Thursday, November 29, 2012

Push Up Inferno -- Wednesday Workout

I might be a day late (Wednesday Workout on Thursday?) and a dollar short, but this set of push ups is no joke.  I have featured push ups on this blog before.  I keep revisiting them because they are such a good way to work the back, abs, arms and shoulders all at the same time.  Before you begin this set you might want to review how to do a single push up with good form and check with your doctor or psychologist.

When you are ready for a challenge do 10 repetitions of each push up 3 times.  Feel The Burn!

Elevated Push Ups
Place your toes on the edge of a chair.  Extend into push up position with your core engaged, shoulders squeezed together and pushed down your back.  Don't let your back sag.  Lower down and come up. 

Squat Push Ups
These beauties work not only your arms, shoulders and core, but add in glute and quad work too.   Begin in a good squat position:  feet shoulder width apart, toes forward, weight in the heels, glute pushed back, chest lifted.

Lower your arms toward the floor.  Allow your body to fall forward.  Resting your weight in your into your toes and your arms.  Maintain the squat as much as possible.

Lower down.  On the up, push with extra force to propel yourself to the starting squat position.


Jack Push Ups
In every work out you need some cardio.  Here is your cardio set.

Begin in a basic push up position.  (I'll repeat it again: bum tucked under, weight in the toes, core engaged, shoulders squeezed together and pushed down your back.)

As you lower down, jump your feet out to shoulder width apart.  As you come up jump the feet back to the starting position.

Crazy Elevated Push Ups
We all need maintain a healthy level of insanity in our lives right?  This set will push you to  your limits.  It is ok to max out here!!!!

Place your feet on a wall and support your body's weight by tucking your bum under, engaging your core, making sure your shoulder blades are squeezed tight and not shrugged up!!!!  (this is essential for this push up.  No INJURIES HERE!! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!)

Be sure your arms are directly beneath the shoulders; have your workout partner check.  Lower down. Pause for a picture then come up.  (you'll want your awesomeness documented!)

Did you survive 3 sets of 10?  I didn't!  Need more crazy push ups?  Check out Spider Climbers

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Bean Soup

Split Pea soup not your favorite?!?  I don't blame you; some of my family (I won't mention names here) find the green color unappetizing.  So  here is a great soup to pair with Spa Soup for a variety of healthy options at the dinner table.

Black Bean Soup
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 assorted bell peppers (green, red, yellow) chopped
1 Tablespoon oil
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup brown long grain rice
4 oz plain greek yogurt
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped

Rinse and drain the black beans.  In a large saucepan, saute the black beans with the onion, garlic and peppers until the onion is tender.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, and sugar.  Mix well.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Stir in the uncooked rice.  Simmer, uncovered for another 30 minutes.

Spoon soup into bowls.  Top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of green onions and some tomato.


Random tips/variations:
When I'm in a rush, I reduce the simmer time to 20 minutes and just stir in some day  old rice.
When I want to indulge, I sprinkle a little cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips on the top as wellWhen I feel the need for heat, I add a couple shakes of Tobasco.

Spa Soup

I sure did enjoy my Thanksgiving!  And boy, I am ready for some caloric/sugar/PIE detox.  This recipe comes from Savor the Moment-- Entertaining without Reservations.  All the greens make this soup healthy, full of vitamins and a great way to fill up with out busting another button on the jeans... just saying... not from experience right?

Savor the Moment: Entertaining Without Reservations
Buy it Here!
Spa Soup
10 cups water
1 1/2 cup dried split peas
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped white portion of leeks
2 cups packed fresh spiniach
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and add the split peas, thyme and bay leaf.  Reduce heat and simmer, loosely covered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the peas are tender.

Add the carrots, onion, leeks, spiniach, green peas, salt and pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender.  Discard the bay leaf.

Reserve 2 cups of the soup.  Pour the remainder of the soup into a blender and process until smooth.  Combine with the reserved soup in a saucepan and reheat.  Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Perfect Turkey Recipes

I have a confession to make.  You might find it strange, but..... I don't like turkey.  Really, I don't.  Turkey is not my favorite meat.  Do I cook turkey?  Every year on Thanksgiving.  And I make the best turkey around.   Just ask the neighbors.  They can smell it smoking.

I can't claim the recipes on my own.  But they rock the world.

This first type of Turkey I cook is based on a recipe my husband learned while he lived in Indiana.  He spent one Thanksgiving with a chef who stuffed his turkey with citrus fruits for extra moisture and flavor.  Danny Boome (food network) shared a similar recipe that takes the citrus to the next level by making a lemon & chive butter to coat the turkey with.  OH YUM!
Check out the  Citrus Turkey Recipe.

I love the smell of smoking meat.  I use Alton Brown's Honey Brined Hikory Smoked Turkey recipe also found on the food network site.  This recipe calls for leaving the turkey in a salt, honey & spice brine overnight, then smoking the bird on the BBQ.  My favorite part of this recipe is the cooking of the bird outside, leaving the oven free for baking rolls, stuffing, pies or any other yummy foods. Check out Alton's recipe:  Honey Brined Smoked Turkey Recipe

Here's hoping your bird is perfect this Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grandma Drew's Pecan Pie

This pecan recipe comes straight from Louisiana.  I am asked what makes this recipe dark, rich and oh so addicting  -- a handful of chocolate chips (semi sweet).  Unexpected, I know, but oh so good!

Grandma Drew's Pecan Pie
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 prepared pie crust

Dump the chocolate chips and the pecans in the bottom of the pie crust.

Combine the corn syrups, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla.  Pour over the pecans and chocolate chips in the crust.

Bake at 325 for 55 minutes.  The center should spring back when touched lightly.  Food scientists say the internal temperature should be 200 degrees-- I know I always test the temperature of my pecan pie????

Happy Pie Eating!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mom's Pumpkin Pie

What is the secret to perfect pumpkin pie. Use only one can of evaporated milk. Really it works every time!  No "pumpkin soup" or "pumpkin crunch" thank you!

Mom's Pumpkin Pie
1 can (29 oz) pure pumkin
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 can evaporated milk
2 - 9 inch pie shells

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix together all ingredients and pour into the unbaked pastry shells.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Pie

I have loved this pie for as long as I can remember.  It was the first pie recipe I had memorized.   Over the years Chocolate Mousse has faced modification, but has always come out on top as the most requested pie at Thanksgiving.

Here's to a Layered Dark Chocolate Indulgence!

Chocolate Mousse Pie
1 oreo pie crust
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 oz cream cheese
12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a glass bowl combine the chocolate chips and cream cheese.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave for 30 more seconds stirring as needed until the chocolate chips and cream cheese are fully melted and smooth.

Spoon 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the oreo crust.  Spread the chocolate around the sides evenly to make the first chocolate layer.

Stir 1/2 of the frozen whipped topping into the remianing chocoalte mixture.  Fold carefully to fully incorporate the whipped topping.  Spoon half of this mixture into the pie crust and smooth out. (layer number two!)

Stir the remaining whipped topping into the remaining chocoalte mixture. Spoon and smooth over the top of the pie to make the final layer.

Garnish with shaved chocolate.  Refregerate until serving.

Memorable Modifications:
For peanut butter addicts, try melting some peanut butter (1/3 cup works well) in with the chocolate chips and cream cheese.

Need it a little more festive?  Add a couple drops of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate for a dark chocolate mint truffle pie.  Garnish with crushed candy canes.

Amish Apple

My husband lived in Amish country and LOVED their cooking.  Especially Amish Apple pie.  Amish Apple is a single crust apple pie with a strussel topping and a light custard to hold the apples together.  Amish Apple always gets rave reviews.  Just be sure to slice the apples extra thin!

Amish Apple Pie

Strussel Topping

1/3 cup Sugar

1/4 cup Brown sugar

10 tbsp Flour

1 tsp Cinnamon

¼ cup Butter, cold

½ cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 dash Salt



4 lg Apples, (4 cups) either Jonathon or Gala

½ tsp Cinnamon

3 tbsp Flour

1 cup Heavy cream ( whipping)

1 unbaked 10" pie shell

1 cup Sugar

1 lg Egg

1 tsp Vanilla

In a food processor bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients for streusel together. Add the butter, and process 

until mixture is crumbly; it should still have a dry look, don't overprocess. Add nuts, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples (should be about 4 cups). Place apples in pie shell.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Beat the egg in a medium bowl, and add the cream 

and vanilla. Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture, and blend. Pour over the apples

Bake for 1 hour total in the lower third of oven. After 20 minutes, sprinkle streusel over top. and 

continue baking about 40 minutes longer, or until the top puffs, and is golden brown.

The Best Part of Thanksgiving

Now I almost feel guilty.  I just wrote that title and was thinking specifically of yummy pies.  Shouldn't the best part of Thanksgiving be being thankful, or spending time with family or [fill in the blank].  For me the very best part is YUMMY Pies!

I grew up learning to roll pie crusts and baking pies the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  The traditional ones Apple, Cherry, Pumpkin, Pecan and the less traditional ones, Chocolate Mousse, Tolehouse.  And now being married I have added my husband's favorite cream/silk pies.  "Pie making day" is no longer just a one day event!

When asked which pie is my favorite, I respond, "Would you ask which child is my favorite?"  Each pie shares a special place in my heart!

I thought I would share with you my very best signature pies.  These are not healthy recipes!  I will not delude you on that score.  Enjoy and Indulge.  Then get back to the gym on Friday!

Pie Crust
3 cups all purpose flour
6 oz by weight LARD (about 2/3 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 Tablespoon vinegar
3 1/2 Tablespoons water
Combine salt and flour.  Cut in the lard to make pea sized pieces.  Set Aside.  Combine egg,  vinegar and water.  Gently mix the wet in with the flour mixture.  Allow to rest 5 minutes before rolling out.  Makes about 3, 9 inch crusts.

Tolehouse Pie This chocolate chip cookie pies is super easy and yummy to make!
1 prepared pie crust
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mix together the melted butter, sugars, flour, egg and vanilla.  Put chocolate chips and nuts in the bottom of the pie crust.  Pour the butter mixture over the chips.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Erica Proof Stuffing

I am a food addict.  I am a picky eater.  Can those two sentances mix.  They do for me.  Yes, I love food, but it has to be really good food with no yucky things in it.  (Refer to the childhood list of food avoidances and you'll find the things I don't eat.)

Stuffing is one of those things I have issues with.  Pregnancy + Stomach Flu + Stovetop Stuffing = I can't go near the stuff (bad pun, I know)!  Except for this recipe.

Erica Proof Stuffing, is chock full of good eats: sausage, nuts, apples and more.  YUM! It is similar to my Mom's stuffing, but with less sage.   I prep it the week before Thanksgiving and freeze until Turkey Day.  A quick thaw, add a little broth and I can throw it in the oven and forget about it.

Erica Proof Stuffing
1 lb good bread, toasted, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery (about 4-6 ribs)
1 apple, cored & chopped (I prefer fugi & gala)
1 cup chopped walnuts (pecans are a good choice too!)
1 lb hot Italian Sausage, browned (save the grease)
1/4 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Toast the bread by placing the bread on cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 for about 5-10 minutes or until the bread is just golden and nice and crunchy.  Break out your bread knife and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

In a large skillet brown the sausage.  When the sausage is just brown, add in the chopped onion, celery & apple.  Cook over medium heat until the onion is just softened.  Remove from heat.

In a very large bowl, toss together the toasted bread, sausage mixture and the spices.  If you are preparing ahead of Thanksgiving, let it come to room temperature, chill in the fridge then freeze.

On Turkey Day,  pour 1 1/2 cups of good chicken broth over the stuffing.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, removing foil for the last 20 minutes of the bake.  The top should be crisp and the inside soft and moist.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another Reason to Eat Your Veggies

Recently my asthma has been flaring.  The Doctors are not sure if it is something in the air, extra stress, viral infections or what-- and after 2+ rounds of steroids I feel crazy, frustrated and just plain yucky.  I am willing to do almost anything, eliminate anything from my life, just to get this under control.  So I started searching the web for asthma diets.  I came across a fascinating article at focusing on preventing childhood asthma.

The article claimed that recent research points away from alergens and dust mites as the main culprets of asthma and more toward food related issues.
"Our research suggests that it's a combination of dietary factors, rather than a single nutrient or food, that protects children from asthma or puts them at increased risk," says Anthony Seaton, M.D., a professor of environmental medicine at Aberdeen University Medical School in Scotland."
Check out this study of children in Saudi Arabia:

"Several years ago, Dr. Seaton traveled with his colleagues to Saudi Arabia to compare asthma and allergy rates of city-dwelling kids -- who tend to eat a produce-poor American-style diet -- and rural children of similar heritage who continue to follow the traditional Arab diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables.

"The upshot: Even after controlling for pollution and other major risk factors, asthma was three times more prevalent in city kids. "You can't blame diet for the entire increase, but it appeared to account for a substantial part of it," says Dr. Seaton, who is now studying how eating habits during pregnancy affect a child's chance of developing asthma.

"In fact, city or rural kids who consumed the least vegetables and milk were two to three times more likely to develop asthma or allergies than kids who ate the most."
Photo By A.W. Sheffield

I'm going to go munch on some carrots!

Source Cited 
"The Anti-Asthma Diet," Colleen Peirre, RN, Parents,, pp 1-7