Monday, March 29, 2010

Easy Entertaining

Sunday night we had our small group for church at our house. Everyone brings a little something, and for my part I served chips with my homemade salsa, chocolate chip cookies (Cooking Light recipe from earlier post), and hummus with pita chips and celery. I just used store bought hummus (Sabra brand, original flavor), and to add a little flavor, I drizzled it with olive oil and garlic pepper. These are healthy (for the most part), easy, and flavorful dishes that are great for entertaining.

I haven't exercised much in the past few days, but tomorrow I am getting back into rock climbing (for about the 3rd time, hoping it sticks this time), so maybe I will have some more stories soon. I am telling my friends that go with me that we need to go every Tuesday night, so I think it will help to have a routine with some accountability.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Red Hana

On Friday Josh and I tried a new restaurant here in Lubbock called Red Hana. It has been open for about a week or two, so we figured we would give it a try. Josh ordered steak pad thai (pictured above), and I ordered a Mongol Grill bowl. When you order this, they give you a bowl, which you take to a bar which has various vegetables, meat, and sauces. You pile whatever you like from the bar into your bowl, then take it to the Mongolian grill, where they cook it for you and serve it with your choice of rice (they have a few varieties), or noodles. Mine was pretty good, I just did not find the sauce all that flavorful. I got the chili sauce with mine, which I thought would be nice and spicy, but it was pretty mild. Next time I might order what Josh did, or try some of their sushi.

The meals range from $7-$15, and are very generous portions. We definitely could have split Josh's pad thai and have been full. So, in that sense, it could be a pretty cheap date! Red Hana is located on University just across from the football stadium, next to Spoonful (which I had again). They do not have a website, but you can find their facebook page here, which has menus.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Easy Pasta Recipe

Tonight I tried a new pasta recipe for Pasta Ponza. This is one of Giada De Laurentiis' recipes, and you can find it here. I originally saw it in a recent issue of Reader's Digest (thanks for the subscription Nana and Papa!), in which they were highlighting some Food Network stars. This recipe is very simple to make, light, and flavorful. I think it would be great when entertaining a large crowd too, because you bake the tomato and bread crumb mixture in one dish for about 30 minutes, then just cook the pasta separate, so it is not too much prep work, but it is still a filling and impressive meal. The only changes I made were to use only red cherry tomatoes (couldn't find yellow tonight), greasing the pan with olive oil cooking spray instead of butter, substituting fresh parmigiano reggiano for pecorino romano, and penne for ziti (I already had these and did not think it was necessary to buy something different).

Well, tonight I got back into exercising by playing a game of basketball. I am on a team in a women's league here in town, and tonight was our first game of the spring season. Our team is a mix of women from age 16-40ish. So, I am about in the middle of the age range. Our opponents, however, were primarily players from the varsity basketball team of one of the local high schools. Turns out teenagers can run a lot faster than all of us old ladies-who would have thought?

I played basketball all growing up and through high school, and although I was never a super star, I was a varsity level player, and very familiar with the game. I feel like when I play now my mind tells my body to do things, but my body doesn't always respond the way I am hoping. I made one pass tonight to a girl under the basket, thinking it was going to be really awesome, but my pass hit the backboard, and I am afraid people watching may have thought it was a shot attempt. Yikes.

There is also the problem of being able to breath. Sometimes it's a little difficult to feel like I am capable of breathing when I am running up and down the court trying to keep up with all those 17 year old girls.

I had one shining moment where I made a nice steal then dribbled in for the lay-up. However, that moment was short lived when I missed the lay-up (but there were 2 girls guarding me, so I have an excuse, right?).

Well, I have a feeling I will be very sore these next few days. Despite the imminent soreness, the slowness of my body, and the embarrassment on the court, I did enjoy playing (as I always do), and I plan on playing through the rest of the season. So, you can look forward to many more stories about Chelsea's Adventures on the Court.

Did I mention that the breathing thing made me realize I need to start running again? Not too sure how I feel about that...

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Love Grits!

Our last day at the beach was wonderful. We had sunny, warm weather, and enjoyed a day of playing on the beach and eating good food! For lunch that day we went back to The Great Southern (I went there a total of three times on the trip, it was our favorite!). This time I had their signature dish, Grits a Ya Ya. It is: Smoked Gouda cheese grits smothered with a sauté of applewood-smoked bacon, spinach, shallots, garlic, portobello mushrooms, and cream, finished with spiced shrimp and sweet potato hay. We had this the last time we were in Seaside a couple of years back and loved it, so I was excited to try it again. And once again, it was delicious!
With my meal, I had a Red Stripe beer (yum!), which was perfect for a sunny day at the beach!

As an appetizer, we ordered the Blue Crab Claws. They were: Sautéed in a rich garlic dipping sauce of white wine, lemon butter, and cream. They were so amazing! The sauce was delicious!

Friday night we went back to Barefoot BBQ, where I picked up a BBQ chicken sandwich with potato salad, baked beans, and sweet tea. We took it to the park behind it where they were having a Guitar Hero contest. It was fun sitting there eating our food and listening to the contestants. Barefoot BBQ is located on Highway 30-A in an airstream trailer in the center of Seaside.

On our way out Saturday morning, we stopped at The Red Bar in Grayton Beach for breakfast. We had been there before for dinner, and always thought it was a fun spot. They now serve breakfast, so we thought we would give it a try. We both had eggs with bacon, grits, and biscuits. It was good, and very cheap ($5.00 each). You can find their website here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beach Breakfast

Today was our first day at the beach, and it has been wonderful! The morning began with a fun breakfast date with my sweet nephew, Jay. We walked over to the town of Seaside. We ate at the Great Southern Cafe, which I have been to for dinner, which is fantastic, but this was my first time to try their breakfast. I ordered the Eggs Benedict which was made with bacon instead of ham (much better if you ask me), and is also served with cheese grits (yum!). It was delicious! Jay helped me eat it, and judging by the speed with which he ate it, I think he liked it too! We sat out on their covered patio area, which was great with a 2 year old because I wasn't worried about him making a mess or running around a little. And the waitress put the T.V. above the bar on "Sesame Street," which is his favorite! I would highly recommend this restaurant to any of you who might be traveling this way. You can find their website here.

For lunch, Josh and I went on a date to Bud & Alley's Pizza Bar which was also in Seaside. This restaurant is a little newer (Bud & Alley's has been in Seaside for awhile, but their pizza bar and taco bar are more recent additions). We sat out on the terrace, which backs up to the sand dunes and the beach, and is a wonderful, comfortable setting. We ordered the Prosciutto di Parma pizza, which had prosciutto, arugula, mozzarella, garlic, and tomato sauce. It was really good, and the perfect size for two people to split. Here is their website, sorry, my pictures did not turn out well.

For dinner, Josh, Jay, and I went to pick up food in Seaside at Barefoot BBQ, which is a cute little airstream trailer on the side of the road with great food. We both had pulled pork sandwiches, which were great, and wonderful sweet tea. I did not get any pictures here because I was too busy carrying our to go containers and drinks! We were going to eat there outside, but it was a little chilly, so we brought it back to the house.

Well, I will write more tomorrow, and hopefully have some more tasty things to share!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pizza Night

Tonight I made pizza using a recipe I have used a few times before. The only change I made tonight was with the tomatoes. I had some fresh tomatoes, but they were a week old and didn't look too good, so I decided to toss them. I hated doing that because my remaining ingredients would have made a pretty boring pizza. So, I remembered I had some diced canned tomatoes, and figured I would give them a try. They actually tasted really good. I think I will do that again in the future. That will make the pizza that much easier to make since it is an item I always have stocked in my pantry.

Well, tomorrow we leave for the beach, so hopefully I will have some good recipes and restaurant reviews to share with you while I am there!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A New Favorite

Last night Josh and I tried a new place here in Lubbock for dessert. It is called Spoonfull Frozen Yogurt (located on University close to Marsha Sharp Fwy., next to Ruby Tequila's, across from the football stadium). It was really good, and we actually went back this afternoon for more! I think it is a chain with locations in Plano (not sure if they are anywhere else). They have a website, but it just says coming soon.

This is a pay-per-ounce yogurt place. You grab a cup, then go to the yogurt machines on the wall and fill it with whatever flavor you would like. They had a wide variety of flavors ranging from classics like vanilla and chocolate to more unique flavors like pomegranate-blueberry, green tea, and cheesecake. After getting the yogurt, you go to the toppings bar and choose from an assortment of fruit, nuts, syrups, and more.

Last night I tried cheesecake yogurt with strawberries, blueberries, graham cracker crumbles, and chocolate fudge. It was really good. And there are so many different flavors I could try something new every time!

Cooking Healthy Again

Last night I finally got back to cooking a healthy meal again. I made the spicy Asian peanut sauce with noodles that I have made before.  The only difference is, instead of shrimp, I just did veggies (zucchini, red bell pepper, and green onion). This is such an easy, healthy, and flavorful meal with just the right amount of spice.

I came home from work a little earlier than normal yesterday afternoon, and Josh and I were both hungry, so I made these pot stickers as an appetizer. They are just frozen pork pot stickers from Target (their Archer Farms brand), you can follow the directions on the box for cooking them in the pan, and they are really good (don't think they are super healthy, but it's about moderation, right?). I serve them with soy sauce and sprinkled fresh cilantro over them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

So, It's Been Awhile...

Well, it's been awhile since I posted last, which tells you what kind of eating schedule we have been on (busy nights all week = more fast food than I need). So, for the most part I have been unsuccessful in eating healthy this week. I bought all these wonderful, healthy items to cook with for the week on Sunday, before taking a look at the calendar and realizing we wouldn't have a night at home until today. So, tonight I will turn around. This weekend should be all healthy, home-cooked meals. And next week we will be in Watercolor, Florida for spring break with my brother and his family (plus some kids from their youth group), so I should have some good recipes for big groups plus restaurant reviews from the coast (can't wait for some good seafood)!

I did make one thing this week, in the midst of all the craziness. We had a little party we went to for some friends of ours who just got engaged (congrats Clint and Alexis), so my contribution was a Mexican queso dip.

This is the recipe for my queso dip:

  • 1 32 oz. pkg. Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles (original, but if you don't like spicy, get the mild can), undrained
  • 3 roasted green chiles, chopped (if you don't have fresh, you can use the canned kind)
  • 1 pkg. Mexican chorizo (the package I bought was one link, but I don't remember the actual size)
  • Dash of cumin
  • Dash of chili powder
Cook chorizo in a pan over medium heat. When fully cooked, pour into a colander lined with paper towels (this will help remove a lot of the grease). Wipe pan clean of grease with a paper towel. Return chorizo to pan. Pour remaining ingredients in a pan over medium heat (you can also cook it in the microwave), and keep in pan until all cheese is melted, stirring occasionally.

When serving, I usually place the queso in a fondue pot or slow cooker over low heat. If you leave it in a regular bowl, the cheese will harden.

Well, hopefully I will have some more to report in these next few days than I did last week!

I am leaving you with this picture of the beautiful Lubbock sky I took on Wednesday.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Easy Italian

On Wednesday night I made this yummy chicken parmigiana. It is a recipe I saw on Tyler's Ultimate on Food Network. I followed most of his recipe but omitted the olives since I don't really like them, and also omitted a few other things that I did not have at my house (onions and fresh mozzarella). I also substituted fresh parsley for fresh basil because it was what I had available. This meal is easy to make, and is very filling. Most of the ingredients are things you may already have around your house too. You can find the recipe here.

Before I started cooking, I sliced a baguette and managed to slice the tip of my thumb as well-guess I need a better bread knife. No worries though, it was just a small cut. A week ago I zested a bit of my thumb instead of the lime in my hand, and I have had quite a few instances where I have burned my skin. Ahh...the joys of cooking!

Anyway, back to the baguette...after bandaging my thumb, I put the bread on a plate with some oil for dipping. I poured balsamic vinegar and olive oil over a mixture of crushed red pepper flakes, garlic salt, and herbs de provence. This is such a simple appetizer, and you can put any type of seasoning in there, depending on your personal tastes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Easy Soup

Last night I tried a new recipe I found in Real Simple magazine. It was a Black Bean Soup with Roasted Jalapeno Salsa. It was very easy to make, and pretty inexpensive. You can find the recipe here. I followed most of the recipe, except since I do not have a potato masher to mash the beans, I put a little over half of the soup in my food processor and pulsed it a few times, then returned it to the pot with the rest of the soup (you could use a blender if you don't have a food processor). I also broiled the onion for the salsa with the jalapenos. The recipe calls for one bottle of lager beer, and I used Dos XX Lager (the green bottle). If you don't like beer, I am sure you could use more water or vegetable stock, but I think the beer gives it a nice flavor.

The roasted jalapeno salsa added is used to top the soup, and really gave it a nice flavor. Sometimes black bean soup can be bland, but this one was very flavorful, especially with the salsa. I served the soup with cheese quesadillas.

Josh had class and a review session, so I made myself an appetizer of jalapeno poppers before dinner. To make them, cut stems off jalapenos and discard. Cut remainder of jalapeno in half lengthwise, removing seeds. In a small bowl, mix 1/3 less fat cream cheese and a dash of chili powder. Spread about 1 tbsp. of cream cheese mixture in each jalapeno and wrap with a slice of bacon. place on baking sheet, sprinkle with cracked pepper and chili powder and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. This is a very tasty and easy appetizer!

So, I wasn't sure if I would have an exercise update, but I am happy to say I actually do. Yesterday after work I went to the Tech Rec Center and worked out on the eliptical machine for 35 minutes. It was a good workout-I just need to do it more often!