Bouncing Back, Sort Of

Remember that cold I mentioned a while back? I’m pretty sure it was more than that. Maybe one of the flu strains. Maybe diptheria or malaria or typhoid. Whatever it was, it kicked my fanny quite nicely.

But I’m back, almost, and feeling closer to my normal perky self. It helps that we had a few mild days, weather-wise, and I was able to get out and breathe some fresh air. While I was at it, I cleaned the gutters on my house and got all the leaves raked and bagged. It’s nice to have that to-do item to-done!

I also played around in the kitchen over the weekend, and I’m sharing.

No, don’t run! It’s good stuff! :)

dinner plate

Now, for those of you who aren’t running from my less-than-spectacular food photography, here’s what we have, starting at the top and moving clockwise:

Barbecued Tofu Bites
jd swineappleAn oldie but a goodie. This time, I made use of the Jack Daniels Swineapple BBQ Sauce I purchased on my fall visit to Lynchburg, TN. It’s a rich and full-bodied sauce that really adds a lot to the tofu, and face it, tofu needs all the help it can get.

To be honest, while the sauce is good, I’ll probably just stick to my homemade version of pineapple-BBQ sauce, which involves stirring in some pineapple juice, or sometimes a bit of crushed pineapple, with my regular spicy BBQ sauce. (Note: apple juice and/or orange juice also do the trick.) A bit of fresh juice adds some sweetness and flavor, as well as thinning out the sauce so that you can be a little more generous in the application. And I like being generous! :)

Baked Sweet Potato
I’m so used to baking sweet potatoes in the microwave that I had forgotten the baking time for the conventional oven. In googling the answer, I stumbled upon an interesting baking technique on Empowered Sustenance. You can click on her link for the full details, but basically, you prick the potatoes a few times and pop them in the oven for a good long while. You don’t even wrap them in foil or put them in a dish. Just put them right on the oven rack in all their naked glory. Here’s what you end up with, if you’re lucky:

oven baked sweet potato

One word: DEE-vine! I ate it the first time without any extras like butter or sugar, but I did stir in some pecans for tonight’s edition. It was delicious both ways. Added bonus #1: the skin separates during the baking which makes it super simple to peel. Added bonus #2: it tastes great straight from the fridge, so you could easily make several during one baking and have some for leftovers. Like breakfast. :)

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
Another oldie, but you really can’t go wrong with roasted green beans. Ever.

Orange-Cranberry Sauce/Salad/Relish
This isn’t really a “recipe”, just a shortcut I thought of when I was at a Mennonite grocery store in Virginia back in October. I spotted a jar of orange marmalade and thought it might make a nice substitute for the orange juice-sugar combination in my cranberry sauce. And it does. I used a 12-oz. bag of cranberries, a scant cup of water, a cinnamon stick, and about 2/3 cup of orange marmalade. I cooked the cranberries down with the water and cinnamon and when they were soft and squishy, I pulled the pot from the heat and stirred in the orange marmalade. It’s a keeper! Bonus: it stores beautifully in the fridge.

Besides the deliciousness, I especially loved that this meal is about 350-400 calories. Add in that it’s packed with nutrition, and you’ll see why I consider it a winner-dinner, for sure! But any tweaks or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. :)



Home Sweet Home

After what seems like months of traveling, I am at home for the near future. Unless, of course, I get called to cover someone else’s training appointments.

My travels came to an end with a bang. My parents and I spent the Thanksgiving weekend on the coast. This was my brilliant idea, and one I regretted for a brief time on Thursday.

cammy selfie bundled up

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the wind was screaming through my clothes. I had checked the forecast before we left, but I hadn’t noticed that it was supposed to be windy. Brrrr, but only for the morning. By afternoon, I was able to get out for a walk and almost worked up a sweat.

autumn trees and palm trees

I’ve been to this area of the coast dozens of times over the years, but I’d never been at this time of year. It was odd to me to see fall foliage and palm trees sharing space. I decided I liked it.

On Friday’s walk, I found myself in something of a dilemma:

shoes in the water to get plastic bag

I can’t stand to see plastic in the water, but I was wearing my good Asics. What to do, what to do?

I got the bag, of course, and then proceeded to pick up plastic and other items for about a half-mile or so. (You’re welcome, Biloxi Chamber of Commerce.) My legs were starting to get a little wobbly toward the end from all those squats and deadlifts. :)

On the way back to the hotel, I captured a pretty sunset:

sunset biloxi

When I wasn’t out walking, my parents and I were out rambling around. We found this evidence that we weren’t in Titans territory anymore:

saints chicken

They do take their Saints football seriously down there.

We also ambled through a few of the casinos, where I held my own, thanks to jackpots like this:

jackpot

Yep, $16.20 and it was all mine. :)

On Saturday, I had a great treat. Y’all remember my beloved Sally, right? She and her owners moved to the coast a few months ago, and I was lucky enough to have a visit with them on Saturday. It was a big weekend for SEC football, and various family members were there as well to cheer on opposing teams. Lots of fun, even if one of my teams didn’t win.

And of course I got to visit a bit with Sally, who was quite excited with all the company:

sally and me

She seemed really happy to see me…and then went and sat on her owner’s lap to keep her from leaving. In Sally’s eyes, if I show up, it means they’re going away. :)

Unfortunately, Sunday rolled around too soon. When we left the area, the temps were in the 60s and headed upward. If I hadn’t had a work assignment for Monday morning, I think we might have talked ourselves into staying another day. Or three. LOL

So now that I’m home, I’ve managed to catch myself a cold or something. I’m back at the gym, but I’m taking it semi-easy until I can breathe properly again.

I hope you all had a marvelous Thanksgiving weekend!



Balance In All Things, Including Peanut Butter

I can’t let National Peanut Butter Lovers Month pass without paying homage to a dietary favorite. I was going to write a poem, but someone else already beat me to it. A wee excerpt:

Oh, sweet legume that grows beneath the earth!
Let me now proclaim your worth!
May my lips your great praise utter
Crunchy, munchy peanut butter
Creamy, dreamy peanut butter.

I do love peanut butter. In fact, let me count the ways:

ways I love peanut butter

That scratches the surface anyway. :)

Given the caloric nature of peanut butter, I don’t eat it with wild abandon. **pause for a moment of sadness** The most common way I eat it is from a measuring spoon–the half-tablespoon or teaspoon, to be precise. At around 3:00 in the afternoon, I sometimes need a “carry-over” until dinner and a little dab of peanut butter will usually do the trick. I said, usually.

Sometimes, especially on big activity days (leaf-raking, gutter-cleaning, bag-hauling, etc.) or long work/travel days, I need more than a dab of PB to fight the hangries. Or more rarely, when I’m OUT of peanut butter completely. quelle horreur! That’s when I turn to something like a PB-flavored Balance Bar to fill the gap.

peanut butter balance bar
Natural health food? No.

Low-calorie? No.

Salty/creamy delicious and satisfying? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Thanks to the nutritional “balance”, a Balance Bar curbs my hunger for a longer period. I enjoy it while I’m eating it, but it doesn’t leave me wanting more-more-more. If you know what I mean. :)

The folks at Balance Bar asked me to celebrate National Peanut Butter Lovers Month with them, and they sent me a box of Peanut Butter bars to keep the party going. (I was already a fan.) They’re in such a party mood, they offered to send one lucky US reader a box of Peanut Butter Balance Bars of your very own! All you have to do is leave me a comment sharing your very favorite way to eat peanut butter.

I’ll choose the winner by random drawing on Sunday (11/23) night and contact the lucky winner with the good news.

Please note: Balance Bar might have provided the PB Joy-in-a-Box, but opinions are expressly my own. If I didn’t truly like the product, I would say so.