You are eating WHAT?

  I mentioned in my last post that I would be sharing a recipe for a healthy potato chip substitute. Before I get to that, let me explain why I’m attempting to better my eating habits.

It all started when I signed up for the 2011 Susan G. Komen walk. In September, I will walk 60 miles to raise money to fight breast cancer. I remembered how my poor knees had suffered at the hands of the 2009 walk. I hadn’t properly trained (and by that I mean I went from walking three miles once or twice  a week to walking twenty miles a day for three days straight). I knew that the only way I could possibly survive this year’s walk was to start training early.

I shopped Craigslist and found a double jog stroller for $40. I was so proud of myself that I immediately took Bean and Peanut out for our first two-mile walk around the neighborhood. Bean, Peanut and I sailed through the first mile of our trek. I felt so confident that I decided to throw a little jogging into the mix. Keeping in mind, I hadn’t seriously jogged or ran since I was a sophomore in high school, I decided to take it slow. I visualized the graceful long-distance runners I always admired in high school. They looked like gazelles: graceful, determined, focused and poised. I wanted to be a gazelle. 

I took the first step and jogged one block. I walked the next. I did this for two and a half blocks and noticed that something was happening to my body. That something was PAIN! First, my knees started to ache a bit. Then I noticed my thighs were feeling the burn. It was then, when it felt like my jiggling love handles were on fire, I realized that I may need to go into this fitness routine a wee bit slower. I suddenly thought back to my vision of the gazelles. I realized, if my life were a National Geographic Special ,  I would be the lame gazelle that gets devoured by a pride of lions. It was a sobering thought.

As I let this morbid image sink in, it occurred to me that I needed to make some changes. I had some very unhealthy food habits. The worst of these habits is my constant snacking. I can’t seem to pass our pantry without peeking in and taking “just a bite” of something. I admit I’m guilty of chowing down on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching The Biggest Loser. I shared this information with my mom and she passed on a fantastic and healthy snack. Thanks Mom!

Kale Chips

1 bunch of Kale

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt (or seasoned salt)

  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
  • With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

I was the only brave one in the house to try these. I managed to eat the entire bowl and I didn’t feel one bit guilty about it. They are surprisingly crispy and flavorful and incredibly healthy.

All of this healthy eating is making me feel pretty good about myself.  I may just give jogging another try.

Snack away little gazelle! Snack away!

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Reduction

I am a fan of reduction. I’m reducing my sugar intake. I’m trying to reduce my grocery bill and frivolous spending. To save on gas (at $4.00 a gallon, who isn’t trying to save?), I am reducing the number of car trips I make. And, in an effort to reduce my waist line, I made this recipe with a reduction sauce. Ok, yes…I was grasping at straws to tie this theme together but give me a break….my writing skills are rusty these days.

I looked up reduction sauce online and here’s the best definition I could find (from wisegeek.com):

A reduction sauce is a sauce made for food which uses the drippings and juices left over after cooking meat. Since these drippings are often quite flavorful, the resulting reduction sauce is also dense in flavor, and it tends to complement the food very well, since it uses the juices exuded by the food while it cooks. An assortment of ingredients are added to these drippings to create a reduction sauce, ranging from cream to balsamic vinegar, depending on the desired effect.

Wise Geek said it a lot better than I would have. I really love reduction sauces. They add a lot of flavor to an otherwise ordinary meal.

I just started the Special K diet. I’m on day three and I’m proud to say I haven’t cheated one bit. The diet plan is: one bowl of Special K cereal for breakfast (with skim milk), a Special K snack mid-day, a bowl of cereal for lunch, a Special K snack mid-afternoon, and a sensible dinner. The cool thing is that I can have as many fruits and veggies as I want throughout the day.  This goes on for two weeks & then I’m supposed to maintain a sensible eating plan for the rest of my life. Hrmm…we’ll see how that goes.

Special K’s website was nice enough to provide a few creative and very tasty recipe ideas. For my first official “diet night” I chose to make the following:

Pork Chops with Pomegranate Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 boneless pork loin chop, cut about 1 inch thick (5 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sliced green onions

Directions

  1. In small bowl stir together salt, cinnamon and pepper. Rub on both sides of pork chop.
  2. In small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray cook pork chop over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and nearly done, turning once. Remove from skillet. Keep warm.
  3. In same skillet combine pomegranate juice and sugar. Bring to boiling. Boil, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is reduced to half. Return pork chop to skillet. Cook, uncovered, about 1 minute more or until sauce thickens slightly and pork chop is done. Transfer to serving plate. Sprinkle with onions.

 

Don't you just love the funky design on these plates? $1.00 each at Target. Gotta love a bargain! I even have coordinating bowls.

I served this up with roasted potatoes and a salad. Hubby and Bean really liked it. Even Peanut ate a little bit of the potatoes (mushed up, of course).

Darn it…I’ve been writing this blog post and thinking about all the good food I ate last night. Now, in accordance with the Special K diet I shall go forth and chow down on some carrots. Wish I could have some of that pomegranate glaze to dip them in!

Tune in tomorrow for a sophistocated and healthful substitute for potato chips.

Leftovers

I love leftovers. I know I’ve mentioned this before. I have no problem polishing off a plate of spaghetti for breakfast…sometimes cold. Yesterday I ate two fried chicken legs before 8 a.m. (also, cold).  I’ve always been like this. It works well for my family because Hubby will rarely eat leftovers.

Yesterday I made a large batch of shredded pork. One night of barbecue sandwiches was good but it didn’t sound very good for breakfast this morning.  Times are tough & I certainly didn’t want all of that good food to go to waste so, I improvised a recipe. I needed to use up the leftovers but change it enough so I wasn’t met with “barbecue again, eh?”

I remembered having cheeseburger pie a long time ago. It’s an old standby on the side of the bisquick box. It’s easy to make, filling and yummy. I decided to substitute hamburger meat for barbecue. Then I remembered that the reason I have bisquick in my house in the first place is my love of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Why not combine the two?

 

 

 

Barbecue....Pie....how could this be wrong?

Barbecue Pie

2 cups leftover pulled pork

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup bisquick

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix barbecue sauce & pulled pork together. Spray a pie plate with non-stick spray. Spread pork on the bottom of the pie plate. Spread on a layer of cheddar cheese. In a separate bowl mix remaining ingredients and pour over pork and cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Now THIS looks like potential breakfast material to me!

The dog ate my blog post!

Ok, I admit that I’ve been slacking on the blog posts. Pick an excuse:

1. An army of germs came marching into our house and wiped out the whole clan for a month straight.

2. I got way behind on the housework and had to Lysol bomb every inch of Liz Land.

3. The kids had been cooped up in the house needing abnormal amounts of attention.

4. The dog ate my homework.

5.  I just hadn’t felt inspired to write lately.

6. I’m a lazy bum.

Enough lame excuses. This was a brutal winter and I’m really thankful that spring finally here!

This weekend we invited our good friends Matt & Megan over for dinner & a movie. We all love Pulp Fiction so I decided to base my meal around the movie. If you’ve never seen Pulp Fiction I highly suggest you do. Unless, of course, you are opposed to violence and extreme foul language. If that’s the case then I suggest you run as far away as you can from this classic piece of cinema.

I now present my first MOVIE MONDAY post!

Pulp Fiction Big Kahuna Burgers!

Ok, as far as I’ve researched there is no official “Big Kahuna” recipe. So, I decided to make my version of the Red Robin ‘Bonzai burger’ and call it the ‘Big Kahuna’. It’s my blog…I’m allowed!

 I don’t eat burgers very often but when I get a craving for one, Red Robin is usually at the top of my list. I also learned how to make the Red Robin french fry seasoning. I love finding copycat recipes. It makes me feel like I’m sticking it to “the man” . Not sure who “the man” is in this case…but STICK STICK STICK!

Ok, here’s how to make a Big Kahuna Burger. It’s so easy, you’ll kick yourself for not doing this before.

  • Burger patties (I got pre-made burger patties from Wegman’s because I got lazy. You can make your own patties if you’re feeling ambitious)
  • A bottle of quality Teryaki sauce. Again, I got Wegman’s brand.
  • A can of pineapple rings, drained
  • Slices of colby-jack cheese (or any cheese…colby-jack is just my personal preference)
  • Kaiser rolls, split and buttered lightly on both sides
  • Your desired burger toppings. I chose tomato and mayonnaise

 1. Place burgers in one bowl and cover with half of the Teryaki sauce. Place pineapple rings in another bowl and cover with the other half of the Teryaki sauce. Let these marinate for a half hour.

2. Fire up your grill to medium-high. When grill is hot enough, lightly oil the grill racks. I used a paper towel with vegetable oil & some tongs.  I didn’t even singe my eyebrows! I’m just that good.

3. Grill up both the burgers and pineapple rings for 3-4 minutes on each side. This all depends on the thickness and desired doneness of your burgers. Just eyeball it. Don’t you love my technical explanation of things? Seriously, I’m not quite the grill master yet. There’s a huge learning curve here.

4. In the last 3 minutes of grilling, place buns (cut side down) on the grill and toast ’em up. Also, place cheese on the burgers. Close the grill top and let grill work its magic. 

5. Serve them up to your Hunny Bunny and a few deserving friends with your favorite toppings and a side of Orida steak fries with Red Robin season salt. Make some $5.00 shakes for dessert. That was my original plan but we were stuffed from the burgers.

Mmmmm....now that's a tasty burger!

Red Robin Seasoning

  •  3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant tomato soup mix (I used Lipton)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Mix ’em all up and sprinkle over your fries before they go in the oven. Thank me later! 😉

    Frugal Friday/Veggie Love

    Frugal Friday tip for the week: Go vegetarian…at least a few days a week.

    I recently read the book Food Rules by Michael Pollan. His answer to  the eternal question of what you should and should not eat is very simple: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” It’s such a brilliant solution! 

    In an effort to get a little healthier I am making a strong effort to eat a rainbow of veggies every week. This week I’ve tested out two very yummy vegetarian dishes. I’m finding that going “vegetarian” for a few days out of the week is really stretching out my grocery budget (and I’m no longer stretching out my jeans)!

    Last week I just happened to have a beautiful little butternut squash hanging around in my veggie basket. I was planning on making baby food for Peanut but then my March issue of Woman’s Day magazine arrived and I found a recipe that I just had to try out.

    Rustic Butternut Squash Tart

    • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced into rings and separated
    • 1/4 small butternut squash (about 1/2 lb) seeded and very thinly sliced (my mandolin helped out on this one!)
    • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • kosher salt and pepper
    • 4 oz extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
    • 1 refrigerated rolled pie crust
    • 1 large egg, beaten

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the onion, squash, thyme, oil, 1/2 tp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; fold in the cheddar.

    Working on a piece of parchment paper, roll the pie crust into a 14-in. circle. Slide the paper and the crust onto a baking sheet. Spoon squash mixture onto the pie crust, leaving a 2-in. border. Fold the border of the crust over the squash mixture.

    Brush the crust with the egg.

    I love this brush. Any kitchen tool I can throw into my dishwasher is OK in my book!

    Bake until the crust is golden brown and the vegetables are tender, 20-25 minutes. (check after 15 minutes to make sure the crust isn’t getting too dark; if it is , cover with foil for the remaining bake time.) Serve with a salad, if desired.

    Please note: this is not the final product. When I got the tart out of the oven the crust was golden brown and the squash and onion had carmelized in a such a lovely way that I felt it only appropriate to transfer it to a pretty plate for a proper photograph. Unfortunately, the tart slid off of my spatula and half of the tart wound up on the plate and the other half remained on the baking sheet. Don't worry- I ate my mistake and it was delicious.

    I made this tart with a Vidalia onion, dried thyme and mozzarella cheese and it was wonderful!

    The second of my vegetarian adventures was Curry Apple Fried Rice. I got this recipe from a random internet search. This was a very quick meal to whip up. Best of all, no one else in the house ate it so I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s very healthy so I didn’t feel guilty in the slightest!

    Curry Apple Fried Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 ¼ cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped with the skin on
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  

    Cook rice according to package directions, using vegetable broth instead of water.

    Preheat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the wok.

    Add onions and frozen vegetables and cook for 1 minute.

    Add apples and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until garlic begins to color.

    Add rice, eggs, curry powder and cumin. Cook for 2 minutes more, serve and enjoy!

    Don't you love my fine China? This was my vain attempt to get Bean to try new food. He wasn't buying it. Oh well...more for me!