Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wonderful Dinner Hash with Baked Eggs

Butternut squash.  Another ingredient that is new to me.  I was finally convinced to try it after seeing Lauren's breakfast for dinner post on Healthy Delicious.  This is a great brunch or dinner dish.  Heck, I don't see why you can't use it for breakfast too!  I modified this only slightly by increasing some of the ingredient amounts.  Lauren says her recipe will feed 2-4, but I think this amount would feed up to 8.

Sausage and Butternut Hash

4 links hot chicken sausage, removed from casings
one sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large potato, diced
3/4 cup apple cider
6 leaves chard
6 eggs (or more, or less)
olive oil, for pan
ground oregano (forgot to pick up fresh)
ground pepper

Prep (thank goodness for my little handy chopper thingy because this was a lot of chopping):

Heat oven to 400.  In a large skillet cook your sausage meat until done.  Remove from pan and set aside.  In same pan, cook the onion and garlic with a little olive oil until softened.  Add squash, potato and cider.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
When potatoes are cooked through and squash is softened, add your sausage back into the pan.  Add chopped chard.  Stir over low heat until chard wilts.  At this point I realized I need a MUCH bigger skillet. I had to divide this amongst two pans. This recipe makes a LOT of hash.

Remove pan from heat and make enough shallow wells in the hash in which to crack your eggs.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano and transfer pan to oven.  Cook for 5 minutes or to desired doneness.  I'm totally insane a little picky about my eggs and they cannot be remotely wiggly, so I made sure they were completely cooked through before taking out of the oven - about 10 minutes total.
This is incredibly delicious.  Next time we have guests over for brunch, this is on the menu.  The prep is quite a bit of chopping, but after that it's a fairly easy and quick recipe that you don't have to stand over the entire time.  Oh, and it also tastes great cold!  Thank god because we have a lot leftover.

Kid review: It's a hit (well, after they pick out the "green stuff")!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sausage and Arugula Pasta

Isn't arugula fabulous?  I love the somewhat peppery flavor.  Heating it seems to tone down the peppery-ness, but I thought this pasta dish was very good.  The original recipe was found on  Oh, and fusilli is my favorite pasta.  It's such a fun shape!

Fusilli with Sausage & Arugula

1 lb whole wheat fusilli
1 lb hot port sausage, casing removed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups arugula
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup shredded Pecorino Romano
1 tsp ground pepper
olive oil for pan

Cook pasta to desired doneness, drain reserving 2 tbsp of cooking liquid, set aside.

Cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it into small pieces, until cooked through.  Stir in garlic, arugula and tomatoes.  Cook until the greens wilt and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl combine cheese and pepper.  Whisk in the reserved cooking liquid.  Add pasta and toss to combine.  The cheese really makes this dish in my opinion.
A very simple dish that will warm you up this fall.  Serve with some garlicy toasted bread.

Anyone else loading up on yummy pastas and carbs this season?  I just can't get enough lately.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Toasted Marshmallow Brownies with PB!!

Oh yeah, nothing healthy about these suckers, but in the midst of some lovely PMS cravings, I came across these beauties over at Me, Myself & Pie.  I HAD to try them!  Warning: she has WAY too many decadent and wonderful treats on her blog.

Apparently this recipe appeared in Cooking Light magazine.  I'm not 100% sure of the "light" part, but they are yummy.  I must mention though, Cooking Light magazine is on my poop list.  I will not buy any of their publications.  Many of their recipes are light on calories and lower in fat, but check out the sodium, cholesterol and sugar contents.  In this case, light does not mean healthy by any means.  And it's very unfortunate because I think a lot of people buy that magazine and their cookbooks thinking they will loose weight and be healthier using said recipes.  Ok, I could go on and on about this but I'll let it die here (for now).  Well, this and the Frosted Flakes commercial where they try to say Frosted Flakes are an important part of a complete breakfast and help "get you going."  Yeah, not so much but nice try Kellogg's!  Don't even get me started on the Nutella as a "healthy" breakfast either!  LOL

Ok, now I really am done, I promise.  Here's my version of the naughty little brownie recipe.  :)

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 package devil's food cake mix
1 egg white
7 oz jar marshmallow creme
1/2 cup peanut butter

Heat oven to 350.  Combine 1/4 cup of the condensed milk, butter, milk, cake mix and egg white in a bowl.  Batter will be very thick, almost fudgy.  Press 2/3rd of the mixture onto the bottom of a well sprayed 13x9 inch baking pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, combine the remaining condensed milk and marshmallow creme in a bowl.  Quick note: Whole Foods sells a marshmallow creme that does not contain high fructose corn syrup and is gluten free.  Stir in peanut butter.  Spread this mixture evenly over the pre-cooked brownie layer.  Drop the remaining brownie batter by spoonful over the marshmallow spread.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool completely before digging in.

Cooking Lights gives this nutritional info (using peanut butter morsels versus fresh ground peanut butter as I used): 176 calories; 5g fat; 6mg cholesterol; 212mg sodium; 29g carbs.

These are tasty.  The marshmallow topping tastes like a toasted marshmallow and the brownie is nice and dense.  But, it contains butter, prepared cake mix and marshmallow creme for goodness sake!!  All combined into one little dessert.  This will be a once or twice a year treat in this house...maybe.

So tell me, what are your favorite cheats (and can you send me some, like now)?  ;-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Insanity - Week 4 Round Up

Oh yeah, today we finished our first month of Insanity!!  Now on to the recovery week and not a moment too soon as my hips and right arch are really starting to feel it.  Soon it's Insanity month two - which I hear is grueling.  Eeek!

I'm happy to report that this is the week I finally started to see some of those stubborn fat areas begin to shrink.  That's right, I'm talking about those love handles and the belly button doughnut.  Buh-bye!  By no means are they completely gone, but they are starting to go, well, they were before I started baking (and taste testing) for my sister's birthday.  Anyway, the fact that they were starting to leave makes me very happy as I thought, given my age and having had two kidlets, they were here to stay.  But goodness knows, we are really working hard for what little progress we are getting.  These workouts are very intense but thankfully, effective.

My husband's sides have started slimming down too.  He has not reported looser clothing yet, but honestly, his pants were getting pretty snug when we started so even better fitting is an improvement.  Me on the other hand, after purchasing quite a bit of new clothing last year (mostly jeans), they are now too big.  I spend the day having to hike up my pants every time I stand up and last year's skinny jeans are not quite skinny enough.  Woohoo!!  My wallet is not too happy though about having to go out for new jeans again.

Diet - well, still not doing so well here.  I crave carbs and sugar!  Salads just make me hungry for something else, anything else.  But, I'm still trying.  Did some fun stuff with butternut squash this week and actually really enjoyed it.  I'm going to take Melissa's advice and try some soups too.

My opinion of Insanity so far - I like it, really like it.  It is hard work, it makes you sweat and grunt and groan (and curse like a truck driver), but it works.  Again, it's not muscle building which I do wish was incorporated somewhere, but it is certainly fat shedding and really works on firming those lower extremity muscles.  If you want a nice tight butt and legs, Insanity is for you!  Have I mentioned my hubby is a leg and butt man?  So yeah, this has been nice so far and even I will admit to frequently grabbing my own butt these days to "check my progress".  ;-)

Hope everyone else is sticking with it.  Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Overnight Oats - FAIL

After reading so much about overnight oats on the various health blogs I visit, I had to give it a try.  For some reason though, I just didn't like them.  My husband did and even just prepped the same thing for tomorrow morning though.

Anyway, I think it may have been my choice of oats.  I used five-minute Irish Oatmeal and I think it just soaked up too much of the other ingredients and left me with mush.  Cold mush.  Ick!

But, if you are like my husband, perhaps you'll like it.  Here's how we did it:

1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup fat free yogurt
1/3 cup skim milk (almond for the Mr.)
1 heaping tbsp chia seeds (too much if you ask me)
handful of dried cranberries
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix these ingredients in your breakfast bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning I added sliced banana, peanut butter, crunchy granola and a drizzle of honey.  At this point you can nuke it for a minute as well, but we do not have a microwave so that wasn't gonna happen.  And if I had to dirty a saucepan I figured that would kind of negate the whole convenience factor of overnight oats.
Sounds and looks like it should taste great, right?  It actually wasn't bad tasting, I did eat it, but I think it was the cold temperature and the sticky texture that got to me.  I will give it another go but with different oats and much less chia seed.  Also going to give them a go in the crock pot as I've heard good things about that too.  And I think I prefer my oatmeal hot.

Anybody else have a good overnight oat recipe?

Here are a few blogs I read where fabulous things are done with oatmeal:

Kath Eats Real Food (KERF) - she has an entire tribute to oatmeal page!!
Live Laugh Eat
The Health Nut

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Moroccan Baked Orzo - sorta

Cooler weather + hectic days = casserole!  Well, that and crock pot cooking, of course.  When I saw Lauren's Greek Orzo with Lamb over at Healthy Delicious, I knew I had to try it right away.  Not being a fan of lamb though, I opted for some extra lean ground beef and made a few other modifications.  Oh, and I finally found a whole wheat orzo.  Pricey, but it's the only one I've seen.

Today's Whole Foods haul:

Now, I must say, I have no idea if they serve this sort of thing in Morocco, but the smell of the various spices combining while it was cooking just made me think of all things Moroccan.  You should feel free to call it whatever you like though.  :-) 

Baked Orzo

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 lb whole wheat orzo
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (or more)
2 tsp dried oregano
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups baby spinach
salt, to taste
asiago cheese, shredded, to top

Heat oven to 375.  Prepare your orzo, drain and set aside.  I mixed in a bit of olive oil so it wouldn't clump.

Cook the ground beef over medium heat until done.  Remove from pan, reserving any cooking liquid in the pan.  Cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes in same pan until softened.  Add the oregano, tomatoes, wine, cumin, cinnamon and tomato paste, stirring to combine.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes start to form a thick sauce.  Add the beef back in, as well as the spinach and salt.  Cook until spinach begins to wilt. 
Add the beef mixture to the orzo and stir to combine. Spread into baking pan and top with asiago cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until top gets bubbly and browned.  This should be enough for 10 or more healthy sized servings.
I will say that my entire house smelled delightful while cooking and for a while afterwards. We really enjoyed this dish. All except the little princess that is (what else is new). But, I made her pick out the meat and pasta to eat.

This would go great with a nice cool cucumber and dill salad, and maybe a little added red pepper flake (note to self).  Next time I have to attend a potluck, this is the dish I'll be bringing - along with the aforementioned salad.

Happy eating!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kid Friendly - Healthy Grainy Waffles

Woke up last Saturday just jonesin' for some homemade waffles.  I did a quick 2 minute google search and came upon these whole grain waffles on  They were yummy and filling.  One did the trick for me.  Paired with some chicken sausage (I have to make sure I have protein in the morning or I will never get even close to RDA) and strawberries.  Oh, and a little maple syrup, of course.


2 eggs
1 3/4 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup ground flax seed or flax seed meal
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, applesauce and vanilla.  Beat in the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Mine was a little thin at this stage so I added another 1/3 cup of flour.  I also think this would be a great time to blend in some pumpkin or banana!!

Cook on a well oiled waffle iron until brown and the tops are crispy.  Remove from iron and eat.
We all enjoyed these.  Well, except my daughter.  She opted for Eggos.  sigh...  Someday.

Next week - pumpkin waffles with nutty topping!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Amazing Oatmeal - finally

I do enjoy my irish oats several mornings a week, but I've seen so many bloggers posting about their amazing oatmeal creations with all kinds of toppings, etc.  I've tried many combos but just couldn't find something that knocked my socks off.  Until today!!!  My bowl of oatmeal this morning really rocked.  And it was pretty too.  :)
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup irish oats
vanilla extract

chopped noor dates
1/2 tsp coconut butter (will add more next time)

Simple but delicious.  I really loved the addition of the dates and will use more than 2 next time.  So, I was all happy about it and just had to share.  I'm sure I'm the last person on earth to attempt this combo, but just in case someone else is in the dark, please give it a try.  'Tis nummy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Insanity - Week 3 Round Up

This week I had to do a few workouts sans partner.  :(  My Mr. got a crappy tattoo fixed up, so he was healing and missed two days - one of which was the recovery day though so I'll give him a break.  And the new ink looks fantastic versus the kindergarten-esque one he had before.  I know he's much happier now as it's in a fairly visible spot on his arm.  And that has what to do with Insanity?  Anyway...

On the recovery day no less, I tweaked my left knee somehow.  Seriously, it happened during the stretching.  Ugh!  Of all the crazy moves and jumping up and down in this program, I twist my knee while stretching.  What a dork!  But I woke up the next morning good as new.

Have I been noticing results?  Well, I notice that I get through the work outs with fewer breaks most days.  My upper abs feel tighter as do my legs.  As far as visible results go though, I cannot see any.  I'm pretty sure a lot of that has to do with my diet which seems to be slowly regressing back into old habits.  I'm not sure if it's the cooler weather or just change of seasons in general (or stress), but the fat content of my meals has increased and many of my meals are ending with a dessert.  Will try to work on that this week.  I have a spinach salad planned for lunch - which I will admit sounds sooo incredibly boring and unfulfilling right now.  LOL  But, we have to do what we have to do.  And I have my baby bro's wedding to attend in just two weeks!  Hello motivation!

Hope everybody else is doing good on their fitness programs.  How's the diet going for you?  Does change of seasons affect the foods you crave?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Honey, Almonds, Custard - Oh My

I have always loved marzipan (preferably chocolate covered) and pignoli cookies - I think it's an almond paste thing.  So when I saw the lovely and talented Baking Barrister's Honey Almond Custard, I had to give it a try.  Yes, yes, custard is not "healthy" per say, but sometimes you just gotta indulge!  And when you taste the almondy goodness of this dessert, you won't care if it takes a couple (well, maybe a very lot) of extra push ups to counteract it.

The Barrister makes her custard with plums, but I had some figs on hand and used those instead.  I figured with the sweetness of the figs, I could cut down on the sugar during prep.  Even with half the sugar, the result was fabulous.

Honey Almond Custard with Figs

1 1/2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
4 tbsp honey
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
10 almonds, finely chopped
8 figs

In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, honey, cornstarch, and extracts.  In a saucepan, heat the milk until steaming but not boiling.  Gradually add the hot milk to your egg mixture, whisking continuously.  Return mixture to saucepan and heat on medium, whisking until it begins to bubble.  Remove from heat and let cool for an hour or more.
Slice 2 of the figs and layer on the bottom of your ramekins or serving bowl.  I didn't have a clear glass serving bowl for this so the trifle bowl fit the bill. 

Chop the remaining figs and mix with the cinnamon and sugar. Add chopped almonds and heat in a saucepan over low heat until fruit is softened. Let cool.
When custard is cool, spread into serving bowl or ramekins over sliced figs.  Top with scoops of cooled fruit mixture.
Sometimes the view from the bottom isn't so bad:
I wish I could say I had time for more than a second helping of this custard, but my husband devoured it like there weren't enough egg yolks in the world to make more.  But, I did reserve just enough to try it out as a frozen custard pop.  Rocket ship shaped, of course, and equally delicious!  :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's Been Too Long Veggie Pasta Bake

Hello veggies.  Where have you been?  I'm sorry I've been neglectful and I swear I did kinda miss you, but thank you for coming back to me in such a delicious way.  Gotta love when veggies don't taste like veggies.  This pasta bake tasted like a sinful baked ziti.  I think my favorite part was the eggplant.  Yum!

I did borrow and modify this recipe from another blogger on the healthy living circuit, but I can't for the life of me remember who.  I don't want to not give credit where it is due, so please, if you know where this is from, please let me know so I can link appropriately.  If it helps, I do remember she's a cutie.  That should narrow it down, right?  LOL  In the meantime, I'll keep hunting, but you guys please, enjoy this recipe.  It's delicious and perfect for the cooler weather ahead.

Spicy Sausage and Veggie Pasta Bake

1 zucchini, sliced
2 eggplant, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 lb spicy chicken sausage, sliced
3 cups marinara sauce
1 lb whole wheat penne
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup low fat mozzarella, shredded
olive oil for pot
grated parm if desired

My fixins':
Heat oven to 400.  In a grill pan over medium heat, grill zucchini and eggplant slices for about 4 minutes per side.  Brown sausage in a lightly oiled pan.  Boil pasta, cook, drain and set aside.
In empty pasta pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add tomatoes, spices and vinegar.  Cook for 5 minutes, frequently stirring.  Add sauce and chicken sausages.  Stir to combine.  Cook to just heated through.

In your lasagna pan layer the sauce, pasta, veggies and cheese.  Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Top with grated parm if desired.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and broil for 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and browned.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Insanity - Fit Test #2

Week 3 of Insanity starts out with the grueling Fit Test.  My husband and I both did better this time around, but I have to say, none of the workouts thus far have left me as winded and gasping for air as this Fit Test did.  I think I was having a somewhat off morning to start out, but wow, I really got wiped out after this.  And afterwards, we took the kids to Great Adventure, so needless to say, I slept REALLY well last night.  Almost didn't get up to work out this morning, but I knew I had a crazy day and there was little chance I would work out later tonight.  This is why I do it in the morning!

So, here we go, our fit test results compared to last week.  Minor improvements to mine, but my husband really rocked it this week.

Betty's Fit Test Result Comparison:
Switch kicks (2 kicks = 1 rep) - 63 --> 65 (+2)
Power jacks - 52 --> 53 (+1)
Power knees - 85 --> 115 (+30)
Power jumps - 43 --> 51 (+8)
Globe jumps (4 jumps = 1 rep) - 10 --> 12 (+2)
Suicide jumps - 19 --> 20 (+1)
Push up jacks - 22 --> 24 (+2)
Low plank oblique - 50  --> 56 (+6)
Mr.'s Fit Test Result Comparison:
Switch kicks - 52 --> 65 (+7)
Power jacks - 43 --> 59 (+16)
Power knees - 62 --> 91 (+29)
Power jumps - 26 --> 36 (+10)
Globe jumps - 6 --> 9 (+3)
Suicide jumps - 5 --> 16 (+11)
Push up jacks - 18 --> 23 (+5)
Low plank oblique 30 --> 49 (+19)
As you can see, my man really improved in just 2 weeks (and power jacks better than me, grrrr).  Very proud of him for sticking with it and only missing one workout so far.  Seeing how fast he's improving has really given me a kick in the pants to step it up too!  I cannot be outdone, no way, not by a hair dresser!!  :)  Just kidding, he knows I love him dearly, but seriously, my competitive nature will NOT let me fall behind anyone.
What gets you guys motivated?

"At Least She Tastes Good" Lemon Blueberry Loaf

If you can't have good looks, you can still have good taste right?  Luckily, when it comes to loaf cakes, you can!

First, I will have to admit that I apparently used a two loaf batter for one loaf.  The result?  Spillage.
Whoopsie.  I was so upset at the thought of this being an epic fail.  Thankfully though, this was still really yummy.  I was serving it for a little get-together (post-family dance class we attended for my brother's impending nuptials) and to mask my mistake, I just trimmed the edges and served it as slices on a platter.  Nobody knew.  Well, until now anyway.

This recipe is adapted from one found on Brian's blog, A Thought For Food.  Exceptional blog with great photos.  Check it out!

Low-Fat Blueberry Loaf Cake

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (I used Irish - yum)
4 oz low fat cream cheese
3 large eggs
1 egg white
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups blueberries
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz fat free lemon yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350.  Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until well blended.  Add eggs and egg white, beating while adding.

In a separate bowl combine 2 tbsp of the flour with blueberries.  Toss to coat and set aside.

Combine remaining flour with baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternating between flour and lemon yogurt.

Fold in the blueberries and vanilla.  Carefully pour into loaf pan (or two), leaving room for rising.

Bake about 1 hour and 10 minutes or to desired doneness.

Delicious and low in fat - lovely combination!  The lemon yogurt adds a lovely little tang to the flavor.  And don't even get me started on the moistness factor.
And see, she cleans up well!
And as for that dance class.  It was fun, but let's just hope all the liquor at the open bar makes us look better than reality.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Insanity - Week 2 Round Up

Another week of Insanity done.  Phew - we are getting worked to the bone here!  Still loving the workouts, still improving each day, still ending up a sweaty panting mess.  A tad bored with the repetition, a few of the workouts are repeated twice in a week and most of the warm ups are exactly the same.  I also miss my weighted workouts and am squeezing them in when I can.  But, I feel results even if they are not quite visible yet.  I think all this cardio is exactly what I need to enhance my P90X results.

We also had a new workout on the last day.  Cardio Abs AFTER Pure Cardio!  Why anyone would want to do another workout right after Pure Cardio is beyond me, but it is there, and after huffing through, I can see why.  Cardio Abs in and of itself wouldn't really do it for me.  Probably wouldn't feel like much of a workout, but AFTER the hell of Pure Cardio - geez, it was tough.  My body was already fatigued, my core was already worked pretty darn hard, and heck, I was all sweaty.  I HATE getting all down on my mat when my stomach is all wet and nasty.  It just grosses me out.  But we both prevailed.  Hubby had a much harder time as he has not done any core work in quite some time.  P90X gave me a really good base to work off of and I made it through almost all of the exercises without a break.  Those last plank moves though, my shoulders just kept giving out.  I think they are my weakest link which is so funny because I've always had somewhat large, broad shoulders.  Anyhoo...

Unfortunately, the diet front is not so great.  I have been going crazy for carbs (and cookies, chocolate, etc) for about a week now.  I will go an entire day without eating one veggie.  This we will have to work on.  I'm hoping now that things have calmed down around here, my meal planning will go better and lead to more veggies getting into our bodies.

So, until next week, keep pushing play, keep your body moving and for goodness sake, eat some veggies!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Figgy Sausage Kabobs

This is the second time I have made these delicious kabobs previously posted on Bell'alimento.  These are modified slightly.

On a whim I picked up a jar of fig preserves and had no idea what to do with them.  A balsamic reduction to put over BBQ never came to mind.  So glad I happened upon her post.  And these are really simple too!  I love when the stars align and an answer to my dilemma (not knowing what to do with fig preserves is a huge dilemma) just happens to appear on my computer.

Sausage Kabobs with Balsamic Fig Glaze
4 links hot chicken sausage, cut to desired lengths
6 tbsp fig preserves
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
handful of cherry tomatoes

Assemble skewers with sausage and cherry tomatoes.  Grill to desired doneness on oiled grill plates.

While kabobs are resting, combine the preserves and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Combine until it reaches a smooth consistency.  Baste over kabobs before serving.

So delicious!  Really, these are literally finger-licking good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

And Life Takes Over

Sigh...This is an apology post.  Life has gotten extremely nuts and my blog has been neglected and is going in an unplanned direction.  I promise that after this week (a/k/a hell week) is over, we will be back to our regularly schedule programming.  :)  That is, more healthy(er) versions of delicious recipes!!  Ample cheats too, of course.

The first two dishes on tap are a Figgy Sausage Kabob and a Honey Almond Custard (also with figs).  Both were adapted from other wonderful bloggers' recipes.  We've had these at least twice each so far and both are to die for.  I also have some more planned Indian-inspired dishes and a beautiful and delicious baked orzo in the works.

I'm going to be moving my workout posts to weekly roundups so as not to flood the blog with daily sweat and pain updates.  LOL  However, I do have some new DVD purchases to review so I'll try to stick those in there too.  We do have to do something to burn off all that delicious food, right?

So please bear with me.  We'll be back to normal (whatever that is) soon!

Thanks so much for reading, commenting and emailing.  You guys are great.  xoxo

Betty Ray

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Insanity - Week 2, Day 1 & 2

Dare I say the workouts are getting easier?  I guess easier isn't the right word, but I'm making it through with fewer breaks.  The breaks I do take are much later into the workout, usually during the exercises done from plank position (ski abs - oh how I hate you while I love you).  My shoulders and arms just can't hold up to last to the end.  But, I'll take any progress as good progress.  I noticed my husband is much further into his stretches than he was when we started too (which wasn't very far at all).  And no more back pain for me - guess I improved my form.

My view so far: The workouts are intense and effective.  I think my belly went down a little already and my butt is firmer.  I do wish there were more muscle building exercises incorporated, but Insanity was not meant to be that kind of workout - although I did pick up the upper body weight training DVD via eBay that apparently came with the deluxe Insanity package.  Guess I just miss the weight training from my P90X run and I have gone back to them on my rest days so far.  The ideal program would combine Insanity's cardio and P90X's weight training - that would be awesome!  I'm also getting bored with the warm up already.  It's the same thing for the same 9 minutes most of the week.  A little more variety would have been nice.  But, I like it.  I feel so good and energized when I'm done.  The ultimate endorphin rush!  My husband has thanked me about a dozen times so far for getting him to do this.  Now that's something!  We will keep pushing play and digging deeper until we get to the end.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kid Friendly - Honey Mustard, etc Chicken Strips

Did you ever have one of those days where you know you have chicken breasts sitting in the fridge but you are just so tired of the usual grilling or sauteing or frying...  That's how I was today.  I knew the 2 packages were in there and had to be used but I just wanted to order a pizza!  Then, like a ray of sunshine (there is a pun on the way here) the mailman delivered my Rachel Ray magazine.  Half way through the mag I saw her honey mustard sesame chicken strips.  OMG, I can do that!  And I can do a healthier version to boot!!  Dinner was in the bag - or mag.  Yeah I know, try the veal, I'm here all week!  dah dum dum :)

Honey Mustard Oven "Fried" Chicken Strips

1/2 cup good mustard
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp hot sauce (or more)
2 eggs
chicken breasts cut into tenders
1/2 cup almonds (ground in food processor)
1 cup whole wheat panko
1/4 cup sesame seeds
olive oil for cooking sheet

Heat oven to 400.  Oil up your cooking sheet.

In a bowl, combine the mustard, honey and hot sauce.  Add eggs and beat with a fork to combine.  In a separate bowl, combine your ground almonds, panko and sesame seeds.  We only had black on hand, but it made for nice color.
Dip your chicken strips into the honey mustard mixture and then dredge in the panko mixture.  Place on baking sheet.

Cook to desired doneness and serve with some good hot sauce.  We used a green jalapeno sauce.  Mmmmm.  I promise that someday I'll work on making my food pictures all pretty and appetizing, but for now, take my word for it.  These were delicious!

I am happy to report that both kids cleaned their plates!  My daughter too - which is a real feat.  I'm always so tempted to say nanny nanny poo poo you guys just ate almonds and mustard and hot sauce and on and on.  But, I kept my mouth shut and will store this recipe for frequent use.

Weekend Eats in Pictures

Two large freelance projects kind of derailed my food logging for the weekend, but I did make it to the farmer's market and did NOT resort to convenience foods.  Also found time to hit the mall early on Monday for the Labor Day sales, and oh yes, four pairs of pants were purchased in a smaller size!  Hello Shaun T, goodbye muffin top!

Here's a little photo show of some of the various (and yummy) things I ingested.  LOL  Not so bad for a holiday weekend - probably because most of it was spent at my desk.

Skebbies with garlic bread and hot chicken sausage:
Farmer's Market Finds - black Russian onion bread with heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozz (pronounced "mootz" of course):
Pork and beans:
Pina colada protein pancakes (add ins: coconut, macadamia nuts, vanilla and crushed pineapple) cooked in coconut oil:
Lower fat mac & cheese:
BBQ a la the Mr.:
A few sips of:
Random "hanging in the backyard" cuteness:
I hope everybody thoroughly enjoyed their holiday weekend and that is was full of good food, relaxation and family!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Menu - Sept 3 & Insanity Day 6

Late, late, late.  This is how today is going so far.  Woke up - late.  Husband woke up - even later.  Ok, let's go work out.  Nope.  Someone needed coffee first.  Barf!  Work out - late.  Shower - late.  Work - yeah, I was late for that too.  Ah well.  Let's hope the rest of the day brings me back on schedule.  TGIF!

On the bright side, today was the last day of our first week of Insanity with Plyo Cardio Circuit.  Woohoo, we made it.  We also did on this on Monday which really effected my lower back.  But today we found out why.  My form during the power squats was way off.  I am leaning forward too much.  As soon as I did one today, there was the pain.  Had my husband watch my form and help me correct it.  That's one of the nice things about working out with a partner.  Hoping next week I'll do better with those.  All in all though, now that we are done learning the moves, I can say that this is one killer workout.  My goodness, there was sweat flinging everywhere.  So gross yet so good!  Note to self - obtain heart rate monitor so I can see exactly how many calories we are burning during these grueling circuits.

Of course, after that killer workout I was starving with a capital S.  I knew I needed something hearty.  Irish oatmeal!  Yummy.  Today I fortified it with some pumpkin, honey and walnuts.  Recipe: 1 cup 2% milk, 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp pumpkin, a dash of vanilla and cinnamon, handful of crushed walnuts - cook.  Drizzled on some honey and added a pinch of brown sugar when it was done.  Twas good!

Someone recently asked about my supplements.  I only take one kind, two pills in the morning.  The Super Vita-CoQ10 Formula by BlueBonnet pictured below.  These are kind of expensive ($29 for 60), but I do feel differently since using them and they contain a ton of vitamins and antioxidants which I unfortunately lack in my diet.  They are supposed to be energizing, and I feel they help get me going in the morning.  The first few days I used them though, I had trouble sleeping and just didn't feel tired.  Thankfully, that wore off after a few days.

10am pb&j (I was a half hour early today - trying to counteract all the lateness from this morning).  Packed a slice of the Indian pizza from last night and ate it cold. OMG, so good that way too.  Side of red grapes.  Yeah, nothing green has entered my body yet today.  Sigh...

I had a bit of a drive this afternoon to pick up my kids from their dad's so 1/2 a pecan pie Lara bar it was.  Carefully eaten while driving.  Was hoping to ward off any cravings for NYC pizza during the trip - so hard to say no though.

Green!!  I had a healthy portion of broccoli with my oven "fried" chicken strips (recipe to post shortly) and brown rice.  It's not enough, but at least it's something.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pizza with an Indian Flair

I have a guilty pleasure.  Food Network television!  If the kids aren't otherwise occupying the tv, food network it is.  My husband and I got into Next Food Network Star again this season even though early on in the show I am so uncomfortable watching these poor contestants try to work in front of the camera.  I was Team Herb (hello, he's cute, personable, cute, buff and did I mention cute), but I knew Aarti would win as her theme was so interesting and very unique from other shows already on the network.

On the episode where the finalists had to film their pilot, I was so taken by Aarti's pizza recipe that I had to give it a go.  I don't care for prosciutto though, so mine uses shrimp.

The pizza tasted so incredibly good.  The spice is not a hot spicy, but a very subtle warm kind of heated flavor (if that makes any sense) which lingers a while after you've eaten, and I cannot begin to tell you how good the paneer tastes with the chutney sauce.  I highly recommend bringing these flavors together.  We will be using this again.

What was so exciting too about this pizza was working with new ingredients!!  I love picking up new stuff at the store to "play" with.  Here's what we have today:

I know, I know, homemade chutney is easy to make.  BUT, I've worked with mangoes before and have vowed never to do it again.  They are a total pain in the butt!  The paneer (which took trips to two supermarkets to find - I totally should've known to go straight to Whole Foods) freaked me out a bit as it does not melt so it resembled tofu.  But it browned nicely and had a wonderful flavor and texture.

Shrimp Pizza with Spicy Mango Chutney Sauce

whole wheat pizza dough
6 tbsp spicy mango chutney (I didn't make this myself)
2 cups tomato sauce (this I did make myself)
1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined and sauteed
1/2 block paneer, in pieces
1/4 tsp cumin
red pepper flakes, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, optional
cornmeal for stone or baking sheet

Heat oven to 450.  Sprinkle cornmeal on your stone or baking sheet and spread the dough.  Let it rest and come to room temp.

To make your sauce, heat the chutney and tomato sauce over medium heat and stir to combine.  Top dough with your prepared chutney sauce and the sauteed shrimp.  As per a comment on my previous shrimp pizza post by Stephen C, I left them a tad undercooked so they will finish while the pizza cooks without getting rubbery.  Thanks Stephen!  Sprinkle on the paneer pieces and top with red pepper flake, cumin and parm (if desired).

Cook and eat!  Unfortunately my dough decided to stick to the stone today.  Badly.  In all my years of pizza making, this is a first.  I think I went too heavy on the sauce and it soaked through and stuck.  So please, heavily cornmeal your stones people and be careful with the sauce so you don't end up eating shrimp chutney pizza mash like we did.  Thankfully, it tasted good and I did manage to get two nearly perfect slices.

It's an adults only night so when I passed this wine at Whole Foods, I couldn't resist.  The name explains my life!  :)  Since I know nothing of explaining wine flavors, notes, etc., I'll just tell you I liked it.  And it was on sale.  Woohoo!

Also decided to try out a new chocolate.  The chocolate bar display at Whole Foods is so interesting.  So many neat flavors to try (similar to their immense wall o' nutrition bars).  This one is coconut curry in milk chocolate.  It was different.  Seriously, it tasted like the chicken tikka I had for lunch but yet there was a desserty quality to it.  Not sure I like it but I don't hate it.  I could still feel the curry on the back of my throat several minutes after I had a bite.

And there we have it.  I lovely, romantic dinner for two.  Only, the Mr. got stuck at work so I ate alone (and enjoyed every minute of it).

I'm anxious to see what the new Aarti Party has in store.  It is a great idea for a show - a little flavor of India in your everyday dishes and this recipe certainly didn't disappoint.  Guilty tv pleasures anyone?