What’s Your Hashtag?

I love Instagram. I love feeling like I’m part of someone else’s dinner when I see other home cook’s uploaded pictures. I love feeling excited when the “ding” pops up that a celebrity chef liked one of my pictures. I love when another user asks for one of my recipes. Yet I still have plenty of moments where I shake my head. Such as, when I look through pictures of users who are on Weight Watchers. They have usernames like WWjen or WWfoodlover … all of them start with “ww”.  Anyway, I scan their photos and most of the time I see healthy meals, small portions, point tracking, and updates of their weight loss progress.  A recent WW person started following me and I took a peak at her photos. Corn dogs, chili covered fries, ice cream sundaes, fast food french fries, fried seafood … the list goes on and on. This lady did her point tracking but her meals were disgusting! Who thinks a corn dog and a side of chili fries is healthy? I guess a corn dog is 2 points and fries were like 4 … she had some left over points and made an ice cream sundae, topped with whip cream and chocolate sauce. What that heck is she not learning from WW? She had other photos of her “progress”, usually the screen shot was something like “come on, you can do it … the points are adding up but you’re still struggling to lose weight”. NO KIDDING! She would tag the photo with something like #TailgateWeekendFail or #ICheatedThisWeek. Sorry hun I’m pretty sure your 75+ photos are not just from a bad weekend or a few cheat meals.  You can’t cheat the system! If you eat like garbage you body will become a wasteland.  Cut out the junk, cheat ONE day a week so you don’t go crazy, start to work out (walking around the block for 30 minutes is a great start), and then maybe you’ll see weight loss. It’s obviously not guaranteed and everyone is different but it’s a good start. You won’t see a change if you don’t make any!

Here are some yummy meals that can help you get going to that goal of a slimmer waist 🙂

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First up, pesto covered salmon with a veggie quinoa salad. Buy jarred pesto and slather that fish up! Bake for 10 min on 400 – done. The “salad” was prepped in the morning so all I had to do was reheat it after work. Quinoa takes 20 minutes to cook and it needs to be constantly stirred, the last thing I feel like doing at night. Anyway, chop a red bell pepper and red onion, (cook until veggies are soft), mix in balsamic vinegar, top with pine nuts – serve. PS the ‘white stuff’ on the fish is fat, don’t be grossed out. I buy frozen filets; 1. 4 pieces = $12 (2 fresh filets cost that) 2. I don’t have to deal with the skin 3. My fridge doesn’t stink like fish. Sounds like a big bonus to me.
Next, turkey burgers! Cut the beef y’all, do yourself a giant favor. If you get the “fatty” turkey then you may be able to trick the meat lover in your family however don’t quote me on that. Ok so the burgers – bust out your food processor and toss in an onion and garlic. The juice of an onion is a great way to add moisture to turkey burgers or any burger for that fact. Added to the mix, wor. sauce and Fiesta burger seasoning. Crucial. I love the flavors and with the food processor no one got large bits of anything, it was pulverized to perfection. With 1.25lbs of ground turkey I made 5 burgers, 2 small ones for me and 3 bigger ones for my husband. I ate 1 and he at 2 which meant leftovers. I’m finally getting the hang of this! I forget what our sides were but you could do a salad, baked sweet potato (better than regular), cole slaw, corn, peas/carrots, etc. Nothing greasy! Don’t forget a whole wheat bun; slower releasing carbs compared to white bread.

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A fun weekend activity: we made salsa. I have no idea how to can so that’s on my bucket list … because we have a mega tupperware filled to the brim of fresh salsa. It’s not perfect, it was also our 1st attempt but it’s yummy. My husband added roasted corn which was necessary for sweetness with all of the acidic ingredients (tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, onion).

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We all love take out right? Of course! Do yourself another favor and make your favorite meal at home. Our test was general tso’s chicken. I found this awesome website Damn Delicious and found a recipe for a lighter version of this favorite “Chinese” dish. I say that with quotes because you should know that is an Americanized menu item. Made with corn flakes and just absolute yumminess, this will be a keeper! We loved it – paired with quinoa fried rice and not only did it feel like we called in this order but we felt good afterwards. You know how you feel after ordering take out – BLOATED & full of regret. Not with this dish! It was a bit time consuming but my husband helped and we cut the prep time down. I don’t like spicy food so he added red pepper flakes directly to his bowl instead of the sauce.  We have at least 1 serving leftover.

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Remember my new goal of creating leftovers? Well I have been making extra and hiding it. Literally. I take the extra portions, put them in tupperware, and hide them in the back of my fridge. I love my husband but if the food doesn’t smack him in the face then he won’t look for it. HA! The leftovers aren’t meant to make a full meal, he has them as snacks when he comes home from work (if he works an AM shift he’s home around 3, eats, heads to the gym, and dinner is between 6-8pm depending on my teaching sched). This works out perfectly

This could work for anyway, serve your plate and hide the rest! That way you won’t be tempted to go back for seconds or thirds.

Back to the meal – sloppy joes. I freaking love Martha Stewart. This week is all about my favorite cook book, Great Food Fast. Easy recipes to follow, simple ingredients, and minimum prep/cook time. I prepped this one in the morning, again making an easy reheat for my 1 hr time slot for dinner 😉 A recent discovery, all of the nutrition facts are in the back of this book! If you need to light that fire of learning how to cook you should buy this book. It’s the one I started with and love it.

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Again I used ground turkey to cut the red meat. Make breaking up the meat easy, I use a rubber spatula and basically stab the you-know-what out of the meat, ha! Hold the pan with your free hand or you may have treats for your fur-babies. The meat gets super tiny and there aren’t any lumps. A wood spoon doesn’t get the meat broken up very well and half of the meat gets stuck to the spoon too. DO NOT BUY Manwich – that stuff if filled with nasty/bad for you ingredients. Make it yourself, hide those veggies, and you’ll never know the difference. Except you won’t feel like garbage afterwards.

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Hold on to your bloomers because this dinner was ready in a blink of an eye and it only used 5 ingredients. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Red & yellow bell pepper, sweet Italian turkey sausage, pasta (we use Dream Fields, slow releasing carbs),  Parmesean cheese, and butter (only 1 TBSP!!!). Seriously that’s it! The salty flavor of Parm. cheese and flavorful sausage will blow your taste buds away. Isn’t it funny how the simplest of meals can make you the happiest?  Yes, a Martha meal. My husband was a bit skeptical of how it’d turn out but was pleasantly  surprised 🙂 Martha does not disappoint!

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!!!

 

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!

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?

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.

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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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!