Mini Fruit Tarts

I had my first WI at a meeting yesterday.  I made another fruit sauce parfait – this time half strawberry, half blueberry with sliced banana and plaint Chobani yogurt.  I brought this to eat after my WI – I love that this is so filling and only 3 smart points!

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My sister challenged me this week to not step on my scale at home.  Yesterday I wrote that on Tuesday I was down 1.5 but then when I weighed in yesterday before WW, it showed I was up 2 pounds from that number.  What the what?! 

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Well, I did it!  Down 1.8 for the week.  My goal is to lose between 1.5 and 2 each week, so I was right on target.  I did really good catching myself with mindless eating this past week, so I hope to continue that this week, and drink more water – that’s still an obstacle for me “working” from home.  At my desk job I had no problem getting the water in.  But with my schedule being different every day, I know I don’t drink enough.

I ended up sucking it up and walking outside – I love walking, but wish it wasn’t 45 degrees outside.  I live in an interesting neighborhood since I am by the Fox River.  Back in the day most of the houses in my area, mine ncluded, were summer cottages that were only occupied during the summer months.  So there are very interesting houses and I took a different path on my walk yesterday.  There are some very hilly areas, and I walked for 60 minutes.  Check out this giraffe in someone’s backyard though!

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And I love seeing the green grass vs. snow on the ground!

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Before I knew it, it was time to head to Courtney’s house for Cooking Club.  I was assigned dessert, which is typically not in my wheelhouse.  I don’t bake much – I would consider myself more of a cook than a baker, unless you count bread!

The theme was “spring” and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making a fruit tart.  At my office we would frequently buy the fruit tart at Mariano’s for birthday celebrations.  It always looked so gorgeous, and in talking to my Mom, she said it was one of her favorite desserts, so I thought this could be a dry run for a Mother’s Day dessert for her.  I am very pleased with how they turned out – although word of caution – I would suggest filling them right before serving.  I prepped them at home around 5:00 and we didn’t eat them until nearly 8:15, and they pastry cream made the sides of the tart kind of soft, but they were still delicious.  Best part too is that everything can be made separately the day before – which is what I did.  The tarts were done and put in a ziploc bag, the pastry cream was in a container in the fridge and the fruit was all cut up. 

I adapted my recipe from this one – the only real difference is that I reduced the amount of glaze on the top, and I ended up making 24 two inch mini tarts vs. her 14 tarts, even though I believe she used the same size tart pan.  Who knows?  All I know that each mini tart came in at a respectable 5 smart points and for the record – insulin worthy!

Mixed Berry Tartlets
Serves 24
A delicious and light dessert perfect for spring/summer or a dessert after brunch of for Mother's Day.
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Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
149 calories
22 g
63 g
6 g
3 g
2 g
64 g
54 g
11 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
64g
Servings
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 149
Calories from Fat 49
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
9%
Saturated Fat 2g
12%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 63mg
21%
Sodium 54mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 22g
7%
Dietary Fiber 0g
2%
Sugars 11g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
7%
Calcium
4%
Iron
2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the tart
  1. 1 egg
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  4. 5 tablespoons butter (room temp)
  5. 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  8. 2 cups flour
For the custard
  1. 2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
  2. 6 egg yolks
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 4 tablespoons flour
  5. 2 teaspoons extract
For the Glaze
  1. 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  2. 1-2 tablespoons water
  3. 1 cup mixed berries of choice
Instructions
  1. Using a hand mixer, beat the egg, sugar, and mayonnaise in a large bowl.
  2. Add in the butter, cornstarch, and baking soda. Squeeze the lemon juice over the baking soda so it starts to foam. Blend with a hand mixer until combined.
  3. Add the flour to the egg and butter mixture and blend on low speed - you may need to use your hands at this point until it comes together. Roll in a ball, cover with plastic and chill for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until just combined. Add in the flour and mix.
  5. In a pan, put the 2 cups milk and bring to a slight boil - basically until you see bubbles start to form around the edges. VERY SLOWLY, and I mean VERY SLOWLY drizzle the milk mixture into the egg yolk/sugar mixture so that the hot milk doesn't cook the eggs.
  6. Once combined, add that mixture back into the pan and over low heat, stir until it's reached a thick and creamy consistency. This took me about 20 minutes of constant stirring, so have a magazine or phone next to you!
  7. Once cooled, put in a bowl, and press plastic wrap on it so that it doesn't form a skin on the top and chill in the fridge until ready to assemble.
  8. I ended up using only 1 tablespoon of the dough for each tartlet vs. the 2 she recommended in her recipe. I was using 2 inch tart cups. Press the dough down and up the sides of the tart cup and place the cups on a cooking sheet - I made 12 tarts at a time and baked at 350 for 13 minutes.
  9. Once cooled, put the apricot preserves and water together and microwave for 10-20 seconds.
  10. Using a melon baller, scoop in custard mixture into the tart. Arrange cut fruit on top and then brush with the glaze.
Notes
  1. I bought my tart cups at Bed Bath & Beyond for .49 cents each. And while I ended up making 24 tarts for 5 smart points, it's probably more like 4 smart points because I still had about 1/2 a cup of custard leftover.
  2. The cookie really puffed up while baking, so I recommend really pressing the dough down as much as you can in the tart cup before baking.
beta
calories
149
fat
6g
protein
3g
carbs
22g
more
Adapted from Simply Home Cooked
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
DSLR tart 017 copy

DSLR tart 028 copy

How beautiful did these turn out?  I can hardly believe they came out of my kitchen!  Here is more of our delicious eats last night:

PicMonkey Collage - food

Mary Beth made Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese.  Perfect balance of sweet/savory/salty!

  • 1 16 ounce package dried Medjool Dates (can be found in the produce section of Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 12 ounce package bacon, slices cut in half widthwise
  • 1 4 ounce pacakge of Goat cheese of choice
  • Paprika
  • Brown sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 425.  Using a small knife, slice the dates lengthwise and remove pits.  Fill each date with about a 1/2 teaspoon of goat cheese.  Wrap dates with half slices of bacon, securing the overlapping ends with a toothpick.  Arrange dates on a baking sheet and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake for 7-9 minutes or until browned on the bottom, then flip (now is the time to add brown sugar if you want) and cook for another 7-8 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and a little crispy.  Cool several minutes and enjoy!

The cute glass with the lime on the rim??  Ceviche!!  Okay, first off, let me say that the only ceviche I’ve ever had is with shrimp, not fish.  So when Julie said she made it with tilapia I was a bit skeptical.  But that’s the joy of a cooking club – trying new things!  Drop the mike – it was so delicious.  It was bright, fresh, a bit spicy with the jalapeno and I can imagine making this for a dinner for myself with some tortilla chips and a glass of sauvignon blanc and be perfectly happy.

  • 2 pounds diced tilapia
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lime
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced)
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded, finely diced)
  • 1/2 cup purple onion (finely diced) (and yes, I ate that!)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • salt and pepper

Dice the tilapia when its partially frozen and place in a bowl.  Pour the lime juice over, stir and place in fridge covered for 30 minutes (until the fish turns white).  Pull out and mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Served chilled with corn tortilla chips or popcorn.  Thank you Julie for introducing me to this dish!

Donna made a delicious salad – she’s going to be emailing the recipe to us later today, and I’ll share it with you once she does because the dressing was out of this world.  The salad:  chopped romaine, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, bacon and blue cheese – swoon!   I didn’t know I liked hearts of palm, but I do!

Catherine was unable to make it because her father was ill and out of town, so Courtney stepped in and prepared a side dish in her absence.  You were missed Catherine!  She made Pinch of Yum’s Spring Quinoa Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette – the only difference was that she used two cups of uncooked quinoa (vs. 1 in the recipe) and only used half of the salad dressing mixture.  So light, tangy and delicious – and it had bacon!

Lindsey made strawberry-avocado salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips – holy cow was this delicious – I loved the sweet/savory combo and never would have thought to pair a cinnamon chip with salsa, but it totally works.  You can find the recipe here on Cooking Light.

But the recipe I am SO EXCITED to share with you is from Tina from Shredded Sprout who was our head chef for the night.  She made Halibut en Papillote with Spring Vegetables

PicMonkey Collage - halibut

I am not going to lie, I was a bit nervous for this dish.  A:  I’ve never had halibut.  B.  I don’t cook/eat fish very often.  Like not in the last year often.  C.  The only fish I do like is Chilean Sea Bass, but that’s $25 a pound.  D. Tina told me that halibut is pricey too: $21 a pound  E.  I am totally going to splurge and buy some for myself to make this dish – soon!  F.   I guess Halibut is a seasonal fish, so I need to act fast while I can get it.

En Papillote is a fancy French word for a cooking technique in which the food is baked inside paper – she used parchment paper.  She laid two slices of lemon on the bottom of the paper.  Added seasonal veggies on top of that (a combination of julienned asparagus, purple carrots, fennel and snow peas) then topped it with the fish.  Seasoned the fish with salt, pepper and fresh herbs, then topped it with a pat of butter, poured white wine over the top and wrapped it all and baked at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes.   Snip the parchment paper with scissors and get ready for a herbed steam to smack you in the face in the best way possible.

I ATE IT ALL!  It was meaty, not overly fishy, light and flakey.  The citrus notes from the wine and lemon were an amazing flavor.   The next time I go to a restaurant and halibut is on the menu, I am totally getting it.  Tina, thank you for introducing me to halibut!

PicMonkey Collage - women

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“Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun!”  – Julia Child

Thank you Courtney for putting this Cooking Club together – can’t believe it’s our fifth one already!  It is great food, but more importantly – great company!   And my life is richer because of it.

Happy Friday my friends!  Make it a great day!

Pork Chops with Spicy Apricot Mustard Sauce

I love having frozen fruit on hand, and the best place for me to buy it is either Wal-mart of Sam’s Club.  On my last Sam’s Club run, I bought a 3 pound bag of blueberries for $5.98!  I ended up making another breakfast parfait by making my own fruit sauce.  So easy – any combination of fresh/frozen fruit for 1 cup.  1 cup water mixed with 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. corn starch.  Heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the frozen fruit is defrosted and the sauce is thick.  It only takes a few minutes to cool and I am ready to build my parfait – the fruit sauce, a slice of fresh banana, and 1 container of Chobani plain Greek yogurt.  That by itself is only 3 WW points (2 for the yogurt, 1 for the sauce), but I added 1/4 cup of granola for an extra 4 points.  I wish granola wasn’t such a point suck, but I guess that’s good because I could literally eat a whole container in one sitting without realizing it.

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And Roz, Christina pointed out the random heart in the middle – I didn’t even notice it until she pointed it out on Instagram.   I loved this parfait because it wasn’t too sweet at all.  I licked that mason jar clean!

I went to the post office yesterday to turn in my passport stuff, only to realize that you need to make an appointment.  Gah.  So I go again today after my Weight Watchers weigh in.  The post office I was at was near my old office, and I remembered there was a pretty trail back there, so I did a quick 45 minute walk.  Too bad it was so cold out – I think it was 43 degrees and pretty windy.

PicMonkey Collage - exercise

I would have liked to walk longer, but it was too cold, so I finished up my workout at the gym.  I love the choices it gives you on climbing up landmarks.  I walked up the Eiffel Tower yesterday for 100 floors and it took me 44 minutes to do that.  After I hit that “done” button my name went to the second place for most floors walked that week.  I can’t imagine climbing another 75 flights to get into first place!

Because of my excellent cleaning skillz of the fridge earlier in the week, I realized I had leftover beef and veggies from when the kadults and I went out to eat on Sunday.  Score!

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Still not the biggest fan of cauliflower, but it’s growing on me.  I ended up with 3 ounces of beef (2) and only added zucchini from my fridge to add to the stir fry.  I mixed it with 1 cup cooked thin spaghetti (5) and I found this stir fry sauce at the store that is only 7 calories a tablespoon.  Yep, you read that correctly and I’ve even double checked online!  Ying’s brand – I found it at my regular grocery store, so hopefully you can find it too.  Mixed with 1 tsp. of sriracha, it’s a delicious zero point stir fry sauce.

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I had to hit up the store to get the stuff to make my fruit tarts for Cooking Club tonight.  Jewel also has a discount rack – it’s near the back of the store by the bathrooms.  They have everything from alcohol, to stuff from the Osco side (think shaving cream, etc.) but also some good food deals.  I ended up picking up 5 bottles of this Stubb’s BBQ sauce because it sounded amazing, is only 10 calories a tablespoon, has sriracha in it (duh!) and each bottle was only .82 cents, marked down from $3.99!

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On their website they said you can marinate meat with it for an hour before grilling, or baste with it while grilling, or just as a dipping sauce on the side.  Can’t wait to try that.

Another food find?

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Yeah, that’s right – chocolate peanut butter powder!  That 6.5 ounce container cost $4.99 at Jewel, which seems like a lot – but a serving is 3 tablespoons mixed with 2 tablespoons of water for 2 smart points, so it would last a while.  I love drizzling that stuff over apples for a sweet treat.

I have to give a shout out to my Cabot Cheese peeps!  I got my spring package from them, so now I am fully stocked with Cabot cheese!  I have been thinking about mac n cheese for a while made with almond milk, so we’ll see how that comes out. 

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I also got noticed by Jennie-O on Instagram yesterday – I have been working hard trying to get some paying work with big brands for recipe development and it’s not easy to get heard among the millions of other food bloggers out there who are way more talented than I am.  But for now, I’ll take coupons!

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When I meal plan for the week, I usually try to take into consideration everyone’s likes and dislikes, but to tell you the truth, that rules out stuff that I normally like to eat – like pork chops.  Jacob loves them, but he feels sick after eating them and Hannah, well, you know how Hannah feels about certain cuts of meat.  So when I declared I was making pork chops, the kadults told me that they would figure out their own dinner.  Which they did – by going to Culver’s.  Smile with tongue out

My chop was 8 ounces, but once the bone was cut out, it was 6 ounces for 6 smart points.  I highly recommend cooking any meat on the bone – it has so much more flavor.  While I would have loved to grill, it was cold and pouring rain outside.  I am contemplating finding a construction guy who wants a side job to build me a BBQ shed in my back yard so it doesn’t matter what the weather is and I could still grill.  Kind of like this!

bbq hut

Ha – could you imagine?!  How cool is that to have the grill in the middle of the fricken table like that!  Nope, low budget is what I am looking for – something like this:

budget

So while I’ll dream of a BBQ shed, I used my trusty cast iron Lodge skillet and did my chop in there.  I knew I wanted a pan sauce, and I had Plochman’s mustard in the fridge that they generously sent me.  I used the angry yellow mustard which is so spicy flavorful.  I took 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon powdered chicken bouillon, and added that to the skillet after taking the chop and zucchini out.  I let it cook down for a couple minutes, and when I took a taste, it was almost too vinegary.  I had apricot preserves on my counter for the glaze for my fruit tarts, and added 1 teaspoon (1 smart point) of that to the sauce, and that brought it all around.  Tangy, vinegary and then a sweet kick at the end with the apricot preserves.  Not gonna lie, I literally licked my plate clean with that sauce it was so good!  And, since the fryer was still on the counter, I made 5 ounces of fries for 4 smart points – so my dinner was 11 smart points.

bbparfait 023

Not the pretties picture, but this was delish.

So excited for Cooking Club tonight at Courtney’s.  Word on the street is that our head Chef tonight, Tina, is making halibut!  Astute readers will realize that I hardly ever cook fish.  Like ever.  And especially since Tony passed away – he was really the only reason I made it.  But I think probably because I don’t really know how to prepare it at home, and some of that fish can be expensive.  I do take that back, I do love Chilean Sea Bass – I’ve had it in restaurants and it’s a meaty, not overly fishy tasting fish.  But turns out at my store, that’s one of the most expensive pieces of fish to buy at $24.99 a pound.  I’d hate to spend that kind of money only to ruin it once I brought it home and cooked it!

I am happy to say that the fruit tarts that I linked to yesterday?  They turned out really good.  Like really really good.  I made mini ones for portion control, but I made enough for people to take two – each one comes in at 5 WW points, which for a fruit tart isn’t too bad.  I’ll give you a sneak peak on how they turned out, but will take better pics today.  I’ll be posting the recipe tomorrow and a recap of the night.

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The apricot glaze really brings these tarts over the top.  Mom, I can make these for you for Mother’s Day! 

Alright, time to jump in the shower and see how I did on my first WI of the week doing meetings.  I know I shouldn’t have, but I stepped on my scale earlier in the week and was down 1.5 pounds – today it looks like I am up 2 pounds, which makes no sense to me, but I will go with whatever the WW scale says.  Wish me luck!

Make it a great day!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Oh, that’s right.  It’s still April in Chicago, so that means you’ll have temps in the 80s one day, and then barely get out of the 40s.  I actually had to turn our heat on, which has been off for probably two weeks.  Luckily all three of us don’t mind a cool house, but yesterday I was downright cold.  Hannah was home for me with breakfast before heading to work, so we had what we like to call a diner breakfast at home.  I had 2 ounces of leftover steak (2) scrambled with 1/2 cup egg whites (1) with spinach and a slice of buffalo wing cheese (thanks Laura!) (3) with three ounces of leftover new potatoes on the side with fresh fruit.  Such a delicious 8 smart point breakfast and super filling because I had plans to hit the StairMaster up later.

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After Hannah left for work, I had to clean the fridge.  I kind of just did a cursory clean up last Saturday, but it was time to pull out the shelves and clean them really well.  I texted these pics to Hannah because I knew she would be happy with the before and after!

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Yeah!  Now I can see everything.  I decided I would get in a quick 30 minute walk before doing some computer work. God I love snapchat!

PicMonkey Collage - qLK

See those shoes?  I bought them at my local thrift store for $5 – they look barely used at all.  I looked them up, and they retail for $77!  I wore them on my walk and on my workout at the gym later yesterday afternoon, and I realized that I haven’t replaced my running shoes in a long time.  I took a close look at a couple pair that I have and saw that they were pretty worn, and just threw them out.   Helen, you’ll be proud to know that I now own 9 pairs of shoes – well, that includes two pairs of flip flops.  I joke because she collects shoes like I collect jars of mustard!

Long time readers know I talk about my $1 rack a lot.  I love the $1 rack, even though Tony would be embarrassed by how fast I would run to it when I saw it was full.  I mean, come on – I can sometimes get 14 bananas for $1!  When I was at the store on Saturday, I bought a 2 pound bag of tomatoes for $1 and a 1 pound bag of roasted red peppers for $1.  I have learned the hard way that it’s not a bargain if I buy the $1 stuff, bring it home and decided to do something with it three days later – by then it’s almost always bad.  So I decided to roast them to make a soup with later – and yesterday was the perfect day to make it.

roasted pep

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Serves 4
Roasting the veggies gives this soup an extra depth of flavor.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
154 calories
24 g
0 g
4 g
8 g
0 g
712 g
788 g
14 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
712g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 154
Calories from Fat 39
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
7%
Saturated Fat 0g
2%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 788mg
33%
Total Carbohydrates 24g
8%
Dietary Fiber 7g
27%
Sugars 14g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A
116%
Vitamin C
317%
Calcium
10%
Iron
18%
* 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. 2 pounds tomatoes, quartered
  2. 1 pound red peppers
  3. 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  4. salt, pepper
  5. 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  6. 4 cups chicken broth
  7. 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  8. 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  9. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400.  Drizzle the grape seed oil and salt and pepper over the tomatoes and red peppers.  I had a mix of yellow, red and green tomatoes.  I roasted them for 20 minutes, then turned the broiler on high and got some char on the peppers and tomatoes.  Don’t get rid of the char – that has flavor!   I let the mixture cool, put in a ziploc bag and got ready to make the soup yesterday.  In a stock pot put a tiny bit of oil in the bottom of the pan with a spray of Pam.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes or until it starts to brown a bit.  Add in the ziploc bag, including all the juices, into the stock pot.  Add in the canned crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, parsley and crushed red pepper.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Using a stick blender, puree the soup.   This made 4 servings for a generous 2 1/4 cups.
beta
calories
154
fat
4g
protein
8g
carbs
24g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
roasted tom soup 039

Once I entered the recipe into the Weight Watcher recipe builder, I realized that each serving was only 2 points!  I knew I needed to bulk it up a bit before going to the gym, so I added 1 link of leftover Jennie-O sweet Italian sausage (4) with 1/2 cup leftover pasta (3) and added baby spinach for a filling 9 point soup.  But it had me thinking, this would be nice to have on hand if I was hungry late in the afternoon as a great 2 point snack.

I had every intention of doing the StairMaster at the gym, but there is only one, and in the hour and fifteen minutes I was there, it was being used.  Every time I saw someone get off of it, I didn’t get there fast enough to get on it.   So I did the treadmill and did an hour at 8% incline.  I ended up watching an episode of Fixer Upper, so the time went by fast.

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After I cleaned out the fridge, I decided to marinate my chicken for dinner.  I didn’t want to use a whole lot of oil, so I only used 1 tablespoon of oil mixed with 2 teaspoons of Greek seasoning and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, so it almost was like a paste.  Every hour when I walked by the fridge, I’d flip the ziploc bag around to make sure all the chicken was covered.  So while I wish it would have been warm outside using the grill, I at least got the flavor of summer in my dinner!

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I had pita bread in the freezer so I took that out earlier in the day to thaw. (3).  I had 5 ounces of chicken on my pita (4) and some tzatziki (1) and. . . green bean fries on the side.

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I found a bag of fresh green beans that Hannah bought when I was in Virginia, and well, they were looking pretty sad.  Not bad, but not fresh either.  For my one serving, I took 4 ounces of fresh green beans and for the batter:  1/4 cup flour (3) 1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning and 4 tablespoons of lime seltzer.  I would have made a beer batter, but I knew I wouldn’t need a whole beer for the batter, and I knew I’d drink the rest, so the lime seltzer worked great.  Just dredge the green beans into the batter, and deep fried for 4 minutes at 375 degrees.  Now you all know how I feel about my deep fryer – because it holds the temps so well, nothing comes out too greasy, unless the oil is really old.  But I cleaned out the fryer and had fresh oil and these were light and crisp.  I guess if I were being technical, I’d add another point for the oil, but I still have 17 flex points left for the week before my Thursday weigh in, so I am not going to sweat it.

I have some more recipe testing to do today – this week is Cooking Club at Courtney’s house tomorrow night, and I have been assigned dessert!  I’ve always wanted to make a fruit tart – don’t these look pretty?!

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Wish me luck!  

Stats for the Day:  90 minutes of exercise – 30 smart points

Make it a great day Open-mouthed smile

Top Chef!

The weather was perfect for going downtown yesterday.  It was already in the low 60s by the time I stepped on the train to go to Chicago at 7:45 in the morning.  I was meeting Carrie and her husband Rob at The Little Goat on Randolph Street.  If anyone lives in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area – her blog has tons and tons of recommendations on where to get good food, great beer and wine.  Rob is also a very picky burger lover – all of the components have to work to make it the perfect burger – seasoning/bun to burger ratio, etc.  Her husband is allergic to anything with feathers or fins – so he eats a lot of beef Open-mouthed smile

They also got into a serious car accident in the beginning of March, and are lucky that even with the jaws of life needed to get Rob out of the car, neither of them was seriously injured.  If you have a Hyundai Elantra, you have a very safe car!  Rob just had a couple scars on his wrist which is amazing after you look at the photos from that link.

I knew I would be walking a lot and walked the mile from the train station to the restaurant.  As I got close, I pulled my phone out to see how close it was to 9:30 at the time we were going to meet, and I looked up and I saw Stephanie Izard – the first female Top Chef winner and chef/owner of The Little Goat – and another guy sitting at a table outside the restaurant.  As I walked by her, I thought to myself “oh, there’s Stephanie!” and then when it hit me it was actually her, I swung back around and asked to take a picture!

stephanie

Her eyes are nearly closed, but I don’t care.  She’s pregnant so I didn’t want her to get up!  She was super sweet.   When I walked into the restaurant Carrie and Rob were already seated, and when I sat down I said “did you see Stephanie was sitting outside?!”  They did, but didn’t think to ask for a picture – turns out I don’t mind bothering a famous chef!Open-mouthed smile

After hugs and sitting down (meeting a mutual blogger is like meeting an old friend even if it is the first in person meeting!) we checked out the menu.  You guys, not going to lie I contemplated ordering a cinnamon bun because they are known for them, and I’ve already deemed cinnamon buns insulin worthy!   I also heard good things about this dish:

THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO CHINA – sesame cheddar biscuit. sunny eggs. szechuan pork sausage. chili garlic chive sauce. blackberries

That’s what Carrie ended up getting, and that chili garlic chive sauce with a blackberry was an amazing sweet/savory combination.   I stuck to my guns and ordered a fruit cup (which every piece of fruit was perfectly ripe) two scrambled eggs and ate two pieces of bacon for 8 smart points.  Rob got the side of sausage and hash browns.  They already had Au Cheval as their next stop to try their burgers, so he was pacing himself.  Although I applauded his choice of hard apple cider for his breakfast beverage.

PicMonkey Collage - little goat

Rob declared his sausage and hash browns some of the best he’s ever had, and I know next time I’ll splurge on the smart points and get the dish Carrie got.

little goat 2

It was great meeting up with you guys and thanks for taking the time to meet with me on your anniversary weekend in Chicago!

After breakfast I had to go to the Cook County building to get a certified copy of my birth certificate to get a passport.  I’ve never had one – I’ve been to Canada but that was before passports were necessary to travel there – so basically a long time ago! 

CCbldg

I used to go there all the time when I worked at a law firm downtown doing real estate closings, but I haven’t been there in a long time.  It’s actually a very beautiful building.  The line wasn’t too long and I was in and out in 20 minutes.

I knew I wouldn’t be ready to eat lunch yet, but when I saw my sister on Sunday, she suggested that we walk together on her lunch hour instead of going out to eat.  We ended up walking around the river front and all the way around the lake front through Millennium and Maggie Daley Park, and walked for 55 minutes.  Even though I think Trump is a joke, I do think his building is pretty.

trump

me and jenn

millenium park

And then I used my PhotoToaster app on my phone to turn that photo above into a drawing.  Best $2.99 app I’ve ever bought Open-mouthed smile

mellinim park 2

By the time we got back to her office, my blood sugar was in the low 70s and I was ready to eat.  I said goodbye to her and headed to Latinicity.  The last time I went I just had coffee, but the food smelled so good I knew I’d have to check that out.  As a total coincidence, just as I was leaving to head over there, I got tagged by Latinicity to ask if they could use the photo I posted the last time I was there:

latinicity

latinicity food

That is one of my favorite pics and I can’t believe I took that with my iPhone.  Again, I was toying with the idea of splurging on my lunch since by the time I sat down to lunch I was close to 17k steps.  But I ended up getting peel and eat shrimp (9 ounces for 4 points) and a beef barbacoa taco (4) and ate 6 tortilla chips for (2) for a delicious, filling 10 point lunch.

shrimp

shrimp 2

It was a great day all the way around, and I made it home before the storms came through – we had some pretty big hail too!

stormy

Oh, and that window to the left of the deck is my new bedroom window!  I love being able to open my bedroom window again.  Note to self – clean the shit from underneath the deck!

Hannah had an exciting day too!  WGN’s Ana Beneval (Around Town) came to the coffee shop she works at and Hannah was on t.v.  I need to do a video clip, but for now, this was the best I could do.  She was showing Ana how to make their signature white chocolate blueberry muffins – so proud of her!

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And in more exciting news, Gina from SkinnyTaste regrammed my steak salad where I used her cilantro buttercream dressing (um, she has nearly 400k followers on Instagram!) and within 30 minutes I already had 100 new followers, the most I’ve gotten in a day.  Thanks Gina!

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So check out my steps!

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Total Smart Points for the Day:  29 – and I didn’t eat anything after this delicious dinner – Hannah actually eats these mini Italian beef sammies because I get the meat from the deli shaved – this plate comes in at 11 points.

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It’s much cooler today, but temps in the low 50s are my favorite.  I have red peppers and tomatoes that I bought of the $1 rack that need to be used up, so I am guessing roasted red pepper and tomato soup will be on my lunch menu today.  Make it a great day!

Buffalo Burger Salad

Baby Buffalo Burger Salad

Loyal readers will be happy to hear that I will be back to blogging five days a week!  I have so many new recipes to share, that I don’t want to overload a post with too much stuff, so I’ll be spreading out the recipes Monday-Friday.  So those of you who wake up, get your coffee and then check up on what I am up to, you’re welcome! Open-mouthed smile

It was a gorgeous weather weekend in Chicago.  Saturday was cool but sunny – actually my favorite day, while yesterday the temps neared 80 degrees – our spring is so unpredictable.  The best part about this time of year is that the temps only dip to around the mid-40s overnight – perfect sleeping weather with my bedroom window wide open.  If Tony were still here, he’d be under three down comforters, and meanwhile I mostly sleep on top of my covers in a tank top and pajama pants. 

I forgot to take after pictures, so I’ll share that tomorrow, by my new windows that were installed on Friday are amazing.  I made some skinny blueberry muffins on Friday morning (recipe coming soon!) before the installer came in and I greeted him with fresh coffee from the Keurig and warm muffins and he told me that it already was going to be the best day ever.  You all know I love sharing my food!  He told me that he thought it would take about 4 hours to install 5 custom windows, but he ended up taking him just over 7 hours. 

I basically fed him all day with chicken quesadillas for lunch, homemade jalapeno cheddar bread in the afternoon, and lots of coffee during the day.  Pretty sure I am was his favorite customer evah.   But I didn’t expect him to be here nearly all day, so my grocery shopping got pushed until Saturday, which I’ve learned now that I am self-employed is the worst day to go to the grocery store.  Know what is the best day?  Monday around mid-morning.  I literally have five people helping me at the deli and the $1 rack is chock full.

I didn’t really grocery shop since getting back from Virginia other than coffee creamer and fruit.  I started cleaning out the kitchen late Saturday morning and realized I had ground sirloin that needed to be eaten or frozen.  Friday night I made Jacob chicken wings that I defrosted them from the freeze.r.  Lordy, I love a buffalo chicken wing.  But not the healthiest thing to have on the Weight Watcher program.  Not that I couldn’t have them, but I wasn’t willing to use up my weekly smart points so early in the week. 

So I did a quick search of “buffalo burger” and before I got too far I saw Kevin from Closet Cooking’s jalapeno popper buffalo chicken meatball appetizer that looked so good.  I

I adapted his recipe to what I had on hand.  And to make it more of a meal, I decided to use up the last of the romaine and veggies I had on hand to make it a baby buffalo burger salad.

Baby Buffalo Burger Salad
Serves 4
A delicious buffalo burger salad - you get the flavor of a chicken wing without all the fat!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
215 calories
9 g
109 g
11 g
20 g
5 g
127 g
553 g
2 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
127g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 215
Calories from Fat 96
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 5g
26%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 109mg
36%
Sodium 553mg
23%
Total Carbohydrates 9g
3%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 2g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
30%
Vitamin C
22%
Calcium
5%
Iron
14%
* 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. 12 ounces ground sirloin
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1/4 cup chopped celery
  4. 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  5. 1 clove minced garlic
  6. 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
  8. 4 tablespoons whipped Philadelphia cream cheese
  9. 1/4 cup Frank’s Hot sauce Wing Sauce
Instructions
  1. In a bowl mix the beef through jalapeno into a bowl.  Divide the mixture into 20 meatballs.  I put about 1/2 a teaspoon of the cream cheese in the middle of each meatball.  Now Kevin used block cream cheese, and next time I’ll do that, because  when I tried to put the cream cheese into the middle of each meatball, and it didn’t work all that well, so I basically had a schmear of the cream cheese to the meatball.  So I decided to press them into mini burgers, and after I cooked them, you couldn’t tell that the cream cheese wasn’t in the middle.  I cooked each side for only 2 minutes, and then tossed the burgers with the wing sauce in the pan to coat.  Then topped it onto my salad.  Then drizzled the salad with fat free ranch and a bit more wing sauce.
beta
calories
215
fat
11g
protein
20g
carbs
9g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/

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The best part is that this whole salad came in at 7 smart points!  #love.  It was the best of both worlds – beef – duh, and the spiciness of the Frank’s hot sauce.  Who said buffalo stuff couldn’t be beef instead of chicken?!

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Yesterday I ended up meeting my Mom at her church, and then going out to lunch with her.  I did end up seeing my twin sister to go grocery shopping and it was nice seeing my niece Claire – can’t believe she’ll be graduating 8th grade already this year.  Hannah is exactly 10 years older than Claire – Hannah is the oldest grandchild and Claire is the youngest.   Shelley, you will like that the snapchat face I did on Claire isn’t too scary!

PicMonkey Collage

I have to give a shout out to my friend Laura from church – she read on my blog last week that I was going to be visiting, and brought me a bag of cheese (Cabot is sold at Aldi!) a cute snowman and hot sauce.  She knows me so well!  Thanks Laura!  My Mom and I ended up going to The Little Gem Café in Oak Park. I’ve seriously been jonesing for that burger since the last time I had it, and I was not disappointed!

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I ended up eating 1/2 of it for 10 points, and had about 5 points in fries for a 15 point lunch.  That’s the best part about the Weight Watcher program, it takes the guilt out of eating something decadent like that because I counted the points for it and moved on.  I ended up only going over by 4 points for the day yesterday!  #beyondthescale

I had plans after grocery shopping to meet up with my friend Jacky, but my Mom got a text that a bakers rack she was interested in on Craigs list was available but it had to be picked up yesterday, so I rescheduled with Jacky and we picked it up and I headed back to my Mom’s house.  We’ll get together soon Jacky! 

I am headed to Chicago today!  My blog friend Carrie of Season It Already is in town with her husband celebrating their wedding anniversary, and they squeezed me into their plans to have breakfast at The Little Goat.   Then I am headed to the Cook County Building to get a copy of my birth certificate – I am getting a passport – I’ve never had one!   Not that I need it right now, but I’d like to be prepared.  Then headed to my sisters office and we are going to get our walking shoes on and walk around the lake front.  I’ll be killing it on the steps today!

Alright, time to get this show on the road – make it a great day!  See you tomorrow.

Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

I’ve been kind of going through the motions with Weight Watchers.  I know the smart point meals I make are on point.  That’s not the problem.  The problem is all those little “extras” that never seem to get added to my WW app.  The hazelnut creamer in my coffee x 4+ times a day.  The extra glasses of wine while away.  The bites of Cheetos that might be in the pantry that I just happen to open and pop a few in my mouth while reaching for something I was looking for.

So I decided to go back to meetings.  I love how easy the online program is and the app, but I know I can skip a weigh in and not really deal with how I really ate the week before like I do at a weigh in at a meeting.  I weighed myself when I first got up – no clothes – and I weighed in at 169.1.  My meeting wasn’t until 10:00 and I was up at 7:30.  I knew there was no way I could wait until then to eat something, so I made a quick egg white, shredded zucchini, 1/2 ounce cheese scramble and 3 slices of Canadian bacon on the side for 4 points.

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I ended up making a quick strawberry banana parfait for the road to eat after I weighed in.  I made a cup of strawberry sauce with 1 tsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. corn starch with 1/2 cup of water for 1 point, then used a 5.3 ounce container of Chobani and banana sliced in between.  It filled a whole big mason jar for 3 additional points.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was similar to this, except without the granola.

parfait

I forgot that there could be a line for the weigh in, so I was standing in line with my mason jar parfait and the woman next to me asked what it was.  I told her it was a 3 point parfait and her first reaction was “you can eat all that for only 3 points?”  Yep!  I know some people on Weight Watchers think of it as a diet vs. a lifestyle change.  You can eat anything – even bread like Oprah says in the commercial!  So I am thinking I am going to put together a flyer of all my eats for the week to show people at the meeting the variety of food you can eat and still eat 30 points a day.

5 - WI

I had to go back and see where I was in 2011 when I went back to WW.  On April 16, 2011 I was down 11.2 pounds, which meant my starting weight would have been 173.4.  So basically for all the ups and downs I’ve had over the last 5 years, I am down .6 pounds in five years.   Let’s just call myself the queen of maintaining! Open-mouthed smile

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So 163.8 is my first goal – or 5%.  I have no excuse because I have time to kill it at the gym and make healthy meals – but I just have to cut out all the in between stuff.  Easy to do, right?!

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I am proud to say that while I was gone, Hannah and Jacob ate all their meals at home and made healthy ones to boot!  It was so nice to get texts from Hannah showing me her delicious meals.  But I know Jacob loves when I cook beef, because that’s outside of Hannah’s wheel house.  She doesn’t normally even like to touch it, let alone cook it!  Flank steak was on sale for $7.99 a pound.  I think it’s funny but when I watch cooking shows on t.v. and they talk about flank steak, they’ll typically say “it’s a super economical meat.”  Um, no it isn’t.  Right next to it my store had ribeyes on sale for $4.99, and next to that was N.Y. strip steaks for $5.99.  But I love flank steak, and knew I’d be morphing the leftovers into another meal for me to justify the cost.  I always remind myself that if I were at a restaurant, I’d probably pay at least $12 for flank steak, and that would be for just one portion!

This marinade is better when done overnight, but it was delicious in the three hours I marinated it:

Marinated Flank Steak
A delicious marinade for grilled flank steak.
Write a review
Print
216 calories
23 g
0 g
14 g
2 g
2 g
242 g
167 g
12 g
0 g
12 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
242g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 216
Calories from Fat 123
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g
21%
Saturated Fat 2g
10%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 167mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 23g
8%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 12g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
17%
Vitamin C
93%
Calcium
5%
Iron
4%
* 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. 1/2 cup cilantro
  2. 4 cloves garlic
  3. 1/2 cup orange juice
  4. 1/4 cup lime juice (or about 2 small limes)
  5. 1 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 1/2 jalapeno (I left the seeds in)
  7. 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  8. pinch of salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Put everything in a food processor or blender and pour over the meat in a ziploc bag, tossing to coat.  Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Notes
  1. My flank steak was about 1.5 pounds - so I cooked it about 8 minutes per side on the first flip, and then 8 minutes on the second flip for medium rare.
beta
calories
216
fat
14g
protein
2g
carbs
23g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
3 - flank steak

I ended up making grilled flank steak salads.  I found a recipe from Gina’s site, Skinny Taste, for a cilantro, avocado and buttermilk dressing.  Holy balls.  Make this asap.  It’s creamy, tangy and spicy.  So good.  Oh, and I used Tapatio Doritos (3 for 1 point!) as croutons for the top of my salad.  You totally need that extra kick of spice and crunch.  Just have your family members hide the bag so you can’t help yourself when opening the pantry door.

1 - tapatio

4 - flank steak salad

Six ounces flank steak (6) 3 tablespoons of the dressing (2) 1/4 cup grilled corn (1), romaine/tomato/cucumber/red cabbage (0) and the Doritos croutons (1).  A delicious 10 point dinner.

I had leftover salad fixings and beef, so after my WI and hitting up the gym for an hour, I came home and decided tacos were a good idea.  I had three big mushrooms and cooked that up with 3 ounces of the leftover flank steak – I love how the meatiness of the mushrooms really gave these tacos a zip of flavor.  I pan fried them in 1 tsp. of coconut oil and Pam (1), with three extra thin Mission corn tortillas (4), with the beef (3) and a drizzle of the buttermilk dressing over the top and more Tapatio for (1).   9 smart points for all three tacos – winning!  Leftovers never tasted so delicious.

6 - tacos

I’d like to point out the difference between my iPhone photo for the salad at dusk vs. my DSLR during the day.  I love being able to spend just a little bit more time food styling and photographing my food. 

I recently found an old SD card that had 2100 pictures on it – dating back to summer of 2008!  I had to laugh at some of my early food photography from fall of 2008.  Case in point:

actual

I even have Tony being my hand model.  Even if that photo was in focus, I have no idea how I thought that would be a way to tempt people to make any of my food!  It was bittersweet to go through some of the pictures though.  I felt tears welling up in my eyes when I saw some of these pictures.  It’s hard to believe that just six years after these pictures were taken, he’d be gone.   I thought I would be with him a life time.

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And Bonnie (my MIL), not sure you’ve ever seen this picture of Sean – perfect for your wall!

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I have SO many photos that I need to spend just 30 minutes a day getting them in some sort of order – they are all over the place.  10,000+ are just old food pics I can delete.  Um, turns out I have 9,917 photos on my iPhone right now Smile with tongue out

I’ll leave you with this cute picture of Rummy and Roman – look how cute their paws are together!  So tired!

2 - roman and rummy

I have new windows being installed this morning – my bedroom window had been caulked so many times because Tony always felt a draft in our bedroom.  Once I took off all the caulk, there was really nothing holding the window in place anymore, and it’s been taped up for a few weeks so that I didn’t lose the window completely into the yard.  I’ll show some before and after pictures on Monday – while I was at it, I decided to replace Hannah and Jacob’s bedroom window and two other windows that weren’t replaced in the living room with the remodel.  Just kind of spacing out the home improvement projects this year, and this will likely be the only project I do this year.  That’s where half of my tax return is going to!

I hope you have a nice weekend!  I am meeting my Mom up for church and lunch on Sunday – I was able to squeeze into her busy schedule!  See you on Monday!

I’m Back!

Hey guys!  What a quick weekend that was to Virginia.  I want to thank my daughter Hannah for Friday’s post.  Um, very spot on that I am much like a tornado in the kitchen.  I’ve never been one of those cooks that cleans as you go – used to drive Tony nuts, which is probably why I didn’t want him in the kitchen with me when I cooked, because he’d say “while you are waiting for the water to boil, you could have washed the prep bowls and that pot!”   And it is true, Hannah usually puts stuff away before I even use it.   But if I was on a cooking show on t.v., I’d keep a clean work station!  And thanks to my twin sister Jennifer, who is kicking Weight Watchers ass by being down over 20 pounds, and did a guest post about baked carrot fries – can’t wait to try those!

So my plan for this trip was to eat 80/20 – meaning I’d indulge 20% of the time.  I don’t know why I get in the mind set that if I am traveling, eating healthy goes right out the window.  Why do I have to go crazy just because I am not home?!

PicMonkey Collage - breakfast

I pretty much had a healthy breakfast every morning.  I have PBFit at home (um, now they have a chocolate one too!) and never thought to bring some with me on this trip.  On the first trip to the grocery store, I found a packet for only .85 cents and it was two servings.  On the bottom left picture with the breakfast sandwich, I even added a teaspoon of honey for one smart point and sprinkled cinnamon on the apples – so good!  But that bread I made the breakfast sandwich out of?  My Aunt picked it up at the event we were at – it’s cheddar jalapeno bread and I need to figure out how to make that at home – so good. 

PicMonkey Collage - lunch

So let’s just chalk up my lunches as 50/50, shall we?  On the top left – I went to a AA baseball game on Sunday and you can’t not go to a ball park and not get a hot dog.  That pork BBQ sandwich picture does not do that sandwich justice at all.  That was bought at the event and it was provided by Virginia BBQ.   Tender pork, amazing vinegar kick.  If I lived in Richmond I’d probably get that sandwich two times a week at a minimum!

The lower left sushi plate was bought at a place called Ellwood Thompson.  It took me several minutes walking through this grocery store to realize it was a vegan/vegetarian/organic grocery store.   I ended up getting the veggie rice paper rolls.  I had no idea what those little brown things on the right were though.  They were slightly sweet, very chewy and I didn’t really like the texture all that much.  Thanks to Instagram, one of my followers told me it is Auburaage (fried tofu) which is seasoned with vinegar and sugar.  When it’s served like a pouch like that filled with rice, it’s called Inarizushi.  I may give it another try, but everything else was delicious.  On my first trip to the grocery store, I picked up a whole roasted chicken at Kroger.  I hit up the salad bar, but the hot bar had one single grilled chicken breast for $3.99 each, and I decided to spend the extra $1 and get a whole chicken.  When I got back home I cut off 4 ounces of the chicken breast and ate outside in 70 degree weather.  Glorious!

PicMonkey Collage - dinner

The highlight dinner for me was Monday night – my cousin Brian and his wife Lori came over for dinner.  Their kitchen is in the process of being remodeled, so they haven’t had many home cooked meals lately.  I went to Fresh Market and picked up ribeye steaks.   I marinated them in my best ever beef marinade.  No one in my family had had chimichurri sauce before, and everyone loved it.   On the side I made grilled new potatoes.  I just par boiled them and then finished them off on the grill and then tossed them in rosemary butter.  And you know I love my family because I caramelized onions with the green beans and finished it off with a balsamic glaze.  Another night I made chicken quesadillas.  I also made a beef lo mein, which I’ll post the recipe soon.  And you knew I couldn’t go a whole weekend without making pizza!  I made the dough on Friday and we ended up having that Saturday night.

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I love baseball.  Tony and I loved watching the Sox play on t.v.  So when I discovered that I wouldn’t be needed at the event on Sunday until late afternoon, I did a quick google search “what to do in Richmond this weekend” and up popped The Flying Squirrels – Richmond’s AA baseball team.  The stadium is literally two miles from my Aunt’s house.  I sat on the first base side, about 12 rows up and the cost of the ticket?  Only $13!

PicMonkey Collage - baseball

It was about 68 degrees, but you all know how bad I sunburn so I had my long sleeve jacket on and a hat.  I was really starting to get warm, when the first base side got shady and I was perfect while everyone around me in tank tops were complaining about how cold it got not being in the sun.   I posted that picture on the left on Instagram and one of my blog/instagram friends (Hi Shelby!) commented that she was at the game the day before to celebrate her birthday!  Small world.

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So the whole reason for me going to Richmond was because my Aunt and her partner Will were having a booth at the Southern Women’s Show at the Richmond Raceway.  This was a huge event, and their 25th anniversary, and it was the first time they had sold their nuts at this event.  The event ran Friday to Sunday – but they also had a farmers market all day Saturday, so they needed extra help.  It was actually a lot of fun.  I love talking and meeting new people, and the sales were steady all weekend.  

PicMonkey Collage - whitley

They also had a culinary stage sponsored by Food Lion.  They did some “chopped” type of events with attendees.   All I know is that while I was working in the booth, I thought to myself, this is so much better than sitting at a desk all day!  It was nice to spend time with my Aunt too – pretty sure I am her favorite niece, and to get to know her partner Will as well.  

One woman across the way from us was selling Kitchen Kraft cookware. I felt bad because had these cooking demonstrations that would start every half hour or so, but hardly anyone stopped by to see her.

PicMonkey Collage - kraft

She was a super nice lady though and would bring us the stuff she cooked.  Although the whole schpeal of her cookware was that you didn’t need to use oil, butter or seasonings to cook healthy food.  Will and I literally poured the salt from the bottom of one of our sample cans over that chicken and potatoes to make it remotely edible.  But here’s the kicker – do you know who much her deluxe cookware set cost?!!  $4,995!  And I actually saw people filling out the paperwork for it – maybe because you could buy it with low monthly payments, but that price seemed ridiculous!

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Will has two dogs – I’d met the black dog Patrick last summer, but met Kailey for the first time.  Such sweet dogs, but it was weird having two big dogs compared to Rummy and Roman.

PicMonkey Collage - dogs

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I had two uneventful flights there and back, which is nice.  I am so glad I don’t get nervous flying anymore.  I love this shot of the Chicago skyline when I was coming home yesterday.

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Home sweet home!  I didn’t bring my laptop with me so I am going to play catch up this morning and see what you guys are up to.   I’ll leave you with this picture of my Aunt’s backyard – it was hard to leave with this view!

garden

Make it a great day!