Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Someone's In The Kitchen

It was a lovely, relaxing Sunday.  One where I was able to try out a new recipe I'd been dying to try.  A couple of years ago L and I were celebrating our anniversary with a weekend in Pasadena.  We ate brunch at a darling cottage-turned-restaurant that served the most amazing Eggs Benedict I've ever had.  Instead of an English muffin, the base was a crab cake.  I smacked my lips over it, went home, and kind of forgot about them.  Until the other day when I saw a very similar recipe on the Williams Sonoma blog.  That beautiful weekend with all of it's anniversary memories came spilling back into my mind, and I couldn't wait to try that recipe for myself.

It seemed simple enough: crabmeat, onions, Tabasco, mayonnaise, Panko bread crumbs.  Saute some spinach in butter.  Poach eggs.   And really, it wasn't difficult at all.  The crab cakes were stirred up, formed into patties, coated in Panko crumbs and refrigerated for an hour or so. 

That left the spinach, poaching the eggs, and actually pan frying the crab cakes.  There's also Hollandaise sauce (food of the gods, I'm convinced), but I cheated a bit there, because Trader Joe's had a little container of ready made.  Couldn't be any easier than that!  And so, as the dinner hour approached, I first sauteed the spinach in butter until it wilted, then while I kept it warm, I simultaneously pan fried crab cakes, slipped eggs into the poaching water, flipped the crab cakes over to sear the other side, and slipped the poached eggs out of the poaching water and into a bowl of hot water to keep warm.  I'd never poached eggs before, and mine definitely weren't as pretty as the picture of the recipe, but they were easy enough.  Very interesting process, poaching eggs.  And practice makes perfect, right?

While I did all of that, L made us a little antipasto plate: sliced pinot grigio summer sausage, tomato slices, slices of fresh mozzarella.  So fresh and good!

To arrange, there was a base of two crab cakes, topped with some sauteed spinach, warm and buttery.  Topping that were two poached eggs, with a spoonful of warm Hollandaise sauce poured over all.  A simple summer dinner.  Calorie rich?  Oh my, yes.  But we made lunch and dinner one meal by eating at 4:00 or so.  That way we were able to combine our alotted calories from two meals into one.  I say diets need not be grim and boring.  Every once in a while, it's good to make yourself something rich and delicious.  You just have to plan ahead, and while I certainly can't do it every day, special occasions are allowed.  And for today, for a special little supper, it was perfect.  If you'd like to make it yourself, the recipe can be found here

So far I've lost a little over 11 pounds, and I'm still going.  I'm down a whole size in clothes!  I'm starting to like what I see in the mirror.  I'm encouraged, and happy about how much stronger I feel.

To add even more happiness, I discovered a nifty little sweet treat the other day and actually made it yesterday.  When you crave something sweet and dessert-y, like apple pie, make a smaller version of it.  Instead of a slice, it's just a bite.  And after dieting for awhile, a bite is oftentimes all you need.  I took an apple, peeled it, and cut it into 8 slices.  I bought a can of Buttermilk biscuits - you know, like the Pillsbury kind in a can.  (Or, if you're really a purist, I guess you could make your own!  I'm too lazy...)  Roll each biscuit out a little bit so it's a bit flatter and large enough for the apple slice.  (You can also roll the apple up in a Pillbury crescent roll if you want)  Place the apple slice in the middle of the dough, sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar, and a dot of butter.  Pinch the edges together and place it on a baking sheet.  At this point, you could brush  some melted butter or a beaten egg over it and sprinkle it with more sugar to make it pretty.  I didn't, and it was just fine, but it really would be prettier if you did.  Anyway, then you bake them for 15 minutes or so (refer to the instructions on whatever kind of dough you're using).  When they're baked, you have a little "bite" of apple pie.  Only instead of 300-400 calories, it's just 185.  And so, so good and completely satisfying to that old sweet tooth.  You could use all kinds of different fruit - I'm thinking berries would be wonderful!  Or peaches...

And so on this Sunday evening, I'm trying to savor the last little bit of free time.  Next week is going to be stressful, to say the least.  I will be doing my work, and also some new tasks I've had to take on for a coworker while she takes her corporate-mandated 60 day break.  I had to have a crash course Wednesday-Friday to learn everything, and I've been dreaming about it every night.  You know how that is...  I'm terrified I won't remember how to do everything.  As if that weren't enough, there are also other new tasks I'd already agreed to take on, and those are going to start rolling in as well.  The up-side is that I will see an increase in hours, no doubt about it.  I'm sure I'll be ready for my own 60 days off starting in July, but for now, money cures a lot of discomfort, doesn't it?  The rest are cured (at least for me) by spending some time in the kitchen and whipping up good things to eat.  Good things I don't have to feel bad about eating. These little treats were a win/win.

I hope you all have a good week.  For myself, I hope I'll be able to come up for air at some point, and that all of my worrying will be for naught.  We'll see.  Let me know if any of you try making any of these things.  You will want to high five me because they're so, so easy, and so good.

I even found arm fulls of my very favorite flowers at Trader Joe's this weekend: Peonies!  So beautiful, so lush, and they have the sweetest smell.  Love...  Yes, it was a good weekend.


  1. Mmmmm- those look delicious! The flowers are gorgeous, too. Although it will be extra work, I know your will do wonderfully well with the new tasks. I hope it does go quickly, though! July will be here before you know it-

  2. Hello, dear karen! The first part of this post reads like the memoirs of Julie Powell brought to the silver screen in the narrative of Julie & Julia! (LOL) As you know I was raised in Pennsylvania where one of life's greatest pleasures was eating crabs harvested from the Chesapeake Bay. Crab cakes have always been high on my list of favorite dishes. Your recipe makes my mouth water. It was announced on our local news that a Trader Joe's is coming to Tampa Bay for the first time. Locals are thrilled.

    Everyone who reads your post will be green with envy knowing you are eating this well and still lost 11 pounds and a dress size. That's amazing! I'm also on a diet and trying to get back down to my original weight: 8 pounds, 6 ounces. :)

    When I am faced with learning new tasks I toss and turn just like you've been doing. All it takes is confidence in yourself which you have in great abundance. Once you get started you will immediately make progress toward mastery.

    You are definitely on a roll, dear friend karen, and I am very excited for you!

  3. Oh my gosh I am SUPER hungry right now after reading this!! Those crab cakes look amazing.

    I hope this week is as non-stressful as possible!

  4. You will need a special recipe section on your blog soon...then food network will knock on your door and give you your show! The crab cakes look very yummy...I've never made crab cakes (although I have been "crabbie" many days!) Congrats on your weight loss...super! I also love Peonies. We had alot of Peonies plants growing up and Memorial Day is the time they appear. Have a good week and don't stress too much. I can't believe you guys get a 60 day time off. Paid? I hope so!

  5. You are "dieting" the right way. if it doesn't taste good, it won't last. And quality definitely beats quantity.

    Good job!


  6. Karen the recipes are wonderful! Thank you for sharing them. It's awesome to get to the point where you don't feel like it's a huge sacrifice to have a bite of something instead of a large portion. I think it's all about reconditioning our expectations. Training our bodies to be comfortable and satisfied with less. I hope you have a great week and that you just soar through!

  7. I wish I had more patience when it comes to enjoying the cooking process of a new recipe. It really looks good!

  8. It's Thursday of your busy week. Hope it's going well and you slide into the weekend with ease... That recipe looks so yummy! Nice work losing those ten pounds. I keep losing and gaining the same ones... Sure wish they'd get lost for good!

  9. Good for you Karen. I love the recipes and I have Trader Joe Peonies on my coffee table at the moment. Great minds!


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