What is the Wandering Sister Rating?

1 Wandering Sister = Enter at your own risk, you've been warned.
2 Wandering Sisters = How hungry are you? This place has it's down side.
3 Wandering Sisters = Pretty good place to go, but not for everyone.
4 Wandering Sisters =  Good food. Good service. You won't go wrong.
5 Wandering Sisters = Considering there's only 4 of us... This rating will speak for itself!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Kashi All Natural Sicilian Veggi Pizza

While browsing the grocery store, I asked my two small children, "What do you want for dinner?" Being related to their father, of course, their reaction was, "Pizza!" So, I decided to get a few little mini frozen pizza's for them. Now, knowing that if I don't have something similar to what everyone else is eating, I will have to "control taste" every ones pizza... I decided to get myself a pizza.
I ran across this interesting option from Kashi and decided to give
it a try. It is the Sicilian Veggie. When I looked at the box, I saw the Eggplant, Curly Kale, Fire Roasted Red Peppers and Caramelized Onions on Kashi's 7 whole grain & Sesame with Fax Seed crust, which I have always loved. When I read further, I read that the sauce was a Balsamic-Infused White Bean Tomato Sauce. Right then and there they had me. Everyone who knows me, knows I love anything that incorporates balsamic!
This No Cheese pizza appealed to me in so many ways. I love that Kashi makes such healthy meals and so far, I haven't had anything from them that disappointed me, so as different as this sounded, I decided to give it a try.
It's a 10 inch thin crust pizza with 220 calories in each 1/3. Realistically, if you pair it with a salad or some vegetables, 1/3-1/2 of the pizza is very reasonable. Kashi is very good at combining the right ingredients that will make you feel very full and satisfied.
There's 11 grams of Protein
5 grams of Fiber
340 mg ALA (an Omega 3)
For those Vegans out there, this pizza is ideal

As far as taste goes...mmmmmmm! That Balsamic-Infused White Bean Tomato Sauce should be sold separately, I can think of a million things that sauce could be enjoyed with. The vegis on this pizza are not lacking in quality either! There is no frozen taste or tough textures with these toppings. This Pizza is a winner in my book. Perfect for an afternoon lunch with the girls.

Other Kashi pizza's include:

In the Original Crust:
Roasted Garlic Chicken
Five Cheese Tomato
Sicilian Veggie

In the Thin Crust:
Mushroom Trio & Spinach
Roasted Vegetable
Mexicali Black Bean

I have tried almost all of these varieties and I would highly recommend everyone pick up one of them next time you're at the store.

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

We all know, the price of life in general keeps going up and for many, the income is going down. There are certain things that quickly take their bottom position on the list of priorities. Often times we find ourselves cutting back on our beloved cup of coffee at the Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. (Depending on who's neck of the woods your in.)  Well, don't fret, I am going to share with you the secret to making one fabulous cafe style cup of coffee, for less calories than those guys.

For a wonderful warm cappacino, try this.
First, you'll need the following ingredients for a most scrumptious cappuccino.
1. A good coffee. (Personally, I find that you can get an excellent flavored coffee at Ross, TJMaxx or Marshalls for around $5 a bag. My personal favorites are the Ghirardelli brand.)
2. A full calorie creamer. (Don't worry, this is only for frothing ability, we won't use much.) My favorite is the coconut creamed creamers, these add an excellent flavor.
3. A sugar free creamer. I usually use French Vanilla or Hazelnut, because these are usually the most common options in the sugar free variety. (The sugar free is about 15 calories as apposed to the fat free, which is about 25 calories)

4. A handheld frother. This is normally about $20, although, you can find them at Ross, TJMaxx or Marshalls for around $5-$10.
5. Dash of Cinnamon or Nutmeg (optional)

Now that you're ready. First thing you'll want to do is make your coffee. I make mine in a press because the flavor is very fresh, but any coffee maker will do just fine. 
While you're coffee is "perking", add about 1 1/2-2 tbsp of the full calorie creamer into your mug. (The full fat creamers allow your cream to froth.) Then add about 2 tbsp of the sugar free creamer. (These measurements are assuming you are using a normal sized coffee mug, so depending on the size of your mug, you may need to adjust the measurements to taste.) Use your frother to make your creamer the consistency of about whipped cream, by lifting the frother up and down, you create the airing effect which will make it a perfect froth for your coffee (careful not to lift it all the way out of the liquid, it will splatter on you). Once you are satisfied with your cream, add the coffee and sprinkle the top with Cinnamon and nutmeg for a little extra flavor.

If you want to cool down, try this Iced Mocha Latte.

You'll need the following.
1. Coffee (this time, it is preferred to have a yummy chocolate flavored coffee)
2. Sugar free chocolate syrup.
3. Powdered Cocoa.
4. Some sugar free Creamer (French Vanilla would be perfect)
5. Whipped cream from the can. Optional

You'll want to prepare your coffee ahead of time so that it has time to cool in the refrigerator first.
You'll start with about 2-3 tablespoons of French Vanilla sugar free creamer. Add about 1-1 1/2 Tsp cocoa powder and use your frother to mix. You're not trying to froth, just mix the powder well.  
Next, add the ice. Then pour the coffee to an inch below the top of the cup. Top it off with some whipped cream and drizzle with the chocolate syrup.
By using cocoa powder, instead of the chocolate flavored syrup that you can buy in the coffee section at your store, you're actually adding a little nutritional benefit to your coffee, and the vanilla creamer sweetens it.  

So, there you go, cafe style coffee treats for about half the calories or less. To make these even more cafe style, you can purchase the hot coffee cups, or clear plastic cups (for iced coffee) at any grocery store. 
Invite a few girl friends over for some iced mochas on the patio, you'll never miss going to the Starbucks again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rick's is the Place to be

In the little town of Franklin, there's not an over abundance of restaurants available within the city limits. Being a family that likes to eat out a lot, this can be a problem. Amazingly enough, the lack of variety is more of a problem with the member of the family that only sees there being two legitimate options for dinner. Pizza or Cheeseburgers
Occasionally, you need a good home cooked meal though. Fortunately, we know just where to go for that. I know... and yes, I love to cook, but I live with a man that thinks quality comes out of a blue box.  

We decided a while back that the best compromise for us is a little quaint diner in the center of town, named Rick's. The atmosphere is great, with pictures of fresh fruit on every wall, updated fixtures and a great faux finish on the walls. You can tell that this restaurant is clean and well maintained. We also adore the owner. He's always there, noon or night, and he's always friendly and personable. 
They have a packed 10 page menu that offers everything. Whether it's chicken pot pie, meatloaf and potatoes or a plate of Alfredo, you know you're going to get a delicious home cooked meal. They also offer crisp, fresh salads with delicious dressings, such as my favorite, the chardonnay
vinaigrette. For those with a limited view of what a home made dinner is,  there is also a whole page of the menu dedicated to some 
very tasty burgers. Since everything is made fresh, they can accommodate almost any special request.

As Rick noticed today, my favorite item on the menu is definitely the grilled Portobello Panini. The french baguette has a great density and really supports the juicy portobello and roasted red pepper inside. The grilled red onions are so flavorful without being overwhelming, and the
 balsamic glaze adds just enough sweet flavor to top it off. The flavors perfectly compliment each other and what you get is a fresh, healthy and very satisfying meal. I personally love to add honey mustard to my sandwich, however, Rick introduced me to their special Chipotle sauce today, which I loved. I would never have thought to add the Chipotle sauce, but it was excellent! 
Normally you get fries with your sandwich, but as you know I'm trying to loose a pound or two, so I stuck with my tasty side salad as a substitute.

We love our little home town diner and we're going to miss Rick when we leave. I highly recommend you pay him a visit and tell him that his Arizona customers say Hi.

28 W Central St
FranklinMA 02038
(508) 520-2424

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brain in Recovery

OK. I know it's been a couple days. I've heard complaints about me slacking off. It's good to be missed, that's for sure. 
I did do a lot of thinking over the last few days. That sounds too profound... I tried to process thoughts over the last few days. The truth is, I've been sick, which has caused a severe decrease in brain function. I have been able to ward off all ailments for the past 7 months, which being the winter, that's pretty good. However, in my extensive thought processing I have discovered the cause of the common cold, (or at least for me). I believe it's more than coincidence that every time I promise to eat right and exercise, within days, I'm sick.  It's that damn elliptical! If you have one, throw it out at once, it causes fevers!
Now that I am coming out of my sniffly, sneezy, hacky/weezy state... it's time to get back on the right track. This time, that damn elliptical will not get me down for good.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Best Chili EVER

The good news is, I have perfected my chili. The bad news is, I may have to never make it again. At this point, I may have to swear off all food... period (which may not be all that bad of an idea).  I don't believe I've been this full since our night at The Gloucester House.... uh, the thought.

I had Todd take my picture... 

Pull the Trigger

Do you know what your trigger food is? I didn't even know what that meant. The trigger food is what kills your diet. If you want to keep to it and actually loose the weight, you have to identify your trigger food and cut it out. As the experts say, it's easier to avoid these foods than it is to eat them in moderation. (Boy, ain't that the truth!)
Here's the catch... How do you identify what your 'trigger food' is? According to eDiets, if you can eat the entire jumbo sized carton, box or bag of anything, it qualifies as a trigger food.  OH FRIGGIN GREAT!!! Now I am going to be limited to eating... .  .  .    . Well, I'll think of something.
 To take the "trigger foods" out of my diet would otherwise be known as "Anorexia". I think I'll take a different method.
I have about 6 weeks until we close on the house and we get on the road. This means, I have 6 weeks to loose this, um, pound (give or take 7).  So, I'm going to tweek the trigger method, just a little.  I need foods that I CAN eat a lot of...  So, here's my list...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A day of pampering for St. Patty's

Well, after having an unbearable combination of colors streaking through my hair, and an interesting 'shag' do, I went to a friend for some hair modifications. She's a local hair stylist that works from her home down the street, which is very convenient for me. I love the casual and friendly environment that this brings, and she speaks my language with the price. I highly recommend this salon... and the assistant, a very small brunette, is pretty adorable as well.
It did not occur to me when scheduling this appointment that there may be some issues with having a Irish hair colorist do my hair on St. Patricks day. However, despite her best efforts, she was unable to achieve the green hue she was looking for. Instead, we reached a beautifully toned ash blond with subtle highlights. I guess, I will have to resort to some form of colored beverage this night to show my Irish patriotism. I've been told I have Irish in me... and well, as you know, if there is a holiday which requires you to have an alcoholic beverage to show your respect, despite the color requirements of this beverage, I will not fight it! It's just how I roll.


My weakness

If I had to say that I had one weakness... yes, I know, a claim to have only one is a laugh all together... I would say it would be french fries. Just as I am heating my 260 calorie lean cuisine and thinking about how impressive it is that I will only be eating 260 calories for lunch... In walks the small child with a bag of Burger King fries. Being the sweet, generous and very busy small person that he is, he pawns this bag off on me so that he can move on to better things. Of course I decided to have a fry, because I am weak, very weak. They were cold, almost stale tasting, no doubt an hour or two old. I thought, 'geez, those are bad'. And I continued to think that with every fry I ate. It occurred to me, that clearly I will never meet a fry that I do not like. Clearly, they favor me as well, because they do tend to linger on my thighs. 
I had just decided to heavily salt my stale, left over fries when my meal dinged in the microwave. SAVED BY THE BELL! Even burnt around the edges and cold in the middle, surely this meat loaf and potatoes "cuisine" was going to be much more satisfying than some old stale Burger King french fries.
To be on the safe side... I will need to find something else to munch on. You know... the meat loaf and potatoes... not as delicious as you would think. Go figure.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A second succesful meal down

Shari would be so proud.

To top it off, I'm even going to go get ON the elliptical... soon.  
Why is it that my husband can eat pizza and burgers for every meal and then do one day of yard work and drop 10 lbs? There is something so wrong about that. I don't care how much yard work I do, there is no way that would ever happen to me. Now, before certain family members start snickering over the image of me actually doing yard work in the first place. Let me just say that where I am now... yard work would not have been an issue. But that is another reason why leaving here makes me sad. 


Well, we finally put the house on the market. There was a lot of mixed emotions on the whole idea of selling. Mostly on my part, but I think Todd has finally realized what we're giving up here as well. Selling has been a little bitter sweet. It's obviously time to move on to our next chapter in life, but this one has been so great, I'm just not sure I'm ready to give it up. We spent the last few days preparing for a highly anticipated open house. I assumed that after having a house fire and complete remodel from a couple from Arizona, the open house would be mainly curious neighbors. However, after an excruciating 2 hours of wondering, "Will it sell, will it not sell?" We FINALLY sold the house.  Whew! 
After a few teary eyed moments, I am very thankful for the whole 'rip the bandage off' effect, I don't think I could have gone through with it otherwise.  
It's now time to focus on the next chapter. Hopefully they continue to top the last. It's been a good year here in Franklin.

As sad as it may be, we are very thankful that we had such a great realtor. We couldn't have done it without her. I hope she continues to do well in the future. 
Thank you Nikki!

Re/Max agent, Nicole Wisniewski - www.nicolewhomes.com

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lunch at Panera

Well... one successful meal behind me.  It certainly helps when I sleep until almost lunch time... make note of that.
We decided to go to Panera Bread in attempts to 'eat lite'. I did pretty well. I think the fact that my stomach was in jitter mode because of the open house going on at home helped me control my appetite. Unfortunately, this was only a temporary appetite suppressant, considering we won't be doing that much in the near future.  More on that later. 
I enjoyed a cup of the Black Bean soup and a half Orchard Harvest salad. Mmmmmm  

First of all, their black bean soup is fabulous. The red pepper and onion give it a great flavor without being overwhelming. The black beans are mild and have a great texture.  If it were me, I would add jalapeno. Here's a link if you're interested in making a version of it at home. 

Best of all, there's about 319 calories in a serving (in this version), only 14 of those from fat. (Panera claims that there is only 250 calories in there version.)

I also had the Orchard Harvest half salad. 210 calories of deliciousness.  Romaine lettuce, dried cherries, pears, pecans and Gorgonzola with a cherry balsamic vinaigrette. OK, I'm a little hungry now thinking about it. If you have a Panera near you, you really should try it. 

Good Job Panera... you saved me from a dreaded day of 'eating right'.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A daily dose of "Serena Logic"

In Milford, MA, there is a little convenience store called Oliva's down on Main St. They make the greatest sandwiches. Unfortunately for me, they are not the lowest calorie sandwiches I would assume. This is why I only eat half of it. Mind you, half is still probably more than a foot long Spicy Italian from Subway, but in my eyes, half is a pretty good accomplishment! No fear, after eating half of my delightful Italian sandwich on french bread, I did not have a bag of chips, or a candy bar. Oh no... I decided I should play it smart. So, I had a weight watchers cookie.  I figure, it balances out all those other calories. ;)

This may not be the same kind of 'logic' that you are used to. This is "Serena Logic". 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Fuzzy Culprit

I was all prepared to tell you about my fabulous dinner tonight at Casa de Serena. I made some very yummy tacos. I made a taco salad for myself, in attempts to avoid any unnecessary calorie intake. Unfortunately, I have very little self restraint and I gave in and had one taco. Now my elliptical is snarling at me from across the room. Of course my back, stomach and husband would greatly disapprove a workout at this time. This leads me to my real story for the evening. The reason the husband would not approve of a work out right now is because we are trying to finish the last details on the house before the open house on Sunday. Just as I was finishing the kitchen clean up and thought my back was finally going to get a break, my husband informed me that I needed to paint the basement stairs before we could stop for the night (Oh goody!). It has to be done before he can lay the runner tomorrow. 
Not only was I to paint the stairs, but I have to do several coats. I believe I've made my thoughts on painting very clear to most people... but in case you were not involved in those conversations.... I hate painting. Just as I finished the first coat, limping up the stairs with my back in spasms over being hunched over from an entire day of painting... I reached the top of the
 stairs only to come face to face with the Fuzzy
 Culprit himself.  Mr. Trouble Maker. We stared at each other for a moment. I explained that he would need to resist the temptation to run down the basement stairs, despite the obvious urge gleaming in his eyes. He pretended to loose interest and started to walk off, giving me just enough time to reach the top of the stairs and start to shut the door. That's when that fat, fuzzy, pain in the ass ran down the stairs, right on the WET paint! Avoiding the MIDDLE of the stairs, which were left untouched since that's where the runner will go. Now, the left side of the stairs have Bugsy's "Personal touch". 

He let me know his feelings on the whole paw scrubbing incident. Here it shows in his face.

He was later seen prowling around, no doubt, looking for more wet paint to personalize.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Negotiations are Over

Where O where to begin?
I currently live in Franklin, Mass, which I love. As a native of Phoenix, a rare breed I hear, its been good to get out of the heat and see some history on this side of the country.
Since we moved here a little over a year ago, I have been dying to go see all there is to see out here. Unfortunatley, a lifetime would still not be enough time to do that. 
We spent a year looking for a house and then remodeling a house. Now that we're finally done and ready to settle down, my husband is bored and wants to move back to Arizona. 
After a lot of 'discussions' on the subject, the negotiations were complete. I have agreed to move back to the desert, but not without conditions. I WILL see some serious sites! I'm not budging from my cozy little home until I've seen everything... or until the new owners insist I leave. 

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