Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Hubby has off this week, and we're headed out of town this weekend, so my meals are pretty easy (does that mean boring?). I was going to make Chinese food today, but since we have restaurant leftovers from dinner last night with my sister - we'll eat those tonight for Chinese New Year.

Monday: Chinese leftovers
Tuesday: leftover pea soup
Wednesday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Thursday: Pasta with spaghetti sauce
Friday: Leaving for WV for Grandmother Sommerville's Birthday

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I took hubby to Trader Joes on Saturday since we were having Mike and Jennifer over for dinner. He hadn't been there yet. He's not much of a food shopper, but I wanted him to see it so if I need him to stop for something he could. Since he works near there, sometimes it's easier for him to get something on the way home rather than me making a trip into town if I'm not headed there in the first place. Anyway, I had the dinner planned out, but they were bringing some sweet wine for dessert, so I was planning to pick up some bread, cheese, fruit and nuts and thought TJ's would be a good place to pick some up. I was right. I thought I'd also stop by Whole Foods for the cheese actually, since I could get the actual amount of cheese I needed, but TJ's was pretty packed, and I knew WF would be the same. We just got everything we needed at TJ's and left it at that. So hubby and I will hit WF's some other time since he hasn't been there either. The leftover Raclette cheese is going into the strata along with the leftover French bread, leeks, and green beans. The Double cream brie will get eaten as well as the leftover Gruyere Foccacia with no problem in this household. *grin* and I'm thinking of using the Stilton w/ apricots (which is AWESOME!!!!) on the pizza on Friday if it doesn't get eaten on crackers as evening snacks. The apples and Asian pears will get eaten as snacks also.

Monday: Chili Lime Chicken Patties (from Trader Joes) with Mrs. T's pierogies
Tues: Strata
Wednesday: Pea Soup
Thursday: Beef Tongue
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: My Mom's Birthday "Party" so we're headed there

For more menu ideas visit: [She's starting to get over 400 now!]

Easy Strata & Variations
from: Cook Smart by Pam Anderson

1 pound each of prepared meat and vegetable (optional) OR
1 pound each of 2 prepared vegetables (optional)
1 quart half-and-half
1 dozen eggs
1 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper
12 slices fluffy white bread
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 3 medium)

Prepare meat and/or vegetables, if using.

Whisk half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth. Spray a 9-by-13-inch Pyrex or ceramic baking dish with vegetable cooking spray. Line bottom with 6 slices of bread. If using meats and/ or vegetables, scatter half of each over the bread, then sprinkle with half of the scallions and cheese. Pour 1 cup of egg mixture over the top. Repeat layers with remaining bread, meat, vegetables, cheese and scallions. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over top. Cover with plastic wrap, then weight down casserole with 3 16-ounce cans for at least 15 minutes to submerge ingredients. (Can be refrigerated overnight, but return to room temperature before baking.)

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven until custard is just set, about 50 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil until strata is spotty brown and puffy (watch carefully), about 5 minutes longer. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, then serve immediately.

Serves: 12.
Nutrition varies, based on meat/ vegetables used. Basic recipe, per serving: 362 calories, 17g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 24g fat (13g saturated), 1g fiber, 600mg sodium.

MUSHROOMS OR BELL PEPPERS: Slice and sauté in 1 Tb. olive oil. Salt.
BABY SPINACH: Steam, covered, with 1 Tb. oil and salt until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain.
FROZEN CORN: Thaw and drain.
ASPARAGUS: Cut in 1-inch pieces. Steam, covered, with 1 Tb. oil, salt and 1/3 cup water, 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook off liquid.

BACON: Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and fry until crisp. Drain well.
SAUSAGE: Fry bulk breakfast or Italian sausage until fully cooked. Drain.
HAM: Cut into small dice.
KIELBASA: Thinly slice.
CRAB: Pick over pasteurized backfin crab for shell and cartilage.

Split Pea Soup (3 pts)
From bag of split peas
Serves 10-12

1 lb (2 1/2 cups) dried green split peas
3 quarts (12 cups) water
1 3/4 – 2 lbs ham hocks or bone
1 large onion, minced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Rinse and sort peas. In a large soup kettle (I use a 6 qt crockpot and add everything together), combine peas, water and ham; simmer, covered for 2-2 1/2 hours. Add remaining ingredients; simmer covered for 45 minutes. Removed bones. For thicker soup simmer 20-30 minutes more, uncovered. Will thicken when refrigerated, but thins when heated.

Corned Beef or Veal Tongue
Tongue takes particularly well to spicing, but if you prefer a plain cure, omit the spices from the brine. If calves' tongues are available, be sure to try them; they are very lean and delicate flavored. Home-cured tongue does not have the excessive saltiness or the deep-rose hue of commercially brined tongues which are cured with saltpeter.
Recipe By: Better Than Store Bought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie
Serving Size: 6

1 beef tongue -- fresh (or frozen and thawed)
water -- as needed
kosher salt -- as needed
1 egg -- in shell to test the brine
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves -- crumbled
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries -- bruised
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns -- bruised
2 teaspoons coriander seeds -- bruised
1 teaspoon mustard seeds -- bruised
2 cloves garlic -- peeled but left whole

Select a ceramic, glass or enameled crock or bowl large enough to hold both the tongue and enough brine to cover the tongue by 2 or more inches. Be sure the container will fit into your refrigerator.

To determine the brine quantity needed, enclose the tongue in a plastic bag (no need to close the bag- just hold the open end above the water level), and run cold water into the container to cover the bagged meat by 2-3 inches. Remove the tongue.

Stir coarse salt into the water, letting each addition dissolve before adding more, until an egg will float in the solution. (you'll probably need about 1 1/2 cups salt.) Remove the egg once it has served its
purpose and pour the bring into a pot.

Stir into the brine the sugar, bay leaves, allspice berries, peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, then let cool completely.

Remove the tongue from the bag and prick it well all over with a skewer or larding needle. Return it to the crock or bowl.

When the brine is cool, pour it over the tongue. Cover with plastic wrap, then add a plate (with a weight on it, if necessary) that will hold the meat well under the surface. Cover the crock with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 days to 2 1/2 weeks for beef tongue, 3 to 10 days for calves' tongues. (Figure a minimum of 3 days curing per pound of any single piece of meat.) Turn the meat every few days and be sure it is always immersed in the brine.

To cook: Put the tongue or tongues in a pot with water to cover by several inches, 2 or 3 carrots, coarsely cut up, a peeled whole onion or two, and a few tablespoons of vinegar and simmer, partly covered, until the meat is very tender. (The time will vary with the size of the tongue and its original tenderness.) Remove from the cooking liquid, then slit the skin and peel it off neatly. Serve hot as a main course or cold and thinly sliced for lunch or in sandwiches.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 131 Calories; 4g Fat (28.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 52mg Cholesterol; 33mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

NOTES : *Tongue: 3-4 lbs, well trimmed, or 3 or 4 calves tongues (about 3/4 lb each), trimmed

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cheaper way of talking to my sister?

On one of the first times my sister went out on a date with her now husband, he likes to mention, she farted so loudly that it shook the couch. That was one thing my sister has always had no problem with, farting or burping. I was, on the other hand, always kidded because no one ever heard it even though I would say "excuse me." And growing up we blamed a lot of these things, whether burps or farts on the dog.

A few weeks ago, my husband burped pretty loudly and I turned around to scold him. He faced me and instead of blaming it on the dog like he's now learned to do, he returned, "What? I was just talking to your sister."

We've got a new phrase not only in our house now, but my sister liked it when we told her too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Homemade Bagel Dogs

Here's the bagel dog recipe I used last night. It's still not perfect, but it's close enough. I need to work on the way I enclose the bagel, last night I enclosed it instead of spiraling it and I liked it better, but it was a bit lopsided in that there was more dough on one side than the other. And I want it a bit more eggy still - but that might do better once I can get the Farmer's Market eggs once more instead of store bought. Anyone that has questions can just ask. :)

Homemade Bagel Dogs
Makes 8
4 pts for the "bagel" and points for the hotdog you choose

I haven't tried freezing these myself, but I don't see why they wouldn't. For those that want to do a vegan bagel dog, I don't see why you couldn't use the appropriate "dog" and use the bialy dough recipe I've posted elsewhere on my site instead (or your own bagel recipe without eggs included).

Adapted from: AND

For Bagels:
3/4 Cup Water (80 degrees F)
1 Egg
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Cups Bread Flour
2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
For Water Bath:
2 Quarts Water
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
Egg Glaze:
1 Egg, beaten
1-2 Tablespoons Milk
Topping Ideas:
Poppy Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Dried Onion Flakes
Garlic Powder
Kosher Salt
Celery Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Hot Dogs:
8 Hot Dogs (any type you'd like)

For ABM: Combine ingredients in order recommended by your machine. Select dough cycle (makes 1 1/2 lbs). When cycle is complete, punch down dough and remove dough to lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 8 pieces.

If making by hand: You will want the water warmer - about 110-115 degrees and will use all-purpose flour (bread flour is too high in gluten to knead easily by hand). In a small bowl, combine water, 1 tsp sugar and yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes until yeast is foamy. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, rest of sugar, and salt. Right before mixing yeast mixture into flour mixture, break egg into yeast mixture and combine. Add to flour mixture and add rest of flour to make a ball. Turn onto lightly floured surface, kneading by hand for about 10-15 minutes and adding extra flour if needed to keep from sticking, until the dough is smooth, shiny and elastic. Spray rising container with oil and let rise in a warm place 1-1 1/2 hours (until doubled, depends on temp of house). Punch down dough and remove dough to lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 8 pieces.

For Food Processor: Use cooler water (80 F) and bread machine flour. Combine water, 1 tsp sugar, yeast and egg in a measuring cup. Put dry ingredients in food processor with blade attached and mix well with a few short pulses of the blade. Add wet ingredients while blade is running and process briefly just enough for dough to come together. Let rest for 15 minutes. Process dough again using quick pulses until it forms a smooth, soft ball. Add more flour or liquid if needed. Dough should easily come away from the sides of the bowl and the blades. Spray rising container with oil and let rise in a warm place 1-1 1/2 hours (until doubled, depends on temp of house). Punch down dough and remove dough to lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 8 pieces.

For Stand Mixer: Use warm water (110-115 degrees) and bread flour. Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl with 1 tsp sugar for 5 minutes. Add remaining liquids and dry ingredients -except last cup of flour. Using dough hook, turn to Speed 2 for about 1 minute, or until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Continuing on Speed 2, gently tap remaining flour around the sides of the bowl, 1/2 cup at a time, as needed. Mix until dough cleans to hook and cleans the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. When dough clings to hook, knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Remove dough from hook. Spray rising container with oil and let rise in a warm place 1-1 1/2 hours (until doubled, depends on temp of house). Punch down dough and remove dough to lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 8 pieces.

There are two ways to make the Bagel Dogs: Spiral and Enclosed.

For the spiral - roll out each part into a snake that is twice as long as your chosen hot dog. With a rolling pin, flatten the dough snake in both directions- lengthwise and widthwise. Place your hot dog at one end of the flattened snake at approximately a 45 degree angle. Roll your dog, wrapping it up with the bagel dough, allowing the dough to overlap about 1/2 inch as it twists along the dog. Make sure that it is sealed well on each end, I like to dip my fingers in a bowl of water and use my wet fingers to squeeze the ends shut.

I tried the enclosed this last time, and while I need to work on it a bit more so that one side doesn't have more breading than the other side, I liked it a lot better. For this one I rolled out each piece a little longer than the length of a hotdog, but about double the width of one. I wet one side of the dough by dipping my fingers in a bowl of water and brushing them on the edge. I set the hotdog inside and sealed it, and then made sure it was sealed well inside, once more using wet fingers to make sure the edges were sealed well.

Place Bagel dogs on a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil or Silpat mat (this is what I use all the time anyway, it's also what I use to knead/roll out on) and cover with a light towel and let rest for about 20-30 minutes in a draft-free place. [I usually take this time to pre-heat the oven since it takes a while to warm up because of my baking stone, and get the boiling water ready.]

Get a large pot of boiling water ready. I like to add 2 Tbsp of brown sugar and 2 Tbsp of kosher salt to it (I do this for my bagels too) but you don't have to if you don't want to. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

When the rising time is up, boil the dogs in batches of 2, for 3 minutes. I try to turn them over at the 1 1/2 minute mark, but they don't always want to, it's not a big thing. Drain and place back on the oiled baking sheet. Continue like this with the rest of the dogs. Brush with the egg glaze (if using, I don't bother) and sprinkle with your choice of toppings on top of the boiled dogs.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving, and remember that these hold their heat really well and will be HOT!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The migraine is finally gone!

After 4 days (knock on wood) I think it's gone! The Topamax had been working so well I had forgotten what it was like to be migraine free.

Today was a trip into town for my WW weigh in. I lost 1.2 lbs this week. Yay!

Luckily dinner last night was easy - the migraine wasn't letting me do much thinking. I had leftover roasted veggies: cauliflower, carrots and Brussels sprouts. I also had a bit of leftover peas & pimientos (recipe posted last week) and I threw in a can of artichoke hearts (not marinated and drained). I made a quick white sauce (butter, flour and skim milk) and threw in a bit of blue cheese and tossed everything together with some whole wheat pasta. I didn't use a lot of pasta, so it was mostly veggies. I must admit, I was able debating about making a curry sauce instead, but I was really wanting the blue cheese more. [For the curry just add curry powder to the melted butter when you add flour.]

Tonight is the Carrot-Miso Soup with Wasabi Peas from the Jan 2009 Vegetarian Times. I've made it, and tasted it. It's ok. It might be better with Farmer's Market or home-grown carrots, but with just the organic carrots I normally get it's just ok. I think I'd like it even better as a squash or sweet potato soup instead. It just needs something - I am hoping that when I sprinkle the crushed wasabi peas on top it'll help (since I'm thinking some ginger might help) but we'll see.

{later} Hubby says he thinks that instead of blending it smooth that he thinks it would be better slightly chunky. I did use the kombu on top. Maybe I'd like it better with a darker miso - I usually use red when I have miso soup since I like it better.

Carrot-Miso Soup with Wasabi Peas
Serves 6

Instead of calling for vegetable broth, we've seasoned the liquid in this soup with kombu, a seaweed commonly used in Japanese soup stocks. For an extra Asian flair, save the kombu used to season the soup, cut it into thin strips and sprinkle it on top of each serving with the wasabi peas.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 med leek, sliced into thin rings (1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and sliced (5 cups)
3 Tbsp jasmine rice
1 4x2 inch piece kombu
1 1/2 Tbsp white miso
2 tsp agave nectar
1/3 cup crushed dried wasabi peas, for garnish

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Cook leek in oil 7 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add vinegar to deglaze pan, and cook 1 minute.

Add carrots, rice, kombu, and 5 cups water. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to a medium-low, and cook 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Remove kombu, and blend soup until smooth.

Spoon 1 cup soup into small bowl. Whisk in miso and agave nectar until smooth. Whisk miso-agave-soup mixture back into soup. Serve soup with wasabi peas sprinkled on top.

Per serving: 122 cal, 3g prot, 3 g total fat, 10.5g sat fat, 22g carb, 0mg chol, 229 mg sod, 4g fib, 11g sugar

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Sorry that I haven't posted much these past few days - I've had a migraine. UGH!

For that reason this menu plan is pretty much short and sweet. For more menu ideas visit:

Anyway. On to the menu plan:

Monday: Roasted Vegetables with Pasta (using some leftover roasted vegetables)
Tuesday: Carrot Miso Soup (from current Vegetarian Times Magazine - I'll post it after I've tried it)
Wednesday: Turkey Burgers with pierogies (my sister gave me the burgers, I think they are taco seasoned)
Thursday: Bagel Dogs (I'll post recipe later after I've tried it)
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday Cabernet Beef Jubilee (Dinner with Mike and Jennifer) recipe below

Cabernet Beef Jubilee
Tender beef marinated in wine and balsamic vinegar and served with a delectable wine cherry sauce. And excellent dish for grilling or broiling.
Serves 4

4 top blade steaks, 5 oz. each
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
2 strips lemon zest
2 sticks cinnamon
1 cup dark sweet cherries (fresh, frozen or canned)

Combine vinegar, wine, sugar, mustard seed, lemon zest and cinnamon sticks together in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Pour 3/4-cup of the sauce mixture into a resealable bag. Add steaks to bag, seal well. Turn to coat steaks and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Strain remaining wine mixture, pour back into sauce pan and add cherries. Place mixture in refrigerator while steaks marinade.

Place steaks on grill over medium high coals. Grill for 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning once.

While steaks are cooking bring wine sauce to a simmer for 5 minutes to reheat. Serve steaks with sauce.

Suggested wine: Cabernet Sauvignon

If you prefer a thicker sauce, dissolve 1 Tbsp. corn starch in 1 Tbsp. of cold water and add to the sauce while reheating. [One reason I use pie filling- it's already thicker.]

Other recommended cuts: Sirloin steak, strip steak, ribeye steak. Shoulder steaks may be used if you increase marinating time to 6-8 hours.

Can Freeze: (we used this at Dinners by The Dozen)
Cabernet Beef Jubilee - Cherries and beef - a surprising, but delightful combination blade steaks, balsamic vinegar, wine, sugar, mustard seeds, lemon zest, cinnamon stick and cherries are combined to make the marinade and sauce for these steaks. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

Cabernet Beef Jubilee Thaw in fridge overnight. Pour marinade into sauce pan bring wine sauce to a simmer for 10 minutes then strain and add cherries and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile place steaks on grill over medium high coals. Grill for 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning once. Serve steaks with sauce.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Steeling your resolve for Morning Oatmeal

Since it's starting to get colder, I'm more apt to eat oatmeal in the mornings now. Sometimes I'll fix a bowl of Quick Cooking, but this morning I made Steel-cut oatmeal. I used the recipe out of The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but it's pretty much like Alton Brown's Good Eats one (you can find it on the Food Network site I'm sure - since I have dial-up I have trouble loading their site). You toast the oats in a Tbsp of butter then add to simmering water/milk and cook for about 30 minutes. I used skim milk and added a Tbsp of chopped mixed dried berries to mine when I ate it. I found 1/2 cup did me fine this morning but I'm not always hungry first thing in the morning either, it just depends sometimes on when I remember to take my meds (both the Concerta and the Byetta are appetite suppressants and along with the fact that I've never been a big morning eater or a morning foods lover).

Anyway, I've had this list I've cut out from the newspaper and it's got some good ideas for oatmeal toppings that I use occasionally:

Tops in Taste

When oatmeal is the morning's hot cereal of choice, turn it into a month of flavors by adding different toppings - many of them already pantry or fridge staples.

Here are 31 ideas from home economists at The Quaker Oats Co. [I've added some extras too]

* Raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg
* Honey and honey crunch-flavored wheat germ
* Applesauce and cinnamon
* Low-fat granola and skim milk
* Raspberry nonfat yogurt and cranberries
* Apricot fruit spread and sliced almonds
* Sliced strawberries and plain nonfat yogurt and brown sugar
* Maple flavored pancake syrup and chopped toasted pecans
* Canned crushed pineapple, sliced bananas, and chopped macadamia nuts
* Strawberry nonfat yogurt and sliced kiwi
* Sliced bananas with vanilla nonfat yogurt sprinkled lightly with cinnamon
* Reduced fat peanut butter and strawberry fruit spread
* Chopped dates, walnuts and cinnamon
* Canned pear slices, maple syrup and cinnamon
* Coarsely chopped canned peaches and ground ginger
* Diced dried apricots or diced dried mixed fruit and honey
* Pumpkin or apple butter and raisins
* Blueberry fruit spread, vanilla or plain nonfat yogurt and nutmeg
* Orange marmalade and dried cranberries
* Coarsely chopped apple, brown sugar, cinnamon and dates
* Orange or tangerine low-fat yogurt and canned mandarin orange segments
* Mixed dried fruit
* Cherry preserves and wheat germ
* Reduced fat caramel topping and chopped pecans
* Whole-berry cranberry sauce
* Applesauce and maple flavor pancake syrup
* Blueberries and sliced strawberries sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar
* Sliced bananas and mini-semisweet chocolate morsels
* Warm apple pie filling and skim milk
* Brown sugar and apple pie spice
* Chopped dried figs and mashed ripe banana

And some other ideas from the Quaker Oats website:
* Skim milk and sliced peaches
* Diced cranberries and maple flavored pancake syrup
* Canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spic
* Frozen raspberries and blueberries are my favorite!
* Maple flavored pancake syrup and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds
* Blueberries, strawberries, chopped walnuts and chopped pecans by Celeste B., MO
* Chopped apples, sliced banana and dried cranberries by Rosalva D., IL
* I cook my oats with dried cranberries and dried cherries and top it off with butter and brown sugar. No milk for me! by Thelma B., MI
* Dried cranberries, pecans or walnuts and a splash of sugar free French Vanilla creamer on Lower Sugar Maple & Brown Sugar by Katrina W., OK
* I love using maple syrup and graham cracker crumbs with a little bit of strawberries. by Stefanie S., NV
* 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 apple cut into slices, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon by Andrew K., MN
* Raw walnuts, cinnamon, cocoa powder and strawberries by Tania N., CA
* Blueberry pie filling and cinnamon-sugar by Anna J., GA
* Chopped kiwi fruit and a dollop of cold tofu by A loyal customer
* A nice pat of butter and grated Italian cheese! by Jeannie V., NY
* Pumpkin or apple butter and toasted walnuts by A loyal customer
* Chopped dried figs and mashed ripe banana by Amanda D., TN
* Currants and golden raisins by A loyal customer
* Cooked sweet potato, pumpkin pie spice and pecans by Jill M., OH
* Crushed gingersnap cookies and fresh berries by A loyal customer

My favorites?
* A few chocolate chips and a Tbsp of almond butter
* Dried chopped apricots, toasted coconut, raspberry jam
* A few chocolate chips, chopped dried cherries, toasted coconut

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

All day in the city

Yep, got to spend most of my day all day yesterday in Richmond. I knew it was going to happen, and actually it was supposed to happen two weeks ago but go rescheduled due to a family emergency with one of my psych docs. So, today ended up being the day. I try to schedule most of my appointments on the same day so I don't have drive so many times into town, and although it makes for a long day it saves gas and it does save me a bit of my sanity (what little bit I have *haha*)

I must admit I started out the day with a bit of "The wearin' O' the Crankypants" because of the stress of having to drive into the West End (and Nuckols Rd) for my 9:20 AM appointment. I hate to drive, and I really hate to drive during rush hour. It didn't help that on Monday morning they were calling for up to 0.25 inches of ice, but luckily by that evening they were just calling for rain. WHEW! I ended up leaving early enough that I missed the beginning of the backups for the I64/I288, I64/I295 and I295/Nuckols Rd exit backups. The Nuckols Rd one was just starting actually as I got off that one.

My first appointment this morning was with the psychiatrist and I mentioned that it seems I'm getting a bit more anxious, so we're going to be transitioning me off the Wellbutrin and transitioning me onto Zoloft. I remembered being on Zoloft years ago, and I think it worked well (I do know it worked better than the Prozac that was prescribed by the counselors at Tech). We'll see.

After that appointment, I had a few hours to kill, so I headed to the nearest library and borrowed their Wi-fi. Hubby had put the Nintendo DS's Opera browser on it and I hadn't played with it yet (home dial-up is a bit frustrating for it), and I figured out how to connect and everything all by myself. Yay! I also checked out their magazine collection and read through a Food & Wine, but didn't really find anything that caught my eye.

After that I headed to my WW meeting, found out I gained 0.6 lbs. That's ok though. I had already prepared myself for a gain for these two weeks. I know that sounds odd, but for the two weeks of Christmas and New Years I write what I eat, but don't always point it. It keeps what I'm eating in my mind, but doesn't stress me out. Once I start the next meeting after that, I'm back on plan. So the total gain for those two weeks is less than the loss for the week before. :) Something that isn't talked about anymore it seems at the meetings, but something that my Leader mentioned: "Have a plan to either lose, maintain or gain. And any one of those is ok. Just as long as you have a plan for what to do for after the holidays too." It seems now that WW only focus on the first two. Maybe too many people took the gain too far? I don't know. Either way, as long as I plan for it and don't go too overboard, I'm really ok with it. I find that I'm a lot less stressed about the Holidays this way. Course, as my Leader also likes to say: "It's not the days between Christmas and New Years that got you fat, it's the days between New Years and Christmas."

After WW I headed to Target. I had to pick up a few things there, and for the first time I got my prescriptions filled there. I normally go to CVS, but since these prescriptions don't have refills, and we have insurance (so would be the same price) and the Target is on the way to my psychologist appointment and CVS wasn't (and the stuff I needed is cheaper at Target and not at CVS) I figured I'd just go there. It's odd going someplace else since I know it's better to keep your prescriptions at one place, I felt like I was cheating. While there I found out that Taste of Home has a new Comfort Food Diet Magazine out. I picked up one last year, and really liked the recipes in it. It's pretty much recipes from what used to be Light & Tasty but I think they've changed the name to Healthy Cooking. Anyway, their diet is calorie counting, but the recipes have the nutritional info.

After that, headed home. WHEW!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Well, I've been trying to figure out my menu this whole weekend. Not sure what my problem has been this weekend, I think it's just the fact that I'm tired of food. Does that make any sense? I'm just tired of thinking about it I think - not necessarily in the diet sense or even in the menu planning sense. It's kinda hard to explain really, and I am just not sure how to do it. Anyway...

Last night was pizza night. I made individual-sized pizzas and topped them with all the cheeses I had (2% sharp cheddar, shredded Swiss, LF mozzarella, Parmesan, RF blue, RF feta) and then shredded by hand the prosciutto and put that on top of the pizzas and sprinkled some black pepper on top of them and then baked them. They turned out yummy - but like they wouldn't. :)

Tonight is liver and onions. We're both really looking forward to it. We haven't had it in ages, it's one of those occasionally meals for us, even though we both love it.
You'll notice that Tuesday is a kinda odd day for a menu from me. Hubby requested fish sticks a few weeks ago. It will depend on what the weather does (they are calling for ice to start tonight), and I'll be in town all day tomorrow with doctor appointment, so something quick will be needed. In this quarter's Whole Foods Whole Deal brochure they have a coupon for $1 off breaded fish (including nuggets) so if I can get out, I'll pick some up before I head home and that'll be dinner. I'll have a happy hubby and it'll be better for us than take-out (and cheaper too).

So finally, my menu:

Monday: Liver and Onions (from Julia Child's "The Way To Cook") with mashed or roasted potatoes (haven't figured out which yet) and a salad and maybe roasted tomatoes.
Tuesday: Fish sticks with pierogies and peas
Wednesday: Chili with Chipotle Cheese Toast
Thurs: Wasabi Crusted Tuna with Ginger-Soy Sauce and Sesame Sugar Snap Peas
Homemade Pizza

For more menu ideas visit:

Liver and Onions
Liver and onions - and beautifully browned tender sliced onions they must be - are an unbeatable combination.

Ahead-of-time note: The onions may be browned even a day in advance, or may be frozen and thawed. (Blissful idea: have medium-size packets of browned onions in the freezer, ready to be thawed in the microwave.)

Suggested accompaniments: Your own home-made mashed potatoes would be lovely here, broiled or baked tomatoes, and perhaps a lightly dressed salad of young spinach leaves. You'll want a fairly hearty red wine, like Zinfandel or Beaujolais.
Julia Child “The Way To Cook”
For 4 servings

For Onions:
3 cups sliced onions
2 to 3 Tbsp butter or oil
For Liver:
4 slices or about 1 pound top-quality calf's liver sliced 1/2 inch thick
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup or so flour in a plate
3 Tbs clarified butter, or butter and light olive oil or peanut oil
1/4 cup dry white French vermouth
1/3 cup beef or chicken stock
2 to 3 Tbs minced fresh parsley, optional

For Onions: Slowly sauté sliced onions in butter or oil in a covered pan, stirring frequently, until the onions are very tender - 15 minutes or so. Uncover the pan, salt lightly, raise the heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown nicely, stirring frequently - 5 minutes or more.

The Liver: Season, dredge in flour, and sauté as described in the master recipe, but keep it rarer than usual. [The moment before sautéing, season the liver on both sides with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour, shaking off excess. Set the frying pan over high heat and film with 1/16 inch of clarified butter or butter and oil. When very hot, lay in the liver and sauté 1 minute on each side. When is it done? It should be barely springy when pressed with your finger, and a deep pinky red when you cut into a piece.]

Finishing the dish.: Scrape the onions over the liver, pour in the vermouth and stock, raise heat, and boil rapidly, basting the liver with the sauce as it thickens lightly. Remove the liver to hot plates or a hot platter, spoon the sauce over, and decorate with the optional parsley.

Lemon-Herb Roasted Tomatoes
From "WW Five ingredient 15 minute Cookbook" Winter 2008

2 pints grape tomatoes
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon rind
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven 475.

Rinse tomatoes and pat dry with paper towels; place in a large bowl.

Gently stir in thyme and remaining ingredients. Place tomato mixture in a single layer on a large jelly-roll pan.

Bake at 475 for 5 minutes. Gently shake pan, and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until tomato skins are blistered and beginning to pop.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)

Per serving: Cal 49; (50% from fat); fat 2.7g (sat 0.4g); Pro 1.4g; carb 6.4; fib 2.1g, chol 0mg; iron 0.6mg; sod 153mg; calc 20mg Points 1

Green Peas with Pimiento
From WW Five Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes Winter 2009
There's no need to thaw the frozen peas. Just put them directly into the hot pan with the other ingredients.

1 Tbsp light stick butter
2 tbsp slivered almonds
2 1/4 cups frozen petite green peas
4 oz jar diced pimiento, drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add almonds; cook 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Add peas and remaining ingredients; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 4 servings (serving sizer: 1/2 cup)

Per serving: Cal 79 (38% from fat); Fat 3.3g (sat 1g); pro 4.3g; carb 11.2g; fib 4.2g, chol 4mg, iron 1.4mg, sod 291mg, calc 27mg POINTS 1

MENU: POINTS value per serving- 6
From WW Five Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes Winter 2009
Mexican Chili
Chipotle Cheese Toasts
Game Plan:
1. While oven preheats for Chipotle Cheese Toasts prepare chili.
2. While chili simmers bake cheese toasts
Make-ahead Tip: This dish is one of the best quick chili recipes we've tested. As with most chili and soup recipes, you can make and chill it a day or so ahead; just reheat before serving.

Mexican Chili
Chocolate often is added to savory dishes in Mexican cuisine to cut the heat and enrich the flavor. In this recipe, it provides richness and deepens the color of the chili without making the dish sweet.

1 pound ground round
1 cup prechopped onion
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with garlic
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup hot water
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Cook beef and onions in a large pan over medium-high heat until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Drain, if necessary, and return beef mixture to pan. Add remaining ingredients; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Makes 6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Per Serving: Cal 215 (31% from fat); Fat 7.5g (sat 2.9g); Pro 17.2g; carb 19.1g, Fib 3.9g; chol 37 mg; iron 3.4mg; sod 934mg; calc 69mg POINTS 4

Chipotle Cheese Toasts

6 (1/4-inch) slices French Toast
3 (1-oz) slices Chipotle Cheddar cheese (such as Sargento), cut in half

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place bread slices on baking sheet and bake at 400 F for 5 minutes or until toasted; remove from oven. Place 1/2 slice cheese on top of each slice of bread. Bake an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese melts.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 slice).

Per Serving: Cal 81 (37% from fat); Fat 3.3g (sat 1.8g); pro 4.2g; carb 8.5g, fib 0.3g; chol 5mg, iron 0.5mg, sod 167mg; calc 81mg POINTS 2

Wasabi-Crusted Tuna with Ginger-Soy Sauce
In this recipes, wasabi powder, the green Japanese version of horseradish, adds a fiery zip to the fish.
From "WW Five ingredient 15 minute Cookbook" Winter 2008

4 teaspoons soy sauce, reduced-sodium
1/4 teaspoon ginger root
1/2 cup bread crumbs, panko (Japanese-style)
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 (6 oz) tuna steaks (about 1 inch thick)
cooking spray
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
chopped green onions, optional

Combine soy sauce and ginger in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine panko, wasabi powder, and parsley in a shallow dish.

Coat steaks generously with cooking spray, and dredge in panko mixture. Coat steaks again with cooking spray; dredge in panko mixture.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness, adding remaining 11/2 teaspoons oil to pan when you turn steaks. Drizzle steaks with soy sauce mixture. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 steak and 1 teaspoon sauce).

Nutritional Info (Per serving): Calories: 237 (21% from fat), Fat: 5.5g, Saturated Fat: 0.8g, Sodium: 292mg, Dietary Fiber: 0.3g, Carbs: 5.5g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Protein: 38.7g, Iron 2.3 mg, Calc 52 mg POINTS: 5

Sesame Sugar Snap Peas
From "WW Five ingredient 15 minute Cookbook" Winter 2008

1 tsp dark sesame oil
cooking spray
2 (8 oz) package frozen sugar snap peas
8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp cornstarch

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add peas and water chestnuts; saute 4 minutes or until peas are crisp-tender.

Combine soy sauce and next 3 ingredients, stirring until smooth. Add to vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size 3/4 cup).

Per serving: Cal 81; (12% from fat); fat 1.1g (sat 0.2g); Pro 2.8g; carb 16g, Fib 3.6g; chol 0mg; iron 1.4mg; sod 369mg; calc 51mg POINTS 1

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cheesecake-y yogurt

I made some no-bake cheesecake filling a few weeks ago. It's still good (I keep it way back in the cold corner of the fridge, I'm surprised it hasn't frozen actually). I don't eat it all that often since it's still doesn't have much in terms of redeeming healthy nutritional qualities. That and the fact that I can't eat a lot of Cool-Whip without problems, which gives me a good reason to limit how much I eat in the first place. Anyway. This morning I decided to see how it would be if I threw a small dollop into my FF plain greek yogurt instead of using honey. Yummy! It kinda cuts the sweetness of the cheesecake filling, and then makes me feel like I'm eating a cheesecake for breakfast too. :) I usually just spread some of the filling on graham crackers (which I'm out of) and have it with an apple or something. I'm thinking of adding a bit of cocoa next time for a bit of chocolate cheesecake taste.

The recipe:

No-Bake Cheesecake

1 cup Confectioners' Sugar
8 oz softened cream cheese (I used the Neufchatel, generic)
8 oz Cool-Whip, thawed (I used Fat-free generic)

With mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, then Cool-Whip until all ingredients are completely blended. Will fit back into Cool-Whip container. [I guess-timated that it was 25 servings for the WW Recipe Builder and it came out 1 Point. That is going on the fact that it took up as much room as the Cool-Whip did. The Cool Whip container holds 8 oz and has 2 Tbsp for a serving size, with 25 servings per container.)

If you'd like you can put mixture in a 6 oz graham cracker crust. You can also top with 21 oz fruit filling and chill.

Dinner last night ended up being what I'll call Shepherd's Pie, but technically it wasn't since I used ground turkey. Not sure what it's called since a Shepherd's pie has lamb, and a Cottage pie has ground beef but I'm not sure what you'd call it when it has ground turkey. Tonight I'll make a cheese pizza I think. I have a bunch of different cheeses that I bought: RF blue, RF feta, shredded Swiss, RF cheddar, Parmesan. And I do think I might have some prosciutto somewhere too.

I picked up the January Southern Living the other day because I had started to read it while at my mom's a few weeks ago. In their Healthy Living section they had an article where the writer had cone to the Cooper Wellness program and had culled some of the stuff she had learned from her 6 days there into 10 steps. The article can be seen here:
The first one really struck me for some reason:
1. Change Your Mind

The Cooper program spends a lot of time excuse-busting. Get over all those preconceived notions you have about yourself. Write down every reason you have not to work out or eat healthfully. Then consider a solution for each problem. Give your body and mind the same consideration you give your automobile. Your workouts maintain the most important vehicle you will ever own. How far this body takes you is largely based on your choices. “Don’t die of something stupid,” Dr. Cooper says. “You are beautifully and wonderfully made.”

Friday, January 02, 2009

Nothing to see here, move along...

Yeah, pretty boring day, all things considered.

I had posted a few books to before New Years and most of them were actually requested. I ran out of mailing tape as I was fixing the mailing label on the last one, so before I could actually mail them all out (9 of them), I had to get more mailing tape. I headed into town. It had just started to spit a bit of snow, and I noticed that although it wasn't really sticking, there were a few spots on the road that it was.

I also realized last night that I had forgotten to get a new linen calendar. I grew up with my mom using them to cover her electric box (can't think of the proper name right now, when the fuse blows, you have to flip the switch back), until she cross-stitched a Pat Moss picture and framed it and mounted it on a swing-hinge with a magnet on the other side. Anyway, it's not the perfect cover, since it doesn't totally cover it and you know it's there- but it works. And I get a new kitchen towel at the end of the year out of it. Plus it's something that reminds me of my childhood everytime I see it. I'm lucky that I can still find them I guess too, Ben Franklin Crafts still sells them. Staples is in the same shopping center as Ben Franklin's. I would have thought they would be on sale, but no luck. Course watch them go on sale today - I'm not sure when their sales run, but I think they start on Saturdays. Either way at least they aren't expensive - $5.99.

When I finished at Ben Franklin's and Staples it was snowing pretty nice flakes, and once more, they weren't sticking. I taped the mailing label on the package and figured that while I was in town I would stop by Whole Foods really quickly and check out their sausages. Fridays are usually pizza night at Chez JJ and I didn't really have a plan as to what kind of pizza we were having yet. I must admit, nothing really grabbed me. Not that WF didn't have anything yummy - I just didn't see anything that I really wanted. I had bought a bunch of different cheeses and I think that I was pretty much ok with that and some onions and didn't see anything that swayed me from that. Although I did see some British-style banger sausages that we'll have to try sometime. By the time I go out of WF, it was more snow/freezing rain mixture.

I headed back towards home and to the post office. I stopped at the closest one, Oilville, and the window didn't open until 11:30, so I headed to my normal one - Gum Springs. By that time the freezing rain had changed over to regular rain. By the time I got home it was just lightly sprinkling, and the sun was out not soon afterwards. So much for winter so far. It's cold and that's about it, but at least I didn't have to worry about driving in horrible conditions.

We ended up not having pizza after all last night, hubby got home late. We had leftover Hot & Sour Soup. Depending on what happens, we're either having it tonight or Shepherd's Pie, we'll have to see. Not a big deal either way.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome 2009!

I know, not too many posts here these past few weeks. Sorry about that, but I haven't really been menu planning. With the holiday feasts, I haven't been really cooking (except the Luau Christmas Day) so I'm just using what we've had either leftover-wise or pantry-wise instead. It's pretty much a seat-of-my-pants thing.

I don't really do resolutions. I'm going to keep on trying to eat healthier and all that stuff that I've been doing so far. I am going to try to at least write what I'm eating better than I have been doing (Weight Watchers wise). I gave myself a break for the week of Christmas and this week (once more, WW week wise - I weigh in on Tuesdays). This is something that I normally do, and I've been doing it for years now. I write and really pay attention to what I'm eating before Thanksgiving (a lot of times before that depends on how focused I've been.) I don't go totally crazy and eat anything that doesn't move, but I just don't stress either. I pretty much make sure that what I eat is totally worth it. It just works a lot better for me mentally - keeps me out of that "diet" mentality. I gain a few pounds these two weeks, and it's usually not a big gain. But you know what, it's not really a big thing. As long as I go in prepared for it, I'm ok with it.

I figured out what to do with those flavored Coffeemate creamers that I don't like in coffee. So far it's been a Chai and an Eggnog. I make French Toast with them. use them in place of the milk. Points-wise it's not too bad (it would be better if I used Egg substitute or egg whites). This is what I did today:

French Toast (with flavored creamer)

1 2/3 c Eggnog flavored creamer (that was how much was left)
1/3 c fat-free half and half
4 eggs
16 slices Martin's Whole Wheat Potato Bread (1 loaf)

It ended up being 3 points per slice (if I used a whole bottle (2 cups) it would be 4 points per slice)

For dinner we had Hoppin' John and Collards. I added the last of the leftover ham (and Janet's beer sauce) to the collards and some sherry vinegar to the collards.

recipe adapted from the bag of collards

14 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 shallots or 1/2 cup onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb chopped collards

Bring everything but collards to a boil. Add collards and cover, turning heat to medium let simmer for 20 minutes or until collards are as tender as you like.

Hoppin John
From WW "Great Cooking Every Day" (with the CIA)

In the Southeastern United States, Hoppin' John is a traditional New Year's Day dish said to bring good luck in the coming year. For a Southern feast, pair this dish with grilled ham steaks or baked catfish, sauteed or braised greens, such as Southern-stye Kale (p 249), and Country Corn Bread (p 292). Add a dash of vinegar to the greens just before serving, or pass it on the side.
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup fresh or dried black-eyed peas
1 bacon slice, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 crushed red pepper (or to taste)
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig, or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot pepper sauce

Place the black-eyed peas in a pot and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a simmer and cook until the peas are just tender. Bring the water to a simmer and cook until the peas are just tender, about 12 minutes for fresh black-eyed peas, or 1 hour for dried peas. Add more water as necessary to keep the peas submerged during cooking. Drain the peas and reserve.

Cook the bacon in a separate saucepan, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate.

Pour off all but enough bacon fat to lightly coat the pan. Add the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Saute until the onion turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and bell pepper to the pan and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the black-eyed peas, bay leaf, and thyme, and thyme. Cover tightly and cook over low heat until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid, 18-20 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig, fluff with a fork, and gently fold in the bacon. Season, if necessary, with the salt and pepper. Serve with the pepper sauce.

Chef's tips: You can also use canned black-eyed peas, but it is not necessary to cook them spearately in advance. Just drain and rinse them first, then add the peas to the rice during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

To make this dish vegetarian, replace the bacon with 1-2 teaspoons of olive or peanut oil, increase the garlic to 3 cloves, and use vegetable broth or water to replace the chicken broth.

4 POINTS per serving. Per Serving: 238 Calories, 2 g Total fat, 1 g Sat Fat, 3 mg Chol, 221 mg Sod, 45 g Tot Carb, 4 g Dietary Fib, 10 g Prot, 51 mg Calc.