Huevos Rancheros with Cilantro Lime Potatoes

I hardly ever am hungry right when I get up.  I think its because I am used to eating breakfast at my desk a couple hours after I wake up.  But yesterday?  Hungry!  I ate half of this Premier Protein bar, and that hit the spot.  It’s 4 points for half and to me it tastes like a Snickers bar.  

As most of you know, I have an hour train ride to work every morning.  I had pretty much written my blog post yesterday the night before, so I put my laptop in  my bag 15 minutes into the train ride and proceeded to sleep the remaining 45 minutes to work.  The guy who sat behind me had to wake me up when we got into the station, otherwise who knows how long I could have kept sleeping?!

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Breakfast part 2:  I’ve seen variations of this on Instagram, but it’s basically a breakfast sundae.  A banana sliced down the middle, filled with a 5.3 container of Chobani (2), strawberries, PB2 (1), and a tablespoon of pecans (2).  For 5 points this was super filling, and had everything in a breakfast – sweet/tart/salty/crunchy.

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Even though I am not 100%, I still got my walk in with my twin sister.  It was windy!  We decided to head east on Randolph.  While I’ve driven by here before, I’ve never walked on foot this far east on Randolph.  As soon as we got close enough to read the sign, I think we both said out loud “Is that a Marianos?”  

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And a giant Mariano’s at that!  They are building a Mariano’s in the next town over where a Sears went out of business – right across the street from my regular grocery store, so it will be interesting to see where I shop once Mariano’s opens, because I puffy heart this store.

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I didn’t even notice our reflection until I downloaded this pic!  Ha!

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There is also a park outside, so when it does finally get nice and stay nice outside, we can have a picnic lunch.  This is probably a leisurely 10 minute walk from my office.  The Mariano’s has been there two years and my sister is kicking herself that she didn’t know it existed so close to her office as well. 

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I got back to my desk and quickly threw my lunch together.  A ham/spinach/cheese wrap (6), with carrots and ranch dressing (1) and an apple (I had to throw half away – boo!) with the rest of my PB2 from breakfast (0).

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Later on ate my chicken soup, except without noodles or chicken so it’s basically a zero point soup.  I love sipping on soup out of a coffee cup.  This was hot and delicious and I remember how my sister and I used zero point soups a lot on our last successful Weight Watchers run.  They are hot and filling.  I remember us sipping on these type of soups while making dinner – which prevented us from snacking while cooking.  

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I hit every single light on the way to the train station, and missed my train by a minute.  It’s not a big deal because since it’s rush hour, my next train was only 13 minutes later.  But that train was running 20 minutes late, so I didn’t get home until 7:15.   As soon as I walked in the back door Hannah said “the basement is flooded.”  Rat farts.  I have an old home (1922) and there is an external well outside my walkout basement door.  Many years ago Tony rigged up a sump pump in there because this time of year when we get a lot of rain, that well fills up and well, comes right under my door into the basement.  The only caviat is that you need to plug it in to drain it, and I forgot to tell her to do this.

So after 45 minutes of plugging in that sump pump, mopping up and running fans, I really just wanted to order a pizza and call it a night. 

But, I am participating in Weight Watchers #cincofoodsincinco – and had already prepped everything for dinner, so this was ready in a matter of 10 minutes, still on plan, and I didn’t cave to the stress.

I made Huevos rancheros – not sure how authentic these are because I saw so many variations online, but I love having these dried peppers on hand.  All you need to do is rehydrate them and they make amazing salsas.  

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As you can see, this made a ton.  However, I am going to try a baked version of this recipe over the weekend, I’ll let you know how it turns out.  I also think this would be an awesome marinade.

Colorado Sauce:

  • 4 dried New Mexico chili peppers
  • 2 dried Ancho chili peppers
  • 1 canned Chipotle pepper (or more if you want it really spicy!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup soaking liquid
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Boil some water.  Add the dried peppers, which the stems and seeds have been removed.  Let the peppers soak for 15 minutes or until soft.  Throw everything into a food processor and let it whirl until everything is completely pureed.  That’s it.  Store in a mason jar for up to two weeks.

I pan toasted my corn tortilla in Pam until it was slightly crunchy, then filled it with a bit of quesadilla cheese, one scrambled egg, baby spinach, drizzled with the Colorado sauce, and topped with sliced jalapeno and radish. 

On the side was cilantro lime potatoes. Um, why haven’t I thought to do that before, I mean I love cilantro lime rice?!  I baked some potatoes over the weekend, and just pan fried 4 ounces of potato in 1/2 a teaspoon of ghee, then tossed it with chopped cilantro, lime zest and a squeeze of lime juice.  A delicious 10 point dinner.  Or brinner. 😀

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I am counting the Colorado sauce as 1 point, because of the grapeseed oil.  It’s smoky, spicy and adds such a depth of flavor to this taco.  Let me know if you try it – I’d love to hear what you think of it!

Another dreary day in Chicago, feels more like October than May, but I know we’ll get spring one of these days. 

Make it a great day!

Food, Health and Happiness

Tony used to make fun of me the way I “read” a cookbook like a great piece of fiction.  It’s true though.  I usually page through it from start to finish, with my little post-it notes flagging the recipes I’d like to try first.

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Oprah actually starts out the cookbook writing about her ups and downs over the years regarding her weight.   Nothing I hadn’t read before – the infamous liquid diet where she pulls out he big wagon of fat to show how much weight she lost, only to gain five pounds in a day after getting off the stage and out of the jeans she said felt like they were painted on.   But I remember thinking back then, that of course Oprah could lose weight – she had people cooking for her, she had personal trainers – she didn’t have to “think” about it – someone would tell her what to eat and how to work out – how simple?!

But it doesn’t matter how much money you make, or what conveniences you have in life, when it comes right down to it, you and only you can make the decision to lead a healthier lifestyle.  You can plan your meals.  You can decide what to eat.  You can decide what to say “no thank you” to.  

Oprah talks about how if Maya Angelou were here, she would ask her “Ok, if anyone knows better when it comes to dieting, it’s me.  So how do you explain my endless struggles with weight?  Why is it that with all this experience and information, I haven’t done better?”  She wrote “My guess is she’d probably smile, and in that commanding voice unlike any I’ve never heard, she’d say, ‘Well, my dear, when you’re truly ready to know, you will.’

“You can tell yourself to eat less and move more, you can cut down on carbs, and salty stacks, you can practice portion control and begin the day with a balance breakfast – at this point we all know the drill.  But it’s one thing to be able to recite the rules of dieting and quite another to fully internalize and know the truth of maintaining a healthy weight.  The reality is that for most of us, diets are a temporary solution at best.  They last as long as our willpower holds out.  But how long can any of us hold our breath before we need a gulp of air.” 

She goes on to say how when Weight Watchers reached out to her, for some reason at that point in time, she was ready to listen.  Something inside her shifted, and I feel the same way these last several weeks.  I’ve realized that I can’t trick the system by trying to play by my old “diet” rules (eat like a pig one day – hope to work it off in the gym the next six days) or feel guilty about eating a cheeseburger and fries when I had every intention of ordering a grilled chicken breast.   I now build my treats into my meal plan, so there is no guilt associated with the food I am eating.  I plan for it.  I balance out the other two meals to make it work.  I wake up the next day to a brand new day, and that’s exactly what it is.  No “falling off the wagon” for a few days (or weeks!) after an indulgent meal because I’ve convinced myself that I have no control over what I eat.

I am living.  I am eating really good food.  I am actually kind of glad that I got this cough because its made me focus on the food, when really that’s what it’s all about to get the scale move.  Yes, the exercise helps reshape your body, burn some extra calories – sure.  But you can never work out enough to overcome a crappy diet.  It’s just not going to happen.  Especially when you’d have to do an hour of high intensity cardio to burn off one chocolate coconut cake donut from Dunkin Donuts. 

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

So as I was thumbing through the cookbook, I was thrilled that the first 19 recipes are SOUP recipes!  You guys all know what a soup whore I am.  The first one that caught my eye was the tomato and guajillo chile soup.  Since Weight Watchers is promoting their #freshfoodsfeb, I thought this recipe would be a perfect addition to that challenge to use fresh ingredients.  Carrots, garlic, corn, ripe tomatoes – yes please! 

The only draw back I’ve noticed so far is that they don’t specify what a serving is.  The recipe says that it makes 4 servings at 4 smart points.  But how much is a serving?  Not that it’s that complicated, but I had to measure out one cup portions, to realize I had 8 cups of soup – so two cups was 4 smart points.  Well, that’s not enough for dinner, so I decided to add cheese tortellini and baby spinach to my bowl to make it more of a meal.

If you’ve never used dried guajillo peppers, they are really delicious.   You need to reconstitute them before using them in a recipe.  The seeds also hold the heat, so before soaking them, I tapped out all the seeds after cutting off the top.  They are cheap too – I got a bag of about a dozen for $1.69 at my local grocery store.  The cilantro I bought was bad, so I left that out, but feel free to add it to your soup!

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Tomato and Guajillo Chile Soup
Serves 4
A low point, spicy tomato soup that's perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side, or add some cheese tortellini to make it more of a meal.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
303 calories
18 g
93 g
11 g
34 g
3 g
365 g
601 g
8 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
365g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 303
Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 3g
13%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 93mg
31%
Sodium 601mg
25%
Total Carbohydrates 18g
6%
Dietary Fiber 4g
16%
Sugars 8g
Protein 34g
Vitamin A
84%
Vitamin C
57%
Calcium
5%
Iron
13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 dried guajillo chiles
  2. 8 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  3. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  4. 1 small carrot, chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  6. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  8. 3/4 cup corn (from an ear of corn, or canned)
  9. 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  10. 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped*
  11. 1/2 cup cooked hominy **
  12. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  13. 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Instructions
  1. Here is how I made this a quick weeknight soup.  In a microwave safe measuring cup – add two cups of water and the dried guajillo peppers (stems chopped and seeds removed) and microwave for three minutes.  Meanwhile, in a stock pot, add the olive oil, carrots, garlic, and corn and cook for about 3-4 minutes, just until the carrots are tender.
  2. In a blender, remove the hot guajillo peppers with tongs and put them in the blender – toss the water.  Add the cooked carrot mixture to the blender, along with the salt, cumin, tomatoes, hominy and tomato paste.  Puree until smooth.  Pour that mixture into the stock pot, add the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Adjust salt seasoning at the end.  Using my method, this soup was ready in about 20 minutes.  And that included the time it took to cook my cheese tortellini to add to the soup.
Notes
  1. * I left the jalapeno out because I found the dried guajillo peppers to be spicy enough.
  2. ** The original recipe calls for "cooked hominy." I just used canned hominy (but can someone tell me why I can't find small cans of hominy?! 😀
  3. The soup by itself is 2 smart points per cup. I added 7 cheese tortellini (5) and baby spinach to my soup to make it more of a meal.
beta
calories
303
fat
11g
protein
34g
carbs
18g
more
Adapted from Food Health and Happiness Cookbook
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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My bowl would only fit one cup of the soup with the tortellini and baby spinach, and I thought I’d top it off with the second cup once I ate some of it, but I was really full.  The soup is flavorful spicy which I love!  And I like how the corn and hominy thickened up the soup.  Here is the perfect bite:

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I saved the leftover soup in one cup packages.  I can see having this as a late afternoon snack at work to tide me over until dinner before my long train ride home.  I’ve been eating a banana most afternoons, but this would be delicious too.

Because I love this cookbook so much, I am giving away a copy!  I’ll keep it simple.  You don’t have to tag five friends, tweet the giveaway, do twenty jumping jacks, just leave me a comment telling me what state you live in.  I haven’t done that one in a while and I always get a kick to see who is the farthest away (although Fran I already know that’s you – and Roz is a close second!).

I’ll pick a winner on Monday’s post.  Good luck – I know you’ll love this cookbook as much as I do!

Make it a great day!

Breakfast Tostadas

Breakfast Tostadas

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

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

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

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

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

Breakfast Tostadas
Serves 1
A delicious way to start your day with these crunchy breakfast tostadas.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
968 calories
132 g
402 g
31 g
44 g
12 g
950 g
1525 g
1 g
0 g
16 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
950g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 968
Calories from Fat 273
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 31g
47%
Saturated Fat 12g
59%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 402mg
134%
Sodium 1525mg
64%
Total Carbohydrates 132g
44%
Dietary Fiber 15g
61%
Sugars 1g
Protein 44g
Vitamin A
44%
Vitamin C
1710%
Calcium
42%
Iron
62%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 extra thin mission tortillas (2)
  2. 2 eggs (4)
  3. 1/2 cup fat free refried beans (2)
  4. 3 small baby bell peppers, sliced and sautéed
  5. 1 ounce 50% reduced fat Cabot cheese (2)
  6. drizzle of taco bell fire sauce (0)
  7. drizzle of Trader Joe’s avocado salsa (0)
  8. cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the peppers just until they start to brown but are still a bit crunchy.  About 3-4 minutes.  Reheat the refried beans in the microwave.  Remove the peppers and cook your eggs to your desired doneness.  You all know that I didn’t eat those runny eggs above, but they look so much better in pictures!  Anywho, place your cast iron skillet on medium high heat and spray with Pam.  Put 1/4 cup of the refried beans on each tortilla, then place in the hot pan.  Top with the fried eggs and cheese and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt.  The bottom of the tortillas will get nice and crunchy.  Sprinkle on cilantro, taco sauce and avocado sauce and enjoy!
Notes
  1. You could reduce the points if you used scrambled egg beaters. 😀
beta
calories
968
fat
31g
protein
44g
carbs
132g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
That was a filling 10 point breakfast.  I wasn’t really all that hungry by the time I got to work, but I was about 30 minutes early and realized I should eat something, so I went a couple blocks from work and stopped and picked up panang curry from Pho’s Spicier Thai Cuisine.   It was a bit “hole in the wall” kind of place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· Frisée Salad with Roasted Beets, Toasted Pecans and Oranges

· Chocolate Crêpes with Mascarpone Cream and Homemade Caramel Sauce

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

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

Make it a great day!

Gumbo

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gumbo-027-1024x682

gumbo-0081

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

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Serves 8
A super spicy soup that can be made on the weekend to enjoy for a quick weeknight dinner.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
294 calories
16 g
127 g
17 g
18 g
7 g
285 g
907 g
4 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
285g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 294
Calories from Fat 152
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
26%
Saturated Fat 7g
35%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 127mg
42%
Sodium 907mg
38%
Total Carbohydrates 16g
5%
Dietary Fiber 1g
6%
Sugars 4g
Protein 18g
Vitamin A
60%
Vitamin C
26%
Calcium
7%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  2. 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  3. salt and pepper to taste
  4. 4 tablespoons butter
  5. 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut in 1/4 inch rounds
  6. 1/2 cup flour
  7. 1/2 onion, diced
  8. 2 stalks celery, diced
  9. 2 carrots, diced
  10. 3/4 cup Brussels sprouts, rough chopped
  11. 1/2 green pepper, diced (which I forgot!)
  12. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  13. 1 tablespoon Cajun Creole seasoning
  14. 5 cups chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Heat a heavy pot over medium high heat, and add the oil.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and sear in the hot pan until lightly golden brown on each side.  Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the sausage to the same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. To make the roux, reduce the heat to medium, and melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour into the butter. Stir the roux constantly until it reaches a deep reddish-brown color.  I may not have let mine get that dark – it could take up to 15 minutes.  Add in the onions, celery, carrots (green pepper if you remember!) and Brussels sprouts to the roux, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and Cajun spice and stir until aromatic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Return the sausage to the pot, along with the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 45 minutes.
  4. Stir in the shrimp and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
beta
calories
294
fat
17g
protein
18g
carbs
16g
more
Adapted from The Chopping Block
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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Yep, we are back to awful kitchen lighting, and it was only 6:45 when I served this.  The broth was thick, spicy and delicious.  I served mine with 1/2 cup of white rice.   Jacob had a friend whose Dad made gumbo (with okra, which turns out Jacob loves) who spent two days making it, so while he enjoyed this “soup” he was expecting something like his friends Dad made.  Hannah?  She ate leftover broccoli cheddar soup that I brought home from the class. 

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

Make it a great day!

Healthy Tom Kha Gai

I have to give a shout out to La Tortilla Factory.  A few weeks ago I posted a picture on my blog because the package of tortillas I bought had been cut wrong, so I basically only had 2/3 of each tortilla.  Not too long after, they left a comment and asked if they could replace them and apologize.  I said of course, and said that sending a coupon would be just fine.  Not only did they send me VIP coupons, but also two replacement packages of their green chile tortillas.  Nice!   These are each two smart points, no matter how you multiply it.  Sometimes one tortilla is two points, but if you have two it jumps to 5 – but two of these four points.

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I had a work day on Friday, so I made this big breakfast of two breakfast tacos which came in at 11 smart points.  4 for the tortillas, 2 for the egg/egg white scramble, 3 for two ounces of leftover taco meat and and 2 for the 1/2 ounce of cheddar cheese.

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Friday night we had a cooking class, which means the Chef takes the lead on the class, and I am there to keep things rolling, making sure guests stay on task, clean up, etc.  I was still training with Jess, my trainer, when she kindly pointed out to me that while it’s nice to get involved in conversations with the guests, turns out I am there too to actually work.  I got caught up talking to a guest about cast iron grill pans! 

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And I have to remember that I have to follow the Chef’s lead and not take over.  See those cast iron skillets in the middle of the table?  The ziploc bags held canned roma tomatoes, and the Chef told each of the groups to just crush the tomatoes with their hands for the sauce for the meatballs.  Since the tomatoes were in the bag already, I thought it would be easy if the guests added all of the ingredients for the sauce directly into the bag, so when it came time to add the sauce to the meatballs that had been seared, all you had to do was pour the whole bag into the pan.  Well, I didn’t actually clear that with the Chef and she asked “what are you doing?!”  I explained what I was doing, and she told me nicely that I should check with her first, because if another guest asked what I was doing with another group, she wouldn’t have had a clue.  It all worked out in the end, but I have to remember in a class setting to not talk so much and make sure that I still get my job done. 😀

So wouldn’t you know that on Saturday when I woke up, I had a cold.  I’ve been immunized for everything, but still got sick.  Hannah’s had a cough for a while and I may have gotten it from her, and people at work have been passing around the same bug for a while.  All I know is that my voice sounded as if I had just smoked two packs of cigarettes!  I had my first 1 on 1 meeting with my GM yesterday.  And of course, I had to butter him up with a gift!  I made him a loaf of rosemary sea salt bread – isn’t the packaging cute?!

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The last class that I had to work to cross off my training checklist was a demonstration class.  This is a class where the guests watch all the food being made, and just hang out, sip wine and beer and be served their food.  Since my voice wasn’t the best, I didn’t talk very much, but just soaked in all the information.  I anticipated what the Head Chef would need and silently hand her tongs, or a serving spoon, or grab bowls from her when she was done with them.  Afterwards she said “I hope you are my Class Assistant every time – you are awesome!”  Um, duh!  (kidding!).

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I had been scheduled to do a class yesterday morning, which meant I would have gotten home at midnight, and had to be back at work at 8:00 a.m., but the class got canceled due to low participation.  Whew!  I was able to sleep in yesterday morning and just take it easy.  I feel a lot better today.  I didn’t eat breakfast until nearly 11:30, and the only thing that sounded good to me was oatmeal.  I had one remaining frozen Trader Joe’s steel cut oats in the freezer, so I nuked that and did a quick saute of strawberries, banana and 1/4 cup of Smucker’s brand sugar free pancake syrup – so this whole bowl of oats came in at just 6 smart points.

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I thought a spicy soup might be good for lunch.  Hannah had bought some Asian ingredients last week for one of her dishes she made when I was at work.  I had leftover rotisserie chicken, bok choy, fresh ginger, carrots, and 1/2 a can of light coconut milk, so I quickly decided that Tom Kha Gai soup would be perfect.  I had a recollection that I may have made something similar, and I did find a similar recipe that I made with packaged chicken noodle soup.   I had to laugh at my 2009 photography though – how did I think this would be remotely appetizing?!

old soup dish

Here is the dish I made yesterday:

Healthy Tom Kha Gai

 

Healthy Tom Kha Gai
Serves 1
A great way to use up any leftover veggies or chicken. The broth is flavorful spicy!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
7 min
Total Time
12 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
7 min
Total Time
12 min
371 calories
34 g
72 g
9 g
39 g
2 g
773 g
1241 g
8 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
773g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 371
Calories from Fat 76
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
13%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 72mg
24%
Sodium 1241mg
52%
Total Carbohydrates 34g
11%
Dietary Fiber 5g
20%
Sugars 8g
Protein 39g
Vitamin A
142%
Vitamin C
202%
Calcium
12%
Iron
20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. I made this recipe for one, since I knew I’d be the only one eating eat.  Feel free to multiply for a full pot.
  2. 2 cups chicken broth
  3. 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
  4. 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  5. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  6. 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  7. 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
  8. 1/4 cup chopped carrots
  9. 1/2 cup chopped bok choy
  10. 1/2 cup leftover pasta
  11. 6 slices of jalapeno (to spice up the broth)
  12. 3 ounces chicken breast
Instructions
  1. In a small stock pot, heat the oil.  Add the garlic, ginger, carrots and mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the red curry paste and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the chicken broth, jalapenos and chicken and cook for about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add in the chopped bok choy and leftover pasta.  Season with additional salt and pepper.  I didn’t need any additional salt because I used regular chicken broth.
beta
calories
371
fat
9g
protein
39g
carbs
34g
more
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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Those were the noodles I used – I love having them on hand because they literally cook in seconds after you place them in boiling water and you can directly add them to your soup.  This was so spicy good!

I have today off of work too, so I am just going to take it easy.  I do have Cooking Club tonight though!  So excited to see everyone since we took the summer off from getting together.   The theme is “last gasp of summer!”   Our Head Chef Courtney is making the entrée with a roasted salmon nicoise platter.  I’ve been assigned a side dish, and I think I am going to make an orzo/asparagus/lemon dish.  It’s bright and fresh and I think will go well with the salmon.

I hope you all had a great weekend!  Our weather is still going to be in the 80s for this week.  So looking forward to next week though – highs of 70 and lows in the low 50s – my favorite weather!!

Make it a great day!

A wonderful summer soup!

Thai Shrimp Noodle Bowl

It was supposed to be a work day yesterday, so I staggered my breakfast/lunch/dinner like I do when I work 3:30 – 10:30.  I ate breakfast around 10:30, thinking I’d have lunch in the car around 3:00, and then I planned on having soup when I got home from work.

Next time you go to the store, check out bottom round steaks.  My store routinely sells them for $3.79 a pound, so these two thin steaks cost only $2.20.  Jacob was working later in the day so it was just he and I for breakfast, and when I mentioned having something with beef for breakfast, let’s just say he didn’t have any complaints about that!

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Because of the type of cut this beef is and because of how thin it was, it literally only cooked 45 seconds a side, and I set it aside to rest while I scrambled some egg/egg whites/spinach/cheese.  I placed the scrambled egg over the cooked steak, topped it with some salsa and breakfast was served.  4 points for the 4 ounces of steak, 3 points for the egg/egg white scramble and 2 points for 1/2 ounce of cheese.

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Since I didn’t have to leave the house until 2:00 (yes, I like to leave way early because I don’t like being late) I had plenty of time to get outside and get some exercise in.  I am not sure Chicago is aware that the calendar page has turned to September, because it was nearly 88 degrees when I went on my walk at 11:15 a.m.  I live in a hilly neighborhood and I decided to do some hill work.  I walked the 1/2 mile to the steepest hill, then walked down the hill and then ran (well, jogged really!) up the hill and did 10 sets of that.  I was a sweaty mess by the time I got home!

PicMonkey Collage - workout

While half way through my workout, I got a call from work, telling me that I was cut for the day because there was a lack of interest in last nights class.  They said it’s not unusual to not be busy after a holiday.  So all of a sudden I had the whole day in front of me!

I did some stuff around the house, paid September bills, and then decided that I wanted to go to the gym and swim.  When I got there I looked at my fitbit, and decided to walk until I hit 10,000 steps, and then hit the pool.  I also did 20 minutes of upper body strength – I’ve definitely gotten stronger this summer.  I was able to use 10 pound dumbbells!

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It had been so long since I actually packed my gym bag for the pool that I forgot flip flops and goggles.  I had a split second thought of “oh well, guess I am not swimming today” but then went to the front desk and asked if they sold swim goggles.  My fancy old gym did, but this is the YMCA.  She sadly said no, and then I asked if she could check lost and found and I could “borrow” a pair of goggles.  Score!

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In total, it was an hour workout at the gym and it felt great.  I am kicking myself for not being more motivated this summer, but that was in the past, and I am letting it go. 

I was really thirsty after my workout.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if you go to Thornton’s (or maybe any gas station?) and show them you filled up your cup with just water – 9/10 they will give it to you free – which I got yesterday.  And Thorton’s has this pellet ice that I love.  Beats paying $1.99 for a 24 ounce plastic bottle.  And yes, that snowman stays out year round. Open-mouthed smile

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I needed just a couple things to make the stuff for my giveaway on Monday.  Have you left a comment for a chance to win 12 sixteen ounce jars of salsa/lasagna soup and pasta sauce?!  By now it was close to 5:00 and I hadn’t had lunch.  As I was waiting in the checkout line, I could feel my blood sugar start to drop.  And while I was standing next to the candy aisle, I picked up one chicken finger to eat in the car ride home.  I am guessing it was 7 points.  And no picture, but I think you all know what a chicken finger looks like!

Since I wasn’t prepared to be home for dinner last night, I had to figure out what to make.  I knew Hannah and Jacob wouldn’t like what I was making, so I didn’t worry about their dinner.  There was plenty of food in the fridge for them to make their own dinner.

I knew I had frozen shrimp in the freezer, and when I went to Pinterest and put in the ingredients I had, Jessica’s Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp Noodle Bowl popped up.  I know my friends D&D are thinking “how would you have Thai red curry paste in your house to even make this dish?!”  Well, as a food blogger, I am the condiment queen and I have pretty much any condiment necessary for any type of cuisine. Open-mouthed smile

After reading Jessica’s recipe, she used both full fat and light coconut milk.  Um, not sure if you guys know this but a cup of full fat coconut milk has 552 calories and 57 grams of fat.  I am sure it’s delicious, but I had to make this recipe a bit more Weight Watcher friendly.  This recipe is for one serving, FYI.

Thai Shrimp Noodle Bowl
Yields 1
A super light summer soup! It has just enough flavorful spice, and comes in at just 9 smart points for the whole bowl.
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Print
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
10 min
576 calories
44 g
179 g
33 g
31 g
15 g
529 g
1825 g
2 g
0 g
16 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
529g
Yields
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 576
Calories from Fat 277
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 33g
50%
Saturated Fat 15g
75%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 11g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 179mg
60%
Sodium 1825mg
76%
Total Carbohydrates 44g
15%
Dietary Fiber 4g
17%
Sugars 2g
Protein 31g
Vitamin A
29%
Vitamin C
191%
Calcium
16%
Iron
33%
* 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 coconut oil
  2. 3 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
  3. 1/4 cup yellow pepper
  4. 1/2 cup broccoli
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. pinch of salt and pepper
  7. 1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
  8. 1 cup chicken broth
  9. 3 tablespoons light coconut milk
  10. 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  11. 1/4 cup chopped baby spinach
  12. 2 ounces dry lo mein noodles
Instructions
  1. Cook lo mein noodles according to package directions.  Mine only needed to cook for 3 minutes.  Drain and add noodles to your bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet with the coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and cook for about a minute and a half.  It may not be cooked all the way, but that’s okay.  Lightly salt and pepper and set aside.  In a mason jar, add the garlic, chicken broth, coconut milk and red curry paste, seal with the lid and shake to combine.  Add 1/4 of the liquid to your pan and add the yellow pepper and broccoli to the pan.  This avoids having to add extra oil.  Let the vegetables simmer over medium low heat for about 5 minutes.  Turn the heat up to high – add the shrimp back in and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat, and add in the baby spinach and cilantro.  Pour mixture over noodles and serve.
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
beta
calories
576
fat
33g
protein
31g
carbs
44g
more
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
My Bizzy Kitchen http://www.mybizzykitchen.com/
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I use Better Than Bouillon for my chicken broth.  It tastes amazing, and while it’s pricey at $4.99 a container, it’s enough broth for 38 cups of broth.

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This was delish!  The broth was the perfect balance of flavorful spicy without being knock your socks off spicy.  The veggies were still slightly crunchy, which I love and the shrimp from The Fresh Market tasted like little pieces of lobster they were so meaty. 

I love how that picture turned out.  You guys need to know that I normally take about 30-40 shots of each dish when I have the time.  Want to see how the first four pictures I took turned out?

PicMonkey Collage - crappy pics

It just shows that it doesn’t matter if you have a DSLR, you have to continue to work at it.

I know for sure I am working tonight because it’s a private party.  I get to put the appetizers together though – a white bean and rosemary bruschetta and bacon wrapped dates with balsamic glaze.  Yum!

It looks like the rain stopped for now, so I better head out to get my steps in.  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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Print
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!