Category Archives: Healthy

Turkey Burger and Sweet Potato Fries

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I know that there is no way to have a post today that is anywhere near as pretty or as exciting as Saturday’s Orange Tian from The Daring Baker’s Challenge, so I will not even try!

I will, however, make many friends and neighbors (and hopefully others!) happy by posting an incredibly delicious recipe for something simple and healthy that can be whipped up in almost no time for dinner!

I will tell you (and you certainly may already know this)…I am not a turkey burger girl! Where’s the beef? That’s what I want to know! I think ground turkey is a total bore (even in chili). I have tried and tried to make it tasty, but I am always less than impressed. My take on food is, if it’s not worth the calories, then I am not eating it! That is generally how I feel about the gobbler burger!

I decided to take a peek on line (because I know there are so many wonderful cooks out there that post recipes), to see if I had missed something. I did find a recipe from The Neelys (Food Network) that uses Pepper Jack Cheese in the middle of the turkey burgers. Maybe now we were talking!

I know that they used some onion and garlic in the ground turkey, so I did that. Then I added some of our leftover Country Bob’s Regular All Purpose Sauce. I knew I wanted to try it in ground meat and I will tell you…it was the absolute best turkey burger I have ever had. It was moist and delicious. I must admit, that sauce is really yummy and I am so excited that I was sent a few bottles to test it out!

If you do not have or cannot find the sauce, you should try a barbecue sauce that you like (with some hot and sweet) or A-1 sauce and add some heat (maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes). The incredible flavors were achieved with the addition of that one ingredient. It also created the moistness in the burger. Be sure to cook these burgers inside and not on the grill. They will stay together better if they are sautéed in a pan. They will also be juicier. (I highlighted this because I have had some readers ask about cooking the burgers on an outdoor grill. I advise that you cook them inside in a pan. They will not be moist and sometimes fall apart when cooked outdoors. They are sooo much better when browned in a little olive oil!).)

In addition to the burger, I oven roasted some sweet potato fries. Oh, my gosh! I sprinkled them with Za’atar, which is Middle Eastern spice that is normally used to top pita bread (or it can be used in various dishes). Forget the pita and top these fries! This was such an incredible, simple dinner! It was low-fat and healthy. I even used 80 calorie whole wheat buns from Sara Lee. Shocking, I know!

Turkey Burgers
Makes 3

20 oz. ground turkey (white and dark meat)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (a bit more than a pinch!)
1/4 cup Country Bob’s Regular All Purpose Sauce (substitute your favorite barbecue sauce or A-1)
Slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
Additional sauce, warmed to top cooked burger
Olive oil

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape ground turkey into 6 thin patties. Fold cheese slices into small squares (I used 1/2 slice per burger) or cut slices from a block of cheese. Place in the middle of the burgers. Top with another patty. Be sure there is enough room all around the sides to seal the burger well (you do not want all the tasty cheese oozing out while it cooks!). Repeat this 2 more times to make 3 burgers.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat (preferably a griddle pan, if you have one). Brown burgers on one side (about 5 minutes). Flip the burgers and brown on the other side (another 4-5 minutes). Check to be sure the turkey is cooked.

Place cooked burgers on a bun and top with warm Country Bob’s Sauce (or substitute), lettuce and any other burger condiment you like. That’s it! It is soooo good!

Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 2-3

2 large sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Za’atar seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degree. Wash and scrub sweet potatoes. Cut into large slices (do not make them too thin or they will burn). They should be the size of homestyle potatoes. Toss them with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place on a nonstick baking sheet.

Cook them in the oven for 15 minutes and then flip over. They should be crispy and brown in about another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the sheet and sprinkle generously with Za’atar seasoning.

This is the perfect quick and easy dinner that still has tons of awesome flavors! I have finally found something to make me want to eat turkey in a burger and not just have sliced turkey breast meat for Thanksgiving! 🙂

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Filed under Cheese, Country Bob's, Entrees, Healthy, Low-fat, Recipes, Sweet Potato Fries, Turkey Burgers, Za'atar

Ten in 2010 Challenge – Week 9 Update (I promise to do better!)

This is my weekend post for the Ten in 2010 Challenge which is a group of bloggers that have committed to ten weeks to get healthy in the New Year.

WOW! It is Week 9 already! I have to say that I have been remiss in my posts. Frankly, I skipped last weekend because I was really busy embarrassed. Well, actually, I was a little of both.

I had a very exciting weekend last week over a few little cupcakes (which incidentally, should not have been baked in my kitchen while on a so-called diet)! The picture of the “cupcake farm” (as my hubby called it!) was submitted to Tastespotting and Foodgawker and it was accepted on both sites! Well, that sure makes for a great stats day! Then I woke up to the Foodbuzz Top 9 Sunday morning! It was a fun weekend because it was the first time that had happened since I started the blog, so I was excited and preoccupied and did not write my Week 8 Update. I am sure that many food bloggers have their photos accepted on these food porn sites on a regular basis, but I am easily amused at this point! 😉

And now that cute little boozy, chocolate cupcake is a finalist in The Great American Baking Contest for Share Our Strength in Atlanta! So, it’s still affecting my food and exercise plans since I have to make more this week for the judging this coming Thursday. I have also signed up for the Daring Bakers and have my first challenge this month, so there will be all sorts of goodies in my house over the next few weeks. Yikes!

I would also like to say that our weather has not been cooperative in the least in Atlanta. We had snow again this week! How can I get totally motivated when all I want to do is hide inside and stay warm? The temps are supposed to start rising this coming week, so walking around the block without frostbite will be possible soon.

In addition, I have flat-out been lazy (as in no real exercise) and I have not really committed to my original goals. Part of my blame thanks goes to my new friend Rob from Montaluce Winery. We met a couple of weeks ago at the Stir It 28 event in Atlanta a couple weeks ago. Rob suggested that I get a Twitter account because it is a great networking tool. Now I knew that Twitter was big for food bloggers, but I had promised my hubby not to get on yet another blog or social networking site since I have become somewhat obsessed (which makes it more difficult to find exercise time). Well, I did get on Twitter (anyway) and it has been a great way to connect with other bloggers, food and wine people. So, thanks Rob and by the way, Montaluce has a mean Chardonnay! 🙂 So now, how do I exercise, diet and lose weight with all this computer time, cooking and baking?

Well, I did come up with some new ideas, but there were some objections.

1. Go to mall and shop more (especially for shoes!) – lots of walking involved. Husband said flat-out “NO!”
2. Go to grocery stores and farmer’s market and buy more food to cook – moderate walking involved. Husband say “NO! No more cooking!”
3. Master Cleanse Fast – My friend is on this right now. I have not heard from her in a few days. Is she still alive??? I guess you will lose weight if it doesn’t kill you first! 😉 This wasn’t a topic for discussion!

I guess I need to go back to the basics and just eat better and get moving. There is no easy or crazy fix for this! It is soooo hard when I spend so much time doing what I do. It has become much more difficult to take even a little bit of time to exercise. It is always shoved to the bottom of the list of to-dos.

I have to turn it around for Week 10! That is the last week the I have to tell anyone what I have been up to, so after that no one will really know. But, I will know and I am the one that has to live with the few extra pounds (my hubby too!). So, I am going to give it the ole Girl Scout promise to make the last week count! And we all know that girl scouts are a trustworthy bunch (except the one that we bought cookies from…she has disappeared!). 😉

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Filed under Diet, Exercise, Healthy, Stir It 28, Ten in 2010

Ten in 2010 – Week 7 Update (California, here I come!)

This is my weekly update on the Ten in 2010 Challenge, which is a group of bloggers who have committed to getting healthy in the first 10 weeks of the new year.

It is always good to have a goal when trying to stick with a diet. My last real goal was to get slim and trim for a big trip to Europe last October. I did what I needed to do, reached my goal and even stayed the same weight while I was gone (probably because we walked so much). The next goal I had was to squeeze into this awesome dress that I purchased for a wedding. I did it and the dress looked great! I am sure that would be a bit of a challenge right now to get into that dress, so I am glad that is not the current goal! 😉

My new goal is to loose a few pounds and get in better shape for a trip to California! Going on a trip is always great inspiration to get moving and eat healthier foods, so this should work! I am actually going to Camp Blogaway in Southern California in May! Sunny California, here I come!

I do not know how things have been going with your eating habits, but mine have been out of control this week. Valentine’s Day seemed to turn into Valentine’s week and it was really ugly! Dinner out, cooking in…it just did not matter. It was all bad! The snow and cold weather sure did not help with trying to stay on track. All I wanted to do was cook and eat and sip wine and stay warm…so I did! My hubby even said yesterday that we have to give all the food a rest! He went backwards with his diet plans this week as well.

The good news is that yesterday was 60 degrees and the weekend is supposed to be just as warm. Yeah! We will be able to get out and walk and get moving. No more slugs sitting around inside the house!

I am excited to go to Camp Blogaway and meet new friends and learn how to do this blogging stuff better. It should be great fun and very informative. It will definitely inspire me to do what I need to do to get back into some Summer duds and get where I need to be with my weight and exercise situation.

I have a little over 2 months and I am determined. I am going back to my original commitment to eat healthier foods EVERY DAY and exercise at least 5 days a week. If I can stick with the plan, I should be where I need to be by May and ready to head to California!

I hope you are having success with your own Ten in 2010 Challenge and that there is a trip or event in your future that keeps you inspired to keep on going with your lifestyle change.

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Filed under Camp Blogaway, Diet, Exercise, Healthy, Ten in 2010

Ten in 2010 – Week 6 Update (What, Me Worry?)

This is my weekly update for the Ten in 2010 Challenge which is group of bloggers that have committed to getting healthy in the first ten weeks of the New Year.

Oooohhhh…that was really hard to type in Week 6 Update! I cannot believe I am already at week 7 and not further along in this process! I have, however, taken a new attitude towards dieting and exercise! So, here it goes…in the words of the great philosopher and fine scholar, Alfred E. Neuman, “What, Me Worry?”.

I have decided that I will get where I need to be at some point in the near future. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but I know it will happen, because it always does! When crunch time comes I will always lose those few pounds! Now, as far as eating all the right foods and banning the rest, that is far more of a challenge.

We have definitely cut some things out, but having a cooking blog is a dangerous hobby/business for those that need to be watching their food intake. What would you rather look at – pictures of flourless chocolate cake or broiled fish? Just be honest about it! So, that would be the hazards of doing what I do. Losing weight will always be more of a challenge.

I have also decided that part of wanting certain foods is because I cannot have them. I decided to move on to Phase 3 of the South Beach Diet because I was soooo craving bread and crackers and fruit, etc. Well, guess what? Once I could have them, I really did not care if I ate them or not! Crackers were sort of yummy because I wanted something crunchy, but bread, who cares? I ate a half of a grapefruit one morning and had some oj on another, but the funny thing was, I kept going back to that V8 juice (because I could have a V8! 😉 )!

I will tell you something else that put things in perspective. I was at a ladies neighborhood Valentine’s Party. We have this little shindig every year and drink wine and eat old Southern Living types of dishes (chicken curry casserole, mandarin gelatin salad, rolls, cupcakes with white icing and pink flowers!). Not the menu I would have planned, but heh, it still is fun to get together.

Anyway, I was talking to a former neighbor who recently lost her husband quite suddenly to cancer. He apparently had been stricken with it for some time, but they were not aware of it. When they did find this out, he passed away 6 weeks later. I did not know this when I was speaking to this woman and I happened to mention how we used to enjoy seeing her husband with his scotch and cigar sitting outside in the evenings with his dog. He was a neighborhood legend.

Well, of course, she then told me that he was gone and the story of what happened to him. She also shared with me how she had been sitting around feeling sorry for herself for a while (which is entirely expected and normal), and that she had started to get an old lady’s belly. Instead of continuing along that path, she picked herself up, decided to get moving and asked her doctor for the name of a personal trainer. He mentioned that some patients were taking Pilates and loved it. So, off she went to take some classes!

She said she has never felt better, she looks great and she wants me to give her a call and go to the same studio. I have taken Pilates in the past and it does wonderful things for your body, mind and spirit. I thought to myself after speaking with this woman that life is all good. Every day we are here is a good day and that tomorrow is as good a day as any to start back at the diet and exercise thing.

You never know what life will hand you. My hubby and I have been through more challenges than I could fit on a page, so you know what, week 6 was not so hot, but there is always week 7 and 8 and so on and so forth!

So what if we ate the wrong stuff one day or drank wine with friends? If this woman can get going at her age, then we all should be able to do it and stop stressing about it.

Therefore, I say, good for all of you that have been totally committed to your Ten in 2010 challenge! I admire your tenacity. And to those of you that are more like me and have some good days and some bad ones, good luck next week! The good news is that you can pick yourself up and start over and over again! Most importantly, enjoy every day for what it is!

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Filed under Diet, Exercise, Healthy, Ten in 2010

Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup

I found a new variety of squash in the store last week – buttercup squash. I had never seen these squash before, so I grabbed 4 of them (since they are on the small side) and went home to get online to see what I could find to do with them. The answer of course was soup!

I know that most squash are similar in texture and taste. However, these little round buttercup squash are a bit different. They have a subtle, earthy flavor and are unlike the other squash I frequently use (acorn, butternut, hubbard). They also do not have very much flesh when you cut them open (especially on the top side), so they are more difficult to work with when trying to cut them up.

The recipe that I used was from Fine Cooking. It called for peeling and chopping the squash and then boiling the squash with the leeks in chicken broth. I knew that roasting them in the oven and then scooping the flesh would be the quicker (and usually the tastier) option, however, I wanted to try the recipe as it was written. I was curious to see how flavorful this soup would be since the recipe was so basic and the ingredients so simple, so I did the preparation of the squash as it suggested. I kept thinking I was crazy the entire time I was involved in the tedious job of peeling and chopping. And several times I almost popped these little guys in the oven, but instead, I finished the task at hand!

I have made some additions and changes to the original recipe. First of all, I left out the herb butter that was to top the finished soup. Who needs all those calories? This soup is actually pretty healthy stuff! Instead, I finished the soup with a few of the same ingredients that were present in the herb butter (sherry and chives) and added a dollop of crème fraîche (that’s just a few little calories…).

The crème fraîche was a nice contrast to the earthy flavor of the squash and added a bit of sweetness. It also cut the heat of the white pepper. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of white pepper! I went with the 1 teaspoon and that definitely gave the soup a good bit of heat. My recommendation would be to start with a 1/2 teaspoon and work up from there. There was also a large amount of salt in the recipe. I cut that by more than half and added some later to taste (it is better to add it as you go than to have too much salt at the end).

The recipe calls for 4 cups of chopped leeks (they say that is 3 leeks using the white part only). Now, that would be the case if we were in France where I have seen leeks with 5 inch white sections, however, the leeks in Atlanta never have a very large white section (no matter where I shop). I happened to have 4 leeks in the fridge and I used all 4 (both white and light green parts) and I got 3 cups of chopped leeks. I do not think using the green part compromised the flavor at all, so I say go for it, unless you want to buy 6 leeks!

It also took all 4 of the buttercup squash to yield 8 cups of chopped squash (not 3 squash as the recipe suggested). I would not change anything that I did (other than a bit less pepper). I thought that it was delicious, quite healthy (definitely low-fat, even with a small amount of crème fraîche) and a nice change from all the known variations of butternut squash soup!

Here is my adaption:

Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup

Makes approximately 10 cups

3 cups chopped, well-washed leeks, white and light green parts only (I used 4 good-sized leeks)
8 cups peeled, seeded and diced (1-inch cubes) buttercup squash (It took 4 buttercup squash)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
6 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth (I used Swanson’s Organic)
1 Tbsp. kosher salt (you will need more salt at the end) (The original recipe called for 2 1/2 Tbsp. salt!)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (more if you are brave)
2 Tbsp. plus dry sherry, to taste (I probably doused the soup with about 1/4 cup)
additional salt of your preference to taste (I used sea salt)
crème fraîche and chopped chives to garnish

Put the leeks in a large Dutch oven or stockpot (not aluminum).

Add the squash, wine and chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer; cook until the squash is fork tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Add the salt and pepper; puree in a blender or food processor in batches.

Return to the pot and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes more (The directions said to serve the soup after pureeing, however, I prefer to cook the soup a bit longer). Add sherry and salt to taste. Serve with crème fraîche and chopped chives.


Another soup perfect for a cold and snowy Winter’s day (and we have sure had a lot of those!). Bon Appetit!

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Filed under Buttercup Squash, Chicken broth, Leeks, Low-fat, Recipes, Soups, Vegetables

Ten in 2010 – Week 5 Update (Does Spring cleaning count as exercise?)

This is my weekly post updating my progress in Ten in 2010 – the challenge with other bloggers to get healthy in the first ten weeks of the New Year.

I am almost upset enough to not post this week. I really had a tough week trying to stay with the new diet and exercise plan. It was a rather frustrating time midway through this 10 week challenge.

Last weekend ended with me getting on a major campaign to do some Spring cleaning! I know that Spring is nowhere in sight, but I have neglected the housekeeping as of late (could we possibly guess why????). So, I woke up on Sunday morning with all sorts of energy and decided to go for it! Well, things were so much in disarray that the cleaning went over to Monday and into Tuesday. That still left cleaning out closets and drawers and some other miscellaneous chores. (That would be the next week’s project!).

I must have done 20 loads of laundry washing all the little things that have piled up recently. I have a stack of ironing 2 feet high that I keep staring at. I was so exhausted after all of this strenuous “exercise” and high levels of stress from cleaning overload, I did not get on my treadmill for more than 2 days.

I was, however, sticking to my diet for the most part until I woke up one morning totally starving and then I went for the slice of whole wheat toast with my egg (oh, no!). It was over after that! I realized just how hungry I have been and how much I missed eating somewhat normal foods most days. So, I completely went off schedule that day and had pasta for dinner and ate some of my Meyer lemon sorbet for dessert (which by the way, is incredible and totally worth the calories!).

That was Wednesday and I have tried to get back on track since then, but I have certainly not gotten on the scale! I think I weigh about the same (jean check). After all, cleaning the house does burn a ton of calories. 😉 I just feel bad because I lost the focus. I believe part of this was due to our miserable, rainy and cold weather. It has been depressing and easy to stay inside and keep doing computer stuff, housekeeping and of course, cooking!

In addition to these somewhat self-inflicted situations, I have also had the neighbors bearing “bad” food (hot chocolate chip oatmeal cookies) at 9:30 pm Monday night. Thank goodness I had a hubby and son to munch on those (although I had to check them out to make sure they were good). I also had the neighborly invitation for wine at 5 pm (twice, no less, during the week) and the “I have to eat out because I am too tired to cook after cleaning all day” kind of night on no less than 2 occasions!

I am determined to get back at it next week. I cannot count on the weather, so I better get myself in gear to get moving (and that doesn’t mean just cleaning out the drawers) and find a way to balance foods so I do not get hungry enough to toss out the whole diet plan and eat my way to the back of the fridge. I just need to excuse myself until Monday am because this is Super Bowl weekend and we all know this weekend all bets are off (or on!). 😉

My plan going into Week 6 is to go forward with Phase 3 of the South Beach diet which will allow me to eat some of the things I want, in moderation. Then hopefully, I will not get so hungry! I am also going to commit to more regular exercise and hope desperately for sunshine and warm weather!

Good luck to all of you in your challenge to get and stay fit in the New Year!

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Filed under Diet, Exercise, Healthy, Ten in 2010

Get Juiced!

I know you are wondering why I am writing about a juice drink and I normally would not, however it was so pretty I really wanted to post the picture!

I made this yummy and beautiful juice drink last weekend in our Breville juicer. (gotta use this thing now that we have it!). My husband recently purchased the juicer because juicing is supposed to have incredible health benefits. I also was thinking about going on a juicing detox plan, but gave up that idea. This stuff is tasty, but I cannot live on fruits and veggies alone! So instead, I tried a few of these wonderful beverages and this was probably one of the tastiest!

I had one of the most amazing Texas red grapefruits and beautiful fresh raspberries, so I decided to pop them in the juicer and make this healthy beverage! The inspiration for this drink (appropriately called Color Me Pink) came from The Complete Book of Juicing by Michael T. Murray, N.D. According to Dr. Murray this drink is rich in flavonoids, so if you are looking to boost yours, then this is the drink for you!

Now I do have to say that I love grapefruit and especially the Texas red ones. Their season is short, so you need to get them while you can. A regular red grapefruit will work just as well if you can no longer find the Texas red ones. If you use a Breville juicer, the pulp will be discarded, but you can certainly add it back to the drink if you like your juice with pulp.

I do think that this would be fine to make in a high speed blender. You might have a few chunks of fruit, but that is not so bad, is it? You may also need to add a few ice cubes to the blender. I even added a few ice cubes to mine and tossed it in the blender after the juicing to make it cold.

If you do make this in a juicer, I suggest straining it because of the raspberry seeds. It would have been nice to not have the seeds at the bottom of the glass! Depending on your blender (if that is what you use to make this), it might be more difficult to strain the drink since the fruit will not be completely pulverized as it is with a juicer. I also added some agave nectar to cut the tartness. Honey or Stevia would work as well.

Here is my adaptation of this simple recipe:

Color Me Pink

1 cup raspberries
1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled
Sweetener to taste
Ice cubes (optional)

Juice the raspberries first and then the grapefruit.

That’s it! Dr. Murray suggests leaving the white pith on the grapefruit since that is what is rich in flavonoids and you want to be sure to get those in your drink! 😉

This was extremely tasty, so if you are looking for a great way to start your day, I suggest giving this a try!

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Filed under Grapefruit, Healthy, Juicing, Raspberries