Quit Yer Belly Achin’

I love the Facebook posts around holiday season: “Oh my God I ate too much” or “Oh my God I REALLY ate WAY too much”.  I say, host your own gathering and control the food spread. Obviously you may not be able to do this every year but it could be a start; show your friends how you can create an amazing buffet and not feel disgusting at the end of it.  Oh the other part of that is, freaking control yourself! Just because 10 trays of cookies are prepared doesn’t mean you need to sample a few from each.

Honestly sometimes I eat a light snack before going over to someones house. It’ll hold me over in case there are some bad foods offered – I won’t be hungry to eat; it can also curve my hunger in case there aren’t any finger foods and one must wait until dinner.  I don’t want to scarf my dinner down so fast that my belly hates me. It’s all about self control.

I may be blessed in the sense that my good friend Chelsea is all for eating healthy and cutting processed foods, it made Thanksgiving easy. There were no cries from the peanut gallery when I introduced my low carb/low calorie menu.

On to Christmas, my family came to town! I got to cook one dinner (Christmas Eve) for them, Chicken Marsala.  It was a bit difficult cooking for 5 adults when I’m used to only myself and my husband (even though he counts for 3 or 4 sometimes 😉 ) Dinner turned out great and they liked it.  Clean plate clubs all around. I added prosciutto this time (now that I don’t live in the ghetto, my new/fancy grocery store sells it!) and now I can taste why it’s necessary.  You need some kind of salty flavor since mushrooms are quite bland – the flavor of the Marsala wine cooks out and even using s/p on the chicken, the dish was still missing something the first time I made it.

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Everyone was in the kitchen! Josh requested ‘rusty mashed potatoes’ so he had to prepare them. They are pretty easy because they don’t require any peeling. He lucked out. My mom is a slicing and dicing machine.  She turned her nose to my mandolin and said “I’m your mandolin, give me those veggies”. Yes that’s my standard peppers, zucchini, and squash medley. It’s easy and tasty. Plus how pretty is it? So many colors!

We did have Christmas dinner at home, it was prepped and cooked by everyone.  It started with marinating a 3 lbs beef tenderloin the night before. I’m still getting used to the fact that my fridge can hold such an item – I love marinating food over night, the flavors are amazing! Easiest marinade ever, I didn’t “food process” it, just throw everything in the baggie (yes, dice the shallots and I put the rosemary branches in whole). I doubled everything since this piece of meat was extra special. Let that baby sit over night, pull out 30 minutes prior to grilling and you’re set.

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My dad braved the cold San Antonio weather to man the grill. He is the ultimate grill master; I won’t EVER order steaks at a restaurant.  He has made me expect the best when it comes to meat.  We’re slowly working on our grilling skills so hopefully Josh learned a thing or two while my family was here. I never experienced an oven cooked meat for a holiday while growing up. Even in 5 feet of snow, the grill was going.

Of course we had a theme for dinner, surf and turf! The seafood market at my new/fancy grocery store is fantastic. Obviously so is the meat market; they trimmed the tenderloin to perfection.  Seafood counter purchases: large scallops, jump shrimp, crab legs, and salmon. We kept it simple with the first three items: melted butter and threw in garlic, boom, there’s your sauce.  I used my favorite Martha recipe for the salmon.  Chelsea helped prepare a double recipe of it, brushed some on prior to cooking the salmon and then people could spoon on whatever they wanted once it was on their plate.

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I know you must be dying to find out what side dish I served. Drum roooolllllllll…. Mushroom Orzo! Geeze it was delish! I went back for seconds and there was only a small spoonfull! WHAT! The chef missed out! I have officially added it to my recipe box and will be making it again.  I actually didn’t have enough orzo so I threw in some quinoa. It was so pretty!

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I went with probably 2 dozen pearl onions, I don’t even know where the creator got only 8 from. Each of us would get 1/4 of an onion? Ridiculous! You’ll have to peel these stubborn suckers. Boil them for a few minutes, let them cool, and you should be able to pop the skin right off. Do this, save your sanity. Why yes that is a wine measuring glass! An awesome gift from my parents, based on the cooking regime Julia Child believed in: “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.” One side of the glass is “sips for the chef” and the other is an actual measuring cup.

I’ll leave you with an assortment of pictures from that day – going back for 2nds or 3rds isn’t so bad when you prepare a healthy dinner! Enjoy!

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Redemption!

By now I’ve got about 15 new recipes under my belt… it’s time to start repeating our favorites (reuse your ingredients before they go bad!!!!).  It’s nice to ask Josh, “Hey, do you want ham and swiss Hawaiian rolls for dinner?” and he knows what I’m talking about!  I used to ask “what do you want for dinner?” and his answer “whatever”.  Surely he doesn’t mean “whatever” but honestly if I served up a bowl of cereal, he’d be content.  Boys are creatures of habit and I have finally figured out that no matter what I cook, he will eat it or else he’ll be in the pantry for cereal.

Last night was a repeat and it was even better than the first time! I make sure to write down improvements or things I didn’t care for on each recipe.  If you tweak a recipe so much from the original and it still isn’t what you expected, I’d say it’s time to toss that recipe. Third time’s the charm, right?  Back to the turkey burgers we devoured last night, I made them about a month ago and felt it was time to bring it back and make it better.   Once again Martha Stewart has a winner *SHOCK!*; Dijon mustard, Swiss cheese (my substitute for Gruyere cheese), breadcrumbs, and scallions.

Yeah so, the two grocery stores near my house do not have Gruyere… it’s a little too fancy for this area and I haven’t been able to find it at the commissary either.  I’m sure Whole Foods has it but that’s a 20ish minute drive- just for cheese, LOL.  I looked up substitutes and I’d have to say those cheese lovers out there were passionate about what you could actually use as a sub for Gruyere cheese.  I committed a sin by using Swiss (by their terms) but anything they suggested, womp womp womp, the stores didn’t have those as well!  One guy suggested Swiss cheese and he got chewed out! NO! How dare you insult the flavor of Gruyere by using Swiss! CONDEM YOU TO EATING FAST FOOD FOR LIFE!  I went with the guy who got yelled at and decided “I’ve got your back, bro”, let’s try Swiss cheese. Needless to say, the burger didn’t poof up in flames for using such a low class cheese… the burger was super duper

Here are a few pictures from last night’s dinner
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1) veggie medley: green peppers, red onions, yellow squash, zucchini & any marinade of your choice! Lawry’s has a herb and lemon sauce, so good! I’ve also used the Kraft Anything dressings, roasted red pepper is our favorite. Stick in the oven on 400 for about 30 min (cover is you notice the veggies starting to brown on the edges). I prepped this dish in the morning before I started my day, use your newly purchased mandolin… it took me maybe 5 minutes. Plus they got to marinate alllllllllll day in yummy goodness.
2) sweet potato fries: admit it, everyone loves a good french fry every once in a while.  These are obviously the healthier option over regular fries. Pop these in for the last 15 minutes of the veggies.
3) turkey burger: you know it, had to stick in the oven with Josh working late. I’m still scared to use the grill.  I put these and the fries in the oven together, when the veggies & fries were done, I switched on the broiler (HI) for maybe 5 minutes just to brown the meat. The turkey was cooked to perfection, nice and juicy!  How to make it better (IMO): add more shredded cheese and mustard. As much as I hate mustard, I love cheese.  The two flavors balance each other out and who doesn’t love EXTRA cheese?!

Since everything was in the oven at the same time, Josh decided that we should two-step around the kitchen… rather, in a small circle which led to me becoming dizzy.  A few circles, a spin, and a dip… ok back to dinner.  He’s so cute with his WBS (white boy syndrome), has to concentrate on the steps and counting. I give him a “A” for effort. My music skills are starting to rub off on him.

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1) want to cut calories? Use the 100 calorie bread, you won’t feel gross after eating this burger; you’ll want to actually eat the veggies and fries.
2) toppings! I had some leftover red onion from my veggie medley, pickles (FREE FOOD CHOICE: NO CARBS!!), and Swiss cheese. Don’t forget your ketchup and mustard!

A delish dinner for the start of the week, redemption from that beef flavored spaghetti on Friday. Tonight I’ll be making the ham and Swiss rolls as mentioned earlier…. You’ve got the recipe, now try it! They are very messy, FYI. I will be adding toothpicks to hold them together while being served (learned that the hard way the first time around).

TURKEY BURGER RECIPE
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