Food Network, Humor Me Please

I’ll admit that I am a big fan of most all of the Food Network hosts and their shows.  They each have their own unique idiosyncrasies in which some can be annoying and others I’ve grown to accept and like.  For instance one that annoys me to no end, Ina Garten’s continual references to “good” chocolate or “good” cooking oil.  Really, that gets on my nerves; what qualifies as “good,” Ina? 

When I ran across this blog today I could not stop myself from cracking up.  The Food Network Humor website was launched in January of 2009 aiming to poke fun at the network’s hosts and shows viewed daily by millions.  Take a look at the humorous website when in need of a laugh to:

1. See how inappropriate some of the hosts actually are.

2. See how unoriginal some of the hosts actually are.

3. See how vicious some of the hosts actually are.

4. See how judgmental some of the hosts actually are.

5. See how loved some of the hosts actually are.

I hope you find the site as entertaining as I have.

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I know I have been away from blogging for a while, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating or cooking.

A couple breakfasts the past few days:

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Sandwich thin with Brummel & Brown and seedless raspberry preserves and yogurt

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Pancakes using Brittney’s Recipe topped with blueberry compote and melted peanut butter—yummy!

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Today’s Breakfast—Barley Porridge

A few lunches here and there…

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Fried egg on top garden veggie burger and roasted green beans

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Salad with chicken, strawberries, feta, balsamic, and olive oil

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Today’s lunch—turkey and swiss melted at work, bell and olive hummus, and satsuma

And some of my dinners recently…

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Chicken noodle soup from freezer with buttered (Brummel & Brown) crackers

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Homemade lean beef meatballs and gravy over whole wheat spaghetti

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For tonight’s dinner, I used leftover whole wheat pasta to make alfredo pasta using lowfat milk, plain greek yogurt, reduced fat chive and onion cream cheese, laughing cow light swiss, and grated parmesan.  The bell peppers were stuffed with green onion chicken sausage removed from the casings.

Of course there has been snacking the past week with lots of chips + hummus, fruit, yogurt, larabars, almonds, etc. but have eluded any pictures.

Don’t forget to have a laugh here! 🙂

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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.

When I got home I had a snack.9-21-10 007

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.

Served with some cucumber and tomato salad + Light Italian dressing9-21-10 016

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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?

Mom’s Jambalaya is on Fiya

On Sunday, Mom invited me over to have some of her delicious jambalaya.  Jambalaya is a Louisiana Creole rice dish with meats, veggies, and a slightly spicy and light tomato sauce.  By no means is this like a sauce for spaghetti where you pile spoons of sauce on top of a pasta.  The sauce is a subtle coating for the rice and meat mixture.   There are many variations to cooking jambalaya.  Some do it stove top with a more creole “red” version and others do it cajun with more of a “brown” rice.  There is even a “white” version which is actually the non-Louisiana way of doing it.  Mom does the “red” in her own version using a no-fuss baking method.  And it comes out just as scrumptious as those slow-cooked, stove top recipes.

Mom’s Jambalaya

Ingredients:

1 1b. Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice

1 can french onion soup

1 can beef consume’

1 small can tomato sauce

1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped (breasts can be used, but for a more moist dish I suggest thighs)

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

4 scallions, diced (green onions)

1/2 stick of butter

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (to taste)

Cayenne Pepper (to taste)

Hot Sauce (to taste)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350*.  Pour rice into a large casserole dish.  Add soup, consume’, and sauce to the rice and mix thoroughly.  Next, add all meats and green pepper and stir to distribute evenly among casserole.  Then add creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce to taste.  Sprinkle diced scallions on top of rice mixture.  Spread pats of butter over the top as well.  Cover loosely with foil.  Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours.  Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes longer.  Enjoy your Louisiana Creole Jambalaya!

I enjoyed mine with a fresh, cold side salad and a cup of homemade iced tea.

Jambalaya + Side Salad

The salad included romaine, grape tomatoes, cucumber, canned asparagus, and light balsamic vinaigrette.

Taste of Louisiana

There is nothing that beats a meal cooked by Mom.  When I was little, we just about had a hot, cooked meal every night of the week.  And can she cook!  I didn’t have too many friends who didn’t enjoy coming to my house to eat some of what Mom was cooking up.  Needless to say, I run right over when she offers food.  Just talking about her cooking makes me very excited to know that Thanksgiving will be here before we know it!

Questions of the Day:  Have you ever eaten jambalaya?  What is one dish that your area is known for?  Do you have a favorite dish that you always look forward to eating when visiting your parents?  Please share. 🙂

I can’t pick one favorite, but my mom makes a darn good seafood fettucine, a lasagna that is out of this world, and a comforting filet gumbo.  (Now I didn’t say they were healthy, but they sure taste divine.)

Have a wonderful Labor Day! 🙂

XOXOXO,

Melissa

Honey, Where Are You?

When I awoke this A.M., I was feeling something warm for breakfast.  So I heated up a packet of Kashi Instant Honey and Cinnamon Hot Cereal.  I topped it with a sliced banana, a handful of blueberries, and a teaspoon of almond butter.  I had some hot chai tea on the side.  It hit the spot though my oatmeal wasn’t very warm once topping with cold nut butter and frozen blueberries, oh and snapping a couple of photos.

Lunch was similar to dinner last night– a turkey wrap.  But I did not go the mexican route.  I had two slices of Hormel Oven Roasted Turkey, L.C. Light Swiss Wedge, and spring mix all rolled up on a whole wheat tortilla.  On side I had some grape tomatoes and Chobani Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with Honey.

I bet you thought my title had to do with my hubby.  Nope, I was actually talking about my Chobani Greek Yogurt with Honey.  Side note:  I do not call the hubby “honey.”  Generally, he is either babe or boop, or Chris/Christopher.  He really hates when I call him Christopher though.  But seriously, where is the honey?  I do not taste it!  I do not see it!  I want more of it!  I need to contact the Chobani peeps and let them know they can’t call it “with Honey” if there is no inkling of honey.  If not I am going to have to stick with Fage Honey.  It makes my experience so much more tastier when I can scoop up some of that sticky, thick honey on the tip of my spoon and then scoop some of the yogurt on top.  Then I have to use my teeth to scrape the honey off of the spoon due to its gooey texture.  Mmmm, it is making my mouth water thinking about it.

After work I enjoyed a couple of snacks–a Kashi Dark Chocolate and Cherry Chewy Granola Bar and a handful of sweet, crimson-colored cherries.

After snack time and a short visit to the computer to catch up on some reading, I headed to the gym to pump some iron.  I did 15 minutes on the elliptical machine, 30 minutes of strength training on the weight machines, and ended with 15 minutes on the treadmill.  Felt good to get a full hour.  I feel like I’ve been slacking since going back to work last week.

Tonight I intended to fix beef fajitas with a corn and black bean side salad.  But I decided not to use my store-bought fajita kit and instead make up a Mexican Fiesta Bowl for dinner.

I started by browning the thinly sliced angus beef chuck in a tbsp. of olive oil.  Once browned I drained off the liquid/oil and added half a packet of store bought taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water.  I also added 1/2 of a sliced onion and a small sliced bell pepper from the garden.  That simmered away until the veggies were tender.

Meanwhile, I cooked some whole grain brown rice.  Once the rice was cooked I added a bag of frozen corn that was sitting out for about fifteen minutes or so and a can of rinsed reduced sodium black beans.  Next I added a diced hot, red chile pepper from the garden and some grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise.  Naturally, some seasonings were needed.  I used approx. 1 tsp. of ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. of chile powder, and salt and pepper to taste.  To be honest no measuring was done, but I did taste a couple bites as I added the seasonings.

For my Mexican Fiesta Bowl, I layered a large cooking spoonful of the rice mixture, a few slices of beef, a spoon of onion/bell peppers, about a tbsp. of Sargento Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend, and a dollop of light sour cream.  I was satisfied with how well and easily this meal came together.

Question of the Day:  First, what is your favorite type of yogurt?  Secondly, have you ever contacted a food company to make a suggestion about their product?

My favorite regular yogurt is Yoplait Light White Chocolate Strawberry ( probably not the greatest due to the aspartame) and my favorite Greek Yogurt (which I am currently on a Greek Yogurt Fix only) is Fage Honey.  And I have never contacted any food companies about their products.

Poreotics and Pasta To Boot

Rather than head to a near by fast food chain for the ever so popular Egg McMuffin I decided to make my own Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Bagel for breakfast. I cooked one scrambled egg  and fried two slices of turkey bacon. After toasting my Thomas bagel thin I spread a Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese triangle on the bagel. I then topped it with the egg and two pieces of bacon. On side I enjoyed an iced green tea with a shot of milk and stevia.

Nothing Beats the Taste of Homeade Breakfast 🙂

"Bacon's Goooood!" As My Nephew Says

Layers of Deliciousness

After enjoying breakfast, I attempted to get some exercise by way of cutting the grass in the backyard.

Attempt 1 for Some Exercise

Due to the torrential downpours the past few days, the grass was too wet and continuously killed my lawn mower after every loop around the yard. So I decided to wait a while and let the grass dry a bit.

Exercise attempt # 2 took place at the gym. When I got there I found my mom working out. She mentioned that she was going to the mall; I eagerly told her that I wanted to join her so I could spend my birthday money of course. Nevertheless, I was able to get in thirty minutes of cardio on the True Strider Elliptical, but not as much as I intended.

For lunch I took advantage of my free birthday coupon from Tuesday and got a Fruit Fusion Smoothie. It contained peach, pineapple, mango, strawberry, milk powder, and protein powder. No picture was necessary as it looked like a normal pink smoothie and was cold and refreshing on this very hot summer day.

Next stop, Mom and I went to the mall. She was looking for some shirts and I for some work pants. I think I spent more time watching the MTV Celebrity Dancers than actually shopping. Mom was in a store right near the performances, so I told her I was going to see what the loud music was all about. Come to find out it was the Season 5 winners of America’s Best Dance Crew, the Poreotics.

I didn’t know who they were for a while into their performance and then noticed a sign stating who they were. I am fascinated with anything live–singing, acting, dancing, performing. I think it has to do with the fact that I wish I had some special talent and would love to perform, but I don’t think I would be brave enough to get in front of that many people if in fact it ever came down to that. And I don’t really have any exciting talents. 😦 When I was a child, though, friends and family would make me sing for them because they said I had such a beautiful voice. I’m not quite sure what happened to it because now my sister only laughs when I try to sing a tune.

The mall turned out to be a success with a purchase of 6 pairs of pants and a Cafe Au Lait to go from the best coffee shop in New Orleans, Cafe’ Du Monde! You must have fried beignets (hot, fried dough slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside covered in powdered sugar so when you bite and breathe through your nose the powdered sugar gets all over you–so fun) from there if you ever get to New Orleans. The original Cafe’ Du Monde is in downtown New Orleans near Jackson Square and the flea market.  I didn’t get any beignets today, but the coffee was satisfying as usual.

After the mall, I made a final attempt to cut the grass for a couple of reasons.  One, it was high and needed to be cut.  Two, it is supposed to rain all week, AGAIN.  Three, it was more exercise for today.  Attempt # 3 was a success.  Now my smaller dog will actually go to the potty in the back yard.  Oh, and my husband did offer to cut the grass, but I told him I could handle it, so he repainted the garage floor while I finished the grass.

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Finally on to dinner.  The hubby has a garden in the back and when I got home I found some great looking eggplant and one yellow bell pepper on the counter.  Accordingly, I fixed an Italian Eggplant Penne Casserole.

Italian Eggplant Penne Casserole

1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta, cooked accordingly

1 jar tomato basil sauce

1/2 c grated parmesan cheese + some for topping

1 oz. feta cheese (use more if desired, I was using up what I had left)

1/2 c italian style bread crumbs

1 tbsp. canola oil

2 chinese eggplant or 1 american eggplant chopped (chinese from our garden)

1 small bell pepper diced (yellow from the garden)

1 c onion diced

1 egg

1 tbsp. garlic minced

Dried oregano,  dried basil, salt and pepper  to taste

Directions:Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray large casserole dish with non stick cooking spray.  In mixing bowl, combine onion, garlic, bell pepper, eggplant, breadcrumbs, cheeses, egg, oil, and seasonings.  Mix well.  In casserole dish, ladle about 4 tbsp. in the bottom of dish.  Next, add half of cooked pasta; then half of eggplant mixture.  Spread half of remaining tomato sauce over past and eggplant.  Repeat with the rest of the past, eggplant mixture, and sauce.  Sprinkle the top of sauce with parmesan cheese.  Bake covered for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional ten minutes.

Serves 8.  About 365 calories per serving.

Ingredients
Eggplant Mixture
Layering
Pre-Bake
Time to Eat

I was a bit heavy handed with the pepper, so it was a bit too spicy.  But overall it was tasty.

Finally a few bites of this for dessert.

I purchased this at Whole Foods last week.  Someone told my mom about it and I’ve been wanting to try it.  The ENTIRE pint is 128 calories.  That is less calories than 1/2  cup of regular chocolate ice cream.  A 1/2 cup serving of the stuff is only 32 calories.  So eat a 1/2 cup or eat the whole darn thing.  I probably had about half of a cup, but just ate it right out of the pint.  It can’t do too much damage and it tastes great.

Question of the day: If you could have one talent that you don’t already possess, what would it be?

I would want to be able to dance.

Laugh, Dance, Eat

Rise and shine!  My dad used to say that when waking me up in the morning as a kid.  This morning I started the day off with a simple bowl of cereal topped with a banana and some frozen blueberries. 

Filling b-fast

I went into to work to begin setting up my classroom.  Here’s a sneak peak of my room–nothing spectacular, just an ordinary classroom.

My Home Away from Home

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For lunch I enjoyed a summertime salad.  In the mix, romaine, spinach, celery, carrots, strawberries, feta, and a drizzle of light raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Loved the fruity flavors

In the words of my students, "Get out my face!"

Also enjoyed a fage honey greek yogurt–I think this is my fave greek yogurt.

Smile for the camera, Fage!

After working in my classroom, I stopped at the gym since it was on the way home.  Today’s cardio of 25/20/15 consisted of elliptical, treadmill, and bicycle all while enjoying the Ellen DeGeneres Show.  Her show is so upbeat with laughter and music and dancing.  It really kept me enrgized during my workout.  Once home I decided on a post-workout snack–Plum and Almond Butter on Bread. 

Juicy Plum + Creamy Almond Butter = 🙂

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In the words of Ellen, “Laugh, dance, eat!”  Okay, well maybe not the eat part, but she usually plays fill in the blank with the last word of that phrase based on her guests interests.  So I filled in the blank with my own word and that is just what I did. 

 I laughed and danced with my 2 year old nephew and then enjoyed dinner with him, his parents, and my mom.  We went to a local restaurant called Mr. Ed’s, which serves seafood and italian food.  To start I had a side salad with some Italian dressing followed by my entree, stuffed bell pepper served with mash potatoes and green beans.

Salad

Shrimp, crab, and crawfish stuffed bell pepper

I ate one of the bell peppers, half of the potatoes, and all of the green beans (not pictured).  So my hubby got my doggy bag since he couldn’t join us due to work.  The food was very tasty!

Remember to laugh, dance, and eat at some point this weekend and have a great one! 🙂

Question of the day:  Do you prefer working out with t.v. or music?  If you prefer t.v., what do you like to watch while working out?