Wrapping up 2010

I hope you all enjoyed the first day of 2011.  Chris and I laid low today both taking care of some household work.  I packed away all of the Christmas decorations while he went to my sister’s house to continue working on getting the over-a-thousand-piece swing put together.

Last night we attended a small get-together at a friend’s house to ring in the New Year.  It was just three couples with food, fireworks, and fun.  No big party scene, but we had a good time!  For some reason I couldn’t really get any good shots outside; my camera just wasn’t cooperating on a bunch of different settings I tried.  Perhaps it was due to rain, humidity, and smoke in the air.

Here I am just as we were walking out the door with hat in tow because I knew we’d be outside and the weather was super yucky.

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Our hosts provided all of the food and drinks, which was really nice.  I wanted to make something, but after running around all afternoon I ran out of time.  Here is a look at the eats.

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Creole gumbo with chicken, sausage, and shrimp

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Finger sandwiches, fruit tray, and veggie tray

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Spinach and artichoke dip

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And I made some frozen margaritas.

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Yeah, so that didn’t work.   I was hoping for at least one good one, but last night was not the night for pictures.

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We had a few fireworks and rockets to shoot, but the real show was around the corner at midnight watched from afar.

We headed home shortly after midnight; needless to say I slept late today.  I started off my first day of 2011 with a  bowl of creamy oatmeal and coffee.

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To make the oatmeal, I mixed the following in a saucepan and whipped for five minutes or so on medium low heat with a fork:

~1/3 c each of old fashioned oats, low fat milk, water

~1 mashed banana

~vanilla, cinnamon, dash of salt

Topped with:

~granola

~raisins

~peanut butter

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Lunch was an easy spaghetti bowl with whole wheat spaghetti from fridge, spinach, and french onion light laughing cow wedge all mixed up after heating in the microwave.

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Plus some honey greek yogurt since I was still hungry.

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And more coffee because I was coooollldddd…the weather changed drastically over the day after all the rain we’ve had the past two days.

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I’ve been waiting for mom’s traditional New Year dinner all day long.  She texted that it was ready and I headed over to pick up some food for the husband and me to enjoy at home.

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She sent me home with homemade-never-canned-in-this-family black eye peas and rice for luck; cabbage, rice, ground beef, cheesy, tomato casserole for money; rolls; and fruit with dip.

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The food was delicious, Mom!  I always look forward to your cooking.  Thank you!

I’m about to have some of the fruit with sweet cheesecake dip as I watch the ever so sad and make me ball my eyes out “The Green Mile.” 

Additionally, I am still working on a list of New Year’s Resolutions in my head.  I should get to sharing them with you all tomorrow.  Do you set New Year’s Resolutions?  What goals are you setting for 2011?

If you need to gain some insight into setting your resolutions, here are some blogs I found helpful.

*Assessing Your All Around Well-Being 

*How to Make Resolutions You Can Keep

*10 Tips for Making New Year’s Resolutions

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Friday Recap & Healthified Pizza

I apologize for skipping yesterday’s post.  I just wasn’t feeling it and after running a couple errands after work I came home and crashed for a couple hours.  Then I spent some time with my hub.  Here is a recap of yesterday’s eats.

Breakfast:  Sandwich Thin topped with Dark Chocolate Dreams PB, Sliced Nanner, and Cinnamon Sprinkling

Lunch: Salad with Sliced Pear, Sliced Squash, Sliced Cucumbers, Grape Tomatoes, Reduced Fat Feta, Light Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Pita Chips

Snackage:  Tortilla Chips + Spinach and Artichoke Hummus, Half Pear, + more (was feeling very snacky today so I also had a Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Square and some cookies from frozen cookie dough; probably could have went a more healthy route, but I was tired and hungry which is not a good combo)

Dinner:  Healthified Tortilla Pizza–I used a whole wheat tortilla as the dough.  (A pita or english muffin split open could also be used.)  I topped the tortilla with a tablespoon of store-bought tomato basil sauce, a light babybel cheese round, sliced squash, broccoli, a spritz of cooking spray, red pepper flakes, salt, and parmesan cheese sprinkles.  It was baked at 400* for 12 minutes or so.  I had one whole tortilla to myself and split a second with the hub.  I’ve made these before for myself, but it was his first tortilla pizza.  His response after eating it, “I’ll have to make these for myself more often!”  So it definitely gets the hubby-stamp-of-approval!

This is a really simple, healthy way to get your pizza fix rather than ordering delivery or take-out.  And did I mention how good it tastes!  Not to mention it is fun and easy to make because the topping combinations are endless based on individual likes and differences.  I think this would be fun for kids to make their own personal pizzas as well, but I’m not there yet!

I confess–I also ate a handful of pistachios and a dark chocolate square before bedtime.

P.S. I think it might have been the artificial sweetener in the coffee at work that I had earlier in the day causing me to be so hungry.  I don’ drink it often at work, but when I do I get cravings in the evening after work.  That must have been it.  Does that happen to you all?

Question of the Day:  What are your favorite pizza topping combinations?

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.  🙂

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.