Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rain, you can’t stop me from enjoying my weekend…

I feel exhausted right now, so I’ll try to be brief.

This weekend was pretty amazing – tried a new restaurant, had delicious coffees, worked out, went for a walk in the rain, saw three rainbows in one day and had an amazing vespers experience.  The rain and wind this weekend didn’t bring me down – no siree!

Friday after work I met up with a friend to grab coffee and dinner, except that she’d apparently sent me an e-mail I never read, because I was so busy at work I didn’t have time to check my e-mail.  She was basically letting me know she was going to run a bit late.  I’m not high tech on my phone, and I wish I’d had an iphone of some sorts to be able to get important communication like that…oh well. 

As I sat in the Napa Valley Roasting Company while waiting around for about an hour and drank my nonfat vanilla latte, and thought to myself, “This is sooo good!”  Seriously, it’s the best coffee I’ve ever had and I consider that place one of the best places to get great coffee; and it was a perfect cup of joe for the start of a great weekend.

I decided to grab a book to continue killing time.  As I skimmed through book titles, one in particular caught my eye.  Bone in the Throat.  What the heck is that, I thought to myself.  I quickly glanced over to see who the author was and quickly picked up the book off of the bookshelf.  Considering myself a foodie, I thought this book would be a must-read.  Granted, I love me some medical thrillers; but this book mixed the medical thriller along with food thriller.  Who'da thunk?  Genius! I sat back down and took another sip of my latte.  I began reading Anthony Bourdain’s novel, “Bone in the Throat”.  According to Amazon’s booklist review, “Bourdain's tongue-in-cheek wiseguy novel features an up-and-coming young chef who owes his position in a New York restaurant to his uncle, a Mob collector-hit man who has loaned a considerable sum to the restaurant owner. Mobster Sal the Wig and Tommy, the sous-chef, are both unaware that state and federal agents have set up the owner, Harvey, as a plant to uncover extortion, murder, and whatever other criminal activities occur in Harvey's presence or the eaterie.”

It was really too bad that I had to stop reading it and eat dinner.  I’ll definitely have to borrow that book sometime from the library and finish it up.  While I was reading it, I couldn’t seem to put it down!

After coffee I finally met up with my friend for dinner and ate at Cooks, in St. Helena.  I ate their Handmade Mozzarella Caprese.  So good!  It includes hairloom tomatoes, basil and a balsamic vinegar reduction with extra virgin olive oil.  It also had dried tomatoes, which I normally don’t like, but these were delicious paired with the mozzarella.  I took a bite of my friend’s gnocchi in gorgonzola cream and that was really good too.  I’ve never had gnocchi like that before…so buttery and creamy and simply melt-in-your mouth.  Delish!  It was soon time to head up to PUC vespers.  Normally we wouldn’t go to vespers up there because, speaking for myself, I feel old and out of place.  But this time was the exception, seeing that a friend of ours, Godfrey, was speaking for vespers.  It was such an inspiring environment – with great reflective music followed by a thought-provoking talk.  Overall, our experience that night was definitely one of a kind.

Sabbath came along and the inspiration continued at church.  It seemed that the sermon was a continuation of last night’s talk, even though the speakers were totally different and I was at different churches.  It definitely fulfilled my soul and felt like it was exactly what I needed.  After church, I joined some friends for a potluck lunch and the food was simply homey and delicious.  On my way to lunch, I saw a rainbow.  Simply gorgeous!  It was just hanging out there right in front of me to enjoy.  After lunch, we all hung out afterwards chatting and catching up.  Soon after, three of us girls went for a walk.  It had been raining on and off throughout the day, so I took an umbrella, just in case.  And boy did we need it!  It was raining pretty steadily.  Nevertheless, we still walked in the rain.  Even though our pants were wet, we continued catching up, talking about what our blessing of the week was, and then the miracle came.  We saw a double rainbow, and one of them was actually a full rainbow.  THAT was super awesome.  Behind us it was sunny; where we were standing it was raining; and in front of us, there were rainbows.  It was an amazing Sabbath afternoon.

That night I relaxed with a friend and ate her cinnamon-infused popcorn while watching “He’s just not that into you”.  Such a funny movie.  Too true in so many ways.

This morning I slept in until 9:30!  Shared brunch with my hubby and made made the perfect looking pancakes on my new griddle!  No burnt pancakes involved!  With that, we paired the pancakes with bananas and accompanied it with some scrambled eggs.  I warmed up some Morningstar Veggie Bacon Strips for myself.  It was definitely a special breakfast like no other.  I hadn’t made pancakes in such a long time, and to have a yummy brunch like that, was definitely a special treat.   A typical breakfast includes cereal, most likely a banana and some milk.

Later today, I went to work out at the gym with my friend and had a great workout.  I really pushed myself to get a good workout for the hour that we were going to be there.  So I began with the elliptical (the one that goes up and down) and then rode a little over 5 miles in 21 minutes on the bicycle.  Boy was I pumped for that one!  I could definitely feel my body saying “I hate you”, but I know it’s thanking me afterward. :)  I did about 10 minutes of weights and it was definitely time to come home and relax.  I was pooped!  Came home and snacked on a raisin bread English muffins and added a tablespoon of peanut butter.  Fuel for my body!  The hubby was nice enough to pick up dinner, so I had a Veggie Delite sandwich from Subway.  Refreshingly filling.

OK, maybe not so brief tonight, but I am ready for bed.  G’nite!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cook once, eat all week

This was today’s motto since I had a day off from work.  Hooray!  That said, I only managed to make two dishes.  I suppose three if you count a side dish.

Today I made an Autumn Pot Roast with Horseradish Sauce and a Layered Mexican Chicken.


I wanted to get some things out of the way so I began making the horseradish sauce.  Normally I don’t really care for this type of sauce but figured I’d make the exception this time.

Next came the halved red potatoes.


I then put them in a  large bowl along with the baby carrots and sweet potatoes so they’d be ready to go.



Once the meat had browned, it was ready to go into the oven.


I took a quick break and grabbed one of my favorite cup o’ joe’s – a nonfat vanilla latte.  I felt like I needed an extra shot of energy so I asked for an extra espresso boost.  Wowzers, did that wake me up!


Next I began making preparations for the Layered Mexican Chicken dish.

After boiling the chicken breast and letting it rest I began assembling the dish which included tortillas, sour cream, black beans, cheese, cumin and green chilies.






Shortly after I had finished assembling the layered Mexican dish, I was a bit hungry, so I decided to make a smoothie.  The bananas that I have were starting to get a bit soft so I used some of them, along with some blueberries, soy milk and a tad of vanilla extract and blended them to make my smoothie.  Next time I think I’ll add a little bit of ice to make it colder.


A little while after the pot roast was complete!


Time to eat!  I added some rice and more veggies.


cook’s thoughts

I have to admit that I didn’t follow the recipe exactly for the pot roast.  I used sweet potatoes instead of turnips because I didn’t feel quite comfortable using them.  I don’t think I’ve ever had them…. I also had to boil the potatoes, carrots in a pot to soften them up after the veggies had cooked with the meat; otherwise we would have eaten crunchy potatoes!  As I was getting ready to upload the pictures I took for the blog I realized that I’d totally forgotten to add the horseradish!!  Silly me.  Oh well, hopefully next time I’ll remember to add it.  It’s still sitting in the fridge, just like the directions said.  Just forgot to take it out! :D .  As I was eating the pot roast, it was a bit drier than I would have liked and decided that I’d use the leftovers to make roast beef sandwiches – it practically tasted like roast beef.  Maybe you’ll have better luck at keeping it moist.

Onto the Layered Mexican Chicken.  I thought it was OK for a lasagna-style dish.  I’m not too crazy about it.  I’ll have to get creative with the leftovers, for sure.

Autumn Pot Roast with Horseradish Sauce

prep time: 15 minutes
cook time: 2 hrs 30 min

serves: 8


2 lbs boneless bottom round roast, trimmed
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/4 lbs baby potatoes, halved
1 1/2 cup baby carrots
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
3 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp Dijon mustard


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sprinkle the beef with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.  Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and cook, turning frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes.  Add the broth, stirring to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the onion, garlic and thyme; bring to a boil.  Cover and bake, turning once, 1 1/2 hours.

Add the potatoes, carrots, and turnips to the Dutch oven.  Bake, covered, until the beef and vegetables are fork-tender, 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the horseradish sauce.  Combine the yogurt, horseradish, mustard and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and slice across the grain into 16 slices.  Serve with the vegetables and the horseradish sauce.

Layered Mexican Chicken

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

serves: 12


1 spray olive oil cooking spray
2 pounds uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
30 oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups fat-free sour cream
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese, divided
8 oz Chopped green chilies, two 4-oz cans
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
12 medium corn tortillas, cut into 2-inch strips
1 cup salsa, mild, medium or hot


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a lasagna pan with cooking spray.

Place chicken in medium saucepan and fill with enough cold water just to cover chicken.  Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes; drain.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces.

Transfer chicken to a large bowl and add beans, sour cream, 1 cup shredded cheese, chilies, cumin and pepper; mix well and set aside.

Arrange half of tortillas in bottom of prepared lasagna pan, overlapping pieces to cover surface.  Top tortillas with half of chicken mixture, layer with remaining tortillas and then top with remaining chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese.

Bake until filling is bubbly and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before slicing into 12 pieces.  Serve with salsa on the side.

Time for bed!  It’s been so nice sleeping in the past couple of days.  I just know I’m going to have a hard time getting up tomorrow morning at 6.

More soup for you!

So I made it to the library earlier today and searched for anything Julia Child.  To my dismay there were only two books about her and/or written about her that remained at the library.  The rest were either checked out or somewhere on the shelf.  So I checked out those two books – From Julia’s Kitchen and The Biography of Julia Child.  I’m actually looking forward to reading the latter of the two.  What I really wanted to get was Julia’s recount of her time in France, but I guess I’ll have to wait until it gets returned back to the library.

Tonight’s new recipe was a Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Cook’s thoughts

It wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be.  I think next time I think I’ll add a can of Rotel and/or finely diced jalapenos to give it the kick it needs. Overall it was a good chicken soup fit for a rainy day like today.

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

serves: 4


1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
1 (14-oz) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups thawed frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, corn, and red bell pepper)
1 cup water
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp lime juice
12 baked tortilla chips, crumbled


Combine the tomatoes, broth, vegetables, water, and cum in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, 10 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and cook until heated through, 2 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.  Top each serving with 3 of the tortilla chips and serve at once.  Or omit the tortilla chips and transfer to individual microwave-safe containers.  Let cool, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days.  To reheat, microwave each 1 1/2-cup serving on High until heated through, 2 minutes.  Top with the tortilla chips just before eating.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Just have to blog about how excited I am about the renaming and redesign of the blog!  When I originally created my blog I wasn’t quite sure what to name it and hadn’t found a niche.  I’m proud to say that bmusedmusings is non-existent.  Hooray for The Inspired Latin Cook! :D

Catch-up Sunday.

Weekend recap.

This morning’s breakfast included a toasted whole wheat English muffin,1 oz of mozzarella cheese and 2 tbsp of Ragu with egg mug eggs with spinach.  Delish!  I accompanied my breakfast muffin with a glass of V8 Fusion Light Peach Mango.  Unfortunately I devoured my muffin before I was able to take a picture of it.

In my last post I mentioned that I ran 4.5 miles.  Hooray!  However the next day my left foot started bothering me.  So uncool.  I had to figure out what to do for workouts, so I tried riding the indoor bicycle, did yoga and tried Zumba.  I’ve been a bit discouraged and unmotivated about working out since Thursday, especially since I found out I still haven’t made my goal weight.  Since then I kind of haven’t really cared about what I’ve been eating.  I’ve had lots of ice cream on Thursday and really have had the munchies since then.  Hmpph.

Last night we went out with some friends and saw Avatar on IMAX.  Before I saw the movie I didn’t really care to see it and thought this movie was going to be “another one of these movies”.  I was definitely utterly surprised.  The vivid colors, the textures, and the 3-D experience was definitely one-of-a-kind.  After the movie we ate at Taj Indian Restaurant, a fabulous restaurant in Fairfield.  I was even more ecstatic that my hubby actually liked Indian food, was able to tolerate it and even had seconds!  I asked him about his second helping later that evening and he said that he’d partly been really hungry and partly because he really liked the food.  Hooray!!

Friday after work I came home and sat down to watch the movie I ordered as part of my Christmas present.  What would be one of the greatest movies for a foodie, you ask?  Julie and Julia, of course!  So I watched the entire movie.  Afterward, looking through the special features (not that there’s very many features and wish there were more…a Julia Child trivia perhaps?) I decided to re-watch the movie with the writer/director’s commentary about the movie.  I was a bit disappointed there wasn’t more commentary to the movie, but I guess you get what you get.  You’d think I would have gotten sick from watching it.  Alas, no.  Unfortunately I was actually really tired so I had to stop the DVD at 2 a.m., to be continued at a later time.

As I’m writing this blog I’m actually finishing the last part of the Julie and Julia commentary while literally eating frozen yogurt.  And I mean literally.  On Friday I took one of my Yoplait Light yogurts, Harvest Peach to be exact, and stuck it in the freezer.  It’s so good!  It’s actually a bit comical that I’m eating frozen yogurt since the weather outside is pretty gloomy and rainy.  But this is my take on defying the day, despite the weather.

This afternoon’s plan includes going to the library and borrowing Julia Child’s cookbooks, as I decide if it’s worth investing in them.  I went grocery shopping a few days ago and intended on cooking up some new recipes but just haven’t had a chance; so today I’ll cook up something.  I’ve got a list of things I want to cook, just have to figure out which one I’ll make.

Off to my JC and food adventure!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Running accomplishment!

Quick post tonight.

Tonight was a first in a really long time – I ran 4.5 miles in 45 minutes on the treadmill at the gym!  So that means that I ran a 10-minute mile.  Hooray for me! :) I also walked at a 12% incline for almost 20 minutes at a 16 mi/min pace; so overall I burned just over 500 calories.  Hooray for me!! :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Good eats for tonight

So I was really hungry tonight for dinner.  I’m so sick and tired of take-out food (mainly Taco Bell) that I decided to go to the grocery store and get some stuff for salad.  I went ahead and still got something for the hubby at Mickey D’s;  I was going to get their Chicken Caesar Salad minus the cheese, except that their salads come pre-made with cheese.  Phmh. 

DSC03330 So I decided instead to head over to Raley’s and get some better healthy stuff.  So what’d I have for dinner? I’m calling it my Blueberry Radish Salad.  I made a plate filled with Veggie lover’s salad mix, grape tomatoes, radishes and blueberries.  It sounds like an odd combo, but the colors looked pretty.  Hey at least it kept me full and it virtually has no calories.  Hooray!  And it actually didn’t taste too bad either.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh reality TV!

Giuliana and BillSo I’m winding down by watching the reality show Giuliana & Bill.  How did I get roped into watching this show?  I’m not quite sure, but it’s kind of hilarious watch. Perhaps it’s because it’s another single couple living their lives, just like MigL and I are, except without all of the luxuries.    It’s kind of annoying to see how easily they drop money on stuff.  For example in the episode I just watched, Giuliana wants to convince Bill to like Los Angeles, so she buys him a Harley Davidson bike.  Just like that.  Who does that?  I guess people with a crap load of money!  Must be nice.  Wish I could do that – although I don’t think I’d buy a Harley.  Maybe. :) It would be kind of fun to ride in a Harley throughout the Napa Valley.  Note to self – rent a bike for a few hours…hopefully it won’t cost too much moola!

On a different note, I didn’t know a new season of Biggest Loser started tonight!  Bummer!  I wish I would have known to see it from the beginning of the first hour.  It’s a few minutes past 9:00 p.m. and the show goes from 8-10 p.m. Oh well, at least I’m watching it now. 

I’ve enjoyed watching past seasons because you learn so much about so many different things.  It also helps that I’m still in the process of losing weight and getting healthier and watching them validates the work I’m doing to live a better life.  On the flip side, it’s daunting to see that these people are a reflection of what the majority of our American population looks  like.  It makes me sad to see that food has become a way of nurturing ourselves from various things and situations and it has made us unaware of what portion sizes really look like.  And unfortunately that’s the way that some people deal with their lives.

In my case, growing up, I didn’t know what a portion size was.  I ate because the food was in front of me, I was hungry enough to fill my entire plate, on occasion it was served for me, and it was looked down upon to leave food on my plate.  A good portion of the home made food was fried – although in my immediate family, we tried not to eat too much fried food.  However, I did deter some weight gain and was able to mostly maintain when I was younger by playing sports – mainly playing tennis with my dad.  In high school I was on the varsity tennis team.  Fast forward a few years and I begin a weight loss program that works.  I’ve lost nearly 60 pounds and I’m on the road to a healthy lifestyle.  I know what a portion size is and should be.  I know now to eat until I’m full – not stuffed, but satisfied.  Some days I still struggle with that, but then again, nobody’s perfect.  Anyway, here’s to happy and healthy living!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ready for bed; but first a little entertainment

The house is mostly clean and I’m ready for bed!  It’s been quite a long day…working out, cleaning.  It doesn’t sound like much, but I cleaned quite a bit! 

I also started shredding some junk mail – holy cow!  I get so much junk mail in a week…unfortunately it had piled up for a few months, so I was doing quite a bit “winter cleaning”.  But it’s all done now and I feel refreshed that it’s all gone and my house is clean :)

To wind down my evening, I’m currently watching “Worst Cooks in America” on Food Network.  It’s actually kinda funny to see all these horrible cooks try to make a meal.  Friends and family have nominated these people as the worst cooks in America and Chefs Anne Burrell and Beau McMillan have chosen the worst cooks out of 24 people (after the cooks have made a meal that best represents their cooking) to be on the opposing team.  Burrell and McMillan are competing against each other and will teach these bad cooks to cook like a chef in a competition that will last 10 weeks.  The finalists will prepare a three course meal which will be judged by a panel of food judges that think their food is made by Burrell and McMillan; the winning cook will win $25,000.  Not bad, eh?

In this first episode they’re supposed to re-create a dish that chefs Anne Burrell and Beau McMillan have shown them how to do. It must look and taste exactly as the chefs have made it.  I feel bad for these cooks because it really looks like they’re trying and some of them just aren’t getting it.  One of them even uses the utensils and places them on the plate “strategically” to cover up the food that even she thinks is bad.  Gosh that’s awful.  No one should EVER do that.

Well kids, it’s been fun.  Now off to bed I go for an exciting workweek.

Welcome to Sunday

KashiToday’s breakfast was unexpectedly really good.  I served myself a cup of Kashi’s Honey Almond Flax, 1/2 cup of 1% milk and about 1/4 cup of blueberries.  So filling!

I remember a long time ago I turned my nose away from Kashi after trying one of their cereals (I don’t remember which one now) because it tasted funny and weird.

But I was at Target the other day and saw this and decided to try it and decided it’s pretty good.  It reminds me of sweet granola, but not super sweet.  It got me through today’s workout session – 1 hour of Yoga and 1 hour of aerobics.

I’m a bit tired from this week’s workout – Thursday, Saturday and today.  But I’m determined to get to my last two pounds to reach my goal weight.  Last night was the best and longest sleep I’ve gotten in such a long time.  I slept for 14.5 hours!  I was supposed to take a nap at 5:30 and instead woke up around 8 a.m. this morning.  Hooray for sleep!  I felt so refreshed when I woke up this morning (even though I was still a bit sore from all those workouts…Stairmaster, elliptical, weight training and Yoga.

Now it’s time to finish cleaning up the house and get ready for another workweek.  Oh to be on vacation again!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I feel good…

j0337325hahaha, now I have that song in my head!  Thanks James Brown! I have to say that it’s such a great song for how I’m feeling right now.  I worked out earlier today and I still have that post-workout high.  It’s such a great feeling  - I LOVE IT!  It’s like having a caffeine high (after a great cup o’ joe) minus an empty cup, a small headache afterwards and the price of shelling  out some dough for coffee. :) 

Today’s workout consisted of an intense Stairmaster session for 30 minutes, elliptical for 30 minutes and 30 minutes of weight training.  I feel like I had a great workout today.  Yay me!  I’m off to a great start on my way to achieving my new year’s goals.

After my workout I spent some down time reading at Barnes and Noble.  I love that place!  I could spend hours upon hours at B&N.  It was a perfect ending to a great workout.  I’m looking forward to some Yoga tomorrow :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Happy 2010!!

happy-new-year I'm really looking forward to this year because... 1) I've nearly reached my goal weight and am looking forward to maintaining it 2) I'm going to a fun first trip to Vegas 3) I'll be spending Christmas in Walt Disney World! Hurray!

Looking back at the blog about my new year's resolutions, I have to confess that I haven't started them quite yet. What was I thinking?! I didn't realize it was a bad time to start mainly because I was out visiting family and doing lots of traveling for a week. Then came the holidays, and this past week was pretty busy. But since the new year is here, I will be sure to accomplish those.

In addition to the resolutions I've made to continue working out and toning, and cooking two new recipes a month, I've added two more resolutions:

- Practice Yoga at least once a week at the gym
- Blog more :)

I've realized that I've really been enjoying the yoga sessions I've attended. The last one I went to, I was really sore from working out (the previous day I began some strength training and my body was screaming bloody murder the day after), and I had a few things on my mind that I was stressing about. But I've realized that Yoga has really helped me to get rid of those stresses temporarily and get them out of my system; and the other thing is that after the session, my body feels much more relaxed and happy because it's like an entire hour of stretching - at least that's how I'm kind of looking at it now. So I'm excited about going to Yoga :).

I've come to the conclusion that just like eating and breathing, I need to exercise. It needs to come second nature. Otherwise if I don't, I'll become an unhappy person and perhaps revert back to my unhealthy old self. But at least I now know the tools that will keep me healthy and living longer.

I've also noticed that I've kind of neglected the blogging...I really do think I should blog more than once a month. I don't do this blog justice, so I'll make it a point to blog as often as I can.

But enough of the negativity. I'm looking forward to a great new year with new beginnings. I really hope 2010 treats all of us well.

Merry Christmas!

I feel thoroughly exhausted today! I'm glad that I only had to get a few Christmas presents this year. I bought one more present today at Kohl's and holy moly! The lines were unbearably long (probably about 15 minute wait). I've not normally been a last minute shopper. I like to get things in early so that I'm not staying up till Midnight or later wrapping presents. All I can say is thank goodness for gift bags and tissue paper!

Anyway, I'm really blessed with great family and friends. Hope you have a memorable Christmas!
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