Late Night Planning

Although I am exhausted as it nears 9:00 p.m. each night, my morning goes so much smoother when I plan ahead.  Last night I took some time to prepare for today.

Overnight oats were prepared…breakfast check.

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Of what remains of an empty peanut butter jar, I made my Overnight Oats in a Jar.  The mixture included:

~1/3 c plain 0% greek yogurt

~1/3 c old fashioned oats

~1/3 c lowfat milk

~cinnamon

~1 ripe banana

~less than a tsp of honey

~less than tsp of peanut butter remnants (it looks like more, but it really isn’t much)

~small handful of granola added in the a.m.

All ingredients were mixed up in the jar and set in the fridge til morning.  This may very well be my favorite breakfast.  I had some hot  chai on the side.

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Spring mix, grape tomatoes, celery, strawberries, reduced fat feta cheese with…

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Workout gear was packed…exercise check.

On my way home from work, I stopped at the gym for some cardio.  I started with 18 minutes on the bicycle until one of the ellipticals were available.  I then did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.  To end today’s session, I did ten minutes of stretching and abdominal floor work including basic crunches, planks, leg lifts, and torso twists using the medicine ball.

Red beans simmered on the stovetop for three hours…dinner check.

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Thanks to hubby, the beans were reheated and the brown rice was cooked when I got home from the gym.  I measured out 2/3 cup of brown rice and topped it with a cup of the beans. 

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I did end up going back for a couple more spoonfuls of beans and rice.  They were delish!!

I’m in the mood for some sweetness so hot chocolate is in the making and a perfect accompaniment to this frigid winter night.  Good night!

N’awlins Tradition

Back to basic eating habits and back to work I went.  Today’s breakfast was light yet did the trick.  I fixed a yogurt bowl made of a sliced banana, 1/2 cup plain 0% greek yogurt, and less than 1/2 cup granola all drizzled with honey. 

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Hot, plain chai tea was sipped alongside my yogurt bowl as I leisurely read emails and blogs.  In the morning, I like to take some time to breathe before the start of the busy on-the-go day. 

Lunch was made this morning pretty hastily because I knew I would need any extra minutes to get to work this A.M. due to the rain causing traffic.

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Deli Turkey Breast, Laughing Cow Light Mozzerella and Sundried Tomato and Basil Cheese Wedge (I am trying to use this flavor up because I don’t particularly like the strong herbed flavored cheese), shredded lettuce, celery sticks for crunch and an apple for some sweetness.

Funny question came about during lounge talk; another teacher asked me what a good detox was since feasting on so many Thanksgiving treats and eats.  I recommended fruit and vegetables for their natural fibers and cleansing powers because that is all I “use” so to speak.  Do any of you reading recommend any detox methods to cleanse the system?

I had my mind set on making the traditional Monday food fare for dinner tonight—N’awlins style red beans.  So before leaving this morning I took out the frozen creole vegetable seasoning, pickled meat, and smoked sausage.  However, once I arrived home I realized I was missing one ingredient, the main ingredient—the Red Beans.  Hello!?! Can’t make red beans without the beans.  Luckily the husband worked a little late and called me on his way home, so he picked up a pound of dry red beans. 

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Now they are simmering on the stove top and I may have to have them tomorrow since I got a late start.  For the recipe I use check out the tradition behind red beans on Mondays in New Orleans on my recipe page or by clicking here.

While waiting for MY BEANS (I always think of the Blue Runner Beans Commercial whenever I say “my beans”) I had some snackage to hold me over.  Almonds, strawberries, and bread and butter.

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And for giggles, the bean commercial…

 

I now want to share one of our traditional Thanksgiving recipes that I made this year; mom has been making these for a while now.  When you are in the mood for cheesy, fattening, rich crawfish pie or dip that tastes delicious this recipe is for you.  Otherwise, stand back.

This recipe can be used as a dip on its own or filled into miniature pie shells that have been cooked according to package directions.  For Thanksgiving I doubled the recipe, but certainly did not need to for the 16 mini pies that I made.  I had a ton of the crawfish filling leftover and brought it over to a friend’s house for the depressing LSU game on Saturday.  There, it was eaten as a dip with tortilla chips.  Delish either way!

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Mom’s Cheesy Crawfish Dip/Pie Filling

1 stick butter, salted

1 chopped onion

1 rib celery, chopped

1/4 c green bell pepper, chopped

1- 10 ounce can diced Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chiles

1 can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup

1- 8 ounce block of Velveeta cheese, cubed

1 pound crawfish tails, cooked and peeled (I used defrosted from frozen)

1/4 c scallions/green onions, chopped (shallots as mom calls ‘em, but scallions are needed)

miniature pie shells*

Melt butter over medium heat.  Saute’ onion, celery, and green peppers in butter until wilted.  Stir in canned tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 30 minutes.  Next, add cream of mushroom soup, cheese, crawfish, and scallions.  Cook 20 minutes. 

*At this point you can enjoy as a dip with chips. If making pies, fill prebaked shells with filling.  Once pie shells are filled, bake in 350* oven until tops are set and golden about 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Enough Already

I have not had enough of this little guy and girl on my week off because I didn’t get to see them as much as I wanted to.  😦

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But enough Thanksgiving leftovers that is.  I have not only had the rich, buttery foods on Thursday, but also on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Tomorrow, I am going back to my normal eating habits, fingers crossed.  Each year, we only have about ten people eating Mom’s Thanksgiving cooking, but it seems we have enough for forty.  So I took quite a bit of leftovers home on Thursday night and kept  on eating, and eating, and eating.

This year my sister and I decided to help mom with the cooking; she still did most of it, but we eliminated some of her normal menu items by cooking them ourselves. 

Michelle, my sister, did the baked macaroni and cheese and ham.

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Mom did the potato salad…

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dirty rice…DSC00688

praline sweet potatoes…

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green bean and artichoke casserole…

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and the turkey, but no picture was taken because it was still in the oven at this point.

I cooked the cheesy, crawfish pies…

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mirliton and shrimp casserole…

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And we each cooked dessert, but I did not get pictures of all of that.  Mom made pumpkin bars, jam bars, brownies, cupcakes for the baby, apple pie; Michelle made a pumpkin cheesecake, and I made chocolate dipped almond meringues using this Cooking Light recipe.

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These must be meant to be cooked in Northern winter climates because with the high humidity and heat we had on Wednesday and Thursday the meringues did not keep their crunchy texture.  Though my sister thoroughly enjoyed the chocolaty almond taffy that resulted.

As for my plate, I tasted everything except the praline sweet potatoes because I chose to eat pumpkin cheesecake for dessert in place of the potatoes.  Hey, they both provide some beta-carotene right? 😉

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A little lacking of natural veggies, but that is how we roll down South for Thanksgiving. 

So this is what I’ve been eating the last four days and it has been good while it lasted.  Check back this week for when I will share my unhealthy recipes from the two sides I cooked.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all

Happy Turkey Day!

I have so much to be thankful for:

~I thank the Lord for giving me life free of too many complications. 

~I am thankful for my family–especially the miracle baby, my nephew, who brings joy to the hearts of so many.

~I am thankful that I have live in a country given the freedom to say what I want.

~I am thankful to spend this day with far too much food than any family needs, but we are blessed.

And for a sneak peek of what I’ll be eating today:

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That’s what I was busily working on til midnight last night.  But that is okay, I am up and at it.  Just got home from a two mile jog/walk at the park.  Thankfully, my body can do that. 😉

Gonna head to my sister’s house today for family time, food time, and football time.  Go SAINTS!! Who Dat!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!! 🙂

Too Hot, Too Cold, Just Right

I have been meaning to share this recipe for weeks now ever since Chris and I picked the sweet potatoes from our garden.  I needed a recipe to use up some of those potatoes.  After searching the Internet and reading about ten recipes for basic pie crusts and sweet potato pies, I decided to combine and modify about three different recipes to come up with this healthier version of sweet potato pie.  It came out tasty especially with the addition of the maple toasted pecans on top.  Some like it hot (which it is good hot), but in my opinion it was best after it sat in the refrigerator overnight.

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Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Pecan Topping

Pie Crust:

1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread (B & B)

6-8 tbsp ice cold water

Directions: Mix flour and salt.  Add cold B & B using two butter knives as scissors to cut across each other to incorporate B & B and flour.  Add a tbsp of cold water at a time until dough ball starts to form using the same knife technique.  I ended up using 8 tbsp of water to get the right consistency.  (On Food Network, I have seen pie crust made in a food processor, so you may opt for that method instead of the knives.)  Allow dough to sit in refrigerator until ready for rolling out.

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Using a modified rolling pin AKA drinking glass I rolled out the dough on a floured area to fit my 9 inch pie pan.

Sweet Potato Filling:

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1.5 pounds)

3/4 c fat free evaporated milk

3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon, ground

1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground

Directions: Preheat oven to 350*.  Boil potatoes until fork tender and drain.  Add all ingredients to the potatoes and mash with a potato masher to desired consistency.  Line pie pan with foil, then add pie dough.  Pour sweet potato mixture on top of pie dough and smooth.  Pinch off any excess dough.  Use fork to press around entire pie edge or pinch decorative edge all around.  Follow directions below and pour pecan topping on pie.  Bake at 350* for 60-75 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting.

Maple Pecan Topping:

1 c pecans, chopped

1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions: Toast pecans in pan over medium heat until hot and fragrant.  Remove from heat and add syrup.  Stir to combine and pour over sweet potato mixture before baking.

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On oatmeal…

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With greek yogurt and more syrup and cinnamon…

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Or plain for breakfast with hot tea…

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  I do not plan on making this for Thanksgiving because there will be far too much already, but I do plan on making it in my future.  It is too good not to.;)

I will be cooking up some dishes for Thanksgiving and perhaps not so healthified.  My definite dishes include mirliton (also known as chayote squash) and shrimp dressing, miniature crawfish pies, and maybe making an appearance are artichoke bites and chocolate dipped almond meringues. 

Are you cooking any Thanksgiving dishes? And how do you like your sweet potato pie?

Carb Overload

Normally, if given the choice between a big slice of chocolate cake or salty potato chips, I would always choose the chips.  But lately, my sweet tooth has been running ramped;  I cannot get enough sweets.

It started shortly after the first grade multicultural/Thanksgiving feast on Thursday where I loaded my plate up with carbs due to lack of other choices offered.

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Turkey and Cranberry, Spring Roll, Rice, Rice, and More Rice—the only veggies I saw offered were peas so I piled some on. 🙂

I had a meeting after work Thursday and came home to dinner prepared by Chris—more CARBS.  I made a side salad to add some veggies.

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He made a tasty pasta dish using whole wheat pasta, smoked sausage, miniature frozen scallops, chives from the garden, white wine, lemon juice, olive oil, spices, and parmesan sprinkled on top.  It was delicious and I appreciate him cooking dinner; now that he has switched to the day shift I hope he can do this from time to time.  It is a big help on the days I work late.

Simple side salad with balsamic vinaigrette…

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Since Chris told me he was fixing dinner and he asked me to stop to get Parmesan cheese, I decided to surprise him with dessert.

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He stole his turtle before I could snap the picture.  And here’s mine.

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I knew should have only chose one—turtles OR petit fours, not both because after eating my turtle I wanted the petit four too!

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Why not splurge now and then!?!  The husband felt the need to pick up my camera and take pictures of me devouring my petit four.

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Ok, that’s enough already…. is what I am saying without actually saying it.

And since this day, my sweet tooth continued.  So Friday I baked some brownie bites using a brownie boxed mix combined with a can of pumpkin and two tablespoons of cocoa powder to get some super moist cookie sized brownies that look like something my dog you may not want to eat.  But they are super moist, sweet, choclatey, and addictive.

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After eating them Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday I decided to throw the rest away today.  Though they were super tasty, I do not need to eat the whole box.  And I had to force Chris to try it; he agreed they tasted great but did not look appetizing.

For the record, I do not fear carbohydrates like so many people on the no-carb diet.  I understand that carbohydrates are needed by the body for energy and cannot cause weight gain.  Additionally I know that I should be consuming the more complex carbs rather than simple.  But either way, it is the calorie overload that causes weight gain, not carb overload.  I did have mopre of those simple carbs this weekend, but I know I can soon get back on the right track to healthy eating.

Here are today’s eats.

Still sweet, but better for me oatmeal.

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In the mixture:

~1/4 c each of oats, water, lowfat milk

~mashed small banana

~generous sprinkling of cinnamon

~quick dash of nutmeg

~2 tbsp canned pumpkin stirred in at end

~1 tsp peanut butter

~small handful of granola

Lunch included a sliced kiwi, greek olive hummus on whole wheat toast, and roasted acorn squash.

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I finally made it to the gym after a week off.  Well actually I did do 30 minutes of cardio and weights on Friday, but I went today as well.  I did 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by 20 minutes on the bike.  I ended my workout session with 5 minutes of stretching. 

I stopped to browse at TJ Maxx and left with some goodies.

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White Chocolate Raspberry Coffee, Kona Coffee, German Honey, another jar of Seedless Black Raspberry Preserves, and Roasted Garlic & Sweet Basil Pasta Sauce

I had to try out the German Honey on some Greek Yogurt right when I got home.  The last time a lady recommended the preserves, she also told me about the German Honey.

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She said it was nothing like American honey, but honestly I could not taste the difference.

Dinner tonight came together quickly once the lean ground beef was defrosted.  Tacos were made and devoured along with some corn.

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I was all out of lettuce, and it wasn’t quite the same without, but it was still delish.  I added some chopped avocado, tomatoes, reduced fat colby jack cheese, light sour cream, and taco sauce to my beef tacos.  The corn was eaten with Brummel & Brown yogurt spread and salt.  Chris made his plate after me and he mixed it all into a taco bowl; I wish I would have thought of that—bummer!!

As for some of my other eats this weekend….

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The highlight of my weekend was going to the Saints vs. Seahawks game on Sunday.  I had a spicy bloody mary with some white beans and chicken sausage, with a breadstick.  After half time I had a cinnamon pretzel.  I think my choices were better than say…nachos and chicken tenders which would have been first choice in my past.DSC00595

Mom, Chris, and I had a blast at the game and what made it better—the WIN!! Who Dat!

Are there any foods you fear eating?

A Quick Fix

Due to my working late last night at our Cajun themed Family Literacy Night to promote reading and writing, I did not get home til 8:30.  Though I was hungry (I did have a small taste of the jambalaya that was handed out at about 4:30) by that time, I just wanted something quick yet not too much that I would feel sick for bed.  So I went with Caitlin’s suggestion of a steamed sweet potato topped with baked beans.  I did not even snap a picture because my husband told me it did not look good, but I assure it tastes good.  I also had two lemony flavored fleur de lis shaped cookies that i brought home from the event.  Again, no picture. 😦

Looking back on Tuesday’s dinner, it was a quick, tasty dinner.  I prepared a pork loin served with cheesy Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s (mom picked it up in Chicago) aside steamed veggies. 

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I followed the instructions for baking the lemon-garlic flavored loin by cooking at 350* for 45 minutes until the meat thermometer registered to 165*.  It was moist and tender.

For the grains, I cooked them according to the package directions by adding a tsp. of Brummel & Brown and simmering covered ten minutes.  For a cheesy addition, I heated up 1/4 cup lowfat milk, 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup applewood smoked cheddar cheese.  I did not care for the cheese on its own but once added to the couscous, orzo, bean, quinoa mix; it added a nice smoky flavor which Chris thought was bacon.

As for some of my other meals, the past two days for your viewing pleasure:

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Hummus and Veggie Sammie with Babybel Light

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Tuesday Lunch along with a Chobani Yogurt while home with the cable guy.

And Wednesday…..Breakfast Sammie of Peanut Butter, Sliced Peach, and Cinnamon

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Lunch contained some leftover cheesy grains + Fage Greek and Honey Yogurt

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I once again will have a late night at work, but only until six tonight.   So dinner will likely be something picked up or a quick salad, maybe eggs.  I don’t know.

What is your favorite quick fix dinner for those late night meals?