Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Musings

Happy Monday!

The husband and I have the day off today. He had to work on Friday and Saturday, so we figured we'd take some time off so we can spend the day together.

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. It was nice to see both sides of the family. We visited with Dan's family for dinner and my family for dessert. I think this was the first Thanksgiving that I didn't feel stuffed to the gills after dinner. I made a promise to myself that Thanksgiving was just another day with really yummy food. I picked what I wanted to eat and ate until I knew I had enough without feeling like the top button on my pants was going to pop off!

Dessert was another story though. My mom made homemade apple pie, cherry pie and carrot cake, and my cousin Allison made hard to resist chocolate chip cookies. I had more than my fair share of cookies, small slices of apple pie and the moo-less chocolate pie. It was all delicious, but I have to admit that I woke up Friday morning not hungry at all (which is unlike me).

My mom and two of my cousins tried the pie that I made, and they loved it! My aunt refused to try it because she new that there had to be something "weird" in it. I'll get her to come around one of these days!

So, I have a situation that happened over Thanksgiving that I wanted to share with you/ask advice about. Every year, my husband's family participates in a pollyanna. Only the "kids" are involved. I use the term very loosely because the "kids" are my husband and myself, his step-brother (who is my age) and his sister and brother-in-law. The limit is $60 per person. For the hubby and I, that obviously equates to $120 for the both of us. In addition, we get gifts for his mom and dad and his nephews. In the end, almost everyone buys something for someone.

With the husband and I on a budget, we realized that financially, it makes no sense. In fact, we could probably get away with spending $60 total on his sister and brother-in-law and his step-brother. When his family asked us if we were participating in the pollyanna this year and we said no, the brother-in-law was rather upset. He couldn't understand why we didn't want to do it, even though we told him it made no sense when everyone was buying gifts for everyone else anyway. I was ready to back down and do the pollyanna, but the husband stood his ground. Despite the uncomfortable feeling, I'm glad that he was able to stand up for what he believed in. Me? Well, I'm just a softie.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the situation. What would you have done?

I guess that leads me to my question of the day:

Are you someone who backs down when confronted or do you stand your ground?

I apologize for the rant on the blog, but it was good to get it off of my chest! Thank you for taking the time to read my random ramblings.

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, November 27, 2009

Moo-Less Chocolate Pie

I came across the recipe for this pie on another blog, and I wish I could remember which blog it was. If this was posted on your blog, please let me know-I want to give you credit for introducing me to this amazing recipe!

Now that it's after Thanksgiving, I can finally reveal to my family that the secret ingredient in this was silken tofu. I'll let everyone know on Monday how they actually liked it. If you haven't guessed, I scheduled this post in advance. Right now, I'm most likely out shopping with my mom for some Christmas gifts.

This is the BEST recipe I think I have ever posted, no lie. You can't taste the tofu at all. It's extremely rich, so I would advise cutting a very small piece!

The only thing I didn't add was the liquor. I'm not a drinker, and my family is the same way.

The recipe can be found here.

The melted chocolate chips and tofu blended together

In the graham cracker crust

Sliced up!

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite kind of dessert?

I love anything desert related and therefore can't pick my favorite! I will say that I love chocolate desserts more than non-chocolate though :)

Until next time!

~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving on a Thankful Thursday!

Hello everyone!
I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I'm headed to two places-my mother-in-law's house for dinner and my mom's house for dessert. I can't wait to see everyone!
In keeping with the Thankful Thursday theme, this Thursday I am thankful for the opportunity to see nature in all it's beauty.

I love being outdoors and scoping out what's around me. Catching glimpses of a sunrise or sunset makes me smile. This past weekend, the husband and I went to a state park and walked around for hours. It was awesome to be in the woods and trying to navigate our way around.
Here are a few of my favorite nature scenes that I've been lucky to witness:
Watching the sunrise on Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina.
The hubby and I ate ice cream on rocking chairs and saw this view of the clouds

From the Ocean Isle Bridge

Sunset on our last evening at Ocean Isle Beach

The beginning of the sunset
The above pictures are from the husband and I's honeymoon. We went to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina and stayed in my uncle's condo. It was amazing! It's one of my favorite places to be.

I know this isn't really a nature picture, but it's one that I love. My friends and I drove from Philly all the way to Tulsa Oklahoma in the course of two days. Why, you may ask? So we could
be a part of this:
Believe it or not, my friends and I were third row in this crowd. We went to see Hanson. No joke.
Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making Substitutions

Sometimes recipes call for certain ingredients that I don't have on hand or can't find at the supermarket.

During times such as these, one needs to make adjustments. Such was the case when I tried to make this recipe for Beefaroni Casserole from Heather's website.

Beefaroni casserole
2 TBS olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
15 oz canned tomato sauce
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp calorie-free sweetener (use sugar if you prefer)
1 heaping TBS minced garlic
2 c uncooked whole-wheat macaroni
1/2 c shredded FF or soy cheddar cheese
1/2 c shredded FF or soy mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375*F. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add beef, onion, and green pepper, and cook until beef is browned. Stir in mushrooms, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, sweetener/sugar, and garlic. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9" casserole dish sprayed with Pam. Spread cooked macaroni evenly over meat mixture. Layer cheddar and mozzarella cheese evenly over the top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes; uncover and bake for 15 more minutes. Serves 6

For instance, this recipe says that you are supposed to add mushrooms, and I was all out. I had a ton of little zucchini to use, so I made a substitution.

Lots of zucchini

The pasta layer over the meat layer
The recipe called for shredded soy cheese of the cheddar variety. I didn't have that, but I did have cheddar cheese in square form, so I substituted.

Looks like it turned out alright to me!
I loved this meal. It was so delicious and had the right amount of comfort food feel.
Question of the Day:
Do you make substitutions in cooking or do you follow recipes word for word?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mrs. Dash Meets Chili

Oooouuuuuccccchhhh!!!! Okay sorry, just had to get that off of my chest. Yesterday I did the boot camp option of the Biggest Loser Workout DVD. I hadn't done this section in a long time, so I figured I should try it out. I forgot how utterly sore it makes you. My arms and legs hurt, but at least I know it works! Is it weird that I actually like being sore? It makes me feel accomplished.

On a side note, has anyone else listened to the Glee Cast radio station at Pandora? It is phenomenal! I've been jamming to tunes from Grease, Disney and other great stuff. Go check it out!

In the never-ending quest to find something different to do with chicken breasts, I combined two of my favorite seasonings-Mrs. Dash and chili powder and sprinkled it on the chicken.

After baking for about 40 minutes or so.

I'm having this for dinner tonight, so I'm looking forward to tasting it. The husband isn't a big fan of spicy food, so I'm hoping that I didn't over-do it on the chili powder.

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite Disney movie?

I love, love, love The Little Mermaid. I could watch it for hours and hours and never get tired of it.

Have a great day!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, November 23, 2009

Product Review

Happy Monday, everyone!

I cannot believe we are at Thanksgiving week already. In just a few short days, the hubby and I will be gearing up to celebrate with both sides of the family. We are going to his mom's for dinner and my mom's for dessert. Even though the traveling is a bit hectic, it's nice to get together with everyone. Oh, and by the way, while talking with my mom last night, she offered to take pictures of her Thanksgiving dinner so that I can post it on the blog. I love her-she is the best!

While food shopping, I came across this guy.

I remember trying this way back when I first started Weight Watchers. From what I remembered, I wasn't too happy with it. It had the consistency of peanut butter, but in no way did I think it was "Better'n" peanut butter, like the name suggested. When I saw it in the store, I wanted to give it another shot. After all, it has 85% less fat than regular peanut butter. In fact, two tablespoons is only 100 calories. Not too bad in my opinion!

I opened the jar and was greeted by this

After not having it for a couple of years, I have to say that I was very impressed. It still doesn't taste exactly like peanut butter, but I think the taste has improved over the years. It could also be that I am now used to eating natural peanut butter.....and Better'n Peanut Butter has that same kind of consistency.

If you are looking for an alternative to peanut butter, it's worth a shot. I like it because I can literally go through an entire jar of peanut butter in two days. It's a good substitute for me.

Question of the Day:

Do you eat substitutes (i.e., Splenda for sugar) or do you eat the real thing?

It depends what it is, but I think I do an equal amount of both. Sometimes I'll use the substitute and other times I'll eat a small amount of the real stuff. It's all about balance!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, November 20, 2009

Well This Was Different!

I loved reading all of your comments yesterday about what you were thankful for. It's so easy to focus on the negativity surrounding life, so I wanted a chance to take a look at how good life is. It's nice to focus on the little things!

When it comes to cooking, sometimes I like to follow recipes and other times I raid my cabinet, find what looks good, and cross my fingers that it works out.

Such was the case with what I made for dinner last night. I'm pretty sure my mom made this at some point when I lived at home, but I can't be completely sure.

I found some tomato soup (one of those Campbell 's soup at hand soups) and poured it over some chicken. I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. My chicken was still partially frozen, so that's why it took so long to bake.

I made this dish because I was in the mood for something warm and comforting. Since tomato soup is one of my ultimate comfort foods, I decided to wing it and see what happened.

I thought it tasted pretty good, and the husband agreed. In a pinch, it's something that I would throw together again.

Question of the day:

What's your favorite soup?

I love soups of all kinds, but my favorite is tomato soup. It's such a classic, warm, soup and goes especially well with a grilled cheese sandwich!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner (well, for those of us in the U.S. anyway), I thought I'd devote the next few Thursdays to talk about things I am thankful for. They can range from people to places to things.

This Thursday, I'm thankful for my family. (Beware, there's a ton of pictures ahead!)

I think I am biased, but I have the best family in the entire world. We are a close-knit group who lifts each other up, encourages one another's dreams and shares lots and lots of laughter. The cornerstone of our family is my grandmom. She's the best grandmom ever.

My aunt, uncle, grandmom and mom on Christmas a few years ago.

I grew up with an entire family of boys.....until my cousin Allison came along when I was a teenager. I never realized how much fun I was missing out on until she was born. I'm so thankful that I have someone who I can act silly with. She just rocks.

After seeing the Jonas Brothers 3-D movie. Like our glasses?

Family is so important to me, and I know that in each member, I have found someone that I respect, admire and love.

All the "kids" with my great uncle.

Of all the family members I have, I am closest to my mom. If I grow up to be half the woman she is, I'll be one lucky girl. I have never met someone so supportive, loving and caring as my mom. I love her more than I can ever express.

Mom, me and the hubby last Christmas.

My mom and I at my bridal shower. She made me a book of memories ranging from when I was very little to the present. In the book was also a section of baby pictures of my husband. It was the best gift!

I'm thankful for my brothers. They are the two people in the world who will give it to me straight, even if I don't like what they have to say. They've seen me at my best and my worst, and they love me anyway.

At my bridal shower last year.

We are a pretty fun group who loves to make memories and spend time together. Can't you just feel the love?

Question of the Day:

What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pretty Pretty Pasta

The title of this blog reminded me so much of the game Pretty Pretty Princess ....anyone else remember that game? It was all the rage back in my younger years.

While in the mood for something carby and delicious, I thought it would be a good idea to bulk up my traditional baked ziti with some veggies. I was so excited after taking out the peppers that I completely forgot about the zucchini that I bought specifically for this concoction. Oops! I'll have to use them up next week in something else.

I bought some tri-color peppers (for a prettier presentation, of course!) and sauteed them in a pan with some non stick spray.

In the meantime, I cooked the pasta. When it was done, I mixed them together with spaghetti gravy (otherwise known as sauce), some fat free ricotta cheese and sprinkled mozzarella on top.

All finished!

The obligatory cheese shot
Question of the Day:
What's your favorite pasta sauce topping?
I'm a traditional marinara sauce kinda girl, but Alfredo is nice once in a while!
It came to my attention yesterday that my dear friend Ron reads my blog. Hey Ron! Thanks for reading!!
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Husband Makes an Omelet

Hello everyone!

I can't believe how fast this day is flying. I'm telling you, once this week is over with, things will be much more calm around the office.

On Sundays, the husband and I like to have meals that take little to no effort. Since I cook for the majority of the week, I usually ask him to make omelets for dinner. The main reason is because I can't make one myself. Yup, I'm omelet deficient. I found out on our honeymoon that the husband knows how to make some amazing omelets-we had one for breakfast almost every morning!

On a whole, the hubby tends to be more serious than funny. Every once in a while, he gets in these moods where he makes me constantly laugh. I recorded this video because while he was making my omelet, he was in one of those moods. You'll see what I'm talking about when you watch.

For those of you that know my husband personally, be prepared for a laugh, and a different side of him that you might not normally see.

I took some pictures along the way.....

Cooking the omelet

The chef stopping to pose for a picture

My Sunday night dinner. What more could a girl ask for? Sweet potatoes and a half egg/half egg white omelet.
Question of the Day:
Do you ever eat breakfast for dinner? What do you think about it?
I didn't eat breakfast for dinner until I got married. I don't think I'll ever go back-it's just too good!
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, November 16, 2009

Date Night

Remember how I said that last week was a pretty slow week because the students were on break? Well this week is total chaos because it's the first day of the winter quarter. I'm not sure whether I prefer the relaxed atmosphere or the more chaotic one. Perhaps there's a time and place for both.

Since the husband and I haven't been out to a nice dinner in a little while, so we decided to declare Saturday "date night."

We went to a little Italian restaurant near our home, called Tavola's. Neither of us had ever been there, but we figured with Italian food on the menu, we couldn't go wrong!

Before going, we had to take the obligatory date night shot.

The restaurant was actually inside a country club, so the scenery was beautiful. I also realized that the country club was where I had my high school senior prom. Talk about memories!

We started off with some brushetta, which was amazing. It had just the right amount of garlic and basil. I can't tell you how many times I have tasted brushetta that has too much of an onion taste. Don't get me wrong, I love onions, but not when it overpowers the entire dish!

You'd better bet that we polished this thing off!

For my meal, I opted for the Chicken Scallopini. According to the menu, it was described as: "Sautéed boneless chicken breast with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and bell
peppers in a light Marinara sauce." It came with capellini pasta under the chicken.

It was fabulous! There was just the right amount of veggies, chicken and pasta.

My only gripe about the restaurant was the service. We only saw our waitress a total of 3-4 times during the entire night. While it was nice to not be rushed while we were eating, it was also midly annoying to wait close to twenty minutes for her to bring our check.

All in all, it was a nice time. The husband and I need to have more date nights!

I hope you have a fanstastic day! I have a hilarious video of the husband making an omelet that I can't wait to share with you. I promise to go home and upload it for your viewing pleasure.

Question of the Day:
Do you have a favorite restaurant? What is it?
I don't have an absolute favorite restaurant, but among my favorites are Moriarty's, Bucca di Beppo and the local Chinese Buffet.

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, November 13, 2009

I've Forgotten

I've forgotten that when the husband isn't home, this is a perfect spot to eat dinner.
In case you're wondering, it's Dr. Phil on TV.....don't judge!

I've forgotten that even if I thought a food tasted disgusting when I was younger, I might be surprised and like the taste of it now.
I've forgotten that notes are a great way to remind myself which dishes are done at what time. This is particularly helpful when I've crammed my oven to its full capacity.

Does anyone else do this?

I've forgotten that in order to not eat the entire bag of this....

I need to do more of this....

I've forgotten how much I loved to do this with my mom.....

We used to do the Philadelphia Inquirer crossword puzzle together during dinner. On one side of the table was my plate, on the other side was hers, and the crossword puzzle was in the middle. It rocked.

Lastly, and probably most important......
I've forgotten that the number on this doesn't determine who I am as a person. In fact, this number means absolutely nothing.

Question of the Day:
What have you forgotten?
I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Text Color

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beef and Bulgar

I'm very thankful to have a husband who doesn't mind when I experiment in the kitchen. No lie, I could seriously serve the man dirt and he would respond with "this is the best dirt I have ever eaten!"

I can't tell you how many times I've cooked up a batch of bulgar. The husband, being the curiously guy he is, is intrigued by it, but has never tasted it. Even though he doesn't mind when I experiment, he won't try any food that I make for myself. So, trying to be somewhat sneaky, I decided to make a beef and bulgar casserole from Heather's website. I adjusted the ingredients so that it would fit in a 9x13 pan.

Beef and bulgur casserole

2 lb lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 large onion chopped (about 1 cup)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups uncooked bulgur
3 c water
3 TBS fresh or 1 TBS dried parsley
2 tsp beef bouillon granules (I omitted this)
1.5 tsp salt (I omitted this also)
1.5 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c grated FF or soy parmesan cheese


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook ground beef and onion in 10" skillet, stirring frequently, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in remaining ingredients except cheese. Pour into ungreased 2.5 quart casserole. Cover and bake about 45 minutes or until bulgar is tender. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired.

Serves 6

Right after the dried bulgar was added

Out of the oven-it kinda reminds me of stuffing!

Close up
The husband and I really enjoyed this casserole. It was a nice change from some of the other foods we've been eating, and I think it's something I'll be making again!
Question of the Day:
Tell me about your favorite recipe/meal/food.
My favorite food is my grandmom's homemade green spaghetti. It's green because she puts spinach in the dough, but you can't taste it at all! I'm telling you, the stuff is amazing!
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Salsa Chicken

Could someone please explain this logic to me? Something that takes five minutes to prepare often tastes better than something that takes more time and effort? Well, that's what happened with dinner last night.

I wanted something quick and easy (truthfully, it seems that I've been making quick and easy dinners for a looooong time now) so I grabbed what I had and ran with it. I defrosted some chicken breasts and topped them with salsa and cheese. The husband initially thought that it was more chicken parmesan from my mom's birthday dinner, but I told him that it was just the salsa he was seeing.

I can see why he thought it was chicken parmesan

Close up shot.

During dinner, the husband made one of those comments that make me crack up. He kept thanking me for making dinner and then said "there's even peppers in here! I can't believe you chopped up peppers!" I had to remind him for the second time that salsa has peppers in it, although I would gladly take the credit for it :) Boys.....go figure!

Question of the Day:
What type of cook are you? Are you someone who loves to make quick, easy meals or do you like taking lots of time to make your meals?

While I enjoy taking time to make a meal, I'm more of a quick and easy meal kind of a girl. It's all about the simplicity for me.

Until next time!
~Anne Marie