Tag Archives: Arlington

Adventures with Coby

CobyHi, Sweetie Pies! I’m just gearing up for the work week, and counting the minutes until tonight’s episode of Mad Men. How about you? Are you ready for Monday? Some people don’t seem bothered by Mondays, but I am NOT one of those people. Ugh. I have too much fun on the weekend. 

Speaking of fun, I went biking today, with my bike, Coby, on the Mount Vernon Trail. I rode about 25 miles round trip. It was such a nice and sunny day. In fact, it was so nice and sunny that everyone and their dog (literally) had the same idea. The bigger part of me is thrilled to see so many people out, enjoying the trail and being active. It’s great to see families walking or biking together, and it’s so nice to see people enjoying themselves. However, a part of me also gets frustrated because the trail isn’t all that wide and it has a number of hills and curves. It can be hard to enjoy the ride when you’re constantly worried about passing walkers or runners safely so that you have room to build momentum to climb the next hill, or trying not to run into people who don’t pay attention to the dotted yellow line separating the paved trail into a little two-way highway. I used to walk and run on the trail, and I hated worrying about whether I was going to get hit by a biker. It just gets too crowded for comfort for everyone!

I was reminded of why I’ve kind of avoided the Mount Vernon Trail this summer in favor of some trails that tend to be a bit less traveled. Last Saturday, I set out for a 30 mile trek from my place to Great Falls, MD and back home. It took just under four hours, but it was a fun trip. I was satisfyingly worn out by the time I got back home. Aaah. I love that feeling! To get to the falls, I got on the towpath along the C&O Canal in Georgetown, and rode the gravelly trail between the canal and the Potomac. To get back, I took a paved road, McArthur Boulevard, that had an awesome bike path. I thought I’d share a few photos.

One thing I love about riding on the towpath is the opportunity to see things like this:

BirdmanIt is a bit more secluded and much farther from the highway than the MVT, and that’s a plus. I saw this guy (or girl? not sure…) as well as a few big turtles and some tiny blue lizards. I was busy riding, so I didn’t stop to snap photos of them, but they made me smile. I love that I can enjoy nature so close to my apartment and to the city. You just have to know where to look!

There are lots of old lock houses all along the canal. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like when the canal was really in use. Here’s the sign on the front of one of the lock houses:

Lock House

After about 15 miles of riding, I made it to the bridge with a view of the falls, and I had to leave Coby behind. Why leave Coby?

No Bikes!Fair enough. Coby waited patiently. In case you have forgotten, “Coby” is short for cobalt, the color of Coby’s frame.

Waiting Coby

This was my view from the bridge:

Great FallsNo visit to a scenic overlook would be complete without a cheesy self portrait (nerdy but absolutely necessary helmet included). 🙂 

Self PortraitThe smile is big because the 15 miles it took for me to get to the falls seemed sort of endless at times. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of markers on the towpath, so it was hard to gauge just how close (or far) I was from the falls. I was so happy to finally be there!! I was also super glad that I had snacks to fuel my ride home! 🙂 

Biking is one of my favorite “exercises that don’t really seem like exercise.” With all of the beautiful scenery and fresh air, it’s easy to forget that I’m getting a workout. My heart rate monitor/calorie counter is my only proof! Do you have a favorite “exercise that doesn’t seem like exercise?” What did you do this weekend? I hope you had a great one!! 

Now, I’m going to make a bowl of oatmeal and get ready to watch Mad Men. Oatmeal seems to be my favorite evening snack lately. I love the flavor, and I really love how well it fills me up. Perfect! Have a good week, Sweetie Pies. Ciao for now! 🙂


Filed under Arlington, Fitness, Great Falls, Mount Vernon Trail, Weight Loss Success Story

Greek Yogurt: Kitchen Superstar

Hello sweeties! I hope this finds you enjoying your summer! I’m enjoying mine. 🙂 As you know, part of my summer fun involves visiting the farmer’s market. I went to my market in Courthouse on Saturday and made a major haul:

Market BootyI bought peaches, one little nectarine, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, an onion, yellow squash, zucchini, Brandywine tomatoes, beets, garlic scapes, tomatoes, some silver queen corn (my childhood favorite!!!), a container of Blue Ridge dairy Greek yogurt, and a pork shoulder that is barely peeking into the picture on the bottom right hand side. There’s also a little piece of cherry pie that I just couldn’t resist. It was a little one, I swear! 😉

I had a plan for the peaches, and they’ve been sitting in the box with their nectarine buddy and ripening a bit this week.

What a peach!

This was all gone. 😦

Cherry Berry "Ice Cream"Time to make more frozen loveliness! I peeled all but one of the peaches and the nectarine (5 fruits), and gave them a blitz in the blender along with 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, the juice of a lemon, the scrapings from a random vanilla bean I had in the fridge and a little can of fat free sweetened condensed milk. Today, I added a bit of extra love to the batch too: 1/2 cup of fat free plain Greek yogurt. I put the mix into the machine and flipped the magic switch.

Magic MachineWhile my mix was going for a spin, I peeled and chopped the remaining peach. It was SO ripe and juicy. YUM!

Peachy KeenAfter the freezer had been running for 30 minutes, I added my ripe peach chunks and let it run for 10 more minutes. 

ChunkyTake a look at this!:

Peachy Creamy LoveThis batch is bursting with fresh peach flavor, creaminess and tang from the Greek yogurt, and the smooth sweetness of the condensed milk. I will be sure to add Greek yogurt from now on. I couldn’t believe the difference it made! This is the creamiest batch I’ve made so far. I’ve tried more traditional recipes using eggs and full fat dairy before, but I can be quite happy with a slightly less creamy dessert that still tastes great and is virtually fat free. The Greek yogurt really upped the creaminess (as well as the protein!) without adding extra fat. Me likey. Me likey a lot!

Seriously, I don’t know how I made it for so long without Greek yogurt in my kitchen! It’s great for making potato salad, chicken salad and tuna salad creamy. It works well in baked goods. It makes a great salad dressing when mixed with a bit of mustard/vinegar/pomegranate molasses/hummus. It’s yummy with honey/maple syrup/agave/jam/nuts and fruit. It works great as a sub for sour cream. It adds creaminess to curry. It makes a great dip for fruit when mixed with a bit of PB2 and jam. I’ve never asked it to make my morning cup of coffee, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it could do that too. Yes. I believe Greek yogurt has officially become a staple in my kitchen. In case you can’t find it where you live, you can always make your own! Making your own might be a cheaper alternative as well, and that’s a good thing these days.

Aside from my frozen deliciousness, I’ve had a pretty uneventful week in the kitchen. I mentioned that I bought a pork shoulder at the market on Saturday, and I’ve been eating leftover pulled pork all week. While not as lean as a pork tenderloin, it isn’t too bad, and I tried to minimize the fat as much as possible. First, I trimmed off all of the visible fat using my kitchen scissors, and rubbed the pork with some mesquite grilling spice mix:

Pork!Then, I put it into the slow cooker with 1/2 an onion, 1/4 cup of apple juice, 3/4 cup of water, and 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Then I let it cook on high for two hours. After two hours, I flipped it over and let it cook for a couple of hours more. 

In the PoolAt that point, my meat thermometer told me that it was done, and I pulled it out and let it rest. Easy! 


I let it cool and then gave it a good shred with a couple of forks. 

This pork shoulder was about 2 1/4 pounds before cooking. I put in enough liquid to keep the meat moist, but the meat was really just dipping its toes in the puddle. My goal was to allow the fat and juices to run off into the bottom of the pan instead of later appearing on my plate. I grew up eating Memphis style barbecue, which isn’t typically swimming in grease or sauce. I saw a number of recipes on line for cooking a pork shoulder in a slow cooker, and most of them involved adding bottles of barbecue sauce. I think that is no bueno from a calorie perspective and also from a yumminess perspective. I didn’t need that much sauce, and there would have been no way to avoid any of the fat that had cooked off if the drippings and sauce were all incorporated. I wanted to be able to taste the meat, and I was surprised at how much I liked this given that I cooked it without the benefit of a smoker. It was moist, delicious and, maybe by virtue of its ecofriendly upbringing, it really tasted like pork. Perfect!

My friend, Inga’s mom, came over for dinner Saturday night, and we each had a big plate of summer:

Plate o' SummerI’ve enjoyed something similar for my dinners this week, but now it is all gone. 😦 I’m going to have to do this again sometime soon!

I’ve had one other blogworthy eat this week. I picked up a little package of this wondrous stuff at Whole Foods over the weekend:

Awesome!I nibbled some by itself, but quickly realized its proper place:

Outstanding Oat BranThe. Best. Oat bran. Ever. It has chocolatey nibs, coconut, sweet raisins, berries and oat bran goodness all in one big bowl. Sadly, I’m out of this yummy little mix, but I will definitely be buying more on my next Whole Foods visit!!

So, now you’ve seen the highlights from my week. I know I’ve become a once or twice a week blogger this summer, but I’m finding so many nice outdoor activities to keep me occupied. Last night, I decided to walk home from work instead of taking the metro. It took two hours, and I was pretty pooped when I got home. However, the weather was great, I enjoyed my stroll through the city, and I got some exercise without hitting the gym. I’m trying to find more opportunities for that sort of activity, and it was a fabulous day for a long trek home. What’s your favorite way to get in some exercise without going to the gym?

I’m also trying not to focus so much on food. I think that, while useful, keeping a photo journal of my eats each day was putting way too much of a focus on my food and making me a little crazy. I’m sure to go back to that eventually, but, for now, I want to focus on new dishes and treats in my posts. I loved everything in this post, and I loved telling you about it!

Now, it’s time for me to head to bed. I did something weird to my shoulder the other evening, and I don’t think this evening’s strength training workout did me any favors. I believe that some ice may be called for, and then I’m heading to bed. 

I hope you have a great weekend, and I hope you stick with me and my infrequent posts. I think I just need to take it easy a bit and go from there. I’m sure I’ll be in the kitchen this weekend, and I’ll want to tell you about it for sure. Until then, ciao for now, y’all! 🙂


Filed under Arlington, Farmer's Market, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Slow Cooker, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Sweet Watermelon Sorbet, Peruvian Chicken and a Leftovers Pizza

Hi! I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth, but I have been super busy! It was so nice having my parents here last week. We had a great time, and we had some yummy eats too. 🙂 I didn’t snap photos of all of my food last week, but I did take pictures of a few of the highlights. I mentioned a sweet frozen treat that we whipped up in my last post, and here it is:

Sweet Watermelon SorbetWe made a big batch of watermelon sorbet using my long neglected ice cream maker. Why haven’t I been using this kitchen gadget on a regular basis??? I vow to put it to good use this summer for sure.

A large watermelon arrived in my vegetable box last week, and if I hadn’t been expecting guests, I’m not sure what I would have done with a whole watermelon! I was so glad to have company here to help me eat it. Unfortunately, when we cut it open, we found out that it was already a bit on the “super ripe” side. It was a little mushy, and, even though we are all watermelon fans, it wasn’t very appealing. My mother suggested freezing it and using it in smoothies. Food waste avoidance definitely runs in the family! I remembered the ice cream maker lurking in the back of the cabinet, and we hatched a plan.

Sweet Watermelon Sorbet


4 1/2 cups of seeded and pureed watermelon

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. lemon or lime zest

The juice of one lemon or lime


Place 1/2 cup of the watermelon puree and the sugar in a saucepan. Heat it to a simmer, and remove it from the heat. This creates a simple syrup. Stir in the lemon/lime zest and the citrus juice. Allow this mixture to cool for 20 minutes. Add the sugar mixture to the remaining 4 cups of watermelon puree. Place the mixture in your ice cream maker, and follow the machine’s instructions. It took about 30 minutes in my Cuisinart ice cream machine, and then we put it in the freezer to firm up some more overnight. 

Freeze-o-matic!Inga’s parents (you know… Inga, my favorite dog…) invited us over for dinner on Thursday evening, and we had this sorbet for dessert, along with some cute little lemon cookies from the store. Inga’s parents made some awesome steaks, tasty Israeli couscous, yummy asparagus and a nice fresh salad for dinner. It was a delicious meal– as always, and it was nice for my favorite parents to meet some of my favorite friends! 🙂 

As you can see from the photo at the top of the post, this sorbet wasn’t smooth like a sorbet that you might buy at the store. I let it sit out a bit before serving because it was quite hard, and I kind of broke it up with a heavy spoon while I was dishing it up. I think it would have been smoother if I had let it sit out a bit longer, but I was too impatient! Maybe I’ll experiment with letting it warm up a bit more the next time I make a batch. At any rate, it was a sweet, clean and refreshing end to a nice meal with family and friends. 

On Friday, I decided to take my parents to check out one of the Peruvian chicken joints in the area. We went to Super Pollo in Ballston, and it really hit the spot!

Peruvian ChickenI had 1/4 of a chicken, white meat only, with some chickpeas and fried plantains. Yum! The green sauce was nice and hot, and it was the perfect contrast to the creamy yellow sauce. I love stewed chickpeas, and the cumin flavored chickpeas might have been my favorite part of the meal. The plantains were sweet and tasted, well, pretty sinful. They were nice and caramelized, and there were even a few super sweet little crispy bits. So good! I decided to go crazy and try an Inca Kola with my meal, and I was a bit disappointed to discover that it tasted just like cream soda. I do love cream soda, but I guess I was hoping for something a bit more… interesting. 

Super Pollo has moist, tender and delicious chicken worth standing in line for, and the price can’t be beat. It was less than $25 for three plates like mine and three drinks. Around here, that’s pretty amazing! If you live in my area, this place is well worth a visit.

After our tasty lunch, we did a bit of shopping and made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s. While we were at TJ’s, I decided to grab one of their whole wheat pizza crusts (out of the refrigerator case) so that we could make a quick pizza for dinner. We did a bit of a fridge clean-out, and it made for a pretty tasty pie.

Pizza PieFirst, I put some Country Bob’s sauce on the crust. Then, I topped it with some spicy ground turkey leftover from the taco salads we had on Tuesday evening. I chopped the leftover grilled veggies from our Wednesday night meal and added them to the mix. Finally, I crowned the pizza with the rest of the ball of smoked mozzarella (leftover from grilled veggie night) and a bit of low-fat cheddar. After eight minutes in the oven on my hot pizza stone, we had a yummy dinner— and a bit of breathing room in the fridge! 

Din DinI had a great time with my parents. We didn’t really do anything very touristy during this visit, but we did see quite a bit of Arlington and Alexandria. They are pros at visiting DC now, and I guess we’ve hit most of the hot spots! I have to say that the leisurely pace they set for the week actually suited me just fine!

I enjoyed lots of delicious food during their visit, but I made plenty of reasonable choices along the way too. I really tried to make sure to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and I tried to exercise a bit of moderation when it came to the sweets. There was an impulse Moon Pie purchase that could have been a problem, but I made it through. Perhaps it was easier given the fact that I’ve never seen a Royal Crown cola in these parts. If you are a southerner, you know that those things DO go together! 🙂

I know that my posts have been super sporadic lately, and I think I’m in the process of finding a good balance. I love posting (and reading other blogs!!!), but the warmer weather has me spending more time outdoors away from my computer. Things may continue to be sporadic for awhile, but I’m still here! I hope you will keep reading! 

Now, I need to get to bed. Ciao for now, y’all, and have an excellent week!


Filed under Arlington, D.C., Food, Peruvian Chicken, Recipes, Sorbet, Uncategorized, Washington, Watermelon, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

We Need to Get Caught Up!

Red VelvetCome on in! It’s nice to see you. It’s been awhile. 🙂 I’ve been a bad blogger this weekend. I got home on Friday night after another busy day, and all I wanted to do was crash on the couch and watch one of the Netflix movies collecting dust on top of the television. I took photos of my food all day, but I decided I needed to just relax and stay away from the computer for a bit. Instead of blogging, I watched “Juliet of the Spirits,” put my feet up, and kicked it. Yesterday was just busy! I hope you understand. 🙂

Now, are you wondering what Red Velvet is? Here’s a hint:

I Saw the SignIt would be a long post if I showed you everything I’ve eaten this weekend, so I’m just going to tell you about cupcakes, fro yo, shortcakes (with a recipe) and a few other things sprinkled in as a garnish. Yum! Some garnishes are tasty!


Friday was a busy day at work. I wrapped up a few things, which is always good on a Friday, and I was ready to celebrate the start of the weekend with a special treat. My law school friend, Mr. M, works in an office close to mine, and he agreed to meet me for some frozen yogurt at Tangy Sweet after work. You might recall that I tried Tangy Sweet’s fro yo right before I went on vacation. I really couldn’t wait to go back!

The flavor du jour was chocolate. Chocolate isn’t usually my choice when it comes to ice cream flavors, but I tried a little sample. As it melted on my tongue, I realized that it tasted a bit like chocolate cheesecake. I decided to have a cup of it with some fresh strawberries on top.

Fro Yo!Check out the rain. There was a serious gully washer outside! I braved the weather just for you! 😉

This was gooooood!! I’m still kind of amazed at the way Tangy Sweet’s fro yo doesn’t taste very sweet during the first few bites, but then the flavor transforms and becomes sweet as the tang fades away. It’s like magic– tasty, tasty magic! 🙂 

Speaking of magic, cupcakes are one of the foods I consider to be the most magical. They are adorable, delicious, and they hearken back to childhood fun in a very lovely way. Red Velvet is a “cupcakery” next door to Tangy Sweet. If you are in the area and are interested, both places are at 7th and E in Penn Quarter. Here is a glimpse of the cupcake case:

Cupcakes!On my previous fro yo excursion, I stuck my nose in the door at Red Velvet, but I didn’t make any purchases. This Friday, I decided to get a couple of little cupcakes and take them for a spin. I was hoping to find a cupcake to rival the one I recently had at Sugar Mama’s in Skagway, Alaska. Those were SO good!!

Here’s another peek in the case at Red Velvet:

CupcakesThe cupcakes I chose were called “Southern Belle” and “Vanilla Bean.” Southern Belle was a traditional red velvet cupcake topped with a whipped cream cheese icing. Vanilla bean was a vanilla bean cake topped with a Madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting. 

Yum one and Yum twoMr. M was kind enough to agree to split each cupcake with me, so I had half of each. What a nice guy! I know it was a sacrifice. 🙂 While it would be hard to fit two whole cupcakes into a day of healthy eating, two halves work out just fine! Yes, I love cupcakes, and NO, I don’t plan to ever make them off limits. I’d rather figure out how to work them in with my nutritious eats so that I can… yep… “have my cake and eat it too.”  That’s a balance worth striking!

Check out the thickness of the frosting!

Aaaaahhhh!Southern Belle’s cake was delightfully moist, dense and rich. The beautiful color was matched by a beautiful flavor. I loved the cake! As for the icing, well, I don’t think I prefer my cream cheese icing whipped. It was good, but I like my frosting to be thicker and a bit more solid. That’s my personal preference, and I’m sure plenty of people prefer it whipped and gooey. If that describes your preference, this is the cupcake for you! 

Vanilla Bean was my favorite of the two. I love vanilla cupcakes, and this cake was moist and sweet with a nice, strong vanilla flavor. I think that I was expecting buttercream (note: read signs more closely!!), so I was surprised when I first bit into the frosting. It wasn’t the buttercream I was craving after my Alaskan cupcake, but I really liked it nonetheless. The vanilla flavor came on strong, and it really was a great cupcake.

I still haven’t found my DC Sugar Mama’s, but I’m looking. 🙂 Since Red Velvet is close to work, I foresee more samples in my future. I need to try their buttercream for sure! 

When I got home, I had a bowl of sauteed spinach, broccoli and smoked tofu. I liked having dessert first! Later, while lounging around watching my movie, I decided to open up this little bag and take these barbecue flavored Pop Chips for a whirl.

Pop ChipsI’ve wanted to try these for a while, but I hate buying big bags of chips. Since I don’t tend to choose salty snacks very often, a big bag of chips often goes stale before I get around to eating them. I was excited to find a single serving bag of these in a nearby deli, and they seemed perfect for movie munching. I really liked them. They were barbecue sauce sweet and deliciously salty at the same time. Perfect! The texture is much more like regular chips than the baked chips I’ve tried, and they aren’t made with any weird Olean type chemcials. I’m sold. These are good! If you find them where you are, give them a shot!

My other movie watching snack was a tiny bowl of chocolate chip cookie oat bran.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oat Bran

I made half a serving of oat bran, added a bit of vanilla extract and some brown sugar to the bowl, and then topped it with chopped almonds and mini semi-sweet morsels. It was a good way to satisfy a craving for something sweet without having another real dessert. Since I’d already had the fro yo and the cupcakes before dinner, I thought I’d dial things back a bit. I’m doing my best to keep my sweet tooth in check, while still enjoying plenty of treats. This is an example of my attempt to balance things out a bit!


Saturday morning, I woke up to find the sun shining and a nice breeze blowing through my balcony door. It was going to be a great trip to the farmer’s market for sure! I got ready, and headed to the market armed with my reusable shopping bags, some cash, and my camera. I missed the market last Saturday. I knew that the Westmoreland Berry Farms people had been there with strawberries for sale because A Daunting Tale of Scale Warfare was at the Courthouse market last Saturday, and she featured a photo of her haul (including the berries) in her post. Grrrr!!! I was so sad to have missed the berries… and so jealous! 🙂 Luckily, there were plenty of berries waiting for me this Saturday!

BerryliciousI made up for missing the market last weekend by buying a ton of things today. I got two big containers of the berries along with: garlic scapes, radishes, tomatoes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, Greek yogurt, low-fat ricotta sweetened with honey and vanilla, eggs and an oregano plant.

If you haven’t heard of garlic scapes (they are the green things curled around the eggs), I’ll be posting one of my favorite scape recipes soon! I’ll tell you all about them then.

The BootyIt was quite a haul! When I started looking at all of the berries, I realized that I might have gotten a bit carried away. While freezing the berries was a definite option, a phone call from my friend, Inga’s mom, led me to a better plan. Remember the lovely Inga? My favorite dog friend?

Inga DingaInga’s parents were going to fire up the grill, and I promised to bring over some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I also promised to bring Inga her present from Alaska. 

Hello, Squeaky Moose!Hello, Mr. Squeaky Moose! I think he knew he was doomed, so he was lying on his back in defeat.

Chewy!Mmm…. chewy! I didn’t expect for this flimsy little moose to have a long life, and she had already de-squeaked him by the time I headed home last night! I’m so glad that she had fun with him, and that Mr. Squeaky Moose will no longer be squeaky. I felt like the aunt who gave her niece a noisy drum set for Christmas. Hee hee! 

I mentioned shortcake. Here’s the finished dish:

Strawberry ShortcakeWhen I started looking for a lightened up shortcake recipe, I found a ton to choose from. None of them were exactly what I wanted, so I sort of combined ideas from several in order to come up with my version. Here’s my recipe:

Sweetie’s Olive Oil Shortcakes


2 cups of all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup skim milk

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup egg beaters (or one egg)

2 tsp. Turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar–  for sprinkling on top)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. I used a silpat, and I sprayed it with cooking spray as well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, vanilla, egg and oil. 

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. Turn the dough out on to the baking sheet. Spray the top with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to your fingers, and use your hands to shape the dough into an 8×8 square. Then, using a sharp knife, cut into but not through the dough, dividing it into 16 squares. Give it another spritz with cooking spray and then sprinkle the Turbinado sugar over the top.

BeforeBake for 15 minutes or until golden. 


Cut along the lines to separate the cakes, and then top with sweetened berries and the whipped topping of your choice.

This makes 8 servings with 2 squares per person.

I liked these, but I think the shortcakes would have been yummier if they had been warm when I served them. Since they are lower in fat, they got a little bit chewy when they cooled. I also underestimated the amount of berries we needed, and I would have liked a few more berries and a little more juice on my shortcake.

I quartered 1 1/4 pounds of berries, and added the juice of half a lime as well as 2 tsp. of sugar. There were only six people at dinner, and we ate all of the berries. Next time I make shortcake for eight, I think I’ll probably prepare at least 2 pounds of berries– maybe more. You can never have enough berry goodness!

I’m kind of happy that I had a couple of cakes leftover. I already put one to good use today in a big bowl of berry jam sweetened Greek yogurt and berries:

Yum!I like having a shortcake recipe up my sleeve because you can top them with so many different things. Summer fruits are the obvious choice, but not the only good one! I’m so glad I was able to share my haul with my friends, and I had a great time hanging out at their place– as usual! 

So, now you are pretty much caught up– cupcakes, fro yo, berries, farmers market shopping and Inga. Those are definitely the highlights of my weekend so far. I need to say Ciao and go and run some errands before what’s left of the weekend evaporates! I hope you have a great week, and I can’t wait to share my garlic scape recipe with you soon!! Ciao for now, bloggies. 🙂

What was the best thing you ate this weekend??


Filed under Baking, Cake, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Frozen Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Banana Wheat Bran Scones and a New Favorite Eatery!

Good morning and happy Monday! I’m awake earlier than usual for some reason, so I decided to go ahead and tell you about my Sunday. My blogging seems to be running a bit behind my life this weekend, and maybe this will get me back on track! 

I had such an enjoyable Sunday! The temperature has gotten up around 90 here for the past few days, which came sort of out of nowhere. It’s as if the summertime switch has been flipped. I wasn’t hungry for a hot breakfast yesterday at all, so I just had a little bowl of strawberry frosted mini-wheats cereal. I also had a little bit of peanut butter on bread. I definitely feel less hungry when the weather warms up, but I was also trying to eat light since I had a birthday brunch to attend. 

I met up with my friends yesterday at a great neighborhood brunch spot, but there was an hour and a half wait for a table. Too hungry to wait that long, we went in search of an alternative. We decided to go to the Le Pain Quotidien that had just recently opened. I’m SO glad we did! I started off with a hibiscus tea sweetened with organic agave. Isn’t it pretty?

Hibiscus TeaI sat down, opened up my menu and nearly fell out of my chair. The menu was full of amazing choices and… it included the calorie counts for most of the foods!! Holy moly!! This was a dream come true right on my doorstep. The kinds of food available at LPQ are right up my alley. The boulangerie and patisserie selections alone could keep me entertained for a long time. For my lunch, I decided on the tartine with ricotta, mission figs, diced tomatoes, black pepper and organic acacia honey:

TartinesIt was so fresh and amazing! The ricotta was smooth and creamy and went so well with the figs and honey. In case you can’t tell, a tartine is kind of like an open faced sandwich, and mine was made on some amazing whole wheat bread. BLISS! I also got a massive bowl of fruit to go along with it:

FruitifullThis was the perfect amount of food for me, and it was all so very fresh and bright. Speaking of fresh and bright, check out my friend’s gazpacho!

GazpachoWhat a lovely lunch!! On the way out, I couldn’t resist picking up a jar of their praline spread and getting one of my favorites for the road:

Chocolate Croissant to GoI had my first chocolate croissant while I was studying abroad, and I’ve been a sucker for them ever since. This one did not disappoint! Happy Birthday to my friend… and happy new eatery to me. 🙂 

It was pretty late in the afternoon when I got back home after stopping to run a few errands on the way, and I spent some time putting my new plants into pots. I’ll take some photos of my little balcony garden soon so that you can see what I’ve been up to. It’s always nice to look out and see some living and growing things after a winter of staring at empty pots. 

When dinnertime rolled around, I decided to have some more of yesterday’s Buitoni creation along with my own little version of the salad I’d had at Art and Soul. 

Din DinYes, it really was that color! I topped some of the pretty lettuce I got at the farmer’s market with some goat cheese and almonds. That’s always a good start! Then, I got out my new magic bullet. Oh yeah. Magic bullet action! I put in a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a Tablespoon of fig infused balsamic vinegar and three blackberries with the tiniest whisper of salt and gave it a whir. Three little blackberries made for all of that color and gave the dressing an awesome texture and flavor. If only I’d had some watermelon pickles! I think this might be a good alternative to my usual mustard and vinegar dressing mixes.

After dinner, I had a few little snacks that I didn’t photograph including a So Delicious mini-neapolitan ice cream bar. It was a 90 calorie treat that really packed a lot of goodness into a small package. YUM! After my icy treat, I headed off to the Sunday session with my trainer (plus cardio… 572 calories crushed). Yay!!

When I got back to the apartment,  I decided to use up some more of the bananas out of the freezer and make a batch of scones with what I had on hand. In case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of using up what’s on hand, and that’s why I put so many little options in the recipe. I’ve learned that substitutions are fine in many cases, and there’s no reason to run to the store unless it’s really necessary!  By the way, my recipe is an adaptation of this one from Cooking Light with some of my usual tweaks.

Banana Wheat Bran SconesBanana Wheat Bran Scones


3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup teff flour (or whole wheat flour)

1/2 cup wheat bran (or oat bran)

2 Tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into little pieces

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 cup mashed ripe (or thawed overripe!!) banana

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (or regular nonfat yogurt)

1 1/2 tsp. almond milk (or skim milk)

1 1/2 tsp. turbinado sugar (or regular granulated sugar)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Combine the bananas and the brown sugar in a medium sized bowl and allow to stand for five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the first eight ingredients, AP flour through cinnamon, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the flour mixture and the yogurt to the banana mixture, alternatively adding some of the flour and then some of the yogurt until the ingredients are completely incorporated, and stir until moistened. 

Using a rubber spatula “knead” the dough right in the bowl by pressing it down to really work in the butter pieces and then scraping the sides of the bowl. Continue to repeat that action for about 1 1/2 minutes. Alternatively, you could also turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for a minute or so, but the bowl method is less messy and works just fine.

Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Press into a 6″ circle using the back of the rubber spatula. Use a sharp knife to cut into but not through the circle of dough, dividing it into eight wedges. Brush with the almond milk and sprinkle the sugar on top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. It should be browned and should spring back somewhat when pressed on the top. Cool on a wire rack, cut the wedges all the way through and enjoy!

This makes 8 scones at less than 130 calories each according to the recipe calculator I used. Not bad!

[Late breaking edit: Please see this post for a review of the scones. They didn’t turn out to be my favorite thing and, in the interest of full disclosure, I want to give you my thoughts in case you are considering whipping up a batch! If you are trying to find something to do with overripe bananas, you might check out this post for a chocolate banana snack cake recipe that I adore!!]

Photos from the process:

The Dry Team

Coarse Crumbs

Kneading in the Bowl

Before Baking

Oven FreshThese were super quick and easy, and I think you could certainly add all sorts of things to this recipe to suit your taste. I’m thinking that some chocolate chips would be a good addition next time. 🙂 Chocolate!

Now, I’ve got to get ready and get to work. I hope you all have a good Monday, and don’t forget to enter my 100th post giveaway!! By the way, a special welcome to you if you are checking out my blog for the first time! Make yourself at home!! 🙂 

Ciao for now, bloggies!


Filed under Baking, Bananas, Bread, Chocolate, cooking, D.C., diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

100th Post Giveaway, Plus Art, Soul and Buitoni!

Hi!! I’m having such a lovely weekend, and I hope that you are too. I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday, but, as you will see, it was a busy day. Plus, with this being my 100th post, I didn’t want to shortchange it. 🙂

I woke up Saturday to the sound of birds and… buzzsaws. It was warm on Friday evening, and I decided to sleep with the patio screen open to let some fresh air into my winter suffocated apartment. They are building a new hotel next door to my building, and I’ve been hearing all sorts of construction sounds for the better part of a year now. They’ve planted some ornamental trees and it looks like things are in the final stages. I’ll be glad when the racket is done!

I got up and headed over to the farmer’s market. Today, it looked like it usually does when it is in full swing with people, dogs and green things everywhere. There were lots of plants for sale, along with the usual treats. I was most excited to finally score some fresh asparagus!

My HaulI also bought some spring onions, a cucumber, another bag of the gorgeous lettuce mix I tried a few weeks ago, a bunch of pink lady apples, a thyme plant, a mint plant and a sugar snack tomato plant. It’s planting season out on the balcony, and I’ve had such good luck with the plants I’ve gotten at the market in the past. I had a sugar snack cherry tomato plant last year, and it did pretty well in my big balcony pot. I’m hoping for similar results this year!

When I was shopping, I had lunch in mind. Like many foodbuzz featured publishers, I received this package of pasta in the mail the other day to take for a spin:

The MuseI love wild mushrooms, and I was sure to love the taste of these! I thought about different sauces, but decided that, since the pasta was pretty high in calories, I needed to bulk up the meal with a ton of veggies instead. I decided that the beautiful spring green onions and the fresh asparagus from the market would be the perfect complement to the pasta. 

PrettyI thought the onions were so pretty! I sliced up all three of these rather large green onions and sauteed them, along with a clove of garlic, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a teaspoon of olive oil and a spray of cooking spray. I know that a mix of olive oil and butter is common in cooking, but you get a mix of oil and spray more often in my kitchen. I cooked them low and slow for about twenty minutes. Just look at how bright and green they are!

Light and BrightWhile the onions were in the skillet, the asparagus was roasting in the oven. I love roasting asparagus, and I think the caramelized flavor really adds another element to the vegetable and to this dish!

Roasting the Aspara-guysOnce my onions had cooked down nicely, and the aspara-guys had gotten a nice tan, I mixed the two together. The pasta was nearly done at this point. It only took four minutes for the pasta to boil, which was pretty awesome!

Fresh and Green-- Just Like SpringI loved the bright springiness of this dish, and I also knew that all of these veggies would help to fill me up since I was planning to eat 1/3 of the package of pasta instead of 1/2, which was the amount that the package determined to be a serving. I tossed the two together and ended up with this:

All DoneWhat did I think of the pasta? I loved the wild mushroom filling and the quick cooking time. It was definitely delicious. I do think that it is probably too high in calories (320 for six of the pasta pillow) for me to have on a regular basis. Even so, four pieces of the pasta with all of the veggies, preceded by an apple with cashew butter and followed by dessert kept me full for awhile. 

Yum!Speaking of dessert, I tried something I’ve been meaning to try for awhile now:

Dessert!I took one of the remaining pieces of chocolate banana snack cake out of the freezer, cut it in half, and added a layer of mighty maple PB before giving it a 15 second zap in the micro. It was a good as I had suspected, but then, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and PB! 

After all of that, I made a trip to Whole Foods and then followed that up with a really long, but good, workout. It included time in the gym as well as running outside, which I always prefer to running on the treadmill. I love the calorie burn I get from running, but I just don’t love running all that much. I have my moments where it feels really good, but it’s never my favorite thing. It’s always nice to be outside, however, and, since I haven’t figured out how to elliptical al fresco, I’ll keep running in my mix. 🙂

After that, I hopped in the shower and got ready to go and meet some friends for dinner at this place on Capitol Hill:

Art and SoulWhile I have certainly tried a number of places in DC since moving here in 2004, I have avoided going out as often as I would have liked because I find eating out to be such a challenge on a diet. Now that I’ve tried to take some of the pressure off, I find it easier to go out and to just try to make some smart choices. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to skip dessert, as you will see, but it does mean that I will likely opt for healthier choices in the other courses as a little bit of a compromise. It’s a treat, and one that I think should be enjoyed! I took photos of my dinner, but, since I was trying to be all stealthy and not use my flash, they look kind of weird. I thought I’d share them anyway.

First, I had the arugula salad with blackberries, goat cheese, almonds, watermelon pickles and a blackberry vinaigrette:

SaladThis was a nice big pile of fresh and peppery arugula topped with some of my favorite things. The pickles were sweet and had a bit of spice, but they were different than the watermelon rind pickles we used to make when I was a kid. Ours were cut into cubes, and were bright red in a cinnamony sweet pickle syrup. These were a bit more subtle and were really delicious along with the other components of the salad. I got the dressing on the side, of course, and it was really good. I’m pretty sure it contained fresh pureed blackberries, which would explain the slightly chunky texture, and it was perfectly tangy and sweet. I ate as much of the dressing as I wanted, but that turned out to be only around half of the little dressing container.

I should mention that there were some fun pull apart type garlic rolls before the salad, but they didn’t photograph well at all! They were tasty, and I love the interactive element of pulling them apart and sharing them around the table. Yum!!

For my main course, I had grouper topped with pesto sitting on a bed of buttermilk mashed potatoes and strips of carrot, zucchini and yellow squash. That was all topped off with a carrot cider broth:

GrouperduperIt didn’t look nearly as neon in person. 🙂 I’m not the world’s biggest fish eater (aside from sushi…), but I’ve definitely expanded my fish eating horizons since moving to the east coast. I am honestly not sure that I’ve ever had grouper, but I am certain that I would order it again. The flesh was firm and tender, and the flavor wasn’t fishy or strong at all. It also didn’t hurt that it was sitting on top of a pile of mashed potatoes and surrounded by a sweet carroty sauce. The mashed potatoes are the thing that tempted me the most.

I’d checked out the menu on-line before going to the restaurant and done a bit of research. Nerdy? Prepared! I learned that, of the meats/seafoods featured on the menu, grouper was one of the lowest calorie choices ounce for ounce. Now, if you sit the grouper on top of, say, a stick of butter, it obviously doesn’t matter. This plate seemed reasonable to me, the portion wasn’t out of control, and, most importantly, I enjoyed it while trying something new. Maybe I saved a few calories by ordering the grouper, and maybe I didn’t when the accompaniments were figured in. I just think that making some sort of educated choice made me feel good about my meal. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that! I also learned that I like grouper, and next time I see it on a menu, it will be a contender! 

Feeling pretty good about my choices, I decided that dessert was a must. That’s no surprise, right? There were some really delicious sounding things to choose from on the dessert menu including an almond pound cake, a bourbon pecan pie and some Pennsylvania Dutch style donuts. At the top of the list was a dessert called “Baby Cakes,” and the caption underneath said that they were the chef’s favorite. This was curious indeed! I asked the server to tell me about them, and, after hearing his description, I knew exactly what I wanted!

Baby CakesI almost always prefer little samples of different things over a big plate of one thing. The baby cakes were perfect for me!  The little cake in the upper right hand corner involved bananas and a bit of fluffy whipped cream with a hint of mocha? I’m not sure, but it was good. The cake beneath it with the swizzle of glaze is a bit harder to describe. One of my friends had baby cakes as well, and she said it reminded her of coffee cake. I have to agree. I think there was some white chocolate involved and there was some raspberry on the bottom. It was good, and definitely breakfasty. On the bottom left hand corner was a delicate lemon cake with a lemon powdered sugar glaze. I love lemon cake with glaze, and this was one of my favorites on the plate! In the upper left hand corner… carrot cake. Oh my! Just look at the frosting. It was sooooo good! It probably gets my first place ribbon. Top and center was a very dark and rich chocolate cake that won my heart too. I had my baby cakes along with a nibble of another friend’s Pennsylvania Dutch style donuts, and I was a happy girl. 

I would definitely recommend Art and Soul for an evening out. The atmosphere was very nice and comfortably casual, and the food was very good. The noise level was low, which made it perfect for chatting with friends, and the service was great too. 

So, that about sums up my Saturday. I have some plants to put into pots today and a few more things to do to get ready for the week. I’m thinking about making some cookies today, but I’ll have to get the other things done first. One other thing I have to do today is to tell you about my 100th Post Giveaway!!!

I really enjoy writing my blog, and I’ve gotten to know some very cool people and found some awesome blogs since I started my own back in January. I can’t believe that I’m already at my 100th post! I wanted to have a little giveaway with some of my favorite things as a way of celebrating. Without futher adieu, I give you “Sweetie Pie’s Prize Pack:”

Sweetie Pie's Prize PackI’ve included a box of Kashi Honey Sunshine (my favorite “snacking cereal”), Lesser Evil Black and White Kettle Corn (one of my favorite snacks), a jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams PB from PB& Co. (often part of my morning chocolate and strawberry fix), some chocolate Jay Robb’s whey protein (since I’m a fan of JR, and thought I’d share the love), a jar of the orange fig spread that I adore mixed into my Greek yogurt, one of my favorite little Z bars, and one of my favorite Theo chocolate bars too. These are all things that I love, and I can’t wait to share them all with one lucky winner!! Here’s how to enter:

  1. For one entry, post a comment on this post telling me which of the items you would most like to try, or, which item is already one of your favorites.
  2. For a second entry, If you have a blog, link back to this post and tell your readers about my giveaway. Please let me know that you’ve done so in the comments section. If you do not have a blog, you can e-mail me at melodylawgirl@yahoo.com, with the word “giveaway” in the subject line, and you will receive a second entry.
  3. Finally, you can earn a third entry if you have a blog and you add me to your blogroll. Just let me know that you did so in the comments section.

If you have been reading, but not commenting, now is your chance to say hello!! I’d love to meet you! I will announce the winner next Saturday, and I’ll be receiving entries until midnight on Friday evening, 5/1/09. I can’t believe it’s almost May!! 

Now, I’m going to do a bit of balcony gardening. I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend!! Ciao for now.


Filed under Art and Soul, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Sweet Sufferin’ Soybean Succotash

Hi and I hope you’re having a great weekend! Mine got off to a very wet, damp and chilly start, but at least the bad weather didn’t keep me from visiting the farmer’s market. I asked one of the vendors whether we needed the rain, and I felt a bit better about my soggy shoes when he said “yes.” If it means great apples in the fall, I guess I can soak up some rain drops. 🙂 The market is really starting to come to life as winter loses its hold and spring takes over in full force. Just look at the flowers for sale today:

Bountiful BlossomsI was interested in finding some lettuce or other greens, and I stopped by the Endless Summer Harvest booth:

Gorgeous GreensThere were so many great choices, and I decided on a little bag of salad mix. I also restocked my Blue Ridge Farm Greek yogurt and smoked mozzarella, and got some chicken breasts from the EcoFriendly folks, a couple of sweet potatoes and a little bunch of arugula (that I had for dinner) from another farmer, some Chipotle Pepper Cheddar from a very nice man at Fields of Grace, and some pretty pink lady apples from the Toigo Orchards. It was worth getting out in the rain! I love apples with the leaves still on top. 🙂

My HaulBefore I headed out, I made a quick breakfast. I think that the holiday spirit put me in the mood for something special. I made a couple of pancakes, using my very favorite sweet potato pancake mix from Bruce’s, and had a quick scrambled egg beater and a few grapes on the side. I also made a latte and fixed it up in the very cool mug I got from Laura. It’s so pink and cheerful! I love it! It went to the market with me, and I was glad to have something warm to sip in the chilly morning rain.

BrekkieAfter I got back from the market, I decided it was time for today’s freezer clean-out project. My freezer is looking so much better after just a couple of weeks of really trying to use up the things inside. I’ve had a bag of frozen, shelled edamame that I bought months ago with succotash in mind. I also had some of Trader Joe’s awesome super sweet organic frozen corn, and a jar of roasted red and yellow peppers from Trader Joe’s in the pantry. Succotash was on!


Sweet Sufferin’ Soybean Succotash


1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove of garlic, chopped

6 Tbsp. of roasted red peppers (or the red, yellow and orange combo I had in my jar)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (I used 1/2 but I like the heat along with the sweet corn)

16 ounce bag of frozen, shelled edamame (soybeans)

2 cups of frozen corn, rinsed

3 Tbsp. water


Prepare the frozen edamame according to package directions. Mine involved boiling the edamame for five minutes and then draining it.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and then saute the onion and garlic for three minutes over medium/medium high heat. Add the salt, pepper and roasted peppers. Saute for two additional minutes.

Add the edamame, corn and water to the skillet and saute for 3-5 minutes or until the corn is heated through and the water has evaporated. Easy! 

This makes a good sized batch. I divided mine into 12 side servings, but I may double them up and have them as a main course for lunch this week. I think that there is enough protein in there to keep me full for awhile. If you are not a soy eater, you could always use the traditional lima beans. I just love the combo of corn and beans together, and the bright colors make me happy!! 🙂

Lunchy is ServedI had some succotash on the side with my last leftover burger from the other night and a little Country Bob’s sauce. YUM! Then, I made a teeny bit more room in the freezer by eating my last blueberry muffin along with a little glass of almond milk. I love those muffins! 

The Last Muffin My sweet tooth was still not satisfied so I had one of these:

Easter TreatstersOn Thursday, I mentioned that I was unable to find any Cadbury Creme Eggs on my Facebook page. Every place I tried in my neighborhood was sold out! I really look forward to having a couple of these each year, and I was bummed that I couldn’t find one. I was on a genuine Easter egg hunt, and my basket was empty. One of my co-workers noticed my Facebook comment, and told me that she would bring me one of hers on Friday. Yay!!! She brought it by on Friday morning, and I set it aside to enjoy after lunch. When I returned to my office after lunch I found, not one, but three little eggs on my desk!!! The Easter bunny had smiled on me. Well, actually, another co-worker had read my comment and very sweetly fixed me up. I have such awesome co-workers,… and awesome candy. Tanks, Eastah bunnies! 🙂

Later this afternoon, I had a pink lady with some Mighty Maple peanut butter on top. Mighty Maple is absolutely my favorite PB&Co peanut butter, and I love it best on crispy apples!

Mmmmm....Before I went to the gym, I decided that I needed a bowl of Greek yogurt with some berry jam and a bit of Zoe’s granola to fuel my workout. I also just think it’s tasty. 🙂

Bowl of GoodnessAfter I got back from the gym, I was hungry… again. I’ve been hungry a lot this week. I’m not sure if it is because of last Sunday’s super calorie burning trek, but I’ve wanted to eat everything under the sun. I decided to try out the Wallaby Dulce de Leche yogurt that I had in the fridge. This is another yogurt that I wanted to try forever, but didn’t buy because it would be a little higher in points than my usual. I love Dulche de Leche, and the slightly burnt caramelly flavor was amazing in this yogurt. Wow. SO good!!

Oh my!After that, I hopped in the shower, and when I got out, it was time for dinner. I love potatoes and greens together, and I decided to saute a chicken sausage with my little bunch of arugula and use it to top a quick baked potato. I tossed a little feta and some chipotle Tabasco on top and, ta dah– a quick dinner that involved the greens and potato combo. 

Din DinMy dinner was really satisfying so I decided to just have a little nibble of something sweet before I went to finish up my grocery shopping. I had a slice of bran bread from the freezer topped with some PB2 and jam.

Little NibbleThe PB2 is growing on me. I’ve decided that I can’t really taste it mixed into my oatmeal, and I think the flavor is pretty lackluster when it’s just mixed with water. If you mix it directly into the jam or jelly however, it’s quite good! I’m certainly going to experiment with it some more, but, for now, I’m enjoying it mixed with my jam. It’s kind of magical, actually. You keep mixing this dried powder and, all of a sudden, you have peanut butter. Fun!

After I got home from the grocery store, I ate a Chex Turtle Bar. I didn’t take a photo, but I did enjoy the bar. I’d heard that these were good, and it really was delicious. It was also much more dense and chewy than some other cereal bars I’ve tried. I’m not sad that I have five more in the box. So, in case you can’t tell, I’ve had a pretty laid back day. That was fine with me! I really like days when I don’t have a schedule to keep. Now, I have a DVD to watch and I’m going to read some more of my new Alice Waters cookbook and sip on some bee pollen tea. Yes, I still have a couple of lazy Saturday hours left, and I plan to make the most of them! 

I’m making something special to take to Easter dinner at a friend’s house tomorrow, and I’m really excited! I can’t wait to tell you about it. For now, I’ll leave you with a photo of my aunt’s cat, Cricket, making friends with a neighbor’s bunny. Apparently, they got along pretty well. They look so much alike, they could be cousins! Ciao for now, friends. See you tomorrow! 

Do you have special Sunday plans this weekend?



Filed under Beans, Bread, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Soy, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Monday Nutty Monday

I’m so amused by my freezer clean out project! Sometimes I think I come up with my favorite ideas when I’m working with what I have on hand. This evening’s quick project is an example of that. I’m a bit nutty, and that is definitely reflected in my freezer. Here are a few of the nuts that were partying in the chiller:

A Nutty CrowdI always keep a variety of nuts in the freezer. Since I love to bake, they are definitely go to items for me, and the varieties that got used up immediately went on the grocery list to be replaced. I do think it’s useful to clean out the old and get new, fresh ones every once in awhile. I had some raw almonds that I bought once when I made skillet roasted almonds– tapas style. I also had some slivered almonds that I bought when making one of my favorite holiday cookies. I’ve been eating walnuts, a few at a time, from the big bag for ages now. I always keep pine nuts in case I need to make pesto or want to toss them on some pasta. Finally, my parents have some amazing pecan trees in their yard in Arkansas, and they keep me well supplied with pecans. My poor dad picks them out of their shells during the winter. I guess it keeps him out of trouble? 🙂 I’ll have to double check with my mother on that one. It’s certainly much appreciated, and I don’t think that their flavor can be beat!

All these little bags were certainly adding to the clutter in my freezer door, so I decided to make some nut butter a la Heather to use up the rest of the almonds and walnuts. I invited a few of the other freezer nuts to the food processor party for a bit of variety, so there are some pine nuts and pecans in the mix too. I also had about 1/4 cup of dried mixed berries that have been around for awhile, and I thought they would make a good sweetener. The freezer clean out is having a positive influence on my pantry too!

I toasted up the nuts and tossed them in the food processor along with the dried berries. A few minutes later, I had “Spring Cleaning Berry Nut Butter.” 

Spring Cleaning Berry Nut ButterI plugged all of the quantities into a recipe calculator so that I can keep track of the number of calories based on the number of grams I eat. Of course, I had to try some on a graham cracker. 🙂

Nutty SnackThe verdict? YUM! I thought the pine nuts might be an odd addition, but I kind of like that little contrast of flavor. I was surprised that it really comes through despite the stronger flavors in the mix, like the walnuts. This butter is toasty and good, with a little berry sweetness. As a bonus, the freezer door looks a little bit less crazy. 

I also remembered today that I had forgotten to tell you about the bee pollen tea I bought at the farmer’s market on Saturday, and I wanted to give you the scoop.

Honey LoveHere’s the write-up from the back of the label:

“Historically, pollen is called “The World’s First Health Food” because of its healing powers. Pollen contains nearly every known nutrient required for a balanced human diet. In a random sampling of pollen, 25 minerals and 18 vitamins are found. It lacks only roughage and water for complete and balanced nutrition. Bee pollen provides an energy boost whenever you need it, in addition, regular use helps to desensitize allergic reactions to pollen.”

I don’t think I’m going to replace my diet with bee pollen and roughage anytime soon, but I think that I will be enjoying this tea from time to time. In addition to the claims above, I can add that a cup of this tea has a delicate and slightly nutty flavor that I really enjoyed. Mine came mixed with lemon balm, so there is a bit of lemony flavor, but the package also suggests brewing a bag of this tea along with whatever your favorite tea might be. I might try that, but I liked it on its own. It reminds me of the honey vanilla chamomile tea that I often enjoy from Celestial Seasonings. It is kind of funny that the bright yellow pollen in this bag makes me think of all of the pollen coated windshields I’ve seen around here lately. That’s a strange thought to have while sipping your tea. 🙂 

cuppaI’ve seen pollen for sale in a grain type form, for stirring into yogurt and that sort of thing. Have you ever tried bee pollen, and, if so, how did you eat it? I’m very curious about it, and, since I know that the Bee’s ‘n Blossoms people will be frequenting my farmer’s market, I may be tempted to buy some pollen and give it a spin. 

I’m going to finish my tea now and head off to bed. I hope it won’t give me too much of an “energy boost” or I may be in trouble! It’s been Monday all day long. I’m glad that it will be Tuesday when I wake up tomorrow. I hope your week got off to a good start! Ciao for now!! 🙂


Filed under cooking, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Nuts, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Italian Turkey Sausage Saturday and the Farmer’s Market

Sure Sign of SpringI walked past these pretty ladies on my way to the farmer’s market this morning. The plaza near my building has lots of big pots, and I’m glad that someone had the foresight to plant tulip bulbs in them. They were a welcome sight this morning for sure! The sun was shining and the weather was… cold. The wind was blowing like nobody’s business! I knew it was serious when I got to the farmer’s market and the vendors had decided to forego the usual canopies. As one lady told me, the innocent canopies were turning into guided missiles today. Yikes!

Before I headed off to check out the farmers’ wares, I made a quick breakfast. I didn’t have oats for the first time in days? Weeks? I was hungry for eggs, so I sauteed some swiss chard and made a little scramble. There is some smoked mozzarella in there too and a little Tabasco on top. I still needed my chocolate and strawberry fix, so I pulled another slice of my cottage cheese bread out of the freezer, and had a piece of toast with Dark Chocolate Dreams and berries. It was… dreamy! 

BrekkieThere was a pretty good crowd at the farmer’s market this morning, but the produce selection is still pretty slim. I’m expecting the market to make like the planter of tulips and burst into bloom anytime now. Even though there isn’t a lot of produce, there is still plenty to see. I bought some more Greek yogurt from the Blue Ridge Dairy folks. I think it is the best I’ve ever had so I got two! I also bought another pork tenderloin from the Ecofriendly Farms folks:

MmmmmeatI made some pork chops the other night, and I was so disappointed in the lack of flavor. The chops didn’t even come close to the awesome pork tenderloin I got from the Ecofriendly folks the other week. I’m all set now with one in the freezer. Yes, I put something IN the freezer. I’ll tell you about some things that I’ve taken OUT in a bit.

I also saw these for sale, but decided on a photo rather than a purchase:

Pussy Willows and ForsythiaSeeing the forsythia in bloom was always a sure sign that spring had come to my parents’ yard when I was growing up, and what’s not to love about pussy willows! The other fun thing I saw today was a booth of honey products. I don’t know if they are new to the market or if I’ve just not been paying attention, but Bees ‘n Blossoms had some very fun things for sale:

Bees 'n BlossomsI decided to try their bee pollen and lemon balm tea bags as well as their honey and pomegranate jelly:

Bee-yootifulI haven’t sampled my new purchases yet, but I’m planning on making a cup of the tea after I finish writing this post. I’ll let you know tomorrow what I think about it. I don’t see how that jelly could be anything besides fabulous! I’m imagining it in my Greek yogurt right now!

After I got home from the market, I enjoyed my first link of Italian turkey sausage for the day. I took the last three links out of the freezer to thaw, and I was planning to use them all in the soup I made this evening. I decided, instead, that I wanted a sausage pizza for lunch, and quickly browned a link up in the skillet, chopping it into bits as I stirred it around. It went on top of a piece of my Trader Joe’s naan, with the rest of the roasted vegetable tapenade from my little jar and some smoked mozzarella. 

Lunchy LunchNot too shabby if I do say so myself! I had a bowl of TJ’s roasted red pepper and tomato soup on the side, dipping bits of the lovely crust in my soup as I made my way through the bowl. So good! I followed it up with an old and sort of sad Edy’s Creamy Coconut popsicle that has been in the freezer since, well, last summer. I hate wasting things, and it was still enjoyable… once I knocked the ice off. 😦 I had a few other snacks this afternoon, including a Brent & Sam’s Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin cookie, a bit of granola and a graham cracker with PB. I needed a little PB before I headed off to the gym! I’m a snack photo slacker, but I’m sure you can envision them with little trouble!

I made a bit of progress today on “Project: Clean Out the Freezer.” Yesterday, I took out the Italian sausages as well as a package of frozen spinach and the remains of a sad little bag of frozen peas. I had thought that I would make a pasta sauce of some sort, but that didn’t turn out to be what I was in the mood for when cooking time rolled around. I won’t say that I’m planning to sacrifice flavor in the name of cleaning out the freezer, but I wasn’t expecting to like today’s pot of soup as much as I do. It isn’t pretty, but it was very soothing and homey and just plain good! There’s also quite a bit of good nutrition in this bowl, and I’m glad that the freezer was able to supply me so well! Since I liked it so much, I’ll give you the recipe:

Project: Clean Out the Freezer Spinach and Sausage Soup“Project: Clean Out the Freezer” Spinach and Sausage Soup

1 tsp. olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

3 portabello mushroom caps, chopped

2 links of lean Italian turkey sausage

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed

4 cups of Veggie or Chicken broth

4 cups of water

1 cup of frozen green peas, rinsed and thawed 


Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Scoot the onion/mushroom mix over to the side of the pot and brown the Italian sausage, chopping it up as you stir it around. Once it is mostly browned, mix the mushrooms and onions back into the middle of the pot with the sausage and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, just to allow the flavors to combine. Add the spinach, broth, water and peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

This made 4 BIG servings!

It was easy, made for a very satisfying bowl, and reminded me a bit of Italian wedding soup– which I love. I liked the sweet little pop of the peas too. I’ll be eating it for lunch this week, and I’m going to be looking forward to it! 

The freezer is starting to look a bit better. My goal is to use up the things that are in there unless they are so freezer burned or so old that I don’t feel safe about it. The popsicle was still enjoyable despite the need for ice removal.I did have to toss the remains of a bag of frozen shrimp today, and I felt really bad about it. I’d probably feel worse, however, if I ate them and got sick. Hopefully, they will be the only freezer fatality. I don’t mess around with shellfish! I had some more ice cream with a vitatop for dessert this evening, all in the name of cleaning out the freezer, of course! 😉

I was hoping to make my way down to see the cherry blossoms today, but the wind was just too ridiculous for me. I checked the weather forecast, and tomorrow is supposed to be better. Assuming the blossoms didn’t all blow off of the trees today, I should have some flowery pictures soon!  Now, I’m off to make a cup of bee pollen tea. I’m excited! I love trying new things!

Here’s a question: If you were given a couple of Italian turkey sausage links, a block of frozen spinach and some peas, what would you make with it? You can add other ingredients, of course!

I hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend! Ciao for now!


Filed under cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Saturday At the Farmer’s Market

Blue Ridge DairyToday was a gorgeous day. It was chilly, but the sunshine made me smile! I also had a very therapeutic time writing my previous post. I am on cloud nine right now, and I feel like things are looking up!

It was so nice out when I woke up this morning, that I decided to head down to the farmer’s market. I should tell you that I don’t have far to go to get to the Courthouse Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and I feel badly that I haven’t been a regular patron through the cold and gloomy months. I could almost just roll out of bed and land there, so I have no good excuse. Granted, the pickin’s are a bit slim when the growing season isn’t in full swing, but there are still plenty of local farmers braving the cold to sell a host of things including amazing free range eggs, handmade yogurts and cheeses, and ecofriendly meats like the ones I purchased today.

My HaulI’m reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” right now, and it is one of a long line of books I’ve read on topics like eating locally, the lack of a traditional food culture in America, and environmentally friendly food practices. Each book I read increases my awareness of the plight of the small farmer, and the reasons we should support and treasure them. Here’s one great reason: these beautiful brown eggs!

Thanks, Chicken!I come from a farming background. My father’s ancestors established a homestead in South Dakota where they raised a number of things including cattle. My mother’s parents, the grandparents I mention so often, were the children of sharecroppers in Arkansas and Tennessee, and they spent some time as cotton sharecroppers themselves before my grandfather stopped farming, got a job in the local hardware store and moved the family closer to town. Both of my parents grew up on farms. While farming was never their vocation, we always had a sizable garden and lots of pecan trees so perhaps they subconsciously needed a “dirt fix.” Oh, and our house is in the middle of a field. 🙂 Even now, I grow things, including tomatoes, in pots out on my apartment balcony. I’m convinced that dirt is in my blood. I appreciate the hard work that goes in to growing our food, and I appreciate the farmers who are willing to do it! Look at these awesome mushrooms!

Mushroom LadyI’ve decided to try to do a better job of shopping for certain things at the farmer’s market. The quality of the things I purchase is always amazing, the people are nice, and many of them are happy to stand around and chat on a Saturday morning about their plants, animals and lives on the farm. I get a sense of community, a story about the food going on my dinner plate and a chance to put money to good use. I have nothing to lose! 

PastaI’ve mentioned before that I don’t eat a lot of meat. It hasn’t been a conscious decision, but my taste has sort of evolved in a meatless direction. A big exception to that are the meats I purchase at the farmer’s market. I believe that you really can tell a difference in the taste of an animal who has been allowed to roam about as animals are meant to do munching on fresh things (not piles of corn) and living in a healthy environment. I couldn’t resist buying a small pork tenderloin this morning, which turned into my evening dinner. 

Rosemary Mustard Pork TenderloinI mixed up a marinade for this 1/2 pound pork tenderloin that contained 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. country style dijon mustard and 1/2 Tbsp. of fresh rosemary snipped from my potted rosemary plant. My dirt! 🙂 I slathered it on the pork and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then, I roasted it in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until the thermometer read 160. It turned a lovely mahogany color, and had an amazing taste and aroma. It couldn’t be easier, either. This was a dinner to feel good about. 

Dinner!I enjoyed an oven baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon and some Brussels sprouts on the side. I only ate about 1/3 of the pork because I love leftover pork tenderloin on sandwiches! It’s always a good choice if you are looking for a lean meat, and when it is as flavorful as this piece, it becomes one of the best choices I can think of for sandwich making– period! I know what I’ll be having tomorrow!!

I realize that not everyone has the luxury of a farmer’s market outside their door, but you may be surprised to find one closer than you think. If you are interested, this USDA website  has a feature that will allow you to search for the one nearest to you. I’m hoping to feature a number of farmer’s market purchases from now on, and I’d encourage you to check into the wares at a farmer’s market in your area if you haven’t already.

If you are a farmer’s market shopper, what’s the coolest purchase you’ve ever made? I bought some very interesting heirloom tomatoes last summer, including one that was bright purple!

My current quest is to buy some of the first asparagus of the year. If I understand correctly, it could appear at any time. I’m going to be checking next Saturday with a sense of excitement and with my fingers crossed! I might be a little dorky, but… I really love the asparagus hunt!


Filed under diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers