Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank You

Today, on Memorial Day, I hope you take a moment to honor the heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.


Thank you.

And Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Hubs Pizza

What's for Dinner? 5/30/2010

-Pesto, Chicken & Sun Dried Tomato Pizza {on whole wheat crust}

Hubs announced that he wanted pizza for dinner tonight, so pizza we would have {because, you know, I live to make him happy}.

My only stipulation was that we make whole wheat pizza crust, so you know, I could eat 3 slices and not feel guilty. To accomplish this whole wheat task, we simply subbed whole wheat flour for half of the flour called for in our go-to pizza dough recipe. It turned out well!


Pizza toppings consisted of:
-Pesto
-Grilled Chicken
-Sun Dried Tomatoes
-Goat Cheese
-Shredded Mozzarella

Mmmmm. I love pizza!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Date Night In

What's for Dinner? 5/28/2010

-Grilled Fillet Mignon
-Baked Potato {only half of one for me}
-Grilled Asparagus {Broccoli for Hubs since he's not a fan of asparagus}


It was Date Night In for Hubs and I last night! We enjoyed a delicious steak dinner, wine and a movie {The Time Traveler's Wife via Netflix}.

No real recipes to share tonight because it was all very simply prepared. We left the steaks bare since they were a high-quality cut of meat and didn't need much.

The asparagus was also grilled bare and then afterward I drizzled a teeeeeeny bit of olive oil on them. {Yesterday I found a new blog I love called A Healthy Slice of Life...on one of her posts she outlined the 5 Healthy Cooking Mistakes. One of them was that you should never heat olive oil over 375 degrees because it breaks down the healthy components of the oil. Very interesting...check it out!}

The baked potatoes were served with a drizzle of low-fat ranch dressing and a teaspoon of light butter. There's just nothing that goes together like meat & potatoes...can I get an "Amen!"??


This should be a fun weekend! Today we're headed to Austin for Kelsey's wedding and staying over night at a hotel. Tomorrow we're meeting up with our friends Kim & Ricky and their baby, Audrey, whom I haven't seen since she was 2 days old! I plan on documenting the whole weekend with lots of pictures so stay tuned for a recap blog post!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kick the Canned {Tuna}

What's for Dinner? 5/27/2010

-Seared Sesame Tuna Steaks with Orange Sauce
-Steamed Broccoli
-Leftover Brown Rice & Black Beans

Recently the hubs and I discovered a mutual love of all things tuna {and I'm not talking about the canned kind here}. We order it every chance we can get at restaurants but we had never cooked with it before.

We found some awesome flash-frozen, vacuum-packed yellowfin tuna steaks at the grocery store that we immediately snatched up. Then the search for recipes began and I, of course, went to my old faithful CookingLight.com. This recipe popped up in the search results and I decided it was definitely worth trying.


Our first attempt at cooking seared tuna was a SUCCESS! This dish was so perfect and tasted just like something we could have ordered from a fancy schmancy restaurant. The sauce was very Asian in flavor which went great with the tuna.

Our steaks were quite a bit thicker than the recipe called for so we did have to cook them for longer than called for. And in case you didn't know, seared tuna should be served rare! Don't overcook it!

If you've never tried non-canned tuna before, I encourage you to give it a shot. It's a really delicious, meaty fish and doesn't taste "fishy" at all. It's even good raw...although we always leave that up to professional chefs in restaurants! ;)

Seared Sesame Tuna with Orange Sauce
Source: Cooking Light

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 steak, about 1/2 cup of couscous, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of sauce)

1 cup water {Omitted}
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided {Omitted}
2/3 cup uncooked couscous {Omitted}
Cooking spray
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 (6-ounce) Bluefin tuna steaks (about 3/4 inch thick) {ours were quite a bit thicker}
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges) {we subbed orange juice from a carton}
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Bring 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. {Omitted all this}

While the couscous stands, heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Combine the sesame seeds, flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper. Dredge both sides of tuna steaks in the sesame seed mixture. Add the fish to pan, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove the fish from pan, and keep warm. {Our fish was thicker so required about double the cooking time}

While the fish cooks, combine the orange juice and the next 5 ingredients (orange juice through garlic) in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Serve the fish with the couscous and sauce.


CALORIES 460 (28% from fat); FAT 14.3g (sat 3g,mono 4.1g,poly 4.9g); IRON 3.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 65mg; CALCIUM 118mg; CARBOHYDRATE 35.2g; SODIUM 513mg; PROTEIN 45.7g; FIBER 1.6g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2003

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wanted: More Flavor

What's for Dinner? 5/26/2010

-Fettucine with Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce
-Steamed Broccoli

The other day I was trying to organize my cookbooks a little bit and I stumbled across Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave. I bought this cookbook on an impulse a couple years ago and haven't really used it much since. If you don't know much about Ellie Krieger, she is a registered dietitian who first caught my eye when she had a show on the Food Network.

I flipped through the cookbook and landed on this recipe for Fettucine with Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce and decided to give it a shot.


Unfortunately, it was a little bland but it had potential. When I was searching for an online version of the recipe to post to the blog, I started reading some of the reviews on FoodNetwork.com and apparently I'm not the only one who thought it was a bit bland.

I think next time I would add some fresh basil and red pepper flakes to the sauce to give it a little more zip! Although we didn't love it, I do think it's worthy of another try with a few minor adjustments.

Want the recipe?

Here it is. Let me know if you have any luck tweaking it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

You know what's awesome?


It's cherry season!!!



You know what's not awesome?

How stinkin' expensive fresh cherries are!!! Even in season and on sale, my jaw still dropped when the cashier rang 'em up.

Oh well....they're worth it. :-)

Outta the Park Pork

What's for Dinner? 5/24/2010

-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Orange & Red Onion Salsa
-Brown Rice & Black Beans


This dinner was A HOME RUN! There's really no other way to put it!

The pork tenderloin was juicy and flavorful, the orange salsa was fresh and tangy, and the black beans & rice were mild and a perfect compliment to the rest.

This whole dish was a perfect example of how healthy food doesn't have to be bland food. Gotta love that! The recipe hails from Cooking Light, a.k.a. my go-to recipe-finder these days. CL definitely didn't let me down this time!

I highly, highly recommend trying this recipe. If you've not tried a single recipe I've blogged about yet, start with this one. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

As a side note, can I also just say that I am now a BIG FAN of frozen steamer bag brown rice?!?! I hate, hate, hate cooking rice because it seems to always be such a hassle and it never turns out right for me. HATE IT. Well, frozen steamer bag rice is my new BFF! Sooo much easier and it turned out perfectly.



Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Orange and Red Onion Salsa
Source: Cooking Light

Preparation Time: 40 minutes minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces pork and about 1/4 cup salsa)

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup coarsely chopped orange sections (about 2 oranges)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Transfer pan to oven. Bake at 450° for 17 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand 5 minutes; cut across grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

3. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, oranges, and remaining ingredients. Serve salsa with pork.

Rice and beans: Cook 1 (10-ounce) package frozen long-grain brown rice (such as Birds Eye SteamFresh) according to package directions. Combine cooked rice, 1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/8 teaspoon chili powder.


CALORIES 220 ; FAT 8.5g (sat 2g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.5g); CHOLESTEROL 65mg; CALCIUM 44mg; CARBOHYDRATE 13.6g; SODIUM 342mg; PROTEIN 23.6g; FIBER 4g; IRON 1.5mg

Cooking Light, APRIL 2009

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Name is Ashley and I Have an Addiction

It looks like this:


And this:
Oh dear Wallflower, how I love thee and the way you keep my bathroom smelling pretty even after my husband takes a dump in it. :)


And when they go on sale at Bath & Body Works and I happen to have a 20% off coupon, things like this end up happening:
{Not all of these are B&BW candles, FYI}


And, even worse than that, this happens:

I stocked up BIG TIME today! I'm constantly burning candles and I have 3 wallflowers spread throughout the house so I go through these things fast. I refuse to buy them at full price since if you wait a little while they always end up going on sale, like right now.

Wallflowers are on sale for $6 and 4oz. candles are on sale 2 for $10.

Also, here's a 20% off coupon {online or in stores} if you're interested. Unfortunately, it ends today so hurry up and use it ASAP!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Free Chick-fil-A


If you have a Chick-fil-A in your area, they are offering free trials of their new Spicy Chicken Sandwich!

Just go to this link, fill in your city, click on the location you want, and then make a "reservation" for a time to stop by and get your free chicken sandwich. Easy as that!

I've decided to veer off my healthy eating plan just a tad in honor of a free chicken sandwich. Free stuff gets me every time! ;-)

My Go-To Breakfast

On this blog I talk a lot about what I eat for dinner, but I don't often talk about what I eat for breakfast. Well, if you're curious here ya go:


That would be a packet of instant plain oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter and a good squeeze of honey. I call it PB&H Oatmeal. It's sooooooo good and it keeps me full for hours and hours.

I used to be an oatmeal hater, until I started reading healthy living blogs and realized you could do a lot to spruce it up. I soon realized I didn't hate oatmeal, I just hated plain and boring oatmeal.

Add in the honey and peanut butter and I am ALL OVER it and practically licking the bowl clean. So even if you think you hate oatmeal, please give this a try. You can thank me later. :)

Healthier BLTAM's

What's for Dinner? 5/21/2010

-Healthier BLTAM's
-Sweet Potato Oven Fries

BLTAM's {Bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado & mayo} are one of our favorite go-to, easy dinners. There's just nothing better than combo of salty bacon, creamy avocado & mayo, and the freshness of tomato and lettuce. It's just so dang good and ALWAYS hits the spot!


We made a couple of changes to make these a bit more health conscious than the last time:

1. Whole wheat bread.
2. Center-cut bacon, which is significantly leaner than your average bacon.
3. Light mayo.

Sweet potato fries also made another appearance tonight. They were made the same way as described in this post.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lean, Mean, Turkey Burger Machines

What's for Dinner? 5/18/2010

-Simple Turkey Burgers
-Sweet Potato Oven Fries

We really love turkey burgers in this household. Sometimes they get a bad rap as being flavorless and dry, but ours are definitely not! Plus, they are WAY healthier than beef burgers. {We use 99% fat free ground turkey.}

Tonight's dinner was positively scrumptious, and made even better by the fact that Alex did all the cooking AGAIN! Score!


To make the Simple Turkey Burgers we just formed the patties {with no seasoning} and then sprinkled both sides of the patties with garlic salt and black pepper. Then we grilled them on the charcoal grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Melt provolone cheese on top once cooked through.

To make the Sweet Potato Oven Fries we sliced up a sweet potato and then tossed them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and some Lawry's Seasoning Salt. Place the potato slices on a rack placed on top of a baking sheet. Then bake in a 425 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Husband Cooks Again

What's for Dinner? 5/17/2010

-Chile Chicken and Basil
-Brown Rice

Alex picked the recipe and did all the cooking tonight! I love having a husband who knows his way around the kitchen! :)

He found this recipe in his Men's Health magazine while he was deployed and ripped it out and saved it until now. When he was cleaning out the study this past weekend he found it and we added it to the menu.

It was EXTREMELY flavorful and really low calorie to boot {two things that don't always go together}! Only 160 calories per serving in the chicken (doesn't include the rice). It also came together really quickly and he said it was easy to make. Definitely a keeper!


Chile Chicken and Basil
Source: Men's Health magazine

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 Thai bird chilies or serrano chilies
1 tsp soy sauce
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1 Tbsp fish sauce
3 cloves garlic
1/2 Tbsp peanut oil or canola oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 Tbsp red-chili paste

1. Chop the garlic and chilies finely. Then use the side of your knife to press them together into a rough paste. (Add a pinch of salt to make this pro

2. Preheat a wok or stainless-steel sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the garlic-chili paste you just made, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Chop the chicken into small pieces and add them to the pan, cooking them until they're lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, and sugar, and continue to cook until the chicken is done all the way through, another 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Add the pepper and basil and cook until the basil is just wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

4. Serve with: 1/2 cup each of steamed bok choy and prepared brown rice Makes 4 servings.

Per Serving: 160 calories, 24 grams (g) protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 1 g fiber, 490 milligrams sodium

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Simple Pasta Deliciousness

PHEW!! We're back home after a whirlwind weekend! We've been out of town since Thursday to celebrate various family milestones with my side of the family {one of which included my 25th birthday}. I'm exhausted from such a fun-filled weekend.

Luckily, I had planned a super simple dinner for tonight, which I originally found on a great blog called Eat.Drink.Run. I don't think I could have handled something complicated tonight!

I was a little worried that it was going to be too simple {a.k.a. bland} for us but Alex had THREE helpings of it, so I'm pretty sure he liked it. :)



Here's how Shelby described the process for Sundried Tomato Shrimp Pasta on her blog:

A super simple – and healthy – pasta with shrimp. So easy. Boil whole wheat noodles. Melt 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil in a pan. Cook 1 TSP minced garlic and a few sundried tomatoes for a couple of minutes. Add shrimp and cover until cooked through. Drain pasta and toss into shrimp mixture along with dried basil and oregano. Less than 20 minutes total!

{I also added some fresh basil & thyme from our Topsy Turvy}

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Splurge-Worthy Steak

What's for Dinner? 5/12/1985

-Flank Steak with Balsamic Port Reduction
-Goat Cheese Polenta
-Side Salad with avocado

Okay so I went a little bit off my "healthy eating" plan with this one, but it's my birthday week so it's allowed right!?! :/ Besides, it's really not THAT bad.

The worst thing was probably all the GOAT CHEESE inside the polenta. But ooooooh man do I ever love the combination of goat cheese and polenta. It was worth it.

And to justify myself even further, I've done the 30 Day Shred for every day for a week now. So that's good, right??

Okay enough justifying myself. :) This was a recipe I found on Confections of a Foodie Bride {which is yet another FABULOUS food blog}, but originally from Everyday Food {a food magazine/website that I LOVE}. With both of those credentials behind it, I knew it would DEEEEEELICIOUS....and it was!

A perfect pre-birthday splurge.


Flank Steak with Balsamic-Port Reduction and Goat Cheese Polenta

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride


For the steak:
1 1/2 lb flank steak
Olive oil
Salt
Fresh ground pepper

For the reduction:
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Port

For the polenta:
4 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
4 oz goat cheese
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp butter
Fresh ground pepper

For the steak: Heat grill to medium-high. Rub steak with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Put on the grill for 6-8 minutes each side. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Add any ‘resting liquids’ to the reduction. Thinly slice steak against the grain.

For the polenta: While steak is cooking, bring water to boil in a 2 quart sauce pan over high heat. Whisk in cornmeal and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add goat cheese, thyme leaves, butter, and fresh ground pepper. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat.

For the reduction: Bring balsamic vinegar and port to a boil. Reduce by 1/2, stir in ‘resting liquids,’ and remove from heat.

Divide polenta between 4 bowls. Top with steak slices and balsamic-port reduction.

Serves: 4
Adapted from: Everyday Food

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

25 Books in 2010

I've been seriously slacking on my reading! I need to get back in the swing of it or I'm never going to make this 25 in 2010 goal!

Unfortunately the two most recent books that I read were not that good, which is partially why it has taken me so long to get through them. :(





25 Books in 2010:


1. The Gastronomy of Marriage by Michelle Maisto {click here for my review}

2. Shelter Me by Juliette Fay {click here for my review}

3. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks {click here for my review}

4. Dead as a Doornail {Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 5} by Charlaine Harris

5. The Mercy of Thin Air by Romlyn Domingue

This book was one of my least favorite that I've read in a while. I don't even know why I finished reading it, but I've always had issues giving up on books. It was just boring and weird. It's about people who die and are ghosts, essentially, but without all the scary aspects of it. They just wander around and watch other people's lives happen. I do not recommend it. 1 Star

6. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

This book was at least better than the last one, but still not that great. It's about a woman who "loses" her fiance's daughter on a beach. No one knows what happened to the little girl so it's about the woman agonizing over the fact that she lost her and trying to remember the details of the day that she went missing. It wasn't poorly written, just extremely slow and repetitive at times. I need more excitement in my books! 2 stars

Leggo my Egg Skillet

What's for Dinner? 5/11/2010

-Southwestern Egg & Black Bean Skillet

Cara's Cravings is an amazing blog that features all kinds of innovative and healthy recipes that she creates all on her own. She is such an inspiration for food bloggers everywhere! Visit her blog like right this minute and prepare to be inspired!

When she recently posted about this Southwestern Egg & Black Bean Skillet I knew I was going to make it. Black beans, mexican flavors, eggs, avocado, cheese....uhhhh YES PLEASE!


It completely met and exceeded my expectations! Hubs loved it too. His exact comment was "Wow you're on a roll this week but this might be my favorite dinner so far!" That's saying A LOT from a man who normally turns his nose up at any dinner that doesn't include meat.

I did end up adding 2 extra eggs (Cara's recipe only calls for 2 eggs) because I knew 1 wouldn't be enough for the hubs. Together we polished off the ENTIRE SKILLET. That's how good it was!

Southwestern Egg & Black Bean Skillet
Source: Cara's Cravings

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced {I used 2 cloves}
1/3 cup frozen corn {I used 1/2 cup}
1 cup drained, rinsed black beans {I used 3/4 of a can...think it was a bit more than 1 cup}
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of coriander
10oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 large eggs {I used 4 eggs}
2oz queso fresco, crumbled
chopped cilantro and sliced avocado, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, corn, and beans and cook for about 2 more minutes, until garlic is fragrant. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and coriander.

Add the diced tomatoes with green chilies and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Carefully break the eggs over the black bean mixture. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until eggs are soft-set. Sprinkle with queso fresco and garnish with cilantro and diced avocado. Serve hot.

Nutritional Info (not including avocado)
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 338.3
Total Fat: 14.0 g
Cholesterol: 227.5 mg
Sodium: 1,525.8 mg
Total Carbs: 35.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.0 g
Protein: 20.7 g

Monday, May 10, 2010

Short on Calories, High on Taste


What's for Dinner? 5/10/2010

-Five Spice Turkey & Lettuce Wraps
-Soy Sauce & Sriracha Roasted Broccoli

When looking for healthy recipes for this week's menu, I decided to stop by Eating Well and see what they had to offer. I found this recipe pretty much immediately and thought it sounded awesome. I'm a BIG fan of lettuce wraps, especially the ones from Pei Wei, so I figured this would be a hit with me. I was not, however, sure if it would go over well with the hubs.

Well, the verdict is in and...............HE LOVED IT!

The best part is they are not only tasty, but also SUPER low calorie....only 285 calories per serving. Are you kidding me?!?

I made a few minor tweaks to the recipe which are noted below in blue.


Five-Spice Turkey & Lettuce Wraps

From EatingWell: June/July 2006

Based on a popular Chinese dish, these fun wraps also make appealing appetizers for entertaining. Make it a meal: Serve with chile-garlic sauce and rice vinegar for extra zip; toss diced mango and strawberries with lime juice for a quick dessert.

4 servings, 1 1/4 cups filling each | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

* 1/2 cup water
* 1/2 cup instant brown rice
* 2 teaspoons sesame oil
* 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
* 1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
* 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
* 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, {I ended up adding another tablespoon b/c I thought it needed more flavor}
* 1 teaspoon five-spice powder, (see Note)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Splash of soy sauce
* A couple dribbles of Sriracha sauce to kick up the spice factor
* 2 heads Boston lettuce, leaves separated
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint and/or chives
* 1 large carrot, shredded

Preparation

1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice; reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add turkey and ginger; cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until the turkey is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice, bell pepper, water chestnuts, broth, hoisin sauce, five-spice powder and salt; cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
3. To serve, spoon portions of the turkey mixture into lettuce leaves, top with herbs and carrot and roll into wraps.
Nutrition

Per serving : 285 Calories; 11 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 1 g Mono; 66 mg Cholesterol; 24 g Carbohydrates; 26 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 543 mg Sodium; 390 mg Potassium

Tips & Notes

* Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the filling (through Step 2), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Serve cold or reheat in the microwave.

* Notes: Hoisin sauce is a spicy, sweet sauce made from soybeans, chiles, garlic and spices. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least a year.
* Often a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns, five-spice powder was originally considered a cure-all miracle blend encompassing the five elements (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, salty). Look for it in the supermarket spice section.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Night Out in San Antonio

My 25th birthday is later this week so we headed down to San Antonio and spent a night on the Riverwalk as an early birthday present. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Riverwalk, which was affordable and nice. My only complaint was that although it is on the river, it's a bit of a walk to all of the action.

When we got there we walked around a bit and enjoyed some delicious happy hour cocktails and tapas at The Cork Bar, which is located in the Hotel Contessa.

Then we walked back to the hotel and changed for dinner:


Dinner was at Boudros Texas Bistro on the Riverwalk. It's a good thing we had reservations because it was PACKED! The atmosphere of the restaurant was good, but super dark and a little on the crowded side. Unfortunately, we also had yet another bad waiter experience...our waiter was completely void of any personality and basically acted like he didn't care at all about us during our meal.

We started off with cocktails and I had their signature Prickly Pear Margarita:

It was really good but didn't taste much different than your average fruit margarita to me. I didn't really taste the prickly pear. Also, it was too small. A margarita should not be served in a martini glass!

For our appetizer we ordered the Pan Seared Rare Tuna, which had a black pepper crust, ginger soy vinaigarette and was served on spinach and chives. This is a photo of it after I had transferred half of it to my plate...it wasn't presented this way:

It was SOOOOOOO good, but we are big rare tuna fans. The sauce was just perfect and complimented the tuna so well.


For my entree I ordered the Blackened Gulf Fish Fillet, which was served with roasted vegetables and rosemary potatoes, beurre blanc sauce and lemon spinach.
It was tasty, but not exactly mind blowing. Everything was cooked well though and the lemon spinach was TO DIE FOR.

Alex got the Mesquite Grilled Texas Quail, which was stuffed with wild mushrooms, roasted corn, dried apricot, apples and poblanos served on nest of vegetables with roasted potatoes.
He said it was really good and he finished every last bite {except for the squash...he doesn't like squash}.

We were so full after all this food that we decided to pass on dessert. All in all, it was a nice dinner but possibly a little overpriced. I don't really have an urge to go back again anytime soon, but we enjoyed it.

After dinner we had grand plans to go out to a couple of bars on the Riverwalk, but unfortunately my body had different plans. I had some stomach issues {not attributed to the food we had just eaten} and we ended up going back to the hotel early so I could rest. Bummer but we plan on going back to San Antonio in a couple months to try again!

It was a fun little excursion and early birthday present. :)

Jillian Michaels Kicks My Butt

Recently I had fallen into a fitness rut. There are a lot of reasons for this, one of the major ones being that making it to the gym with any regularity had become seriously difficult. I've been working later in the evenings lately and by the time I leave and fight traffic I'm just exhausted and ready to go home and eat dinner.

I also noticed that anytime I did make it to the gym I was half-assing it. Getting on an elliptical for 30 minutes and barely breaking a sweat wasn't making me feel very accomplished.

I knew I needed to find something that worked for me and fast since the weight was creeping on and bikini season was fast approaching. I'd heard a lot of raves about Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD so I decided to invest the $10 and see what it's all about.



Turns out, I LOVE IT!!! It's a brief 20 minute circuit workout that TOTALLY kicks my ass. I've done it five times now and I'm still huffing and puffing by the end of it each day. Here are a few things that I love about it:

1. I can do it at home, which means I don't have to worry about looking like a fool when I do it.
2. It's only 20 minutes.
3. All it requires for equipment is a pair of hand weights and a yoga mat.
4. It's an ass-kicker. {Did I already mention that?}

But my favorite reason is...
5. I've been doing it for less than a week and MY CLOTHES ARE ALREADY GETTING A LITTLE LOOSE.

Granted, I have also been making a conscious effort to eat healthier {so perhaps it's not all due to the 30DS}, but still! I already feel stronger and more fit.

I highly recommend this DVD to anyone who is short on time and needs to get fit.

Do you have any favorite workout DVDs? Now that I've discovered how nice it is to workout at home, I'm in the market for more! :)

Better Than in a Restaurant

What's for Dinner? 5/9/2010

-Chicken Piccata
-Whole Wheat Spaghetti Noodles
-Salad

When I was trying to decide what to make for dinner tonight, Chicken Piccata popped into my brain as something that I hadn't made in a very long time. I immediately went to my old faithful recipe website, Cooking Light, and plugged it in the search box. Sure enough, a great looking recipe came up and I just happened to have everything I needed on hand to make it.

It was super delicious! Alex even went so far as to say that this dinner may have been better than the pricey dinner we had last night in San Antonio. Guess that goes to show us not to spend good money on going out to dinner when we can make healthier and better things at home!

I made a couple of minor substitutions to make it even healthier than the original. My edits are in green.


Chicken Piccata with Capers
Source: Cooking Light

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 breast half, 1 cup spaghetti, 2 tablespoons sauce, and 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley)


4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (We just used 2 GINORMOUS chicken breasts)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I subbed whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked) (Subbed whole wheat spaghetti)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place each breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Place flour in a shallow dish, and dredge chicken in flour.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add white wine, 1/4 cup lemon juice, capers, and garlic to pan; scrape pan to loosen browned bits. Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve chicken over pasta. Top with sauce; sprinkle with parsley.


CALORIES 519 (21% from fat); FAT 12g (sat 3.7g,mono 4.9g,poly 1.8g); IRON 4mg; CHOLESTEROL 116mg; CALCIUM 40mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51g; SODIUM 396mg; PROTEIN 48.1g; FIBER 2.3g

Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2006

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Adventures in Bad Waiterland

Last night we went out to dinner with some friends and had yet another bad experience with a waiter. We have a running joke in our group of friends that we must be like kryptonite to a waiter because we seem to almost ALWAYS have terrible waiters.


Now, I get that when we have 15-20 people in our party that task can be a bit daunting and confusing. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt when we have that many people. But last night we only had 9 people...I feel like that's a manageable amount of people.

Our waitress last night was extremely slow at getting anything to us {my friend actually had to get up and get our silverware for us after we got our food}, got 3 of our orders completely wrong and then basically tried to blame it on us saying that we actually ordered them wrong. Uhhhh no. And where in waiter training did they tell you that "The customer is actually always WRONG." ??? I've been through extensive customer service training before and I don't recall that ever being the mantra that they drill into your brain.

Luckily last night the manager of the restaurant stepped in, comped a round of drinks for all of us, and comped the meals of those of us who had our orders screwed up. The manager seemed legitimately embarrassed by her waitstaff and did a great job of making us happy again after a bad situation.

However, in the past we have had many other bad waiter experiences and the manager doesn't always step in. It's just baffling to me that so many waiters can be so BAD and so many managers can be so nonchalant about their staff.

I've never been a waiter before so I'm hesitant to make too many judgments about the difficulty of the job, but I definitely don't feel that it's acceptable to not own up to your mistakes once they've been made. And I'd really like it if waiters in my area could start taking some extensive training on handling large groups. Is that too much to ask??

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Stubb's Chicken

What's for Dinner? 5/6/2010

-Marinated Grilled Chicken
-Roasted Broccoli
-Buttered Toast



We are big, big fans of the Stubb's Chicken Marinade. I've written about it before, but here's a picture so you can look for it in stores.

It's the BEST!!! The chicken turns out so juicy and flavorful. Definitely buy this if you can find it.

Capturing Memories

Confession: I have a terrible memory. I mean, really bad. It really doesn't contain itself to only short term or long term...it's everything. Until I've met you a handful of times, I probably don't actually remember your name {I'm just faking it by saying "Hey you!" or something along those lines}. Oh or ask me to recall a book or movie premise...you can forget about that. Even my "favorite" books and movies are usually somewhat foggy.

At least I come by it honestly though, since both my parents struggle with their memory. I can certainly blame this on the two of them. My dad claims that his loss of memory didn't set in until recently, which might be true. My mom, on the other hand, well let's just say I take after my mom in the memory department.

Today I was thinking about memories and how sad it makes me that I'm already losing a lot of them from my life. I'm young...I shouldn't be forgetting things that happened in my life already!!

Thinking about memories led me to think about something that helps spark memories: photographs. I thought, "Hey well I like to take photos...so I'll have lots to help me remember things someday." But the problem that led me to was how I store those photos. I always just load my photos onto the computer and then just leave them there for all of eternity. Unorganized, unlabeled, and unsafe. The computer hard drive could crash at any moment and I would lose a significant amount of my photos. {I know, I know I should "back them up"}

My next thought was: I need to start scrapbooking. It will force me to actually get the photos printed, as well as organize and label them in an album.

Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I get these grand ideas to start new hobbies and then eventually they fade off until the hobby is just a distant {foggy} memory. Like that sewing machine I bought and promised I would start using....uhhh yeah {Although I still stand by the fact that every girl should have a sewing machine, whether she uses it or not}.

Because I know myself, I'm hesitant to go out and spend a lot of money on a new "hobby" if it means it will probably go to waste. But when I stepped into the scrapbooking aisles at Hobby Lobby today, I was faced with complete scrapbook overload. And that sh*t's expensive too!

These are some of the things that went through my mind as I shopped: "I need a paper cutter to scrapbook...that's basic." "Oh a star-shaped hole punch....that's completely necessary." "Three value packs of scrapbook paper that each contain 300 sheets isn't too much because you never know when you'll need a certain type, color or design of paper!"

Soon I realized that this was crazy and was able to reign myself in. I only ended up buying a simple album and one value pack of cardstock. I figured I'd start simple with my first album, and if it's something that I think I can maintain, maybe I'll go for more decoration and supplies in the future.

Wish me luck!

And if there are any "scrappers" out there {Danielle I know you do!}: How do you keep from going broke? What are the essential scrapbooking tools for a beginner? Fill me with your scrapping wisdom!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shrimpo de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

We decided to celebrate with shrimp tacos and margaritas. Aye caramba!

This was another "Superfast" Cooking Light recipe that I found and it was another success! You use pre-cooked shrimp and there is no actual cooking involved in it, which means it's great for a hot summer day. {FYI It hit 95 degrees here today.}



Basically the filling for the tacos is ceviche, which is a cold shrimp dish. Traditionally, the shrimp is "cooked" in the lime juice but in this case the shrimp is pre-cooked and just soaked in the lime juice for a short period of time.

I forgot to buy avocados {doh!} so we subbed mango chunks for the avocado. It worked out surprisingly well that way.

Here's the recipe for Ceviche-Style Shrimp & Avocado Tacos {click the link}. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Superfast & Supergood Orange Beef

I'm tired and I have a headache tonight. Therefore, this shall be short and sweet.

What's for Dinner? 5/4/2010

-Spicy Orange Beef
-Cucumber Salad

This dinner was great! I found this recipe in a "Superfast Beef" section of Cookinglight.com and it was indeed SUPER fast!! In fact, it was a little too fast because the rice wasn't anywhere near cooked when the beef was done. {Hence the lack of rice in the photo} I think the whole beef recipe took about 10 minutes, 15 tops.


Here's the link to the Cooking Light recipe. I followed it exactly and it was delicious. I don't think I would make any changes next time.

This one is definitely making it into a favorite recipe category!! We both commented on how it tastes exactly like something you would get from a Chinese restaurant.

Quick + Scrumptious = A Winner in my Book. Every time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pork Chops d' Blah

What's for Dinner? 5/3/2010

-Parmesan Breaded Pork Chops
-Steamed Broccoli
-Buttered Toast

The inspiration from these pork chops came from this Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chop recipe that is a favorite of mine. That Giada d' Laurentis sure knows what she's doing!

This time I tried baking the pork chops in the oven, instead of in a pan like the recipe suggests. Yeaaahhhh, not such a good idea. I don't recommend it. The breading was kinda mushy and just blah. I mean it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.

They even look kinda blah.

Just click on the link to Giada's pork chops above and make those instead. :) You're welcome.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fab Fish

What's for Dinner? 5/2/2010

-Fish with Citrusy Tomatoes
-Brown Rice
-Steamed Snap Peas

I saw this fish recipe on a favorite blog of mine, Health for the Whole Self, and immediately added it to our menu for this week. It looked like something right up our alley....and it WAS. It was so good! Hubs was high-fiving me throughout this meal because he liked it so much. :)

Katie made hers with tilapia but we decided to go for cod. Cod gets a bad rap but I happen to love it. It's mild, meaty, never "fishy" tasting and cheap. This meal was great served over brown rice too because it soaked up all that extra yummy sauce. Below is the recipe, with my changes notated as well.


Fish with Citrusy Tomatoes

Seen on Health for the Whole Self

Adapted from Real Simple {my changes in red}
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 fish fillets, 4-6 oz each (any mild white fish will work, such as tilapia or halibut...we used cod)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh orange juice {next time I would probably do 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of orange juice to cut some of the sweetness}
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped {we only used 1/4 cup}
2-3 tablespoons capers (depending on how salty you want the dish to be)
sea salt and black pepper

1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, orange juice, capers, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add parsley during the last minute.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, heat the remaining 1 tsp oil over medium high heat. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, then place in the skillet and cook until opaque throughout (about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillets). {We just cooked the fish in the broiler for about 7 minutes, instead of pan frying it. I don't like having two burners on the stove going at once....it stresses me out.}

3. Spoon tomato mixture over fish and serve.

Topsy Turvy Update

One week ago, I blogged about how we planted a Tospy Turvy. Here's a little update on how it's doing...

The Day We Planted it:



1 Week Later:

It's taking off!! I can't believe how much everything has grown in only one short week. The mint and cilantro are doing especially well, so we'll probably have to start harvesting those soon to keep them from taking over. I'm so excited to get some tomatoes and jalepenos in the future.


And just because I think he's cute:

New Things I Love

I recently fell in love with a couple of new things, so I thought I'd share them here with you.


First off, greek yogurt. I've discussed before how I don't really like regular yogurt, but I do like greek yogurt. My grocery store recently {finally} started carrying more selection of greek yogurt, so I've been sampling all the different brands.

Well, this one is by far my favorite:

Stoneyfield Organic Oikos Greek Yogurt. This one is nice and thick, creamy and smooth {some of the brands I tried were watery...yuck}. The honey flavor is by far my favorite. I'm not a big fan of the fruit version of any of the yogurts but I loooooove honey mixed in. This Stoneyfield Oikos comes with TONS of honey in the bottom and the serving size is just the right amount. One gripe I had with some other greek yogurt brands was that the portion size was too big or too small. As a bonus, it's organic! I seriously love this stuff!



Another thing I don't really like is juice {of any kind really, but especially pomegranate juice}. It's just too concentrated and sweet for me usually. Plus, I always feel like it's a waste of calories. When I do drink juice, I usually water it down or mix it with club soda to dilute it a bit. That's why when I stumbled upon this I was excited to try it:

Minute Maid Pomegranate Tea. This stuff is GOOD! It's only 40 calories per 8oz serving and it has the added benefit of antioxidants. EXCELLENT!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Derby Jealousy

My mom and dad are at the Kentucky Derby this weekend. They sent me this picture of them:


Yes, I'm jealous. But aren't they cute?!?!

We asked them to bet on Paddy O'Praddo for us {simply because I liked the Irish name}, but unfortunately he came in 3rd. So close!!

Steak & Sacrifices.

I have been MIA the past few nights because they involved eating something like this:

Ok so maybe this was only one night, and the other 2 nights we ate at legitimate restaurants....but still. Not that exciting. And somewhat embarrassing.

Anywayyyyy, moving on..........

What's for Dinner? 5/1/2010

We had steaks for dinner tonight! Awesomesauce. {Have you heard "awesomesauce" used yet? I have....and I think it's kinda cool.}


Alex's Grilled Steak + Ashley's Oven Roasted Green Beans = Awesomesauce.

As a side note: I've realized exactly how imminent "bikini season" is now and freaked out. Therefore, I've resolved to eat significantly healthier from here on out. Hence, the reason for the mysteriously missing starch {potato} side dish from this meal. I mean, if you're gonna eat a steak, you've gotta sacrifice somewhere else, ya know? So my beloved potato was sacrificed.

RIP, dear friend, because you were sacrificed for the bettering of my thighs...and stomach....and various other areas that need improvement.

And does anyone else find it ironic how I'm talking about my new "healthy lifestyle" in a blog post that began with a picture of the Taco Bell that I scarfed a couple nights ago? My life is like Alanis Morissette.