Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sneaky Butternut Squash

Recipe under review: Sweet Cinnamon Fritter Fries from Hungry Girl's Email Newsletter
First impression: sneaking  veggies (or is  it a fruit?) into French Toast?
Verdict: this one is a keeper

So this recipe sounded simple enough.  Cut up some squash, roll it around in some egg and a Fiber One breadcrumb mixture.  Put in the oven and bake!  Hungry Girl uses Fiber One for breadcrumbs often, so I kind of already knew the trick to them (it's to pulverize them to dust, which I didn't have time to do that morning)

Anywho, the description of this recipe says these can be breakfast, dessert, snacks whatever.  So I determined a nice breakfast French Toast Sticks swap would be how I would test them.   I waited for a day when I worked a later shift and got to it!

I just used a regular egg, since I didn't have any egg beaters on hand, and I pulverized some F1 as much as possible before deciding I didn't feel like taking any more time on them.  My butternut squash was also leftovers, so I had the hard part done already.

the setup
Then it was just a quick dip dip and go!  I filled up a whole (smallish) cookie sheet with little sweet fritter fries!

after dipping
Then it's as simple as sticking them in the oven and letting them bake.  (No my fry shapes weren't perfect, but I didn't care a ton, they all still came out great!) I pulled them out when done and plated them up with some sugar free syrup!

mmm breakfast!
It was nice to have a nice warm meal all ready to go before a long day of work.  And they were fun little dipper sticks.  They were soft and gooey and sweet and cinnamony.  The syrup with them definitely makes it seem like a great breakfast treat.  But I wouldn't write off the idea of putting them with some vanilla ice cream for dessert either!  YUM!  Definitely something I want to keep for future reference, these things were a great French Toast swap!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chicken and Apples? ...and Onions? YES!

Recipe under review: Sweet Apple & Chicken Stir-Fry from Hungry Girl's 300 Under 300
First impression: apples, yum
Verdict: easy and delicious!  

I was instantly intrigued when I saw this recipe.  I absolutely love apples and was looking for a way to spice up my stir-fry life.  The only thing that worried me was the amount of onion in this recipe.  I don't typically like onion but everything else sounded so good I decided to go for it!

So I quickly chopped up some leftover frozen chicken breast, whipped out my apple corer, and sliced an onion into decent sized chunks (I did not want another butternut squash fiasco, I was keeping things BIG)
the precooked pieces
So I put the chicken chunks in a skillet and started browning, a few minutes later it was time to add the fruits/veggies and vinegar.  The smell of the vinegar was a little overwhelming and made me a bit nervous but I just kept on going.  Stirring every minute or so letting all the flavors mix and everything finish cooking.

cooking and steaming!
So that was all there was too it, easy peasy!  I plated up half the pan (it says it makes two servings) and dug right in!

So first of all, I was full before I could finish it, so I'd say it's more than two servings, maybe not quite three though.  I dunno.  But the apples were nice and soft and sweet while the onions added a nice crunch.  The chicken had great flavor and it all just went together so nicely.  Normally I like stir-fries over brown rice, but I wasn't even missing it when I dug in.

Overall, not the prettiest dish to serve but a GREAT recipe if you like things a little sweeter.  Easy and fast for sure.  If you have a bigger appetite I think it would be easily paired with brown rice or rice noodles or something.  And I'm not afraid of onions anymore!  Woohoo!  Definitely a success!  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Yummy Puffed Cereal

Product under review: Berry Blossoms cereal from Kashi
First impression: please be filling!
Verdict: great building block!

I go through phases of absolute cereal addiction, so when a new interesting flavor pops up I get excited.  I got even more excited when I read the stats... 100 calories per serving!  That's when I get nervous, will this light and fluffy cereal fill me up at only 100 calories a pop?  Well, I'd like to say yes!

what to look for on shelves

I feel like it's almost an adult Captain Crunch (without the ripped up roof of mouth pain!)  It's light and fluffy and yet berry sweet without being over the top.  A serving size is pretty legit, but since I eat first thing in the morning and am never sure when I'll have a break at work I kinda like to make sure I'm eating a big breakfast.

a close up of a single serving, pretty right?

I paired this tasty stuff with some Fiber One Original and fresh blueberries.  I added a splash of skim milk and some ground cinnamon and it was simply delicious!  The F1 helped to keep me full while the BB helped keep everything sweet and tasty.  And I just always love fresh blueberries in my cereal and sneaking in a serving of fruits right off the bat when I wake up!     

my finished creation, yum!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Mac Attacked Alright...

Recipe under review: Cheeseburger Mac Attack from Hungry Girl's 300 Under 300
First impression: skeptical
Verdict: what do I do with the leftovers? ughh.

I was quickly browsing through the book for a quick and simple crock pot meal because I knew my first week of the internship would have me way to worn out to cook every night (and I was unaware of all the Dreamy leftovers I'd have!)  So this one seemed easy enough and seemed tasty, I like cheeseburgers!  I got all the ingredients... kinda, this is when I should have known I'd be having problems. 

Normally I can find ground turkey, but this time, no dice, so this was made with 90/10 ground beef.  No big deal but then there was the Green Giant cauliflower, comes in 10 oz packages... recipe calls for 24 oz, really?  (There are value sized bags that are 24 oz, but I couldn't locate them in my new grocery store) And I don't normally use ketchup so I just got the smallest I could find and found some low carb pasta so the rest of it came together pretty nice at the grocery store.

So thankfully, the prep was just as easy as it seemed!  Boiled half a box of pasta (a little less maybe, I did measure it out) for half the time, then mixed the flavors into the beef, then layered everything in the crock pot.  Mixing the beef was when I started to get really nervous for this dish, my kitchen smelled like a big mac, which I don't like.  Anywho, I have a very modestly sized crock pot and it all fit quite nice if anyone is worried about that!  I only put in two Cauliflower and Cheese boxes rather than opening one and using half.  Again, problems.  Because there were two frozen blocks, it was very hard to stir.  Oh well, I figured it would mix in eventually...

So I turn it on low and head to work and hope for the best!  I did get a little caught up at work so everything was probably cooking closer to 10 hours than 7-8 but it's a crock pot so I figured no big deal.

what I left to cook...

what I came home to :(
So my lack of mixing seemed pretty apparent when I came home to burnt noodles up on the side, but for the most part things seemed okay.  So I mixed in the last cheese and added some reduced fat parm, just because I could.  It didn't get any prettier.  It's suppose to make 8 servings, but it looked more like 4 to me, so I served up a quarter of the mixed stuff and tried it.  

my dinner!
So overall, I'm glad I tried it.  It wasn't terrible by any means, but definitely not something I'll make again.  It just didn't taste like anything in particular, and it was kinda mushy.  I'm big into textures and things like this just aren't my style, so maybe it could be someone else's favorite meal, but for me, eh.  I'll try to eat the leftovers or find something to do with them but honestly I just wasn't impressed enough to  be excited to eat this again :(  Also, it made a total mess of my crock pot, took quite some effort to clean it up after!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hungry Girl's Dreamy Chicken

Recipe under review: Dreamy Butternut Chicken Foil Pack from Hungry Girl's 300 Under 300
First impression: yum (I love sweeter dishes!)
Verdict: unexpected mush.... but still yum!

So this recipe immediately popped out at me because A) I love easy chicken dishes and B) I'm quite fond of orange veggies.  My first thoughts upon starting were unfortunately "this is much harder than the book makes it seem" :(  It lists prep time as 15 mins, and while I don't think I'm terrible with a knife I'm definitely not great so I expect it to take a little longer on most prep things... no way!  Cutting that butternut squash takes forever!  Then there's still the cauliflower and onion to worry about.  (props to HG for hiding cauliflower so well and making it so tasty!)  

So I finally get done the veggies... the rest is pretty easy!  Just layer the veggies then the chicken on some foil and make a cute packet and put it in the oven.  Everything seemed all well and good, until I took it out.  It looked a bit like mush.  I was so disappointed.  I looked back to find the picture in the book (which can be found at the link above!)  and the shapes of the veggies definitely looked nothing like mine.  I read back through the recipe and discovered the problem, the book says "slice" and "chop" which to me are thin and small pieces respectively, however the picture shows big chunks of veggies!  So I had these small pieces of veggies cooking as long as hunks of chicken, and they mostly just disintegrated into a sauce that greatly outweighed the chicken.  So while it tasted good, mush is not my favorite thing to eat.  

Here's what mine turned out like for comparison (I will try to be better about taking pics along the way for anyone who may also try these things!)

Dreamy Butternut Chicken Foil Pack - Finished Product

So overall, GREAT flavor if you like sweeter savory dishes, but there are definitely some things I would do differently next time.  It also seemed to make more than 2 servings, but I wasn't super hungry when I got home last night so that might have been it.  I think I'm going to put the leftovers over some Dreamfields or whole wheat pasta and use it as a sauce rather than a stand-alone meal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

here we go!

So hi. I'm Maci.  I'm a 21 year old college student, currently doing a summer internship full time.  Over the last year or so my habits have just become atrociously unhealthy and I'm not happy about it.  I've been healthy in the past and I know I can do it again, but it seems so long ago now I've forgotten simple things that I used to live by.  I'm hoping that by making a blog to track reviews of recipes, products, exercises, or anything of the healthy lifestyle sort I can not only keep a record for my future self, but help others along their journeys to health and happiness as well.  I figure, if I'm investing the time to check these things out, I can at least try to save others the trouble.

So thanks for checking me out, here we go I guess!

First up will be some Hungry Girl recipes from her newest cookbook, 300 Under 300 (I just got it a few days ago and it looks totally awesome) and I think some Wii workout games (I'm totally addicted!) so stay tuned!