Wednesday’s What I’m Fixin’ in the Kitchen

Oatmeal and Peanut Butter Makes Its Return + Instant Coffee

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Leftover’s For Lunch E-Z Baked Ziti

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Plus a slice of cake for Teacher Appreciation Week 😉

And chips and salsa once home.

Dinner was “Breakfast for Dinner”

Pepper, Spinach, Chipotle Frittata

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Sautéed Potatoes

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And a couple slices of turkey bacon.

Altogether Now

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The night was capped off with a couple pieces of chocolate.

Just Another Manic Monday

Today has been quite the hectic day.  It was a Monday, first of all, which is certainly not my favorite day of the week. 

It actually started off well.  I awoke to immediately stick a roast, carrots, and an onion in the crockpot (does anyone still call it that???) along with a Lipton powdered soup mix and a cup of water so dinner would be ready when I got home.  Then I made myself a quick bowl of cereal for breakfast.DSC01304

In my bowl, I mixed Special K Vanilla and Almond, a handful of plain old fashioned oats, a sprinkle of flaxseed, a sliced banana, and some lowfat milk.

Lunch was just a simple turkey sandwich with reduced fat pepper jack and some spinach plus some yellow mustard.  I enjoyed an apple and some pineapple pieces dipped in some melted chocolate courtesy of the school principal and some coworkers.

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Next up is where the day turned into chaos.  I had to go to Walmart to purchase all of the materials needed for our Family Night tomorrow night at school.  I was there about two hours pushing a cart around that was entirely too heavy.  I then went back to work to unload my car on my own and deliver all of the materials to the other teachers.  The worst part is I had to go back to a different Walmart this evening to get some items that the other store was out of.  Needless to say, two Walmarts in one day equals not a good day.

I did snack on chips in salsa prior to the second visit to Walmart, but no picture was snapped.

Oh well, at least I did not have to worry about preparing dinner.

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I enjoyed my roast over some mashed potatoes that were cooked last night with potatoes from the hubby’s garden.

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To prepare them, I just mixed the boiled, tender potatoes with a container of 1/3 reduced fat onion and chive cream cheese and some milk using my handheld blender.

Well, I’m going to call it a night because I have work til 8 tomorrow night.  Good night all!

Shrimp Pot Pie

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Shrimp Pot Pie

Servings: 4 (about 390 calories per serving)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp canola oil

4 carrots, chopped

1 tbsp flour, all-purpose

1 1/3 c low-fat milk, separated

1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste

3/8 tsp white pepper plus more to taste

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp celery seed

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 lb frozen cut green beans, rinsed

1- 8.5 oz box corn muffin mix

1 egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400* and spray 9X9 glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Heat oil in small saucepan.  Add carrots and sauté until tender about ten minutes.

2. Add 1 tbsp flour to carrots and stir for 1 minute.  Add 1 cup of milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/8 tsp pepper, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery seed.  Cook over low heat until thickened about 5-8 minutes stirring periodically.  Turn off and let cool (put in refrigerator to hasten the cooling).

3. Meanwhile, mix corn muffin mix with egg and 1/3 cup of milk.  Set aside.

4. Season shrimp with salt and white pepper to taste.  Add shrimp and green beans to baking dish.  Pour cooled sauce over shrimp and bean mixture and stir to combine. 

5. Stir corn muffin mix and pour over the top of the shrimp mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until corn bread topping is golden brown.  Enjoy!DSC01253 

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The shrimp pot pie turned out nicely.  As for breakfast, there was the return of the oatmeal bowl.

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Lunch included some of Mom’s black eye peas leftover from last night’s dinner.DSC01237

I enjoyed a cup of the beans with pickled meat and a 1/2 cup of white rice.  I brought a nectarine for a snack, but when I cut it open it looked bad so a coworker gave me her cafeteria vanilla pudding with sprinkles on top because I was still hungry and wanted something sweet.  Ya know, when that special monthly visit is on its way my hunger gets out of control and I satisfy it.

At work, I also had some honey wheat pretzel sticks that Mom had brought me from Chicago in my goody bag a few weeks ago.  This week is standardized testing so I actually brought the pretzels for my 6 students I’m testing.

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Oh, and not to mention the hummus and chips I ate when I got home plus a bite of chipotle cheese which went unpictured.  I told you; I’m ravenous. That about wraps it up.  Now I’m feeling full and content.  For now.

Extreme Couponing

Hey guys!  Did you miss me?  Kidding. 

Anyway, did you see that new show that aired last night on TLC?

 

Extreme Couponing goes into the lives of people who go to extreme lengths to get a deal or shall I say steal.  On the show last night, one families’ grocery total amounted to over one thousand dollars.  They paid $30 for the entire bill.  Yes, thirty dollars on a thousand dollars worth of purchases.  That just amazes me!  How does one go about saving $970 on his or her grocery bill?

I have a lot to learn in that department.  I generally pay little to no mind at the cost of items when grocery shopping.  Well, I take that back, I do compare the different prices for tomatoes, for example, and go with the cheaper variety.  However, I do not go with the store brand mustard just because it is cheaper.

Funny how I happened to catch the show this week.  On this coming Saturday, I am actually invited to a brunch hosted by some ladies who are sharing information on “Maximizing Your Grocery $avings.”DSC01177       

After watching the show, I can’t wait to learn more.  I wanted to start clipping coupons immediately–if only I could save a fraction of the money the shoppers saved.  Though I do worry I won’t be able to save all that much because most of the shoppers on the program appeared to be purchasing a lot of boxed goods.  I do have some staples that come in boxes like pasta, rice, cereal, but for the most part my shopping time is spent around the perimeters of the store.  I hope I learn some useful tips on Saturday and if so I’ll definitely share with you.

Now for the regularly scheduled program—the food.

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Breakfast Smoothie in a Bowl:

~1 frozen banana

~handful frozen strawberries

~cup lowfat milk

~scoop vanilla whey protein powder

~teaspoon blueberry flaxseed meal

All blended in the blender.

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My meat free lunch hit the spot.  I had a salad with greens, a roma tomato, a tablespoon of goat cheese, a few sesame almonds, and 2 tbsp. of light raspberry vinaigrette.

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I enjoyed a Chobani Peach Yogurt for some protein and sweetness.

On my way to the gym I had a Cinnamon Roll.  Larabar that is.  My energy bar fueled me through 33 minutes on the elliptical and some strength training that went something like the following with very little resting between sets to keep the heart rate up.

Machine Weight Reps/Sets
Pectoralis 35 lbs. 15/3
Triceps 30 lbs. 12/3
Biceps 15 lbs. 10/3
Crunches Bodyweight 25/1
Torso Twists Bodyweight 25 per side/1
Hamstring Curl 50 lbs. 12/3
Leg Press 60 lbs. 10/3
Low row 40 lbs. 10/3
Lunges Bodyweight 25 per leg/2
Wall Squats Bodyweight 25/1

I ended with a couple minutes of stretching before deciding I was super-hungry.  I called Chris once in the car and we decided to get take-out from Come Back Inn.DSC01169

I ordered a 9” veggie pizza with onions, bells, mushrooms, olives, and jalapenos.  I ate about 1/3 of it plus I had half of an Italian salad and two of the hub’s mozzarella sticks.  Underneath all of that cheese on the salad is an olive salad which has lots of flavor and some oil to coat the entire salad so no extra dressing is needed. 

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I still have not satisfied my cupcake craving, but I did come across this several.month.old. cookie in the back of the pantry cabinet to satisfy my need for something sweet.DSC01172

Big Question of the Night:  How do you pronounce coupon?  Do you say cue-pon or coo-pon?  I say the latter, coo-pon.  My friend from AL says cue-pon.  I’m thinking cue-pon is more of a southern country accent.  If you reply, please let me know where you’re from as well.  Just curious if the phonetics of the word is dependent upon region of the country in which people reside.

Gorgonzola Chicken Alfredo Over Spaghetti Squash

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Gorgonzola Chicken Alfredo Over Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

1 small to medium spaghetti squash

1.5-2 lbs. chicken breast tenders

1 egg, beaten + tbsp. water

2 c Italian flavored panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 tbsp. flour

1 c skim milk

1/2 c gorgonzola cheese

1/4 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)

black pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400*. Score squash with a knife in random spots all over squash.  Put whole squash on baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake in preheated oven 50 minutes to an hour.

2. Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Dip each tender into egg/water mixture.  Coat tender in panko crumbs.  Place tenders on a broiler pan sprayed with non-stick spray.  Lightly spray the top of the tenders with cooking spray.  Bake in oven 20-25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165* is reached.

3.  While squash and tenders bake, mix oil and flour in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add milk stirring constantly.  Allow mixture to thicken to desired consistency.  Add gorgonzola cheese, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and pepper to taste.  Heat through.  (Add more milk if sauce gets too thick and reheat if necessary.)

4. Once squash is cooked, cut in half vertically.  Use a tablespoon to scoop out the seeded pulp in the center and discard.  Use a fork to scrape the tender flesh of the squash, which should resemble spaghetti.

5. To plate, add one cup of squash to plate.  Top with two tenders and two tablespoons of the gorgonzola alfredo sauce.  Enjoy!

For nutrition stats, click here. DSC01045 DSC01048

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As for today’s eating:

I began with cereal with only a small splash of milk because I needed to get to the grocery and didn’t realize Chris drank until after pouring the cereal and slicing the overly-ripe banana.DSC01117 Lunch was a ham and muenster wrap with mustard, few spinach leaves that weren’t wilted, and pickles.  I enjoyed a sliced apple on the side.DSC01125

Snacking included this bar Mom brought back from Trader Joe’s Chicago location along with lots of other goodies.DSC01126

Tonight’s dinner included a fast and messy roast beef po’boy on french bread with reduced fat swiss, lowfat mayo and lettuce and tomato.  I had tutoring after work and needed to grocery shop, so Chris suggested this quick dinner.  I was so hungry I failed to snap a picture.

I have been craving cupcakes for several weeks now due to that darn show “Cupcake Wars.”  I made an attempt to bake some tonight, which do look pretty with the ganache like icing, but did not taste so pretty.  I managed to eat the tops of two (the icing was excellent), but most of the spongy cake stuck to the paper. 

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Actually underneath the icing lies deflated cupcakes; when I took them out of the oven they began to shrink.  I am not quite sure what happened, but obviously there will be no recipe sharing.  I shall try again some day.

Calorie Counting

Back in 2009 I began calorie counting in an effort to lose weight.  I continued counting my daily calories for about a year and a half stopping for about a month at one point, but soon began again.  In the summer of 2011, as I began reading daily food blogs and shortly thereafter starting my own blog I decided that a daily diary of my meals was sufficient enough as I now had a better understanding of portion sizes and a general idea of the calories those portions were worth.  Ultimately, I gave up inputting my meals into the online database hosted by www.411fit.com.

Don’t get me wrong; calorie counting is the “bible” so to speak when it comes to losing weight.  It works if done honestly.  I am just no longer at a point where I want or need to lose weight; however, I do want to maintain my current weight.  Though I could certainly afford to lose some fatty tissue on some areas of my body, in particular my thighs.  At some point in my lifetime, I want to feel comfortable in a swimsuit without covering up with shorts.  I’m just not sure that will ever happen.

Anyway, today started in a rush since I awoke late once again.  I haven’t been sleeping all that well.  My dog and Mom’s dog (I’ve been babysitting since last Friday) keep me up all hours of the night wanting to go outside.   Needless to say, breakfast had to be FAST.

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Muenster cheese and seedless black raspberry preserves on a whole wheat tortilla with a banana and hot earl grey green tea on side.

Lunch consisted of last’s nights leftover steamed chicken and vegetables with light garlic sauce that Chris picked up from the Chinese takeout place.

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I ate jus about all of the vegetables, but left most of the chicken.  I was bothered by its texture from the steaming.  The Chobani Black Cherry was saved for my pre-cardio snack.

Today’s cardio session included 15 minutes on the bike and 6 miles on the elliptical for 30 minutes while watching 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Channel.  I concluded with stretching and abdominal floor work.

Dinner was super tasty.  I made Gorgonzola Chicken Alfredo over Spaghetti Squash.

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The evening light was going dim as I was trying to get a good photo from real light.  So I had to move indoors.

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I was shooting for a healthier version on this chicken alfredo, so I was curious to figure out how many calories this was.  My mind immediately thought to log onto www.411fit.com to calculate the stats.  So that is just what I did for all of today’s eats.

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A cup of squash, with two tenders, and two tablespoons of the sauce came out to 322 calories.  I did have a third chicken tender with a third tablespoon of sauce so my dinner was about 460 calories.  Still, 500 calories seems reasonable to me for a meal.

My grade on today’s nutrition came out to a B+—Good.  My calories are slightly low and my protein was more than needed, but overall a good day.  Just to be clear, the database does not contain every single thing I ate.  I found compatible items for things like the raspberry preserves and my leftover Chinese chicken and veggies.  For my dinner, I did actually upload the recipes into the site so that is pretty accurate.  And I owe you the recipe.  It’s a keeper. :0)

Question of the Night:  Do you count calories?  Does that seem obsessive to you?

Taste Test Tuesday: Crispy Oven Baked Fries

I do have weaknesses when it comes to eating.  Give me some fries and I will devour them in o.2 seconds.  As a child, my family would head over to the ballpark to watch my sister play on the softball or basketball all-stars team.  I would sit in the bleachers and not five minutes after arriving I would ask Mom if I could have $2.00 to get fries and a coke.  Surely I got my fries topped with lots of ketchup most nights and would sulk when I didn’t.

Still, at times I crave the crispy fried sticks and will eat them occasionally from a fast food joint, but I try to avoid them when eating out by swapping the deep fried salty goodness for a vegetable.

Last night I was on a mission to find the “best” crispy oven baked french fries to go alongside our pork sandwiches.  So I did what any normal foodista would do, and searched the net.  I found three techniques  that had potential, yet I wasn’t sure which method to use.  So I thought, “Why not test them all and see ‘which reigns supreme’?”  Iron Chef anyone!?!

Technique 1: Emeril’s egg white coated fries involve whisking an egg white until foamy, coating the fries in the egg whites, and baking on a greased non-stick pan.  I did not use the Essence seasoning as stated instead a simple salt and pepper shake and also chose to spray my pan with cooking spray instead of using vegetable oil.

Technique 2: Parboiling the fries was required in this method prior to coating with oil, salt, and pepper.  The baking was a bit more technical requiring not only baking, but also broiling.

Technique 3: A preheated oven and a preheated pan is required in the third technique.  The fries are coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper then they are layered on the preheated pan and baked in the oven.

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Fries three ways are shown above in the order of techniques listed previously—1, 2, then 3.  All three techniques took more or less thirty minutes with flipping fries half-way through cooking time.  And for the results:

1. The egg white coated fries had a nice french fry flavor and a crispiness that Chris related to a beer batter coating on the outside.  The coating wasn’t that evident to me.

2. The parboiled fries had me hesitant half-way through cooking time when they appeared limp and soggy as I flipped.  In the end after broiling, they did come out crispy and tender on the inside though not as crispy as #1.  Chris and I both agreed some of the potato flavor was missing with the pre-cooking of the potatoes.

3. The preheated pan did leave the fries super crispy.  Thirty minutes was not necessary as the recipe calls for.  Also, I had my oven set for 425* not 450*.  I was slightly disappointed because these fries were overdone and crisp almost to the point of being burnt.  It may have also been due to the fact that I cooked them on the second to lowest shelf in the oven since my parboiled fries were above.

Outcome: My preference for taste and crispiness were the fries cooked using…[drumroll please]…technique number 1-Emeril’s Oven Crispy Fries.  Chris actually preferred the third technique using the preheated pan which resulted in near charred french fries.

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And to summarize today’s enjoyable eating:

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Whole wheat tortilla topped with peanut butter, banana, and nutmeg + Earl Grey Green Tea

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Next up, lunch.

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Spinach/arugala mix, a roma tomato, a tbsp. gorgonzola cheese, and sesame almonds topped with raspberry vinaigrette + chobani peach greek yogurt.

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Banana Bread Larabar for an after school snack–

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And breakfast again for dinner (x2)–

1st Up

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A veggie sausage patty, laughing cow light swiss, and a fried egg on a wheat bun.

2nd Round–

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Chocolate Almond Oatmeal

1/4 c quick cooking oats

1/4 c water

1/4 c lowfat milk

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1/8 tsp almond extract

pinch of salt

1 tsp brown sugar

10 bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:  Combine oats, water, milk, cocoa powder, almond extract, and salt in a small pot over medium low heat.  Bring to a simmer and stir continuously until desired thickness is reached.  Top with brown sugar and chocolate chips.  Enjoy the chocolaty almond flavored oatmeal.

Oh yeah, I also exercised prior to eating my 2nd breakfast of the day.  I headed straight home from work since severe weather was on the way.  I took advantage of free Exercise TV On Demand and did three workouts.  The first was the Metabolism Booster which was about 20 minutes of strength training mixed with spurts of cardio.  The second was a 10 Minute Buns and Thighs video, and lastly 12 minutes or so of 6 Pack Abs.  By the end I was hot and sweaty and in dire need of water.  I also came to the realization that I need to invest in some weights that are less than Herculean because I couldn’t do all of the moves with the 10 pounders I have.  Regardless, workout accomplished!