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

 

back to life, back to reality …

You’re welcome if you’ve got En Vogue stuck in your head now. Oh, you didn’t before but now you do? My job is done.

I’m finally back on track! I haven’t spent my usual $80-90 for a week’s worth of groceries in a LOOOOOONG time. That’s what the holiday’s will do to ya! My cooking routine is normal once again as well because as I tried to eat Kraft Man n’ Cheese on Sunday night, my tummy gave me a big “F YOU” and probably the middle finger. Proof that I need to stick to healthy eating.

I can’t believe that I used to be able to eat an entire box of mac n’ cheese; the other night I got through 1 bowl and felt so incredibly sick. I guess the rest of those boxes are going to the food bank. I had purchased a 12 pack at Sam’s Club BEFORE we found out about the Diabetes; I donated 6 to a food drive a few months ago but I held on to the rest for an emergency snack situation. The new emergency was how my stomach was feeling. HA!

This week has an amazing line up – Monday was a German inspired pork chop with a side of brown rice/mushrooms; last night we had feta/spinach sausages and a baked sweet potato.

You have to know by now that we love pork chops – they are so cheap! Buy them already butterflied to make cooking time faster, plus it’ll look like you’re eating a huge piece of meat when in fact you’re not.  Recall that saying “you eat with your eyes”? Totally true! Even my husband was shocked at how big the chops were and I informed him they were just butterflied … a healthy deception.

This recipe is simple but  you’ll need some time to slice everything, get out your mandolin to help.  For 2 people, I used half a large jar of sauerkraut, 1 apple, 1 medium onion, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 table of caraway seeds. We have a small storage containers worth left over but it is so good served cold, making extra is okay 🙂 .

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Those of you who follow a Diabetic diet would know apples are a huge no-no with the natural sugars they contain. Yes, if you eat an apple by itself your sugars will spike however mixing them with protein and other veggies, it ends up balancing out.  I went easy with the brown sugar because well, it’s sugar! I put just enough in to cut through the bitterness of the sauerkraut – my husband didn’t even taste the sugar which is what I was going for, he only noticed the sauerkraut wasn’t so’ sauer’ 😉 .

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Simple side dish, you don’t need a formal recipe to make this. Boil a small box of chicken stock and 1 cup of water – pour in rice (I used just over 1 cup … the rice absorbed the stock so quickly, which is what the extra water is for), let it cook for 5 minutes – add sliced mushrooms – bring back to a boil – now simmer/cover for 15ish minutes. Done. You’ll need salt … or any kind of seasoning you’d put on steamed veggies (lemon/herb … garlic salt … whatever!).

So yeah, that was Monday. Now on to last night.

A slight cheat… I bought prepackaged feta and spinach stuffed sausages, added a delish baked potato, and a fun ‘hint of spring’ salad.  No “real” cooking occurred but that’s okay, it’s still better than that drive through line!  For you grillers out there, yes the sausages should have been grilled but the wind was like a tornado and actually knocked ours over. Yes, very windy. So onto the stove they went.

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For the sweet potatoes (Again, you don’t need a formal recipe! Just start cooking!) – poke ’em with a fork, spread EVOO all over, cover in salt, and let sit.  OMG these were the BEST ones I’ve made! They sat the entire day, just soaking in the EVOO and salt. My husband was in charge of cooking these since he got home before me, so I had to include instructions. It’s the teacher side of me, I can’t help it. What teacher doesn’t love stickies?!

 

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The sausages took 20 minutes on the stove (put in a pan of water, submerging half of the sausage), cover and cook on medium/high. Easy. Okay the ‘hint of spring’ salad: orange wedges! That’s it 😉 I mean, yes to lettuce, sliced carrots, and cucumbers … but the simple addition of oranges was a nice treat. My husband and I split 1 orange as to not send him into a sugar coma (those are real, stop laughing! 😉 ). A different topping choice for the sweet potatoes was cinnamon honey pecan cream cheese. You put those things in a typical casserole right? Why not a baked potato? Shoot, it was so yummy! Of course I picked up ranch salad dressing from my new favorite brand, Bolthouse. I’ll be using it again tomorrow on a pizza. I actually don’t like ranch but this one was goooooooood.  It wasn’t sweet or thick because it doesn’t use buttermilk; yogurt is the base. Plus only 45 calories per serving.

And to continue the trend of my snooping dogs …. bingo: sausages were opened. They came running.

 

One is the loneliest number

And that’s how many meals I cooked this week: ONE. Don’t you just love leftovers? I told you I had pulled pork for days!

What was the honorable dish that got me to cook? PIZZA!!!  I ended up going to the grocery store and picked up ingredients for 4 dinners and I’ve gotten around to 1; pretty sad. I’d have to say that since I didn’t cook much I was really looking forward to homemade pizzas.  I did the individual pizzas a few months back and kept those pretty basic (green peppers, olives, sausage, etc.).  This time around I went gourmet.   If you live in San Antonio (or Dallas) then you know about Dough: a very pricey but incredibly delish pizza restaurant.  Plus I’ve mentioned the place in a few other blog-posts, so yeah there’s that too. Anywhoooooo … I took inspiration from their pizzas and created our own mozzarella/prosciutto/sun-dried tomato/artichoke, sensational pizza. I cheated and purchased 2 pre-made flat-bread crusts.  Really it’s not a cheat, I mean who honestly has time to make dough after working a full day?  If you’re raising your hand, screaming “I do, I do!” then come over to my house and cook for me.

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Prep + cooking time = 30 minutes.  So it’s your call … order take out and spend close to $40 for 2 pizzas like this (and hopefully it arrives in 30 min), or buy it yourself and have a fun evening (adult beverages totally optional but suggested 😉 ).  So you don’t spend $40 on ingredients at the store, check prices first.  There was quite the price range with a few of the items (mozzarella, artichokes, and dough); for example the organic artichokes were close to $7 but I found this brand for only $3… take some time and do your searching, it’ll save you $$ in the end. Unless then again you don’t care, come to my house and you can do the shopping too (on your dime though!). What a treat that would be … free food and a free chef! If only …

I’m now going to order a pizza stone from Pampered Chef … I’d like to have regular pizza nights. They’re fun (hubby helps out!), easy to put together, and really an endless amount of options. I’m just mad because about a year ago my mom asked if I wanted her pizza stone and my answer was “No, we don’t have a freezer that can hold pizzas” (yet another dilemma from that horrid rental house). Oh well.

Mexican stuffed peppers, stuffed jalapenos, and Thai beef rolls for football Sunday. I’m so excited for today! The first 2 are my creations and the last is Chelsea’s … I’ll post tomorrow (hooray for a 3 day weekend … obviously no hooray for why).

Whirlwind Weekend

The Higby Hacienda Housewarming Weekend is complete and was a semi-success.  I stuck to my favorite finger foods and maybe those were a bit too successful because everyone chowed down on those instead of my dinner so needless to say I’ve got a ton of leftovers.  I don’t mind though, it means I won’t have to make a grocery run for this week (I’ve got some frozen chicken that I can bust out in a few days when the pulled pork runs out).

I was scared to use a new slow cooker recipe on the pork but I loved the root beer base – yes it was a bit sweet but I prefer sweeter BBQ. I had Stubb’s smokey BBQ sauce to mix in and for adding extra as you build a sandwich.  I guess I could have only bought 1 tenderloin but you know if I did that, everyone would have ate and then I would have ran out of food. So buy more and be prepared it’s the safest way to go.

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I totally cheated on the sides – went to Rudy’s BBQ for cole slaw and potato salad… got 2 quarts of each and only 1/2 of 1 quart was eaten.  I actually just had some to go along with my lunch, nom nom nom. More for me 😉  Josh’s sister had sent these cute glass ornaments filled with seasoning to make dip mixes with.  What an awesome and clever idea! They were tasty and everyone loved them; bowls were almost scraped clean. I put out 2 brands of crackers (1 gluten free rice / 1 rosemary & olive oil Triscuits). Always provide options!

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Other finger foods offered: pizza balls and zucchini bites. I’ve previously blogged about those 2 recipes, feel free to search for them 🙂

Guests brought plenty of desserts and a few other apps … beer was plentiful (got some good use from the beer drawer, lol!).  After all was said and done, belly’s were happily full with food and adult beverages.

To cure any grumbling stomachs the next morning (we had a couple guests stay the night who traveled from Austin), I prepared a light brunch recipe adapting something from Giada De Laurentiis.  That girl has more time and money on her hands so I clearly changed a few things … this is a close cousin to the classic lox and bagels.  Which is actually funny because she didn’t even mention that in the TV episode she prepared this dish on. So yeah, I purchased pre-made pizza dough, whipped cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers. It was budget friendly, simple to make, and a 10 minute dish.

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**I felt the need to add a disclaimer – I had a fabulous time (as did my husband) with our guests this weekend.  We were so excited to see our friends … being able to catch up and just chill.  I am not calling the overall party/those who attended a “semi-success”, it is only referring to my food … the reason I blog.

Baby it’s cold outside!

Wowwee is it cold today! It was pretty chilly yesterday but letting the dogs out at 7:30am and it’s a brisk 37 degrees, forget needing coffee to wake me up …  I now need it to warm me up!  We’ve been in San Antonio for exactly 1 year so considering it took until that point to get cold again – no complaints from me!

I guess it’s appropriate to start planning “winter comfort food” on my weekly menus – chili, soups, and stews. Perfect timing to incorporate new menu items for our new home. 7 more days!!! Get me in my kitchen!

For now I’ll not so quietly deal with this dumpy kitchen. While making pizzas yesterday I was tripping over myself, having no where to put pans and get an efficient assembly line going. The end result was fantastic, we love pizza but feel like we can never get all the toppings we truly want.  So taking a pointer from Chelsea after having her shrimp scampi pizza, we kept it simple but the 2 mini pizzas were just as delish.

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Pizza 1: green & red bell pepper, onion, olives, mushroom
Pizza 2: sweet Italian sausage, green bell pepper, mushrooms, olives, onions
Pizza 3: jalapeno/cheddar sausage, onion, 3 slices of jalapeno (Josh’s decorative touch), mushrooms, onions
Pizza 4: sweet Italian sausage, jalapeno pepper, olives, onions

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Easy to make and easy to assemble (even in a small kitchen).  I baked 2 pizzas at a time, so 20 minutes total … I pan cooked the sausages which took another 10; “dress” each pizza and dinner was done in 45 minutes. We had fun decorating each pizza, you can really do anything you want.
IMG_4409Josh going in for that giant slice of jalapeno … it didn’t even phase him.

On Monday I finally got around to “my” meatloaf. It was intended for Friday then Sunday … you see how that went, ha!IMG_4404

I took my cue from Alton Brown, he creates some great dishes plus he’s got a good humor trying to use science to cook using different methods.  While the meatloaf turned out great, it took 2 hours! We were so hungry that we sliced what we wanted and had to microwave it for a few minutes (this was after 45 minutes/325). So frustrating, I don’t understand what happened – I followed his recipe to the T, if anything I actually used less meat.  To finish cooking it we cranked the oven up to 400 for another hour. Sheesh!

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I always make meatloaf different each time – I feel like it can be a pretty boring meal so the spices in Alton’s recipe is what caught my attention.  It had a little heat to it and the cumin smelled amazing while baking had commenced.  Carrots and red bell pepper added some sweetness and the onion cut through perfectly. I didn’t pulse it as the recipe says, I diced everything because we like a “chunky” meatloaf.  As always, top that sucker with ketchup. No, I didn’t make the “sauce” from the recipe. While I like trying new things, I feel it’s a sin to use something other than Ketchup.

2 perfectly planned diabetic friendly meals- yes, the pizzas were okay for Josh. The amount of protein and veggies used balanced out the dough. Plus the meatloaf used turkey and pork, great choices instead of the usual beef.

A while back I told y’all about one of my piano students who was curious about the cheeseburger pie I was eating.  Well it’s her turn to pick a dinner to make and she requested just that!  It was very cute though because she thought I used an actual pie crust so when I informed her it’s a Bisquick recipe and she just started laughing, saying “That makes so much more sense!”.

I love inspiring dishes for people to try; I’ve gotten a few pictures of y’all making meals from my blog.  Keep ’em coming!

Also, commenting on the budget friendly part of all this … $80 for 5 complete meals, for 2 adults (meatloaf & pizza has leftovers so far!) … that’s $8 per person, per day. I think that’s pretty good considering I don’t have a money tree in my backyard.

Tis the season for figgy pudding

With Halloween over we are officially in “Holiday Season” – time to indulge in food, drink, and good cheer … in small doses.   We had guests for the last two weeks which gave us a reality check that we really do need to be careful with how much food we intake.  While all meals were not horribly unhealthy, we just ate a lot of it; we also went through a few more six-packs if you know what I mean.   Restaurants were frequented as well, usually we have 1 date night per week but we went out maybe 2 times each week.  Even though we went on living our daily lives as normal it was hard to not have fun with our friends who just moved here. Yes we have 4 years to enjoy their company but we’ve really missed them the last year, it was good to catch up and hang out like old times.  Those old times are haunting us now, lol!

Josh’s sugar levels were all over the place, some reached 200.  He hasn’t seen those numbers since first diagnosed; he typically sits in the low to mid-100’s.  So even though I kept saying “we’ve been eating bad” – I got the cold shoulder.  I meant ‘bad’ with the concern of his sugar levels, not necessarily greasy or fast food ‘bad’.  This was a good lesson because it’s the first time we’ve had guests at our house [since the diabetes diagnoses] and it really showed us that with the holiday season fast approaching, we do indeed need to be more aware of what we eat while entertaining.   My family will be here for Christmas so you better believe I will be hounding Josh about what he eats; I’ll also do a better job of making just enough food so no one will be tempted with 2 or 3 servings!

On to the goodies we indulged in … man they were delicious.  I don’t regret the flavors of any meal but I sure do regret the amount I ate!

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Who doesn’t love a pretzel bun? It’s pretty much a trend right now and I completely understand why.  A giant soft pretzel that you can put your choice of protein (cheddar sausages for us) on. Hello! You can’t resist. Top that with American cheese, sauerkraut, and ketchup/German mustard, sign me up! We probably could have swapped out the tots & onion rings for a salad … but we didn’t. Talk about carb overload.  Now that we know where to buy these buns, I’m sure they’ll meet our dinner table in the future but making sure Josh doesn’t eat FIVE of them. Yepp.  *This recipe was a revamp courtesy of Chelsea – I’ll def. make it again; a great party/finger food sammie!  Originally planned were hot dogs/whole wheat buns, sweet p tots, and salad. As I started looking in my freezer I decided to clear it out and bake whatever we had.  Hence the salad getting cut, ha.
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Next on the line up: shrimp scampi pizza, 2 crusts: white & wheat. Another meal that doesn’t seem ‘bad’ but with all the butter for the sauce: fat turns into bad sugars.  How can one turn away butter though. I mean, it’s butter. It’s golden brick stature attracts people from afar. Of course you look at Paula Deen and what’s the first thing she cut from most of her recipes when diagnosed with diabetes – BUTTER! The sauce was amazing though, it had so much garlic I actually scared away one vampire that came to trick or treat 😉  No really, you could smell the garlic from our garage door before even entering the house. I loved it.  I’ll need to figure out a way to lighten up Chelsea’s recipe because we need that pizza in our lives.

Speaking of trick or treat … I have never seen so many parents driving along while their kids walked from house to house. Again, San Antonio is the most obese city in AMERICA for a reason. Get out and walk!!!!!

 

This was my Sunday activity:
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HOMEMADE PIEROGIES.  100% homemade in every definition possible.
I personally mashed the potatoes, diced the red onion and mushrooms, hand mixed the dough (Josh had to jump in and finish that), hand rolled the dough, hand cut the pierogi circles, and stuffed almost 3 dozen pierogies.  Josh boiled & pan fried them, kept them warm in a crock pot.  Was the 3 hours worth it to create these little boogers? YEPP!  Yes you read that correct – 3 hours.  I had packed my mixer and I don’t own a pasta thingy. Hey if you want something bad enough you gotta do what you gotta do!  So do you need a $300 Kitchenaid? Nope.  The mixer I have would have worked fine (old school Cuisinart that belonged to my mother); I could have used a hand cranked pasta thingy though, rolling took forever to get it thin enough and the consistency just wasn’t there [from pierogi to pierogi].

After all of that work I asked Josh how come bakers weren’t thin considering the amount of elbow grease goes in to baking … his response: because they eat everything they make. LOL 😉

 

 

 

 

I don’t care; I love it!

Sometimes your body needs to indulge on some bad decisions … like pizza balls & blue cheese fries.

It’s a known fact that I take the weekend off around here.  I work my butt off during the week and prepare 5 decent meals … I use the weekend to relax and clear out whatever leftovers may be in the fridge.   Weekend meals usually get thrown together without rhyme or reason, but food is food and stomach’s don’t judge.

This weekend was no exception.

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This gem of a “recipe” came from Carl’s Jr – we stopped there on Friday after having a FOUR HOUR meeting with our loan officer.  A warning would have been nice from that guy, “hey, this meeting will be more than 2 hours” … We figured, pop in, go over our stuff, be out in an hour-ish, and we’ll  go to lunch. After sitting in a small and frigid office for FOUR HOURS we decided to start off the weekend right with fast food.  Just to note, it’s not like we do this everyday. I had 45 minutes to get to a lesson (we were 30 minutes away), desperate times call for desperate measures.

Okay okay – I ordered this from Carl’s Jr:

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and then I realized I could make this at home. OMGosh.  Bad decision #1 figured out for the weekend (yes, I ate this 2 times in 3 days … leave me alone). You need three *maybe 4* items: blue cheese crumbles (I suggest mixing it with salad dressing as well, to turn out like the Carl’s Jr version), buffalo hot sauce, and waffle fries.  Layer like nachos and you’re done!

Bad decision #2 is next in line … as per a request from Josh.

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PIZZA BALLS! I made this a few years ago; Josh saw the recipe on his FB news feed via a share. So of course he tags me in the post and that is my cue to make it at some point.  He forgot about all of that so it was time to make them again.

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Josh even helped!  I can’t stand opening biscuit packages so he got that duty. He then insisted on becoming a professional “dough tosser”. You are more than welcome to try this in your kitchen however it won’t work. Flatten the biscuits on a cutting board 🙂

Before baking, spread on the egg and sprinkle on the 3 seasonings (I don’t make a butter mixture… it turns out fine my way).

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20 minutes would have been fine in the oven; some of the cheese oozed out at 25 and the lower rack burned (on the bottoms only).

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This little diva is going to make it difficult to keep typing!

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