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April 2013

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I Cheated on Chobani

Dear Chobani.  Oh how I love thee.  You have been good to me the last couple years, sending me free products, t-shirts and spoons.  I’ve been spreading the word about your wonderful yogurt so much so that my boss who once thought she hated Greek yogurt has come to love it.

But this week you weren’t on sale.  And the Yoplait was and it was winking at me, and before I knew it, it was in my cart ready to make the trip home with me.

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And while this wasn’t as good as Chobani, it was pretty tasty.  Open-mouthed smile

I ended up running a couple errands at lunch with my co-worker.  We stopped at T.J. Maxx – I love that place for their home goods section – so many cool dishes and food items.  I ended up picking up a bottle of agave nectar for only $2.99 for a 12 ounce bottle, and got these cute mini casserole dishes – 2 for $4.99.

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My friend didn’t bring a lunch so she suggested Chipotle, and while you know I always bring my lunch, it sounded really good.

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I was in Tabasco heaven!

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I ended up getting the burrito bowl: chicken, brown rice, black beans, romaine and some cheese.  When I got back to the office, I did the nutrition calculator, and that whole dish was 610 calories!  So I ate 2/3 of it, for around 400 calories – oh, and I got the spicy red salsa – so good!  Also in that dish?  1500 mg of sodium!  I drank a lot of water yesterday afternoon!

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I had simple grilled chicken thighs on our dinner menu, and decided to make a quick broccoli gratin side dish.  I let the microwave do most of the work!

Broccoli Gratin for Two

  • each serving: 247 calories, 16 fat, 332 sodium, 14 carbs, 1.8 fiber and 13 protein

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped cooked broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup non-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • pinch of pepper

Cook the broccoli in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Let it cool enough so that you can chop it up.  I prefer my broccoli to be crisp tender.

In a saucepan, melt butter.  Add flour and cook 1 minute.  Slowly add the buttermilk, making a roux.  Remove from heat and add cheese and stir until combined.  I think there is enough salt in the cheese so I didn’t add any, but you could if you wanted to.  Add the chopped broccoli to the cheese sauce, mix and divide between two oven safe dishes.  Put under the broiler for a couple minutes until nice and bubbly.

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I also had 1/2 a cup of rice on the side, but since the casserole dish was a bit big, I just added it to my broccoli and ended up stirring it in.  Oh, and I may or may not have added buffalo Tabasco to my broccoli too.  Open-mouthed smile

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I never used to like chicken thighs.  Truth be told, I never even tried them until a few years ago, I had myself conditioned that I didn’t like dark meat, and there is so much more flavor going on with thighs.  I had a chipotle honey bbq sauce on mine, so good!

I have got to get back on the exercise train!  Turns out when I get off the train for too many days in a row, it’s hard to get back on the train.  Can you leave me a comment today telling me to get my ass to the gym today?!  Thanks for the push!

Come back tomorrow – I have a couple new recipes.  Right now I am making banana flax seed buttermilk pancakes with agave nectar and applesauce.  And over the weekend I made pickled radishes that are amazeballs.  Veronica, you will totally love this recipe!

And for the record, my brother and sister both hate when I use the word amazeballs.  I just forwarded them this:

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Make it a great day!

Pork

Best Ribs Ever

This weekend was the perfect balance of lazy and productive.  Saturday morning I totally had a taste for Tony’s amazing eggs, only to realize that I only had hard boiled eggs on hand.  That was the first thing added to my grocery list and I went with plan B: 2 hard boiled eggs, cinnamon toast and 1/2 a banana.

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I needed to get my eyebrows threaded, but when I got to Wal-mart, there were too many people in line already.  So I did a bit of shopping, and still no luck – I may have to run over there one night this week.

I ended up picking us up Wendy’s for lunch.  I can’t even remember the last time I was in a Wendy’s.  Now I know why – this chicken sandwich was so dry, it tasted as if it was made the day before.  It was barely warm by the time I brought it home.

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As is customary, I made two loaves of my Artisan bread, although this time it rose for 3 hours and it almost poured out of the top of my bowl!

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Have you tried making this yet?  I was nervous the first time I made it too because the dough is so light and . . . sticky.  I also make just two loaves of bread out of the recipe.

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I could eat a whole loaf all to myself!   My nephew came by yesterday to pick up his Mom’s food for the week, and his first question is always “did you make me your bread?”  I am pretty sure he eats it all!

Saturday morning Tony and I were watching an Anthony Bordain show and he was in Italy and we watched a woman make pasta from scratch.  She only used a fork and a rolling pin so I decided to try my hand at making homemade pasta for dinner Saturday night.

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I used one of the dough recipes from this book, what she calls a “yellow pasta dough.”

Pasta Dough

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 large eggs

That’s it.  Really!  This is enough pasta for 3 standard portions for an entrée, or 3 portions for an appetizer portion.

Make a well in the center of your flour.  Add eggs and using a fork, mix until combined.  I actually made a double batch, so I still have half of the dough in the fridge.  I am curious to see how that turns out later in the week.

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I am not going to lie, it got messy!

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But I just kept brining the eggs to the middle and soon enough I had my pasta dough.

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My flaw the last time I made pasta was not rolled out thin enough and my cuts were too big – I didn’t realize how much the dough would puff up when I boiled it.

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I also used a lot of flour to keep the pasta from sticking to each other before I cooked it.  I let this sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before cooking – it doesn’t take long to cook at all, about 3-4 minutes.

Tony has not been a fan of red sauce lately, and alfredo sauce kind of gets old.  As I was flipping through that cookbook though, I saw a recipe for Gorgonzola sauce, and I asked Tony “would you eat that??”  He tasted the blue cheese I had and said if I went light on the blue cheese it would be fine.  I feel like Rhonda taking a picture of the recipe!

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The only thing I did different was I only used about a tablespoon of the blue cheese and instead of 1/2 a cup of heavy whipping cream, I used 1/2 a cup of lowfat buttermilk.

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This was delicious.  Tony and I both gave this two thumbs up.  The pasta was tender and the sauce was delicious and even Tony said next time I could add more blue cheese.  Be sure to salt your boiling water because that’s how the pasta gets seasoned.

Sunday morning we laid in bed and watched The Watch with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn.  We watched nearly the whole thing and parts of it were pretty funny.  We each just had a piece of toast for breakfast before heading out to the grocery store.  After the store we stopped and got a lunch – I had a chicken Parm sandwich (which Tony doesn’t care for at all) and I got a Boddington’s on tap.

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I can’t even believe I am about to say this, but it was too many tots!

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The sandwich was delicious though – thin chicken breast with a spicy seasoning and melted mozzarella.  Just yum.

So there are many things that I can’t make, yet I try to make them over and over.  I have finally gotten good at making scalloped potatoes – I finally just ended up using cooked potatoes!  The other nemesis that’s been haunting me for years?  Ribs.  Doesn’t seem to matter how long I cook them in the oven, cooking them low and slow, high heat, etc.  They were never quite there.

I went looking for a dry rub recipe online yesterday and I saw that this guy cooked his ribs in his Dutch oven before finishing them off on the grill with sauce.  I never thought of that!  I’ve always wrapped them up in foil.  I ended up putting the ribs in the Dutch oven with 1 can of beer at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  Perfectly cooked!  Tender, nearly fall off the bone.

Dry Rub:

  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix well.  I used half of this rub on two slabs of ribs.

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Here they are after cooking for 2 1/2 hours – ready for the grill!  Except I realized that all of my bbq sauces were spicy – so I ended up making a quick bbq sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • salt and pepper

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These are hands down the best ribs I’ve ever made – the Dutch oven was the key!  And the corn was pretty good too for April!

And now we are back to Monday – cannot believe that we only have a couple days left in April – that month sure did go by fast!

Since I can’t wear my pajamas to work, I guess I’ll have to get ready now – Happy Monday – make it a great day!

Poultry

Orange Chipotle Chicken Tacos

More blue skies and warmer temps are coming our way  – woop!  Right now at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning it’s already 52 degrees with a high of 65 with no rain in the forecast until Monday.

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Since I was putting so much stuff together for my grilled lunch at work, I was happy to have once slice left of my potato crusted quiche left for breakfast.

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I need to talk about that slice of bread in the background.  Um, its cinnamon bread with raisins, walnuts and coarse sugar on the outside.  Yes, I have deemed this insulin worthy!  Luckily, our store sells this bread in smaller amounts – so I bought a bag of 4 slices for $1.25.  Otherwise, Tony and I could probably eat a loaf of this for breakfast all by itself!

So it was my first grill of the season at my work!  For new readers, I work in an office that has a full size kitchen (sans a stove), but we have an outdoor patio that has a gas grill.  I normally grill out something every Friday and we eat together.

I ended up making a chipotle marinade that turned out really good.  I will call this “company” marinade because it was really flavorful, but I could have used more chipotles!

Orange Chipotle Marinated Chicken

  • Makes 8, 4 oz. servings:  203 calories, 9.13 fat, 3.9 carbs, 25.5 protein and only 90 mg of sodium!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in half)
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 a cup of cilantro
  • 3 chipotle chiles in adobo
  • juice of 1 orange (thanks Pubsgal for noticing this was missing!)

I used my small mini chopper and put the oil, garlic, cumin, cilantro and chipotle chiles and pureed the mixture.  Because my chicken breasts were pretty big, I decided to cut each in half so that they would cook faster and evenly on the grill.  Put the chicken in a ziptop bag, pour the marinade over the chicken and marinate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.  Mine marinated overnight.

I was pretty much all set when I talked to Tony right before I was going to set up the lunch.  He said “do you think you’ll have enough propane?”  Um, I never thought of that!  We pretty much only used it once a week over the summer, and I think the office next door used it only once, so I thought I should be fine.

Luckily, I was!  But what I wasn’t expecting was for there to be a nest in the grill!  I thought at first it was a birds nest, but it had a thick cover over the grill, so Tony thought maybe a squirrel nest?  All I know it was completely dry and it took me about five minutes to get it out of the grease tray.  Could you imagine if I lit the grill not knowing it was there?!

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I had everything pretty much prepped at home.  While the grill got to temperature I set out all the other fixings – shredded lettuce, chopped green onion (I know, how nice am I?!), grilled peppers, mild and spicy salsa and a corn and black bean salad.

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You are probably wondering what’s in the crock pot?  I decided to heat a can of chicken broth on high for an hour, so that when the chicken got off the grill, it would stay hot.  It worked out really well!

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The two staples near each and every plate of food I eat?  My insulin pen and a bottle of Tabasco (or other hot sauce).  It just happened to be a Tabasco day!

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Later in the afternoon Tony checked in to see how the bbq went.  I asked him what he wanted for dinner and I think his exact words were:  “Oh shit!”  Meaning that we would be having Party Pizza Friday!

I knew I still had a couple Nathan’s hot dogs in the fridge, so I proposed hot dogs and he was more than ready to say yes to that!  First and foremost, it being Friday night I had my customary bottle of Fat Tire.  Tony bought me a six pack last week, so I still have four left.  Can I tell you how much I am enjoying my new camera lens?  I still have so much more to learn, but it’s been fun so far.

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So I made the simplest dinner of my whole week last night.  I had a can of no bean Hormel chili in my pantry.  While Tony had more of a Chicago hot dog (although I didn’t have any chopped tomatoes), I had a Nathan’s all beef chili dog with Chicago Johnny’s hot giardiniera.  With Lay’s kettle cooked chips on the side, which Tony has deemed are the best potato chips in the world, while I will disagree and say that Charles Chips are my favorite!  Have you ever heard of Charles Chips?  We used to buy them when we visited family in Virginia growing up and would always bring home a tin of them and they would sit on top of our refrigerator.

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I have a bit more clean up after the second round of water in my basement, maybe only an hours worth.  I also have to tackle my desk in the basement – I am not sure if I am ready to take a picture and show you what it looks like, but it somehow becomes a catch all when I can’t figure out where something needs to go.  I am quite positive that I can throw probably 75% of the shit out, but its just a matter of taking the time.  I plan to tackle it in 30 minute increments until I am done.

I actually got the idea from my new blog friend (don’t know her real name yet!) but her blog is “Losing the Rolls.”  I think it’s cute because her gravatar is dinner rolls!  She’s a bit overwhelmed because she has a lot of weight to lose, but I suggested she just tackle one thing at a time, and take small steps.  If you have a chance, could you stop by her blog and give her some virtual hugs?

A couple of dishes that caught my eye and might make my menu this week (especially since Tony bought me a 10 pound bag of chicken breasts!)

Nicole’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken with mango salsa.  Don’t worry Tony, I am going to be making this for me and your sister for a lunch this week.  How good does this look?

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Ally’s Chicken Bombs – chicken breasts stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeno and then painted with bbq sauce and grilled.  I think my SIL would love this too!

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And Katie made fried calamari at home that looks just as good as any restaurant.  Tony and I love calamari (although, truth be told, I can only do the round part, the tentacles kind of freak me out).  I can imagine Tony and I enjoying a plate of these in our gazebo this summer while sipping good beer.  Well, I would be sipping good beer, Tony would be sipping Miller Lite. Open-mouthed smile

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So outdoor chores are the plan for today and I couldn’t be more excited – my back patio is full of wet leaves and we have a cigar tree that drops large pods, for lack of a better word, so I need to clean those up and throw them on the fire pit.

And reason 3,012 I love Tony?  He read on the blog yesterday that my radishes got frozen and I couldn’t make pickled radishes that I wanted to.  When I came home he said “I have something for you!”  I thought for sure he wanted sex, but there was a bag of radishes on the counter.  I puffy heart him!  Thank honey!

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Anything interesting on your menu this week or any fun plans?   I am just happy its sunny!  Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday. Open-mouthed smile