Leftovers can be exciting!

So you know I’ve been trying to branch out by trying new flavors … not just for dinner but for bbq’s as well, hoping to prove that eating healthy is yummy! There are plenty of skeptics out there but come over to the dark side, I promise you won’t regret it 😉

My new go-to dip is cucumber salsa – people stuff their faces and about 5 scoops in I hear “what is this… it’s awesome!”. Just note that you should really use English cucumbers. The last 2 times I have but the 3rd time I picked up regular cucumbers … let’s just say it became a soup! Regular cucumbers are full of so much water; I had to drain the salsa before serving it. Even 1 day later (I prepped the day earlier), having 2 drains, and serving it up in smaller bowls … each bowl was filled 1/2 way with liquid after an hour 😦 Spend the extra $1 and buy an English cucumber.
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Next on deck .. chicken wings! You don’t have to make hot wings/fatty ranch for dipping or greasy fried wings for football Sunday, check these out – no breading, no “bad for you” ingredients, just 100% yumminess! I forget the site I found this recipe on so here is the check list:
To make apprx 24 wings –
2 cups lime juice (1 large bottle)
4 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp crushed red pepper (use more or less depending on your tolerance of heat!)
4 tsp minced garlic (I used 3 medium garlic cloves OR you can buy pre-minced garlic & measure … either is fine!)
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups olive oil
MIX everything in a large bowl, pour over chicken, and marinate for 30 min-2 hrs
We grilled them or you can bake them … enjoy!
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Ahhhh, the pasta salad. It’s such a familiar dish that you don’t even have to tell people what’s all in it … all you say is “there will be a pasta salad” and you know it will be devoured.  I don’t know what it is about this comfort food but everyone likes it.  This version is: 1 box of low carb rotini pasta (Dream Fields / black box), 1 medium “summer sausage” log cubed into even chunks, frozen corn (microwavable steam bag, cook for 6 min & let it cool), 1 large block of cheese cubed into even chunks (use your favorite cheese!), and roasted red peppers (I had a jar in my fridge already opened, may as well use them!), and top with Italian salad dressing (1/2 at prep time and 1/2 before serving it … mix well!).
Cook the pasta FIRST, drain/let it cool … then start slicing and dicing the ingredients. Once the pasta is cooled, combine ingredients into a large bowl & stir 🙂 EASY

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Now I’m just going to overwhelm you with a ton of photos … recipes will be in links!

IMG_7886 Tater tots! Toss tots with hot sauce, crumbled blue cheese, chopped celery and diced chicken.  I left the chicken out because I used this recipe as a side dish to smoked sausages … it was out cheat night 😉

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steak with french onion sauce! We have mostly red wine in our collection so I bought this cute picnic white wine cup; it was perfect for the recipe so if you are not a big wine drinker, look for one of these guys. Also have no fear if you can’t fine veal consomme … I used beef stock and it turned out a-okay 😉 Since the main dish took some extra energy (it was difficult but you have to keep your eyes on it!) I opted for canned green beans and frozen/oven baked bread sticks. An easy meal that you could order from a steak house … at your own kitchen table, LOVE!

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It was cooler last week and I busted out my immersion blender to whip …er, rather blend up some sweet potato soup. It’s from my favorite magazine, Cooking Light. Do yourself a favor and buy one of these guys! Rather than pouring hot things into a blender and risk burning yourself just keep everything in 1 large pot and blend together. I paired a yummy smoked gouda grilled cheese sandwich and the dinner was perfect. In with the new … you don’t have to use Kraft singles for grilled cheese! I love using new cheeses each time we make grilled cheese – yes, a good cheese will cost a few more dollars but it’s so worth it as a splurge meal.

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Saw this on an episode of Barefoot Contessa and it couldn’t have been easier! Cripsy mustard chicken and cheesy grits (again I opted for microwavable veggie since the 2 other items took some energy). Another must have gadget, I love my pint sized food processor. It’s easy to store since it’s small and it’s perfect for our family (there’s only 2 of us) however if you only want to spend $30 and have a larger family – just make recipes in small batches & combine in a large bowl, you have to dump most mixtures into a bowl anyway! The grits will need your attention as it must be stirred every few minutes as to not burn on the bottom of the pot, it is an easy recipe though. I used those ‘5 minute’ grits – just not the instant (comes in packets), you don’t have to buy anything crazy. Trust the recipe and use 1/2 & 1/2, the grits are beyond creamy. These are 2 yummy recipes you can impress your guests with … hello, holiday season is around the corner!

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Okay these 2 dinners are buddies … one night it was garlic shrimp & potato/onion pouches and the other was meatloaf with the same pouches.  I made 2 pouches to be grilled on the same night so I could have a plan ahead dinner 🙂 Who says everything has to be cooked fresh each night?! Yeah so this meatloaf was the bomb dot com. Yes, I went there 😉 A little over 2lbs and we still have leftovers! I have found a dish that has outsmarted my husband, lol! I made/cooked the meatloaf earlier in the day (Friday morning) and reheated it for dinner; I hid the leftovers in the back of the fridge so we’d have dinner for Sunday … he had no idea! Plus we still have 1/3 of it left. Leftovers can be fun, take these open-face meatloaf sandwiches: toasted bread, thinly sliced tomatoes, meatloaf (reheated first), a fried eggs, and ketchup or gravy.

IMG_7968 Pizza night! My husband got spicy Italian sausage and I got mild … everything else was the same: sliced red bell pepper, moz & parm shredded cheese, sauce… done. I love pizza night & trying new toppings!

IMG_8023 Okay this was our splurge meal last night … a 3lb brisket ($20!) which was actually a good deal but it’s the smallest guy I could find so I took it. Into the slow cooker it went and 6 hours later, dinner was ready. We had leftover pasta salad and veggies … I love clearing out the fridge.

Last but not least … brats simmered with onions and beer. One of my husband’s favorites (that he actually cooks! I’m not allowed to help w/ this one… okay 😉 !)
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Simmer for 30 minutes and throw the brats on the grill to crisp the skin … pour the leftover ‘sauce’ (beer/onions) into a large dish, place grilled brats on top, and let people serve themselves. Oh, I should mention we cooked this up for a bbq (along with the pasta salad & cucumber salsa). I also made burgers and they were devoured. We had 2 sausages leftover so of course we took the cheesy grits and cubed the sausages for breakfast the next day. I LOVE LEFTOVERS.

It’s been a good few weeks of leftovers … It was a bigger grocery trip than usual HOWEVER we had and still have meals ready to go. Whether it’s making over a dish (meatloaf turned into sandwiches) or just throwing things together (sausages in grits), don’t think leftovers have to be boring. Same for dishes that you’ve made 10 times … try a new sauce or seasoning. Making something seem “new” can make dinner or any meal for that matter, exciting!

You’ve been fooled!

I’ve been pondering on what my next rant should be … Lays brought back their new flavor contest – cappuccino flavored potato chips? God we  (Americans) are such fatties! Eating that chip screams “I’m too lazy to drive to Starbucks and pay $8 for a cappuccino but let me get to the store and buy a bag of greasy potato chips”.  I bet you raved to your friends on the money you saved with your smart purchase.; your cholesterol is hating you right now though.

Hhmmmm… something that caught our (me and my husband) attention, the other day we saw 2 very large women who were wearing work out clothes (it’s up for debate if that was their choice stretchy outfit for the day or if they were actually coming from/going to work out) anyway, they came out of Jamba Juice, which is described as a ‘health focused chain for fruit smoothies’, with the largest smoothie size the store offers.  It appeared to be a red smoothie, so I’m guessing something containing strawberries.  Let’s say it was the Razzmatazz smoothie: 500 calories … if they opted for the “make it light” version then they are coming in at 310 calories although the sodium doubles.  Let that sink in, 500 calories is usually 1/3 of someone daily caloric intake, someone who eats healthy I should add.  These women surely eat over 2,000 calories a day – fast food for every meal (there was a McDonald’s cup in the cup holder… so yeah, I’m gonna guess they frequent fast food establishments) + a 500 calorie smoothie will get you to 2,000 calories faster than you can blink an eye.  It’s so disgusting that this store is claiming to be healthy.  Why even offer something that is 500 calories? How about make those smoothies but only in the smallest size, still 290 or ‘make it light’ 180; that’d be doing the general public a better service. While these women may think they are being healthy the store has them fooled; makes me shake my head.

Fruit contains a high percentage of natural sugars; people who aren’t diabetic don’t have to worry about such a thing but take a step back and see what you’re snacking on or drinking … just because your grocery cart is all blueberries, apples, watermelon, carrots, etc. doesn’t mean you’re ‘doing it right’. Check the nutritional info on those items you will be shocked at the carbs/calories/sugars/fats.  So that “sugar free” apple pie you’ve been eying – yeah, it’s not really sugar free.  The baker may not have added extra sugar but apples have enough natural sugars to make a yummy pie all on their own.  Think about that the next time you tell yourself “it’s okay to eat that, it says sugar free”.  Your intentions are in the right place but read the nutrition label and educate yourself.

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Ahh, I feel better after that! On to some yummy recipes that you should try.

 

I made the best meatballs last week … after making them I don’t know how many times, I have finally, scientifically, come up with the yummiest recipe.

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I used ground mild Italian sausage, a precooked & cooled quinoa/yellow onion mixture, panko, FRESH garlic & shallots, s/p to taste.  I used to do ground pork and other spices (a recipe I found on pinterest) but I began to change things and wound up with this beauty.  It seems silly but a perfectly season meatball just hits the spot.

What else… ah, my husband loved this one, a sweet potato and black bean “burrito” or wrap.  We had plenty leftover for a few lunches.  When we ran out of wraps the mixture went into a bowl and sprinkled some cheese, it was good on its own. A vegan meal and the meat wasn’t even missed!

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Of course, as promised, a meal honoring Elvis (I posted about it on my instagram account) – as August is the month he passed away in.  How does one make an “Elvis meal” healthy … I’m pretty sure he was prediabetic but never knew it. Come on, he was pretty large at the time he died. Love him anyway, he’s the king. I have a cook book of his favorite meals “Are You Hungry Tonight?”.
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Click on the photos of the recipes to enlarge them.
HERE ARE MY CHANGES
SOUP: 2% milk, doubled the celery and onions, low sodium broth, I left the potato skins on since they do contain some vitamins
There’s not much you can change about the soup, it was freaking delish though.
BLT & CHEDDAR SANDWICH: the smallest amount of mayo possible, romaine lettuce (we almost used spinach but it had gone bad 😦 ), turkey bacon, whole wheat bread; make sure you look for the label “WHOLE WHEAT” not just “WHEAT” – yes, there’s a difference.
We toasted the bread, plain, then stacked the ingredients.

We wanted to have classic comfort food but we know that comes with regret, do what you can to swap ingredients but keeping the integrity of the meal.  That was such a yummy dinner, indulging every once in a while won’t hurt you.

So we all have those “need to clear the fridge” days, right? When you have a few items that are about to go bad and you really don’t want to toss them, that was last week for me.  Eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and the end of some salsa.  Well, I whipped together an easy brunch.

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I’m ready for tonight’s dinner … a 3 cheese pizza topped with turkey bacon and caramelized onions. YUM!

 

EAT HEALTHY! BE HEALTHY! THINK HEALTHY!

Gotta pinch those pennies!

After splurging last week on my grocery trip I needed to pull from a colleague’s blog, all about cooking on a budget. As a fellow music teacher she knows all about making those dollars stretch.  I was inspired by 3 of her recipes and was able to come up with a remix of chicken alfredo, vegetarian quesadillas, and a polenta bake; the remaining 2 recipes for the week are basics: pork chops with new potatoes and veggies, and salmon burgers with a quinoa salad. I seriously planned this menu is record time! Sometime I’m beyond stumped on what to make and today I didn’t feel like dwelling on my grocery trip so I went to her blog, knowing I’d find something yummy! I’ve made a few of her recipes in the past and they were successful.

I’d also like to brag that last night I wrote on my menu board: “goal: leftovers” … WINNER WINNER! I cleared out the remaining containers and put together a real meal for myself! THIS NEVER HAPPENS. My human garbage disposal (aka my husband) takes care of any and all leftovers so I never have a chance to revisit my dishes.  His work schedule was in my favor – there was not enough for both of us. Anywho, with the fridge being cleared out I’m definitely ready for what this next week brings 🙂

On to the remaining of last week’s meals – gourmet grilled cheese (Wed) and blue cheese turkey burgers (Thurs)

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I used smoked provolone cheese and sauteed yellow onions, swapped out regular white bread with sour dough – so good! I brushed the bread with melted butter (you need something to keep it from turning rock hard!).  Nix the mayo (some people use it on grilled cheese).  I baked sweet potato fries; let them soak in evoo/garlic powder/smoked paprika – what a combo. This is absolutely diabetic friendly – surprised? You shouldn’t be if you actually listen to your doctor/nutritionist/dietician. And as always, we had a side salad… because who doesn’t love some greens in their life? It keeps you regular, people!!!

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Who doesn’t love a good burger? 1.5 lbs of ground turkey makes 4 perfect burgers 🙂 It’s cheap too! After I measured each patty, I flattened it out, sprinkled blue cheese in the center and mixed it. After the blue cheese looked to be evenly distributed I formed the patty, done! It was beautiful weather so Josh got to man the grill; he was off on Thursday so I took advantage of me not having to actually cook. I really do loathe cooking on Thursday’s – it’s my longest day with zero breaks, the last thing I want to do is stand for another hour prepping/cooking dinner. I was able to prep the burgers & corn in the morning before I left for work. I had 1 potato leftover from the day before – 1 large sweet potato makes enough fries for 2 people (good to know!).  I microwave-boiled them in quarter size chunks for faster cook time (12 minutes!); once they came out I sprinkled cinnamon, ground nutmeg, s/p, and topped them with hunk of butter… mashed them up in the skins and voila! A perfect side dish.  For the corn: rubbed on butter, sprinkled s/p and parsley, wrap in foil, and grill it. Top each burger with MORE blue cheese and dinner is ready!

Get your cookin’ started! Where do you get your inspiration from … a family cook book, TV shows, your favorite restaurant… tell me!

food is essential to life: make it good

I actually remembered to plan a meatless meal for tonight! BOOM!

With my new cooking adventures I think it’ll be easier for me to come up with vegetarian meals each week. In years past I would buy boxed fish sticks and whip up some mac n’ cheese. Every Friday this was my dinner! I may as well have gone to McD’s and picked up their fish sandwiches (God I love those things, don’t get me wrong – there is something about them that are addicting! I would LOOOOOVE to go for one of those now but I know better). Lenten meals don’t have to consist of seafood though, not everyone likes fish or shrimp. So I’ll give you tonight’s dinner.

Grilled cheese & sweet potato fries. Simple!  We’re not talking plain old Kraft slices either. I picked up smoke provolone, an avocado, and I’ll saute red onions – stack it up on some sourdough bread. I’m making homemade fries too – 1 potato per person, slice them up, and sprinkle smoked paprika – bake and eat. That sounds DELISH!!! I’ll let you know how it turns out!

I’ll do a picture show of the last few nights of meals (in no particular order). Chicken sliders inspired by Ree Drummond, remember that you can change recipes – the recipe police will not come after you! This also shouldn’t stop you from making something that looks good; if an ingredient doesn’t seem necessary to the overall flavor then it’s okay to omit.

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Another Pioneer Woman recipe, this one I followed to the T. There wasn’t anything you could leave out. When you open the link it will say quick and easy – so true, it was ready in under 20 minutes. The only thing that wasn’t quick and easy, opening the darn pasta box. SERIOUSLY! “Tear here” is a bunch of BS.

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I forgot to include the picture of me food processing the red peppers but that is an important step. Look at Ree’s instructions, she gives step by step pictures – love her blog!

Next in the line up braised short ribs. A bit pricey but this isn’t something we will make on a regular basis; it was actually my first time cooking short ribs. I found this on the Food Network’s website from Claire Robinson’s 5 ingredient fix. The only thing I changed was the cooking time… I did it low and slow – 300 for 6 hours! Do it and you’ll thank me later.

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I had planned root veggies as a side however the tax office took waaaaaay longer than expected. So I didn’t have time to put them in the oven and had to bust out the insty mashed potatoes. No biggie. As I pulled the meat out of the pot, the bones fell off – yepp, I knew this was a good plan 🙂 This could easily be a slow cooker meal but you’ll still have to brown the meat before, it’s crucial to keep the juices inside the meat.

Oh yes, on the disaster that was brinner. It was a huge hit the first time around, I had to plan a second one… except it actually became a real breakfast. I didn’t feel like cooking that night and since we were both home the next day for breakfast, why not make a proper meal to start our day.

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Seriously, Pinterest… you can really suck sometimes. My cute idea quickly changed to scrambled eggs with chopped green peppers. That is where Josh stepped in, he makes THE BEST scrambled eggs; McLane agrees.  Want to make your waffles stand out? I added cinnamon, so yummy.  We needed protein so I cooked JD’s sausage patties. There’s an easy meal!

The final dish: mahi mahi with a mango salsa. I used the root veggies that were skipped from the night before, didn’t want them going bad and having to toss. The marinade that I found for the fish was s0-s0, I think I just needed to have more liquid but the fish was covered … maybe it was the marinade. I won’t even post it. It wasn’t bad, it was just lacking flavor.

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That’s it! I know it’s a lot but now you have no reason to be uninspired. So many meals to choose from 🙂 Pick your weapon!

 

You’re not dying: you just have diabetes: you can do something about it.

My latest blog search: diabetic cooking. I was hoping to find other adventurous home chefs out there, not people telling me what diabetes is (I already know) or how horrible diabetes is (um, get yourself together).

Here is what I found: “what is diabetes?”, “how to manage diabetes”, “Type 1 vs. Type 2”, “the worst day ever” (that person just learned of their type 2 diabetes), and other BOOOOOOORING blogs. It’s unbelievable that there are people out there posting blogs as if they’re doctors.  A lot of the info they give is incorrect, if I compare it to what Josh’s doctors/dieticians/nutritionists taught us. The last blog was a kicker, the author was pretty much in tears when they learned about having type 2 – they went on to say “I know I’m over weight and I want to see my kids grow but I am so devastated to learn of my diagnoses”. WTF?! You are overweight, you don’t have cancer! Get off your butt and do something about it! They continued complaining about how it’d be sooooooo difficult to change their eating habits. I get it to a certain extent, you’ve been eating fast food for pretty much every meal – it’s convenient, it’s fast, it can be cheap … but at what point is a cheeseburger ranked higher than your own life? I am going to follow up on that blog and see how this person is doing and suggest they follow me – I’m not the health queen by any means but maybe my dishes will help them get closer to either not being insulin dependent (some type 2’s only need a daily pill to maintain sugar levels) or hey, getting rid of diabetes altogether.  I don’t know what they physically look like (i.e. height/weight/body fat) however we all know exercise does a body good.  Even if it’s a 30 minute walk around the block each night.

Please note, I am not writing a “woe is me” post today … yes my husband will have diabetes for the rest of his life but he’s doing something about it. He’s eating right (thanks to MEEEEEE), watching his weight (to make sure he’s not losing any again), and he exercises daily.  He does his insulin routine too, obviously the most important thing to never miss. I just don’t understand why some people think their lives are over when learning about diabetes … put down the quarter pounder and diet coke, pick up a glass of UNSWEET tea (Crystal Light has come a loooooong way) and a grilled chicken sandwich on one of those “thins”, top it with lettuce, cheese, tomato, MUSTARD (no mayo!!). You have just taken your first step to eating better.

I must brag for a moment.  Those of you who can’t stand “skinny people” talking about losing weight, please stop reading. Now.

Since beginning this new cooking adventure I have given random updates about how my health is improving. Just because I’m “skinny” doesn’t mean I’m 100% healthy. I am 5’5″ and weighed 145 in November of 2013; mind you I was down to 130 one month prior. If you look up any height/weight chart, I was in the “large” frame category. SAY WHAT?!! I didn’t look large but I sure felt it – my jeans didn’t fit and I loved living in yoga pants (I literally got upset if I had to wear jeans somewhere). Fast forward to yesterday, I weighed myself at 130. HOORAY! It’s been over a year since I was that number. Over that time I started feeling better (not so tired, lazy, yucky) and my jeans started fitting again – I knew I was losing weight, I’d check every few months to see the results … you can’t check every day or week – dropping weight takes time. I’m not an exercise buff but I am up/moving every day … I really don’t like to sit on my butt, I get antsy watching more than 1 hr of TV.

It’s up to you – keep feeling gross and not like what you see while getting dressed or you can do something about it. Ya won’t lose weight but wallowing in your own pity. My husband and I have discussed this a few times – we’re in a way thankful for his diabetes diagnoses. Do not take that as me wishing anything horrible on him; we realized that our eating/cooking habits needed to change and this was our wake-up call. It’s just unfortunate it came as a life changing event.

 

pork chops, steaks, and a ‘little nugget’

What happens when you forget to buy a primary ingredient for dinner? Improvise!  That was my Wednesday evening, as I’m prepping dinner I go the ‘dairy drawer’ in my fridge and frantically search for smoked gouda. NO WHERE TO BE FOUND and then it dawned on me, I forgot to buy it; womp womp womp.  No worries, I wouldn’t let that stop me from making some tasty stuffed pork chops. Yes, we had pork chops last week but they are inexpensive and a great source of protein, so why not. I had smoked gouda and spinach stuffed chops in mind but that quickly changed to …. caramelized onions and sauteed apples stuffed chops.  Even though apples are not wise for a diabetic to eat, we just remember “everything in moderation”.  Again, with the high protein in pork + a side salad of dark greens – apples wouldn’t actually do much to Josh’s sugar level.

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You can also see the instant “mashed” potatoes … I added a decent scoop of garlic to these and a large spoonful of sour cream.  I will say it again, there’s nothing wrong with buying these “cheat” items but do something with them, make them your own. Plain instant potatoes are kind of gross – a soggy lump of mush and lack flavor.  Adding butter alone is pretty standard, go a step further and think of toppings you’d put on a baked potato; dice them up and throw in the pot. Good to go!

P.S. is anyone else a fan of those mini corns? They were my favorite topping at a salad bar and I had no clue (until a few months ago) that you could find them in the canned veggie aisle. Want to make a boring salad interesting? Take the same approach as you would to those instant potatoes.  Olives, mini corn, dried cranberries, croutons, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, diced red/green peppers, cucumbers … we mix up the toppings every month or so because salads can and will get dull!  Remember, go for the dark green lettuce for a healthier choice.  While iceburg lettuce looks the least like a ‘weed’ it doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients.  If it looks like you could have picked it from your backyard, that’s the bag you want to grab or get spinach; looks like a normal leaf and is really good for you.

We ended the week with steaks and sweet potatoes.  It was perfect grilling weather, 75 degrees… no complaints here for a mid-December evening! Our steaks get minimal cooking time, we’re talking 4 minutes on each side. I will not eat a steak if it doesn’t ‘moo’ on my plate 😉  The sweet potatoes took about an hour so plan accordingly.  Ain’t nothin’ simpler than that guys!

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I have graduated from dipping my steaks in Ketchup; my dad would be proud.  I can’t eat it completely naked even though we used some tasty seasoning; I reached for A1 instead. Please, hold your applause 🙂  Yes yes, a salad again. It’s the best side in my opinion; I like making them and Josh always requests one.  So that is usually our veggie helping.

Real quick before I sign off, it’s my little nugget’s 5th birthday this month. She’s so fat it’s appalling but we love her anyway. She eats healthy and gets exercise, we don’t indulge in doggy treats or human food either. It’s just who she is.

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I know you haven’t read much about my sous chefs lately … well with a bigger kitchen and two levels for the dogs to frolic, they don’t get in my way anymore.  They are at my feet when they hear me say ‘dinner’s ready’; they aren’t dumb… they come around hoping to trip me while I’m serving food.  Gotta love ’em!

To give thanks … part 2

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Phew-wee! It couldn’t have been easier, honestly. May I suggest frying a turkey for anyone reading this blog.  My dad is cringing as he reads this, he is the ultimate grill master. I never recall a Thanksgiving where the turkey was indoors. In fact, most meats were grilled… mom was in charge of sides and dad took care of the protein.

Anyway, we set the turkey to brine on Wednesday night and just let it sit for 16 hours (Thank you, Alton Brown). DONE. Washed it off at 3pm (the next day), let it get to room temp & then off it went to the oil. 40 minutes and it was done. What? No 8 hour cooking time in my oven so I can’t cook anything else? Not this year! It was the best thing EVER!!!

You’ve already read “part 1” of this blog so you know what I cooked up.  Here’s the order it all went down.

Bake the sweet potatoes at 9am, cooled and then prepped as the recipe called for.  I opted to not do the twice baked part; I turned it into a regular casserole. I was having issues not tearing the skin while scooping the “meat” out. Hey, last minute changes are okay.

Start the green beans at 11am, cook the beans and mushrooms and prep entire casserole.  Let it cool then into the fridge it goes, it’s ready!

My only ‘last second’ dish was the grits/mushroom/cheese casserole … for fear the grits would get soggy if prepped ahead of time.

Chelsea had the mac n’ cheese already done upon arrival. She whipped up her famous crab dip for an appetizer (took 20 minutes: 5 minute prep & 15 minutes to cook, easy & yummy!!!).  Stuffing would be made right before dinner and O.M.G. was it delish!

Two cooks in this kitchen was no issue at all and having my oven turkey free, it made for a calm afternoon. As the turkey took an oil bath we started the oven for reheating.  Since the turkey would only take 40 minutes we had to add in “cool down” time, another 20-30 minutes. You must let meat sit before cutting or carving so the juices don’t run out. No one likes dry meat.  We put all the sides in the oven at 300 for almost an hour. Yes, my oven was able to hold 5 large casserole dishes. I could literally hear the heavens above singing in glory.

What do I hear you chanting…. <we want pictures, we want pictures>  HERE THEY ARE!

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(yes I carved the turkey… after all, I sat at home watching many MANY episodes on the Food Channel as to how to carve a turkey.  I did pretty good!)

I actually forgot about another appetizer that Chelsea made and it dawned on me why … we ate it so fast that our brains didn’t have time to process the info but our taste buds sure loved it.  Melon wrapped prosciutto, is there anything easier than that? Take a cheat, buy pre-cut melon and this can get made in about 5 minutes (which is what Chelsea did). No one will shake their finger at you for not buying a whole melon and if they do, then ban them from the dish 😉

Also for dessert I bought pecan tarts and sugar free vanilla ice cream. Walmart had sugar free sweet potato pies and that’s about it, made for a sad shopping trip. So I opted for personal tarts which were 36g of carbs; again personal portions means no over indulging.

Overall it was a successful holiday … minus Hines Ward saying he was thankful for the Macy’s day parade (I’ll chalk that up to him getting hit a few too many times).  I hope you had a fantastic and stress-free Thanksgiving. As tradition for me at least, I started my day with the Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by the dog show. I wouldn’t have it any other way!