Monday, March 31, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

So, I'm trying to if not control my emotional eating over all this stuff, at least do damage control itself. On one of the WW boards I'm on, a bunch of the people are there are trying to basically "get back to basics" and get back what they should be doing to lose weight once more instead of just trying to do it. The other day I worked on just trying to drink my water. I had gotten off of just simply trying to do that. And I don't mean drinking loads of it, I mean simply drinking it. It is something that i need to make sure that I do since one of the side effects of the Topamax is kidney stones. So..umm...yeah....I need to make sure I'm drinking enough water. So far so good, I'm doing well with that. Now it's back to trying to make sure I get my 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (I'm going to shorten that to 5F&V). I'm really not so great about that all the time. The big thing? I hate eating salads - sometimes they're ok, but I really just hate them. And then I stop fixing side dishes or just fix a grain which isn't a vegetable or fix a potato, which is technically a vegetable, but not really, especially since I'm diabetic. *sigh* SO....vegetables....I'm working on it. I can't just increase my fruits - that diabetic thing. The nutritionist told me to limit myself to 2 not just because of my diabetes but also because of my triglycerides - so that's what I try to do. I've also let my "milk" slide to. Also not a good thing. That's the next thing I'll be working on - babysteps here. Anyway, here's my menu plan for the week, along with my choices for breakfast and lunch. For more Menu Ideas visit I'm an Organizing Junkie

Breakfast Choices:
Scrambled Eggs
Yogurt with fruit or Grape Nuts (actually it's Kashi's version)
Shredded Wheat

Lunch Choices:
Leftovers (usually my first choice)
Taco Salad
Shrimp (I found a few the other day in the freezer) with Frozen stir-fry veggies

Shepherd's Pie (last night with leftover roasted lamb)
Chicken Sausages with Couscous and steamed broccoli (tonight - recipe in post below)
BBQ Chicken Legs (From Everyday Food Show this weekend)
For other meals I'm thinking:
Pasta (from the pantry)
Meatloaf (From the freezer)

I just couldn't concentrate on the planning for a menu this week, so I settled on 3 days - It's better than nothing. And to get rid of that salad stuff that I hate? I made a taco salad for lunch yesterday. Something I haven't had in a while. I bought a can of Turkey chili at the grocery store yesterday and used that for it (and do you know how hard it was to find that turkey chili in the store, that section has gotten really tiny now!). I couldn't even finish it. I now have some apples, a few cherry tomatoes, some avocados, some oranges, 3 bananas, a grapefruit and some nonfat fruity yogurts. Yay! I also picked up something I don't normally buy: small containers of Jell-O and Tapicoa pudding. I know I can make my own, but I'm more inclined to eat it all if I make it, even if I portion it out. So I've got some mostly healthy snacks around too. The Pringles have left the building. (And there's no Fresh Mozzarella around!)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Recipe I need to remember.

Since I was able to buy some of this sausage marked down since it was short dated I needed to find something to use it. I only bought a package of it, even though it was marked down from it's usual $5.99 to $2.99 - since I didn't have a lot of room in the freezer and I wasn't sure what to do with it. This recipe should work out since Hubby loves couscous and I don't make it enough for him either. I buy pine nuts at Costco and keep them in the freezer and whole wheat couscous in bulk at the healthfood store. I think I used up all my pinenuts when I made pesto at the end of summer to save all my basil, so I might have to get some more pinenuts (actually I'm almost positive I have to because I've been through that drawer in there a few times and pinenuts aren't in there).

Chicken Sausage and Couscous
Serves 4
From Weight Watchers Annual Recipes for Success 2008

When kitchen time is limited, a one-skillet dinner is always a good idea. This one features savory chicken sausage links served over a bed of spicy couscous.

cooking spray
12 oz pkg chicken sausage with wild mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes (such as Gerhard's)
3/4 finely chopped onion
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked couscous
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove from pan; set aside, and keep warm.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and pine nuts; cook 3 minutes or until pine nuts begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to high; add 2 cups water to onion mixture. Bring to a boil, scraping bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. Add couscous and next 4 ingredients, stirring well. Arrange sausage over couscous. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Yield: 4 servings (1 sausage link and 1 cup couscous) Cal 372 (34%from fat), fat 14.1 g, (sat 2.8g), Pro 16.4g, carb 48.4 g) fib 5.5 g, chol 62 mg, iron 2.2 mg, sod 57.4mg, calc 27 mg POINTS: 8

Friday, March 28, 2008

Just a bit of an update

I am doing a lot better today. Yay! Yesterday I went ahead and went to WW. And of course, NEXT week is a meeting about emotional eating. *SIGH* This week was about red light foods. Lets see...mine would be.....fresh mozzarella and pringles. Didn't really take much thinking, that's for sure. I was smart enough on Wednesday after the doctors appointment to at least buy the Buffalo Wing ones so that I could only eat a few at a time (or I buy the vinegar ones, for the same reason) and I also bought some of the low fat ones so that they wouldn't cause quite as much damage. I also avoided buying fresh mozzarella...even the one that you can buy in FoodLion because even though it's not Tom Leonards I can still eat it, ya know, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (Bellagioso or something I think it is.) Oh, and speaking of olive oil. I went back to the Manakin-Sabot FoodLion and picked up the other bottle (I think I talked about getting some for hubby's birthday) of Australian olive oil marked for Barbecues & Marinades. If I didn't talk about them, let me repeat myself if I did. They don't have them at the one in Goochland, but in the one in Manakin they had Red Island olive oil from Australia. It is cold Pressed olive oil and it was about 7.99 I think for 16.9 fl oz. There were I think 3 or 4 different blends. I bought one that was labeled for Bread and Salad and is described as "a fresh and fruity oil ideal for dipping and dressing" and when we opened it and tried it, it is really fruity. Hubby even noticed it. Now, I liked it, but I really like my olive oil peppery, and I remembered that the one I bought this last go round for the barbecues and marinades was described as "full flavored peppery oil ideal for meat, seafood, and vegetables" so I picked it up. It is just what I want. YUMMMM! I hope they keep it at FoodLion. I can't wait to grill a T-bone or a Porterhouse at some point with just a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and drizzle some of this oil and squeeze a lemon over it before serving. Maybe that'll be my birthday dinner.

Today is supposed to get up to 76 degrees, and then tomorrow it's down to 56 or so. I have the windows open, and this morning Buster the male cockatiel was talking with the birds outside so much that I had to turn off the tv news until he was done since I couldn't hear it anyway - it took about 15 minutes. He also screams back to the tv whenever they have either an eagle or hawk screaming on the tv which is more often than you would think. I guess it's better than when Percy would bark in response to the Domino's ad when they rang the door bell - he has since stopped that.

My crocus's are being eaten by a rabbit. I caught it eating them a few weeks ago. It doesn't really bother me since they deserve to eat too, although it does bother me just a bit since I've only got a few purple ones, most of them are yellow, and that's the one it decides to chow down on most often. It has moved on down the line a couple of times though. I would be more upset if it chowed down on my daffodils - but those are safe. They also liked to nibble along my garden when I had that going to. It didn't really bother me that much either, but the thought about sharing with wildlife about sent my husband's grandfather over the edge I think. He wages war on the deer with his garden. :) As it is I already share the wild blackberryies and the cherries on my trees with the birds and squirrels (first off I'm scared of heights, so I'll only pick what I can reach for the cherries, and there's poison ivy and snakes for the blackberries so once more- I pick what I can reach). When we first moved in the cherry harvest was great, and it looked like there had been a mob hit in our drive way since the birds had dropped the cherries and it looked like blood splatters all over it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What I do with those 3M Command Hooks

originally uploaded by dibranchia.
I hold my recipes that I'm going to cook with.

I need to upgrade to those metal ones at some point so they look a bit better.

And that index card? That's the Chez JJ pizza and pizza sauce recipe, that way I don't have to always go hunt for it.

The yellow bit is a post-it for a recipe change to make bread from hand to in a bread machine I'm going to try. I also keep recipes posted on the insides of the cabinets- Quick-Mix (Homemade Bisquick) recipes and how to make Pierogies (store-bought Mrs. T's frozen) so I can throw the large bag back into the freezer after pulling out what we want since we eat them so often. I've also got measurement cheat-sheets (3 tsp=1Tbsp and stuff like that) and how to make evap. milk and sweet cond. milk using dry milk, how to cook spaghetti squash in the micro (a sticker from one actually) and then 10 quick veggie meals for when I can't think of anything to eat since they are all things I've always got on hand.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Change of plans

The Hamburger Vegetable Soup was great! Reminded me of exactly what I had growing up in elementary school. Course I was spoiled, we had the Mennonite ladies as our lunch ladies. :)

So far the Scalloped Au Gratin Potatoes have been pushed back for a bit, I was exhausted on Tues - I ended up napping twice for a total of 6 hours, this after sleeping for 7 hours that night in the first place! So I didn't have time to fix and cook the casserole so we had frozen fish pulled from the freezer with leftover veggies. And tonight instead of fixing the potatoes, I used up the leftover mashed potatoes from Easter and made Mashed potato soup by adding Buttermilk until soupy and then topping with some bacon bits and shredded cheese. Quick and easy especially since today was a pretty crappy day.

I went to the new GYN today. He was very nice - reminded me of the first vet I worked for actually. Anyway, my period has been doing what it's done before, coming every 2 weeks, lasting for longer
than it should, and being WAY heaver than it should be. Before my liver problems it could be stopped by either taking birth control pills (the reason why I was on them in the first place) or by taking another
form or hormone pills. I was lucky in that I never had to actually do the last resort of a D&C (Dilation and curettage) because the pills (either type) always worked. Well now I can't take the pills. And I can't just do a D&C and then have to go back every few months to have to do it again either, well I could but it would really be worth it. [For those that don't know a D&C is where they remove the tissue that lines the uterus.] So he is recommending an endometrial ablation. This is where the endometrium is actually killed - he uses a short burst of electricity. Since the endometrium is dead, it's not recommend to become pregnant - and since I can't be since the pregnancy hormones would cause my liver tumors to grow and possibly burst, he recommended basically tying my tubes. That's what I was talking about
signing. In Va, since I haven't had kids, I have to sign a statement stating that I plan to have tubal sterilization, and then wait 30 days and then sign it again before having it done. I know that I can't have kids, I've known for a while, but signing that piece of paper, having a copy of that piece of paper in my hands just seems I can imagine that when I go to have the actual surgery towards the end of April (the actual date is up to me) it will feel even worse. We are hoping that this will control my periods - it can take up to 6 months, maybe up to a year before I notice a difference – I could still have PMS but no periods. If I still have heavy bleeding and such then the next stop is hysterectomy without any hormone replacement therapy. I need to schedule an pelvic Ultrasound beforehand. The Pap was done today. Joy.

Oh, and on the upside. I also get to plan to have my headlights squished at my convience too. I know y'all are jealous.

I am hoping to at least get the Leg of Lamb roasted tomorrow (If it's thawed enough) and the White Bean soup made (if the lamb's not thawed enough then it'll get made first).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I've REALLY got to empty the freezer. They had organic chickens short-dated at the grocery store the other day- meaning they were half-priced. I wanted so bad to get them, but I had no room for anything else in the freezer. It's good in one way, but not in another. So I need to start eating what I've got in there. Hubby and I still discuss what we eat and how it impact not just our health and us, but our world. I also checked out "The Omnivore's Dilemma" from the library, but I've just started the first chapter. We want to choose "happy meat" as it's sometimes called, but realize also that it's sometimes not possible for us to our finances. We've decided to just do the best that we can, when we can and go from there - just like our "diet". No use beating ourselves up because that gets us nowhere either. Guilt and stress at this point doesn't help anyone - and the small changes I've been making have been helping (see my previous post titled Catching up with my doctors report for one example). Baby steps are the way to go for us.

I am planning meal for the weekdays but I have found that we've really only been eating about 3-4 of the meals, eating leftovers for the rest of the days lately. I did not make Thurs and Friday's planned meals for example. BUT that is also because hubby wanted Fish and Chips so that's what we had on Thurs (continuation of his Birthday meal). And we also went out to eat on Friday since he had off, and Saturday was just hot dogs pulled from the freezer. Anyway, both of those meals were freezer meals (I have a ball of pizza dough, some cheese, sauce and pepperoni all in there to use still) so it's not that big of a deal in the long run.

For more menu ideas (usually over 200!!!) visit I'm an Organizing Junkie

Monday: Hamburger Vegetable Soup (recipe below I haven't tried it yet)
Tuesday: Au Gratin Scalloped Potatoes (just what we call them - scalloped potatoes with cheese of course) (recipe below)
Wednesday: White Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary (my rosemary is STILL blooming - it hasn't been cold enough here this year for it to stop and I might add some ham) (recipe below)
Thursday: Roast Leg of Lamb (This will free up a lot of room - it's one that I got when short dated)
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Leftovers

Hamburger Vegetable Soup
From Sharing Our Best: Recipes from Amish Mennonites, Stuarts Draft, VA
Mrs. Paul D. Yoder

1 1/2 lbs hamburger
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cup water
1/2 c chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups diced potatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp basil or parsley
1 beef bouillon cube
3 tomatoes or a little juice
salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan, brown meat with onions. Add water and remaining ingredients except tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are tender, then add tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes. May add more of other vegetables and juices or water. Should make about a gallon of soup.

Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin (7 pts)
Serves 10
1 can evaporated skim milk
8 slices American cheese slices
1 large onion, sliced
1 c lean ham, chopped
10 med Potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 head broccoli, optional
2 cups Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Layer: potato slices,4 slices American cheese, 1 cup Parmesan, ham, broccoli, potatoes, American cheese, Parmesan Cheese. Pour evaporated milk over (can use 2 cans if there's room and you like a lot of "sauce". Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook covered at 350 F for 1 hour until potatoes are tender. Uncover and cook until cheese is browned.

Per Serving: 313 Calories; 13g Fat (36.5% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 41mg Cholesterol; 869mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat.

White Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary
Makes 6 1/2 cups.

This robust main-course soup is flavored with slow-roasted garlic and fragrant rosemary, topped with grated Parmesan. Serve it with a loaf of crusty bread and your meal is complete.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
paste from 1 bulb roasted garlic, about 2 tablespoons (see note)
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 cans Bush’s great northern beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary or 3 teaspoons dry, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery, and sauté until onions are translucent, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in roasted garlic. Add bread crumbs, beans and vegetable broth and simmer for about 15 minutes to let flavors combine. Stir in rosemary and Parmesan. Taste, season with more salt and pepper if desired, and serve. Garnish with more Parmesan.

Note: to roast garlic
To roast garlic, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove as much of the papery skins from the garlic bulb and slice the top off the cloves. Place in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 1 – 1½ hours until the garlic cloves have mellowed into a paste and can be easily squeezed from their skins.

Hot Cross Bun Review and 2 Movie Reviews

Yesterday was nice. I was up at my normal 6 am, thanks to the canine alarm clock (at any movement she launches herself off the bed if not already on the ground, and barks while running down the hallways even if I'm heading the other way towards the bathroom) and hubby woke up just before I put the Hot Cross Buns in the oven. We both agreed that while VERY tasty (there's only 2 of the 12 left) we would like them just a tad smaller, so next time I'm going to make them as 24 instead of 12. I can't wait to make Cinnamon Buns with this recipe - it uses the same basic dough. (recipe posted at the end for the Hot Cross Buns).

I am not, nor do I play one on TV, a professional movie reviewer, so I don't really tell you anything in the following reviews....including spoilers. :P

I forgot to mention that we watched "O Lucky Man!" the other night. Even though hubby and I were tired, and it's a long movie, we watched it. As a matter of fact, we were so tired but liked the movie so much we actually made coffee to stay awake to watch it (we started it during dinner) and I don't like to drink coffee after noon so as not to keep me awake. I thought it was a very good movie. A little bit "Clockwork Orange"-ish without being so surreal. Helen Mirren kinda looks like Felicty Huffman in this movie and there were a few other people from some of the BBC Saturday comedies that we watch that were on there. A lot of the actors play other roles sometimes more than once, and it is a bit hard determining if there is any meaning in the end in their characters and that or not. The music is quite catchy too. :D

We watched "No Reservations" last night. I liked it too. I must admit, I wasn't really expecting it to be as good as it was - and the romance stuff didn't bore me. Yeah, I'm not one of those woman that really like that stuff, I get bored during those scenes. Can't say that it was any real major thinking piece, but it was something nice to sit down and watch. (We watch a lot of our movies and such while eating dinner.) It did cause a bit of kitchen envy though. ;)

Basic Sweet Dough
Makes enough for 12 buns or rolls
From The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Use this dough to make: Hot Cross Buns, Cinnamon Rolls or Sticky Buns

3/4 cup buttermilk, warm (110 degrees)
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast (1 envelope)
1 1/4 tsp salt

Whisk the buttermilk, butter and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Mix 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast and salt in a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.

Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (If, after five minutes, more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.)

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand. To form a smooth, round ball, about 1 minute. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Food Processor Method:
Whisk the buttermilk, butter and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Pulse 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a food processor (fitted with a dough blade if possible) to combine. With the processor running, pour the buttermilk mixture through the feed tube and process until a rough ball forms, 30 to 40 seconds. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for 30 seconds longer. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise as directed in step 3.

Hand Mixing Method:
Whisk the buttermilk, butter and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. In a separate large bowl, whisk 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast and salt together. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together and looks shaggy. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, 10 to 15 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise as directed in step 3.

*NOTE: if using active dry yeast instead of instant – mix with buttermilk and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast is bubbly before mixing into flour. You can add a pinch of sugar if you want to, but there is sugar (lactose) in the buttermilk for the yeast to feed off of. I also found I didn't need any extra time when I used the Bread Machine when using regular active dry yeast.

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 12 buns
From The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

These buns are traditional for Easter; however, they taste good all year round (and there is nothing like a homemade hot cross bun). To prevent the icing from being too thick, be sure to drizzle it over the buns while they are still warm.

1 recipe Basic Sweet Dough
flour for the counter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp water
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth, tight ball with a cupped palm. Arrange the balls in a greased 9 by 13-inch metal baking pan and wrap tightly in greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut an X through the top 1/4 inch of each bun. Whisk the egg and water together and brush over the buns. Bake until golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cook in the pan for 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar, milk, and vanilla together and drizzle in an X into the cut grooves of the buns. Serve warm or let cool completely.

To Make Ahead:
After arranging the shaped buns in the baking dish in step 1, cover the dish tightly with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate the rolls for up to 16 hours. Before baking in step 2, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

*We like them a bit smaller – so make 24 in the 9 x 13” instead of 12.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Catching Up.

I got good news at the doctor on Thurs! My liver values are high normal still, BUT they are the lowest high normal he's seen from me in quite a while! Yay! Also my A1c (The average blood glucose over the past 2-3 months. It can take 120 days for the blood cell to die so that's why it's a range) was 6.2%. For normal people it's normally 5%. For diabetics they (the experts) disagree but they want it between 6.5-7% My doctor and I would like to see around 6%. (The lower it is the less chance of eye, kidney and nerve problems.) My Cholesterol levels were also checked: Total chol is still slightly high (213) with the lab high being 199, my Trig still high (429) but considering it's been at the point where they couldn't measure it I'm still happy about that, and my HDL is still low (32). It is looking better than the last time though. Because of my liver problems I can't go on any of the statins though. We've increased my Fish oil to three times a day. They can't do the LDL/HDL test off-hand at this lab so he made a note when my Triglycerides are over 400, so he made a note that the next time it's over to run a special test to do so that will be able to break them down. He said there is a special type of fish oil that Is made for people who have Triglycerides that are over 500. Mine aren't and he's not sure that it'll help me, but depending on how my LDL/HDLs break down it may help me. So we'll see. My Blood Pressure was great though. :) I will also get my iron levels checked next go round too. Their new office is great, and I got to meet the new Nurse Practitioner and she got to learn all about my interesting medical history. ;) As Dr. Galeski said, "JJ's been a learning experience." They were also able to give me the name of a gynecologist. I like the one I had, but I just can't handle the OB part of her practice. I asked them if there was possibly a place that I could go where there was just the GYN part. They gave me the name, and I called - unfortunately I got home too late Thurs, and they were closed on Friday. I need to call on Monday.

Poor Miss Miko though. She had 4 teeth pulled (a slab fracture molar, 2 canines and another one I can't remember). She was not happy with me, barely wagged her tail when I picked her up, just wanted to leave. Can't say that I blamed her. She didn't make a peep in the car and wanted to sit on my lap. I didn't let her of course - there's no room. She still wanted to eat when we got home. That's my pug! Luckily I still had a can of dog food. I gave her a small amount and she ate it and went and laid in her dog bed. I also gave her a pain pill and a bit more food before heading to bed later that night. She woke me up at 3:40 am to get fed again. I gave in and fed her - I'm such a soft touch - but once more, only a little bit. The last time though that I fed her on demand though was at her normal feeding time of 6 am though. She got the rest of the can - at that point it was only a 1/4 of the can left and 1/2 cup of moistened food (dry food soaked in warm water until soft). I felt so bad since she drops food now - at least she's not like those Yorkies who can't keep their tongues in their mouths after their teeth are removed. She is finally back to normal though although I am still moistening her food - I'll continue with that for a few more days at least.

To those that are celebrating it, Happy Easter. We've got a bit before Passover happens - usually it seems that Easter and Passover are a bit closer - so I'll wait for my wishes until it's closer. :)

Today is going to be quiet here at Chez JJ. It will just be hubby and I here, since we've been with his family for his birthday last weekend we decided to just spend this weekend together.

I am making something that I have never eaten before, at least if I have - I don't remember them. Hot Cross Buns. I'm making what looks to be a plain Jane version - no fruit or spices - which is fine for my first go round since I'm not really sure what exactly they are supposed to have in them and if they turn out ok, I can add them in later. The recipe I'm using is from a book I checked out of the library: America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It's from the same people that do Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country. They of the test and re-test how to do a recipe (I posted the link earlier this week of a send off of boiling water). They gave how to do it by hand/food processor and stand mixer and what did I do? Made it in the bread machine. :) At least on the dough setting though. Anyway, they are on their second rise now, and will be split and baked off soon enough and I'll wake up John when they are done. I must admit I might have to buy this cookbook. And like I need ANOTHER cookbook. *SIGH* I really like it though, and it looks like one that is good to give to new cooks too. I was thinking I'd just copy a few recipes that interest me, but it would be a lot easier to buy the whole darn thing.

Later today I'll fix the ham, with a brown sugar and sherry sauce, our normal sauce (just a box of brown sugar, a bottle of sherry and some cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg added to the ham before it goes in, and basted occasionally as it bakes). [Is it bad that I am more looking forward to what we call Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin and Split Pea Soup using the leftover ham (and some of the sauce in the case of the soup)than the actual first meal of the ham???] I'm also going to fix some roasted Brussels sprouts, either mashed potatoes or boiled red potatoes, whichever hubby and I feel like (I imagine hubby is going to want mashed) and I might make broccoli but we'll have to see how tired I am - since there's just the two of us there's no real need to make a whole lot of food either.

I've got a craving for Vegetable Beef Soup. I don't mean Beef Stew either, I mean the ground beef added to Vegetable Soup. Not sure why, and I haven't had it in a while. I was teasing hubby yesterday that might be what we have for Easter since my allergies were bothering me and my throat was hurting me. He told me it didn't bother him. What a good husband I have.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Relatively easy plan for this week:

Monday: Corned Beef (of Course) with cabbage, carrots and red potatoes
Tuesday: Mustard Thyme Tilapia (from the freezer) with salad
Wednesday: Reubens using Monday's leftovers (Hubby's b-day he requested them)
Thurs: Country Fried Chicken and Peppers (from the freezer) with coleslaw
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: (Easter) Ham with Brown Sugar & Sherry, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus (or Broccoli depends on what looks good at the store), Orange carrots, homemade rolls

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for even more Menu plans (over 200 usually!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka
Serves 4
From: Weight Watchers Greatest Hits

I like to use Fat-Free Half and half - but I like it, and then I use more Parmesan cheese to make up the difference. [1/4 cup of heavy cream has 6 points, while the same amount of ff has 1. It is thinner, but if you increase the Parmesan it will thicken the sauce. I can add up to 7 Tbsp of Parmesan to make it 5 points]. Try it either way and decide what you want. I also kinda decide what I want to have around the house too - sometimes I can only find the FF in large containers and I don't really want that in the house, and other times I really don't want a container of heavy whipping cream around either.

2 c uncooked penne [I like using mini penne if I can find it - whole wheat is good too]
2 Tbsp reduced calorie tub margarine
1 shallot, finely chopped [or a mixture of garlic and onion]
1 plum tomato, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup reduced fat chicken broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp vodka
1/4 c diced tomato
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley

Cook the penne according to package directions; drain and keep warm
Meanwhile, melt the margarine in a medium nonstick skillet, then add the shallot and tomato. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomato paste, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, then add the cream and vodka. Cook, stirring constantly, until just heated through (do not boil). Pour the sauce over the penne and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the diced tomato, cheese and parsley and serve at once.

Per serving (3/4 cup): 278 cal, 9 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 19 mg chol, 201 mg sod, 36 g carb, 28 g fib, 73 mg calc. POINTS: 6

Monday, March 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I posted my review of last week here along with the recipe for todays planned recipe.:

Last week, I used up some meats that I had in my freezer, and chicken legs and thighs that were on sale and made up some freezer meals. I’m pulling some of those out for this week. I’m replacing those meals with ones using the lean ground beef that’s on sale this week. I hope this helps! I can’t believe how much the prices have increased, not to mention the gas prices too! I must admit this is the only time that I don’t enjoy living in the country!

Monday: Mary's Hoisin Chicken buns with frozen oriental vegetables (Using the Basic Chinese Bun Dough and leftover Mary's Hoisin Chicken)
Tuesday: Salmon Burgers on buns with Oven Roasted Red Potatoes
Wednesday: Ginger Chicken Breasts with Chinese Coleslaw
Thurs: Hamburgers with Pirogies (doctors appointment late in the day so quick and easy when I get home)
Friday: Crock BBQ chicken Supper with coleslaw (leftover), corn & Baked beans
Weekend: Leftovers

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plans

No Sleep DST

Saturday night wasn't much fun at Chez JJ. And we lost more than an hours worth of sleep. Not just thanks to the DST, where we lost an hour. Hubby had trouble breathing. He had caught a cold a while back, and had been to the doctor, gotten antibiotics and an inhaler. He was starting to get better but last night things were starting to get worse again. He had finished his Advair inhaler and had switched to the Proventil (albuterol) inhaler that the doctor had prescribed when the Advair had run out (the Advair was a sample) if he still needed one. Hubby kept saying that he was worried that if he fell asleep he would stop breathing. Yeah, not so much sleeping from either of us that night. It also didn't help that at 2 am, my Palm that I had in the bedroom (I usually charge it in there) where I had been playing Bejeweled before trying to sleep decided to tell us that DST was in effect. And not only that, when I decided to go try to sleep, instead of turning it off, I had paused the game and turned it off instead of switching to the main menu. After the DST alarm went off it went into the Bejeweled screen saver mode which is the sound of clinking jewels - at 2 am. And then around 3 or 4 I told hubby that he might have better luck if he tried to sleep in the LaZPug recliner instead since he had more trouble breathing trying to lay down. So he moved there. Percy then decided that he missed Daddy and started whining. So I took him out to Daddy. And then he decided that he didn't know where he wanted to be and spent most of the rest of the time walking between the bedroom and the living room checking both of us out. Percy is blind - has been for years. You'd think by now that he knows our house since we don't move things around because he's blind. Nope. He still goes pretty much as fast as he can and runs into things all the time. Not conducive to sleep as your blind dogs runs into things at full speed. And then at 5 am the phone rings. It's a wrong number. ARGH! We both figure we did get some fitful sleep throughout the night, but it wasn't really what one would call sleep.

I did convince him to got to the ER though. We spent a couple of hours there. Of course he wasn't wheezing when we finally went. *sigh* But the ER nurses and doc were very nice. They did check him out for heart problems - but everything there checked out normal. His breathing and chest x-ray also checked out fine. They did 2 nebulizer treatments. Sent him home with a short course steroid treatment and a new inhaler. And a stern lecture about smoking that I'm afraid didn't do any good. He needs to check in with his GP after the 12th. We both slept better last night.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Review of this weeks Menu

Everything went well. Yay! Nothing was ugh! The Broiled fish with Ginger butter was dead easy (and recipe is exactly as the title says) - the grated ginger in the melted butter giving a nice bit of zing to the mild tilapia. Sprinkling a bit of cilantro on top giving it a nice touch of color. I did add a can of black beans to the Chili-sauced Crock Chicken legs since it didn't quite fill up my crock-pot, and it worked out well, making it more of a chili and going well with the rice that I served it over. It definitely filled us up! And the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. The Manhattan Clam Chowder was tasty as always - It was hard saving a serving for my MiL - but I did. :) And the Beef stew was also tasty as always - it's hard to screw that up. Tonight is Ground Beef Gyro's - a new recipe for us. And then I shouldn't have to cook for a few days since we'll be eating leftovers for a bit. I will be doing a bit of "re-cooking" of the Mary's Hoisin Chicken, though.

We had the Mary's Hoisin Chicken last night. I threw it in the freezer after making it, taking it out to thaw before hand. (BTW the recipe can be found all over the net if you Google it.) We have plenty leftover since there's just the two of us. I did make one small change after tasting it after it cooked. Ok, well technically two- one before cooking also. I used bone-in thighs, since the original called for boneless since I didn't feel like de-boning the thighs - not a big deal and I also feel like it:
#1: gives more taste to the sauce
#2: keeps the meat from over cooking a bit better since it takes a bit longer to cook
#3: Gives the sauce a bit more body also
I also added a tablespoon of Asian chili-garlic sauce after it cooked because I wanted a bit of spiciness too it. But then again, we don't have kids to worry about. I also think a bit of peanut butter would be good in it too. Either way it was very good, and man noises were heard as it was eaten. :)

As I said there was plenty leftover and I plan to use those leftovers to make one of our favorites: Steamed Chinese Buns. These are the perfect way to use any leftover Chinese food - even better if you have just a little bit left - which we actually have more than a little bit, but that's ok. Anything, and I really do mean anything works well in these. I made these a lot of times when we were eating vegan since it was hard finding vegan pre-made dumplings and we had leftover homemade vegan Chinese food. It was great using fake TVP and BBQ sauce too. The original recipe comes from "The All-New Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook: 101 Brand-New, Irresistible, Foolproof Recipes for Family and Friends" by Tom Lacalamita

Basic Chinese Bun Dough

Believe it or not, bread does have a place in Chinese cooking, especially steamed breads, like savory filled buns. Besides being delicious and highly addictive, Chinese steamed buns are quick and easy to prepare when using the bread machine to make the dough. To save even more time, the fills are made from take-out dishes from your local Chinese take-out restaurant. And left-over steamed buns can be froze and then reheated in the microwave oven.

1 cup water
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp finely chopped chives or scallion greens
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
For Filled Bun: 1 pound of meat or vegetables in 1/4 cup of sauce

All ingredients must be at room temperature. Liquid ingredients should be approximately 80 degrees F. Add ingredients in the order specified in your bread machine owner's manual.

Select manual/dough.

At the end of the cycle let the dough rest 5 minutes, then proceed with any recipes for the Chinese steamed buns.

Basic Buns: Remove meat or vegetables from sauce, reserving sauce and chop meat or vegetables into very small pieces in a food processor. Combine with 1/4 cup of the reserved sauce.

Roll bun dough on a lightly floured surface into a long cylinder, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Cut into 16 pieces. With your fingers, flatten one piece of the dough at a time into a 3-inch round. The edges should be thinner with a puffy 1-inch center.

Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in center of dough, and gather edges together, pressing to seal. Twist gathered edges together, pressing to seal. Twist gathered edges to prevent them from opening. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Place buns gathered side down, 1 inch apart, on bamboo or metal steamer trays lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place, 15 minutes.

To steam buns, place bamboo steamer trays over a pan or wok of boiling water, or place metal steamers into a large, covered pot of boiling water. Steam buns over high heat 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and springy to the touch. If you are steaming a few tiers at a time, rotate steamer trays midway through. Transfer steamed buns to a platter and serve right away.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Menu for this week in no particular order (beef for beef stew is already thawing) but it will probably be close to this order:

Broiled fish with ginger butter with multi-grain rolls, steamed cauliflower with cheese and garlic sauteed spinach

Crock Chicken Drumsticks with baked sweet potatoes and cooked collards

Beef Stew with biscuits

Manhattan Clam chowder with garlic bread and spinach salad

Mary's Hoisin Chicken with brown rice and a green salad (recipe for this is all over the net)

Ground Beef Gyros with a Greek salad

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plans!

The week in review. ;)

It has been a pretty nice week. I like it when I get to spend a week with hubby.

I'm going to say (type) something that will probably cause you all to gasp. I hardly did any cooking at all this week. We were so well stocked with leftovers that it was pretty much just heat and eat this week. Monday we headed to Costco to pick up my contacts there (while waiting for the ones that our Insurance paid for to come in - it's cheaper if we're paying cash to get them from Costco - $16 and change per box from Costco vs $30 per box if insurance is paying for them) and while there we picked up one of their Take-and-Bake 5 Cheese Pizzas. So, that was what we ate, I added our own Turkey Pepperoni and sliced red onions to it. It was yummy, and it's huge! It's larger than my pizza stone actually for less than $10.

We still haven't technically had our Anniversary Dinner. But that's ok. We ate at Bob Evan's with MiL. I was bad, and got the Fish Dinner - even going so far as refusing the grilled fish and getting it fried AND getting a baked potato AND fries instead of veggies. Granted I did share a bit of it with hubby, but still. It was yummy either way - and totally worth it since it's not something I do every day. Heck I probably do that about once a year if that. Hubby got his favorite, breakfast - and sausage to boot. It's rare that he gets sausage, eggs AND biscuts at the same time, so he was in heaven. ;) [I have been informed that it is very important that I make the distinction that it I point out it was sausage LINKS - I hardly ever buy those.]

We've been rocking out with Guitar Hero III. I'm getting better, but I've found out that I'm more of a bass girl. It's a shame that you can't play that on the actual game part, only on the practice parts. I love doing that part! I still can't play it very often, like most things, if I do too much of it, it irritates my wrists. We took a break from it this weekend. So far hubby has finished it on Easy. I keep telling him he needs to go up to Medium - but he tells me he's not ready for that yet.

Hubby did bring me home some beautiful pink roses. They smell wonderful! I so love roses. He was hoping to get some roses like I had in my wedding boquet (white/cream with dark pink edges) but no luck this year. That's ok. I'm not that picky about it, although he is. I swear, if I had the money I would buy a bunch of flowers every week. That is one thing I would do if I ever won the lottery (course I'd have to actually PLAY the lottery to win it huh?). I would set it up to have a bouquet of flowers delivered every week. I do have rose bushes out back, but since my liver problems, they really need to be cleaned up and such. Actually all of my flower beds need to be cleaned up. I'm hoping to be able to do more this year - but we'll have to see. Sometimes the bending down causes problems. I do a bit of container gardening - but that's not quite the same.

I bought some of the freezer menus from Saving Dinner this week too. I went through them and I have some meats that my sister gave me that I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them (the red meats) and I used some of the recipes from there for them. And FoodLion is having a sale on chicken thighs and legs this week so I picked up some extra (I was already planning on getting some for my menu this week) and I made a few meals to restock the freezer with some actual freezer meals once more.

So far I've made:

Herbed Grilled Sirloin Steak
Polynesian Sirloin Steak
Caribbean London Broil
Mexican Crock Chicken with Black Beans
Apricot Barbecued Chicken Legs
Crock Barbecue Chicken Supper

I've got some boneless/skinless breasts that I'll use to make up:
Far East Grillers
Carolina Style Grilled Chicken
Ginger Chicken Breasts with Chinese Coleslaw (I've made this before and it's one of our faves!)
Chicken Satay
Country Fried Chicken and Peppers

I'm also going to make up:
Salmon burgers
Mustard Thyme Tilapia
Dad's Favorite Sloppy Joes

I also went ahead and made up Mary's Hoisin Chicken and Crock Chicken Drumsticks for this week so all I have to do is dump into the crockpot. I went ahead and made them up so I could get all the skinning of the chicken out of the way at one time. I'll post my menu in a separate post.