I’ve got you beat, Olive Garden.

I was craving Panda on Sunday … not just “Oh I could go for some Panda right now” … but “I really REALLY want stir fry and egg rolls, there’s a Panda 5 minutes away”. I think I was craving it because there’s one next to the UPS store I’ve been frequenting.  You pass something enough and your brain starts wanting it. I had a moment to myself and gave a kind reminder that any trip to Panda has left us not feeling well. Take matter into your own hands and make a home made stir fry! Which is exactly what I did 🙂

Seriously it couldn’t be easier. Chop up your favorite veggies; I used:
– yellow squash
– green bell pepper
– yellow bell pepper
– orange bell pepper
– onion
– broccoli
– water chestnuts
– baby corn
– bok choy
– garlic

Here’s what took some time – I had to find the best choice of stir fry sauce, originally I wanted teriyaki but the sugar content was really high so I went for stir fry sauce instead. The goal is 2g of sugar per serving, I used the entire bottle though because I wanted leftovers and MADE a ton of it! I read about 6 bottles/labels and picked the best, so do your reading!

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How could anyone NOT want to eat that beautiful rainbow of veggies?

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Yes I cheated and bough yummy, crunchy egg rolls.  They actually weren’t greasy like most of these prepared items are.  20 minutes in the oven and a delish side dish.  Regular white rice was the base; with the amount of veggies it was ok to eat 1 1/2 servings of rice (measured out, seriously do it – you’d be surprised what 1 serving actually is). Such a filling dinner and it didn’t require extra insulin for my husband, he did his normal 3 units. When we’d go to Panda, he’d take 5 units… what a difference!

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My sous chefs staring at me because I NEVER cook on Sunday’s. They were really confused.

Monday: venison sausages and polenta bake.
The sausages were from our friends in Austin. These were packaged after a hunting trip, so we’re talking FRESH and absolutely not processed in some big ol’ factory. There was pork added (fat is necessary with such a lean/gamey animal), jalapeno, and cheddar cheese chunks. WHOOOO WEE these were good and super spicy! I could only eat one saving the other two for my husband. Now onto the polenta bake; I never get these kind of casseroles to turn out properly! It’s like, there’s always too much liquid. I drain and strain but crap keeps coming out soggy! I’m getting so tired of this. The flavors were good and boy did it look pretty but I’m going to leave out the spinach and tomatoes next time.
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Tuesday: chicken alfredo.
Yes, this was a diabetic friendly dish … I KNOW, RIGHT?! Quick, to the kitchen you must go!
White sauce is typically a ‘no no’ item but again, read your labels and find the right brand for you, I picked Bertolli Light. Really flavorful, lots of garlic – YUM!

I used Dream Fields spaghetti *GASP* I didn’t use ‘alfredo noodles’ … oh please. But, but, but … you’ll have a bigger butt if you opt for the regular, carb filled noddle. Ha!

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Steam fresh broccoli (it takes 20 minutes … don’t be lazy); I baked 3 chicken breasts (evoo, s/p); stir in enough sauce (lightly coat) once the noddles are done, add in broccoli, slice the chicken and serve it on the side. I put a bit of the sauce on the chicken so it wouldn’t be dry. You don’t need a ton of sauce! It’ll weigh the noddles and broccoli down, becoming slimy and gross. You want to keep the integrity of your dish! I mean, you bought fresh broccoli so why not showcase it. Again, husband only needed 3 units of insulin, his norm/doctor recommended.   You know Olive Garden probably charges $12.99 for chicken alfredo … mine was $4.30 per serving.

Voila. 3 easy dishes that were nice to my wallet and really friendly to our health. My menu board quote for this week: “good food doesn’t have to be fancy”.  I hope I keep proving that to you with my weekly blog posts!

Gotta pinch those pennies!

After splurging last week on my grocery trip I needed to pull from a colleague’s blog, all about cooking on a budget. As a fellow music teacher she knows all about making those dollars stretch.  I was inspired by 3 of her recipes and was able to come up with a remix of chicken alfredo, vegetarian quesadillas, and a polenta bake; the remaining 2 recipes for the week are basics: pork chops with new potatoes and veggies, and salmon burgers with a quinoa salad. I seriously planned this menu is record time! Sometime I’m beyond stumped on what to make and today I didn’t feel like dwelling on my grocery trip so I went to her blog, knowing I’d find something yummy! I’ve made a few of her recipes in the past and they were successful.

I’d also like to brag that last night I wrote on my menu board: “goal: leftovers” … WINNER WINNER! I cleared out the remaining containers and put together a real meal for myself! THIS NEVER HAPPENS. My human garbage disposal (aka my husband) takes care of any and all leftovers so I never have a chance to revisit my dishes.  His work schedule was in my favor – there was not enough for both of us. Anywho, with the fridge being cleared out I’m definitely ready for what this next week brings 🙂

On to the remaining of last week’s meals – gourmet grilled cheese (Wed) and blue cheese turkey burgers (Thurs)

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I used smoked provolone cheese and sauteed yellow onions, swapped out regular white bread with sour dough – so good! I brushed the bread with melted butter (you need something to keep it from turning rock hard!).  Nix the mayo (some people use it on grilled cheese).  I baked sweet potato fries; let them soak in evoo/garlic powder/smoked paprika – what a combo. This is absolutely diabetic friendly – surprised? You shouldn’t be if you actually listen to your doctor/nutritionist/dietician. And as always, we had a side salad… because who doesn’t love some greens in their life? It keeps you regular, people!!!

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Who doesn’t love a good burger? 1.5 lbs of ground turkey makes 4 perfect burgers 🙂 It’s cheap too! After I measured each patty, I flattened it out, sprinkled blue cheese in the center and mixed it. After the blue cheese looked to be evenly distributed I formed the patty, done! It was beautiful weather so Josh got to man the grill; he was off on Thursday so I took advantage of me not having to actually cook. I really do loathe cooking on Thursday’s – it’s my longest day with zero breaks, the last thing I want to do is stand for another hour prepping/cooking dinner. I was able to prep the burgers & corn in the morning before I left for work. I had 1 potato leftover from the day before – 1 large sweet potato makes enough fries for 2 people (good to know!).  I microwave-boiled them in quarter size chunks for faster cook time (12 minutes!); once they came out I sprinkled cinnamon, ground nutmeg, s/p, and topped them with hunk of butter… mashed them up in the skins and voila! A perfect side dish.  For the corn: rubbed on butter, sprinkled s/p and parsley, wrap in foil, and grill it. Top each burger with MORE blue cheese and dinner is ready!

Get your cookin’ started! Where do you get your inspiration from … a family cook book, TV shows, your favorite restaurant… tell me!