Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kickoff to Fall - Apple Picking and Apple Crisp Pie

In order for me to fully accept the fact that summer is truly over and fall is unofficially officially here, I must go apple picking.  And yesterday, my sons and I took a ride to Jaswell Farms in Smithfield, RI and we kicked off our fall with 29 pounds of freshly picked apples.

Today's project at hand - Apple Crisp Pie (recipe below)

After printing out several recipes for Apple Crisp and one for Apple Crisp Pie, I set out to make a pie that would be allergy friendly for my sons, lower calories (i.e. sugar) but still taste great.  I started out with the Apple Crisp Pie recipe, adjusted the sugar, substituted soy butter for the butter, then modified another apple crisp recipe for the topping, eliminating the nuts.  I guess it came out OK, my husband, sons and I polished off 3/4 of the pie as soon as it cooled a bit from the oven.  Guess we'll have lunch later.  Give it a try, either as is, or you can use real butter for the margarine.  Also, if desired, add 1/4 cup of walnuts or pecans to the topping.

Apple Crisp Pie (dairy, egg, nut free)

Pillsbury prepared pie crust unbaked.


5 cups of sliced apples (I used Delicious and MacIntosh)
Juice of one Lemon
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Fleishmann's No Salt Margarine, melted (this is dairy free)
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 1/2 teas. apple pie seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  
Coat apples with lemon juice.  Add the sugar and brown sugar, melted butter, flour and seasoning and stir well to combine.  Put in prepared pie shell.


1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup Quaker Instant Oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp Fleishmann's No Salt Margarine, melted 

Mix the flour, oats and brown sugar.  Sprinkle on top of pie filling. Drizzle melted butter over the topping. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes - 60 minutes, until apples are cooked through and topping is brown.  

Add a little vanilla ice cream to warm pie and ENJOY!!

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of this recipe!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wasting Away on the Blackstone Bike Way

I began my weight loss program 10 days ago, on September 4, 2012.  My expanding middle was getting uncomfortable and prompted me into action.  My bike was retrieved from the bowels of the basement, a bike rack was mounted on my car and I embarked on my biggest challenge, to lose 20 pounds.  (And collect $200 from a bet with my doubting husband).  Next thing was to find a suitable spot to bike without killing myself or others as I have not been on a bike in at least 18-20 years.

Rhode Island is home to several bike paths.  I tried the Cranston Bike Path on September 4 and did somewhere between 16 - 18 miles.   Most of the path was quite secluded and I felt very uncomfortable traveling alone during the day.  Years ago there had been women attacked on parts of the East Bay Bike Path, so I decided not to go there.  While mentioning this to a friend, she asked if I had been to the Blackstone Bike Way which is a 17 mile bike path running along the Blackstone River in Cumberland, Lincoln and Woonsocket, RI.

The Blackstone Bike Way is now my place to go.  I've taken some photos with my iPhone camera and just ordered a backpack camera case so I can bring my Nikon along.  I'm sure when the leaves start to change, there will be dozens of beautiful photos to capture.  The bikeway is home to blue herons, turtles, ducks, swans and deer,  and also features a couple of small waterfalls, old mills, railroad tracks and bridges.

The end of the path, mile 17 in Woonsocket

I've been trying to bike at least three times a week, covering 15-20 miles each trip.  In addition, I have dramatically cut the amount of junk food out of my diet and have limited portion sizes.  But even with all these miles, and overall better eating habits, I am a little disappointed that there has been minimal progress so far.

Starting weight - 166 pounds
Hip Measurement 42 inches
Waist Measurement 39 inches

After 10 days my weight is down to 161 pounds
Hip Measurement 40 inches
Waist Measurement 37 inches

I was hoping to see more drastic results.  Admittedly, I am not the most patient person and I am resigned to the fact that as I age, it is not as easy as it used to be to lose weight.  I will just have to keep pedaling away!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Must Never Forget

As another anniversary of 9/11 passes, I can't help remembering where I was that day.  My son had just been born 13 days earlier and that sunny morning, I had been getting him fed, changed and dressed for a pediatrician appointment at 9:30.  My husband burst in the door shortly after 9:00 a.m. and exclaimed, "We're under attack, put on the TV."  Horrified, I watched video of the planes hitting both towers.

It is hard to believe those towers are gone.  I had only been there twice, once 37 years ago on an 8th grade field trip and once two years before 9/11.  In 1999, my then boyfriend took me to Manhattan for the weekend where he proposed.  We had visited the World Trade Center on that trip and had been at the top of one of the towers.

The TV was on in the pediatrician's office, everyone was silent, watching in disbelief as this tragedy fully unfolded.  When we got back home, my mother called and said that my brother had not heard from his college roommate Harry.  Harry's real name was Mike Benfante (they called him Harry for Harry Bellafante in college) and he worked in the North Tower.  Shortly before the tower fell, we learned that Harry had called his father, didn't really have time to talk but was going down the stairs out of the building.  He didn't know exactly what was going on, but knew he needed to get out.  Harry did get out.  We later learned that he and a co-worker, on their way down from the 81st floor, encountered a woman in a wheelchair.  They carried her down 68 floors and made it out just minutes before the North Tower collapsed.  I read his book last year in an afternoon just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and I could not put it down. 

For the first time this past spring, my husband, sons and I visited the 9/11 Memorial.  We had not been to New York City since that trip in 1999.  I didn't recognize the area.  They have done a beautiful job on the memorial and I found it to be a peaceful place, yet the knowledge of why it was there made me sad. We read the names on the memorial and marveled at the Freedom Tower.  

But one thing my husband and I noticed was that in all the silence, every few minutes we would hear the sound of a plane passing by and it really surprised us that they were flying so close to the buildings.  A security guard told us that there were now safeguards in place to make sure the planes didn't get too close, but it was eerie just the same.

We lost many heroes on September 11, 2001.  We also saw selfless acts of bravery along with the coming together of our nation.  Throughout these 11 years post 9/11, we have seen many more heroes, those defending our country and giving their lives in the ultimate sacrifice.  We must never forget these brave people. We must honor the memories of those lost and we must honor the people we love that are here now.  We must never take any day for granted, we never know when our time is up.  Live each day to the fullest and love our families and friends with all our hearts.  Never forget...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Little Storm, A Lot of Surf

Hurricanes and their remnants sometime reach us here in the northeast for the most part avoiding direct hits.  Our surfers here look forward to some extra ocean activity with great anticipation. The surf is up this weekend due to the effects of Hurricane Leslie, expected to go well out to sea, but bringing in some great surf for our water adventurers.

The Point Judith Lighthouse is a flurry of activity.  It is a popular surfing spot, though not for beginners as it is very rocky.  There are benches and plenty of parking with spectators bringing clamcakes and chowder from Iggy's, or their own lunches from home.  On our way back from the lighthouse, we passed Scarborough State Beach where we found a para-sailer and kite-sailers.

I may have to add surfing to my bucket list.  Looks like fun, doesn't it!!  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Laying Down the Gauntlet

While dropping off a meal for my in-laws, I causally mentioned in passing that I had dug out my bicycle from the mounds of stuff I have in my garage.  I told my mother-in-law I really needed to lose about 20 pounds.  And of course my husband, who was lurking around in one of the other rooms piped in 'you'll never lose 20 pounds.  Why don't you just try and lose 5 pounds.  You've been saying you're going to lose 20 pounds for the past 10 years."  

And with that he has laid down the gauntlet.

Truth is, I have been saying I want to lose 20 pounds, (for about 5 years, not 10).  Truth also is that I should lose 35 pounds, but I would be happy with 20.  I am my own worst enemy however.  I have two problems when it comes to losing weight.  The biggest obstacle is that I LOVE food.  Not pastries, cake, candies or soda, but real food, like heavy cream sauces, cheese sauces, pasta and sadly, junk food.  I love burgers, tacos, burritos and even fried chicken sandwiches.  In the summer, I love the fried fish platters at the beach restaurants and hot dogs and burgers on the grill. 

I have a bad habit of not eating enough for breakfast, going out to do errands and then realize it's after lunch and I am starving.  When that happens, I cannot just drive by a Burger King or McDonalds without grabbing a burger.  The funny thing is I actually do like healthy food.  But preparing healthy food can sometimes be more time consuming than just throwing some high cholesterol red meat on the grill (or stopping at the drive-thru).  And as much as I love fresh veggies, I cannot turn down a plate of home-made Mac and Cheese.  

The other obstacle I have to overcome is my motivation, or rather lack of it.  When I have a partner in crime, I get results.  But when it's up to me to continue a routine, alone, I can find a million and one excuses to not exercise on any given day.  Most of my friends work during the day and once I pick up the kids from school, my me time is over. 

I am hopeful that the bike will motivate me even though I will be riding alone.  We have a 14 mile bike path in Rhode Island and part of it is in Bristol, RI, right on the water.  I'm thinking of taking my camera along enabling me to kill two birds with one stone.  I bought a bike helmet yesterday morning and am hoping when the kids go back to school next week, I will be able to begin a biking routine, although I think I should probably get the bike into the shop to replace the tire tubes first as they seem to not be holding air properly.  It has to be at least 15 years since I last rode that bike!  Good thing I bought the helmet!  

So, my goal is 20 pounds and if I meet that goal, I'll shoot for another 15.  Thank you my loving and supportive husband for throwing down the gauntlet.  I hope I can do it!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Oh What A Night!

This Labor Day weekend kicked off with four fabulous friends, a lobster dinner, limousine service to a play and a fantastic performance of Jersey Boys!  

The evening began with an early dinner at Capriccio's, an upscale Italian restaurant in downtown Providence.  Capriccio's has been around for years, featuring a piano bar which was THE place to be on a Friday night.  Dinner at Capriccio's should be on everyone's itinerary if visiting Providence.

We ordered espresso martinis and then shared an appetizer of fried stuffed zucchini flowers accompanied with marinara sauce.

Espresso Martini
A prix fixe menu of three courses was offered for $29.99 and all five of us chose the Fisherman Style Lobster ($3.00 extra) as our main course.  Most of us selected the Arancini di Riso which were rice balls filled with italian sausage, green onions, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a smooth tomato sauce.

The lobster was stuffed with scallops, shrimp, bread crumbs and garlic butter, served with seasonal vegetables. 

Fisherman Style Lobster
There was a choice of three deserts and again, most of us selected the berries panna cotta which was light and refreshing.

Berries Panna Cotta

Capriccio's offers complimentary limosine service after dinner to the show at the Providence Performing Arts Center which is a couple of blocks away and we were very willing to take advantage of this service.  

We promptly arrived at PPAC for the 7:30 performance of Jersey Boys.  Out of the five of us, I was the only one who hadn't seen it.  It was a terrific show and a fabulous evening.   This was the perfect way to wind down the summer and welcome in fall.

Wishing everyone a fun and safe Labor Day weekend!!