We Have A Diagnosis!

So there is one clear difference when Tony is not home and I am home by myself.  Mind you, that doesn’t happen very often.  Even with a household of two people, I think I can count on one hand how many times in recent months I’ve been home alone.  You see, Tony LOVES t.v.  He loves movies, sports, MMA – you name it.  From the moment he wakes up until the moment he falls asleep, the t.v. is always on.

Me?  I love music!  So when Tony left for Mayo on Sunday, within minutes I found myself blaring my Pandora station and loving it.  Our Nissan Rogue came with Sirius XM radio free for the first year.  I loved it!  No commercials, so many stations to choose from.  I love all kinds of music:  blue grass, gospel, Pop, 80’s, etc.  I love it all.  So when I got an email saying there was a Barbra Streisand station I nearly peed my pants.  I LOVE Barbra Streisand.  I’ve loved her since I heard her sing in A Star Is Born.  My Mom and Aunt had a lot of her albums.  But you want to know what my favorite Barbra Streisand movie is of all time?  Yentl!   When I heard her sing “Papa Can You Hear Me” I was hooked.  The story line, the music.  I love everything about it.

So when I was driving to my dr. appointment yesterday I was belting out all the songs in my car to this Yentl Medly!

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But my absolute favorite song that Barbra Streisand did was a duet she did with Judy Garland.  Totally aging myself here, but I don’t care.  Their version of Happy Days Are Here Again always puts me in a good mood!  Here’s the weird thing though.  That was on the Judy Garland Show in 1963 – Barbra Streisand was 21 years old and Judy Garland was . . . 41!!  So weird!

So back to the doctor appointment – I am skipping ahead because I know you guys are all waiting with baited breath to see what the hell is wrong with my knee.  Well, it is not a torn meniscus!! Hallelujah!  But it’s something called Plica Syndrome.   I guess the plica are remnants of tissue from the fetal stage of development, and while during the second trimester they usually diminish, mine didn’t.  I blame my twin sister.   My one foot is 1.5 sizes smaller than the other.  I blame her for sitting on the smaller foot.  I have arthritis now, I have diabetes, and now I have knee tissue that didn’t develop normally while we were “womb-mates.”  I think she got all the good nutrients from our Mom!

All kidding aside, it’s good news.  No surgery.  They ended up giving me a cortisone shot and I was back to work.  He said within a couple days it would feel a lot better, and then in a couple days I can resume working out, although nothing too strenuous to start: i.e. no running, stair climbing or Insanity.  But walking and swimming are just fine.  Whew! Crisis averted!

And if my good news wasn’t good news enough, Tony’s check up at Mayo went great.  His lab work looks good, and while tired after the quick two day turn around trip, it went well!   Thanks for all your extra prayers and virtual hugs! Open-mouthed smile

I was a busy beaver getting everything ready for birthday breakfast treats.  I made cinnamon chip scones, my homemade Nature Valley granola bars, and zucchini muffins.  I also made a strawberry sauce and brought Chobani for people to make breakfast parfaits.  Strawberries were ridiculously expensive last week – $4.99!  So I skipped to the freezer section and bought an 8 ounce bag of strawberries for .99 cents.  They were delicious!  I just cooked them down with 1 teaspoon of sugar.

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I’ll post the zucchini muffin recipe later this week – they turned out amazing – super moist.  I added raisins and coconut – yum!

I posted the picture of my grilled chicken on Instagram yesterday morning.  Not kidding, Sunny Anderson changed the way I cook chicken – I never thought to use scissors to cut out the back.  I linked to her in my comment and was so excited she responded back!  I love the hash tag #teamskin – (and hi Marie!)

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I brought a couple pieces of pizza for lunch but for the life of me couldn’t find it.  Turns out it was in between two grocery bags when I brought in the treats, and didn’t realize it until I was packing my stuff up at the end of the day.  So I got Jimmy John’s – I ended up only eating half of it though –  I forget how big the sandwiches are there.  Um, I may have had a few cherry peppers!

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Tony made it home from Mayo around 5:00.  It was so nice kissing his face when I got home!  I had leftover rotisserie chicken from when I made my Mexican pizza over the weekend.  I decided to make a super simple chicken and dumpling dish for dinner. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:89]

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Super quick and easy weeknight dinner.  Tony said it reminded him of the inside of a pot pie!  All I know is I have leftovers for lunch today. #winning

Time to get this show on the road.  I slept in this morning and now I have 15 minutes before I have to leave the house and I haven’t taken a shower yet – no worries!  Make it a great day!

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

This weekend was the perfect blend of relaxation, productivity and family.  Saturday we had my husband’s nephew over for lunch.  I was so happy to have company over after not having company for months (well, other than my Momma  – hi Mom!) that I only took one picture!  I made homemade cheezy beef sandwiches, and homemade potato chips.  And well, since the fryer was there, decided to make some beer battered jalapenos on the side.

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Chris stayed for a couple hours and it was nice to catch up.  We ate kind of a late lunch, so when I asked Tony what he felt like for dinner, he couldn’t think of anything and I said “what about a cheese, meat and fruit plate?”  Done!  I could easily eat this every day and never get sick of it, well, other than the lack of nutrition except for the fruit!

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Tony and I both love procuitto – what I don’t like is the $14.99 price tag!  Check out and see if your deli has what are called proscuitto ends.  I got this one for less than $3.00.  I put it in the freezer before 10 minutes before slicing so I can get nice thin shaved slices – it pairs so well with cantaloupe!

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Tony left for Mayo Clinic yesterday.  He has his check up and tests with the cardiologist, and while I wish I could be there with him, since I only have one vacation day for the rest of the year before I get unpaid time off, we decided he should make the trip by himself.  So he left around 11:30 yesterday morning and I, or course, like any football Sunday, got bizzy in my kitchen.  I made a batch of granola for my co-workers birthday, zucchini coconut muffins, strawberry sauce for parfaits, and then I made another recipe for a recipe contest.  I decided my odds of winning recipe contests would increase the more I enter!  Sebastiani Vineyards is sponsoring a “Pizza My Way” pizza contest.  You just have to make the dough and sauce from scratch.  I entered my Mexican Pizza.  Next week I am going to make my Reuben Pizza.  Janine, you make tons of good pizzas – you should enter too – first prize is $10,000!

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Before I knew it, it was time to head to my Mom’s house.  Hannah and her boyfriend were meeting me there.  I got there about an hour before.  Mom and I sat outside, enjoyed a glass of wine and some of the bruschetta spread I made.  There’s no real recipe for my spread.  I just seeded and threw some tomatoes in my food processor with basil, garlic, olive oil, splash of balsamic, salt, pepper and fresh Parmesan cheese – I threw the cheese in whole, didn’t grate it, so it had little chunks of Parmesan cheese in it.  The crostini was just French bread sliced thin, brushed with olive oil, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, baked at 350 for 12-15 minutes until crisp.

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I ended up grilled a whole chicken.  Just washed, rubbed dry, then brushed with melted butter, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  My Mom has a two burner gas grill, so I grilled it indirectly – once side off (the side the chicken is on) and had the other burner on high.  This 5 pound chicken (well, before I cut out the back) took about an hour to cook.

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I made a giant batch of my homemade mac n cheese, because Hannah loves it.  She loves the tiny shells, as she’s convinced that the shaped pasta has more flavor – this was the only picture I had of it!  It has diced black forest ham in it.  I took it to my Mom’s and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes just to heat through.  Then I mixed 1/2 a cup of Italian style panko bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon melted butter and put that over the top and finish it up under the broiler until the top is nice and brown and crispy.  Hannah didn’t give the chicken a second look once she set her eyes on the mac n cheese!

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For dessert, I decided to make a Salted Caramel Apple Pie.  When I make my granola, I boil the sugar and brown sugar until it gets a caramel color before mixing it with the dry ingredients.  I wondered if I could do the same for the apple pie, so threw caution to the wind and decided to give it a go.  I used my favorite pie crust recipe here.


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The secret to a good pie is to try to get all the apples the same size.  Also, Fuji apple is my go to apple for any baked apple – plus they are Tony’s favorite to eat.

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It was dark by the time we ate it, so there are no pics of the finished product, but boy was this insulin worthy!  I served it with a side of vanilla bean ice cream.  We had such a good time, Mom put out lots of candles.  We had wine with dinner and coffee with dessert.  Lots of laughs!

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Hannah is quite a bit taller than my Mom, I love how she bends down to hug her!  It was a nice evening – happy belated birthday dinner Momma!

Well, time to get this show on the road.  Have to put together all the food I made for the birthday girl in the office.  She’s now my age, so I can’t really call her old now, can I?! Open-mouthed smile

I have my follow up with my doctor at lunch to let me know if in fact I have a torn meniscus or not.  Fingers crossed it’s nothing serious.  Send good thoughts Tony’s way for a good check up this morning.  Make it a great day!

Still grilling while we can.

This weekend actually feels like the beginning of August – temps in the high 70s this weekend, no rain in the forecast. I love it!

On the way to work I picked up another protein box (thanks Heather!) for breakfast.  There was a bit of a line, but I wasn’t in a hurry, so I had time to look in the pastry case.  Shouldn’t have done that – they have baby scones for .95 cents each!  That made it on my plate, and while I usually leave the cheese for last, this time the vanilla bean scone won out.  I could literally eat that ever day and not get sick of it.

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Before work I decided to make a chicken stir-fry for lunch.  I had leftover brown rice and spicy green beans, all I needed to do was cook up the chicken to go with it.  I found this at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and it reminded me of the pepper vinegar my grandpa used to have on the table all the time.

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So right when the chicken was finished cooking, I tossed in a bit of that spicy vinegar, some chile paste and a touch of hoisin sauce.  Put it in a container and threw it in my lunch bag.

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I threw the green beans rice and chicken together, heated it up, took a couple bits of the chicken, and quickly realized my chicken was bad.  I don’t have a very good sense of smell, which is one of the winning reasons Tony married me – he could fart like there’s no tomorrow and I am none the wiser. Open-mouthed smile

But here’s the deal – I had already given myself the insulin needed to eat that food, and there wasn’t food to meet the insulin.  I quickly dumped the bowl in the trash, went to Mariano’s and bought one chicken finger off the hot food buffet, paid for it at the cashiers that are right there, and ate it while I shopped.  Whew – crisis averted!

My nephew is coming over for lunch today, so I decided to grill up a chuck roast on the grill to then slice then, mix with au jus, and make cheezy beef sandwiches for lunch today.  Tony has had a taste for a plain burger with a caprese salad on the side, so that’s what I was making for our dinner.  Heat the grill up once, cook twice!  Actually, my coals were so awesome, I wished I had more stuff to grill up!  So while we listened to a Doug Benson podcast, the chuck roast cooked for about an hour, and then I threw our burgers on.  I actually cooked the burgers on indirect heat, and only seared them at the end to get the crispy edges.

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Tony’s perfect plate:

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And my perfect medium rare burger with mozzarella cheese and hot giardienera.  Yum!

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Tony leaves for Mayo tomorrow afternoon for some checkups and tests on Monday.  He’s doing the trip solo since I only have 1 vacation day left for the year.   I am going to Mom’s tomorrow to celebrate her birthday which was last week.  We are going to grill a chicken, and have a side salad and I am making Hannah’s favorite ham macaroni and cheese – I sent her this text yesterday from the store:

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Hannah is of the assumption that “shaped” pasta has more flavor.  So if she bought Kraft mac n cheese, it had to be a character shape.  But she does like my homemade better. Open-mouthed smile

Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy the weather if it’s nice!  Hugs!

Chicken Kati (Kathi) Rolls–the Recipe

It’s funny when I looked back at yesterday’s post, it seemed so long to me, but what I realized was that it took a long time to write it – nearly an hour.  It’s because I had to sift through 300+ photos and organize them for the post.  But the recipe for the kati rolls is worth the wait.

While this recipe may seem complicated, it’s anything but.  It can be made in stages so its ready when you want to eat it.

I like to think of roti bread as just a super thin pita bread.  Super simple to make, just takes a little bit of time to cook all of them.  You could also keep the dough in your fridge and just cook them up as you need them.  The dough will last in the fridge for a week.

Roti Bread:

  • 2 cups flour (most recipes called for whole wheat, but I didn’t have any)
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.25 cups warm tap water

Mix the flour and the salt together.  Add in olive oil and water and mix until the dough is combined and not sticky.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

In a non-stick pan, put a bit of olive oil – cook each roti for about a minute each side – you can tell it’s time to flip when the bubbles start to form on the top.  Be careful not to cook too much because otherwise it gets stiff and almost cracker like.  You still want it to be pliable.  The above recipe gave me 12 six inch roti.

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When looking up different recipes for Chicken Kati Rolls (or Kathi – not sure which is the correct spelling!) a lot of them called for a green chutney.  Having never eaten in an Indian restaurant, I’d never tried that before.  Holy balls is this a delicious condiment!

Green Chutney:

  • 1 cup cilantro
  • ½ a cup of mint
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 small green chili (start with half to see how spicy, then add more to taste)
  • Pinches of black pepper and salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Just put in a food processor and pulse away.   I ended up needing to add the olive oil in order to mince all the herbs.   Refrigerate – this will keep a couple weeks.

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So I knew the chicken kati I had in NYC was chicken thighs.  I decided to use the marinade I use for my chicken tikka masala for the chicken thighs.

Marinade for Chicken:

  • 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 6 oz. container of plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

Combine all the above ingredients and let marinate at least an hour, preferably longer.  I let mine marinate for two days.  Heat an indoor grill pan to medium high heat.  Sear the outside of the meat so it gets a nice crust.  Since I knew I would be reheating the chicken when I got to work, I only cooked it ¾ of the way through.

So luckily I tasted the green chutney before bringing it to work, because yowza – it got super spicy!  So I mixed the chutney with a tablespoon of fat free sour cream to tame the heat a bit.

Once at work I heated the chicken.  I just popped the roti in my office toaster oven for about 20 seconds, kind of to steam it up.  I shredded carrots and cucumber (why yes, I do have a hand shredder in my desk drawer!) and then started to build the kati.  I smeared the bottom of each roti with the green chutley/sour cream mixture.  Topped it with the chicken, shredded carrots and cucumbers.  Drizzled on a bit of sriracha and added some chopped cilantro as a garnish.

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Holy balls was this flavorful.  The meat was super tender, and I LOVED the green chutney – it just punches you in the face with so much flavor.  Heather (from Kuwait – hi Heather!) said that the bread used in kati rolls is actually called Chapati bread – and the secret is using whole wheat flour.  I am going to try to make those this weekend using this recipe.

For breakfast I had 1/2 a NY bagel with an egg white spinach scramble and Cabot Cheese’s white oak cheddar cheese.  I love that cheese – totally made the breakfast sammie.

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One of my co-workers brought me my favorite dressing – thanks Judy!

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It’s been slow at work lately.  I found myself walking around the office taking pictures and trying different settings on my camera.  I’ve had my DSLR for nearly four years, and still barely know how to use it.  One of these days I’ll have to take a DSLR photography class, it’s much easier to watch someone explain the camera to me vs. reading Nikon D3100 for Dummies.  (Which I have by the way and could barely understand the first chapter).

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I ended up bringing more lasagna soup, but mixed in chopped cooked spaghetti – I didn’t really care for it with the spaghetti noodles, but they were leftover so I thought what the hell.

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Tony called me in the afternoon yesterday and asked if I was expecting a package.  I suddenly remembered that Cabot Cheese was sending me some loot!

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More cheese!!  I haven’t had the Alpine Cheddar before, but love the white oak and farmhouse reserve.  But really, other than limburger cheese, I don’t think I’ve met a cheese I didn’t like.  On the list of things to make?  On Cabot Cheese Coop’s website they have a recipe for a sweet potato chipotle cheddar cheese soup – how good does that sound?!  I think Tony is about to throw up at the mere thought of this soup – that’s okay – more for me!


We sat outside for a while when I got home from work.  Tony had just finished mowing the lawn, and then our neighbor came over to chat.  It was nearly 6:45 by the time we came in, and I ended up reheating some chili for dinner – no picture though – it was so dark by the time we ate, I figured it’s okay – you guys know what chili looks like – ha!

Question of the Day:  Have you ever tried Indian food?  Have you ever had a chicken kati roll and am I even close?  I would love to someday go to a really good Indian restaurant in Chicago to experience more of the flavors.  I love spicy, flavorful food and I think Indian food would be delicious.

Happy Friday!  Make it a great day!

NYC Day 3! Chicken Kati Rolls

The final day of my NYC trip!  Thank you so much for letting me indulge and share this trip with you.  I slept like a baby the night of the cook-off.  Not that I don’t normally sleep like a baby, but I had a hard time falling asleep the night before because I kept thinking about what was going to happen the next day.

Luckily, the weather cooperated and it was a gorgeous day!   The marketing woman Sheri took our bags to her office, as that was where the limo was going to take us back to the airport.  That way we didn’t need to worry about pulling our luggage around on the Food Truck Tour. 

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It was probably a good 90 minute ride back into the city.  We were supposed to meet our tour guide in front of a coffee shop.  At 11:45 this super tall New York guy said “hey, where’s all my food truck people!”  Imagine that being said in a heavy New York accent.

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His name was Dante Mercadante – not making that name up.  He’s an actor, comedian and . . . food truck tour guide!  He handed us each a bottle of water and then the tour began.  It was our group of five (me, Megan, Shauna, Lauren and Lauren’s husband Louise) and two other groups.  An older couple and their 20 something daughter and another family.  Dante told us that to get a new food truck license in New York – the wait list is now 8-10 years long!  So if you want one, you have to buy one from someone who isn’t using theirs anymore, and he basically said that they go to the highest bidder – some starting at $30k!  With the cost of the food truck, license, etc., the start up for one food truck is about $100,000.

Our first stop?  An Indian Truck.  I love Indian flavors, but you know I of course was worried about the onion factor.  Dante asked if anyone had allergies and I said “I hate onions!” so he made sure that every dish I got didn’t have onions on it.  #score!

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The Chicken Kati Roll was first up.  I don’t even know exactly what was in the one I ate – super flavorful chicken (Dante said they use chicken thighs for more flavor), veggies and a super spicy yet flavorful sauce.  The bread wasn’t called roti, but it was a thin somewhat greasy roll and it was out of this world spectacular.  Since we were part of the Food Truck Tour, Dante could slide into the trucks on the side and we didn’t have to wait in line.  I should have taken a picture to the left because the line was about 30 people deep!

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Next up?  Tacos!  While I told myself I was going to be adventurous, when I saw goat meat tacos I ALMOST ordered them, but chicken out in the end and got pork carnitas.  But Shauna got the goat meat taco and let me try the meat – holy balls was that delicious – so flavorful.  I would have thought it was pork if I didn’t know.

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By now I am totally stuffed.  But there were still THREE trucks to go!   Luckily, the next truck was a bit of a walk and I was able to digest some of the food.  The third truck was my least favorite – it was a combination Equadorian/Mexican truck as that is the ethnicity of the parents of the brothers who owned the truck.  They were supposedly known for their slow cooked pork, but to me it had no flavor at all and was a bit tough.  The sweet potato, avocado and rice side dish though was excellent.

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It was after walking around and tasting all this wonderful food, that I realized that winning or not, this was an amazing trip.  This is me by the Brookly Bridge – all smiles!

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Moving on, we were headed to a Greek food truck.  Except it wasn’t the truck Dante was expecting.  I guess while there are certain considerations about food truck placement on the street, sometimes its first come first serve and you have to find somewhere else to go.  When Dante asked if they could prepare 10 chicken souvlaki’s for us, they said it would be quite a few minutes, but we were in no hurry and I was actually happy to get a break between eating.  This truck said it was a true authentic Greek food truck because it imported the oregano from Greece!  These were worth the wait.  Again, grilled chicken thighs, perfectly grilled with a char on the outside, yet tender on the inside.  Served with a side of tzatziki sauce, this was my second favorite meal of the day.

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Here’s the winner Lauren and her husband Louis.  Here’s the deal about Lauren – she’s TINY.  If she’s 100 pounds dripping wet I wouldn’t be surprised.  She’s one of the finalists who couldn’t eat anything during the whole day of our cook-off.  So I thought it was cute that she’d take a few bites of whatever food truck food we were eating, and then hand the rest to her husband to eat the rest.  I think at one point he said “you do realize that I have my own food, don’t you?”  But she didn’t want to be wasteful, and of all the things we ate, Louis had no problem eating most of her kabob after eating his.

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So here’s the deal about being an insulin dependent diabetic while doing a food truck tour.  I didn’t know what or when I was going to eat.  I didn’t know how far I was going to be walking.  In the end I kind of just shot up insulin right before I ate, but didn’t want to give myself too much not knowing how much I’d need to walk to the next truck.

We ended our journey at a waffle truck – holy balls.  THIS WAS INSULIN WORTHY!   A waffle with chocolate caramel and whipped cream.  While I wanted to eat the whole thing, I ate half and called it a day.  I checked my blood sugar – 369!  Now that I knew I was done eating, I could give myself enough insulin without getting too low because I knew I would be walking.

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I was so excited because I had planned to meet up with one of my long time blog readers Maggie – we’ve followed each other since 2008!  But what I didn’t realize that while my luggage was a mere 3 blocks from her office in Uptown, um, I was all the way down by the financial district.  She had a conference call schedule that she couldn’t get out of, and I couldn’t make it up there in time.  Rats!  Next time Maggie – or when you come to Chicago! 

So I showed a cop where I wanted to end up and asked him to point me in the right direction.  He said “you want to walk there?!”  Turns out it would have taken me an hour and twenty minutes to walk that far!  So I did a brave thing, and took the Subway!  I could see what train I was on by when the lights hit the stops – I was on the No. 5 train.

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Having taken public transportation in Chicago for years, it didn’t take long to figure it out.  I knew I needed to go uptown, and when I saw that Union Square would get me about 15 minutes to my final destination, I decided that’s where I would get off.

Wednesday’s they have a giant farmers market and how I wished I could have picked some of that produce up to bring home – it looked amazing.

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I walked for probably a good two hours all around.  Best people watching ever!   I was just so happy to have had the whole experience. Open-mouthed smile

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So even though I thought I couldn’t eat another bite for a week, um, I had to try . . . NY STYLE PIZZA!  Now granted, I am sure it’s like Chicago, there are awesome pizza places, and then some pizza places that taste like ass and you don’t know how they are still in business. 

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Really?  New Yorkers, do you think that’s good pizza?  (note that I already ate one of the pieces of pepperoni before taking this pic!)  The crust was flavorless, hardly any cheese and the pepperoni could have been greasy cardboard for all I knew.  But, I tried it – I’ll stick to Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza all day long.

Before I knew it Lauren, her husband and I were headed back to the airport.  It was cute because they called their two young children in the car on the way to the airport – they weren’t scheduled to land in Texas until midnight, then they had a 45 minute drive home.  They kept saying “we won’t see you tonight, but when you wake up in the morning, we’ll be there!”   It was nice that Louis’s parents drove up from Louisiana to watch the kids while they were away.  And I think Lauren said her Dad was going to watch them when they go to the Food & Wine Festival in October.  #jealous

Me? I had a glass of wine to calm my nerves and thankfully it was a smooth trip home.  I sat next to a cute girl named Karthy (spelling) and we talked while we were waiting to take off – she was just finishing up a fashion internship – super friendly.  But when the plane started to take off, we both said “do you mind if I watch t.v.?”  We didn’t want to be rude to each other, but turns out she’s not a fan of flying either so we both just zoned out. 

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This has to be my longest post of my life!  I will share the Chicken Kathi Roll recipe in tomorrows post – this was my take on the Biryani House Chicken Kati Roll.  So flavorful good! 

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I made the roti bread and the green chutney over the weekend.  Since my roti wasn’t dipped in oil to make it pliable enough to roll, think of these as like an Indian taco.  So you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the recipe – it will be worth it!

Alright – have to sign off.  When I went to the dr. earlier in the week for my knee, he told me I have arthritis in my left knee and my right hand.  I haven’t been able to close my right hand into a tight fist for quite some time.  The left knee though?  He thinks I have a torn meniscus!  I am leaving to get an MRI before work – hopefully it’s not too serious, but I am glad I am checking it out.  I texted a picture of my hand to my twin sister:

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It’s swollen at the top of my middle finger knuckles and I can’t for the life of me get it to close into a fist.  Tony said that he’s pretty sure he’ll have to put my down, or trade me in for a newer, less messed up model!

THANK YOU for letting me share my NYC trip with you!  I appreciate it more than you know – make it a great day!

NYC Day 2–Lights, Camera. . .Action!

I really had no idea what a big deal the day of the cook off was going to be.  We had Sunny Anderson for 8 hours under contract, so the pace was both fast and slow at the same time.  I got up at 7, showered, and then headed to the Green Room – I actually didn’t realize that Extended Stay had suites – it had it’s own separate living room, king size bed and of course, the kitchen, but it had way more counter space.  Food was in abundance the whole day.  While one of the competitors (Hi Megan!) had no problem eating, the other two didn’t eat hardly anything, they were so nervous.

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Ariel was our hair and makeup guy.  He was so funny.  He was based out of Miami and when I told him I don’t usually wear makeup he said “girl, you need to change that – look at how pretty your eyes are with a bit of eyeliner and mascara!”  Throughout the day right before a shoot he would rush in, touch me up and then run out of the room.

The girl in orange?  That’s Megan.  She’s from South Carolina and is so sweet.  She has skin like porcelain.  By day she’s a pediatric speech pathologist, but like most of us, she really doesn’t feel alive until she’s cooking in the kitchen.  Her dish was the sweet potato salad.  Sadly, none of us got to taste each other’s food, but I’ve never seen a sweet potato salad before.  Sans the scallions, I would totally try it.  Had she won the money, she would have bought granite countertops for her kitchen.  I know she has a blog, and I thought I wrote it down, but I don’t seem to see it now, so I’ll link to it later.  It was so nice meeting you Megan!  Here is the link to Megan’s blog!

There were so many cameras, still photographers, sound guys, grips, marketing people – it was such a whirlwind.  We each got to meet Sunny separately for a few minutes.  I told her that a show she did on Cooking for Real changed my life – I’d always tried to take the back out of a chicken with a knife, and what I ended up with was a very slaughtered, uneven piece of chicken.  Who knew you could cut it out with kitchen scissors?!  We have been butterflying our chicken ever since, and I know longer bring raw chicken to the table.

Megan and I were the first to cook.  We each had separate rooms.  My room was filled with cameras, my microphone was checked.  They explained that Sunny would come into my room and ask me a question about my dish and what tip I had about it.  What?  A tip about my dish?  I didn’t prepare anything, but I looked down at my thick pork chop on the plate, and realized that I could talk about searing the fat on the pork.  I said “while pork fat rules, raw pork fat does not.”  To which Sunny high-fived me on the pork rules part!

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She loved her phone – she was on Twitter and Instagram a lot.  After the taped portion of my dish was filmed, everyone left and I was left to cook by myself.  I thought maybe someone would be with me to make sure I used al the ingredients, but they just said “let us know when you are five minutes from plating and we’ll have the judges sit down.  I actually cooked 7 pork chops – I wanted to be able to taste one while I was cooking for doneness – these were a perfect medium, a bit pink in the middle and super tender.

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So three people take two dishes each to the judges room.  I stood on my mark, and then the director said “you have up to 20 minutes to talk about your dish.”  I said “do you mean 20 seconds?” and he said no, TWENTY minutes.  Wow.  How was I going to explain my dish for 20 minutes?  But then I just started talking about Tony being at Mayo, and the fact that after a long day of doctors and tests, it was nice to come back “home” to the hotel and Tony could relax on a recliner and watch t.v. to rest like he does at home, and I can get Bizzy in my Kitchen and work out my stress through cooking.

After I cooked was when time seemed to stand still.  Two other women had to cook and present to judges, so I just hung out in the green room and watched Ellen.  Our view from the room:

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Finally around 5:00 p.m., they asked us down to the judges room to find out who won.  Sunny was standing in the middle, the judges to her right and the contestants to her left.  She asked which camera she should look at and they told her Camera 1 – well Camera 2 was pointed directly at me and Lauren, so I knew one of us won.  But in the end, Lauren took the prize.  I understand why now though.  While my dish was simple for someone who cooks a lot – her dish was more catered to an Extended Stay America guest – semi-homemade if you will.  She only cooked the fish and relied on prepared grocery items to finish her dish.  I learned a lot from her!

Here is Lauren’s winning recipe:





You can check out the video compilation here – I thought it turned out pretty good.  I was nervous a lot in front of the camera – nothing can prepare you for that!  I am not going to lie – I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t win.  They $5k and the trip to the Food & Wine Festival would have been amazeballs, but when I called Tony to tell him I didn’t win and he could hear how upset I was, he said “you already won by getting to go to NYC in the first place – now go have fun at the dinner tonight!”  Thanks Tony!

Dinner?  It was amazeballs.  It was at The Marrow – the chef/owner is Harold Dieterle, who was on Top Chef.  Obviously, with a name like The Marrow, bone marrow was going to be on the menu.  I’ve made that for Tony at home, but skipped that and got the bibb salad instead.

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Here is a better picture of the bone marrow – we were in a private room in the wine cellar in the basement.  I told Tony I would keep him posted on my dinner by sending him pics, but there was no cell service down there.


Megan got that, and she said to me “I don’t think I got a good one because there is no meat on it, it’s just fat.  I had to explain to her that marrow is just that – all fat!

Everything was delicious, and while I am not a dessert person at all, the ginger cake is the most amazing cake I’ve ever had in my life.  I thought I would take one bite, but I managed to eat the whole thing – insulin worthy!!

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The wine was pouring freely, the conversation was great and the food was awesome.  Could not have ended the night on a more perfect note.  On the way back to the hotel we drove through Times Square – again a sea of humanity!

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And before I knew it, we were back at the hotel.  I think I was in bed about 15 minutes after we got back – it was a long day.  And I needed to rest up for our Food Truck tour the next day!  That will be the final recap of my trip tomorrow.  For lunch I am having my version of a chicken kathi roll, and I’ll post that recipe tomorrow.

My breakfast and lunch were exactly the same as yesterday.  For dinner I had planned on making beef tostadas, but I needed to get gas and Tony wanted to pick up a cigar, so we went to do that when I got home.  He said “do you feel like eating out?”  WHAT?!  We haven’t eaten out together since probably June, so of course I said yes.  We went to our local Italian restaurant, got a beer and had some pizza.  We met some very interesting people at the bar and ended up staying there until about 9:30.  It was just so impromptu, and I love meeting new people.  And pizza, duh.  And I think Tony was just happy to talk to anyone else but me. Open-mouthed smile

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Blog reader Rhonda was jealous when I told her they had Pumpking beer on tap.  I tried that and the chocolate pumpkin beer – both were a bit heavy for me, so I stuck with Boddingtons.

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Thanks for following along in my journey to NYC.  Only one more post about it, promise!  I am off to cook my chicken for the kathi rolls – the chicken has been marinating in plain yogurt, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, sriracha, lemon juice, lemon zest and cumin.  Fingers crossed it comes out like I imagine it in my head! Open-mouthed smile

Make it a great day!

NYC Day 1, Happy Birthday Momma and Chops!

Longtime readers will remember that my step-son, husband AND Mom have birthdays on September 21, September 22 and September 23!  My Momma turns 74 years young today.  While she’s busy playing Mahjong and having a meeting at church today – I’ll be celebrating her birthday on Sunday with a potluck at her house.  Hope you have a great day Momma!  Charlie and Jennifer, you will just have to get over the fact that I am Mom’s favorite.   Um, you’ll have to see my brother’s birthday post to my Momma!  I’ll be here when you get back.


So I am SO excited to share the first day of my trip to NYC for the Extended Stay America recipe contest.   I hate flying but was surprised at how easily I fell asleep at 9:00 a.m. last Sunday night.  My car was picking me up at 3:00 a.m.  Yep, you read that right – three in the morning!  Tony, who doesn’t sleep well at all, stayed up until my alarm went off to make sure I got up in time.  So sweet!  I jumped in the shower, got dressed and at 2:55 put my bag outside and then was going back in the house to turn the lights off, and the car was already in my driveway!

I’ve had this driver before, he doesn’t talk – at all.  No worries, I had Instagram to catch up on.  My guilty pleasures at the airport?  People magazine and McDonald’s!  I actually got to the airport and through security before Starbuck’s even opened!  Luckily the plane ride was not bumpy at all – I LOVE JetBlue (each seat has their own t.v.) but I basically slept for at least an hour on the plane.  I had another car pick me up at baggage claim at JetBlue.  I wish I would have taken a picture of it, but it was cool to have a driver hold a sign up with my name on it.  As we were walking back to the car (while he carried my bags!) I asked how long it would take to get to Secaucus and he said “in this traffic, about an hour and a half.”

I thought Chicago traffic was bad, but New York’s is even worse – I think the only state that could be worse is California!  But it was a nice drive, he took the local roads, we drove through Manhattan and China town.  Just a sea of people EVERYWHERE!

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I got to the hotel and had about an hour to kill before meeting the rest of the finalists in the lobby for lunch out and then going to Whole Foods to pick up our ingredients.  I met Lauren and her husband Louis, Megan and Sheri, who was from the advertising agency.  Shauna would meet up with us later that afternoon because her flight was coming in from Utah.  After lunch we went to Whole Foods, and Sheri basically said “get whatever you need, don’t worry about the cost or anything.  We’ll meet at the checkout and I’ll pay for everything.”

I can’t even imagine what it would be like not to have to pay attention to prices while grocery shopping!  Usually I am looking for the cheapest honey, cheapest Dijon mustard.  Nope, I went full metal jacket.  The cost of my ingredients (the pork alone was $32!) for making six servings came to $67. 

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I remembered that I forgot the rosemary, and when I went back to the produce section, Lauren kind of looked like a deer in the headlights.  I said “what’s wrong?!”  She said that all the avocados were no where near ripe enough for her recipe and definitely wouldn’t ripen in a day.  I told her to hold on.  I found someone that worked there and asked “do you have any more avocados in the back?”  He said they would be even more not ripe in the back because they just came in.  I then asked if he any that were taken off the floor because they were too ripe, and he was able to find some – Lauren bought six and I think she said two were perfect!

We labeled our bags, went back to the hotel and then had some time to kill before meeting for dinner.  I heard a knock on my door 30 minutes later and it was one of the marketing people who presented me with a gift basket – score!

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I almost put this on Instagram and was going to say “Sunny’s got my money!”  but I thought I might jinx myself.

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Dinner was at Houlihan’s – which is fine by me.  When we went back down to meet for dinner, this sign was up in the lobby, so of course we had to take a picture next to it.

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I got a steak kabob salad and had a glass of pinot grigio.  It was nice getting to know the girls better.  I have to say that I could not have asked for a nice group of women.  I’ll single out each person and tell you a bit about them.  On the far left?  That’s Shauna.  She married her high school sweetheart and lives in Utah.  And while her husband is Mormon, and she said there is a Mormon church on just about every street corner, she is not.  They are raising two boys.  Her day job is a social security disability agent, but she loves entertaining and started her blog “Have Yourself A Time” a little over a year ago.  True fact – want to know what this foodie’s favorite food is?  GAS STATION NACHOS!  Yep, but they have to be specific – they have to be round, nearly stale tortilla chips with the cheese sauce that has little to no cheese in it at all.   Love it!

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Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel.  If I had any idea how busy the next day was going to be, I wouldn’t have stayed up until 11:00 watching t.v.!  This ended up being a MUCH bigger deal than I ever anticipated.  But. . . you’ll have to tune in tomorrow to hear about the actual day of the cook-off. 

I am no longer talking about the trip around Tony – as soon as I do he says “Sunny, New York, bloggers, Sunny, New York, Food Trucks.”  Ha!  But I am hoping you will enjoy this adventure I had and don’t mind me sharing it with you!

Yesterday for breakfast I had an egg white and spinach “omelet.”  I made it in the microwave egg cooker my Mom gave me.  On the side HALF  a NY bagel and some tasteless watermelon I ended up throwing out.

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Still no workout – this morning I go see the doctor about my knee.  I ended up going to the store because I made carrot cake for Tony’s birthday, which is awesome by the way, but for some reason I can’t make frosting to save my life.   $1.50 later, I had perfect cream cheese frosting in a can.  Lunch?  About batch #71 of Lasagna Soup!   Just look at the comments on that previous link and see how many times I’ve made it!  Although the original recipe came from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles.  This time I added baby spinach and used fuselli pasta.

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Tony’s birthday dinner was making me a bit nervous.  He decided on lamb chops for his birthday lunch, but um, I have never eaten and/or cooked lamb before.  I watched a lot of youtube videos, and knowing that Tony likes his medium rare, realized I was worrying about nothing.  I was just going to pretend it was steak!  I marinated the chops in olive oil, garlic and rosemary for about 40 minutes until they got to room temperature.  Never go from cold meat to a hot pan, you’ll get tough meat every time.

I cooked them for 1.5 minutes a side on high heat on our cast iron grill pan.  I made an orzo asparagus parmesan side dish, and he said he couldn’t have lamb chops without mint jelly!

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I probably only should have bought two chops, I didn’t realize how much meat that was, but he really liked it.  He ate two chops clean to the bone!   I have to admit, it was a bit stinky cooking it – gamey almost.  I did try a piece and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but given the chance, I don’t think it’s a meat I’d order in a restaurant.  Hope you had a great birthday Tony!  Just when I was going to bed last night, one of his favorite movies was coming on – Young Frankenstein – he’s probably seen it 100 times, but just like the Godfather Part I and Part II (NEVER part III) if it’s on, no matter where it is in the movie, he’ll watch it to the end.

Alright – sorry for the long post, just had so much to say!  Come back tomorrow for the recap of the cook-off and meeting Sunny Anderson!  Off to my doctor appointment – make it a great day!