Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Creamy Pea Pasta

Creamy Pea Pasta has become one of my go to recipes. Quick lunches, easy dinners, and easy to change up. I know I make this atleast once a week, most of the time just so I can have three or four lunches prepacked and ready to grab. Steve? Yea, he's not so keen on it though he does't complain if I add some meat to his portion.

The beauty of this recipe is that its a basic cheese pasta. You can add onions and garlic and spinach and bake it in the oven for extra pizzazz or just leave it as it is for a macaroni and cheese style dish. My favorite way is with the Peas ofcourse. I love that burst of sweet green flavor and it gets that serving of veggies in!

*Pic of basic pasta without peas*

Creamy Pea Pasta

1/2 box of spaghetti noodles (or one small package)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 stick of butter
2 cups green peas (frozen but thawed)
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesian
1/8 cup gruyere grated
1/2 cup cheddar grated
and I love throwing in one or two small cubes (about 3 tbs) of Velveeta for the cream factor.
2 1/4 cups milk

Boil noodles in heavily salted water till tender.

Melt butter in sauce pan. (add onions and garlic if doing so here and cook for a minute or two). Add flour and whisk until smooth. Pour in milk slowly and stir until smooth. When milk mixture is thick enough to coat spoon, turn off heat and add cheeses. Stir until well blended. Toss in peas (and spinach or whatever else you are using at this point) into cheese mixture. Toss mixture with noodles. Serve warm.

Simple, quick and delicious! Dress it up by throwing it in gratin dishes and sprinkly with bread crumbs and baking with a side of garlic bread and fresh salad or keep it simple for weekly lunches. YUM!
*Picture with Peas and Thawed Chopped Spinach*

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I've been seeing Sweet Potato Biscuits running around on Food Network and blogs since Thanksgiving. With a plethora of sweet potatoes in season, I thought this would be the perfect time to try some new recipes. Sweet Potato Biscuits to serve the zesty chicken burgers on. Sweet and bright flavors combined. It was worth a shot!

The one thing I wish I had done was roll the dough out on a floured board and cut biscuits out instead of scooping them out with a measuring cup. The ended up spreading out too much and looking lumpy but they stayed together perfectly and were a bright orange color.

Sweet Potato BiscuitsIngredients:
1 cup self rising flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp crisco
3/4 cup mashed sweet potato
1/4 cup whole milk

Peel 2-3 sweet potatoes and cut into chuncks. Put in boiling salted water for about 30 minutes until tender. Place chuncks in food processor and blend until smooth. Measure out 3/4 cups.

Stir together all ingredients until dough is well blended and smooth.

Either roll onto floured board and cut out with biscuit cutter or glass. OR scoop with a 1/2 cup onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

*Note: I'm not sure where I got this recipe from. It is not referenced like most of mine. Since I didn't change the ingredients hardly at all and just changed the process some, please let me know if this is your recipe and I'll be happy to give credit!*

Chicken Burgers

Browsing through foodie blogs I came across Cilantro Chicken Burgers on Beantown Baker. Since I'm cutting out the majority of red meat, I thought this might be a great replacement for my lucious burgers. I'm not a big fan of cilantro and I wanted to make something quick and easy as my red meat burgers are so I immediately spun the recipe.

Citrus Chicken Burgers

1 lb ground chicken
2 tbs minced garlic
1 small yellow onion
zest and juice from one small lemon
dash of soy sauce
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup panko

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 6 muffin tin with cooking spray.

In food processor, chop onion. Add garlic, lemon zest and juice, soy sauce. Blend well. Add in ground chicken, salt and pepper, oatmeal, and panko.

Divide mixture into muffin tins and bake for about 40 minutes until crispy and golden on the top.

I served on Sweet Potato Biscuits for a bright fresh flavor.

Tornado Update

For those of you who heard about the recent tornado touch downs in High Point, NC (it made national news), I would like to give a personal update. The path of the tornado was about 1/2 mile from my house. If you had stood on my front porch you could have watched it the whole time. How scary is that?

A lovely Category (F) 3 that left a path of destruction over 200 yards wide for a couple miles. Trees, homes, powerlines, day car, vehicles etc. destroyed. So far I have not heard of anyone missing or dead and that is a wonderful thing. Homes that i drive by are leveled or split in half. It's very sad and when I drive by and see the utter devastation, it makes my heart drop to my feet to realize how close it came.

I am blessed with caring friends and family and as I sat huddled in my closet with my three dogs and cat curled around me (because like their mother they are big fat wusses too), my friend Beth and sister T were texting me where the storms were and how bad.

We lost our power at approx. 7pm Sunday evening when the first cell came through. Last night as I was trying to get the decrepid old generator going to try and save my freezer foods and scoop water out of my pool to flush my toilets (I'm on a well=no power, no water), our power came back on. I actually did a dance in my driveway and shouted "I have powerrrrrrrrr" (think He-man cartoon). I'm a dork, I know.

Our roof is missing more shingles, my privacy fence around the pool bit the dust, and my garden flooded. We'll turn the first two in on HO insurance and pray they come through for us as the roof has taken a lot of hits. We'll see how the garden does in the next two weeks. Hopefully my small seedlings will come back out and my seeds won't rot.

All in all, I'm very fortunate and I think its always a good reminder to take a moment and count your blessings and not just when Mr. Tornado passes you by. So today, take a moment to appreciate the good things in your life and tell those around you how much they mean to you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Monday

Unfortunately I have not planned out my menu very well this week for many reasons.

a) this is a short week as I'm off on Good Friday and will be shopping and baking for the Easter weekend, so I'm only thinking of food till Thursday night as the weekend is seperate in my mind this week.

b) we had tornadoes come through last night and we lost power. I did not get a chance to fix dinner and as we are still without power I may lose a good bit of my fridge and freezer foods. They told us this morning they have no idea when we will regain power.

So here's a tentative plan:

If my fridge items are okay:
Make the chicken burgers with coleslaw and sweet potato biscuits we didn't get to make last night.

If my freezer items are okay:
Make the Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie we didn't get to this weekend.

A large pot of spaghetti which will go for a few days.

I'll do a seperate post for Easter Weekend.

What's on your Menu this week?

McFatty Monday-Tornado Edition

So what does McFatty Monday and Tornadoes have to do with each other? Well thanks to the latter one, we lost power last night before dinner so I didn't eat which helped with the first one. LOL

In all seriousness though, scary stuff last night. I'm exhausted, still have no power, I feel dirty and gritty from not being able to shower. Everyone is safe though so that's good. A lot of destruction but as long as no serious injuries, its all good.

Speaking of good: My weight. Remember last week when I was up three pounds which was discouraging? Well two days later I weighed again and I was up four more pounds. (Up seven total) WTF. Then AF reared her ugly head and I said, "oh, that explains a lot."

This weekend, I busted my butt in the garden (which got washed away in the flooding of last night..arrgghh), and ate nothing but spinach and pea pasta with water. (Okay, I had a bowl of chocolate icecream yesterday afternoon).

As I stumbled into work this morning all bleary eyed from sleeping on my closet floor with three dogs and a cat on top of me for part of the night, I jumped on the scale to see if I was atleast back to my low point of two weeks ago. YES! Not only had I dropped that pesky water weight but I lost THREE MORE POUNDS!

WOOT! I'm down a total of THIRTY-EIGHT pounds! (yes, I'm screaming it). Maybe I can reach my goal after all. I need to be down 9 more pounds before April 8th. That's almost two weeks. That would be the best birthday present EVER!

So on this dreary, rainy day there is a bright spot of sun! YAY.

and as for Ms. Blair's questions:
What is your favorite work-out gear? What are your must-haves? (personally, I’m a big fan of shorts/shirts with zippered pockets for keys) Your favorite sneakers?

My favorite work out gear is a sports bra, spaghetti strap tank, and yoga pants or terri capri's. I want soft thin fabrics when I work out. My favorite sneakers are Addidas running shoes. Like you I need new workout gear. My pants are so big now they look like clown pants and bag out everywhere. My shoes are shot and my sports bra finally bit the dust. I am refusing to buy any clothes workout or regular until I reach that goal though. That's my treat for myself and all my hardwork.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spinach Lasagna

I’ve been in the mood for spinach lasagna and have seen several recipes surfing around Food Network and blogs of late. None of them were quite exactly what I was looking for. I did not want the sauce to mimic my chicken lasagna with its tangy cream cheese. I chose to go with a simplified cheese sauce made from a standard roux but mix it with a traditional lasagna stuffing. What was produced was EXCELLENT! A great base to any veggie lasagna and I can’t wait to make this again. It went too fast. So fast, I didn’t even get a chance to snap a picture before we dug in. This is one recipe that will definately be added to the rotation.

Spinach Lasagna
¾ of a container of Ricotta (about 11-12 ounces)
¾ cup of cottage cheese
1 egg
1 large bag of frozen chopped spinach (two-three of the boxes)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
12 lasagna noodles (boiled till al dente in salted water)
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup flour
3 ¼ cups milk
1 ball of fresh mozzarella (3-4 ounces)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 ounces of fresh parmesan flaked

In large mixing bowl, mix ricotta, cottage, egg, spinach and salt and pepper.

Melt butter in sauce pan and add onions for about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add flour and stir until smooth and thick. (about 1 minute). Add milk and stir. Cook until sauce just coats the spoon. Add fresh mozzarella (lightly chopped into cubes) and parmesan. Stir until thick and mozzarella is just melting.

Add cheese sauce to spinach mixture and fold in until well mixed. Use a 9 x 13 pan and layer spinach sauce, then noodles, and repeat (about three times). Top with remaining sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes until lasagna is bubbly and cheese crust is golden brown.

Good News maybe?

My crazy long 20 day LP's (okay, so we know one atleast was a CP), seem to be over. I don't know if I buy the ovulation on this past cycle as it occured during a period I was sick so the temperatures are probably not very reliable.

However, I clearly had a 12 LP if the ovulation were correct which is on par with the previous clomid cycles. That would be good news right?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It's amazing that even when you stop trying and KNOW you missed any window of opportunity and your chart shows there's no hope in hell, that when AF shows her ugly face, you still get depressed and question your decisions. Decisions made with a level head and based on good intentions and logical thinking.

Your heart still screams at you...every damn time.

Shopping Cart Judge

I'm not talking about some new fangled adult version of a Grocery sponsored Soap Box Derby. I'm talking about standing in line and judging people by what's in their carts. I do it. I know people have judged me too. You can see it in their faces.

I've been embarrassed by my purchases before. Ramen noodles, cookies, Lance Crackers, and three cases of Mountain Dew and a carton of Marlboro. You can not get much worse than that (or more redneck). I felt like I needed a big sign that said "This is for my husband who has the metabolism of a Roadrunner on ACME espresso and the taste buds of a 10 year old boy."

My poor husband suffers without a lot of his processed goodies because I'm too embarrassed to buy them. People don't see "woman married to an iron stomach." They see "fat woman who eats and feeds her family like shit." And I don't. So I refuse to buy that kind of stuff. Oh I'll sprinkle one or two items in a cart full of healthy foods, but lets get real, I never have a CART FULL. I shop for my fresh produce, herbs, specialty cheeses and some of my meats at the Farmer's market. I get basic items like spaghetti noodles, canned tomatoes, and condiments at Aldi's. I shop in a regular grocery store for very few things: Hubbies sodas, hot chocolate, frozen veggies, Pet Brand Milk products (fewer hormones but cheaper than organic) and cleaning supplies, so its hard to hide the bad for you things in there.

Here's why I'm concious of being judged on my shopping cart: BECAUSE I DO IT! I stand in line and look at what people are purchasing and I judge them for it. A mom with three screaming kids and cart full of processed box crap, luncheables and Little Debbies and soda. I judge you and side-eye you. I don't think "AW, she's on a budget and buying cheap stuff." No. I think "if you didn't feed your kids that shit, they would be misbehaved and spazzing out all the time." (Horrible I know, and I'll probably have the screaming kid in the grocery store and it won't be because of food. Karma's a bitch).

Single dude with Ramen and Hungryman. I feel sorry for you and want to feed you.

Lady with the well behaved child and a cart full of fruits, veggies and raw meat and bottled water: I commend you and smile.

I just can't stop myself from looking at the shopping cart and what's in it and then judging the imperfections of the adult and/or their children because of it. I think I have watched way too much BBC America with that show "You are what you Eat." Once you become concious of what you put into your body and what that food does to you, you look at the world differently...and everyone's shopping carts.

If you think I'm joking, next time you are standing in line, watch what people are buying and see if you can keep yourself from judging them. I bet you can't, but will you admit it? Never judge a book by its cover and all that crap. My name is Krista, and I'm a shopping cart judge.

Healthy Soft Tacos

I'm not kidding. For Soft Taco's I don't think you can get much healthier than this. Quick, easy and easy to portion out for several meals and lunches.

Healthy Soft Tacos

3 yellow straight neck squash
1 pound ground Turkey
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 can Ortega Green Chili's (drained)
Garlic powder
Flour tortillas

Chop Yellow squash into 1/2-1 inche cubes. Lightly oil baking sheet. Place squash on sheet and lightly oil over cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until tender and edges starting to turn brown.

While squash roasts, sprinkle oil in saute pan and saute onion for about 2 minutes. Add turkey and season with garlic powder (dash)and cook until browned. Rinse blackbeans and add to turkey mixture. Add tomatoes and green chilies. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread mixture on warm tortilla's followed by a few pieces of the roasted squash. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream. TASTY!

For a Gluten-Free version use Corn Tortilla's!

Peanut Butter Fido Treats

My dogs were getting a little irritated with me over the past few days as I ran out of treats. My Hubby says I spoil them by giving them treats everytime I put them up in the mornings, but I disagree. I think when I'm locking them up all day while we work (and ofcourse he's already gone, so I'm the bad guy) they deserve a moment of happiness before the solitary jailtime sets in. I personally believe in leaving well behaved dogs out in the house, but unfortunately the two munchkins are destructive little brats so only my big girl gets to stay out. (She still gets a treat). As the insolent stares greet me each morning the past few days I realize I may have created treat monsters. So I took pity on them (and my guilt) and baked up some more homemade dog treats last night.

Peanut Butter Fido Treats

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk

In KA Mixer, blend peanut butter and milk until smooth with paddle attachment. Add baking powder. With Mixer running, slowly add flour until well blended. Will be kind of dry. Roll out onto lightly floured board. Roll out with pin until about 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes. I used fire hydrants and dog bone cutters. SO CUTE! Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

This made two pans of small treats. I filled up the entire cookie jar (yes, I have a special doggie cookie jar, laugh if you must) with some dough left over (which I tossed as it wasn't enough to save).

This is probably simpler than driving to Petsmart and buying treats. Really, its that easy. They smell great, the dogs love them, and well my heart sings when I look at those cute cookies. I'm a sucker like that though.

*Ofcourse I have pictures...on my camera. SIGH*

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Embarrassing Food Explorations

Have you ever had one of those extremely embarrassing moments that in hindsight really wasn't that bad?

I had one of those yesterday. I was tired, I didn't want to go to the grocery store but I did it anyway. I hopped over to Aldi's directly after work with the plan to grab what I could and pop into the ever-hated and dreaded Walmart afterwards. ( I despise Walmart but sometimes its a necessary evil to stay within budget for a few items if they aren't on sale elsewhere).

Aldi's was PACKED. I finally got everything I needed. Stood in line for 15 minutes, unloaded my cart, get to the cash register only to realize, I can't find my debit card. I'm tearing everything out of my purse, which at this point looks like a medicine bag with my emergency inhaler, EPI pen, allergy meds, liquid benedryl, IBProfen etc. I seriously hate meds and only carry these out of necessity but only take the allergy pills on a daily basis. Swearsies.

I look at the cashier desperately with pleading in my eyes and whisper, "do you take checks?" She glares at me and says "Cash or debit ONLY." very loudly. I glance behind me at the long line of crossed arms and scowling stares. Shove everything back into my purse, and squeak out "I'm so sorry, I must have left my debit card in my jeans."

I flee with my head down as people are shaking their heads. I wanted to scream: " I can afford my frozen peas, olive oil and mozzerella people. Haven't you EVER forgotten your debit card before?!" But I didn't. I slunk home. Almost in tears, I called my husband and asked him to search his car for the debit card since I took his vehicle to get gas for the tiller which is the last place I remember having the card.

It wasn't there. So disheartened and embarrassed I changed into pajamas and started cleaning my house. I could NOT remember what pair of pants I had worn to church (which is what I had on when I went to get the gas). I finally remembered and checked the pocket. SUCCESS! It was like a ray of sunlight shining into my closet and a choir of angels broke into song! My dignity was saved. I could buy groceries!

Despite knowing it was more embarrassing then it should have been in reality, I still couldn't muster the energy to change clothes and go back to the stores. So I threw together dinner from the freezer and continued cleaning.

Am I overly dramatic and silly? Probably. You can't tell me that it hasn't happened to you though. What was your most embarrassing food shopping experience? Do people judge what's in your cart and comment? Did you break a jar of pickled peaches in the aisle? Do share.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Monday!

So my plan of attack last week was slightly derailed though I did do most of it. This week my menu is a little more extensive. Do I think I'll make it all, probably not. However, it is there and ambitious and gives me a lot of choice for the week. It's good to be adaptable but its always good to have a plan so through the week you don't have to stress about what to fix or what ingredients you have on hand. Although necessity is the mother of invention, I prefer to be a little more organized than that on a daily basis!


Brussels and Chicken/Rice Casserole

Blackbean and Squash Burritoes

Chicken Burgers on Sweet Potato Biscuits with Cole Slaw

Spinach Lasagna

Fried Cabbage and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (Plus Brats for the Hubby)

Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

Greens and Fried Chicken

Bean Soup

McFatty Monday

I'm not so awesome this week. Sorry Blair. :P

I'm up three pounds. GASP. I knew I would be the same or up a little. Was not quite prepared to see three pounds on that scale though. Let me count the ways I knew I would be up. I ate like crap this weekend, for the most part and I ate too much. I was perpetually hungry for some reason. I'm constipated and retaining water. Why? Probably because I'm too sore to even move much less use the bathroom and my body is retaining.

Why am I so sore? Because we worked in the box garden all weekend trying to beat the rain. We got all six boxes cleared of weeds and winter debris. Three of them turned, tilled and planted. One more turned and ready to till. The other two are waiting to be turned and tilled. I'm hoping to have the entire thing planted next weekend. On top of that? We thought it would be a good idea to be frisky in the sack all weekend and "work those sore muscles out." OW. Ever heard women say they couldn't walk after sex? Yea. That was me last night. I was curled naked in a fetal position because I couldn't straighten my legs back out. My darling husband was laughing at me. Thanks honey.

Today I'm walking like my hips have been broken and are in casts...little tiny steps, stiff as board. It's very attractive. ::chugs water::

So Blair asks:
Is there anything that this McFatty journey has taught you about yourself?? Maybe that it is okay to only take one handful of M&M’s or that you actually LIKE running?

The journey has taught me that I do have the confidence, fortitude and will power to lose weight. It has also taught me to keep at it no matter how many times I fall off the horse. I can do this, even if I have to take a few steps backward along the way. Never give up and take it in small goals. I didn't gain all this weight at once, so I can lose it in small steps too.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Walk on The Crunchy Path Part 1

As much as I love food, I think its time to share an intimate part of me. My relationship with food, which has often times been an outright war. I have strugggled with weight my whole life. Everything we do is related to food. I have never been able to get a handle on it, even when I ate exactly right, ate no fat, low fat, etc. I struggled. I think that is what has made me such a diverse and well rounded cook. In different periods, I strove to eat certain types of dishes and I would make them myself and make them beautiful, but nothing ever quite worked for me and my life.

When I quit smoking (gasp, I really was a smoker for more years than I would like to admit *coughfifteencoughcough*), I kicked it. I made the decision one day and didn't look back. No pills, no patches, no tricks. I just quit (granted I had bronchitis and didn't want one for a few days, but then I said, psssh I don't want this anymore PERIOD). I made up my mind and I succeeded. Shortly after my husband bit the bullet and with the aid of the patches he quit too (and the next month, prices DOUBLED). We have been a smoke free house for about a year now, with very few cravings and no regrets. What that did was free up a tight budget for better eating. 100.00 every two weeks for two cartons of smokes is crazy damaging on the budget yo, not to mention the lungs. It makes me wonder how people do it in this economy when prices are DOUBLE what they were when I quit, and unemployment is double as well. I just can't imagine. No wonder we were eating off-brand hamburger helper 1/2 the time.

I've never been able to conquer food like that though. You can't just put down food and never look back. You have to eat to survive and as easy as it would be, you can't subsist off SlimFast drinks. Even those wake up your taste buds and you start craving like CarrotTop for his next round of plastic surgery and steroid cocktail. Unlike cigerettes, its not just one flavor, or one thing. At different times of the day, month, year, you crave different foods. Each person's tastes and cravings are different. Sometimes I'm a sweets person, most of the time I'm a carboloading spaz. Seriously, don't get between me and my pasta. Other times, I'm craving red meat and cheese. You have to work with your body, to control your food intake and feel satisfied.

Recently though, I've learned some hard truths about food and my body and even my life. Truths that I think can help everyone whether you struggle with weight or not. Truths about healthy and the things we put in our mouths. How does this relate to all my recipes and a garden blog? I promise it does. Because everything is related. I grow what we eat and my recipes are a direct reflection of that.

I've entitled this short series about my "life change": My Walk on The Crunchy Path only in part to the Granola style of living. Truth be told, I'm not a hippie in any way, shape or form. I appreciate a long peasant skirt like the next girl, but that doesn't mean I'm going to don one, light some candles and dance in the moonlight throwing herbs in the air. (Okay, okay, I may have done this ONCE OR TWICE in my life but I was always wearing jeans mkay?) In all seriousness, I'm just a simple farm girl, raised with the land and animals and an appreciation for what God has given us. I don't follow the all natural beaten path and I sure as heck shave, wax and pluck with the best of them. I appreciate spa's, technology and a fast car but I also understand balance and I think we could all use a dose of balance. So I hope you enjoy this peak into my head and not just into my food. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask along the way.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FDA HPV Food Recalls

Mass hysteria over recalls always amazes me but this is one that I think should be passed on. Always be concious of what you put into your body. Sometimes its the simple things that can get us. I don't use a lot of prepacked products but I do use McCormick Pepper and occasionally Knorr's Spinach dip. As of right now, neither of these brands are listed, but please check the list and FDA link. I don't want anyone to get sick if I have the opportunity of passing on a simple measure.

God bless.

FDA HVP Manufactured Food Recall

The FDA announced that HVP manufactured by Basic Food Flavors has been recalled, and an estimated 10,000 products are affected by this recall. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) is a flavor enhancer commonly used in processed foods.
HVP is found in snack foods such as potato chips and pretzels. It's also used in dry mixes for chip dips, gravy, au jus and marinades. HVP is also used in frozen foods (such as taquitos and quesadillas) and in fresh foods such as potato salad and fresh dips. In addition to these items, it is also used in many other grocery products.
The recall was issued due to possible salmonella contamination. Salmonella is one of the most common causes of bacterial food-borne illness in the United States. It can cause fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

The following soup and dip mix products are included in the HVP recall.
Castella Chicken Soup Base
Concord Foods Vegetable Dip Seasoning - Homestyle
De la Casa Spinach Dip
Dean's - various brands of soup/soup mix & dip/dip mix
Delicioso Spinach Dip
Follow Your Heart Beef Au Jus
Fresh Food Concepts Garden Fresh Spinach & Spinach Dip with Real Yogurt
Great Value Ranch Chip Dip
Healthwise Cream of Mushroom Soup
Homemade Gourmet Tortilla Soup Mix
Johnny's French Dip Powdered Au Jus
Kroger Onion & Beefy Onion Soup Dip Mix
McCormick French Onion & Vegetable Dip Mix
Mrs. Gerry's Crab Creole Spread & Old Home/Old Fashioned Spinach Dip
Oak Lake Farms French Onion Chip Dip
Publix Beef Flavored Stew Mix
Reser's soup and dip mixes
Rojo's Garden Fresh Spinach Dip
T. Marzetti soup and dip mixes

Bouillon products
Herbox chicken, beef & vegetable bouillon

Dressing and dressing mix products
Follow Your Heart Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing
Reser's Ranch House Dressing
Trader Joe's Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing & Dip

Flavoring base and seasoning products
Garden Harvest Special Blend Seasoning
Minor's Bacon Base
Publix Meatloaf Seasoning

Gravy mix products
McCormick Onion Gravy mix
Publix Mushroom & Au Jus gravy mixes

Sauce and marinade mix products
Durkee Spaghetti & Marinade Mix
French's Thick Spaghetti Sauce Mix
Weber Grill Creations Italian Herb Marinade Mix

The following is a list of snack and snack mix products that are included in the HVP recall.

CVS Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites
Great Nut Supply Honey Mustard Pretzels & Bar Mix
HK Anderson Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites
Tim's Cascade Hawaiian style snacks
Herr's Sea Salt Flavored Kettle Style Potato Chips
National Pretzel Company (various)
President's Choice Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Bite snack
Pringles Restaurant Cravers Cheeseburger & Family Faves Taco Night
Quaker Baked Cheddar Snack Mix
Rouses Louisiana's Best Snack Mix
Safeway brand Honey Mustard Onion Nugget Pretzels
Spec's Wines & Fine Foods
Sunflower Markets Honey Mustard Nugget Snack Mix

Frozen foods
Casa Solana Shredded Mini Beef Taquitos
E-Z Eats! Beef Taquitos
El Pasado Shredded Beef Mini and Beef Taquitos & Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
Giant Eagle Steak Taquitos
Jose Ole Taquitos
Posada Corn & Shredded Beef Taquitos
Tornados Ranchero Beef & Cheese

Prepared salad products
Reser's Redskin Potato Salad
Safeway brand Redskin Potato Salad
Walmart brand Redskin Potato Salad

Ready-to-eat meal products
Follow Your Heart Ready-to-Eat Meals

Stuffing products
McCormick Corn Bread Stuffing

Eggplant Gratin

I'm sure I've said this many times before and will say it again: I rarely use a recipe exactly. I get inspiration from many sources but to suit either my pantry, my budget or my tastes I can look at a recipe and change it before I ever try it. I do try to give credit where credit is due though and I *barely* adapted this recipe from Ina Garten. (It's Ina, she rarely needs adapting ya'll, now how easy is that?)

It was a gooey soft eggplanty goodness. We have officially determined that my husband does not like nor appreciate eggplant though. Alas, I guess I will be making eggplant dishes for just me! (Oh darn, I have to eat all the eggplant by my lonesome, whatever shall I do? LOL)

Eggplant Gratin
Good olive oil, for frying
1 large eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plus some freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can stewed tomatoes in juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Pour your can of tomatoes into a blender with a dash of salt and pepper, pulse until a fairly smooth thick sauce.

In each of 2 individual gratin dishes, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/2 of the tomato sauce. Layer half the Riccotta sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.

Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Not mine. Ya'll no better than that. I don't have any kind of pull whatsoever to do a giveaway.

But I would like to direct you HERE.

Jessica is giving away an adorable fabric storage cube from Lexie Barnes and who couldn't use more storage (and ofcourse another entry to win!)

Enjoy! (and YW)

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2010

I would be remiss in my duties as a food blogger (not to mention my Irish ancestors would haunt me) if I didn't mention St. Patrick's Day. A day celebrated by partaking of lots of food and beer, festivites and rejoicing.

The Irish have celebrated this day for over 1000 years, typically by attending church in the a.m. (It's during Lent afterall) and frolicking and gorging in the evening on beer, bacon and cabbage. (The beer is a more modern tradition as up until the 1980's, pubs in Ireland were closed on this day). It's now a global phenomenon celebrated by people not strictly of Irish decent.

March 17th marks the death of St. Patrick, originally English born, and a much exagerated figure in christian tales and Irish lore. St. Patrick is credited with turning the wild Irish lands from pagans to christianity by using the practices and celebrations they were accustomed to, to celebrate christian principles. I guess to put it simply, he was the savior of Irish souls. (I'm not sure why he is celebrated with food and green beer but whatever floats your little Irish boat. Don't argue with an irishman, we're mean suckers.)

So tonight, while I feast on fried cabbage and onions, I will remember those who braved the seas to come to this new world and a man, who was called by God to show his people the way to salvation. So while you toast with your green beer, toast to St. Patrick, a man of myth and legend who walked the green path of salvation.

Easy Vegetable Pot Pie

This is probably one of my new favorite recipes. The Hubby wasn't too happy because "Where's the meat?" but he survived. My sister enjoyed it and said it was light and a tad sweet. Apparently my mom enjoyed it as the leftover's I sent home didn't even make it to my Dad. LOL I'm going to make this again but with a homemade crust. As I was working on cleaning out our stores of food though, this is what came out of it and I have to say, for getting inspiration from an episode of Barefoot Contessa and running with what I had on hand, this dish was phenomenal. I love those "accidental" masterpieces! I think I could live off of this stuff and feel NO GUILT whatsoever! It's that good. Creamy sauce, sweet and savory vegetables and a flaky crust! YUMMMMMMM!

*and I know, I am WAY behind on my pictures. I promised I have pictures for 99% of the posts from the last three weeks...still on the camera*

Easy Vegetable Pot Pie
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 large Sweet Onion
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 cup flour
2 3/4 cups chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons half and half
5-6 Yukon gold Potatoes Diced
1 large Sweet potato skinned and diced
2 cups Frozen Green Peas
3-4 carrots, peeled and coined
2 yellow squash, diced
1 zuchini sliced lengthwise in strips and cut in chuncks 1/2 inch
1 box (2 shells) of Pillsbury Pie Crusts
One Egg

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned.

While sauce is going, cook the potatoes (Gold and Sweet) in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Lift out with a sieve. Add the carrots, zuchini and squash to the pot and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add the potatoes, mixed vegetables, and green peas to the sauce and mix well.

Pour into a deep dish baker or individual stonewear dishes. Cover with pie crusts. (I had multiple dishes so needed both pie crusts). Whisk egg with a bit of water and brush over shells. Cut steam vents in center of shells and Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until crusts are golden brown and pie is bubbly.

Monday, March 15, 2010

McFatty Monday

It's that time again, the one thing I've been consistent on: McFatty Monday Check in With Blair.

I must confess: I still have not started working out! Even the walking and yoga my Dr. wanted me to do to help manage my anxiety. I'm a big fat failure. Part of the reason: I got sick. Seriously, to the point of missing work. Sinus congestion, sore throat, fever, head pressure. The works. It's hard enough to breathe without working out. So its an excuse, but it does have merit.

I was shocked when I got on the scale this morning. I still lost weight! My plateau is gone! and those numbers are shrinking! TWO MORE POUNDS.

TOTAL: THIRTY-FOUR pounds. 34. THIRTY.FOUR! Holy crap. I went to my mom's and sister's this past weekend and rifled through their clothes to find some things that fit me a little better. Some of my clothes are really bagging on me right now. The Hubster is encouraging me to go get some new pants but I'm trying to hold out for these least fifteen pounds...well, make that 13 pounds now. That's the first goal I want to get to before treating myself.

Blair's questions this week:

How are you feeling about yourself these days, a few months into a healthier lifestyle? Are you sick of me asking you questions yet?
I'm feeling really good about my weightloss. Proud of myself and in control. Nope, I love the questions. They focus me and give me hope for one more week.

As far as food & exercise – how are those going?
I think I'm doing good on my food choices and proportions still. I did drink some Mountain Dew this week: but only about 2 ounces...ONCE. The carbonation felt good on my chapped throat. First time in over a month that I've had any.

Are you a bikini girl or a one-piece? Tankini? Is just talking about this getting you as excited for the beach as it is me?!?!
I'm a one piece girl though I have rocked a tankini on occasion. My stomach is too roly-poly to show mid-driff anymore. I don't do the beach, but I do have an inground pool and I'm getting excited about it this year.

Menu Monday-Around the House Edition

Every now and again, we need to clean out the pantry, fridge and freezer. We are often so focused on getting a good deal, buying in bulk on sale to save a penny that we stockpile like little squirrels until our freezer doors barely close and we can't see everything we have in the pantry because its stacked one upon another. This can be GREAT for the budget but I think we WASTE more sometimes than we save. Trying to eat well and as clean as possible, I feel the need to discard some older stuff.

So my mission over the next few weeks is to work on eating out of our stores of food and inventorying what I have left to better use items. (and to give myself over to my organization OCD.)

So on the menu this week:

Eggplant Pot Pie (will use up the eggplants on the counter and the pie shells in the fridge plus sprouting potatoes, carrots and celery)

Bean Soup (I have a bag of random beans I put together from the Farmer's Market Bin)

Soft Taco's (Will use Frozen Ground turkey, beans, a part of a head of lettuce left in the fridge)

Collard Greens (from the market), bratwurst (from the freezer) and Fried Potatoes (sprouting in the basket)

Brussel Sprouts (from LAST weeks Market) and Baked Chicken (from the Freezer)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I've been debating for a week what to write here. I go back and forth on a daily basis on what I believe and what I want. What I should do versus what my heart needs to do. I'm lost in a sea of indecision. I'm lost in my blog. My blog has become less entertainment and more of a whining diary of my life. I don't like that. I can flow the words like a waterfall over smooth rocks when I choose to but nothing since shortly after the miscarriage has been remotely informative, entertaining or worth reading.

Months of allergies, weightloss and pathetic diatribes. I apologize. I'm forever apologizing for something but this is not where I intended this blog to go. No matter if I struggle with IF or had a pregnancy and baby to discuss, this blog has taken a horrible turn even for me.

Yet, I have no desire to write anything more than recipes and complaints. And that tells me my life is not in a good spot. In church, the sermon was about contentment and entitlement and I began to open my eyes to how bitter I've become. How discontented I've become. Every example the preacher used, rang alarm bells in my head. Because I have become one of "those" women who say, "Why does SHE get to have a baby?" "Why does she get to have a fourth kid and I don't get one? She can't even afford it." "Why God why?" and my preacher is right. We turn it around and eventually blame God and I would be lying if I said those thoughts haven't entered my mind. My religion is a constant struggle for me because I'm trying NOT to blame God. I don't like who I have become.

My dear friend Beth has been going to church with me for the past month. We have gone Every sunday and have found a church that speaks to both of us. We struggle weekly with the message because it hits home on a deep soul level. It has awoken me to see what I have done to myself and my life over the past few years. I'm trying to find ME again. Trying to figure out what God wants from me on this journey and struggling to take each day as it comes.

I don't know where this blog will go. I want to find deeper meaning in the words that are transcribed, not pathetic little pithy posts of complaint. In my life, right now, I'm not even sure I want to continue to TTC, atleast not with medication. Everytime I turn around, something inside me is screaming to not take the Clomid and so I put it off for one more month. I think I'm going to put it off for a few months, give myself a break from the war in myself. I need to trust my instincts and they are saying, I'm no longer ready. If I were to get pregnant tomorrow, I would be ready to have a baby, but I'm not ready to go back on the meds. There is something I need to do before that. I'm not sure what, but I think it is to refind myself. To re-love myself and find strength for whatever may happen. To find my relationship with God.

I will continue with the McFatty Monday posts because the weightloss is helping me and helping my body, but I make no promises where this blog may head in the next little bit. I may find my voice again or it may sit blank between Mondays. I just don't know.

Chicken Souffle

MY FIRST SOUFFLE! And that was worth e-shouting about! Souffle's are one of those daunting dishes full of strife and complication. Perils that rival seafaring colonists of yesteryear. Rumor has it that a cough or loud noise will make your souffle fall, though this may be more of a myth. Souffle's by nature are made to fall once removed from the heat. In fact, souffle itself means to "blow up" or in cooking terms "Puff up". It is the distinct combination of cream sauce with thick eggs yolk combined with whipped stiff egg whites. When heated through the dish "puffs". Once removed from the oven, it falls as it cools. That's the nature of the beast. For the record, mine did not fall, ever. It was fabulous.

I've always wanted to try a souffle but never quite had the guts. The mixing and combining of the ingredients is a simple task. I was never quite sure what there was to fear. In my ever growing addiction to the Food Network, I discovered Giada making a savory version from her Husbands family. I figured this would be as good a recipe as any to cut my teeth on.

I changed VERY LITTLE about the recipe. I do think a very important tip on this one though: Get all your ingredients READY to go before making. The sauce comes together very quickly. Basically in the time the KA Mixer takes to whip the egg whites, the sauce is finished.

Chicken Souffle
Unsalted butter for greasing the souffle dish, plus 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons), at room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded mild Cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 package frozen chopped spinach
3 roasted/baked chicken breasts, cubed
6 egg yolks, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 (1/2-inch thick) slices country-style white bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 egg whites, at room temperature

Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart souffle dish. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 stick of butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheeses, the spinach, chicken, egg yolks, and bread cubes. Stir until combined (mixture will be thick).

Using a KA Mixer with Whisk Attachment, beat the egg whites at high speed until they hold stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chicken mixture. Using a spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish and bake until the souffle is puffed and the top is firm and golden, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Apple and Pear Crisp

What do you do when you have leftover fruit that is starting to go bad? Well, if its banana's tradition says you make banana pudding. What if its apples and pears? Well if you have a love affair with all things Ina Garten like I do, you whip up an Apple and Pear Crisp. I needed some MORE pears and apples than I had, so a quick trip to the farmer's market on an early Saturday morning, and I quickly put this dish together. It was warm, sweet and gooey and a bit hit with the husband and the family! Definately a keeper and I really had no guilt eating it! Honestly, this is a recipe I doubt I would even try to tweak.

Apple and Pear Crisp
2 pounds ripe Bosc pears (4 pears)
2 pounds firm Macoun apples (6 apples)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel, core, and cut the pears and apples into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and add the zests, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch oval baking dish.

For the topping:
Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm.

Friday, March 12, 2010

J & S Farm at The Farmer's Market

Finally, was able to post a new article on The Examiner about my current favorite vendor at the local Farmer's Market: J & S Farm.

To make things easy: here is a preview of my article. I would appreciate a click though! Check it out! Also, photo's courtesy of the talented Mrs. Beth.

Have you ever found the perfect antique treasure under a pile of mediocre refuse in a dusty old shop? The J & S Booth tucked into the back right corner of the Farmer's Market Indoor Building is like that.

At first glance, you see a dusty sign emblazoned with a folksy rooster, shelves and a few baskets of goods. Don't let the lack of large bins full of colorful vegetable and fruit glory fool you. This is a veritable gold mine of country goodness. Ostrich, buffalo, turkey, chicken, beef, cheeses and breads from various farms and in various forms are stuffed into freezer cases lining the booth. Homemade pimento cheese, milk, goat cheese, eggs and bundles of herbs abound in the refridgerator.

Give Away!

Okay, so its not MY GIVEAWAY! but still. Jessica over at the Southern Belle Baby has a sweet little Giveaway going on at the moment. Adorable invitations and cupcake toppers for any little party you can think of.

I'm totally in love with the spring set and can just see stacks of cupcakes topped with flowers and these adorable bee toppers.

Check it out! (and you are welcome!)

Movie Review: Waitress

I missed this little number for quite a few years. I honestly had no desire to see it because I'm not a huge Kerri Russell fan. Yes, I watched Felicity but she was a little on the annoying side and I gave up somewhere in the second season. So I never rushed out to get this movie on DVD and even debated with myself on renting it as I passed in the video store.

Coincidentally it made its television premier so I DVR'd it. Can't beat Free right? I actually had NO IDEA it had so much food in it. Yes, she's a waitress, blah blah blah, but being a waitress doesn't mean you know how to cook. I've been a waitress. It ain't all about the food ya'll its all about the service. While I was pleasantly surprised at the funny pies, the acting left a LOT to be desired. Those horrible pretend Texas accents did not do any justice to the southern state, ya'll.

However, as I am on a mission to collect Food Related Movies, I will probably add this one to my collection (if I find it in the dollar DVD bin).

I will leave you with this though, a collection of the pies from the movie:
Daily Special: Jenna's Pies

Every morning Jenna creates a new pie to serve as the day's special. Along with that, she's also serving up a peek into her emotional state. Anything sound good?

I Hate My Husband Pie: Bittersweet chocolate and don't sweeten it; you make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel.

I Don't Want Earl’s Baby Pie (aka Bad Baby Pie): A quiche of egg and brie cheese with a smoked ham center.

Baby Screamin' its Head off in the Middle of the Night and Ruinin' My Life Pie: New York-style cheesecake, brandy brushed, with pecans and nutmeg.

Earl Murders me 'Cause I'm Havin' an Affair Pie: Smash blackberries, blueberries and raspberries into a chocolate crust.

I Can't Have no Affair Because it's Wrong and I Don't Want Earl to Kill me Pie: Vanilla custard with banana. Hold the banana.

Pregnant, Miserable, Self-Pityin', Loser Pie: Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. Flambé of course.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quick Update

This is going to be an uninteresting fly by post. I have been dealing with a sick household this week and am down for the count myself. However, I wanted to notate that my chart sucks. It is showing an O date of Monday (and we haven't had sex in a week and a half). I think its showing the O date because of today's high temp though which COULD be because of being sick. So I'm not quite sure what to think.

I'm sad, because I really do feel like we missed any chance this week because my husband was too sick to do anything and I've been too tired taking care of him...and now I'm sick.

::kicks dirt::

Monday, March 8, 2010

McFatty Monday

I'm very glad I had the breakthrough with my clothing this weekend because it made today's weigh in a bit more easy to bear. I knew sustaining and increasing a seven pound wieghtloss last week would be a miracle. I'm actually happy that I didn't gain more than the two pounds back that I did.

Let's be honest, compared to what I have been doing, I ate way more than normal last week, especially towards the end. I had the munchies something fierce. While i tried to make good choices and eat the same things I normally would, just one thing too much will pack the pounds on. It's a lesson we have to always keep in the forefront of our minds.

Once you struggle with weight, there is no "living normally" or reaching a goal weight and eating whatever you want. You can never undo your diet changes. You can never NOT watch your weight. It's a vicious thing but people live with so much worse. There are dietary issues like allergies, diabetes etc. where people can DIE from eating the wrong thing. Overweight people live with the same. We are ticking timebombs and if we DON't constantly monitor ourselves we can still kill ourselves, its just slower than eating a mushroom that we are allergic to and comes with its own set of pains, emotional abuse etc.

The biggest thing is discovering what works for you and what you can eat. With constantly changing technology and research, we are bombarded almost daily with what we SHOULD eat and SHOULD be doing but until you do the research yourself and experiment, you can't assume that anything will for you because it worked for someone else. Yes, a lady lost 100 pounds eating Taco Bell. Does that mean you can go order three Burrito supremes every day and live to tell the tale? Absolutely not. She probably ate ONE chicken taco with lettuce and tomato and that's it. Diets and amounts can be deceptive. Common sense should prevail but if we had too much common sense we wouldn't be in this position in the first place right? With age comes wisdom and discipline. Some of us take a little longer to put BOTH in practise.

So today, I don't mourn the two pounds gained and the I'm not going to jump off the wagon of weightloss. I don't even consider this a speedbump in the road. My team is still moving forward steadily. This week I'm rocking my thin jeans and continuing on my journey. Maybe I'll adjust slightly to account for something I did or maybe not, because I'm still better than I was two months ago. I'm living and I'm trying and that my friends is what anything is all about.

So this week, I wish you all comfort with whatever it is you are struggling with. I wish you the courage to keep plugging away and wisdom to know the success is measured by your effort and not always by the end result.

Menu Monday

Interestingly enough, I started this post on know, as the title indicates. However, this has been once crazy week. With a sick husband that lost his appetite, a mild allergy attack for myself and THEN catching Hubby's germies, the week hasn't been so great for blogging or food.

It was to the point this morning, that I was running a fever and did not move off my sofa, AT ALL. This is the first time I've been awake ALL DAY, and I'm not promising much more than fixing a few posts I already started. Have no fear though, I did have the TV on Food Network all day and the mood to rejuvinate my kitchen is there...once I feel human again!

The Original Menu Plan for this week:

Grilled Chicken (ended up roasting it)

Grilled Surf and Turf (Shrimp Kabobs, Steak Kabobs, Blue Hake Fillets and a T-bone Steak)

Lime Vinaigaitte over salad

Spinach and Eggplant Quiche (hasn't happened yet)

Fried Cabbage

Spaghetti (ended up being buttered cheese noodles)

Pound Cake (Gave it all away at work)

Pot Pie (hasn't happened yet either)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Great Kabob

Kababs or Kabobs are known as meals on a stick. Originating in or around Turkey before the 14th century, it most closely translates to fried or charred meats. Often served in sandwiches, in stews etc. now a days in America (atleast around here) its served straight on the stick alternated with a variety of veggies and/or fruits.

Kabobs are great for grilling quickly for appetizers, parties, etc. The Leftovers are so versatile and store easily and quickly. Many people associate Kabob's with lamb but they have become so diverse that many regions have their own take on it. They can be complex tastes of marinated meats with three and four other food items or as simple as salt and peppered shrimp.

So now that we've had the history lesson, on to the FOOD! To celebrate the first spring like day, I grilled out. Simple shrimp kabobs with wedges of lemon and small slices of onion. Beef kabobs with large quarters of sweet onion, and red pepper.

I couldn't do it without my nifty skewers from Pampered Chef either. These are by far the best skewers EVER!

So really there is no recipe to try here. Play around with combinations of veggies, fruits and meats as well as seasoning with your favorite marinades. Have fun with it and enjoy the beautiful weather, quick cooking times and excellent meals all on one stick.

Honey Lime Vinaigrette

At the farmer's market, one of the vendor's has a KeyLime Vinaigrette. It looks and sounds amazing but there are things I really can't pronounce in the ingredients, so I'm a little timid of buying it. I think I'm going to bite the bullet and go for it next week.

Tonight though, I decided to do a simple Honey Lime Vinaigrette. It didn't have nearly the flavor Lemon does and was a little too mild. I served it over grape tomatoes, iceberg, leaf lettuce and sweet peas.

I'm not a great fan but give it a whirl. Maybe you can improve on it and let me know!

Honey Lime Vinaigrette
1/3 cup Lime Juice (fresh squeezed about three limes)
Some Lime zest
4 tsp honey
1 tbs rice vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbs chopped onion

Combine all ingredients either in an Italian dressing bottle or mini food processor/chopper. Shake or mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.

Sunday Menu

Normally I do Menu Mondays where I list out the items for a whole week. I thought I would do a special post for Today's menu because today is a special day.

For the first time in months of a bitter cold winter, we have a beautiful 60 degree day on a weekend. I am planning to take full advantage of the day by opening up the doors and windows, spring cleaning, gardening and GRILLING OUTSIDE! So excited!

So what's on the agenda today?

Grilling Steak kabobs and a nice big steak for Stephen.

Grilling fish fillet and shrimp kabobs for me.

Grilled Potato slices.

Grilled chicken (for tomorrow nights dinner).

A fresh salad with Lime Vinaigrette.

And to top it all off? A homemade Pound cake.

Are you drooling yet?

Pink Jeans and Skinny Dreams

You know that pair of "skinny" jeans you keep in your closet for inspiration? Everyone has a pair. Maybe its a pencil skirt or a pair of booty shorts but everyone has something in their closet that is too small that they keep so they can "get back into it."

I have a few of those items. I've always been a big girl. Different phases of my life I've been different weights from thin to obese. And while my inspiration jeans aren't the smallest weight I've ever been they are the comfortable weight from when I was single. My college weight, when I was ready to graduate and had left behind that horrible grunge look and discovered a good pair of jeans with a tight butt and flared legs over a sexy pair of black high heeled boots. I was discovering a new grown-up world and changed my look to go with it. I had a leapord print silk jacket and big bracelets. It's only been a decade and that is already coming back into style. Go figure. I guess we've run out of designer inspiration.

I have four specific things to judge my weight by. Those tight flared leg jeans that I couldn't even button for the past six years, a pair of pale pink jeans that I haven't worn since right after I got married (3 1/2 years ago), a denim pencil skirt with an open seam to mid-thigh on the front (risque!), and a pair of black denim jeans with whisker lines on the thighs.

I've been putting off dealing with clothes. I've lost enough weight that my jeans are falling off of me but the one pair of dress pants that had gotten too tight, fit excellently (okay, a little too big but not falling off). I did not want to go shopping and try to figure out what size I was because I would be dissappointed if I hadn't lost enough to go down a size.

My friend A texted me yesterday and said she could finally get in her size smaller jeans. I was so excited for her and my "skinny" jeans popped in my head. I bit the bullet and drug them out of the back of the armoire. I was shocked when they slid over my hips with no problem. Hope sprang anew in my breast.

They BUTTONED AND ZIPPED with no problem! I went bouncing into the livingroom to show off my new jeans that actually make my ass look good (since I dont really have one). My husband laughed at me. So the jeans are a tiny bit tight still to wear sitting down much but I can wear them! So I dove into my closet to see what else fit. EVERYTHING FIT! The pink jeans, the pencil skirt, the black jeans. They all fit extremely well actually. Only the one pair is still too tight.

I couldn't believe it! Some of my dress clothes that were too tight for me to be comfortable in all fit again. I went shopping in my closet ya'll! and it was amazing. I used to have such good quality clothes that they all are in great condition. Albeit a little dated but great condition. I even called my sister because I know she has some clothes a bit smaller that I can aim for next. I'm going shopping in her storage area next weekend. LOL

So yes, I have new clothes. New from a decade ago, and I will rock those pink jeans. I will wear them till my heart is content because I lost enough weight to get into them. As much as it brings me joy, I also must admit that I feel I need to enjoy them as much as possible because if we succeed in getting pregnant, I won't be wearing them for long!

So break out those out of date pink skinny jeans and cover your thinner butts. ROCK THEM OUT and smile when the youngun's look at you funny because you know something they don't know. In ten years, they will be wishing they could squeeze into thier favorite jeans again too, style be damned.

Friday, March 5, 2010

"It's Finally Friday"

These lyrics to a country song are going around and around in my head. This has been a long week. Nothing particular, I've just not slept as well as I needed to and my back has hurt so its made for a long week.

I've been looking forward to this weekend for not only the time off, but because I took advice of several people including my Dr. and booked a massage for Saturday morning. I'm hoping that relieves the back pain enough that I can work in my garden and get a lot of fresh air this weekend since we are supposed to reach the 60's! So excited! I think this could really help my anxiety and frame of mind. I may even GRILL, that would be awesome.

I realize that i have high hopes for this weekend and really over booked myself in my head: wax, massage, farmer's market, clean house, errands, garden, bake a pound cake, wash cars, etc. It won't all get done but I'm going to make a valiant effort since I feel guilty for having done NOTHING this week except maintain the dishes and cook dinner every night. I've even let my blogs slip because I didn't have the energy to focus.

Today is the beginning of a good weekend though. I'm determined to be productive today so I can leave work with a clear head and enjoy my weekend.

Quick Updates
Allergy Update: I think the medicine may be starting to work. I've had my normal daily symptoms at work but everyday they seem to be a little milder. I wake up with itchy eyes etc. but after I take my pill its much more bearable. I've finally started bringing the nasal spray to work with me but haven't quite gotten up the guts to try it. I promise I will this weekend.

Weight Update:
I know I'm up a pound and that I completely pigged out yesterday. I had One extra stuffed biscuit that I didn't need. I tried to make up for it last night by not eating much casserole for dinner but I feel guilty today. I probably shouldn't. It's not like I binged or anything. I had a biscuit for breakfast, some cabbage and grit casserole for lunch, a biscuit when I got home from work and then a cup of baked potato and broccoli casserole for dinner. I drank all my water per usual. It's not like I had a whole pizza but I still feel guilty. Not sure why. I guess because I've come so far and I really want to lose that 15 pounds by April 8th.

So what's new with you? Any big plans this weekend?

Grown-up Mac and Cheese

When you get a hankering for comfort food, it can be an overwhelmingly powerful thing. I had a massive craving for Macaroni and Cheese but trying to eat well without all the preservatives doesn't bode well for the cherished blue box with the name of Kraft. It's been quite a long time since I've made homemade Mac and Cheese but I decided it was definately time to try again.

Much like Brownies, mac and cheese really is one of the easiest things in the world to make. There is absolutely no need to keep the cheap boxed stuff around unless it is merely a money issue. Just remember a few easy steps: blend of cheese, basic Rou. EASY PEASY.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese (based loosely on Ina Garten's version)
6 slices of Turkey Bacon
2 cups elbow macaroni noodles
1 1/2 cups heated milk
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs flour
1/3 cup grated Gruyere Cheese
1 cup shredded mild cheddar
1/4 cup asiago cheese (grated)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup Panko

Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake bacon slices for about 15 minutes or until crispy.

Cook macaroni in salted water until tender. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pot and add flour. Whisk until smooth about 2 minutes. Slowly add heated milk (heated through but not boiling) whisking constantly until smooth. Off the heat add the cheeses, 1 tsp salt and pepper. Once sauce is smooth and melted add macaroni noodles and stir gently. Pour into baking dish and top with Panko and crumbled bacon. Bake for about 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly and browned.

Twice Baked Potato and Broccoli Casserole

Sometimes the biggest mistakes can turn into new and amazing adventures in life. Tis the same with cooking. Things that don't work out like you planned can often create new and exciting dishes.

I had thawed out a small container of Eagle's Chili for Stephen and planned on making simple broccoli stuffed twice baked potatoes. For some reason even after an hour my potatoes still were not soft. They were cooked but not all the way. So when I tried to scrape out the halves, they broke apart. Frustrated, I threw everything in a casserole dish and rebaked. It actually turned out really well and the leftovers were phenomenal. Thus a new dish was born.

Twice Baked Potato and Broccoli Casserole
Two cups boiled or steamed broccoli florets
2 large baking potatoes
One small carton of Sour Cream
1 cup mild shredded cheddar
1/2 stick butter
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Panko or Seasoned Bread crumbs (optional)

Bake Potatoes at 350 for one hour (wrapped in tinfoil). Rough Chop cooked potatoes and place in casserole dish. Add the rest of the ingredients and gently stir until thoroughly mixed. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chicken Stock

Ina Garten touts the joys of fresh chicken stock non-stop. Granted, I abosolutely believe it and do take advantage of chicken stock when I crock pot a whole chicken. But I actually made chicken stock. Just to make chicken stock.

I used a whole cut up chicken for another dish. So I juet kept the wings and neck out. I put those in a pot of 8 cups of water, two peeled carrots, one stick of celergy, two garlic cloves chopped in half, and one small onion sliced. Salt and pepper.

Simmer for 2 hours till chicken is cooked through. Drain out the vegetables and chicken and you have a beautiful rich fragrant stock. About a 1/2 gallon.

Some of the easiest things in life are so often overlooked. Grab you some storage containers and freeze some homemade stock today. You will thank me (and Ina) later.

Turkey Meatloaf

Sounds blah right? I'm not a big meatloaf fan myself. THE HORROR! It's a staple in Southern family menues right? Don't get me wrong, every once in awhile, I really enjoy a good meatloaf. In fact, the Cheeseburger Meatloaf recipe is probably my favorite and was a staple in our house as a newlywed.

Now that I'm eating healthier though, and have cut out a lot of red meat from my diet, I've turned to using Ground Turkey to lighten things up. Let's be real for five seconds. Turkey is NOT the same. Yes, you can make a nice turkey chili or turkey burger but it does NOT replace red meat chili or a juicy beef burger. They are their own things and if you appreciate them for being what they are and not try to use it as a substitute, you will be much happier. Trust me. I've been down that road and learned that lesson.

Having said all that, I have been making a turkey meatloaf that is easy, quick and dare I say it: Better than beef meatloaf. GASP! It's so moist, firm and tasty. Served up with a side of asparagus, its a perfectly healthy dinner that I don't feel guilty about!

*Side Note: I keep trying to post this recipe but we dig into it so fast I never get a picture snapped, so don't be expecting any pictures with this recipe. Sorry. It's that good though!

Turkey Meatloaf
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 ts tomato paste
1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup Panko
1 small egg beaten
1/8 cup ketchup

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix gently until blended. Do not mix roughly or over mix. Just FOLD the ingredients into each other.

Place mixture in a glass loaf pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour.

Monday, March 1, 2010

McFatty Monday

I think I already posted a few weight drops as they happened over the last week. I was so excited Saturday at the Dr's when she confirmed my 30 pound weightloss by her scales. It was such an amazing feeling I think I probably ate LESS this weekend then I should have.

The great thing is though, for the first time EVER, losing weight DOES feel better than food tastes. It's almost like I have an AVERSION to food. Don't get me wrong. I still LOVE to cook. I still love how things taste and textures and smells, but a taste is all I want. Sometimes the smell is enough. Food holds NO power over me anymore and it feels amazing!

I can't tell you the tips or tricks. I don't know how I turned the switch. Was it just the allergies? I don't know. But even foods I CAN eat, don't hold power anymore. I laugh in the face of brownies.

I stepped on the scale this morning, already knowing I was pleased with myself from losing the 5 pounds last week, not expecting more, praying it held steady. TWO MORE POUNDS. I almost fainted. I lost a total of SEVEN pounds last week. Making my GRAND total: 32 pounds!!

I can barely stay in my own skin, I'm so excited!

Mrs.Blair asks:
When you do plateau, what is the best motivation to keep going? Any “tricks” to break the monotony or stubborn scale?
I Honestly have no idea. I remember gaining a bit a week or so ago, but I just kept plugging away telling myself its natural!

1st Blog Challenge Recipe: Chicken Stew

In our family, there are many recipes that bring to mind comfort and home. One of my favorite though? Cousin Tim's Chicken Stew. I'll never forget when I first had it. Everyone had been saying for years how great of a cook my cousin was and he even had a small catering company. For some reason, I had never gone to his annual Christmas Eve Chicken Stew. Then one year I did. That first buttery creamy taste of stew MELTED in my mouth and I fell in love with chicken all over again.

I never could come close to mimicking his recipe though. I didn't know the secret. When our wedding came around I could think of no better dish to serve for an outdoor Halloween/Fall wedding than Chicken Stew and Eagle's Chili. So I approached Tim about the price to make a big pot. This sweet darling of a man, made GALLONS (I'm not even sure how many but I'm pretty sure he used at least 20 chickens that's how much there was!) for my wedding as a wedding gift to me. It was fabulous and my guests RAVED about it for MONTHS. So I finally broked down and asked him (begged him and groveled along the ground, see, I'm not above these things) for the recipe. It is fabulous. We do it a tad different but the KEY is the same. So I will tell you how I do it. Play around with it but make sure you follow the first part exactly because that is the key.

Cousin Tim's Chicken Stew
1 whole roasting chicken
1 large onion
1 whole garlic clove
2-3 large carrots
2 celery stalks
salt and pepper
Half and Half
1 stick of butter

Place all of your ingredients (except Half and Half and Butter) in a crockpot. Make sure the bird is washed and dried inside and out and well seasonged with salte and pepper. Just cut your cleaned vegetables in half or quartered in the cavity of the bird. Cover with water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours until bird is falling apart. Place a large collander in a large bowl and pour contents through strainer. Place the broth you collected in the bowl BACK into the crock pot. Throw butter into broth and melt. When melted, add cream until broth turns a golden cream color. SAlt and pepper liberally.

Debone meat and rough chop or shred chicken. The key here is to DISCARD the vegetables. The flavor is infused into the broth and chicken. Add the chicken back into the broth/cream mixture and THAT's IT. Serve with cornbread. You can play with the vegetable flavors that you want as well as how creamy you want your stew but this is the best simple stew you have ever had.


I took pictures but as you can imagine, with my dinky camera, they didn't come out well. I will post them anyway soon. Promise.

Blog Challenge Results

The first Garden Gourmet Blog Challenge is complete. There has been a lot of positive feedback via email but sadly to say few recipes. In retrospect, I think this was a tough challenge and a hard month for a lot of people with the bad weather issues. Honestly, I am a tiny bit dissappointed at the results, but through the emails, I will do it again, for those who did not participate but really wanted to (and especially for you slackers who didn't meet the deadline, love you smooches). So look for the next challenge to be posted in the next few weeks. Deadline will be April 1st.

My entry for the Challenge:
Cousin Tim's Chicken Stew

Mrs. Beth also submitted a recipe for the Challenge:
A delightful soup of tiny pasta, chuck roast and veggies served hot. A tradition in her family based on her Italian roots. YUM!

Our entries may have been few for this first challenge, but they are definately good ones (if I do say so myself!) and will warm your heart as well as the soul! Enjoy and join us for the next one!

Menu Monday

Wow last week flew by so fast! I didn't even get to make everything on my menu!

This weekend was a treasure trove at the Farmer's Market and my Inspiration basket is overflowing with goodness: apples, onions, potatoes, shallots, oranges, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, pears. YUM!

So my goal here is to cook quite a bit at the beginning of the week so then I can take a few days off and we just warm things up without them being "leftovers." I got a good start on that by Roasting most of a whole chicken yesterday. I got a whole CUT up chicken and took out the neck, giblets and wings. Those I threw in a pot with water, celery stalk (complete with leaves), carrots, quartered onion, shallot, garlic cloves, salt and pepper and simmered for several hours. I now have a half gallon of good stock.

Up this week:
Fried chicken drumsticks, with homecanned greenbeans and diced potatoes.

Biscuit Surprise

Broccoli Casserole

White Chicken Chili (for a Chili Cookoff at work on Friday)

Turkey Meatloaf with Asparagus

Homemade Hashbrowns with Eggs

Pasta with spinach and asiago (didn't make it last week)

Chef Salad with lemon vinigraite

*don't forget, today's the last day to post your recipes for the blog challenge!