Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Grinch?

Happy Halloween! I have absolutely no scary stories, funny costumes, or even "spooky" crafts to share (you will learn I'm not exactly a crafty person). I asked my friends this week: Is there a Halloween version of a Grinch? If so, Terry and I take the cake this year. Even though Halloween is Terry's favorite holiday, we didn't carve jack-o-lanterns, dress up, or even decorate (with the exception of approximately four sad items we found at Pier 1). So it was a sad Halloween for us, but still a great night.

One of our little Halloween decorations, Mr. Owl.

After I got home from mailing in my passport for our upcoming trip to Europe, I used some alone time to make one of my favorites: homemade cereal. It's perfect to make at the beginning of a week, and it'll last at least the rest of the week.

Homemade Cereal
Eat it with yogurt, milk, or by itself!

  • 3 cups oats
  • 3 1/2 cups (total) of nuts - I used 1/2 c. sunflower seeds, 1 cup chopped pecans, 1 cup chopped almonds, 1 cup chopped cashews
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 275 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and honey until melted. Then add the vanilla. Combine the oats, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the melted butter-honey mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is evenly wet. Pour the cereal onto a greased cookie sheet and spread out into an even layer. Pop into the oven for an hour. Allow to cool completely. (I give it a good hour.) Then store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container for up to ten days.

Be forewarned: This recipe will make your house smell ridiculously homey. Your roommates/husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents/children will suddenly feel very hungry, and you will have to resist eating a fourth bowl once you taste it. You can't beat the crunch! I am a huge cereal junkie (my former roommate Jenn thought it was bizarre that I would eat cereal at 3 pm or even 10 pm on a regular basis), and Terry would eat cereal every morning if I didn't cook or bake other options, but we always ate sugary, processed stuff. I hate to say it, but even the "healthy" stuff is not doing you any favors. (If you're curious as to why, let me know!) Try out this homemade version instead! You can definitely mix it up, too; try different nuts or different dried fruits. Enjoy with some yogurt, ice cream (as a dessert, obviously, but no one will judge you if you eat ice cream for breakfast now and then...), on its own, or with good ol' milk!

When Terry got home tonight, we headed out for a run into Brentwood, the neighborhood directly north of us. We love running through the area, and today was no exception. It was great to catch up on our days and get our workout in. Afterward, we each attacked our push ups and sit ups for the day.

  • 3.25 miles running
  • Push ups: 10, 12, 10, 10
  • Sit ups: 32, 38, 32, 32
As I cooked dinner, I got to enjoy the House Hunters marathon on HGTV! I love this show! If you've never seen it, it's a reality show where people check out three houses and then end up buying one. Half of me gets jealous because Terry and I are nowhere near buying our first home, but the other half of me gets so excited thinking about the future and the process of someday buying our first home. Terry and I also like to watch together and decide which of the three houses we would purchase and guessing which one the people on the show will choose. Luckily, Terry and I almost always agree on which one we like the most, so I'd say that bodes well for our future house hunt!

For dinner this evening, we opted for an Italian classic. I fell in love with this meal in Italy, and I especially love how EASY it is! Terry has been working late almost every night lately, but we still enjoy working out together, so by the time we're both home and showered and all, it's close to 7:30. Luckily, this dinner takes a total of 25 minutes.

Spaghetti alla carbonara
Serves 4 (keeps and reheats well, if you have leftovers)
Italian delight

  • 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the spaghetti according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (about 6-7 minutes, which happens to be about how long your spaghetti should take! Coincidence???). In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and half the cheese. Here's how it all comes together: Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the pancetta. Mix, then reduce heat to very low. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta mixture and immediately toss everything together for a few minutes (be careful not to let the eggs get too hot - no one ordered spaghetti alla scrambled eggs!). Turn off the heat, and serve immediately.

I absolutely love the texture of this dish. The eggs provide a creamy coating for the pasta, and the pancetta has the slightest crunch. The pasta provides your whole grains and gives you terrific energy for tomorrow's workout! And as I mentioned above, the pasta reheats perfectly; just add a splash of milk and cook on a stovetop, or, if you only have access to a microwave, add the splash of milk at home in the morning and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.

We enjoyed our pasta with a spinach salad and a sauvignon blanc. Then we enjoyed leftover apple crisp for dessert while watching the return of the slutty pumpkin on How I Met Your Mother! Terry and I weren't thrilled at the choice of Katie Holmes, but I had to admit she was pretty hilarious. My favorite part was when she sang along to "One Week" by the Barenaked Ladies. Not bad, Katie. Not Bad.

And it wasn't a bad Monday, either. Off to bed to get a jump on Tuesday!


  1. do you know a good substitute for pancetta? i'm always looking for easy weeknight meals like this!

  2. Pancetta...that's a tough one to replace. I suppose some sort of tofu would work? Vegan bacon? I think those things exist!