30 Days of Brave Challenge

I can’t say enough good things about these Lavash wraps.  The texture, how easy they are to turn into wraps without tearing, how filling – I can’t wait to try making a pizza with one on my baking steel.

5.30.17 019

I found them on the same aisle as the bread and tortillas at Walmart.  Although I will say that they are out of them a lot, so when I find them, I stock up.  I bought that package on May 26 – so with a use by date of June 10, they have a pretty good shelf life.  Not sure how they would be frozen and defrosted though.  I made a ham, egg white and lite mozzarella cheese wrap (6) with the sweetest strawberries for dessert.

5.30.17 010

Even though I have a dedicated lunch from 12:30 – 1:30 so that I guarantee to leave my desk, I had a doc that needed to get out, so missed my window to walk with my sister.  I finally left at 1:15 and walked south and found another smaller farmers market.  You know I had to get some cheese – I’ll show you that later, but I got a $3 section of a spreadable white cheddar with a pistacchio crust – yum!  And I bought another basket of cremini mushrooms from River Valley Kitchens.

market

I recently received some turkey loot at my friends from Jennie-O Turkey.  I am a 2017 Ambassador for them, and was thrilled to try out this turkey.  I accidentally threw out the package, so thanks google for this pic.

5.30.17 029

4 ounces for 2 points –I love that you can cut it thick or thin, It’s fully cooked so you could throw it in a fried rice, or in soup, or on top of a chopped salad.

5.30.17 020

5.30.17 022

This sammie was delish – four ounces oc turkey (2), lite mozzarella (1), spinach, mustard, the lavash (2) and veggie straws (4) with sliced apple.  9 points for lunch.

I knew I wanted to grill last night, which meant I had to take into consideration how long it would take for my coals to get to temperature, so I had a Premier Protein shake on the train home.  I asked for a doppio shot in a Venti cup over ice.  It costs $2.17 and as luck would have it, I had $2.15 left on a gift card, so this only cost me two cents. Open-mouthed smile  I really love the caramel flavor.

5.30.17 032

It’s the perfect snack because I didn’t walk in the door starving and eat my way through meal prep before my dinner is even ready.

I got more loot when I got home – this time from Simple Girl products.  You all know what a condiment whore I am, and when they told me that their products were low or no sugar, I was instantly intrigued.  You would be surprised at how much sugar is hidden in a lot of condiments.

5.30.17 040

I decided to use the sample pack of the balsamic vinaigrette to marinate my veggies – the whole package was only 15 calories for 1.5 ounces and I marinated the veggies for about 30 minutes while I lit the grill and got everything else ready for dinner.

5.30.17 041

If you are looking for a lean cut of beef, look for sirloin tip steak in your local grocery store.  It’s super tender, not a lot of fat, but just enough to give it some flavor.  This is the regular store price – $3.49 a pound.  I’ll easily get two more meals out of my steak – Jacob ate all of his.  😀  

5.30.17 043

5.30.17 055

5 ounces of beef is 4 points, 5.5 ounces potato (that I nearly burned!) was 4 and the rest is zero.

5.30.17 056

These mushrooms are amazing!  they held onto the marinade.  I still can’t believe I didn’t like mushrooms until a few years ago.

5.30.17 059

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

You know I am all about challenges – although sometimes I declare a challenge and then by day five just stop talking about it and pretend that I never joined a challenge.

But this one is different.  It’s a 30 Days of Brave Challenge.  It can be anything you want it to be.  You will get daily emails that will help reaffirm whatever it is that you choose.  For me?  Self-Love and no binge eating for 30 days.  And by binge eating I mean not eating half a bag of Doritos because they are in the pantry, or stopping at CVS on my way home to buy gummies.  No keeping food in my bedside table anymore (you know, just in case I have low blood sugar – can’t use that as an excuse to keep peanut m&m’s in there and eat them even if my blood sugar isn’t low).  You get the idea.

I plan on keeping up my journal for 30 days as well.  I know that keeps me focused too.   I just thought I would share this challenge in case it’s something that could help you along your journey, no matter what that is.

I can’t even believe it’s the last day of May already – this year is flying by.   Before we know it, we’ll start seeing school supplies at Walmart.

Make it a great day!  Let me know if you decide to join the challenge – there is strength in numbers! 😀

Reverse Seared Cowboy Ribeye Steak

I got up early yesterday to make sure I had a decent breakfast to start my day off on the right foot.  Just a simple egg white omelette with ham, spinach and cheese (6) with fresh fruit.  I cooked the omelette while I was in the shower.  I just pour the ham and egg whites in a skillet with a lid, turn it on low, and by the time I get out of the shower (granted, I take quick showers on the weekdays) it’s done.  I love the bit of crunch in the fresh spinach on top.

4.19.17 006

Today is our last full day in the office and the final stretch before the move.  It’s been nice that we have been able to wear jeans all week, and yesterday they had free pizza, but I said no thanks!  While I still had Roti on my bread, it was pouring down raining at lunch and I didn’t feel like getting wet, so went to another favorite – Pret salad and their tomato feta soup.  I am calling lunch 14 points, but that may be on the high side.

4.19.17 012

While I love that salad, I normally chop it up when I get back to the office, but I had already packed up my cutting board, so it was kind of hard to eat.  And yes, I have a cutting board at work 😀

Since I am walking around my office so much, I decided not to take any insulin with lunch, but still my blood sugar tanked at 4:00 p.m.  I brought one of these Premier Protein bars to stock in my drawer.  While it is 8 smart points, it’s a giant bar.

4.19.17 018

It tastes like a giant candy bar.  I was the night secretary last night so I didn’t get home until after 8, and didn’t eat dinner until 9:30.  I could see eating this as a quick breakfast on the go with some fresh fruit.

 One of the reasons I didn’t eat dinner until 9:30 was that I was bizzy in my kitchen!  I have cooking club tonight at Courtney’s house.  While it’s a Mexican themed night (#love) I was assigned an appetizer.  Since I work downtown I have to think a little outside the box and think what will transport well.  I think I came up with a winner – cucumber avocado chipotle bang bang shrimp bites.  Below is the bang bang shrimp I came up with made with Chobani and some other good stuff – you’ll have to wait for that recipe, but I couldn’t help putting some of the shrimp on top of my steak last night – you know, for quality control to make sure they were good.   I haven’t run the numbers yet, but I think every shrimp bite is only one smart point.  

4.19.17 030

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

I am actually really proud of how I’ve improved my grilling skills . . . I think my twin sister may have grilled twice on her own? Maybe never?!  And I think my brother is more of a burgers and hot dog kind of griller.  My brothers friend John had a BBQ at his home where he had amazing beef tenderloin, baby back ribs, I don’t even know what else, and John told me that Charlie just ate a hot dog.  I don’t know how my brother and sister don’t have the love of beef as I do – well, Jenn likes beef, but only has steak a couple times a year.  What the what?!

My new favorite way of cooking steak on the grill is called reverse sear.  Some BBQ people feel that if you sear the meat first, it “seals in” the juices, but I feel the outside gets way too done before the inside is done.  While I love a rare steak, I am not looking for burnt and raw.

I bought this ribeye at Sam’s Club.  While $20 might seem like a lot, my thinking was that I would get at least 4 servings out of this 2.5 piece of meat.  Um, what I didn’t count on was Jacob eating the rest of it, including eating the meat off the bone.  It’s all good though – I think he’ll miss my grilling when the kadults move!

4.15.17we 102

I flipped open the grilling guide and I whole heartedly disagree with those cooking temps.  If I were to cook this meat to 145, with the residual cooking or “carryover” cooking, it would easily be medium or even medium well.

125 to me is rare, 130 is medium rare, 140 medium and well, any temp higher than that, don’t bother spending $20 on this cut of beef because you’ve just overcooked it in my opinion.

4.15.17we 104

Since this is Certified Angus beef, I usually only season with good salt and pepper.  

4.15.17we 106

Always let your meat come to room temperature before grilling.  For smaller steaks like a NY strip or filet, 30 minutes is plenty.  This bad boy took about 60 minutes to come to room temp.  When I lit the grill I salt and peppered the steak.  Again, there are a wide range of opinions on when to salt meat, or whether to salt at all.   For smaller steaks I salt just about 3 minutes before grilling or pan frying.  For bigger cuts, I give it 30 minutes.  For roasts?  I salt the night before, wrap in plastic wrap, and rinse and dry before grilling.

I thought I had taken a picture of my grill to show you indirect grilling, but I guess I didn’t.  Thanks google images for this photo.  However, I pointed the bone of my steak towards the coals, and as the bone heats up, the heat travels through the bone and helps cook the steak.

reverse sear

I was looking for an internal temperature of 105 before doing the final sear.  It only took about 2 minutes total, moving the beef around every 15 seconds or so, to get to an internal temperature of 115 – and once rested, got to a perfect 125.

4.15.17we 150

This is a picture of me searing the fat side, while it looks like my oven mitt is on fire, I was fine.

Reverse Seared Cowboy Ribeye

The next step is to let your beef rest.  For smaller steaks, 5-10 minutes is sufficient, but I let this rest 20 minutes before slicing.  

4.15.17we 155

I hope you get your grilling pants on this summer.  If you have any questions, you know where to find me. 😀

Check out my friend Louise’s cowboy ribeye that she did on the stove first to sear, then finished in a hot oven – looks delicious Louise!

I will not be going to WW today – I have to hit the ground running and am working through lunch so that I can leave at 4:30 to get to Cooking Club tonight.  Can’t wait to catch up with everyone!

Make it a great day!

Zero Point Pan Steak Sauce

I had hoped to post a recipe for a PB2 granola that doesn’t taste like ass and is low in points, but that my friends, hasn’t happened yet.  But I had a parfait on my breakfast menu, and darn it, it’s just not the same without granola.  Why does granola have to have so many points?!   I had Kashi Go Lean in my desk drawer at work, but I still wanted granola, so I splurged (point wise not $$ wise) and picked up a box of Nature Valley oat and honey granola bars.  Two bars is 7 points, and while that seems like a lot (most granolas are 7-10 points per half cup!) the Oikos brand granola I bought was only 2 points, and I made a blueberry/cranberry one point fruit sauce, so 10 points for breakfast.  This was surprisingly filling even though it was so delicious I ate it in less than 10 minutes.

2.7.17 025

It was near 50 degrees in Chicago, even if a bit overcast and rainy.  I’ll take it.  Today’s high will be about 20 degrees colder.  I spent 30 minutes eating my lunch and 30 minutes walking outside.  Since I mostly meal planned out of my freezer, I didn’t realize how much beef I had in the freezer, so the night before last I cooked off a 3 ounce piece to have for a steak salad.  I think I’ve talked about this salad dressing before (Randi and Rhonda told me it’s a Kroger brand) so it should be readily available.   Two tablespoons is 2 smart points.  And I do have veggies in this salad, they just all fell to the bottom of bowl.  Three points for the beef, 2 points for the dressing a 1 for the drizzle of shredded Parmesan cheese.

2.7.17 035

If you live in a big town, you may have Divvy bikes – or bikes that you share.  As I was walking past and saw all of these bikes ready to go, I thought it might be a good idea to maybe get a membership to switch it up this summer?  They are all over the loop area, and the lakefront.  It’s $99 a year for a membership – but only for the first 30 minutes – then you have to pay $1.50 for an extra half hour.  But here’s my thought – what if you ride one bike for 30 minutes, put it back, and then just get another one for another 30 minutes?!  Worth looking into at the very least.

2.7.17 036

So far I’ve enjoyed spacing out my weekly chores over the week, instead of doing it all on one day over the weekend.  Last night I had to get my tax stuff together, I registered my new insurance card online and at Walgreen’s, got gas, did a short Sam’s Club run before they closed at 8:30 (weird time to close!) and even purged a garbage bag of clothes from my closet to give to Goodwill.  So much adulting last night!

I am not sure I mentioned it before, but I’ve drastically reduced my t.v. watching.  Tony had the t.v. on 24/7 and I am more of a music person.  But that’s not to say I didn’t have my share of shows that I would DVR.  But every year I go through my AT&T bill and see what can be cut, and I realized the two channels I watch the most – HGTV and Food Network cost me $50 a month – the cheapest t.v. package that included those two channels cost me $69 a month.  Basic cable costs only $19.  Huh.  I suddenly realized how many times did I actually see a show I hadn’t seen before?  So many re-runs.  Was I really getting $600 a years worth of entertainment from those two shows?  When put in that context, the answer was a big fat Hell No!  So now Friday night is usually my Netflix night and I can watch This is Us on my AppleTV on demand. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I made a delicious FIVE point dinner, and you’ll see why I did that in just a minute.  Not a shocker – more beef!  This time a 5 ounce New York strip.  This recipe is so simple it shouldn’t even be a recipe, but I am going to type it out anyway Open-mouthed smile

You’re welcome!

Zero Point Pan Steak Sauce
Serves 1
A delicious zero point pan sauce that's great over a perfectly cooked steak.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
17 min
397 calories
17 g
109 g
16 g
48 g
4 g
318 g
467 g
3 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
318g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 397
Calories from Fat 136
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16g
24%
Saturated Fat 4g
22%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 109mg
36%
Sodium 467mg
19%
Total Carbohydrates 17g
6%
Dietary Fiber 5g
18%
Sugars 3g
Protein 48g
Vitamin A
14%
Vitamin C
20%
Calcium
10%
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. 5 ounce New York strip steak
  2. 3/4 cup fresh green beans
  3. 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
  4. 1/8 cup beef broth
  5. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  6. 1/8 cup unsweetened cashew milk
  7. 1 teaspoon horseradish mustard
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. pinch of crushed red pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Spray with Pam and cook the green beans for about 4-5 minutes, or just until fork tender.  Remove to a separate bowl.  Add more Pam and cook mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly browned.  Add to the green bean bowl.  Crank the heat to medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the steak and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until desired doneness – this was a thick cut, so I did closer to 3 minutes a side, and it was still medium rare.  While the steak cooks, mix the broth, garlic, cashew milk, mustard, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper together.  Once you take the steak out of the pan to rest, reduce heat to low, and carefully add this broth mixture to the pan, and using a whisk, scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan and stir until the sauce starts to thicken – just takes a couple minutes.
  2. Add everything back in the pan for the last minute to reheat the green beans and mushrooms.  Plate and pour the sauce all over the top of the steak and try not to lick the hot pan, because you will want to.
beta
calories
397
fat
16g
protein
48g
carbs
17g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
2.7.17 028

Gah, I cannot wait to have natural light again at dinner time.  This picture doesn’t do it justice, but this was a whole lot of goodness.  Perfectly cooked steak, crisp green beans and that hint of horseradish in the pan sauce was amazeballs.

So you want to know why I had such a point friendly dinner?

2.7.17 016

Guess who got Enlightened Ice Cream in the mail?!!  That would be this girl.  And the funny thing is, I am not much of an ice cream person.  Hold up.  Let’s just say when I grocery shop it’s rare for me to throw any ice cream in my basket.  But this stuff?!  It’s delicious.  Low sugar, high fiber and most of them are 3 smart points per half cup, and that’s plenty for anyone’s sweet tooth.  I had 7 points after dinner and had 1/2 a cup of the frozen hot chocolate (amazing!) and a bite of the peanut butter, mint chocolate chip and oatmeal, and each one is amazing in it’s own right.   There is no “artificial” taste to them, they just taste like really good ice cream.  Mom, next time you come over you’ll have to try some!  I just called my dessert 7 points to make my day 30/30.  #bluedotstreakcontinues!

Time to get my stuff together – I haven’t put my food together for breakfast or lunch yet, but it won’t take too long.  I hope to make the potato and chick pea curry dish for dinner tonight if everything works out to plan. 

Question of the Day:  Love or Hate Indian Food?!

Make it a great day!

Leftover Beef and Bean Chili

I hit the ground running at work yesterday it was so busy.  But I was lucky enough that my train actually got into the station a bit early so I had time to eat my breakfast before the craziness ensued.

12.28.2016 009

Another 6 smart point breakfast – 5 for the quiche, and 1 for the salad.  I decided to dice my apples up and put it on top of the salad, and used 1 teaspoon of light Italian dressing on it (1) and sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper.  I actually loved the salt, pepper and dressing on the apples.  It most likely will be tomorrows breakfast again too.

I ended up working through lunch yesterday, so I ate my lunch at my desk.  I think I talked about meal prepping chicken for stir fry on Monday.  I just sauteed the chicken in 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of Thai chili paste, then added the Frank’s ginger stir fry sauce to my veggies of zucchini and red pepper.  Even though I had five ounces of chicken, this whole plate was only 6 smart points – by 2 in the afternoon I’d only had 12 smart points and quite a bit of food.

12.28.2016 013

One of the gifts the kadults got me for Christmas was this giant microwave bowl, that has a really tight fitting lid and a steam spout so no splashes in the microwave.  I’ll get a lot of use out of this, and it’s nice to carry back to my desk without fear of spilling soup on the floor.

12.28.2016 015

But around 4:15 I got really hungry.  Like I hadn’t eaten much at all, so I was happy that I brought a Premier Protein shake to stick in my desk the other day.  I mixed that with some iced coffee from work and this kept me full until dinner times with the 30 grams of protein.  Another gift from the kadults – a really nice travel coffee mug.  My coffee stays hot until the last sip, and it kept my iced coffee shake really cold.

12.28.2016 018

Hannah texted me if I had any thoughts for dinner.  Since her dinner wasn’t ready until nearly 10:00 p.m. the night before last, I told her to just go ahead and I’d make something for myself.  She had plans on making smoked sausage with onions and cabbage – which actually smelled really good – but there were huge chunks of onions and because she chopped up the cabbage, I couldn’t tell what was onion or not.  I asked if she minded if I used up some of the crockpot beef and she didn’t mind.  Hannah and Jacob “talk” about eating leftovers, but that rarely happens.

So as I was on the train ride home, I thought in my head that I had everything to make a chili with the leftover beef.  Only one tiny problem, I had no tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes or anything like that.  But guess what I did have?

12.28.2016 023

For some reason I have a fear out of running out of Bush’s beans – I believe as I type this I have probably half a dozen more cans in the pantry.  I picked up this Tapatio picante sauce on a whim because 1. I love Tapatio, and 2. the whole jar was only $1.78 at Wal-mart.  I thought I could use that to make the base of my chili.  Um, best decision evah!  It’s spicy, but flavorful spicy.  I did end up adding an extra 1 cup of chicken broth to thin it out just a bit with all the beans, but holy balls this was delicious.  And 1.25 cups is 6 smart points.

Leftover Beef and Bean Chili
Serves 6
A perfect weeknight dinner because it uses leftover beef and pantry ingredients - oh, and it's ready in 15 minutes!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
17 min
285 calories
35 g
39 g
8 g
20 g
3 g
318 g
1614 g
8 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
318g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 285
Calories from Fat 74
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
13%
Saturated Fat 3g
16%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 39mg
13%
Sodium 1614mg
67%
Total Carbohydrates 35g
12%
Dietary Fiber 12g
49%
Sugars 8g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
22%
Vitamin C
4%
Calcium
7%
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. 6 ounces leftover beef (mine was chuck)
  2. 16 ounce bottle of Tapatio picante sauce
  3. 1 cup chicken broth
  4. 2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  5. 1 cup canned corn, drained
  6. 2 cups Bush’s chili beans (don’t throw away the chili sauce!)
  7. 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  8. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. 1 teaspoon brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Dump everything in your stock pot.  Mix until combined.  Cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes.  Scoop it in a bowl and garnish with a bit of cilantro and a pinch of cojita cheese and enjoy.
beta
calories
285
fat
8g
protein
20g
carbs
35g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
12.28.2016 036

This was delicious for a meal that literally took no time to put together at all.  Note to self though:  stock up on canned tomatoes!  But in a pinch, find this Tapatio picante sauce.

Since I had 18 points going into dinner and my dinner was only 6, I used 12 tortilla chips (4 smart points) to dip into my bowl of chili – basically here is the perfect bite.

12.28.2016 032

***********

Huge shout out to my Aunt Martha for some more Christmas loot.  The amazing Whitley nuts that she and her partner sell – um, maple bacon peanuts – yes please!  And this spicy hot sauce that is made by friends of theirs – I already popped it open and it’s delicious – almost too spicy, but I can handle it.  Some jalapeno pepper and two pairs of the softest socks rounded out the package.  Thank you Martha and Will!

12.28.2016 024

I did end up having 4 points of nuts last night before I went to bed, but ended up with 28/30 for the day.  Two days in a row of tracking and not going over my points!  I have WW today – I didn’t track at all over the long weekend, so I’ll be happy with a small gain and just move on.   Oh, and please don’t ask me where I got my countertops from (ha!) I think they are from 1972?!  One day I’d like one part of my kitchen to be made out of butcher block – we have those at The Chopping Block and while it requires some routine maintenance, I love them.

Here’s to one day closer to the weekend – make it a great day!

Ginger and Cumin Spiced Beef Kebobs

Ginger and Cumin Spiced Beef and Pineapple Kebobs

Yesterday was one of those perfect weather days that makes you love living in Chicago.  Of course, next week there could be frost on the ground, but I’ll take 70 degrees and sunny in October any day of the week.  I made a quick egg white omelet with baby spinach, 50% reduced fat Cabot cheese, three slices of turkey bacon and honeycrisp apples, for a 6 point breakfast.

10.11.16 004

I planned on making a sandwich to bring with me on the drive to work, but the low carb tortillas went bad.  I couldn’t think of anything else to make last minute, so I picked up Jimmy John’s on the way to work.  The WW app says that it’s 13 points, but that’s with mayo on it, so I am counting the whole thing as 10 points.  I got a bag of baked Lay’s (8 points) and ate half the sandwich and chips on my way to work, and the second half of the sandwich and chips on my way home – so lunch and dinner came in at 9 points each.   I am really going to try hard to keep track of all my eats – which is especially hard when you work at a cooking school with a lot of food around.  I ate about 2 ounces of New York strip that no one wanted to take home for 2 points, so actually came in at 26 points out of 30 for the day.  Um, that hasn’t happened in a long time.  Um, turns out if someone offers me food at work I can say no!

10.11.16 007

I got to work about 30 minutes early, so decided to get my walking shoes on.  The neighborhood around Lincoln Square is really nice.  This one particular block a few blocks from my work nearly every house was decorated with Halloween decorations.

PicMonkey Collage - halloween

10.11.16 019

Another area that needs attention is my hydration.  Having a desk job made it really easy to drink all day because my water glass was always on my desk within easy reach.  I brought my new WW bottle to work and am happy to say I refilled it three times during my shift.

10.11.16 026

Okay, question for the peeps out there that do Instagram stories.  I tried to make my first one last night.  I did a quick video of the Big Green Egg, then pictures of the different stuff we were going to make.  After each “segment” I saved it, thinking that it would string them together once I clicked the check box to post, but only the last thing I saved actually went to my story.  Help!  I am so not technical Open-mouthed smile

PicMonkey Collage - grill

Shelley, I know you’ll be happy that I added a snapchat pic of myself!  We made bacon and chive buttered New York strip steaks; Greek burgers with homemade tzatziki sauce; a grilled corn and green bean succotash;  a cilantro-mint chutney that was a dipping sauce for these delicious Ginger and Cumin Spiced Beef and Pineapple Kebobs.   Recipe courtesy of The Chopping Block

Ginger and Cumin Spiced Beef and Pineapple Kebobs
Write a review
Print
1954 calories
70 g
565 g
104 g
181 g
30 g
1196 g
530 g
51 g
0 g
64 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1196g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1954
Calories from Fat 928
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 104g
159%
Saturated Fat 30g
152%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 22g
Monounsaturated Fat 42g
Cholesterol 565mg
188%
Sodium 530mg
22%
Total Carbohydrates 70g
23%
Dietary Fiber 9g
35%
Sugars 51g
Protein 181g
Vitamin A
79%
Vitamin C
532%
Calcium
22%
Iron
75%
* 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 ginger, freshly grated
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  4. 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  5. zest of one lime
  6. 2 teaspoons sambal oleek
  7. 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. 1.5 pounds sirloin beef, but into 1.5 inch cubes
  10. 1 red pepper, cut into large dice
  11. 2 cups pineapple, peeled and cut into large dice
  12. Wooden skewers that need to be soaked in water for at least an hour.
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill over medium heat.
  2. 2. In a large bowl, toss together the ginger, garlic, cumin, grapeseed oil, lime zest, lime juice, sambal, brown sugar and salt. Stir in the beef, red pepper and pineapple. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  3. 3. Thread the beef, peppers and pineapple onto eight skewers so that each kebab has some of each ingredient.
  4. 4. Set the kebabs on the grill, and cook until the bottoms are caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip them over and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. The beef should be medium rare at this point.
Notes
  1. Don't overcook your meat! For medium rare, you want a final temp at 125 - but note that it will still cook a bit after you take it off the grill, so pull your beef at 115. Perfect beef every time!
beta
calories
1954
fat
104g
protein
181g
carbs
70g
more
Adapted from The Chopping Block
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
10.11.16 048

We had a great group of students eager to learn not only how to grill but to know when meat is actually cooked through.  The Chopping Block has a super easy cheat sheet for temps on various meats:

  • Beef and Lamb (steaks and roasts)  Medium Rare: 125;  Medium: 135  Well: 160
  • Ground Beef:  160
  • Pork and Veal: 135 – 140
  • Chicken/Turkey Breast: 155
  • Chicken/Turkey Thigh: 165

When I first started cooking I nearly always erred on the side of caution, and would invariable overcook every meat I tried to cook.  Or I would do the complete opposite and pull a roasted chicken off the grill, only to cut it open and it would be nearly raw by the bone.  If you want to learn how to cook meat to the perfect temp – invest in a meat thermometer.  They have digital ones that are only about $10 (use a BB&B 20% coupon!).  Also note that there is residual cooking once it comes off the grill – adding an additional 5-10 degrees after your meat comes off the grill.  So if you want a medium rare steak, pull your steak off at 115 – and it will be perfect.  If you were to pull it at 125 it would be medium by the time you cut into it.

Also – another tip – never put cold meat on your grill.  I am sure I’ve talked about this before, but I normally take any burgers, steaks, roasts out at least an hour before they hit the grill.  If you take a 36 degree piece of meat and place it on a 350 degree grill, the meat will not cook evenly.

I think the students left the class last night with newfound inspiration to grill more at home and be confident with the results.

It’s another work day for me – whoop!  But at the Merchandise Mart, so I can take the train and watch Netflix instead of drive.  I don’t mind driving, but it’s a nice break.

Now off to figure out how to repurpose some of those kebobs above for my breakfast this morning – go beef!

Make it a great day!

 

Beef, It's What's for Dinner

Windy City Steaks and Blogger Meet Up!

I had to smile at yesterday’s TimeHop – Heather and Karli, can you believe this was three years ago already?  I recapped my day at The Chopping Block on this post back in October of 2013.   I never in a million years would have thought three years later I’d be working there!

10.6.16a 007

I was happy that my schedule allowed me to take the train to work yesterday, because it was an icky day and I am not a fan of driving in the rain.  I fixed a bagel sammie for the train ride – Dutch Farms brand bagels are only 6 smart points, so with the egg whites, ham, cheese and spinach, this sammie comes in at 10 smart points.  Served on a paper towel because I am classy like that.

10.6.16a 021

This is what it looked like when I walked into work – the clouds were hanging so low you could hardly see the tops of the buildings.

10.6.16a 030

It was a private party of a small group of 22.  The menu was Chicago steak house menu that included shrimp cocktail, a chopped salad with blue cheese, radicchio, romaine and a killer salad dressing, twice baked potatoes, steak with a red wine compound butter, dinner rolls from scratch AND cheesecake with a raspberry sauce.

PicMonkey Collage - tcb

I have to mention that The Chopping Block does not skimp on quality of ingredients.  Chef Andrew above broke down a whole beef tenderloin to get these amazing steaks, and while I am not the hugest fan of shallots, this red wine compound butter was pretty amazing.  This is something that could really elevate a weeknight dinner, or impress when you have company over.

This recipe is compliments of The Chopping Block.

Steak with Red Wine Compound Butter
Serves 4
A make ahead compound butter elevates steak night to a whole new level. Perfect for a weeknight or with company!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
1101 calories
2 g
347 g
106 g
33 g
65 g
265 g
157 g
0 g
4 g
33 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
265g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1101
Calories from Fat 932
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 106g
163%
Saturated Fat 65g
326%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 29g
Cholesterol 347mg
116%
Sodium 157mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 2g
1%
Dietary Fiber 0g
2%
Sugars 0g
Protein 33g
Vitamin A
61%
Vitamin C
3%
Calcium
6%
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.
For the butter
  1. 1/2 cup red wine
  2. 1 medium shallot, peeled and sliced
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh herbs
  4. 4 stick butter, room temperature
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
For the steaks
  1. 16 ounces steak (filet mignon, New York strip, or rib-eye), allowed to sit out for 30 minutes, covered
  2. Salt and pepper to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. 1. Make compound butter: Place the wine and shallot in a small, heavy saucepan, and simmer until reduced to a thick syrup. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. 2. Chop the herbs in a food processor, add the wine-shallot syrup, and then the softened butter. Process to blend, and season with salt and pepper. Roll into a tube in plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze until needed. (May be made ahead.)
  3. 3. Season the steaks with salt and pepper to taste. Preheat a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, and add the 2 tablespoons butter. Sauté the steaks on the first side until caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and repeat. Continue to cook the steaks to your liking. An internal temperature of 125° is ideal for medium rare.
  4. Remove the steaks from the pan, and top with a generous slice of the shallot butter. Allow the steaks to rest for about 5 minutes.
Notes
  1. This dish is served at most of Chicago’s classic restaurants and steakhouses. It’s steak seared in butter until deeply caramelized and then served with a generous amount of red wine and shallot butter. Salt-baked fingerling potatoes often accompany the steak and help soak up the butter; for tonight, we’ll be serving the steak alongside a delicious twice-baked potato.
  2. * I reduced the amount of compound butter to serve 4 servings, because there was a ton of butter leftover.  You could easily make the compound butter 8 servings.
beta
calories
1101
fat
106g
protein
33g
carbs
2g
more
Adapted from The Chopping Block
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/

Before I knew it, it was time to meet up with my long time blog friend Aimee of Amazing in Motion.   She and I started following each other when Hannah was in high school, so ate least six years?  She’s in town to do the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and it looks like the weather is going to be amazing for it.   She’s vegan, so I wanted to find a place that she would be comfortable eating at.  I made some granola and jelly for her, but decided last minute not to bring it with because I didn’t want her to eat anything unusual before race day and I didn’t want to be responsible if she had a bad race by eating something new.  I’ll be sending you a care package when you get back Aimee!

PicMonkey Collage - native

Native Café is a local Chicago chain that has three locations.  I relied on Yelp to point me in the right direction on what to order.  I ordered a small order of the “chicken” buffalo strips that had a delicious celery, carrot and ranch dressing underneath.  The Thai chicken meatballs with a spicy slaw, and the sweet potato fries.  I was tempted by the flyer to order the jackfruit tacos – I’ve never had jackfruit before, so I decided to stick with what I got.  And I have to tell you – everything was delicious.  The chicken tenders had the taste and texture of chicken – still not sure what it’s made of – maybe seiten or tempeh?! 

The best part about a blogger meet up with someone else who blogs is that it’s like meeting an old friend even if you are meeting in person for the first time.  I’ve seen her son grow up since he was about 4 years old.  She’s  super nice, down to earth and I know she’ll rock the run on Sunday.  It’s supposed to be a high of 67 with a low of 50 with low humidity.  Her husband and her son are her biggest fans and it was great to meet them too after reading about them for so many years.

10.6.16a 066

It’s another work day for me – whoop!  This time I am doing a grill class with one of my favorite Chef’s and actually only the second time I’ve worked with him.  Then I am working an all day wine event on Sunday at the Merchandise Mart.  Someone who was scheduled had a family emergency and couldn’t work, so I stepped in.  Because, um, there is no “I” in team!  Ha!

Right now I am about to pull out an Italian sausage and broccoli frittata out of the oven, then getting my walking shoes on.  It’s a gorgeous 64 degrees!

Hope you have an awesome weekend – make it a great day!

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.

10.5.16 090

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. 

10.5.16 096

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.

10.5.16 044

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.

10.5.16 033

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/
10.5.16 092

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.

10.5.16 145

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.

10.5.16 153

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!