time to kick off the holiday season

The Rockettes were just on TV so I had to go there …

And if you’d like to be able to high kick like those girls may I suggest that you don’t stuff your face silly with “all the dressings” at the dining room table. Once again I’m on the hunt for diabetic friendly Thanksgiving recipes, I’ve found a few including one that is supposed to mimic a sweet potato casserole but with squash instead. It’s all about the spices to be honest – color is the same and texture is close so if it can also smell appetizing I think it’ll be a hit. I also researched a rub for the turkey instead of brining it like we did last year. It was good but let’s try something new shall we?! I think a ham might go on the grill depending the number of guests we have. Friends will bring a green bean casserole, stuffing, and appetizers. OH! I’ve done a run through of a pumpkin pie and it’s safe to say it was a success!

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The recipe was not enough to fill my spring form pan so it will be doubled for Thanksgiving. I used a small casserole dish instead but was impossible to serve. Although after watching Good Eats last night, I might purchase a tart pan. Back to the pie, it’s crust-less and almost sugar-less! Instead of a 1/3 cup of sugar I used 4 tsp of Stevia and it tasted gooooood. It needed more pumpkin pie spice and I will add cinnamon per request from my husband. Suggested by the recipe was to crumble ginger snaps, sprinkle on top of each slice along with dark chocolate chips. That helped to add texture since there isn’t a crust. This was a huge deal and my husband was very appreciative; I do not bake… not a fan of it because it has to be precise (there’s no option to add your own twist to things) and most of the time you have to wait 2-24 hours before eating any of it. Stupid desserts need to cool down for a day … dinner is ready as soon as it comes off the stove.

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Had some favorites last week, cheeseburger pie (added mushrooms since they were leftover) and quesadillas (chicken, spinach, onions, 1 red bell pepper, and whole wheat tortillas … topped with sour cream, salsa, and a chunk of avocado).

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A new recipe I tried last week was a shepherds pie (I’ve never had it before!). It was pretty easy to make and very yummy! I had originally found a Campbells Soup recipe and as I rattled it off to my husband he said it wasn’t even remotely close so I found a new recipe and it was a success. Of course it was because it’s an Alton Brown recipe! I cheated with instant mashed potatoes (2 small packets), skipped the addition of an egg, didn’t miss it. I also used ground turkey instead of Lamb. My time and wallet are precious, do what you need to do to make dinner at your household 😉

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Staples so far this week: chicken bombs and butternut squash soup.

Monday’s chicken bombs were the best yet. I don’t know what it was but they were extra yummy… I added sides of mushroom orzo and peas, kept it simple.

The soup was almost a disaster because I followed the recipe, ha! It instructed to bake the squash for only 20 minutes (to make it soft) and I knew better, it needed at least 45-60 minutes. I was also rushed but you know the saying “do it right the first time” … yeah, I wasted more time trying to fix things and clean up a huge mess. After 20 min. I tossed the veggies in my soup pot, covered with all the liquid, attempted to mash it before using my immersion blender. Umm… nothing mashed. IT WAS SOLID AS A ROCK. Liquid flew all over the tile back splash (now I know where the name comes from 😉 ). Awesome. It’s all covered with liquid and now I must dump it in a blender. By the way, it had been simmering for 20 minutes as another attempt to soften the veggies … so not only is it hard as a rock it’s also scalding hot! Soup splattered everywhere as I transferred it from the pot to the blender, the blender was filled too high so I poured it in a large measuring cup since it was near by. More splatter. I blended everything in 2 batches, pouring the chunky/baby food textured “soup” back into the pot, it tasted good but the texture was nasty. I partially chewed the soup. I cooked it down some more and busted out the immersion blender again … that little device saved it. It was so smooth after that and the soup actually looked like soup. My husband missed an exciting afternoon! When he came home he got an ear full while cooking the grilled cheese (at 9:30pm) … I don’t do grilled cheese. I burn the bread and the cheese manages to not melt. Riddle me that. Yes, I ate that late which I know is not healthy but with our schedules we don’t get to eat dinner together often. I at least ate my soup earlier and waiting to share a grilled cheese with him ❤ .

So the rest of this week & next week will be “figure friendly recipes” that are restaurant favorites (i.e. BAKED general tso’s chicken, pesto salmon … yummmm); we must prepare for Thanksgiving … shed the last few pounds right before adding them back on, lol. Let’s all be thankful for the food we eat, the family and friends we share it with, and a lovely house to make memories in.

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You’ve been fooled!

I’ve been pondering on what my next rant should be … Lays brought back their new flavor contest – cappuccino flavored potato chips? God we  (Americans) are such fatties! Eating that chip screams “I’m too lazy to drive to Starbucks and pay $8 for a cappuccino but let me get to the store and buy a bag of greasy potato chips”.  I bet you raved to your friends on the money you saved with your smart purchase.; your cholesterol is hating you right now though.

Hhmmmm… something that caught our (me and my husband) attention, the other day we saw 2 very large women who were wearing work out clothes (it’s up for debate if that was their choice stretchy outfit for the day or if they were actually coming from/going to work out) anyway, they came out of Jamba Juice, which is described as a ‘health focused chain for fruit smoothies’, with the largest smoothie size the store offers.  It appeared to be a red smoothie, so I’m guessing something containing strawberries.  Let’s say it was the Razzmatazz smoothie: 500 calories … if they opted for the “make it light” version then they are coming in at 310 calories although the sodium doubles.  Let that sink in, 500 calories is usually 1/3 of someone daily caloric intake, someone who eats healthy I should add.  These women surely eat over 2,000 calories a day – fast food for every meal (there was a McDonald’s cup in the cup holder… so yeah, I’m gonna guess they frequent fast food establishments) + a 500 calorie smoothie will get you to 2,000 calories faster than you can blink an eye.  It’s so disgusting that this store is claiming to be healthy.  Why even offer something that is 500 calories? How about make those smoothies but only in the smallest size, still 290 or ‘make it light’ 180; that’d be doing the general public a better service. While these women may think they are being healthy the store has them fooled; makes me shake my head.

Fruit contains a high percentage of natural sugars; people who aren’t diabetic don’t have to worry about such a thing but take a step back and see what you’re snacking on or drinking … just because your grocery cart is all blueberries, apples, watermelon, carrots, etc. doesn’t mean you’re ‘doing it right’. Check the nutritional info on those items you will be shocked at the carbs/calories/sugars/fats.  So that “sugar free” apple pie you’ve been eying – yeah, it’s not really sugar free.  The baker may not have added extra sugar but apples have enough natural sugars to make a yummy pie all on their own.  Think about that the next time you tell yourself “it’s okay to eat that, it says sugar free”.  Your intentions are in the right place but read the nutrition label and educate yourself.

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Ahh, I feel better after that! On to some yummy recipes that you should try.

 

I made the best meatballs last week … after making them I don’t know how many times, I have finally, scientifically, come up with the yummiest recipe.

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I used ground mild Italian sausage, a precooked & cooled quinoa/yellow onion mixture, panko, FRESH garlic & shallots, s/p to taste.  I used to do ground pork and other spices (a recipe I found on pinterest) but I began to change things and wound up with this beauty.  It seems silly but a perfectly season meatball just hits the spot.

What else… ah, my husband loved this one, a sweet potato and black bean “burrito” or wrap.  We had plenty leftover for a few lunches.  When we ran out of wraps the mixture went into a bowl and sprinkled some cheese, it was good on its own. A vegan meal and the meat wasn’t even missed!

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Of course, as promised, a meal honoring Elvis (I posted about it on my instagram account) – as August is the month he passed away in.  How does one make an “Elvis meal” healthy … I’m pretty sure he was prediabetic but never knew it. Come on, he was pretty large at the time he died. Love him anyway, he’s the king. I have a cook book of his favorite meals “Are You Hungry Tonight?”.
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Click on the photos of the recipes to enlarge them.
HERE ARE MY CHANGES
SOUP: 2% milk, doubled the celery and onions, low sodium broth, I left the potato skins on since they do contain some vitamins
There’s not much you can change about the soup, it was freaking delish though.
BLT & CHEDDAR SANDWICH: the smallest amount of mayo possible, romaine lettuce (we almost used spinach but it had gone bad 😦 ), turkey bacon, whole wheat bread; make sure you look for the label “WHOLE WHEAT” not just “WHEAT” – yes, there’s a difference.
We toasted the bread, plain, then stacked the ingredients.

We wanted to have classic comfort food but we know that comes with regret, do what you can to swap ingredients but keeping the integrity of the meal.  That was such a yummy dinner, indulging every once in a while won’t hurt you.

So we all have those “need to clear the fridge” days, right? When you have a few items that are about to go bad and you really don’t want to toss them, that was last week for me.  Eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and the end of some salsa.  Well, I whipped together an easy brunch.

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I’m ready for tonight’s dinner … a 3 cheese pizza topped with turkey bacon and caramelized onions. YUM!

 

EAT HEALTHY! BE HEALTHY! THINK HEALTHY!

Not all copying is illegal

Copying music (MP3, sheet music, etc) : illegal
Copying during a test : detention and an automatic F
Copying someones homework : zero for the assignment
Copying someones fashion : a way of complimenting your friend but still creepy

Copying a recipe : you sure can!

This week’s new recipe was a copycat version of Panera’s broccoli cheese soup. I’ve used this blog site before for the autumn harvest squash soup, the author is on point with ingredients.  It’s really easy to make and was incredibly delish.

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A wonderful protein to add – pork chops! Let those babies cook in caramelized onions to get some good flavors going. They seriously take maybe 6 minutes (once the onions begin to cook down, put in the pork chops).
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One more new recipe for the week, chicken cordon bleu pizza. Nom nom nom. Courtesy of Betty Crocker and a Bisquick crust. I will now make this crust any time, no more store bought junk. It’s really easy 1 1/2 C of Bisquick, 1/3 C of H2O, and shredded parm – done. That makes enough for 1 medium pizza, we of course made 2 pizzas (1 for leftovers 🙂 )

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Hubby has been home all week for dinner! YAY!  He helped on pizza night as we know it’s rare that I actually get to making dinner on Thursday’s.

It’s funny that these recipes are healthy & diabetic friendly, most of you would enjoy them.  You don’t have to eat like a rabbit in order to be ‘healthy’ – choose your dishes wisely and pick fresh/organic ingredients.  Also, do not indulge! See how we made 2 pizzas but kept 1 for leftovers? Take note.

Patience is key, young grasshopper

I pinned this recipe a year ago… ONE WHOLE YEAR! My intentions were to make it for St. Patty’s Day (last year) and clearly I never got to it.  This year I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity.  Don’t cringe at the thought of corned beef and cabbage egg rolls, I know it sounds strange but it was really good – mind over matter, people.

Instead of doing the usual slow cooker corned beef over cabbage, which there is nothing wrong with … but since I’m on this cooking adventure I just had to try these egg rolls.  We opted to bake instead of fry – a great step to a healthier alternative.

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I cooked the beef on Sunday in my slow cooker while we took a day trip to the San Marcos Outlets, Cabela’s, and Salt Lick – which has THE BEST pork ribs. Anyway, back to our holiday dinner. Prep the meat a day beforehand, you won’t be rushing around the day of! The day of: sauté thinly sliced cabbage and onions; boil potatoes (to turn into mashed p’s) … that’s it! I used the leftover egg roll stuffing to make “sides” – nothing goes to waste in this house! Egg rolls are really easy to make and then a 1000 Island dipping sauce, yum! Think of it – a reuben uses 1000 Island so why not for these?  Some of the egg rolls were: beef/cabbage/cheese and beef/cabbage/mashed p’s/cheese. LIGHT spray the wrappers with cooking spray, put in the oven at 400 for 20-ish minutes (or until the wrappers turn golden brown). Remember, everything is cooked already – you’re just crisping the rolls. I had leftovers for lunch yesterday and dipped them in ketchup. I love ketchup, like really love ketchup. It was our wedding favor after all!
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So I know I said I’d be visiting our favorite dishes from here on out but I have to brag about this one because it was the best version to date.  Cheeseburger Pie – which is Josh’s request 100% of the time when I ask what he wants.  We kept having issues with the “crust” so I looked on the interwebs and found a Betty Crocker version; other than Martha, this is a woman I can trust when it comes to fixing disaster recipes.  I had definitely been using too much Bisquick mix.  Also, I added mushrooms, onions, and hamburger seasoning (thank you Bolner’s), oh and topped the “casserole” wish shredded swiss cheese before pouring the mix – cook that baby at 400 for 25 min. BEST CHEESEBURGER PIE SO FAR! I’ve been making it for 4 years now – it just goes to show that recipes take time to perfect.

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Use an actual pie dish for the perfect portions.

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This week’s line up in no particular order:* copy cat Panera broccoli and cheese soup with pork chops (covered in caramelized onions) – I’ll let you know how the soup turns out
* spaghetti and pork/quinoa meatballs
* chicken cordon bleu pizza (using a Bisquick crust) – new recipe, I will blog about it
* grape tomato/shallots with ravioli + salad
* Shakshuka over rice + bread for dipping (Friday/our Lenten meal)

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!