Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

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My favorite soup is Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Soup unfortunately my wallet doesn't like it as much.  So after I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest the other week I was ecstatic!  It was very easy to make and really tastes like it's from Panera.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken stock (I used broth since I already had some in my pantry)
1/2 lb fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup carrot, shredded and chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom (I didn't add this since I didn't have any)
8oz grated sharp chedder cheese
4oz velveeta

Step 1: Saute onion and garlic in butter.

Step 2: Add flour, stirring constantly.

Step 3: Add half and half, milk, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.

Step 4: Add broccoli and carrots.

Step 5: Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Step 6: Stir in cheeses and nutmeg.

Step 7: Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Mangio Da Sola

This recipe is definitely worth trying! 
And it goes great with a sandwich made from leftover Thanksgiving ham or turkey.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Southern Color!

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays!  I get to eat all of my favorite foods!  This year my husband has to work on Thanksgiving so we celebrated with my parents and grandparents last weekend.  One of my favorite dishes for Thanksgiving is squash casserole.  The recipe came from my grandfather's cousin Katharine and has been a Thanksgiving necessity ever since.

Here's the recipe:

What you'll need:
2 onions
2 carrots
1 1/2 lbs yellow sqaush
1 1/12 lbs zucchini
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use reduced fat)
8 oz sour cream (I use reduced fat)
2 oz diced pimentos
2 tsp salt
1 stick butter
Pepperidge Farm corn bread stuffing mix
celery salt (add to taste)
oregano (add to taste)
salt (add to taste)

Step 1: Cut the vegetables into slices and cook with a small amount of water until done.

Step 2: Melt butter in hot drained vegetables.

Step 3: Mix together soup, sour cream, pimento, and seasonings.

Step 4: Add cream mixture and 1 cup of stuffing mix to the vegetables.

Step 5: Put into 2 small or 1 large flat casserole dish.

Step 6: Top with remaining stuffing mix.

Step 7: Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Some other foods we enjoyed last weekend included brocolli cheese casserole, cranberry sauce, dressing, peas, turkey and gravy and dirty pie (pecan pie with chocolate chips).

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Let's get physical!

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Happy Thanksgiving week!! This week is short for me, only 2.5 days of work ~ I am literally counting day the hours :-)

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is eating all the delicious foods: squash casserole, cornbread dressing, macaroni & cheese and cranberry sauce.  Unfortunately I don't think any of these are low in calorie!  A good way to feel balanced throughout the holiday season is with a healthy exercise routine.

(Jingle Jog 2010 - charity 5k for the Salvation Army)

Below are some of my favorite ways too stay active! 
I workout about 4 days a week doing one these activities:

Spinning:  I take a 45 minute indoor cycling class and we typically complete 18 miles during that time. 

Iron Class:  This is a muscle conditioning class focusing on muscle strength and endurance. We use a barbell with the amount of weight you are comfortable with (mine is 5 to 10 lbs). This class is 1 hr long- whew!

Walking:  I enjoy walking outside (when the weather is nice) or on the treadmill (while reading my nook).  A typical workout for me is 3 miles in 45 mins.

(the park I walk is a perfect 3 mile loop)

Elipitical: The elipitical is a great low impact work-out and one that is easy on my knees.  I do one hour at an incline of 10 and a resistance of 6.

Hot Yoga: 90 minutes of bikram yoga in a 107 degree room. 
It's a great way to stretch and work on your balance.

What is your workout routine like? 
What food are you most excited to eat on Thanksgiving?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do Collard Greens Make You a Southerner

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I was born and raised in Georgia but it wasn't until I moved to Tennessee that I realized I'm not a true Southerner (at least in the eyes of my co-workers).  I'd never had hot water corn bread, fried bologna, or collard greens. All of the ladies at work were shocked when they found this out and have made it their mission for me to experience all of these foods. 

Well, last week one of the ladies I work with had her farmer stop by with bags full of green beans, collard greens and mustard greens.  I wish I had taken a picture of this (it was hilarious) - there were black trash bags full of these vegetables in the middle of a clinic. 

I decided this was my opportunity to finally try collard greens!  I used the recipe from Betty Crocker's cook book to make them.  See how they turned out below!

I cooked the greens with ham hock, red pepper flakes, red bell pepper, balsamic vinegar and onions.  I served the greens with Oven Fried Chickem (Bisquik recipe) and Velveeta mac n cheese.

In the end, I don't think I'm a fan of collard greens.  I'm glad I tried them but that might be the last time I ever try them...hehehe.

What other foods do you have to eat to be called a true Southerner?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tour of Decatur!

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Decatur is great little neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta.  The town square is filled with great restaurants and shops, plus a green space where they host wine & beer festivals.  To mix up datenight, the BF and I decided to do a Tour of Decatur!  Meaning we would bounce around from restaurant to restaurant ordering different drinks and appetizers.  We made it to 5 places in one night and had an absolute blast!

Restaurant #1:  Leon's Full Service

To start I had the "Herbal Medicine" cocktail: a mix of gin, grapefruit & lemon.  It was very refreshing!

The BF had "Death & Company": bourbon, honey, lemon & bitters.

To snack on we had the "Pig Smorgas"

Country ham on toast with gruyere cheese, cherry jam, pinneapple and arugula.  AMAZING!!

Leon's Full Service was wonderful!  When we first arrived the bar area was super crowded, but within a few minutes it had thinned out considerably.  We grabbed a spot against the window and had service within minutes.  Out front they have a great outdoor patio with heaters as well as a bocce court- so fun!

Restaurant #2: Parker's on Ponce

Parker's on Ponce is a traditional steakhouse with a great cocktail list.  We stayed in the bar area which had several tv's (perfect for watching the LSU v. Bama game).

I had the "Punch & Judy": a gin cocktail with basil, mint, strawberry, lemon & orange juice.  This cocktail was perfect (not too sweet), I could easily gulp down several of these!!

The BF had a "Sweetwater 420"

And we split the "Bacon Wrapped Blue Cheese filled Dates" as an appetizer - yum!  The balsamic glaze was sweet and the perfect compliment to the dates.

The restaurant is very large with several different dining rooms as well as a few fireplaces.  Perfect for a romantic winter date!

Restaurant #3: No. 246

This restaurant is a new addition to Decatur, it opened summer 2011 and offers contemporary italian food.

I had the "Fall Pimm's Cup": pimm's, lemon juice, muddled apple and cinnamon.  This might be my new favorite drink!

And the BF had an "Old Pal": a whiskey drink.  Unfortunately, this drink did not live up to his
expectations :-(

We skipped doing an appetizer here becase nothing really stood out. 

Restaurant #4: The Iberian Pig

The bar was packed when we showed up here, so we got a table after we had explained to the host that we'd only be having a drink and app.  They were very friendly & accomodating - we got a great table next to the window.

I had a cocktail that was their special that night: a combination of Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum, St. Germains and orange foam.  I love rum & St. Germains - but I did NOT like this cocktail.   The orange foam was super sweet against the heavy rum.

The BF had the "Iberian Old Fashioned" with Bacon infused rye.  He said the bacon was too overwhelming with a smokey flavor. 

To snack on we shared the "Manchego Mac & Cheese" - this is super creamy & cheesy.  My mouth is watering thinking about it!

I would come back to Iberian Pig, eventhough we both had cocktails we didn't enjoy.  The menu sounds good and the vibe is cool & romantic.

Restaurant #5: Zucca Pizza

Zucca is your standard neighborhood pizzeria, with greasy food and cheap beer.  We wanted to find a place where we could watch the end of the LSU v. Bama game.  Each booth has its own small flat screen tv, plus there were multiple tv's all over the restaurant.

We shared a pitcher of Coors Light and some mozzarela sticks.  Then we got cozy and watched the rest of the football game!

Tour of Decatur was a lot of fun!  We tried things that we might not normally try and we checked out new restaurants.  I look forward to going back and having a real meal at Leon's & Parker's on Ponce!

What is a unique date that you have been on?  Do you enjoy trying new places and foods?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Butternut Squash Burritos

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I am a huge fan of mexican - call me crazy, but I look forward to Moe Monday every week!!   The burritos are always delicious and the chips are always fresh!  However, my waistline is starting to show my love of Moe Monday :-(  So for a healthier option, I bring you.....

(recipe adapted from Oh She Glows)

What you'll need:
1/2 butternut squash
1 can of black beans
1 diced red onion
1 red pepper
1/2 a diced cucumber
1 bag of Trader Joe's microwavable brown rice (serving size 3)
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Whole wheat tortillas

Pre-bake the butternut squash: 
Chop into evenly sized pieces - spread onto a baking sheet - mix with olive oil, salt and pepper - and bake for 30mins on 425 degrees.

Combine all chopped ingredients into a pan and cook until tender.  Then mix in squash and rice.

For flavoring, I added: 2 spoonfuls for TJ's verde salsa and a dash of paprika.

Spoon the mixture onto a whole wheat tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, and a scoop of salsa (I used TJ's pineapple salsa).

Attempt to roll-up your burrito... mine was way too full! But the messier the better!

And enjoy!
The flavor was absolutely delicious and totally satisfied my Moe's craving!

What are your weekend plans?

I am going to the Atlanta Underground Market tomorrow night!  A bunch of up & coming food vendors gather in one spot and offer you tastings of their food for $2 to $4.  It's a great way to find out about the new food trends in Atlanta.  If you live in the area, you should definitely stop by!  The location is kept a secret until Saturday morning - so be sure to go to their website & add your email to their distribution list.

Happy Friday!

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