Friday, April 30, 2010

31 Whole Days Challenge

Praise God April is (almost) over. Its been a great month, but not for the eating/exercising/weight part of it. May will be different!
I love starting new things, having goals, etc.
Happy Herbivore is doing this and when I saw it - I thought I could do this. It is not RAW, but unprocessed - I think there is a difference.
My friend Sarah is doing it and she has made her own tweaks to make this be balanced and work for her.
So, this month:
1. Going to keep a food journal and really assess how easy or hard it is to eat whole, unprocessed foods (with receipts).
2. Going to apply this wholly while I am at home, but slack some while at restaurants. Try to eat as whole as possible out, but knowing I can't control everything on a menu.
3. Will keep up with my recipes from magazines and will try to just bake then I can give them away and not eat them. I don't have any whole, unprocessed magazine recipes.
4. Will post the highlights and lowlights each wknd for the month of May.

Looking forward to the challenge. Are you up for it?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars (2010.17)

Best thing I've cooked (new) all month. Great way to end April! We are having Joy Prom at Church tonight and these are for the hundreds of volunteers we will have:

Makes 16 - not healthy at all (but very yummy)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup creamy pb (I used skippy, not all natural) - the whole regular jar - then used the jar for Oats in a Jar this morning for breakfast
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 roll (16.5 oz) chocolate chip cookie dough

350. square ungreased pan.
Press about 3/5 of the dough on bottom of pan. Mix sugar, pb, and vanilla. Spread on top. Crumble rest of cookie dough on top and bake for about 30 minutes.
Let chill for about an hour. Cut into bars.
Serve chilled or room temp. Get them out of the house!

Couscous Chicken Salad with Vegetables (2010.16)

I really like couscous and I like chicken and I like vegetables. Thought this would be good. That's about it - it was good.

Here you go:
This is from Easy Summer Meals (Cooking Light)

1 1/2 cup water
1 T evoo
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup couscous (uncooked)
1 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 finely chopped zuk
1/2 cup chopped mushroom
1 1/2 cup chopped chicken (I cooked mine and saved the broth for some soup I am going to make this wknd)
1/2 cup diced carrots
3 green onions, chopped
3 T dried currants
1 T dried chopped mint (or fresh)

1 cup plain ff yogurt
3 T lemon juice
1 T honey (less because it was really sweet, or Agave nectar)
1 T apple cider vinegar (or what you have)

Chop all veggies. Chop chicken. Cook couscous according to directions. Mix up dressing. Combine all. Best served over mixed greens for a light lunch.
1 1/2 cups: 368 cal, 8 fat, 4 fiber

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taste of Raleigh: Bella Monica Flatbread Company

Italian food. Comfort food.

There is a small, local Italian place within a 1/2 mile of home and I finally had a chance to go tonight. Definitely had to make reservations and had great company.

I tried to be a little on the healthy side - so I didn't have any ooey gooey cheese - will have to go back and try something that has cheese!

1. The hospitality. Like an Italian family dinner table. They were excited we were there, people in white chef's coats brought out our food, and they were very welcoming even when we were leaving. They weren't shoving us out of there and couldn't care less about how long we stayed and talked.
2. The meatballs. Perfectly seasoned and not dry at all - that's what I like. Maybe I need to go back and get a huge meatball sub!
3. Option for whole wheat pasta. I went for the whole wheat penne - I could be a little healthy.
4. The tomato sauce. Not too spicy, not too chunky. Perfect for a pasta sauce. Right on!
5. My friends enjoyed their meal: chicken parm and stuffed shells. They both said they were great.

The Wish Was Better:
1, The bread. Definitely dig any other Italian place's bread better than here. Dry and not too flavorful.
2. The bruschetta. They were cheap (which was good for an appetizer) but neither were really that good: blue crab on one and chicken liver pate on the other. I could have passed on both.
3. The non-descript salad. Yes it was good. But there was nothing special about it.

Would I go again - yes, definitely trying something cheesy this next time.
Would I make it my go to Italian place? Not yet - and definitely the chains are better so far.
Have heard amazing things about their pizza - so may hit that up soon!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taste of Mooresville: Lancaster's BBQ

What kind of BBQ fan are you? Is it a noun or a verb? Do you like Memphis, TX, Sonny's, Eastern, Western, TN, KY - so many people out there and everyone with an opinion on BBQ. Well...
Here is mine...
I had one of the best BBQ sandwiches ever to be put in my mouth today. Definitely worth the 2 hour and 20 minute drive and the 3.85 per sandwich. The chopped cole slaw and the mild sauce (not vinegar) made this sandwich dynamite!
It is definitely a fave of my sister-in-laws and a gas station in Mooresville has it for sale on Sundays.
The homemade chips are great and not too salty - fun to eat when dipped in ranch dressing. They also come seasoned if you want them - cajun style - that is how Alan chose to eat his - dipped in their vinegar sauce.
So good - go now.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Menu Week: April 26

This is a busy week - much eating out, hanging out with people. Looking forward to ALL of it! Gotta make wise decisions though about what I get!

Monday: oats and fruit for breakfast (good start to the week). Homemade chicken quinoa soup for lunch and veggies. Dinner is at Champas (the thai part of it) with bonnie over reading.

Tuesday: Breakfast at one of my fave places: Cafe Carolina (not that they have anything healthy there). Lunch with a new friend. Coffee at Bux later with a mission-minded college girl at State.

Wednesday: Publix bread, pb, and fruit. Lunch is with my co-workers at Crabtree Valley Mall (so many options). Dinner with some fave people at the Summit to meet their new(ish) little boy. Can't wait for that meal and hang out time!

Thursday: Publix bread. Salad. Dinner while babysitting for some wild and crazy kids who love Jesus!

Friday: Egg white omelette with veggies, soup and pbj, dinner is something random because we have Joy Prom that night!

Saturday: Flying Biscuit with Rach, then off to the Farmers Market. Can't wait to see what I find - and that will be lunch and dinner.

The recipe of the week this week will be something I can bake for the Joy Prom Volunteer room on Friday night - I'm thinking bars or brownies of some sort!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

I love cookies. Bad, bad cookies! :)
But, when you are making them for 8th grade girls to go along with pizza and get them full of sugar for a sleepover - they are perfect. These are so good - especially right out of the oven. Perfectly chewy!

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (room temp)
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 SCANT tsp salt
5 oz butterscotch chips
4 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
4 oz milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream wet ingredients. Add in dry. Fold in chips and nuts.
Larger cookies - 11 minutes - slightly sprayed cookie sheets. 350 degrees.
Cool and eat!

Question: Do have a favorite cookie sheet that looks like this one? And what are your fave chips to use in cookies?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Menu Week: April 19

Ok - here is a week of no snacking! I gotta do it! Here we go: I'm actually writing this down on an actual piece of paper and putting it on the fridge so I can remember what I'm packing for lunch this week. Let's see if this works:
Monday: oats, couscous salad, dinner with some friends at their home
Tuesday: Publix bread and fruit for breakfast, soup and yogurt/fruit for lunch, salad with couscous chicken on top (note that the couscous salad is the recipe of the week
Wednesday: oats and fruit, soup, chipotle for dinner (salad with veggies, no chips)
Thursday: granola and milk for breakfast, sweet tomatoes with a sweet friend for lunch, salad with couscous for dinner then off to LocoLu's for roommate night
Friday: oats with fruit, soup and tomato sandwich for lunch, dinner with friends
Saturday: bfast before the 5k, lunch and dinner are up for grabs. Haven't gotten that far. Maybe whatever is for leftovers by that time in the week.

Durham Farmers' Market and Food Thoughts

Greetings for a Saturday night. Its been a good day.
The Durham Farmers' Market is great local find. All vendors have to be within 50 miles or so of Durham Cty. Which is very local!
I found french breakfast radishes. I have already used them all: in a stir-fry (w broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, zuks) and roasted - which they almost turn to mush. Raw - these have a peppery bite which I'm not used to with regular radishes you buy in the store. I even am going to use the green as a salad tomorrow for lunch.
I found a hybrid green: green leaf and romaine. Hearty lettuce that will stand up for the base of my couscous chicken salad this week.
I also found a winery in Graham that makes Scuppernong and Muscadine wines. So, I tasted all three and liked the Scuppernong the best. May go back and gte some more later - however I was nice and bought my brother some Muscadine wine. Let's see if he likes it as much as Dakota Winery's...

Here are my food thoughts:
1. I have been snacking WAY too much. Not even bad stuff - just eating too much. I don't like that feeling and I don't like that sin.
2. So, I think I will spend tomorrow journaling about it, getting back to God's heart on my eating and exercising, and see if we can get a game plan going here for more obedience.
3. I will (starting tomorrow) take my friend Sarah's advice and maybe try to eat bigger meals so I will not snack every 2 hours to so. I won't be tempted to open that snack drawer in my office. I won't be tempted to grab that handful of SweetTart jellybeans! And if I do snack, it has to ve veggies or fruit - plain. Or with mustard. None of these processed pretzels, or cool whip, or even granola which is higher in fat. I need healthy fruits and veggies.
4. I would rather be able to wear all my clothes than to eat more. But, that shouldn't be more sole reason. I should do it to please my God who sent His Son to die for me. Right now, for me, that doesn't seem to be a big enough reason.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Taste of Raleigh: El Rodeo

Went to lunch with some co-workers today to really talk about children's ministry - and you can definitely talk for a while over chips and salsa.
We went to a place across the street from the church called El Rodeo (no www). Typical mexican place - nicer ambience than some other local places.
Liked our waiter - he was very nice. The food came out in about 6 minutes - really - we were surprised at how fast it was. We went a little after 11am and were the first ones there, but by the time we left about 1240 it was more full.
I got the sincronizada - a vegetarian tortilla sandwich: mushroom, onion, pepper, jalepenos, and cheese - with sliced avocado on top. My mouth was on fire but it was absolutely wonderful! I loved it. 6.75 got me that, a huge portion of rice (which wasn't anything to rave about and I only took a few bites), chips (again, blah chips) and salsa (I really liked their salsa).
So...good to know there is a good place close by - but I'll still be looking for good Mexican places in the area!

Strawberry Oat Bars - 2010.15

I thought this recipe was going to be better than what it turned out to be: oh, well. I liked the jam - although it made it sticky. And I liked the dough before it was baked. But, it turned out dry. Oh, well. Here you go (because I even put fails up here). Ok - my roommate said they weren't a fail - she ate it. I told her I threw the rest of them out.

This is called learning:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans
zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
Mix dry, add wet. Take one cup out and set aside.
Press the rest of the dough into the bottom of foil-lined 9x9 pan. Bake the dough for 20 minutes at 350. Remove from oven, spoon the jam over the hot crust. Top with remaining dough.
Bake an additional 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
This recipe is from my GoodNeighbor magazine from my insurance agency.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

California Waldorf Salad: from Moosewood

Well, here was my first recipe from the 100$ for 1.50 cookbook. I like it ok- just wouldn't serve it for dinner (which is what I'm doing).

3 large apples, chopped (I used 1 large golden delicious and 2 medium pink ladies, skin on)
juice of 2 lemons, divided
2 tangerines (I would use mandarin oranges next time - no seeding)
2 stalks celery (I used 2 instead of 1)
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup cashews (I didn't toast them)

Dressing: (sweeter than I thought, would use less honey next time)
1 cup plain ff yogurt
1 small avocado (maybe the world's perfect food)
zest of half lemon
3 T honey (I used orange blossom)

Toss apple mixture with juice of one of the lemons.
Mix dressing and other lemon juice in a blender till smooth.
Mix together gently.
Serve over mixed greens.

I would serve this for a brunch in the summer. Pretty and light and sweet. Would be good paired with muffins.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taste of Raleigh: Wildflour Boston Pizza

For 6 months I lived within walking distance of this place and never went. Today was the first day I ventured out with a co-worker to check out a little corner restaurant in Stonehenge (N. Raleigh) for lunch: Wildflour Boston Pizza.
Ok - I don't thnk I had even heard of Boston Pizza. Yeah, of course - Chicago, New York, CPK, homemade, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Little Caesar...we have our favorites...but Boston?
I wasn't even planning on getting pizza...
But, I saw the price (7 for a small - 6 slices - and 1.45 for each topping) and the fact that I could get it with whole wheat crust - that sold me on it!
Tall-sided crust, medium bottom crust, crunchy, not your typical mozzerella cheese, and fresh roma tomatoes! I even had a little avocado put on top from my friend's fiesta salad.
It was...good. The pizza and conversation was much better than the service. It wasn't that crowded, but it seemed to take a while for us to get our order and we had to wait for straws, etc. Our server wasn't overly friendly - just soft-spoken and matter of fact. I have to go again tomorrow because everything was fantabulous - no. But, would I go again - yes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Menu Week: April 12

This is going to be a great, but busy week! Here we go!
Monday: whole wheat bagel thin with pb and veggie cream cheese (on different halves) before a meeting, fruit at the meeting. Lunch is Moes. Dinner is roasted asparagus and an egg white.
Tuesday: leftovers for lunch and dinner: black beans for lunch and 2 bean soup for dinner
Wednesday: eating out with a cool new lady at work and dinner will be asparagus with an egg white (new low fat dinner)
Thursday: bagel thin, lunch will be maybe something at Caribou, dinner with be a new recipe from the moosewood cookbook: california waldorf salad over mixed greens. And I'm making a new healthy bar recipe - strawberry oat bars - for dessert (with cool whip).
Friday: El Rodeo for lunch and something crazy healthy for dinner
Saturday: pumpkin oatmeal muffins (haven't made those in a long time) before a bike ride (with dark chocolate pb) and then hopefully some fresh fruit and veggie from the Durham Farmers Market - or another great local place over there - after the bike ride. Saturday night - something uber healthy again.
Sunday: carbs for breakfast and lunch as I'll be running a 10k that afternoon
Recipe of the week: Strawberry Oat Bars
I've been snacking way too much. Need to stop! I need to brush my teeth or something after every meal so I don't keep snacking!
Anyway - there you have it! :)

Two Bean Italian Soup (2010.14)

Does a recipe ever surprise you? This was my question when I tasted this soup this afternoon - shortly after it perfumed my apartment with wonderful smelling-ness!

BHG's February 2008 magazine gave me this Tuscan Bean Soup. I only made 2 alterations to it. And, it is very yummy. I could drink the broth by the gallon!

So easy too. Don't be afraid of soups in the spring/summer...

1/2 bag baby carrots, chopped

1 smallish onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 T olive oil

2 cans reduced-sodium chicken broth (or make your own)

1 can great northern beans

1 can garbanzo beans (both beans, drained and rinsed)

3 tsp italian seasoning

1 pkg spinach

black pepper

Saute first two in olive oil till softened, add garlic. Then add the broth and the beans. Let simmer. Add the spinach and cook for about 30 seconds - then it is done. How easy and surprisingly healthy and good.

Taste of Morrisville: Smokey's BBQ Shack

Just off of the beaten path... (I'm singing an Alabama song as I write that) - in Morrisville is a little trailer type restaurant on the side of the ride, picnic table outside, gravel parking lots, red front door.
Smokey's BBQ Shack just started opening on the weekends and by the time we left it was definitely pretty full by the locals. It was NC bbq - smoked meat (I tried the pork and chicken, taking most of the chicken as leftovers) with a vinegar based sauce. The pork was good - wasn't dry and tasted good with the sauce. The sides I ordered: green beans and french fries - neither were as good as Sonny's. But...the pork and the little hushpuppies made up for it.
What was the two best things about this restaurant: the atmosphere (roll of paper towels on each table, laid back, unpretentious in every way) and the company. This is a place my friend would always go to when she lived there. Janel moved to the Windy City but got her sweet tea fix just minutes after the airport yesterday.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Peeps Smores

Mark this down as something I would never think to do.
I don't normally like Peeps - never have. I bought a pack this year for my friend Becca who mentioned she loves them. I have also bought them for my friend Michelle who also likes them - but that has been my experience with them. I even love marshmellows - especially homemade ones - I don't know what my deal is.
About a month ago I heard about this peep party among the ladies at Providence. I greatly anticipated this little shindig during my first week here.
graham crackers
dark chocolate bars
Peeps (buying them after Easter makes this very cheap)
aluminum foil

Line a pan with foil. Turn oven on broil. Place half a graham cracker down, top with chocolate, then a peep (no color specification needed). Broil for about 15-30 seconds - literally they don't take very long at all. You want them just browned on top of their cute little heads. Take them out - smush (technically cooking term) down the other half of the graham cracker. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Taste of Raleigh: Assaggio's

The ladies at Providence took me out to lunch - had fun getting to know them better. Right across the street was this little Italian place, cafe, good place for lunch. By the time we left it was pretty full.
I got the special which was under $6 and included a refillable drink, a HUGE slice of pizza with one topping, and a salad. Since we also had a large group, they brought us baskets of garlic knots.
The unsweet tea and garlic knots rocked. Little pieces of garlic were in the bottom of the basket - yummy. I had half of one - very good.
The salad was generic but good - refreshing before I put pizza in my mouth.
The pizza was good: not very cheesy, liked the thickness, liked the mushrooms, was almost cold by the time I got it (I blame it on the large group).
The company was wonderful. Refills and price were great. And the service was good and friendly.
The pizza and salad - not much to write home about. Maybe I'll go back for another meal and try something else.

Goodwill Find: The Moosewood Cookbook

So, a few months ago on my google reader came a list of cookbooks that were great to have. One on the list was the Moosewood Cookbook from a restaurant in Ithica, NY. This cookbook was published in 1977 (the year I was born) and I do believe is currently out of print. They do have many other cookbooks if you want to get one.
Some of the reasons this cookbook is worth so much is because of its hand-written recipes and pencil drawings. There are plenty of great vegetarian, whole food recipes. I am looking forward to trying many of them.
I was out shopping at my local Goodwill here in Raleigh the other night and came across this. It was AMAZING. I couldn't believe it. I picked it up and horded it so no one else would come steal it from me.
Now the question: what will I cook from it?
Sweet Potato Pancakes, Brazilian Black Bean Soup, Polenta Pizza, Minestrone, Salads, and some of their sauces
Second question, will I keep it or try to sell it?
Depends on if the recipes are any good...
What are your thoughts on valuable cookbooks - keep or sell?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Spring "Earth Day" Green Giveaway!

I love My Blog Spark. I get great things to try, coupons, cool, fun things to add to my kitchen - and they give me stuff to give to you, my readers, as well.
April holds the day known as "Earth Day". I am by no means a totally green girl - but I have started some things. My new roomie is about recycling, so I will do what I can. I try to remember those cloth grocery bags when I go to WF or other places to shop. I care more about what I do and put in/on my body than about thing things I use for exterior things.
But, Green Giant (ho ho ho greeeeeeeen giant) and My Blog Spark are offering you a prize package to grow your own herbs, add to your utensil collection, and get some free veggies. I love wooden (or bamboo) utensils so these three were a great addition in my new kitchen. And I have a porch now so I can't wait to grow my own little herb garden. You can get the same thing.
To enter: you can do one of two things:

1. Tell me what your easy way is to protect/sustain the earth?
2. Tell me what is your fave recipe using green giant frozen veggies?

Thanks! Happy playing. You have till Wednesday, April 7th to enter!

Menu Week: April 5

Wow - here we go! :)
I already love living in Raleigh - have eaten at Chipotle, Tripps, Whole Foods, and the Cheesecake Factory - good stuff! This week will be some leftovers, eating out, and over at a friend's home.
So, since I haven't sat down to plan out my daily menu - I'll just give you a run down of what I will be eating this week. Usually I will take Fridays to plan for the next week - sitting at Caribou - planning my work, home, exercise, and cooking schedule for the following week
Breakfasts will probably be fruit and banana pancakes.
Lunch: leftovers of cheesecake factory's chopped vegetable salad with chicken - at least 2 days; majudra leftovers - maybe topped on a salad.
Dinners: salad with egg whites - grits and egg white - and then whatever else I didn't eat for lunch.
Thursday I'm hanging out with Bonnie for dinner. Saturday for lunch will be BBQ in Morrisville with Janel. The recipe of the week will be Tuscan Bean Soup from BH&G 2/2008. I know it is getting warm, but I still find something so comforting in soups. I love things you can eat with a spoon! And it is really easy and full of vegetables! I'll probably go ahead and make this completely vegetarian by using veggie broth instead of chicken broth.

Majudra - Middle Eastern Peasant Food

Majudra, majadra - however you spell it - spell it my new fave comfort food. Cheap, warm, perfect as a salad topping, caramelized onions - can it get any better?
I had seen this as a recipe, and I have had the recipe, but I had not made it yet. Then, 2 weeks ago I went to The Grape Leaf in Louisville and ordered this. I LOVED IT. But, I knew the caramelized onions would have to be more prominent for me!
So, I had everything I needed in my pantry when I moved this week, so I decided to make this...

1 1/2 cup rice
3 cups water, boiling
2 cloves chopped garlic
olive oil

3/4 cup green lentils (no need to pre-soak)
2 cups water
1 tsp cumin

2 onions, thinly sliced
olive oil

Heat olive oil and pour in rice - cooking till opaque - like you would risotto. Pour in water and garlic - simmer with lid on till done.
Cook lentils till done but not mushy - then add seasonings.
Sauted onions, stirring a few times - not a lot.
Bowl: rice, lentils, caramelized onions. Top with either melted butter or olive oil.
Next time: I'll make it with more cumin and brown rice, maybe switch out the all olive oil for half oil and butter on the onions.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Baked Grits - 2010.13

My Dad is from the South and he loves grits. So, when I knew he was staying for a few days to help me get settled here in Raleigh, I knew I wanted to make this recipe. I halved the recipe and glad I did because their serving sizes are huge! This was rich, creamy, nutty (due to Parm cheese). So good. Cooking Light has a winner here.

2 cups milk (I used skim, in a glass, from a local farm: delish)
2 cups water
pinch of salt
3/4 cup quick cooking grits (scant, I just like them thicker)
2 oz grated parm cheese (about 2/3 cup)
2 1/2 egg whites
pinch of black pepper
2 T chopped fresh chives
pinch of salt

Bring milk, water, and salt to boil. Stir in grits, turn down to simmer, cover and let cook, stirring occassionally, for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, grate cheese, seperate egg whites, chop chives.

Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks (don't over beat) with pinch of salt. Add chives, pepper, and salt to grits when they are done. Fold in the egg whites (don't deflate them). Pour in greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes. Lightly browned, little wobbly in middle.

Enjoy. I cooked some eggs and decorate the plate with remaining chives.

About 200 calories - and worth it!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Roasted Orange Chive Salmon

Is oatmeal a meal? Good, I agree. Its not. Therefore, my first real meal I cooked was SO GOOD. I told my Dad while eating it - that it was the best salmon I have ever had second only to the time I was in Craig, Alaska and had it right off the boat.

zest of one mandarin orange
1 tsp chopped fresh chives
8 oz fresh atlantic salmon (w/skin, got it from Whole Foods)

425 degrees. Place aluminum foil on a small baking sheet. Spray with pam.
Pat dry salmon. Drizzle with evoo. Zest orange and chop the chives over the top. Bake for about 15 minutes, maybe a little more till the fish easily flakes.
Enjoy. I served mine with roasted asparagus and roasted new pototoes.