Tag Archives: Cooking Light

Making My ‘Scape

I finally made my ‘scape…. my garlic scape concoction! Hi!! I hope you had a great fourth of July!! My weekend has been quite busy, but I’ve had lots of fun. Here’s a recap!

Friday:

Having a Friday off is such a lovely thing. I got up, had a leisurely work out, and then I finally got around to mixing up a batch of garlic scape bean dip. You might recall that I bought some garlic scapes at the farmer’s market a long time ago, and I promised to share my favorite recipe. The original recipe was published in the New York Times last year, and the recipe can be found here. I’ve lightened it up a bit by using only 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, and I don’t think it’s missing a thing! The Times also had a very interesting article, that I really enjoyed. You can check it out here if you’d like to read more about scapes.ScapesScapes are the stems that grow out of the top of a garlic bulb, and they are the part of the garlic that would flower if left intact. They have a very strong garlic flavor, and can be used much as you would use garlic. The tips of my scapes had gotten a bit dried out from all of the time spent languishing in the crisper, but otherwise, they were good to go. 

I removed the dried out parts, and then chopped up 1/3 a cup of scapes. Those went into the food processor with 1/2 tsp. of sea salt and 1/4 tsp. of black pepper. The scapes have a pretty serious heat on their own, so it doesn’t take a lot of black pepper to spice it up. I also added the juice of a lemon. I whirred it around in the food processor until the scapes were pretty finely chopped.

BlitzThen, I added a can of great northern beans that I had drained and rinsed. I didn’t have cannellinis in the pantry, and I knew that these white beans would work just fine. Hooray for the pantry!!

BeansI continued to puree the mixture. When it was pretty well blitzed, I drizzled in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil with the processor still running and continued to puree until it was smooth.

Mmmm....I love this stuff and eat it as I would eat hummus! The scent of garlic really hits you when you take off the lid. Scapes are amazing!! If you can’t find scapes, you could make a similar mixture with a few cloves of garlic in place of the scapes. 

I put some scape dip into a La Tortilla Factory wrap (I was so excited to finally try these!!), along with some sliced cucumbers and Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar, and voila! I had  a tasty wrap to take to a little pre-National’s game tailgate. 

It's A Wrap!

I was wearing a new dress, and you can see part of it in the photo. It loved it because it had a lot of crazy colors, but… it might look like a tablecloth. 🙂 

I also made a batch of butterscotch blondies (sitting in the chair in the above photo), using a recipe from an old Cooking Light cookbook, “Low-Fat Ways to Cook Family Favorites,” and took some to share with my friends. Sadly, the recipe isn’t on-line and it isn’t my own, so the best I can do is tell you about the cookbook. It’s a good one, by the way!

Butterscotch BrowniesThe Nat’s lost to the Braves, but the game was still fun. The racing President’s are always a highlight.

Poor Teddy!Poor Teddy Roosevelt never gets a break. At least he keeps trying! Way to be a role model, Teddy!

Saturday:

Saturday morning, I went for a walk with my friend, Mrs. W, and then she and I went to the farmer’s market. I loaded up on berries this week, as well as cherries, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some chive cheese. Yum.

After our walk and our visit to the market, we lunched on leftover gratin, garlic scape and white bean dip, farmer’s market cucumbers and tomatoes, and some Berry Cherry “Ice Cream.” It was a tasty lunch. I love having leftovers that I feel good about serving to a good friend. She happens to be a vegetarian too, so it was awesome that I had my vegetarian gratin to share. Yum!

Last night, I had another friend, MG, over for dinner. I “griddlered” a farmer’s market pork tenderloin, basted in a bit of barbecue sauce, along with some zucchini and yellow squash. I made some oven fries– both sweet and regular potatoes, and boiled up a couple of ears of corn.

Happy Fourth!It was a healthy dinner, but I think it had a fourth of July feel to it. Oh, Griddler. I love you! Did you eat something festive on the fourth?? I forgot to get watermelon, and I was bummed about it!

For dessert we had more blondies and more Cherry Berry “Ice Cream.” Then, we headed up to the roof of my building to watch the fireworks on the National Mall. There is a clear view of the mall and the monuments from our rooftop, and it’s fun to see all of the smaller displays along the banks of the Potomac as well. I wanted to show you my view, but I never figured out how to take a good photo. This should give you some idea:

Boom!!Directly below the fireballs, you can kind of make out the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building if you try. We have a great view, just not an awesome photographer. Ahem. 

While MG was over, I also made an overly gooey batch of brownies to repay him for watering my plants while I was in Alaska. I do have my kitchen flops, from time to time, and I shouldn’t have tried to do a minor tweak to a previously untested recipe! Silly junior mints. The brownies tasted good, but a spoon might not be a bad choice of utensil. 😦 Sorry, MG. I say– microwave them and top with with ice cream. Yes. I’d eat that for sure!

Sunday:

I woke up with a serious hankering for French toast. I haven’t had it in ages! I mixed 1/4 cup of eggbeaters, 1 1/2 T. of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, 1/4 tsp. of sugar and 1/8 tsp. of vanilla extract together. I soaked two slices of multi-grain bread in the eggbeater mixture, and then I cooked the slices in a nonstick skillet coated with butter flavored cooking spray. I had some lovely raspberries that I bought at the farmer’s market yesterday as my side dish, and there was a little bit of maple syrup on the top. I love that I could taste the vanilla in the egg mixture. I didn’t completely drench it in syrup, the way I would have back in the old days, and I like that it stayed a bit crisp as a result. It really hit the spot!

French ToastAfter my special breakfast, I decided to take Coby out for a ride on the Custis Trail. Get ready for a quick switch from French toast to feet. I thought I’d warn you. There was no good segue that I could think of for this one! 

Along the way, I did something rather ungraceful while turning abruptly onto a little wooden bridge on the trail. Yes. My toenail is purple. Coby is fine, and the rest of me escaped unscathed, but I’m just not sure what this purple toe is going to do. I guess we will wait and see. I strongly suspect the toenail will not be with me much longer. Ewww, right? I hope I didn’t gross you out too much. At least I didn’t post a photo. I thought about it. 🙂

Ok, back to food…

I wanted to use the rest of my garlic scapes as well as two eggplants I bought at the farmer’s market so I decided to make a quick stew for dinner. I had to improvise a bit to avoid taking my purple toe to the store, so I used things from the pantry. Here’s what I came up with:

Din Din“Not Going to the Store” Garlic Scape, Eggplant and Red Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

cooking spray

1/2 medium sized onion, chopped

1/4 cup of garlic scapes, chopped

2 medium sized eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained)

1/3 cup dried red lentils

1 1/2 cups of water

Salt to Taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a deep sided skillet. Add the cinnamon, chili powder and cumin, and heat the spices, while stirring, for thirty seconds. They should become fragrant. Add the onions, garlic scapes and a few sprays of cooking spray. Cook over medium high heat for seven minutes, or until the onions start to soften.

Add the eggplant to the pan, along with 3/4 tsp. of salt, stirring well to incorporate the onions, and let the mixture cook down for eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the can of tomatoes, the lentils and the water. Stir well. 

Increase the heat as needed to bring mixture to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, testing to be sure the lentils are tender. If the lentils need longer, make sure that there is still some liquid in the pan, adding a splash more water if necessary, and let it simmer a bit more. Mine were done in 20 minutes.

Give it a nibble and add extra salt, if needed, to suit your tastebuds.

Red lentils are key in this dish when it comes to using dried lentils. They cook the fastest of all of the lentils, and they will get tender in the time it takes for your veggies to nicely stew. If you wanted to substitute any other lentils, I would recommend cooking them first. If you decide to do that, I would reduce the water in the stew to 3/4 a cup.

Makes approximately 6 one cup servings

FinThis stew made a yummy dinner atop a bowl of rice, and my apartment smells amazing!! I’ve used the rest of the scapes, and my eggplants have been saved from a few more days in the crisper drawer. Hooray!

I worked out with my trainer this evening, despite the purple toe, and I think I may need to put some ice on it now. The pain wasn’t bad during class, but now it is not feeling so happy. I’m off to find an ice pack.

Thanks for making it to the end of this very long post. I had a lot to tell you about!

I hope you have a great week!! Ciao for now, y’all. 🙂

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Filed under Cooking Light, D.C., Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Zucchini-Feta Gratin from Cooking Light

Zucchini-Feta Gratin

It seems like I haven’t made a new recipe in ages. I may be exaggerating a bit, but I’ve just sort of been making a little of this and that. I haven’t made a “big batch” recipe in weeks! With the warmer weather, I’m just happy putting fresh things together and calling it a meal. I ended my little kitchen hiatus today by making a Zucchini-Feta Gratin using this recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. 

This was an easy recipe, and it resulted in a dish that could be a great choice for entertaining too. I love dishes that look more complicated than they really are. Mwa ha ha ha. Tricky. 

I followed the recipe with only a couple of tweaks.

  • I grilled my squash on the griddler instead of steaming it. Extra flavor? Yes, please!
  • I used a mix of yellow squash and zucchini for a more colorful dish. Plus… that’s what I had in the crisper.
  • I used fresh mint from the pot on the balcony instead of using dried mint as directed in the recipe. Why use dried when I have fresh out on the balcony?!

Let me show you how easy it was:

First, I layered the rice and feta mixture in my pie plate, after spraying the plate well with cooking spray:

Rice CrustI made extra rice this morning when I was cooking the rice for this recipe, and I had one of my favorite little breakfasts– rice, sugar, almond breeze and berries. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving rice, milk and sugar. YUM! It was a favorite when I was a kid, and it has stood the test of time for me.

Brekkie BreakOk. Back to the recipe. Sorry about that! I love my milky sweet rice! After I had the rice crust in the pie dish, I grilled my squash on the Griddler. Y’all know I love my Griddler. Here he is:

Griddle me This...While the veggies were getting tanned, I chopped up some balcony pot mint:

Minty Fresh GoodnessThe mint went into a bowl along with some freshly ground nutmeg. Nutmeg and eggs are a match made in heaven! I bought some lovely brown eggs at the farmer’s market yesterday (along with the squash and the feta!!) This was a farmer’s market dish for sure!

Eggs

I love pretty brown eggs! 

Once the veggies were grilled, I mixed them with the other half of the feta, the salt and the pepper, and then filled my little rice crust. I sort of used my fingers to spread the veggies around in a nice even layer before I poured the egg mixture on top. After I added the egg mixture, I gave the dish a little tilt–this way and that– to make sure the egg mixture made its way all around the dish.

Ready To BakeIt went into the oven, and forty -five minutes later, I enjoyed a nice wedge of gratin with some TJ’s turkey meatballs (my answer to quickie “meatloaf” for one), and some sliced fresh tomato.

Lunchy LunchWhen I was a kid, I remember how my parents and grandparents would cover a whole plate with fresh tomatoes from the garden after a big dinner. They would add a little salt and then tear into them. It was kind of like the salad course. Me? Did I appreciate the gorgeous, red, homegrown Arkansas tomatoes? Nope. I hated them. What was I thinking??? Crazy.

I got the tomatoes on my lunch plate at the farmer’s market yesterday from some Hanover, VA farmers. They were SO good and very flavorful! I just added a little salt. I wonder where I got that idea? Ha! I think my tomato experience is a good example of why you should try foods that you might have hated as a kid! 

The gratin had a nice flavor, and I love that the edges of the rice crust got a little crispy and browned. I loved the flavor of the fresh mint contrasted with the salty feta. YUM!! I’m sure this would be great made with brown rice, but I’m trying to use up some things from the pantry. This seemed like  great time to use some white rice that has been around for awhile. I’m sure this would be good with steamed veggies, as directed in the recipe, but I’d encourage grilling them if possible. It was delicious, and I can’t wait to have it on my dinner plate over the next few days.

Now that I’ve had a nice lunch, I think I’ll take my bicycle out for another spin. I don’t believe I’ve introduced you. Meet Coby:

CobyYou can’t tell in this photo, but he is sort of a Cobalt blue color– hence the name: Coby. Coby and I went out yesterday for a ride, and it was not smooth sailing. I can’t believe it, but it was our first trip out this summer. Time is getting away from me! Before we left, I aired up the tires using a new pump I bought awhile back. Before I was even a mile from home… the front tire blew out. Ugh! We’d barely gotten started.

Feeling the need to take care of the problem ASAP, I walked Coby to a nearby bike shop. While there, they repaired the tire, and they also adjusted the derailleur because I mentioned that the chain always pops off when I try to shift down into first. I live in an area with some pretty big hills, and downshifting definitely makes them easier to tackle. Forty minutes later, thinking all was well, I hopped back on and resumed my trek. I couldn’t wait to shift down into first. I just knew it was going to make the hills much more tolerable. Feeling confident on the first big hill I came to, I clicked my little gear shifter and… the chain popped off again. Aargh!

I put the chain back on, wiped my greasy paws on some bright green grass, and then enjoyed a pretty nice ride. I did not try to change gears again, but I’m sure that just made me burn more calories on the dastardly hills. 

I bought Coby last summer after being passed by bikers while walking/running on the local trails. It looked like fun! How about you? Do you have a bicycle? Do you ride to work?… for fun?… as a serious athletic endeavor? Does your bicycle have a name? 🙂 I like to go on long rides on the weekends for a bit of a break in my cardio routine. I also love riding down to Old Town Alexandria and having a little picnic by the water. Riding to places that always seemed far away certainly made my world feel smaller. I kind of like that feeling sometimes!

Oh, I almost forgot! I had another Coconut Cream Pie Holey Donut yesterday before my ride. I promised to try to take a photo since the last couple of tries have failed. Here it is:

Coconut Cream PieThis one is my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE of all of the flavors I’ve tried. I’m enamoured.

Speaking of my being enamoured… don’t forget that you still have a few days to save on hottie Jay Robb’s products using a promotion code especially for Just Sweet Enough readers. Check out the bottom of this post for more info.

Now, I’m going to pack a snack and take Coby out for another spin. Wish me luck!

I hope you are having a stellar weekend! I also hope you’ll try the yummy Cooking Light gratin recipe if you are looking for something new to do with summer squash. If you have a garden (or a neighbor with a garden), a bumper crop (or a big bag of squash left on your doorstep in the dead of night) is always a possibility. I know you will want to have this recipe up your sleeve! Ciao for now, y’all! 🙂

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Filed under cooking, Cooking Light, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Derby Day Brownies and Last Chance for the Giveaway!

Hi, and happy Friday!! I’ve had a certain little recipe in mind all afternoon, and I couldn’t wait to come home and play in my kitchen. I’ll tell you about it in a bit. Here’s a little sneak preview…

Mmm....

It was so terrible when I had to lick the bowl! My life is so hard. 🙂

I started the day off with a little bit of chocolate too, but nothing like what’s in my mixer bowl. I made a smoothie with a packet of chocolate weight watchers smoothie mix, a cup of almond milk, 1/4 cup of canned mandarin oranges, and a bit of ice. I’m so happy with the magic bullet. Making a quick smoothie really couldn’t be easier! Just like yesterday, I also had a toasted banana wheat bran scone topped with PB2 and pomegranate jelly and a cup of un-pictured coconut coffee. 

BrekkieI got busy this morning, and, when I finally got back to my desk, it was time for serious lunch. Let me tell you what you are looking at here. This, my friends, is what I like to call “Potato Island Chili.” Giving it a clever name made it more entertaining. I might be a bit like a toddler sometimes. The big thing hiding under all of the melted cheese is the other half of the potato I microbaked a couple of nights ago. It’s floating in the rest of the Trader Joe’s turkey chili from the can I opened up last night. A little island of potato goodness in a sea of spice really did the trick and soothed the hunger beast in a hurry. 

Potato Island ChiliAfter that, I had my very favorite lowfat yogurt, Wallaby Dulce De Leche (seriously love it!!) with some fiber one and a little Cadbury Crunchie. This little collection made me so happy! 

Dessert!Eventually, I made it around to my pink lady and PB snack. I didn’t have time for it this morning. 😦 It was good, as it always is. 

The UsualSometime after that, I decided to play with my food, and I created a quick little highlighter snack garden. The centers are little vanilla wafer/pb/prune nibblies. If you aren’t someone who plays with your food, you should give it a try!! I had fun plucking the centers out of the flowers and chomping away.

SnackgardenI mentioned yesterday that there were no more instant oatmeal packets in my desk drawer stash. How would I feed my new afternoon oatmeal habit? There was nearly a crisis (ok, not really, just indulge my oatmeal related dramatic flair…), but I found a packet of instant cream of wheat in the pantry this morning and tossed it in my lunch bag. I fixed up a little container with brown sugar, vanilla almonds and a few dried cherries and tossed that in the bag too since the cream of wheat was the plain variety. I should have dried cherries more often. They really made this bowl pop!

Afternoon Cereal SnackWhen I got home, I wanted to eat my last turkey burger, but I didn’t want it in burger form so I put it on top of a big pile of spinach with some goat cheese, mandarin oranges and a few pumpkin seeds. I then drizzled it with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The cilantro in the burgers went well with the little bit of citrus, and the goat cheese made it all a little bit creamy. With the warmer weather, you should expect to see lots of salads like this one. It’s my summertime go to meal for sure!

Serious SaladAfter that, I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I think I often have my eats all planned out, but I’m trying to figure out what I’m really in the mood for before I start nibbling. I figure that is a good way to make more satisfying choices. It turned out that I was really in the mood for some Peanut Butter Puffins and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. I love letting the chips melt in my mouth. 🙂

Chockie PB FixLater, I realized that I hadn’t had my evening ice cream. I’m out of LaLoo’s vanilla snowflake, so I had a So Delicious neapolitan mini-sandwich. These are so good!! The strawberry end of the sandwich is my favorite, so I always start with the chocolate and save the pink stuff for last.

Mini-LoveThe other thing I had this evening was a Derby Day Brownie, still warm from the oven!!

Derby Day BrownieThe Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, and I’ll be going to hang out with some friends (and my favorite puppy dog) for mint juleps, horses and… brownies! Inspired by the julep, I wanted to make a brownie that included both mint and bourbon. I made a few tweaks to this recipe for Junior Mint Brownies from Cooking Light. Since I just tweaked it a little (including the title), I thought I’d just provide the link. 

In case you didn’t notice, there was a box of Junior Mints in the freezer jungle. I like mine frozen!! I used most of the box, so that’s one more thing out of the jungle. Woo hoo! These are some of the best brownies I’ve ever made, and I’ve made plenty of brownies! Seriously, this won’t be the last time I make these! Here are my little changes:

1. As usual, I substituted 1/4 cup of sturdier flour (tonight I used whole wheat flour) for 1/4 cup of all purpose flour. That means I used 1/4 cup of ww flour and 3/4 cups of all purpose flour.

2. I subbed 1/4 cup egg beaters for the eggs.

3. I added 2 teaspoons of bourbon to the egg/cocoa/sugar mixture. If I hadn’t seen myself put the bourbon in, I wouldn’t really know it was there. Honestly, there might be a subtle bourbon flavor, but I wouldn’t bother to add it if I made these again. 

Just look at this:

How Could This Be Bad?Holy moly! The batter was so thick, it reminded me of fudge. 

Before the BakeYou should be able to tell how thick the batter was based on the fact that the brownies retained the little lumps and bumps on the surface after baking.

After the BakeThese are fudgy, minty and they exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. Cooking Light rarely steers me wrong!! Plus, my calorie calculator says that 1/16 of the pan (with my tweaks) is 117 calories. Not bad. Not bad at all!! I can’t wait to take these over to share with my friends tomorrow, and to share a few more with myself. 🙂

Now that I’m sufficiently “chocolated” for the evening, I need to do a few things around the apartment and then get to bed. I’ll be getting up in the morning to go to the farmer’s market, and I’m hoping to go for a run outside too if the weather is good. I’m trying to get out of the gym as much as possible and into the fresh air!

Do you watch the Derby? Do you wear a funny hat or drink a mint julep while you are cheering for your favorite horse? I have a big blue hat that just might need to make an appearance. We’ll see.

Remember, you only have two more hours to enter my giveaway! I’m planning to choose a winner (and hopefully post the results… ) tomorrow.Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a good one! Ciao for now bloggies, and try these brownies. Seriously!

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Filed under Baking, Bananas, Chocolate, cooking, Cooking Light, diet, Food, Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Chocolate Banana Snack Cake and A Lovely Day of Eats

Hi! Sorry to be posting so late, but I just got home. If you are reading this on Friday morning: TGIF! If you are up late on Thursday, happy almost TGIF! I had a couple of birthday gatherings to attend this evening, so I’m up a little past my bedtime. Even so, I wanted to give you the scoop on my grub for the day as well as a new and tasty recipe that I made. First things first, here’s a re-run for you:

"Tropical Pineapple Right Side Up Breakfast Cookie"I have enough pineapple for one more “Tropical Pineapple Right Side Up Breakfast Cookie.” I’ll be having it a few hours from now, and I’m looking forward to it already. I’m a little bit hungry, but hopefully I will make it until then! I had this morning’s cookie along with a cup of blueberry tea mixed with skim milk and unsweetened vanilla almond breeze. I’m loving this breakfast SO much! 

Today was a work from home day, and I usually go to noontime kickboxing when I’m working at home. Since I’ve been a bit more sore than usual this week, I decided to just do a more laid back cardio workout in the gym this evening. I still scorched about 600 calories, but I think my muscles were probably glad not to be subjected to a kickboxing workout today. I usually have a pre-kickboxing snack, and I decided to uphold the tradition– despite the lack of actual kickboxing. 🙂 I snacked on a Sunshiny Blueberry Muffin from the freezer. Remember those? I did, once I found a couple in the freezer. It was still perfect once I gave it a very quick zap in the micro. I guess I can add “freezes well” to their list of attributes. 

Sunshiny Blueberry MuffinI love these little muffins, and can’t wait until I have some bona fide Virginia berries from the farmer’s market to use in them. YUM! Eventually, lunchtime rolled around. My lunch looks very similar to last night’s dinner with two exceptions: skewer #1 and skewer #2.

I wanted to reheat my fries, and I was hoping to make them crispy. What’s a girl with no toaster oven to do? Well, make French fry kabobs in the pop up toaster! What else?!  Seriously!

Toaster Fries

 

Lunchy LunchI’m glad I thought of this, although I was a bit skeptical of the idea at first. I envisioned having potato bits trapped in my toaster forever or pulling flaming skewers from the toaster with my tongs in a blaze of glory, but it worked just fine. My fries crisped up, and I didn’t set anything on fire. Perfect! Plus, I got to eat my fries on a stick. 🙂 There should be more foods on sticks! The leftover burger from last night was great along with some leftover steamed veggies and Country Bob’s sauce. I do love my leftovers! 

Milk and CookiesFor dessert number one, I had a Brent & Sam’s Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie with some almond breeze on the side. I like to buy these cookies from time to time because they come individually wrapped. That’s perfect for me since it could take me months to eat a package of cookies! After that, I was still craving a little something.

PB WafersI had two vanilla wafers with a smear of Mighty Maple PB. I just had three more, although you won’t see any photos of my late night snack. Sorry. 😦 Dessert number two was followed up sometime later by my afternoon snacks. I had a bowl of Greek yogurt from the Blue Ridge Dairy folks topped with some Bees ‘n Blossoms pomegranate honey jelly and some Zoe’s cinnamon raisin granola. I love how the jelly looks like a jewel sitting on top. This bowl was yummy and satisfying. I should mention that the bowl itself is one of my favorites. It’s jadeite, and it spent years holding bacon grease in my grandmother’s kitchen. It’s contents have changed somewhat, but the beautiful color is just the same. 

Awesome in a bowlI also had a Pink Lady apple with some cashew butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon before I went to the gym. The apple was so crisp, and that’s just the way I like them. I hate mealy apples! Red delicious apples are NOT delicious, in my opinion.

One Nutty LadyBefore I hopped into the shower after my time in the gym, I mixed up a quick snack cake recipe that I found on the Cooking Light website. I was, once again, trying to use up some of the frozen bananas in my freezer jungle, and this cake looked too easy and good to pass up. I’ll give you the link if you want to check it out: LINK. I, of course, tweaked my version based on what I had on hand, and my desire to knock the calories back a tiny bit. Here were my changes to the recipe I linked to above:

Chocolate Banana Snack Cake

  • I used 3/4 cup of sugar instead of 1 cup. I thought it was sweet enough, and the chocolate really rocked!
  • I used 3/4 cup of all purpose flour and 1/4 cup of teff flour.
  • I only had a little cup of Mott’s unsweetened pomegranate plus applesauce, and that worked just fine for the applesauce requirement.
  • I used instant espresso powder since that’s the only “instant coffee” in my cupboard.
  • I did not bake it on parchment paper, but rather in a 9×9 glass baking dish coated in cooking spray.
  • I cut mine into 12 instead of 16 because… I like bigger pieces. 🙂

I’m sure that it would be fabulous if you just followed the recipe, but I thought I’d mention my little changes just in case you were curious. I can also think of about a zillion add ins that would be amazing! Peanut butter chips are at the top of that list! I do love Cooking Light, and I like that they provide the nutritional information for all of their recipes. When you start tweaking, you have to do some recalculating on your own, but it does provide you with a nice general idea, which I find to be very helpful.

Mmm.... Cake...This cake is similar to a cakey brownie. I like that the edges crisped up. I put mine in a bowl so that I could add…

The Perfect Pair… a bit of ice cream on the side, of course! Instead of having my fake cake this evening, I had the real deal. It was goooood! I have to recommend this recipe! I wrapped some pieces up and put them into the freezer. If I made them to clean out the freezer, but then put them back in, is this progress? Methinks the answer is yes. I’d rather find a bag of this chocolate banana cake in the freezer than a bag of gooey bananas any day. 

Oh gosh! I just remembered that I totally forgot to tell you about dinner. I was too excited about dessert! No surprise there, right? My dinner was quick since I had parties to attend. I heated up a container of Boca chili (one more thing out of the freezer), with a corn vita top (another thing out of the frozen jungle) and a piece of light string cheese. Quick and easy– which was perfect since I was in a bit of a hurry. I really did eat this before I had my cake and ice cream. Really. I did. 🙂

Quick Din DinNow, I need to mix up my breakfast cookie, finish putting clean sheets on my bed, and then put myself to bed! Is it just me, or are clean sheets THE BEST?!

If you had to choose between “milk and cookies” or “cake and ice cream,” which would you pick? I’d have a hard time, but I think I’d probably have to go with cake and ice cream. Especially if the cake had frosting on it. Mmm… frosting!

Before I go:

Karen at To Be The Whole Package is hosting an Honest Foods giveaway that I would love to win, but you should enter it too. 🙂

Kelly at Happy Texans is having an awesome bagel giveaway, but you only have until tomorrow to enter so hurry!

There is a Barney Butter giveaway going on at Meloncauliflower’s site. Check out her recent Barney Butter fiasco. This post cracked me up. If you travel and are a foodie, you can likely relate!

Ciao for now, bloggies!

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Cookies, cooking, Cooking Light, diet, Fitness, Food, Pineapple, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Cookies and Blooms

Cherry BlossomsIt could not have been a more gorgeous day to see the cherry blossoms. It was sunny, yesterday’s crazy wind had blown out of town, and the temperature was just right! I decided to make the 10+ mile roundtrip jaunt by foot (walking and running) to see the cherry blossoms rather than fighting the crowds on the metro, and I got a good workout during my day of playing tourist in my own back yard. It was quite a day. 

I fueled my excursion with this chocolate breakfast cookie:

Chocolate Breakfast CookieI was hoping it would taste like a “no bake” cookie. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, we used to make cookies with chocolate, peanut butter, oats, tons of butter and tons of sugar that didn’t require baking. Have you had them? Did you call them something else? Anyway, this was good, but not as much like my old “no bake” cookie as I’d hoped. I used some chopped roasted peanuts, reduced fat Jif, Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder, unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, and a spoonful of cocoa powder. I’m having fun experimenting with the b’fast cookies, but I have to say that yesterday’s is my favorite so far. 

For lunch, I had some more of the soup I made yesterday along with one of my favorite little sandwiches:

LunchyI had some Alexia breads in the freezer, and decided it was time to get them out and bake them up. I had one piece of ciabatta left, which is what you see above. I topped it with some Trader Joe’s Bruschetta topping, smoked mozzarella and avocado. I hit upon this combination last summer, and it has become one of my favorites! This little sandwich packs a ton of yum! The soup was even better the second day. I love when that happens!

Before I struck out on my trek, I decided to use some more things from the freezer and make a batch of cookies. I was looking for a recipe involving banana, because goodness knows I have plenty of frozen bananas. I also used some of my coconut stockpile and some of the walnuts I keep in the freezer. I’m making progress! I got invited to a cookout later in the afternoon, and was happy to have a batch of cookies just waiting for an outing. I found a recipe on Cooking Light and changed it just a bit. The recipe made me laugh when I saw it. One of the ingredients is light mayonnaise. I think that any good southern cook who has taken foods to a church potluck probably has a chocolate cake recipe in the arsenal that involves mayo. I’d never seen it in a cookie recipe, and, of course, I had to try it! The original recipe is here. This is my version:

Coconut Banana and Apricot Cookies

Coconut Banana and Apricot Cookies

Ingredients:

2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 medium sized banana, mashed (I used an 80 gram banana from the freezer)

1/2 cup reduced fat mayo (I used Hellman’s light mayo)

1 tsp. rum (I couldn’t tell it was in there so I’d just skip it and use coconut or vanilla extract the next time)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

8 Tbsp. (90 grams) of flaked sweetened coconut

1/2 cup chopped dried apricot

1 ounce of chopped walnuts

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

a dash of ginger

a grate or seven of nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and the remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

This made about two dozen cookies.

I have eaten SEVERAL of these today. I really like them a lot. My friends helped to make a dent in them, but I like them so much that the leftovers are either going to work tomorrow or into the freezer ASAP! In case you are wondering, I did use the sparkpeople recipe calculator to figure out the calories, and I’m counting them. I just figure that woman can’t live on cookies alone, and I’d be tempted to try it with these! 🙂 

Ok, so back to the cherry blossoms. Here are a few more photos from my afternoon:

The JeffersonSee all the people on the steps of the Jefferson? It was really crowded, but I’m happy that so many people got to enjoy the day.

Close upThese were ready for their close-up! Here’s one more of the Washington Monument:

The Washington MonumentI was in the shade for the photos of the Jefferson and the Washington, and you can definitely tell a difference in the colors. It was a beautiful and busy day, and it ended nicely with dinner at my friends’ house. I had grilled chicken breast with Stubb’s BBQ sauce, corn on the cob (also grilled), potatoes and salad. Yum and yum. It was so good! My friends are always great at hosting, and I always love seeing them and their awesome dog. 

After all of my walking and running, it is definitely time for me to hit the hay. I do long jaunts like that when the weather is nice, but I can tell that I haven’t done it in awhile. I was tired by the time I got home. I’m going to go and mix up a breakfast cookie, and then I’m calling it a night. 

Here’s wishing you all an excellent week!! Ciao for now!

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Filed under Baking, Cookies, cooking, Cooking Light, D.C., diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Another Day in the Life…

BreakfastSince today was a “work from home” day, I decided to do another post to show you what a typical day’s menu looks like for me. This morning, I started off by making a little pot of espresso. I added the rich espresso to 1/2 cup of skim milk and 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze with a bit of sugar free chocolate Torani syrup. You may wonder why I mix almond milk and skim milk. Well, I love the almond milk, but it doesn’t count as a dairy serving for purposes of weight watchers. I hate to miss a perfect opportunity– a morning latte, to get in some “official” dairy so the mixture is my compromise. 

Big BowlAlong with my latte, I had a serving of Hodgson Mill Bulgur Wheat with Soy leftover from the batch I made to go with my curried cauliflower. I really love this stuff. It is nutty and yummy plus, a serving has 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. You get a lot of bang for 2 weight watcher points! I topped it with a little of the almond milk from my latte mug, some chopped up cinnamon almonds from TJ’s and a bit of honey. It was sooooo good! 

Siggi's Orange & GingerSince I was planning to kickbox at noon, that meant that my lunch would be late and also that I would be in for a challenging workout. Today’s class was definitely tough! I felt pretty energetic start to finish and noticed that my form is starting to improve, which made me happy. My kickboxing class is always the toughest, but most fun workout I have all week. I’m so glad I got brave enough to try it!

I decided I needed to have a filling snack around 11:00 to give me a little energy boost before class. At Whole Foods the other day, my curiosity was piqued by this Siggi’s Icelandic style skyr strained non-fat yogurt in Orange & Ginger. I bought it thinking that it would be a little treat, and it was exactly that. It has a texture very much like that of my beloved Fage Greek yogurt, and the flavorings were lovely. It is sweetened with agave nectar and was just sweet enough with my Fiber One cereal twigs. As a plus, this little container packs 16 grams of protein!! Most importantly– it was just tasty. I loved the little bits of ginger and the fresh taste of the orange. There was a pomegranate variety on the shelf beside this one, and I’m definitely going to have to try it next!
Lunch!For lunch, I had some of my leftover mushroom casserole along with a very tasty salad. The casserole doesn’t look nearly as yummy as it tastes. I’ve really been enjoying it in my lunches this week!

SaladMy salad was a mix of romaine, grape tomatoes, celery, carrots, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds topped with freshly ground pepper and my mustard and cherry vinegar mixture. Yum! I thought it was too pretty not to have its own close up.

Blueberry ShortcakeAre you a fellow vitamuffin eater? If yes, have you tried the golden corn vitatop? I order big boxes of vitamuffins and keep my freezer well stocked. I usually stick with the chocolate varieties of the vitatops (the peanut butter fudge ones are my fave), but I decided to try the golden corn vitatops when I placed my last order. I figured that this is soup and chili season, and, well, what goes better with soup and chili than cornbread?! As it turns out, these remind me more of the old school shortbread cake that my mom used to make when we would have strawberry shortcake than the cornbread I ate as a kid, which was not usually very sweet. Sure enough, when topped with berries and some fat free cool whip, it makes a great shortcake. I’m a big fan! When berries are back in season, I will have to order more of these along with my usual chocolate selections.

Sugar Snap SnackOne of my snacks this afternoon was the rest of my sugar snap peas from last night.

Cara CaraI also had a beautiful and sweet cara cara red naval orange. It looks like a grapefruit, but tastes like an orange. Tricky… and delish!

Cascadian Farms BarFor my last afternoon snack, I had a Cascadian Farm organic fiber right dark chocolate almond chewy granola bar. I bought these on a whim, along with the Siggi’s, at Whole Foods the other day, and I will be buying them again. I love Fiber One bars, but they do have a lot of strange ingredients in them. This was very similar, but its ingredients are a bit less mysterious. I don’t expect it to replace my Fiber One bar addiction, but I do expect to keep some of these around. I really like them a lot. In fact, I bought them on Sunday and there is only one left. 

DinnerFor dinner, I sauteed some shallot, garlic, mushrooms and spinach. I made enough to fill several omelets or to make several frittatas. I really do love leftovers! I put some of the spinach mixture in my little skillet, topped it with egg beaters, cottage cheese and reduced fat parmesan, and then popped it under the broiler. I had this along with a lovely sliced tomato topped with fresh pepper and a piece of Nature’s Own Double Fiber bread topped with Better ‘n Peanut Butter and sugar free raspberry preserves.
TJ's Fruit and Fiber CerealAfter dinner, I had a bowl of Trader Joe’s Fruit and Fiber cereal with a splash of almond milk. A bowl of cereal like this would not keep me full for very long, but it makes a good snack or bite of something sweet.

Chocolate HeartSpeaking of bites of sweetness, I finished the night off with a little bite of chocolate. I am usually immune to post holiday candy sales, but these Lake Champlain chocolates from Whole Foods looked too good to pass up. I’ve been eating one piece each night, and enjoying them completely! Tonight I ate the one with the tree. It had pieces of mint in it. Yum! 

After I finish this post, I’m planning to have a cup of vanilla honey chamomile tea and then head off to bed. Tomorrow morning is my weigh-in, and I’m not really sure what to expect. Regardless of how that turns out, I’ve eaten lots of good healthy food this week, and I’ve enjoyed making some new recipes. I hope that you are enjoying my little cooking adventures too!

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Filed under Cooking Light, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Just Sweet Enough Soy Orange Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

Just Sweet Enough Soy Orange Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

 

I’ve had a pretty busy day today, but a good one. While I was walking to an appointment in the District this morning, I passed a Chinese restaurant and caught a whiff of something delicious. That fragrance has been on my mind all day! I think that a mouthwatering aroma is the best advertising device ever. There is a waffle place up the street from my apartment, and I’m convinced that they pipe the smell outdoors on purpose. It seems to travel for blocks just begging people to come in and order a big yummy pile of waffly goodness. Very clever!

Now that I’m finally home, I decided to see what I could come up with to satisfy my desire for something with an asian twist. I considered making a stir fry, but I wasn’t in the mood for that. Instead, I turned to one of my favorite vegetable preparations. I love roasted veggies so much, but I had never tried to roast sugar snap peas. I think roasted green beans are amazing, so I sort of expected to feel the same about the peas. I wasn’t disappointed. I usually steam sugar snaps, but this way was so much better. Why am I not surprised??

I decided to come up with a little glaze for the peas that would incorporate some of my favorite asian flavors. I love anything that is sweet and hot. Throw in some fresh citrus flavor with a bit of toasted sesame love, and I’ll be hooked. If these ingredients aren’t your style or if you don’t want the extra little points bump, you can certainly just roast your sugar snap peas sprayed with cooking spray at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. If you are in the mood for a little something special, with a bit of fresh orange flavor, you might like this recipe! Plus, it was very quick and easy!!

The TeamNote: I was busy zesting the orange already, and I didn’t think that a photo of a partially naked orange would be very appealing. As a result, the orange is the kid who missed picture day. 

Just Sweet Enough Soy Orange Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 pound sugar snap peas with the tough stems removed

2 Tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (you could use another oil, but I love the flavor of sesame oil… yum!)

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. orange zest, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet well with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the sugar snap peas in a single layer on the baking sheet and spray the peas with cooking spray. Roast in the oven for 8 minutes. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 6 ingredients plus half of the orange zest. 

After the peas have roasted for 8 minutes, remove them from the oven. Drizzle the orange juice mixture over the peas, and then return them to the oven for an additional 8 minutes. That will give the drizzle time to caramelize.

Remove the peas from the oven, sprinkle remaining orange zest over the top and enjoy!

This makes 2 unofficial 2 point servings

Sugar SnapsI had some leftover brown rice and some leftover grilled chicken to go along with these peas for my dinner. As usual, I liked the color and flavor of the roasted veggies so much more than the steamed version. I also liked the little hint of orange and soy that these peas delivered plus the spicy little bite of the crushed red pepper. 

I often roast my veggies plain, which certainly keeps the fat and calories at a lower level, but when I’m in the mood for a certain flavor combination, I’m always so happy when I can satisfy that craving using healthy fresh ingredients rather than being tempted by take-out. 

Now, it is time for me to put away the dinner dishes and head to the gym. Only two more days until the weekend! Hooray! I had Monday off for the federal holiday, and somehow the short weeks often seem like the longest. Tomorrow is a work at home Thursday, and I’m planning to post another “day in the life.” I have a feeling that the rest of these peas will be on the menu. Yum!

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