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January 2017

Cheese/ Side Dishes

Cauliflower Mac N Cheese

I always hit my snooze at least once.  Although I used to be a complete night owl, that’s turned around the older I’ve gotten.  I don’t know what flips that switch?  Hannah and Jacob can work from 5:00 to noon – come home, nap for four hours, stay up until two and then sleep until eleven the next morning.  Ah to be in your mid-20’s again!

And for those of you who have been with me since nearly the beginning, can you believe Hannah is going to be 25 years old in a little over a month??!!   She was 16 when I started this blog.  And Joe will turn 28 this year – crazy!

So after hitting the snooze the first time, the second time (and I build in my snoozes so I am never running late) I reach for my phone, and check the weather.  Yesterday it said 13 degrees.  But it was sunny!  Thanks Jenn for this picture (I stole it from my sister!)


I don’t even mind the cold when it’s sunny.   It had me thinking, and I’ll have to look this up, but we might have had the least snowy January on record!  Of course, that means we’ll have a snow storm at the end of March.  I don’t mind late spring snow though, because it never lasts long.

I had simple egg sammie with fruit for breakfast yesterday.  7 smart points.  While this was good as I was eating it yesterday I thought, “I should really bring my panini maker to work!”  Ha! 

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Work was steady busy.  Nothing crazy, just one thing right after another.  I am not pushing my cough any more than I have to, so decided to eat lunch in the tenant lounge again.  More turkey chili with cucumbers as chips instead of tortilla chips – saved me 4 smart points right there.  Lunch came in at 7 points as well.

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I normally pack way more fruit in my lunch bag than I usually eat, and was glad I did because on the train ride home I was starving for some reason.  I ate a banana and a kiwi on the train ride home – that hit the spot.

I had an idea for dinner for an open face type of burger.  I made cauliflower mac n cheese the night before last (I had to rewrite the recipe because when I looked back at my recipe it was when Weight Watchers was points plus, and a one cup serving based on those ingredients came in at 9 smart points!).   I ate it when it was really warm out of the oven and it was a bit runny, not at all like I remembered.  But after it cooled on the stove, it came together really well, like a regular mac n cheese.  My idea was to make cauliflower mac n cheese “cakes” for the base of my baby burgers.  It was either going to turn out really well or really bad – that’s usually how it goes with my cooking!  Here is the recipe for the mac n cheese.

Cauliflower Mac N Cheese
Serves 6
A great side dish any night of the week!
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
254 calories
37 g
17 g
7 g
13 g
3 g
234 g
264 g
4 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 254
Calories from Fat 58
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 17mg
Sodium 264mg
Total Carbohydrates 37g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 4g
Protein 13g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 head cauliflower
  2. 2 cups chicken stock
  3. 3 ounces Cabot cheese, divided
  4. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  6. 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  7. 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  8. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  9. 8 ounces cooked pasta (I used ditali)
  1. Microwave the cauliflower on fresh vegetable setting.  Let cool slightly, and throw it in a food processor with the chicken stock, 2 ounces of the cheese, the mustard, Italian seasoning, dried parsley, lemon pepper, paprika and salt and pepper to taste.  Pulse until combined and the cauliflower is pureed.  I actually left a few chunks of cauliflower.  Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta, transfer to an oven safe dish, finish off with the last ounce of cheese and a sprinkle of dried parsley, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
  1. * the nutritional label I use is auto generated based on generic ingredients, not the ones I specifically use. I always use the Weight Watcher recipe builder to calculate the smart points.
  2. One cup = 6 smart points
  3. Half cup = 3 smart points
My Bizzy Kitchen
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I put the recipe into the Weight Watcher recipe app, and it comes in at 6 smart points per cup, 3 points per half cup.  For dinner last night I scooped out 1/2 a cup and divided that into two “cakes.”  Since the mac n cheese was cold, it held together just fine.  I heated up a pan with some Pam and a bit of coconut oil, and seared off each side of the cake for about 2 minutes a side – just until golden brown, then set those aside.

I cooked up two 3 ounce sirloin patties that I seasoned with just salt and pepper, and some Boar’s Head goat cheese. I put the baby burgers on top of my cauliflower cakes, then topped with Plochman’s angry mustard, some baby greens and had some sautéed mushrooms on the side.  This plate came in at 10 smart points and was delicious!

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The mac n cheese cakes had a nice little crusty to them, but were gooey and cheesy on the inside.  Hannah fixed the mushrooms – they are delicious and she won’t share the recipe with either Jacob or me! After dinner I still had 6 points left for the day and ate 6 points of crack I mean granola to end out the day with 30 smart points.

I am really excited about tomorrow’s post, because Weight Watchers is talking about #freshfoodsFeb! 

fresh foods feb

I watch a lot of youtube videos of other Weight Watchers who post “what I ate on 30 points with Weight Watchers” and I know I am probably the exception to the rule – someone who works a full day and enjoy coming home to cook, but a lot of these videos rely on so much processed food:


And trust me, I am not knocking that if that works for you.  My goal for February though is to have at least two or three (5-7 ingredient or less) dinner ideas that use whole foods and no packaged goods.  Work permitting of course, but it would be great if I could get someone to cook outside their comfort zone and cook from scratch just one night a week.

Alright, time to get my show on the road.  Question of the Day:  Do you rely on processed food in your weekly meal planning?  Very curious to hear about it in the comments below!

Here is a Tuesday Thought for you – make it a great day!


Weight Watchers

Weekly Menu + Before and Now Pics

I had the best of all weekends, lazy + organized + worked at my happy place – the Chopping Block!

Friday started out great because I got to have lunch with my sister and her son who was helping at her work.  My nephew is vegan and gluten free, so our lunch options were a bit limited, but then I remembered that when my friend Aimee (hi Aimee!) came for the Chicago marathon we met at Native Foods for dinner, and while I knew it was vegan for Aimee, I remembered seeing gluten free options as well on the menu. As luck would have it, it’s pretty much an equal walk from my office and my sisters office to meet there.

I didn’t bother looking at the menu for my entrée because I knew I was going to get the chicken fingers again with the sweet potato fries.  I already calculated the points going in, and if I ate everything it was going to be 13 points.  I also saw that they had lemon steamed broccoli so got that on the side as well.  So good!  My sister isn’t a fan of broccoli all that much and liked it.   I finally looked it up to see what the “chicken” part of the chicken wings are, and it’s textured tofu.  All I know is that it is delicious, especially when dipped on buffalo sauce and ranch dressing.

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I still have my cough, but I have to say I am more than 50% better than last week.  The kadults were working during the day on Saturday and I took advantage of a quiet house.  I did some laundry, made granola for the week, and finally around 2:00 p.m. thought it might be a nice idea to actually take a shower and get out of my pajamas.  I grabbed my new Oprah Cookbook that Weight Watchers sent me and my journal to meal plan and headed to the coffee shop to have some soup for a late lunch. Yes, I know it’s ironic that when I have the house to myself, I go and visit the kadults at their place of business Open-mouthed smile

Their soups are delicious and I thought they were provided by the catering company down the row from them.  Nope, it’s Chicago based Bistro Soups that makes the soup – and I realized they are sold in most Jewel grocery stores!  Hannah and Jacob love the garden vegetable, but when Hannah mentioned they had tomato soup, I couldn’t decide, so Hannah brought me a taste of both.  This was the perfect lunch.  I finished it off with a sugar free mocha cappuccino, so lunch came in at 9 points on Saturday.

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I spent $48 at the store this week.

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This included dinner on Saturday and Sunday night:

Saturday I made:  Steak au Poive (I’ll post the recipe later this week!)  This plate came in at 11 smart points and worth every single one.

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Last night I made grilled BBQ chicken breasts, topped with a zero point mango pineapple salsa, with a side of cauliflower mac n cheese (the salsa and mac n cheese recipe will be posted later this week as well).  Sunday dinner came in at 10 smart points.

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For the rest of the week – not sure what will fall where, but here is the “plan”


  • Steelcut Oats with Banana/Blueberries/Toasted Oats (from Oprah’s cookbook) x 2
  • Egg white and spinach breakfast sandwich with fruit
  • Breakfast Tacos
  • Blueberry Cranberry Chobani Parfait with Granola


  • Tomato and Guajillo Chile soup (from Oprah’s cookbook) that I am going to add cheese tortellini to make it a meal x 2
  • Leftover Steak Picky Plate
  • Freezer Turkey Chili Mac
  • Leftover cauliflower Mac with smoked sausage


  • Sirloin Burgers, Mushrooms, cauliflower mac
  • Italian meatballs with zoodles and marinara sauce
  • pork chop with garlic green beans
  • leftover night
  • party Pizza Friday!

Since I worked all day yesterday, I haven’t made the tomato soup yet, so we’ll see how it goes this week.  I have a general idea though, and any plan is better than no plan, am I right?

I had to leave for work by 7:30 yesterday morning.  I never know how traffic is going to be, but as it turned out, it was smooth sailing, and I was actually early.  I wasn’t hungry at all when I first woke up, but I brought a 6 point banana granola parfait for my drive to work and about half way through my drive, I ate it.

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Yep, it was overcast and a bit snowy on my way to work.  If the weather app is accurate, we will finally have sun on Wednesday.  You never know how much you miss the sun until you haven’t seen it for nearly two weeks!

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I worked in the demo kitchen with the giant mirrors because I was working a Knife Skills Plus class with Chef Rachel.  This is a great class to take, especially if you are thinking of upgrading to a really good knife for your home kitchen.  We routinely carry about six brands of knives for our guests to use in our kitchen (Shun, Global, and F. Dick to name a few – an no, I am not making up that last brand name up!) so it’s a great way to get a feel for a knife before forking over a decent amount of money for one.  And if you are going to buy knives for your kitchen, don’t buy a knife set – or “block” of knives.  You truly only need three knives in your home kitchen – a good 8” chef knife, a paring knife and a bread knife (serrated) knife.  That’s it.

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We had a full class and it was a lot of fun.  I put together the mis en place for the pineapple mango salsa, which I was able to bring Chef Rachel’s demo home for my BBQ chicken above.  The students learned how to cut different things like pineapple, mango, how to julienne cut and the like.  I love pineapple and mango, and I didn’t even mind that there was chopped scallion!

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My shift was a weird time – from 9-3:30.   I ate my breakfast probably around 8:15 in the car ride to work, but other than tasting some of the salsa and a bit of the pasta salad we made, didn’t really have much to eat.  I dropped one of the Chef’s off at her house on my way home – it’s a bit out of my way, but her Sunday public transportation is not that great, so I told her if we were both working, I’d always give her a ride home.

So it was nearing 4:15 – I still had another 45 minute drive home, and I was really getting hungry and I wanted a cup of coffee, so stopped at an oasis on the expressway home.  It’s a 7-11 attached to a Mobil gas station, but it has all different kinds of ready to eat foods – hot dogs, chicken wings, pizza.  Not to mention always hot cinnamon buns as big as my head, and the smell of cinnamon smacked my face as soon as I walked in.  This is the slippery slope I fall down.  I am driving alone.  No one will know what I eat.  I can throw out the wrappers before I even get home.  Some of you out there may know this scenario.

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But that’s what I got!  A cheese stick and a banana for $1.60!  It was just enough so I didn’t come home and want to eat all of the food within a ten foot radius of me.  NSV!

I recommitted to WW on December 26, so I took a picture on December 26 and again on Saturday for a comparison.  The weight on the left is 175.6 and the right picture is at 163.  I see a bit of a difference, but seeing is that I am short (5.2) and the top end of my healthy range is 131 pounds, I’ve still got some obvious work to do.  And I haven’t been able to work out the last two weeks with this cough, but hope by the middle of the week to get back in the gym.

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I also didn’t know that I had a timer on my iPhone to take pictures, and was using an app on my phone to take these – still not sure why the first one is so hazy?!   In any case, these might be great before pictures when I finally got to my AFTER.

I have to give a shout out to two of my blog readers Jamie and Allyson who both joined WW and Jamie lost 3.2 and Allyson lost 6.4 their first week!   Great job guys!

I still have a discount link if anyone is interested in joining:


Alright, time to get this show on the road – Monday again!  Here’s some Monday Motivation though to help get you through the day!


Pork/ Uncategorized

Weekly WI . . .–3.6!

I had such a crazy day yesterday.  All was well to start.  I caught the early train so I could weigh in before work.  I was checking out Instagram on the train, listening to my music.  I have to say, taking the train is completely enjoyable to me, even if it is an hour commute one way.  But all of a sudden I realized we were going really slow, and we weren’t as far along as we should have been for that time in the morning.  I pulled my ear buds out to hear that the train in front of us hit a truck on the tracks, and trains will be stopped indefinitely in both directions.  Normally I would just be like “well, it’s not me that’s on the tracks, I guess I can hang out in a warm train for a couple more hours.”  But I had a busy day.  My boss had a closing at 1:00 and I knew it was going to be crazy, so when the conductor said “it’s your last chance to get off the train and make alternate arrangements” I got off. 

I had no idea how I was going to get to work.  I was still a good 20 miles from the city.  Hannah and Jacob were working.  I didn’t even have an Uber app downloaded on my phone!  But then I saw a cab.  And I saw some guy who looked the same as me, and I said “do you want to split a cab downtown?”  Yep!  We didn’t talk at all on the cab ride, which was fine.  He had his headphones on, I had mine, but the cab ride, because it was rush hour traffic, took nearly an hour and twenty minutes, so my share of the cab was $40. 

I walked into my building, got to my desk and at 9:15 hit the ground running getting documents together and only had time to cut up a pear for my breakfast.

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I was getting nervous because my WW meeting starts at 12:30, and I didn’t finish my work until 12:40, so I jumped in another cab (this time only $4!) and was able to meet up with my sister the last half of the meeting.  Oh, and to WI and lose 3.6 last week, which earned me my 5% weight loss charm!

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I keep waiting for the plateau to kick in, but so far it hasn’t.  I thought I might have lost 2 pounds, but 3.6?!  The only thing I did different, was because I am still not working out because of my cough, made one day of food lower carb and the next day higher carb, but still within the healthy range of 27-36 points per day.  I will say I didn’t use all my weeklies last week, which I normally do, but on average I was at about 29 points per day.  I also drank A LOT of tea.  One of my co-workers at the Chopping Block swears by this lemon fresh ginger tea, and she got me hooked on it.  So I am sure some of that weight loss was water weight, but I’ll take it!

I ran back to my office in time to reheat my Blaze pizza from the day before.  Um, let’s just say that it would have been nice to have a toaster oven to reheat it and a microwave just wasn’t the best choice, but I was glued to my desk the whole afternoon so I didn’t really have a choice.  Since my breakfast was zero, after lunch I was only at 10 smart points.

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We normally have night staff that continues working so the firm doesn’t have twenty secretaries all working overtime.  I guess whoever was scheduled, wasn’t in, and after the fourth plea from the office manager to see if someone could stay late, I finally responded, thinking full well that by the time I did someone would have volunteered, but that would be a no.  So I worked until 7:00.  By now, I was hungry, I had only eaten 10 points and decided to hit up my favorite popcorn for 8 smart points.

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That hit the spot!  It wasn’t until I was coming home that I realized only four hours after the inbound train hit someone, the outbound train did too Sad smile

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By the time I made it home, I was tired.  This is what my train car looks like when it finally gets to my stop!

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Hannah and Jacob were out, and since we are doing our own meals, I just quickly pulled together shrimp tacos with leftover cooked shrimp.  I could not take a decent picture to save my life!

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But they were tasty, and 8 smart points for both since I used a full ounce of Cabot Alpine Lace Cheese.  Yum!  I got the best mail two nights ago – check it out!

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So much cheese loot!  I’ve got a cauliflower stuffed shell recipe that I’ve been meaning to make – definitely using the White Oak Cheddar on that.  My friend Nicole has made Everything Chicken, and wouldn’t the Everything Cheese stuffed inside just be the cherry on top?

And then my dear friends at Weight Watchers sent me this loot!

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Oprah’s new cookbook, a cute bag and a wooden spoon to get Bizzy in My Kitchen!   I actually feel like I can wear the badge of Weight Watcher Ambassador because I am actually following the plan!  Can’t wait to dive into the cookbook.

And at long last . . .when I posted this photo on Instagram when my Mom was over on Sunday, I’ve had dozens of request for the recipe, so here it is finally.  And Melly – thanks for being patient! Open-mouthed smile and following along on my life journey.  I am way behind in my blog reading AND responding to comments here, but hope to catch up on Friday night in my pajamas.

This recipe served two – although my Mom and I each ate about half of our food it was so filling, so in the recipe below, I made it four servings.

Pork and Polenta with Lemon Pepper Sauce
Serves 4
A super quick weeknight meal, but good enough for company!
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
351 calories
32 g
74 g
11 g
31 g
4 g
365 g
369 g
2 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 351
Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 74mg
Sodium 369mg
Total Carbohydrates 32g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 2g
Protein 31g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 12 ounces lean pork
  2. salt and pepper
  3. 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  4. 1 cup fresh green beans
  5. 2 teaspoons minces garlic
  6. 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  7. 1 cup chicken broth
  8. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  9. zest of one lemon
  10. juice of one lemon
  11. 1/2 teaspoon honey
  12. one pinch crushed red pepper
  13. cracked black pepper
  14. 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  15. salt and pepper
  16. 1 cup dried polenta
  17. 2 cup water
  18. 1 ounce 50% reduced fat Cabot cheddar cheese
  1. In a 4 cup glass measuring cup, mix the polenta with two cups water, mix well and microwave for five minutes – stirring half way through.   Stir in the Cabot cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
  2. In a small skillet, add two tablespoons of water, add the green beans and cook over medium heat until the water evaporates.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil, the garlic and cook over medium low heat until the garlic starts to brown.  Set aside.
  3. In another small skillet, heat your pan over medium low heat.  These chops were about an 1 1/2 inches thick so I wanted to make sure that they were cooked through before I seared them – I do reversed sear on my grill all the time and figured it would work on top of the stove.  I cooked the pork for 4 minutes a side in a skillet with a lid.  I removed the pork, cranked my cast iron skillet to medium high heat, added 1/2 teaspoon oil to the pan and once that was hot, seared both sides for about 1 1/2 minutes per side.
  4. Remove the pork to rest a bit.  In a small bowl, mix the chicken broth, mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, crushed red pepper, black pepper, corn starch and salt and pepper and mix well.  Using a wooden spoon, pour that mixture into the cast iron skillet and scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan – let the sauce cook for about a minute, or until thickened.
  5. Plate pork on plate.  Add half cup of polenta and half the green beans, and drizzle with the lemon sauce.
My Bizzy Kitchen
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My Mom gave this two big thumbs up.  The plate above was half of a serving and was plenty.

Alright, time to get my show on the road – Happy Friyay!