Sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy… There are moments in my life when all I can think about is food. My job, my bills, my personal hygiene do not matter. I know that doesn’t come as a surprise to most of you who know me, but these moments are different. These are times where nothing else matters except my urge to satisfy my cravings. It’s like an overwhelming appetite for one particular thing that I can’t shake. I turn into an absolute CRAVE MONSTER!
Sometimes I crave chocolate. Sometimes I crave carbs. Other times I crave nothing but crunchy textures – which is probably weird but it happens often. These days I have a strong hankering for anything with cheese in it (not the powdered cheese, the real stuff!)
It’s weird that sometimes when I do give in and try to satisfy my cravings with a slice of chocolate cake or macaroni and cheese, my craving does not go away immediately. You would think that since I satisfied whatever urge it is I had, that it would vanish as soon as I ate whatever it is I had been craving. But that is not always the case. Does this happen to you too?
2015 has already been such a busy year! It’s amazing how little the weather affects life here in Colorado. When there is snow, the people will play! When it’s warm and the sun is shining, which is almost every day, Coloradans are outside and enjoying the outdoors. I love being surrounded by people and places that are always hustling and bustling.
This is going to be a big year in regards to travel. We were already saving up for a trip to London but now two friends have announced their wedding dates and we have an opportunity to visit family in Florida on the “cheap.” That’s a lot of travel in one year for us (and a lot of $$$$ too)! I’ve had an itch for awhile to travel internationally, but with everything else that is going, we are really going to have to pinch our pennies to make that happen.
Doing my best to prepare, I have been budgeting and saying no to things I want to do on the regular. I know I need to nitpick and prioritize if I want to make every single one of my travel goals this year. I plan to make more meals at home and eat the leftovers for lunch for as long as they last. I will have to get creative with pantry ingredients too – like our very own series of Chopped! This Cheesy Polenta dish is definitely on the cheap and tastes like a million bucks!
The polenta was super easy to make, just use a whisk and add plenty of liquid to make it smooth. The Spinach adds a nice garlicky, spicy kick while adding some nutrients too. And the runny egg on top really adds some richness to bring it all together. Plus the egg adds some protein to help make this meal last longer.
When in doubt, put an egg on it!
I have always been good at budgeting, but this tight of a budget will be a challenge for me. No useless shopping, no overspending when I go out for coffee, no nothing…
It’s London (and two weddings and maybe Florida too) or bust!
Wish me luck!
P.S. Sorry about the quality of the photo. It’s off of my Instagram feed. My laptop is still fighting with my camera. I’ve put them both in a time-out so here’s hoping that changes something.
Cheesy Polenta with Garlicky Spinach and Runny Egg
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
1/2 cup cornmeal and 2 cups water (or 1-lb pre made polenta)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach, drained and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
Romano or Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup corn kernels (optional)
salt and pepper
Prepare the polenta: Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-side pot, then turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the polenta while stirring briskly with a wooden spoon or whisk (stirring while pouring is crutial to keep the polenta creamy and smooth - no lumps!) Once the cornmeal becomes smooth and thick, place a lid on the pot with the spoon still in it so the steam can escape. Allow to cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, add a bit of olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes. Let them cook until you can smell them, about 1 minute. Add spinach and toss. Allow to cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Drain and place contents into a bowl. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Wipe the spinach pan with a paper towel and add a bit of olive oil then put it back on medium heat. Crack the two eggs into the pan and cover with a lid. This will steam them, making sunny-side-up eggs with fully cooked whites. You can also flip if you'd prefer over-easy eggs.
Add some romano and lots of salt and pepper to the polenta (to taste). Add the corn now if you are using it. Heat until the cheese is melted and scoop the polenta into a pair of bowls. Divide the spinach evenly between the two bowls and add an egg to each too. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Good and Cheap: http://bit.ly/1APscGu
I have always been drawn to travel-heavy careers. To have the ability to fly to a new location and experience new people, new cultures, new sights, sounds and tastes AND get paid for it would be an absolute dream come true.
It’s an adventure, and sometimes adventures have consequences.
Including security lines, bag checks, and delayed flights.
Reality check: I don’t have one of those jobs. I have a desk job where I sit on my butt most of the day sending emails to other people sitting at their desks. Sometimes I don’t even take a break. Terrible right?
I feel fortunate that I made it out of the United States in my teens. I was lucky enough to have enough common sense to join my high school music department and visit Australia. In retrospect I should have taken advantage of more of those group trips. I should have also studied abroad while I had the chance. Travel is just so much more expensive for me now – someone who is just trying to scrape by with her bills and somehow still plan for the future.
Oh the places I would go…
I have to admit, the more exotic the destination the better for me. I want to visit the cliff dwellings of Cappadocia. I want to feel the wacky, weird energy of Japan’s nightlife. I want to trek around the volcanic ice caves of Antarctica. I’m fascinated by all this world has to offer. I am a tiny speck on this huge rock and I’m ready to explore. I want to visit a place that few people think about going to.
I would love to taste meals in rural Thailand – sweet, sour, bitter, and savory, all in one bite. I want to sit on a patio in France and eat freshly baked pastries and sip espresso for an entire afternoon. I would love to enjoy a warm meal under the lights of the Northern Sky (I can’t even imagine the logistics behind something like this, but a girl can dream!)
I am even willing to put my American mind aside to try local “delicacies,” (use your imagination here). I’ve learned to be a better “yes” person more than a “no” person, especially on vacations. I don’t want ignorance to get in the way of experience. I realize that will be easier said than done when I’m faced with trying a plateful of insects, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Who knows where I will end up. When I am in a foreign country, I am usually at the mercy of my hotel’s front desk clerk. GPS and internet can be expensive commodities to come by when traveling outside of the United States. I imagine the language barrier could be a challenge as well. Perhaps finding restaurants that use translation software before you leave the states ahead of time could help. It never hurts to ask a few locals about their favorite places to eat or visit too.
What about you? Where do you want to go if money were no option? Is there a place you feel like nobody else wants to visit but you? Are there any foods you wouldn’t try?
Meet Benny (well, her full name is Crazy Orange Curly Lola Bennigan, but we call her Benny for short). She is our rescue kitty, delivered to our door step.
Allow me to explain.
One morning I woke up to a text saying, “Is that cat still outside?” Half-awake and bewildered, I opened the front door and faced the bitter cold to find an orange stray cat, curled up in a ball and shivering on the stairs of our apartment building.
Someone was kind enough to put out some water for her. Mister put out some food for her as well. I gave her a towel and said hello and proceeded to get ready to go to work.
Time-lapse to 9 hours later…
I returned from a long day at the office to find the cat, in the same position, water and food untouched. The poor thing was either too cold to do anything or too scared.
So I brought the little’un inside the safety of our porch. I consulted my inner kid and built her a warm, cozy kitty fort, to shelter her from the cold and snow, until I could figure out what to do with her. She started doing things like this, so how could we say no to this curly little furball?
After a few trips to the vet and posting multiple Craigslist articles to find her original owners, we decided that she is now our very happy (and warm) fluffball. Look at those big paws!
So anyway, this is Benny and even when she’s not waking us up to feed her, or being a spaz, we’re happy she is a part of our cozy family.