Thursday, September 29, 2011

Panettone French Toast

I recently received two samples of Bauducco Panettone through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program.

Everyone was very excited to try the panettone, especially the one with Hershey’s chocolate chips:

The panettone tasted great as is, and even though it was really hot and summery at the end of September here in California, it put me into a holiday kind of mood. Panettone is a traditional bread eaten around Christmas and New Year’s time in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, and growing up, I ate Panettone quite regularly.

The panettone we received came with some recipes, and one of it was for French toast.

I don’t make French toast very often, but hubby and the toddler love it, so I made some. Since the panettone is quite rich, I decided it would be perfect for dessert. I followed the recipe but substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and also added a few vanilla drops to the egg mixture.

A nice, sweet treat! I froze the rest of the bread, and we’ll enjoy it little by little as a special treat once in a while over the next few months. Thanks Bauducco Panettone and Foodbuzz Tastemaker program for making our lives a bit sweeter! Smile

Questions: Have you ever had panettone? If so, do you like it? Do you like French toast? 

Be well,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clean-Out-the-Fridge Juice

I had been overindulging a bit over the weekend, and I desperately needed to get a good dose of veggies into my system. When I looked through the fridge, I noticed quite a bit of produce that I had “forgotten” to use. It hadn’t gone bad yet, but it was time to use it quickly. There were also some delicious grapes with tons of seeds, and I didn’t feel like dealing with the seeds, so they went into the juice as well:

Clean-Out-the-Fridge Juice
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bunch of grapes
  • 2 small apples – I didn’t use the apples pictured above as I realized the juice would be sweet enough because of the grapes

Delicious! To be honest, I was a bit scared of the fennel. Only recently have I acquired the taste of fennel, and I now really like it roasted. But I had never juiced it and was afraid it would be overpowering in the juice. But it wasn’t. I think the grapes helped a lot.

Questions: Do you like fennel? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it? How are you consuming your veggies this week?
Be well,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Meals and Exercise Thoughts

As I mentioned in my meal planning post last week, fall is always busy for us, and I try to be more organized and efficient when it comes to our meals. Thank you everyone for your great comments and suggestions on last week’s post! One recurring suggestion was to make better use of the freezer, and I’m determined to double more recipes and freeze several meals each week.

Over the weekend, I took a good look at our freezer and realized that several items needed to be used up. I also wanted to make more space, so many meals this week will come from the freezer, which is nice and will give me some much needed time.

Weekly Meals

Meal 1: Bean and beef chili (Last week, I made chili for my brother-in-law who babysat for us one night. I froze the leftovers, and we’ll eat them this week. I very loosely followed Tami’s recipe, and it turned out great! I’ll always make chili in the slow cooker from now on!)
Meal 2: Veggie and bean soup (I made a huge pot a few weeks ago and froze the leftovers.)
Meal 3: Veggie soup with dumplings (I have some homemade frozen dumplings in the freezer that need to be used up. I’ll make a simple veggie soup with onions, garlic, carrots, and celery.)
Meal 4: Salmon cakes and a salad.
Meal 5: Quesadillas with Greek yogurt, salsa, and avocado and a salad.

Here is a photo of the chili I made for my brother-in-law last week. I served it with a little Greek yogurt, cheese, and green onions over a baked sweet potato.

Weekly Workouts and Some Exercise Thoughts

Last year I had some issues with exercise guilt when I didn’t work out every day. I soon realized the hard way that some rest days are necessary as I got sick a lot and also sustained some injuries. I also didn’t like the useless feelings of guilt when I took a day off.

A few months ago, I started a “new system.” I now plan workouts for 5 days out of the week, and if I don’t do one or part of one workout, I make it up during the weekend. Most weekends I have some workouts to make up, but if I don’t have anything to make up, I just get to do what I want (without guilt!), be it doing nothing, going on a hike, or anything else. So far, it works great, and I’m happy that I have a healthier relationship with exercise.

Here are my workouts for this week:

Monday: Barre workout.
Tuesday: Weight circuits.
Wednesday: Barre workout.
Thursday: Weight circuits and HIIT.
Friday: Long(er) cardio workout.

Questions: What’s on your menu this week? Do you ever cook extra and freeze meals? What workouts do you have planned for this week? Do you ever experience "exercise guilt?" If so, how do you deal with it?
Be well,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Fun

I haven’t done a weekend fun post in a while, so here we go.

On Saturday, we spent a few hours at Gilroy Gardens and really enjoyed it. The park is perfect for toddlers and young children. We didn’t get a 2011 membership but bought the 2012 membership when it went on sale a few weeks ago. We get to enjoy the rest of the 2011 season, including Holiday Lights in December when the park is transformed with lights. The membership also includes free parking and 20% off food. And all of the above for less than a one-day ticket to Disneyland!

We had lots of fun, and the toddler used up lots and lots of energy, so much so that he asked to go to sleep when we got home!

Question: What was the highlight of your weekend? 

Be well,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chocolate Love

What’s your favorite dessert? Lately, I’ll have to say it’s a piece (or two) of good, dark chocolate. It’s funny that I say that, because growing up, I did not like chocolate AT ALL. In fact, I remember numerous times when I was seriously disappointed when I received chocolate as a gift. How times have changed…

I received an assortment of Ghirardelli chocolates through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, and I was very excited! Well, we all were!

The chocolates came with a great little booklet that lists what each chocolate pairs with. I loved it!

I right away looked through our wine fridge to find some wines to pair the chocolate with. Unfortunately, we never got around to pairing the chocolates with wine and other beverages because we were waiting for the “perfect moment” and we just couldn’t stop ourselves from eating them… Before we knew it, they were gone!

All the chocolates were delicious, but Sea Salt Soiree was definitely everyone’s winner. I couldn’t believe how much the toddler liked it!

Questions: Do you like chocolate? I know, for most people that’s a silly question… What’s your favorite type of chocolate? Do you ever pair chocolate with wine?

Be well,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Kitchen With the Toddler: How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Our kitchen is really tiny, so whenever we cook as a family, we do a lot of our prep work on our dining table. Over the weekend we made a spaghetti squash bake (very similar to this one here); the toddler didn’t remember ever helping when I made spaghetti squash and was fascinated. So much so, that he ended up sitting on top of the table for most of the time. Because it had been a long day and he was very tired, I decided not to fight the issue. Just know, we usually do not sit on top of the table!

Our squash came with a handy little sticker with instructions on how to cook it in the microwave. I followed the instructions pretty much, except I had to use a knife to poke holes into it (a fork wouldn’t budge at all!) and I cooked it for 18 minutes. The squash was huge. Even after cooking it for 18 minutes, it was still al dente (which we enjoyed, and it did get a bit softer when I baked it, but not much).

Here are all the ingredients. I just realized there are 6. Another 6 ingredient meal

While the squash was cooking in the microwave, I cut the mushrooms and sautéed them. Then I added the Laughing Cow cheese wedges to make a sauce. Next, I coated the bottom of a casserole dish with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce.

And then the squash was done. I cut it in half

and removed the seeds and “stringy things” attached to the seeds.

And then the magic began. Can you see my helper’s hands right there?

And here he is, sitting on top of the table!

And here are the “spaghetti!”

And now we assembled the bake in the casserole dish:

Yes, the toddler is still sitting on top of the table…

The casserole dish is ready to go into the oven, where it baked for 55 minutes at 350 degrees.

And then it looked like this!

By now, the toddler had come back down from the table. But now he decided it was time to take off his shirt… As I said, it had been a LONG day, and we decided to forgo the battles…

A good ending to a LOOOOONG day! Winking smile

Questions: Do you like squash? If so, what’s your favorite type of squash? I love all squash, from summer squash to butternut squash to spaghetti squash. Making spaghetti squash is so much fun, but I don’t really think it tastes like spaghetti (and people shouldn’t expect it to taste like spaghetti). Of course adding lots of “spaghetti things,” like tomato sauce and cheese, makes it “taste more like spaghetti”…

Be well,

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly Meals: Planning, Prepping, and Precooking

Fall is always busy in our house. And when things get busy, it can be hard to make and eat healthy, fresh foods. I’ve found that it all comes down to the three P’s:


I plan our meals on a big white board. Throughout the week, I write down ideas. If I see a new recipe I like and that seems simple enough, I add it. I also plan meals around the contents of our CSA box. Here is what we got this week:

Hubby also adds meals he’d like to eat. And we ask the toddler (and more and more he just tells us) what he’d like to eat.


I buy most of our groceries on Saturday and Sunday. I have found that spending some time in the kitchen after I get home, washing and prepping fruits and veggies, makes a huge difference. If there is a bowl of washed fruit, we’ll eat it. If it’s not washed, we, especially the guys, are less likely to eat it. I also put together individual bags of washed and prepped veggies for soups, sauces, and other recipes. It’s a huge time saver during the week.


I have to admit that I’m not yet as good at this as I could be! I always think, “Oh, I can do that the day we eat the meal. It just takes half an hour.” But more often than not, there just isn’t that extra half hour. In the fall, I try to make one soup and a big pot of stew on the weekend for us to eat during the week (for lunches and dinners). However, there are many more things I plan on doing:
  • Cook beans for the week (can be done in a slow cooker)
  • Cook pasta (I know it doesn’t take long, but it can be a real lifesaver on busy evenings! I make mostly brown rice pasta these days, and it reheats surprisingly well)
  • Make pasta sauce to go with the pasta
  • Boil eggs (great for lunches and to add to salads)
  • Cut up fruit and put into small containers (really part of prepping)
  • Make salad kits (washed and cut up lettuce, other veggies to add, nuts, a little cheese, hard boiled egg, etc. – all kept in bags. It takes only a minute to make a dressing and toss the salad)
  • Bake bread (I plan to do a lot more of that!)
This week I prepped and precooked the following:
  • Washed grapes and put them into individual containers for lunches.
  • Cut up melon and divided into small containers for lunches.
  • Washed pluots and put in a bowl on the dining table.
  • Boiled eggs.
  • Made salad kits with lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and green onions.
  • Made butternut squash soup.
  • Made vegetable curry.
Weekly Meals:

Meal 1: Butternut squash soup
Meal 2: Vegetable curry and brown rice.
Meal 3: Salmon and roasted veggies.
Meal 4: Tami’s (Nutmeg Notebook) Beef and Bean Chili, made in the slow cooker, will be slightly adapted due to what I have on hand.
Meal 5: Spaghetti and tomato/veggie sauce (the toddler can never get enough of this…).

Questions: Do you plan meals? Do you precook meals? Kelly from Fitting Back In always does a fantastic job of precooking an entire week’s worth of food! She is an inspiration! What are some meal planning and/or precooking tips you would like to share? What’s on your menu this week? 

Be well,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting to Know Andrea A Bit Better

The other day, I was tagged with the Butterfly Award by Kristen, Swanky Dietitian. Thanks, Kristen! As her blog title says, Kristen is a dietitian. She lives in Las Vegas, and I very much enjoy following along her eating, exercising, and having fun adventures. On to the award and the questions/prompts I’m supposed to answer.

Butterfly Award
Name your favorite color: I love pink. But I’m realizing that I’m getting a bit too old to wear a lot of it, so I’m having fun accessorizing with it and making my blog and Twitter page pink! Smile

Name your favorite song: That’s tough. I love Queen, and “We are the champions” is one of my favorites.

Name your favorite dessert: Crème brulee. I almost always order it when it’s on the menu (and I want dessert)!

What wizzes you off? Insincerity.

When you’re upset you…. go for a walk or work out, and then talk about whatever upsets me with hubby until his ears fall off…

Black or white? I love both, but black is a bit more versatile I think.

Your biggest fear: Not slowing down enough to truly enjoy the gift of life every day.

Best feature: My smile (and I realize I don’t smile enough!).

Everyday attitude: Don’t sweat the small stuff. And don’t worry about the “big stuff” too much either. Ask yourself: Will this matter 5 years from now?

What is perfection? There is no such thing. We can only try to do our best. But don’t worry too much about getting it “perfect.”

Guilty pleasure: Wine and beer.

That was fun! Thanks for tagging me, Kristen!  I’m going to tag all my readers with this award! Answer as many as you’d like in the comments!

In other news:

If you missed the $100 American Express gift card giveaway post, there is still plenty of time to enter (until 9/30) or to get additional entries. You get one entry for posting your favorite 6 ingredient meal. There are up to four additional entries possible, one for each of the following: liking my Facebook page, following me on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, or blogging about it. Make sure to leave me a comment for each entry you do!

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I used to post our weekly meals and my workouts every Monday. Sometimes that is a bit difficult to do, so I started my Facebook page, and I have been posting our meals and my workouts there on Sundays. It’s a lot easier. I plan to get back to posting a menu on this blog, but in the meantime, you know were to find our weekly meals and my workouts in case you are interested.

Finally, I recently became a San Jose Restaurant News Examiner. I am enjoying researching and writing about the restaurant scene in Silicon Valley. The link takes you to my bio page with links to the articles I have written so far. Check it out if you are interested.

It’s your turn to answer any or all of the above prompts and questions! Looking forward to getting to know you all a bit better!

Be well,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

$100 American Express Gift Card Giveaway and Six Ingredient Dinner

I’m very excited about today’s post, because, you, my readers, have the chance to win a $100 American Express gift card! Oh, all the things you could buy with it… Just think… I personally have visions of Lululemon, Anthropologie, DSW… But it’s not about my dreams!Winking smile

So here is how it all came about. I was selected through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program in partnership with American Express to participate in the Dinner@6 program, and one of the rewards is a $100 American Express gift card to give to my readers! The challenge is to create a complete meal with six (6) ingredients or less. Salt, pepper, oil, and water may be used without counting as one of the six (6) ingredients. Here is a link to the official rules:

Now on to my six ingredient meal. Right away, I thought about a pasta dish. But I wanted it to be “unusual,” and I remembered a simple, “no recipe” dish I sometimes throw together. It’s quick, uses ingredients we all love, and everyone in our house loves the finished dish. I use cottage cheese to make the sauce, which turns out nice and creamy thanks to the melted cottage cheese. It also has bacon, which adds bacony goodness. And for freshness and nutrients, there are green onions and veggies.

Creamy, Bacony Pasta with Mushrooms and Peppers 

6 Ingredients

  • 27 ounces fresh “Asian”pasta (available in my regular grocery store in the produce aisle or in Asian supermarkets in the “noodle” and tofu section)
  • 6 slices lean bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 10 - 12 green onions, cut into slices
  • 16 ounces cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 bell peppers, sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (free ingredients)
Here are the prepped ingredients:

  1. Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package and drain.
  2. In the meantime, heat pan and add the bacon strips once the pan is hot. Cook for a few minutes, until the bacon gets slightly crispy. Drain excess grease.
  3. Add the mushrooms and peppers and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add 3/4 of the  green onions and cook until wilted.
  5. Add the cottage cheese, cook for a minute and then turn off the heat. Keep the cottage cheese in the warm pan until it is slightly melted.
  6. Mix the cooked pasta with the cheesy sauce.
  7. Sprinkle the pasta with the remaining green onions.
  8. Serve the pasta and enjoy!
Servings: 8

Prep and cook time: 20 minutes

As part of the Dinner@6 contest sponsored by Blue Cash PreferredSM, American Express provided me with a $100 gift card to give out to one lucky commenter. Sound off in the comments for a chance to win! Question: What is your favorite six-ingredient recipe?

For additional entries, do one or all of the following. Leave one comment for each entry:
  1. Like my Facebook page.
  2. Follow me on Twitter.
  3. Blog about the giveaway.
  4. Tweet about the giveaway.
Good luck to everyone. The giveaway is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry. Sorry international readers! The giveaway is open until September 30, 2011 at 8:59 p.m. PST (11:59 p.m. EST) at which time I will randomly select a winner. I will post the winner on this blog on October 1, so check back then to find out if you’ve won!

Be well,