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

 

ice, ice, baby

Well, there goes my hopes of getting things done (outside of the house) today… San Antonio has pretty much shut down.  All school are closed and highways are blocked.  Listen, the weather isn’t bad but this city doesn’t have the trucks to clear icy roads; cars are stuck on overpasses (that are 4+ stories tall… no thank you!). And as I told my husband before he left for work … it’s not him I’m worried about (being from Erie, PA – he knows ice and snow), it’s the other idiot drivers out there.  Of course he called when he got to work to A) let me know he arrived safely and B) inform me about the dummy who tried to be cool and pass everyone, slammed on his brakes at a red light, and swerved sideways into the median, all in front of a cop. See what I mean?

So with that being said, if the roads melt a bit and I get the courage to drive amongst morons then I will head to the grocery store.  The cold front is supposed to be gone by Sunday where it will be back up in the 70’s and then 3 days later, freezing temps at night. This is insane.

Anyway, I have plans on making french onion soup tonight – never made it before and it’s been something on my “you must attempt this” list.

I have not cooked a decent meal since Tuesday. It’s been leftover central up in here! I love it though because I think it’s fun to find different ways to create something by swapping out the “usual”.  For instance, I made loco moco which is a traditional Hawaiian dish but instead of using rice, I used the leftover quinoa mixture from the stuffed peppers.

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So easy: make 4 burger patties, sass up canned gravy by adding extra mushrooms, you can make rice for the bottom, cook up some eggs, and it’s done! It’s really silly how delish this meal is.  We fell in love with it a few years back while in Hawaii. It’s so filling – it’s a “every 6 months” kind of meal; not something we could eat on a regular basis.  Plus it only took 20-ish minutes from start to plate.

Last night I marinated 2 chicken breasts in green chile sauce, pan cooked them, and served over top of the quinoa mixture – Josh loved it.  No one says a certain mixture can’t be used for other dishes.  Me on the other hand whipped up some nasty frozen “fish” filets – they were in the freezer as a back up meal in case I didn’t feel like cooking.  Yeah, do yourself a favor and DO NOT BUY THEM, I will never trust Gorton’s fishermen again. Once you start eating real fish filets from the seafood counter, there’s no turning back to buying the cheap garbage.

So as of Wednesday Josh is back to his 8 week schedule of hardly being home, it’s been nice having him around to help with dinner … he was put on patty duty:

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I will leave you with this fun piece of nutritional info on 1,000 island salad dressing, get ready to be amazed.

IMG_5202 Chelsea introduced a greek yogurt-based dressing to me not too long ago. Yes is absolutely tastes different (not yucky though) however notice the calories, 40 vs. 130 – holy cow! I don’t mind giving up its classic  flavor if it means I’m ingesting something that isn’t as bad for me.  Try it out, this company makes a variety of dressings (ranch, blue cheese, 1,000 island… ) Bolt House – got try it!

Oh lovely, it’s raining again.

pork chops, steaks, and a ‘little nugget’

What happens when you forget to buy a primary ingredient for dinner? Improvise!  That was my Wednesday evening, as I’m prepping dinner I go the ‘dairy drawer’ in my fridge and frantically search for smoked gouda. NO WHERE TO BE FOUND and then it dawned on me, I forgot to buy it; womp womp womp.  No worries, I wouldn’t let that stop me from making some tasty stuffed pork chops. Yes, we had pork chops last week but they are inexpensive and a great source of protein, so why not. I had smoked gouda and spinach stuffed chops in mind but that quickly changed to …. caramelized onions and sauteed apples stuffed chops.  Even though apples are not wise for a diabetic to eat, we just remember “everything in moderation”.  Again, with the high protein in pork + a side salad of dark greens – apples wouldn’t actually do much to Josh’s sugar level.

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You can also see the instant “mashed” potatoes … I added a decent scoop of garlic to these and a large spoonful of sour cream.  I will say it again, there’s nothing wrong with buying these “cheat” items but do something with them, make them your own. Plain instant potatoes are kind of gross – a soggy lump of mush and lack flavor.  Adding butter alone is pretty standard, go a step further and think of toppings you’d put on a baked potato; dice them up and throw in the pot. Good to go!

P.S. is anyone else a fan of those mini corns? They were my favorite topping at a salad bar and I had no clue (until a few months ago) that you could find them in the canned veggie aisle. Want to make a boring salad interesting? Take the same approach as you would to those instant potatoes.  Olives, mini corn, dried cranberries, croutons, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, diced red/green peppers, cucumbers … we mix up the toppings every month or so because salads can and will get dull!  Remember, go for the dark green lettuce for a healthier choice.  While iceburg lettuce looks the least like a ‘weed’ it doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients.  If it looks like you could have picked it from your backyard, that’s the bag you want to grab or get spinach; looks like a normal leaf and is really good for you.

We ended the week with steaks and sweet potatoes.  It was perfect grilling weather, 75 degrees… no complaints here for a mid-December evening! Our steaks get minimal cooking time, we’re talking 4 minutes on each side. I will not eat a steak if it doesn’t ‘moo’ on my plate 😉  The sweet potatoes took about an hour so plan accordingly.  Ain’t nothin’ simpler than that guys!

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I have graduated from dipping my steaks in Ketchup; my dad would be proud.  I can’t eat it completely naked even though we used some tasty seasoning; I reached for A1 instead. Please, hold your applause 🙂  Yes yes, a salad again. It’s the best side in my opinion; I like making them and Josh always requests one.  So that is usually our veggie helping.

Real quick before I sign off, it’s my little nugget’s 5th birthday this month. She’s so fat it’s appalling but we love her anyway. She eats healthy and gets exercise, we don’t indulge in doggy treats or human food either. It’s just who she is.

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I know you haven’t read much about my sous chefs lately … well with a bigger kitchen and two levels for the dogs to frolic, they don’t get in my way anymore.  They are at my feet when they hear me say ‘dinner’s ready’; they aren’t dumb… they come around hoping to trip me while I’m serving food.  Gotta love ’em!

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.

PSA: restaurant portion control

I love going to check out the progress of our new house, for the obvious reasons of course but my favorite part is when we go out for drinks and a mini date night (or date lunch, sans drinks).  It’s not often that Josh and I have an evening off together where we can actually sit down for a relaxed meal.

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I believe all construction related things are supposed to be finished by Oct 17 (appliances go in after that) and then it’s permit time … we’re really crossing our fingers Nov 20 is a firm closing date. With the government shut down though, our loan is in limbo.

Before I go off on a ‘shut down’ rant … back to the date nights that I look forward to.

We’d been craving Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar. I know, so cheesy but we love salads and grocery stores out here (and in Vegas) do not have salad bars! I remember one night in Vegas we went to 5 grocery stores (different companies) to see if anyone had salad bars. I kid you not, one employee looked at me in serious confusion then offered I take a number at the deli counter and order a pasta salad. WHAT?!  Yes Vegas has the most buffets on the planet but we didn’t feel like going into a casino for a salad.  Never found a salad bar, not even a “Chop’t” type place, we ended up buying prepacked plastic box salads. Blah.

Now on to San Antonio, at least there are Souper Salads out here but still no grocery stores with salad bars. What’s the deal? Is it an East Coast thing with Giant (in Virginia)? I lived on salad bars while teaching; it got me out of my classroom and was much better than my usual frozen meal choice.

So last night we got our salad bar fix. I also ordered broccoli and cheese soup – for something that probably came from a large bucket, it was actually pretty tasty with huge chunks of broccoli! If you’ve worked in restaurants, you know how food comes shipped and it’s often times not a pretty sight.  Josh also ordered their hickory bbq chicken breast with spaghetti squash.  It was one of those “under 400 cal.” meals so we expected a crappy presentation (truth) but he said the bbq sauce had a nice kick to it, surprisingly.  I’ve never had spaghetti squash but now I’m a believer; I want to make it and see how it’ll turn out.  We each made 2 trips to the salad bar and I think we’ll be content for a while.  The only disappointment: the 2 cold salads that are offered, were disgusting.  The pasta salad had WAY too much pepper added and the potatoes in the potato salad were not cooked/done, they were like hard sponges.  The sauces had zero flavor and were too soupy, almost watered down as if to make it go further.

After a night out for dinner, we didn’t feel gross from eating 2-4x the amount of serving sizes that restaurants pile your plate with… did you know nutritionists say to divide each item on your plate in half, ask for a box RIGHT AWAY, and get the extra food off of your plate?  Now you can continue to enjoy your meal with the proper portions. Yeah, you shouldn’t be eating EVERYTHING on your plate … take the box home and enjoy it for lunch the next day (not a late night snack!).

That’s my public service announcement from this diabetic house. You’re welcome!

kids need music … and P.E.

Things are a’changing around this house, the last few weeks have brought exciting news 🙂

First, Josh and I are purchasing our first home! You know what this means? A BIGGER KITCHEN! A fridge that cools and a freezer that won’t defrost; doors that don’t let rain in; a garage door that closes; blinds that are functional; walls that have wood studs and insulation; this list could go on and on and on and… you get it. We’re looking at a mid-November closing date. Gosh, I am so excited.

Second, I accepted a teaching position at a private school, classes start on the 26th!  This will be school #2 that I get to start a music program at.  Maybe that’ll be my “thing” – I go to school’s that don’t have a music curriculum and start one. Every school should have a music program, I could seriously go on a 10 page rant about kids needing a creative outlet in school. And P.E. … kids need P.E.; after all, San Antonio is the most overweight city in America.

Speaking of overweight, back to the blog topic… This recipe was passed along to me and who could resist a name of “chicken bombs” when thinking “I wonder if I’ll make this?” I made it the week after seeing it! The chicken was full of flavor and cheese oozed out; super easy to make and incredibly tasty.  I left off the bacon … originally planned on using turkey bacon for a healthier option but figuring I’d have to cook the dish inside, I didn’t need my house filling with smoke. I think I’ll nix the bacon even if we do cook it on the grill in the future, I can never get bacon wrapped items to turn out right.  The bacon is either soggy or burnt, no thanks! I love bacon but you know what, you don’t need it to survive.

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Josh requested a fresh veggie side, I hadn’t made steamed broccoli in a while so I knew it was time to get back to it.  Buy 1 head of broccoli ($1.50! CHEAP!), I added an onion that was already in my pantry. That’s it! It takes maybe 1 minute to prep and 10 minutes to cook. No complaining that you don’t have time! For flavor, I sprinkled on veggie seasoning, ex. Mrs. Dash … whatever you prefer.  I did add a SMALL dollop of butter just to coat the veggies once transferred to a serving bowl.

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For the chicken you’ll see I placed the cookie rack on a foil lined casserole dish.  Since the chicken needed to be basted a few times while baking, I didn’t want the BBQ sauce pooling around the chicken, making it soggy or turning in to burnt edges.  With a deep dish under, the sauce was able to drip off nicely.

Don’t want leftovers? I used 2 large chicken breasts and cut them in half (as directed), you can see it made 2 chicken bombs per person. One disagreement I have with the recipe, it says if you don’t care for spicy peppers then you should opt for green bell peppers instead of jalapenos.  Guess what, removing the seeds and ribs (as instructed in the recipe) leaves you with a bland pepper.  That’s where the “spice” is typically found. I hate spicy peppers and handled the rib-less/seedless jalapenos just fine.  Get your facts straight, Leslie. 😉

This one’s a keeper!