What’s Your Hashtag?

I love Instagram. I love feeling like I’m part of someone else’s dinner when I see other home cook’s uploaded pictures. I love feeling excited when the “ding” pops up that a celebrity chef liked one of my pictures. I love when another user asks for one of my recipes. Yet I still have plenty of moments where I shake my head. Such as, when I look through pictures of users who are on Weight Watchers. They have usernames like WWjen or WWfoodlover … all of them start with “ww”.  Anyway, I scan their photos and most of the time I see healthy meals, small portions, point tracking, and updates of their weight loss progress.  A recent WW person started following me and I took a peak at her photos. Corn dogs, chili covered fries, ice cream sundaes, fast food french fries, fried seafood … the list goes on and on. This lady did her point tracking but her meals were disgusting! Who thinks a corn dog and a side of chili fries is healthy? I guess a corn dog is 2 points and fries were like 4 … she had some left over points and made an ice cream sundae, topped with whip cream and chocolate sauce. What that heck is she not learning from WW? She had other photos of her “progress”, usually the screen shot was something like “come on, you can do it … the points are adding up but you’re still struggling to lose weight”. NO KIDDING! She would tag the photo with something like #TailgateWeekendFail or #ICheatedThisWeek. Sorry hun I’m pretty sure your 75+ photos are not just from a bad weekend or a few cheat meals.  You can’t cheat the system! If you eat like garbage you body will become a wasteland.  Cut out the junk, cheat ONE day a week so you don’t go crazy, start to work out (walking around the block for 30 minutes is a great start), and then maybe you’ll see weight loss. It’s obviously not guaranteed and everyone is different but it’s a good start. You won’t see a change if you don’t make any!

Here are some yummy meals that can help you get going to that goal of a slimmer waist 🙂

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First up, pesto covered salmon with a veggie quinoa salad. Buy jarred pesto and slather that fish up! Bake for 10 min on 400 – done. The “salad” was prepped in the morning so all I had to do was reheat it after work. Quinoa takes 20 minutes to cook and it needs to be constantly stirred, the last thing I feel like doing at night. Anyway, chop a red bell pepper and red onion, (cook until veggies are soft), mix in balsamic vinegar, top with pine nuts – serve. PS the ‘white stuff’ on the fish is fat, don’t be grossed out. I buy frozen filets; 1. 4 pieces = $12 (2 fresh filets cost that) 2. I don’t have to deal with the skin 3. My fridge doesn’t stink like fish. Sounds like a big bonus to me.
Next, turkey burgers! Cut the beef y’all, do yourself a giant favor. If you get the “fatty” turkey then you may be able to trick the meat lover in your family however don’t quote me on that. Ok so the burgers – bust out your food processor and toss in an onion and garlic. The juice of an onion is a great way to add moisture to turkey burgers or any burger for that fact. Added to the mix, wor. sauce and Fiesta burger seasoning. Crucial. I love the flavors and with the food processor no one got large bits of anything, it was pulverized to perfection. With 1.25lbs of ground turkey I made 5 burgers, 2 small ones for me and 3 bigger ones for my husband. I ate 1 and he at 2 which meant leftovers. I’m finally getting the hang of this! I forget what our sides were but you could do a salad, baked sweet potato (better than regular), cole slaw, corn, peas/carrots, etc. Nothing greasy! Don’t forget a whole wheat bun; slower releasing carbs compared to white bread.

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A fun weekend activity: we made salsa. I have no idea how to can so that’s on my bucket list … because we have a mega tupperware filled to the brim of fresh salsa. It’s not perfect, it was also our 1st attempt but it’s yummy. My husband added roasted corn which was necessary for sweetness with all of the acidic ingredients (tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, onion).

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We all love take out right? Of course! Do yourself another favor and make your favorite meal at home. Our test was general tso’s chicken. I found this awesome website Damn Delicious and found a recipe for a lighter version of this favorite “Chinese” dish. I say that with quotes because you should know that is an Americanized menu item. Made with corn flakes and just absolute yumminess, this will be a keeper! We loved it – paired with quinoa fried rice and not only did it feel like we called in this order but we felt good afterwards. You know how you feel after ordering take out – BLOATED & full of regret. Not with this dish! It was a bit time consuming but my husband helped and we cut the prep time down. I don’t like spicy food so he added red pepper flakes directly to his bowl instead of the sauce.  We have at least 1 serving leftover.

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Remember my new goal of creating leftovers? Well I have been making extra and hiding it. Literally. I take the extra portions, put them in tupperware, and hide them in the back of my fridge. I love my husband but if the food doesn’t smack him in the face then he won’t look for it. HA! The leftovers aren’t meant to make a full meal, he has them as snacks when he comes home from work (if he works an AM shift he’s home around 3, eats, heads to the gym, and dinner is between 6-8pm depending on my teaching sched). This works out perfectly

This could work for anyway, serve your plate and hide the rest! That way you won’t be tempted to go back for seconds or thirds.

Back to the meal – sloppy joes. I freaking love Martha Stewart. This week is all about my favorite cook book, Great Food Fast. Easy recipes to follow, simple ingredients, and minimum prep/cook time. I prepped this one in the morning, again making an easy reheat for my 1 hr time slot for dinner 😉 A recent discovery, all of the nutrition facts are in the back of this book! If you need to light that fire of learning how to cook you should buy this book. It’s the one I started with and love it.

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Again I used ground turkey to cut the red meat. Make breaking up the meat easy, I use a rubber spatula and basically stab the you-know-what out of the meat, ha! Hold the pan with your free hand or you may have treats for your fur-babies. The meat gets super tiny and there aren’t any lumps. A wood spoon doesn’t get the meat broken up very well and half of the meat gets stuck to the spoon too. DO NOT BUY Manwich – that stuff if filled with nasty/bad for you ingredients. Make it yourself, hide those veggies, and you’ll never know the difference. Except you won’t feel like garbage afterwards.

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Hold on to your bloomers because this dinner was ready in a blink of an eye and it only used 5 ingredients. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Red & yellow bell pepper, sweet Italian turkey sausage, pasta (we use Dream Fields, slow releasing carbs),  Parmesean cheese, and butter (only 1 TBSP!!!). Seriously that’s it! The salty flavor of Parm. cheese and flavorful sausage will blow your taste buds away. Isn’t it funny how the simplest of meals can make you the happiest?  Yes, a Martha meal. My husband was a bit skeptical of how it’d turn out but was pleasantly  surprised 🙂 Martha does not disappoint!

even the best cooks (HA!) need a sabbatical

So I’ve been at this “healthy cooking” shtick for almost a year and I feel like I need a make-over. One can only go on so many rants about: how a diabetic diet should look … that I keep reading FB posts “I don’t have time to cook” … complaints that people don’t know what to cook … and my favorite ‘gripe’ of wanting to feel/look better. Those will never go away.

If you take away ANYTHING from all of my posts, I really hope you’ve realized that healthy cooking/eating isn’t brain surgery.  Stop all of these nonsense “detox diets” – sure they give you immediate gratification but try staying on that diet for more than the suggested 30 days – who can live without carbs, sugar, or alcohol for more than that time? I’m sorry but your brain needs carbs, your body needs sugar, and geeze- I need alcohol come every Friday!  Stop that detox and you’ll balloon right back to what you were before. GUARANTEED. How about changing your lifestyle and maintain a weight loss pattern that you’ll be pleased with for years to come.

I have to say that I get excited when I see another person join the healthy living side of things … IG posts and blogs, you name it; it keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing. I love that there are more healthy cooking shows on my go-to channels (Food Network and Cooking Channel), they give me new ideas every Saturday (when I sit down to plan my weekly menu).

So I’m debating what improvements I can make on my blog for the year to come… The humor is slightly gone of me tripping over my dogs – we’ve moved into a bigger house, our sous chefs can watch from the stairs. There is no annoyance of trying to chop/slice/dice things on 2’x2′ counter space – I now have counter space for days! The frustration of not being able to buy fresh produce due to lack of fridge space or buy meat in bulk due to a freezer that defrosts has erased itself with our amazingly awesome new fridge.  The reason I started my blog was to prove that deliciously tempting and healthy meals could be prepared in the most depressing kitchen.  My new kitchen is far from depressing – I LOVE BEING IN IT!

I’ll continue my nightly #kitchentails posts on IG as I prep for dinner.  I’ll keep my blog-posts coming, they just might not be as frequent.  I’m going to start revisiting our favorite meals which I surely don’t have to post about every few days as I do now. We are going on vacation soon and I have every intention of reporting back to the blogging world about our food intake. I already let y’all know that taking a break on our healthy eating adventures was not a good idea on my last vacation. While I do some soul searching of how to update my blog take a look back and see how I’ve turned our eating habits around in 1 year.  Just remember: YOU CAN DO IT TOO! Have fun and be sure your sense of humor is around too – you’ll need it when a dish doesn’t turn out properly or if something doesn’t taste quite right… get in the kitchen and start experimenting.

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what happens in Vegas …

Sous Chef Geno has been getting the royal treatment lately.  He got into some trash (not our doing or fault… don’t get me started, I have the issue under control and have spoke to the appropriate people) and hasn’t been feeling or acting like himself. 3 trips later [to the vet] and slowly his usual cuteness is returning. The royal treatment per meal: 2 spoon fulls of pumpkin pie filling, 1 tummy ache pill, 1 steroid, and 1 pro-biotic … plus us having the pleasure of watching him go to the bathroom. I know I know, this is close to TMI (especially for a food blog) but I started off mentioning all of this because a dog eating trash and getting sick was similar to us eating crap … resulting in not feeling well. Could it be a metaphor for life? Maybe. STOP EATING TRASH! What’s that saying… you are what you eat? I think it totally holds true.

<end rant>

So I’m home from Vegas and I’ll tell you what, I went against everything I’ve been working hard at since last year – eating right, not eating as much, etc. I did manage to not snack although it was tempting. You’re on vacation and you think “I can cheat”. DON’T DO IT. You’ll thank me later! I cheated, big time. I had fast food, sweets, soda, and mega-carbs. You name it, I ate it. Boy did my stomach hate me (maybe I could have used some of Geno’s pills.. JUST KIDDING. Chill). It was all so delish though! Geeze did I miss the flavor of grease and the sweetness of real sugar. Then again, I ended up with massive headaches and my guilt kicking in. The next vacation I really do need to stick to my new eating habits, not feeling well for 4 days while I was supposed to be enjoying time off, was definitely not worth it. Listen, in moderation I think all of things are okay but not jammed packed, back to back for each meal, 4 days straight.

Okay, okay – I’ll give you menu for this past week.  Thank you for sitting through my venting.

Tuesday- Zucchini Lasagna.
“When you said zucchini lasagna I didn’t know you meant no noddles” Josh. Who didn’t listen when I explained that this zucchini lasagna used NO NODDLES; the zucchini becomes the layer separation. Which also means he took too much insulin because he thought there’d be a lot of carbs. I did serve garlic bread though to help balance veggies vs. carbs but it wasn’t enough; he went hunting in the fridge for more food. MEN! 😉

This is not a vegetarian lasagna, it calls for ground beef (I used turkey). I’m sure you could remove the meat because there are a ton of veggies in it, or just double what the recipe says and there will plenty of “sauce” to add between the layers.

My dish did not come out as pretty as the allrecipes.com post, of course. It’s incredibly messy but it was sooooooo good! Bit of a change to the recipe: I forgot the thaw the spinach so it didn’t get added. Oh well. I honestly ran out of stacking space so it worked in my favor (Take out the meat and use spinach? You’d have the room for it). I think next time I might grill the zucchini (on the g.f.), the dish needed structure which stiffer/thicker noodles typically provide. By grilling, I’d think that it’d firm the veggies, giving it more structure instead of just slopping onto my plate.

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Wednesday was a slow cooker repeat, our favorite enchilada meal. I used baby shrimp this time around – so good! I love that recipe, it’s the easiest and tastiest. I didn’t double it, just made enough for one night. Thursday had shrimp planned again and I didn’t want insane leftovers of shrimp dishes although my husband wouldn’t care. He’s my garbage disposal after all!

Thursday brought on a new recipe via Paula Deen which we all know means there was a TON of butter in the recipe. I cut it by half and you wouldn’t know the difference (my arteries did and thanked me).  This was my best creation yet. I’m still trying to figure out the correct amount of s & p to use; I know that sounds ridiculous but I honestly can’t get it right! It’s either too much and I feel like I’m licking a brick of salt or there’s not enough and I may as well be eating cardboard. Cooking takes work on balancing spices, keep at it and one day, voila, success! I wanted to go back for seconds but I knew better. ImageImageImage

To make eating easier, I cut all of the shrimp tails off PRIOR to cooking. I don’t feel like working for my meal … either way I’d cut them, may as well do it before I sit down. On top of the called for ingredients I added my last zucchini, rather use it than toss it! You can add any veggie to this, at least that’s my opinion. We have leftovers which I’ll be enjoying tonight – Josh is off to Austin for a JROTC competition, only 1 night so he won’t get to enjoy that weird city (so many great food options out there!). 

That’s my week, feel free to wear it [the recipes] out! Bonus: my tummy is almost back to normal. I think my body absorbed more than I thought…

P.S. that enchilada recipe was my first pin on Pinterest … what was yours? Comment below! Also, how many of you actually make the things you pin? Sure, I have my “one day” kind of board, like artwork I’d love to create or furniture I’d love to own … but I stay true to my “yum-o” board. I’ve cooked almost everything pinned.

Don’t forget my IG food tags #kitchentails to see my current cooking adventures!!

 

Lay’s Contest < Willy Wonka

I wonder if I should submit a flavor to the “Lay’s Do Us a Flavor” contest … I came up with a real good one this morning, inspired by my kitchen sink “Bacon Greasy Dishes”. What? Not a good one? Sorry, did I make you throw up a little bit in your mouth? I mean, it’s on par with some of the other submissions, ones like ‘chocolate chip cookie’ or ‘salted butter’ (Paula Deen would like that one…), oh this is the best ‘wiener schnitzel and sauerkraut’. C’mon America, how fat can we be that we need the joy of eating potato chips that taste like a complete meal. This ain’t no Willy Wonka factory, however if anyone comes up with lick-able wall paper please be kind enough to inform me first (that won’t add any calories to my diet, right?!).

My husband and I saw the contest commercial the other night and we talked about the last winners, we did like the Siracha chips but chicken and waffles was gross, I may as well just drank syrup from the squeeze bottle. I can’t remember the 3rd winner, we never found those chips which surprised me because we do live in the most obese city in America, let’s hear it for San Antonio!

Okay so you might be wondering why my sink was filled to the brim with greasy dishes – we cooked bacon last night. Even though we disposed of the grease properly, my tin foil attempt to keep the pan clean was an epic fail. I do not stove cook bacon, that splattering mess goes in the oven set to broil. Our dinner however was not a greasy mess – a pizza creation that I ‘stole’ from BJ’s Brewery. We love their pizzas but they are literally 3 inch deep dish meals; 1 slice and you’re done. This clearly doesn’t work with one who has diabetes so I purchased all of the toppings and a thin crust, there you go, a healthy alternative already.

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I used chicken tenders to make dicing easier, marinate those suckers in EVOO and garlic. The more garlic, the better 🙂
I bought a can of diced tomatoes, make sure to drain them really well or you’ll end up with a soggy crust! Pour some ranch and there you go. It wasn’t dry at all, the juicy tomatoes along with the ranch masks the fact that is no actual sauce.

How is ranch healthy? BOLTHOUSE. How many times must I tell you about this brand? JUST SWITCH ALREADY!

Oh geeze, I just got another idea for a potato chip flavor … one that could have avoided this whole greasy kitchen sink mess in the first place … ‘Garlic Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch Pizza”. No cooking required. Duh! Oh my gosh, I feel so fat just thinking about it.

And to prove my husband doesn’t read the menu board, this is what I have to do for ingredients that I know he’ll want to eat as a snack:
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It worked because the other morning he informed me that the cottage cheese almost fell victim to his growling stomach. After I used it I did cross out “NOT” and wrote “EAT :-)” all over it. It was gone the same day.

And here’s Sous Chef Geno keeping guard of the oven

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Be sure to check out my food pictures on Instagram … MRSDLH50 – #kitchentails

 

cooking with friends: a must.

THIS is the post I’ve been looking forward to … shenanigans commenced in the kitchen with this girl in town & I loved it!

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Listen, Josh and I have fun when we cook together but there’s something about cooking with a girlfriend.  We’re a little too old to be having sleep overs where we paint nails & braid hair; drinking wine, catching up on life, and cooking just sounds so much better anyway 😉 . Oh plus that meant Josh got to sit back and watch football. I’m pretty sure he had no complaints.

Let’s see, overall prep for the shrimp burgers wasn’t difficult but there were quite a few steps with the many ingredients.  I have a ton of photo collages because with Miss Chelsea in the kitchen with me, I had a rock star picture-taker; she just snapped away at pretty much everything and I had so many pictures to choose from. I’d say she’s hired to come back any time 😉 .

IMG_3576 FYI: pulsing the shrimp in the food processor was nasty. It stank and the “meat” was sticky and slimy. It made for handling things a little tricky. (Notice the Scentsy warmer … it did its job and covered the smell. Not just mix cinnamon and seafood; it totally erased the seafood stink! I HIGHLY recommend this product!)

\/ that’s me realizing there isn’t enough Dijon mustard … 2 curse words

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On to making the cream sauce and peach salsa. The recipe calls for chipotle sauce (whatever that is … couldn’t find it after 3 stores); we had Chilula so I stuck with it however it’s not as spicy as what I’d think chipotle sauce to taste like so we kept dumping more and more Chilula into the sour cream. Way more than 2 TBSP; use whatever sauce you like though, taste as you go to make sure you like it.

The peach salsa was delish! A great topping for any burger really, even a salad topping. Peeling peaches isn’t the most exciting task, it’s a pain. Peaches are slimy and impossible to handle once most of the skin is off, so be prepared to possibly drop them. Speaking from experience … I dropped half of one down that black hole between the counter top and fridge… 3 curse words.

Whichever topping called for coconut, I left it out. Blah. I really dislike coconut. It’s so chewy and almost rubbery.

IMG_3579 We did have an injury. Whoopsie-bears. One must be careful how much wine has been consumed when using incredibly sharp knives. Chelsea turned to help me with something and I turned towards her with a knife in my hand. And then they met. Fortunately it wasn’t a deep cut and a band-aid saved the day.  Ok, on to slicing the avocado, it was perfectly ripe. Bottom picture is our side item, sweet potatoes. Those little nuggets took forever, but we planned on that happening. We have the WORST luck with baked potatoes.  So in they went at 400 for 1 1/2 hours. HOLY MOLY. They were tasty though; a famers market purchase from earlier in the day, along with the Poteet Wine.

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Look at those crazy sous chefs, Geno has a huge crush on Chelsea (she’s the first house guest he’s been around since we adopted him). That piece actually sat when she told him to. Jerk. We’ve been working on “SIT” since June and while he does it when he wants to, he did it on command for her. WTF. That’s it, she’s living with us.  As for Ella, well she had no clue why there was so much commotion in the kitchen.

PS Strawberry wine is fantastic. It’s like juice. Yummy. Lots of yummy!

Oh yeah, back to the burgers… form them just like regular burgers, there’s no secret to it (they won’t shrink though: no fat! So make them the size you want). I let the bowl mixture sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up, it was a good idea since the meat is so sticky. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, set up the toppings station, and voila – dinner’s ready! Josh began the clean up process, love him.  My daily “after dinner” routine is sticking Josh’s Chillow in the fridge. I hate that thing. It takes up an entire shelf. We literally have a shelf dedicated to the Chillow. Which means one less shelf for my groceries. I can’t wait until we move to the new house and have 2 fridges.
(I told you Chelsea snapped pictures of everything! I love it!)

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FINISHED PRODUCT. Oh man, it was so good. I wasn’t sure what the texture would be like, it wasn’t gooey or rubbery. It reminded me of salmon burgers.  Everyone had CPC (clean plate club; I’m astonished at how many people didn’t have that club when they were younger. It was a big deal in my house!); the sweet potatoes turned out perfectly (sorry, no picture – it’s a potato) … so yeah, it’s a keeper for sure. Even the leftover patty was still good; 1 minute in the microwave and you’d think it was freshly cooked. Usually seafood turns to shoe leather if reheated. Josh plans on using the sour cream sauce for his sandwiches and the peach salsa for salads. Leftovers don’t have to be used for their original intention. Be creative and don’t waste perfectly good food.

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Follow me on instagram …mrsdlh50 … I’ll be posting nightly photos from dinner.  That should hold you over until I get time to blog. Chelsea introduced me to this gem of an app and I’m obsessed now!  I’ll use the tags #foodporn and #kitchentails but also whatever the main ingredient is.  I’m trying to keep up with technology!