Posted in Food, Recipe

Crock Pot Enchiladas

Mmm… It’s time once again for slow-cooker enchiladas.  The last time  that we made this recipe, it was Jeff and Mike who did the cooking.  This time, it was aaallll me–and it was easy peasy lemon squeezy..

The recipe was probably originally pinned based on this blog entry by The Kitchn: http://www.thekitchn.com/easy-dinner-recipe-slowcooker-127016

I had a little mini crock pot–1.5 quarts, and so I had to cut down the ingredients of the Pinterest Recipe quite a bit–that one served 12!

For our cozy little crock pot, we used:

1/4 yellow onion, diced small
1/4 bell pepper, diced small (any color)
1/2 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded and divided – we like monterey jack
1 16-ounce jars of your favorite salsa
4 6″-8″ tortillas, flour or corn

Our cute little crock pot held 4 enchiladas and it served the two of us “perfectly.”  I say that in air quotes because 1.5 probably would have been enough for me, but I ate the 2nd half because it was too good to pass up 🙂

Even with this reduced recipe, we still had left over filling, but the great news is that it makes awesome salsa.  Bring on the tortilla chips!

Posted in Food, New Food, Recipe

Bacon + Shrimp + Pineapple = Awesome

For dinner this week, Jeff and I are just using up what we have in our freezer.  We happened to have a bag of pre-cooked, washed, de-veined shrimp available that we thought would suit our needs.  The cool thing is that we only had to thaw them out (and rinse them) in order for them to be ready to eat.

I am not much of a sea-food fan, but shrimp has long been the exception.  Still, I wanted to make sure that this would be a meal and not just a tasty snack, so.. what makes everything better? BACON!

We would take half-pieces of bacon and wrap them around the shrimp, dip it in cocktail sauce and revel in the salty-shrimpy goodness.  The pineapple was frozen at the peak of freshness and thawed out for just such an occasion.  I was skeptical of whether or not the fresh-frozen-thawed pineapple would be any good, but it actually maintained it’s textural integrity after thawing in the refrigerator overnight.  It tasted so sweet and was the perfect counter-note to the bacon + Shrimp.  This meal came together in only as long as it took to cook up the bacon 🙂

Posted in Food, Menu Planning, New Food, Recipe

Day 3: Garden Vegetable Tortellini

Garden Vegetable Bake - Raw

“I really liked working with Mike on this one.  He chopped a lot of the vegetables, I chopped the chicken and the peppers… it all just came together, add this, add that… done.  It took about 45 minutes to get everything done, but a lot of it could have probably been done ahead of time… the recipe says that you can just do it all a day or two in advance and just throw it in the oven when it’s ready to cook.”  -Jeff

Since Jeff has more time at home than I do lately, he’s really been stepping up and volunteering in the kitchen.  He mastered the art of slow-cooker Enchiladas* and today he and our room mate Mike tackled the Garden Vegetable Tortellini. For this weeks menu, jump back a couple entries to Menu Monday: Pinterest Edition.  So far, he says that cooking this week has been pretty fun.

*Note about the enchiladas–we added about a pound of lean ground beef and it made about sixteen enchiladas instead of twelve.. but.. I don’t see anyone complaining 😉  We had them for dinner last night (which is why you don’t see a Day 2 Post).

Garden Vegetable Bake

There were no complaints to be found regarding the Garden Vegetable Tortellini, either!  Well.. Jeff complained because I missed a few ingredients on the grocery list… but.. oh well *sheepish grin*

This dish was great.  The roasted tomatoes were perfect and I couldn’t imagine leaving them out.  The mushrooms were kind of lost in the mix, but the pea pods were really good too.  We can’t take much credit for the Tortellini, but it was delicious (we used the Roundy’s brand of cheese stuffed tortellini).  Jeff cut the chicken to 1″ cubes and the rest of the veggies were cut to bite-sized pieces as well.  Jeff cooked the chicken, carrots, peas, etc. before it could be baked in the oven and he did a really great job–they were not over or under-done at all. Both Gloria and I vote for more veggies next time, they were so good.  An idea just popped into my head… this would be awesome with crispy bacon pieces on top.  Like a garnish.  And I’m not talking about bacos.

Even without bacon though…. each of us went back for more.  I’d say there’s about 8 1/2 good-sized servings in this dish.  We nearly finished it off… There’s just enough to compliment lunch tomorrow.

I licked the bowl...

Posted in Food, New Food, Recipe

Day 1: Crock Pot Enchiladas

Nothing a little cheese can't fix...

Jeff made crock pot enchiladas today and the end result was absolutely fabulous.  Seriously, whoever thought of this idea is a genius.  The consistency of the tortillas was chewy in a good way, except for on the back of the crock pot where they got a little scorched.  Fun Fact: I can never remember how to spell scorched.  I always add extra frivolous letters and end up spelling it skortched or schortched or skorched… Maybe it’s because scorched just doesn’t look like the letters are strong enough to make the sounds when we say it outloud… hm… 

Moving on–much like lasagna or brownies, I liked the scorched bits.  I think that the next time we make this (if I make it, that is), I will add more veggies and I will omit the ground beef.  The beef was good, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it added much to the dish aside from being an expected part of the meal.  Jeff slathered this stuff with cheese.  At first, I raised my eyebrows at him (trying to eat healthier, no?) but seriously? Extra cheese was extra good.  And a girl needs her calcium, right???

I give this dish two thumbs up, a clean plate, and a recommendation that you go put this on your menu asap!

NOTE: This made 16 enchiladas.  Unless you have company, you *will* have left-overs.  Plan accordingly.

Posted in Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Recipe, Self-Reflection

Pork and Porky


The obvious answer is that, no, a hammer is not the right tool for the job when it comes to sweet potatoes–Seriously, though, when I first starting working with sweet potatoes, I admit to taking a hammer to the crappy knife I was using.  These days, I have a much nicer knife at my disposal: It’s a Shun Pro Nikiri knife that my roommate splurged for a couple years ago.  It’s not in the budget right now, but I might put that on our wedding registry 🙂 it’s a NICE knife..

Pot Roast with Garlic and Sweet Potatoes

And with it, I made quick work of the potatoes, the onions, the garlic… If I hadn’t been stopping to take pictures, it would have come together in 15 minutes tops. Accidental discovery: I used steel wool to scrub the sweet potatoes and afterwards, it was not necessary to peel them. I loved the amount of time I saved.

This is one of those meals that I kept simple and let the flavors speak for themelves.  Keeping things simple in round 1, makes it easier to re-use the left-overs for round 2.  I put onion and garlic in the bottom of the roaster, put the pork-roast in the middle, and then snuggled the sweet potatoes in beside. I put more minced garlic on top of the pork-roast so that the flavor could run down and mingle with all of the other flavors

Bloggity

So, if you’re here for the food portion of my blog, that’s about it for now. Thanks for stopping by, hitting the subsribe button, following a pin, etc.

Now, on to self reflection!!!

My fiance texted me a picture that he had snapped of me one of these (fairly recent) days. I was aghast! Maybe it was the fuzzy pajama pants, maybe it was foreshortening, maybe it was a harsh reality that I do not want to accept, but all I saw in that picture was just big. Big pink-and-white-fuzzy-pajama swathed me. Fast asleep. Now, I was embarrassed enough to blush and ashamed at how I looked and just wishing I could make the picture go away. But then I took a deep breath, and calmed myself down a bit…. and I texted him back.

Me: So, what do you see when you look at that picture?
Jeff: I took it a few days ago, when you were sleeping 🙂
Me: […] I said what do you see when you LOOK at it?
Jeff: Adorable. Fuzzy Toby [our cat], Fuzzy blankie, fuzzy pants.

And I knew that if we were in person, he would have that loving grin on his face that radiates to me “you’re too stinkin cute!”

That helped me to take a step back and stop looking for all the imperfections in the photo and criticizing how huge my … looked and how I hate xyz. I looked at how peaceful I looked. How I was snuggled with the blanket the way I would’ve snuggled with Jeff had we been sleeping instead of me just napping in the middle of the afternoon. How the cat decided that I had a great idea and nestled into a little fuzzy purr-bucket against the middle of my back. He saw his family, there, not a porky! If only I could learn to see myself through his eyes 100% of the time.

If I delete every photo of me that I think is unflattering, I’m not just hiding evidence of my weight, I’m deleting memories from people who cherish them–myself included. So no, I’m not perfect yet, and yes, I still shrink from the camera-lens some days… but part of my “journey” (so overused..but what other word is there?) is to accept myself for who I am, how I am, every day. Because, little by little, I’m realizing that if I am not happy in life where I am, being skinny will not make me any happier.

Today’s goal is to get 8 hrs of sleep. As long as I shut my eyes within an hour, I should just make it 🙂

And as a bonus feature (if you read this far) here is why the pics of the food are always close-cropped, lol:

Reality
Posted in Food, Life + Living, Recipe

Winter Kabobs

So, I realized something today.

I frequently start my sentences with the word “So.”  Also, I like to begin secondary sentences with the word “also.”  Hopefully this pattern is not nearly as annoying as the “like” phenomena of the 90’s or uptalk.

Moving on!  Saturday was fabulous and I need to shout out to Runa for inviting me, and to Kris and Meredith for really making me feel welcome at the Potluck on Saturday.  Fun-fact:  if the people I met on Saturday really become good friends, they will be the only friends I would have currently that did not originate on the internet. HA! Related item: 3/4 of my bride’s maids are internet-friends-turned-real-life-friends–and the 1 who is not? Is my sister.♥

The Weight Watcher’s meeting on Saturday kind of sucked.  I don’t feel like anything was accomplished.  Sure! “Members of the congregation” accomplished something–66 pounds down for the week for our group–but all we did for the whole meeting was clap for other people’s accomplishments.  I received no external motivation to make good choices this week.  Guess it’s up to me to find some boots with straps so I can pull myself up by them.

Oh! That reminds me… Be right back.

[intermission]

Ahem.  Now that I’m back from sending some love over to krisgetshealthy.com and doing some things to get signed up with the group, it’s back to business around here!

As a student/bride on a budget, I came to a realization today.  Split Chicken Breasts with Ribs cost less than a dollar per pound.  Boneless skinless chicken breasts cost over $3/lb.  for savings like that, I think I can remove the skin and bone myself thank-you-very-much.  It actually wasn’t hard at all.  I using a paring knife to separate the skin and remove the chicken from the bone.  The “finished” product was better than I buy at the grocery store because I had 2 huge breasts cuts of meat and some smaller bits of rib-meat to work with.

All this meat for just $2.40.  If I were to buy the boneless/skinless breasts that we usually get, the same amount would have come to $8.73.  Lesson learned?

Spend the time, save the money.

It’s about this time of year that I usually get a little stir-crazy and convince myself that winter is going to end very very soon and that summer is just around the corner.  That must be what influenced tonight’s meal: Winter Kabobs.

Winter Kabobs

  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (may also use other types of meat such as pork or beef if preferred)
  • Bell Pepper (get a variety of colors, if possible)
  • Onion (I prefer the sweet yellow variety)
  • 1-2 pinches Paula Deen’s “house blend” seasoning [1 cup salt, 1/2 cup pepper, 1/2 cup garlic powder]
  • Cast Iron grilling skillet over medium-high heat, coated with a thin layer of canola oil cooking spray.

Start by chopping up your favorite veggies into 1″ sq pieces.

Funny story: there was supposed to be a green bell pepper included, but I lost it somewhere between the grocery store and my kitchen.  Whoops! 

Next, prep your chicken and cut that into 1″ cubes.

Now, I’m not sure about your skillet, but mine is too small for skewers and so for Winter Kabobs, I just alternated the ingredients as if they were on skewers, making sure that each piece of chicken was flanked by a pepper and onion.  I sprinkled a little bit of the seasonings around the pan and just let them grill up for a while.

Tip: If you are using a cast iron skillet as I am here, be sure to use your exhaust fan and/or crack a window.

While I let these start to cook up, I took the opportunity to unload the dish-washer.  By the time I was done, they were ready to be flipped.  It should only take about 15-20 minutes, but be careful to make sure your meat is cooked through.

Serve hot with a side-salad topped with blueberries and pretend it isn’t freezing outside 🙂

Posted in Food, Recipe, Wedding Planning

You had me at spoon…

Today was an eventful day after work!  Earlier, Jeff and I had gone to a “meet-and-mingle” for Adagio DJay Entertainment (sic) and decided that we really liked their program and their specials.  Since I liked them when I saw them at the fair, liked their promo materials, liked the meet and greet etc, Jeff and I decided to book them.

We’re kind of putting the cart before the horse here, because we have now booked our wedding DJ before we have found our venue or bought rings.  Hah! I’m not worried about it, though, because we’ve always been an unconventional couple.  I guess this is just par for the course.

Afterwards, we decided that ice cream was in order.  By the time we got to DQ, it was 5 minutes before closing and the shop-girl was mopping the floor.  We kind of looked at each other and decided that she would hate us and we would kind of hate us if we made them serve us ice cream 5 minutes before closing when most of the cleaning is already done.

|Sidebar: I LOVE living in a place where 35°F is considered warm enough to go out for ice cream.  And that DQ agrees and has their place open for business until 9pm.|

We decided to frequent our local gas station’s freezer section instead and picked up a couple pints of Kemps Ice Cream.  As we were walking up to our apartment I said to Jeff “I have an idea, how about I spoon you some ice cream…” and he replied “you had me at spoon.”

See? Portion control is romantic 😉

Other than that, my day was pretty crazy.  I’ve got about 5 miles in so far between the treadmill work-station and running back and forth between departments getting things done.  Yesterday I did so much ‘running’ (walking briskly) back and forth that today I went casual and wore my cross trainers so I could do it faster.  Saves at least 30 seconds compared to walking in heels–even modest ones…

But I digress 🙂

Last night’s Ziti dish turned out fabulous!

The recipe calls for ziti, crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, spinach, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella.  It comes out tasting like Lasagna.  I would love to post pics of this recipe in-process, but Mike (aka Mr. Roomie) and Jeff made dinner while I was working out last night.  But, it’s completely awesome, so go visit the original site at skinnytaste.com

Posted in College, Food, Recipe, Weight Watchers

Menu Monday

Super Saturday was gone before I knew it.  I had accidentally forgotten to turn on the alarm.  I felt happy and content and as if I were waking up BEFORE the alarm.  I was so proud of myself and happy that I didn’t have to have a sleep cycle interrupted.  Then the numbers on the clock came into sharper focus and I realized that it was 8:01.

[explective]

At first I rushed around like a mad person saying that if I just move fast enough, they’re only 10 minutes away, I can make it! But, alas, I needed to get my zumba gear together, I needed to pack a lunch and snacks, and where are my indoor shoes? Where’s my water bottle?  shoot, shoot, shoot!

8:35am.  Drat!  Missed the WW Meeting.  WELL! If I leave RIGHT. NOW. I can still make it to zumba!  More rushing around, then my car was covered in ice.  8:45am. FFFFFFF!!! (sprung a leak there…)

Too late for Zumba.. Now what?

*SIGH* I went to school instead.  I headed to the library and tried to study.  And by “study” I mean that I read a page or two in my business book, learned how to print off the notes I needed for my English class, fell asleep a couple times, wandered around campus, and then decided to talk to my Professor before class regarding topic approval for my essay.

Class went well that day, and the time flew by.  I never did pack that lunch, but I had acquired low fat Wheat Thins at some point and noshed on those during the break.  Afterwards, I met up with my friend Shannon for some great Vietnamese food and conversation.  We chatted about wedding planning (for me), baby shower planning (for our friend April), and the plan to stay at the status quo (for her).  It was a good time 🙂

After school and lunch it was already 4pm.  The roomies ate dinner and I did not, but I made a nifty menu for the week:

Sunday: Lime Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice
Monday: […er… I procrastinated and stayed at work, so this one is on the roomies to figure out]
Tuesday: Baked Ziti with Spinach
Wednesday: White Bean Chicken Chili (Slow Cooker Recipe!)
Thursday: Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: (free for all)

So yeah… Making that list made me realize that I’m hungry and I should probably go cook some dinner.  🙂

Did you make a menu for the week? Post a link and I’ll check it out!

Posted in Fitness, Food, Recipe, Strength Training, Uncategorized, Weight Watchers

Banana Bread Muffins

Today is one of those days where work was crazy.  I was practically sprinting to the gym after work this afternoon to blow off the stress of the day.  I warmed up with a Cumbia routine using Zumba for the Wii.  I quickly discovered that the expert level on the Wii is nothing compared to the Zumba classes that I go to.  Hehe… I have moves!

Once warmed up, I made it through my Phase 2 workout without any troubles.  Well, without any REAL troubles.  It’s been about a week since I’ve done strength training and so I had to scale the weight back on the deadlift-rows and the flies.  I rocked out when it came to the squats and the walking lunges, though.  Feel the burn!  I am loving this work out so far.

When I got home, dinner was not as expected and so Jeff and I made the executive decision to go to Wendy’s for dinner.  That may not sound like the smartest choice ever, but the alternatives were cereal (unappealing) or Pineda Taco (cannot even be disguised as healthy).  I ordered a 1/2 salad and a small fry and called it good.  Dinner was 11 points and I’ve used 40/35 today.  I earned 10 points with my work-out, though, so I’m still satisfied. I need to learn to track BEFORE I eat to make sure that I’m staying on plan.

Sometimes life gets the best of you though, and you forget to eat the good foods you bought.  Perhaps you spotted the brown bananas on my counter in the last entry?  Rather than throw them out, I rolled up my sleeves and made banana bread. … muffins.

The original recipe is pretty straight-forward, but I wanted to try my hand at healthifying it.  I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the flour called for.  I reduced the oil by 1/3 of a cup.  I cut the sugar in half.

Banana Bread Muffins

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil –> Make it even healthier by using apple sauce
2 eggs
3 bananas – Very Ripe
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose (white) flour

Mix ingredients together, taking care to mash up the banana.  Pour into a greased loaf pan or greased muffin tins (note: I used high-yeild canola oil spray).  Bake at 350° F for about half an hour (note: muffins bake faster so keep an eye on them.  These took about 17 minutes).  Test a banana bread loaf with a butter knife or test muffins with a toothpick–it should come out clean.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen muffins.  [3 points per muffin on Weight Watchers Points Plus]

Posted in Life + Living, Recipe

Semi-Home-Made Pizza Night

Points: 48/35 36 Weekly Points Left.


Start with one “SINGLE SIZE” pizza and then add fresh toppings like green pepper, mushroom, onion, jalepeño, tomato, bacon etc.  Bake according to directions and enjoy a custom treat for the perfect serving size!

Note: Also can be done with salads…

So yes.  Tonight was make-your-own pizza night.  The roommates invited a mutual friend over to hang out and play games and so Mike picked these individual pizza’s up at the grocery store, 5 for $5.  DEAL!  The sticker says 4 for $5, which is still a good deal, but when he saw that they were discounted even more, he couldn’t resist.  He used the money that he saved on fresh ingredients to dress up the pizza like bell peppers, mushroom etc.   For dinner, we each topped the pizza with a selection of fresh ingredients and baked them up for about 12 minutes each and then enjoyed a helluva good ‘zza. It was fun to have all five of us get hands-on to make our own pizza’s and to see what your friends like on their pizza.  Jeff and Mike went for the bacon and jalepeños, Mike and Kaitlyn went for the Cayenne Pepper and Ranch Dressing for dipping, Gloria and I kept things pretty tame with just the fresh veggies.  I also paired mine with a salad to try to meet my veggie quota for the day. You should definitely try this for your next get together.  It was a lot of fun.

Earlier this afternoon, Jeff and I went apartment hunting.  We have a few things to figure out before April, but it basically boils down to windows and temperature control.  Option A has single-pane windows, wall-mounted A/C and baseboard heaters.  Option B has double-pane windows and central heating and air conditioning.  This is the biggest difference between the two places..otherwise they are similar in location, square footage and rent.  Option A has laundry in-unit, Option B has laundry facilities on all floors.  Option A has more storage than Option B.  Option A is closer to work and has easy access to walking paths and has an impressive fitness center.  Option B is closer to mom’s house and across the street from a truffle shop.

So far we’re leaning towards Option A.  Given the options, what would you choose?  Is central air worth giving up easy access to exercise?