Saturday, January 31, 2009

Signs of a successful meal

Trader Joe's has become an obsession of late. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the foods I've purchased there. Even more surprising is my husband's eagerness to accompany me to grocery shop. For one, Trader Joe's isn't that close to our home. But most of's grocery shopping. He's never been much interested in that. So I've found a new favorite place to shop. I love having company while I shop so I can share my excitement as I discover another new item I haven't tried.

I'm not good at taking pretty pictures. I'm also not experienced enough yet to figure out how to manipulate dough. So I decided to take a picture of the last two pieces left over after we massacred the rest of the pizza. At least those two pieces look like they came from something that resembles pizza.

I'm currently looking for a bread making class since it's one thing I've never been able to figure out. But even after the dough is made, I struggle with forming it into a realistic looking pizza shape with uniform thickness. And then there's the process of transferring it onto a pizza stone. What a mess! The dog was covered in flour as he stood below me while I was rolling out the dough. There's burnt flour all through the oven. And my pizza looked like something a child may pull out of an EZ Bake Oven. But it tasted phenomenal!!! But it certainly wasn't for my dough making expertise, though. It was Trader Joe's pre-made pizza dough. I bought the whole wheat variety, and even though my husband shuns all whole wheat products, even he liked the taste. Accompanied by a Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout, dinner was perfect for a snowy, cold Friday night. I'll be heading back to TJ's soon for more dough and my favorite Sweet Potato Bisque that they were sadly sold out of last week.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Should I take up running?

I'm starving. I had an early dinner today and ate as lightly as I could considering the caloric content of what I ate. I didn't take any pics unfortunately, but it was roast beef, mashed potatoes, homemade white bread, and roasted carrots in butter. My hips are plumping as I type this. To add icing on the cake, I ate homemade carrot cake with cream cheese and butter frosting. It was an excellent, comfort food filled meal. So I shouldn't be starving now, should I?

I love to eat. I love to eat a lot. I mean volumes of food. And it's not the right type to be eating volumes of it. I love dairy. I love grains. I do love veggies, but not always plain green leafy veggies. I think I can continue this way if I increase the intensity of my exercise.

Currently I walk 2 miles/day at 4.0 mph at a 2%-5% incline, so 30 minutes a day of walking. I also do some yoga. I could lift weights if I had a gym membership. Or I could take up running to up the intensity of the 30 minutes I already commit daily to some physical activity. But every time I try, I poop out.

I have not been successful at doing a regimented Coach Potato to 5k routine. I get bored doing the 1 minute walk, 1 minute run, blah, blah, blah . I could if I had a coach or friend cracking the whip telling me I MUST do it. But on my own, I am merely motivated by the music on my portable player (not an iPod fan) . Usually when a cheesey Britney song, like Toxic pops on my player, I get motivated enough to run. But often I get a cramp in my right side near the bottom of my rib cage that keeps me from continuing more than 5 minutes. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. Maybe I need to grin and bear it and keep running through it? Am I a baby?

I've always wanted to be a "runner." I always wanted to be one of "those people." The ones that look like jocks who LOVE to run. I LOVED to hate those people growing up. I was the 'big-boned' girl who did the sports, who was never an effortless jock. I worked very hard at every sport to be good or just to qualify to participate. I was a thrower in track. We ran the "fat girl's relay." It was my only running training. We spent more time training how to pass the baton than the running itself. When I joined the track team in college, Coach told us to run a 1 mile warm up. He may as well told us to strip naked and walk through the boys' dorm. I was mortified. How was I ever going to do that? I almost walked off the track and back to my dorm room. But I did it. And every day it got a little easier. But I never ran it faster than what I can walk it now. I'm much healthier today than I was in 1996 when I first had to run that mile warmup. But in my quest to life a healthier life, I want to find more ways to enjoy working out.

Should I try running? And how do I begin? There has to be an easier way than the few online sites that tell me to run intervals. Maybe I'll try my first 5k this summer?

PB Recall

This peanut butter recall keeps peanut butter at the top of my mind. I need more. I have just finished a jar of Naturally Nutty Butter Toffee Peanut Butter and halfway through my crunch Barney Butter almond butter. So, I thought it may be time to get some more to keep the variety going. I googled 'flavored peanut butter' and PB Loco was one of the top results. So I went and saw some heavenly varieties. I couldn't contain myself. Armed with an American Express gift card with a balance left over, I went for a few:

Peanut Butter with Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough

Peanut Butter with CoCoBanana

Peanut Butter with Dark Chocolate

Peanut Butter with Jungle Banana

How did I not know about this company? Have I been hiding under a rock? Is it new? Or is it not buzzworthy, so no one wants to talk about it?
I'll be sure to review these once they arrive as I am so impatient I know I'll open every one of them and try each as soon as they arrive.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

When on vacation....

I tend to behave badly. I haven't worked out today yet at 6:12 PM and yet I've been home for much of the day. I had a doctor's appointment and then headed to a new beer six pack store at 11 this morning. Couldn't get the thought of new dark beers out of my head. So check out the beautiful beer booty:

The store is called the Brews Brothers, and I'm thrilled to have a place to get beer. We Pennsylvanians can't buy six packs in the store like most normal states. And I refuse to wait in line at a bar, getting hosed at $3-$4 per bottle. But at the same time, we don't drink enough beer to buy a case. I like dark beer, he likes a variety of things. As a matter of fact, the Framboise Lambic is for him. I'm a sucker for limited edition flavors, especially at Christmas, which is the reasoning behind the two Christmas ones. But the rest are dark beers recommended by the owner. Lion Stout is from Sri Lanka. I'm most anxious to try the Heresy beer as it came highly recommended. I'll be trying it out Friday evening.

But I do have good reason for being lax on the working out. I have spent much of the day putting up our Christmas tree and taking things down from the attic. It's been quite a chore. I don't have any ornaments up but three that were in other containers. And I set Mickey Mouse up inside because it was just too darn cute to put out and get dirty. I'm debating on what to do with him. If I had a porch, I'd put him there. Unfortunately we don't have that option.

After working up an appetite running around the house, I tried a new Maple Pecan Pro Bar. There was way more calories and fat in this bar than anticipated, but I was hungry. I was really disappointed. My first bite tasted like what mildew smells like. It was a musty, overpriced, calorie-packed bar. Definitely not pleased with it. Maybe it was old, but I won't be buying any more. Sounded good, packaging was nice, but definitely did not live up to my expectations. The dog, on the other hand, was ready to eat it if I didn't want it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Parmesan and Root Vegetable Lasagna

My picture doesn't do it justice, but this was a very good recipe. I burned my mouth drinking the sauce while it was too hot, and I ate some of the squash out of the oven. I'm such a pig. I was full before it was even ready from sampling the components of the recipe. I would have done a picture on the plate, but I was in such a rush getting everything on the table. The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine, posted here:
After a day of shopping and cleaning and research for Christmas gifts, I was exhausted, but this wasn't that hard to make. I bought precut squash and sweet potato from Dole in the refrigerated section of the store. So the most time-consuming part of the prep work was eliminated, making this easy. But it still took me from 3:30 until 5:30 from start to finish. It was expensive considering the cost of the precut veggies and all the cheese. But I'd definitely do this again for guests. The only thing I'd change is that it suggests that you just toss the veggies in the olive oil while roasting and place them that way onto the noodles when arranging the lasagna; however, I think some of the chunks were too big. I would like to try mashing the veggies a bit before layering next time. But all in all, a very worthwhile homemade meal.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Go Steelers Soup!

I had to do some Black & Gold. I had some French Onion soup from Costco left over, so I split some for me and my husband. It's really excellent. Here's what the box looks like:

So it was a satisfying lunch with a sandwich of Arnold's Sandwich Thins, hummus and some turkey.

I finished it off with some Kale Chips courtesy of I think my husband is freaked out at how much I refer to the site and use the recipes, but Kath rocks, and her suggestions are great. I haven't seen kale featured much in Pittsburgh. But today at Giant Eagle, I saw a huge bag of Kale by Dole already washed and precut. So I tried out her recipe, which is simply to take the cut and stemmed pieces, arrange them flat on a baking sheet. I lightly sprayed them with olive oil from my mister, added salt and pepper, and sprinkled my parmesan/asiago shredded mix. Stick them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 375. I love putting baked chips on a sandwich for some extra crunch. This was great for that.

Lentil Soup

I was craving something chewy and soup at the same time. So I took a container of my Pacific Natural Foods Chicken Broth and started making soup.

I improvised for this recipe:

1 container of precut onions from Giant Eagle sauteed in 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil.
3 cloves garlic pressed and added to the onions after they're translucent (about 5 minutes)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 container of Pacific Natural Foods Chicken Broth (about 4 cups)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 Bay Leaf
1 cup Lentils
Spices: tarragon, paprika, thyme

I really just threw everything together after sauteeing the onions with the garlic and spices and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. It was spicy and good.