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?

Advertisements

My First Attempt at Gumbo, Sha!

Hi Sha!  My grandpa always called my granny that when they were with us, most often when he was annoyed with her and didn’t want to call her some other slip of the tongue.  Sha is a cajun french expression for referring to one’s spouse or as a term of endearment meaning dear/darling.  Just in case you want to call your better half “sha,” the a is pronounced like the a in apple. 😉

Well, last night I did end up making some gumbo.  I attempted to use this recipe, but some things went awry so I had to make some alterations.

gumbo recipe

My first roux (flour and oil mixture to create gravy) got burnt in the microwave. 

DSC00819

So if attempting it in the microwave, stir every minute after the first three not after six as the recipe says.  Now it says get to a chocolate bar color; I have always been told a dark peanut butter color.

So roux attempt # 2 was more successful.  I did it stovetop using a cup of flour and a cup of olive oil since I was now out of canola oil.

DSC00821

I did continue whisking for a couple more minutes as the flour and oil mixture darkened even more.  If making this stovetop do NOT leave it.  Continue stirring the entire time and have veggies precut to add immediately when desired color is reached. 

Normally, gumbo includes the vegetable trinity—onion, bell pepper, and celery.  I used two onions and 1 celery rib chopped plus a tbsp. of garlic since I did not have a bell pepper.  Once the roux was a dark, dark peanut butter color I added the veggies and sauteed them in the roux with continuous stirring until tender.  Next I added the seasoned chicken cubes (I cut up chicken tenderloins into cubes) and sliced turkey smoked sausage.  Continue stirring and cooking on medium low until chicken is cooked on the outside.  Then I added about 8-10 cups of water.  Next, I seasoned with more hot sauce than recommended, cayenne pepper, salt, a tsp. of dried thyme, 3 bay leaves, and a tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce.  This simmered for about an hour.  Any oil that floated to the top was skimmed off at this point.

At this point the husband came home and I told him my gumbo was too light.  He added about 2 tablespoons of the unburnt microwaved roux which gave a much nicer color.  Mom recommends adding a teaspoon of Kitchen Bouquet liquid if darkening is needed; however, I did not have that ingredient.

The gumbo cooked an hour longer after adding the additional roux.  Today it was reheated on the stove; after heating I added some chopped green onions and cooked 15 minutes longer.  Lastly, after turning the fire off, I stirred in half a teaspoon of ground file’ (fee-lay) powder, which is ground sassafras.  Additionally, file’ can be added at serving time to suit personal tastes.

The gumbo was served with a scoop of brown rice and cornbread muffins.

DSC00834

Her plate above and his plate below.

DSC00836

As I was snapping my pictures, Chris felt the need to decorate. 🙂

DSC00840 DSC00842 DSC00843

I impressed myself.  This was divine, sha!

Niko waited patiently for a taste. Pardon the Hub’s finger at the top.

DSC00852 DSC00851

Looking back on my other meals they weren’t as delicious, but still tasty.Breakfast included 1/2 c vanilla greek yogurt, 1/2 c cottage cheese, frozen blueberries, and a crumbled muffin, and a tiny bit of peanut butter.

DSC00825DSC00823

And I sipped hot green tea with mango flavoring.

Lunch was a turkey sandwich with honey mustard, lettuce, and tomato + some carrots for crunch.

DSC00828

I brought the fuji apple, but with three minutes left of my lunch break I decided I did not have time to eat it.  I may eat it in a second. 

On my car ride over to the gym I had a Kind Bar that has been sitting in my purse pocket for a couple weeks now.

DSC00856

Today’s workout started with 10 minutes on the elliptical.  I then did 30 minutes of weight training as some manly man grunted loud enough for the entire gym to hear.  Several people made comments.  One guy passed me and commented something along the lines of “He’ll be okay, it is just labor and delivery taking place.”  What!?! Lol.  But seriously, if that guy needs to make all that noise then lower the friggin weight already.  I ended my session with 15 minutes on the stair stepper.  And that thing is killer!!  I was a huffing and a puffing as though it were 2 years ago and I never worked out a day in my life.  I’m definitely going to pick that up more for cardio days.  I could feel the sweat and the burn, which is a good thing.  It feels good to be back! 🙂

The King Bar

I am thoroughly enjoying my new windows and the beautiful weather that has finally arrived this weekend!  The cool breeze of fall showed up this morning. :0)  To recap yesterday’s eats, my day began with a hot cup of French Market Coffee and Chicory.  I steamed a 1/4 cup of low-fat mlk and added the coffee with some stevia for a delectable Cafe’ Au Lait.

For breakfast I enjoyed an egg and spinach omelet with a slice of whole wheat toast and a schmear of Brummel & Brown.

Laughing Cow Light Queso and Chipotle + Spinach Inside

After some much needed housework, I gobbled up another bean and cheese enchilada.  Mmmmm, those enchiladas are so sinfully tasty!

And a plum on the side.

Can you spy my Niko (german shepherd) in the background?  He ain’t nothing, but a hound dog.

Nothing like a little bit of Elvis to get ya’ in the singing mood! 😉

I’ve been thinking about the popular Larabars and it dawned on me.  Why not try to create my own?  They contain just a few, all natural ingredients and require no cooking.  So my first attempt at a Lara-like bar was a success, in my opinion.  In the name of Elvis, I created a peanut butter banana flavored bar–a.k.a. The King Bar.

A little known fact, the King, himself, was an absolute fan of peanut butter banana sandwiches.  I, too, enjoy those tasty sandwiches as you may have noticed it is a breakfast staple.  Once, many months ago my mom and I visited a little shop called the Cupcake Factory.  One of the cupcakes on display was named the Elvis Presley cupcake.  And I asked, “Hmmm, why is that named after Elvis?  It is a banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting, and he was known to eat his fair share of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  With that, I introduce The King Bar.

The King Bar

Servings: 5 bars Calories: 166

Ingredients:

30 dates

1/4 cup dry roasted salted peanuts

1/2 banana

Directions:  Put pitted dates in food processor.  Pulse until a fine ground consistency is reached.  Remove dates to a mixing bowl.  Next, pour peanuts into processor and process until finely ground.  Pour grounded peanuts into bowl with the dates.  Lastly, pulse banana until chopped and add to bowl.  Lay out parchment paper at this point.  Mix all ingredients until evenly distributed.  Scoop mixture onto paper and form into a 6 X 3 1/2 inch rectangle.  Wrap paper to seal bars.  Use a ruler and pen to divide rectangle into 5 bars on outside of paper measuring 1 3/16″ X 3 1/2″.  Place in freezer for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, lay out 5 pieces of plastic wrap to individually wrap bars.  Once removed from the freezer, unwrap paper and cut bars to wrap individually using a large knife; use lines as a guide which should be seen through the other side of the paper.  Store in refrigerator until time of consumption.

Slicing and Wrapping Individual Bars

The King Bars are naturally sweetened from the fruits being used.  No additional sugar is needed.  They are a tasty, filling, snack for a great energy booster.  My bars were not quite as dense as the true Larabars, but the flavor was 100% all there.  I think more dates would have made it more dense, but I wanted to keep the calorie counts under 200, since they do serve as snacks, rather than meal bars.

The hubby and I shared one of the bars to test it out.

Verdict= Thumbs up!

After a busy day of housework, I was not in the mood to cook anything that would take much time.  So, I baked 3 Boca Chik’n Meatless Patties for 12 minutes at 350*.  Two were for hub to eat on sandwich thins and I ate the other on a salad, which is what my body was in the mood for since I hadn’t had one in a couple days.

Salad mix of baby spinach, cucumber, grape tomatoes, carrots, squash, chik’n patty, and 2 tbsp. Light Asian Sesame Dressing.

Rainbow of Flavor

After the hubby went on to work his night shift, I swung by Mom’s to pick up some groceries she had for me.

THANKS MOM! I ❤ FREE FOOD!

A Bag of Romaine, 2 Ears of Corn, Raspberries, Avocado, Kashi Granola, a bag of opened Veggie Stix (she didn’t like and thought I might), and unpictured pack of Wheat Sandwich Thins

Most were buy one get one free at the store, so I benefited from the “get one free.”  As for the veggie stix, I sampled them and they have the crunch of a chip, but the flavor is not the greatest and the smooth, waxy coating on the outside kind of scares me.  But I’ll keep them for when I need a little salt and crunch in my life, or they become stale–whichever occurs first.

Finally, I felt the need for some dessert.  These mint ice cream sandwiches have been in my freezer for a little over a month and I decided to have one.

Chocolate + Mint = Winning Combination in My Eyes or Mouth That Is 😉

My Mom showed me this video and I thought I’d share–pretty incredible!

Question of the Day:  Does your animal have any talents?

My Niko can sit pretty, roll over, heel.  But nothing like the one above.  🙂

It’s a Hot One

It’s been a HOT past couple of days around the humid New Orleans Metro Area.

My car thermostat read 101* yesterday.  An “Excessive Heat Warning” was issued by our local weather station stating with the heat indices the temperatures can get up to what feels like 110*.  That’s a scorcher, for sure.

After running around in the heat all afternoon yesterday, I did not want to sit over a stove and have to cook.  So the hubby and I agreed upon a vegetable pizza made with store-bought pizza dough, marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, veggies of all kinds, and a sprinkling of parmesan on top.

Eggplant, bell pepper, and banana pepper from the garden; fresh spinach, onion, and mushrooms; and canned black olives and artichoke hearts adorned our pizza.

Pre-Bake
Finished

My 2 slices and a side salad

Stringy Mozzarella

My hub and I both agreed it was delicious and he specifically said, “It tastes fresh!”

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Even though it has been steaming outside, I woke up this A.M. in the mood for some warm oats.  I 1/2 cup of rolled oats with water, milk, and salt as the package directed.  Cooking method was microwave oven.  Boy, did that leave me an overflowed goupy mess all over the microwave tray.  Needless to say, half my oats were wasted.  I topped the oats with half of a small, ripened peach, a drizzle oh honey, a teaspoon of almond butter, and a crumbled square of Banana Berry Bread from the freezer that was defrosted last night.

Not so pretty, but tasted pretty darn yummy!

Enjoyed with plain hot chai tea.

For lunch I put together a mix of things needing to be used up.  A bed of fresh baby spinach, spaghetti from last week’s BBQ Scallop and Mushroom Pasta, roasted eggplant from garden, ‘one more day and they’d be bad’ mushrooms, a half cup of jarred marinara sauce, and a Babybel Light Cheese broken up on top–all was heated prior to eating which caused spinach to wilt [yes!] and cheese to melt.

Banana Fana Fo Fana…

Couple of coworkers asked if I cooked.  Not really, just threw some things in a container that all seemed to mesh well together and oh it was such a tasty hot lunch–including the pepper that was left between my teeth and no one bothered to let me know about.  LOL! Seriously people, let me know these things!  I’d rather have that second of embarrassment than pick up my students and have all of them staring at me crazily mocking me behind my back.  Luckily, I stopped in the restroom before making my way to my children.  Sheesh!

Snack was the other half of my peach and some cherries.

Can you spot someone in the photo who shouldn’t be?

That would be Niko’s, my black German Shepherd, snout. He managed to get a sniff just as I snapped the picture.

My dad was nice enough to offer us dinner since he cooked up a large pot of red beans.  I picked up a bowl to bring home (and dropped off a bowl to my preggers sister, whom the doctor told to “take it easy”).  After visiting with my nephew and sister, I headed home to cook up some brown rice.

3/4 c rice + 1 c beans = my serving

Bits of Sausage and Ham Within

Side Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette Drizzle

Thanks to my Daddy for the red beans and making my life easier–in more ways than one!

Question of the Day:  Do you let people know of that ever so embarrassing detail such as food in teeth, toilet paper on shoe, price tag on garment, etc.?

I am more apt to tell someone if I know them, but if you are a stranger, sorry.  A few months back I was picking up dinner one night and this woman in front of me had toilet paper sticking out of the top of her pants and I just couldn’t muster up the courage to tell her.  Poor lady!  Though, I would definitely want someone to let me know.

Dining With the Dogs

Bangin Breakfast

Butterball Turkey Bacon, LC Light Swiss Wedge, Pepperidge Farm Deli Flat

Summer Sultriness

Needed a Colossal Cup of Water After Grass Cutting--Exhausting Exercise

Ahhhhhh! Air!

Slammin Salad

Green goodness from last nights Zeasar Salad with addition of berries, roasted chicken from during the week, <1/2 oz. of feta, chopped celery, balsamic vinaigrette drizzle

Come Closer!

Dining With Dogs, My Dogs That Is--They shared some of the chicken chunks from my scrumptious salad.

Jammin Japanese–Miyako Japanese Seafood and Steak House Attending a Hibachi allows the patron to interact with the Hibachi Chef.  The fun is brought on by the entertainment of the Chef’s tricks and skills of the trade.  As for tonight, our chef put on a good show.  And it didn’t hurt that our eats were just as good!

Comforting Clear Soup and Salad to Start

Hubby and I split a phenomenal Philly Roll.

Hibachi Hoaxer

My Pleasantly Palatable Plate--Sizzling Shrimp with Vivid Veggies + Regular Rice & Nourishing Noodles

I ate most of the vibrant veggies and seasoned shrimp and some of the rice and noodles. Also had a small scoop of very vanilla ice cream (no picture). Oh yeah, and tried some of the seriously strong Sake for my first time!

Questions of the Night:  Can you guess what form of figurative language I am using throughout this post?  Do you give your dogs table food?
My dogs do not beg me for food, but I occasionally give them table food.  Well I take that back.  Herbie, the shih tzu/pug/beagle mix, reminds me if I forget to give him his piece of cheese for the day.  I know I shouldn’t reward the barking, but once I give it to him he stops.