Steak and Shrimp with Creole Pan Sauce

I read that Helen and Caron thought that my overly snacky high point Friday was due to my two glasses of wine, but sadly, that was not the case.  I’d already eaten at least 15 points by then, and I will tell you that the snacking of 31 points was ALL day – not just at night, which is when the urge to snack usually rears its ugly head.

I think what it was, is that I’ve already gotten into the “comfort zone” of Weight Watchers.  I mean, I’ve been down this road so many times, I KNOW the program inside and out, but I think my motivation waned a bit, maybe my eye balling 1/2 a cup of ice cream was more like 2/3 cups – you know the drill.  I have to realize that I need to keep my focus to continue losing the weight.  I am back to journaling, which I did religiously every day since January 1 – but once the calendar flipped to February 1, so did that daily motivation that I need to keep my head in the game.

I did fine over the weekend after Friday night – stayed within my points and both days got nearly 15k in steps.   But as I was meal planning decided to up the protein game with my meals this week.

Breakfast was a steak “picky plate.”  One PB2 muffin (4) that I microwaved for 20 seconds at work which made it taste like it just came out of the oven.  Four ounces of pan seared steak (4), a hard boiled egg (2) and half a tangelo.  10 points for breakfast and I was full for HOURS.  I ate breakfast between 9-9:30 and didn’t eat lunch until nearly 2:30.

Mid-morning I texted my sister to see if she would be up for walking at lunch and she said yes!  We had temps in the mid-40’s with sunshine, but in the shade it was still  a bit chilly, so we kept walking on the sunny side of the street.

It takes us about 7 minutes from each of our offices to meet up, then we set the clock for 30 minutes, so that I have time to walk back to my office and heat up my lunch before my lunch hour is over.

Lunch was leftover Jennie-O turkey chili.  Six smart points for 2 cups, with a side of tortilla chips for dipping (4).  I got busy right when I got back to our walk, so this isn’t the best picture, but this sure was tasty!

Remember when I was talking about getting your monies worth with the cable bill, and how I felt like I wasn’t getting my $600 of entertainment by having the FoodNetwork and HGTV stations and cut down to basic cable?

The same is true with my Y Membership.  I don’t go often enough, and I think after this month (since I’ve already paid for February) that I am giving it up.  I have a free gym at my office and I can just as easily leave my desk at 5 and go down and workout before catching a later train home.  And now that the weather is getting nicer a gym really isn’t that necessary.  

So before I give up my deluxe gym completely, I decided to see how much I can actually use it this week.  I have an hour train ride home, and decided to see how a banana and a premiere protein shake would be as a pre-workout fuel.  I figured it was just long enough to give me the necessary carbs I need to get in the workout I want without my blood sugar dropping, and give me enough time to digest the shake so it wasn’t all giggly in my tummy by the time I got to the gym. 

I felt fine during my workout: 2000 meter on the rowing machine (took me 12:09), abs for 5 minutes, then 30 minutes on the treadmill for 2 miles.  Happy to say my cough is completely gone, although now Hannah is sick, so I hope I can keep healthy.  

I had 22 points spent before dinner (10 breakfast, 10 lunch and 2 for the protein shake) so a low carb dinner was in order.   I whipped this dinner up in a matter of minutes and it was so delicious!  I added the points up in my head and said it was 6 points on Instagram last night, but it’s actually 7 points – oops!

Steak and Shrimp with Creole Pan Sauce
Serves 1
A quick and easy week night dinner that's fancy enough for a crowd!
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
9 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
9 min
Total Time
10 min
375 calories
8 g
268 g
16 g
48 g
7 g
386 g
902 g
5 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
386g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 375
Calories from Fat 145
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16g
25%
Saturated Fat 7g
37%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 268mg
89%
Sodium 902mg
38%
Total Carbohydrates 8g
3%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 5g
Protein 48g
Vitamin A
17%
Vitamin C
59%
Calcium
13%
Iron
20%
* 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 beef
  2. 3 ounces shrimp
  3. 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  4. 1 teaspoon butter
  5. 1 tablespoon half and half
  6. 1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  7. 1/2 teaspoon Hardcore Carnivore Black
Instructions
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle the room temperature steak with the Hardcore Carnivore rub. Cook steak 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how thick your steak is.
  2. Remove steak to a plate. Reduce heat to medium low. Spray the skillet with Pam. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Set on the plate with the steak. Finally, add in the zucchini and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove the zucchini to the plate, and in the pan melt the butter. Stir in the half and half and Creole seasoning (mine is spicy so 1/2 teaspoon was plenty) and pour over the plate.
beta
calories
375
fat
16g
protein
48g
carbs
8g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
 

This was so delicious.  I wonder if my brother or sister would eat this?  Not sure either one of them is a fan of shrimp.  And because I didn’t eat until nearly 8:30, I was completely full and had no desire to nibble on anything, and ended my day with 29/30 points.

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

My timehop reminded me that it was TWO years since the Sun-Times article came out about Tony being the ultimate White Sox fan.  You can check out that article here.

And if you missed it, my latest blog post is up on The Chopping Block – my take on Sopa Azteca – only 100 calories per cup or 2 smart points – you can find the recipe here – so good! If you could pop over there with some comment love, I’d appreciate it! 😀

Here is a workout for today that needs no equipment.  I plan on doing this as soon as I hit publish.  Make it a great day!

Shrimp and Avocado Wonton Bites

I had to share this picture from when I left work on Tuesday night.  Chicago at night never ceases to amaze me.  I have to remind myself how lucky I am to leave so close to a great city like Chicago!

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I was ill prepared with my food yesterday.  I wasn’t thinking about my lack of time to put stuff together for the day after working a double, so I do what I normally do when I am running late.  THROW SHIT IN A BAG!  This time it was all the fruit.  I decided to pick up steel cut oats from Pret on my way to work.  It’s convenient that it’s in the lobby of my building!  Their oats are 4 points, I used a teaspoon of brown sugar and a teaspoon of their granola for an extra two points = 6 point breakfast.

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When I was throwing my fruit in a bag and moving on to what to bring for lunch, I thought “It’s Thursday – just get a soup to eat after the WW weigh in!”  It wasn’t until I was on the train that I saw someone post this:

hump day

My blog friend Randi (hi Randi!) told me that she mystery shopped at Blaze Pizza and said it was pretty good.   It was kind of crappy out, but it’s only a 4 block walk so I sucked it up.  I got there right around 12:45.

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Quite a bit of a line, but the woman in front of me said it went by pretty fast.  In all, I think I waited all of 10 minutes from when I walked into the door until I got my pizza.  As I sat down almost at 1:00, there was only one person in line – lesson learned!

I chose the “Simple Pie” with 1 topping which came to $6.68.  I wasn’t sure how big the pizza was.  Before I went, I checked my trusty WW app, and it said a slice was 3 smart points.  The pizza cooks in a giant oven and literally cooks in a matter of minutes.

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That woman was hilarious – she’d shout out your name when your pizza was done, and if she yelled your name more than twice she’d say “it’s okay STEVE, this pizza you created looks good and I am hungry, I’ll eat it!”

I added banana peppers to mine – perfection.

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Three slices was 1/2 the pizza, and came in at 10 smart points.  I really liked this pizza.  Loved the crunchy edges, and the crust was perfect too:

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And I always love a shout out on Instagram!

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This actually kept me full all afternoon.  So between breakfast and lunch I had 16/30 points. 

Hannah texted me a picture of chicken legs that she was making for their dinner.  Or should I say Jacob’s dinner – she had tofu!  But I had already defrosted shrimp, so I told her to count me out.  Bad idea! 

Over the summer and fall you’ll remember me talking about Hardcore Carnivore Black Rub, and I think recently I showed you that I just got their new rub called Hardcore Carnivore Red.  Hannah baked the chicken with just this Red rub, and the flavor is outstanding.  I can only imagine how a grill would make this better.  So the first part of my dinner was eating one of these chicken legs when I got home for 4 points.  20/30 for the day.

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I had planned to make a shrimp cocktail kind of picky plate, but quickly switched gears after tasting this rub.  While it’s meant for pork, it tasted amazeballs on chicken, so why not shrimp?  I was lucky that I had an avocado that needed to be used up, and already baked wonton cups leftover, so this second dinner took just a matter of minutes to put together.   This recipe is for one serving, but you could easily quadruple it for a family.

Shrimp and Avocado Wonton Bites
Serves 1
Great for a light dinner, or apps for a brunch.
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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
291 calories
22 g
182 g
13 g
23 g
2 g
210 g
1108 g
2 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
210g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 291
Calories from Fat 109
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g
19%
Saturated Fat 2g
9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 182mg
61%
Sodium 1108mg
46%
Total Carbohydrates 22g
7%
Dietary Fiber 4g
16%
Sugars 2g
Protein 23g
Vitamin A
12%
Vitamin C
30%
Calcium
11%
Iron
9%
* 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 wonton skins, baked*
  2. 3 ounces shrimp
  3. 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  4. 1 teaspoon Hardcore Carnivore Red rub
  5. 1.5 ounces avocado (about 1/2 a medium avocado)
  6. 1 teaspoon lime juice
  7. salt to taste
  8. 1/4 cup chopped red cabbage
  9. 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
Instructions
  1. Heat the grapeseed oil in a non-stick skillet.  While the skillet gets hot, just toss the rub with the shrimp and mix together.  Cook shrimp for about 1.5 minutes per side – it depends on how big your shrimp are, but I think I cooked mine for all of about 2 minutes and then took them off the heat and put a lid on the pan to keep them warm while I mixed the avocado with the lime juice and salt.
  2. On the bottom of the baked wonton, put the red cabbage and cucumber.  Add the avocado, then the shrimp and squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top just before popping these in your mouth.
Notes
  1. You can bake a dozen wonton wrappers at at time - bake at 350 for 6-10 minutes, depending on your oven, but at 6 minutes, keep an eye on them because they will go from done to burnt in a minute!
  2. Once cool, store is a ziploc bag. I've used them for up to a couple weeks and they are still crisp.
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calories
291
fat
13g
protein
23g
carbs
22g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
1.25.17 112

These were delicious.  And the fact that they are only 2 smart points each makes them even better!  After dinner I was at 26/30 points for the day.  I wasn’t that hungry since I didn’t eat my second dinner until nearly 8:30, but I needed to eat one more point to get my blue dot – so I ate two tablespoons of cool whip out of the container for 1 point!  And let the dogs have some puppy whip too – everyone was a winner!

Another Thursday, another WI.  Still going to weigh in before work so I don’t waste my meeting at lunch waiting in line to weigh in.  You’ll just have to see if my losing streak continues, or if I start to plateau – you never know.

Here is my Thursday Thought for the Day:

life

Make it a great day! (and Melly – promise I’ll post the pork and polenta dish lemon sauce tomorrow – pinky swear!) 

Breakfast Tostadas

Breakfast Tostadas

I love cast iron skillets.  Over the years I may have collected, um, let’s say 11 of them?  Here’s the deal though.  I bought all of them at garage sales because they were rusty and had $1 price tag on them.  Guys, if you ever find a cast iron skillet at a garage sale – buy it!  9 out of the 11 cast iron skillets that I’ve acquired are Lodge brand

So what do you do when you find a rusty skillet?  First:  Buy It.  Second:  Season It!   Buy some steel wool at Ace Hardware or any home improvement store.  I actually sprinkle coarse sea salt on the skillet, and using my steel wool, use some muscle and basically sand off all the rust.  Never use soap with cast iron – simply run some hot water over it and scrub until you’ve removed all the rust – from the inside, the handle on the bottom – the whole thing.  Next:  oil it up!  I use canola or vegetable oil.  Lather the whole thing up then bake for one hour at 350 degrees.  I then turn off the oven and let it sit there overnight.  The next morning, it’s ready to go and will be nonstick.  If your skillet ever starts to stick again, just repeat the baking process with the oil and you are back in business.

When you clean your skillet, make sure to completely dry it before putting it away.  I’ll actually put it on my stove on low heat and watch the water evaporate.  Let it cool and then I either spray it with Pam or rub a bit of canola oil on the skillet until I use it the next time.

I posted this picture of my breakfast tostadas on Instagram yesterday, and my friend Lauren wanted to know what kind of pan I was using.  I was at work and guessed that it was a 12 inch pan, but it’s actually a vintage Lodge skillet that is 10 inches.

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So while you won’t be able to purchase that exact skillet because it’s so old, Lodge does sell a similar pan – they call it a griddle pan because the slightly raised edges will hold pancakes, eggs, oil, etc.   And it’s only $24 bucks!  I use this pan for making hash browns, even frittatas because you can obviously go from stove to oven with these skillets.  Have I convinced you to buy cast iron skillets yet?! Open-mouthed smile

Breakfast Tostadas
Serves 1
A delicious way to start your day with these crunchy breakfast tostadas.
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Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
968 calories
132 g
402 g
31 g
44 g
12 g
950 g
1525 g
1 g
0 g
16 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
950g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 968
Calories from Fat 273
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 31g
47%
Saturated Fat 12g
59%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 402mg
134%
Sodium 1525mg
64%
Total Carbohydrates 132g
44%
Dietary Fiber 15g
61%
Sugars 1g
Protein 44g
Vitamin A
44%
Vitamin C
1710%
Calcium
42%
Iron
62%
* 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 extra thin mission tortillas (2)
  2. 2 eggs (4)
  3. 1/2 cup fat free refried beans (2)
  4. 3 small baby bell peppers, sliced and sautéed
  5. 1 ounce 50% reduced fat Cabot cheese (2)
  6. drizzle of taco bell fire sauce (0)
  7. drizzle of Trader Joe’s avocado salsa (0)
  8. cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the peppers just until they start to brown but are still a bit crunchy.  About 3-4 minutes.  Reheat the refried beans in the microwave.  Remove the peppers and cook your eggs to your desired doneness.  You all know that I didn’t eat those runny eggs above, but they look so much better in pictures!  Anywho, place your cast iron skillet on medium high heat and spray with Pam.  Put 1/4 cup of the refried beans on each tortilla, then place in the hot pan.  Top with the fried eggs and cheese and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt.  The bottom of the tortillas will get nice and crunchy.  Sprinkle on cilantro, taco sauce and avocado sauce and enjoy!
Notes
  1. You could reduce the points if you used scrambled egg beaters. 😀
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calories
968
fat
31g
protein
44g
carbs
132g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
That was a filling 10 point breakfast.  I wasn’t really all that hungry by the time I got to work, but I was about 30 minutes early and realized I should eat something, so I went a couple blocks from work and stopped and picked up panang curry from Pho’s Spicier Thai Cuisine.   It was a bit “hole in the wall” kind of place.

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When she asked me how spicy I wanted it, I blurted out “I like spicy!”  She said “okay – I make medium” and walked away.  It wasn’t until she walked away that I looked down and noticed this heat chart:

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So medium is described as “quite hot” but what I was really worried about was the disclaimer at the bottom that said “be careful if you never been here.” 

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This photo does not do this dish justice.  It was the perfect spicy flavorful that I always look for with a spicy dish.  I don’t want to just taste spice and nothing else.  This had layers of flavor, and a nice peanuty flavor at the end.  I will admit, there wasn’t a whole lot of beef, but I ate half of this dish for 10 smart points.  Next time I’d like to try their pho soups.

It was a demo class yesterday and it was unlike any class I’ve ever witnessed thus far at The Chopping Block.  We had two groups of four women, so we put them on each end so they could easily talk to each other, then had a couple in the middle.  Chef Dionna started going over the menu, talked about her favorite French seasoning salt (which is amazeballs!)  and before we knew it, both groups of ladies lost complete interest and Dionna basically had a personal chef show for the couple in the middle.  So it all worked out in the end, but I don’t know why I would pay $50 for a demo class, and not pay any amount of attention to it?

I will recreate this dish soon – it was a flank steak salad with a warm tomato vinaigrette.   I think I may add some toasted pumpkin seeds when I make it though.

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And the next dish was an Asian marinated salmon with a baby bok choy and carrot salad that is also going to go to the top of my list of things to make.

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We gave the best two pieces of salmon to the couple in the middle who paid attention.  Open-mouthed smile

I am working a private party today so that means I get to demo some dishes: 

· Frisée Salad with Roasted Beets, Toasted Pecans and Oranges

· Chocolate Crêpes with Mascarpone Cream and Homemade Caramel Sauce

Um, I’ve never worked with beets before or made crepes, so this should be interesting!  I may watch a couple youtube videos before I head to work today.  Chef Rachel is super nice though, so I know she’ll be a great resource for me. Open-mouthed smile

Alright, time to get this show on the road – I am working on another blog post for The Chopping Block that’s due tomorrow.  My topic?  Soup and Bread!

Make it a great day!

Cheezy Goodness

Stuffed Shells

I had to laugh when I was waiting for the train yesterday to go to work.  It’s the middle of October, leaves are starting to change yet the weather was around 76 degrees.  I saw some women in sundresses and flip flops, while others had already made the fashion fall turn and were wearing UGG boots, sweaters and scarves.

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I ate a banana on my train ride into the city, figuring I’d pick up something on my way in since I was a bit early.  I walked by this place called Halsted Deli and it had a sign “best breakfast sandwich in Chicago!”  Sold!

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For the record, that’s not the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever seen.  It was cheap in a way though – any size coffee (I got a 24 ounce coffee!) with the sandwich and tax was just over $5. 

I was happy that I was working a private party because that meant I was able to demo some of the recipes yesterday, and I’ve already worked with Chef Tara on this same exact menu.  The only thing I’d never made before were the three appetizers, but a quick talk with the Chef and I was good to go.  Sadly no pictures (I was in the zone!) but I made wonton wrapped shrimp with a Thai chili dipping sauce, chicken satay with a peanut sauce and fried cheese curds with a buttermilk ranch dressing.  It was a small group of only 9 people so I had four people in my group.  We made a roasted potato and fennel salad and an arugula, orange and avocado salad with a pistachio vinaigrette.

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I promise to post this focaccia bread recipe next week.  I am going to go over to my friend Courtney’s house next week so I can show her how to make this show stopper bread.  Once it comes out of the oven and is still hot, we drizzle it with lots of goat cheese, chopped marinated artichoke hearts and basil.  It makes my mouth water every time I look at it.  And surprisingly, even though there were leftovers, I didn’t eat any.

We actually finished cleaning up the room early and I was already headed home at 4:30.  For some reason when I was loosely meal planning for the week, I didn’t write anything down for dinner last night because I normally work nights.  I was picturing in my head what I had on hand:  pasta shells, ricotta cheese, Hunt’s pasta sauce (I know I could make my own, but in a pinch it works, and my Dollar Tree sells it for .50 a can), mozzarella cheese – well, the obvious choice was stuffed shells.  As luck would have it, I found two lone hot Italian sausage links in my freezer so Jacob and I split those – well, I had 2 ounces of one and he had the rest. 

I wrote this recipe for one because at first I thought it was only going to be me for dinner since the kadults were out and about, but Hannah called and asked if I was making dinner or should they stop somewhere on their way home.  It was a quick fix to make enough for all of us, but here is the recipe for one serving.

Stuffed Shells
Serves 1
A super simple, easy comfort dinner that's ready in about 30 minutes.
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Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
1525 calories
226 g
109 g
40 g
62 g
18 g
1749 g
990 g
14 g
0 g
17 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1749g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1525
Calories from Fat 352
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 40g
61%
Saturated Fat 18g
90%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 13g
Cholesterol 109mg
36%
Sodium 990mg
41%
Total Carbohydrates 226g
75%
Dietary Fiber 11g
46%
Sugars 14g
Protein 62g
Vitamin A
25%
Vitamin C
4%
Calcium
42%
Iron
30%
* 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. 5 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and rinsed in cold water
  2. 1/2 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  3. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  4. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  5. salt and pepper to taste
  6. 1/2 cup Hunt’s Four Cheese pasta sauce
  7. 1 ounce part skim mozzarella cheese
  8. 2 ounces cooked Italian sausage
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400.  Cook pasta shells according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.  In a medium sized bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and mix well.   In a casserole dish, put the 1/2 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Divide the ricotta mixture evenly between the pasta shells, top with the mozzarella cheese and bake covered for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.  Top with the sliced Italian sausage, and if I had basil, I would have topped it with that, but I only had cilantro, and it actually was pretty good!
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calories
1525
fat
40g
protein
62g
carbs
226g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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While this whole plate comes in at 13 smart points, all I had was the banana and breakfast sammie before dinner, so it’s all good.  Although I did treat myself to an ounce of these peanuts my Aunt Martha sent me:

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Um, maple AND bacon!  Swoon.  I may need Hannah to hide these from me because it’s the type of snack that you could just mindlessly eat until the whole can is gone.  I may portion out 11 more servings and put it back in the container to grab and go for some self control.  So good – thanks Aunt Martha!

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Almost 20k steps for the day!   I’ll take it.   It’s another gorgeous day today – right now it’s party sunny and 68 degrees.  I don’t have to be to work until 5:00 so I’ll be getting my walking shoes on shortly.

Hope your week is going well so far – make it a great day!

Gumbo

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

What’s weird about my new job is that the days of the week really don’t have any meaning anymore.  When I worked Monday through Friday, I woke up knowing how many more days it was until the weekend.  Now?  Every day could be Thursday and I wouldn’t know!  Which is why I missed my Weight Watchers meeting this morning – I forgot it was Tuesday!

Speaking of Weight Watchers, I was recently asked to be a Weight Watcher Ambassador.  I know, it sounds a bit ironic considering the fact that I’ve not lost any weight since joining this past spring, but they follow me on Instagram – they have nearly half a million followers and only follow 915 people, and I am one of the ones they follow.  They like how creative I am with the Weight Watcher friendly food I make.  I am hoping that by being asked to be a WW Ambassador that it will help me get the scale to move in the right direction.  The first steps I made last night?  I got rid of all the trigger foods that I’ve been binge eating.   I remembered that’s how it helped with Tony was alive, I would stand in front of the pantry wanting to eat shit, but there wasn’t anything that I wanted and the feeling went away.

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I am also going to keep a journal and write in it every time I want to eat anything I shouldn’t.  I am hoping that I can break this stupid cycle and get my life together.   I am still struggling with my job decision – I know I made the right decision – I seriously love every minute I am at work, but financially I can hear Tony telling me that it was a mistake.   I haven’t gotten the hours yet that I had hoped, and while I know that will change as we get into the holiday season, I can’t make a living if I only work 25 hours a week.   I just have to find confidence in myself to embrace this new life I have, even when I am desperately trying to hold onto my past life.

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

I hadn’t been grocery shopping and our fridge was quite bare – well, for the exception of take out containers from Hannah and Jacob.  I have the three day rule with take out food – if you haven’t eaten it three days after you brought it home, it’s fair game.

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I had three slices of deli ham (1) that I stuffed with egg whites, baby spinach and 1/2 an ounce of cheese (3), then Pam fried it so it got a bit crispy like bacon.  On the bottom?  That would be three ounces of leftover French fries that I chopped and made into hash browns (6) with strawberries on the side.  A delicious 10 point breakfast.

I got everything done on my to do list yesterday except the emissions test.  I drove over there and it was closed and a few other cars pulled in too.  We were trying to figure out why, when I pulled out my form and realized it was closed because it was Columbus Day – I should have known that because all the neighborhood kids were out yesterday.  I had to hit up Sam’s Club for k-cups – their store brand is only .25 a cup and it’s really good.  I normally pick up a rotisserie chicken every time I go because they are really big and only $4.98.  But the display was completely empty when I walked by.   But about 5 minutes later when I passed by again, I realized they were just coming out of the oven – all of a sudden there were like 20 people waiting for chicken!

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When I got home, sliced chicken was actually my lunch.  I wasn’t too hungry, but I sliced off a wing and some breast meat and let it cool on the counter before putting it in the fridge.

Sunday night at work we made a sausage and shrimp gumbo.  I was trying to remember if I’d ever made gumbo on the blog before, and it turns out I have a couple times.

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gumbo-0081

Looking at both of my previous attempts, um, neither one of them look like gumbo.  The second dish just looks like a chicken and carrot stew!  I did adapt The Chopping Block’s recipe a bit because I reduced the butter by half (original recipe called for 1 stick of butter) and I left out the okra because that’s gross and subbed in Brussels sprouts in it’s place.  I also reduced the shrimp to 3/4 of a pound.  So I am not sure how “authentic” this is, but the broth was spot on.  Nice and spicy.

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Serves 8
A super spicy soup that can be made on the weekend to enjoy for a quick weeknight dinner.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
294 calories
16 g
127 g
17 g
18 g
7 g
285 g
907 g
4 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
285g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 294
Calories from Fat 152
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
26%
Saturated Fat 7g
35%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 127mg
42%
Sodium 907mg
38%
Total Carbohydrates 16g
5%
Dietary Fiber 1g
6%
Sugars 4g
Protein 18g
Vitamin A
60%
Vitamin C
26%
Calcium
7%
Iron
5%
* 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 grapeseed oil
  2. 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  3. salt and pepper to taste
  4. 4 tablespoons butter
  5. 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut in 1/4 inch rounds
  6. 1/2 cup flour
  7. 1/2 onion, diced
  8. 2 stalks celery, diced
  9. 2 carrots, diced
  10. 3/4 cup Brussels sprouts, rough chopped
  11. 1/2 green pepper, diced (which I forgot!)
  12. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  13. 1 tablespoon Cajun Creole seasoning
  14. 5 cups chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Heat a heavy pot over medium high heat, and add the oil.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and sear in the hot pan until lightly golden brown on each side.  Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the sausage to the same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. To make the roux, reduce the heat to medium, and melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour into the butter. Stir the roux constantly until it reaches a deep reddish-brown color.  I may not have let mine get that dark – it could take up to 15 minutes.  Add in the onions, celery, carrots (green pepper if you remember!) and Brussels sprouts to the roux, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and Cajun spice and stir until aromatic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Return the sausage to the pot, along with the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 45 minutes.
  4. Stir in the shrimp and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
beta
calories
294
fat
17g
protein
18g
carbs
16g
more
Adapted from The Chopping Block
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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Yep, we are back to awful kitchen lighting, and it was only 6:45 when I served this.  The broth was thick, spicy and delicious.  I served mine with 1/2 cup of white rice.   Jacob had a friend whose Dad made gumbo (with okra, which turns out Jacob loves) who spent two days making it, so while he enjoyed this “soup” he was expecting something like his friends Dad made.  Hannah?  She ate leftover broccoli cheddar soup that I brought home from the class. 

Today is a work day – whoop!  It’s Beef on the Grill at Lincoln Square – grilled strip steaks with bacon-chive butter and grilled corn and green bean succotash; Greek burgers on Pita with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce and Feta and Ginger and Cumin Spiced Beef and Pineapple Kebabs with cilantro-mint chutney – sounds delicious!

Make it a great day!

Frittata

Sausage and Broccoli Frittata

I am definitely going to the grocery store today, but I sometimes love coming up with meals using what I have on hand.  And 9/10 I can always find something to make even when it feels like the fridge is empty.

Last Friday I made this sausage and broccoli frittata.  I had two lone links of spicy Italian sausage, egg beaters that I bought a couple weeks ago that got shoved to the back of the fridge and I forgot was there, and some sad looking broccoli that was on it’s last legs.

Sausage and Broccoli Frittata
Serves 4
A great way to use up those bits and pieces in your fridge at the end of the week - make a frittata!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
466 calories
8 g
503 g
33 g
34 g
12 g
352 g
824 g
2 g
0 g
19 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
352g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 466
Calories from Fat 300
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 33g
51%
Saturated Fat 12g
60%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Cholesterol 503mg
168%
Sodium 824mg
34%
Total Carbohydrates 8g
3%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 2g
Protein 34g
Vitamin A
182%
Vitamin C
93%
Calcium
24%
Iron
31%
* 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 cups egg beaters (basically one carton)
  2. 3/4 cup egg whites
  3. 8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
  4. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  5. 1.5 cups chopped broccoli
  6. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 1 ounce Cabot extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  9. chopped baby spinach for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a cast iron skillet (mine is Lodge brand) heat the olive oil and add the sausage and broccoli.   Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.   In a 4 cup measuring cup, mix the egg beaters, egg whites, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper and pour over the sausage/broccoli mixture.  Turn heat down to low, put a lid on the pan and cook on the stove top for about 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are set in the middle.  Top with Cabot cheese and put under the broiler for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese melts and it’s golden brown.
  2. I calculated this to be 4 points for 8 servings, or 9 points for 1/4 of the pie.  I ate 1/4 of the pie with a cup of cantaloupe – so good!
Notes
  1. Feel free to sub in any protein and veggie - that's the best part of a frittata - best way to use up leftovers 😀
beta
calories
466
fat
33g
protein
34g
carbs
8g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
10.9.16WE 002

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Friday night I had so much fun because I got to work outside for a grill class.  It was a small class – only five people and me and the Chef.  We can either do a chef app for class, or make our signature popcorn.  We normally make our popcorn with truffle salt, but because this was a grilling class, I decided to make a BBQ popcorn.  I mixed together ground mustard, smoked paprika, a bit of chipotle powder for some heat and salt.  It turned out really good!

PicMonkey Collage - grill

It was a bit chilly outside, but we turned on the pizza oven (can’t wait to make a pizza in that!) and the gas grills and Big Green Egg going, so it was toasty.  We made peppercorn and bacon burgers with a garlic aioli.  Swoon!  As usual, the night went by really fast and I got to work with one of my favorite chef’s Jason.

I didn’t have to work Saturday so it was a bit of a lazy morning.  Still working with leftovers, I had pizza dough that had been in the fridge for just about a week, so it was all nice and stinky.  I love using pizza dough that’s been in the fridge for days – such a depth of flavor.  2 ounces of dough (5) 2 ounces of leftover grilled chuck roast (2) one ounce part skim mozzarella cheese (2) and an egg on top (2).  Baked on my Baking Steel, this cooked in about 10 minutes, then I finished it off under the broiler because I don’t like a runny egg.  Ew. 

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I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner when my niece called and said she and her husband and kids were nearby and wanted to know if we would like to meet up for a bite to eat.  Yes please!  This is Tony’s nephew Bob and his wife Izzy, so technically my step-nephew and niece, but whatevs.  Their kids are adorable – they just moved back into town a few months back so I am hoping I’ll get to babysit these kids soon.

PicMonkey Collage - HB

It’s only the second time I’ve met Hazel, and she’s absolutely adorable.  Sat in her little high chair for 90 minutes and never fussed once.  And long time readers may notice . . . my tiny ponytail is back! It makes me laugh to see this – because we all know as soon as it gets long enough to put into a pony tail, that’s all that’s happening.  Although it is nice to have my hair back when I work.  We’ll see how it goes.

Our weather has been absolutely amazing – mid 50’s, sunny and obviously no humidity.  Yesterday it was 65 when I went on my walk – the sun felt so good.  I know you can’t tell, but I did hill climbs yesterday – once you get to the end of this road, it’s almost a complete vertical drop.

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I wasn’t originally schedule to work on Sunday either, but after back and forth of me maybe working all day at Merchandise Mart, to maybe doing a morning class at Lincoln Square, I was ultimately scheduled for a class last night.  Normally I get the recipe packets in advance, but all I knew was that it was going to be a soup and bread class – um, basically my two favorite things to make!

It was another small class – I was working with Chef Lisa and she’s super funny and full of energy and likes to talk a lot – love.   She asked me to make a Chef app in place of popcorn, so I went to the Chef app bin and saw a container of mascarpone cheese, a half bag of radishes, and basil.  So a radish crostini was born!  I sliced a baguette and baked them off at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.  While those baked, I mixed the mascarpone cheese with a bit of honey and salt.  I sliced the radishes and marinated them in a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper, then put it all together once the crostini cooled.  Then topped with a bit of basil for some color.  These were light since we were having sausage and shrimp gumbo and broccoli cheddar cheese which are both on the heavier side.

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I mentioned on Instagram that I was going to share the bread bowl recipe, but I am actually recreating the recipe today for dinner tonight along with the gumbo, which I’ll be posting tomorrow.  This picture doesn’t give the bread bowls any justice:

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And I’ll take better pictures of this gumbo which had such a depth of flavor.  I am going to reduce the amount of butter the recipe calls for because it calls for a whole stick of butter.  I’ll probably reduce that to 4 tablespoons.

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And I’ll leave the okra out because it’s a nasty vegetable.  I’ll only eat it if it’s pickled or deep fat fried.

++++++++++++++++

I’ve got to give a big shout out to my blog friend Aimee who did great at the Chicago Marathon yesterday (you can check out her recap here).  So while she was up bright and early to get her game face on, I slept in until 9:00 and started watching the t.v. coverage on my DVR while still in my pajamas and drinking coffee!   She finished in 4:34, which is an awesome time if you ask me.  It looks like her average mile pace was around 10:30 a mile, which is awesome – so proud of you Aimee!  Wish I had $179 to spare to buy your proofs online! Open-mouthed smile

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I have a bunch of stuff on my to do list today – we’ll see if they all get done.  If not, no worries!  But grocery shopping for sure.  And walking outside because it’s sunny and 65 degrees.  And making gumbo.  And bread bowls.  And getting Tony’s car tested for emissions.  And maybe laundry?

I better get this show on the road – make it a great day!

Mini Falafel Bites

Mini Falafel

This is going to be a very disjointed post, so just be prepared Smile with tongue out

I am blogging late because I slept in until the last dog was hung before having to get my ass out of bed to Weight Watchers, which I haven’t been to in the last three weeks.  My eats and schedule have been all over the map, and I am realizing that I really have to plan my food a lot better than I have been doing.  Oh, and maybe ditching the wine and extra licks and tastes at work.  I gained 2.8 these last three weeks, which puts me 1.6 above where I started back in April – but still, I consider basically maintaining a victory in and of itself, so it’s all good.

Yesterday was on the cool side, a bit over cast and I got my stuff together to meal plan, grocery shop and just map out my week.

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I love my Cabot Cheese coffee mug – the handle and size of the mug is perfect.   As I was sitting outside doing my healthy meal plan, the mail came and my Aunt Cele sent me this magazine:

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A good friend of hers in South Carolina’s sister writes for the publication.  Her name is Terri Milligan and you have to check out some of her recipes here.   Lynne, Mel and Jessica I thought of you guys because she does cooking demonstrations all around Wisconsin, even in Door County and Louise, she even has a cooking class coming up in Appleton!

I am making braised carrots from that magazine later this week, I’ve never cooked carrots like that before (and they have a recipe for carrot top pesto which I am going to try too).  But what I really want to do is make that cherry apple pie on the cover!  Even after smelling and tasting pies at Apple Fest this last weekend, I still could eat pie.

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I had my 30th high school reunion on Saturday night.  My twin sister didn’t go because it was her daughters first high school homecoming, so the question of the night was “where is your sister?!” 

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I spent the night at my Mom’s house because I had to be back to work at the Apple Fest early the next night.  Before I left I got the lecture “don’t drink too much, drive safe and do you have a key to the house?”  Unbeknownst to me though, was that while my Mom left the back porch light on for me, I didn’t realize that I should have turned it off when I got home at 11:15.  She woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and saw the light was on and thought I was still out!  Well, maybe there was precedent there, because that’s something I would have done 25 years ago!

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My outfit?  $9 at my local thrift store, including the shoes.   Andrea, I thought you’d be impressed with my thrift store score (but I really could have used your styling skills!)  I was actually belting out I am Beautiful by Christina Agulera when my Mom took this picture – it cracks me up every time I look at it!

PicMonkey Collage - reunion

The man standing on the bar doing an OPRF cheer is Spe, our class President.  He has a ten year old son who is so cute.  The top right picture?  That’s John, and I’ve known him since I was 4.  Middle picture is my friend Beth (who just moved back to the area – once you get settled I am coming over to make pizza!) and my friend Ellyn.  Bottom picture is my buddy Franck who I was in homeroom with.   It was great catching up with people, although with the advent of Facebook and all the other social media, there really weren’t any surprises.  My only complaint was that the music was really loud and it made having conversations a bit tough – I had a scratchy voice the next day do to all the loud talking I did the night before.  Is that a sign that I am getting old, that I am complaining about the loud music?!

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Last week when my friend Jacky told me I should have gotten the falafel at the Merchandise Mart before work last week, I’ve been having a jones for it ever since.  When my Mom and I were downtown last week to have her birthday lunch, I picked up some pita bread at Naf Naf Grill.  Holy balls is it fluffy and delicious!  Only one tiny problem – one pita bread after I weighed it was just under 8 smart points.   So I decided to make mini falafel bites and place them on sliced cucumber, and cut half of the pita in half and toasted it to make a more point friendly lunch.  The recipe below is for the falafel – you can accessorize with store bought hummus, tzatziki or olives.

Mini Falafel
Serves 3
A quick and easy vegetarian dish that even meat lovers will love!
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Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
334 calories
52 g
0 g
9 g
14 g
1 g
98 g
414 g
7 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
98g
Servings
3
Amount Per Serving
Calories 334
Calories from Fat 75
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
13%
Saturated Fat 1g
4%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 414mg
17%
Total Carbohydrates 52g
17%
Dietary Fiber 12g
50%
Sugars 7g
Protein 14g
Vitamin A
8%
Vitamin C
10%
Calcium
16%
Iron
26%
* 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 cup chick peas (I used canned, drained)
  2. 1 cup cilantro (I really, really love cilantro!)
  3. 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 4 tablespoons flour
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon pepper spice blend (see note below)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (for pan frying)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, add cilantro and pulse until chopped up.  Add in remaining ingredients except for the grapeseed oil, and pulse just until combined.  I got 12 patties out of this using my melon baller, so if you make bigger falafel, just adjust the points.  My calculation is that four (including the oil for frying) come in at 5 smart points.  I fried four at a time, using 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil per pan fry, for about 2 minutes a side.  I topped mine with tzatziki and a bit of sriracha for a spicy kick.
Notes
  1. * I used The Spice & Tea Exchange Gourmet Pepper Spice Blend, but you could substitute 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper in it's place.
beta
calories
334
fat
9g
protein
14g
carbs
52g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
10.1.AF 001

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These were so delicious!  Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and I opened up each pita, stuffed the cucumber and falafel into each triangle of the pita and had mini falafel bites.  I will definitely make this again.  And soon!

This is the spice packet I used from The Spice & Tea Exchange for the pepper in the recipe – I’d substitute 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed red pepper in it’s place if you don’t have it. 

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Hannah and I hung outside late yesterday afternoon and decided to burn down our fire pit since we haven’t had a fire since early spring.   The luxury of living in an unincorporated area, we can pretty much burn anything we want.  The only problem is that once we let the pit go, all the vegetation grows around it, so I feel like I am burning nature and wood at the same time Open-mouthed smile

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I was supposed to work today, but got called off because of low attendance for the class I was going to work.  And I was already scheduled off tomorrow, so my next work day isn’t until Thursday.  I am taking advantage of the time off and spending time organizing my basement more before garbage day on Friday.  I also need to get a filing cabinet to put important stuff in that’s off the floor in case of water in my basement that happens from time to time.  Hannah and I are going to get our eyebrows threaded at Wal-mart this afternoon and I’ll checkout the Goodwill there to see if I can find some organizational stuff. 

Let me know if you make the falafel – I’d love to hear what you think of it!  Make it a great day!