Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trader Joe Stir Fry and Give-Away #4 Winner(s)

We went to Red Lobster for the first time last night. I was SO shocked because I thought it'd be like a Bojangles serving seafood. A Captain D's twin, but not everything breaded. (Growing up less than 1 mile from the ocean will give you that skewed perception on seafood chain restaurants.)

Johnny's brother-in-law is from Boston, so in the same boat as me = "seafood snob." Johnny's sister said they tried it and he was pleasantly surprised, so I decided to give it a try, too. Plus, we had a coupon and it's got to be better than the frost covered bags of seafood at the grocery store, right?

Sweet holy mother of pearl the biscuits. Why has nobody told me about these before?!? How are these not common knowledge, fawned over publicly? By far, hands down, the absolute best biscuit I've ever eaten. If we weren't in a tackily decorated restaurant chain, I might have done a dance after the first bite!

My meal was absolutely HUGE! I got the Garlic Cream Shrimp and Scallops. A skewer of scallops, TWO skewers of shrimp, a light garlic sauce sparingly drizzled overtop, a massive serving of asparagus, and red potatoes. I also ordered a side of crab legs, so I got to bring home a BIG doggie bag - skewer of shrimp, half the asparagus and potatoes, and a big chunk of crabmeat from the claw.

Johnny had the NY strip with french fries, and both meals came with a salad at the beginning. He couldn't finish all of his steak, so we brought half home.

LEFTOVERS! I'd toyed around with making a stir-fry last night, but we'd ended up going out, but it's a perfect way to use up my extra shrimp and J's half of a steak for tonight's dinner!

White rice - check!
Trader Joe's bag of stir fry veggies - check!
Protein sources for both diners - check check!

Dinner is served!

Now, for the important news! The person who guessed the closest number of gummy bears, without going over was .... Dad! haha :) He sent me an e-mail with his guess, and was off by only THREE! I was super impressed.

Equally impressive was Laura's guess of 40 -- off by only 5 bears! (There were 45 total bears in the glass).

For the 2nd winner, I did a random number thingy and the result was:

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

Your spaghetti and meatballs look amazing!

I am going to guess 35

Congratulations Laura and Jennifer! Email me at christina at dinneratchristinas dot com with (1) your mailing address and (2) if you would like your banana bread with walnuts, or nut free!!!

Leah is the next BSI host!! She's settling on an ingredient and coming up with a prize, so check her blog over the weekend for the announcement!!!

Head over to Just Sweet Enough for a chance at Sweetie Pie's Prize Pack before Friday at midnight!

I also have a couple product review/recommendations I've meant to post, but keep forgetting!

I used my Kashi free frozen entree coupon and decided on Chicken Florentine. For a frozen meal, it was SURPRISINGLY good. I'd give it a 4.5/5. The only issues I had with it were 1) mushrooms - but that's a personal thing and I just picked them out and 2) the spinach having been frozen and then microwaved leaked a lot of its excess water into the dish. Near the end it started being kind of soupy and green, which was unappetizing. Other than that, the portion size was huge and there were real, quality ingredients in there, not chopped up bits of unrecognizable pieces. I don't eat frozen meals daily, but they are a great option for work, so it was nice to find a brand that I like and can trust. More than once I've heated up a meal from some random company and it was inedible, either from taste or quality - that's frustrating! After seeing Kashi's quality and ingredients, I'm positive that would never happen with their brand!

On a whim, I bought this little container of Hill Country Peach Champagne Sorbetto from Talenti. They make gelatos and sorbettos that are gluten free, vegan, dairy free, HFCS free, fat free, green Earth, and all natural. WOW! is all I have to say. The short list of ingredients were all things I recognized and the flavor was out of this world. A fresh pop of natural peach that wasn't too sweet with a warm aftertaste of the champagne tingle. So smooth and refreshing! The only beef I have is the hefty $4.50 price tag for a pint-sized container, but I savored it slowly for a week, having just a little indulgence each night.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Couscous Stuffed Acorn Squash

I had such luck the last time I stuffed acorn squash, that I decided to give it another go!

This time, instead of baking the squash in the oven, I microwaved it. There was no difference, except shaving about 45 minutes off the cooking time (and saving lots of electricity) so a convert to microwaving I now am! (And apparently channeling Yoda.)

I also cooked the chicken with different vegetables this time (green peppers), and instead of whole grain rice, used couscous.


1 acorn squash
1 box of Near East couscous, flavor of your choice (some have whey, others don't)
2 thin sliced chicken breasts, chunked
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

First, I cut the acorn squash in half and put both halves in the microwave with plastic wrap over the top. I microwaved on high for 8 minutes and they came out juicy and tender. I left them in there until ready to assemble the plates, so they wouldn't get cold.

Next, I prepared the couscous (toasted pine nut flavor) according to package instructions. I also toasted a couple of tablespoons of extra pine nuts in a dry pan for garnish over the top. The pine nuts in the couscous package cook with everything in the pot, so they tend to be more on the mushy side, versus crunchy and nutty.

Last, I chopped up the chicken breasts and green pepper and cooked them in the pine nuts' dry pan, after adding a squirt of Pam. I seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper, but just let them sizzle on medium-high until they had a nice caramel color for most of their flavor.

Once everything was done, I put the half of squash on a plate and filled its cavity with couscous. Over the top, I spooned the chicken and pepper mixture, and garnished with the toasted pine nuts. About half-way through eating, both Johnny and I decided we'd like a little more couscous, so I refilled our squash "bowls" with another spoonful.
I really like the edible bowl that the squash makes. It's nice to grab a little bit of its sweetness in each bite. It also fulfills some child-like "play with your food" urge like the enjoyment of eating your taco salad shell, or tearing pieces of the bread bowl to dunk in your soup.

Nicole at Just Sweet Enough is having her 100th post give-away here! Go check it out, she hand picked tons of great treats that she loves to give-away for the rest of us to try out!

My give-away ends Thursday if you haven't entered already!

Laura at Hey What's for Dinner Mom? tagged me to do this:

8 Things I’m Looking Forward To:
1) Summer!
2) riding my bike on the trail
3) walking my dog around the block
4) windows open
5) not wearing a coat to go outside
6) barefeet
7) a tan
8) receiving a regular paycheck again

8 Things I Did Yesterday:
1) ate breakfast
2) went to J's parents'
3) ate lunch
4) went to Home Depot
5) went to Menards
6) explored J's parents' barn and pigeon coupe
7) ate dinner
8) watched Amazing Race

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:
1) Pay off all bills
2) Be motivated to workout
3) wear a bikini-HA! (good one!)
4) Travel to dream destinations
5) Grow a massive veggie garden
6) Finish decorating my new office
7) Go on Amazing Race
8) Go on a cruise

8 Shows I Watch:
1) The Office
2) Castle
3) Dollhouse
4) The Amazing Race
5) All cooking competition shows
6) Project Runway
7) The Hills (guilty pleasure)
8) miss watching Gilmore Girls, Firefly, and Drive! (stupid networks always cancel the good ones)

8 People I Tag:
1) Biggest Diabetic Loser
2) Lucky Taste Buds
3) No Whey Mama
4) One Frugal Foodie
5) Part of the Whole
6) Say Yes to Salad
7) Slim Shoppin'
8) So Much More Than a Mom

Friday, April 24, 2009

BSI: Almond (Grilled Asian Steak)

Karen over at To be the Whole Package chose almonds for this week's BSI!

I knew immediately I'd use almond butter, since we always have it on hand. Rather than force an idea, I just let one come to me!

Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Chicagoland. We hit our projected high of 80°, and while it was a bit windy the sun was shining bright and there wasn't a cloud in the sky! Our grass and the trees are finally starting to turn green. Perfect grilling weather!

The grocery store was having a meat sale this week, so I picked up some black angus "Delmonico" steaks. Wikipedia and my Food Lover's Companion tell me that it's another butcher name for NY strip. Looks good to me, and had great marbling! I was sold!

I also picked up some great string beans at the grocery store, so decided to be inspired to make tonight's dinner Asian themed. Out came the hoisin sauce, almond butter, and reduced sodium soy sauce.

I combined about 2 Tbsp of each into a zip bag, closed the top, and mushed it around a bit to mix the ingredients and loosen up the almond butter. Then I put each steak in, taking time to toss them around and make sure both sides were equally covered with the mixture. I squeezed out the air, sealed the bag, and put it in the fridge to marinate for a few hours.

Before I moved in with Johnny, I bought myself this little Hibachi grill (still in the box!) at a yard sale for $2! We do have a big Weber, but I like this little guy for the smaller jobs, and the grates are really easy to bring inside and clean in the kitchen sink.

I took the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before I started grilling so it could come up to room temperature. Alton Brown is always emphasizing cold meat + hot cooking surface = bad.

Accompanying the grilled steak this evening was another visit with oven roasted cauliflower, because I've been craving it.

After the cauliflower's first 15 minutes of cooking, I put the steaks on the grill. I let them cook about 6 or 7 minutes per side because this little grill doesn't get too terribly hot, and doesn't have a lid to hold all the heat in. The sugars from the hoisin sauce were smelling so delicious as they crystallized and gave the steak a nice color.

When there was about 4 minutes left of the cauliflower's second 15 minutes of cooking, I pulled the steak from the grill and let them sit and rest while I got to work on the string beans.

Mimicking the marinade for the steak, I put about 1 tsp of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and almond butter in a skillet with the beans and tossed them over medium heat for about 3 minutes. It kept them bright and crunchy, but the sauces carmalized and really clung to them, adding a great sweetness that tied the side dish to the grilled meat flavors.

This was a very filling dinner! I only ate half of my steak and green beans, saving the rest and more cauliflower for a second helping as leftovers!

Don't forget to enter my give-away before next Thursday!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spaghetti & Meatballs plus a Give-away

Dinner tonight was good ole spaghetti and meatballs. Growing up, we had this about once a week, and I'm not one for repeat meals, so I rebelled and don't cook it often myself.

Although, often is an understatement. I probably haven't cooked spaghetti and meatballs in a good year. Meatballs were hard for me to adapt because a lot of breadcrumbs contain whey, and up until recently, I was unable to find a Parmesan cheese that agreed with Johnny.

I was really in the mood for a bowl of comforting pasta, done right. So here are my two recipes for home-made meatballs and home-made sauce. They're a collaboration of what I gathered watching my mom, my dad, and my Grammy make meatballs and sauce. Also, a little bit of changes I have to make for Johnny's allergies.

Ingredients to make fifteen 1 1/2" meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef (I used 95/5)
1 egg
1 clove of garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese, grated
a couple slices of bread, diced fine
salt & pepper
various Italian spices, to taste
extra breadcrumbs, as necessary

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl and work with hands until well combined. My mom likes using bread because it holds the juices of the meat in while it's cooking, and when you put the meatballs in the sauce, the bread soaks up the flavors of the sauce as well. I ended up putting only about 2 Tbsp of additional breadcrumbs because my mixture was a little wet when working into balls. Form into 1 1/2" meatballs and bake for 15 minutes and they'll come out nice and juicy!

Ingredients for sauce:

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1/4 cup olive oil
pat of butter
salt & pepper
various Italian spices, to taste
crushed tomatoes
tomato puree
tomato paste

To start the sauce, pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a big pot with a pat of butter. This seems like a lot, but it really adds to the overall flavor of the sauce in the end.

Next, throw in the finely chopped onion. I cut into about 1/4" pieces and let it hang out a long time, maybe 5 minutes on medium heat. The onions get really translucent and sweet, but because they are so small, they cook down to almost nothing in the final product. I love the flavor they add to the sauce, and they also infuse the oil with a bunch of great flavor. Add the minced garlic, and lower the heat a bit so it doesn't burn. I let this infuse for about a minute before I add the tomatoes.

I add the two big cans first, in no particular order. I buy the unseasoned cans, because I prefer to add my own seasonings. I also buy pureed and crushed because I do not like chunky sauce. If the crushed are still too chunky for me, I will mash them down with a potato masher in the can before I dump them in the pot. Once these heat up a bit, I put the paste in and stir until it's incorporated.

Finally, I add a big dash of salt and pepper, along with generous sprinklings of onion and garlic powder. I let these sit for maybe 5-10 minutes, while the sauce cooks on low and then try it. Usually it needs more salt, but I like to get those flavors right before I bombard the sauce with the stronger flavors of basil, parsley, and oregano.

At this point, my meatballs were done, so I threw them into the sauce and let that sit on low while my spaghetti was boiling. Everything stayed warm without the threat of burning the sauce, and the meatballs were able to absorb the sauce.

Johnny said they were the best meatballs he's ever eaten! We both ate way too much, but it was great to just chow down on an Italian comfort food. We grated more fresh Parmesan cheese over the top, and I served with a salad of mixed greens, carrots, green pepper, string beans, edamame, and sunflower seeds.

And, finally! Time for Dinner at Christina's monthly give-away on the 23rd!

Up for grabs is a fresh baked loaf of my banana bread with your choice of walnuts, or nut free.

All you have to do is take a guess as to how many delicious gummy bears are in this glass. The closest guess without going over will win! Please, U.S. residents only because shipping is so crazy! Contest will end next Thursday, April 30th. Spread the word because I have a LOT of bananas in my freezer, and there might be a second lucky winner, randomly chosen!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

My cousin gave me this Black Bean soup mix for Christmas along with some other Fair Trade items. I used the rest up already, but this mix has been in the pantry for awhile and today just seemed like the day to cook it! I love black beans, so I think I was secretly "saving" it, but I have a bad habit of keeping treasured items until they're dried up, expired, or otherwise unusuable. Which totally negates the point of saving something to use for a special occasion, if you can't ever use it!

I separated the beans, pulling out the shriveled ones and any skin remnants. Then, I dumped them in the slow cooker with:

1 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
~3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 carrots, chopped
included spice pack containing oregano, basil, and cumin
extra spices (garlic and onion powders, pepper, and 2 bay leaves)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1/2 cup of tomato sauce/paste
8 cups water
1 package of Johnsonville brats, frozen

I gave it a stir, and put the cooker on low for two hours, but it wasn't really progressing, so then cooked it on high for 6 hours. The picture isn't very appetizing, but I can assure you that it was a really great bowl of hot food to warm the chilly, rainy, windy Chicago weather we're still having!

I also want to spread the news that this week's BSI is almonds! Karen at To be the Whole Package is hosting, so click on over to submit! I think I might use almond butter. Mmm

On the way home today I stopped by a little bakery Johnny and I just noticed two weeks ago. It's only about a mile from our house and next door to the Chinese take-out we always use, so it's funny we never saw it before. I wanted to check things out, and it was really cheap and all home-made with unique items, custom cakes, and all the regulars. I'll definitely be going back, and might even ask for an application!

These day-old bagels were only .25¢ each, I think!

These were called St. Joseph's cakes. Almost like a crueller with bavarian cream inside and a little strawberry and powdered sugar on top. It reminded me of a true ricotta cannoli - more mild, not something you'd describe as "sweet." Very nice, and exactly how I like my desserts because I'm the girl that scrapes off all the icing before eating the cake! They were $1.50 each and maybe about 4" across.

In total, my bill was only $3.60, including tax, for these two desserts and two bagels!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Marmalade Muffins

The Pioneer Woman has just been inspiring me left and right this week! A few days ago, she posted these "Good Morning" muffins, and I thought to myself that it'd be a good treat to make the night before our trip to have for the car ride there and for snacks in the hotel room. I also didn't want to leave you guys too long without a post, so this is my first "scheduled" one - let's hope I did it right!

I thought I had everything on hand, but it turns out I had apricot preserves, not orange, and only 1.5 cups of it, not 2. So, I substituted the last 1/2 cup of fruit for fresh strawberries, diced up and it turned out great.

The batter is dairy free, using shortening as the fat and orange juice, the fruit, and eggs as wet ingredients. It smelled really delicious in batter form and while it was baking, plus this is a HUGE batch. It made 18 big muffins, so in the future I'd cut it in half. The fruit kept them really, really moist and the crumble on top is the perfect touch!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Savory Bread Pudding

We're going to be heading to my Grammy's memorial service in New York this weekend, so meals become a "use up what's left" mission.

Tonight I had a head of broccoli and a plate of leftover Easter ham on my immediate list. Perusing Pioneer Woman's (PW) website, I typed in a search for ham and a few unrelated recipes came up - things that she'd mentioned HAMburger, or what a sHAMe... that sort of unrelated. But, one ended up being really, really promising anyways. A savory bread pudding, using sandwich bread, a meat, veggies, and eggs, milk, and cheese. The submitter had promised you could just replace whichever meat and veggies you needed to get rid of, so it ended up working perfectly in my case!

I started with 6 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread. Which worked out because Johnny usually uses it to make his work lunches, but won't need as much this week, so here was another way to make use of it. Just rough chop it and put it in the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Or, you could even save the heels in the freezer and use them up in this recipe from time to time.

Next, I washed and cut up the head of broccoli and 1/4 of a yellow onion. You could use any vegetables you have on hand here. The recipe PW featured had tomatoes and greens which looked really colorful in the pictures.

Now it's the meat's turn. In my case, it was a plateful of leftover Easter ham Johnny's generous mom sent us home with (along with many other plates of leftovers, fresh fruit, and fresh eggs). I cubed the ham up and it went over the vegetable layer. The PW's featured bacon at this point, but again - whatever meat you have on hand and need to use up.

Finally, mix 8 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk (or half and half as PW used) and spices of your choice together. Stir in a big handful of grated cheese (I used cheddar because we had a bag pre-grated), and pour over everything already in the dish.

Bake in a 350° oven for 30-45 minutes, until the top is starting to get bubbly and browned and the center is cooked through. Cut into squares and serve. I have a feeling the leftovers will be really good for breakfast, too! Yet another versatile meal that you can swap ingredients out for!

Served along fresh sliced strawberries. The casserole made 4 hefty sized servings.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bunny Cake

Happy Easter!!!

Here's a cute, fun treat that I received in one of my many recipe e-mail newsletters. I knew instantly I'd be making it to share with Johnny's family as our Easter dinner contribution.

Just bake a boxed carrot cake mix in 8 or 9 inch pans according to package instructions. Once cooled, cut the cake as shown to assemble the little bunny. The original instructions said to reserve the second cake for another use, but I thought it'd look cuter to make two bunny buddies!

Frost with a cream cheese, or other white frosting flavor of your choice. If you wanted the "fur" to be more authentic, you could sprinkle shredded coconut over the cake at this point, but I left it off. Make construction paper bunny ears and decorate the face with jelly beans!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fried Okra

My parents were born and bred in the North. I was born in the North, but bred in the South. Southerners overlook the fact that I've lived in the South approximately 2/3rds of my life and I will forever be "a Yankee." I have no problem with that, though.

A few things have stuck. Sweet tea is a huge one. We almost always have a big jug of homemade sweet tea in the fridge. McDonald's sweet tea is also my favorite beverage and I have no qualms with going through the drive-thru to order just that.

Another favorite is fried okra.

I've had a craving, but have been unable to find any, anywhere! I finally tracked down ONE brand that offers a bag of cut okra out of the entire frozen food aisle.

Last night I defrosted about 1 cup of the cut pieces. Next, I let it take a little milk bath, and then coated it with corn meal.

I panfried in a little bit of vegetable oil for about a minute each side and drained on a paper towel. While they were still hot, I sprinkled a little salt over the top.

It hit the spot perfectly and could not have been more delicious! Johnny tried some for the first time and fell in love, too!

Alisa at One Frugal Foodie is having a $25 in Natural Food Groceries give-away here!

I'm ecstatic that this place just opened up a 5 minute drive from our house! I can't wait to shop around and see what great things they have on their shelves!

Don't forget to submit your BSI Coconut entries to Marianne by Sunday night!

Friday, April 10, 2009

BSI: Coconut (Pina Colada Scones)

A couple of days ago, Biz of Biggest Diabetic Loser posted a delicious scone recipe. I've tried a few times before to like scones, but they always seem like dense hockey pucks to me. I thought her recipe looked promising, so I kept it in the back of my mind to try in the future.

Enter the BSI: coconut. I got all excited and bought and cleaned a fresh coconut. However - every recipe, idea, or past eats I thought of, or looked around used SHREDDED coconut. I'm not a fan of the dried, extra sweetened stuff, plus - I didn't buy that kind!

Johnny and I have been munching away at the coconut meat for two days now, so I thought I should make something before it's all gone!!! We also had fresh pineapple on hand, so naturally = pina colada!

My changes to the recipe are:

8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, frozen and divided (I used 50/50 Smart Balance)
~1 cup filling
1/2 cup buttermilk (see below)
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Biz's secret is to freeze and shred the butter, so I definitely took her word for it! 7 Tbsp will go into the batter, the remaining Tbsp will be melted to go over the scones before you bake. Mix all of the ingredients, minus the filling and reserved butter to form a batter. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can easily make some by mixing a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar with 1/2 cup of milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Once the batter is made, put it in the freezer to keep it cold!

Next, I cut up about 1/2 cup each of pineapple and coconut into 1/4 inch pieces. Take the cold dough out of the freezer and roll it into a big square, about 12" x 12" and sprinkle the filling evenly over the top. Roll the square into a long log and cut into 4 even rectangles. Next, cut diagonally across each rectangle to get 8 triangle shaped scones. Place on a greased baking pan and bake in a 375° oven for 20-23 minutes. (Or, much longer if you're like me and accidentally turned the oven off mid-way! Oops.)

I'm going to toot my own horn because these were SO GOOD. A perfect melody of pina colada goodness, in a rich buttery scone. They are really flaky and light, just as Biz promised! Not the usual dry scone I have to literally choke down. Johnny had some friends over and one said he doesn't like pineapple or coconut, but tried one and liked it!

I was nervous that the fresh coconut would get really dried out in the oven, and that the pineapple would make the dough gooey and possibly affect the baking powder or soda with its acid, but thankfully neither of those turned out to be true!

Thanks again, Biz! If I win BSI this week the credit definitely goes to you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gnocchi with Broccoli and Chicken

When we grocery shop, I always bring a list and appropriate coupons. The list is pre-made at home, looking through the fridge and all the cabinets, to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. Once we hit the store, we don't deviate from the list. This is how unhealthy stuff gets put in the cart, and also how the bill rises to astronomical amounts at the register.

Every once in awhile, I'll allow myself to take a walk on the wild side and ignore the list for an investigative stroll down the healthy and organic food aisles. That's how I discovered these babies and knew I had to try them! Whole wheat gnocchi with sweet potato! You can't really see in the picture, but they were flecked with bright orange from the sweet potato. Very simple to cook, you just bring a pot of water to a boil, drop the gnocchi in and when they float (it only takes a few minutes) you fish them out!

I steamed about a head and a half of fresh broccoli in a separate pot. Once that was done, I set it aside and used the same pot to saute 2 thin sliced chicken breasts, cut in bite sized pieces, in a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Once the three components were done, I used a big skillet to melt about 2 Tbsp of Smart Balance and let the gnocchi sizzle in the butter for a little bit on each side - to get some color and a nutty crunch. At the end, I spooned the chicken and broccoli into the same skillet and tossed everything together to incorporate.

After plating, I used a vegetable peeler to add some slivers of Parmesan cheese on top.

The result was a hearty dinner where you could definitely taste the whole wheat, but the sweet potato was lost. The broccoli was a nice, bright crunch and color. And the chicken was flavorful, but in a mild way. I especially loved the little bits of gnocchi that had a lot of color and where the strong bite of the Parmesan had melted down into the ingredients. Delicious!

And, rather than dividing the entire skillet into two huge portions, I divided it into three medium sized ones - 1 each for our dinners, and 1 for lunch leftovers. This worked out well, because it stretches the meal even further and also makes me aware that I would have eaten all of those extra calories and I didn't even need them! I'm perfectly satisfied with the portion I ate!