Hi, y’all! I’m having a great time with my parents, but I haven’t taken time to post since they got here. I just uploaded the photos I’ve snapped over the last few days, and realized that I haven’t taken very many! So, get ready and hold on tight. Here’s a quick recap. Really. It will be quick. I’ve got parents to hang out with! 🙂
Saturday, I met up with some friends for brunch at Le Pain Quotidien. I need to be a “lovely lady who brunches” more often. It was such fun! You might remember that I tried LPQ for the first time back in April, and I loved it! The food was awesome, and I always appreciate places that provide me with calorie counts for Pain au Chocolat. Hee hee! I was excited to go to LPQ again and to try a couple of different things from the menu. First, I had coffee:
The coffee was followed by an Apple Pear Turnover. Yes, I had dessert first!
Then, I had the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with avocado, bacon, Fourme d’Ambert and lapsang souchong vinaigrette. YUM!!
This salad has tons of things on it that I love, and it had very reasonable portions of each one. The dressing, which I couldn’t wait to try, had a distinctive flavor and was sweet and tangy. This salad was yummy, and filling. It was the perfect pick since I had been for a run and was HUNGRY! I needed some protein and some volume to fill me up. Check and check!
Now, here’s where things start to get scattered. My parents’ flight was delayed a bit, and I took the opportunity to make a quick pasta salad for them to nibble on if they were hungry and for me to have for lunches this week. I’m not taking the whole week off, since I used so much leave during my recent vacation, and I needed something to go in the lunchbag.
I cooked up six servings of dried tricolor cheese tortellini that has been in the pantry for… awhile. Then, I added a small chopped onion, some chopped roasted red bell pepper from a jar (as usual!! ), as well as a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Then, I dressed all of that with 3/4 cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1 Tbsp. of rice wine vinegar and a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix. Not fancy– but quick and yummy. Sometimes that’s the way to go! I had 1/12 of this big bowl for my lunch today, and it was even tastier than when it was fresh. Using Greek yogurt in place of mayo makes a HUGE difference in the fat and calorie count, but leaves you with a delightfully creamy dressing nonetheless. If you haven’t made that switch in your salads, I want to encourage you to give it a try!
On Sunday, I woke up and decided to make a batch of muffins using one of the Southaven Farm Baking Mixes from the pantry. If you aren’t familiar with these baking mixes, let me just tell you that they are all natural, whole grain and VERY versatile. I first learned about them on the Weight Watcher’s message boards, and I’ve been a fan for a couple of years now. The mixes are unsweetened, which gives you the opportunity to decide on the type and quantity of sweetener. There are also suggestions for the moisture component including non-dairy suggestions on the back of the package.
The most basic recipe suggested on the package involves sugar, yogurt and milk. I like to mix up a box of sugar free fat free chocolate fudge Jell-o pudding and use that in place of the yogurt and milk, and then reduce the suggested amount of sugar down to 1/2 cup. I usually toss in a couple of Tablespoons of sugar free Torani syrup too, and a bit of instant espresso is a great addition to the mocha mix. I’ll admit that these muffins are pretty heavy on the artificial sweeteners by the time I’m done with them, which is not ideal. However, the smaller calorie count per muffin made it possible for me to enjoy some of the bacon that sat alongside the fruit and hardboiled eggs on the little buffet I laid out for Sunday breakfast!
These could be made with all natural ingredients and tweaked to suit whatever your particular dietary preferences might be. As far as I know, the mixes are only available for purchase on-line, but I think these mixes are a worthwhile purchase. In addition to the mocha flavor, I really like the cinnamon mix and the ginger spice. The ginger spice is awesome made with pumpkin in the fall!! As you can see from all of the recipes on their website, people get creative with these mixes. Have you tried them? Do you have a favorite recipe? I’d love to know!!
After our little brekkie, we decided to go and walk around at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. I love going to the market, which was built in 1873, and strolling through the flea market held on Sundays in conjunction with the usual array of permanent vendors selling fresh produce, exotic meats, beautiful flowers, yummy baked goods and a host of other items. There are also many craftspersons with a huge variety of cool creations for sale. It’s a lively and fun place to spend a sleepy Sunday afternoon. I don’t know why I didn’t snap more photos of the market itself, but I promise to do better next time!
When lunchtime rolled around, we decided to keep it simple, and we grabbed sandwiches from a little Italian deli. I had ham with provolone on a fluffy white sub roll. Yes, I had mayo too. I was indulging a bit, and I enjoyed every bite!
I also got a cookie with oreo cookie in it, which I split with my parents. It was only so so. I wasn’t that impressed with this cookie in a cookie, but it was still a nice bite of something sweet.
We also nibbled on cherries and surprisingly luscious peaches from the market.
After our little al fresco lunch, we walked around a bit more and eventually found ourselves at one of my favorite little used bookstores: Capitol Hill Books. I caught my dad posing in front while we were waiting for my mother to make a couple of purchases:
This little bookstore is packed from floor to ceiling with books, books and more books!
The books are organized, and, while chaotic, it still makes some sort of sense. The shelf tags are the key to this organizational system, and I love the humor in many of them. Check out this one:
We had a great time poking around the bookstore, and checking out the market. I think that Eastern Market may be one of my favorite Sunday destinations. I’ve never had a bad time strolling through the market on a sunny Sunday, and I have to recommend it if you are looking for something to do on a weekend in D.C.
Those are the highlights of my weekend. As for today? Well, it was a Monday. There wasn’t anything very noteworthy, although I did make a homey dinner:
Please ignore the hotdog. I bought a pork tenderloin at the farmer’s market on Saturday to go along with one that I had in the freezer. I forgot to thaw out tenderloin #2, and I didn’t have as much to go around as I would have liked. I decided to let my guests have most of the pork, and to supplement my tenderloin sample with a Hebrew National 97% fat free beef hot dog. They are my very favorite low fat hotdogs. I love them!
There are also some roasted turnips (LOVE) on the plate, along with their tops, which I cooked down yesterday. I’ve always LOVED turnip greens. Just the smell makes me happy! 🙂 I also steamed some red potatoes and fresh peas from the farmer’s market, and then tossed them in a bit of peppery milk gravy. I made my gravy with a small amount of butter, flour and skim milk and then seasoned it with plenty of salt and black pepper. I’m sure that bacon grease would have been tastier, but this was definitely a healthier version of an old favorite. Having my parents here must have put me in the mood for some southern fare! This was also a quick dinner to throw together once I got home. Perfect!
I worked all day today so that I can take all day Friday off. I’m working a half day in the morning, and I need to get to sleep so I can get an early start (and an early finish.)
I’ll apologize once more for my sporadic blogging. I think I’ll get back in the groove eventually! This week, I plan to enjoy my parents and not worry about it too much. I’m sure y’all understand! 🙂 Ciao for now, y’all and have a great week!!