Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last night's dinner - Pad Thai Chicken Noodle Soup.

I did vary a bit from my menu plan last night. The weather broke last yesterday, going from the 90's to 60's. I made chicken broth yesterday in the crockpot, and used some of it for this soup. I saw it while skimming through the 2009 Weight Watchers Annual Recipes. We didn't care much for the peanuts, they were kind of out of place in the soup itself (I know they are scattered on top of the dish itself usually) since they were little crunchy-ish bits in the soup. I would rather stir in a bit of peanut butter if I wanted the taste. I did stir in vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and chili garlic sauce though, because that's what I use when I make pad thai and it gave it a bit more of a normal flavor for me. It was pretty darn tasty, and easy.

Pad Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
From Weight Watchers 2009 Annual Recipes
Yield 4 servings. Serving Size: About 1 1/3 cups soup, 1 Tablespoon peanuts, 1 Tablespoon cilantro, and 1 Tablespoon green onions.

Peanuts, cilantro, and green onions add crunch, color and extra flavor to each serving.

2 ounces uncooked rice stick noodles (such as Hokan)
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken stock
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 Tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Soak rice noodles in warm water to cover according to package directions. Drain.

Bring noodles and next 4 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls; top with peanuts, cilantro, and green onions.

Per Serving: Cal 211 (40% from fat); fat 9.3g (sat 2g); Pro 15.9g; carb 17.2g; fib 1.7g; chol 31mg; iron 1.1mg; sod 619mg; calc 21mg

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Homebody Weekend

This weekend was spent at home, and it was nice to be a homebody for the weekend.. We had Mike and Jennifer over for dinner on Saturday night. Jennifer had requested Chicken Enchiladas that I had made for her birthday last year so along with those I just bought a bag of nachos and some salsa and cheese dip. I would have made homemade chips and cheese sauce but with it being 90 degrees (or more, I didn't actually check to see what it ended up being) I really didn't want the oven on for longer that it had to be. We didn't have the A/C on that night, just used fans, but on Sunday with Miko we finally relented and turned it on. I feel horrible about having the A/C on in April but she just wasn't herself on Sunday. Since she's a smushed-face breed we really need to watch the temp in the house. And now that she's getting older too, we're getting more worried about her too I guess.

John and I were watching Mr. Ed yesterday and we laughed at how the old shows had the couples sleeping in separate beds. At that point the wife, frustrated with the husband informed him that he would be sleeping on the couch if he kept his antics up. We then discussed that it wasn't much of a threat since they're already in separate beds, much less, he's got that great stable for Ed too. We also got to watch some of the Magnificent Seven. Neither of us have yet to see all of it. *sigh* It's that way for a lot of older movies for me, I've seen parts of them, and not always in the correct order, but usually not the whole thing.

I've started the Walk-It Challenge that Weight Watchers has put out on Monday. Actually Miko and I have both started it. I got reprimanded by the vet because she had gained 4 lbs since we were last there 6 months ago. I missed walking on Saturday because of the heat (I didn't think about it when planning my day since I usually walk later in the day and with Mike and Jennifer coming over it changed my timeline too). I'll have to change to my early morning/late evening walks (when it's cooler) that I do during summer instead of the early evening (when it's warmer) that I do during winter. I now have a reflective vest that I can wear when it gets dark so I feel a bit safer while walking too. We don't live on a busy street, but the fact that it's a country road with no street lights makes it really dark. I think I might also change their suggested rest days to be off on the weekend totally too, it's just easier for me to get my walks in during the weekday than the weekend since we're usually doing something and I don't always know my schedule during the weekend.

Here's my menu for the week, not sure how well I'm going to stick with it- It was already planned out for me (by me) but I don't feel like hitting a grocery store for some of the things I'll need. I'll either change the menu or improvise (with improvise being the thing I'll more likely do). For more menu ideas visit:

Monday: Spanish Tortilla with Spinach
Tuesday: Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pierogies
Wednesday: Carolina Baked Beans & Pork Chops
Thursday: Southern Slow Cooker Chicken and Grits
Friday: Fontina, Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizzas
Saturday: Corn Casserole
Sunday: Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Leftover Roast Chicken Soup

Spanish tortilla with spinach
Serves 4
A popular tapa served in bars and cafes across Spain, tortilla is a versatile treat that is served warm or at room temperature, for lunch or with drinks. The traditional recipe calls for potatoes fried in olive oil and combined with eggs (and sometimes onion), all cooked into a thick omelet. Like Italian frittata, which it most resembles, there are many variations. Here, spinach is added to the egg-potato batter before the tortilla is cooked. Flipping the tortilla is the only tricky part. Slide it onto a plate, top it with another plate, and invert them together. Then slide the tortilla back into the pan to finish cooking. After making one, you'll want to do it again quickly and have tortilla on hand, just like every Spanish home does.

Salt and pepper, to taste
4 1/2 ounces (4 packed cups) baby spinach leaves
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 small Yukon Gold potatoes (10 ounces total), peeled and diced
1 leek (white part only) finely sliced
5 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and with your hands, squeeze out all the excess water. Chop the spinach finely; set aside.

In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the potatoes and leek. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the skillet.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and pepper. Add the spinach, potato mixture, chives, and cumin.

In the skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the egg mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the top is still slightly runny but the bottom is set.

Run a knife or rubber spatula around the edges of the tortilla and slide it onto a plate. Cover it with another plate. Hold the plates tightly and invert them. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Slide the tortilla back onto the skillet. Cook for 5 or 6 more minutes or until the bottom is set. Cut in wedges or into smaller pieces as finger food. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pierogies

Rich and sinful tasting, it combines pierogies, caramelized onions, bacon, and peas. Simple and delightful. 7 WW Points per serving.

One box of frozen pierogies
8 slices bacon
2 large onions, sliced
1 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
reduced fat sour cream

Place pierogies in a microwave safe casserole, cover with hot water, and cook on high for 6 minutes. Let stand in microwave, while you do the rest. Cook bacon, drain all but a few tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Add onions, thyme, and sugar and saute until onions are caramelized. Add peas and cook for one minute. Add pierogies, tossing to combine all ingredients. Serve 3 pierogies with 1 TB of low or no fat sour cream.

Carolina Baked Beans & Pork Chops
Makes 6 servings

2 cans (16 ounces each) pork and beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup French's® Classic Yellow® Mustard
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons French's® Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Frank’s® RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
6 boneless pork chops (1 inch thick)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all ingredients except pork chops in 3-quart shallow baking dish; mix well. Arrange chops on top, turning once to coat with sauce.

Bake, uncovered, 30 to 35 minutes or until pork is no longer pink in center. Stir beans around chops once during baking. Serve with green beans or mashed potatoes, if desired.

Southern Slow Cooker Chicken and Grits
Works with Simply Filling
Like cooking short-cuts? Cut back on prep time and add a spicy, smoked flavor to this recipe by using one (14.5-ounce) can of drained, diced, roasted tomatoes with chiles in place of the fresh tomatoes.
main meals
POINTS® Value: 5
Servings: 4 Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving. (Note: This dish will be soupy so serve in bowls.)

1 3/4 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth
6 tbsp uncooked corn grits
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion(s), diced
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 cup(s) mushroom(s), sliced
1 small jalapeno pepper(s), seeded and minced (do not touch seeds with bare hands)
1 medium sweet red pepper(s), or yellow pepper, chopped
2 medium tomato(es), cored and chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pound(s) boneless, skinless chicken thigh(s), cut into 1-inch chunks

Place broth in a 3- to 5-quart slow cooker. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps; set slow cooker aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, jalapeno and red pepper; sauté, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add vegetables to slow cooker. Place tomatoes, cumin, salt and black pepper in slow cooker; stir to mix. Add chicken thighs; cover and cook at medium setting for 5 to 6 hours.

Fontina, Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizzas
Recipe by Cliff Crooks and Betty Fraser
For their delectably crusty and chewy pizzas, contestants Betty Fraser and Cliff Crooks adapted a bread recipe from star chef Jamie Oliver—a recipe Fraser had memorized—then covered it with slices of nutty Fontina cheese, prosciutto and sautéed onions.

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon salt
About 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds white onions
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound Italian Fontina cheese, sliced
8 thin slices of prosciutto
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 apple—peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
4 ounces arugula (6 cups)

MAKE THE DOUGH: In a large bowl, mix the yeast with the water and sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, thyme and salt. Add 2 cups of the flour and stir until a very soft, wet dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, working in about 1/3 cup more flour, until the dough is soft and silky. Shape into a ball and put in a large, oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

MAKE THE TOPPINGS: Preheat the oven to 450°. Oil 2 large baking sheets. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and stir to coat with the oil. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook the onions over high heat until golden brown, about 8 minutes longer. If the onions dry out, add a few tablespoons of water. Season the onions with salt and pepper, transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out to a 9-by-3-inch rectangle and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Top the dough with the Fontina, sautéed onions and prosciutto. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

In a large bowl, whisk the grapeseed oil, truffle oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add the apple and arugula and toss. Top the hot pizzas with the salad and serve immediately.

Corn Casserole
Magazine reader Kathie asked for a renovation for the corn casserole she makes at family BBQs. We upped the veggies and dropped the butter to help lighten it up.
side dishes. To remove the corn kernels from the cobs, cut off the ends of each cob. Stand the cob on its end, holding it near the top. Hold a knife parallel to the cob and cut off the kernels using a sawing motion.
We renovated Corn Casserole by:
Increasing the amount of vegetables.
Omitting the butter and relying on cooking spray to cook the bacon and vegetables.
Decreasing the total amount of fattening bacon and finely dicing it to help sprinkle it throughout the casserole.
Was POINTS® Value: 5
Now POINTS® Value: 3
Servings: 8

2 spray(s) cooking spray, divided
1 slice(s) bacon, uncooked, finely diced
2/3 cup(s) onion(s), diced
2/3 cup(s) sweet red pepper(s), diced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
14 3/4 oz canned cream-style white corn
3 medium corn on the cob, kernels removed* (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/4 cup(s) fat-free egg substitute
3/4 cup(s) low-fat Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 cup(s) seasoned croutons, whole-grain, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 2-quart shallow baking dish with nonstick spray.

Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour off and discard drippings from skillet.

Add onion to skillet. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and let cool 5 minutes. Stir in bacon, canned corn, fresh corn, egg substitute, cheese, salt and ground pepper. Spread corn mixture in baking dish. Top evenly with croutons and lightly spray croutons with cooking spray. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden and center is set, about 15 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Serves 2

1/3 cup finely chopped mix of shallot, red onion, white onion, sweet onion, and leek (pale green and white part only)
3 Tablespoons chopped scallion
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
4 slices (each 1/2-inch thick) country bread, halved crosswise
3/4 pound aged Cheddar, coarsely grated
4 Tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Heat a large griddle over medium-low heat until hot.

In a bowl, combine the onion mixture, scallion, and garlic. Make 4 sandwiches with bread, cheese (pack it on), and onion mixture. Butter both sides of the sandwiches.

Set the sandwiches on the griddle and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, turning once, until the bread is golden and the cheese melts. Adapted from Gourmet

Leftover Roast Chicken Soup
Many people buy a whole roast chicken from the grocery store on the way home (see left). Once the chicken is picked over, the remaining carcass can be the beginning of a simple and rich soup. Add kitchen staples such as carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms, season the pot with paprika and cayenne pepper, and this versatile supper extends the life of a simple bird. The soup is made in two parts: the chicken carcass simmers in water while the vegetables saute for about half an hour. The stock on its own can be the base of other soups, or use it as the broth for risotto. The recipe calls for a single leftover chicken, but you can also use two carcasses without altering the remaining ingredients. Food dollars need to do double duty these days. Why not have your chicken and eat it too?
Serves 8

1 leftover roast chicken carcass (skin, bones, and any meat)
4 quarts water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)

In a soup pot, combine the chicken carcass and water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the mixture for 1 hour.

Place a colander or strainer over a large bowl. Tip the contents of the pot into it. Let the mixture cool. Pour the strained broth back into the soup pot.

Pick through the bones and remove any meat; discard skin and bones. Add the meat to the broth; set aside.

In a large flameproof casserole, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the butter and when it melts, add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and parsley. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.

Add the vegetable mixture to the broth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm back to my version of normal

It was a pretty busy few days for me once we got back. On Tuesday I had my Weight Watchers meeting (I lost 2.2 lbs!) and then my yearly eye check appointment. And on Wednesday I had the appointment for my temporary crown (at the dentist, not as a queen *sigh*). I had to get my eyes dilated while at the eye doctor so I had already planned to stay at MiL's (we were having dinner with her) instead of driving home. Neither of us really thought of the fact that I couldn't read. It wasn't funny at the time, but I do laugh now. I couldn't get into her house using the keypad, I couldn't text her or read any texts and I had to wait for her to call me since I don't know her cell phone number because I always use my contacts list. I'm glad I didn't have to wait too long.

My dentist appointment went well. I think the fact that I had my root canal last year actually helped, the tooth is just a bit sensitive around it. I was really worried more about my TMJ - after my root canal my jaw was worse than the tooth after having to hold my mouth open for so long. The dentist used a bite block and let me have breaks when he could. It helped a lot and I'm not sore at all, just a bit tender. :) I go back in a few weeks for my perm. crown. The whole reason I have to get the crown is because it turns out that the dentist that did the root canal put in a temporary filling it seems. :( I must admit, I like this dentist a lot better.

Cooking-wise it hasn't been a great week. MiL fixed us for dinner some crab-stuffed salmon at Costco that hubby has informed me we need to buy next time we go. The pea soup was moved to Wednesday instead. And last night we had Chinese steamed dumplings (not homemade, I buy them at the Chinese grocery store in their freezer section). I have made homemade ones before, but it's nice to keep a few on hand for easy meals, and this way I can even have different flavored ones too. :) Dinner tonight is going to be Papa John's pizza. Hubby has a gift card to use up, so we'll have that instead of homemade pizza tonight.

I've been having a tasty breakfast lately. I got the idea from WW Annual Recipes for Success 2009. From their 7 day Menu Planner Week 2- Bacon Tomato Grits (Stir 1 cooked and crumbled turkey bacon slice, 1/4 cup chopped tomato, and 2 Tbsp reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese into 1 cup hot cooked grits - POINTS 4)
On the WW boards a bit ago someone had mentioned a way to make single serving-size portions of polenta and I've done that instead. I've got some finely ground cornmeal from the Mennonite Relief Sale last year that I'm using and it doesn't take as long and I like a bit more water so you may have to change the amounts and directions to suit your tastes, ingredients and microwave. I did not write who I got it from though. :(

Single Serve Microwave Polenta

3/4 cup water or stock
1/4 cup polenta or cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt

Place all in a 2-3 cup microwaveable container. Mix well. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes. Stir. Cook on HIGH 2 minutes.

When I make the Bacon Tomato Grits I make the polenta as above then add 1 Tbsp of Reduced fat real bacon bits (I buy a big bag of them at Costco but you can find them at the grocery store too, 1 Tbsp is equal to 1 slice), and the rest of the ingredients are the same. I've eaten it two days in a row. I'm thinking it would be great also served with an egg too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week is a bit odd, only because I'm not sure how I'm going to feel. Tuesday I have an eye appointment with my eyes getting dilated. I don't remember how long it's going to take before I can see so I'm going with a crockpot meal. I'm going to have a cap put on a tooth I got a root canal on last year, so on Wednesday I've the first part of that. That means for 1 1/2 hours I'll have my mouth open, and my TMJ means that I will probably have a migraine and my jaw will be sore for a few days too. Not sure that I'm going to feel like eating or cooking. I'm going to go with canned ravioli that night but we'll have to see how I feel for the rest of the week. I do have Mike and Jennifer coming for dinner on Saturday with a request. So I will make dinner and hopefully my jaw will feel better by then.

Monday: still trying to figure out what I want to do with chicken breasts
Tuesday: Split Pea Soup
Wednesday: canned ravioli
Thursday: TBA
Friday: Homemade pizzas
Saturday: Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Weekend Update with JJ

Had a great weekend this week. I had my fraternity reunion - otherwise known as Banquet. I have to admit I haven't been in YEARS, so I was a little nervous about who/what I could remember. The fact that the house wasn't even the same one was a bit weird (and sad) too. I surprised my big brother. :D It was sooooo great to see him again and we got to talk quite a lot and catch up. When they assigned him to me, they didn't realize that he grew up in the same small town that I did, and he actually graduated in the same class as my next door neighbor, so we always got along really well. Another odd thing, one of the other brothers that lived in the dorm across from me ended up teaching at my old HS after he graduated. Hubby and I (actually I !!!) drove down on Friday night after hubby got off work. We got there a bit after 10:30 pm. The husbands and Miko stayed at Beth's (my BFF from college and shes a TD little sis) since they were tired and we headed out to the new (to me) house. I must admit, it's so nice to finally be able to drink the water at the house straight from the tap. Let's just say that the road the old house was on is Yellow Sulpher and it fits. Beth and I got home at 2:30 am and were up around 5:30 or 6.

Once the guys were up we headed to Little Anthony's for breakfast. Hubby was in heaven. :) I had a bit of a dilemma, I really wanted to get the oatmeal with some sauteed apples and some bacon but they were all sides and would have costed more than my other choice - one of the breakfast specials of half plate sausage and gravy biscuit with bacon (1 biscuit instead of 2). I chose the special because it really was WAY different in price. *SIGH* I was good though. After that John, Beth, Miko and I were off to the TD softball game. This was the first time I was able to make it to the game. While in school I was a night monitor - the dorms with girls (either single sex or co-ed) had their doors locked (you could always get out but not in) at 11 pm and we were stationed there over night until 6 or 7 am the next morning (I can't remember when). We had to check ID's to make sure that that people lived there, and do rounds to make sure that no one had propped open doors (that happened quite often). Anyway, I worked Friday nights, so I was usually sleeping Saturday mornings. It was nice and Miko loved the attention. We got burned, I didn't even think about taking sunburn lotion (I don't tan, no use taking sunTAN lotion with me). After that we headed back to see if Beth's husband was back from picking up a Hokie bobble head from the lacrosse game - he had been back but was gone again. Miko was dropped off and we headed to Mike's Grill for lunch without him. Mike's Grill was my fave place while at Tech. We didn't go often (poor students and all), and since the burgers are huge (1/2 pound) we didn't eat lunch and went for an early dinner and still didn't finish them. I don't know why I love it so much, but maybe it's just because it's "our" place. Beth, Jen and I would go there, plan it out and just have fun. Course we always had fun. :) Beth got the french fries and I got the onion rings and we shared, the onion rings are great!

After lunch we headed off to find Mosaic. After the shooting at Tech a few years ago, I wanted to do something and the yarn store there offered to sew together squares that were knitted into blankets to give to the victims and their families. So I knitted an orange and maroon VT square and sent it off to them. I wanted to see the store since it wasn't there when I was on campus. John was even nice enough to let me buy some Claudia's Handpainted fingering weight wool yarn (for socks) in the colorway Hokies (maroon and orange). They have a very nice selection of yarns and I had a great time touching, and it was hard not to want to buy more.

We headed back to Beth's and her husband was there. He told us that Miko scared him. We're sleeping on the sofa bed, and she had apparently been sleeping under it while we were gone (we brought one of her beds with us but she didn't sleep in it). He didn't know that and he heard a scrambling under the bed and all the sudden she appeared. We all pretty much fell asleep not soon afterward, guess I'm old. Once we all woke up after our naps, we headed out so I could see how Tech itself has changed. We walked around downtown B'burg for a bit, and that has changed too! Beth and I still weren't very hungry after our lunch, but walking around was a good choice, because we were more hungry afterward. We decided to eat at Ceritano's Ristorante ( ) which is actually right up from Mike's. We decided to order two pizzas and share. They use fresh mozzarella on their pizzas, btw, and they are cooked in a wood-fired oven. We chose a pepperoni (Fra Diavolo: marina sauce, pepperoni, fresh mozzarella) I, of course, decided to be different and asked if it was ok to get the Bella Vista
(thinly sliced potatoes topped with extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, coarse black pepper) surprisingly everyone said yes. When it came out it smelled heavenly with the rosemary (my fave herb). I have made something like it when I was trying to eat vegan, so John and I knew it would be good, and it was. It was actually finished before the other one. Tom had just read that they got a gelato machine, so that was next. I got pineapple, John got strawberry, Beth got Oreo, Tom got hazelnut and something else I can't remember. It was GREAT! It was as good as what we got in Little Italy in NYC. If you're in B'Burg, you should definitely stop for their gelato since it will be warming up soon.

I must admit we returned home and pretty much all died and went to sleep. I'm definitely not able to handle what I used to. Woke up with Miko and walked her. The house across from Beth has horses, and I got to pet one of them. :D It likes to nuzzle and once more was interested in Miko but she wanted nothing to do with it. I called my cousin Matt and got directions to his apartment so we could pick him up for breakfast. Found him (I tell you, things have really changed, the names may be the same, but I don't recognize much) and we drove to the TD brunch at Cracker Barrel in Christiansburg. We had 22 people, and things were hoppin'! Eric had mostly lost his voice and to me I think I'll start calling him "squeaky". John and I headed home after that, stopping to say hi to mom, Keith, Kelly, BJ, and the kids (and use the bathroom at mom's). Mrs Mary was also there and I was able to say hello to her too. Found out we've got a b-day party to go to on the 9th. I can't believe that Kenny is going to be 40!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Today I'm pugless, and feeling a bit lonely. She is at the vets, getting her teeth cleaned. I can tell you, she was not happy about not getting breakfast this morning, but we will be happy when her breath smells a lot better when she returns.

We had a nice Easter, spending it at my sister's house. My cousin Matthew was up from Tech, so we took some Wii games with us too. We tried out a "new" chinese restaurant (new owners)"Red Chopsticks" in Staunton for lunch on Saturday and it was very good. We had written off the restaurant the last time we had eaten there, so it was nice to be able to have a place to go back and enjoy the food. They actually had kim chee and frogs legs on the buffet. Matt took a pic of his food to taunt his sister since she couldn't make it down. ;) Everyone else went back to my sister's house, mom and I went out shopping. We headed out to check out "JJ's Knitting Knook" (no relation) and it was a wonderful store. They had a great selection of stuff, and will actually be moving to a larger space soon. I was good, all I bought was a darning egg. They offer classes, so hopefully mom will finally learn to knit that sweater that she spent $200+ in yarn for (no I did not convince her to do that). After that we went and checked out the Fabric store's new digs and then headed to The Cheese Shop. I picked up a few things that I needed and we decided to go with sandwiches for supper and picked up stuff there for that too.

Later that evening I showed Kelly how to make bread using her KitchenAide mixer. We made rolls for next day's Easter lunch (I used the Split-Top Butter Bread recipe). She was having some problems, and I was able to help her know what to look for since I make bread more often. While the dough was rising we came up with hints to use on the notes for her kids to find their Easter gifts. They had a scavenger hunt this year, and enjoyed it.

Anyway, on to the menu:
Monday: Pork and sauerkraut (Just like it says - it's in the crockpot now)
Tuesay: Fish and chips (frozen fish but oven baked chips)
Wednesday: Spaghetti
Thursday: New England Clam Chowder
Friday-Sunday: out of town once more

If you'd like any of the recipes, just ask (or use the search function). If you'd like more menu ideas visit:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

No planning Menu Planning

Yep, no menu plan posted this week. And even though there's one posted on my Google Calendar, I must admit that's not the one I'm following right now. I'm flying by the seat of my pants right now. I tried, but it all started after going to my sister's this weekend. I wonder if my body just wasn't used to eating Domino's pizza. The next day I just didn't feel right, not sick but just not good. Didn't feel like eating or cooking - much like making a meal plan. That went into Monday too. Monday hubby ate leftovers - I hate a microwaved "baked" potato at 10:45 pm because that's when I finally felt hungry. I did eat a little during the day, but it really wasn't much.

Last night was salt and pepper shrimp, tonight will be BBQ chicken legs. I think I'll make Beef Stew - but I need to see what hubby wants to do since we're going to meet in town. Friday he's off and we'll have homemade pizza. And Saturday and Sunday we're back to Draft.

Yeah, boring huh?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


There are a few changes to this weeks menu. Nothing big, like usual.

First off though: I forgot how AWESOME the Braised Chicken with Chickpeas and Tomatoes is. I served it with couscous and *SIGH* I really do need to make it more often. It's a nice meal to embellish with a bit more spice (I add garlic and I wonder if saffron would be good) but you don't have to. It was originally written as a budget meal a bit ago in Cooking Light Magazine (before the current economic woes). And a few notes about the recipe: you can used canned if you don't want to soak your own (they used dried because of the cheapness), if you do make your own, you can use all of it (I think it's stupid to not use the other 1/2 cup just for calories sake), and lastly - if you cook your own beans, cook the whole bag and use the rest for hummus instead. :)

I haven't had a major migraine in a while now, although I had a small headache yesterday. I have had some major liver pain though. Not sure why. I am wondering if the antibiotic threw me for a loop. I've been eating eggs lately and I am sensitive to them (allergy tested), I can eat a few but not a lot. Well, I've been having what I call uggy burps - sulfuric burps - I thought it might be due to the eggs but now I'm wondering if it's just because the Z-pack killed off some good bacteria in my gut instead. Last night was the worst. I made sure to eat some yogurt (with good bacteria) today, and maybe the liver problems earlier were a warning or something that I wasn't digesting well and the gall bladder was trying to produce more to help and couldn't keep up and the liver was trying it's best too? I don't know, it's all just supposition. Since I wasn't feeling well, I wasn't eating well either. Not eating badly - but just not much. When I do that I don't have good Weight Watcher weeks. I wasn't able to make it to my WW weigh in yesterday, so I'll go tomorrow. I'm expecting a gain this week, but it's all my own fault.

The changes to this weeks menu are simple. We are headed to SD for my nephew's birthday on Saturday and my sister informed me it's going to be a pizza party. So, I'm not making pizza on Friday, instead I'm going to make Bagel Dogs at hubby's request. Secondly, the recipe for Baked Beans and Chops is changed slightly. I'm going with one from the "Fix-It-and-Forget-It Entertaining" Cookbook. It's mostly the same though. Pour the beans into the CP, top with the pork chops. Smear on the mustard, sprinkle with brown sugar, drizzle with ketchup and top with thick slices of onion. I also sprinkled with some pepper and Penzey's smoked seasoned salt.

Thanks to Facebook I've found a friend from HS who was a great writer in my English Comp class. I loved my English Comp class, I think because almost everyone in there wrote really well and had a sense of humor to boot. Anyway, he's got a great blog, so if you have some time to spend, head on over to and waste it there. ;)

We've received the money from my grandmother's estate. My sister is using hers for COBRA (they are both without a job at this point, and so far no luck in finding one). At this point they are waiting for the new bill to take effect and said said it will reduce the amount they pay from $1,000 to $35 I think she said. That's quite a lot! I bought my new tennis shoes yesterday, the last ones are the ones that my sister gave me (from when she cleaned out her closet over 2 years ago). I decided to try ones that are Nike+ compatible. I've just been putting the little capsule in my shoestrings, but this time I put it in the footbed. And as I went out on the walk, it died within 5 minutes of my walk. *SIGH* Course the Nike+ is about a year old or so. I need to see how much a new one costs (the "system" itself is $30). The page won't load for me, I think just because of the dial-up speed, but I'm going through the Nike+ site and haven't done a search yet.

Some more of the money went for an ASUS EEE PC (netcomputer). The laptop I type from is actually missing it's R & T buttons and I plug in a keyboard to the USB to type coherently (or more-so). We had hoped to be able to use my sister's laptops that wasn't working and switch out the keyboard (the laptop wouldn't stay on anymore and hubby couldn't fix it) but it's a different manufacturer and things are just different enough that it won't work. :( The carrying around a keyboard makes it just enough of a pain that it makes it a bit unportable for a laptop. And it's starting to become a bit unstable: computer screen sometimes goes on the fritz along with some other things I don't want to get into. Hubby and I debated about what would be the best use: a new laptop or a netcomputer. I don't travel that much with a computer but the netcomputer is cheaper. We decided to go with the EE and we'll try to save up some more for a laptop and hope to keep it going. Hopefully being able to leave it in one place more often will help too (it really only gets moved when someone comes over to eat since I type at the dinner table, and our table is kept in the expanded condition so there's room for just hubby and I to eat there).

The rest of the money (half of the original is going to be put into savings - it's not as much money as it sounds like, believe me) is going for a new crown for me, a dental for Miko and new glasses for me (it's been about 4-5 years). Now granted, we're also putting in a bit of the money hubby made while working overtime last month too. As I told my sister, I hate to spend the money on such mundane things, but I am glad that it came when it did. She said the same thing, and she was hoping that she'll be able to use some of it (there should be some retroactive pay-back once the bill kicks in) to help fix Mommom's grandmother clock that she has.