*AMBER512   207,304
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Cooking at Home

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My husband (Aubrey) and I very rarely go out to eat anymore. It just tastes so much better at home and I know exactly what I'm eating.

That is, except for those random things in my condiments and store-bought sauces : soy lechiten, modified food starch, mononitrate, etc. etc. etc.

So Aubrey and I have been trying out some truly homemade recipes. We made our very own "refried" beans and I made my own ranch dressing! I have no idea how long it will last, I am totally new to making my own sauces!

Do you make any sauces? Have a good spaghetti sauce I should try? I gotta stop just buying Ragu just because it's convenient!

Homemade "Refried" Beans

I followed this recipe except I halved the salt and it was STILL too salty. We're also going to use half as much onion next time so the beans will come through more.

Homemade Ranch Dressing
So this actually turned out really good! I didn't have any buttermilk, so I left that out. I found the consistency to be just fine without it. And I find it funny that it is half the calories of the "light" ranch dressing that I was buying.

1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Organics)
1/4 cup sour cream (I used Daisy, pure and natural)
Buttermilk, as needed to desired consistency (I left out, but feel free to add!)

I also didn't add any of the following, but they were suggested :

Fresh Dill (optional, To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper (optional, To Taste)
Paprika (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Oregano (optional, To Taste)
Tabasco (optional, To Taste)

Preparation Instructions
Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about an 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoons of salt on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Chop the parsley, chives and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.

In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.

I tried without chilling first and it was great!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PJDKSMITH 2/17/2010 9:59PM

    I'm just lurking on all ur blogs and thought I'd make a little mention in regards to buttermilk. You can make your own. I use skim milk and either vinegar or lemon juice. Take one cup of milk (we use skim milk-I'm not sure if you can use soy/almond milk instead but its worth a try)-add one tablespoon of either vinegar/or lemon juice. Let sit for 5 min til the 'milk' is separating a bit. VOILA!
Buttermilk without all the fat!

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NEWMOMOVER40 1/24/2010 5:03PM

    Good for you, cooking at home not only gives you control over the ingredients you eat, but also saves you money. (We were such big fans of eating dinner out that we still get a kick out of how little it costs us, comparatively, to make it at home, and we always end up adding up the savings when we're finishing dinner!) My hubby makes a great from-scratch spaghetti sauce, and it doesn't take long at all. You can look it up under my name (NEWMOMOVER40) in SparkRecipes.

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DNJEN471 1/22/2010 3:34PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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KALISWALKER 1/22/2010 12:02PM

    Thanks for the recipe. I saved it in allrecipes. I am eating a high fiber diet and cooked pinto beans this month for the first time. I cooked them plain, then pureed them with cumin and beef broth. I use my crock pot a lot. I will try to make my own salad dressing too. Thanks for blogging!

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PAUL7931 1/22/2010 8:10AM

    It can seem expensive to start with but after a while you can have a healthy looking cupboard full of herbs, spices, flours and other goodies. Plus half the fun for me is trying a new recipe. It might not always work out as I'd hoped (like my wholemeal loaf that had the consistancy of a house brick) but at least I can laugh about it. Am going to save the ranch dressing recipe to use in the future.

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DEEPGREENBEAN 1/22/2010 5:33AM

    Nice ideas! Thank you. The freshness sounds so delicious. emoticon emoticon

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*AMBER512 1/21/2010 9:09PM

    So far it hasn't been cheaper. Buying all of the ingredients to make everything has been more expensive than just grabbing a jar of whatever. But I'm thinking making a big batch and freezing would be a lot cheaper. I just wish I knew a bit more of what I'm doing!! lol

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JETTER4 1/21/2010 9:07PM

  I agree and its cheaper

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I'm making progress!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So it might seem silly to brag about, but I'm going to anyway!

I can do 10 full push-ups! I've been stuck at 5 for the longest time, but yesterday I did 10 in a row! I even did a second set of 10! You know what else? My ab work has actually been getting easier. I've been doing the same basic ab exercises for awhile and I've noticed recently that I have to do more to feel the same burn.

I've been getting more strength training in which has been my goal for the last two months. The scale has decided to commit mutiny. So I'm going to ignore it. I'll concentrate on my push-ups and ab work for now!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKCAT1 12/22/2009 1:02PM

    how wonderful! Are you going to work for more? Wonderwoman!!!!

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KALISWALKER 11/29/2009 12:40AM


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DNJEN471 11/19/2009 4:32PM

    I would brag too! That is awesome!

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LOLLIPOP62 11/18/2009 3:21PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticonAnd it's not silly at all to brag, you've earned that right so enjoy it!

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SPWALKER66 11/17/2009 3:10PM

    Bravo for you! The scale isn't our only measure of improvement.
You have the right idea, Amber. Keep up the good work.

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Black Bean Casserole

Friday, November 13, 2009

So I have become obsessed with this recipe I found. I can't remember where I got it, but it is my new favorite recipe! I love it!

For those of you who actually like meat, you could probably add some shredded chicken to it

2 cups chopped onion (2 large)
1-1/2 cups chopped yellow sweet pepper (2 medium)
1 14-1/2-ounce can tomatoes, cut up
3/4 cup salsa
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 medium tortillas
8 ounces reduced-fat cheese, shredded (2 cups)

Optional Toppings :
Tomatoes, chopped
Shredded lettuce
Sliced green onions
Sliced pitted ripe olives
Sour cream or plain low-fat yogurt

1. In a large skillet combine onion, sweet pepper, undrained tomatoes, salsa, cumin, and garlic. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in beans.

2. Spread one-third of the bean mixture over the bottom of a 9 x13 rectangular baking dish. Top with two of the tortillas, overlapping as necessary, and 1 cup of the cheese. Add another one-third of the bean mixture; top with remaining two tortillas and remaining bean mixture.

3. Bake, covered, in a 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand 10 minutes.

4. If desired, top with chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, green onions, and olives, and serve with sour cream.

5. If you cut it into 8 servings, each serving has 275 calories, 9 grams of fat, 16 grams of protein, 35 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of fiber

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRANNYTO3 1/31/2010 2:29PM

    Thanks for the recipe...can't wait to try it! I have found that I LOVE black beans which surprised me since my only experience with beans all of my life was canned pork & beans...now I am up for anything with any kind of bean in it...especially black beans....sounds YUMMY!

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DNJEN471 11/13/2009 11:50PM

    Thank you.... I am always looking for new veggie options. I wonder if it would still taste just as good w/o the cheese? My hubby is Vegan... or I will just make it for me ;)

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CUTIEDOOTS 11/13/2009 6:45PM

    Sounds good, I'll have to try it!

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*AMBER512 11/13/2009 5:29PM

    oh it is so good! My husband and I finished it off in two days! He ate a third of it each time and I ate a sixth each time. Gone!

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JENNFIT24 11/13/2009 4:06PM

    Yum:) That looks really tasty

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Feeling Rather Annoyed

Friday, July 24, 2009

So while I've still been enjoying my strength training, I had been trying to lose some more of this fat. I got back down to my lowest weight ever of 147. Still a few pounds into the "overweight" range.

When I was concentrating more on my muscles I got up to 153, but I wasn't really worried as much about my calories in. So when I started doing more cardio, I wasn't surprised when my weight went down a bit. But then as soon as I got to 147 it just stopped again. Then all of a sudden my weight jumped up to 149 overnight. For absolutely no reason!

So that was certainly annoying. So yesterday, I just ate within my calories and exercised a bit more than normal. So imagine my huge surprise this morning when I am up to 150! I can understand going up a pound or so. That's happened before when I have eaten too much dairy or sodium the day before or I'm constipated. But this is totally random. It's like my body does NOT want to be below 147 and will do anything it can to make sure I stay heavier.

I guess I just keep plugging along. Doing my cardio, eating enough and throwing my scale down a flight of stairs....=P

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AUBREYJO 2/4/2010 1:58AM

    I second the Jillian book. I just got it today, and I am devouring it. {not really... i don't know how I'd log the calories, } emoticon
You're doing an awesome job.

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SHETHINKS 7/26/2009 11:30AM

    I hit the same wall and stayed there for over a year! How frustrating that was. What finally moved me past "the wall" was making further cuts of processed foods and "chemicals" in my diet and getting radical about sodium. Jillian Michael's calls it a "low-crap diet"! I like that. :) Anyway, for what it's worth, Jillian's latest book, Master Your Metabolism and a book called Ultrametabolism really helped me over the wall. I'm on the move down the scale again.

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LOLLIPOP62 7/25/2009 4:59PM

    Amber, I can't agree more with the other comments. There is such an enormous fluctuation just with fluid in the body so just keep doing what you have been. Maybe take the focus off the scale for a while. (also easier said than done)Just don't get discouraged. You've got a lot to be proud of!

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KAYAKID 7/25/2009 3:29AM

I know exactly how you feel. your 147 is my 205. I get there and go up 207-208 and down to 205. I never get below 205. It is a struuggle, but I guess we should be thankful to be 205 or 147.

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ALJARVIS 7/24/2009 2:57PM

    I'm sorry. That's disappointing. Keep plugging away at it and you WILL continue to lose. Don't get discouraged (I know, easier said than done, right?) You've done AMAZING so far, so keep up the great work and keep your eye on how far you've come, not how far you have left to go. Have a blessed day!

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My active vacation

Sunday, May 24, 2009

So I haven't typed anything in a really long time. I'm not always good about typing up what's new in my life! But we went to the beach this weekend and I was so glad with how much fun we had!

My husband and I stayed in an awesome room. Right on the beach, ocean view. Absolutely beautiful. We enjoyed some room service, he got a breakfast burrito while I got a vegetable omelet. We also shared a strawberry belgian waffle (sans syrup). We also indulged in some homemade ice cream and fudge.

First thing in the morning I woke up, ate a protein bar, and we went on a forty minute run. Then we sat back and enjoyed the room service. Afterwards we rented bikes and biked around town for an hour. I hadn't ridden a bike since I was a kid, so it was slightly awkward. Especially because to brake I had to pedal backwards, which I was not used to. The last bike I rode had hand brakes!

Then we went to an arcade, and played a DDR type game. It wasn't actually Dance Dance Revolution, but it was basically the exact same thing. We walked all around town and just had a blast. No one had been there friday night and we actually wondered where everyone was on this holiday weekend. But apparently everyone had planned to show up on Saturday because the town was packed! We had only planned to stay one night, so we left just as it was getting really busy.

The only bummer of the whole trip was that we messed up our photo booth picture! I hit the wrong button and said there was only one person and there was no way to take it back. So we tried to squeeze into the small screen and we now have a picture of half of my face and half of his. =P

Today we're going to the track to run some laps. We're also going to bring our jump ropes and have more fun! We were thinking about going on a hike, but I don't know if we're still going to do that later.

What fun active things are you doing this holiday weekend?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOLLIPOP62 5/24/2009 8:01PM

    Wow, do you think you could squeeze a little more activity in there?? LOL. Well I'm glad you guys had fun. Even the photo booth pic is a terrific and fun momento. Good for you.

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WEDNESDEY 5/24/2009 5:26PM

    What a romantic trip to the beach! And to have beat the crowds is awesome too. :D

I've been longing to get out of the city this weekend but, alas I have no car. Walked through Mt Tabor on my way home from a party on Friday night and now my hip flexor is acting up all painful like. No fun! Wish I was out trekking about with my pooch.

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SHETHINKS 5/24/2009 2:52PM

    Sounds like great fun!!!

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