Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Pizza

Shall I resolve for 2011 to not eat quite so much pizza??  Nah, no way!

Last night I did a slightly different version of the broccoli pizza which was dubbed Best. Pizza. Ever. by my husband.  I added some very, very thin red onion and sauteed that with the broccoli tons of fresh garlic, salt, pepper and pepper flake in a bit of olive oil before topping the pizza.  We opted to use some red sauce and a bit of pepperoni.  Not much as I wasn't sure we'd like the flavor combo.  But, we did!!  Next time it's pepperoni all over.  Cooked at 450 on a pizza stone.

The result - thin crispy crust with that slight nutty flavor from the whole wheat dough.  The broccoli onion mixture had a pretty decent amount of heat from the pepper flake and garlic which was super delicious.  I only managed to get a slice and a half before HE came home and devoured the rest.  Geesh!

Apologies for the crummy pics - I was in a hurry to eat.  Promise it was much more delicious than it appears here.
I haven't thought up any yet besides attempting to eat healthier, but do you have any resolutions for 2011 in the kitchen?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My MoJo - She is Gone

Hey everybody.  Hope the holidays are treating you well!  I'm just popping in to post a quick update.  Nope, you have not seen any workout related posts in a bit.  Guess why.  No working out has been done for about three weeks here - and nothing consistently for over a month.  Seems I've got a nasty bug that just really likes me and wants to stick around - it's been hanging out in my right ear for almost three weeks now and makes jumping around quite uncomfortable and stomach turning.

BUT, the end is in sight.  I'm on some serious meds (which will last eight weeks, ewww) and starting to feel better, if not a bit fatigued.  The plan is to once again start P90X and kick some butt in 2011.  I think this will be our fourth attempt at getting past week one!

So I wish everybody a very Happy New Year and will be back with the healthier (mostly) dishes very soon.  For now, let's just eat chocolate and cake.  :)

See you in 2011!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Overnight French Toast

We made this lovely dish on Christmas Eve morning.  We all had to be out of the house early and wouldn't have the kids for breakfast Christmas morning, so a dish I could prep the night before and throw in the oven upon waking was perfect!

This recipe comes from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life and is a must try.  It is kind of like candy for breakfast and unless you are an Elf, probably not something you should do weekly.  But, for the holidays, I say why the heck not!!

What you need:

2 tbsp corn syrup (I used light)
1/2 cup butter (this can be modified down)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 loaf french bread
8 eggs*
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

*I used 1/2 a cup of egg whites and 3 eggs

In a saucepan, combine the corn syrup, butter and sugar.  Simmer until syrupy.  Pour this mixtur into a 9x13 baking dish lined with parchment and sprayed with baking spray.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Slice the bread into 20-24 slices and coat with egg mixture.

Lay the bread slices in the pan, squishing into the caramel.  Pour remaining egg mixture over top (use your judgment, I felt I had too much egg mixture left to use the entire thing).  Cover dish and put in fridge overnight.

Next morning, preheat oven to 350.  Bake covered for 40 minutes and uncovered for another 10.  Serve and enjoy!  I served with chicken sausage as I thought we should have some sort of nutritional value in the morning.

Store leftovers in a tupperware as the caramel will stick to the parchment upon hardening.  I found this is great cold out of the fridge too as a leftover sweet treat.  :)
Hope everybody had a terrific Christmas and is looking forward to a healthy and happy 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Have a Joyous Christmas!!

From our family to yours - enjoy this wonderful time of year!

And since I love to reminisce, here's some of our out-takes and memories from the past few Christmas card sessions.

Oops, my set up is showing.  :)
Don't forget to wash little faces before setting up for pictures.
Hello.  Is this thing on?
Sometimes it's best to have someone else take the photos.
 Christmas Rocks!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Labor of Love Caramel Apple Cake

The minute I saw this cake in Food Network magazine, I knew I would be making it.  I have to say though, it is a bit of work.  Well worth it in the end, but work none-the-less.  The recipe below is a tad bit lighter than the original - using light cream vs. heavy, less sugar, and subbing out some white flour for wheat.  Hey, every little bit helps.

For the Caramel and Apples:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup light cream
4 large Golden Delicious apples

For the Batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs

Butter a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan. Make the caramel: Cook the sugar and corn syrup in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is dark amber.
Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the cream and 4 tablespoons butter (it will splatter) and cook, stirring, until combined, about 3 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit 1 minute. Pour 1 1/2 cups caramel into a glass measuring cup and set aside (at this point, feel free to cut up another apple and dip away - you're already ready for a break).  Pour the remaining caramel into the prepared pan and set aside until set, about 30 minutes.
Cut 3 apples into quarters and cut out the cores with a paring knife. Arrange the pieces skin-side down in the pan (overlapping them slightly) to form a ring about 1/2 inch from the edge. Save any pieces that do not fit for later.
Halve the remaining whole apple crosswise. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or measuring spoon, leaving the stem on the top half. Chop the bottom and any of the leftover quartered apples into pieces; set aside.

Arrange the apple top, stem-side down, in the center of the pan. If the quartered apples shift, just push them back into place.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the batter: Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, orange juice and vanilla.

Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Slip them into the mixer bowl, one at a time, and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 5 more minutes.

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the sour cream mixture, then half of the flour mixture. Repeat. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula; finish combining the batter by hand.

Spread the batter over the apples in the pan.  It was pretty thick.
Top with the chopped apple. Bake on the middle oven rack until the cake is brown on top and springs back when pressed, 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes (don't worry if the top is dark). Cool in the pan on a rack.
Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a skillet wide enough to hold the cake pan. Carefully run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan several times, then rest the pan in the water to soften the caramel, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and dry.

Invert a plate on top of the cake, then flip over the cake and plate. Using pot holders or a towel, wriggle the pan off. Soften the reserved 1 1/2 cups caramel in the microwave (or on the stove if you are like me and don't own a micro). Drizzle the cake with some of the caramel. Slice and serve with the rest (lots of the rest).  I promise that it tastes better than it looks.  The top gets all sticky and caramely.
After this marathon baking session, it is time to eat!!  You deserve it.  Nummers!
This was delicious and smelled wonderful.  Do I think I'll make this again?  Probably not, I'm lazy and it's a lot of work.  Homemade caramel though?  Yeah, we will be doing that again!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A New Outlet (err...I mean blog)!

It's official, I'm a stuck in a rut mom.  Finally, at 37, figured out what it is I like to do.  Yeah, I've always been a little late to the game.  Problem is, at this point, it's just not possible to pursue those interests right now.  What's a girl to do??  Well I say why not start a new blog wherein she can post about all the things she wants to do, hopes to do (translation: wants to buy), places she wants to go, and so on!

So I did it.  I started a mom blog (a mlog?).  My husband would probably call it a blah, blah blog and he's not far off.  Mom blog sounds better than bitter, frustrated, aging woman blog doesn't it?  LOL  I promise though, I'm not that bitter or that frustrated, but it would be fun to commune with other women (and men too) about art, decorating, kid stuff, fashion, shopping, travel, budgets, etc.  If you care to join me, feel free to come on over to Random.  I'd love to see ya!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vegetarian Thai Chili

That's right, Betty did a vegetarian chili.  And guess what?  She liked it!!  The kids ate it too!!  So, I definitely recommend giving this a swing.  Credit goes to Clean Eating magazine's January 2011 issue.

1 1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups veggie broth
1/2 cup bulgur
1 sweet potato, peeled & cubed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cooked kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 cups tomato puree
salt & pepper, to taste

In a heavy pot, add curry paste, cumin and a small bit of broth.  Mash mixture and stir until paste is free of lumps.  Add remaining broth, bulgur, potato and bell pepper.  Set over high heat and bring to boil.  Cover tightly, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.

Add beans, coconut milk and puree.  Stir to combine.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until bulgur is tender and chili is thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

This was quick and easy.  The best part was using it as a dip for a fresh piece of whole grain baguette.  Mmmm...  I told the kids the bulgur was similar to rice but just in balls and they ate it up.

I believe this is only the second time in my life I had a vegetarian meal, let alone prepare one myself.  It was very good, easy to prep, not too costly and is a keeper in the winter rotation.  Oh, and this makes a fairly large pot of chili.  The leftovers are even better!

Nutritional info as per Clean Eating:
Calories 341
Fat 5g
Carbs 68g
Fiber 17g
Protein 17g
No cholesterol!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Anybody see my wagon??

Yup, I fell off the wagon (hard) so long ago that the damn wagon is no longer in sight.  No real valid excuses, just the norm: crazy work schedule, crazy kids' schedules, yet another major feeling illness and a total lack of motivation.  Lack of motivation has included cooking, wrapping gifts, blogging, cleaning, the list goes on.  Sleep seems to be the only thing I'm interested in doing.

Anyway, I'm hoping to start back up next week as my office is closed.  So once again, I'll be restarting P90X from the beginning.

Hope everybody else is doing great and gearing up for a terrific holiday and New Year!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cookbook Sale!!

HauteLook is having some Random House cookbook deals today.  A few of them are cheaper than Amazon, but I'm not sure about shipping prices.  They have what appears to be all the Ina Garten books and the Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking box set too!

Anyway, if you want to have a look - THIS is the site.  You do have to sign up, but there is no charge.  The link posted is not an affiliate link.  I have ordered from this site though and they are reputable.

Happy shopping!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Clean Moroccan Beef & Root Veggies

Got the new issue of Clean Eating and it is chock full of soothing comfort food - my fav!!  The first thing I had to try was the Moroccan Beef.  I thought it was pretty good and it really made the house smell lovely.

There are also recipes for Thai Vegetarian Chili and Chicken Tetrazzini that I want to take a stab at this week (hopefully).  One thing I can't get the hang of is making dinner when work is busy.  This week we resorted to pizza one night, Whole Foods buffet another, and most unfortunately, one night when it was just me, a 1/2 bag of cheese curls.  Ugh.

So, here's to better eating from here on out!!  In case you want to give the beef a whirl, the recipe is below.

olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
2 navel oranges
1 1/2 lb. stew meat
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
2 3/4 chicken stock
1 small turnip (peeled & chopped)
3 parsnips (peeled & chopped)
2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
12 prunes
3/4 cup whole wheat couscous
3 scallions (thinly sliced), for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.  Remove peel of one orange with a veggie peeler (removing as much pith as possible), set aside.  Juice one orange, set aside.

Pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Brown meat in batches and set aside.

Drain any fat from pan and heat more olive oil.  Add onion and cook until tender.  Add cumin, coriander, cinnamon & cayenne.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups of the stock, reserved orange peel and juice.  Bring to a simmer and then add beef and any juices back into pot.  When simmering begins again, cover and place in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Remove pot from oven and add remaining 1 cup of stock, turnip, parsnips and carrots.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven again and add plums.  Return to oven and cook for another 25 minutes.

About 15 minutes before beef is done, bring 1 cup water to boil.  Add couscous, remove from heat, cover and set aside for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork and divide among bowls.  Top with beef and veggies and garnish with scallions and zest of remaining orange.

Here's my attempt at taking better and more appetizing food photos.  :)
Approximate nutritional info as per Clean Eating:
Calories: 492
Fat 13g
Sat Fat 3g
Carbs 64g
Fiber 10g
Sugars 19g
Protein 34g
Sodium 422mg
Cholesterol 50mg

Friday, December 10, 2010

Week O' Ina - Part III: My First Shot at Soup!

Well folks, 'tis the last recipe in my week long tribute to Ina Garten.  This woman is really something.  I mean she got me to make a homemade soup!!  A lentil vegetable soup no less, vegetables!  No easy task.  For the record, compared to the price of a cup of soup from Panera, homemade soup is expensive.  When I went to Whole Foods to get ingredients for this and the tuna rolls, I walked out with two shopping bags and nearly $100 less in my wallet.  But, this did make a boat load of soup and I used the best quality ingredients I could find.

1 pound French green lentils

4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks) - I omitted the celery because it's just gross
3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery (if you are using it) and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes.
Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan, or with a simple slice of corn bread.
Or a giant grilled tuna roll.  :)
I really enjoyed the flavor of the broth in this soup.  My only complaint, and something quite fixable for next time, is that she did this with a very rough chop on the veggies.  For people like me (and my kids) who have a hard time with veggies to begin with, I don't know why I thought huge chunks would go over well.  Next time I will dice them much finer.  Oh yeah, and when it came to the kids, I told them the lentils were pasta.  They dove in.

And that is the last of Ina for this week, but I'm sure I'll be posting many more of her recipes in the future.  When I want something homey, flavorful and impressive, her cookbooks are what I turn to.

Where do you turn for a great recipe?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shutterfly $25 Gift Certificate Deal

Hey all.  Just wanted to give any fellow bloggers a heads up about a Shutterfly offer.

Today I created and ordered our holiday card (see prior post) and calendar through Shutterfly.  After checkout, I was prompted to "share" my project on my blog for a $25 gift certificate to Shutterfly.

So, if anybody is interested and hasn't ordered their holiday "stuffs" yet, get on over there and check it out.  According to my confirmation email, the code will be emailed to me within 10 business days which is great because I've been wanting to order a few things!  Code is good until February 15, 2011. 

I'm sure I'm probably the last one to know about this as I ordered so late, but just in case anybody else has their head in the sand, this is for you.  :)

Snipit from my confirmation email from Shutterfly.

"Thank you for your entry to the Share Project promotion at Shutterfly.
We will review all entries and send discount codes to qualified entrants within 10 business days. To qualify for the discount code, projects must be posted to a website or blog owned or managed by the participant.
Please note that sharing to social networks such as Facebook does not meet the promotion requirements."

Happy Holidays

Glitter Glamour Joy Christmas Card
Get custom photo Christmas cards online at
View the entire collection of cards.

Week O' Ina - Part II: Wasabi Tuna Rolls

Another day, another Ina Garten recipe.  Is that Jeffrey a lucky guy or what??!!  And don't even get me started on her house in the Hamptons.  Heck, I'd settle for her garden right outside MY kitchen window.

This recipe was featured on the same show as the granola bars.  It is easy to do and looks and tastes like a million bucks. Grilled Wasabi Tuna Rolls!  I like to call these one of those impress your guests with little effort recipes.

Olive oil

1 pound very fresh tuna steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, zest grated
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
5 dashes hot sauce
1 firm, ripe Hass avocado, diced
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced scallion
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
9 hot dog rolls, grilled or toasted
1 bunch baby arugula

My whole foods find, soft and delicious wheat hoagie rolls.  They were perfect for this recipe.
 Brush both sides of the tuna with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook the tuna on hot grill or grill pan for about 2 minutes (or less) on each side. Remove to a plate. The tuna should be seared on the outside and raw inside. Allow to cool and cut into cubes.

For the dressing, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi powder, soy sauce, hot sauce, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Toss the avocado in the dressing and then add the tuna, red onion, scallion, and sesame seeds.
Line the rolls with arugula leaves, fill with the tuna mixture, and serve.  And hello yummy!  You may want to offer these up with a fork as well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

B-Day Post! My Fav Restaurant

Yes, it is true.  Today I take one baby step closer to the big 4-0!  Funny how that number gets closer every year.

Anyway, my husband and I don't really do gifts anymore since we both buy ourselves what we want and need when we want and need it.  LOL  But, we do go out for a nice meal together.  This year we brought the kids along and had a great time.

Oddly enough, I chose the restaurant I've chosen for the past three years, Saigon Cafe in Jersey City, New Jersey. (website)  Vietnamese food made by a very friendly Vietnamese family served in a comfy little hole in the wall.  I think I may have ordered the same dish the past three years in a row too.  :)

Here are some rather crappy pictures.  The lighting in the restaurant had a blue cast to it and all I had was my son's cheapo point and shoot.  I don't know how all those great food bloggers whip out that big DSLR at a restaurant - guess I'm too self conscious.

The girls (we're sitting on a church pew!):
The boys:
Chicken satay with peanut butter dipping sauce:
Chopstick practice and a shredded pork roll:
Clay pot shrimp special with a side of rice (the rice was a godsend as this was so spicy but absolutely delicious):
Asian style pork ribs (my daughter is not very adventurous):
My fav - prawn chip pork with lettuce wraps (there are cukes and carrots in there too):
Of course, dessert came and it's one we just LOVE.  I totally forgot to take a picture until...
Oopsie.  It was a steamed banana "cake" with coconut creme and ground peanuts on top.  One day I will find a recipe for this little delight.  If you ever get to visit and can only afford one thing, get the steamed banana cake! Words cannot describe.

And my husband got off cheap.  Dinner for four, soup to nuts with a few alcoholic beverages (3 mojitos) and he shells out less than $100!  Hmmm...maybe I should rethink that whole no gift thing.

Thanks for a great birthday meal, my gorgeous and sophisticated husband.  Love ya (someone has to)!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week O' Ina - Part I: Granola Bars

A few months ago I shared our dirty little secret.  After the kids go to bed and my husband and I have a little time together, we like to pour some wine, shut the lights and cuddle on the couch and...oh yeah, you know where this is going...somewhere hot and spicy, seductive, exciting, inspiring and oftentimes, the Food Network!!  Hello, Iron Chef, Triple D (in layman's terms: Diners, Drive Ins & Dives), The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Next Food Network Star.  Now that's some primetime excitement right there!

Many years ago we I first discovered the Food Network, I immediately fell in love with Ina Garten.  Her food is doable, delicious, fancy yet not gourmet and most times, not completely drenched in butter and cream (ahem...Paula Deen, the American Heart Association called and they ain't happy y'all!).  I have many of her cookbooks and love when I catch her shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  As my little tribute to Ina, this week I am posting some of my recent favorite dishes.  Oddly enough, they all appeared on the same show that I was lucky enough to catch on weekend.  Afterwards, I immediately ran to and printed the recipes every single thing she made.

Our first stop will be granola bars.  I have made these at least five times since seeing them on television and will be giving them out as gifts this Christmas as well.  So, without further ado, Ina's homemade granola bars.

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8x12 baking dish and line it with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
These are delicious and addicting.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

P90X Plyo - I Missed You??!!

Oh yeah, that's right, I'm loving plyo right now.  After several pain in the butt interruptions in my pursuit to get back into P90X, it finally happened, I started working out again.  And as of Day 2, the dreaded Plyometrics day, and after sampling other programs, I knew this was the program for me.  So, we're back into it - straight P90X with some possible substitutions here and there when time is an issue (with the X, you're never done in less than an hour, which lately has been an issue - that darn working for a living just ruins everything).  My husband is only doing some of the days with me, but that's ok.  I am enjoying it and can already feel like I'm getting results just four days in.  For me, the mix of strength training and cardio is where it's at yo.  :-D

So here's my sweaty mess of a self after my Day 2 plyometrics workout.

Two Freebies Still Left - Yoga & Cardio

No interest in Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga?  No love for Jari Love?  These are the two items left from my give-away post HERE.

Same rules apply, first comment published gets it.  These two are open for seconds, so if you've already claimed a video or book, you can add on.  I'm packing up the items to ship on Monday so the give-away will be closed on Sunday evening.

Have a great weekend!

UPDATE:  Only DVD left is the Jari Love.