Monthly Archives:

January 2011


We have a Chinese Restaurant!

When we first moved out her almost 10 years ago, the first thing you do in any new town is find the best pizza and best Chinese restaurants.  We found a Chinese place almost immediately – the shrimp toast was by far the best we’d ever had, each dish that came to the table was so fresh and flavorful.

But after that first visit, each and every subsequent visit got worse and worse, until the last time we went, Tony ordered a beef and broccoli dish and the the beef was actually raw – so gross!  Needless to say, they are no longer in business.

Last week Tony was waiting for an appointment and overheard some ladies talking about going out to dinner.  In Tony’s usual sense of humor, he butted in and wanted to know where they were going and what time should he be there.  They mentioned a Chinese place that Tony and I have probably passed by 100’s of times and never gave it a second glance.

Here is our new Chinese restaurant!  Gourmet House in Algonquin.  First sign of a good restaurant?  It is busy.   Second sign of a good restaurant?  It was clean. Third sign of a good restaurant?  Attentive service. Fourth sign of a good restaurant?  The manager asking how everything was.

They have a lunch menu that includes choice of soup (sweet and sour or egg drop), egg roll, rice and entree – and almost all of the lunches cost:

yep, $5.50!

Neither Tony or I are huge fans of egg drop or sweet and sour.  We ordered the sizzling rice soup for 2 – $4.95.  It was enough soup for each of us to have a bowl and one serving was brought home.

I love that Tony automatically asks any server no matter where we go, if there is hot sauce 😀  This one did not disappoint.  A little went a long way.

So the server brought the soup – put the rice (which we later found out was deep fried) and then added the broth and the rice did sizzle.  I’d never had that soup before but I loved the texture of the rice, the broth was not too salty, and the shrimp was so tender.

I do tend to play it safe the first visit to any restaurant – but there are several dishes I can’t wait to try – one that Tony pointed out was a Chef’s Specialty – Combination Hot Pot:

Shrimp, chicken, beef, scallops, bbq pork and tofu with vegetables – all for only $12.98!

I stuck with my stand by of Kung Pao Chicken.  I love that it came with brown rice (I didn’t ask for brown rice) and the chicken was so tender.  And I ate the whole egg roll – it had a nice crunch, and wasn’t greasy at all.

Can’t wait to go back – and Mom, next time you come out here, we’ll have to go!

I had a great grocery shop – we only spent $49 and I got chicken wings, a 4 pound pot roast, ground turkey and bone-in pork chops.

You know I couldn’t have the weekend go by without being Bizzy in the Kitchen!  I made a cauliflower and cheddar cheese soup.  It is really good – tastes like I used heavy cream but I didn’t, and the added lemon zest brings this soup all together.

Cauliflower Cheddar Cheese Soup (printer friendly version)

Course: main meals

PointsPlus™ Value:    4

Servings:  6 (1 cup each)  (7 Plus Points for 1.5 cups)

Preparation Time:  10 min

Cooking Time:  20 min

Level of Difficulty:  Easy


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 cups chopped cauliflower (about 1 large head)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk, divided
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • oops – forgot to add 4 ounces cheese of your choice 
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in large stock pot.  Add garlic, and cook for a couple minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower, 2 cups milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes.
  4. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of milk with the flour in a small bowl.  Add to soup and cook for a few more minutes.
  5. Using a stick blender, puree the soup.  Remove from heat, add cheese and lemon zest and let sit 10 minutes until the cheese melts.

I used an extra sharp white cheddar I bought at Whole Foods - it has bits of cranberry in it, but I could't taste it in the soup

I love cauliflower - yet I didn't even try it until a few years ago

next time I'll have this with a hunk of artisan bread 😀

We had made plan to go out to dinner with our neighbors prior to everything else going on in our lives, but we both felt up to it.  I mean, how can you pass up a Jewish deli??

I like to think that besides Allison, I am the #1 aficionado when it comes to Reuben sandwiches.  The bread can’t be too soggy, the corned beef has to be nice and tender.  This one fit the bill – grilled marble rye on the bottom, delicious kraut, melty cheese – my guess is that this open face sandwich is about 14 points – so worth it!  I ate half a potato pancake, so dinner comes in at 19  points.

this picture doesn't do this sandwich any justice! heaven on a plate 😀

And this place had a full deli and bakery.  It was all I could no not to leave with this!

Stats for Sunday:

  • 32 points
  • 30 minute Biggest Loser on Demand (Tara from BL was actually the leader!)
  • Average blood sugar??  I didn’t test once yesterday – oops!

Check out Dana’s BSI Couscous round up here – lots of cool recipes!  And then check out Debbi Does Dinner Healthy for this weeks BSI.  Um, pretty sure this ingredient screams me – Buffalo Sauce/Hot Sauce! 😀

This week’s weather is going to suck.  Here in Chicagoland we are expecting up to 20 inches of snow by Wednesday – um, not the way I wanted to start February!

Question of the Day:  Is a good pizza place or Chinese restaurant more important to you?


Pasta Primavera

I normally don’t post on the weekend, but wanted to share this recipe with you – it was so good!   The other night I showed you a new Green Giant product (new to me!).  The whole 11 ounce bag is only 3 points!  I had leftover chicken and leftover cooked pasta, so my version of pasta primavera was born! 😀  My lunch portion was only 5 points, but I rewrote the recipe for two servings for a dinner portion.

When I cooked this at work yesterday, while the vegetables are in a light sauce, it wasn’t saucy enough for me.  I looked in the work fridge and found my spicy red pepper hummus my Mom had given to me because it was too spicy for her – just adding a tablespoon to my serving was the perfect touch – it coated the pasta nicely and gave the whole dish a nice kick.  I imagine garlic hummus would be good too!

Pasta Primavera (printer friendly version here)

Course: main meals

PointsPlus™ Value:    8

Servings:  2

Preparation Time:  5 min

Cooking Time:  15 min

Level of Difficulty:  Easy


  • 11 oz bag frozen Green Giant Healthy Colors vegetables
  • 4 oz cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 Tbsp Tribe All Natural Hummus Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • 1 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 6 oz cooked pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning


  1. Microwave the vegetables according to package instructions.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan.  Add diced cooked chicken and cook for a few minutes to reheat.
  3. Add cooked vegetables from microwave, the pasta and hummus and stir for a couple minutes.
  4. Add mozzarella cheese and stir until melted.  Sprinkle with parsley and Italian seasoning, stir and serve.

3 points for the whole bag

This would be an easy week night meal too – you could just throw in any leftover meat, or maybe shrimp?

In other news, I went to WW today, down another pound so I’ve lost 6 pounds!  Only thing is that they couldn’t print out my results, because last week I went to the meeting on Sunday, which starts their week, so the computer had already “counted” my weigh in for the week.  So my goal is to lose another pound this week to show -2.0 next Saturday!

Tony and I are trying out a new to us Chinese restaurant at lunch today – its so hard to find good Chinese food places in the suburbs!

Enjoy your Saturday – its in the 30’s today so it almost feels balmy! 😀


Chemo and Radiation?

I met Tony at his doctors appointment to meet the surgeon.  Um, turns out our GP didn’t set up an appointment as his nurse had told us, so they had no idea we were coming.  So we waited about a good hour while they had all of his charts and lab work to be faxed to make up his file before seeing the doctor.

Even with that set back, when we finally got into the doctor, we immediately both liked the surgeon.  He went to undergrad at Madison in Wisconsin, then went to Stanford and did his surgical residency at Rush.  The only piece of the puzzle he’s waiting on is the results of the ultrasound test Tony did on Monday, which would pinpoint exactly where the tumor is.  If it’s high up in the colon, they just do surgery – all of their surgeries start out laproscopically, and only if there is a complication do they do the more invasive surgery.

However, if the tumor is lower in the colon, they do six to eight weeks of chemo and radiation.  We had both just wrapped our brains around him having a possible invasive surgery, but chemo and radiation never crossed our minds.  I know he has cancer, but we both had surgery on our brains.  When we heard chemo and radiation, it make it seem that more real that Tony has cancer.  It’s hard to describe!

The other piece of the puzzle will be next Wednesday, when they do a full body scan to make sure that the cancer hasn’t spread anywhere else, and then we’ll form a game plan at the end of next week.  Bottom line is the surgeon doesn’t want to waste any time.

There’s just one more thing.  This surgeon is a Chicago Cubs fan.  I told him that on the day of surgery, don’t be surprised if I have written “Cubs suck” and “100+ years without a World Series Title” all over Tony’s body! 😀

I had to be to work early yesterday, so I had McDonald’s oatmeal – I really like it!  And my co-worker said that you can ask for it without the maple, and it would reduce it to 6 points, but I still don’t think 7 points is too bad for a breakfast.

All of a sudden I looked up and realized I had 15 minutes to eat before leaving for the doctor appointment.  I brought my Split Pea with Smoked Turkey soup – 1 1/2 servings for 8 points.

um, maybe splashed with some Tabasco 😀

The smoked turkey was still really tender – I still have four more servings in the deep freeze too 😀  I never even tried split pea soup before just because of how it looks – missed out for so many years!

the perfect bite

Since I didn’t do a full grocery shop this week, I decided to hit up my store’s 50% off bin on the way home.  I scored and got a one pound bone-in New York strip for $4.30 and this package of veggies – Green Giant’s Healthy Colors.  While I wouldn’t spend $3 on this package, I didn’t mind spending $1.50.  Each serving is only 1 point.

My plate: 8 points

I have a full-proof gravy recipe for you.  I know I’ve talked about having the .50 cent packets of gravy mix in your pantry is nice to have on hand, but I didn’t have any more so had to make it from scratch.

Super Easy Gravy (makes 4, 1/4 cup servings – 2 points each)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup broth (I used beef, but you could use any broth to suit what you are making)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add flour and stir for one minute.  Slowly add the beef broth and continue cooking for 5 minute or so, making sure the flour is combined and the gravy gets thick.  I added sauteed mushrooms for Tony and put that gravy over his steak – he loved it! 😀

This was the first time I’ve had yellow carrots – I actually never knew they existed!  I am submitting this side dish to Christina’s Friday Firsts:

I did add pepper to the veggies at the table, but these were really good.  Maybe I can use the remaining bag in a stir fry for my lunch today.

But later on in the evening, I was really hungry – I realized I’d only had 23 points for the day, so I made an unphotographed cheese and cracker tray for me and Tony – my guess is it was around 8 points.  Turns out I like cheese! 😀

Stats for Thursday

  • 31 points
  • no exercise
  • average blood sugar 134

Hope everyone has a great weekend – I’ll “see” you on Monday!