Chef Appetizer

When I was grocery shopping with my Mom earlier this week, we both picked up a package of Healthy Life English Muffins.   This brand is my go to brand for hamburger and hot dog buns, and never realized they made English muffins.  So I made an open faced breakfast muffin with lots of chopped cilantro – love the cilantro/egg combo!

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The verdict?  I loved them, Hannah thought they tasted “diety” and stale. All I know is that I love that I only had to spend 2 points on the muffin, so I could have 1 1/2 eggs (split 3 eggs with Hannah) (3) 1/2 ounce of cheese (2) and 1 piece of thick cut bacon on top (2).  With a honey crisp apple on the side, breakfast comes in at 9 smart points.

I’ve talked about one of the benefits of my job is bringing home leftovers.  I normally don’t take much home, especially the unhealthy stuff, but when I saw there were leftover mini crab cakes, I was in.  I wasn’t in the party that made these, so wasn’t exactly sure what was in them.  I reheated them in the microwave for one minute, then flash pan fried them in 1 teaspoon grape seed oil to get the crisp back in the cakes.  I guestimated 7 smart points for the crab cakes, 3 points for leftover rice a roni with some cucumbers with fat free ranch and hot sauce on the side.  I didn’t have to be to work until 5:00 p.m. yesterday, so it was nice to have lunch at home.

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I was working at the Lincoln Square location, where Apple Fest is going to be this weekend, and as soon as I walked in the door, I could smell the deliciousness of dozens and dozens of apple pies.  It smelled amazing!

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And I may have stated in an earlier post that if you buy the whole pie, you get to keep the cast iron skillet.  However, this year, we will just be selling pie by the slice.  I guess in years past we sell out of the whole pie too quick, and this year is the first year that it’s two days.  We are also selling pulled pork sandwiches with an apple slaw, selling a hard apple cider and apple cider liqueur from Journeyman Distillery.  I’ve never had an apple cider liqueur before and love that you can serve it hot or cold.

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I love how mindful The Chopping Block is about not wasting anything.  We have bins at both locations called “Chef App” which is bits and pieces of ingredients leftover from private parties or cooking classes.  The other class assistant I was with yesterday came up with this Chef Appetizer for our cooking class last night.  It was shrimp filled wontons that were deep fried with a side salad with crispy prosciutto.   I love how she tries to use as many ingredients in the Chef App bin as possible – that would be my goal too!

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The cooking class went great.  I love the Chef I worked with – his name is Nick and he’s got diabetes too.  He even has a tattoo on his arm that says “Type I Diabetic” in case something happens to him, people will know right away he’s diabetic.   He’s only a couple years older than Hannah!   I feel like a mother figure to a lot of these kids, which I love.  I am always reminding him, “did you check your blood sugar before the guests arrive?!”

On my drive home I always see this 24 hour diner, and one of these days I’ll stop and eat there.  I love tiny dives like this.  And who doesn’t love biscuits and gravy?!

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I wasn’t overly hungry when I got home, but knew I needed to eat something, and when I looked in the pantry, I noticed Hannah had a box of Kraft mac n cheese – one of her favorites and mine too.  Shocked that she bought the elbow macaroni kind though, because she’s always telling me that the shaped pastas have more flavor.  All I know was that 15 minutes after getting home, I was eating a cup of this for 8 smart points.  And lot’s of cracked pepper and Tabasco is necessary with this mac n cheese.

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This is going to be a busy weekend for me!  I am working Apple Fest tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Tomorrow night is my 30th high school reunion!  Cannot believe it’s been 30 years already.  I kind of  look the same 30 years later, no?! Smile with tongue out

Biz high school graduation

Then working a double on Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Whew!  I am just hoping the weather will hold out this weekend. 

Happy Friyay!  Hope you have a great weekend – follow me on Instagram for all the Apple Fest pics and I’ll do a recap on Monday.  Make it a great day!

Dinner At Home

I like to think if you add any type of egg to tacos, no matter what the filling, you can call them breakfast tacos.  Yesterday morning I chopped up 1.5 ounces of my leftover Nashville Hot Chicken and 1/2 ounce of fries leftover from Heaven on Seven.  Tossed in some chopped broccoli slaw and egg whites and scrambled that and tossed it into 3 corn tortillas and pan fried those puppies up for a delicious 10 smart point breakfast.  I didn’t even use cheese!

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It was a crappy day out, so I was happy that my schedule worked so that I could take the train to work.  Even though it isn’t an express train during the day, I don’t mind the hour and twenty minute commute.  They have plugs on the train so I don’t use up my phone battery and just chill out on Netflix and youtube – goes by in the blink of an eye.  When I got off the train it had stopped raining, but it was chilly – the temps were only in the low 50’s, but it was windy so it felt much colder than that.

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I had planned on walking to Xoco – Rick Bayless’s casual lunch spot, but it was too crappy outside, so I went to the food court on the second floor of the Merchandise Mart.   I have never been to the food court before.

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I decided on Protein Bar because I didn’t have a whole lot of time to look around.  My friend Jacky told me that next time I need to try the falafel at Mezza Grill.   I got the buffalo protein bowl – chicken, celery, cucumber, carrots, blue cheese and chicken.  290 calories, 4 grams saturated fat, 5 grams sugar and 31 grams protein, so it was 7 smart points and I have to say very filling!

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Then it was time for work!  JeanMarie Brownson was the guest chef for a private book signing event.  She is a lovely woman, very down to earth, and I loved hearing her stories about her love of food.  Before we got there we set up the family style dining table.

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We started up in the retail space where the guests ate her prosciutto parmesan puffs (which I never got a picture of!) and sipped on a complimentary glass of champagne.  While we prepared the puffs ahead of time for the guests to eat, JeanMarie demonstrated how easy they were to make.

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She brought a few of her favorite kitchen items and shared a story with each.  A giant rolling pin that her husband of 30+ years gave her on their first wedding anniversary, that has since been the focal point of her and her families Christmas cookie baking extravaganza every year since.  She said that they have whittled their cookie making down to 29 varieties this year!  She mentioned a copper pot that was part of a set purchased on her and her husband’s fifth wedding anniversary while in France.  The dollar to franc ratio was very generous back then, and they purchased a whole set of copper pots.  Only one tiny problem, the store that they purchased the pots was the first stop of the day, so they had to pack all the pots in their backpacks and her husband had to carry most of the pots around the whole day!

Her message was simple.  Even if she only has 20 minutes for dinner, she always sits at a table, with a plate and silverware.  That was one of the reasons she started her whole column in the Chicago Tribune was because while her children knew how to cook, they didn’t actually know how to put a whole dinner together when they were teens.   Now in their 20’s, she’s quite confident of their abilities in their own kitchens.

“The Chicago native shares with Good Eating readers the recipes she develops at home to feed her family and friends. Brownson has long experience in food; she was the test kitchen director for the Chicago Tribune from 1980 until 1996. She left the Tribune to start Frontera Foods with partners Rick Bayless and Manny Valdes. She is now culinary director of that Mexican foods company and also serves as culinary director for Frontera Media Productions, which produces the PBS TV show “Mexico — One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless.” She has co-authored three cookbooks with Bayless and wife Deann, including “Mexico — One Plate at a Time,” winner of the James Beard Foundation’s International Cookbook Award.” – Chicago Tribune

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And for the record, I tried beets again, and still don’t like them.  The only time I’ve eaten them and liked them were when they are pickled.  If I ever need a great dessert, these latte brownies were very good – very coffee tasting with the espresso powder.

Everyone had a great time, the pace was well throughout the night, and before I knew I, it was time to head home.  Love Chicago at night!

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I am working a tapas party tonight at Lincoln Square, but don’t start until 5:00, so had a nice morning hanging out with Hannah this morning sipping coffee outside before she went to work, which is why this post is going up later than usual.  That’s one of the things I love about my job at The Chopping Block is that each day is a bit different, and I feel like I have so much time to do other stuff during the day before work. 

I plan on getting my walking shoes before the rain starts later today.  It’s breezy and 64 degrees – perfect! 

Make it a great day!

We Made A lot of Pie. . .dough

When I was scheduled for “pie production” I really didn’t know exactly what I was going to be doing.  All I knew is that it was going to be a long day because I started at 8:00 a.m. and was scheduled to 5:00 p.m.  Did I mention this was at the Lincoln Square location, which meant I would be driving exactly during rush hour.  Let’s just say it took me two hours to drive to work – I need to do a dry run to take public transportation to Lincoln Square, which would require me taking the Metra from Cary to Chicago, then switching to the Brown Line for 15 stops before exiting a block away from work.  The price I pay for living a country life and working in the city! 

But it’s totally worth it.  I was telling my Mom the other day that I can hear Tony’s voice telling me how stupid it is working 40 miles away from where I live, but I keep having to tell him to be quiet, that I’ve got this and everything will be okay.

I ate an English muffin with peanut butter and a banana in the car ride to work.  I was 15 minutes late, and didn’t realize that the owner of the company was going to be there all day – you all know how I hate being late!  It ended up being fine.  After the owner gave us a quick tutorial on how she makes her pie crust we were off to the races.  We were a team of 5 including the owner and we were like an assembly line of two teams.  The owner chopped up the butter and shortening and would portion out exactly how much was needed for each pie crust (top and bottom) 6 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of shortening if you were wondering.  They were frozen so they would stay cold.  Then one of us would portion out the dry ingredients, and another person manned the robot coupe to process the dry ingredients with the fat, then add in the ice cold water, while another person wrapped up the individual crusts in plastic wrap.

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This was supposed to be a two day production of making 500 pie crusts for Apple Fest this weekend.   250 pie crusts yesterday and 250 pie crusts today.  But we had such a rhythm going, that we managed to make all 504 pie crusts from 8:40 a.m. until 4:40 p.m.  We only took a 30 minute break for lunch, which was chicken tacos.  I had one chicken taco and a Diet Coke.

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Um, turns out making pie dough is a bit messy, but my station was the messiest!

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It actually went by super fast.  We listened to music, shared food stories.  It was a lot of fun even if the task was repetitious.   And yes, I was toggling between Diet Coke and coffee.

By the time we cleaned up and I was heading home, it was 5:30 and I thought for sure I’d run into rush hour traffic, but outbound traffic wasn’t bad at all and made it home in just over an hour.  I really didn’t eat much during the day so I was hungry, and literally wanted to stop at every fast food place I saw, but I knew I had stuff to make a quick fried rice, and that’s what I made for dinner.

Beef and Veggie Fried Rice
Serves 1
A super quick dinner using leftover cooked rice. You'll be ready to eat in about 5 minutes!
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
6 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
6 min
537 calories
62 g
257 g
15 g
35 g
5 g
446 g
601 g
4 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
446g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 537
Calories from Fat 136
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
23%
Saturated Fat 5g
26%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 257mg
86%
Sodium 601mg
25%
Total Carbohydrates 62g
21%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 4g
Protein 35g
Vitamin A
195%
Vitamin C
91%
Calcium
9%
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. 3 ounces lean sirloin steak, chopped
  2. 1 cup cooked white rice
  3. 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup carrots
  5. 1 tablespoon pot sticker sauce
  6. 1 teaspoon hot mustard
  7. 1 tablespoon sriracha
  8. 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  9. 1 large egg, cooked and chopped
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, heat to medium temperature and cook one large egg, just until the yolk isn’t runny.  Set aside and let cool.  Heat pan up to medium high heat.  Spray with Pam and add in your bite size chopped steak to the pan and cook for about a minute and a half.  Set aside with the egg.  Add in the broccoli and carrots and cook for about 2 minutes – you still want them to be crisp tender.  While the veggies are cooking, mix the pot sticker sauce, hot mustard, sriracha and rice wine vinegar together.  Add the chopped egg and steak in with the veggies.  Add the leftover cooked rice, stir to combine.  Pour in the sauce and cook for 1 minute.  Garnish with sesame seeds.  The sauce is 20 calories, so barely a point, but I am counting it as 1 smart point.
beta
calories
537
fat
15g
protein
35g
carbs
62g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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This was hearty, delicious and super quick to put together.  And turns out much healthier than fast food!

I am excited about work tonight at The Chopping Block.  There is going to be a meet and greet with JeanMarie Brownson, who is a local Chef and Writer from the Chicago Tribune.   She will be demonstrating her prosciutto parmesan puffs to start the evening.  Then you’ll dine family style on a roasted beet, radicchio and walnut salad; Chicken Osso Bucco; Crispy Baguette with Herbed Cheese Spread; finished with a Latte Brownie and ice cream while you hear JeanMarie talk about her passion for food and life.  The $85 price tag includes a copy of her cookbook “Dinner at Home.”  Only 3 seats are left!  And I am happy that my schedule allows me to take public transportation, so I can watch youtube videos on my way to work. Open-mouthed smile

It’s a chilly morning, which I love.  Right now I am wrapped up in a snowman throw, with my hot cup of coffee and all the windows open.   And it’s 54 degrees – love!   I love this time of year.

Hope you have an awesome day!

The Chopping Block

Corn and Chive Pudding

One of the things I love about my new job is that I am trying new foods that I otherwise might have thought I hated.  When I first read the recipe for the corn and chive pudding before my cooking class last Friday night, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  First, it had chives in it, and you all know my aversion of any type of onion.  And the second thing I was leery of was the texture.  I thought it would taste like baby food.

Boy was I wrong!  When I make this at home (and I will!) I would add some chopped jalapenos for a bit of heat, but this is a winning side dish.  Hopefully you’ll still be able to find fresh corn in your neck of the woods for a few more weeks to give this a try.  Otherwise I would substitute white shoepeg canned corn for this recipe.   This recipe (and more!) can be found on The Chopping Block’s website here.   I am also making this recipe 10 servings of a heaping 1/2 cup.   It’s really rich!

Corn and Chive Pudding
Serves 10
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Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
15 min
292 calories
23 g
132 g
20 g
9 g
12 g
147 g
134 g
7 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
147g
Servings
10
Amount Per Serving
Calories 292
Calories from Fat 175
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g
31%
Saturated Fat 12g
58%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 132mg
44%
Sodium 134mg
6%
Total Carbohydrates 23g
8%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 7g
Protein 9g
Vitamin A
19%
Vitamin C
9%
Calcium
17%
Iron
6%
* 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. 4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 ears of corn)
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. 1/2 cup milk
  5. 5 cloves garlic, roasted
  6. 3 tablespoons sugar
  7. 1/2 stick butter, melted
  8. 2 tablespoons flour
  9. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  11. 2 tablespoons chives
  12. 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350.   Butter a baking dish and set aside.  Place 3 cups of the corn, eggs, cream, milk, roasted garlic, sugar, butter, flour and baking powder in the food processor.  Blend until almost smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in the reserved 1 cup of corn, chives, cheddar cheese and pour into the buttered baking dish.  Bake on a parchment lined sheet tray until the center is set and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.
  2. Note on the roasted garlic:  To roast garlic, slice the top off of whole head of garlic to expose the cloves.  Place in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.  Alternatively, most grocery stores now have an olive bar, and you can buy roasted garlic already prepared.
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calories
292
fat
20g
protein
9g
carbs
23g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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If you were to come to one of our cooking classes, that’s what your “mis en place” would look like that I prepare for you ahead of time.  It has all your ingredients you would need for a recipe.  We left the cheese whole for the guests to grate, and had them guests shuck and use that corn zipper to get the corn off of the cob.  And did I mention you get 15% off of almost anything in the retail store if you attend and event or cooking class?!

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Because we provide you with everything you need to make all the ingredients, we provide to go containers because you’ve essentially paid for all of the food with the cost of the class.  It’s surprising how many people have no interest in taking home the leftovers!  It was lucky for me, because on Saturday morning I made a corn and chive pudding savory breakfast pancake.  All I did was take 3/4 cup of the pudding and added in a couple tablespoons of flour – it made the pancake 9 smart points, but the egg white scramble was only 1 point, so this whole plate of food was only 10 smart points.  Salty, sweet and savory – best combo evah!  I will see if I can tweak this recipe a bit to get it a bit healthier – maybe subbing in mostly almond milk and reducing the heavy cream. 

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**************

My sister and I finally got to celebrate my Mom’s birthday today.  Since my sister works downtown, it only made sense to find a place to eat near her office.  When she first recommended taking my Mom there I thought “there is no way Mom would go for that” because it’s a lot of spicy food – and Momma doesn’t like spicy food.  But she took a look at the menu at Heaven on Seven and saw some dishes that weren’t spicy, so that’s where we decided to go.

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Yep, this is what the restaurant looks like 365 days a week.  Did I mention that they have a lot of hot sauce?  Over 2,000 on the walls and tables!

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And why have I never heard of sweet and spicy Tabasco?!  It was delicious.

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I had pretty much decided what I was going to get before we got there.  I’ve had a jones for fried chicken and when I saw they had a Nashville Hot Chicken dish, I was sold.  And thanks to my friend Dana for scoping out the menu and mentioning fried green tomatoes, we got those to start with.  And my picky sister ate one!  Corn meal batter and a warm remoulade.

9.26.16we 081 So many awesome things to choose from!

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I like how they have to word “beef debris.”  I meant to ask our server Carrie (great server by the way!) what that meant, but forgot.   Each meal starts out with a cup of their signature gumbo.  Holy balls – this picture does this absolutely no justice, because it was SO FLAVORFUL I could have eaten a whole pot of it.  That’s one dish I want to attempt at home this fall and winter.

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My sister got Italian breaded steak sandwich, my Mom got the New Orleans BBQ shrimp over cheesy grits, and I got the Nashville Hot Brown chicken. 

PicMonkey Collage

Everything was delicious.  My sisters sandwich was humungous – seriously 4 servings of beef in that sammie.  My Mom’s N.O. shrimp had such a depth of flavor, and well, how wrong can a perfectly cooked piece of spicy fried chicken be?!  I actually only ate a few bites of my chicken because I was so full from the fried tomatoes and gumbo.  Please note that if you are in Chicago and decide to hit up Heaven on Seven – cash only.  No debit or credit cards are accepted.

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It was a fun day off.   Always nice spending time with my Momma and sister.   Now I am up bright and early to get to work to make apple pie all day!  Be sure to check out my Instagram posts later today. 

Make it a great day!

Happy Monday!

OMG, the sleeping weather last night was amazing!!  So amazing I slept in until 9:45 this morning.  And I am scooping up my Mom and have to leave soon to have her birthday lunch in Chicago with my sister at Heaven on Seven.

I haven’t been to Heaven on Seven in years.  Back in the day I used to walk a mile from my office to their restaurant, and would only buy a single square of jalapeno corn bread which is life changing.  I’ll be doing a recap and a blog post later tonight.  I won’t be blogging tomorrow because I have to be at work at 8 a.m. to make apple pies all day for Apple Fest this weekend.

But for those of you who drink your coffee while reading my blog as your routine, didn’t want you to think I was dead in a ditch somewhere. Open-mouthed smile

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If you were going to Heaven on Seven, what would you order?  I am on the fence of what I should order. Open-mouthed smile

Happy Birthday Momma!

It’s so crazy that with 365 days in the year, I have three family birthdays three days in a row!  Today my Mom turns 76 years young.  I started putting a collage together of all the pictures of just me and my Mom, but there were so many the pictures would be so tiny that I decided to just share a few.   Just proving that I am Mom’s favorite again and again.  I am sorry I have to work today and you are busy at the food pantry, but we’ll have fun on Monday!

PicMonkey Collage

It’s hard to believe though that the picture of her holding my twin sister and I? She’s 28 years old in that picture, and I am not 20 years older than she was in the picture!  Where is the time going??!!

Thanks for all your virtual hugs yesterday on Tony’s birthday.  I had planned on calling my parents in law on the way to work, but my bluetooth wasn’t working in the car and then I got busy right away when I got to work.  I texted them and my MIL said that somehow this year was more difficult without him than last year, and I agreed with her.  I cried, then I’d feel okay, then I felt like driving to Dunkin Donuts and eating a dozen donuts by myself.

Instead, I went on a 45 minute walk.  It was over cast, gloomy, but warm.

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I got back and made a bagel sandwich.  My grocery store sells an everything bagel that is only 6 points and 210 calories.  It’s on the small side, but it takes care of the bagel jones I get every once in a while. 

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I was glad it was a work day so I could get my mind off of Tony.  I quickly threw lunch together – I simply added chicken stock to my vodka sauce and made a quick version on lasagna soup and ate that before my shift started.

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It was a private party of only five people, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I thought maybe the head chef would prepare all the dishes and I would be on the sidelines, but I took three people, she took two and we split the recipes up.  My two recipes were the roasted potato and fennel potato salad with a Dijon vinaigrette and slivered almonds, and the arugula, avocado, jicama and orange segment salad with pistachio’s and a pistachio vinaigrette.  The Chef made an artichoke and goat cheese focaccia bread, which I seriously cannot wait to make at home, baked chicken that was stuffed with a rosemary butter compound butter and drizzled with a fig balsamic glaze, and cheesecake with a vanilla paste whipped cream.

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Um, turns out there is a book at Merchandise Mart with all the appetizer recipes with instructions.  Either I missed that during one point of my training, or they just forgot to tell me, but it’s nice to know.  I’d already seen the two appetizers so I knew how to prepare them – I also need to make that grilled pesto pizza with heirloom tomatoes and got cheese with fresh basil.  Swoon!

As always, work went by in a flash.  I decided to switch it up and listen to podcasts coming home.  I listened to old podcasts from A Couple Cooks from last fall.  I hadn’t heard of their blog and I must be behind the times, because they have about 52k followers on Instagram!  All I know is that I listened to two podcasts and I was pulling in the driveway.  Nice!

I had 14 points left for dinner, and getting home at 11 p.m. this was about as fancy as I was going to get.  Oh, and I love the dog hair on the table Open-mouthed smile

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Leftover taco meat, chips and wine.  And of course the barely seen bottle of Cholula hot sauce on the side.

It’s another work day for me – yeah!  When have I ever been so excited to go to work?  Well, the answer to that is probably never!  Tonight is a Hands on Class – Wine and Dine.  They are making roasted fig, arugula and goat cheese salad, roasted pork loin with a bacon blueberry compote, corn and chive pudding and an apple pear crisp.  Sounds like an awesome menu to me!

And my first blog post was published today on The Chopping Block’s website.  My ode to Deep Dish Pizza!  You can check it out here – I’d love for you guys to comment on that post. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  I am still waiting for fall temperatures which won’t happen until next week.  High of 68 and lows of 49 – perfect weather for me!

Make it a great day!

Happy Birthday Tony!

Oh how I wish he was here.  While he didn’t ever want to make a big deal out of his birthday, that just wasn’t an option when you are married to me.  I’d think long and hard on the menu, the gifts, etc.  When I think back to his last birthday, I obviously didn’t know at the time that it would be his last.  I’ve just recently started to read my old blog posts from that summer of 2014 when we were back and forth to Mayo Clinic.  What I can’t believe is that even though he hadn’t had an appetite for the longest time, and even the smell of cooked food sometimes turned him off, I somehow decided it would be a good idea to make him lamb chops because they were his favorite.  I think he maybe ate two bites of one chop, and was apologetic about not eating more.  And as I was clearing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, I remember hearing him snore because he fell asleep at 7:00 p.m. like his did. 

tony

Maybe next year will be easier to sit outside without the constant reminder that he isn’t sitting across from me with his cigar and Grey Goose on the rocks.  Yesterday when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner that all three of us would eat, Jacob said that he loved a vodka tomato sauce.  Suddenly the idea for pasta and meatballs was on the menu and as I was going to the grocery store to pick up a small bottle of vodka for the sauce, I realized I hadn’t bought vodka at all since the summer of 2014.   I am not sure Tony would have approved of my $8.99 choice though!

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This is my version of a vodka sauce with meatballs.  I love buying what my store calls “chili meat” which is just a thick ground chuck of 85/15. 

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Vodka Sauce with Mini Meatballs
Serves 8
I love having mini meatballs because it feels like you are eating more than you really are. Each meatball comes in at 1 smart point.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
270 calories
12 g
69 g
12 g
13 g
5 g
171 g
684 g
2 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
171g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 270
Calories from Fat 103
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
18%
Saturated Fat 5g
24%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 69mg
23%
Sodium 684mg
29%
Total Carbohydrates 12g
4%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 2g
Protein 13g
Vitamin A
6%
Vitamin C
11%
Calcium
7%
Iron
13%
* 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 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  3. 1 cup vodka
  4. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  5. 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  6. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  7. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  8. pinch of salt and pepper
  9. 1 pound ground chuck
  10. 2 ounces of chopped stale Italian bread
  11. 1/4 cup 1% milk
  12. 1 egg
  13. 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  14. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  15. 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  16. 1 teaspoon salt
  17. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  18. 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Instructions
  1. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add in the vodka, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vodka has been reduced by half.  Add in the Italian seasoning, crushed tomatoes, crushed red peppers, salt pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream.  Taste for additional salt.
  2. In a large bowl, put the stale bread and the milk together and mix until the milk is absorbed into the bread.  This is called a panade and keeps your meatballs tender while cooking.  Add in the ground chuck, 1 egg, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, salt, pepper and dried parsley and mix just until combined, careful not to over mix the meat mixture.  I got 45 meatballs about the size of a marble out of this recipe – each meatball comes in at 1 smart point each.
  3. Heat a skillet with Pam – there is enough fat in the meat that you don’t need to add any additional fat to the pan.  Cook over medium high heat so that there is a nice crust on the outside of the meatball, but not yet fully cooked.  Throw the meatballs into your sauce and put the pan back on a low simmer to let the meatballs cook through, about 10 minutes.
beta
calories
270
fat
12g
protein
13g
carbs
12g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
9.21.16aa 009

9.21.16aa 016

I ate 6 meatballs for 6 smart points, 1 point for the sauce and 5 points for the cooked pasta for a filling 12 point dinner.   I may be having a mini meatball sandwich for lunch today.

My goal for the day is not to binge eat just because I am feeling sad that Tony isn’t here on his birthday.  Luckily today is a workday – a private party for just 5 people which should be interesting because I haven’t worked a small party like that before.  And I love the chef I am working with and know I can learn a lot from her.  It’s a California Wine Country Menu today:  artichoke focaccia; arugula, avocado and orange salad with a pistachio vinaigrette; roasted chicken with fig balsamic glaze; fennel and new potato salad with whole grain mustard and lemon cheesecake with whipped cream.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?!

So my only request today is to give your spouse or significant other an extra hug and a kiss today.  Hugs!