Thursday, June 28, 2012

139.0…Hard Rock Cafe’s Baked Potato Soup

I did something strange last night.

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I made soup on a hot summer night. Strange it may be, I’m so glad I did it! 

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Now, I’ve never tasted Hard Rock Cafe’s Baked Potato Soup so I don’t really know how similar this one is to it. I don’t really care…it’s tasted fabulous. That’s really all I need to know.

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Hard Rock Cafe’s Baked Potato Soup  (serves 6)

Recipe Courtesy Phillis Carey

Ingredients:

6 to 8 slices bacon

1 cup diced onions

2/3 cup flour

6 cups hot chicken stock or broth

4 cups baked potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 cups heavy whipping cream

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

1 ½ tsp. granulated garlic

1 ½ tsp. dried basil

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce

1 ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup diced green onions

Additional chopped bacon, grated cheese and parsley for garnish

1. Cut bacon across into thin strips. Cook bacon in a large pot over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Add onion to drippings and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add flour, stirring and cooking for 3 to 5 minutes or until it just begins to turn golden.

2. Stir in the hot chicken stock or broth, whisking to prevent lumps, and cook until liquid thickens. Reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes, cream, cooked bacon, parsley, garlic, basil, salt, hot pepper sauce and pepper. Simmer slowly for 10 minutes but don’t boil rapidly. Add grated Cheddar cheese and green onions. Heat until cheese melts. Serve topped with more bacon, cheese, and parsley.

Printable Recipe

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This morning’s breakfast was the same as yesterday.

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Pineapple Chobani with Coconut-Sour Cherry Granola and mixed berries.

I took the kids to the bus for camp, got my nails done and stopped for lunch at Luna Grill. I had my standard Greek salad with a chicken kabob.

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Heaven.

After lunch it was my wax appointment and then I headed home. I will be picking up the kids soon, finish packing for our trip to Los Angeles and baking something for all my nieces and nephews. Just in case you were wondering…there are 17 of them. Yeah.

Do you eat soup all year round?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

139.6…A House To Myself

Last night my husband and I went to Fleming’s Steakhouse for dinner.

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Cheers to date night!

I started with the Wedge Salad.

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I cannot resist this salad when it’s on the menu. It’s so crisp and refreshing!

For our main course, we ordered their special last nigh: two 5 oz filet mignons and lobster.

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The lobster was poached in butter. The steak was perfectly cooked the mashed potatoes were wonderfully garlicy.

We also split two sides: Fleming’s Potatoes (made with cream, jalapenos and cheddar cheese) and Creamed Sweet Corn.

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If all that wasn’t decadent enough, we shared the Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream for dessert.

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We had such a good time, just the two of us, laughing and relaxing while enjoying a fabulous meal!

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This morning’s breakfast was pineapple Chobani (I bought more!), Coconut-Sour Cherry Granola and mixed berries.

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I took the kids to the bus for camp. Today is “late night” at the camp. They have a barbeque dinner and stay until 7PM! I’ve had the house all to myself since this morning!

Lunch was a repeat of Monday’s lunch.

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Chicken salad sandwich and grapes. So good.

So…what have I done with my day so far? Nothing exciting, unfortunately. Laundry, bills, packing for Los Angeles (my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah is this weekend), etc. Even thought it wasn’t fun, I feel accomplished!

How often do you have the house all to yourself?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

139.6…Local San Diego Bounty – Tomatoes and Corn

Last night’s dinner hit the spot.

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I had some marinara in the freezer as well as some meatballs. I defrosted both, simmered them together, boiled some linguine and dinner was served.  No salad, no frills, nothing but a bowl of pasta. It was so satisfying and simple. Don’t you just love meals like that?

Breakfast this morning was a toasted English muffin with homemade peanut butter and a bowl of pineapple.

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I took the kids to the bus for camp, picked up a latte at Starbucks and then went to cooking class at Great News.

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Today’s topic was Local San Diego Bounty – Tomatoes and Corn. All the recipes used tomatoes and corn from local farms! The class was taught by my favorite instructor, Phillis Carey.

The first recipe was Grilled Mole-Rubbed Steak Salad with Tomato, Corn and Avocado Relish and Poblano Cilantro Vinaigrette.

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Oh my gosh, this was good. Everything about it was wonderful. The dressing, the relish and the steak were excellent!

The next plate had two recipes: Penne with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella and Corn on the Cob with Garlic and Parmesan Cheese.

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The penne was simple yet flavorful. It really showcased the tomatoes! What really stole the show was the corn. You can’t beat fresh corn drizzled with garlic oil and sprinkled with cheese!

The next recipe was Bacon and Heirloom Tomato Tart with Cheddar Topping.

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I thought I was going to like this the least of all the recipes. Boy, was I wrong!! This tart was ridiculously good. I kept thinking, when can I make this?? Who can I make it for?? The crust was perfect, the tomatoes were delicious and the cheddar topping brought it all together.  Oh yeah…the bacon didn’t hurt either.

The last recipe was Tuscan Grilled Chicken Breasts on Creamy Polenta with Charred Corn and Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette.

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Another winner. The polenta was creamy and comforting and the addition of the tomato vinaigrette was a surprisingly delicious addition.

After class I ran a few errands and then picked up the kids from the bus.

Tonight is date night with the husband. I’m excited!

Do you shop at local farmer’s markets?

Monday, June 25, 2012

139.2…Reading The Directions

Last night’s dinner was pretty phenomenal.

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I made some pulled chicken (recipe will be up next week) in the slow cooker and served it with Baked French Fries and a salad with ranch dressing.

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I love my slow cooker and don’t use it nearly enough. I love how I just dumped everything in it, and went about my day while it cooked. At dinner time, it was ready to go.

This morning I had an epiphany. I keep looking at my Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Thins thinking how much I don’t like them because they get too hard in the toaster, no matter how light I toast them. All of a sudden, I thought to look at the package to see if there was any guidance in preparing them so they didn’t taste like round bricks. Wouldn’t you know it….they did! The instructions said to keep the bagel thin TOGETHER if you don’t want it too crispy and apart if you do. Duh! I’ve been doing it apart all this time.

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Much better! I still wouldn’t repurchase but they sure do taste a heck of a lot better now! I topped my improved bagel thin with Teddie Super Chunky peanut butter and ate some pineapple and strawberries with it.

Today was the kiddos’ first day at camp. I took them to the bus which is beyond cute by the way. The kids are so small that their heads barely show in the windows. The bus looks empty but it’s full of tiny people! :)

After drop off, I went to the gym for a new class. Cardio Muscle has been cancelled for the summer so it’s being replaced with a Core Fusion Fit class. It was a blend of yoga/pilates/weights. Here are my thoughts: it was a little slow/sleepy for me. I guess I really like to feel the burn and to leave class a sweaty mess. I liked the Cardio Muscle class because I got a bit of good cardio and a ton of heavier weight lifting. This class was more about the lighter weights and barely any cardio. I guess it is always good to change things up so maybe it will be a good change of pace for the summer.

After class I went to Costco and the dry cleaner. Then it was home for lunch.

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Lunch was excellent. I whipped up chicken salad using Trader Joe’s Grilled Chicken Strips, celery, red onion, dried dill, dried tarragon, garlic salt, Dijon mustard and  low fat mayo. It was a a great sandwich! I enjoyed some grapes on the side.

Now I’m waiting for the Dish Network guy to arrive. Our hard drive on our TV box is dying a slow and painful death.

Are you a directions reader? I normally am! I read the directions on everything! When I get a new car, I read them front to back. Yes, I’m a nerd.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

138.6…Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Chocolate and peanut butter were meant to go together.

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These brownies have married the two flavors together perfectly. There are perfectly fudgy and peanut buttery all at the same time.

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Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Ingredients:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick) cut into chunks

4 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 1/2 Tbsp instant espresso powder

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

8 regular size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, coarsely chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Microwave chocolate chips and butter for about 45 seconds. If not mostly melted, microwave for 20 more seconds. Stir until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder and espresso powder. Set aside.

3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, peanut butter and salt until combined.

4. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.

5. Stir in the flour until just combined.

6. Fold chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into batter.

7. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread evenly and level the surface with a rubber spatula.

8. Bake approximately 35-40 minutes. Brownies will be slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean.

9. Cool to room temperature for about 2 hours. Cut into squares. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Printable Recipe

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Friday night Alicia and her husband came over for Hot Wing night!

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I fried up 48 hot wings and soon enough it was time to dig in!

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Alicia brought a salad…you know….so we could feel like we were eating something healthy.

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I felt a bit disappointed as I was only able to eat 10 wings. Oh well…each of the 10 wings were beyond delicious. Now I’ll have to wait for Alicia to get back from Europe to have another hot wing party. :(

Saturday morning’s breakfast was Trader Joe’s Greek style vanilla yogurt with Coconut-Sour Cherry Granola and strawberries.

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Another yogurt winner! I like that you could see the vanilla bean seeds in the yogurt. I will repurchase this one for sure!

We all hopped in the car and headed to the Los Angeles area for my nephew’s birthday party. I ate a couple of pieces of pizza, salad and a small piece of birthday cake at the party.

After the party, we went back to my brother in law’s house to continue the festivities.

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I snacked on some chips and dip and sipped on some wine while the kids swam.

We picked up dinner from Johnny Rockets. I ordered the grilled chicken breast sandwich and onion rings (which I shared).

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We left after dinner, got home late and went to bed.

Breakfast this morning was yellow….very yellow.

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Scrambled egg beaters with shredded cheddar cheese and a side of pineapple. 

I spent most of the day cleaning up around the house. We took the kids to Souplantation for lunch. I had my usual giant salad and bowl of chili.

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I think the rest of the day will be spent lazily around the house. Just the way I like to spend my Sundays.

What was the best thing you ate all weekend?

Friday, June 22, 2012

137.4…Twenty Four Hours of Trader Joes

I don’t think I’ve ever expressed my love for Trader Joes on the blog before. I love 99% of everything I’ve tried there. The closest one is about 10 minutes away which is close but not close enough for my liking. :) Yesterday I went there and loaded up on groceries. I have been living off their food since.

It all started at yesterday’s lunch when I ate their Chinese Chicken Salad. I bought a pineapple and cut it up for dessert.

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I love pineapple. I had to put the container away so I wouldn’t eat the entire pineapple in one sitting. 

I bought a new salad dressing for dinner last night:

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Hummus salad dressing! I was so excited to try it! I made a big salad consisting of more stuff bought at Trader Joe’s: romaine, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and grilled chicken breast strips.

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Verdict: I thought the dressing was so-so. It tasted a bit like watered down hummus. I don’t know what I was expecting…I guess to be wowed but it didn’t happen. I will finish the bottle but I would repurchase. I did mention that I like Trader Joe’s products 99% of the time.

Dessert was a piece of Trader Joes 100 Calorie Dark Chocolate Bars.

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They are a perfect amount of chocolate when you are craving something sweet.

Since I’m out of my beloved Chobani pineapple yogurt, I decided to try something new.

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I added strawberries and Coconut-Sour Cherry Granola to it.

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It was pretty good! A good stand-by yogurt for sure! I bought the vanilla flavor so I’ll be trying that soon.

I went to Cardio Muscle class, then came home to get the laundry started and do some baking.

Lunch was courtesy of Trader Joe’s again.

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I whipped up a quick tuna salad with Jalapeno Yogurt Dip, celery, red onion, celery, pickles, garlic salt and paprika. I added some hummus and veggies to the plate as well.

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Since we are on the Trader Joes topic, let me share with you my all-time favorite store bought hummus:

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We are picky over here about hummus. (Best hummus ever is at Zan Kou Chicken.) This hummus passes our test and seriously rocks.

Tonight is hot wing night at our house. My friend Alicia and her husband are leaving for Europe next week for awhile so this will be our last wing night for a few weeks.  I will try not to shed a tear when I eat my last wing tonight.

Tomorrow we are headed to Los Angeles for my nephew’s birthday party. We will be back late so I won’t be blogging until Sunday. Enjoy your weekend!

What are some of your favorite Trader Joes products?

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

139.4…The Guacamole Love Affair

I’m back in San Diego after my trip to Punta Mita, Mexico. We arrived late last night after a pretty easy day of traveling. I was really sad to leave our beautiful hotel room at Los Veneros and our private pool! I am glad to be home though. I need to get back to the gym and start eating some fruits and vegetables. The only fruits and vegetables that I ate the entire trip was whatever was in the guacamole that I ate every day. I was completely obsessed with guacamole. I wanted it at every meal.

Sunday night we ordered room service. I split mini steak burritos with my husband. It came with guacamole which I devoured with a ton of tortilla chips.

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Monday morning I ate half a bagel with peanut butter for breakfast.

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We swam all day long. I could stare at this view forever.

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We ate lunch by the pool. I split nachos with my husband.

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Later that night we ordered room service again. This time I ordered the mini shrimp burritos which came with more guacamole.

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I discovered some pretty amazing hot sauce while in Mexico:

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Valentina. It is very similar to Cholula and I dominated this bottle while we were there.

Tuesday morning it was the same bagel again for breakfast.

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We found out some of our friends were staying at the Four Seasons hotel only 10 minutes away. We already had plans to eat lunch there….small world!

We ate at the Ketsi restaurant at the Four Seasons.

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We started with some chips and salsa.

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And more guacamole!

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This one was made table side and was excellent! Want to know what was even more excellent?

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My fish tacos! I know I teased you with a picture of them the other day but let me tell you about them now. The tacos were made with red snapper caught locally each day. The fish had a fabulous marinade on it and was topped with cabbage, a great crema style sauce and avocado slices. Best fish tacos ever. I added Valentina hot sauce to them and went to heaven.

After lunch we met up with our friends and went swimming. After a bit, a mini ice cream truck came by the pool and everyone enjoyed vanilla ice cream cones.

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That night in our hotel it was room service again. I choose the Tomato Mozzarella Salad…

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And a big side a guacamole. :)

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I feel like a broken record but yesterday’s breakfast was another bagel half with peanut butter. Then there was more swimming, packing and lunch.

Fish tacos from our hotel:

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I added the slaw and guac to my tacos and they were pretty good!

I enjoyed the place we stayed at, Los Veneros, except for a couple of things. They only had one restaurant. It’s outdoor and the mosquitoes ate us alive the first night. Also the lack of dinner menu did not jive with my husband. Room service offered the lunch menu and no mosquitoes so that’s what we did after the first night. The other thing was that it was expensive to leave the property. The cab ride 10 minutes away to the Four Seasons was like $40. That’s just how it was. No way around it. We felt a bit stuck. Other than that, it was gorgeous and the service was great!

Then it was off to the airport for our flight to Los Angeles. We ate dinner at the Chili’s at the airport. I really was craving some vegetables so I ordered the boneless buffalo chicken salad.

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Yeah the chicken was fried but there were veggies under there, I swear!

We ran into more friends at the airport! Crazy!

We had one more flight to San Diego and then it was home to bed!

This morning pickings were slim in my fridge. I rolled with some scrambled egg beaters, shredded cheddar cheese and an apple for breakfast.

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I went to Zumba, then to Trader Joes for much need groceries. I picked up a salad for lunch.

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I’ve had this salad before and I like it. It’s not super filling for me though. I see a snack in the near future!

Are you a guacamole lover like me? When I was younger, I wouldn’t touch it. What a shame!