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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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!

Stuffed Shells with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Shells with Cherry Tomato Sauce

I woke up yesterday morning at 4 a.m. to get ready for work and I had the worst stomach ache.  Which is weird, because that hardly ever happens.  But I know I have to eat something because once I get to the shop I have to hit the ground running packing everything up.  I had a toasted English muffin with a schmear of peanut butter.  After a while my stomach settled down.  Weird!  It was a pretty sunrise when I got to the shop.

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I was doing a new market for me, so I was unsure of how it would go.  The previous record for this market was $1006, so that was my goal to beat that.  This one ran from 7 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

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And for the first hour and a half.  Ghost town!  We were situated right by the Metra station, but hardly anyone walked by.  A Frenchman who sold hummus and olives next to me told me that he keeps telling the market director that this market shouldn’t open before 9, but they won’t listen.  So I walked up and down the street with my breakfast burrito demo and took “vendor” orders for $5 each instead of $8 to get the ball rolling.  I walked back with 7 orders.

I hardly ever sell our mini cheesecakes, so I was determined to sell at least half that I had, and I did.  I did a demo of our mini mixed berry gluten free cheesecake it it was a hit.

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I did the bulk of our sales between 10:00 and 12:00 and ended up with a new sales record – $1126!  I am a tad bit competitive, no?! Smile with tongue out

After work, I headed to Hannah’s work to get lunch.   My stomach was feeling fine and I was really hungry.  She made me their “El Dorado” sandwich.  Grilled turkey panini with chipotle sauce, bacon and cheese.  I ate half and am calling it 10 points because it was on sourdough bread.  So good. 

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We were talking about what to make for dinner, when I remembered that I had ricotta cheese and baby spinach at home.  I am still participating in the Food Waste Challenge, which is going really well.  It does make you think to use up what you have vs. going to the store a few times a week.  Well, I did have to stop at the store for large pasta shells.  That’s one type of pasta I rarely keep stocked in the pantry, even though it’s one of Hannah’s favorites.  As I was walking through the store, I stopped in my tracks. 

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Halloween candy!  Not only is it out, but it’s also on sale, which is weird to me.  I love fall, and Halloween, but when the temps are 50 degrees and there are leaves on the ground.  Not when it’s close to 90 degrees outside.

My friend Alison grew a garden this year and has a bounty of tomatoes.  Like three large Trader Joe’s paper bags filled with tomatoes!  She and her family are on vacation this week, so she asked if I could use them.  Why yes I can.  Actually I am going to be making giant batches of my base pasta sauce and then can it for them to use later on.  They should at least get a benefit from their hard work of tending to a garden!

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Aren’t these gorgeous?!  Normally I would have cheated and bought sauce to make it easy on myself after a long day at the market, but after I took an hour nap I caught my second wind.  This cherry tomato sauce is so easy, it really could be made on a weeknight.

Stuffed Shells with Cherry Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
A great way to use up a bounty of tomatoes!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
1210 calories
221 g
22 g
15 g
43 g
5 g
523 g
310 g
14 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
523g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1210
Calories from Fat 133
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
23%
Saturated Fat 5g
23%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 22mg
7%
Sodium 310mg
13%
Total Carbohydrates 221g
74%
Dietary Fiber 11g
44%
Sugars 14g
Protein 43g
Vitamin A
54%
Vitamin C
30%
Calcium
19%
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. 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 cup water
  5. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  6. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  7. pinch of salt and pepper
  8. 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  9. 20 cooked pasta shells
  10. 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  11. 2 cups baby spinach
  12. 1 teaspoon garlic
  13. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  14. 20 slices turkey pepperoni
  15. salt and pepper to taste
  16. 2 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. In a pan, heat olive oil and once the pan is hot, add the garlic and cook for about a minute.  Add in the cherry tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring to coat the cherries in the oil and garlic.  Add the water, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper and turn the heat to medium low, put a lid on the pot, and cook for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the ricotta cheese, baby spinach, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and pulse until combined.  Using a teaspoon, fill each shell with a heaping teaspoon of filling, finishing off with a slice of turkey pepperoni.  Your sauce should be ready by now.  Rinse out the food processor, add the tomato sauce and pulse until it’s pureed.   Return to the pot, stir in the heavy cream and taste to see if it needs more salt.
  2. Pour half of the sauce mixture into a casserole dish.  Place the shells in the sauce.  Top with the mozzarella cheese, and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.   Hannah isn’t a big fan of red sauce, so I served the extra tomato sauce at the table for Jacob and myself.
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calories
1210
fat
15g
protein
43g
carbs
221g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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I made this with five shells as a serving, but after plating, I realized 4 would be plenty and it was.  Each plate with the 5 shells comes in at 11 smart points.  I had 15 points going into dinner, so it’s all good.

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When I was at the market trying to drum up breakfast business with the other vendors, I came across Standard Market, and they had the most amazing bread display.  I didn’t have my phone with me, but if I work this market again, I am definitely going to take one.  When Hannah was little I used to make her rainbow bread for her sandwiches.  I would make four different loaves of bread, all a different color, then use 1/4 of each colored dough to make my loaf and bake it.  I haven’t thought about rainbow bread in years.  So imagine my surprise when I saw rainbow bagels!  They sold me a 4-pack for $4 (vendor price!) and I surprised Hannah with them.

This morning she is working at the coffee shop.  I woke up at 7:30 this morning to a text of her breakfast – she made a bagel sammie with the rainbow bagel.

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The dogs ended up sleeping with me last night.  They do hog the bed, but I don’t mind.  In the morning, Roman is extra snuggly as he wakes up.  So cute!

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I have WW this morning.  I didn’t go last week, and not sure what the scale will say.  I always do a sneak peak weigh in at home on WI day, but I stepped on it right out of bed, and the battery is dead and I don’t have any replacements.  Oh well, it is what it is.

Since I worked yesterday I have today and tomorrow off this week.  I have lots of pasta sauce to make and canning to do – among the usually laundry list of things to do.  Make it a great day!

BBQ Sauce

Pineapple Garlic Sriracha BBQ Sauce

Yesterday was my weekly WI and I was happy to see a loss of 1.2!  Two weeks in a row, or 2.2 pounds – and I hope to continue the streak next week.  Can a sista just get to the first five pounds so I can get a sticker at the meeting?! Open-mouthed smile

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I normally do a show and tell of my breakfast at the meeting, but for the second week in a row I slept in a bit so didn’t eat breakfast until after my meeting.  I had a couple errands to run after the meeting, so I didn’t end up eating breakfast until nearly 10:45.  Beef is always a good idea for breakfast.  I used my Hardcore Carnivore black rub, and cooked this thick steak for 3 minutes a side for medium rare.  Then sliced 4 ounces for my breakfast (4) drizzled it with my tomatillo salsa, had 3 ounces of hash browns on the side (4) with strawberries and blueberries.  A very filling 8 point breakfast.

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Both Hannah and Jacob had to work, and it was nice to have the house to myself and jam the music I wanted to listen to.  I scored on the $1 rack with three packages of tomatoes for $3.

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I made pasta sauce for my friend Whitney, the one who decorated my house, to drop off to her and her family for dinner and catch up a bit.   It made enough not only for her family for dinner, but I’ll have sauce to use for myself this week, and freeze for another time.

I had beef short ribs on my menu to grill out, and needed to make a BBQ sauce to go with them.  I love the process of recipe developing, because while I have an idea of how I want a recipe to be, 9/10 it turns out to be completely different after tasting and making adjustments.  The base of my BBQ sauce was a 6 ounce can of pineapple juice I found in the pantry.  I have no idea why I bought it, probably for some other recipe I never got around to making.  I knew I would add sriracha for heat, but then I thought I would add the Hardcore Carnivore spice INTO my BBQ sauce, and well – I made the best BBQ sauce of my life.

Pineapple Garlic Sriracha BBQ Sauce
Serves 20
Such a combination of flavors that will rock any cut of meat - spicy, sweet, tangy - delish!
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
32 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
32 min
46 calories
11 g
1 g
0 g
1 g
0 g
41 g
333 g
10 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
41g
Servings
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 46
Calories from Fat 3
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 1mg
0%
Sodium 333mg
14%
Total Carbohydrates 11g
4%
Dietary Fiber 0g
1%
Sugars 10g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
5%
Vitamin C
9%
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 teaspoon butter
  2. 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  3. 1 6 ounce can pineapple juice
  4. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  5. 2 cups ketchup
  6. 1 tablespoon sriracha
  7. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  8. 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  9. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  10. 1 teaspoon cracked pepper
  11. 2 teaspoons Hardcore Carnivore black rub
  12. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a pan over medium heat and add the butter.  Once melted, add the garlic and cook until the garlic starts to brown.  Add remaining ingredients, stir with a whisk, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. If you don't happen to have Hardcore Carnivore Black rub, you could substitute 2 teaspoons of your favorite dry rub. But the Black rub is the bomb.com. You can find it at http://jesspryles.com/hardcore-carnivore-black-rub/
  2. And FYI, she isn't paying me to gloat about her rub, it is the best rub I've ever tried!
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calories
46
fat
0g
protein
1g
carbs
11g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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Guys.  I need to bottle this stuff and sell it, it is so good!  I normally am not a sweet BBQ person, but the combination of flavors is so complex, that it works.  You get the sweet from the pineapple juice and brown sugar, the tang of the lemon juice, the spice from the sriracha and crushed red pepper and the punch of extra seasoning from the dry rub.   I had some pork rib tips I bought that I either needed to cook up or freeze, and decided to cook them up for lunch.

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I salt and peppered the rib tips and seared them in a bit of coconut oil for 3-4 minutes per side.  Then added the BBQ sauce and baked at 225 degrees for one hour.   If you’ve never cooked with rib tips before, they are a super economical cut of the ribs – either beef or pork.  It’s usually what’s cut off to make the spare ribs or baby back ribs look pretty, but they are just as flavorful.  I bought my pork rib tips for just $2.99 a pound.  I trimmed a bit of fat off of them, but otherwise left them as is.  After an hour, because they weren’t that big, the bone just fell off from the pork and I was left with tender juicy deliciousness.  I wasn’t all that hungry for lunch, but managed to eat three of these standing up over my counter in my kitchen – so good!

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Before I knew it, it was time to head to my friends house.  She has the best dog – Winston.  He’s huge, yet so friendly.  He moves a lot, so this was the best pic I could get, and I promise I am petting the dog, not choking him!

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It was great to catch up Whit!  Then my other friends Alison and Cameron’s house is on the way home, so I stopped by to say hello to them as well, and ended up staying long enough to help put the kids to bed – they are so cute!  They also have chickens now, so I am excited to use fresh eggs this morning for breakfast – thanks for letting me crash your house unannounced, and I promise I’ll bring food to you next time!

So my grilling didn’t work out to plan since I didn’t get home until well after dark.  Turns out I almost always have pizza dough in the fridge (shocker!) and I had Dietz & Watson stick pepperoni, so pizza it was.  3 ounces of dough (8) 1 ounce sliced pepperoni (4) and 1 ounce part skim mozzarella cheese (2).

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Today is going to be a great farmers market day – sunny skies and high of 84 today.  Let’s see if I can break my sales record from last week.

I’ll leave you with this – I saw it at the store on the discount rack and have never seen or heard of this before.  Thoughts?!

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Make it a great day!

Biz’s BBQ Sauce

What a gorgeous day of weather we had yesterday!  I can remember so many Memorial Day parades where it was cold, rainy, etc.  My Mom actually walked in the parade we used to ride our bikes in back in the day.  It starts at my old grade school, which I haven’t probably stepped foot into in 30+ years.  I invited her over for a BBQ.  Of course, we couldn’t let the day go by without doing some sort of snapchat!

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I ended up doing an appetizer plate – a nice balance of healthy and a bit of indulgence.  I roasted grapes again because I found black grapes, which I sometimes can’t get every week.  Just something about roasting them gives them such an amazing flavor.  Just a couple cups of grapes tossed in 1/2 teaspoon grapeseed oil, salt and pepper, and baked for 30 minutes at 350.  Let cool.  I served them with brie, goat cheese spread and crackers.  Added some cheese curds, strawberries, watermelon and blueberries, and had to round it out with bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers.  The roasted grape cracker:  salty/sweet/crunchy

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As I was starting to make my BBQ sauce I could hear Tony laughing at me.  You see, I pulled out the brown sugar to add to my turkey bacon for breakfast.  When it got time to pull my ingredients together for the BBQ sauce, I literally could not find it.  Mind you, my kitchen is not that big, and there are only so many places I could have put it, but after a 10 minute search, I just gave up and decided to wing it.  I am sure I’ll find it in the freezer later today.

So I have no idea what type of BBQ sauce this is, i.e. Kansas City style, or what – all I know is that it ended up being delicious.  Guess what I substituted the brown sugar with?

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Yep!  Pancake syrup! 

Biz's BBQ Sauce
Serves 20
A tangy, vinegary bbq sauce perfect for grilled chicken or pork.
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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
67 calories
16 g
0 g
1 g
1 g
0 g
56 g
525 g
12 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
56g
Servings
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 67
Calories from Fat 6
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 525mg
22%
Total Carbohydrates 16g
5%
Dietary Fiber 1g
2%
Sugars 12g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
9%
Vitamin C
9%
Calcium
2%
Iron
4%
* 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 chili powder
  2. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 2 cups ketchup
  5. 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  6. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  7. 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  9. 1/4 cup A-1 sauce
  10. 1/8 cup molasses
  11. 1/4 cup honey
  12. 1/4 cup Cinnamon brown sugar pancake syrup
  13. 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  14. 4 cloves garlic
  15. 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
Instructions
  1. In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, or just until it starts to brown.  Add in the chili powder and cook for 1 minute – this adds another depth of flavor to the sauce.  Add in the remaining ingredients and bring the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
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calories
67
fat
1g
protein
1g
carbs
16g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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It’s tangy, slightly sweet, but huge in the vinegar department, which is my favorite type of BBQ sauce.  And because of the high acidity level, this will keep in the fridge for a month or more.  I ended up making ribs, because that’s one of the meats Hannah will eat – well, only if it falls off the bone.  I baked these in the oven for three hours at 275 wrapped in foil, then finished them off on the grill with the BBQ sauce.  You know when your ribs are done, when the bones look like that.

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Pretty sure that’s fall off the bone!  Hannah tried it, but declared that ribs are no longer in her wheelhouse, but helped herself to corn and the orzo asparagus side dish I made, but never got a picture of. 

I had to laugh because at one point Mom and I were sitting outside, and Rummy jumped into Nana’s lap and just started giving her all sorts of love!

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Yep, another holiday my Mom spent with her favorite child!   The dogs enjoyed being outside with us.  After running around for just a few minutes though, they get so tired.

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I have my Weight Watcher WI this morning (it won’t be good!) and then lunch out with a friend today.   This week I’ll be working tomorrow in Evanston, Thursday in LaGrange, Saturday in Downer’s Grove and Sunday back in Frankfort.  Busy week, but I think I can handle a 4 day work week. Open-mouthed smile

Hope you all had a wonderful long weekend, make it a great day!

Pork Chops with Spicy Apricot Mustard Sauce

I love having frozen fruit on hand, and the best place for me to buy it is either Wal-mart of Sam’s Club.  On my last Sam’s Club run, I bought a 3 pound bag of blueberries for $5.98!  I ended up making another breakfast parfait by making my own fruit sauce.  So easy – any combination of fresh/frozen fruit for 1 cup.  1 cup water mixed with 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. corn starch.  Heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the frozen fruit is defrosted and the sauce is thick.  It only takes a few minutes to cool and I am ready to build my parfait – the fruit sauce, a slice of fresh banana, and 1 container of Chobani plain Greek yogurt.  That by itself is only 3 WW points (2 for the yogurt, 1 for the sauce), but I added 1/4 cup of granola for an extra 4 points.  I wish granola wasn’t such a point suck, but I guess that’s good because I could literally eat a whole container in one sitting without realizing it.

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And Roz, Christina pointed out the random heart in the middle – I didn’t even notice it until she pointed it out on Instagram.   I loved this parfait because it wasn’t too sweet at all.  I licked that mason jar clean!

I went to the post office yesterday to turn in my passport stuff, only to realize that you need to make an appointment.  Gah.  So I go again today after my Weight Watchers weigh in.  The post office I was at was near my old office, and I remembered there was a pretty trail back there, so I did a quick 45 minute walk.  Too bad it was so cold out – I think it was 43 degrees and pretty windy.

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I would have liked to walk longer, but it was too cold, so I finished up my workout at the gym.  I love the choices it gives you on climbing up landmarks.  I walked up the Eiffel Tower yesterday for 100 floors and it took me 44 minutes to do that.  After I hit that “done” button my name went to the second place for most floors walked that week.  I can’t imagine climbing another 75 flights to get into first place!

Because of my excellent cleaning skillz of the fridge earlier in the week, I realized I had leftover beef and veggies from when the kadults and I went out to eat on Sunday.  Score!

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Still not the biggest fan of cauliflower, but it’s growing on me.  I ended up with 3 ounces of beef (2) and only added zucchini from my fridge to add to the stir fry.  I mixed it with 1 cup cooked thin spaghetti (5) and I found this stir fry sauce at the store that is only 7 calories a tablespoon.  Yep, you read that correctly and I’ve even double checked online!  Ying’s brand – I found it at my regular grocery store, so hopefully you can find it too.  Mixed with 1 tsp. of sriracha, it’s a delicious zero point stir fry sauce.

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I had to hit up the store to get the stuff to make my fruit tarts for Cooking Club tonight.  Jewel also has a discount rack – it’s near the back of the store by the bathrooms.  They have everything from alcohol, to stuff from the Osco side (think shaving cream, etc.) but also some good food deals.  I ended up picking up 5 bottles of this Stubb’s BBQ sauce because it sounded amazing, is only 10 calories a tablespoon, has sriracha in it (duh!) and each bottle was only .82 cents, marked down from $3.99!

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On their website they said you can marinate meat with it for an hour before grilling, or baste with it while grilling, or just as a dipping sauce on the side.  Can’t wait to try that.

Another food find?

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Yeah, that’s right – chocolate peanut butter powder!  That 6.5 ounce container cost $4.99 at Jewel, which seems like a lot – but a serving is 3 tablespoons mixed with 2 tablespoons of water for 2 smart points, so it would last a while.  I love drizzling that stuff over apples for a sweet treat.

I have to give a shout out to my Cabot Cheese peeps!  I got my spring package from them, so now I am fully stocked with Cabot cheese!  I have been thinking about mac n cheese for a while made with almond milk, so we’ll see how that comes out. 

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I also got noticed by Jennie-O on Instagram yesterday – I have been working hard trying to get some paying work with big brands for recipe development and it’s not easy to get heard among the millions of other food bloggers out there who are way more talented than I am.  But for now, I’ll take coupons!

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When I meal plan for the week, I usually try to take into consideration everyone’s likes and dislikes, but to tell you the truth, that rules out stuff that I normally like to eat – like pork chops.  Jacob loves them, but he feels sick after eating them and Hannah, well, you know how Hannah feels about certain cuts of meat.  So when I declared I was making pork chops, the kadults told me that they would figure out their own dinner.  Which they did – by going to Culver’s.  Smile with tongue out

My chop was 8 ounces, but once the bone was cut out, it was 6 ounces for 6 smart points.  I highly recommend cooking any meat on the bone – it has so much more flavor.  While I would have loved to grill, it was cold and pouring rain outside.  I am contemplating finding a construction guy who wants a side job to build me a BBQ shed in my back yard so it doesn’t matter what the weather is and I could still grill.  Kind of like this!

bbq hut

Ha – could you imagine?!  How cool is that to have the grill in the middle of the fricken table like that!  Nope, low budget is what I am looking for – something like this:

budget

So while I’ll dream of a BBQ shed, I used my trusty cast iron Lodge skillet and did my chop in there.  I knew I wanted a pan sauce, and I had Plochman’s mustard in the fridge that they generously sent me.  I used the angry yellow mustard which is so spicy flavorful.  I took 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon powdered chicken bouillon, and added that to the skillet after taking the chop and zucchini out.  I let it cook down for a couple minutes, and when I took a taste, it was almost too vinegary.  I had apricot preserves on my counter for the glaze for my fruit tarts, and added 1 teaspoon (1 smart point) of that to the sauce, and that brought it all around.  Tangy, vinegary and then a sweet kick at the end with the apricot preserves.  Not gonna lie, I literally licked my plate clean with that sauce it was so good!  And, since the fryer was still on the counter, I made 5 ounces of fries for 4 smart points – so my dinner was 11 smart points.

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Not the pretties picture, but this was delish.

So excited for Cooking Club tonight at Courtney’s.  Word on the street is that our head Chef tonight, Tina, is making halibut!  Astute readers will realize that I hardly ever cook fish.  Like ever.  And especially since Tony passed away – he was really the only reason I made it.  But I think probably because I don’t really know how to prepare it at home, and some of that fish can be expensive.  I do take that back, I do love Chilean Sea Bass – I’ve had it in restaurants and it’s a meaty, not overly fishy tasting fish.  But turns out at my store, that’s one of the most expensive pieces of fish to buy at $24.99 a pound.  I’d hate to spend that kind of money only to ruin it once I brought it home and cooked it!

I am happy to say that the fruit tarts that I linked to yesterday?  They turned out really good.  Like really really good.  I made mini ones for portion control, but I made enough for people to take two – each one comes in at 5 WW points, which for a fruit tart isn’t too bad.  I’ll give you a sneak peak on how they turned out, but will take better pics today.  I’ll be posting the recipe tomorrow and a recap of the night.

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The apricot glaze really brings these tarts over the top.  Mom, I can make these for you for Mother’s Day! 

Alright, time to jump in the shower and see how I did on my first WI of the week doing meetings.  I know I shouldn’t have, but I stepped on my scale earlier in the week and was down 1.5 pounds – today it looks like I am up 2 pounds, which makes no sense to me, but I will go with whatever the WW scale says.  Wish me luck!

Make it a great day!

Mushroom Steak Sauce

Somehow (maybe because I watch a lot of Food Network?!) Jacob asked me the other day who my favorite chef is on the network.  I’d have to say food wise, it would be Bobby Flay.  A:  Because I love spicy stuff!  B.  I love meat and he’s a grill master and C. I like his throw down show where he cooks with regular home cooks.

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The last time Hannah and I went to Goodwill, I picked up his cookbook Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook for $1.25.  And as much as I don’t read fiction books all that often, I do read a cookbook like a book!  Jacob and I have brought back Meat Monday, even though Hannah is home on Monday nights.  Which is one less night for me to meal plan – now I have Meat Monday, Leftover Thursday and Party Pizza Friday – makes it so much easier to plan!

He makes a steak sauce at his restaurant, and while he says there are purists out there who think a good steak only needs a dusting of salt and pepper, he feels that a great steak sauce can elevate any cut to perfection.  And while I will make his steak sauce one day for myself, I realized after looking at the ingredient list that Jacob may not like a couple of the ingredients – namely the horseradish, honey and maple syrup.   But I did like the idea of having Dijon mustard and ancho chile powder, so below is my cheaters weeknight version of a steak sauce.

Mushroom Steak Sauce
Serves 2
While a great steak is good - sometimes a great steak sauce makes it even better! You'll love the touch of heat from the ancho chile powder.
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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
35 calories
5 g
0 g
0 g
4 g
0 g
138 g
444 g
3 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
138g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 35
Calories from Fat 4
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 444mg
18%
Total Carbohydrates 5g
2%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 3g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
5%
Calcium
1%
Iron
4%
* 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 A-1 steak sauce
  2. 1/3 cup beef broth
  3. 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  4. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, sauté the mushrooms in Pam (or a tiny pat of butter) until they start to brown a bit.  Add in the steak sauce, beef broth, Dijon mustard and chile powder and heat over medium high heat for a minute, or until the sauce starts to thicken.   This should only take a minute or two.  Remove from heat and serve over grilled steak.
Notes
  1. Always make sure your beef is at room temperature before grilling or cooking 😀
Adapted from Bobby Flay
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calories
35
fat
0g
protein
4g
carbs
5g
more
Adapted from Bobby Flay
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
Now I had an old cast iron skillet that covered two burners and was flat on one side to make pancakes or grates on the other side to grill.  The only problem was that it would smoke out the house whenever I used it, and it weighed a lot and was kind of hard to clean.  I had some money left on a gift card from Christmas and with my 20% Bed Bath and Beyond coupon, I only paid $10 for this one.   It’s cast iron aluminum and I was hoping that it wouldn’t smoke up the house.  Um, guess again!

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That was just after the first flip!  Jacob and I are both so ready for grilling season, although tomorrow starting at 9:00 a.m. there is a winter storm warning and we could get from 1 – 7 inches depending on where you live in the Chicago area.  But with temps back in the 50s by the weekend, it won’t last long.  But I am really ready for spring!  Also note that not all beef are the same points.  Typically lean beef is 1 point per ounce, but since this is a T-bone, and thus more fatty (that’s where all the flavor is!) my 4 ounce portion was 8 points, and my dinner with the potato and sauce was 15 points, but so totally worth it.  It worked within my points, although I think I may start eating bigger meals for breakfast and lunch and a lighter dinner.  We’ll see how that plays out once I am not working. Open-mouthed smile

So what are some other things I’ve been eating this week?

PicMonkey Collage - food

1. Tostadas from Sunday night turned into breakfast tostadas on Monday.  Two corn tostadas (2) topped with two ounces of beef (2) an ounce of light Cabot cheese (2) and half a cup scrambled egg white (1) for 7 smart points.

2.  Cranberry apple parfait.  The picture was taken on my desk.  My THIRD TO LAST BREAKFAST at that desk – whoop!  I made a cranberry apple sauce before work – 1/2 cup frozen cranberries cooked down with 1 chopped Fuji apple, 2 tablespoons of water, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon cornstarch (1 point) mixed with plain Chobani (2) and 1/3 cup Kashi cranberry granola (4) for a 7 smart point breakfast.

3.  Saturday night’s dinner of teriyaki beef and vegetables, turned into that beef and veggie stir fry, and that still didn’t use all of my leftovers!   I mixed 1 tablespoon of stir fry sauce with 1 teaspoon of sriracha (1) and had 4 ounces of beef (4) with two cups of veggies, which I am calling 1 point because even though they were “steamed” veggies, I think there might have been a touch of oil, still not bad for that giant bowl of food for 6 smart points!  It actually should have been a 10 point lunch, but I forgot my rice at home.

4.  Lasagna soup is back!!  I figured out the points and my 1.5 cup serving is 6 smart points, I do leave out the cheesy goodness in the original recipe, and I added 1/2 ounce of light Cabot cheese to the top of mine.  I also measured out 1/2 cup cooked pasta for my bowl.  Still so good – I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of that soup.

Last night the other two secretaries took me out for happy hour.  Wok n Fire near our office has 1/2 price apps from 5-7 – nice!  When the server came to the table and asked what I wanted to drink, I almost instinctively said “I’ll have a glass of Pinot Grigio”, but my mouth actually said “I’ll have unsweetened iced tea with lemon!”  We split three appetizers, and as I had 16 points going into dinner, I am calling it a wash.  Nothing was remotely close on the WW app to enter anyway, so I am not too worried about it.  Thanks ladies!!

Since it was only 7 when we went our separate ways, I decided to hit up the gym on my way home.  I did 10 minutes of upper body, then a 2 mile job and then 25 flights on the stair master before my blood sugar started to drop.  When I got home it was 71 – not too bad!  I ate a banana and it was all good.

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So now only TWO days left of work!  I did my last Sam’s Club run for the office yesterday and I’ll just say it out loud, I won’t miss that task at all.   I was asked to “stock up” so that it will be a while before anyone else has to do another run, and it’s up for debate who will get the task because basically no one wants it.

I have Cooking Club tomorrow night at Courtney’s house and I am the head chef!   I decided to show everyone how to make Chicago deep dish pizza at home, except I am making my dough gluten free because one of our members has a gluten allergy.  I’ll post the recap with pics on Friday.  I’ve had several people tell me that they were so happy to make a gluten free pizza at home that didn’t taste like cardboard – and I’ll have to say that I really love how this pizza crust tastes – and I don’t even think I could tell it was gluten free if I didn’t make it myself.  The secret is using Bob’s Red mill Gluten 1 to 1 Baking Flour and like my deep dish pizza dough, I add a bit of butter.  Um, pretty sure butter makes everything better.  Like bacon! Open-mouthed smile

Next time you read this blog I’ll be self-employed!  That’s what I am calling my work hiatus, because I do make $50 a month on this blog, and that is income, right?! 

Make it a great day!

Very Berry Sauce

I have a new product to me that you guys may already know about.  I love my parfaits, and while I normally make my own granola, I haven’t made any in a couple weeks.  When I was on an office run for Diet Coke, I went down the granola aisle to see what I could find.  We all know that while granola is healthy, it is on the calorie bomb side.  As luck would have it, not only was this Kashi granola on sale for $2.99 a bag at Mariano’s, it was also the least caloric – only 110 for 1/3 of a cup, which is the perfect amount for a parfait.

Hannah bought a bunch of frozen fruit at Walmart (I think on Instagram I said Aldi –oop!)  – the mix I used to make it is the Great Value Whole Berry Medley with no sugar added – it as whole strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.  Each one cup serving is 80 calories, .5 fat, 17 carbs, 6 fiber and 1 protein.

Very Berry Sauce
Serves 1
A super delicious and healthy sauce perfect for parfaits.
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
66 calories
16 g
0 g
0 g
1 g
0 g
288 g
7 g
10 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
288g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 66
Calories from Fat 4
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 7mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 16g
5%
Dietary Fiber 3g
13%
Sugars 10g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
163%
Calcium
3%
Iron
4%
* 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 whole berry medley fruit
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, heat the whole fruit and water over medium low heat for about 4-5 minutes, just until the fruit starts to defrost and release it’s juices.  Mix the sugar and corn starch together.  Bring the heat up to medium high, add the sugar mixture and cook for 1-2 more minutes until the sauce starts to become thick.  Don’t worry, once it cools the sauce will thicken.  Once cooled I put in a mason jar to bring to work.  You could easily quadruple this recipe (which is what I plan to do this weekend) and store each in a pint jar to just grab and go.
Notes
  1. Feel free to use any frozen fruit you have on hand. The possibilities are endless 😀
beta
calories
66
fat
0g
protein
1g
carbs
16g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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This was so good.  The fruit was on the tart side, with just a hint of sweetness and you get the tang from the yogurt and then just a pop of sweetness with the granola.  That whole parfait was just 305 calories and super filling.

My Mom and I are getting together tomorrow for lunch/shopping for a new cell phone for her at Verizon/then a movie.  While we were on the Verizon site I noticed I had racked up 115,000 points and I didn’t know what the hell I could get for that many points!  Well, turns out unless I want to shell out $165 for a $360 purse using 20,000 points, not much.  So I put in my zip code and sure enough, one of the restaurants we frequent was on the “list.”  For a mere 1,000 points, I got a buy one/get one entrée free for up to $12.  Score!

Weird to me?  Going to this place and not ordering a Boddingtons!  I am still going strong with the no alcohol and ordered an iced tea.

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I ordered the steak kabob plate, described as teriyaki glazed beef kabobs with steamed veggies and a plain baked potato.  Perfect!

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Holy balls that is a lot of food!  I ate one of the skewers, half my potato and about 1/2 a cup of veggies.  When I got home I weighed my leftovers – 5 ounces of beef, 12 ounces of veggies and 5 ounces of potato!  What the what?!  I’ve been going to this restaurant for years and I told the owner Vince as we left “your portions are just too big!”  I said you could have split my dinner in half, charged someone else the same $15 and the profit margin would be so much higher.  His response?  People expect big portions.  What the What?  I wish I would have taken a picture of Jacob’s pasta dish – it literally was served in a serving dish that was the size of something you’d see at a family style dinner at a wedding. 

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That above is the leftovers sans the baked potato.  Crazy!  I mean, I am all about using leftovers, but it’s no wonder that America has an obese problem when restaurants serve this ridiculous sized portions.  The food was delicious though!

So that brings us to my first two week WI of the year.  On January 1st I was . . .

177.9 

On January 15, I am .  . .

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So I’ve lost 3.8 the first two weeks of 2016!  I’ll take it.  Like I said the first few days of not having my wine my brain went into “I can eat more food because I am not consuming wine anymore!”  But calories are calories, no matter where they come from.  I also curbed my night time snacking week two.  So my goal is to be 169.9 by January 31.  That’s another 4.2 pounds and now that I am in the groove, I have no doubt that I’ll hit that number.

For the first time in a long time I am believing in myself, that I can actually set a goal and stick with it.  And you know what?  It feels pretty good!

Alright, totally have to scoot – I had a ton of computer problems this morning so I have exactly 8 minutes to get my ass out the door – Happy Friday and have a great weekend!  See you Monday, until then, “see” you on Instagram. Hugs!