11/30/10

Sweet and Sour Chicken

For some reason, Chinese food is what I want when I'm sick.  Isn't that strange?  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because it's something that we never had when I was a kid; now it seems like such a treat. 

The downside to the Chinese food is that most of it is AWFUL for you.  The WW website has this little 'cheat sheet' tool where you can pretty much fix a virtual plate of something and the tool tells you how many points it is.  I'll tell you what - sweet and sour chicken never comes out well. 

Or does it? 

Yes.  It does.  Here is a recipe that I found on the Food Network.  Did a little bit of altering and voila!  A not to shabby WW recipe. 

Side note - I'm thinking of taking all food pictures this season in front of the tree.  I feel like the light works well.
 
 
Sweet and Sour Chicken
adapted from Food Network
 
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbl reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbl corn starch
2 tbl apricot preserves
2 tsp canola oil, divided
1 lb chicken tenders (boneless skinless, cut into bite size pieces)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp finely grated or minced ginger
1 cup reduced sodium chicken brother
12 oz frozen mixed Asian style vegetables
15 oz water chestnuts, drained and sliced
 
Combine vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, and apricot preserves in a small bowl and whisk until combined.  Set aside.
 
Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large skillet, add chicken and cook until done.  Transfer to a plate.  Add the remaining tsp of oil, garlic and ginger.  Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Add vegetables and reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender crisp (about 5 minutes).  Stir in water chestnuts and chicken.  Whisk the reserved sauce and add to pan.  Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and chicken is warmed through. 
 
Serving size 1/4 of recipe
Points plus 7
 
Great over brown rice - just be sure to adjust the points plus value! 

11/29/10

Southwestern Beef Soup

Monday.  Why I oughtta....(you have to say that while shaking your right fist up in the air).  Some days I want to drop kick a Monday....especially a Monday that comes after an extended weekend of visitors and celebrations. 

At least I have leftover soup in the work fridge to get me through my morning.  Leftover soup and a new outlook on weight watchers.  And some bananas.  And a crick in my neck.  I'm not sure what that crick has to do with anything but whatever.  I probably got it yesterday from spending 7 hours on my couch looking at the tree (and maybe watching 16 and Pregnant). 

Back to the soup.  This is one of those recipes where I had to handle raw meat for an extended amount of time.  However, this trauma was reduced when I was able to use my crock pot.  It's all about balance, eh? 

Here's the recipe.  Weight watchers please note that I will now list point values as "Points Plus" or more likely "PP."  That's what they are doing on the site and I'm trying to acclimate. 

Southwestern Beef Soup
adapted from WW message boards

1 lb round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
1 can black beans
2 cans rotel tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 - 2 tbl chili powder (depending on how hot you like you soups)
3 cups of water

Place all ingredients in the crock pot.  Cook for 1 hour on high and then for at least 4 hour in low.  OR you could just put it in the crock pot in the morning and let it cook on low all day. 

Serving size : 1 cup (makes 12 servings)
Points Plus : 3

11/28/10

Christmas Kickoff at Mi Casa

There's lots I could be doing today.  I could be folding clothes or sewing or going for a walk.  However....today I choose to sit here and look at my tree.  My fake, badly lit, slightly chaotic, totally amazing tree.

Side note - stringing lights on a tree is one of the more stressful things I've done this week.  Especially since the size of my house requires my tree to be nooked up in a corner. 
the top half


the bottom half


the Nativity set (and my attempt to decorate using collage text books)

Heck yeah.  I'm going to make some cocoa.  Did you know that Swiss Miss Diet Hot Chocolate is 0 WW points?  Well, now you do.  

11/26/10

The Times They Are a Changin'

Oh Bob.  How your song fits so well with most stages in life.  Death, birth, weight watchers...

Starting Monday, the WW program with go through a big 'ole change.  How appropriate...the Monday after many of us have maxed out on various casseroles, desserts, and meats. 

I assume that a few of the people that read this blog are followers of the WW.  If not, you may want to scroll down to a small section of pics from Thanksgiving 2010.  This might get a little boring to you. 

For those WW peeps out there - you may or may not be familiar with the changes about to go down.  I would place myself in the not familiar category, they (the WW empire) are being pretty hush hush about the changes.  The information that I have I've gotten from their website, in addition to talking to a few people that have leadership roles in WW. 

What I do know is that all fruits and veggies are free (like i think you could eat 12 bananas if you felt so inclined), the point values will go up on most foods, and each person's daily point allowances will go up.  People that have done it have said that they give the new program two enthusiastic thumbs up.  Maybe they didn't say that exactly, but they have said they like the changes. 

As far as I go, I'm looking forward to a fresh start.  I will have been on the program for 2 years in January and like everything you do for a while, I've found myself getting kind of lax.  I'm looking forward to the new found excitement, as well as learning more about nutrition.  I will probably shy away from posting recipes for a while as I try to get the hang out of it.  I also hope to redo point values for each of my recipes to reflect the new program.....we'll see how far into that I get. 

If you want something cozy and  yummy to cook this weekend...how 'bout you try some of these favorites? 

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Hodge Podge

Win's Pot Roast

Creamy Salsa Chicken

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili

And now, since I can feel your excitement boiling over, here are some pics from Turkey Day 2010.  A large time was had by all, I regret that I didn't somehow get an overview picture of how packed out the Lucket Lodge was...it was kind of amazing.  Everything went off without a hitch, except for when, right after applying a fresh coat of lip gloss, I playfully gave the Baby Girl and tickle on the tummy, followed with a kiss.  Right smack in the middle of her adorable smocked white pumpkin outfit.  At least she can look back on that dress and remember how much her Auntie loves her. 

Just a few snaps of the day....


Margaret, Me, Chick - I think pre-food.  Otherwise this would have been a picture of us on the floor. 


Me and the Pegs AKA my mom. 


Pegs and Lisa AKA the Queens of Thanksgiving

Happy Friday to all!! 

11/25/10

Thankfulness Abounds

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  Today I am grateful for...

  • A dad that instilled in me an appreciation for music, including but not limited to Arlo Guthrey's Alice's Restaurant.  If it's not a part of your Thanksgiving tradition, it should be.
  • Brandon not ending our relationship last night when I had a torte induced tantrum.  It was a little more involved than I thought.
  • My health.
  • A career that I am passionate about.
  • My family for loving me unconditionally.
  • My friends for being so awesome.
  • My 1970s style duplex.
  • My freedoms.
  • My church.
  • Everyone that reads this strange little blog.  

11/24/10

Today I am grateful for....

1.  Brandon's family being so welcoming. 

2.  Modern Family.

3.  Turkey Day 2010 (the new mix CD for our ride tomorrow).

4.  New candles. 

5.  Luckett Lodge

Broccoli Salad

You know how you will be stalking someones blog, then go to another, then go to another, then find yourself learning about a topic you had no idea you were interested in?  Like Russian Nesting Dolls or something? Yeah, that happens to me all the time. 

This is how I stumbled upon this lovely little salad.  Luckily, I was able to google the phrase "holiday broccoli salad" and the exact website website I got it from appeared.  Heck yeah. 

Image and recipe from Belle of the Kitchen

This would be a lovely little addition to your holiday menu.  My version is lightened up a bit, you can click on above link for the original recipe. 

Broccoli Salad
adapted from Belle of the Kitchen

5 cups fresh broccoli florets, chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 can of water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
7 slices of turkey bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
2/3 cup non fat Greek  yogurt
2 tbl cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt

Combine the mayo, yogurt, vinegar, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. 

Serving size 1 cup
WW points 4
Points Plus 6

11/23/10

Almost There....

It's almost time to carve the bird and listen to Arlo Guthrey.  Can you feel the excitement in the air?  Are you getting excited?  I know I am.  I have found the Chevre cheese for my torte and am unfolding my stretch pants.  Just kidding, I'm going to exercise restraint this holiday season.  Weight watchers suggests that you get your family together after the Thanksgiving meal for some sort of physical activity; with our crew of 63 at the Luckett Lodge (the number has gone up, Brandon is having his first Luckett Lodge Thanksgiving Extravaganza) we could have ourselves a little mini marathon.  It could be a qualifying race. 

Just three more gratitude lists to go.  I must say that I will miss this daily exercise.  It has been a good thing for me and has helped me to shift my focus when it gets a little off.  Life is hard sometimes, it helps to remember all of the blessings in life. 

Today I am grateful for:

1.  Getting to sit outside to do a little work today.  Yes, it's strange to be warm in November but it sure was lovely. 

2.  Boundaries. 

3.  My new blue dress. 

4.  Brian Williams being so cute.  It makes the fact that he is delivering some unnerving news from around the world more bearable. 


5.  My iPod.  It was purchased in 2005 as my congrats on getting a job gift to myself and is still with me.  Brandon's 17 year old cousin stopped by my house last night - he was shocked to learn it was, in fact, a working pod. 


Seriously.  How cute is Brian Williams?  What a fox.

Ok so I have to add a sixth because as I type this post I am listening to this story (as told by Foxy Brian Williams)....

6.  I am grateful for people that do amazing things like, oh I don't know, ACT AS LIVING KIDNEY DONERS TO COMPLETE STRANGERS JUST BECAUSE THEY THINK IT'S A GOOD THING TO DO.  I just cried.  I can't get the video to load but if you poke around in the health section of the NBC Nightly News site, I bet you can find it!

Winter Squash Soup

I may have told you this story...stop me if I have.  When Brandon and I first started courting, I decided I would make him homemade tomato soup and fancy grilled cheeses.  It's obvious that I've been trying to remove meat from his life since our early days.  We were at his house, I had toted my cooking gear over there.  So it came time to blend all of the ingredients together to make it smooth.  I dumped everything in the blender and went to blending. Did you know that when you put hot liquid in the blender, the top might fly off mid blend?  Yeah, I didn't know either.  

So tomato soup went ALL OVER me, the kitchen, and Brandon.  I was mortified.  Brandon offered to give it a try at which point he found himself covered in even more tomato soup.  At least I wasn't the only one.

Last night's supper was one of those blender soup type of situations.  Luckily, I learned my lesson last time and did not find myself covered in soup.  I did find myself covered in happiness, as this was some good stuff.  You should make it for Thanksgiving!  According to the WW magazine, you could make it 3 days ahead.  See explanation below the recipe. 
    
 Image here.  My picture looked a little creepy. 

Winter Squash Soup
from WW Magazine

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
32 oz butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks (I used to 16 oz packages)
32 oz low sodium chicken broth
2 tbl Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, add onion, celery, garlic, 1 tsp of rosemary, salt and pepper.  Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add squash and broth; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tsp of rosemary. 

Add to blender in batches, blend until smooth.  Before serving, stir in cheese. 

Serving size 1 cup
WW points 1
Points Plus 1

If making this ahead, let the soup cool completely after blending.  Transfer to a large microwavable bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill up to three days.  When serving, turn back one corner of plastic wrap to vent.  Microwave on high until hot (about 5 minutes) stirring once halfway through.  Stir in cheese before serving. 

11/22/10

Slacker Gratitude

I feel like such the slacker with the recipes.  Good news though....pumpkin dip and broccoli salad are coming up soon.  Woo!! 

Where I don't slack though is on the gratitude.  Go me!  Go me!  Here is today's list....

1.  I'm grateful for that I got to attend Nanny's 80th birthday bonanza blowout bash.  Maybe it wasn't a "blow out"  but there was a candle that could have possibly "blown up" so I guess that's close enough. 

 

Here's the birthday girl...doesn't she look pretty?  And doesn't Brandon look a little concerned about that flame throwing candle? He appears to be looking for the nearest exit.   


Alex checking out the harvest themed center piece. 


Jennifer and Alex, being cute and innocent looking.  

2.  I'm grateful for birthday dinners at Vince's and running into friends unexpectedly.

3.  I'm grateful for Sirius Prime Country and for singing along to 90s country hits with the Brandon. 

4.  I am grateful that it's almost time to start watching Christmas Vacation.

5.  I am grateful for being speedy when getting ready in the morning.        

11/21/10

More Sunday Gratitude

Today I am grateful for......

1.  Free sewing tutorials.

2.  My new pencil skirt from Target.

3.  Donut Shop Chocolate Glazed Donut Coffee pods for the Keurig. 

4.  Being able to get to family in an hour.

5.  Getting to go to my grandmother's 80th Birthday Party!!!!  Pictures to follow.....

Late Gratitude

Ooops.  Ran out of time - here is my daily gratitude list from 11.20.10. 

1.  I am grateful for time spent with the Baby Girl.  She spent a minute at my crib this weekend.  In an effort to make my house more child friendly, we played with electronic devices and danced to a Paul Simon DVD.  I think her favorite part of the evening was when she jammed out by beating on my TiVo. 
 

2.  I am grateful for these socks.  A life saver when worn with boots on a chilly evening. 

3.  I am grateful for small, easy to peel oranges. 

4.  I am grateful for time spent with family that I never get to see.  

5.  I am grateful for Gringo, the Golden Retriever with a major case of separation anxiety.  This makes for good snuggling - even if it's just some foot to foot action. 

11/19/10

Friday, glorious Friday! I am much looking forward to the upcoming weekend as there is some fun stuff going down.  Play time with the baby girl, visitin' time with Lindsey, party time with Nanny - just to name a few. Lots of things to be grateful for today so lets get this started. 

Today I am grateful for....

1.  Flash mobs (or at least I think that's what they are called.)  I'm not sure the origin of this phenomenon but I'm sure glad it happens.  The following is a video from this week's episode of Modern Family.  This show makes me laugh so hard that I almost fall down.  Back to flash mobs.....I want to be a part of this.  If anyone is planning one in the near future - hit me up.   


2.  Good 'ole Southern Respect.  I'm grateful that I live in a place where people still pull over to the side of the road for funeral processions.

3.  Fleece Friday.  I made this up today...it's when you wear all fleece to work.

4.  Airplane trips.  My sis Chick is flying to see a friend today - I like it when people get to take trips on an airplane to see friends. 

P.S. I'm aware how "country comes to town" that sounds.

5.  Pizza.  No explanation required.     


11/18/10

Thanksgiving is a week from today.  Whoa, now.  The hunt begins for Chevre cheese and disposable carrying dishes.  Everybody, prepare for a good visit. 

In the meantime, here is my daily dose of gratitude.

1.  I am grateful that many moons ago, Lindsey shared with me her Pandora play list.  It's called "Lindsey Ann" and is one of the most random assortments of music I've ever encountered.  Today, Dolly Parton's "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" came on and I just had to share.  I wanted to share a video from what appeared to be a CMA performance from the early 90s, but the site would not allow it.  Sad.  Loretta Lynn's white pagent dress was breathtaking and the camera panned the audience to show a Judd sister with about 3 tons of fake flowers in her hair.  Oh, 90's fashion. 

2.  I am grateful that I have a funny family.

3.  I am grateful that others share their gratitude.  

4.  I am grateful for old school yellow Tupperware. 

5.  I am grateful for an empty sink.    

Sausage Onions and Peppers Stoup

So it gets dark at 5:30. So I have to scamper outside 10 minutes before I leave and crank the car so I can see out the window.  So the skinny jean trend is preventing me from layering with leggings.  So what.  

I've got soup.  With onions, peppers, and sausage in it.  Boom! Laura Merrill: 1; Increasingly cold weather: 0.  At least for now.  I'm sure the tables will turn and I will be doing some serious cold weather induced whining. 
 
 
You, too, can have this soup.  Thank you, Rachel Ray...thank you.

Sausage Onions and Peppers Stoup
adapted from Rachel Ray  
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage
4 cloves of garlic, diced
2 medium onions, sliced thin
3 Anaheim peppers, seeded and sliced
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
2 cups chicken broth
28 oz diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add sausage, cook.  Add garlic, onions, and peppers and cook until sausage is completely done and onions and peppers are done. 
Add balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan.  Add chicken broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 5 minutes, stir in basil and parsley.  

Serving size 1 cup
WW points 3
Points Plus 4

*Serve this with a little Parmesan cheese to add a little extra pizazz.  

11/17/10

1.  I am grateful for the November 11 reading in the book God Calling :

Looking back you will see that every step was planned.  Leave all to Me.  Each stone in the mosaic fits into the perfect pattern, designed by the Master Artist.

It is all so Wonderful!

But are the colors are of Heaven's hues, so that your eyes could not bear to gaze on the whole, until you are beyond the veil. 

So, stone by stone, you see, and trust the pattern to the Designer. 

2.  I am grateful for the beautiful fall foliage.

3.  I am grateful t-shirts from Target.

4.  I am grateful for salsa.

5.  I am grateful for a break from all of the running around tonight. 

What are you grateful for today??

Hawaiian English Muffins

All of my food has been similar in color lately.  Unfortunately, the similar color is not green. 

Such is life. 

The title may sound strange, but just go with it. 


Hawaiian English Muffins

1 whole wheat English muffin ( I used Sara Lee )
1 tbl pizza sauce
1/2 oz part skim mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup pineapple, chopped
5 turkey peperoni's

Separate the English muffin, toast in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes. 

Separate the rest of the ingredients between the two slices of muffin.  Return to the oven and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through. 

Makes 1 serving
WW points 4
Points Plus 6

11/16/10

Holiday Open House Gratitude

We Greenwoodians celebrated our annual holiday open house tonight.  Yes!  I love it.  Although it is a little strange to think about Christmas a week before Thanksgiving, I'll get behind it.  I do love a holiday season. 

Today I'm grateful that I....

1.  Live in a place that gets the people out to socialize.

2.  Have people in my town that I genuinely enjoy spending time with.

3.  Got to park in the fancy new parking lot down town.

4.  Got to sample (again) Nola's a-mazing dips.

5.  Have a heater. 

Quick Tater

Looking for a quick lunch idea?  'Taters!  Baked ones, that is. My buddy Susan surprised me with my very own cook it in the microwave potato to have for lunch.  Quite easy and very versatile.  And snugly. 

Like a pair of good brown boots. A pair that I keep seeing people wear but cannot find myself.  Grrrrrr. 

But back to potatoes.  Really, anything goes.  One large one is 3 points - the rest is up to you.  Get as wild as you want.  Here is mine...


A little crazy looking, yes I agree.  But it was also good and low in points. 

1 baked potato (medium - 2.5 points)
spray butter
1 slice of 2 % American cheese
1/4 cup salsa
5 turkey pepperonis

WW points 5
Points Plus 6

11/15/10

Monday Gratitude

I've had a chill in my bones all day and am grateful to have things to be grateful for.


1. I'm grateful for a sunny song to make up for the not so sunny day. It took me a while before I liked this song, and while the video might be a little bit odd, her voice is amazing.  Keep it weird, Florence.


2.  I'm grateful for an office with a window. 

3.  I'm grateful for getting LOTS of sleep last night, even if it meant I overslept a tad by an hour. 

4.  I'm grateful that I got to have lunch with Clare before she journeys back to Denver. 

5.  I'm grateful for the loot I received on said lunch date with Clare.  Enter my KD Bid Day t shirt from 2000 and the rock that she and Lindsey toted around with them on their camping trip to pretend that I was there.  I'm such a pretty rock.   



11/14/10

Post Travels Gratitude

Happy Sunday, friends!  I hope you've had a lovely one.  I've spent most of my afternoon not completing tasks and attempting to prepare for the upcoming week.  I feel in my bones it's going to be a busy one, meal planning might become touch and go.  Stay tuned for things involving fresh basil.  I've got to use it before it turns 8 degrees outside... 

Today I am grateful for:

1.  My New Orleans tour guide (the best one in the city!), Win.  One of the best weekend trips EVA!

2.  Crabby Jack's Mac and Cheese.  And everything else I ate this weekend.

3.  Safe travels.  Including, but not limited to, being able to successfully navigate the big city with just a few wrong turns. 

4.  Biscuits.  Small ones, dipped in soup.

5.  My washing machine.  She's really a-whirlin' right now.   

11/13/10

Grateful for Pictures, Part 2

The crazy cuteness continues....

1.  Me on Easter morning, sometime in the early 1980s.  I still look this crazy when looking for things in the morning.


 2.  Thanksgiving in Greenwood.  I would like to draw your attention to not only my extremely white base makeup, but also to the leopard "suit" I'm wearing.  I think it's from JC Penny's (Or Sears) it was a black skirt with a smart matching "blazer" (none of the buttons were functional) with a leopard trim.  I. Loved. That. Outfit.


3.  Jennifer and I in front of the Banana tree as kids.  It wasn't really a banana tree, I just remember thinking it should be a banana tree. 


4.  Look at that bald headed Chickey. 


5.  All us girls with dad.  Check those glasses.  And the bangs.


I'm grateful for these pictures!!!

11/12/10

Grateful for Pictures, Part 1

I love pictures.  I love them love them love them.  Friday and Saturday's gratitude will focus on family pictures that I'm grateful for.  And maybe a little anecdote about each one. 

1.  (Kind of) Annual Christmas Card Picture.  Me, the sisters, the brother in law, the steps.  Sometimes there's a cat in there too.  And some dogs.  Sometimes we just sit in a canoe by a lake and tilt our heads. 


2.  Me and Jennifer, hanging out in Dad's closet. 


3.  Me, Mom, and Chick at mom's, um, 29th surprise birthday party.  They dressed her up like a floozy and took her out to dinner in a limo.  Love it.  


 4.  This ones a classic - many members of my family have this framed somewhere.  Me and the sisters with Foxey's puppies.  There was one girl pup out of the litter - Jennifer ALWAYS got to play with her because, well, she was the oldest.  I guess in strange oldest sibling law, you are entitled to pose with the dog of your choosing, all the time. Two of the poor dogs seemed to always end up shoved in Chick's stroller. 


5. Me, Jen, and Dad stretching. One of my faves EVER!



I am grateful for these pictures and the memories they hold!

A Fall-ish Snack (Chocolate and Peanut Butter Apple)

Dear Lord, I love a snack.  I mean, seriously.  Gets me through the day.  I was totally made fun of this over the weekend but seriously - I freak when I get too hungry.  Snacks are vital. 

This snack was inspired by our weekly group activity, which involved making peanut butter apples.  I logged into my trusty point calculator and figured this one out. 


Chocolate and Peanut Butter Apple

1/2 an apple
1/2 tbl of reduced fat peanut butter
1/2 tbl semi sweet chocolate morsels

WW points 2
Points Plus 3

If loving peanut butter, chocolate, and apples is wrong...I don't want to be right. 

11/11/10

Going on a Trip Gratitude

I'm packing up and heading south, down to New Orleans.  I look forward to logging hours of visiting time in with Win, browsing fabric, sitting on patios, eating lots of yum food, and learning about couples counseling. 

Yes, it should be a large time. 

In the mean time though, the gratitude will go on (thanks to scheduled posting). 

1. I am grateful to have friends that live in super cool cities.

2. I am grateful for the 3$ express car wash.

3.  I am grateful for down comforters.

4.  I am grateful for my four wheels. 

5.  I am grateful for a sunny day to drive.

I Believe (Tater Tot Casserole)

I believe in heaven.  I believe it's a beautiful place; a place where you are always comfortable in a light jacket and leggings never go out of style.  I believe that no one hurts, there is no fear, and no one gets the anxiety.  I believe that Foxey and Mollie are there (our Shelties, may they rest), along with both of my grandfathers, my great grand parents, and a whole slew of others.  I also believe that tater tot casserole is there.  

I'm serious.  It's that good.  

This idea was born out of mine and Brandon's recent adventure to the country.  It was in his great great (great?) aunt's house that I first tasted this a-mazing treat. 


I thought about this meal for quite a few days and was eventually able to hunt this recipe down on the internet.  Thank you, world wide web.  Thank you. 

It's not fancy, and so far as I can tell there is not a whole bunch of nutritional value.  And being made with tater tots and all, the point value is kind of high for a small serving size.  You know what?  Just make it anyway.  And maybe exercise a little longer that day OR just say to heck with it for one meal.  It's worth it.  Swear. 

Tater Tot Casserole

1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp garlic
1 can low fat cream of chicken soup
1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
72 tater tots
3/4 cup finely grated 2% cheddar cheese

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  Brown ground beef, onions, and garlic.  Once beef is cooked, stir in the cans of soup. 

Meanwhile, spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.  Place the tots in the bottom of the dish.  Top with beef mixture, then cheese.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove from oven, divide into 12 pieces.  Smile and love your life. 

Serving size 1 piece
WW points 5
Points Plus 5  

11/10/10

Middle 'o The Week

1.  I am grateful that Ginny brought me a peppermint latte from her trip to Cleveland.  Score one for me!!

2.  I am grateful for friends that help me to explore sticky spots logically. 

3.  I am grateful for my sisters.

4.  I am grateful for my mom. 

5.  I am grateful (and each year, astonished) that we will have 62 people at our Thanksgiving blow out. 

Pulled Chicken Goulash

Goulash! It just sounds good. Sounds all warm and cozy.  This dish reminds me of my dear friend Clare, she has a kickin' recipe for Hungarian Goulash.  It's her grandmother's recipe, she gave me a copy and it's in her own handwriting.  It has notes like "this recipe doubled will feed our family."  I know how good it tastes when Clare makes it, I can't even handle how good it would be when made by her grandmother. 

So I've made Clare's recipe before. It was OK but nothing like when she made it.  Clare is not afraid to use butter.  Or heavy whipping cream.  I, on the other hand, am. 

So this little jewel that I found was a way for me to get the hearty goodness of Goulash while not going off the deep end with fat and calories. 

 
Pulled Chicken Goulash
adapted from Crepes of Wrath

1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (or tenderloins)
1 large purple onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Anaheim peppers (*I used Anaheim as they have good flavor but are not to hot....you could use habenero or any other pepper that you fancy)
3 cloves of garlic,  minced
1 tbl paprika (regular or smoked)
1 19 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbl brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Add all ingredients to a crock pot, cook on low for 6 - 8 hours.  About 30 minutes before you plan to eat, remove the chicken, shred it with two forks, and return it to the crock pot. 

Serving size 1 cup
WW points 4
Points Plus 5

I enjoyed this with whole wheat noodles and a dollop of sour cream.  A winter keeper, for sures. 

11/9/10

Nearing the Halfway Mark

With the gratitude list, that is. 

Today I am grateful that:

1.  Conan is back.  He really gets my giggle box turned upside down. 

 
2.  The Steelers won last night.  I might have forgotten to mention this, but last week Brandon and I decided to become Steelers fans. 

3.  The parking lot outside of my office is finally paved.  This leads to a decreased risk of me either (1) being injured by a large piece of machinery or (2) falling in the mud in front of the construction crew.  

4.  My mom INSISTED that I have this grey t with the appliqued flower on it one day in Target.  I wasn't so sure at the time, but it's totally a winner.  Thanks mom!

5.  It's not freezing outside.  I'm just not ready. 

A Lesson in Spaghetti Squash

One thing that always helps when trying to make a change OR maintain a positive behavior is having someone do it with it.  Whether it's exercising, dieting, or getting rid of a nasty attitude, it helps to have support.  It is also helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of.   

This whole spaghetti squash situation started when I talked to Lauren, one of my dear friends who has moved to Nashville.  Lauren and I used to work together and spent lots of time discussing points, wasa crackers, and other important matters.  She sent me a text last week, proclaiming the glories of spaghetti squash.  Not knowing what the heck she was talking about, I asked several questions, along with doing some research of my own. 

Turns out it's a tasty little treat, while also keeping it weird. Looks like pasta but tastes like squash?  Just go with it.  Here's how I cooked mine.  

First and most obvious, secure a spaghetti squash.  I got mine at Wal Mart.  
 

Pre-heat the oven to 375.  Take a fork and pierce the outside of the squash.  This is more challenging that you would think as these suckers have a pretty tough shell.  Also, be careful to not let the squash role, causing you to stab yourself in the hand.
 

The squash is going to cook for an hour, I suggest you find something to do.  I worked on exploring a pattern for making yoga pants, but whatever!  It's your hour, make yourself happy. 


Allow to bake in the oven for one hour.  After the hour, remove the 'old girl from the oven and let it hang out.  Return to whatever activity you were engaging in during that hour.  This thing is going to be H-O-T and will take at least 20 minutes before it can be handled. 



Once the squash is cooled, slice it in half (lengthwise).  Remove the seeds.  I don't really have a suggestion on how to do this, I just dug around until I found the seeds.  It was also at this point in the game that I stood there staring at the squash for a good 10 minutes.  It's such an odd looking bird.


This part was pretty cool.  Take a fork and scrape the insides out, separating it into strings.  Strings?  There's got to be another word for that but I can't think of it. 

Pile all of your strings up and figure out how your going to eat them.  I did it this way:  1 cup of spaghetti squash, 1/2 cup light pasta sauce, 1 tbl Parmesan cheese for a 2 point little meal (3 point plus meal.)  Hey now....that's pretty good. 

Spaghetti squash really does remind me of tofu, it just goes along with whatever you put on top of it.  Lauren - I miss you and you are awesome for sharing this little jewel with me.  I'm going to drive to Nashville soon and karate chop your door. 

11/8/10

Monday Gratitude

Today I am grateful for:

1.  Etsy
2.  Scrub pants
3.  Not having a meltdown when the time changed (I usually don't do well, this year it's been a little touch and go, but overall ok)
4.  My new bulletin board at work
5.  New recipes workin' it in my crock pot...as we speak. 

None of these things may be bowl you over exciting, but it's the little things that count. 

Tofu?

This weekend, I tried something I'd never tried before.  No, I didn't skydive or get a tattoo (or did I?)....I cooked tofu. 

I must admit, I was a little nervous about trying the tofu.  The concept is foreign to me and about halfway through preparing this dish, I almost threw my hands up and claimed "To heck with it!"  I have quite the texture issue when it comes to food (hence the chicken issue) and the texture of the tofu almost put me to bed.  Luckily, it all worked out in the end. 

The recipe (and the picture) came from Running the Traveled Road, I prepared it Sunday afternoon for my at work lunch.  As Lindsay discusses in her blog, this packs a huge nutritional punch.  I'm also hoping that it will be quite filling and hold me throughout the day. 


Tofu and Chickpea Salad

1 package extra firm tofu, chopped up
1 can chick peas, drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 tbl red wine vinegar
3 tbl olive oil
3 tbl lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
3 tbl Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray, add tofu and 1/2 tsp each of rosemary and thyme.  Stir fry until brown. 

Combine all ingredients, including cooked tofu, into a bowl.  Toss well. 

Serving size 1 cup
WW points 5
Points Plus 6

I plan to eat this with a 1 point tortilla - I must say I'm kind of excited about lunch this week.  I mean, I don't even care if that's weird. 

Lindsay if you're reading....thanks for the great recipe!!  And I'm TOTALLY trying that sausage and kale soup.  Yum to my tum. 

11/7/10

Gratitude & Fancy

Today's Gratitude:

1.  Traditions
2.  Four legged weekend house guests.
3.  Friends that are entrepreneurs.
4.  A semi-clean house.
5.  Long walks.

And as an added bonus...the "Fancy" video.   



Happy Sunday!