Lazy Breakfast

I had a big weekend.  This means that I'm still feeling very lazy and will be / have been taking several food short cuts this week.  Like what you may ask?  Like Zatarain's jambalaya and turkey sausage for dinner last night (yum).  Nothing like some goodness from a box to make a tired girl happy.  

There's also nothing like some goodness in a can.  Enter Pillsbury low fat Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.  

I had two of my ghi's spending the night on Friday so that we could travel together to the big Flip Cup Tournament on Saturday (more on that later).  I wanted to make sure there was something good for breakfast Saturday morning but also knew I wasn't going to be wanting to do any major cooking. 

It was kind of an amazing idea.  I roll (with icing) = 4 points plus.  Had I been being good and following points exactly I would have had 1 roll with perhaps a side of fruit.  But I wasn't and I had two and the world didn't end.  Today is a new day. 

As promised...here's more about the flip cup tourney I attended.  It was thrown by my bud Kallie to celebrate her birthday.  Here's a picture of all the girls. 

The girls bracket, I was told, was much more fun to watch than the boys bracket.  We did some smack talking and some dancing while the boys just got real competitive and yelled at each other.

Flippin' Out 2011 should definitely become a yearly thing. 


Testing the Water With Gringo

Just seeing if this blog it from your phone option works.  Sadly, there does not appear to be a spell check function.
While you're here at the blog enjoy this picture of Gringo aka the most snuggly golden retriever ever!  We got some good time in together atop a rapidly deflating air mattress.
Bless him.


A Few on Friday

It's hot, and it's cold.  It's stormy, it's clear.  We're like a Katy Perry song over here.  Regardless of the insane weather patterns, there's always this week's edition of A Few on Friday.  There's also always the joy of new lip color.  

How's this one to add to your spring collection?  

 find it here

My buddy Susan picked up the Funky Beige #23 for a whopping 12 clams.  I tried it on and was very happy with the color / feel of this crazy cross between a lipstick and a lip gloss.  Consider it mine. 

I bought those jeans from American Eagle that I discussed on one of the first Few on Friday posts.  They were CHEAP.  That made me happy.  But they'll probably be to long.  I meant to get the short, but accidentally got the regular.  I guess this means I'll have to get a super cool pair of high wedges for spring to wear them with.  Like these. 

find it here

find it here

I finally purchased some fabric to make myself a dress.  Or a tunic, more specifically.

What do you think of this dress...

find it here

With this fabric...

find it here

It's a Linen blend with a nice drape.  Thoughts?  Now I for sure need some new wedges. 

This song caused me to have a dance party in my car this morning on the way to work.

I hope your weekend rocks. 


Eat the Pizza!

It's not hard for me to get talked out of cooking supper.  I made a comment yesterday to Brandon about the pork chops not being thawed out yet and he said "we could eat pizza" and I said "heck yeah." And that was that. 

I had been doing well on my points this week, but was willing to throw it all away just to not have to cook.  And then it hit me....maybe the pizza wont be to bad! I checked, and it wasn't...score one for frozen pizza.   

I had picked up this little darling last week at the grocery as a "just in case." Like just in case the pork chops don't thaw, or just in case the meal I cooked was awful, or just in case I get a hankerin' for pizza so bad it's painful. 

The thing that I love about the WW program is that you really can have whatever you want.  It's just about portion control, and balance, and give and take.  This particular pizza (World Table Fiesta BBQ) was 9 points plus for 1/4 of the pizza.  This wound up to be 2 average size slices.  Nice!

The key...only eat the serving size. 


Quick Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

I accidentally deleted the picture I took of this meal.  I guess it's OK though as it has the kind of beauty that moves and didn't photograph well.  Can anyone name that tune? Lauren, I bet that you can.  So instead of a picture of the quick sausage and chicken gumbo, I'll share a picture of me and Lindsey and Kallie.  Today is Kallie's birthday....send her some happy birthday thoughts and love! 

With Mardi Gras right around the corner (or maybe it's already happened...I can't for the life of me understand Mardi Gras) this is a perfect way to feel like you are up in the action.  Or maybe you don't want to be up in the action and you just like gumbo.  Either way, this one is for you. 

Quick Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
adapted from WW Online

cooking spray
2 boneless skinless chicken breast, uncooked, cut into 1 inch pieces
7 oz of smoked turkey sausage, sliced into 1 inch pieces (I use the Butterball smoked turkey dinner sausage...half of the package is 7 oz.)
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
10 oz frozen gumbo style vegetables
1 tbl all purpose flour
1 cup canned chicken broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Toss chicken and sausage with Cajun seasoning.  Heat a pot that's been coated with cooking spray over medium high heat.  Add chicken and sausage, brown, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. 

Stir in frozen vegetables and garlic.  Saute until vegetables are thawed, about five minutes. 

Sprinkle mixture with flour, cook for about 1 minute.  Stir in chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits that are in the bottom of the pot. 

Stir in crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper; simmer for five minutes.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Serving size 1 1/4 cup (makes about 4)
Points Plus 7


Tuesday Prize

Here I go again with the buying myself prizes of things I've seen on blogs. 

But this one was for a good cause, more of a donation I feel like it.  I'm sure many of you are followers of the Urban Grace Interiors blog...if you're not, you should be.  I'm not even that into interiors and I freaking love it.  Anywho.  Their post today featured this website that sells lovely hand made cards / journals / jazz and then donates the profits to programs working with individuals struggling with addiction.  Being a member of the helping profession, I understand how important this work is.  I also think it's cool that the cards are hand made by individuals in recovery from drug addiction... that's some cool art therapy!

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonias 5:16 - 18

Here're the cards I got.  Verse typed below because of the blurriness of it.  This was the perfect Tuesday prize for myself as I've been looking for some fresh new note cards lately.  Maybe I'll send one to you!

Go get you some....

P.S.  I've edited this post about six times so the flow might be an issue.  Sorry. 

Eat It On the Run (Apricot Breakfast Bars)

Happy Tuesday!  How are you today?  Me, I'm good.  I did put on self tanner this morning and purple eye shadow so I might be having some sort of identity crisis.  We'll see. 

Today I've got a breakfast / snack idea to share with you.  This is a recipe that I found on the WW website and it turned out quite lovely.  The only draw back is that after having it for breakfast I was hungry about an hour later.  For me, it was not a filling enough breakfast to have again.  However, it tasted great, felt very healthy, and would be perfect for your kids school lunch.  It also looks cute paired with a banana.

Apricot Breakfast Bar
adapted from WW Online

1 cup whole grain wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 uncooked quick oats
15 dried apricot halves, diced
2 tbl sunflower seeds
1 tbl butter
1/2 cup fat free egg substitute

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, coat an 8 x 8 inch square pan with cooking spray. 

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, apricots, sunflower seeds.

Melt the butter, combine it with egg substitute. 

Quickly combine the wet and dry ingredients. 

Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smoothing it out and making it even.  This was quite difficult and required a large amount of tongue biting but I eventually made it work. 

Bake for about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before cutting.  Cut into 8 equal pieces. 

Serving size 1 bar
Points plus 5


To Much?

The new blogger heading?  To much?  And is it "too" much? I think it's a little much.  A bit curly.  And floral. And blue. Consider it a work in progress. 

I was getting tired of looking at those soups and was ready for a little something different.  

And now I'm watching Heavy on A & E and it's got me real distracted.    

It's Gettin' Hot in Here (Black Bean, Squash, and Chicken Burrito)

We're talking temperature and heat of the food.  It's not hot, really, actually it's been lovely outside.  It's only been hot inside my house because I refuse to turn the air on.  There'll be plenty of time for that come summer. 

The heat of the food in this dish comes from the pickled jalapenos.  Funny thing about these pickled jalapenos...I got them for a dish a made a bit back and have been surprised at how many times I've used them.  Just FYI. 

This dish was adapted from the Food Network website.  I didn't change to much other than leaving out the avocado salad they had on the side.  It was an avocado and it was a salad.  Go wild with it if you'd like. 

I must admit that I was a bit skiddish to try this.  Just wasn't sure how butternut squash would work in a burrito.  Guess what?  It worked.  At it was lovely. 

Black Bean, Squash, and Chicken Burrito
adapted from Food Network Online

1/2 cup brown rice
2 cloves of garlic, one smashed and one minced
1 cup water
2 cups butternut squash, cut small
2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped
2 tbl pickled jalapeno juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

Heat a medium skillet over high heat.  Add the rice and smashed garlic, saute for about two minutes.  Add 1 cup of water, season with salt and pepper.  Add squash.  Reduce heat, cover, simmer undisturbed for 25 minutes.  Add chicken, recover, remove from heat. 

Meanwhile, make the bean salsa.  Combine the black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, jalapeno juice, minced garlic, and salt and pepper. 

Serving size 1/2 cup of salsa and 1/2 cup of rice (makes five servings)
Points Plus 6

Serve wrapped up in a low point tortilla.  I used a low carb tortilla for 2 points, bringing the grand total of the meal to 8. 


Day Trips and Melted Hearts

There's several things I like about my little town of Greenwood.  Aside from the people, Howard Street, and Webster's sausage and cheese plate, there's also its close proximity to several pretty cool places in our great state.

Just in case you were wondering, and these are approximate, we are an hour from Greenville, an hour and a half from Starkville, Oxford, and Jackson, two hours from Memphis, and a mere five hours from New Orleans.  We are not, however, close to Tupelo.  Because nothing is close to Tupelo.  Tupelo, I'm not hating on you as I really like your morning news and have really missed it since it disappeared from my cable line up a few weeks ago, but you're just hard to get to.

Where was I? Oh yeah.  

So Greenwood's close proximity allows one to choose from several different locations when picking a site for a day trip.  Brandon was off work Saturday so we seized the opportunity to take a little adventure.  We kicked around a few different options and finally decided on Starkville.  This was the choice as (A) there were free basket ball tickets waiting on us and (B) I would be able to spend some time with my fam, including but not limited to the Baby Girl A.  Who is not such a baby girl anymore.  

We started off the day watching the MSU vs Ole Miss basket ball game.  At the top of the Hump, no less.  

I had a large time, doing my state cheers with the rest of the fans.  Brandon, who is an Ole Miss fan, was spotted out of the corner of my eye quietly clapping when they would score.  I told him that he was probably safe from getting jumped and he could cheer if he wanted to.  He got a little louder and things were fine.  MS State fans are a kind people.

The game wasn't to crowded so we were able to leave our perch and join my mom and sister at sea level.  Turns out, I can now add heights to the list of things that trigger my anxiety.  This is only an important part of our day as it allowed us to witness to my mom jumping up and down and squealing with cuteness when they did the "kiss camera."  She was also the first one on her feet when it was time to do a group cheer.  Precious, I tell you.  

We left the Hump and made a few stops around town, eventually landing at Jen's house to do some serious hanging out.  I also had an important delivery to make, a spring dress made from this pattern.  Since it was such good weather outside, we just decided to try it on in the driveway.

She loves a bracelet.  Also, a very meticulous toddler. 

Cue melting heart. And big 'ole grins.  And blurry pictures.

We rounded out the afternoon by reading some books and testing out pig tails.  Bless her, she's got the fine hair.  But how freaking cute is this?  

It was only a matter of time before one pigtail came out and was replaced with a bow.  The other one was left in because, well, why not?  She retired to her chair and read some books.  And then passed some books out to us.  And then took them away.  And then gave them back.  And then had a mini melt down when Brandon read Go Dog Go. And then decided that she liked him and blew him a two handed kiss.  And again, my heart was melted. 

Hot, adorable, mess.  What could be a better way to end this afternoon?  A little sushi for supper.  I'm sure you city folk are thinking "why is this a big deal?"  Because while we Greenwoodians can get to lots of cool places in under two hours, we sure as heck can't a good sushi roll.  

Cue the Umi.  And the tummy ache from over eating.  

It was a good day.            


A Few On Friday

Kick your feet up, it's time for another thrilling installment of A Few On Friday. 

Anybody want to buy me this dress?  Awesome.  I'll take it.  It just looks all easy and perfect for spring.  And it looks like it would be OK if it slipped from a coat hanger and hung out all crumbled in the the bottom of the closet floor for a while.   

find it here

You know what else is perfect for spring?  Shades.  Sun shades specifically.  But I'm not asking for shades, Brandon got me this pair of Ray Bans (aka Ray Rays) for Christmas.  I held off on getting nice sunglasses for a while because I knew that I would loose them, sit on them, or somehow pop a lens out of them.  

  I like gettin' cray cray in my Ray Rays.  Find it here.

One of the things that has helped me not destroy my Christmas sunglasses is the massive black case that I received them in.  It goes everywhere with me.  It's quite nostalgic, really, as it reminds me of the Ray Bans case that would forever sit on dad's dashboard.  Memories.  Like the colors of my mind.

Sticking with the topic of spring...what about this weather we've been having in the Delta?  I kind of feel like a mole, coming out of my dark cave for the first time.  Each year I'm surprised at how much better I feel once the weather turns a little nicer.  I'm such a funky little bear in the winter time.  SAD is real, people. 

But there's no need to focus on that. The weather is nicer, the sun is out, I can wear my Ray Rays, prance around in my new Michael Stars dress (see above if you've already forgotten), all while taking my laptop outside and catching up on my favorite blogs via Google Reader. 

What is Google Reader you ask?  It's reason number 548 that you should have a GMail account.  If you already have a gmail account, look in the top left corner of your gmail page and click on the word "reader."  If you are a follower of blogs using your gmail account, all of the blogs that you follow should automatically be there.  You can click on "all items" and it will show you a list of all of the blogs / websites that you follow / subscribe too.  You can check everything out while staying on one page, not having to click all over the world wide web.  And it's not just for blogs.  You can do wordpress, tumblr, or any other website that has regularly updated content.

I got a little subscribing crazy and took full advantage of the "add a subscription" tab, ensuring that I'll never miss an update from the blogs that I love, as well as don't want to forget about.  If you want to add my blog, or another blogspot blog to your reader simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose "subscribe to post" and follow the directions.  You could also become a follower if you wanted.  Whatever. 

Hold on, my phones ringing.  I think it's google wanting me to come be one of their tech writers.

I feel like this post doesn't have enough color in it so here are some pictures of things that are bright. 

Been into the fresh flowers this week.

find it here

This dress would also be just fine if it fell from a hanger and spent some time on the closet floor.

find it here

How's THIS for a pop of color?  Hello, blue shoe.

find it here.

Thanks for stopping in...happy Friday! 


Flashback Birthday Pictures and Cheesy Eggplant Bake

Today is a good day.  Why you ask?  Because it's Win's birthday!  I wish I could be with her to celebrate her special day.  However, she might drive from New Orleans and kill me for posting this picture.  At least then we'd get to hang out.  Hopefully she wont kill me.  Hopefully she'll think its just as awesome as I do!

Me and Win at my Roller World birthday party, circa 1986? 1987?  Mom?

What about all the bows in that picture?  My white bow probably fell out of my head 17 times during the birthday party, especially when I would find myself furiously skating away from Darth Vador (I've always been a little on the skiddish side.)  Win choose to dress appropriately for roller skating and hot summer weather in a simple yet edgy PacSun sleeveless top.  Or was that a tank?  The pink bows, I would imagine, were all Mrs. Ellen's idea. 

Happy Birthday to you Win! I am so very grateful for the friendship that we've had for all of these years!!! 

And now, onto today's recipe.  It's on a took from Cheap Healthy Good and it was definitely cheap, healthy, and good.  I did, however, make the mistake of not starting this dish until 8 o'clock.  It turned out to be slightly more labor intensive than I had imagined and I did not eat until 945.  I almost passed out from hunger.  Another thing?  It's kind of hard to peel an eggplant so just be aware. 

Cheesy Eggplant Bake
adapted from Cheap Healthy Good  

1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tbl garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 tbl olive oil, divided
1 green bell pepper
1 medium onion
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
6 oz part skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with salt.  Let it hang out, undisturbed, for about 30 minutes.  I took this time to load and unload my dishwasher, but you could use it for whatever.

Meanwhile, chop up bell pepper, onions, mushrooms.  Set aside. 

In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, garlic salt, and pepper.  In another shallow dish, whisk together eggs and egg whites.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.

Once the egg plant is done sitting, rinse it off with cold water and dry it with some paper towels.  

Take the egg plant, dip it in egg, then breadcrumbs, then put it into a large skillet that has been oiled with 1/2 tbl of olive oil.  Cook all of the eggplant in batches, about two minutes on each side, or until it is browned.  Place cooked eggplant into a baking dish. 

Wipe the pan out, spray with cooking spray.  Add chopped vegetables, cook for about five minutes.  Pour vegetables atop egg plant.  Pour stewed tomatoes atop vegetables.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  

Remove from oven, remove foil, cover with cheese, bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly brown.  

Divide into six equal pieces.  

Serving size 1 piece
Points plus 8  


More Lunch at My Desk

Here's a real Captain Obvious lunch side idea, but one that I didn't figure out until just this week.  This is good for those of you who, like me, realize that sometimes you can't think of the last time you had something green.

This past Sunday, when everyone was preparing to leave Belzoni, Win was going through the fridge passing out the leftovers.  I was FORCED to take home a piece of strawberry cake and a mini loaf of chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  FORCED, i tell you.  I was also given a big of spring mix lettuce.  This confused me but Win appeared to have a plans as she said, "Here Laura Merrill, you'll eat this."  

Monday morning before work it dawned on me.  Heck yeah!  Salad with nothing on it but zesty fat free italian dressing would be amazing!  

Amazing might be a bit of a stretch.  But easy?  Yes.  Made me feel more satisfied?  Yes.  Gave me something green?  Yes.  Worth 0 points?  Heck yes.  

So there you have it. This lettuce with 2 tbl of Zesty Fat Free Italian dressing was 0 points, the turkey and cheese sandwich was 4 points, and the diet shasta cola was 0 points. 

I'm armed with grapes for later.  Unstoppable. 

Pork for my Man (Chipotle Pork Tenders)

Brandon is my meat and three sides man.  Well technically he's my only man but you get my point.  I thank him regularly for his patience with my fear of raw meat, as this usually leads to soups and casseroles rather than a meat and three sides.

I decided for Valentines Day, I would really celebrate my favorite guy with a fancy new pork recipe.  It was a hit.  Patting myself on the back as we speak.  And eating a pb and banana sandwich.  For breakfast.  Is that weird?  Only 4 points plus. 

Back to the pork.  This little ditty was found on one of my new favorite blogs, Cheap Healthy Good.  Not only are the recipes cheap, healthy, and good; chick is also funny as all get out.  Check it out, you wont be sorry.  

One thing I am sorry about is this sad little picture.  I really only put the picture up so you could be like "Awwww, that's cute. She tried."  I love how that piece of wheat bread is trying to get in on the VDay dinner action.  And what about that stray green bean that has gone off to be with the pork?  Cute.    

Points lost for unattractive plating.  Laura Merrill, please pack your knives and go. 

But the taste?  It's good stuff.  When I made it, it was so freaking hot that I almost couldn't handle it.  I've just realized, however, that the heat was due to the fact that i misread the recipe and added two tablespoons of adobo sauce instead of two teaspoons.  I hope you don't do the same. 

Chipotle Pork Tenders 
adapted from Cheap Healthy Good

1 lb boneless center cut pork loin roast
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbl fresh cilantro, minced
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
2 tsp adobo sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
cooking spray

Trim all visible fat from pork.  Slice pork into tenders (about 3 x 1 inches each).  

Combine the rest of the ingredients (except for cooking spray) into a large bowl and combine well.  Add pork and toss to coat.  Cover with saran wrap and stick it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, preheat broiler.  Line a baking sheet with foil, coat it with cooking spray.  

Place the pork tenders on the sheet, not touching each other.  Broil about 4 minutes, flip, broil for another four minutes.  Check for doneness.  Holler.

Serving size 1/5 of tenders
Points Plus 4  


Sausage and Peppers and Flowers

For starters, here's your pretty for today. 


I, personally, am not a huge valentines person OR flowers person.  However, nothing like coming home from work to find a big vase of beauty sitting on the oven.  And chocolates.  Did I mention there were chocolates? 

I need an entire box of Russel Stovers raspberry cream chocolates.  Stat.  There was only one of those.  And I threatened Brandon within an inch of his life if he ate it.  

Moving on.  

Now that you've had your pretty for today, here's something yummy.  This is a recipe that was adapted from one of my favorites, Deep South Dish.  Same heavenly blog that gave us Charleston Cheese Dip.  Be still my heart.  

This one is quick and easy and was a snap to lighten up. I do believe, however, that next time I will used smoked turkey sausage and season it up rather than the uncooked Italian sausage that I used this time.  Why?  Because those suckers are hard to cut.  I'm sure this will affect the points plus value, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.  

Italian Sausage Onions and Peppers
adapted from Deep South Dish 

1 tsp canola oil
20 oz Italian turkey sausage, sliced (just do your best)
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
2 green bell peppers, seeded cored and sliced
1 1/2 cup light marinara sauce

Heat canola oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add the sausage and the garlic, cook until sausage is browned.  Add the onions, cook until they are softened. 

Add sauce, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes.  Uncover, add the peppers, cook for an additional 10 minutes. 

Serving size 1 cup (makes about 6)
Points plus 7

I bet this would totally rock with crusty french bread.  I mean, heck...I'm surprised I didn't just have a loaf with my serving.  I've eaten everything else in sight lately.  Anyone else having one of those weeks? 

Keep it real.   


Just One More Thing....

Posting fool over here at the Elevator.  This was just to cool not to share. 

find it here 

Hearts and Soups (BBQ Chicken Pizza Soup)

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'd like to spend a minute talking about how much I love BBQ Chicken Pizza.  

Well.  I know that BBQ Chicken Pizza and Valentines Day have nothing to do with each other.  And I really don't have that much to say about it other than I do enjoy a good slice.  And that I made BBQ Chicken Pizza into a soup last week.  And I forgot to take a picture of it, hence the rambling on about BBQ Chicken Pizza.  And the picture of it.

Forgive me, it's Monday.  And I stayed up to late listening to all of the new music I purchased.    

find it hereMmmmmmmmm.

This is a recipe that I found on the website Picky Palate.  Yes, this is the same gal that puts chocolate bars INSIDE of cookies and eats them.  I kind of want to be her.

This soup calls for canned chicken, something that kind of freaked me out.  Then I learned that lots of normal, every day people use canned chicken and none of them are dead yet.  So I figured I'd be ok.

BBQ Chicken Pizza Soup
adapted from Picky Palate

2 tsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbl garlic, minced
11 oz Mexican corn, drained
2 12 oz cans Swanson's chicken, drained
1 1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat large pot over medium heat, add the canola oil.  Once it's hot, add the onions and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic, corn, chicken; stir to combine.  Add broth, BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, garlic salt, cilantro.  

Reduce heat to low, simmer until heated through and ready to serve.  

Serving size 1 cup (makes about 5 servings)
Points plus 8 

And because he's just so cute, here is a picture of my Valentine.  I'm making him something to do with pork for supper tonight...that's my V-Day contribution.    

Happy Valentines Day to all of you! 


My Grammy Recap....Because I Know You're Curious

If anyone was sitting around their house tonight wondering "I wonder what Laura Merrill thought about tonight's Grammys" you're in luck.  Here you go. 

I'm not sure if it's because I'm was being real lazy and tired, or because there was nothing else on TV, or if it's because I'm just in a different place in my life; but this year I got real into the Grammys.  It's been a while since I've given them much attention because I just assumed that my music taste was much more superior to that of the Grammys. 

Bahahahahahahah!  I can't even keep a straight face when I type that.  I'm a huge fan of Jessie McCartney.  Yeah, I said it.  It feels good to get that out.  Through being cool. 

I was raised in a home where music was very present.  My dad had very set opinions about music, including why Steely Dan was the man (were the men, sorry I just couldn't pass up that chance to rhyme) and why the Grateful Dead just needed to stop. He would also play air base during Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me All."  Good stuff.  

Here's an example of one of our many music conversations.

Me, in my heady stage:  The Grateful Dead is soooooo cool dad.  I mean gah, let's listen to Aoxomoxoa 

Dad, not impressed by my heady stage:  Laura Merrill.  They can't sing.  At all.  Just listen. 

There were lots of conversations that went like this.  And I do love Aoxomoxoa.  But more than that, I appreciate being raised to love and cherish and get really excited about music.  Whether it's Paul Simon or Phish, Ani Difranco or the Wicked Soundtrack, there's something about an album / song that you could listen to on repeat while smiling and getting that feeling that all is right with the world. 

Now aren't you curious to know what I thought about the Grammys?  Thought so. 

Aretha Franklin's tribute?  I cried.  CRIED.  Christina A has the most amazing range, J Hudd is a weight watchin' hottie, Martina McBride makes me want to sing karaoke. And Florence?  Oh Florence and Your Machine.  I still love you. 

find it here

Lady Gaga?  And her egg?  That was pretty intense.  I gotta give it to Gaga.  She's got an amazing voice and is not afraid to be her own bird.  I'm extremely intrigued by her AND her ability to walk in 8 inch heels.  Probably not going to change the station when her new single, "Born this Way" comes on.  

And that adorable adorable Miranda Lambert.  Thanks to sister Chickey I've become more familiar with her through a few well made country music mixes.  My current favorite Miranda song.

Speaking of getting your country music fix...I was way impressed with John Mayer, Nora Jones, and Keith Urban's version of Jolene. 

My favorite person dressed as a peacock was for sure Cee-Lo Green.  I just grinned the whole time he was preforming. 

  find it here

Katy Perry.  I think you did a good job but I've just about had enough of you and your Teenage Dream.  You have a rockin' voice though, and for that I'm giving you a roof raise. 

Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons and Bob Dylan.  Good job guys.  Make that GREAT job.  I was familiar with your work from the XMU but promptly purchased both of your latest releases from the iTunes.  And yes, I still have my same iPod from 2005. I must say though, the fact that you played Maggie's Farm a bit differently than I'm used to belting it out in my car made it difficult for me to sing along but that's ok.  It's not always about me.  

Love you Arcade Fire.  I do find it interesting that I've liked this group for a while but had absolutely no idea what they looked like / how many people were in the band / that you had not one but two female members.  Or is it three? Well played, my friends.  I am obviously not your most observant fan.  And I bet Barbra Streisand didn't quite know what to do with ya'll when you won.  Congrats on that by the way.   

I wonder why I am talking directly to the performers instead of just about them?  Oh yeah, because I'm tired.

Eminem.  You are so intense.  I'm glad that you and Dre made up.  At least on TV.

Great performance Mick.  You are just classic.  Did you notice how everyone was up on their feet shaking their groove things during his tribute?  Shoot.  I would have gotten up and danced had my couch not been so comfortable.  And this is coming from someone who just doesn't, and I apologize in advance, get that fired up about the Rolling Stones.  I respect them, of course, but just don't get that fired up about them.  But again, great job Mick.

What else?  I mean besides the fact that I choose to write this post instead of put my sheets in the dryer and I'll NEVER get to sleep tonight. 

I enjoyed them.  I hope you enjoyed them.  Or enjoyed whatever you did if you didn't watch them or enjoy them.  

Keep rockin', kids.           

Vacationing in Belzoni (Charleston Cheese Dip)

I spent a rejuvenating weekend in the quaint community of Belzoni, MS.  It was a wonderful opportunity to eat lots of food, laugh until you snort, and most importantly...celebrate Win's birthday.  While I got ZERO pictures while I was there, I did score these lovely flowers to bring home with me. 

A nice addition to a beautiful day.  I guess that this beautiful day means I need to go walking. 

Actually, I need to go walking because of all of the cream cheese that was consumed this weekend.  My contribution was a dip that I tried from the food blog Deep South Dish.  You should make it for your next gathering.

Charleston Cheese Dip
from Deep South Dish

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 block of cream cheese, softened
2 tbl chopped pickled jalapenos
1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterrey jack cheese
1 tbl butter, melted
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup of chopped bacon

Combine mayo, cream cheese, Cajun seasoning.   Add jalapenos, green onions, cheeses.  Blend well.  Spread into a baking dish.

Toss panko break crumbs with melted butter.  Sprinkle panko over the dip.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly and panko is browned. 

Serve with fritos and / or celery.  

This is not anywhere close to being weight watchers.  


A Few on Friday

I don't know about you but I like the "Few on Friday" posts and have decided to attempt to make them a weekly thing.  I should have recipes soon, the snow day has thrown me for quite the loop. 

I've been thinking about decorating lately.  This is only interesting because this is not something that I usually think about.  I'm one of those "oh it's fine how it is" people and usually don't get fired up about fabric unless it's something being made for the baby girl. 

My rental house is very small.  Because of this I would like to do something with, um, three out of the four rooms.  In an attempt to partialize this lofty goal, I've decided to start with my guest bed room / sewing room.  As it serves so many purposes, it's kind of a tough room to work with.  Did I mention that the room is dark wood paneling?   

find it here

My comforter is white, the walls are wood, there's a navy boyfriend pillow that I just can't let go of, so I'm thinking that the pillows should have some green.  I do like this print, though.  The search for fabric is on.  Like donky kong.  

What about this one? It's Ty Pennington. 

find it here 

Or maybe this one.  Also Ty Pennington.  I guess I'm having a big 'ole fabric crush on Ty.  I'll call him TyTy. Baby.  TyTy Baby.   

Find it here

Michael Cera is freaking adorable.

Brandon and I watched Youth in Revolt yesterday.  I thought it was good.  Just be warned.  It's got some adult content.  

I've lost my mascara.  I'm not sure how I lost it, alls I know is that it's gone.  Thank goodness I have an extra tube of Maybelene Great Lash (in blue, thankyouverymuch) floating around my makeup bag for emergencies.  

To every time there is a season and I feel like my season for blue mascara has passed.  But what to get next?  So many choices for mascara.

There's this one for when you want to be scandalous, yet fairy like at the same time. 

 Fairydrops Scandle Queen Mascara. Find it here.

Some for when you really want to break the bank.

Talika Lipocils Expert.  Find it here.  For 40$. 

Or there's always just a basic.  Like the one that I lost. 

Find it here. 

Your suggestions are appreciated. 

Your claps are also appreciated to help in celebrating my sister Chickey's total smarts when it comes to over the counter medication.  She took a test today, the day after a snow day mind you, and scored a near perfect 97.  

I didn't even wash my hair yesterday, much less study for anything. 

Here is some of the stuff that she learned, taken from our gchat conversation...

Do not take over 4 grams (4000 mg) of tylenol in a day. it is a complete myth having damp hair in cold weather will get you sick, and all that other stuff. Nursing home patients must have a drug regimen review by a consultant pharmacist at least once a month. Lethal dose of codeine is 0.5 to 1 grams, depending on body weight. You need to check h and h within 30 days of starting iron meds.
Good stuff, huh?  She so smart.  

In closing, and in the spirit of the upcoming Mardi Gras season, click here for a recipe for a WW friendly king cake.  And thanks, Callie, for the awesome suggestion!  You the best! 

And don't hold your breath waiting for my review of this one.  While I L-O-V-E king cake, I D-O N-O-T love recipes that have difficult listed on the level of difficulty section.  Someone make it then send me a piece.  

Have a fun weekend.....something tells me I'm going to!