Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banana Bread with Nutella

The other day the teenager bought some Nutella. I guess I hadn't bought it in a long time so he took matters into his own hands... :o)

I felt like making some more banana bread and baked another loaf of Holly's Banana Bread with Walnuts. Instead of using chocolate, I put a thin drizzle of Nutella in the middle of the bread. It was good, but I thought it could use a bit more Nutella, so I spread some Nutella on the individual banana bread slices and topped them with banana slices. Everyone loved it... :o)

Yes, that's right, I had to take a bite before I took a picture... :o)

Question: What was the last "treat" that you ate? Please make us drool... :o)

Be well,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Potato Pizza with Brie and Caramelized Onions

Last week, I finally made homemade pizza again. This time I made a potato pizza with brie cheese and caramelized onions on a whole wheat crust.

I got the idea for this pizza at my gym of all places. They had an Open House where they served gourmet pizza, and I got a small slice. The slice I got was potato pizza with caramelized onions and truffle oil and a Spanish "brie-like" cheese (that's what the server called it).

I didn't have any truffle oil, but the pizza still turned out well. But I think the truffle oil would have been a nice touch though... I think I'll put truffle oil on my wish list... :o)

Here are the raw ingredients. Aren't the baby potatoes cute?

And here are the sauteed potatoes, caramelized onions and garlic, and the pieces of brie.

Here is the pizza before I put it in a 450 degree preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

And here it is after it came out of the oven.

Okay, so this wasn't the healthiest pizza in the world, but it was good. :o) We ate a simple spinach salad on the side, and I had kept my fat intake low throughout the day so that I wouldn't upset the gallstones...

Plus, the pizza was toddler-approved... :o)

Question: When was the last time you ate pizza? What were the toppings?

Happy Tuesday! I may or may not have time to post my weekly meals later today. But if I don't post them, I'll still plan them, even if it's just on a post it! :o) And I'll share highlights of what we are eating throughout the week...

Be well,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fitting Exercise Into a Changing Schedule

During the summer I was lucky to be able to work out in the morning every day. I love working out in the morning. I have lots of energy, and exercise gives me the extra little boost of feel-good hormones that lasts all day long. It's also so efficient to work out, take a shower, and be done for the day...

However, my schedule changed as I started to teach my fall classes, so I am not able to work out in the mornings on most days anymore. So I had to move some of my workouts to the late afternoon. And this wasn't as easy as I had thought. My first few workouts in the afternoon were extremely tough. I felt weak and actually couldn't lift my usual weight for some exercises. I also had to cut my cardio short quite a few times. It was frustrating... I remembered why I didn't like to work out in the afternoon in the first place... But then I also remembered that my body just wasn't used to afternoon workouts and that it was my responsibility to prepare myself for my workouts. So here is what I now do to make sure my afternoon workouts are good ones:
  • Don't eat a heavy lunch that will sit in my stomach like a stone hours later
  • Eat a pre-workout snack about an hour before my workout
  • Drink lots of water throughout the afternoon to make sure I'm hydrated
  • Have some green tea to give me a bit more energy
  • Have my gym bag prepared in my car so I don't have to unnecessarily rush around
  • Bring plenty of water to drink during my workout
My afternoon workouts have gotten much easier over just a few short weeks. I think the above, common-sense strategies (that I should do automatically anyway) really helped. Plus, I think my body is getting used to the afternoon workouts.

Another challenge that comes with late afternoon workouts is making dinner. I usually come home from the gym (with a toddler that may or may not be cranky by that time) around 6:00 p.m. and that's really the time we like to eat dinner. I have realized that it's okay to push dinner time back a little. In addition, the key is, once again, to be prepared. I try to prep most of my meal earlier in the day. I always have a big bowl with salad in the fridge and pre-make some dressing and put it in a little glass jar. I also wash and cut up any veggies ahead of time. I think I'll be a bit more mindful of my schedule when I plan meals from now on however. Pizza on a gym afternoon isn't the best idea... :o)

Questions: What time of day is your favorite time to work out? Do you ever have to adjust your workout schedule? What are some strategies you use to help your body adjust to a new workout schedule?

Happy Monday!

Be well,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Finally Made Some Juice

Some of you know that I got a juicer for my birthday and that I have been meaning to make juice ever since. Unfortunately, it took me over a month to finally use it! Somehow the big box, instruction manual, and limited space in my kitchen, made it all of a sudden seem like a "big production" to make juice... At the same time, I started to feel really guilty for not using my expensive birthday present even once...

So yesterday I finally made some juice out of one head of Romaine lettuce, one cucumber, two lemons, and two apples.

Here's my glass along with Hubby's. I thought our first juicing experiment warranted pretty wine classes... :o)

The juice was delicious, and even the toddler liked it...

I don't think I'll be able to make juice every morning as I had originally planned. Somehow making juice at 5 in the morning seems a lot better in theory than in reality... But I think making juice maybe three or four times a week will be doable!

Questions: Do you like fresh juice? Do you have a juicer? What's your favorite juice? If you have a juicer, how often do you use it?

Happy Sunday!

Be well,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cheese of the Week

Well, if you have been reading this blog for a while, you know how much I love cheese. A while back, I discovered that Whole Foods has a basket of "Bits and Pieces" of cheese, and I have been buying a piece or two from the basket almost every time I shop at WF. Last week, I picked up these two:

One was an Aged Brick Cheese. I don't think I had ever had Aged Brick Cheese before. It was a very pungent cheese and reminded me of Limburger. I ate just a tiny bit at a time, but I liked it. The rest of the family stayed away from it... The other was a Monterey Jack Habanero; it was spicy, but not too spicy - a very nice cheese. The family gave it the thumbs up! :o)

It is so much fun to try new cheeses. These two have lasted me almost two weeks. I get my cheese fix at an affordable price, and the small pieces are built in portion control. I call this a win-win situation! :o)

Question: What was the last cheese that you ate? Did you like it?

Be well,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Carrot Ginger Soup

I was running late so I ended up making up my own carrot ginger soup recipe as I was making the soup. Here is what I used to make the soup:

  • 15 "giant" carrots - I got them from my mother-in-law and they were huge
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium sized onions, diced
  • 4 huge cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 - 2 inches of freshly ground ginger
  • 6 cups organic vegetable broth (out of a box)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
I started by sauteing the onions, garlic, and ground ginger in some olive oil. Then I added the carrots which I had cut into small pieces.

After cooking the carrots for about 10 minutes, I added 1 cup of vegetable broth and cooked the carrots and broth for another 10 minutes.

After the carrots were soft, I added the remaining broth and cooked the soup for another 10 minutes. Then I pureed everything with my hand-held blender.

Here is a picture of the finished soup. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, the pictures don't show it (something about trying to make dinner, entertaining the toddler, and taking pictures--in a kitchen with poor lighting--all at the same time make for poor picture quality), so you'll just have to trust me that the color of the soup was indeed beautiful and amazing...

Because I was running late, I ended up not making any croutons but toasted some whole wheat bread instead. I also mixed a little bit of soft butter with some garlic that I had smashed up with a bit of salt to put on the toast.

Carrots and ginger are such a nice combination. I just love the sweetness of the carrots with the spiciness of the ginger. The soup was quite thick, and we love it that way. However, if you like a thinner soup, you could easily add a few more cups of broth. I know it would have been way too thick for my mom who likes her soup very soupy... :o)

Questions: Do you like carrots and/or ginger? What's your favorite way to eat them? I think this soup is my favorite way to eat carrots... :o)

Happy Friday!

Be well,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Comfort Food

What is comfort food? For me, comfort food brings back happy memories and reminds me of special times in my life. And it therefore makes me feel good... :o)

When hubby and I first started dating, we ate a lot of "flavored" rice with over-easy eggs and seaweed on the side. In fact, it's the first (and pretty much only dish) he has ever made for me. So to me, this simple, slightly strange dish, is true comfort food!

I flavor the rice with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), and a bit of ketchup. We call this dish "bap egg on top" in our house. "Bap" is the Korean word for rice, and my mother-in-law used to make a lot "bap egg on top" when hubby was growing up...

Question: What's your favorite meal from your childhood?

Be well,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Burgers

Well, hubby and the teenager couldn't wait to go to The Counter after I went there with the toddler a little while ago without them... So that's what we had for lunch over the weekend...

The toddler and I got the same thing as we got last time (salad & mini burgers and french fries from the kids' menu). But hubby and the teenager went to town. They shared an order of fries, and each got a big burger.

Hubby got the old school burger.

The teenager got the 2/3 pound custom burger with tomatoes, jalapenos, caramelized onions, lettuce, feta cheese & honey mustard dressing.

Hubby and the teenager loved their burgers... Looks to me like they got their "burger fix" and won't need another one for a while... :o)

Questions: Do you like burgers (meat or meatless)? What's your favorite burger?
What do you like to put in your burger?

Be well,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meal Recap and Weekly Meals (9/22 - 9/25)

Recap of Last Week's Meals

Our favorite meals last week were the chicken kimchi stew and the tomato soup with rosemary garlic parmesan croutons. The fried rice was good too, but there are no pictures... Unfortunately, "Salad Friday" did not work out once again. I had a work meeting on Friday afternoon that ran late, and I realized that there was just not enough time to "experiment." Plus, honestly, I just hadn't planned well enough. I had a head of cabbage (which I ended up sauteing over the weekend to go with a roast), but I didn't have a detailed plan of what to do... Instead of cabbage salad, we had a simple spinach salad and some pasta with sauteed garlic, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese. Even though it wasn't what I had planned, it was good... :o)

So here are this week's meals:

Tuesday: Spinach salad and salmon cakes.

Wednesday: Carrot/ginger soup. I used to make a carrot/ginger soup a long time ago, but I'm not sure if I still have the recipe. If not, I think I have seen numerous versions on other blogs recently, so I'm sure I can find a recipe. I'll also make some homemade croutons.

Thursday: I think it's time for pizza again. I'll make some more homemade whole wheat pizza dough and experiment with the toppings.

Friday: It's "Salad Friday." I somehow think cabbage salad is not quite meant to be at this point.... So I'll make my Taco Salad.

Question: I have asked this before, and I loved all your answers and got many ideas... So here we go again: What's your favorite salad at the moment?

Be well,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pushing Yourself, But Not Too Much

The other day I watched the toddler just hanging out in the morning. It was an unusual sight as he is usually on the go the minute he gets up and doesn't "rest" until he takes a nap. But the other day, I guess he needed a slower day...

Seeing the toddler "taking it easy" (at least for a little bit) made me think about my own life and everything that's going on right now. The last weeks have been draining physically and emotionally. Plus, work is busy again. So making time to exercise is much more of an effort; there just isn't as much time as there was in the summer, and since I feel emotionally exhausted, I often have very little energy...

In the past, when life got tough, I usually stopped exercising regularly, and I also didn't eat as well as I should have. I somehow thought that life challenges gave me permission not to take care of myself and the results weren't pretty (physically, mentally, and health-wise)... So this time when things got tough, I was determined to do things differently. I realized that I have to work out regularly because exercise actually gives me energy. I also realized that planning meals makes life easier and that eating nutritious food is the best thing I can do for my body.

For the past four weeks, I have worked out almost every day, and I have also continued to plan meals and make and eat healthy foods. And I'm proud of this!

But I have also realized that difficult times do mean that you have to slow down a bit. Missing a workout is not the end of the world, and sometimes a nap is more important than a run. Also, while making food from scratch and striving to buy the freshest and healthiest produce is a goal of mine, when things are hectic, it's okay to pick up some produce that's convenient even though it may not exactly meet all my "high standards"... Also, some processed food once in a while may not be ideal, but it's okay... Oh, and I remembered how delicious Amy's Vegetarian Lasagna is... :o)

So I guess what I've learned in the last few weeks is that making healthy choices when life gets tough isn't easy, but it can be done. (I have also realized that life is hardly ever truly easy....). And I have learned that it's okay to cut yourself some slack (but not too much)...

Question: How do you make sure you continue to make healthy choices when life gets tough?

Be well,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tomato Soup with Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Croutons

One of my favorite meals of the week was my tomato soup. I used homegrown tomatoes and basil. I also made a garlic, rosemary butter (with some rosemary from my overgrowing rosemary plant) to make Parmesan croutons to accompany the soup. Tomato season is almost over, so this was almost like a farewell to my beloved tomatoes...

Here is a picture of the tomatoes and basil after I picked them.

I started by sauteing some onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil.

Then I added the tomatoes.

I let the tomatoes cook for about ten minutes before I added the basil as well as one cup of vegetable broth. I also added some salt and pepper.

I continued to simmer the tomatoes for another fifteen minutes and then used my immersion blender to puree everything. After the soup was pureed, I cooked it for an additional 10 minutes.

Here is a picture of the finished soup.

While the soup was cooking, I made some rosemary garlic butter for the croutons. I used about a third of a stick of butter, two large cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and the needles on one sprig of rosemary, also finely chopped. There is still some leftover garlic rosemary butter in my fridge...

To make the croutons, I cut some leftover walnut baguette into thin slices. I usually buy a walnut baguette from my favorite baker at the Farmers' Market every other week and freeze half as soon as I get home. The baguette is kind of pricey, and freezing half assures we get to enjoy some the next week as well.

I spread a bit of the garlic rosemary butter on each slice of bread. I then baked the bread slices in a 450 degree oven for about 7 minutes, at which time I topped them with some Parmesan cheese and baked them for a few more minutes.

Finally, here is a picture of my bowl of soup with some croutons. It was very good.

I neither peel nor seed the tomatoes to make this soup. The soup is therefore kind of thick. I love it that way. However, if you prefer a thinner soup, you can blanch the tomatoes (put the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for about one minute and then transfer them to a bowl of ice water). You can then skin them easily and also take out the seeds.

Questions: What's your favorite soup? When was the last time you had it?

Be well,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Comfort Food

My favorite comfort food is kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae). Well, I shouldn't really call it kimchi jjigae since what I make is truly not traditional. First of all, usually it is made with pork, but when I made it this week, I used chicken. I also didn't use any of the flavorings that are often used.

We always have a big jar of kimchi in our fridge. Usually, my mother-in-law makes kimchi and gives us some. On the rare occasion that she doesn't give us any, we buy it. I guess making kimchi could be a fun project one of these days... Anyway, here is the jar of kimchi that was quite ripe and therefore perfect for kimchi stew.

I simply sauteed some chicken in some olive oil and after the chicken was browned, I added the kimchi a bit of water.

Then I reduced the heat and let the stew simmer for a few hours.

After a few hours, the chicken was all shredded and very flavorful. Before serving the dish, I added a bit of sesame oil.

And here is my plate with some white rice. While this dish isn't the prettiest food I have ever made, it sure is comfort food! :o)

Question: What's your favorite comfort food?

Be well,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Movie Night

The toddler went to movie night over the weekend, so hubby and I got to go out, too... :o)

We went to our favorite restaurant and got some drinks and some small plates to share in the lounge area. Since it was before 6, it was Happy Hour, which made our wallet happy... :o)

Hubby got a beer, and I got a glass of Prosecco.

We also got some flat bread with heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese & roasted garlic.

Plus some calamari - I was a bit worried when they came out because they were so light, but they were delicious!

Ahi Tuna Poke - I could eat this dish every single day!

And some "soft cow's milk cheese" - It tasted like brie to me. It was very good but so rich that I only had a tiny bite as I was afraid my gallstones would not be happy with me if I had any more... Hubby didn't mind finishing it though... :o)

We finished with a raspberry cobbler a la mode...

After our "small plates," we got to catch part of an outdoor fashion show.

And the beautiful view as we walked to pick up the toddler from movie night...

I'm so thankful that I got to spend such a beautiful evening with hubby! :o)

Question: What are you thankful for today?

Be well,