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!
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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/
1.3.2017 036

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.
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
6 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
6 min
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!

Happy Birthday Tony!

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

tony

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

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

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Vodka Sauce with Mini Meatballs
Serves 8
I love having mini meatballs because it feels like you are eating more than you really are. Each meatball comes in at 1 smart point.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
270 calories
12 g
69 g
12 g
13 g
5 g
171 g
684 g
2 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
171g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 270
Calories from Fat 103
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
18%
Saturated Fat 5g
24%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 69mg
23%
Sodium 684mg
29%
Total Carbohydrates 12g
4%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 2g
Protein 13g
Vitamin A
6%
Vitamin C
11%
Calcium
7%
Iron
13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  3. 1 cup vodka
  4. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  5. 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  6. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  7. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  8. pinch of salt and pepper
  9. 1 pound ground chuck
  10. 2 ounces of chopped stale Italian bread
  11. 1/4 cup 1% milk
  12. 1 egg
  13. 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  14. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  15. 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  16. 1 teaspoon salt
  17. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  18. 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Instructions
  1. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add in the vodka, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vodka has been reduced by half.  Add in the Italian seasoning, crushed tomatoes, crushed red peppers, salt pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream.  Taste for additional salt.
  2. In a large bowl, put the stale bread and the milk together and mix until the milk is absorbed into the bread.  This is called a panade and keeps your meatballs tender while cooking.  Add in the ground chuck, 1 egg, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, salt, pepper and dried parsley and mix just until combined, careful not to over mix the meat mixture.  I got 45 meatballs about the size of a marble out of this recipe – each meatball comes in at 1 smart point each.
  3. Heat a skillet with Pam – there is enough fat in the meat that you don’t need to add any additional fat to the pan.  Cook over medium high heat so that there is a nice crust on the outside of the meatball, but not yet fully cooked.  Throw the meatballs into your sauce and put the pan back on a low simmer to let the meatballs cook through, about 10 minutes.
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calories
270
fat
12g
protein
13g
carbs
12g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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I ate 6 meatballs for 6 smart points, 1 point for the sauce and 5 points for the cooked pasta for a filling 12 point dinner.   I may be having a mini meatball sandwich for lunch today.

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

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

Pork Chops with Mushroom Spinach Pan Sauce

I find myself blogging tonight outside on my laptop, home alone because the kadults are working – with a glass of pinot grigio to the side in gorgeous 72 degree weather.   The sun is shining, blue skies and its nights like tonight that make me miss Tony the most.  We lived for weather like this to sit outside and have some cocktails while listening to music.  I was reminded of him even more this morning because my doctor appointment was with Tony’s doctor who was the first local doctor to refer us to Mayo Clinic when we wanted a second opinion about Tony’s health two summers ago.  Since I normally see my endocrinologist on a regular basis, I haven’t seen this GP since Tony died.  One of the first things he asked me was “how long has it been?” 

At first I thought he was asking how long it had been seen I’d seen him as a doctor, but then I quickly realized that he was asking how long Tony had been gone.  Three months from today it will be TWO YEARS.  Two years.  I am not going to lie, I started tearing up immediately.  Everyone I see on a daily basis or even through social media knows how long its been, but it’s been a long time since someone asked me to my face.  The doctor comforted me and told me that Tony was one of his favorites.  Mine too.

I did all sorts of adulting today.  Got my blood work done, urine sample, THREE shots: flu/pneumonia/tetanus shots.  If you are anyone you know has diabetes, it is now recommended that no matter what your age, you should get the pneumonia shot because diabetes and pneumonia are not the best combination and there are serious complications if you do have the sugars like me.  Talk to your doctor, but I trust mine wholeheartedly, and if he wanted me to get three shots, I got three shots.

I had to fast for the blood work, so when I met my high school friend Beth for lunch I was hangry!  But first, I had to show her my favorite grocery store and my beloved dollar rack there.  She and her family recently moved back to the area from Texas after being away for over 20 years.   We picked up right where we left off, which is nice.  And of course, with the advent of social media, I’ve been friends with her on Facebook for a while so even though we hadn’t physically seen each other in that long, it didn’t feel weird to reconnect in person.   We got tacos at a place right near the grocery store – $1.85 tacos and $1.50 sides at a side down restaurant!

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I’ve talked about certain foods being “insulin worthy” before.  I do the same thing with Weight Watcher smart points.  I ask myself if it is point worthy, and this rice was definitely not point worthy, so I ditched that, ate the two delicious tacos and the 1/3 cup refried beans on the side.  I called lunch 12 smart points.

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

So I am backtracking a bit. I had to post this pork chop recipe from last night, because it was so simple and point friendly.   I had lunch with one of my old friends yesterday too – it’s been nice having these last few days off!  I have to give a shout out to her and her sister (Hi D&D!) because she brought me lots of snowman loot.  If Tony were alive, I would have had to hid this stuff in the basement!  One of the sisters also got me this autographed cookbook a while back and I just got it.  Thanks guys!

PicMonkey Collage - loot

On the way back from my lunch yesterday, I stopped at Heinen’s grocery store.  I don’t pass by that way much anymore since it was near my old office, and while some of their stuff is pricey, I picked up two bone in pork chops for Jacob and I for a great price:

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Without the bone, each pork chop was about 5 ounces.  I am using that amount for this recipe in case someone decides to use boneless pork chops – but if you can, cook it with the bone – it imparts an extra level of delicious flavor:

Pork Chops with Mushroom Spinach Pan Sauce
Serves 2
A quick and simple week night dinner that kicks up pork chops.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
372 calories
10 g
116 g
18 g
41 g
5 g
330 g
1010 g
1 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
330g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 372
Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18g
28%
Saturated Fat 5g
24%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 116mg
39%
Sodium 1010mg
42%
Total Carbohydrates 10g
3%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 1g
Protein 41g
Vitamin A
33%
Vitamin C
10%
Calcium
11%
Iron
15%
* 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 five ounce pork chops
  2. 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  3. 1 teaspoon butter
  4. 1 tablespoon flour
  5. salt and pepper
  6. 1 cup beef broth, divided
  7. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  8. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  9. 1 cup mushrooms
  10. 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Since these chops weren’t that big, I decided to cook everything in my Lodge cast iron skillet.   Heat the pan over medium high heat.  Add the grapeseed oil and let it get hot.  Meanwhile, dredge the pork chops in the 1 tablespoon flour and salt and pepper the chops.  Cook for 3 minutes a side (mine were really thin) and set aside.   Add the teaspoon of butter, and sauté the mushrooms for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.  I added a few sprays of Pam during this process.  Pour in 3/4 of the beef broth.  Mix the 1 tablespoon cornstarch with the remaining 1/4 cup beef broth and stir until combined.  Add this mixture to the mushrooms in the pan, and stir over medium low heat until the sauce starts to thicken.  Add in the crushed red pepper, then give it a taste to season with more salt and pepper.
  2. Add the pork chops back in with the chopped spinach, and cook for an additional minute.  Plate the pork chops and divide the mushroom spinach pan sauce over the pork chops.
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calories
372
fat
18g
protein
41g
carbs
10g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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This was so simple and delicious.  I loved the crispy edges the pork chop got in the cast iron skillet, and I literally could have done shots with the mushroom sauce.  And to think just five years ago I stuck my nose up to mushrooms!

*********

It’s been a nice few days off from work, and tomorrow is probably going to be my last farmers market.  I got the schedule for next week and while I requested Saturday off to work the market, I am scheduled to close on Friday night.  And while I am sure I could tough it out with only 4 hours of sleep before ending one job and beginning another, um, let’s just say I am a bit too old to be doing that.  What a crazy summer it’s been, but I loved the experience I had this summer and wouldn’t change a thing.

I am going to put on some Frank Sinatra on Spotify, refill my glass, and appreciate all that I have, even if I miss having my best friend sitting by my side.  So give your spouse or significant other an extra kiss and a hug tonight.  

I would if I could.

Made from Divine Chocolate

Korean BBQ Sauce

It’s amazing when you have an organized pantry what you realize you have on hand.  I have no less than four cans of mandarin oranges, five cans of water chestnuts and six cans of tomato paste.  What I also found was a whole drawer full of red potatoes.  Thanks for doing such a great job organizing the pantry Hannah, I promise I’ll try to keep it organized! Open-mouthed smile

So with the red potato find, my potato pancake breakfast was born.  One potato was 7 ounces (5 smart points) and I just shredded it, squeezed out any liquid, added a tablespoon of egg whites, a tablespoon of flour (1) salt and pepper and made two pancakes.  I put my skillet on medium high heat with some grapeseed oil (1) and Pam and got each side browned, then turned the heat down to low, put a lid on the pan to let the potatoes cook through.  It took about 10 minutes total.  Then I topped the pancakes with an egg/egg white scramble (2) with spinach, then topped with salsa and a tablespoon of cheddar cheese (1).  This was a delicious 10 smart point breakfast!

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I had my list of things to do yesterday and am happy that I crossed off more than half of them yesterday.  I think it has to do with being the first day of September, but I always feel a bit more organized when the school year starts, even if I don’t have little kids who are going back to school.   As I was running errands and heading back home, I could feel my blood sugar start to drop.  I pulled over and checked my blood sugar and sure enough it was 67.  Rats.  I had planned on taking a long walk when I got home.  As luck would have it, I was right by our favorite local Mexican restaurant take out place, and picked up lunch for us.

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Steak taco (5) and I measured out 1/3 cup of rice and 1/3 cup of refried beans, even though I wanted to eat the whole container.  And their spicy red salsa is pretty amazeballs.  Lunch came in at 10 smart points.

My step-son Joe’s best friend works for Divine Chocolate USA

OWNED BY COCOA FARMERS. MADE FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS.

Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative in Ghana that supplies the cocoa for each bar of Divine. As owners, they get a share in the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace.

Thank you for supporting Divine Chocolate’s efforts to make the world a place where chocolate is cherished by everyone, including the family farmers who grow the cocoa.

He sent me an assortment of their chocolate bars to recipe develop for them.   It’s funny because growing up I hated dark chocolate.  In fact every Halloween, that was the first thing I did was dump out my Halloween candy and give my Dad all my Special Dark candy.  But now?  I love it.  I thought I would try to make a savory recipe with the chocolate and decided to make a BBQ sauce.  I am calling this a Korean BBQ sauce, but I have no idea if it truly is.  All I know is that it turned out amazing.

Korean BBQ Sauce
Serves 25
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Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
32 calories
7 g
0 g
0 g
1 g
0 g
24 g
486 g
4 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
24g
Servings
25
Amount Per Serving
Calories 32
Calories from Fat 3
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 486mg
20%
Total Carbohydrates 7g
2%
Dietary Fiber 0g
2%
Sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
3%
Calcium
1%
Iron
3%
* 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. 3/4 cup soy sauce
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 2 tablespoons Ponzu sauce
  4. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  5. 1/2 cup ketchup
  6. 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  7. 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  8. 1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce
  9. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  10. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  11. 1.8 ounce Divine Chocolate Ginger & Orange Chocolate bar
  12. 2 tablespoons corn starch
  13. 3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. In a stock pot, add all the ingredients except for the corn starch and water.  Cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate bar is melted and all the ingredients are incorporated.  Mix the 2 tablespoons cornstarch with the 3 tablespoons of water, bring the heat up to medium, add it to the BBQ sauce and stir until the BBQ sauce is thickened - about 5 minutes.
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calories
32
fat
0g
protein
1g
carbs
7g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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I was worried that the BBQ sauce would taste like chocolate sauce, but it actually has a great flavor on its own.  But what makes this amazing is when you grill it.  The chocolate kind of caramelized on the chicken and it was spicy, sweet, tangy and smoky.  I grilled up bone in chicken breasts.  I asked Jacob if he wanted BBQ sauce on his chicken, and he politely declined.  His loss, because this was delicious.

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Chef Carrie at my work is a big BBQ person – I am going to bring some to her and see what she thinks.   My next idea?  A shrimp curry dish with the dark chocolate with mango and coconut bar.   In my head that turns out, but we’ll see!  It was fun getting creative in the kitchen yesterday. 

Another gorgeous day in Chicago – right now it’s 66 degrees and sunny.  Love!  September and October are my favorite weather months.

Make it a great day!