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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Wow!  Just a little over a week till Thanksgiving, that feast of feasts, that shark feeding frenzy, that hog wild eating event.  Since I will be attending a family reunion in Natchez, Ms where we will eat at a restaurant, I won't be cooking this year.  Nor will I have leftovers to eat or seconds to gobble.  Controlled portions is a good thing.  And if we have nothing but lemon pie to choose from like last time, I won't even have any dessert.  Everyone knows you must have pumpkin pie, or pecan or at least sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving.

If you have been good and working out and eating like you should, the holiday season should be nothing to dread.  If you haven't been exercising, you can still start today.  Get off the couch and dance with the stars tonight or go back to the gym like you've been meaning to.  Remember, exercising will get you in shape for Black Friday, that 24 hour long period of intense shopping the day after the feast.  Only the fittest survive and succeed on Black Friday.  The wimps stay home.

I know many of my readers have an unrealistic idea of just what we do and don't eat at the cardiologist's house, so today I'm sharing a new pie recipe.  I made this pie for my sister's birthday dinner on Sunday.  I recently bought the new Southern Living Ultimate Christmas cookbook for $10 at Dillards.  All proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House.  Anyway, this recipe came from that cookbook and is a real winner.  It's very easy and sinfully delicious but only God knows the calorie count.  Make this as a sidekick to the pumpkin pie.

Caramel Chess Tart
1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
Powdered sugar to dust on finished pie

Fit pie crust in a 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom or in a regular 9 inch pie plate.  Bake at 450 for 9 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.
Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in flour and buttermilk.  Add vanilla and stir well.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake at 350 until almost set.  Cool on wire rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Remove tart pan rim before serving, if using tart pan.

My goodness, this was so good, I'm surprised we didn't fight over it.  Get your turkey now and start letting it thaw around Sunday.  Check last year's blogs for some other recipes and ideas.  You can also make some casseroles ahead so you aren't swamped and tired on Thanksgiving day.  Divvy up the cooking and chores such as table setting and clean up.  One person doesn't have to do it all.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dance For Fitness

By now, you know I nag about getting enough exercise.  Exercise doesn't just help keep the weight off, it makes you feel so much more energetic and keeps you young.  That is especially true when you find something you love doing.  When you are having fun, you won't notice that you are sweating and you somehow don't mind that you are sore the next day.

I have always been active; horseback riding (which includes cleaning the barn, toting hefty bags of feed, pushing heavy wheelbarrows, etc.) walking, bike riding and yoga.  In the spring, I took up Latin dancing with my husband and we have both had so much fun.  If you have ever thought about dancing, now is the time to start.  Alex Lorenzana teaches Latin dance classes and Latin dance based fitness classes here in Jonesboro.  Don't worry if you've never danced before or about joining an ongoing class.  Alex makes Latin dance fun and easy to learn.  He does make it a good workout!  You will sweat your way to becoming more fit.  So far, we've learned cha cha, salsa, cumbia and merangue.  You can contact Alex at 870-761-8663 for more information.

Barry and I practicing salsa at home.  That is my dress for the Wanna Dance competition.

I ran into a friend the other day who told me she loves my green bean recipe I've featured here.  I sautee the green beans in olive oil until they are browned, adding garlic towards the end and seasoning with salt and pepper.  I just want to mention that sugar snap peas and broccoli are good done this way as well.   I use frozen peas and broccoli but steam them first, then sautee them.  The veggies are very tasty done this way.

I'm hoping everyone has a wonderful weekend and finds the joy in exercise!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Goodness

First of all, let me apologize for only posting once last week.  I've been very busy practicing for the Wanna Dance competition which is tonight!!  Second, let me welcome new readers and followers.  I hope you enjoy the recipes, health information and fitness tips.  Feel free to post any questions you have and I will do my best to get you an answer.

One of my favorite foods is pumpkin.  Some of you may be moving on at this point while others understand.  Not only is pumpkin so good for you, but you can do so much with pumpkin besides pies.  Yes, I love pumpkin pie too as do my kids.  It's just not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.  You may have seen the possum bread I made during my last attempt to make pumpkin bread but my pumpkin bars turned out delightfully as always.  I've also made pumpkin chili and we love pumpkin pancakes on the weekend.  My latest pumpkin recipe is pumpkin smoothies.  Smoothies can be an excellent way to get extra nutrition into the pickiest of eaters or they can be fat and sugar bombs so be careful.  The smoothies served at restaurants are almost always far too large and heavy on the calories so I avoid them.  I make smoothies at home to control what goes in and how large the serving is.

Pumpkin Smoothies
1 banana
16 oz. carton Greek vanilla yogurt
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
drizzle of honey
milk to thin as desired
Mix all ingredients in a blender till smooth.  Makes 4 small servings.

These smoothies would make a great breakfast with a bit of granola added.  Be sure to use Greek yogurt as it is higher in protein and lower in sugar.  My whole family liked these and I will make them again soon.

In the meantime, I must go put on my dancing shoes for one last practice.  Remember you can vote online at if you can't attend and videos of our performances will be posted after November 30th.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time For Comfort Food

Finally cooler weather is here and that means time for some of our favorite comfort foods.  My menus change drastically with the weather and season, to take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables and also because some foods seem too heavy and hot for summer.  Comfort foods can be quick to prepare though they may need longer cooking times, like a pot of beef soup.  I have two family favorite meatloaf recipes I use most of the time.  I have already featured my meatloaf with shredded veggies so today I am sharing my other recipe which is actually easier too.

Brown Sugar Meatloaf
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 small onion chopped
3/4 cup finely crushed saltine crackers
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan.  Press the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Spread the ketchup over the sugar.  Thoroughly mix remaining ingredients together and press on top of ketchup.  Bake for an hour or until lightly browned on top and juices run clear.

Serve this with the roasted fingerling potatoes which also cook for an hour (recipe on blog) and a fruit or other vegetable.  This meatloaf is sure to be a hit with your family.

I have been practicing several hours with my dance partner, Brandy, for the Wanna Dance competition.  You can support our efforts by voting for us with dollars by going to the Women's Discovery Center website and following the link to Wanna Dance 2010.  You can vote with a credit card or paypal.  The website is and you can also learn more about the organization.  Each couple's picture is posted with a vote button.