time to kick off the holiday season

The Rockettes were just on TV so I had to go there …

And if you’d like to be able to high kick like those girls may I suggest that you don’t stuff your face silly with “all the dressings” at the dining room table. Once again I’m on the hunt for diabetic friendly Thanksgiving recipes, I’ve found a few including one that is supposed to mimic a sweet potato casserole but with squash instead. It’s all about the spices to be honest – color is the same and texture is close so if it can also smell appetizing I think it’ll be a hit. I also researched a rub for the turkey instead of brining it like we did last year. It was good but let’s try something new shall we?! I think a ham might go on the grill depending the number of guests we have. Friends will bring a green bean casserole, stuffing, and appetizers. OH! I’ve done a run through of a pumpkin pie and it’s safe to say it was a success!

IMG_8218

The recipe was not enough to fill my spring form pan so it will be doubled for Thanksgiving. I used a small casserole dish instead but was impossible to serve. Although after watching Good Eats last night, I might purchase a tart pan. Back to the pie, it’s crust-less and almost sugar-less! Instead of a 1/3 cup of sugar I used 4 tsp of Stevia and it tasted gooooood. It needed more pumpkin pie spice and I will add cinnamon per request from my husband. Suggested by the recipe was to crumble ginger snaps, sprinkle on top of each slice along with dark chocolate chips. That helped to add texture since there isn’t a crust. This was a huge deal and my husband was very appreciative; I do not bake… not a fan of it because it has to be precise (there’s no option to add your own twist to things) and most of the time you have to wait 2-24 hours before eating any of it. Stupid desserts need to cool down for a day … dinner is ready as soon as it comes off the stove.

IMG_8222 IMG_8221

Had some favorites last week, cheeseburger pie (added mushrooms since they were leftover) and quesadillas (chicken, spinach, onions, 1 red bell pepper, and whole wheat tortillas … topped with sour cream, salsa, and a chunk of avocado).

IMG_8233

A new recipe I tried last week was a shepherds pie (I’ve never had it before!). It was pretty easy to make and very yummy! I had originally found a Campbells Soup recipe and as I rattled it off to my husband he said it wasn’t even remotely close so I found a new recipe and it was a success. Of course it was because it’s an Alton Brown recipe! I cheated with instant mashed potatoes (2 small packets), skipped the addition of an egg, didn’t miss it. I also used ground turkey instead of Lamb. My time and wallet are precious, do what you need to do to make dinner at your household 😉

IMG_8260IMG_8261

Staples so far this week: chicken bombs and butternut squash soup.

Monday’s chicken bombs were the best yet. I don’t know what it was but they were extra yummy… I added sides of mushroom orzo and peas, kept it simple.

The soup was almost a disaster because I followed the recipe, ha! It instructed to bake the squash for only 20 minutes (to make it soft) and I knew better, it needed at least 45-60 minutes. I was also rushed but you know the saying “do it right the first time” … yeah, I wasted more time trying to fix things and clean up a huge mess. After 20 min. I tossed the veggies in my soup pot, covered with all the liquid, attempted to mash it before using my immersion blender. Umm… nothing mashed. IT WAS SOLID AS A ROCK. Liquid flew all over the tile back splash (now I know where the name comes from 😉 ). Awesome. It’s all covered with liquid and now I must dump it in a blender. By the way, it had been simmering for 20 minutes as another attempt to soften the veggies … so not only is it hard as a rock it’s also scalding hot! Soup splattered everywhere as I transferred it from the pot to the blender, the blender was filled too high so I poured it in a large measuring cup since it was near by. More splatter. I blended everything in 2 batches, pouring the chunky/baby food textured “soup” back into the pot, it tasted good but the texture was nasty. I partially chewed the soup. I cooked it down some more and busted out the immersion blender again … that little device saved it. It was so smooth after that and the soup actually looked like soup. My husband missed an exciting afternoon! When he came home he got an ear full while cooking the grilled cheese (at 9:30pm) … I don’t do grilled cheese. I burn the bread and the cheese manages to not melt. Riddle me that. Yes, I ate that late which I know is not healthy but with our schedules we don’t get to eat dinner together often. I at least ate my soup earlier and waiting to share a grilled cheese with him ❤ .

So the rest of this week & next week will be “figure friendly recipes” that are restaurant favorites (i.e. BAKED general tso’s chicken, pesto salmon … yummmm); we must prepare for Thanksgiving … shed the last few pounds right before adding them back on, lol. Let’s all be thankful for the food we eat, the family and friends we share it with, and a lovely house to make memories in.

IMG_8224

Baby it’s cold outside!

Wowwee is it cold today! It was pretty chilly yesterday but letting the dogs out at 7:30am and it’s a brisk 37 degrees, forget needing coffee to wake me up …  I now need it to warm me up!  We’ve been in San Antonio for exactly 1 year so considering it took until that point to get cold again – no complaints from me!

I guess it’s appropriate to start planning “winter comfort food” on my weekly menus – chili, soups, and stews. Perfect timing to incorporate new menu items for our new home. 7 more days!!! Get me in my kitchen!

For now I’ll not so quietly deal with this dumpy kitchen. While making pizzas yesterday I was tripping over myself, having no where to put pans and get an efficient assembly line going. The end result was fantastic, we love pizza but feel like we can never get all the toppings we truly want.  So taking a pointer from Chelsea after having her shrimp scampi pizza, we kept it simple but the 2 mini pizzas were just as delish.

IMG_4407  IMG_4406  IMG_4405

Pizza 1: green & red bell pepper, onion, olives, mushroom
Pizza 2: sweet Italian sausage, green bell pepper, mushrooms, olives, onions
Pizza 3: jalapeno/cheddar sausage, onion, 3 slices of jalapeno (Josh’s decorative touch), mushrooms, onions
Pizza 4: sweet Italian sausage, jalapeno pepper, olives, onions

IMG_4408
Easy to make and easy to assemble (even in a small kitchen).  I baked 2 pizzas at a time, so 20 minutes total … I pan cooked the sausages which took another 10; “dress” each pizza and dinner was done in 45 minutes. We had fun decorating each pizza, you can really do anything you want.
IMG_4409Josh going in for that giant slice of jalapeno … it didn’t even phase him.

On Monday I finally got around to “my” meatloaf. It was intended for Friday then Sunday … you see how that went, ha!IMG_4404

I took my cue from Alton Brown, he creates some great dishes plus he’s got a good humor trying to use science to cook using different methods.  While the meatloaf turned out great, it took 2 hours! We were so hungry that we sliced what we wanted and had to microwave it for a few minutes (this was after 45 minutes/325). So frustrating, I don’t understand what happened – I followed his recipe to the T, if anything I actually used less meat.  To finish cooking it we cranked the oven up to 400 for another hour. Sheesh!

IMG_4402 IMG_4403
I always make meatloaf different each time – I feel like it can be a pretty boring meal so the spices in Alton’s recipe is what caught my attention.  It had a little heat to it and the cumin smelled amazing while baking had commenced.  Carrots and red bell pepper added some sweetness and the onion cut through perfectly. I didn’t pulse it as the recipe says, I diced everything because we like a “chunky” meatloaf.  As always, top that sucker with ketchup. No, I didn’t make the “sauce” from the recipe. While I like trying new things, I feel it’s a sin to use something other than Ketchup.

2 perfectly planned diabetic friendly meals- yes, the pizzas were okay for Josh. The amount of protein and veggies used balanced out the dough. Plus the meatloaf used turkey and pork, great choices instead of the usual beef.

A while back I told y’all about one of my piano students who was curious about the cheeseburger pie I was eating.  Well it’s her turn to pick a dinner to make and she requested just that!  It was very cute though because she thought I used an actual pie crust so when I informed her it’s a Bisquick recipe and she just started laughing, saying “That makes so much more sense!”.

I love inspiring dishes for people to try; I’ve gotten a few pictures of y’all making meals from my blog.  Keep ’em coming!

Also, commenting on the budget friendly part of all this … $80 for 5 complete meals, for 2 adults (meatloaf & pizza has leftovers so far!) … that’s $8 per person, per day. I think that’s pretty good considering I don’t have a money tree in my backyard.