sum sum summer time

While I wait for the rain to pass why not write a blog-post… because they are slowing down with lack of inspiration and not needing to cook.  Once our summer travels are done I know I’ll want to get back in the kitchen but when my husband was gone for a week I wasn’t going to cook a gourmet meal for one. Now it’s my turn to travel and then in a few weeks it’s his again.

Since I haven’t been cooking a whole lot I’m going to share a pasta recipe I entered into a contest:

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“Salad”:
1 box of Dreamfields rotini pasta (cooked and cooled)
1 pound of cubed ham
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
5 oz. crumbled blue cheese
“Dressing”:
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 shallots DICED
8 tbsp EVOO
S/P to taste

Boil the pasta (lightly salt the water; the dressing & blue cheese will add plenty of flavor) when it is fully cooked, drain the pasta & set aside to cool.
While the pasta is cooling, mix the “dressing” ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk (use a really large bowl so you can serve the salad in it). Combine the cubed ham & dried cranberries. Mix together with a spatula evenly coating everything. Once the pasta is cooled add it to the large bowl of dressing/ham/dried cranberries. With the spatula, fold everything slowly to evenly coat the pasta. Be gentle so you don’t tear or rip the pasta.
Chill in the fridge 4 hours (or overnight; cover with plastic wrap); when ready to serve, fold the salad again & sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese on top.

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I did cook one real meal this week, it’s an easy one but really flavorful…enjoy!
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Sauteed onions with just 2 scoops of butter 😉 … pork loin steaks – so good!  We love pork but it was nice to eat a different cut of the meat.

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Cheated on veggies but the ‘silver can’ peas are so yummy. Yellow potatoes (use a large bowl to mix: cut into wedges, sprinkle salt & pepper, 2 grated garlic cloves, and 1 diced shallot… drizzle on EVOO and fold with a spatula) – bake at 400 for 45 min.

So that’s that… it was salsa chicken last night and tonight is spaghetti.  Of course there are plenty of leftovers so my husband doesn’t starve while I’m gone.

As for my trip, I’m really looking forward to eating Czech & Polish food – pierogis and sauerkraut here I come… getting back to my roots! And some Italian sausages (not my roots but certainly a ‘must have’ while in Chicago) … I’m so ready for something other than BBQ and Mexican food. Texas, I love you but I need a break.

 

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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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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 😉

 

 

 

 

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.