Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Line Dance a-la Gaga

All things Lady Gaga are a bit odd, and the recent Gaga inspired dance workshop at Ninth Street Dance lived up to that reputation. Not sure what to expect but excited about the adventure, GWG and friends met up on a Saturday afternoon to exercise, try something new, and check out this local dance studio. What we found was met with mixed opinions…

The class instructor introduced herself and briefed us on a resume that sounded encouraging, but didn’t mean much to us as beginners. Prepared with index cards for reference, she began to teach the dance steps piece by piece—a routine we believe she choreographed herself. The first several steps came fairly easily but after a short while there was a bit of confusion as she moved to different sides of the room, and at one point it seemed that she was relying on some of the seasoned dancers to remember the moves.

The dance class turned out to be two hours dedicated to one line dance to the song Poker Face by Lady Gaga. Expecting more of a “jump in and go” type class, the GWG and many others seemed frustrated by the combination of varying skill levels and unorganized teaching style. While the 64 count dance was a challenge to memorize, the slow pace of the first hour did not get our heart rates up and would barely count as exercise. The second hour was spent “perfecting” the dance and working up to full speed—several standout dancers were noticeably sweating and out of breath, but for the rest of us it never got very high intensity.
We saw several people leaving throughout the class and given the $20 price tag, we were also a little disappointed in the end result. One of us decided to sit out and observe halfway through—partly to take pictures but mostly out of frustration. The other of us liked the concept but not the execution. Being big fans of most everything Durham we hate to give a bad review, but in this case we have to say this dance class did not convert us into Little Monsters or have us signing up for the next workshop.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Big Game Menu Recap

Planning and executing a menu during the Super Bowl is time consuming. Although the recipes were simple to do, serving them hot required lots of time in the kitchen—thank goodness for open floor plans and big screen TVs.
Party-goers were polled following the game and no recipe was a clear favorite but everyone agreed overall that the menu was tasty and filling, but it didn’t leave anyone feeling as though they’d over eaten. Mission accomplished, now for some notes.
The sweet ‘n’ spicy snack mix wasn’t terribly popular the night of the game (guests opted for chips and salsa), but the leftovers were a nice snack at work.

The blooming onion had great flavor but lacked the crunchy coating that makes the fried ones so mouth-watering good. The onion was voted as a favorite by one guest and this recipe will make more appearances in the future.
The healthy cheese dip was the most disappointing recipe of the night. This is no surprise though, how do you top good, fatty, cheese dip. Mixed with the salsa, the cheese dip added a nice creaminess but alone it was bland.
Easy to make, the potluck sloppy joes were a crowd pleaser. Making enough to feed the guys, this recipe was easy, used typical household items, and had a surprisingly sweet flavor. Great for kids and big groups.

Finally, the baked bananas were a warm, gooey, delicious way to end the evening. Eaten fresh from the oven in the fourth quarter, this recipe is recommend to anyone looking for a guilt-free dessert.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Enjoy Big Game without Big Gain

The big game is two days away and the GWG have planned a healthy menu to compliment what’s sure to be a great game. So, no matter which team you’re pulling full, try out one, or all, of these recipes and let us know what you thought. Check back next week and see our thoughts on these dishes.

Another healthy tip, do these exercises while watching the commercials to burn calories.

Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Snack Mix

4 cups miniature pretzels
2-1/3 cups reduced-fat cheese-flavored baked snack crackers
2 cups Wheat Chex
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon barbecue seasoning
3 cups Corn Pops


In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, crackers and cereal. In a small bowl, combine the butter, soy sauce, chili powder and barbecue seasoning; pour over cereal mixture and toss to coat.

Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 250° for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Stir in Corn Pops. Store in airtight containers. Yield: 10 cups.

Blooming Onion

2 large sweet onions
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup fat-free sour cream
¼ cup fat-free mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dill weed


With a sharp knife, slice ½ inch off the top of the onions; peel onions. Cut each into 16 wedges to within ½ inch of root end.

Place each onion on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 12 inch square). Fold foil around onions and seal tightly. Place in an ungreased 11-inch x 7-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine butter and mustard. Open foil; fold foil around onions. Brush butter mixture over onions; sprinkle with bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

Bake 18-22 minutes longer or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients. Serve with onions. Yield: 8 servings.

Homemade Fries

For simple fries: Cut 2 large potatoes into strips and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.

For a spicy mayo dip, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon curry powder.

Healthy Cheese Dip

4 oz. 8th Continent Light Vanilla Soy milk
3 oz. fat free block cheddar cheese
2 oz. Velveeta Light
2 Tbsp. fat free cream cheese
Melt in saucepan with milk.


1/2 cup light soymilk
3 ounces fat-free block cheddar cheese
1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese
Melt in saucepan with milk.

Potluck sloppy joes

3 pounds lean ground turkey
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1-3/4 cups ketchup
1 can (8 ounces) no-salt-added tomato sauce
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
12 whole wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted


In a large nonstick skillet, cook the turkey, celery, onions and pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the ketchup, tomato sauce, flour, sugar, vinegar and mustard. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Spoon 2/3 cup turkey mixture onto each bun. Yield: 12 servings.

Baked Bananas

1 medium ripe banana, cut in half lengthwise
2 tsp honey or agave

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut bananas in half. Arrange banana in an oven safe dish or on tinfoil. Sprinkle with cinnamon and honey. Cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how soft you like them.