+1.8 Weekly WI

I knew I would be up this week.  Mainly because after such a big loss last week, I got cocky, thinking I can have another bite of this, or another glass of wine.  That thinking and eating caught up with me, but I am happy to say I am still in the 150s by the hair on my chin!

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Huh, and I just realized that my weekly points went down from 35 to 28!  That could be another reason!  Also, didn’t carb cycle as strict as last week.  And even though its a holiday weekend, I am bound and determined to meal plan and grocery shop for the week, not just for Easter Sunday. My momma is coming over and I’ll be grilling up something – hopefully a ham. 😀

I met Jennifer before work to weigh in and I’ve told her about the Amish people that are in teh train station on Thursdays.  When I walk off the train into the station, it’s like I’ve just walked into my grandmas kitchen it smells so good.  They have pastries, pies, cakes, brittle, muffins, two pounds of butter even! 

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 As I walked by the end table  I picked up this brittle and came SO close to buying it.  But cooler heads prevailed and I put it back and walked on by – didn’t even ask for a sample (which you can by the way!)

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I also wore my new WW uniform.  I think I told you that I cut off a pair of tights to make them leggings, but looking at this picture, um, I think it looks like fricken tights!  They are super comfy though!

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Corner Bakery for the rescue for breakfast.  This is their avocado and spinach power flatbread – I looked again and it’s actually 8 points not the six I posted on Insagram, but this is delicious, the salsa is not oniony and Jenn and I each got a large fruit cup to go. I ate half that cup with breakfast and the second half with lunch.

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I was all set to leave for my WW meeting at lunch, when my boss had a client come in unexpectedly and I had to stick around to put some docs together.  I was  pissed because the topic was protein – protein is my jam! I would have probably taken over the meeting though! Open-mouthed smile

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I haven’t read the whole weekly yet, but I am definitely putting this on my menu next week – works for both Weight Watchers and for a low carb dinner option with my carb cycling.  Mom, do you like capers??  I am not sure I’ve had them like this, but I think I would love the briney/vinegar combo.

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Since I haven’t meal planned, picked up lunch at Pret.  I appreciate that they put the nutrtion labels on all the shelves.  I picked this salad because it was 280 calories, and regardless of how many points that turned out to be, an under 300 calorie salad is fine by me.   I picked up the skinny Dijon dressing, and was happy that I looked at the label, because that small container is TWO servings.  The salad was 8 points, and the dressing was 2.  It was delicious – although I may bring extra veggies to add to it next time.

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I worked through lunch and 45 minutes after quitting time, and just as I was about to leave, my friend Tia texted me to tell me there was a delay on the train.  Rat farts.

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The train got in 90 minutes later than usual since all the trains were backed up . . .I had to crack up when Tia told me to go downstairs in the train station because they sell tiny bottles of wine you can drink on the train ride home.  She knows me so well!  But alas, I’ve got to kick the alcohol to the curb again except for special occasions – Mom, you’ll be happy to know that Easter is a special occasion.

When my sister and I were walking Wednesday I mentioned that we stopped at a candy store – one of the things I bought were these:

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I had them in my backpack, and I was thankful they were there because fifteen minutes into the train ride home I felt that I had low blood sugar, and sure enough, it was 70.  I ate 5 points worth approximately, but I didn’t have any fruit with me.  Um, these are delicious though!

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That would be my new Weight Watcher’s journal I finally started using.  I just finished my old journal, so it was good timing.  When I get a few days into it, I’ll show you pics.   At first I thought the days had too much space, but now I realize I may need to write smaller.

So after a long train ride home, I was hangry:

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This is a 10 minute one skillet meal.  It’s not really a recipe, but I got a few messages on IG from yesterdays post.

In a non-stick or cast iron skillet heat pan to medium high.  I used 5 ounces of chicken tenders (3), that I sprinkled with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Spray your pan with coconut oil or non-stick spray.  Put the chicken in the pan, let it cook for 1.5 minutes.  Add in 1/2 cup of your favorite marinara sauce (I used my one point sauce from the freezer ), flip your chicken over, put a lid on and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove the lid, add chopped fresh spinach and 2 tablespoons of shredded Parmesan cheese, put the lid back on for another minute, and you are done. 

Obviously you could serve this over pasta, or spaghetti squash.  Since I didn’t eat until nearly 8:30 I was too lazy to cook my spaghetti squash.  

Stats for the Day:  

  • 28 smart points
  • 1147 calories, 122 carbs, 43 fat, 17 saturated far, 80 grams of protein.

Inspirational quote of the day – “great things take time, belief and persistence.” – Steve Weatherford

Make it a great day and Happy Friday!!

Goat Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I have to laugh at my blog post title today.  My blog friend Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest (well, she probably doesn’t know who I am, but I still consider us friends!) usually has the longest blog title recipe posts, but I think this beats here longest! Open-mouthed smile

Before we get to dinner though, let’s start with breakfast, shall we?!  Today was a lower carb day, meaning all of my carbs came from fruits and veggies.

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I loved the guacamole on top of the hard boiled eggs – so good!  In my meal prep a baked off a dozen hard boiled eggs.  You can check out this blog post to see how to do that. 

Because my work has been so busy, I’ve been working through lunch a lot, and decided that needed to stop.  I work for four people (two attorneys, two paralegals), so I sent an email out yesterday that I would be taking lunch from 12:30 – 1:30 every day.  And after I sent that email, texted my sister to see if she could walk. 

When I was doing my meal plan for the week, I saw a recipe for a Mexican meatball soup, and thought, did I do that before?  Yep!  Nearly six years ago to the day, I made this ancho chile albondigas soup.  

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I deemed this one a keeper, but like most food bloggers, I have to laugh that it took me nearly six years to the day to make it again.  The only thing I did was add more veggies: carrots, celery and more zucchini.  For instagram purposes, I stole the picture from that 2011 post, but here is the soup below – not as photogenic, but delicious!  The broth has a complex heat.  

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Gave myself too much insulin, moved around too much at work, blood sugar 52.  So I had 1/4 cup granola, with a banana, and then later to get my points up for the day, a package of these nuts.

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And I still had money on a gift card, so got a cold brew for the train ride home – 1 smart point for the fat free milk. 

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I have Kevin of Closet Cooking to thank for last nights recipe.  I adapted his recipe a bit for one serving (although Jacob loved the roasted red pepper sauce over his steak!), but this was a simple, delicious dinner and was ready in about 15 minutes.  This is for one serving, and comes in at 8 smart points.

  • 6 ounces chicken breast
  • 1 ounce herbed goat cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup jarred red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon grape seed oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons fat free half and half
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 cup fresh green beans

Microwave the green beans on vegetable setting.  Meanwhile, lay the two pieces of chicken on a cutting board, season with salt and pepper and use 1/2 the goat cheese in the chicken, top with the baby spinach, and roll up, and season with more salt and pepper.  Heat a skillet with grape seed oil, and cook seam side down first (I should have just kept it on the seam side down, because when I tried to flip the chicken, it unrolled a bit).   While the chicken is cooking, add the red pepper, chicken broth, corn starch, 2 cloves of garlic, crushed red pepper and half and half to a blender and puree.

When the chicken is nearly done (about 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken), remove to a plate.  Add the remaining clove of garlic to your skillet and cook for a couple minutes.  Add in the microwaved green beans and salt and pepper – I just added a spray of coconut oil spray, but you could add a touch more grape seed oil.  Cook a couple minutes, and set aside.

Now pour the roasted red pepper sauce back in the pan, add the chicken back in, and put a lid on the pan and cook over medium heat for a couple minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken.

Plate the green beans on the plate, top with the chicken, drizzle the roasted red pepper sauce (which will be too much, but it will be great leftover!) and sprinkle with dried parsley and the remaining 1/2 ounce of goat cheese.

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I don’t normally buy thin sliced chicken, but this package was perfect for two servings for me.  I used just under 6 ounces of chicken for dinner last night, and I’ll use the rest for chicken lettuce wraps with veggies.  Not bad for $1.82!

No need to pound out  either which is a time saver.  Because these were so thin, I just cooked them in my cast iron skillet.  My store had spinach bunches for .69 cents a bunch – look at how big the leaves are!

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Sear on the seam side, and because the chicken is so thin, keep it on this side so it holds together.

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So simple and delicious!   The above dinner comes in at 8 smart points, or 394 calories, 16 carbs, 13 fat, 46 protein, 5 saturated fat and 8 grams of sugar.

So I am tracking both calories and points while I carb cycle this week.  I ate more carbs and calories than I wanted to, but blame that on the low blood sugar by having the banana and granola.  

Stats for the Day:

I had 32 points for the day and 1510 calories, 120 carbs, 69 fat, 107 protein, 22 saturated fat, and 55 grams of sugar.  Without the banana and granola, I would have been at about 80 grams of carbs for the day, and around 1300 calories.

Another dreary day in Chicago, but hopefully the rain will stay away so Jenn and I can walk today.  I had close to 14k steps yesterday.

Happy Tuesday – make it a great day!

Ricotta Pan Pasta with Jennie-O Turkey Meatballs

I hate snow in March.   I really really do.  But I know we are never out of the clear for snow in March.  Some birthdays when Hannah was little we had water balloon fights because it was so warm, other times we had five inches of snow.  I remember on Hannah’s 7th birthday it worked out perfect because she was going to school for an art fair the morning of her birthday party from 9-12, and her party started at 1.  I had it planned perfectly – I’d wrap her gifts, shovel the snow down my front walk, finish decorating her cake – three hours was plenty of time to get that all done!

Except when I went to leave, she begged me to stay.  Not just for a few minutes, but THE WHOLE TIME.  I was in a panic – how was I going to get it all done?  Well, the fast answer was, I didn’t.  And Hannah was none the wiser.  The only caveat was that I never did get a chance to shovel my walk to the front door, and a couple parents gave me a stern look Smile with tongue out

So here is what I woke up to:

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Just noticed Hannah never brought in the extension cord when she and Jacob had a bonfire a couple weeks ago and hung up lights around the gazebo!  #klassy

So my breakfast was a plate of sunshine on the cold, snowy, overcast day.  I made an egg white omelet microwaved dish – 2 ounces of canned potatoes on the bottom, 1/2 cup egg whites, baby spinach – cook on high for 2-3 minutes until the eggs are cooked, then flipped it and added 1/2 ounce of cheese on the top.  On the side was turkey sausage and fresh fruit – pineapple to make me think I was in Hawaii!  #not

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When I took this picture, it looked like I had sliced banana on top of my eggs, and a couple people on Instagram thought I had lost my damn mind!  (thank you Christina and Kym for your concern!) Open-mouthed smileMy sister and I talked mid-morning and she definitely did not want to walk in the cold/snow, and neither did I to tell the truth.  I thought I’d just hit up my office gym and walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes before heating up my lunch.  But I remembered I didn’t have my key card to get into the gym (I switched bags) and it would have been a hassle to get a temporary one from the office of the building, so I just bundled up and got to walking.  I was trying to get the Sears Tower in the picture, and didn’t notice the light post coming out of my head!

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Yesterday was a higher carb day, so I had chicken fried rice for lunch.  Since I was walking by myself, I walked to Mariano’s – not even thinking of buying anything, but just walking around getting more steps indoors.  But then I saw this wasabi sauce and it made me stop in my tracks.  I did not alter that picture below at all – that’s the actual color of the sauce, and if you love wasabi like I do, go buy this.  It’s only 10 calories (zero points) a serving and it has the zip of heat that goes away after a few seconds like wasabi does.  Even though Tony didn’t like spicy stuff, he could tolerate wasabi when he ate sushi because the heat didn’t last.  I still have yet to recreate a stir fry like Tony even close to what he could make.  I even watched the video Tony made, but to no avail.  I did use less soy sauce than he normally did, although his always turned out great, so I don’t know why I question the amount I use.  My plate came in at 8 smart points – 6 for the rice, 2 for the chicken and the rest was free.

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I actually got a lot of stuff done at work that I wanted to.  Are any of you like me that have a list of things you want to get off your desk, but constant interruptions foil your attempts to cross anything of your list?  Well surprisingly yesterday both my attorneys hardly bothered me at all.   So that means today I’ll probably be swamped Open-mouthed smile

I am on Jennie-O Turkey’s Blogger program and I am given products to try every other month.  In January I made the perfect turkey burger and turkey and bean chili.   I did just realize that I was supposed to make a breakfast dish with this turkey sausage they sent me, but is it wrong that I thought of meatballs when I first saw the product?  You all know how I am about the balls!

This dinner was ready in less than 20 minutes, and while I only made one serving, I am writing the recipe for 4 servings.  Each serving on the WW recipe app is 12 smart points.

Serves 1 cup pasta with 3 ounces turkey meatballs

Ricotta Pan Pasta with Jennie-O Turkey Meatballs

5 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

20 minTotal Time

Save Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dry pasta
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 4 tablespoons part skim ricotta
  • 12 ounces Jennie-O turkey sausage
  • 1 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Heat water for pasta.  Meanwhile mix the sausage, Italian seasoning, garlic, crushed red pepper, parsley, salt and pepper and mix just until combined.  For each 3 ounce portion, I made 6 meatballs, but feel free to make them however big you like them.  Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium high heat and spray with coconut oil spray (it can withstand the high heat) and sear the outside of the turkey meatballs.  Reduce the heat, and add the marinara sauce and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce until the pasta is ready.  Drain the pasta, add that to the meatball marinara pan, stir in the ricotta cheese and baby spinach, and put a lid on the pan for 1-2 minutes until the spinach starts to wilt - it will seem like too much, but no worries!
Cuisine: Italian | Recipe Type: dinner
7.3
http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/2017/03/14/ricotta-pan-pasta-jennie-o-turkey-meatballs/

Each serving is 1 cup of the cooked pasta and 6 meatballs (or three ounces).  Sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan cheese and dinner is served!

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This was so delicious.  Pure healthy comfort food at it’s best.  I defrosted my zero point marinara for this dinner before I went to work, but just check the labels of store bought marinara if you go that route – a lot have a ton of added sugar in them (look at the ingredient list). 

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

On my way home from work I saw two different people make my chili and each gave it two thumbs up!  First up my friend Meg from Instagram:

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And then my high school friend Matt who I am friends with on Facebook made my buffalo chicken chili.

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That’s basically what I do – changing lives, one chili recipe at a time! (ha!)

I forgot to mention that my latest post is on The Chopping Block website – Kris, you’ll be happy to see a Vegan dish for my daughter-in-law.  If you could send me some comment love over there, I would appreciate it!  I made a lentil pasta with a kale pesto – so good, even coming from a meat eater like myself. Open-mouthed smile

One Point Marinara Sauce

One of the things that I love about the WW app – is that there is something called WW Connect – think of it as a mini-Facebook for WW members.  I love how it will pick out random posts of people to “trend” – let’s say that an online member reached goal, and when they entered the weight online, only got a “you weigh xyz.”  No pomp and circumstance like you would at a meeting.  But that post will trend, and then suddenly 3000 people will be cheering that person on.  Love that kind of support!

But now that we are starting a brand new year, it’s hard to read some of these posts.

  • “I feel useless.”
  • “I fell out of control.”
  • “I am on day 2 and all I want to do is eat a loaf of bread.”
  • “I’ll probably always be big.”

The majority of people on WW are women – I would guess 90% are women?  At least based on any WW meeting I’ve ever been to.  It got me thinking.  Why do we have to self-sabotage ourselves so much?  What’s the point?  Would you ever go up to another woman and tell her she’s useless and out of control?  Nope – so why do we do it to ourselves?  I follow many WW peeps on Instagram and a couple of them have come so close to goal, only to have a binge and be a few farther pounds away from goal.  Almost as if the “goal” was the finish line, and once met, what comes next?

The rest of your life, that’s what!   Getting to goal is just part of the journey, not the destination, and if I can help anyone out there (including myself!) on keeping that in the back of our minds, I think we will enjoy this journey of life a lot more.  And to help me visualize myself getting to goal, I’ve already started putting together in my head my goal video from where I am to where I will be.  My brother Charlie doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to help me when the time comes – thanks Charlie! 😀

Yesterday I made my mock Starbuck’s protein plate and it was delish.  We have a stash of condiments in our work fridge, and I found an individual pack of no sugar added strawberry jam (0 points!) which was a nice topping to the Muesli bread.  This whole plate is 8 smart points:   egg (2)  Muesli bread (3)  ½ ounce almonds (2)  Light string cheese (1)  Fruit (0)

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I had every intention of going to the gym at lunch, until I remembered that I switched into my yoga pants before WI last Thursday, got back to the office and got busy, and ended up wearing them home.  (I’ve got clothes packed today).  And even though it’s was raining slightly at lunch, got my walking shoes and walked for 30 minutes.  Hannah and Jacob got me this new small Totes umbrella and it’s amazeballs – it didn’t flip inside out even though it was rainy and it was dry by the time I made it back to my desk – weird!

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In my day long meal prep on Monday, I made a batch of my veggie marinara, and I don’t think I’ve posted this recipe before, and if I did – Google couldn’t find it.  Kinda sad that my recipes are so unorganized that I need Google to find them! Open-mouthed smile

One Point Marinara Sauce
Serves 8
A quick and delicious marinara sauce made from loads of veggies - just 30 minutes on the stove top and dinner is served!
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
43 calories
6 g
0 g
2 g
1 g
0 g
145 g
222 g
3 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
145g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 43
Calories from Fat 17
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g
3%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 222mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates 6g
2%
Dietary Fiber 2g
7%
Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
61%
Vitamin C
56%
Calcium
4%
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 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  3. 1 cup carrots
  4. 1 cup celery
  5. 1 cup red peppers
  6. 3 garlic cloves
  7. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  8. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
  9. 1 cup vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. salt and pepper to taste
  2. Heat a stock pot over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and add the carrots, celery, red pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened.  Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes.   Use a stick blender to puree. Use you judgment on the vegetable broth – sometimes I use all of it, sometimes only half – depends on what consistency you like.  This is 8 servings (very generous 3/4 cup?) and only 1 smart point.
Notes
  1. Depending on how much veggie broth you use, each serving is 3/4 to 1 cup.
beta
calories
43
fat
2g
protein
1g
carbs
6g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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I had mine over spaghetti squash with Italian sausage – lunch came in at 6 smart points.   But I hit a wall at about 4 p.m. – I was really hungry and forgot to pack my Premiere Protein shakes for my desk, so had to eat a 6 point granola bar that was in my bag.  It was interesting to see the comparison between a tiny granola bar and that giant plate of food above equal the same amount of points.  

I am working for an attorney on a different floor, and by the time I left the office, I already had 11k steps!  I had this recipe pinned on Pinterest for dinner last night.  I actually realized that my dinner was actually inspired by that recipe, because I switched things up a bit.  I am going to tweak my recipe a bit more before posting, but I am close.  It was delicious and this plate came in at 10 smart points.

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I had the kitchen cleaned by 7:45 so I hit up the gym.  I did another two miles on the treadmill and then did 20 minutes of upper body and 5 minutes of abs.  I wish I had looked to see how close I was to 20k!

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So here’s how I got that all done last night: came home, made dinner from scratch, cleaned the kitchen, went to the gym, came home and put my food together for today AND wrote this blog post.  I didn’t watch a second of t.v.  Turns out there is plenty of time if you don’t spend 2-3 hours watching t.v. at night to get stuff done!

If you don’t follow weatherford5 on Instagram – go do it now.  This guy doesn’t stop – he is a spokesman, t.v. personality, former football player, husband and father to 4 kids.   He always does these motivational screen shots, and I keep the ones that speak to me.  I like this one and I have it hanging by my desk as a constant reminder . . . that I control both my attitude and effort!

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Alright, lets kick some Wednesday ass – make it a great day!

Smoque BBQ

I am somehow managing to put stuff together to eat with what we have on hand.  Once I get past Wednesday without having to make a trip to the grocery store for a full grocery shop, it becomes a game to see how long I can actually go.  I just worry about myself, not the kadults.  They can fend for themselves if they don’t want to eat what I put together.  😀

I bought a dozen apples on the $1 rack (which by the way, I am going to have to call the $1.50 rack because they upped the prices!) so I have no idea what kind of apple this is.  I love the sweet/tart flavor, but it’s a bit pithy.  Not sure because it’s on the verge of being rotten, or if that’s just what type of apple it is.  BUT, I would take a bit of apple, a bit of cheese and wrap it in the ham and spinach for the ultimate sweet/tart bite.  Love picky plates.

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My boss wasn’t going to be in the office until mid-afternoon and my blood sugar was only 82 when it was lunch time.  I made a quick call to my sister to see if she wanted to meet for lunch and we were good to go.  We walked until we met each other half way, then decided to go to Revival Food Hall.  So many choices!   We decided on Smoque BBQ.  While my sister doesn’t cook a lot of beef or pork because of her family (well, and her!) being picky, we decided to split the chopped brisket on top of a slice of white bread, the jalapeno smoked sausage, pickles, pickled jalapenos, a side of their BBQ beans and two diet cokes.

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The person behind the counter asked if we wanted to pick out our four complimentary BBQ sauces, or let him pick them.  We let him pick them, and I have to say, I loved each one for different reasons.  That Luling Sauce on the bottom right was a mustard based BBQ sauce – swoon.  But I have to say my favorite was the Carolina sauce – thin and vinegary – you know, just like me!  (ha!)

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Both meats were delicious.  The brisket was tender, juicy and had the burnt ends which I love.  The jalapeno sausage actually wasn’t too spicy, but mixed with that mustard BBQ sauce, winning!  We split the tray (she paid – thanks Jenn) and I figured out the points on my app on the walk back to my office.  15 points for half.  And while that may seem like a lot, back in the day we each would have gotten one of those trays, so that’s a step in the right direction.  And life is too short not to have BBQ brisket, am I right?!

I actually thought I might not even be hungry for dinner, but who am I kidding?!  We ate a bit later, and I fixed the grilled chicken salads I had planned the night before last before the train delay.  Jacob isn’t a fan of taco seasoning, so we all decided that lemon pepper on the chicken would be delicious, and that was a good choice.  I have had this recipe pinned for the spicy cilantro lime dressing alone.   The only thing I did was reduce the mayo to 2 tablespoons and it came out to 2 smart points per 2 tablespoons.

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Awful food photography, but this was straight up delish.  And I had 9 smart points left for dinner and this came in at exactly 9 points.  I think Hannah could eat beef if I drizzled this cilantro dressing over the top!

I cannot believe it’s December 1.  It’s the first time in the longest time that I can remember that we haven’t had a lick of snow before December.  Now I probably jinxed myself and we’ll have a blizzard next week.

I still don’t have access to the new gym yet, it’s in the hands of the office of the building, and I may have to be a squeaky wheel about that – while I don’t mind walking when it’s in the 40’s, walking around in the 30s with the wind chill off the lake isn’t that fun.

Alright, let’s do this – make it a great day!

Braised wine chicken

Coq Au Vin

Since I didn’t start work until 5:00 on Friday, I decided to beat the traffic and head downtown earlier in the day and hit up the YMCA before work, which is just three miles from my work.  That was kind of a great decision.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

My Y membership lets me go to any YMCA in the Chicagoland area.  It was quite a big building.

irving-park-ymca-chicago-illinois-usa

It wasn’t until I walked in and saw all the mail slots that I realized this was an “actual” YMCA where people live.  I looked it up later and they have 212 guest rooms with rates starting at $378 a month up to $470 a month to have your own bathroom in your room.  Of course, it’s a Men’s only facility.  While the work out room was up to date, the locker rooms were a bit dated.

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And the showers were kind of spooky and the ceiling had tons of paint that was chipping off and looked like it could drop on the ground at any moment.  I got a good hour work in though, so that was good.  I felt that giving myself 30 minutes to drive 3 miles to work would be plenty and at 4:30 I was showered, dressed for work and ready to go.  And guess what?  It took me exactly 30 minutes to get to work – duh.  Because it was still rush hour.  I clocked in at 5:01 – whew!

It was a Chef demonstration, which is the first time I’ve worked that kind of event.  The guests could ask any questions they wanted, sip wine and then eat at the end of the night.  I got to make a chocolate tart with chocolate and raspberries and I got to grill the pork chops.  It was a lot of fun.

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Saturday night was a couples night in Paris with all Parisian food.   The Chef I worked with that night actually spent several years in Paris working in restaurants and we had a very engaging group of people.  I was able to put a Chef app together and decided to make a potato and grilled onion flat bread with brie.  After I put this together, I wished I would have added the brie when it came out of the oven, but it still tasted really good.  I know, can you believe I actively chose to make onions?!

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I just made my no rise pizza dough (one of my first blog posts from September 2008!), but let it rise for about 30 minutes because I had time while the onions and potatoes cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Then baked the flat bread (or pizza basically) for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

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The star of the night though was this Coq au Vin.  I have actually never made this dish before, but it’s going on my dinner menu next week.   This is a great weekend dinner to make, or for company as well.   It seems like a lot of ingredients but this came together rather quickly.   And while this recipe states it’s for four people, this is a whole chicken, so I easily think this could stretch for 8 people.

  • Coq Au Vin
    Serves 8
    A great comfort food dish - wine braised chicken. Great to make on a lazy Saturday night dinner, or great for company.
    Write a review
    Print
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    45 min
    Total Time
    1 hr
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    45 min
    Total Time
    1 hr
    436 calories
    9 g
    139 g
    19 g
    45 g
    6 g
    296 g
    315 g
    3 g
    0 g
    11 g
    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size
    296g
    Servings
    8
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 436
    Calories from Fat 170
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 19g
    29%
    Saturated Fat 6g
    29%
    Trans Fat 0g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
    Monounsaturated Fat 6g
    Cholesterol 139mg
    46%
    Sodium 315mg
    13%
    Total Carbohydrates 9g
    3%
    Dietary Fiber 2g
    6%
    Sugars 3g
    Protein 45g
    Vitamin A
    56%
    Vitamin C
    9%
    Calcium
    5%
    Iron
    14%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
    Ingredients
    1. 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
    2. One 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
    3. Salt and pepper to taste
    4. 4 slices bacon, cut into strips
    5. 1 1/2 cups pearl onions, peeled (see note, below)
    6. 1/2 pound white or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
    7. 2 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut into medium dice
    8. 1 large shallot, finely chopped
    9. 1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
    10. 1 cup red table wine
    11. 1 cup chicken stock
    12. 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
    13. Salt and pepper to taste
    14. 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
    15. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    16. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, rough chopped
    Instructions
    1. 1. Heat a large, heavy pan over medium-high heat and add the grapeseed oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and sear, skin side down, until golden brown. Flip and repeat. Once they’re browned, remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside.
    2. 2. Reduce the heat to medium low, and gently sauté the bacon until the fat has rendered.
    3. 3. Add the onions, mushrooms and carrots to the bacon and cook until lightly caramelized. Stir in the shallots and cook until softened. Add the cognac to deglaze the pan, scraping free the browned bits of fond from the bottom.
    4. 4. Return the dark meat and wings to the pan along with the wine, stock and herbs de Provence. Season with salt and pepper.
    5. 5. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the meat easily pulls away from the bone, about 40 minutes.
    6. 6. Return the breasts to the pan and allow to cook for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.
    7. Knead together the butter and flour to form a paste. This paste is called a beurre manié. After
    8. the dark and white meat is cooked, remove it from the pan. Whisk the beurre manié into the
    9. sauce and simmer until thickened. Taste and correct seasonings, return the chicken to the pan,
    10. sprinkle with parsley and serve.
    Notes
    1. The best way to peel pearl onions is to quickly blanch them in a pot of boiling water for about 30
    2. seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water, drain and let the peeling begin. Tip: Use a paring knife to get
    3. the job done.
    beta
    calories
    436
    fat
    19g
    protein
    45g
    carbs
    9g
    more
    My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/

7. Knead together the butter and flour to form a paste. This paste is called a beurre manié.   After the dark and white meat is cooked, remove it from the pan. Whisk the beurre manié into the sauce and simmer until thickened. Taste and correct seasonings, return the chicken to the pan, sprinkle with parsley and serve. 

Note: The best way to peel pearl onions is to quickly blanch them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water, drain and let the peeling begin. Tip: Use a paring knife to get the job done.

Everyone gave this dish rave reviews, and I was able to taste the pan sauce and it’s outstanding.  The brandy added just a touch of sweetness to the sauce and the chicken was cooked to perfection.  The recipe is courtesy of The Chopping Block.

I covered a shift early Sunday morning and since I was working late on Saturday night, my Mom let me stay at her house so I wouldn’t have to drive so much and get five hours of sleep vs. four if I had driven all the way home.  I felt bad because I wasn’t actually going to see her – I got to her house at 11:45 and was out the door at 5:15 a.m.  When I got to “my” room, and I say “my” room because I am the one who uses her guest bedroom the most, I found this note on my bed.

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And I remembered to turn off the porch light when I got in. Open-mouthed smile

She was available for lunch yesterday though, so after she sang the National Anthem at the Chicago Bears game yesterday with her choir, I met her back at her house and we headed to LaGrange for lunch.  I was super hungry.  There was a lot of junk food at the inventory at work, and one of the managers made scrambled eggs and bacon, but there were huge chunks of onions in the eggs, so I took a pass.  I did have a homemade baked donut one of the retail guys made, and a couple pieces of bacon and a handful of nuts during my shift.

I had a taste for a burger, and we saw this place:  Back Alley Burger

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You would think that if “burger” is in the name of your restaurant that your burger would be really good.  Sadly, it was just okay at best.  I got a 1/3 pound burger and it really had no flavor at all.  Although I did pass by a woman who got a 1/2 pound burger and if I got back, I may ask for that and see if they could cook it medium rare, oh, and maybe put some salt and pepper on it.  The sweet potato fries and slaw were amazeballs though!  I did eat almost everything because I was hungry though!

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We ate so late in the afternoon that I never ate anything for dinner and was in bed by 10:30 last night.  I didn’t wake up until 9:30 this morning!  I guess I caught up on my sleep.  I am off today, and Hannah didn’t leave for work until 11:30 so we hung out and caught up with each other before she left for work since I’ve barely talked to her since Thursday, which is why this post is so late.  I am in desperate need of a hair cut, so hopefully I can get that done today.   And the normal laundry and housework that needs to get done on a day off.  Although Hannah had her cleaning pants on yesterday, so there isn’t much left for me to do – thanks Hannah!

And here is how happy my Momma looks after spending time with me.  Is it no wonder I am her favorite?!

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Love you Momma!

Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top and Cilantro Pesto

I had lunch plans yesterday, so went with my go to low point breakfast.  My Chobani parfait with my one point fruit sauce and a tablespoon of granola.  Only 4 smart points for this deliciousness.

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I love the fact that when I make my Chobani parfait breakfasts, Roman’s eyes literally light up and he cannot wait to help me lick the spoon clean. 

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I met up with a former co-worker for lunch.  I am HORRIBLE at keeping in touch with people after I leave a job.  I know I’ve mentioned it numerous times before on the blog, but for some reason, when I leave a job, it doesn’t matter if I’ve eaten lunch with you every day for three years, as soon as I walk out that door, I’ll probably never talk to you again.  I am trying to get better about this, and was happy that my friend Renee was available to meet up for lunch.  I literally did walk with her for 45 minutes nearly every day for years!

PicMonkey Collage - lunch

We went to a place called Savory Salads in Barrington.  It was pretty good.  I got a 1/2 salad of the Southwest Salad, which I think only constituted as a “southwest” salad was because of the tortilla chips on top?  Mostly romaine, with a ranch dressing, and at the very bottom a few pieces of jicima, avocado and black beans and corn.  The soup was better, although needed more spice for me – but it was a cream of chicken rice soup.  It was great catching up with you Renee! 

It was a gorgeous day for early October in Chicagoland.  Blue skies and low 70s.  I got my walking shoes on instead of going to the gym, because I know all too soon that it will be gym weather all the time so I may as well take advantage of the weather while I can.

PicMonkey Collage - walk

When I bought my beef roast the other day before the kadults mentioned they were going vegetarian for 30 days, I thought I’d be sharing this with Jacob.  Of course, that didn’t stop me from making beef for myself for dinner.  When I got back from my walk, I lit the grill around 3:30. 

My beef was labeled “Boston Beef Roast.”  I am assuming that it’s the shoulder of the beef, but I am not really sure.  In any event, I had two choices.  Go fast and furious and treat it like a steak or go low and slow to break up all the connective tissue in this cut of beef.  I decided to do the latter.  I am also the firm believer that you should sear your meat first while your coals are hot, then move it to the indirect (cold) part of the grill.

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I used my best beef marinade which I marinated overnight, and switched it to my Lodge cast iron skillet for the remainder of the grill time.

In the Edible Door magazine that my Aunt Cele gave me (who thankfully is evacuating Hilton Head because of the storms) they had a recipe for braised carrots and saving the carrot tops to make a pesto.  I was going to use the braising method for the carrots, but decided to just grill them when the beef was 3/4 of the way done.  I did adapt the recipe though, because some of my carrot tops were starting to brown, even though I just bought them on Monday.

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I also only had one cup of carrot top greens, so added a cup of cilantro.

Carrot Top and Cilantro Pesto
Serves 8
A great way to use up the top greens on fresh farm carrots.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
6 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
6 min
60 calories
2 g
0 g
6 g
0 g
1 g
27 g
29 g
1 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
27g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 60
Calories from Fat 50
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
9%
Saturated Fat 1g
4%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 29mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 2g
1%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
46%
Vitamin C
8%
Calcium
1%
Iron
1%
* 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 carrot top greens, blanched
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon nuts (I used almonds)
  4. 2 garlic cloves
  5. juice of 1/2 a lemon
  6. zest of lemon
  7. salt
Instructions
  1. Bring a small pot of water to boil and drop in the carrot tops and cook for 1 minute.  Add to the drained carrot greens to your food processor and add remaining ingredients.  Add additional salt if necessary.
Adapted from The Edible Door
beta
calories
60
fat
6g
protein
0g
carbs
2g
more
Adapted from The Edible Door
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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I charred the carrots and then added them to the cast iron skillet to cook in the beef juice and marinade.  These were delicious!   I kept my grill temperature around 225-250 and grilled the meat to an internal temperature of 190, then let it rest 30 minutes before slicing.

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The beef took two hours to cook.  Once the coals were hot, I put the meat on at 3:45 and it was done by 5:45.  Invest in a meat thermometer – it doesn’t have to be fancy, I think mine cost $8 after my remote thermometer stopped working.   You’ll have perfect meat every time.  And see how juicy the beef is?  If I were to cut into it immediately, all those juices would be on my cutting board – you have to let the meat rest to redistribute the delicious juice.

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I get to work today – whoop whoop!  While I have enjoyed these three days off, I am happy to be going to work today.  And it’s an icky day outside, so all the better.  If I were home today I’d probably watch Netflix all day with Hannah’s dogs. Smile with tongue out

So excited for tonight though – one of my long time blog friends (since June of 2011) happens to be coming to town to run the Chicago Marathon.  I am so excited to meet her in person after all these years to have dinner after I get off of work today.  Safe travels Aimee and I’ll see you tonight!

Time to make a quick breakfast before catching the train to Chicago.  Make it a great day!