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!

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I ran out of ketchup.

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My parents would be shocked.

I was saddened by the discovery.

My husband just laughed.

At 3:30pm yesterday I realized I didn’t have enough ketchup to make a bbq sauce; I didn’t even have enough to make 1/2 of the recipe. I had maybe 2 TBSP of ketchup remaining and that surely wasn’t going to cut it. There was a day when my mother always had a back up bottle in the pantry because I literally drank ketchup.  I too began stock piling ketchup, buying the mega 4 pack at Sam’s however as of lately with all of my new cooking adventures, I find myself using less and less of this fabulous condiment. I mean, to give you an idea of my ketchup addiction: I wouldn’t even touch a steak without ketchup – I don’t care if I was at home or at a 4 star restaurant. I could give a hoot about the eye rolls in my direction. I LOVE KETCHUP. My favorite dinner is chicken nuggets with too much ketchup for every bite.

You know you’re obsessed when:
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This is the first time I’ve ever run out of ketchup and I’m sure it’ll happen again but it made me stop and think – I hardly buy ketchup anymore, it’s not on my weekly shopping list anymore… maybe monthly if that. Wow, what a difference a year makes. Yes, in 1 year I’ve almost kicked my addiction of ketchup. I still use it but as sauce bases or for the obvious hot dog dinner.

I digress; hubby picked up an emergency bottle on the way home from work and dinner continued.
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burger recipe here                                                                       green bean salad recipe here

A ‘montage’ of pictures for the last 2 weeks of meals …
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slow cooker ribs                                                       meatball subs – leftover from a spaghetti & meatball night 😉

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mac n’ cheese & pork chops w/ caramelized onions/apples               slow cooker stuffed peppers

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potato salad (Martha, you disappointed me… this was not very good; from her “Great Food Fast” book)

IMG_6521 PIZZA NIGHT! No recipe… just used my imagination 🙂

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stuffed portobello caps (George Foreman recipe)                                pork chops … try this yummy marinade
goat cheese, evoo, black pepper, pesto, & I added tomatoes

Go ahead, eat with your eyes today!

 

I’m just throwing pictures at you today … enjoy this buffet for your eyes!

 

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Here’s a perfect party food.  I made this as a snack while my husband and I watched the Penguins during their (miserable) playoff run. It’s a really easy Trisha Yearwood recipe that I remembered seeing on her show.  We used the pulled out bread center to then dip with, chips and veggies (carrot & celery sticks) were options as well.  Here’s a hint for buying 6 oz of corned beef – head to your deli counter and ask them to slice thicker pieces and you can dice them up at home.  Pretty fancy looking, right? Make this and it’ll be a show stopper at your next gathering! Or make it for yourself and your husband … who says you have to share 😉

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These next two recipes are courtesy of Ree Drummond, surprise surprise!!! She’s always in our weekly menu.  First up is a pepperoni pizza burger … how fun is that?! I figured this would be the perfect dish to make plenty of, so my husband would have leftovers while I went out of town for the weekend. I made 5 patties (I used a full pound of the ground Italian sausage); they are yummy reheated … I had the last one yesterday 🙂 Love having leftovers of my creations! It’s a one pot meal, hello! I mean, you mix the meat and whatnot but everything is cooked in 1 pot! It will get smoky cooking the burgers on the stove so throw that fan on & open a nearby window if possible.  My healthy swaps: ground turkey and sandwich thins.  No excuses that you can’t do a “grill out” if the hubby isn’t home; whip this dinner up on the stove and have an indoor BBQ.

Second in line is a simple foil pasta dish. I thought it was weird but went with it anyway. Follow the directions and TIGHTLY wrap that foil package or the shrimp WILL NOT finish cooking.  Trust me. I experienced this firsthand with my husband’s dinner. I made mine first – which turned out perfectly. When he came home I threw his foil bundle in the oven however I clearly didn’t pay attention when I wrapped up the pasta, there was a hole at the top which let the steam out … the shrimp were partially cooked 😦 We threw it in the microwave – IN A BOWL – NOT IN THE FOIL!!! The shrimp finished cooking just fine then.

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FISH STICKS! HOME MADE! I can’t believe that when I put this on my menu board my husband literally thought I was buying frozen Gorton’s Fishermen … WHAT?! I got so mad! Seriously, all of my cooking adventures and he thought I was buying frozen nastiness.  ROAR! He also kept calling them an inappropriate name; I won’t write it.  There was a dipping sauce included in the recipe and it was GROSS – Giada, what were you thinking? Were your taste buds not working when you made it?  Ok so I bought 2 BEAUTIFUL-FRESH salmon filets, my husband pulled the skin away, cut each in half, then length wise to create “sticks”. The breading was crunchy and the parm cheese had that nice salty flavor. Usually cheese and seafood don’t go together but this one worked (unlike the sauce, ha!). Oh fortunately I had some pesto (also needed for the veggie bake) in the fridge and that was a great choice to dip the fish sticks in.

Onto the veggie bake that you see … courtesy of Instagram! YES! A fellow military spouse posted a chicken casserole she made topping the chicken with artichoke hearts, fire roasted tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I drizzled pesto over the top, tossed the veggies, and put it in the oven maybe 20-30 minutes BEFORE the fish sticks; I used the same temp to make planning easier. Total cheat: I bought all canned/jarred items for this veggie bake. Sorry but not sorry, ha! I will try this again and absolutely make it with chicken breasts, maybe even on the grill. Yummmm imagine those flavors!

 

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Last but not least, straight up simple salmon filets in a yummy brown sugar/honey/mustard glaze – thank you Bobby Flay.  Halved potatoes so they cook faster … add a salad – DONE!

 

Bon Appétit!!!

 

Twerking. I mean, tweaking… recipes that is.

Not much has happened this week that is blog-post worthy … I mean, I made a phenomenal pizza which I’ll absolutely share with you – all credit goes to Ree Drummond.  Since I’m cooking a lot of repeats of our favorite recipes I do try to make at least 1 thing new each week or tweak an oldie to make it a “newbie”.

Oldie made “newbie” – salsa chicken (chicken breasts, salsa, cheese)
The recipe calls for taco seasoning to be sprinkled on the chicken … well I used fajita seasoning – WAY BETTER! Not just any fajita seasoning, you know it had to be Bolner’s. Pour on the salsa as usual, but get a fun one … something with chunks of veggies in it, not just runny/cheap/generic salsa. Considering chicken and cheese is el-cheapo, splurge a few extra bucks on decent salsa … it adds to the texture as well.

What else did I make … (I need to consult my menu board, it’s been a LONG and CRAZY week).
Oh yeah – store prepared kabobs (beef wrapped in bacon and scallops wrapped in bacon … double turf & 1 surf, HA!)  As a side I made a Martha dish, cherry tomato and basil crisp (which turned out more like a crumble, but it was still good 😉 ) It might because I used whole wheat bread – maybe it doesn’t firm up as nicely as white. I was trying to make a healthy swap.

So I ‘cheated’ with something prepared but wanted the meal to feel homemade. Easy.
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Another simple creation, inspired by Martha but I put my own twist on it.  Originally it was supposed to be spinach penne and ricotta… well that’s not substantial for this house so I bought regular penne, added fresh spinach which I had leftover, and sliced Italian sausage. Oh man, now that’s a filling dish. I didn’t have any pine nuts but I sure did have almonds! Chop those babies up and sprinkle on top – great textures between the pasta, spinach, sausage, shredded parm, and soft ricotta.
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Okay, okay … the pizza!
My cheat: Bisquick mix for the dough! Sprinkle onion and garlic power in along the way, BOOM. So good.
Follow Ree’s recipe for the pizza toppings … it’s easy; really, really, really easy. Don’t cheat on the cheese, get what the recipe calls for – all of the different flavors are like an explosion and when you add the tomato/basil/balsamic vinegar mixture to the top – holy cow. It’s amazing!
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I added the cheese to a RAW Bisquick dough (shoot, don’t forget the pesto!!!) – let the dough turn golden brown and the cheese becomes ooey-gooey – 15-20 minutes (25-30 if you like crispy) … let it sit for the cheese to firm up just a bit (it’s easier to cut), add the tomatoes and life will be good in 3, 2, 1… YUM!

This was our first pizza on a pizza stone – BUY ONE. Just do it. Those pizza pans with holes are garbage. Lesson learned.

We’ve got pork chops and a grilled zucchini salad for tonight. Not just any pork chops, hitting up the old blue cheese and cranberries (I’m going to freeze it like a ‘steak butter’ and let it melt over the pork chop as I’m plating).

ENJOY!

 

 

Not all copying is illegal

Copying music (MP3, sheet music, etc) : illegal
Copying during a test : detention and an automatic F
Copying someones homework : zero for the assignment
Copying someones fashion : a way of complimenting your friend but still creepy

Copying a recipe : you sure can!

This week’s new recipe was a copycat version of Panera’s broccoli cheese soup. I’ve used this blog site before for the autumn harvest squash soup, the author is on point with ingredients.  It’s really easy to make and was incredibly delish.

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A wonderful protein to add – pork chops! Let those babies cook in caramelized onions to get some good flavors going. They seriously take maybe 6 minutes (once the onions begin to cook down, put in the pork chops).
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One more new recipe for the week, chicken cordon bleu pizza. Nom nom nom. Courtesy of Betty Crocker and a Bisquick crust. I will now make this crust any time, no more store bought junk. It’s really easy 1 1/2 C of Bisquick, 1/3 C of H2O, and shredded parm – done. That makes enough for 1 medium pizza, we of course made 2 pizzas (1 for leftovers 🙂 )

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Hubby has been home all week for dinner! YAY!  He helped on pizza night as we know it’s rare that I actually get to making dinner on Thursday’s.

It’s funny that these recipes are healthy & diabetic friendly, most of you would enjoy them.  You don’t have to eat like a rabbit in order to be ‘healthy’ – choose your dishes wisely and pick fresh/organic ingredients.  Also, do not indulge! See how we made 2 pizzas but kept 1 for leftovers? Take note.

Patience is key, young grasshopper

I pinned this recipe a year ago… ONE WHOLE YEAR! My intentions were to make it for St. Patty’s Day (last year) and clearly I never got to it.  This year I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity.  Don’t cringe at the thought of corned beef and cabbage egg rolls, I know it sounds strange but it was really good – mind over matter, people.

Instead of doing the usual slow cooker corned beef over cabbage, which there is nothing wrong with … but since I’m on this cooking adventure I just had to try these egg rolls.  We opted to bake instead of fry – a great step to a healthier alternative.

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I cooked the beef on Sunday in my slow cooker while we took a day trip to the San Marcos Outlets, Cabela’s, and Salt Lick – which has THE BEST pork ribs. Anyway, back to our holiday dinner. Prep the meat a day beforehand, you won’t be rushing around the day of! The day of: sauté thinly sliced cabbage and onions; boil potatoes (to turn into mashed p’s) … that’s it! I used the leftover egg roll stuffing to make “sides” – nothing goes to waste in this house! Egg rolls are really easy to make and then a 1000 Island dipping sauce, yum! Think of it – a reuben uses 1000 Island so why not for these?  Some of the egg rolls were: beef/cabbage/cheese and beef/cabbage/mashed p’s/cheese. LIGHT spray the wrappers with cooking spray, put in the oven at 400 for 20-ish minutes (or until the wrappers turn golden brown). Remember, everything is cooked already – you’re just crisping the rolls. I had leftovers for lunch yesterday and dipped them in ketchup. I love ketchup, like really love ketchup. It was our wedding favor after all!
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So I know I said I’d be visiting our favorite dishes from here on out but I have to brag about this one because it was the best version to date.  Cheeseburger Pie – which is Josh’s request 100% of the time when I ask what he wants.  We kept having issues with the “crust” so I looked on the interwebs and found a Betty Crocker version; other than Martha, this is a woman I can trust when it comes to fixing disaster recipes.  I had definitely been using too much Bisquick mix.  Also, I added mushrooms, onions, and hamburger seasoning (thank you Bolner’s), oh and topped the “casserole” wish shredded swiss cheese before pouring the mix – cook that baby at 400 for 25 min. BEST CHEESEBURGER PIE SO FAR! I’ve been making it for 4 years now – it just goes to show that recipes take time to perfect.

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Use an actual pie dish for the perfect portions.

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This week’s line up in no particular order:* copy cat Panera broccoli and cheese soup with pork chops (covered in caramelized onions) – I’ll let you know how the soup turns out
* spaghetti and pork/quinoa meatballs
* chicken cordon bleu pizza (using a Bisquick crust) – new recipe, I will blog about it
* grape tomato/shallots with ravioli + salad
* Shakshuka over rice + bread for dipping (Friday/our Lenten meal)

It’s like a game of Tetris

As tradition would follow, our latest pizza night was “ham and pineapple”! Add a cute decoration of BBQ sauce and we’ve got a winner! We made 2 differently built pizzas … 1: BBQ sauce as a base and 2: BBQ as a pretty design on top.  The 2nd one was waaaaaay better; the sauce made the dough soggy. So there’s that experiment figured out 🙂

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Italian night … cut the casings off of sweet Italian sausages and slice into bite size pieces to make life easier. Next add thinly sliced veggies (green and red bell pepper and a white onion), pour in the crushed tomato sauce and let that baby simmer for 30-ish minutes. I love soggy veggies when using bread to soak up everything. I added some extra spices to boost the flavor, not necessarily needed depending on what sauce or sausages you buy but we like big flavors. A one pot dish makes for an easy dinner and easier clean up.

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On Sunday my lovely husband kindly reminded me we were going to have a guest over for dinner, THAT NIGHT. He is so amazing, I just love how he has the best memory. Clearly, sarcasm 😉 . I love him to pieces but I can’t remember his life and mine. Anyway, he has a friend in town from NoVA (due to work) so he came over for a home cooked meal. Really simple, throw it together in minutes, kind of BBQ. The weather is holding true and is as whacky as ever.  It was 75 over the weekend and today I’m shivering since it’s 40. WTH. I’m so over this.

Ok, back to the BBQ. I cubed baby red potatoes, diced a large sweet onion, cubed butter, and threw that thing in the oven for 40 minutes on 375 (covered for the last 15 min or so because the onions were done, like charred done). I added more butter once it came out to keep things juicy 🙂 .  I had asparagus leftover so I threw those in the grill basket, sprinkled S & P plus grated parm – boom, another stellar side dish prepped in 2 minutes.  A total cheat: store bought salmon burgers – jalapeno and cheddar cheese salmon burgers to be exact. I love these things. Set out sliced tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and red onions – dress that burger to your heart’s desire.  I made a quick community salad as well (BIG BOWL, you serve yourself): dark greens, sliced mushrooms, cubed tomatoes, grated swiss cheese, and croutons … let everyone pick their own dressing (plus this won’t make the salad soggy and depressing – which makes for a bad table presence).

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There you go. Fast, healthy, and delicious meals.

This week is all about leftovers (I mean it this time) … I’m going out of town and leaving Josh with as much food as possible.  I am making 6 servings for each meal, our fridge is beginning to look like a game of tetris. Don’t mess with my stacking system! Not only does this work if the main chef ever goes on vaca but this could work if you’re super busy during the week.  Cook large, multiple meals on the weekends or whenever your free day is – store those dishes for their specific night and you have complete meals ready to go! Make extra and have some leftovers for a real lunch the next day (PB & J or ham sammies get old, REAL FAST).  Those are my tips – use ’em or whatever 😉 .

I’ve linked my IG account to the blog so we’ll see how that works … I’m still trying to figure this technology thing out.  I mean, I’m not a dinosaur but sometimes I feel like crap changes overnight and I find out 5 months later. I still refuse to use my iPad to blog post; I do use it as my cook book though! I like typing on an actual keyboard, can you blame me?