawl space. I thought for sure it would be me that did it at some point, but nope! It was so funny when he popped back up, though, because he found a tool (a small pry bar) that I had lost SO long ago. I can't even remember the last time I was that far back in the crawl space, so it's probably been a couple of years.



Jerry always makes fun of me for the face I make when I'm doing something difficult. I think here, I was pulling out staples--the bane of my existence. For the record, they aren't normal staples; they're two inches long and about as thick as a paperclip. 



Anyone remember the movie Fear, with Mark Wahlberg? Jerry and I watched it when we were dating, and we always laughed about the "4 EVA" part of a tattoo that Wahlberg's character had. Before we ripped out the floor, I drew this so Jerry would see it when he got home from work. He didn't even notice it!



When I was going through pictures on my phone, I laughed when I saw this one. Brian had asked me to text him a picture of the pry bar tools I borrowed from my dad. When I saw this picture on my phone, it reminded me of a typical slasher film where the killer lays out all of his tools to scare the bejeezus out of his victim.



I've been pulling out weeds here and there whenever I notice them in the new mulch so they don't get out of hand. The other day, I discovered some mushrooms! I don't know anything about mushrooms, but I imagine these are probably common ones that pop up everywhere. 



I took this picture because I'm hoping someone can tell me what it is. It looks like an innocent weed because it's so small and barely pokes up to the surface. When I pull it out, however, the root is enormous! It's probably as thick as a jump rope at the top and it goes down pretty deep--just one long piece. I thought I took a picture of the root, but I guess not. I'd like to know what they are so I can get rid of them, though.



When I was in West Bloomfield yesterday, I figured I'd stop at the Goodwill there on my way home. West Bloomfield is typically an upper class area, so I hoped I'd find something good. I took a picture of these jeans because the top looked interesting. I thought someone added that fabric to the top as an alteration, but when I looked inside, it seems like the jeans were made that way. I don't love the look of this particular pair, but I took the picture because it may be an idea for turning low-cut jeans into mid-rise jeans. My butt (or lack of) does not like to hold up low-cut jeans.



I loved this yellow sweater and it was cheap, but I didn't like the 'Ooh la la' embroidery. After looking at it on the inside, it looked like I could probably pick out the embroidery without damaging the sweater. Unlikely, but it was worth a try. It took forever because I was being so careful, but I finally got the stitches out and you can't even tell that it was ever there!



I was very excited to find this pair of True Religion jeans. Several years ago, I wrote about wanting to get some new jeans from the thrift store after having lost weight. Someone kindly commented that I should treat myself to a pair of designer jeans like 7 For All Mankind or True Religion. I kind of made it a mission to find a pair of each of those brands at a thrift store. I've gotten several pairs of 7 For All Mankind jeans over the years, but never True Religion.

The fitting rooms were closed yesterday (still due to COVID) so I hoped they'd fit. When I got home and tried them on, they were too big in the waist--bummer. But I'm going to alter them a bit to see if I can get them to fit. If not, well, they were only $6! (The safety pins are just there for my reference when altering.)



And finally, here is a picture of where Jack and I hiked yesterday. It was so pretty! I saw a few different types of squirrels that we don't have here. The only ones we have around us are tree squirrels, so it was fun to see the black squirrels and chipmunks. I just looked up how common they are and apparently, 56% of the squirrels in Michigan are black squirrels! I'd seen them before, but never around our house.


And that's all I've got! Hopefully next week I'll have less pictures of the bedroom floor and more pictures of funner things ;) 

August 11, 2022

A New Podcast

I am so happy to be writing this from my bed! Well, actually it's just my mattress on the plywood that is the floor in my bedroom right now, but it feels so luxurious to be in my bedroom instead of on the couch in the living room. With the exception of the area where the new shower is going to go, I have all of the subfloor done.

Pure luxury right here

The cats have been going crazy because I haven't been able to let them in the bedroom (the first thing they would do is jump down into the crawl space). As I've been working in on the bedroom, they sit right outside the door. Yesterday, I was screwing down the plywood right in front of the door when I saw a black paw push a small piece of wood under the door--it was so funny!

I feel like all of my blog posts have been rushed lately, and I guess it's because they have--this whole bedroom/bathroom project has been non-stop. (I really need to think of a different name for it; calling it the bedroom/bathroom project is too much.)

I was thinking about it while trying to sleep (on the couch again last night) and I realized how funny it is in a way. I wanted to surprise Jerry while he was out of town for the weekend by removing the carpet in our bedroom and installing the luxury vinyl planks that were left over from the rest of the house. It sounds like a lot, but that would have been a pretty simple project.

If I didn't run into any complications. 

I hadn't thought of what I might find when I ripped up the carpet--and water damage on the floor between the bedroom and bathroom was probably the worst case scenario. The shower was against the bathroom wall that is was on the other side of my bedroom, and the water damage went from bathroom to bedroom. I knew, as soon as I saw it, that I was going to have a big mess on my hands.

I really wanted to just put the carpet back and forget that I saw anything! Haha. But it wasn't something we could ignore, especially with mold growing there. The easiest way to really fix everything was to remove the subfloor, the shower, and a couple of walls. *eye roll*

Since we had to remove the shower anyway, and we've been needing a new one for a while, we are going to rearrange the bathroom a bit. Instead of putting the new bathtub/shower where the old one was, we're going to put it in the opposite corner. Then, we're going to put up a couple of walls where the old shower used to be and turn it into a linen closet. I think.

Our bathroom is really big and we don't need that much wasted space. By moving the shower, we gain a space that can make a pretty big linen closet. So it'll be nice when it's done! It's just a lot of work getting there.

This morning, I drove up to West Bloomfield to visit my friend Jack, who I went to high school with. I was already sore from working on the "bedroom/bathroom project", and then Jack and I went on a five-mile walk/nature hike. West Bloomfield is pretty hilly, and I could certainly feel my quads working hard. So, I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow, too, but at least it's a good sore ;)

Anyway, West Bloomfield is an hour away, so I had a lot of time in the car and I chose to listen to a new podcast. It's called 'The Plant Powered People' and the episodes I listened to were SO good. Remember how one of my big goals for this year was to focus on eating more fiber? Well, the first episode I chose was about fiber and the digestive system--particularly about the gut microbiome.

I'd read about it but didn't fully "get it" until listening to this episode with Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a gastroenterologist who is a total nerd (in a good way!) about fiber and poop and how the microbiome is super important to our health. It ended up being a two-part interview, so there are two one-hour episodes. I highly recommend that everyone listen to them! (Episodes 75 and 76--you can find them here.)

I also listened to an episode about sprouts (episode 78)--which sounds really boring, but it was a topic I knew nothing about and thought it would be interesting. And it definitely was--I had no idea that sprouts (from seeds, lentils, beans, etc) were so good for us. Now I want to try sprouting some things! The guest that was interviewed, Doug Evans, wrote a book called 'The Sprout Book', and he explains how to do it (no garden required).

I'm going to look for some more interesting episodes to listen to. I was getting bored with true crime, so I added a couple of new podcasts to my phone. It was refreshing to listen to something new and it got me kind of excited about fiber and sprouts--hahaha!

August 10, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 63


I realized this morning that I have no mirror and no scale in my bathroom for Wednesday Weigh-In. So, I had to bring them into the bare bones bedroom to take pictures. It'll be interesting to see next week's weigh-in picture because the background will hopefully look different!

To say that I'm exhausted would be the understatement of the year. I have worked SO HARD on the bedroom and bathroom the last few days and I am so excited for it to be done! Today I took out the "fake" wall that was next to our shower (it was only there to surround the shower). With two walls gone, the bedroom and bathroom are basically the same room right now. (We aren't leaving it like that; just rearranging things.) I love how huge it looks, but we aren't even close to getting to the cosmetic stuff yet.

Anyway, enough about that for now. I actually had a surprising weigh-in today. Usually, I weigh myself every day (or probably five days a week), but with my scale not being easily accessible, I hadn't weighed myself this week. So I was very curious what it was going to be today...


I was in the 130s!! I was kind of stunned. Last week, I was at 142.4 and today I was at 139.8, so I was down 2.6 pounds this week. I am 100% sure it's due to this bedroom/bathroom project. I get working hard and I'm so focused on what I'm doing that I forget to eat lunch. By dinnertime, I'm always starving so I'll eat a large dinner and then I'm not hungry for a snack. I'm probably getting a similar amount of calories overall, but my routine has completely changed.

The best part about this whole unexpected project is that I'm *able* to do it. Last year, my body never would have let me do this work because of fibromyalgia (which was my eventual diagnosis). I am completely stunned at how eating a vegan diet has reversed my chronic pain. For a while, I felt like I couldn't do *anything* without my whole body hurting. I wrote a whole post on how eating a vegan diet has affected my chronic pain, so I went into more detail there. But working on a project with such physical labor is something I never thought I'd be able to do again, and here I am, doing it!

Tomorrow morning, I'm taking a break from the bedroom and I'm going to visit my friend Jack. It's been over a year since I last saw him and it'll be so nice to think about something other than flooring and showers and insulation. Then it's back to the grind ;)

August 09, 2022

DIY Humor

Today was another very long day of working in the bedroom and bathroom, so I didn't have the mental energy to put together a Transformation Tuesday (not to mention the zero sleep I got last night on the couch!). But here is some DIY humor--even though this project was totally unexpected and has turned into a HUGE undertaking, you know I love all things DIY ;)   






































Let's hope that we can get this done soon and everything will return to normal! 

August 08, 2022

Demolition Day

Unfortunately, I have pretty much no time to write a post today; I've been working non-stop all day on the bedroom and bathroom. Brian (my brother) came over early this morning and we changed plans a bit. I'll write about that later, but it involves removing the entire subfloor and then replacing it with plywood.

My job was to remove the subfloor, which was terrifying at first, but once I got the hang of it, it wasn't too bad. The hardest part was removing the ten billion staples holding the subfloor down. Putting the new plywood down should be much faster and easier than pulling apart the floor today!

I am completely exhausted, but there is a lot more work to do tomorrow. And I don't have a bed to sleep in tonight! Jerry and I are going to sleep on the couch, haha. Anyway, Jerry took a bunch of pictures when I didn't even realize it, so here are a few from our work today...


 













Well, that's all I can write tonight. Tomorrow, we have to put down more insulation, lay the plywood, prep the bathroom plumbing for the new bathtub/shower, possibly install the bathtub, and frame in a couple of small walls. (Brian will be doing the important stuff! But I love to learn how to do new things, and I learned quite a bit today.)

Anyway, I've cried many tears over all of this (I never anticipated this project!), but I am starting to envision how much better it will be when it's done. I may or may not be able to do a Transformation Tuesday tomorrow, depending on time, but please send me your transformations anyway. Just send a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Include your name and a description of your transformation--can't wait to see what you've got!

August 07, 2022

Joey's Summer Vacation

I'm feeling pretty depressed again today but I don't want to write about that. I'm tired of thinking about heavy stuff and worrying about everything, so I thought this would be the perfect post for today: Joey's summer vacation.


If you missed it, Joey stayed with my sister Jeanie for several weeks this summer. She lives in Illinois, but she and Shawn, her husband, have property in northern Michigan. They have a basset hound and Jeanie thought it would be fun for both Joey and her dog (Bentley) to stay with her for a while.

He would stay at the house with them in Illinois, and then go up north with them on the weekends. Jeanie and Shawn's property has a HUGE fenced in area for the dogs to run and then much more acreage to enjoy.

Here are a few notes from Jeanie about Joey's stay...

A typical day in Rockford:

Go for walks at 4:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 7:00 PM



Wrestle with Bentley until exhausted, then lie down and eat a bone before bed.


Bentley normally sleeps on a dog bed next to our mattress (although he is allowed on the mattress whenever he wants). But once Joey got there, Bentley did not want Joey on the mattress without him being up there also. So, it took a few days to figure out the best option but they worked it out and Bentley ended up sleeping on his dog bed and Joey took the couch which is right above our heads since our mattress is on the floor.



And then a typical day up north:

We were able to spend two full weeks up north plus two long weekends. Those days were spent going anywhere from a two- to six-mile walk in the morning. Then the dogs typically spent the rest of the day lying on the porch and soaking up the sun.




In the evening they would wake back up for about 15 or 20 minutes before lying by the fire pit for an hour or two until we went to bed.








They spent some time watching and chasing wildlife up to the gate. Here is a picture of Joey watching a bear...



We went on several rides on the new side-by-side, which they both absolutely loved, sticking their heads out the window and having a grand old time.







Twice I took Joey by himself to the beach so he could play in the shallow water and chase rocks that I threw.



And he really enjoyed having those smoked bones. He would lay on his dog bed and chew them literally for hours.



I honestly think Joey and Bentley really became great friends during those five or six weeks. Bentley seemed really bummed when Joey went home.




Luckily we were just able to adopt a special needs Basset this week. Walter is a special guy--of course there’s a little period of adjustment now that he’s in a new home--but I'm sure he and Bentley will have just as much fun as Bentley and Joey did!



As you can see, Joey definitely had a fantastic vacation! He came home with some of the special bones he likes (and he really does spend hours chewing on it). When he came home, he spent three full days sleeping--he was so tired from such a long and fun vacation with his cousin/buddy. It was fun getting pictures from Jeanie showing me what they were up to.

Jeanie and Shawn are the best dog parents EVER--seriously. If I was a dog, I'd want them to adopt me!

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