Friday, January 30, 2009

Ultimate Super Bowl Recipe Smackdown- The Recipe Round-Up

Wow, what a roundup of great recipes for Super Bowl parties! Thanks to all who participated in this contest to win a $250 Sam's Club card. Here are the Super Bowl recipe entries... recipe titles are linked to the blog on which they originated. Have fun exploring!

From the Blog- Baking Like Betty
Homemade Root Beer
, Lil Piggies in a Blanket, and BBQ Pulled Pork (Crockpot)

From the Blog- Barbara Bakes: Caramel Corn

From the Blog- BigSisLilSis: Lil Sis's Chili Con Carne

From the Blog- Sweet Basil
Ranch Sausage Stars & Artichoke Dip

From the Blog- Tiny Biscuits
Jambalaya- Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

From the Blog- Two Peas and Their Pod
Cilantro- Lime Hummus

From the Blog- Big Red Kitchen: Stromboli

From the Blog- Real Mom Kitchen
Special K Treats
Slow Cooker Fajitas
Crockpot Southwestern Chicken Nachos

From the Blog- Gourmet Mom on the Go- 4 recipes but only 3 entries allowed :)
Time Out Taffy & Touchdown Taco Pockets
False Start Fun Fondue
& Finger Lickin' Fruit Dip

From the Blog- One Ordinary Day: Salted Fudge Brownies

From the Blog- Megan's Cookin: BBQ Chili

From the Blog- Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice: Fruit Pizza

From the Blog- The Mickles
MeMe's Cookies, Hot Wings, & Artichoke- Spinach Dip

From the Blog-
Jersey Girl Cooks: Crockpot Chicken Tacos

From the Blog- Panini Happy
Grilled Navajo Tacos & Pittsburgh- Style Cheesesteak Panini

From the Blog- We Eat: What Else Is There?
Southwestern Eggrolls, Coconut Chicken Bites and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

From the Blog-
Peanut Butter Boy
Super Peanut Butter Chili Bowl
, Indonesian Meatballs w/ Peanut Sauce & Butternut Squash Fries

From the Blog- Karen Cooks: Armadillo Eggs

I did this the old-fashioned way since my 7 year old was excited to be a part of the contest. I had slips of paper with blog names written on them (up to 3 per blog, depending on how many recipes were submitted). We drew a name last night....

AND THE WINNER IS...Congratulations Barbara!
I know you'll have fun spending those Sam's Club dollars. Please contact me to claim your prize!

Thanks so much to all who participated in the contest. We sure got a great collection of recipes out of it all. Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Honey- Glazed Chicken Wings

A Super Bowl Party isn't a SuperBowl party without some sort of chicken wings, right? My absolute favorite are the deep fried type buffalo wings dipped in gobs of blue cheese. Can't even think about those this year though. In fact, I might as well just forget those even exist since I intend to avoid evil, deep-fried foods for a good, long while!

Here's an easy crockpot-style recipe that we enjoyed during the playoffs this year: Honey- Glazed Chicken Wings (not health food by any means, but certainly not fried either!)

The How To:

Costco and Sam's Club both sell big packages of chicken wings for a good price. First off... how to trim the chicken wings.

Cut off the tips of the wings. You can do this with a sharp knife (or kitchen shears). Toss the tips or save them to make chicken stock. Store them in the freezer if you don't feel like making chicken stock right now.

You'll probably need kitchen shears to snip the other part- this will give you a little leg and a little wing (the two parts you'll use in your recipe).

This is what you'll be needing for the recipe. Nothing exotic.

After the wings are trimmed, the recipe couldn't be simpler. Chicken is placed into the crockpot and salt & peppered well.

The marinade ingredients are whisked together and poured on top of the chicken. It simmers all day in the crockpot. I was afraid that simmering them too long would make the chicken fall apart, so I let them simmer for 4 hours, and then I took them out, drained them a bit and finished them in the oven. The oven also dried them out a bit too so they weren't so wet for picking up and eating. You can also choose to do the whole thing in the oven in lieu of the crockpot.

The result was delicious, sweet-flavored wings. If you want them spicy, add additional cayenne pepper. Perfect for Super Bowl. Hate football? Have a party anyway. It's a good excuse to have friends over.

This recipe can be found HERE.
More Super Bowl recipes can be found HERE.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Personal Weight Loss Journal: January 25th- 31st, 2009

If you've just started reading my blog, you should know that I've made a healthy lifestyle change. I'm posting about my experience, but you'll see recipes as usual after this post. Two weeks into it and I'm still happy to forge ahead. I've lost a total of 4.25 pounds thus far, but I can tell by the way my clothes fit that the exercise has helped lose inches too. It's not always easy, and I sometimes find myself falling into old habits like walking into the pantry to look for something to eat... when I'm truly not hungry. I start each morning with a large double cup of tea with splenda and nonfat milk. I usually get up at the ungodly hour of 5am. I make my tea immediately and have something to sip until the rest of the house gets up at 6:30. Soups or salads have been a filling choice for lunch. If I'm feeling like I have the munchies in the afternoon, I grab an apple and another cuppa tea. I try to make a nice, healthy dinner for the family and make good choices on portion size too. To satisfy my sweet craving for dessert at night, I enjoy a no-sugar-added tapioca pudding. The chewy nature of the pudding is a bit more satisfying than the smooth sort.

Most days exercise has been met with enthusiasm. I find that the more regular I am with working out, the easier it is to go. Most of the time I look forward to it, and the feeling after an intense workout is just wonderful. It helps to meet up with friends at the gym and chat while we're exercising... makes the time fly by.

I look forward to working just as hard this 3rd week of my journey.

Day 14:

Food/Exercise for Sunday, Jan. 25th, 2009
breakfast: Kashi Puff's cereal with skim milk
snack: nonfat yogurt with Kashi crunch cereal
lunch: 3 turkey meatballs with 1/2 cup whole wheat spaghetti
snack: apple
1 slice veggie pizza w/ whole wheat crust, small side salad
no-sugar-added tapioca
no exercise today!

Today's Notes:
Food today was pretty easy. I went shopping yesterday to make sure I started the week with what I needed. If I wake up without good foods available, I'm more likely to blow it.

I chose to take a day off from exercising today. I rarely take a day off, and I just felt like I needed one today!

You can read more about my weight loss journey HERE.
Week 1 details are HERE.
Week 2 details are HERE.

Day 15

Food/Exercise for Monday, Jan. 26, 2009
Kashi puff cereal with skim milk
elliptical machine (45 minutes), weights/abs (15 minutes), ran home from gym (20 minutes)
nonfat yogurt with 1/2 cup kashi crunch cereal
lunch: big salad
dinner: fried egg sandwich (2 slices whole grain bread, egg fried in cooking spray, 1/2 avocado, tomato)

Day 16

Food/Exercise for Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009
Kashi puff cereal with skim milk
elliptical machine (45 minutes), weights (15 min.), elliptical (20 min.)
nonfat yogurt with 1/2 cup kashi crunch cereal
lunch: big salad
snack: celery with natural pb
dinner: frozen Kashi dinner
dessert: no-sugar-added tapioca pudding

I had forgotten to record day 15, so I combined the two for my notes. I was very busy both days so food didn't consume me. Since I work out in the morning, I kind of feel like having a 2nd breakfast when I'm showered and ready to start the day. The yogurt with a little cereal in it is perfect. That big salad for lunch is really satisfying too. I just do lettuce, tomato, lowfat swiss, prosciutto and a couple of marinated asparagus. I dig the dressing I've been using lately: Galeos Low Fat Miso Caesar. It's only 14 calories per Tablespoon w/ 1 gr. of fat and .5 carbs. That works for me. It's creamy and very flavorful. Dinners haven't been exciting so far this week, though I love my fried egg sandwich! My husband has been out and about at dinner time lately which leaves me with little desire to cook, but I'll be trying out a couple of recipes later this week.

Exercise for Monday was fabulous. I didn't get to attend my usual class, but I worked out on the elliptical and then did weights and abs. My husband had dropped me at the gym that day, so I ran home... first time running the entire way home without stopping. I really enjoy the run home. It's mostly downhill and a few inclines. I always feel like I'm going to poop out on the inclines but I push myself to keep going. Sometimes I just say to myself, 'I'll just run for one more song on my I-Pod'... (and then I end up saying)... 'ok, I can do one more'... and before you know it- I'm home! I had to do a quickie workout on Tuesday since I had quite a busy day. I was motivated to do a little more exercise, however, by my friend Patsy (while chatting on Twitter), when she mentioned that she hopped on the treadmill for a short second workout before dinner. I ended up doing an additional 20 minutes on my at-home elliptical tonight while watching The Biggest Loser on TV.

Two things have happened recently that were really motivating. My trainer singled me out in an exercise class (twice) and told me how thin I was looking. And I wore a pair of pants yesterday that I haven't been able to wear in quite a while (and they weren't tight either!) It's funny to think that just 4.25 pounds (and only two weeks) can do that, but really it's the exercise talking. I'm melting off inches and building muscle. The pounds will come off more slowly, and I'm ok with that.

The rah rah comments below really keep me going too. I'm amazed that people are interested in what I'm doing, and it makes me feel good that you care enough to comment and cheer me on! Thank you :)

Day 17:

Food/Exercise for Wednesday, Jan. 28th, 2009
breakfast: Kashi puff cereal with skim milk
elliptical machine (50 min.), weights (15 min.), running (20 min.), abs (10 min.)
nonfat yogurt with Kashi crunch cereal
lunch: open-faced egg sandwich (1 slice toasted bread, 1/2 avocado, egg fried in veg. spray)
1 slice of Chocolate- Banana Bread
dinner: big salad with a 'side' of the pasta dish that I made for the family
no-sugar-added tapioca pudding

Today's Notes:
An email arrived this morning from Women's Health with this link: The 20 Worst Supermarket Foods in America. The worst cereal (Quaker 100% Natural Granola) is sitting in my pantry. In fact, I got the super-sized package at Costco. When I informed my husband of this not-so-fun fact, he noted that even though he's been eating it for breakfast daily, he actually feels slimmer lately. That comment was met with a skeptical giggle from me. I told him that I actually bought the granola to use as a 'sprinkle' for yogurt but have since found the more healthy alternative- Kashi Crunch. Maybe he'll think twice about having a big bowl of it for breakfast, and I certainly won't be buying it again!

I was so busy with to-do's today that I forgot about eating a lot. I didn't eat lunch until 3:00. The banana bread was something I baked up for the family, so of course I had to test it out. It was amazing- I adapted it from here. No added sugar and zero added fat. Pureed prunes and bananas were the key to making it moist. Don't let the prunes scare you -you couldn't taste the prunes at all and it was very chocolatey. The family loved it. I'll blog about it sometime next week. I made a pasta for dinner... whole wheat penne with ham, shallots, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms... with a 1/2 cup sauce made from marinara, 1 tsp. dijon, 2 T. heavy cream and pepper. It was awesome. I decided to have a small portion as a 'side' to my salad instead of the usual side salad.

Exercise today was slow-going. I didn't feel much like working out in the morning. I have so much going on with my new website launching soon, preparing taxes, pta, and general craziness around the house that I want to find excuses to stay home and catch up instead of working out. So far I haven't let the busy-ness get to me. I'm still getting in my workouts. Yesterday, Patsy on Twitter commented on her workout (which got me thinking I should go to the gym), and then I got an email from VeggieGirl cheering me on for how well I'm doing... so with that inspiration, I got on my workout clothes and headed to the gym for a great workout. Two nice things then happened that boosted my day further... my husband told me that my butt was looking good on my way out the door, and my trainer at the gym complimented me on how much my body was changing and told me that other people had noted the change in me as well. It's the little things that give you a boost, isn't it?

DAY 18:

Food/Exercise for Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009
breakfast: Kashi Puff cereal with skim milk
walk to gym (20 min.), elliptical machine (50 min.), run home (20 min.)
nonfat yogurt with kashi crunch cereal
lunch: veggie/chicken stir fry
snack: piece of cake
dinner: Lime- Marinated Flank Steak, asparagus

DAY 19:

Food/Exercise for Friday, Jan. 30, 2009
Kashi Puff cereal with skim milk
walk to gym (20 min.), elliptical machine (10 min.), cardio/strength class (75 min.), run home (30 min.)
nonfat yogurt with Kashi Crunch cereal
lunch: veggie/chicken stir fry
dinner: big salad with added shrimp
dessert: no-sugar-added pudding

Today's Notes (on the past two days):
We had a family member over for dinner on Thursday night, and I felt the need to make a homemade dessert. I ended up making a pound cake from my Cooking Light cookbook with modifications to make it even lighter. I broke my own rules a bit regarding making sweets... I baked when I was hungry and didn't chew gum. Therefore, I found myself falling into old habits of sampling the batter. When the cake was done, I sliced a piece for photographing and then ended up eating it (my usual 7 year old taste-tester wasn't around!) And if that wasn't enough, I decided to add chocolate ganache to the top of the cake and indulged in a couple of spoonfuls of that too. Needless to say, I was feeling rather bad about this whole thing. These are old habits that I'm hoping to change. It all worked out okay though. I ate a lighter dinner and stayed away from the rest of the cake. I actually feel pretty good that I was able to taste it and I didn't gain all of my weight back in one sitting.

I made sure to get a really great, loooooong workout on Friday. Does it look ridiculous to you? I have to say that it felt GOOD!!! My weigh-ins are on Saturday mornings, so I try to eat really well and get some nice exercise on Fridays. I'm really lucky that I can find the time to do this as I realize most people can't squeeze in the time. It's a commitment I've made to my life, and my family is very supportive of the time I'm investing in my health. Suzanne Somers was on Oprah the other day talking about her new plan for healthy living and she mentioned that at age 62 she feels the best she's felt in her whole life. I pretty much feel like that now. I find that weird since I'm only into this 19 days so far, but I really do feel great. I can't imagine how much better I'll feel in another 30 days. It's amazing what exercise can do to boost your energy, your mood and your body. And my husband says I'm more fun to be around these days :)

Wish me luck on my weigh in!!


Food/Exercise for Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009
Kashi puff cereal with skim milk
Boot Camp style exercise class (60 minutes), run home (25 minutes)
nonfat yogurt with Kashi crunch cereal
big salad with added ham & cheese
dinner: Went to Gourmet Club's dinner party... had Coq au Vin, soup, mashed potato, a few appetizers and a couple of bites of dessert. And lots of wine!

Again, I had to make a chocolate cake today (for our Gourmet Club dinner). No big deal... I got through it without eating any batter!! I ate light all day so I wouldn't have to worry too much about the great dinner that was ahead of me. It wasn't the lightest dinner, but I definitely didn't deprive myself of tasting. There was deep-fried shrimp (I ate one) and a bruschetta w/ goat cheese (had a bite of my husbands) but other than that I ate blanched asparagus & a few almonds. I probably shouldn't have eaten the mashed potatoes as I'm trying to avoid white starches and white flour, but the chicken was served on top of the potatoes (and they were too good to resist!) Dessert was easy... just a couple of bites and I was happy.

Boot Camp workout day is the one exercise day that I truly look forward to. It's an intense, outdoor workout, and I always feel exhausted but wonderful upon finishing. Today was our third Weigh In Day! I knew it would be good news as I obsessively monitor my weight on the scale at home. Today I recorded a 3.75 lb. weight loss for the week- bringing my total weight loss so far to 8 pounds. Yay! Needless to say, I'm thrilled with the progress. I got a little prize at the gym for being The Biggest Loser of the week. Two more weeks remain in the contest. I'm trying my hardest to win, so we'll see what happens! On to week four!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

It seems so wrong to be posting about brownies when I'm in the middle of my healthy eating venture. But these were offered at a little party we attended for the last Charger's playoff game (and that happened to be one day prior to the start of my venture). They didn't serve as good luck by any means as we sadly lost the game to the Steelers, but they were held in high praise by a whole bunch of hungry football fans. If you're a lover of all things chocolate + pb, then this one is for you: Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.

Yes, those yummy little Peanut Butter Cups that we all love to devour get the starring role in this brownie.

Here's the How-To:

Here are the goods... you'll need some sort of unsweetened chocolate. I used Scharffen Berger since I had some leftover from Christmas. There's also a specialty ingredient: Chocolate Extract. You can find it at Whole Foods or online, but if you'd rather not use it then just sub vanilla. And then for the peanut butter lovers in the house, not only are there Peanut Butter Cups in these brownies but added peanut butter and peanut butter chips too.

Sugar, butter, peanut butter, eggs and extract are mixed together.

Melted chocolate is blended in.

The flour is mixed in next.

And the peanut butter chips are stirred in last.

The batter is spread into a foiled and greased pan. I used a quarter-sheet pan (about 13x9) as I find that that's the easiest for getting brownies out of the pan safely. You can also use any other 13x9 inch pan.

If you chill the brownies well, you can easily get the brownies out of the pan without breaking them apart. Place a cutting board upside down on top of the pan and gently flip it over. Peel the foil off. Your brownies will now be upside down, so place another cutting board on the bottom of the brownies and then flip them back over. They'll be nice and firm and easy to cut clean squares.

I like to cut the edges off of the brownies and make nicely cut squares. We save the edges for sampling :)

These were everything a brownie should be... chocolatey, fudgy and moist. And all of that added peanut butter stuff happened to be quite a good idea. Kids and adults alike really loved these, and they'll go into that 'definitely make these again' pile.

This recipe can be found HERE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brown Butter Cornbread with Farmer Cheese and Thyme

The weather has been weird this year. It's far below freezing in places that don't really know that kind of cold. And it's 'flip flops' weather out here in Southern California during a time when we're supposed to be donning our 'winter' sweaters and little-used jackets. So as soon as the clouds come out, I'm excited for our 'soup and chili weather' and start scouring the cookbooks for something to try. Unfortunately, the chili I tried recently wasn't anything worth talking about, but the cornbread recipe that I made to go with it was: Brown Butter Cornbread with Farmer Cheese & Thyme.

The butter is browned in a cast-iron skillet, and the other ingredients are mixed together and poured on top of the browned butter.

I didn't have the right size cast-iron pan, so I browned the butter in a saucepan and then poured it into a 9-inch square pan and continued the recipe from there. The batter contains whole grain cornmeal, which I love. It gives the bread a slight crunch. If you don't like that of course you can use regular ground cornmeal.

Sour cream, Farmer's Cheese, and the nutty-flavored browned butter help to make this cornbread a moist creation. No dry cornbread here. Chunks of corn and freshly chopped thyme are mixed in there too. There are three Tablespoons of sugar in this one, so it's not terribly sweet- the savory flavors take over in a good way.

Farmer's Cheese is a softer specialty cheese that you'll find in the area of your supermarket where you might see things like Gouda cheese. You can always try to sub another type of cheese but the Farmer's Cheese works very well with the fresh thyme so you might wish to give it a try.
The Barefoot Contessa's cornbread used to be my all time favorite, but this cornbread was unique and tender, and it has since moved to the top of my list. It definitely enhanced the average chili that we had!

This recipe can be found HERE.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Ultimate Super Bowl Party Recipe Smackdown: Win $250!

Whether you enjoy football or not, a Super Bowl party is a fun gathering to plan. I usually host (or at least co-host) every year since there are so many recipes that are fun to make for football events. On my blog, I've been invited to host The Ultimate Super Bowl Party Recipe Smack Down in conjunction with Sam's Club. Bloggers can submit Super Bowl recipe favorites, and the winner will receive a $250 gift card to Sam's Club. Don't have a Sam's Club Membership?... use part of your $250 gift card to buy one and use the rest to shop!

Here are the rules:
1. You must have a blog to participate. Why? Because I'd like to be able to link to your recipe, and I figure bloggers spend a good amount of money on food... it's about time for someone to get a cash reward for doing what they do.

2. Blog about a recipe that is worthy of serving at a Super Bowl party. The recipe can come from any source- it does not have to be your original creation. Include a picture of your recipe, as well as the recipe itself.

3. Include a link to this post, referencing the contest. You can include the snazzy picture logo above if you'd like.

4. You must post about your recipe and send me your link/picture by midnight on Wednesday, Jan. 28th in order to be included in the contest.

5. Email the following information to sdrecipegirl [at] yahoo [dot] com
*Attach a picture 250x250 please (same as Tastespotting)
*Your Name
*Your Blog Name
*Your Blog URL
*Recipe Name
*URL of your Super Bowl Recipe Post

6. Let's put a cap on this... you may enter up to THREE recipes in the contest if you'd like.

7. You might want to consider whether or not you have a Sam's Club nearby before you enter.
Go here to see if there is a Sam's Club near you:

All links and pictures will be compiled and posted on my blog on Friday, Jan. 30th. I'm sure that every recipe will be delicious and worthy of sharing, so the winner will be selected fairly (randomly) via on Saturday, Jan. 31st. Sam's Club will send a $250 gift card to the winner!

Sam's Club worked with Baltimore Raven's football wife Shauna Wilcox to come up with some fun tips for your Superbowl party...
*Since guests are planted in front of the TV for the majority of the party, feature easy-to-eat foods... finger foods, party trays and pizzas are good choices.
*Coordinate a chili bar where guests can add their finishing touches.
*Have lots of liquid refreshments on hand. Get creative and make drinks featuring each team's colors. A water cooler also adds a decorative touch to the party.
*Add a few games to keep the guests entertained (guessing the halftime score, etc.). Have little prizes like scratch-off lotto tickets.

RecipeGirl tip: I went to a party once where the hostess created the cutest table setting. She bought green plastic table covers and used white electrical tape to create the lines for a football 'field' on the table cover. She had football-shaped trays that she bought at a party store for food that was served on the table. It was very creative.

I personally enjoy serving pulled pork at football parties. Last year I did these wonderful little Alabama Pulled Pork Sandwiches. They were a big hit.

And this Mexican Cheesecake Dip is also a good one for a big sport's crowd:

Sam's Club is hosting a pre-game sampling event Jan. 29-31, where they will demo Big Game party food. Future members are welcome, and those who join Sam's Club prior to Feb. 1, 2009 will receive a $10 gift card.

Be sure to check back on Friday, Jan. 30th for the compilation of ideas... you might just dicover some good recipes for your Super Bowl party.