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: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1853951
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 http://www.katheats.com/. 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.

Monday, November 17, 2008

These are bad.....but I can't help it

I have a lot of trigger foods that I overeat. Candied nuts are one of them. But I couldn't help but think how good a salad of spinach, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, and candied walnuts would be. So I will try my hardest not to eat any straight from the bag and garnish my salad with them for lunch tomorrow.

I already broke down and ate a handful tonight right after I took them home from the grocery store.....the dangers of coming home famished and inhaling my dinner. I overate tonight and I'm feeling the consequences. I'm bloated and feeling ashamed of myself that I couldn't control my eating.

But I've learned my lesson. Tomorrow is a new day, and I really look forward to a few almonds garnishing my salad I have planned for tomorrow.
And slap my hand for searching for this in bulk already on Amazon. (They are that good)

Brownie Success

The brownies that I baked yesterday from the allrecipes.com link posted below turned out to be a huge success. The addition of 2 T of espresso to the batter made all the difference. They were dense, moisty, and oh-so-chocolately! I only had a small piece and then found myself thinking about them all morning wanting more. And the dangers of making a trigger food and having it at home is that I pigged out on them tonight after dinner. I was hoping my husband would take them to work today, but he WILL take them tomorrow so I don't finish them off.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Boxed Lasagna

I have to admit, I don't always feel up to making everything from scratch. Lasagna is one of those dishes that often is less expensive to buy at the store. I love a fresh veggie lasagna in the summer, but now that the farmer's markets are done and the produce less abundant, I tried Stouffer's Cheesy Garlic Lasagna that cooks in the microwave in 18 minutes. It was pretty decent. Plus the nutrition info wasn't that bad. I'll post below. Overall it was an easy meal with a salad of mixed greens, bell pepper, tomato, feta, and some Pom seeds.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup
Servings Per Container: 4.5

Calories from Fat
Amount Per Serving and/or % Daily Value*
Total Fat
13 g (20%)
Saturated Fat
7 g (34%)
Trans Fat
0 g
40 mg (13%)
860 mg (36%)
Total Carbohydrate
36 g (12%)
Dietary Fiber
3 g (12%)
6 g
18 g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C

Red Bull Brownies

I was looking for a good brownie recipe and found this on Allrecipes, one of my favorite sites: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/MMMMM-Brownies/Detail.aspx

I made two batches. The first I made like the recipe suggests; however, I added another cup of chocolate chips after the batter cooled. As they were baking, I made a second batch to take to work. This one I wanted to try some espresso in the brownies. So instead of 2 Tablespoons of water, I dissolved 2 Tablespoons of instant espresso powder in the water. Since I was taking the brownies to work, I didn't want to cut the tray, so I took a little chunk from a corner just to taste. They taste a little over-javafied! I'm thinking a piece of the brownies may end up having the same effect as a red bull considering how they taste. We'll see how they go tomorrow. Unfortunately the first batch that was for home didn't cook the way I wanted, they were gooey and pretty soupy at about 27 minutes. I put them back in for another 5, and they're still not the consistency I wanted. I think it was that extra cup of chips that were added. Instead of being chunks, they seemed to melt in with the rest of them. The only other thing I can think of is whether it was the fact that I baked them in a glass Pyrex dish. At any rate, the first batch was a big thumbs down. We'll see tomorrow how the second batch goes over in the office.

Oatmeal Extravaganza

I'm addicted to http://www.katheats.com/. This girl is living my dream. If I could do it all over again before I started college, I definitely would have studied nutrition rather than marketing. I love food, but I also love knowing how food interacts with the body and helps the body run efficiently and at top performance. Kath has given up her day job and gone back to school for nutrition to become an R.D. I've enjoyed reading her blog, and one thing I've definitely come away with is a great appeciation for adding a spoon of peanut butter to my oats. I've always loved oatmeal, but I couldn't eat it regularly because I'd be starving 2 hours later. Adding that spoon of peanut butter or any other nut butter for that matter, has really made the difference both in adding exceptional taste and making me feel full for much longer. Here's today's concoction:

1/3 C Quaker old-fashioned oats
1/3 C skim milk
1/3 C water
1/2 banana
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon flax seed
1 Tablespoon of toasted walnuts
Pomegranate seeds (I didn't measure those)
Peanut butter

I hate cleaning

I hate to clean. I have no sense of organization, so I haphazardly move around the house starting one project, think of something else that needs done and don't complete what I had started. It all eventually gets done, but never in an organized fashion. Anything that makes the cleaning process easier or more pleasant is a big bonus. I've seen Mrs. Meyers around but never really thought that "green" cleaners would be better. But seeing a Peppermint scent "with a hint of vanilla" really appealed to me. It's a holiday limited edition, so I plan to grab up some more, but this stuff is awesome. I have been using the all purpose cleaner around the whole house on hardwood floors, ceramic tile, throughout the whole bathroom. It's non toxic, and with a dog, two cats, and three birds, that is very important. But it also does clean well. So I just had to share the love. I just wish Mrs. Meyers would offer the scent in full sizes rather than just the small sized four pack.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greek Yogurt Love

I haven't bought yogurt in quite some time. I have just been enjoying too many other things lately and didn't have room for the calories. But seeing the Fage Peach and Cherry, I gave in.

I'm in love. The 2% with fruit has 130 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. I planned to have half of the peach with my lunch and save the other half for dessert tonight. But after one bite, there was no question that I would eat the entire amount. It was that good. I have to laugh at those Yoplait commercials where the two ladies in bridemaid dresses talk about how good Yoplait yogurt is. OBVIOUSLY they haven't tried Fage.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gnocchi Dinner

I have to point out the egregious spelling error on the gnocchi bag. Do you see it?

Nonetheless, the Groceria Italia in Bloomfield makes good gnocchi. It was very satisfying with some vodka sauce on top and a nice salad.

Cranberry Sauce

I made a cranberry sauce with about a cup of cranberries, a cup of orange juice, and a cup of sugar. I added a pinch of cinnamon and ginger and cooked till they popped.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tea Time

My office is FREEZING to the point where I can't concentrate. So I have been thinking of ways to warm myself up since we're no longer allowed to have space heaters :( So I'm trying out some teas. Yogi offered some free samples that arrived in the mail yesterday, so I tried 2 of them out today. Check them out at http://www.yogitea.com/Pages/FreeSamples.html. The Green Tea Pomegranate seemed like a good choice to start. The red color was a surprise as I steeped the bag in my oversized Goofy mug. But upon perusing the ingredients, I was pleasantly surprised that there were no artificial colors. Nonetheless, it was a lackluster bag of tea in my opinion. I opened the bag of Mexican Sweet Chili but immediately noticed the scent of black licorice. Yuck! So I gave it away. Lastly the Berry Anti-Oxidant.....yawn! Nothing to write home about. Overall I was less than thrilled.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Like a brand new kitchen

My dear father was generous enough to donate his time and patience to help me put up this gorgeous backsplash that I picked up at Lowe's last weekend. It's added an incredible dimension to the kitchen, and I can't be happier at the results. Take a look! Above is the before. I didn't do a good job of cleaning up before. That definitely helps add to the After. Please bear in mind I haven't put up the outlet covers yet. There are matching contact paper sheets you can put over the outlets, so I have to do that yet. But what a difference a few hours make. (Although had it not been for my dad, I think it would have taken a few weeks and wasted $$ messing up a few panels along the way)

These panels can be purchased at Lowe's or Home Depot. You can also order samples online at http://www.acpideas.com/sampleRequest.cfm?XlinkID=72&XRequireOnce=YES&CFID=3096312&CFTOKEN=44769632

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Green Mountain Coffee at Target!

In September 2004, I received a coffee maker as a wedding shower gift; however, I didn't enjoy drinking coffee. I thought it would be good to have for guests. I don't know how it started exactly, but a few months after sitting idly on my counter, we started grinding beans and brewing coffee. Months after that, it became a daily necessity. We have the Melitta Mill & Brew, which sadly seems to be discontinued. It's a phenomenal coffee maker, single-handedly turning me into a self-described "coffee snob."

But in order to achieve Coffee Nirvana, the right beans must be brewed in the perfect machine. One of my favorites is Green Mountain Coffee. I was thrilled to see it at Target. It was $7.68 for 10 oz. plus I had a 10% off pass. At $6.91, it was a steal! They carry it in whole beans and ground. I saw Breakfast Blend, Decaf, and French Roast if my memory serves me correctly. I've made it Saturday and Sunday and am thrilled that I can pick this up at Target and avoid the shipping fee. I just hope they don't raise the price after they get everyone hooked on this great coffee.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So I thought I'd start this thing off with my participation in a new program by General Mills to try out new products and discussing them with others. Looks like the first item is something I use regularly, broth.

Here's the details:

100% Natural Broth100% Great Progresso® Taste• 99% fat free, no preservatives, artificial flavors or MSG*• Chef-inspired broths are slow cooked to deliver rich flavor• Convenient, resealable 32 oz. cartons*except that which naturally occurs in autolyzed yeast extract

The broth comes in Beef, Chicken, and reduced sodium Chicken.

I normally use Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range natural chicken broth and buy it in bulk at Costco. I never liked the canned broth because I feel like I can taste that "tinny" flavor infused in the broth. I also like being able to reuse the broth from the container.

Lately I've been using my broth for cooking farro (emmer). I regularly order vegetable farro, a dish at our local restaurant, Pandolfo's. It's what I order every time we go. I recently decided to buy my own farro and take a stab at making my own. And I have to say, I'm pretty impressed. I bought my farro from a farm in Washington state, Bluebird Farms. I cook it in the broth. Four cups of broth to 1 cup of farro. You cook it for an hour, then drain the broth. It's getting pretty expensive to use the organic broth, so I'm excited to see if I can save using the Progresso.