Saturday, March 31, 2012

136.6….A Green Meal

As I was staring at an abundance of basil on my counter, a light bulb went off. Pesto!!! I found a recipe that wasn’t too unhealthy yet full of flavor!

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I was really please with this one! I will be posting the recipe later next week. It’s worth the wait, I promise!

To go along with my green dinner, I had a green salad.

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They say you should eat the color of the rainbow right? Well, I got my “green” in for the day.

After a great night’s sleep, I awoke ready to tackle the day. For breakfast I made a scramble using egg beaters, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, salsa and shredded cheddar cheese.

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I took my son to his tennis lesson and then went to spin class. After I got home and showered, it was time for lunch.

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Tuna salad on a bed of greens. I went to the grocery store, Baskin Robbins for ice cream for the kids and came home. Tonight I’m going to a friend’s house for poker. It’s been awhile since I played and I think I totally forgot how to play. Guess we’ll see…..

Do you play card games with your friends?

Are you a pesto fan?

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Friday, March 30, 2012

136.8…Spicy Basil Chicken

Last night’s dinner was courtesy of April’s Cooking Light issue again. When I saw the recipe for Spicy Basil Chicken, I thought my husband would really enjoy it. He loves Asian style chicken dishes.

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Spicy Basil Chicken (Serves 4)

Adapted from Cooking Light, April 2012

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1/4 cup minced shallots

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

6 (4 oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 Tbsp fish sauce*

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp lower-sodium soy sauce

1 1/4 tsp chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)*

1 tsp water

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup sliced basil leaves

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add chicken to pan; cook 8-10 minutes or until chicken is done.

2. Combine fish sauce and the next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add fish sauce mixture to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring to coat chicken. Remove from heat. Stir in basil.

*Substitute lower-sodium soy sauce if fish sauce is difficult to find. The flavor won’t be as complex, but soy sauce will still add a salty note. You can substitute thinly sliced Thai bird chiles or jalapeno for the sambal oelek-or leave it out completely if you’d rather enjoy a mild dish.

Note: I ended up DOUBLING the sauce. We are sauce people over here and I knew the amount called for would not have been enough for us. I actually wished I had tripled the sauce.

Printable Recipe

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I served the Spicy Basil Chicken with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

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We enjoyed the dish but we weren’t wowed by it. The original recipe called for chicken thighs which I’m sure would have been more flavorful. I also did not have any more fish sauce and couldn’t find it so I did substitute for more soy sauce. Fish sauce would have made it better for sure. I’d give it a try….you just might want to at least double the sauce.

By the way…the calorie count for 3/4 cup (using chicken thighs) is 291 calories….pretty good!

Breakfast this morning was toast with my homemade peanut butter and a bowl of strawberries and blackberries.

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I took the kids to school, went to an event in my son’s class and then to Starbucks for a latte.

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I was hungry so I snacked on a mini Luna Bar in White  Chocolate Macadamia.

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Great flavor….not a lot of bar for 80 calories. I went to an event in my daughter’s class and then came home for lunch.

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Turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich with veggies and hummus. I picked up the kids from school and came home to get the laundry started.

I have a couple of new recipes to try this weekend that I’m excited about.

What’s on your agenda for this weekend?

Have you cooked anything exciting from a magazine lately?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

137.0…Barbeque, Brunch & Bacon

I have had so many good eats in the last 24 hours. I wish I could relive it all again. Especially last night’s dinner at Phil’s BBQ with some friends. As soon as I arrived, my friend Alicia had a glass of wine waiting for me. Now, that’s a good friend!

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We all shared onion rings while we waited for our food to come.

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They look really healthy don’t they? :) Ah, but they were so delicious! I was able to control myself and only ate two. But let’s get real….I was saving room for the main event.

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Half rack of baby back ribs, corn on the cob and cole slaw. Perfection. I think I did announce last night that I did not want the moment to end. But it did…and at least when I went to sleep last night, I had a big smile on my face.

I was all about my homemade granola this morning. I put it on top of some blueberry Chobani yogurt and added strawberries and blueberries.

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I’ve noticed that the addition of the granola helps me stay fuller longer. Normally when I just eat the yogurt and fruit, I’m hungry two hours later or sooner. The addition of the fat in the granola really helps satisfy me.

After taking the kids to school, I went to Starbucks for a green tea and then went to a cooking class at Great News. Today’s class was taught by Phillis Carey and was entitled “Easter Brunch.” I love all things brunch foods so I was more than excited for today’s class.

The first two recipes were Homemade English Muffin Bread with Bacon Jam.

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HOLY CRAP. BACON JAM. If I could swim in a sea of bacon jam, the world would be a fabulous place. I think we the phrase “it’s the jam!” was made up, it was referring to bacon jam. I need to have more of this in my life.

The English muffin bread rocked too. :) I make a similar bread and it’s so great toasted with butter and honey but bacon jam takes it to a whole new level.

The next two recipes were Savory Italian Vegetable Bread Pudding with Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers and Mushrooms…..along with….Chicken Sausage Patties with Apricot Mustard Glaze.

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This was a plate of goodness. I love savory bread puddings and this one did not disappoint. The sausage was good too….especially the sauce on it!

Next up was Mexican Breakfast Tortilla Bake with Poblano Chilies, Red Peppers, Sausage and Pepper Jack Cheese.

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Another winner! This was basically a layered breakfast casserole type of dish, which I love.

Lastly was Ricotta and Orange Blintzes with Strawberry Sauce.

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I’m not a blintz fan so I really cannot comment. It tasted fine and everyone around me seemed to like it. I don’t know why I don’t like blintzes.

After class, I went to Costco and picked the kids up from school. I’m about to get dinner started….another new recipe tonight!

Favorite dish(es) to serve/eat at a brunch?

Have you ever had bacon jam before?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

136.8…Chili-Cheese Mac

I saw a recipe in April’s issue of Cooking Light that caught my eye. It looked simple to prepare and I imagined it would taste comforting and delicious. I was right on all fronts.

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Chili-Cheese Mac (Serves 6)

Slightly adapted from Cooking Light April 2012

1 tsp. canola oil

3/4 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth

1 cup water

1 (10 oz.) can mild diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained

8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni

1/2 cut fat-free milk

4 oz. 1/3-less fat cream cheese

4 1/2 oz. shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add beef and next 4 ingredients; cook 3 minutes. Add broth, water, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni; cover and cook 10 minutes or until macaroni is done.

2. Heat milk and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar. Add cheese sauce to macaroni mixture; toss well to coat.

Serving size: 1 cup (342 calories)

Printable Recipe

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I loved it! This reminded me of when I was growing up…..this may not appeal to some but I loved Hamburger Helper back in the day. This tasted like a way better, healthier version of that. It was all I could do to put the leftovers away as quickly as possible so I would eat them all right there. 

I added a salad to it to up my veggie intake and to help fill me up so I wouldn’t eat the entire pan of Chili-Cheese Mac.

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This morning I was excited to put my homemade peanut butter on top of a toasted English muffin. On the side, I had a bowl of strawberries and blueberries.

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I really enjoyed this peanut butter.I love how I threw in some whole peanuts right at the end of the blending process to make it chunkier.

I took the kids to school and went to Zumba class. I changed and met two of my friends at the movie theater. And not just any movie theater….a fancy schamcy one!

 

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Cinepolis in Del Mar recently opened and this was my first time going. The seats are extra nice: all leather and they recline until you are basically laying down.

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They have these two seats in the lobby as an example. You have little lamps next to your seat, as well as a tray that moves around. There is also a call button. When you push it, an attendant comes and takes your drink and food order. The menu looked like it had a nice variety of options. They even have sushi!

I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir.

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Hard to see because it was getting dark in the theater by that point and I didn’t want to be weird and use a flash. For lunch, I ordered the Ahi Tuna. The menu said: tuna, noodles, vegetables, lettuce and sesame dressing. It definitely was interesting eating a salad in the dark. :) I never tasted any noodles and there was a bit too much dressing on the salad but other than that I enjoyed it.

Now to the best part…the movie I saw. The Hunger Games! I have been SO excited to see it since I read all three books. I really enjoyed the movie. I can see how if you haven’t read the books, you many not enjoy the movie as much. I loved it and thought the cast and set decoration was fabulous.

I just got home from bringing the kids home from school. Tonight we are going with some friends to Phil’s BBQ. Oh my, I cannot wait!

Have you read any of The Hunger Games books or seen the movie? Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

136.8…Homemade Granola & Peanut Butter

Yesterday I made two things I’ve surprisingly NEVER made before: granola AND peanut butter. Can you believe that!?!

I was inspired by my friend Mellissa from A Fit and Spicy Life’s recipe for Apple Agave Granola. I had all the ingredients, so I thought…why not??

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So glad I made it! It was so simple and the house smelled amazing while it was all baking in the oven.

Apple Agave Granola

Recipe from: A Fit and Spicy Life

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl mix the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, apple pie spice, salt and raisins.

Over low heat combine apple sauce, agave and vegetable oil.

Combine with the oats until everything is coated well.

Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheets and bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Let cool and store in a resealable container.

*Note: the only thing I didn’t have was the apple pie spice but here is any easy substitution: For every 1 tsp of apple pie spice: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp cardamom.

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I baked my granola for 50 minutes and it had started to burn so I’d just watch it at about the 45 minute mark. Even so, it is some serious delicious granola and I love that it’s not full of oil or other naughty ingredients. :)

Recently, my sister in law told me how easy it was to make peanut butter in the Vitamix. I took out my Vitamix cookbook and followed the instructions. In went 3  cups of unsalted, roasted peanuts and after some very loud blending, homemade peanut butter was born.

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I was very proud of myself. :)

Last night’s dinner may not be as exciting as homemade granola and peanut butter but it was still good.

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Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce, sautéed zucchini, onions and green peppers all topped with some fresh basil.

So….while I was lying in bed last night, I could not decide what I was going to eat for breakfast this morning. Would it be the granola or the peanut butter???? Seriously…I must have gone back and forth on it several time. In the end, the granola won out.

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Chobani Black Cherry yogurt with my beloved granola hiding under all those berries. Delicious. 

I took the kids to school, went to spin class, came home to change and then went to the mall to run some errands. I stopped at Nordstrom for lunch. I tried the Chicken & Artichoke salad.

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Holy yummy deliciousness. I was in love at the first bite. Romaine lettuce topped with marinated artichokes, tomatoes, red onion, chicken and goat cheese in a fabulous dressing. I need this salad again soon.

After picking up the kids from school,  I knew exactly what I wanted for a snack. My peanut butter. :)

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It went right onto apple slices. Loved it! I have a feeling I will be seeing my peanut butter again in the morning. :)

Have you ever made your own granola and/or peanut butter?

Monday, March 26, 2012

137.2…Fun with the Family

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start!

Saturday afternoon I had a snack of grapes and a light Babybel cheese.

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My sister in law and her kids came into town so we met them at Souplantation for dinner. I had my standard huge beast of a salad, lots of cups of Ranch dressing, chili and a baked potato.

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Sunday morning’s breakfast was toast with peanut butter and a bowl of berries.

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We all went to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party. At the party, the had a nice array of El Pollo Loco food.

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I had a tortilla with some chicken, rice and some mac & cheese. I also had a delicious piece of chocolate birthday cake. It’s so hard for me to resist birthday cake!

After the party, we went back to their house where I enjoyed some more snacks. I put the camera down and enjoyed hanging out with my family.  I brought over a 6 layer bean dip which I ate some of. I also enjoyed some other dips with chips and more chicken & tortillas. It was a fun day just hanging out with family.

This morning’s breakfast was vanilla Chobani with berries.

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So far the vanilla flavor is my least favorite Chobani flavor. This is strange because normally vanilla is my favorite flavor yogurt but not this time. It was still good but not as good as the pineapple.

I took the kids to school and went to Cardio Muscle class. After class, I went grocery shopping and came home to make lunch.

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Tuna salad on a toasted sandwich thin, veggies & hummus. Excellent lunch!

After picking up the kids from school, I had my new favorite snack: grapes and a light Babybel cheese!

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Not much else going on here….ready for a relaxing evening!

What was the best thing you ate all weekend?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

137.0…Slow-Cooker Sloppy Joes & Alexia Waffle Fries

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, Foodbuzz recently sent me a coupon to try a free product from Alexia Foods. I had never purchased their products before and was excited to try them at home. I chose the Waffle Fries.

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From Alexia’s website: “These crispy potatoes are lightly seasoned with a flawless blend of sea salt, pepper, onion and garlic to create an all-natural distinctive taste unlike anything you'll find in your usual fry.”

I followed their oven directions and baked the fries in a 400 degree oven on a cookie sheet lined with crumpled aluminum foil. The directions said to bake for 20-25 minutes. I ended up baking them for about 28 minutes…I like my fries crispy!

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The verdict: I really enjoyed these fries!! The texture was spot on: crispy on the outside and perfect inside. Loved the seasonings! If you want fries that aren’t “fried” you have to try these!

Now through March 30th, you have a chance to help select the next Alexia french fry flavor by voting in their “Reinvent a Classic” campaign on Facebook! Just visit Facebook.com/AlexiaFoods and click on the “Reinvent a Classic” tab to vote for one of four gourmet french fry flavors created by other food bloggers.

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To go with my waffle fries, I thought sloppy joes would fit the bill. But not just any sloppy joes….Slow-Cooker Sloppy Joes!

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Slow-Cooker Sloppy Joes (Serves 4)

Slightly adapted from Southern Living

1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/4 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped

4 oz. tomato sauce

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup ketchup

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. yellow mustard

1/2 Tbsp. chili powder

1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

4 hamburger buns, toasted

  • 1. Brown beef with onion and bell pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring 10 minutes or until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well.
  • 2. Place beef mixture in a slow cooker. Stir in tomato sauce and next 9 ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours. Serve on hamburger buns.
  • Cooktop Method: Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 1, returning drained beef mixture to Dutch oven. Stir in tomato sauce and next 8 ingredients, omitting flour. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
  • Note: To freeze leftover Sloppy Joe mixture, let cool completely. Place in zip-top plastic freezer bags; lay bags flat, and stack in freezer. Freeze up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or defrost in the microwave.
  • Printable Recipe

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    I ate my sloppy joe on a sandwich thin but my husband enjoyed his on regular hamburger buns….yes he ate two. They were that good! I love how you just dump stuff in the slow cooker and several hours later your dinner is done.

    Along with the sloppy joes and fries, I decided we needed some veggies so I made a big salad.

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    I slept so well last night! I was asleep before 9PM last night. Exciting Friday night huh? :) Breakfast this morning was especially delicious.

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    Egg beaters scrambled with salsa, broccoli, onions, green bell peppers, diced ham and shredded cheddar cheese. I topped everything with a hefty dose of Tabasco.

    I went to spin class, came home to shower and then took my son to boy scouts. Lunch was tuna salad on top of a big green salad.

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    We have family coming in to town tonight for my nephew’s birthday party tomorrow. I’m going to make a couple of appetizers to bring to my sister in law’s house tomorrow.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Have you ever tried any of Alexia’s products? Any recommendations for me?

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    137.4…The Bread Strikes Again

    Every time I went into the kitchen, I’d see that bread. That wonderful, delicious bread that I took home from my cooking class at Barbeques Galore. Every now and then, I’d pick it up and could smell its wonderful aroma seeping out of the plastic wrap covering it. I knew it had to be dinner.

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    Yes….a piece of bread was my dinner. Bread that large should be on its own. I shudder to think how many calories that huge chunk of goodness has.

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    I tried to make myself feel better and ate a big salad with it. There…that’s not so bad! Now I’m sad the bread is gone. Guess I will have to make a batch of it now. Who’s going to help me eat it?

    This morning I tried another new-to-me flavor of Chobani yogurt: Raspberry.

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    I topped it with strawberries and blackberries. Loved this flavor too! I still like the pineapple one the best. Looks like I’m a Chobani convert!

    I took the kids to school and went to Cardio Muscle class. Afterwards I ran some errands and then came home to make lunch.

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    Turkey sandwich on buttermilk bread with mustard, lettuce and tomato slices. I had a ton of veggies with hummus as well.

    I just put dinner in the slow cooker and am off to pick up the kids from school. Enjoy the rest of your Friday!

    What are your plans for the weekend?

    What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten for dinner?