Tag Archives: vegetarian

Soup Weather

Lying MugThe mug. It lies. If I had a “Curried Carrot and Squash Soup” mug in the cabinet, I would have used it, but this seemed like a good alternative. 🙂

It seems like Labor Day flipped the switch on fall weather in D.C., and I’m not complaining! The weather this week has been decidedly fall like, and I’m loving every minute of it. In fact, it inspired me to make a warm, cozy and spicy soup with things I had on hand, and I wanted to share it with you.

I had a pile of yellow summer squash, a partially eaten bag of baby carrots and the usual staples of broth, onions, nut butter (of course!) and Greek yogurt (as always!!). Add to that, the variety of spices in my spice drawer, and a creamy soup was imminent. I used lots of spice, because I love a little burn, but if you aren’t a fan of spice, you could certainly use a bit less curry powder, give it a taste, and add more if you decide you want to kick it up a bit. What’s better than roasted veggies? They are always just the way I like them– nice and sweet!

Carrot Roast

Squash Roast

Pot of Coziness

Sweetie’s Curried Carrot and Squash Soup

Ingredients:

Cooking spray

3/4 pound baby carrots

1 1/2 pounds yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1/2 inch slices

salt

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground red pepper

1 Tbsp. almond or peanut butter

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. Layer the baby carrots on one baking sheet. Spray the carrots with cooking spray and then sprinkle them with a bit of salt. Layer the squash chunks on the other baking sheet. Spray the squash with cooking spray and sprinkle it with a bit of salt.

Place both sheets in the oven. Roast the carrots for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they become soft and start to brown. Roast the squash for about 25 minutes, stirring the mixture at the halfway point. 

Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil in a 3 1/2 quart saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Reduce the heat and cook the onions for seven minutes, or until they become soft. Add the squash, carrots and broth to the saucepan, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Add the curry powder, cinnamon, ginger, red pepper and nut butter to the veggie mixture. Using a blender, carefully puree the veggie mixture in batches. I usually remove the stopper from the top of the blender container and hold a dish towel loosely over the opening to allow some steam to escape while the veggies are pureeing. They are hot and they will spatter so be careful!

Add all of the pureed vegetables back to the saucepan. Stir in the Greek yogurt, and heat the mixture through on medium heat. Add salt to taste.

This makes 5 or 6 servings

The roasted veggies make it slightly sweet. The spices make it cozy, and the nut butter and Greek yogurt add creaminess as well as protein. This soup is low calorie with a high satisfaction factor. That’s a match made in heaven!

I’ve been having this for lunch over the past few days, and I’ve been looking forward to it each time. While packing my lunches this week, I realized it has been awhile since I have made a big batch type food for my lunchtime munching. I love having a hearty and filling soup ready to go in the morning, and then being able to match it up with whatever suits my whim– peanut butter on an Arnold’s sandwich thin, hummus and pita, cheese and crackers, whatever! I know that the soup will guarantee that I will have a full tummy, and that’s a good thing! Soup is also one of my favorite ways to eat my veggies. 🙂

Since the weather is cooling off, I thought I’d give you a little flashback with links to some of the soup type things I’ve made and blogged about in the past:

“Big Batch” Bulgur Chili

Cleaning Up the Apartment Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup

Creamy Cauliflower and Cannellini Soup

Just Sweet Enough Pinto Bean Soup with Tomato Chipotle Ketchup

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

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

Super Quick Lentil, Carrot and Tomato Soup

My little trip down memory lane reminded me of several things I need to make in the cooler months to come. I see bulgur chili in my near future for sure.

Bulgur ChiliMmmmm…..

Most of the soups I make are created using what I have on hand. How about you? Do you have a favorite soup, stew or type of chili? Is there one ingredient that always inspires you to whip up a pot of comfort?


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Filed under cooking, diet, Food, Greek Yogurt, Lowfat, Recipes, Soup, Squash, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Lightened Squash Casserole a la Sweetie Pie

Squash Casserole

I try to eat a healthy diet. Really, I do. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up eating lots of vegetables. They were just typically smothered in cheese or pork fat. I’m so happy that I now enjoy my vegetables naked or with simpler preparations. That’s not to say that… sometimes… I miss some of the old recipes.

Yellow squash might be one of my favorite vegetables. What’s your favorite veggie?

SquashAs a kid, we would sometimes have it boiled down and mashed with butter. Other times, it might find its way into a stir fry with other things from the garden. My faaaaavorite way to eat it, however, was in a cheesy squash casserole. 

I was recently reorganizing my pantry as part of my pantry clean out effort, and I came across a forgotten can.

Mysterious and DeliciousI bought these when making a green bean casserole for a holiday get together sometime back. Yes, the can has the word “New!” on it, but these are anything but. Anyway, I feel like this is a true confession of some sort. Yes. My name is Sweetie Pie, and I had a can of fried onions, that strange ingredient that shows up frequently in casseroles and at southern potluck parties, hanging out in my pantry. I decided to ignore the list of somewhat mysterious “ingredients” and whip up a lightened version of an old favorite. I can’t tell you for certain what these are really made of, but, um… I can tell you that I kind of dig them in a casserole. 

Din Din

Sweetie’s “Lighten Up” Squash Casserole

Ingredients:

1 pound summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 cup chopped onions

cooking spray

3/4 cup egg beaters

2 Tbsp. skim milk

4 ounces grated light sharp cheddar (I used Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar but any cheese (reduced fat or not) would work)

1/2 cup French fried onions

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Steam the squash until it is tender. It took about 8 minutes for my slices to steam in a metal steamer basket set into a pot of boiling water. 

While the squash is steaming, saute the onion in a skillet coated with cooking spray or a bit of olive oil.

Spray a 2 qt. casserole dish with cooking spray and set it aside.

When the onions are tender, probably after about seven minutes of cooking, add the steamed squash to the onions and continue to cook for about three minutes. During this time, use the edge of your spatula to break up the squash and incorporate it with the onions. This will also help to dry the squash out a bit which should help to prevent a soggy casserole. Remove from the heat.

Squash chopperyWhile the squash cools a bit, set aside half of the cheese and half of the onions to use as a topping. Combine the remaining half of the cheddar cheese and fried onions in a medium sized bowl along with the eggbeaters, milk, salt, pepper and spices.

Gradually add the squash and onion mixture to the egg beater mixture, stirring while you add the warm ingredients to keep the egg from scrambling.

Pour the mixture into your casserole dish, and then top it with the remaining fried onions followed by the remaining cheddar. Pop it into the oven and bake it for 35 minutes or until the egg is set and the cheese starts to brown on the top.

Oven Ready

I divided mine into six servings. 🙂 

I’ve got to get to bed, but before I go I want to say a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Aunt Nancy. I ate some of my homemade ice cream this evening and had a little celebration of my own in her honor. 🙂 It was always so nice having my aunt and uncle close by, and I always looked forward to spending time with them in the Ozarks each summer. My brother and I would get to go swimming in nearby creeks and rock quarries, visit Branson and Silver Dollar City, pick blackberries in the woods, feed the flying squirrels and just generally have a great time at their house each summer. As the song goes…. “Thanks for the memories…” and a very happy birthday to you!

Now, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow is Friday. Woo hoo!!! Ciao for now, y’all and have a great weekend!

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Filed under Casserole, cooking, diet, Food, Lowfat, Recipes, Squash, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss

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

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.

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

Wacky Taco Wednesday

Hi! Well, we are one day closer to the weekend, and I’m so ready. I had a great time in Williamsburg last weekend, but I still haven’t gotten caught up on my usual weekend tasks. I guess I get more done during my weekends than I realized!

It was raining when I got up this morning, and I was happy to have this sunshine on a plate in the fridge:

Brekkie

I had my usual breakfast cookie with a big pile of berries. On the side, I had coconut tea with a mix of sugar free chocolate and almond syrups, unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, and skim milk. The shiny bullet to the side is the thermos I took to work containing more of the same. I love getting to work in the morning with a big thermos of tea ready to hit my mug. I love anything with coconut, and this tea is one of my faves!

Remember the Green and Black’s bar I’ve been eating for weeks now? During the day, I reduced the last pieces to this:

All GoneNo worries! The Easter bunny gave me a tasty bar (involving coconut, no less), and it is next on the list of chocolatey treats. I can’t wait to try it tomorrow! 

The morning sped by, and it was lunchtime before I knew it. I finished off something else today: my succotash! It was good, but I’m glad to have it out of the fridge. I put the rest of the succotash and the leftover chicken from last night’s dinner in a little bowl with some Country Bob’s sauce this morning, so all I had to do was pop it in the micro for a little zap and then dump it into my big bowl with some spinach and some smoked mozzarella. Instant salad!

LunchI should have snapped a photo before I shook it all up because all of the good stuff is in the bottom of the bowl. It was yummy, and pretty filling too! After that, I tried a strawberry Chobani along with my usual side of Zoe’s granola:

Miss Zoe ChobaniJust to recap my Chobani experiences, I tried the peach and thought the goo was too sweet and goopy. I tried the honey, and I thought it was really good. I appreciated the fact that the honey was already mixed in, and there was no gloppy goo to stir in. The strawberry… well… I’m not a fan of the strawberry goo either. It wasn’t bad, but I think I’d prefer my strawberry Greek yogurt to be sweetened with some strawberry jam and fresh berries. There would be less goo and more flavor. Still, this will do in a pinch.

I wanted something else after this, but I couldn’t figure out what it was that I was craving. I hate when this happens. As I see it, there are several options. I could distract myself and hope that the craving would pass. I could eat a bunch of things hoping to land on the “right” food to feel satisfied, which is NOT a very good approach from a caloric standpoint. I could also eat something filling in the hopes that I will feel full enough to stop craving anything else. That’s what I decided to do today. I went searching through my desk drawer stash, and decided on a bowl of midday oatmeal with some peanut butter.

Midday OatmealI had a bowl of Quaker weight control banana bread oatmeal with Bee’s Knees peanut butter. I sometimes find that a bowl of oats like this will take care of a craving for baked goods, while providing a bit of extra positive nutrition. It definitely filled me up, but I figured out that chocolate was the thing I really wanted around the time I reached the bottom of the bowl. Luckily, I had a Hershey’s miniature Krackel in the desk drawer.

KrackeliciousDone. Whew! I was finally satisfied. Needless to say, I didn’t get hungry for quite some time. I also had a pretty busy afternoon, which kept me too occupied to snack. When I did decide to have a bite of something, I decided to go a little crazy with my usual peanut butter and vanilla wafer snacks.

Pruneston NapkintonMeet Mr. Pruneston Napkinton. I’ve been in a goofy mood all day. What can I say?! 🙂 I stuck a bite sized prune on the top of each little PB topped wafer, and it gave it a PB&J flavor. Yummy! They looked like eyeballs to me, so I decided to play with my food a little bit.  Getting creative with what’s in the desk drawer can be fun and tasty too. If you don’t keep a stash at work, I’d highly recommend it. It takes some of the pressure off when planning out snacks for the day if I know that there are plenty of healthy choices close at hand!

When I got home, I decided to whip up something new for dinner using pantry items as well as a couple of peppers and some cilantro I picked up at the Fresh Market on my way out of the ‘burg on Sunday with a different dish in mind. I also had some black beans, the chipotle cheddar I bought at the farmer’s market a couple of Saturdays ago and some Pepito’s corn tortillas in the fridge. This is so easy, it almost doesn’t merit writing out the recipe, but it was really good so I decided to just go ahead and tell you what was in it. It could obviously be varied in lots of ways, but this could be a quick and easy start for a worknight taco meal. 

Quick and Tasty

Worknight Black Bean Tacos

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp. olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup any color bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

8 6″ corn tortillas

4 ounces grated sharp cheddar, chipotle cheddar or pepperjack cheese

salsa

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion and garlic for three minutes. Add the bell pepper, cumin and chili powder and saute for three minutes more. Add the cilantro and the beans, and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, until beans are heated through.

Divide the bean mixture and cheese among the tortillas. Top with salsa and enjoy!

This makes 4 servings

TacoliciousThese were pleasantly spicy, and the creamy texture of the beans with the melty smoothness of the cheese made for a cozy and filling dish. All I can say is yum. I’m also happy because I have leftovers. 🙂 I’m already thinking that I’d like the bean mixture in an omelette or on a naan pizza if I get bored with the tacos. I love versatile things like this! The beans could be a side dish too, for that matter. 

So, of course, dessert came after dinner. YAY!! I had a piece of chocolate banana snack cake from the freezer alongside some LaLoo’s Strawberry Darling goat’s milk ice cream. The real cake and ice cream action made me one happy girl! 

BlissI just got back from the gym (617 calories burned this evening), and I had a camera shy Chex Turtle bar. I think I’m out of those now. They were really good. I might need more!! I may have another little nibble of something, but I’m basically done for the day. It’s time for me to make my evening tea and get myself to bed so that I’ll be nicely rested for Thursday. 

I really enjoyed my tacos this evening, and I realized that I’ve never made black bean tacos. There are so many taco varieties. What do you like in your taco??

Ciao for now, bloggies, and have a very happy Thursday! Only two more posts to go before post #100 and my giveaway announcement. I’m excited. I can’t wait!! See you all tomorrow!

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Filed under Beans, Cake, cooking, diet, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

It Was About Time…

TGIF!!! I hope this finds everyone doing well and getting a good start to the weekend! Quitting time could not come soon enough today, especially after I saw a spot of sunshine at lunch. 🙂 I was in the middle of a serious downpour on my way into the office this morning, so I was so surprised that it was gorgeous at lunchtime. When you have a windowless office, the weather is often a surprise.

Aside from the rain, my day started off pretty well. Now that Jay Robb and I have become friends, I decided that it was time for me to give Fitnessista’s breakfast cookie a try. Last night, before heading off to bed, I mixed up this baby:

Breakfast Cookie

My breakfast cookie is made of 1/3 cup of oats, 1 ounce of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 15 grams of Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder, 7 grams of chopped vanilla almonds, 1 Tbsp. of The Bee’s Knees peanut butter from PB&Co, and some leftover dried strawberries from my berry bar making adventure. I put it in the fridge to set up over night, and it was waiting for me when I got up this morning. 

I loved the chewiness. It really felt like a substantial breakfast, and yet tasted like a dessert. That’s just about perfect in my book! I topped it with a fresh berry that I sliced all fancy in honor of Friday with a little bit of dark chocolate dreams PB. I need my chocolate and strawberry fix in the morning! I will be having this again, and the breakfast cookie seems like a perfect hot weather breakfast option. Thanks, Fitnessista!!

Cookie Monster!

I decided to toss the lunch I’d packed in the freezer at work and enjoy lunch with a friend from work instead. That sort of spontaneous eating would not likely have happened a few weeks ago, but the change in my eating approach has given me such a new outlook and so much more freedom! By the way, I’m not going to report on my weight today, but I will say that things are still going well. I’m so much happier too!! 🙂

My friend suggested that we get lunch at Busboys and Poets, and I wasn’t hard to convince. I’ve looked through their window a number of times, but I’ve never gone inside. Have I been missing out! They have so many amazing options on the menu, including a number of great things for vegetarians and vegans. My lunch really hit the spot, and the company did too!

Lovely Little LunchI got the falafel wrap with a side of fruit. It was SO good! There was a delightfully nutty hummus in the wrap with the falafel and veggies, and I’m always happy with berries and fresh pineapple. There was also a fresh tasting drizzle in the little teacup that added a nice extra layer of flavor to the wrap. Lunch was really good, not heavy at all, and my plate had just the right amount of food. Perfect!

Busboys and Poets Vegan CheesecakeAs usual, I couldn’t resist checking out the desserts. My friend and I split a slice of vegan cheesecake at the end of the meal, and– oh my! It was so good. It kind of reminded me of frozen cake frosting (love it!!), and the raspberries were an awesome complement. It was really good, and I always love the opportunity to share a dessert! I have to highly recommend Busboys and Poets. I will definitely be going back again soon.

When I got hungry later in the day, I had the snack I’d packed this morning. I scraped the last of my dalmatian orange and fig spread from the jar this morning. 😦 It is on the shopping list. I really love it with my Greek yogurt and vanilla almonds. Have I mentioned that I love it?? It really is so good. I’m going to recycle yesterday’s photo so get ready:

Happy in a BowlWhen I got home, I decided to eat a couple of things from the freezer in honor of “Project Clean Out the Freezer.” I had frozen a tiny bit of 96/4 ground beef awhile ago, and I decided to finish off a bag of TJ’s frozen naan by using the beef on one of my little pizzas.

BeefySee, I do label things sometimes! Here’s my empty naan bag. I’d be worried that the bag is empty except… there’s more in the scary freezer!

Bag of EmptyI tried out some of the Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce that I won from the giveaway hosted by Lucky Tastebuds, and, mixed with the beef, it provided a barbecue pizza type experience. It was yummy! That sauce is great! There is also some roasted vegetable tapenade and smoked mozzarella on the top. As usual, I enjoyed the crunchy naan with my favorite TJ’s soup: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato. 

Din DinIn continuing with the freezer theme, I had some more of my Edy’s slow churned light cookies and cream on top of a Triple Chocolate Chunk Vitatop. Essentially, I had cake and ice cream. Woo hoo! I don’t think you can go wrong with that combination.

Party in a BowlI really enjoyed reading the comments y’all left about the state of your freezers. I am glad to know that I have some kindred freezer spirits, and I’m also glad to know that it is possible to have a more organized freezer space. I think I’m shooting for something in the middle, but we will see. I’ve taken a few things out to thaw and I’m planning to turn them into something tomorrow. Stay tuned for that one! I did have a freezer avalanche event this morning, but things are already looking better. 

I hope your weekend is the best! The weather is supposed to be nice here, so I’m hoping to walk?/run?/bike? down to the tidal basin to see this year’s cherry blossom crop. If I do, you can be sure that there will be some new photos!

What are you up to this weekend?

I wanted to mention this giveaway before I go:

The Girl in the Little Black Dress is hosting a Quaker giveaway!! That robe looks too cozy!

Ciao, y’all!

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Filed under Cookies, D.C., diet, Food, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Zucchini and Cookies

Zucchini

Happy Thursday! The weekend’s almost here. I just hope the weather improves. It’s been gloomy and cloudy with drizzle all day today. It’s not warm either. The cherry blossom festival is about to get under way, and I just hope the little blossoms manage to stay warm.

Oat Bran!I had another day of tasty “pointless” eats, and I made a zucchini dish for dinner tonight that I’m going to tell you about. It was good, and a great way to use up the zucchini that came in my last Merry Produce Wednesday box. This morning, I started off with a bowl of oat bran. I’d just been missing it too much to have regular oats for another day! I added 1/3 a pack of Jay Robb’s strawberry whey protein powder, 1/2 Tbsp. of maple syrup, half of a banana that I smushed up, and some cinnamon and nutmeg. I tossed some strawberries on top with 1/2 Tbsp. of Dark Chocolate Dreams. It was gooood! 

Blue Ridge Dairy GoodnessBefore kickboxing, I had a bowl of Greek yogurt. I’ve been waiting to finish up some Fage before trying out the nonfat Greek yogurt I bought on Saturday at the farmer’s market. The Blue Ridge Dairy folks have kept me well fed this week with the smoked mozzarella. This yogurt? Oh my gosh. It was so good. In fact, I think it was the best Greek yogurt I’ve had! The add-ins were pretty awesome too. I added 1/2 Tbsp. of orange and fig spread along with some chopped vanilla almonds. It was the best thing I ate all day!

Cabbage Nest Primavera... againAfter kickboxing, I was starving! I woke up hungry this morning and that continued into the afternoon. I had my last Cabbage “Nest” Primavera along with a few Brussels sprouts. I’m made sure to get a good singe on my cabbage since the burnt bits were so tasty when it happened accidentally yesterday.

Lunch DessertAfter that, I enjoyed a slice of my cottage cheese bread with some Mighty Maple PB and half of a Cookiehead Belgian Chocolate Chunk cookie. Yes, this is another thing I hadn’t tried because it wasn’t very points friendly. You can tell that it is made with whole wheat because it has a nice soft texture and a nutty flavor. I really liked it, and I will definitely be trying the other flavors available at my store!

dscn2257Eventually, I decided it was time for a snack so I had a little strawberry Yokids with some Zoe’s granola mixed in. YUM!

Cashew and Pear CrazinessWhen snack time rolled around again, I decided to have a variation on the apple and PB theme. I had a pear and some cashew butter sprinkled with a ton of cinnamon. WOW! I’m living on the edge. 🙂 It was a really nice combo. Red pears are so pretty!

Din Din

By dinnertime, I was seriously hungry again! My body has adjusted to the new eating framework, and there are some noticeable changes. I seem to be hungrier, but yet more satisfied. I will talk more about that in tomorrow’s post. Just know that when dinner time rolled around, I was ready! I had a Gardenburger Chik’n Grill patty on some Nature’s Own Double Fiber bread with a little light mayo and some pickles. On the side, I had some grape tomatoes and some Spiced Zucchini with Bulgur. 

Spiced Zucchini with BulgurMy recipe for the zucchini dish was loosely based on this one from an old Gourmet magazine. I ran across the page I had torn out the other day while I was cleaning out a folder of random magazine pages. I have a habit of tearing out pages that interest me and then losing them due to the lack of any sort of organizational system whatsoever. I was glad to find this one. My version is actually quite a bit different, but I wanted to mention the original because it would be good too. Here’s mine:

Spiced Zucchini with Bulgur

Ingredients:

3 cups of boiling water

3/4 cup of bulgur

1 tsp. salt, divided

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or sliced

1 1/2 pounds of zucchini, cubed

3/4 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. chili powder

 1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Juice of half of a lemon

Directions:
Place bulgur and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Pour the boiling water over the bulgur, cover and let it sit for three minutes. Then, place in the microwave, uncovered, for 6 minutes. Remove from the microwave and give it a stir. Return to the microwave for two minutes at a time, stirring it at each two minute interval. It took about ten minutes for mine to absorb most of the water, but the time could vary. Just continue microwaving until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion and 1/4 tsp. of salt, sauteeing for one minute. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the zucchini and the remaining 1/4 tsp. of salt. Saute the zucchini, stirring gently, for about 6 minutes or until the zucchini is tender.

Add the remaining ingredients except for the lemon juice. Continue to cook the mixture for two more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir the zucchini mixture into the bulgur, being gentle so as to avoid mashing the zucchini. Add the lemon juice and give it another gentle stir. 

This makes 8 side servings, but two servings could make a nice lunch.

It was creamy and kind of reminded me of risotto! I used rosemary because I have some growing in a pot, and it is need of some serious trimming. You’ll be seeing a lot of rosemary until I get my plant under control. I used a whole tablespoon of olive oil because I’m trying to make sure and get enough healthy fat into my diet each day. You could certainly use less or just use cooking spray. I will say that this dish had a much richer texture than I expected, and I have to attribute it to the olive oil. It felt decadent! Yum! Fat!!

DessertAfter dinner, I had the other half of my cookie and a cup of fat free Nestle’s cocoa. After that, I decided to try the chocolate orange Jocalat Bar from Larabar. I didn’t take a picture. I also didn’t eat much of the bar. I’m now faced with a dilemma. I did not like the way this bar tasted AT ALL! I love chocolate and orange together, and I expected to love this. Instead, I thought it had a weird and unpleasant taste. I’m not sure what the deal is, but, as I try not to waste calories on things I don’t like, I now have most of a bar to dispose of. I don’t think that giving a half eaten ancient larabar to trick or treaters in October is appropriate, but that’s the only idea I’ve come up with so far. What do you think I should do with it? I’m also curious if anyone else has tried this bar. Maybe mine is defective? Well, at any rate, I’m going to be looking for another little treat this evening, and I’ll be putting this little number in a ziploc baggie where it will await its fate.

Today was day seven of my “pointless” eating week. Tomorrow I’ll let you know how it went and what I’m planning as I move forward. It has been a good week, and I’ve done more food journal posts than usual to sort of let you see what was on the menu. It’s a lot of work! I don’t think I’d like doing it everyday, but it is fun to look back and see what I’ve eaten.

I have some major cleaning to do this evening, and I need to get to it. If you are reading this, please leave a comment and let me know what on earth I should do with this bar?!? I’m hoping you have an idea that is better than mine!

Have a great Friday and an amazing weekend!

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