Guest Blog: Sushi night – without breaking the bank

02SushiGreetings guest-blog readers! It has been over a year, but I have once again been asked to guest-blog on a subject near and dear to my heart. No, not video games (she wouldn’t let me), but food, specifically sushi.

While living in Chicago, I developed a serious appreciation for this particular category of food and recently, after receiving some help from some good friends, I tried my hand at creating sushi at home.

The process is a bit labor intensive (though not to the same level as brewing beer), but in the end, I think it is worth it. It is also a whole lot cheaper to make sushi at home; last night, for a total of probably about $10, I made five rolls (admittedly a bit much for two people), which would likely run at least $40 at a nice restaurant.  Basic equipment includes a sharp knife and a bamboo rolling mat. A wooden paddle is also common, though in truth, I don’t see why a standard silicone spatula wouldn’t work.

The most time consuming process is probably making the sticky rice. Sushi is made with a shorter grain rice than your average Uncle Ben’s, which, after it has been properly washed, cooked, seasoned, and cooled, is both fluffy and sticky. Working with it is a bit of a pain as well, which is why every sushi guide recommends keeping a bowl of water on hand in which to dip your hands (and eventually, your knife) to keep the rice sticking where you want it and not to your hands.

Fillings are all pretty basic. We have used carrot, cucumber, avocado, and cream cheese. Seeing as how we cannot easily obtain sushi-grade fish (flash-frozen to a point low enough and long enough to kill any microbial critters)  in our small town, we have been using imitation crab sticks (not great, but certainly not terrible) and smoked salmon (found in the deli section).

Once you have stuck a layer of rice on the nori (seaweed wrap), the fillings are layered in, and it is time to roll. The roll is not as tricky as it sounds once you get the hang of it. If you try this for yourself, you may consider initially attempting an inside-out roll (with the nori on the outside, not the rice) as it is easier to work with. Another helpful tip I was given is to wrap the rolling mat in plastic wrap. This keeps the sushi from sticking as much and makes cleanup much easier.

Once the sushi has been rolled, proceed to the board and cut into anywhere from four to eight pieces, depending on the size of the nori. It is also essential here to wipe off your knife on a damp rag and dip it in the water between every slice. It is amazing how much of a difference this makes!

Once you’ve mastered the process, feel free to experiment with all sorts of fillings. If you get really adventurous, you can try this, though you may want to practice on a roll or two before taking a stab at this one.



5k Zombie Mud run

Over the past year it seems a good portion of my friends  have taken on the challenge of a 5k run. After hearing about this unique race I thought I could not pass this one up. Not only is the course full of water obstacles but also people dressed up as zombies?! Perhaps my interest in watching the TV show the Walking Dead has made this idea rather intriguing. So here’s to hitting the pavement , a good pair of shoes and working to outrun those zombies!

Getting ready to ride!


So this summer I decided to take the plunge and ride two days of the infamous bike ride across Iowa, RAGBRAI. In March I splurged for a new 24 speed Specialized bicycle and have been cross training on the pavement and in the gym for this arduous ride for the past couple of months. Generally this ride occurs during the hottest portion of the summer, and by no means is this state as flat as pancake! In just two days I will ride over 120 miles, this is no easy task but is something I’ve been interested in attempting for many years. Not only will I be riding my trusty bicycle and be bringing along copious amounts of water I will also have a good friend at my side and a few other family members and acquaintances that will be riding with me for a portion of my two-day route. I am eager, anxious, excited and of course ready to sweat! Looking forward to this notorious ride across the beautiful corn-filled state of Iowa.

A new favorite pancake!


I have always enjoyed a nice cup of the average joe, Yoplait  yogurt but lately I’ve been more adventurous and decided to try Greek yogurt. The word on the street is that its really healthy for you!  I decided to try some of the Chobani brand Greek vanilla yogurt and realized it was a bit more sour than what I liked. Fortunately I realized on the side of the yogurt container was a very appetizing recipe for Greek yogurt pancakes. So I gave the recipe to my personal chef (my husband) and Saturday morning I enjoyed a moderate stack of pancakes with butter and syrup. Simply delicious! Here’s the recipe below. Be sure to check out more Greek yogurt recipes at:


Movin’ to the Beat!

  Since school has started I’ve  been working on getting back into the gym on a regular basis. During the summer I had less of a regular schedule so it was hard to plan on when I could go. Now I have no excuses!

One thing that  keeps me motivated to push myself while I’m working out is music.

Music with a strong beat or an uplifting voice really helps with running that extra mile or climbing that fictitious hill while on a stationary bike.

I’ve learned quickly that I have to change up my playlist, so I don’t get too attached to certain songs, and wear out my enthusiasm for listening to them (ex. Blackeyed Peas – I’ve Gotta Feeling).

Here are my top 11 motivational beats:

1) CAKE – the distance

2) EVANESCENCE – bring me to life

3) KATY PERRY – firework

4) SWITCHFOOT – stars

5) ONE REPUBLIC – secrets

6) SMASHMOUTH – i’m a believer

7) QUEEN – we will rock you

8) JASON MRAZ – you and i both

9) SHERYL CROW – if it makes you happy

10) AEROSMITH – jaded/ KEITH URBAN – days go by

11) JET – are you gonna be my girl

I know some of you probably won’t like a few songs on this list but I’d encourage you to find a good set of tunes that can help get your heart a pumpin’ a little faster.

A Delicious Dish

Tonight my husband surprised me with this twist on an American’s Test Kitchen recipe.

He calls it:

Pasta with Scallops, Garlic, and Tomatoes

Prep: 5-10 minutes

Cook: 10-15 minutes

Serves 2


6 ounces pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, linguini, or whatever you prefer)

8 – 12 ounces bay scallops (depending on how hungry you are)

1 tomato, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced fine

Juice from half of a lemon

Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Small dash of red pepper flakes

Olive oil

2 slices sandwich bread (any style)

½ tbsp butter, melted

Freshly grated parmesan (enough to top the dishes)

For the bread crumbs:

  1. heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. tear the bread into pieces and place in a food processor along with the melted butter, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper
  3. process the bread mixture until fine
  4. place the mixture in a shallow baking dish (a pie pan works well) and bake for 15 minutes, stirring at 5 and 10 minutes

For the pasta:

  1. put on a pot of salted water to cook the pasta and add the pasta when ready; remove the pasta when cooked al dente
  2. while the pasta is cooking, heat a medium-sized skillet over med-low heat
  3. add a few Tbsp of oil and about half of the garlic; cook for a few minutes (until fragrant; do not cook at a higher heat or the garlic will burn!)
  4. increase the heat to medium and add the scallops; season with salt and pepper
  5. once the scallops are cooked (do not overcook them!), remove the skillet from the heat and add the tomato, parsley, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and the remainder of the garlic; toss to combine
  6. divide the pasta into bowls and top with the scallop mixture
  7. top the pasta with (in order) a drizzle of olive oil, parmesan, and bread crumbs
  8. serve immediately

Cleaning your pearly whites

oralbtriumphIn the age of HDTVs, i-pods and Kindle is the electric toothbrush. Yet, did you know one toothbrush out there would display a smiley face for you if you brush your teeth for 2 minutes? This toothbrush is Oral-B Triumph 9900. This toothbrush though costly is a favorite of mine.

First the toothbrush has a built in sensor so that you are warned when you brush too hard. There are also a couple of different modes to choose from for brushing. What makes this toothbrush unique is the Smart Guide; a devise separate from the toothbrush. This guide walks you through the 2 minutes of brushing your teeth with a counter and clock. It also divides the mouth into four quadrants so you are aware every 30 seconds (by a small

pulse by your toothbrush) to continue onward in a new region.

Brushing is comfortable with this toothbrush and can almost seem fun. You just have to remember to put the toothbrush in your mouth before turning it on (otherwise you may loose your toothpaste). So if you are looking for something new for those pearly whites, I would point you to try Oral-B Triumph 9900. It will challenge you to brush for the recommended 2 minutes, but will give you a smiley reward for brushing!

Cool treats that won’t leave you feeling guilty

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself…I know there are  a few more cold days left before the summer heat rolls in but I wanted to catch you before you made “the cool treat trip” to the grocery store.

I’m a big fan of summer, especially of all the summer desserts, but I don’t like how the excess calories oftentimes takes up residency on the most conspicuous places on my body. So to prevent this awful phenomenon from happening to you too I thought I would offer some suggestions for treats that have sufficed my sweet tooth and not left me regretting my dessert decisions.

EdyspopsiclesEdy’s Fruit Bars, Variety Pack No Sugar Added (Strawberry, Tangerine & Raspberry), Calories per bar 30.  Visit Edy’s website for more tasty treat options!


Klondike Slim a Bear, Vanilla & Chocolate Sandwich, 100 Calories .  Visit their website for  more options on Klondike treats!


Dove miniatures dark chocolate variety pack (French Vanilla and Double Chocolate Ice cream), Calories per bar 60. See Dove’s website for other chocolate icecream treats!

From the kitchen of Mrs. H

Chinese cabbage salad

Chinese chicken salad

Spring is in the air! You now have a few extra hours of daylight in the evening, and you’re noticing a few more songbirds serenading you when you crack that front, side, or back door. You know what else? It’s time to trade in your soup bowl for a salad bowl, although there are probably a few more days left of cold weather so don’t throw out that left-over soup quite yet. But, begin to ready your palate for a nice springy

salad instead of a warm steamy cup of soup, and I have just the salad to start your spring out right! It’s a savory salad with a mix of textures and flavors. If you look at the ingredient list you’ll notice a variety of fruit, noodles and, of course, veggies that combine sweet, salty, and even a bit more crunch then you’re use to in your everyday green salad. So try this one out and add it to your recipe box, binder, or file.


Print recipe from PDF

Make your own gym!

My home gym

My Midwest Athletic Club

Yes, I am going to mention the dreaded e-word. If thinking “exercise,” you are correct. Exercise was one of those daily things that I know I should do, but never seemed to find time for it in my schedule – until now. I finally boxed up all my excuses about not having time to exercise and that I didn’t want to carry my gym stuff with me on the train to school and decided to make the laundry

room in my apartment complex my own private gym.

It did take some upfront costs for the mat, hand weights, exercise DVD, and a few other pieces of exercise equipment (that I realized later I didn’t necessarily need/use). This was definitely a trial and error process, yet I think I finally found the way I like to work out. 1) I like to work out by myself; 2) in the privacy of my own apartment; 3) for the shortest time possible that will allow me to get results; 4) with a challenging, upbeat (but not awkward) exercise video; 5) and have a routine with variety.

If you have a similar mentality as I, here is the equipment I use on a daily basis:

  • Exercise mat or something to cushion the floor if you’re working out on a hard surface (prices as low as $20 and as high as $150 if you want a special mat)
  • 3lb and/or 5 lb hand weights, good to use less weight for toning but if you’re wanting to build muscle you may want to use heavier weights (price range $15+)
  • 30 day Shred ($15) by Jillian Michaels. It’s a very up beat workout that is only 20 minutes long yet very intense! Prepare for jumping, push-ups, and squats. The DVD has 3 different workouts that are leveled so you can work your way into a more difficult exercise routine as you build endurance.

I have notice that I have been less stressed; have more energy I also tend to eat healthier foods after having started my exercise routine. So refute your excuses, go shred yourself, and enjoy a more healthier you!