Walking and Barking

Have I mentioned how much I really, really loooove weekends? :)  They just seem to always go by super duper fast. :(  This weekend was no exception. 

Well, Friday evening was pretty lackadaisical since my day was spent on a field trip to the Aquarium of the Americas and IMAX 3D Theatre. 

The clip is not completely clear, but there are some massive turtles, sharks, and stingrays in the aquarium.

DSC00537DSC00541 DSC00561 DSC00568  Other than fish, you can see birds, penguins, otters, and white alligators.  The IMAX Deep in the Sea was also fascinating and my 9-11 year old students loved it.

Saturday started with a visit to the park with the dogs.  While Chris played with the dogs, I did my own cardio circuit.  It consisted of lots of jogging, jumping jacks, lunges, high knees running in place, planks, side planks, basic crunches, and girly push-ups.  I did two sets of the circuits and then jogged around the field for a bit.  It was about twenty-five to thirty minutes of exercising and the lunges left me in some serious pain in the rear.  Chris actually joined me on one set of lunges and he is still whining about the pain claiming he will never do lunges again. LOL!

Sunday was a fun filled day which began at church.  Shortly after, hub and I met some friends downtown for a Mardi Gras parade.  We went to the Krewe of Barkus.  It was our first time attending and it was like no other parade I’ve ever been to. 

DSC00612 DSC00617 DSC00619 DSC00624 DSC00622 DSC00626 DSC00628 DSC00621

As you can see it is not an ordinary float parade with riders that I am accustomed to. It is animals on large floats, homemade floats, grocery baskets as floats with the pet owners walking along side pushing the floats.  It is animals dressed up as people, animals dressed up as animals, people dressed up as animals, and people dressed up as other people.  In the end, this parade in particular is for a good cause in support of helping animals in need of homes.

And here is a few other sites as we were walking through the quarter.

DSC00614 

Mardi Gras Decor on the historic buildings.

DSC00616 

While walking around downtown, you will see street performers standing on streets trying to make a buck.  Here is one of the mimes, but there are also magicians, artists, singers, tappers, and more.

DSC00610

Crowded streets awaiting the Krewe of Barkus!

DSC00613

We walked around for about 3 and a half hours downtown and then I headed over to my sister’s house to babysit until 10 o’clock last night.  Needless to say, I am a bit exhausted today.

Well, I did do a small amount of cooking this weekend, but for the most part I ate on the go from fast food type restaurants for dinner both Saturday and Sunday night which was not optimal, but hey I’m not perfect.

If you prefer to bake cakes using a boxed mix, I highly recommend doing what hungry-girl suggests.  I mixed one box of cake mix with one 6 oz. container of greek yogurt and a cup of water.  I then baked the mini-cupcakes according to what the box stated.  The cupcakes came out so moist and satisfied my sweet tooth cutting out much of the fat and calories and adding some protein from the greek yogurt.  I went with a lemon cake mix and used the peach chobani yogurt.  Hungry-girl states that her favorite is devil’s food cake mix with plain greek yogurt, but use what you have or prefer.  She does have some other 2 ingredient cake recipes which can be seen here.

DSC00602 

I sprinkled some powdered sugar on top and they were great—much like a lemon poundcake.  I would probably make a whole cake rather than the mini-cakes next time, but either way would work.

Have a good night!  Have you ever been to Mardi Gras here in New Orleans?

Did You Take a You Day?

This week I have been trying to wake up a few minutes early to ensure I am to work on time.  We’ve started a new program at school called “Breakfast in the Classroom” where all students and teachers get a breakfast meal that is consumed together in class.  I actually do not have a homeroom class so I’ve just been monitoring in the hallway to make sure things are running smoothly.  I have chosen to forego the breakfast offerings after seeing the cherry pastries and granola bars and yogurt cups that the students have been given.  Today it was a pancake wrapped sausage on a stick.  Luckily, I ate prior to “Breakfast in the Classroom.”

DSC00501

I topped a cup of plain greek yogurt with a 1/2 c. blueberries, a drizzle of maple syrup, a spoonful of almond butter, and an oatmeal chocolate chip muffin was mixed in.

DSC00500 DSC00503 DSC00502

Instead of the usual Chai, I went with Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Tea.   I don’t care for the flavor that much, but was hoping for some stress relief (which hot tea usually has that effect on me anyway).  The past couple of days I have been feeling some tension or stress pains in my chest.  It feels like tightening or pressure near my heart.  I think it could be due to my students’ standardized testing coming up and I am overly-anxious to get it done with.

On my way to lunch just before noon, I was stopped by two coworkers who wanted to know if I had begun to plan for a parent event we have yearly at school.  I went on to explain that my heart is feeling tightness and stressed and I just had not gotten to it yet.  One of the ladies asked, “Did you take a you day?”  My response was no as I don’t generally take off just because I need a break.  But I do like the sound of a “you day” or “me day” for that matter!

I then proceeded to the lounge to eat my scrumptious salad composed of spring mix, romas, pecans, reduced fat feta, blueberries, a few chicken chunks left from Sunday’s grilled chicken, topped with a tbsp. of olive oil, and 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.  I enjoyed a banana on side.

DSC00505DSC00504

Today I made it to the gym to get in some strength training and cardio.  I started with 10 minutes on the stair climber, followed by 30  minutes of weights, and finished up with 20 minutes on the elliptical.

After my workout I followed my Mom to her house to pick up some roast that she cooked in the slow-cooker last night.  It was a great help because I wasn’t left struggling with “what’s for dinner” tonight. I ate the roast on a sandwich thin with lowfat mayo, a reduced fat slice of swiss, and tomato slices.  I added some steamed snap beans for some greenery and veggies.

DSC00507 DSC00508 DSC00509

I decided I would try a few sips of a white wine I was given for Christmas to try and take the edge off.  I rarely drink alcohol and just can’t seem to acquire a taste for it.

Do you have any tips to relieve tension/stress?

Smothered Potatoes and Sausage

Last night I wanted to cook something that did not take hours to cook, but was a home-cooked meal that would satisfy both me and my husband.  I remembered a coworker a few years back explaining what she was eating for lunch one day—leftover smothered potatoes.  The smothering technique involves cooking potatoes, meat, vegetables such as cabbage (smothered cabbage with pickled meat is an old favorite that Mom has cooked since I was a child) on low heat in a little bit of liquid in a covered saucepan.  Combining the smothered potatoes with the sweet Italian chicken sausage I purchased on Sunday made for a fulfilling, tasty meal.  I had a simple lettuce and tomato salad on the side topped with Newman’s Light Honey Mustard Dressing.

DSC00487

Smothered Potatoes and Sausage

Ingredients:

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp. garlic

1.5 lbs. fingerling potatoes, chopped in 1” cubes

1 lb. sausage of choice, sliced (I used sweet Italian chicken)

1/4 + 1/2 c. of water

Salt and white pepper to taste

Tony Chacherie’s Creole Seasoning

1/2 c. green onions, chopped

Directions:

1.) Heat oil in large saucepan.  Add onions and cook on medium low about ten minutes until tender.

2.) Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute. 

3.) Next add sausage and 1/4 c. water.  Cook until browned.

4.) Add potatoes and 1/2 c. water.  Season with salt, pepper, and creole seasoning and stir.

5.) Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are soft and almost creamy. 

6.) Stir in green onions, heat about 5 minutes more, and serve.

DSC00485 DSC00489

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Breakfast

DSC00490

Kashi Heart to Heart, Kashi Vanilla Island Shredded Wheat, Flaxseed, Blueberries, and 1 c. lowfat milk + Chai Tea

DSC00492

Lunch: Turkey, Reduced Fat Swiss, Spring Mix, Honey Mustard + McIntosh Apple + Cherry Tomatoes

DSC00494 DSC00493

I ate an apple pie Larabar before tutoring to tide me over til I got home.  That did not do the trick because I came home and snacked on pumpernickel pretzel sticks with greek olive hummus.  Then I decided to take it easy and watched “The Town” (since Chris and I started it last night but did not finish because I fell asleep), which was recommended during lunchtime talk yesterday.  I totally enjoyed the romantic action packed movie.

As for my stress free evening, I continued in that route by heating up a Kashi Roasted Vegetable Pizza.  Another simple salad was eaten alongside my pizza slices.

DSC00499 DSC00498DSC00496

I think I need some hot chocolate to finish off the stress free night.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Aaaahhh! Finally the gorgeous 70* weather has arrived.  The weather allowed for plenty of outdoor activities.

Lunch with Mom on Saturday al fresco…

lemon tart Best part was the mini lemon tart at La Madeleine’s and Mom eating hers.

mom Isn’t she cute? 😉

And feeding some birdies while we enjoyed the weather.

birds After eating, we also went on a small adventure—a car chase hunt in search of the 15 cop cars that were chasing one speeding black truck, but we never found them. 

Saturday night Chris and I met some friends out at StepBrothers Bar and Grill to celebrate my friend Chantel’s 30th birthday.

chantel Somehow I keep forgetting my camera for important events.  For instance, Chris and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary this past Thursday on February 17.  We did go out to dinner to celebrate, but I managed to leave home without my camera and my phone.  Maybe that wasn’t a bad thing though.

Cooking was also involved in my weekend.  I made these oatmeal chocolate chip muffins with some changes that I may post at a later date.  I am still deciding if I like them enough to share the recipe.

DSC00444

Check out the Halloween muffin cups since I was short a couple and that’s all that was left in the cabinet.

On Sunday, with the beautiful weather Chris decided to grill up some chicken for dinner and I made a rice-veggie-cashew side dish.  It was a delicious meal.

DSC00454 The chicken was marinated in red pepper flakes, orange pineapple juice, and salt and pepper.DSC00456

As for today–

I had a muffin and greek yogurt with blueberries and honey.

DSC00462

Simple lunch–

DSC00467

I managed to eat too much of my favorite hummus and chips after work.

DSC00472

And bean and chicken enchiladas were made for dinner using some of last night’s chicken.

DSC00475

I made the enchilada sauce following this recipe, but it was definitely not as tomato-y as I prefer since it required no tomato ingredient. 

DSC00473 The consistency was good, but flavor-wise it was just okay.  It was worth a shot, but I am still on the hunt for a better one.

Until next time…good night!

BBQ Turkey Meatloaf Remixed

DSC00414 Breakfast Cereal with 1/2 cup Kashi Heart to Heart, 1/2 cup Kashi Vanilla Wheat Squares, small sprinkle pecan praline granola, a few cinnamon almonds, sliced banana, 1/2 c blueberries, cup of lowfat milk

DSC00420

I had a meeting away from school today so I got to go to lunch out…a looong lunch out at McAlister’s Deli.  I ordered a cup of veggie soup and a half of the sweet chipotle salad. I also added some crackers to go with the soup.

mcal After dropping a friend at the airport I headed to the gym for 50 minutes of cardio and some light stretching.  I did 22 minutes on the stair climber and 30 minutes on the elliptical.

Then I headed home to make some BBQ Turkey Meatloaf, which was much better than I remembered after making a few changes to the original.  See my changes below.

DSC00428 DSC00424

I used half red bell and half yellow bell because that’s what I had.  I omitted the onion powder(because I am out), added 2 tsp. of curry powder, added 1 tbsp. garlic minced rather than garlic powder, added 2 tbsp. BBQ sauce to the mixture, and instead of store bought bread crumbs I crumbed my own in the processor from 2 slices whole wheat bread with ends removed.

BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

1-1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey breast

1 medium bell pepper, chopped (from our garden)

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. curry powder

2 tbsp. hickory smoked mustard (dijon mustard may work too)

10 splashes of worcestershire sauce (more if desired)

1 whole egg

2 slices whole wheat bread, ends removed and processed into crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c BBQ sauce (2 tbsp. mixed with meat; 2 tbsp for topping)

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Mix all ingredients  except 2 tbsp. of BBQ sauce; hands work best.   Once mixed, put into loaf pan.  Top the loaf with  2tbsp. BBQ sauce.  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted reads 165*.

The result was a flavorful, tender loaf of ground turkey.  I had to go back for a second slice.  On the side, Chris and I split a baked sweet potato topped with a tsp. of Brummel & Brown and an oz. of reduced fat sharp cheddar.  Also, for some veg I blanched some green beans that were on their last leg about to be thrown in the compost pile. This dinner was delicious.

Currently, I am watching American Idol and there are some really great singers this season.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love to sing and when I was little I was often told how well I sang and forced to sing for friends and family.  I can still carry a tune, but due to lack of practice I don’t sing as well as I once did.

Are there any American Idol fans out there?

Don’t Choke on the Artichoke

It’s getting late so I am going to try and make this snappy. 

This A.M. I started with a quick breakfast because I woke up a few minutes late since my husband failed to wake me up before he left for work.  Normally he tells me bye and I wake up. (He claims he said goodbye and I responded, but I have no recollection of it.)  Anyway, I had a slice of whole wheat toast with some peanut butter, sliced banana, and a handful of blueberries.

DSC00377 DSC00376

Lunch consisted of a delicious salad composed of tender greens, grape tomatoes, yellow and red bell pepper, sliced scallions, reduced fat colby stick, rotisserie chicken pieces, and peach salsa for dressing.  I had a Fage Honey on side and I added a couple of spoons of the plain greek yogurt to my salad before digging in.

DSC00379 DSC00380

On my way home after my meeting, I munched on this pecan pie Larabar all thanks to my sister for snagging me one when we stopped at the grocery on Sunday afternoon.

DSC00388

For dinner I ran over to Fisherman’s Cove Seafood Market to get some fresh fish to prepare at home.  I knew I wanted to have roasted asparagus as a side, but I also picked up  a stuffed artichoke to share with Chris. 

I cooked the mahi filets loosely following a recipe for a topping involving miracle whip, Worcestershire, dijon, bell pepper, scallions, and cayene.  However, I wasn’t at all happy with the dressing so I won’t be sharing that recipe.

DSC00395 DSC00398

As for the star of the show, the stuffed artichoke made an appearance.

DSC00389 DSC00392

Just in case you want to stuff your own artichokes, here are the ingredients.

DSC00413

And for those who have never eaten a stuffed artichoke which is actually a type of flower…

How to Eat a Stuffed Artichoke:

1. Pull a petal from the flower.

DSC00400 

2. Put the entire petal in your mouth crumb side up and scrape the entire thing with your top teeth pulling the petal out of your mouth.  (Don’t eat the petal.  Just scrape the soft top layer from the top with the crumb mixture.)

DSC00404

3. Discard the scraped petal.

DSC00403

4. Once all of the petals are removed you get to the choke or hairy covering over the heart of the artichoke.

DSC00406 DSC00409

5. Peel off the entire choke layer to reveal the edible heart.

DSC00410 DSC00411

6. Now that does not look all that appetizing, but it can be eaten in its entirety.  It contains the most flavor of the artichoke.  Many people only scrape the petals and stuffing and bypass the nutritious artichoke heart altogether.

In this area, I only see stuffed whole artichokes at seafood restaurants, po-boy shops, etc.  However, no stuffing is necessary.  Artichokes can be steamed and the petals can be dipped in lemon butter or vinaigrette prior to scraping the leaves.  Hungry Girl sent out a recipe last year for the steamed artichoke which can be seen here.  I made it and preferred the lemon butter dip over the salsa- yogurt dip she suggests.

Have you eaten artichoke before that did not come from a jar or can? 

Happy Valentine’s Day + Oreo Chocolate Truffles

Yesterday evening I remembered my husband needed to bring a dessert for a Valentine’s bake share at his work.  I decided to forego baking and mix up these Oreo Chocolate Truffles that have always been a hit at parties I’ve seen them at and it was no different when Chris brought them to work today. 

Oreo Chocolate Truffles

DSC00358

Ingredients:

1-16.6 oz. package of Oreo cookies

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature

2-8 oz. bags semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:  Put cookies in food processor and process until fine crumbs result.  (I processed one-third of the bag to start, added the next third to that, and the last until all were powdered to fine crumbs.)  Next, I added the cream cheese by breaking it into chunks and processed until it was evenly distributed.  Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Then, make 1 inch balls from mixture and place on pan.  (I used a cookie scoop and rolled balls of equal size.)  Once balls are made, refrigerate or freeze to cool and harden. 

Meanwhile, melt chocolate using a double boiler method on the stovetop.  I filled a saucepan about 1/2 way and placed a stainless steel bowl on top.  The chocolate chips were added to the bowl and heated over simmering water stirring consistently until a smooth melted chocolate resulted.  Be careful to not let water boil or chocolate will become sticky and grainy if overheated.  Next use two spoons to dip oreo balls in melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off, then placing back on wax paper.  Allow truffles to harden in the refrigerator.  Once hardened, put truffles into sealed container and store in refrigerator or eat.

Chris and I split one before they were packaged up and they were divine. 

Today was a normal work day aside from all of the red shirts and my pink one, oh and for the 3 cakes and chocolate cupcakes made by one of the teacher assistants, and the gift and Valentine sharing among the kids.

I started off my day with un-overnight oats—like overnight oats, but without the sitting overnight.

DSC00366   

In the mix:

1/3 c oats

1/3 c greek yogurt

1/3 c lowfat milk

1 banana

cinnamon

1 spoon peanut butter

2 handfuls blueberries

1 small handful of pecan praline granola

Lunch:

DSC00369

Cheese stick, turkey, tomatoes, and crackers to make my own lunchable.  I saved the Chobani for after tutoring snack and had some cake from the lounge instead.

Dinner was take out from the Japanese Cherry Blossom.

DSC00371

Cucumber Special Roll filled with snowcrab, tuna, avocado, ponzu and naruto sauce—I had 4 of these plus 2 pieces each of husband’s snowcrab roll and tuna roll.

I also had some vegetable soup.

DSC00372 DSC00374