Wednesday, September 30, 2009

100th Post!

When I signed into blogger today, it informed me that this was my 100th post.  I'm pretty darn excited about that! I never thought that I'd have that much to talk about, let alone talk about things people were interested in.  I have to say that it's been really fun keeping up the blog.  Thank you to all of you who read or comment on the posts.  It really means a lot to me.

Onto other things....

When I lived at home, one of my favorite meals was my mom's chicken cutlet.  My mom used to cook on a bi-weekly menu plan.  One week it was chicken cutlet, pasta and ham and the next week it was chicken parm, meatloaf and pork chops (or some sort of variation).  I always knew what we were having on any given day. 

When I was planning out my meals for the week, I realized that I haven't made chicken cutlet since I got married.  How lame-it's such an easy dish to make!

I took two egg whites and beat them in a dish.  I also added some garlic powder for flavor.  In a separate dish I put about a half a cup of seasoned breadcrumbs.  Place the chicken in the egg whites and then in the breadcrumbs.  Place chicken in a baking dish, and bake until done.  You could fry them in oil, but I opted for a healthier version.

Seriously, it's that simple. 

The result?






























I hope you are all enjoying your Wednesday.  I, for one, am happy that we are halfway through this week!

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite comfort meal?
There are so many wonderful answers to this question.  I love mac and cheese, my mom's chicken and broccoli casserole and my grandmom's homemade green spaghetti. Lots of food brings me comfort!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's That Time of Year!

Even though it's sad to see summer go, I love the Fall weather.  It's nice to walk outside and feel the cool breeze against you and see the leaves change colors.  Another reason I love Fall?  Spaghetti squash is back in season!

















I first discovered spaghetti squash a few years ago through a Weight Watchers meeting.  Someone described it as a good substitute for pasta, so right after the meeting, I ran to the grocery store to pick one up.  There are many ways to cook a spaghetti squash, but because I am impatient, I went with the microwave method.  Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.

















Wrap one half in clear plastic wrap and put it face down on a dish.  Make sure that the dish has a little bit of water on it.  This will help the spaghetti squash cook.  Put it in the microwave for ten minutes.  Remove the plastic wrap from the squash and let it cool.  Once it is cool, run your fork along the squash.  You will see it come off of the skin in strands, much like spaghetti.
















Top with your favorite sauce and enjoy! 
















The most common question I get whenever someone sees me eating this is "does it really taste like spaghetti?"  To be honest, no.  It's chewier and heartier than your regular pasta.  Spaghetti squash takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you put on it.  When I make it with marinara sauce, it is a really good pasta substitute, but just don't expect it to taste like traditional pasta.

Question of the Day
Have you ever tried a spaghetti squash?  What's your favorite topping?

I'm a fan of putting marinara or alfredo sauce on the squash.  I've heard of people putting butter and cinnamon on it, but I've never tried it that way.

Enjoy the beautiful day!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Just Another Manic Monday....

...wish it were Sunday.....

Yeah, to say it's been a complete crazy mess at work is an understatement.  Nothing beats coming in on a Monday to e-mail projects and staff meetings.  Oh well, at least it makes the day go by fast, right?

On Friday, the hubby had a job interview for a part-time job.  While I was waiting for him to come home, I tried my hand at making homemade almond butter.  In addition to my love for peanut butter, I have an even fonder love of all things almond butter.  I don't like that it's so expensive, but I can't get enough of the taste. 

I was reading up on how to make almond butter and it didn't seem so hard.  All you need is almonds, and oven, a food processor and possibly a little oil.  I had everything except the food processor.  I decided to try to make almond butter using my Oster blender, which really wasn't the best idea.  I seriously have to invest in a food processor!

All I did to make the almond butter was roast the almonds for about 10 minutes.  I popped them into the blender (a little bit at a time) and hit the on button.  I had to add a little bit of oil, which I wasn't too happy about.  I've seen people make it in a food processor, and the natural oil from the almonds is enough so that you don't have to add any extra oil.

All in all, I was impressed with the fact that in about a half hour or so, I had homemade almond butter.  I don't think I'll attempt making it again until I invest in a food processor.
















After the almonds were roasted



















We're almost there!

















All done!

Question of the Day

Almond butter or peanut butter?  You decide.

Almond butter all the way.  I just can't help myself!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pizza Time

I don't know about you, but I love pizza.  I love it so much that I've made it here, here and over here.  I've made it more times than that, but I figured that was enough pizza links for one post. 

A few weeks ago, while my mom was food shopping, she found pre-made wheat pizza dough.  It was on sale for $.99 so she picked one up for me.  I just got around to making it this weekend, and it was fabulous!  It was much easier than making the dough by hand, but there is something about homemade dough that I still can't get over.  I did a simple topping of fat free mozzarella cheese and popped it in the oven for 20 minutes. 

It doesn't get much better than this.















I figured I'd post some of the pictures I took along the way

















Before going into the oven


















Question of the Day:
What's your favorite pizza topping?

I like almost anything on top of my pizza, but I'm a huge fan of plain old cheese. 

I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Lovely Side

Last week my friend Gina recommended a side dish to me.  Her family loves it, so she graciously passed along the recipe to me. 

As soon as this came out of the oven I had to try it.  It was very tasty.  It reminded me of something that you'd serve as a side dish on Thanksgiving.  The husband isn't usually a fan of cooked broccoli, but he gobbled this down pretty fast.  My guess is that the sour cream, cheese and onion soup mix added a nice flavor and masked the broccoli a little bit.

Broccoli Casserole
2 20oz bags of broccoli, thawed
2 cups fat free sour cream
1 envelope of onion soup mix
3/4 cup fat free shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients except the cheese together and pour in a greased 9x13 pan.  Top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. 































Close up of the cheese!

When the husband saw this coming out of the oven, his immediate response was  "woah, you're making side dishes now?"  Silly, silly boys.

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite vegetable?

Mine is broccoli-I can't get enough of the stuff!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your Thursday!! I can't wait for Grey's Anatomy season premier tonight!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cordon Bleu? Don't Mind if I Do!

Are we at Wednesday already?  It seems that as soon as I start taking classes, the days start to run together.  I'm starting to get the hang of this class, although the upcoming assignments are looking rather complicated.  At least I have the blog as a creative outlet when things get crazy!

This is one of those lightened up recipes that I used to make all the time but haven't made in about a year. It's basically a lightened up version of Chicken Cordon Bleu.  For all of you Weight Watchers out there, you may remember this as "Laughing Cow Chicken."  This recipe is very quick and easy, which means it's right up my alley!

Recipe:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 wedges of light Laughing Cow Cheese (I used the french onion flavor, but you can use whatever kind you want)
8 slices of extra lean ham (I used the kind you buy in a tub-about 60 calories for 2 ounces)
breadcrumbs
non-stick cooking spray
toothpicks

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a pan with non stick cooking spray.   Place one wedge of cheese and two slices of ham on top of each chicken breast and roll jellyroll style. Secure with toothpicks.  Place seam side down in pan.  Spray chicken with non-stick spray and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until done.




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Before going into the oven
 
 

 

After baking


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Close up
 
Question of the Day:
Do you listen to music when you cook?
 
I usually do! I love to cook and I love music, so why not combine the two?
 
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crockpot Cookin'

When I got engaged, the number one thing people told me to register for was a crockpot.  I can't tell you how many times people have told me that it's been a lifesaver for them, or how easy it is to use.  The husband and I registered for one, and since we've gotten it, we've used it a handful of times.  It definitely cuts back on being in the kitchen (which I don't particularly mind) and is definitely easy to use. 

When I think of meals in the crockpot, the first thought that comes to mind is stew.  Over the winter months, the husband and I make stew just about every weekend.  During the summer, we didn't even take the crockpot out of our cabinets.  For some reason, that warm, home-cooked feel wasn't appealing to either of us.  However, this past weekend, the husband and I had a busy schedule, so I planned to break open the crockpot for the Fall season. 

Instead of cooking stew, I opted to cook roast beef.  My mom has this awesome way of cooking to the point where the meat literally falls apart.  Say goodbye to tough pot roast!  My mom swears by cooking it on low all day, so that's exactly what I did.

I chopped up some onions and potatoes and threw them in with the roast.  I also put in an envelope of onion soup mix and about 1/4 cup of water. 

After about 7 hours on low, I came home to a wonderful smelling meal

















It may not look good to you, but it was pretty delicious.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite crockpot meal?

Even though I wasn't a fan of it when I was younger, I really love making stew.  There are so many options!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hand-Me-Downs

I hope you are all enjoying your Monday!  I can't believe that my class starts today.  Even though I work full-time, I am lucky enough to work at a University where they will pay for your classes, up to a certain amount of credits.  I've been taking classes for the past 2-3 years and while I enjoy it, the first day of class is always stressful!  Thankfully, I'm able to take classes online, so when I have down time at work, I'm able to do some class work.  This quarter, I'm taking General Psychology. I can already tell it's going to require a lot of reading.  Hopefully, the quarter will fly by.  We'll see!!

This weekend was a particularly  busy one, but it was full of fun.  My mom has been going through her house and getting rid of stuff that has been around for awhile.  I had my eye on one particular item....




















Her bread machine!

As a child, I remember my parents buying the bread machine and having homemade bread for about a month straight. My dad would throw everything into the bread maker and then three hours and fourty minutes later, we'd have homemade bread.  Since it hasn't been used in forever, my mom was ready to get rid of it. When I told her I was interested, she was more than happy to pass it on. 

Ever since she found out about the blog, she has been e-mailing me recipes and telling me about all kinds of good things to make.  I don't know who's more excited about it-me or her!  In addition to the bread machine, she also loaded me up with plenty of cookbooks.
















As soon as I got home on Saturday, I knew I wanted to make some whole wheat bread.  I followed the instructions almost to the tee, set the timer and impatiently waited for my fresh bread to bake.  While it was baking, I noticed a trouble shooting section in the manual.  Something caught my eye-it said not to use an entire packet of yeast because it would be too much for the bread.  OOPS!!  The manual said one of two things would happen.  Either it would rise too much, or not rise enough. 
















The ingredients in the bread machine

When the timer sounded, I opened the lid and found this:
















Looks like my bread depressed and became miniature!
 















From the side

Even though it was a mini loaf, it still tasted delicious!
















Question of the Day:
What's your favorite kind of bread?

My favorite is definitely cinnamon raisin.  Can't beat it!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chobani and Peppers

Original blog title, right?  I sat here trying to think of something clever and that's all I could come up with. 

I have been seeing Chobani Greek Yogurt all over the place......both on food blogs as well as in the supermarket.  They are a little bit too expensive for me ($1.39 for one), but when I saw they were on sale this week (for $1.00 apiece), I couldn't resist buying a couple to try.  According to their website, Chobani is great because they are:
  • All natural. No preservatives. No artificial flavors.
  • No synthetic growth hormones: No rBST-treated milk.
  • Includes 5 live & active cultures, including 3 probiotics.
  • Made with real fruit.
  • Twice the protein of regular yogurts.
  • A good source of bone-building calcium.
  • Gluten-Free and Kosher-Certified.
  • Safe for people with corn, nut and soy allergies.
I was pretty impressed after reading that, so I was hopeful about how Chobani would taste.  To be fair, I bought with the non-fat plain flavor.  I figured why not start at the beginning before jumping into the flavored type? 
















First I tried it by itself, and it reminded me of plain yogurt but with a stronger, almost sour, taste.  Initially, I wasn't too thrilled, but that's probably because it was plain.  I ended up mixing it with some cereal, and found that it tasted better when it was mixed with something.  I am not ruling out Chobani yet, but I may be through with the plain flavor.  On the bright side, it was very thick and creamy, which I appreciated.  My hope is that the flavored yogurts will taste....well....more flavorful.

I love homegrown produce.  There's something about it that makes my mouth water.  You can imagine my surprise and utter happiness when my friend Donna came into work and brought me these beauties from her garden:
















Yay for peppers!

She told me the smaller ones were hot, and boy are they ever!  Thanks again for the peppers, Donna, they taste amazing!

One final note......

I received this from Christina over at Christina Butter yesterday, and I was really touched. 












This is my first blog award-thank you so much, Christina! I can't tell you enough how much I enjoy reading your blog! 

The award is supposed to be passed on to 15 of my favorite bloggers, so here we go:

1.  Roni's Weigh

2.  Green Lite Bites

3.  Christina Butter

4.  Bran Appetit

5.  Two Peas and Their Pod

6.  Never Say Never

7.  Pursuing Balance

8.  Yoga Is Yummy

9.  Run Eat Repeat

10.  On a Lobster Placemat

11.  Hangry Pants

12.  Kath Eats Real Food

13.  Healthy Tipping Point

14.  The Inner Workings of a College Graduate

15.  Healthy San Diego Living

All of these amazing women have blogs that you should check out!

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite kind of yogurt (flavor or brand)?

I don't have a favorite brand, but my favorite flavors include cherry cheesecake, vanilla and peach!

I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mini Food!

I don't know about you, but I love when food looks fun.  For some reason, it's more appetizing for me.  I haven't quite figured out why I love fun food so much, I just do!

For dinner this week I decided to make an old favorite of mine, mini meatloaf muffins.  They are great for portion control, which is always a plus in my book!  I remember making them all the time when I first started Weight Watchers, but somehow, with the addition of new recipes, I forgot about them for awhile. 

This recipe is pretty standard.  I used:

1 pound extra lean ground turkey (next time I'll probably us 1.5 pounds....these muffins were very mini!)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 squirt of ketchup
1 egg white
dash of basil, Italian seasoning and garlic powder

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.  Combine all ingredients and mix well.  I use my hands to really mix it up, but I guess you could use a spoon if you wanted.  Shape the mixture into a ball and put it in the muffin pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.





























See?  Aren't they cute?

I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.  For some reason, work is so busy today.  Next week I start back with my classes, so I'll be sure to have a full schedule ahead of me.

Question of the Day:
What's your go-to recipe?

I know my friend Gina will tell me that it's BBQ chicken because I make that a lot, so I'm going with that answer. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Christmas Pasta

Happy Wednesday!  Here we are in the middle of the week! 

I know we aren't particularly close to the Christmas holiday, but when I put all the ingredients together, it looked like Christmas in a dish. 

I started by cutting up a pepper and zucchini and sauteing them in a pan.  While that was going, I started cooking a box of whole wheat pasta.  Once the pasta was drained, I mixed the veggies, pasta and gravy (or marinara sauce, as you may call it) together and put it in a 9x13 pan.  I also threw in a can of rinsed garbanzo beans for the fullness factor.  I topped the pasta with one cup of 2% shredded mozzarella cheese and baked it until the cheese melted - about 10 minutes. 



























Starting to get the Christmas feel, don't you think?
















The husband was raving about this pasta.  I thought it tasted pretty good and with the veggies and beans, it definitely kept me full.

Has anyone else been watching the show More to Love?  Last night was the season finale.  Oddly enough, this is the only reality show that I've watched from start to finish.  I think part of me was so intrigued because I used to be one of those girls who had "more to love."  Although I liked the series, I wasn't thrilled with how their weight was broadcasted in the first episode.  Other than that though, I was very happy with the show.  I really liked Luke, and I was super happy that he picked Tali. 

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite TV show?

I love Grey's Anatomy.  It's probably the only show that I really keep up with.  Back in the day, though, I was such a Full House girl.  I still love catching old episodes of it on TV!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baking Again

I don't know what it is, but I've been in the mood to bake. There's something about baking that I love. Maybe it's the sweet smell when something is in the oven, or knowing that baked goods usually make any bad day better. Whatever it is, baking is something I love!!


Even though I prefer it to cooking, I rarely bake. I think of cooking as a necessity. If you don't cook, you can't eat. Baking is an extra. It's something fun to do, but not absolutely necessary. Plus, if I had a ton of baked goods hanging around the house, it would definitely be a bad situation for me!

Since I was in the mood for banana bread and happened to have a few extra ripe bananas lying around, I thought I'd make some. I pretty much followed this recipe except I added a small box of raisins instead of the chocolate chips (although I've made it with chocolate chips before, and it is delicious!)

The husband was out while I was baking, and when he came home, the first thing he commented on was how good the house smelled. I think he wants me to bake more often too.
















All mixed up and ready to be baked
















It's done!















A look inside

Of course I had to try some.  I think I may have baked it a little longer than I needed to because the outer part of the bread was a little hard.  The inside was perfect, though!

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite thing to bake?

I love baking sweet breads and cupcakes.  I'd love to make more things from scratch, but I'm always afraid of making something completely inedible!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mom Rocks Times Two!

I try to keep the thought out of my mind that this time last week, I was off from work. Right now, I could use a nice comfortable bed and some sweet dreams. I can't believe how fast the weekend goes!

You may remember a post I wrote a few months ago about how my mom rocks. Well, over the weekend, she again proved just how awesome she is. She knows about me and the brother's competition, and invited us over for lunch on Saturday. It would have been so much easier for her to serve some hoagies, chips and dessert, but instead, she chose to make a create-your-own salad lunch. She knew that I was taking pictures for the blog, so as she was putting out each dish, she would say "take a picture of this!" or "make sure you get the hummus in the picture!" Seriously, isn't she the greatest?!


















Mom chopping the tomatoes.  I think when she sees this picture, she's going to freak out.  She's not one for the spotlight, but she deserves it.

There was so much food, and I was so happy that she took the time to make sure there were healthy options readily available.















The create-your-own salad contained options of:

Salad (obviously!)
Croutons
Shrimp
Crackers
Hummus (Sabra's roasted red pepper, which is my favorite!)
Cheese
Tomatoes
Hard boiled eggs
Three kinds of dressings

It was awesome!





























Half of the salad bar
































The other side
















There's the hummus!

Thanks again for having the family over for lunch, mom! It was so much fun!

Question of the Day:
When it comes to your healthy lifestyle, are your family/friends supportive?

Generally, my family is super supportive. When I reached my goal weight, many of my family members thought I was too thin told me I needed to gain weight. I struggled with this because I was never at a "normal" weight growing up. When I reached a healthy weight (according to my doctor), a lot of family members didn't know what to make of it!

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Until next time!

~Anne Marie


Saturday, September 12, 2009

And I Ran, I Ran So Far Away....

Yeah, I'll probably have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  I apologize in advance if I got it stuck in your head too!

Since starting the competition with my brother, I've tried to increase my exercise routine.  I have come to realize that I don't think it's the food that's causing me to keep on these last ten pounds, it's my lackluster effort at working out.  I made a promise to myself to do Jillian Michael's Shred routine on the days when I don't go to the gym and to rest on the weekends. 

I needed to find a way to maximize my routine at the gym.  I do mainly cardio with a little bit of weights.  To vary up my routine a little bit, I decided to try the Couch to 5K Program.  For those of you who don't know what it is, it basically trains you to run a 5K race in a couple of months. 

I was never a runner or interested in running until I lost weight.  I've gotten out of running for awhile, and now I feel like it's time to get back into it.  Having never trained myself on how to run, I typically would try to run for about 10 minutes on the treadmill before I walked again.  Although 10 minutes may not seem like a long time, for me, it was like running for 30 minutes.  I decided to try this program and see how it goes.  After all, what have I got to lose?

Question of the Day
Have you ever tried the Couch to 5K Program? 

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend!  I'm heading out to lunch at mom's.  It should be a good time!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, September 11, 2009

A New Breakfast Option

Here we are, finally at Friday!  It was a mess getting in to work today.  After I get off of the train, I typically have about a four block walk to work.  I usually don't mind the extra exercise, but today it was really raining, so I hopped on the bus.  Despite the bus ride, I still came into work pretty wet.  Is it raining this hard anywhere else?

I told you yesterday that I used Annie's Mac and Cheese in my casserole, but I completely forgot to mention how it tasted!  Silly me....

I initially wanted to try Annie's because of their ingredients, and their nutritional stats.  You can check them out by visiting their website.  To make their macaroni and cheese, all you have to do is add 1/4 cup of milk.  I was wondering if it would taste different without adding butter, as is usually called for when making Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  I was able to snag a bit of the macaroni and cheese before putting it on top of the casserole.  It was great!! Very cheesy, very creamy and worth every penny.  If I'm ever craving macaroni and cheese again, I'm definitely reaching for Annie's.  They have a few other flavors that I can't wait to get my hands on!

On another note....

For breakfast, I'm an oatmeal kinda girl.  I can't get enough of the stuff, even during the summer.  Imagine my surprise when I went to make breakfast and I didn't want oatmeal.  I wanted something cold and refreshing, so I listened to my body.  I love cereal but it doesn't stay with me for very long (hence the #1 reason why I'm an oatmeal girl!).  I thought about yogurt, but that alone wouldn't satisfy me either.  So, I did what any other person probably would have done.....I mixed the two together and added some blueberries on top.















This is a mix of bran cereal, blueberries, Fiber One and cherry yogurt.  Notice the green monster in the background?  Yup, I'm still drinking them!

While I realize that this doesn't make for the most beautiful breakfast, it sure did hold me over until lunch.  It figures that I think of a new breakfast idea right as the summer is winding down and the colder weather is around the corner.  Oh well, such is life!

Question of the Day
What is your favorite breakfast?

Honestly, mine would probably be scrambled eggs and bacon or a bagel.  Since I only eat them on a rare occasion, I'll go with my oatmeal.  It warms my heart!

Please take a moment in your day to remember those affected by September 11th.  Thank you to all the men and women who serve our country to keep us free. 

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mac and Cheese Please!

Lately I have been having a pretty intense craving for macaroni and cheese.  I didn't want to have an entire box of macaroni and cheese to myself, so I searched for a somewhat healthy recipe that would do the trick.  What I found was Cheesy Mac-Topped Casserole.  I opted to use extra lean ground turkey, and Annie's organic Macaroni and Cheese.  I had never tried Annie's brand before, but since the nutritional stats are better and they were on sale, I snagged a box to try.

































Cooking away before going into the casserole dish





























Out of the oven















Close up shot

All in all, I really liked this meal. My only gripe is that it isn't super filling, so the next time I make it, I think I'll add in some more vegetables. It definitely satisfied my craving for mac and cheese, so I'm very happy about that!
My brother and I are writing the rules of the competition out and they should be finalized by today. Because this competition seems like it's going to get fierce, I decided to optimize my workout schedule and do Level 1 of Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. After not doing it for a while, I have to say that Level 1 was tough!

Question of the Day

What craving hits you the hardest?

For me, it's definitely peanut butter. I could go through an entire jar in two days, no lie. I may have even done that on a few occasions.....hehe

Until next time!

~Anne Marie