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Showing posts from February, 2011

Another Day of Getting Real

Today is another day to talk about getting real by focusing on health and well being through diet and exercise.  Do you find yourself with the best intentions, but wavering motivation?  Keeping motivated can be a challenge.  Making a plan helps me stay motivated and makes me feel like I am in control. My plan is simple.  It has three steps: 1.  Exercise daily 2.  Make time to relax and reflect 3.  Plan my daily menu The day I wrote this post started off very cold, but bright and sunny.  I looked up in the sky and this is what I saw- A Blue, Blue Sky Nothing but blue, blue sky! With a day as beautiful as this one the only place for exercise was outdoors.  Since I can now see grass and asphalt instead of snow and ice, it was a great day for me to hit the pavement and visit one of my favorite outdoor running routes, a 3.25 mile route that takes me through a lovely seaside residential area and ends at a lighthouse. The Watch Hill Lighthouse I tied on my well-worn Nik

Time to Get Real!

Oh my! Oh my goodness!  Do you ever feel like......oh my? It started for me the day I went shopping and tried on bathing suits.   ....Oh my! Then my brother called.   "Don't you think you have been putting a lot of fattening recipes on your blog, Sis?" he asked me.  "Yes," I replied.  "Yes, I have,"  I agreed.  Comfort foods having been getting the best of me lately.  ...Oh my goodness! As February comes to a close it's time to focus on my calorie intake and healthy eating.  I'm going to focus on healthy food, exercise and motivating myself to take better care of me.  Do you feel like you need to do the same?  Today I'm jump starting the process.  Here's what I'm doing.  Just One Donna Jump Start Menu Breakfast My breakfast today is oatmeal made with 1/3 cup of oatmeal, 1/4 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup of hot water, 1 tsp Splenda, cinnamon to taste, 1/3 cup of frozen blueberries and 1/4 cup walnuts.  Two cups of decaf coffee wi

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup Do grilled cheese and tomato soup qualify as one of your go-to comfort meals?  So perfect in its simplicity, for me, the combination evokes memories of lazy winter weekends, warm hugs and tummy satisfaction. I had a hankering for grilled cheese and tomato soup this week.  Not just any old grilled cheese and tomato soup, mind you, but a delicious homemade tomato soup paired with a crusty, crunchy, cheesy sandwich. My tomato soup recipe is quick and easy.  I use a large can of crushed tomatoes so it doesn't need to be tomato season to make this soup.  I also use homemade chicken stock, but you can use any chicken stock, or vegetable stock, you have on hand.  I really like having complete control over the amount of salt (and other additives) in my stock so I try to use homemade as much as possible.  I know, it's the control freak in me!  Well, let's see how this is done. Donna's Tomato Soup Tomato Soup Ingredients Serves 6  Ingredients

Kitchen Essential-a Good, Sharp Knife

What are the most essential tools you have in your kitchen?  There are many tools in my kitchen I wouldn't want to do without, but when I think about the one item I rely on most it would be my favorite knife.  Do you have a knife you always reach for in your kitchen?  Mine is a Henckels Pro S Santoku knife. This knife is a bit pricey at $79.95 on amazon.com , or $79.85 at CSN Stores , but the knife's versatility and durability make it well worth the price.  I use it for most cutting tasks, both large and small.  While it is designed for easy cutting of vegetables, I also use it to cut meats.  It cuts through frozen bacon for easy dicing.  Do you need to cut chicken breasts into slices or chunks?  This knife will do the trick.  Do you need to slice fresh mozzarella cheese for a homemade pizza?  The hollowed edges of the knife make slicing cheese an easy task.  Do you need to dice an onion or some celery for soup?  You can easily get uniform diced onion and celery when using t

How to Cook Pizza Crust

There's no getting around it.  We Americans love our pizza.  Thick crust, thin crust, deep dish, whatever...we each have our favorites.  Regional differences abound.  It's fun to check out local pizzerias when traveling and taste pizzas that may be a little outside your box.  It's also fun to experiment at home at making your very own signature pizza, but getting the crust just right can be challenging.

An Overnight in Boston

Last weekend five couples gathered in Boston for a winter getaway.  We stayed in a terrific part of the city with plenty to do, eat and see!  Our hotel was The Millenium Bostonian , located across the street from the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, an historic and very popular Boston attraction.  The Library Area of the Lobby The hotel rooms are comfortably appointed.   Cozy and Comfy I could see the Haymarket when looking out the window.   This wasn't the most picturesque view, but the Haymarket is a farmer's market that has been operating since 1830.  It is open year round on Fridays and Saturdays from dawn to dusk.  Can you see the huge artichoke display below? A View of The Haymarket Across the street from our hotel was the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace, home of Faneuil Hall, a meeting hall since 1742 that is still used today.  We stopped by the Great Hall to listen to the very informative talk about the hall's historic significance. The Gr

A Healthy Living Motivator

Do you need a little motivation to keep you focused on healthy living?  Well, I've got the perfect motivator for you.  Go try on bathing suits. "Bathing suits, in February?" you ask.  I know, it is rushing the season a bit, but put one of those babies on and you'll be pushing yourself away from the dinner table faster than you can snap your fingers! Why are we talking about bathing suits in February?  I went to JC Penney the other day because they had sent me two coupons totaling $25 off on any purchase.  They were rewards certificates for prior purchases with a time limit for use.  Do you get rewards certificates?  If not, you'll want to sign up .  You'll get a monthly update telling you how many points you have and if you have earned a rewards certificate. So, with $25 in rewards burning a hole in my pocket I wandered into JC Penney to see what I could find.  The entrance door was right next to a very colorful swimsuit display and an island blue (don&#

The Best Brownie Winner

Today I'm choosing my favorite brownie recipe from three contender recipes posted over the past few weeks, and then I'm going to the gym for three hours to work off all the extra calories I ate while testing.  The three contender brownie recipes were: The Intense Chocolate Brownie from Flour Bakery + Cafe    The Best Fudge Brownie Ever from King Arthur Flour   The Baked Brownie from Baked bakery   Each of the brownie recipes produces a delicious brownie.  The key is to find the recipe that best suits your preferences.  For me that means the brownie must be fudgy, not cakey.  It should also have a crisp top and chewy edges.  You'll find each of these recipes easy to follow.   It helps that the recipes are clearly written, are very specific in their directions and are relatively uncomplicated.  Let's review the contenders, shall we? The Intense Chocolate Brownie from Flour Bakery + Cafe The Intense Chocolate Brownie is a moist, fudgy brownie.  It was less de

Chardonnay Wine Tasting

Red wine or white wine, which do you prefer?  I prefer white.  Now, mind you, I am not a wine connoisseur.  Not by a long shot.  If you ask me my preference in wines I will  choose either Pino Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.  I like the freshness of the taste and the citrus flavors. Many people prefer Chardonnay when selecting a white wine.  I've noticed that Chardonnay is most often chosen by my female friends, family and colleagues at dinners and social gatherings.  Did you know that Chardonnay is the most popular of the grape varietals in America?  So, I thought a wine tasting with Chardonnay wines would be a great way to expand my wine horizons. I wanted to compare and contrast the flavors and characteristics of different Chardonnays. We spent last weekend in Vermont with our friends Ron and Sharon.  They agreed a Chardonnay wine tasting sounded like a fun idea, so we made it a plan for Friday evening as a way to kick off the weekend. The Wines and The Fact Sheet The Chard

Best Brownie Recipe #3

Today I'm sharing the third contender for my favorite brownie recipe.  I'd say it's a very good thing we are at the end of this quest because my hips can't take much more of this brownie sampling!   I'll be selecting the winner on Friday. As a reminder, contender #1 is the Intense Chocolate Brownies  and favorite brownie contender #2 is The Best Fudge Brownie Ever . The third contender is from the cookbook Baked , by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, owners of the Baked bakery in the red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York.  In the introduction to the recipe in the cookbook, they tell us that this recipe was awarded best brownie honors by both America's Test Kitchen and the Today show.  I have very high expectations for this brownie! OK, let's go... The Baked brownie Ingredients The Baked Brownie Ingredients 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 2 T dark, unsweetened cocoa powder 11 oz dark chocolate (60-72% cacao