Time to Make the Veggie Burgers!

It was weird getting up so early yesterday and driving in the dark to get the equipment for the farmers market.  I packed my food in a small cooler lunch bag with an ice pack.  I wasn’t even sure I’d be hungry for breakfast when I got up, or later in the morning.  I was actually hungry!  I made a breakfast sandwich with my naan bread with egg whites, spinach, a bit of cheese and microwaved it for 30 seconds and ate it in the car ride to the shop.

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By the time I got to the shop, the sun was starting to come up.  I was doing this market with another woman, who turned out to be my age, and we got along great.  Ironically she was at the NRA show but as a demonstrator selling veggie fries.

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With two people, loading up the car and unpacking everything was a breeze.  I think we set everything up in about 10 minutes.  Makes me nervous for tomorrow because I am  doing one all by myself already – luckily the one on Sunday is with two other people.  We actually cook up some of the burgers using these portable stoves.  The woman I was with started making them and literally put about 1/2 a cup of oil in each pan before cooking the burgers and I was like “do you mind if I take over cooking the burgers?!”  It takes less than a teaspoon to get a nice sear on the bottom before flipping.

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I hardly took any pictures, because we were steady busy the whole morning.  There were only about 15 other vendors, so this is a pretty small market.  I’d only come to this one if I lived close by.

I made a chicken wrap and brought strawberries and carrot sticks for lunch.

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My daughter in law would love these burgers, and the fact that we sell vegan desserts.  Hannah was working yesterday afternoon, so I stopped by and brought her this and we both took a taste and it was amazeballs.

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I was back home by 3:00 p.m., but I have to tell you, the day went by faster than any day working at my desk, and it felt like I still had so much left in the day.  I did a couple loads of laundry, did some blog work.  The only thing I forgot to do was thaw some meat.  I knew I had leftover Italian sausage marinara in the fridge and gnocchi in the pantry, so dinner was done in a matter of minutes.

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I am sure just like any job that after a while I’ll get comfortable with it.   It’s just weird that I am given a whole market to do myself after only doing two altogether!   It’s all good though.  The start time is later this weekend too because these markets start at 9:00, which is nice.  I believe it will even be light out when I get up!

With the change in my schedule I never went to Weight Watchers this week, but I’ve decided to switch my WI day to Tuesdays, because there are never any markets on that day.  So next Tuesday will be my next weigh in.  It was such an erratic week for me, with the NRA show and all that.  Plan on hitting the gym hard today, as it’s likely a rainy day.

I hope you have a wonderful long weekend!  Make it a great day!

Grilled Shrimp Scampi over Crispy Polenta

Last Friday night I shockingly did not make pizza.  I know, I can hardly believe it myself!  But, we ate out the night before and Hannah and I had pizza, so I figured I needed to balance out my pizza love.  Believe it or not, this is a pantry/fridge/freezer meal.  I found a bag of shrimp in my freezer and thawed them earlier in the day.  These aren’t that big of shrimp, maybe 21-30 count per pound.  But what makes any shrimp better is brining them.  I know, I never thought to brine shrimp either, but I’ve seen it around Pinterest and Instagram.  For every pound of shrimp you have, mix with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.  Toss the shrimp well, and refrigerate 30 minutes before using.

I opted to use my grill pan to grill the shrimp.  No need to towel off the shrimp or rinse them off.   I made this recipe for one person, so multiply accordingly.

Grilled Shrimp Scampi over Crispy Polenta
Serves 1
If you have leftover pasta sauce, or use jarred sauce from your pantry, this dinner can be ready in under 20 minutes - perfect for a week night!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
672 calories
105 g
302 g
9 g
45 g
2 g
513 g
1947 g
11 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
513g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 672
Calories from Fat 77
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
14%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 302mg
101%
Sodium 1947mg
81%
Total Carbohydrates 105g
35%
Dietary Fiber 12g
48%
Sugars 11g
Protein 45g
Vitamin A
43%
Vitamin C
50%
Calcium
20%
Iron
34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 5 ounces brined shrimp
  2. 4 ounces polenta, (the kind that comes in a tube)
  3. 1/2 tablespoon garlic spread
  4. 1/2 cup Italian sausage marinara
  5. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  6. 1 small zucchini, peeled with a veggie peeler
  7. 1 pinch crushed red pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.  Grill the shrimp about 2-3 minutes a side.  Set aside.  Place polenta slices on the grill pan and grill each side about 2-3 minutes.  In the microwave, heat up the Italians sausage marinara.  I used 1/2 a cup of this recipe from my freezer.   Feel free to use jarred sauce too.  My Italian sausage marinara is 5 points per 1/2 cup.  Using a vegetable peeler, make zucchini ribbons and grill for about a minute per side.
  2. To plate:  place zucchini ribbons on the bottom of the plate, top with polenta rounds, then divide the Italian sausage marinara evenly over the top of each polenta cake.  Microwave the garlic spread until melted (20 seconds) and toss the cooked shrimp in the garlic spread and toss in the crushed red pepper and parsley, and plate that on top.
Notes
  1. Feel free to use jarred marinara, and adjust the points accordingly. My homemade version is 5 points per 1/2 cup.
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calories
672
fat
9g
protein
45g
carbs
105g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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This is the garlic spread I used from Jewel.  You could sub in 1 teaspoon of butter with 1 teaspoon of garlic in place of that for the same 1 point value.

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That whole plate of deliciousness is only 10 smart points and so delish.  The brined shrimp tastes almost like baby lobster it’s so tender.  Paired with the crispy polenta, rich marinara, you’ll think you are dining in a four star restaurant instead of your back yard.  I’ll definitely make this again.  You never know what you can come up with using what you already have – one night just pretend that you are on Chopped!

One of the projects I was working on in my basement is my desk.  Over the years it just became the “I’ll deal with it later” desk and it was piled high with so much stuff, I literally had no idea what was even on it anymore.  I’ve been slowly going through stuff, making piles of papers to shred (um, I may have had cell phone bills and bank statements from 2007 in some of the piles!).  I do need to have Hannah help me organize the mementos I want to keep, and I also have hundreds, thousands of old pictures that are so out of order it’s not even funny.  Below are just a few of the gems I found.

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That church picture is from 1985 – my brother Charlie was already in college, hence why he is not in the picture.   I realized after I did the math that my Mom was 45 and my Dad was 47 in this picture – and my sister and brother and I are all older than that now.  Crazy!

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Not kidding, this picture was right behind that church picture.  How do I have a 1985 and a 1972 pic together?!  Um, can I just comment on the sweet pants my sister and I are wearing?  I think my Mom sewed those for us.

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Ah, look at how young me and Hannah look!  This was taken in the fall of 1999 – I was about half way to my goal weight and about six months before meeting Tony.  Back then I didn’t have a scanner or anything, but I was able to take that picture (cropped Hannah out!) and take it to Walgreen’s so I could have a digital picture to use as my profile pick on love@aol, which later turned into Match.com where Tony found me.  He saw that picture, then we talked on the phone and I dropped the f-bomb and was instantly intrigued between the picture and my voice!

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Why?  Just why?  I believe this is 1987 because I am wearing my sisters Delta Gamma sorority shirt. Not kidding I still have the same Aqua Net hairspray bottle that I had back then, and it is nearly 30 years old.  Could we tease our hair or what?!  Gotta love the 80s.

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And since it’s graduation time of year, this is my sister and I on graduation day.  My Mom made these dresses. Our high school tradition if for girls to wear white dresses and the boys to wear blue suits with orange ties.  Can’t believe we are going to be having out 30th high school reunion this fall!

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But when I came across this, my heart sank.  When Tony and I first met I had already lost nearly 65 pounds.  My favorite cereal was Kashi, but I would always add in 1/4 cup of Lucky Charms to make it feel like I was “cheating.”  He said he’d never heard of it.  A week after we met in real life, he found it in the grocery store, bought me five boxes, but faxed me this note on a copy of the Kashi cereal box. 

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We basically moved in a week later, three weeks after we met.  It seems so crazy to me now, but it just seemed so right at the time.  I’ve said it before, but I believe I was put on this earth to help him through the last years of his life.  I was honored to be his wife for 14 years.  I miss him so much.

I am off to the farmers market now – early to bed and early to rise.  I went to bed at 9:30 last night and set my alarm for 4:15 this morning.  I only wake up that early when I have a plane to catch – but I am sure I’ll get used to it.   Wish me luck!

Beef Satay with Pumpkin Seed Crema and Green Curry

So after three completely different job interviews, I’ve decided to work Farmers Markets this summer.  Right now I am on the schedule for three a week – Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  The reason I chose this job is because I love the idea of being outdoors working in the summer.  Just remind me when it’s 95 degrees and I am melting.  And second, it will still give me time to work on my blog, hopefully generate some revenue here, and I’ll still be busy in my kitchen.  I told the owner that I’d reevaluate after the summer, as they still have indoor markets they go to in the winter, so we’ll see.  The best part is that I know this doesn’t have to be the job I have for the rest of my life – just this summer!

It will be interesting to see how my eats are on the days I work.  I have to be at the store front bright and early at 5:30 a.m. and work until 2:00 p.m.  And Saturday I looked at the schedule and it looks like I am working that one all by myself – eek!  I am sure it will be fine and I’ll get the hang of it soon.  Wish me luck!

It was nice to make an actual breakfast yesterday because I’d been eating Kind bars on the train to downtown or in the car the last several days before that.  And guess what?  The Kind bars I eat are 7 points, and so is this egg white/spinach/cheese omelet with turkey bacon.

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I already started reading Aarti’s cookbook, and by reading, I mean she has stories peppered throughout the cookbook.   I’ve made naan before, but I was interested to try out her recipe out.  I did make a couple substitutions to her recipe – I used King Arthur whole wheat white flour because that’s what I had on hand, and I reduced the amount of oil to just 1 tablespoon total.  I also didn’t have kalonji (which is an Indian seed spice?) but added the fennel which I’ll add every time I make naan.  It toasted up in the pan and gave the naan an extra layer of flavor.

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I also made 12 naan vs. her 6, so each one comes out to 3 smart points – whoop!  For lunch I had a pan seared pork chop naan sandwich with tzatziki for 8 smart points.

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Dinner was inspired by Aarti’s green chutney.  I had beef in the freezer from when I bought that primal cut of beef, so I defrosted two steaks, one for me and one for Jacob.  Hannah loves smoked sausage on the grill, but it has to be charred to bits before she’ll eat it.  I did some grilled potatoes on the side for them, and Hannah made bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers – my grill was Bizzy!

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I adapted Half Baked Harvest’s recipe for beef satay with curried cashew sauce with what I had on hand.   I followed her instructions for the marinade, except reduced the amount for my steak:  1 tablespoon greek yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon grapeseed (or olive) oil, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, pinch of cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, cinnamon and black pepper.  Marinate the meat at least an hour or up to overnight.  The pumpkin seed crema made this dish – so many delicious flavors going on here!

Beef Satay with Pumpkin Seed Crema and Green Chutney
Serves 10
So much flavor going on with this sauce - I am trying to think of all the things I could put it on!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
6 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
6 min
55 calories
6 g
0 g
3 g
1 g
2 g
25 g
61 g
2 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
25g
Servings
10
Amount Per Serving
Calories 55
Calories from Fat 29
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
5%
Saturated Fat 2g
12%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 61mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 6g
2%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 2g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
1%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup toasted and salted pumpkin seeds
  2. 1 clove garlic,
  3. 1/2 cup light canned coconut milk
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  5. 1 tablespoon honey
  6. 3 tablespoons Ponzu sauce
  7. 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  9. 1 teaspoon curry powder
  10. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  11. 1/4 cup fresh mint
  12. pinch of salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Put everything into a food processor and blend until smooth.  I said this makes about 10 servings, or a heaping tablespoon, which comes out to 2 flavorful smart points.
Notes
  1. For the meal I used one 3 point naan, 3 ounces of beef (3), a tablespoon of this crema (2) and the green chutney (0) for an 8 point sandwich.
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calories
55
fat
3g
protein
1g
carbs
6g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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For the green chutney, just throw one green pepper, 2 cups cilantro, 1/4 cup mint, 1 serrano chile (seeded), 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and blend until combined.

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I grilled the steak first and then let it rest 5 minutes before slicing.  These weren’t very thick, so just about 2 – 3 minutes per side for medium rare.  I grabbed my naan, put a bit of baby spinach on the bottom, topped with 3 ounces of beef, then added the crema and chutney to the top and then put it back on the grill, not on top of the coals, but as close as I could.  Then let that sit for a minute – the naan got all crispy on the bottom, but was still soft and chewy on top. 

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I wish the crema didn’t look like poo on top of the naan, but trust me, all these flavor combos worked so well together.   I can see myself making this once a week!

Are you ready to see the cutest picture evah?!

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Roz, there is a random heart for you!  It was so sweet.  Rummy on the left was laying in the grass, and Roman just came over and laid next to her – so cute!

I ended up taking a rest day from walking – I was so sore after walking 11 miles the day before, so I am about to eat breakfast and get my walking shoes on before it gets too hot.  It’s already 73 degrees – perfect!  Make it a great day!

NRA Show Part II

Ming Tsai made his first meal for someone other than his family at the age of 10.  It’s customary in Chinese households to greet someone with not “Hi, how are you?” but with “Chi le ma?” which means “have you eaten yet?”  You either reply “chi le” which means you have eaten, or “mei ne” which means you have not eaten.

He was home alone at age 10, when friends of his parents stopped by.  He asked them if they had eaten, and they said no, so he went about making fried rice, a dish he’d seen made 200+ times but something he never made himself.  He said nearly every Chinese household has cold rice in the fridge, so he went about making the eggs, chopping up leftover veggies he found in the fridge, admitted that he probably used way to much soy sauce, but once he presented the dish to these people, and he saw the look on their face, he knew right then and there that he was going to be a Chef.

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What struck me about him, is that he kind of seems serious on shows I’ve seen him in, but he’s fricken hilarious.  He swears just as much as me, was really down to earth, but was telling members of the audience that if it’s the life of a chef you want, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.  It’s hard work.   He said some people believe that if they graduate top of their class at Johnson & Wales that they’ll graduate into a sous chef position right out of the gate. Nope.  You’ll be a prep cook and maybe stay at that position for a year, cutting onions, before moving up to line cook.  And it takes several years to even get a nod at a sous chef position, all while making around $14 an hour.  So he said “you have to love it with everything you have to stick with it.”  So if you go to a fancy restaurant, I’d ask to thank the sous chef because they’ve worked really hard to get to where they have gotten.

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I found my food truck guys!  You can have it custom built, and this model starts at only $200,000!

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Did any of you guys watch Master Chef where Tommy Walton of Chicago made it almost all the way to the end?   I was walking down an aisle at the show, and saw him walking towards me with his husband.  I shouted “Tommy!”  He was super nice, and I told him what a fan I was of his on the show being a local and all.  His husband then said “let’s get a picture of you two together!”  So sweet.

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I also found a pizza oven that I want installed in my house whenever I get around to redoing my kitchen.  Something, you know, simple but effective.  It goes up to 900 degrees!

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Yesterday morning I knew the first event I wanted to go to was a presentation with Jon Taffer and Robert Irvine.  It started at 10:30, so I took an earlier train because I thought I’d walk from the train station to McCormick place.  My sister called me on the train and when I told her I was going to walk it, she said “how far is it?”  I guessed about a mile and a half.  Nope – try 3.3 miles one way!

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With traffic lights, it did end up taking me about 55 minutes to get there, but it was perfect timing.  The main entrance led right to the grand ballroom, and I snuck in and got a seat with the Sysco people – who sponsored the event.  We had these super comfy chairs and it was a great presentation.

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It was interesting because both shows are basically the same – Robert rescues restaurants and Jon rescues bars.  But each said that there is a common denominator in any failed establishment.  The owner of the failing restaurant almost always blames their lack of success on everything but themselves.  The economy sucks, a new restaurant just opened up next door, etc.  They said the list of excuses could be a mile long.  It isn’t until they can convince the owner to stop making excuses, have them admit that they are the reason they are not successful, that they can then go ahead and take the steps to be successful.  They said that of all their rescues, after one year 72% are still in business and going strong.

But what their talk did was make me realize that I am just like that failing owner of the restaurant making excuses and not getting me get to my weight loss goal.   It’s easy to say “I didn’t sleep well” “I have to work late” “the kids are sick” – whatever the excuse is, I am the only one that can get me to my goals.  Um, for the record, Robert’s biceps in real life are pretty impressive.  He said he takes pride in his health and work out schedule, and no matter how busy a day he has, that is already his number one priority each and every day.  We all have the same 24 hours, I just plan to use mine better after that talk.

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I loved the NRA app that I had on my phone.  I had already scheduled several events that I wanted to attend, but it’s easy to lose track of time because the show is just that big.  But if I had something on my schedule, about 10 minutes out I would get a message telling me to “head to the Foodamental stage for No Bones About It.”

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I’ve never actually deboned a chicken before, so it was a great hands on class.  I decided not to show you the finished product because it’s just a leg quarter with a bunch of bones on the side, but it was really great to learn how to do it.  We made a ground chicken stuffing with parsley, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon and then learned how to truss the chicken for cooking.   Here’s a youtube video if you want to try it yourself.

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Next up was Aarti Sequeira!  I started watching Aarti’s Paarti on YouTube a long time ago and was so shocked when she was on Food Network Star – I remember telling Tony “I know her!”  Well, I don’t personally know her, but it was fun to see her win Food Network star.  She actually didn’t start cooking until about age 30, and was much a recipe follower.   She was brought up in a typical Indian family where you are to get a job in a “respectable” field which in turn would bring in a big paycheck.  It’s the goal of Indian families for each generation to be more successful than the last.  She ended up getting downsized in a job, and started tinkering in the kitchen.   Her husband had always wanted to be an actor and invited her to one of his improv classes.  But she is a linear person and likes rules, and the thought of having to get up on stage and wing it was WAY outside her comfort zone.  But she did it!  And loved it.   One of her friends in the class dropped her off after one of the classes and told her how well she did, and said “maybe now you can start improvising in your kitchen too!”   And that once comment jump started her creativity in the kitchen.

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While I was standing in line to have her sign her cookbook (which I’ve already flagged about a dozen things already!) I opened the book up to page 196 and my eyes were immediately drawn to the last paragraph:

“What small step can you take, that one that scared the knickers off you, but the one you know might be the key to unlocking some of the potential written into your soul?  Just take a little step, dear heart.  Then take another one.  You have no idea where it will lead.”  Wow.  It was as if she was speaking directly to me!  And when I finally got to talk to her, she looked at my name and said “I have a friend named Biz in California!”  So we are basically best friends now.  Ha!  Well, she did like my Instagram post, so that’s something!

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So I told both Ming and Aarti that I quit my day job to pursue a career in the food industry – I like how both of them gave me encouragement, when I know I am just a face in the crowd, but I love it!  Ming said “follow your dreams – peace and good eats!”

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And Aarti said “good for you!!  Cook with Joy.”

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It was such a fun event, and I am glad that I went.  Um, not only did I walk to McCormick place from the train station, but back as well!  I ended up with just over 27k steps, which is why I slept in a bit this morning and am posting later than usual. 

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Alright, time to catch up on some of my computer work and decide if I am going to be taking a job of the three that I was offered.  Love that I got job offers from all three of the interviews I went on!  

Make it a great day!

Farmers Market and NRA!

What a busy several days I’ve had lately!  Thursday – job interview.  Friday – job interview.  Today – I have another job interview – I know, it’s so crazy when it rains it pours!  But my super smart brother thought it might not be the best idea to discuss potential jobs on the blog until after if and when I take one, and that does make sense.  Tony was my moderator of the blog, but it’s nice that my brother is looking after me too.  Thanks Charlie!  (Go check out the weirdest thing that happened to him last week!).

One of the potential jobs that I can talk about is working with a local company that does farmers markets throughout the area and as far away as Kenosha, Wisconsin.  When I interviewed with this guy last Thursday I told him that I’d try it for a day and see if I like it – he can see me work and we could see if it was a good fit.  Kenosha is really only about an hour and 10 minutes away from where I live, so it was a nice drive up there Saturday morning.

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Not only were we selling products to customers, we also were preparing fresh veggie burger wraps – either Vegan or “Danimal” style which would include a farm fresh fried egg and cheese.  It had this delicious red pepper coulis drizzled over the top.  Everyone was raving about them!   Here is what I noticed though – the time flew by.  I never took a break, went to the bathroom, or hardly ate a thing for the 5 hours I worked the market.  I guess if you do what you like, it doesn’t feel like work! 

After we wrapped things up, I had only gone about 3,000 steps, and since it was such a nice day, I threw my stuff in the car and went on a walk around the lakefront.  Only two things were missing – sunscreen and a hat!  I had gotten 30 minutes in when I could already feel my skin start to burn and I ended up driving home.   I never really meal planned for this weekend, and couldn’t decide on what to make or cook, so we all made the decision to just order pizza and not have to think about it.  Normally Marcos pizza is good by us, but this time it tasted like crap.  And while I normally pride myself in how my dishes look and are photographed, I think this picture sums up Saturday night dinner.

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Let’s just say that overeating was not even an option that night!

I thought I’d take the train to the NRA show on Sunday, but a quick look at the train schedule for a Sunday and how far out I live from the city, it soon became clear that driving was the only option.  I had two things going for me though – Sunday traffic (not bad!) and an app called SpotHero.   It was recommended on the NRA app, and because I was attending the show, I got a $5 off promo code.  So last week I clicked on the app near McCormick place, picked out a parking garage about .4 miles away, and it said it would cost $12.10 from 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.  But with my promo code, it ended up costing me only $7.10 to park in Chicago – unheard of!

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I would definitely use that app again if I were driving to the city. 

Since it was my first day attending the show, I had to go to the registration area and get my badge.

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Because of the app I could plan my day and then just hit “my schedule” to remind myself where I wanted to be at a certain time.  I knew I wanted to do the cooking demo with Kevin Hickey who owns The Duck Inn with his restaurant group in the Bridgeport area of Chicago.  Jacky, this restaurant screams us so we need to make a plan!  Chef Kevin named this restaurant after a place his great grandmother owned after she became a young widow with six kids.  All she knew was how to cook, so she opened a small diner near a train station so that people could just “duck in” to grab a bite to eat.  The theme of our hands on cooking demonstration was gourmet toast, or crostini, or bruscetta – whatever you want to call it, it’s fancy toast.

I was paired with a lovely girl whose husband was attending the show.  We collaborated our efforts to recreate the chef’s two toasts – I apologize for the crappy photography, but the lighting wasn’t that great, and I was more interested in experiencing the event rather than making sure I got the best shot.  We made a fresh fava bean and ricotta toast with fresh mint and lemon zest.  It’s the first time I’ve ever eaten fresh fava beans and they were amazing.  The second one was an olive oil, white bean, octopus, Calabria pepper and fresh thyme toast – again, equally delicious!   That segment lasted 45 minutes and was fun.  And, you know me, I just had to get a picture with Chef Kevin!

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As soon as I was leaving that event, I saw my friend Brian who I’ve met twice before at the Kendall College high school culinary competitions I was a judge at.  We both saw each other about the same time, and yes, you guessed it, I had to take a picture with him too!  Am I klassy with a K or what?!  We talked for a good 10 minutes and it was nice to catch up.  The Illinois finalists are headed to San Diego in a couple weeks for the national championships.  Brian is their culinary mentor from Kendall to help lead them to victory.

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My step-son Joe and his wife work for Hot Schedules in Austin, and they had a booth at the event.  I had to stop by and say hello!  I met the VP of the company and she was lovely – Lizz, she told me that you hold that whole ship together with your mad organizational and admin skills!

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And as I was leaving that booth, wouldn’t you know that I ran into the Tapatio booth!  I told them how much I tag them in my Instagram pics.   They gave me a whole bottle to take home. #swag

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Here’s what I noticed though.  My badge said “affiliate” on the bottom, which basically meant that I really wouldn’t be buying any dishware for my restaurant, or outdoor heaters for my bistro.  But the people who didn’t mind that and saw “food blogger” on my badge loved to talk to me about their food.  Yes please!  Of course, lot’s of cheese.  Wisconsin Cheese!

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That hot buffalo cheddar curd was probably the best cheese curd I’ve ever had in my life.  Seasoned perfect, a bit of squeak, and well – delish!  Thanks Ellsworth Coop Creamery!

I had told everyone that my first goal was to get a picture with Graham Elliot.   The only problem was that I knew he spoke on Saturday, but I wasn’t there, and I had no idea if he was going to be attending any other day.  Not kidding, within 30 minutes of me being there, I saw him walking right in my direction.  It helped that his signature white framed glasses were noticeable!  I wish I would have had someone near us take the picture for us, because my arms are short, he’s tall, but I’ll take it!  Mission accomplished!

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He was super nice, and I told him that I followed him on Instagram and that his kids were super cute.  Ha! 

You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for my recap of my Culinary workshop with Ming Tsai and some of my eats throughout the day.   Right now I have to head back downtown – my goal today?  To get my picture with Robert Irvine!  Wish me luck….just follow me on Instagram to see if that happens.  All I know is that these last few days have only solidified that I made the right decision on carving out a new career path for me.  And I couldn’t be happier! Open-mouthed smile

I got a job! But . . .

I am not sure I am going to take it.  Just yet. 

Here’s the deal.  I would be working with a store front restaurant that only offers take out at the moment, but is going into their third year in farmers markets and has quite a following.  In their store front alone, they sell 7000 veggie burgers a week!  Yes, you read that correctly.  VEGGIE burgers.  But they sell more stuff than that.  Homemade giardiniera, gluten free items, vegan, vegetarian, full fat desserts, beef and chicken.  Whew!  Thank goodness meat is involved.

I really like the owner of the company.  Turns out we are the same age.  The first Chef I worked under ended up working with this guys grandfather back in the day.  We both love cooking and food, but he found that as his career as a chef progressed, the less cooking he ended up doing – it was more administrative, and realized one day several years ago that he had gone three months without stepping foot into a kitchen and wondered where his passion had gone.  I have no doubt that I would be a great fit for his company, but I told him I have two other interviews in the next few days and I would let him know.  I did tell him that I would “interview” at a farmers market with him on Saturday in Kenosha.  What better way to demonstrate my salesmanship! 

But this morning I have another job interview with Urban Till.  I’ll let you know how that turns out, but of course, cannot give you any details, because Tony would accuse me of jinxing myself. Open-mouthed smile

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I ended up going to WW after my interview.  I am up 1.8 for two weeks, but I am so okay with that.  You’ll note that I am up .8 for the last 4 weeks, which is typical maintenance for me.  But I did have bad back pain for several days and didn’t get my steps or workouts in like I would have liked.  Um, guess what I went back to?  Classical Stretch.  I DVD’d about 22 episodes from our PBS t.v. and it’s made such a difference.  And I had some emotional eating binges a few times, so there’s that.  Tony was the one who kept me on check with those, and now that he’s not here, it’s a lot easier to have stuff around without him looking over my shoulder – which was a good thing by the way. 

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I am pretty sure my eyebrows got me the job – because they are on fleek.  I’ve talked about this before, but I get my eyebrows threaded at Wal-mart.  They upped the price to $9, but still so worth the 120 seconds of torture I go through, which is so much better than waxing ever was for me.  And for the record, there is no filter, the sun was directly in my eyes, so the green in my eyes (I just said OUR eyes, since my twin sister has the same ones!)  is more pronounced in the sunlight.

Both Hannah and Jacob finished their finals and with my potential new job opportunity, we went out to eat.  I enjoyed a Fat Tire beer and Hannah and I split a small pizza, and Jacob got a burger.

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So I have a busy weekend!  Today:  job interview.  Saturday:  Kenosha Farmers Market.  Sunday and Monday:  NRA Show at McCormick place.   And hopefully by next week, I will have a few job offers and will be able to pick which one suits me best.  THANK YOU, for all your sweet comments on yesterday’s post and on Instagram.  It was such a confidence boost to read “they would be lucky to have you!” (thanks Susan!) “you have a wonderful passion for food and people any company would be lucky to have you…it’s just a matter of time to see who that lucky company/business will be!” (thanks Bonnie, from Ohio!). 

Here’s to new beginnings!  

I have a job interview!

I am nearly always a glass half full vs. a glass half empty person.  I think that’s why Tony and I worked so well together, because however negative things looked, I could always find the bright side in everything.  I will tell you that my job search to find my new life’s passion was slow.  And I did that on purpose.  I wanted to take advantage of the time, I got to go spend time with my brother and my SIL and their family for 11 days, I got to go to Virginia and help my Aunt and her partner sell peanuts.  What a great feeling to make a decision to go somewhere without having to ask permission or make sure someone else in the office didn’t already request the days off.

But I’ve been actively searching for a job in the food industry in earnest for the last month.  And guess what?   I was getting nervous.  I wasn’t getting any responses to ads on craigslist, or indeed, or through referrals from friends even.  And a couple days ago I finally realized that it’s MUCH different job searching when you don’t have X amount of years experience to back up what you want to do.  I mean, I know if prospective employers saw my Instagram page they can think “she can cook” but not realize that my administrative and organizational skills coupled with my love of food could be the one two punch they are looking for.

So I am thrilled to be going on my first food related interview this morning.  I won’t give any details yet, because Tony used to always tell me not to jinx stuff like that, but any good thoughts you could send my way this morning would be appreciated.

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Shall we have another episode of “What did Biz’s hair look like when she woke up?!”  I mostly take these pictures on the mornings that Hannah leaves for work at 4:30 a.m. and doesn’t see the magic in person.  It’s like I have a little stylist working on my hair when I sleep!

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My friend Laura gave me Aldi brand buffalo wing cheese and it’s really really good.  I mean, it’s cheese and it’s spicy – how bad could that be?  Best part is that each slice weighs 3/4 of an ounce, so each slice is 3 smart points and totally worth it.  I made an egg white/spinach/Thomas light English muffin sammie with turkey bacon on the side and a sliced blood orange.  8 smart points for breakfast.

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I’ve realized that my exercise game has been slacking in the last several days, so I kicked it up a notch and did a 4 mile walk around my neighborhood – it took me exactly one hour to do it – perfect weather – low 60s, blue skies.  Perfection.

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I ended up using some leftover rotisserie chicken to make chicken tacos.  I should note that I use a copious amount of Pam to make fried tacos, but it does get them crunchy.  I should probably suck it up and spend a point on a teaspoon of oil.  Two white corn tortillas (3), 3 ounces of leftover rotisserie chicken (2) with carrots and light ranch dressing mixed with Tapatio hot sauce (2).  7 smart points for lunch.

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I ended up hitting the gym up for 30 minutes of upper body in between running a couple errands.  I love this tank top.  But surprisingly it doesn’t give me a flat stomach – ha!

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Then finished off with a 2 mile hill climb on the treadmill while watching Property Brothers.  I ended up with 17k steps yesterday! Open-mouthed smile

It was just me and Hannah for dinner last night since Jacob worked last night.  It’s tough when it’s just the two of us, because 9/10 I have some sort of meat on the menu.  She did, however, choose a cheddar brat for her protein, but I made us the same noodles – we each had 3/4 cup of cooked egg noodles cooked with sauteed mushrooms, baby spinach and 1 teaspoon of real salted butter.  My 4 ounce of beef was 4 points and the side dish ended up being 6, so 10 points for dinner. 

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I liked that I got a bit of crispiness when cooking the egg noodles in the cast iron skillet.  And, I may have added a pinch of crushed red peppers over the top of my steak. 

Alright, I need to get this show on the road.  Send all your positive thoughts my way – I totally appreciate it.  Make it a great day!