Peachy Keen

This morning began per the usual—with breakfast.  Oh peanut butter, welcome back home!  I’ve missed my peanut butter sammies and had a craving for one this morning.  I smeared a tablespoon or so of natural peanut butter on one slice of whole wheat and sliced banana on a second.  And what do you get?  Sing it; “Peanut, peanut butter and jelly, and jelly.

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For lunch I enjoyed a delicious salad.

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My salad included spring mix, grape tomatoes, strawberries, sesame honey almonds (these are so good and add something special), and gorgonzola cheese all mixed up with fat free raspberry vinaigrette.

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On the side I had some Triscuit Thin Crisps.  I also brought a greek vanilla yogurt, but did not eat it until after work before heading to the gym.  I also had two tootsie rolls in addition to the yogurt.

Today’s work out included 15 minutes on the elliptical, about thirty minutes of strength training, and 10 minutes on the stationary bike.  The session ended with 5 minutes of stretching.

All day I was pondering what to do with my ground turkey for dinner.  I thought meatloaf, tacos, and numerous other dishes.  Finally I came up with sweet and sour turkey meatballs with veggies served over whole wheat penne pasta.

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

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Ingredients:

2 slices of whole wheat bread (ends removed and processed into bread crumbs)

1 lb. lean ground turkey breast

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 egg

1 ripe peach, puréed

Salt and Pepper

Flour

Canola Oil

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1 yellow squash, thinly sliced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1/2 lb. whole wheat penne, cooked

Sauce:

1/4 c chili sauce

1/4 c water

2 tbsp. ketchup

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. honey

Directions:

Mix bread crumbs through salt and pepper thoroughly in bowl.  Form  8-10 meatballs from mixture and dredge in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in skillet and brown meatballs.  Remove meatballs to plate covered with paper towel to drain oil.  In separate pan, saute onion, carrots, and squash and season with salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, mix sauce ingredients together  in small bowl and stir until combined.  Once onions are tender, put meatballs in the pan with the vegetables.  Top with sauce and mix carefully to coat.  Simmer on low for 25 minutes.  Serve over penne pasta.

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Making the meatballs was slightly difficult as the mixture was a bit too wet so there was some breakage.  I honestly do not think the peach is necessary.  It did add moisture, but the flavor was not prominent.  My hub said, “I would eat these again! Are you going to put it on your blog because it is good and you should.”  All in all, dinner was just peachy keen! 😉

Why Not on Wednesday

Why not wake up on time?  Because I’m tired.

Why not start the day with warm oats on a chilled fall morning?  Because I already had the cold overnight oats soaking in the fridge.

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Oats, plain yogurt, low fat milk, banana, figs, honey, cinnamon

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Why not take the whole thirty minute lunch break to eat and socialize in the lounge?  Because I had copies to run off  and work to be done.

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Whole wheat sammie with chicken, provolone (reduced fat), spinach and honey mustard + cucumber, tomato, light italian dressing + peach

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Why not eat a healthy snack?  Because a coworker brought me a piece of cake from her baby shower and I just couldn’t turn it down; and oh it was good!! Thanks J.H.! 🙂

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Why not work out after work?  Because my sister asked me to come help watch her little ones while she got her hair done.

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Why not eat dinner at a reasonable hour?  Because I stayed at my sister’s house too long and ended up ordering take-out with them…

….after eating some of these with my nephew.

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Why not order a wonton soup and veggie dish?  Because hub would get the leftovers for his dinner and he likes beef and broccoli.

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My portion + some fruit + fortune cookie

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Mango (had a second slice of mango unpictured), honeydew, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes

Why not go to bed at a reasonable time?  Because I had to do dishes from last night and blog.

Question of the Night:  Why not do something good for yourself tomorrow?  There is no reason not to!  What will you do for you tomorrow?

Queensland Blue

Can you picture it?  An elaborate vacation spot with blue waters and blue skies fit for a queen.  It would be nice ; however, I am actually referring to one of the hundreds of varieties of squash or gourds.  Seriously, who knew they all existed?  Butternut, spaghetti, acorn okay; but little gem, sweet meat, and big max are quite the surprise. 

As I stated last night, I planned on making a squash soup using the vegetable stock I cooked up last night. 

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After an hour of simmering on the stove, I had about 1.5 quarts of sienna colored vegetable stock.  Using my stock and simply yellow summer squash  along with carrots I made some savory soup.  The whole time it was cooking I was not feeling like soup at all due to standing around in the heated kitchen from having the oven on, but once it was finished it turned out nicely and I enjoyed the flavor.

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Squash and Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

5 yellow squash, peeled if desired

2 carrots, peeled

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 slices bacon

1 small onion, diced

1.5 quarts vegetable stock

1 tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Salt and white pepper to taste

3 tbsp. butter, divided

1 tbsp. flour

Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400*.  Chop squash and carrots into large chunks.  Pour olive oil over vegetables to coat and place on baking sheet.  Roast in oven for 30 minutes tossing half way through.  Meanwhile, cook 3 slices of bacon and drain on paper towel.  Crumble once cooled for soup topping if desired.  Using bacon grease sauté onion.  Once onion is tender, remove from grease and add to soup pot.  Add roasted vegetables and stock with honey and all seasonings through salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.    In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp. of softened butter and flour to form paste.  Add 1 cup of vegetable stock to paste and mix.  Return mixture to pot and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let sit for ten minutes.  In batches, puree soup in blender or food processor making sure to leave liquid cover off to allow steam to escape.  Cover opening partially with a towel to prevent splatter.  Return to soup pot once pureed.  Add 2 tbsp. of butter and stir.  Simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes.  To serve, top with crumbled bacon and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

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This was my first cup, but I did get about 3/4 cup more.  I have never had any other squash or carrot soup to compare it to, but it turned out tasty for my first try.  There isn’t anything I would say for sure I would change if I made this again.  Perhaps I might use Brummel & Brown instead of real butter to save some calories, but I do not think it is necessary depending on what it is being served with.  I just had the soup for dinner, but I might have a cold treat before the nights over with.

As for the rest of my eats, my morning started off with overnight oats for me and hub.  He wanted to try it, but he normally bypasses breakfast altogether.

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His and Hers

I doubled my mix to make his.  In my bowl:

  • 1/4 c old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c low fat milk
  • 1/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • half banana
  • maple syrup
  • small handful of granola
  • peanut butter and grape jelly (added in the a.m.)

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  Cold Oats + Hot Chai

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Lunch included a leftover stuffed bell and the other half of my nanner from breakfast with some berries.

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I also stole some chocolate from a coworker—chocolate peanut butter shaped pumpkin.  After work I headed to the gym for a cardio session.  It included 15/15/15 of elliptical, arc trainer, and treadmill.  The treadmill was killer today because my legs are sore from Sunday’s strength training.

When I arrived home, I found some goodies on my kitchen counter.

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There is no Trader’s Joe’s here in LA, but Mom went out of town this weekend to Chicago.  I watched her dog, Prissy, and in return I got some neat eats (plus some money).  I got Mom reading some blogs as well, so we talk about the different things we see and Trader Joe’s topped our list.  It was right across the street from the condo she stayed in.  No fair!  Just kidding I got all this without even being there.

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Sesame Honey Almonds (ate 10  and they are GOOD possibly of an addictive quality good), trail mix, green bean chips (tried a few and thumbs up), apple clusters, pumpernickel pretzel sticks +

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Snapea Crisps, mini peanut butter cups, dried figs (had 3 and well, it’s figs).

THANK YOU MOM!  I will enjoy!! 🙂

Question of the Night:  What is the most outlandish squash you have consumed?

My grandpa used to grow cucuzza, which is an Italian squash.  It can grow up to 3 feet long.  Wowza, that’s a lot of squash.

For the Love of Fall

Aaahh!  Today brought on the weather I’ve been waiting for!  Cool, dry air.  It won’t last too long in Southern Louisiana, but I’ll take it while it’s here. 🙂

My morning began with a cold mixture of cereal and milk.  I had about 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean, 1/4 apple cinnamon o’s, 1/4 cup of blueberry corn flakes, and a small sprinkle of granola.  I topped it with 1 cup low fat milk.  Refreshing! 

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I had a cup of hot chai tea on the side.

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Mixed Cereal Bowl—Thank you Hungry Girl for letting me know it is okay to mix different cereals. 

For lunch I topped some baby spinach with rest of the chicken salad from Saturday’s lunch.  It was better today because it had time to marinate all the flavors while sitting in the fridge.

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I had a banana for some additional carbs and fiber.  Oh, I also had a brownie made by a colleague of mine.

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I did not make it to the gym today because I stayed a little while after dismissal to finish grading last Friday’s tests.  My inner and outer thighs are a little soar from yesterday’s strength training anyways, so I am totally okay with letting my muscles rest even though I have not exercised consistently for two weeks.  I plan on going to the gym straight from work tomorrow.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie

Next up, what’s for dinner?  I knew I wanted to incorporate some Italian chicken sausage into stuffed bell peppers, but wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make it.  I ended up using cous cous as a filler along with Italian seasoned bread crumbs.

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Italian Chicken Sausage Stuffed Bells

Ingredients:

3/4 cup cous cous, cooked according to package

4 bell peppers

1/2 pound Italian chicken sausage, removed from casings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

Oregano

Garlic Powder

Basil

Salt + Pepper

1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese

1 slice of reduced fat provolone cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*.  Remove stem top and seeds from bell peppers.  Put in pot of water to cover and bring to a boil.  When slightly tender, remove to ice water to stop cooking process.  In saucepan, heat oil.  Add chicken sausage and onion.  Saute until browned.  Add cous cous, seasonings to taste, and gorgonzola cheese and mix.  Add 3/4 cup of Italian bread crumbs and combine.  Stuff peppers with cous cous/ chicken mixture evenly.  Sprinkle each pepper with bread crumbs and top with 1/4 of provolone slice.  Place in glass casserole.  Put small amount of water in casserole dish to prevent burning and sticking.  Cook in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

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My thoughts on the peppers are they were quite tasty and I enjoyed them.  But I do wish I had parmesan instead of gorgonzola.  The gorgonzola cheese has a very pungent flavor similar to that of blue cheese.  So if you are not a fan of blue cheese, you may not be a fan of this.  However, parmesan could definitely be substituted and I would use that myself if making these again.

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While the peppers were baking I simmered some homemade veggie stock on the stovetop for an hour.  I threw in two carrots, two squash, two onion, garlic, the bell pepper tops from the peppers, bay leaves, fresh basil leaves, and a few whole black peppercorns.  I plan on using the stock in a fall soup recipe tomorrow night if all goes as planned.

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Question of the Night:  What is your favorite fall vegetable to cook with?

Family, Football, Food

Today was my usual relaxing Sunday.  I started the day off with some coffee to give me a bit of a pick me up.  I can’t recall who, but last week another blogger recommended adding cinnamon to the coffee grounds before brewing.  Well I took her advice and tried it.  It was a very nice addition to my coffee and chicory brew.  So if you like cinnamon give it a try.  I dare you!  :) 

Shortly after my first cup of coffee and blog reading/email checking/bill paying it was time for some food.  I fixed myself two pancakes using Bisquick Heart Smart mix.  The directions call for milk, but I was all out. 

My mixture included:

  • 1/3 c bisquick
  • 1 egg
  • water
  • fat free powdered coffee creamer (to replace milk)
  • splash of vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon
  • cottage cheese (on top)
  • maple syrup (on top)

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Pancakes on hub’s garden box containing broccoli plants

After devouring these bad boys, I felt the need to go to the gym.  I had not been in over two weeks due to getting a cold and my attempts to let my hip heel, but I haven’t felt my best self lately.  So I went to the gym for some cardio and strength training.  I started with 15 minutes on the elliptical machine, followed by 30 minutes of weights, and 15 minutes on the arc trainer.  My weight routine looked like this with 3 sets of each:

  • 12 reps biceps at 15 lbs.
  • 15 reps triceps at 30 lbs.
  • 12 reps pectorals at 30 lbs.
  • 10 reps leg lifts at 30 lbs.
  • 12 reps leg extension at 45 lbs.
  • 20 reps total abs at 60 lbs.
  • 18 reps adductor at 60 lbs.
  • 15 reps abductor at 50 lbs.
  • 12 reps leg press at 40 lbs.
  • 10 reps row at 40 lbs.

When I got home from the gym I needed some food.  The Saints game was on so I quickly heated up a slice of pizza left from Saturday night.

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It was still tasty and filling.  After eating I headed to my sister’s to visit with her family and their new addition.

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She is such a little angel!

I may or may not have brought and eaten some of my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and some of my nephew’s goldfish crackers.

After watching the miserable loss of the Saints (we’ll get those birds next time) I headed home after stopping at the grocery to get some staples for the week.

Instead of cooking dinner, I nabbed one of the rotisserie chickens to throw onto a big spinach salad.

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Spinach, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken, gorgonzola cheese, fat free raspberry vinaigrette—yummy restaurant style salad!

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I finally finished off my night with this sweet treat my hub surprised me with.9-21-10 015

Not the healthiest, more like portioned controlled, but still 170 calories.  And it was appreciated and delish!  Thanks babe! 😉

Question of the Night:  What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

My favorite ice cream flavor is, hmmmmm….., peanut butter cup or pistachio. 

Maybe They’re Just Not Meant to Be Healthy

Let’s go back to the first time I attempted homemade cookies from scratch.  I didn’t follow a recipe; I simply pulled out the ingredients I wanted to use and went with it.  And I ended up with Dark Chocolate Cherry Muffin Cookies.

 

I decided to bring Mom some on that day and my mom and sister refuse to cut me some slack about how  “healthy” they tasted.  That was my first attempt and I didn’t think they tasted that bad, but I knew they were too puffy.  In my efforts to make them healthified I used Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread and too little brown sugar so they were both dry and not very sweet.  Mom and sister described them as “a sponge that could be used to soak up some water” due to the texture and very bland taste.

On Thursday my sister had a question for me.  She said, “If you never make those cookies again, will you be Breelyn’s  godmother?”  I laughed and accepted, but told her I would be making an attempt to fix those cookies.  (On a side note, my two week old niece did arrive home from the hospital Friday.  I am so happy she is home and I’m ready to be a part of her  precious life.)

So on Friday I arrived home from work and got to baking.  I added more Brummel & Brown and more sugar making them less healthified.  And attempt # 2 was a FAILURE again.  They were sweet enough, but still puffy and the texture still dry.  I brought them to my sister’s house anyway more as a joke than for them to be eaten.

This morning after breakfast I started on modifying the recipe for ATTEMPT # 3.  But first, breakfast included nonfat pumpkin spice latte, hold the whip and an eggwhite and turkey bacon sandwich from Starbucks.

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After my first bite I took off the turkey bacon; it tasted aweful.

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Back to the cookies.  I made several changes today—more sugar, less oats, less cinnamon, less baking soda, additional egg yolk, less salt, no cherries, no nuts, semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate squares.

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And today’s attempt was a SUCCESS!  Hub had three of them right off the cooling rack.

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The cookies spread out to a flatter “cookie” shape as opposed to muffins and became more chewy than dry.  These tips were helpful in modifying my ingredient list.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Servings:  16 cookies

Wet Ingredients:

1/4 cup Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread, melted

1 cup of light brown sugar

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk all dry ingredients in bowl except chocolate chips.  In separate mixing bowl, melt yogurt spread and whisk in sugar.  Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla to sugar mixture and whisk until combined.  Gently stir dry ingredients into wet just until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Use measuring tablespoon to drop 16 mounds onto cookie sheets.  Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheet for two minutes once removed from oven.  Place cookies on cooling rack to cool thoroughly.

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I ate a few of these throughout the day and well, it wasn’t completely healthy, but they sure tasted good. 

Nutrition Info courtesy of 411fit: Cals: 144.40 Carbs: 25.19 g Fat: 4.14 g Protein: 2.38 g Sodium: 140.05 mg

For lunch I popped open a can of chicken breast and added some celery seed, salt, pepper, miracle whip light, grapes defrosted from frozen, and sliced almonds.  I ate it on a whole wheat tortilla with cucumber.

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Not the greatest lunch, but it served a purpose.

After lunch I got some laundry and dishes done and also painted my nails this pretty fall purple color called Infinite Love.

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Now that my nails are grown I like painting them—something I’ve never enjoyed before.

Finally, hub and I ordered pizza and a large Italian salad from Come Back Inn.  The little hole in the wall restaurant sells pizza, po’boys, fried chicken, hot meals, salads, and more.  It is great food at a reasonable price, but the atmosphere isn’t too aesthetically pleasing, so we always order take out.  I’m never disappointed with what I order from there.  Consistency is nice!

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Large with Italian Sausage, Onions, Green Peppers, and Black Olives

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I’ve eaten at Come Back Inn since I was a kid, but tonight was a first trying their pizza.  My hub and I both enjoyed the crispy, thin crust and sweetened sauce which was not too overwhelming.  Additionally the salad was phenomenal.  I didn’t even want my slice of pizza after trying the salad.  But of course I had a slice.

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Lettuce, Olive Salad, Boiled Egg, Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese, and Salami

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It was delicious, though the masses of cheese could have been less.  I ate about half the salad, but only two strips of the salami.  The surprise addition of olive salad, which is used on their muffalettas, was quite tasty.

All in all, dinner was scrumptious and I think this may be my new pizza place for take-out!

And as for cookies and pizza—maybe they’re just not meant to be healthy! 😉

Question of the Night:  What is your favorite pizza toppings?

Happy 57th Birthday

Sorry I’ve been away for awhile.  Let’s track back to Thursday; shall we.  On Thursday Mom celebrated her …..

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to Mom

For dinner on Thursday we went to Mr. Ed’s.  I had only been there once before which I actually enjoyed the first time, but tonight the restaurant was having an off night.  I do not know if they had a new chef, were short staffed, running low on ingredients, or had they wanted to get us in and out without taking note of how our food was being cooked.

I started with a side salad with house made Italian on the side.  I usually request a low fat or fat free dressing, but they make their’s in-house so they do not have those offerings.  Instead of pouring the entire cup of dressing on the salad, I used the “dip fork in dressing, then salad” method. So I still got the taste of the dressing, but with out consuming all of the oily marinade.  For my meal I chose grilled red snapper which came with roasted new potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Grilled Red Snapper

It came with a lemon butter sauce which I used the same method as with the salad, but not on every bite.  Although every bite could have used it.  The food was not very well cooked tonight.  My snapper was overcooked and dry, my veggies were undercooked, and my broccoli, in particular, had a taste such that it was left in the freezer not well sealed or a bit too long–also known as “freezer-burnt.”  Sister’s grilled shrimp were undercooked, so much so that when she took a bite and got through the outer layer it was so mushy had to spit it out only to find the grey raw shrimp color.  That equals not cool!  Brother-in-law eats there all of the time and is friend’s with the owner, but he even stated his Bar-B-Q chicken was dry.  What a disappointing meal!

Now I did go with a lighter meal because I knew we had dessert to come.  I bought a red velvet cake earlier in the day, but that went uneaten (Mom took it to work Friday to share with her coworkers) due to the complimentary desserts the waitresses brought out because of Sister’s raw shrimp and Mom’s birthday.

"Happy Birthday to You" + Desserts with Candles

The highlight of the night included Bananas Foster Pie, Lemon Icebox Pie, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Mousse Cake–all made in-house.

The dessert was the best part of the evening aside from the company.  I had a taste of each.

Brother-in-Law thought it would be funny to play a joke on Mom as he does always try to do.  Take a look at him, I can’t even get a straight picture.

Meet Duke of The Duke Academy–He is a personal trainer for athletes around the country as well as local children and adults.

So Duke thought it would be comical to tell the waitress Mom was turning 57.  And it was quite a funny joke when the waitress brought out the plate stating “Happy 57th Birthday!”

Now does she look 57?

Well she is not!!  Mom turned …..-…. today!  What is the saying…A lady never tells….

So all in all it was a fun night due to the people who were in it.  My sis just had a baby two weeks ago and preferred going unpictured. But here is her first child, my cutie pie nephew.

Nat, another trainer at The Duke Academy also joined us.

Unfortunately my hubby had work so he couldn’t make it. 😦

Here are the rest of Thursday’s eats in pictures.

Peanut Butter, Apple, and Cinnamon Wrap + Hot Tea

Turkey, Laughing Cow Light, and Spinach Sammie + Veggies + Pistachios

Sammie Close Up

Spoon of This Sweet Stuff

Now go ahead!  Take a guess!  How old does Mom look?