Thursday, January 23, 2020

New Dessert/Snack Recipes Tried in 2019

One of my 2019 goals is to try six new-to-me dessert or snack recipes. Mission accomplished!

1. New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding

We got engaged just before Christmas, traveled to California for the holiday, and celebrated NYE at home with steak, brussels sprouts, and New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding.

M picked bread pudding out of my all-time favorite cookbook: America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two CookbookTruth be told, I did not have high hopes. I mean... golden raisins? But I've learned to trust the recipe and the process where America's Test Kitchen is involved.

How did it turn out? A delicious vanilla custard. Golden raisins transformed into bourbon flavor bombs. A crisp, buttery crust. Y'all, it turns out I love bread pudding.

The cookbook includes a variation using chocolate chips in place of the golden raisins that I plan to try in 2020.

2. Peanut Blossom Cookies

My grandma had a habit of making these during the holidays, but I've never found a written copy of her recipe, so I turned to America's Test Kitchen's The Perfect Cookie 2019 (this was a magazine that was sold at Costco during the first quarter of 2019, not the current hardbound cookbook).

I made a batch of peanut blossoms because we needed a treat to gift to M's dad in appreciation for his help with a project. They turned out great--loved the addition of 1/2 cup ground, salted dry-roasted peanuts to the cookie dough.

3. Chocolate Turtle Cookies

I like caramel, so I thought this cookie would be a slam dunk. It's a chocolate thumbprint cookie crusted with toasted pecans and filled with caramel. That I didn't like. I don't have the words to account for this--was it holiday fatigue? Maybe, but this recipe is not on my repeat list.

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's The Perfect Cookie 2019 (this was a magazine that was sold at Costco during the first quarter of 2019, not the current hardbound cookbook).

4. Peanut Butter Cup No Churn Ice Cream

We have been debating using an old gift card to purchase an ice cream maker for over a year, but we don't have space to store any additional small kitchen appliances. A discussion of no churn ice cream on the America's Test Kitchen Instagram account has solved our problems. Easily the best ice cream I tasted in 2019 (and I have ready access to Bluebell!).

This recipe can be found on the America's Test Kitchen app.

5. Wheat Thins w/TJ's Everything but the Bagel Seasoning

I made Smitten Kitchen's Homemade Wheat Thins numerous times this year. Easy. Tasty. A great way to use up some whole wheat flour that had been sitting in my pantry a little too long. I love the addition of Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel seasoning.

6. Confetti Cookies

They scream celebration. I look forward to resurrecting Smitten Kitchen's Confetti Cookie recipe when/if I have little kids in the house at some point in the future.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Stretch Goals


One of my exercise goals for 2019 was to make time to stretch for at least five minutes on one hundred days. Mission accomplished (albeit a tad late--I didn't finish my 100th stretching session until today).

I'm a bendy person by nature. I plopped down into a full center split as a toddler and never looked back. Sure, I had to work on developing strength to support my flexibility, but flexibility itself hasn't been something I've worked at in a long time.

This changed once I started spinning thanks to a helpful nudge from Peloton in the form of a prompt to begin a five-minute post ride stretch after every ride. I'll probably never be as limber as I once was, but I feel better now that I'm stretching again.

Speaking of "stretch goals," in 2020 I plan to tend to the (many!) 2019 goals that weren't completed timely and stretch to complete the goals listed under my 2020 tab (and copied below), which include some items that are less practical than in years past on account of my recent engagement to M.
  1. Engagement photos
  2. Plan wedding
  3. Plan 1 date night per month
  4. Finish pre-wedding counseling @ M's church
  5. Prepare for baptism
  6. 2,020 miles cycled on my Peloton
  7. 400 cumulative Peloton cycling classes
  8. 250 cumulative Peloton stretching classes
  9. 100 cumulative Peloton strength classes
  10. 100 cumulative Peloton meditation classes
  11. 12 yoga classes
  12. 12 barre classes
  13. 15lb weight loss (resulting in weight of 120lbs)
  14. Vegetarian Mondays
  15. Trip to Joshua Tree
  16. Birthday trip/honeymoon
  17. Big, out of town concert
  18. Max out 401(k)
  19. Max out 437
  20. Hit net worth milestone
  21. Earn $25k side hustling
  22. Finish IPL series
  23. Build out/use Skinceuticals skincare routine
  24. Finish future family member's Bucilla stocking
  25. Take four dance classes w M
  26. Pass CFA Level I exam
  27. Pass CIPP exam
  28. Attend two work conferences
  29. Finish reading PE treatise
  30. Apply for adjunct position
  31. Read 12 non-fiction books related to investment management and private equity
  32. Call grandfather at least 1x/month
  33. Create tutoring modules
  34. Interview Stanford applicants
  35. Mentor law student
  36. Repair weather stripping 
  37. Paint garage
  38. New auto insurance
  39. Update personal investment strategy

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Peloton: 200 Rides In

In April 2019, I wrote about completing my 150th ride or cycling class on the Peloton I purchased in August 2018. In early December 2019, I finished my 200th ride.

Generally, rides 151 - 200 were shorter and less intense than the first 150 in the aggregate. I've included some data points below:

Rides 1-150

  • Average length: 42.33 minutes 
  • Average output: 304.99 
  • Average distance: 12.24 miles 
  • Average calories burned: 390.53 kcals 

Rides 151-200 

  • Average length: 35.10 minutes 
  • Average output: 227.32 
  • Average distance: 9.73 miles 
  • Average calories burned: 290.22 kcals 

What happened? Something is wrong with my knee. I injured this same knee in a dance performance in college and had a surgery to repair it. The repair has held through regular exercise and even a few half marathons, but started giving me trouble for the first time in 2019. I visited the ortho for insight and ended up with an X-ray and cortisone shot. The doctor indicated that this sort of problem could require exploratory surgery that's unlikely to be a success and that it's best to hold off. This is discouraging, especially since cycling is viewed as pretty low impact. As a result, I've reduced the intensity of my workouts in order to avoid pain.

Still, a workout doesn't need to be perfect to be worth doing. The big win here is that I'm exercising consistently and I've added regular stretching to the routine. Over the course of 200 rides, I've cycled 2,313 miles. I'm hoping to complete my 400th ride by the end of the year. Onward!