I have not abandoned you…

My daily routine has been nothing close to normal which explains why I have been scarce on posting.  I have however made some pretty tasty meals (and 1 near disaster, lol).  Here’s a peek at the last 2 weeks, I’ll include recipe links under each photo description. After the holidays my goal is to be back blogging 2x each week, with better updates of our diabetic eating adventures and life changes to being healthier.

IMG_4608   Good ol’ Martha is back at it … baked shells with winter squash

Of course I couldn’t find winter squash puree like the recipe calls (hunted 4 stores) for so I had to put some elbow grease into this dish and dice up my own squash. What a pain. I thought to myself “I am not making any more recipes that call for squash”… peeling and dicing it took FOREVER.  I used the amounts in Martha’s recipe and ended up with enough for 2 fairly large casserole dishes. That was actually okay because I now have a fridge that can hold leftovers. Delish, filling, seasonal, comfort food, hearty, vegetarian … I’d absolutely make this again!

IMG_4631 Ain’t nothin’ wrong with buying dinners prepared by your local grocery store.  Now that we live near a fancy ‘HEB Plus’ we have a lot more to choose from. The seafood counter is 10x better than our previous HEB.  Josh requested seafood burgers and I added Maryland style crab cakes plus vegetable couscous.  If I recall those were bruschetta salmon burgers – O.M.G.  Everything you’d find in bruschetta (tomato and basil) + salmon.  The vegetable couscous was made by yours truly from a diabetic cook book – pick your favorite veggies and add them to couscous. It couldn’t be easier.  I’ll be buying crab cakes from the store again too; being from the East Coast I was satisfied with what Texas had to offer as their version of “Maryland style” crab cakes.

IMG_4632  Again, store bought pre-marinated beef kabobs.  Yeah I was a bit lazy that week. Actually, no I wasn’t! I decorated our house for Christmas, had a dress rehearsal at my school, had 1 studio recital, finished unpacking our last 5 boxes … and purchased a living room. I wasn’t lazy. So, kabobs + leftover veggie couscous. Easy dinner!

IMG_4660 This is my happiest meal yet … I made it on Wednesday with Josh’s help. I had him home for 3 dinners this week; I am one lucky wife 🙂 His sister had actually pinned a similar recipe but when I clicked on the photo that annoying alert came up “this link might contain nudity”. What? A picture of a chicken breast? Haha. Anyway, the link was removed so I just Googled “mini chicken pot pies” and found this little gem!  From start to finish, dinner was ready in 35 minutes.  I purchased chicken tenders for easier prep and a can of peas/carrots. These would be so cute for a pot luck, they fit in your hand and are not messy! Once they cooled you could pick them up to eat, no fork needed.

IMG_4673  Yeah, remember that whole “I’m not making any more butternut squash recipes” comment? HA! After going a few times to Panera and having their Autumn Squash Soup I insisted on trying to make my own. Round 1: blah. Round 2: I won! I purchased 2 large squash which made enough soup for an entire week. Again, my fridge holds plenty of leftovers 🙂 thankfully that gave me an opportunity to improve the flavor.  Sadly, round 1 was a Marta recipe … I don’t know what she was thinking but it had ZERO flavor.  I then searched for a copy of Panera’s version – there are quite a few bloggers out there that devote their time to copying restaurant favorites and posting the outcomes.  So round 2 was thanks to this chica;  well sort of. I added honey, cinnamon, and curry that she suggested – I already had a decent base so didn’t feel the need to add milk/cream or apples. WOW what a huge difference those spices made and holy cow it was sooooo freaking good. I’m pretty sure I did a happy dance around my (huge) kitchen.  If you want a creamy base then add cream or milk, but those are diabetic no-no’s and I don’t feel my taste buds missed it.

IMG_4674 Ah, a classic…stuffed pork chops.  I might have blogged about these already but whatever. Blue cheese and cranberry stuffed pork chops. Easy. Done and done. You can stuff a pork chop with anything!

I do have other meals that I made but WordPress doesn’t like video files I guess … or at least won’t allow them on a free site. Oh well, I shall describe them!
1) vegetable tostadas which turned in to vegetable tacos, lol. Saute zucchini, mushrooms, and scallions – layer that on a tortilla and top with feta cheese and your favorite salsa. Super simple yet a incredibly filling dish. I added chorizo and queso fresco stuffed jalapenos as a side. Yes, Martha’s tostada recipe calls for the veggies being grilled … well an “arctic blast” came through Texas and it seemed silly to start up the grill. The stove worked out just fine.
2) curry chicken. Martha, you redeemed yourself from that bland soup. A year ago I would have turned my nose to curry but I wanted to test it out in my own kitchen to see if I’d like it, I’ve heard good things about “curried” foods. Oh man, it was so tasty and not really all that spicy – that was my biggest fear. I used a lot of curry, in my opinion and Josh said he could taste all of the flavors, we both loved it!  I cooked up some brown rice and stirred it in the pot of chicken curry, let everything sit for a few so the rice could absorb all of that yummy-ness.

I think that’s it… my last 2 weeks.

This week: chicken bombs + baked beans and a salad; gouda/spinach stuffed pork chops + green beans and mashed p’s; standard spaghetti + garlic knots; steaks + sweet potatoes and a salad.

Have you started thinking about the week of Christmas? I HAVE, I HAVE! My family is coming!!!!!!!!! Time to show them my new found love for cooking.  Of course we’ll be hitting up a few restaurants but what is planned: chicken marsala + garlic mashed p’s; lasagna roll ups + pork/quinoa meatballs; and for Christmas DRUM ROLL >> SURF & TURF! Salmon filets, crab cakes, scallops, beef tenderloin and a few veggie sides.  LOVE IT!

OH! MY NEAR DISASTER MEAL! I found this pork tenderloin marinade and let’s just say I won’t be making it again. Blah flavors. Honey, lime juice, and garlic.  No more needs to be said about that meal.

Feel free to follow me on instagram MRSDLH50 … my pot pies were “liked” by TLTFOOD – season 2 winners of the food truck race on the food channel. HOW COOL!!! HA!

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We’ve Been Bad…

Real bad.  I’ve cooked only a few meals since last Wednesday.  

Days I cooked: Wednesday, sort of Friday, and tonight (Monday)
Days we cheated: Thursday (Panda), Saturday (Flying Saucer), and Sunday (Panera)

On top of that, I already know we’ll be cheating this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  Oh shoot, just add Sunday to that list as well.

This is clearly not typical but with our move fast approaching (SATURDAY!!!!) … I’ve given up on my current kitchen. I’m literally sick of it; knowing my new kitchen is so close to being ours, I can’t help but dream of the meals I’ll get to cook starting next week. I honestly have dreams about recipes I’ve been meaning to try. Please don’t think I’m strange.

So I’ll let you know what we’ve had on the days I cooked … Very tasty meals actually: one new recipe, a total cop-out pot roast, and a twist on something I’ve made 2x already.

Wednesday: Pasta with a TON of veggies.
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Don’t have time for fresh veggies like the recipe calls for? No worries, frozen is clearly the next best option.  I threw them in frozen, HA! Talk about being impatient.
Anyway, so SO easy.  Toss the veggies in a large pan – top with sauce – add cooked noodles. This is only a 2 pot meal! I picked up cute noodle nests (1 nest = 1 serving, all the measuring done for me).  Add a side salad and it’s complete!

Friday: lazy persons pot roast
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These kits exist that have the veggies chopped and vacuumed sealed… meat too, duh.  I was skeptical but Josh had picked it out when I really sent him to find a good hunk of beef to make our own roast.  Eh, figured I’d give it a try.  Just to note most kits don’t come with seasoning (why call it a kit then?!); this one came with “complimentary” spices.  Thanks Tyson, for “throwing in” a spice packet. I’m sure it was a difficult step to add in the assembly line. Sheesh.
End result: not too bad actually! It wasn’t like a homemade roast but if this is going to keep you from hitting up fast food, then purchase it (I know I’m not one to talk after all the cheats last week and coming up). 
My suggestion is to add an extra cup of water. The instructions say 1 cup but it just didn’t look right, the meat was hardly covered. Even with 2 cups it was still a bit dry so I’m going to guess that only 1 cup would make you some tasty shoe leather.
1 kit is perfect for 2 people; zero leftovers.

Tonight made for the saying “third time’s the charm” with spicy shrimp.  This version was our favorite, using hot sauce to marinate and then cook the shrimp (in it) was key. I probably used a 1/2 cup of hot sauce, added the 2 tbsp of lime juice, 1 tbsp of evoo, and then all the dry spices (cumin, chili powder) … mix together and let the shrimp sit. I dumped everything together in a pan and stove top cooked it for 4 minutes. Please PLEASE do not over cook shrimp unless you like rubber.
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I also swapped quinoa for brown rice because we were out of the first. It all turned out the same.  I put about 1 tbsp of lime juice in the rice along with cilantro for flavor. Delish!  Hopefully I can create this version or something close to it, in the future. 

Considering we’ll be eating out quite a bit over the next few days I think I’ll blog about those meals. I’m going to make a conscience effort to order as if I’m cooking a normal meal at the house.  Hopefully by making that statement public, it’ll hold me accountable! FINGERS CROSSED that I don’t turn into a blob.

farfalle … ain’t nobody got time for that

Another day of rain … good grief.  At least yesterday was BEAUTIFUL! It was a bit chilly in the morning but the afternoon warmed up nicely. The last 3 days we’ve had the windows open and AC off, I love this kind of weather! I was telling Josh the other night, San Antonio summers last longer than Vegas summers. Vegas is in a valley and when cold weather swoops in, it stays put and gets incredibly windy. We’re talking 30mph winds, trash cans flying around streets and dust storms blinding you. While it’s not super chilly, the wind is a total buzz kill; you can’t open windows or gritty sand will soon be covering your window sills and floors.   Even though I’m absolutely ready for cooler temps I’ll take crisp mornings turning into 80 degrees over 30mph dust storms any day.

So with cooler temps we usually start cooking “winter food” – think, stews, chili, soups … hearty dishes. Josh cooks up a mean chili and I can’t wait for the perfect day for him to make it. I asked him a few weeks ago and he reminded, you can’t rush perfection. Trust me though, when he makes it, he’ll have an entire blog post dedicated to him.

For today, it’s my creations 🙂  I dipped my toes into the water for a few “winter dishes” …

A hearty mushroom and spinach pasta (Wednesday) and gnocchi with chicken breasts (Thursday).

These are such easy dishes …

Saute diced onions, garlic, sliced mushrooms, and spinach while boiling the pasta in a separate pot.

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Once the pasta is al dente and the mushroom/spinach mixture is mostly cooked down, add the pasta and let everything finish cooking … be sure to stir! Educational moment: if you see a recipe call for “farfalle pasta” … it’s bow tie pasta! I wish they’d just use the names you’d see on a store shelf.  Good luck looking for a 6 oz. bag of farfalle 😉 .

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Since pasta is a “bad food” item for Josh and his diabetes, I added a side salad made up of dark greens. Now, spinach and mushrooms are “good food” items so overall, the dish balances itself out. Top the pasta with shredded parm and a garlic knot – there ya go. A hearty dish prepared, cooked, and served in maybe 20 minutes.  No sauce is needed – white or red … salt the pasta water accordingly while it’s boiling and add s/p to the spinach/mushrooms. There’s enough flavor from that for you to not miss a sauce.

Here’s another easy one, the gnocchi takes some supervision but only while they’re boiling.  Once you add them to the separate pan for the corn and onions to be added, you can relax … You should have already put the chicken in the oven … multi-task for quicker dinners!!!!

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Chicken first: butterfly 2 chicken breasts (decreases the cook time 🙂 who doesn’t like that?!)  I didn’t want just plain s/p chicken so I coated them in Stubb’s bbq sauce. Pop in the oven for 25ish minutes around 375-400 (depending how finicky your oven is, mine is a POS).

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Boil the gnocchi just like a pasta – once they float to the top, they are done.  Drain and move them to a separate pan, add corn and green onions. Salt and pepper that pan up! Gnocchi are globs of potato dough = NO FLAVOR. I used canned sweet corn and the onions are a necessary boost of flavor. Let that sit for the remaining time of the chicken, keep the stove top on low-ish. I wouldn’t cover it though, it’d probably turn the gnocchi and corn soggy from the steam.

Chicken’s done … plate it up – 35 minutes from start to finish. A filling and flavorful dish that I’m sure anyone would love.

Even with diabetes looming over our house, this isn’t a horrible dinner.  Chicken is a great source of protein which means it balances out the usage of corn and gnocchi – both of those are “bad starches”; actually not just for Josh but for humankind.   Just be sure your weekly menu isn’t filled with crap, if you eat 3 or 4 healthy meals per week, 1 or 2 “bad” meals won’t hurt you.

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Even our furbabies got some tasty treats the other night … marrow bones for the 2 big dummies and a pig’s ear for my little nugget.   QUIETEST NIGHT IN OUR HOUSE. The dogs kept to themselves for the entire evening, it was amaze-balls.  We must remember this for when we have guests over.

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Remember playground slides? Those were the days.

Wait, whoa, it’s already Monday? How did the weekend go by so quickly?!  Shoot, running a 2 day yard sale is exhausting; I mean, I’ve been planning it for a few months already!  Saturday was a freakin’ hit and then Sunday was so horrible that I packed up two hours early. It seems that Friday & Saturday are the days to sell, Sunday is taken very seriously out here as a day of rest. I figured that as people came home from church then they’d stop by and look around but I guess not. Hey at least I met some of my neighbors, we’ve only been here since November. One guy even offered to by the house for $500 and I said “Sure, why not?!” He looked at me funny and then I said “I don’t care, we’re just renters, HA!” (I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be….) He goes “dang mija, I was about to get my check book… but I’ll take this *points to an item* for my lady” then he chuckles. PHEW!  I love meeting random people WHO have a sense of humor.

Let’s see… I’m starting to get feedback on the recipes I blog about – if you try something out, leave a comment! I want to hear if you stuck to the recipe or tweaked it, even a little bit.  I like finding out new tricks 🙂  If you think the recipe sucked, well I guess you don’t know how to cook. JUST KIDDING!  Seriously though, go back and make it again – things don’t always turn out right the first time. You’ll usually have less cursing the second time around as well (going off of my experience!).

Ok, so we had fajita’s on Friday courtesy of Kathy for watching Miss E again. That kid is so stinking cute and all she wants to do is “read”.  I learned the proper way to cut skirt steak, WITH THE GRAIN! DUH! You’d think I’d know that little piece of info… The first time I attempted fajita’s cut against the grain, the meat was so difficult to chew we ended up with fajita bowls (i.e. Chipotle status). Thank you Kathy for enlightening this blonde. Ha!  Other than that, I made a side of pre-packaged fajita rice which Josh was allowed to eat because we had so much protein in the main dish. P.S. can you tell that Kathy is a teacher? So organized with baggies, I love it!

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Something to add to my “to do” list… buy a vacuum sealer. K & J have one and they love it.  That gadget & my mandolin can be besties.

Saturday we attended a BBQ and I brought along a classic cold pasta dish. SO EASY and SO DELISH!
Spiral or bow tie pasta… boil/drain/refrigerate (I used the leftovers from Thursday’s dinner, remember – I boiled 2 bags…)
Italian salad dressing (zesty is even better), cube 2 blocks of cheese (I used cheddar & swiss), pre-sliced canned olives, halved grape tomatoes, canned corn, ham cubes (leftover from Thursday’s dinner as well)  Sorry, no pictures… I forgot 😦
STIR THAT SH*T! DEVOUR IT! You won’t have any leftovers, promise!

On to Sunday, we had dinner with Josh’s former boss’ (while at the Pentagon) family.  They have the cutest family, dinner with them is always relaxing and last night was educational… learning about Rome & France from their travels with the AF.  Makes us want to live overseas but A) we’d have to sell just about all of our furniture and B) more than likely couldn’t take our dogs. I don’t mind living through their photos 🙂 Anyway, they had purchased a chicken STUFFED with stuffing (I don’t care what food experts say about that, it was so good and no one got sick), they also made potato wedges seasoned with crushed rosemary and I provided broccoli bites … Josh picked out a PB & chocolate pie to bring as well; don’t worry, insulin was ready to go. The B.B. were a success, I doubled the recipe to feed 4 adults, Josh of course ate the leftovers (only 2!).  Adults are more than allowed to eat veggies in a fun way too, plus they are quick & easy to make, same concept as a meatloaf or meatball.  Josh told me to promise I’d mention him because he did help with the B.B., what a good husband.

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You’ll find out about tonight’s dinner in tomorrow’s blog… courtesy of Kathy [If she keeps preparing all these delish meals she might just find herself a full time sitter 😉 ]; I had Miss E all day, we went down slides together.  It’s nice to be reminded how much fun and simple a child’s life is.

And this little tomato got burnt, burnt, burnt…

Did the creator of this recipe want me to burn the little tomatoes?

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The original recipe instructs you to bake grape tomatoes for 35 minutes at 425 degrees… um, bake them to a crisp? YUMMY! Word to the wise, when using internet recipes, always read the reviews left by people who have tried it already. Usually 1 review is actually helpful but in this case, each person was fooled by the cooking instructions, burning the tomatoes and shallots… people went on to say that they still ate it! Gross. Only hotdogs are allowed to be burnt via the grill. Oh my gosh crispy hot dogs are the best.  I digress, I kept the cooking temperature but only put the tomatoes and shallots in for 12 minutes – voila, perfect.

CONTINUE!
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Simple set up for tomato ravioli … 8 ingredients; takes maybe 30 minutes to prep & cook everything.  I swapped out ravioli for tortellini; it was a better value for the price.  Stuffed pasta is stuffed pasta; I don’t care if I offended you with that statement. You’ll forget all about it once you see this picture, who can resist a “kiss the cook” opportunity from Sous Chef Geno?

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While the tomatoes and shallots were baking I started boiling the tortellini.  Figuring, ‘why not?!’ when dumping all the contents into the water, not thinking about the small pot I decided to use…  SH*T! It’s boiling over.
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I let it go down and moved the pot to another burner… the crooked burner. The water spilled over again. CRAP! How difficult is this?!

**BEEP BEEP BEEP** No, that’s not me cursing, that’s the alarm on my phone telling me it’s been 12 minutes, ha. Yes, I use my phone as a timer because the oven timer doesn’t work nor does the microwave.  The plastic yellow pepper timer that I thought would be cute also stopped working after a few uses. Hey, there are two more things I can add to my “awesome kitchen” list.

I’m hungry, let’s eat. CRAP! I almost forgot about the balsamic vinegar, it’s ok though… only needed to drizzle some on the tomatoes and shallots after baking.  I don’t know what it is about balsamic vinegar, but it tastes so good when mixed with pasta. Now you can top the tortellini with the tomatoes and shallots, mix together. Plus make that 9 ingredients.

Here’s the finished product … take a look at our formal dining set up.  We sure are fancy folk, drinking out of gallon water jugs.  Seriously, you can take the boy out of the boonies but you can’t take the boonies out of the boy.  I on the other hand prefer to drink out of our sweet “Higby” glasses, wedding present courtesy of Danielle. Bark Busters bag is kept near by in case the sous chefs decide to sneak a peak at dinner.

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As another attempt to be fancy, I made wedge salads to go along with dinner.  Maybe it’s just me but I used to think wedge salads were amaze-balls… the bees-knees… only found at expensive steak houses.  HA! What was I EVER thinking? It’s stupid $1.00 ice burg lettuce that steak houses sucker you in to paying $4.00 for. Man, what a rip off! I guess the blonde hair is taking its toll.

Some of you may be wondering what Josh did while I was preparing dinner…
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HOLD THE PHONE. Jason Grilli is on the cover of S.I.