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. 

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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.

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Mardi Gras Decor on the historic buildings.

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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.

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Crowded streets awaiting the Krewe of Barkus!

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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.

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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?

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Busy Baker & Beurre Noisette

Tomorrow the faculty and staff at my school is hosting a bake sale to raise money for our positive behavior store where our students can earn money and buy gizmos and gadgets of their choice.

I saw this cookie recipe on Julie’s blog at PBFingers; she found it on Jenna’s blog at Eat Live Run.  I am not one to bake, but when I heard that the chocolate chip cookies included browned butter, also known in French as “beurre noisette” (literally translated as butter hazelnut or “hazelnut butter” in English), I knew this was something I must try.  So in preparation for my school’s bake sale fundraiser, I thought I’d give it a go.  I only made one batch, so there aren’t that many to go round.

The first time I had beurre noisette it was in a more savory black drum with sweet potatoes that had been sauteed in beurre noisette at a local New Orleans restaurant called Grand Isle Restaurant.  The butter is heated in a saute pan until the milk solids separate from the fat, then sinking to the bottom and becoming a toasty, brown, hazelnut color.  It gives off the most amazing smell and nutty or caramel-like taste.This was one of the most amazing meals I have ever eaten.  Yet it was quite simple and reasonably priced.  An A+ in my book!  My hub and I have tried to recreate the dish, but we can never get it quite right.

Back to the chocolate chip cookies.  The butter is browned prior to adding sugar and the flour giving the cookies that same amazing flavor I remember.  View Jenna’s blog above for the specific recipe.  In addition to the cookies, I fixed up a batch of rice crispy treats with a sprinkling of chocolate chips.  I figured that would be a hit among the students.

Goodies for Bake Sale Fundraiser

For a recap of my eats today, take a look at the pictures below.  (Lol, that sounds like directions on a test or something.  Sorry, you are not my students!) I also had a banana which went unpictured prior to baking.  And of course I tried one of the cookies plus some chocolate chips!

Tea + Yogurt Bowl

Nectarine, Oats, Dark Chocolate Dream Peanut Butter, Cinnamon, Cottage Cheese, Plain Yogurt

Wrap + Carrots + Honey Greek Yogurt

Deli Chicken, Laughing Cow Light Swiss, Romaine, Tomatoes

Meatless Taco Salad

Black Beans for Protein

Celebrations Abound

Today is a big day for our city’s football team!  The start of the new season has arrived and there are celebrations taking place all around New Orleans including second lines, concerts, parades, and the like.  People are sure to be seen walking the streets in their Brees #9 jerseys, Bush # 25 jerseys, or simply donning the black and gold, baby!  (Bobby Hebert, former Saint’s player and current radio host, always adds “baby” at the end of his statements in his heavily Cajun accent, so I was emulating him in the latter sentence for those of you who are not from here.)  And an abundance of fleur de lis will be making a debut as well in the form of jewelry, stickers, bedazzled shirts, jeans, purses, scarves that have been screenprinted, drawn, or designed in some way or another.

Today, I joined in the chorus and wore my semi-bedazzled “Saints” shirt (thanks to my sis-in-law, Amy, for the shirt) along with my fleur de lis jewelry just as all, but maybe four of my coworkers did.

Before heading off to work, I fixed up a yogurt bowl due to my need for something quick and cold.  In the mix was a Fage Strawberry with a 1/4 cup of granola, and a handful of raspberries.

In the Mix

Enjoyed with Earl Grey Green Tea

For lunch, I threw together a fruit and veggie salad mix of romaine, squash, bell pepper from the garden, carrots, avocado, and strawberries.  The ounce of peanuts were just the right “icing on the cake” to make my salad extra special.  I topped my salad with Light Raspberry Vinaigrette.

For some extra carbs and fiber I ate some Triscuit Thin Crisps.

Just before leaving work, I ate a homemade King Bar (see Recipes if interested), much like a Larabar.

You might notice my sub plans for tomorrow in the background above.  I certainly did not go out partying for the Saint’s and need off, but I do have some exciting news and my own celebrating to do with my family tomorrow so stay tuned.

About thirty minutes prior to leaving work it began raining, torrentially.  So I tried to wait it out, but knew if I waited any longer I probably would not make it home due to flooding that happens so quickly here.  New Orleans and its surrounding cities are below sea level; thankfully, we have the levees protecting us from Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.  Nonetheless, I made my way to my normal route home along River Rd. and came to flooded waters.  I saw about five cars stalled, so I made a rapid decision that I needed to turn around.  But due to the meandering of flooded water and chain of trucks behind my small car I could not turn around.  With a nervous shaking foot I reversed on the heightened hill of the levee until I was able to turn around.  Once back to the main expressway, the rain shortly stopped and opened up to sunlit skies.  Then it was smooth sailing to all the way to the gym.

Today’s cardio consisted of 30 minutes on the elliptical, 10 minutes on the bike, and 10 minutes of stretching/abdominal work  all while watching Food Network for some inspiration with dinner.

Though I did not see anything I wanted to fix on the Food channel, I knew i wanted some type of party style food to go along with all the Saints’ festivities–not that I would be attending any.  On my way home I decided to attempt BBQ Hamburger Sliders.

Using a pound of organic lean ground beef, I formed five miniature patties that were seasoned with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and BBQ sauce.  Now I know hamburgers normally contain egg to eliminate crumbling, but I was all out.  So I gave it a shot regardless of the missing egg.  I did in fact have crumbling as I pan fried my patties in Canola Oil, anyhow they came out just as tasty as I expected.  For a little something special, I caramelized some onion in the same oil used for the patties.  Before plating the sliders, I absorbed as much oil from the patties and onions as possible using paper towels.  I used whole wheat toast as my bun by cutting a square to size for the bottom and using one of the curved edges of the toast for the topper.  I layered toast, dijonaise, romaine, burger, a smidge more of BBQ sauce, onions, and toast to get these beauties.

Three of the sliders were for hub and two for me with some squash fries roasted at 400* for 25 minutes.

My Slider Plate

I added a dill chip to each of my sliders and chowed down.

I’ve been reading about the use of Canola Oil and cannot seem to get a straight answer as to whether it is healthy or not.  It is a monounsaturated fat which is a “heart healthy” fat; however, much research states the chemical make up can be changed when heated and can become a “bad” fat.  Additionally, a study was done in which it was fed to rats; and those rats seemed to have more cases of hypertension, heart disease, and shorter life spans.  Generally, I use olive oil when cooking, but figured I would go with Canola for the sliders.

As for my meal, I think overall it was a much more healthified version than say….Applebee’s or Chili’s sliders–but I still got the taste of party fare that I so craved in honor of my Saints.

Saints–1 & 0, baby!

Question of the Night:  What are your thoughts on using Canola Oil for frying food?  Healthy or unhealthy?