Pesto Presto

No, my friends. Today’s Friday does not include anything of the fashion persuasion. Though I know how much you were looking forward to me regaling you with my take on sick fashion (which primarily consists of rants against why having to wear a bra sucks so much), I wore pretty much nothing but popsicle-themed PJ-shorts and Hello Kitty t-shirts for the past 3 days. So you’re outta luck.

Instead, I bring you more food! Funny how when I’m stuck at home with nothing to do but whine and sneeze, suddenly all my posts are about cooking again, eh? On today’s menu… pesto!


I mentioned on Wednesday that I had picked up a GINORMOUS bunch of basil at the Farmer’s Market over the weekend, and unfortunately it was started to turn pretty quickly (as fresh herbs tend to do). Having already exhausted my creativity in the form of caprese salad and tomato basil soup, there was really only one other way I could think of to use up the rest of the basil before it went totally south: the magic that is pesto!


I’ve made pesto maybe twice before in my life, so I am definitely no pro. I am a true aficionado, however, of EATING the stuff. I loooooove pesto. It’s so, so, so delicious. And for perhaps the first time ever, I just happened to have all the necessary ingredients at home. So there wasn’t even any need for me to go out and infect any of the poor checkout clerks at Giant. Not to mention, my sister also happened to send me a recipe for pesto salmon earlier that very day. Fate, I tell you! Fate!


For those of you who have never made pesto before, it’s really quite simple. It’s typically made with pine nuts, but raw walnuts or pecans can be used as a substitute. I had the latter on hand, so that’s what I went with. The other ingredients are as follows:

Fresh basil (duh)
Parmesan reggiano cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon/lime juice
Salt & pepper

Just toss it all into a food processor (or high speed blender) and go nuts! I don’t have exact measured amounts for you, since I’m a wing-it-in-the-kitch kinda cook, but in my experience the ratio kind of goes like this:

A CRAP TON OF BASIL: smaller amounts of everything else



Eventually, with a little tweaking (a little more basil here, a little more oil there, etc, etc), you end up with something that looks moderately passable:


Then, you spoon it over whatever pesto-carrier you choose (while I would have loved to try the salmon recipe my sister sent me, I opted for the much easier whole wheat pasta option instead):


And no, your eyes do not deceive about that side dish.


My beloved roasted brussels sprouts are BACK IN BUSINESS! Huzzah!


I topped it with a few pieces of leftover chicken from a couple of nights ago, and voila! Now your only job will be to fend off hungry beggars at the feast…



I was noting as I was nomming gleefully on my meal that pesto pasta is MUCH more filling to me than pasta with marinara. I don’t know if I just wasn’t as hungry, but one portion of pasta (which is usually not enough for me) topped with some pesto totally did me in. I wonder if it’s because of the higher fat content of the pesto (due to the olive oil). Either way, I ended up totally satisfied AND have enough leftovers for lunch today.

On the sickness front: I am back at work today but still relatively miserable. I sneezed approximately 7,000 times on my drive in this AM. Luckily, it’s Friday and it’s DC so there’s basically nobody here today to see my watery-eyed, sniffling, sad-looking self. Here’s hoping that this weekend will finally drive me back over the edge into full health mode!

Sick Eats

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I am sick. Again. Stupid immune system. Unfortunately, SINCE Tuesday, my sickness has only progressed from bad to worse. I’m on Day 2 of using up my precious PTO stores and staying at home in my jim-jams, trying to minimize as much of the sneezing, sniffling, congestion, and general misery as I can. Sigh.

I suppose that at least there’s the benefit for you in that I don’t really have an excuse not to post my daily eats, eh? And I even used the good camera to boot. So here’s a photo smorgasbord of what a day in the life of sick Gretchen looks like from a food perspective… in between Sudafed-fueled naps.


I started off my morning attempting to make Tina’s (from Carrots ‘n’ Cake) 2-ingredient pancake.

In theory, it’s a very simple recipe: 1 banana + 1 egg = a pancake. Well, in reality, I evidently don’t have the requisite patience to make it happen quite perfectly. But considering it was my first try, I don’t think it turned out too poorly! It was more like half-pancake, half-scramble, but I’ll take it! I added cinnamon to the “pancake” mix, and topped it with crunchy peanut butter. Bacon on the side.


Mid-morning I munched on some glorious cashews. Pistachios had better watch out, the spot for favorite nut (hehe) could quite possibly be in contention soon.


Then, lunch. I wanted soup, since I am sick, and being sick is the only time I want soup (I actually kind of have a thing against soup most of the time, hahaha). The only non-spicy soup in my pantry was a can of Campbell’s Tomato so I snagged that. Then I became a freakin’ genius, and decided to make the soup not with skim milk like I usually do, nor with water like the WEAK, but with Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk instead. LIKE A BOSS.

It. was. flipping. fantastic.

Seriously. Do it, do it, do it, do it. It’s like, 1000x creamier, just a hint coconutty, and seriously SO much more filling. I only made it through less than half of the bowl.


Though granted, that may have been partially due to the slice of Martin’s potato bread and the deeeelicious cob of corn I had on the side. But still! Coconut tomato soup — who knew?!


Afternoon snacks were my last packet of Annie’s bunny gummies…


And a bowl of peanut butter puffins with almond milk. Yes, when I’m sick (slash always), evidently I have the eating habits of a 6-year-old.


By the time dinnertime rolled around, I was literally devoid of any energy to make more food. Ergo, a combo of leftover pizza with a couple of leftover caprese salad discs from the night before. Kind of a crazy delicious combination, actually!

And lest we forget all the many, many, many glasses of water (and subsequent bathroom trips, bahaha) there were in between all the meals. Oy. Staying hydrated has never seemed so tedious.

And with that, I’m going back to bed. Or going to exchange my whole head for a new, non-congested one. Whatever takes less effort.


Kidney vs. Stone: Round 2

Oh hey! Remember when this happened? Well, apparently life decided that one kidney stone epidemic in 11 months was simply not enough. Enter the excruciating pain that began Sunday on the drive back from the wedding and, despite all my best efforts, would not quit.

At first I thought the pain was simply due to gas (you’re welcome for that) but after waking up in the middle of the night desperately clutching my abdomen I figured something was slightly more amiss. Unlike last time, I didn’t go to the ER this time around. Therefore, I can’t be 100% certain that it’s a kidney stone (er, not that the hospital was actually able to make a timely diagnosis last time anyway. Awkward.) But what I do know is that it’s in the same spot and it’s the same kind of pain (though, blessedly, slightly less severe than last time) so I think I can pretty safely assume. Unfortunately, armed with the knowledge from my last unfortunate experience, I know that there’s really nothing to do but wait to pass it.

It’s hard to describe kidney stone pain. Its severity ebbs and flows, comes and goes in intensity. But at its worst, I would say it kind of feels like a small, serrated knife is slowly slicing through the walls of your gut. You’re extra welcome for that imagery. Having a kidney stone is often compared to childbirth (though I obviously wouldn’t know on a personal level) and is legitimately the most excruciating thing I have ever experienced. Needless to say, it’s a pain (har har… ow, laughing hurts.)

So yesterday I spent an awful lot of time laying prostrate on the bed, streaming episode after episode of The Vampire Diaries on Netflix:


While dressed in my super flattering PJs:

God, I’m cool.

Alternating between these two faces:


With these thoroughly unsympathetic mongrels by my side:


Harry even had the audacity to roll around in what I have to assume was poop while out in the backyard. Let me tell you: trying to wash a dog when you have kidney stones?

I feel conflicted, because as much as I was hoping the stone would have passed by now and I’d be off scott-free, I’m kind of relieved I haven’t yet. I know that sounds crazy, but you know the saying, “it gets worse before it gets better”? Or how about, “it is always darkest before the dawn”? Well, they especially apply to kidney stones. As bad as it hurts right now, I vividly remember the extraordinary pain that came right before passing the stone, and I am NOT anxious to relive it.

Pity me. Pity me good.

But either way, I know it’s inevitable. So until then… I’m trying to manage the pain as best I can with the over-the-counter drugs in my medicine cabinet, and taking in as much fluid as possible. I have a doctor’s appointment later this morning, and while I know there’s nothing that he can really DO, I’m hoping that he might have some insight as to WHY this is happening. Again. I mean, this is really putting a literal cramp in my race training as well as my PTO balance.

Ever had to deal with kid-nay stooooones of your own? If not, you are a lucky, lucky son of a gun. If so, pray tell. Misery loves company, after all.

How Laborious (Weigh-in)

Happy Monday Tuesday, everyone! Wow! I am so amazed by the response that the Honey, I Shrunk the T-shirt Shop giveaway got! I was pretty much assuming you’d all think I was a huge d-bag for even presuming that you would want any blog swag, but it was my most popular giveaway yet! I guess it’s really true what they say: nobody can refuse a free shirt. Bahaha.

Okay, so without further adieu (and because I just spent an hour and a half driving 9 miles, FML) let’s get on to the good stuff. Drumroll, please!

Since the plug-in I use to pick a giveaway winner doesn’t show exactly which comment it pulled, here are all of Megan’s entries. See? Multiple entries, baby!

Congratulations, Megan! Email me at [email protected] and we’ll work out the details. For those of you who didn’t win this time, fret not. I’m sure another chance for you to win will be popping up in the not-too-distant future! And if you just can’t wait, don’t forget that you can, you know, buy stuff from the shop too. Just saying. 😉

The weekend was a lot of fun (hanging around, taro-flavored froyo, par-tay) and also a lot of not fun (errrr, me getting violently sick at 3 AM on Sunday and not even from drinking! What the heck!) but I didn’t really get any real pictures of any of it (who am I?!) So instead, you may enjoy these:


Tiwed.Save me.

You are welcome. Eventually though, they did officially hit their limit as camera-fodder:

Stink Eye.
Whaddya want?

How rude.

Okay, okay, we’ll wrap this thing up now:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Week’s Weight: 189.0 lbs
This Week’s Weight: 187.8 lbs
This Week’s Loss: -1.2 lbs


Even WITH a holiday weekend, I managed to lose a pound. WHAT. UP. Guess this whole strengthening of my resolve thing really means something, eh? Or maybe it’s because I threw up everything I had eaten on Sunday that night… blech. Well, we’ll go with the former, haha.

Onward and downward! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend! How did you celebrate your Labor Day?

DC Blogger Meetup: Ella’s

Ahoy-hoy, friends! Today’s post is coming to you a bit later than usual this morning, but you’ll see why in a bit. Phew! Between sushi, crashing a culinary school class, and last night this week has been a whirlwind! But a superawesomefuntastic whirlwind, of course.


So last night, I met up with fellow bloggers Kacy, Katie, Allison, and Jess for dinner & drinks at Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza in Chinatown! (Photo purloined from Jess.)


Ella’s has an amazing happy hour that goes from 4 – 7, and it was PACKED. Katie and Allison arrived there early, so they had staked out a couple seats at the bar. We ended up having to wait a while for a table, but somehow we survived…


$3.50 glasses of sangria? Don’t mind if I do!


Thankfully all that time waiting gave us plenty o’ time to peruse the menu, so we ordered pretty much as soon as we were seated. Can’t keep hungry bloggers from their food, after all!


I got the strawberry & orange salad to start (with spinach, candied slivered nuts, and goat cheese), and the margharita pizza.


Which I ate 2/3 of, and it was soooo good. There’s nothing quite like melty fresh mozzerella and fresh basil having a party in your mouth, no sirree. Of course, the absolute best part about going to dinner with other bloggers?


I’m never the only one taking pictures of my food! A big round of applause for the evening’s organizer too, btw: thanks Kacy!


I know you want to thank me for posting this photo, so I’ll just preemptively say you’re welcome. 😉

It was a fantastic evening, even with the stifling humidity. Unfortunately, the night didn’t end quite as awesomely. Remember at the beginning of the post how I referenced mentioning why I’m posting a little late today? Well, that’s because I was up LATE last night… throwing up. Urk. I don’t know if it was the sangria, the salad, the pizza, or some combination of the three but something just didn’t sit well with me. I started feeling nauseous on the Metro ride home, but thankfully held it together until I walked in the door (thanks again for the ride, Kacy!) So it took me a little longer than usual to pull myself together this morning after the not-so-fun-ness that occurred post-dinner. Whatever, still worth it. The only true tragedy is that I had to throw out my leftover pizza this morning, since I really didn’t want to risk getting sick again. Sad.

Thanks for this pic, Kacy!

We’re going to try to implement a monthly outing like this, so other bloggers/blog readers in the area, mark your calendars! I believe we’re aiming for the next one to be at Graffiato, Top Chef (!!) contestant Mike Isabella’s new restaurant, in August. More details to come, but come one, come all!

Have you ever gotten food poisoning before? Have any thoughts on it, tips for avoidance, home remedies, recovery foods, anything like that?