Friday, June 29, 2007

Challenge wrap up

Since it is almost the last day of the month, I wanted to make sure everyone knew that I successfully completed my challenge. I made a total of 10 recipes, and my goal was 6. I still don't think I am ready to resubscribe to the magazine, but maybe I will in the future.

The last recipe that I made this week was the Grilled Salmon and Roasted Corn Relish. I would give it a strong ok, good, but I probably won't make it again. It did come together really easily though since the whole thing was done on the grill. Clean up was a snap. No picture - sorry!

Anyone up for a challenge in July? How about an ethnic theme? I am starting a new blog just for challenge results and those of you who participated in this challenge should be getting an email soon about posting to this blog. It is a work in progress, but the link to the blog is here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A lot to learn

Perhaps I am the worst mommy in the world. Why? Because I am not teaching my baby to be the next baby genius. Is it wrong to just want him to be a baby? I went to Toys R Us to buy James a table he could pull up on and play with. He seem to have fun with the one at a friend's house. This isn't any old table, this is a learning table. It teaches shapes, colors, letters and numbers.

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I just want James to have a good time and maybe not cry or get into trouble for 5 minutes. Is that to much to ask? Everything is multi sensory. Even the sippy cup is a "sip and learn" because it has the shapes of the food on it. Isn't the whole point of the sippy to learn how to drink from a cup? Isn't that enough to learn?

Besides, he is already to big for the learning table. I think it hurts his back.

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Monday, June 25, 2007


Last night I made the Lemon-Tarragon Grilled Pork Chops. See title. I thought this recipe sounded interesting because it is a brine. However, because of that brine, they were really too salty. Mark liked them ok because it reminded him of country ham. However, I hate ham. It tastes so....hammy. Every once in awhile, you would get a taste of tarragon, and oh yeah, tarragon isn't my favorite either.

With this I made the Grilled Eggplant Salad, as recommended by Robin. Again, part of my challenge was to make something I normally wouldn't make. I never made eggplant before and too be honest, I don't ever remember eating it. I thought this was really good. I was very impressed with the texture of the eggplant and loved the tangyness of the salad. It was really easy I would make it again, however, once Mark found out that he was eating eggplant, he wouldn't finish his LAST BITE.

So all in all, dinner sucked. Good thing I also made a bunch of muffins to redeem myself.

Did I mention the pool?

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It is finally warm enough to swim! Pool party at my house.

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FYI - it is only warm enough to swim during the day. At night it is still a litle chilly.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

We just can't have nice things!!

In the future, if you come visit to see our new house, mind the mailbox.

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Your fancy backing up safety features and rear camera may not work as well as you might think!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tofu anyone?

Yes, that's right, I said TOFU. See, you thought I was bad, but Robin had to go and out foodie me by making tofu. Well, good for Robin. See review below...

We made the Orange Glazed Tofu Triangles with Sesame Rice last night. It got great reviews on the board so I tried it since we both love tofu. It was fabulous. Once in a while, Cooking Light surprises me with a great keeper recipe and this is one of them. I really did follow the recipe as posted this time. I didn't use sesame oil because I don't care for the strong taste of it ... I just used vegetable oil. And I browned my tofu in a nonstick pan on the stovetop instead of in a grill pan. The picture Alex took doesn't do the dish justice ... I think he was more interested in eating than taking pictures so I apologize. And my tofu is a little more browned on some sides because I got distracted by the little one... happens often these days! If you like tofu you should make this ... it was really tasty.

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To be honest, I have a package of tofu in my fridge right now. I bought it to make some finger foods for James, but I might just have to try this one. I don't think Mark will ever let me get away with it though. *Sigh, anyone remember Pei Wei's pad tai with tofu? That was good stuff.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Review

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I made Melissa's dinner of Grilled Chicken and Tapenade Sandwiches and New Potato Salad and just wanted to add my take on it. The whole meal came out really well, although thanks to a little rain, I made it indoors on my grill pan, so it took a little longer than it should have. The potato salad was the surprise hit, and will probably become my go-to potato salad from now on. Part of my personal challenge was to make an entire meal from Cooking Light so I also made the dessert suggested in this "Dinner Tonight" section. To be honest, this was a lot of food and I wasn't really hungry for dessert. However, when Mark heard we had dessert, he was all for it. "Is it PIE?!?!?" Um, no. I tried to tell him not to get too excited. "Oh, is it key lime pie?" No, the cooking light suggestion was cantaloupe drizzled with port. Mark was not happy.

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We aren't big melon people, but I thought it was ok. Would have been better to be cantaloupe soaked in port. Or go all the way as sipping port served with leftover warmed brownies from last week. Mmmmm.....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Adventures with Daddy

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This weekend we traveled to the low country and did lots of fun things. We took James to the beach for the first time and he really seemed to enjoy it!

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Then we went to the park and played on the swings, the see-saw, and the merry-go-round.

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It is so fun to take James new places a do fun things with him. Good times!

Monday, June 18, 2007


Yay! Another entry in the challenge, submitted by our bride to be, on the bride to be diet:

Hey Kerri, since I can’t exactly commit to one recipe per week, I decided to do 3.5 of them tonight for dinner. All turned out great!

First, we had the red pepper hummus. Although those darn red peppers are hard to peal (broiler not so effective), it turned out great. I served it with pita slices for a yummy appetizer. I used roasted garlic instead of regular, and although it tasted good with the one cloves, hummus isn’t good unless it’s bug repellent, so I added several more.

**I hate roasting my own peppers and almost always use jarred. And hummus can be good and non-bug repelling!!**

For dinner, we had the
Grilled Chicken and Tapenade Sandwiches, the side of veggies it discusses, and the New Potato Salad. For the sandwiches, the only thing I changed was that I used no oil at all. I know, I know, the world likes oil. Scott LOVED this dish and was very impressed. I gave him some fancy roll for the bread and I used some of my low calorie sandwich bread for mine. I thought it was very yummy and very satisfying. The olives are the best part, so use lots of those. Also, I used a mixture of fresh and dried herbs as I didn’t want to buy 14 different ones for 1 Tb each… We grilled the veggies. Super simple. Very yummy. I normally do a spice mixture, but I stuck to the salt & pepper (with non-stick spray) and the balsamic before serving. Very yummy.
The potato salad was a surprise hit. I personally thought it was outstanding, and I used the “almost fat free” mayo that I have in the house. Scott had no idea! He thought it had great flavor and gave it two thumbs up. I didn’t have any white wine vinegar, so I used seasoned rice vinegar instead.

**I will probably make that sandwich sometime this week and hopefully add on the potato salad since it got such a good review**

So those are my reviews. Overall, everything turned out great. I would definitely make these recipes again. Very healthy – no oil, but also very satisfying and tasty!

Friday, June 15, 2007

More challenge results

I made two dishes from Cooking Light this week. This first was Spicy-Basque Style Chicken. I will give this one an OK review. I was really looking forward to it due to the Smoked Spanish Paprika which is THE spice of 2007. The only major sub I made was only using one can of tomatoes, and used one fresh tomato picked from my front yard. This dish just seemed a little bland, it might be better with a little salt added. I held off due to the prosciutto and the olives. (Just a little note, you can get prosciutto from the deli counter at Ingles in this area. ) I served it with saffron rice and a guacamole salad. This recipe was from the "superfast" section of the magazine and will say that it came together very quickly, in less than 30 minutes. My mom made the same recipe and gave hers a better review.

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The second recipe I made was Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Shredded Chicken and Peanuts. This one also gets an "ok" and there is no picture, mainly due to the fact that Mark, James, and I were having one of those "one day we are totally going to be on SuperNanny" nights. I think this one has potential, but I had to leave out the sesame seed oil because as it turns out, I don't have any. I think that would have helped out a lot. This would be great for lunches with leftover chicken and rice.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My big, fat BABY!

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Baby James is now 9 months old. He loves being naked. He is pulls up on everything and does not crawl, but scoots with ease. Here is his "Normandy Beach" reenactment:
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I should write a book about big babies. I really think they are different from your non-big variety. A little story: when James was first born and he would get weighed and measured I would be horrified at the results. He was so much bigger than the other babies and just was growing like crazy. I thought that I was doing something wrong. All he did was scream all the time and the only thing that would shut him up was walkies, the bouncy ball, and nursing. I nursed him with my doctors blessing ever 2 hours for 45 minutes plus. When he was 10 weeks old, I was encourage to take it to every two and a half hours. All this for my own sanity. I am writing this because some parents feel like the size of their baby is a direct reflection on how they are doing as parents, and that is simply not true, some are just bigger than others, and some have horrible cases of colic and we deal with is as best we know how. So, at his 9 month check up, James was 23 pounds 6 oz and 31 inches long. That is between the 90-95%. Ok, the height is a little more than 95%. He is now wearing 24 month outfits. The rompers are the best because his big, fat belly fits in them so nicely. Here is my big, fat baby:
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another submission

Thanks to the time change, we have another dinner review from Robin. Her picture and comments are below. Wow, those crawfish look great! (they have crawfish in Germany?)

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It so happened tonight was a good night to try this week's recipe, Linguine with Clams and Peas. I was really hesitant because it got a horrible review, but I thought it had potential so I did do a pretty major sub, added some veg and need to note one technique that I've learned from Italians when dealing with a light sauce like this one. So here goes:
1. I skipped the canned clams ... I've never had good success with it and it has an overpowering fishy-ness to it. So I subbed crawfish meat which, surprisingly,I could find in the refridgerated section of thegrocery store here.
2. I upped the veggie broth from 1 cup to 1.5 cups to make up for the lack of clam juice. And added a half a glass of wine (which is probably more like 4 oz) ...the other half went to the chef.
3. Veggie additions: I added a couple hand fulls of brocolli and a carrot, julienned into matchsticks and used fresh (not frozen) peas. Also, I threw a handful of green beans in with the pasta while it was cooking.
4. Techniques worth noting .... don't ever omit the salt (like the recipe says to do) when cooking pasta. You need the salt to flavor the pasta ... trust me on this one, there is a HUGE difference between salted and unsalted pasta. You need to take the pasta out of the boiling water a couple of minutes before it is al dente and toss it with the light broth, put a top on it and let it finish cooking in the broth. It will soak up the wonderful broth flavor and be fabulous.

So, overall I still feel like I kept with the "spirit of the recipe" especially since the original got a horrible rap. But, mine had more of a veggie taste than a seafood taste. Anyway, we both really loved it but I'm going to put it in my box of keepers,rewritten as follows:

Linguine with crawfish and spring vegetables
250 g. dry linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
200 g. pkg. crawfish meat
1 1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as SwansonCertified Organic)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup fresh green peas (or frozen)
1 carrot, julienned into matchstick pieces
1 c. fresh brocolli florets
1 c. fresh green beans
1/2 cup (2 ounces) preshredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add broth,wine, peas, brocolli, carrot and red pepper to pan;bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes,stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender. Add crawfish meat and heat through, 2 more minutes.Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water, adding green beans along with pasta to the cooking water. Take pasta out of cooking water 2 minutes before the suggested cooking time and toss with the broth and veggies. Cover pan and allow pastato finish cooking. It will soak up the broth and taste wonderful.Sprinkle with cheese and basil.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Challenge Update

Anyone wish to share their challenge results? If you would like to write a post yourself, let me know and I will give you posting privileges...Oh, the power!!!

We had a submission from our international representative, Robin in Berlin made the Grilled Eggplant Salad and gave it an "excellent" review. I should try that one. I don't think I have ever made eggplant before.

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Last week I made the Vietnamese Caramelized Pork and Rice Noodle Salad and thought it was "very good". I would like to make it again and it was pretty easy, but it had a lot of different parts to it, so it took awhile to put together. I can see making this after a Saturday spent doing house chores for dinner. It was refreshing and filling, but not too heavy. I made the recipe as written...maybe added a little more lettuce than it called for, subbed radishes for the bean sprouts, and served it with a Belgium beer like they recommended (Stella). It served me and Mark, plus my parents with some left over.

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Mark was a little hesitant at first. It reminded him of Thai lime beef salad which he HATES (who doesn't like Thai lime beef salad?!?!?), but seemed to like it in the end.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Which is worse...

or is it What is worse? Not sure. Anyways, on the day you are referred to a cardiologist, which is worse, having a chocolate crossant and a non-fat hazelnut latte for breakfast, or a Hardees #1 combo for lunch?

I've been really tired lately, and thought I could be low iron. I went to my OB/Gyn for some bloodwork and he thinks I have an irregular heartbeat. I had an EKG today and will see the cardiologist next week.

Aren't I too young to see a cardiologist? I am very upset by this. It will probably be nothing, and I understand, they have to check everything out, blah, blah, blah, but I don't really have time for this!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thyme-Garlic Roasted Asparagus

When I was reading through this magazine and picking out recipes to make for my challenge, I thought if I made this one, it really shouldn't count. It is too close to my normal go-to asparagus recipe. But, I had some asparagus in the fridge and decided to try it as written. I am very glad that I did! The result was a very garlicky thyme scented vegtable dish. My usual consist of spreading the asparagus on a pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 10 minutes at 400. This was a little bit more involved, but I would definately make it again, as long as I already had the cutting board out. I think by placing the garlic under the asparagus, that keeps it from burning. Here is the recipe that was in the magazine:

Thyme-Garlic Roasted Asparagus

"I created this hassle-free asparagus recipe, and my guests love it every time." --Lynda Bennett, Belvedere, CA

3 garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400°.

Spread garlic in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange asparagus in an even layer over garlic; drizzle with oil. Combine thyme and salt; sprinkle evenly over asparagus. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender, turning once. Yield: 4 servings

CALORIES 45 (24% from fat); FAT 1.2g (sat 0.2g,mono 0.9g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 2.6g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 31mg; SODIUM 146mg; FIBER 2.6g; IRON 0.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 5.8g

Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

Monday, June 4, 2007

Caramel Layer Cake

For my first recipe for this challenge I picked the caramel layer cake. Mmmmm....

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I usually don't like to make cooking light baked goods. It just doesn't work like the full fat version. This one turned out ok, but I probably won't make it again. The frosting was pretty yummy, and there was actually enough for the whole cake! (something else that usually doesn't happen with cooking light recipes) I followed the directions to frost the cake before it set, but the frosting was probably still too hot. I couldn't get it to stay on the sides. The cake itself was more bread-like than cake-like. It reminded me of corn bread. However, it rose nicely and browned well. My changes are listed below:

Caramel Layer Cake

Work quickly to spread the frosting on the cake before it begins to set. We call for light brown sugar in the cake to lend a subtly sweet flavor, but dark brown in the frosting to provide a contrasting rich caramel flavor. You can use light brown sugar for both the cake and frosting, if you prefer.

Cooking spray
1 tablespoon cake flour (I used AP)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
7 tablespoons butter, softened (I used 8)
1/2 cup egg substitute (I used 2 large eggs)
2 cups cake flour (about 8 ounces) (I used 1-3/4 cup AP flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free milk (I used 1%)

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Lightly coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust pans with 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.

Place 1 cup light brown sugar and 7 tablespoons butter in a large mixing bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until well blended. Add egg substitute to sugar mixture; beat well. Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with 1 cup milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Spoon batter into prepared pans. Sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Remove wax paper; discard. Cool cakes completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, combine 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring constantly.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Yield: 16 servings (more like 12) (serving size: 1 slice)

CALORIES 298 (29% from fat); FAT 9.7g (sat 6g,mono 2.5g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 5g; CHOLESTEROL 28mg; CALCIUM 136mg; SODIUM 238mg; FIBER 0.3g; IRON 1.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.5g Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sunday Morning

It was an overcast Sunday morning here in SC. What is good to do on days like this? Read the paper and take a nap.

"Mommy, this paper is boring. I have been through the whole paper and there are no good articles..."
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"...and here is another typo..."
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"...and I don't want to nap. I want to STAND!"
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Happy Monday to all!