Saturday, January 31, 2009

Guest Photographer

Megan sent me a picture of her breakfast this morning. Megan is working with a personal trainer who has her working out intensely (BEFORE she goes to work in the morning) and eating low fat, low carb, high fiber, low calorie, and whatever else he feels like....the tyrant that he is! I do know that she is eating a LOT of veg and fruit these days.

Don't these strawberries look good?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Alice Springs Chicken (kind of)

We've determined during all this dieting biz that the majority of our carbs need to be eaten before dinner. Seems like when we eat them at night -- even if they are whole wheat/high fiber -- we either gain or stay the same weight.

So with that in mind I made my version of Alice Springs Chicken. This is an Outback dish that I'm not even sure is on the menu these days. I would never order it there though because how could you go there and not get a slab of beef. Seriously.

Alice Springs-Like Chicken

4 Chicken breasts - around 4 ounces - pounded out to even thickness
12 slices of bacon - pepper bacon if you have it
Honey Mustard
Cheddar Cheese

Smear honey-mustard on both side of the chicken. Put it to the side. Cook your bacon and leave the grease in the pan. But I use low fat bacon so there is not that much grease. If you use regular bacon take some (if you must) out. Cook the chicken until done. Top each piece of chicken with 3 slices of bacon. Top with cheese. Cover with foil until the cheese is melted. Serve with a bit of honey mustard on the side.

Superbowl Sunday

My menu for the Cardinal's victory on Sunday is --
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Cheese, Meat (Hickory Farms), Veggie Tray
  • Crustless Mini Sandwiches
  • Crab Melts
and maybe (because I really want them....but, depends on how lazy I get)
  • Crab Rangoon
I met Kurt Warner once. My friend Mary and I were at the Press Party when Tampa hosted the last time (2001?). We actually crashed the party because the person who was supposed to sneak us in didn't show while I hid around the corner, Mary (who I still can't believe did this) -- went to the check in desk and was like....Uhhhhhhh, yeah, uhhhhhhh, right, we should be on the list! We're not!?!? Well....we're with King World Productions and you can ask 'mumble, mumble, mumble...' and then she grabbed a couple of badges and took off. Ok. I'm kind of exaggerating that last part but we got in due to her making up some name of the person authorizing our attendance and they said ok.

And while I'm confessing -- we didn't really meet Kurt Warner but he was there and we were there so it was dang close! Along with Dante Culpepper, Stone Cold Steve Austin and lots of other sport celebrities that I can't remember because it's been at least 8 years!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Sunday Comfort Food

I love making a roast chicken on Sundays. I do it one of two ways....either low and slow - and the result is like the roasted chickens you get at the grocery store. Here is the recipe I use --

Roasted Chicken

2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper1
Whole chicken
1 c. chopped onion

In a small bowl, mix all seasonings. Drizzle some olive oil on the chicken. Rub mixture into chicken - inside and out - patting mixture into skin. Stuff cavity with onions. Scatter some carrots and onions around the chicken. Roast uncovered at 250 degrees for about 5 hours, basting occasionally with pan juices until chicken is golden brown. This is a very moist chicken. Check your thigh (not yours, the chicken's) to see if the temp is 180 degrees.

I've made a big batch of the seasoning and keep it in a jar in my cupboard. I use it for other things although for the life of me I can't think of single thing right now.

Today, though, the damn chicken wouldn't thaw. So I used my other method.

Basic Roasted Chicken

Whole chicken
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper (actually today I used lemon pepper)
1 onion

You got it....drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season with WHATEVER. Really. Sometimes I use Lawry Season Salt. I don't EVER use garlic burns. Again, scatter some veg around the chicken. Tonight I used butternut squash with wedges of onion. It was yummy.

Roast at 425 degrees for about an hour and half. But I check at an hour fifteen with the thermometer because I don't want the white meat to dry out so as soon as that dark meat is done...or even almost done, I'm whipping it out of the oven. Let it rest for about 15 minutes to let it finish cooking and it's also easier to slice.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Perfect Diet Dinner

I love Kabobs. I think it's all very handy -- everything cooks together in one little package. I once even made a 'kabob bar' if you will for Mother's Day. When the guests arrived, they got a list of ingredients on a slip of paper. They put their name on the paper and then chose the meat and veggies that they wanted on their individual kabobs. My preferred side would be a flavored rice or couscous but since we're watching the carbs I steamed three broccoli crowns.

Beef (I used a sirloin)
2 small tomatoes (or some cherry tomatoes)
1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges and separated somewhat
14 medium mushrooms, left whole

I cut the sirloin up into 1" cubes and marinaded them in Wish Bones Bountifuls dressing that Mary sent me from Las Vegas (from where she works). I ended up with 12 ounces of beef.

Soak your wooden skewers in water for a good while (I'm just saying this because it's the right thing to say. I never do this. It seems that they burn no matter what!)

Now....I microwave my veggies for about 3 minutes before skewering them with the meat. This way, the meat and the veg get done at the same time. I alternate the items going on the skewer, starting with a cube of beef and ending with a cube of beef (I put three cubes of beef on each skewer). So....beef, onion, mushroom, tomato, beef, onion, mushroom, tomato, beef. When finished with the six skewers I take the rest of the marinade and brush it over all the veggies and then salt and pepper the entire lot.

Now by this time your grill is screamin' hot. Oh...did I mention turning on the grill? If you didn't, do it now and get yourself a glass of wine. When the wine is gone, the grill is probably hot enough.

How long you cook these things is a personal choice. Mine are seared on the outside and then moved to the other side of the grill to cook the veg up a bit more resulting in a nice med-rare center on the beef. I don't lower the lid because I don't want the beef to 'bake.' They cook probably a total of (less than) 10 minutes. So be sure your sides are done before you put these on the grill!

Try them also with pork, chicken or shrimp! They never disappoint and you get a good portion of your '5 a Day' out of the way!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Moments and Memories

Mark asked me the other night what the best meal I'd ever eaten. I told him that I didn't have ONE favorite meal of all times, but, I had moments or days or events that were favorites in my memory. Were they gourmet meals? No. But they're the events that have helped define my life, my relationships, my weight issues....

Not in any particular order and certainly just a sampling -

1. Potato Puffs at Two Friends in Key West during Mark's and my first trip together.

2. Cold meatloaf sandwich from a deli on Pike Street (Seattle) with my mom. We had a picnic at Chateau Sts. Michele in Seattle and watched a Mary Chapin Carpenter concert.

3. Shrimp Fajitas in Cozumel at Casa Denis with our friends Mary and Dennis.

4. The antipasta platter at Amicci's in Baltimore's Little Italy.

5. Eating dungeness crab with my friend Maureen on the waterfront in Seattle. The best I've ever eaten.

6. NEW YORK PIZZA!! At Big Nicks on Broadway in NYC. Sitting at a sidewalk table.

7. After driving all over Los Angeles looking at the sites, Valerie and I stopped at Gladstones in Malibu late afternoon, got some appetizers, and watched the sunset while sitting on their deck.

8. Sitting in the Italian Restaurant at Snowshoe with Mom and the twins and it began to snow. Through the twinkly lights outside. It was a magical moment for me -- can't even remember what I ate. Oh who are we kidding -- chances are it was spaghetti and meatballs.

9. The smell walking into the Pancake House in Gatlinburg with Mom and Mark -- smelled like my Grandmother's house when I was little. Coffee. Strong, rich coffee intermingling with the smell of pancakes and bacon cooking....OMG!

10. The best salsa and freshly fried tortilla chips I've ever eaten at this motor inn right outside the entrance to the Grand Canyon. I even put it on my eggs the next morning.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gotta Have Me Some Noodles

So we are nearing the end of three weeks of dieting. It has gotten easier -- mentally, but I'll be tell ya -- the hard part is planning the meals (and TRUST ME I get absolutely no help from Mark), figuring the calories, fat, carbs and protein. Then you've got to measure how much all those ingredients made and then divide it into servings.

For instance, tonight I made a Carrabbas Style Pasta. I had to collect all the nutritional values, multiple it by the number of servings (the can of fire-roasted tomatoes was 30 calories per serving; 3.5 servings per can) and then I divided by 4 overall servings. And what's up with the pasta measurements -- a serving is 2 oz dry. What am I supposed to do with that? I had to cook the box and measured it by a cup. Here's my recipe --

Carrabbas Style Pasta

4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Olive Oil
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
5 links of hot turkey italian sausage
6 big basil leaves, cut into confetti strips
1 healthy pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon of sugar
4 cups of cooked spaghetti (I used whole wheat)

Saute (in large skillet) the garlic in olive oil until it smells wonderful. Remove the casing from the sausage and brown in the same pan, breaking it up as it cooks. When all the pink if gone, add the can of tomatoes, crushed red pepper, sugar and salt. Let simmer away for about 15 minutes. Actually I let it simmer until the spaghetti water came to a boil and the spaghetti was cooked and drained. Then stir in the basil.

Measure 4 cups of the spaghetti into the skillet with the tomato/sausage mixture and toss. Top with a bit of parmesan cheese.

I'm not one for making up recipes and having them work...that's my brother's gig. But this was pretty darned good. And...I have two servings leftover. I have to decide it I'm going to give them to Megan when I see her this weekend. Good Mom? Selfish Mom? Good Mom? Selfish Mom?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Photographically Challenged!

You must think I'm not cooking? Well I am but I'm dieting too. So usually by the time dinner is done -- I'm so dadgum hungry I don't even think about taking a picture. Maybe I'll have more control tonight. Afterall, I'm entering week 3 I should be getting used to this, right?

So in the last couple of weeks I've cooked a lot of chicken -- one was called Chicken Picante and I got it from the Biggest Loser Cookbook. You basically take some light cream cheese and smear it on a chicken breast and top with salsa. Bake it covered for 15 minutes, uncover it and put a bit of low-fat cheddar cheese on it and cook it until bubbly and melty. That was really good and it looked kind of pretty too.

I also made a meatloaf and that was very good. I based the recipe on Barefoot Contessa's Turkey Meatloaf. That was really good. For days and days it was really good. Now - not so good. It'll be a while before I'm hungry for meatloaf again. :)

We've eaten a good deal of salad -- chicken caesar salads, southwest chicken salad, plain lettuce salads. We also discovered that there is absolutely nothing you can eat at Sonic and stay within your calorie allowance, BUT, you there are 6 good options at Subway!

Tonight I'm making chicken wings. Teriyaki wings done in the oven. Hopefully I can contain myself long enough to take a picture!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cheesecake Factory

Cheesecake Factory takes a lot of heat from food critics. I don't really know why. It's almost like it's chic to hate Cheesecake Factory. Being on the outside (of chic) looking in most of my life -- gotta say....I love it. I love everything about it. I love how it looks, I love how my water glass is immediately refilled, I love the value for what you get, and I love the diversity of the menu.

I loved, until yesterday, the sliders. They're on the appetizer menu and are amazing. Four mini burgers with fried onion slivers and 'secret sauce.' Yesterday, though, I needed to find an alternative.


Sliders for Lunch + Diet = Nothing To Eat for Dinner That Night Because All Your Calories and Carbs are Used Up YOU FAT PIG!

We literally spent 30 minutes going through the menu and all of our options. Meg and I decided on the Baja Chicken Tacos (hold the rice...extra black beans, please). And Mark got the Wasabi Crusted Ahi Tuna with extra veggies instead of the rice.

I now have a new favorite. I would get the Baja Chicken Tacos even if I wasn't dieting! The homemade guacomole and the avocado cream were delicious. The black beans addicting!

Mark's ahi tuna was good (he says) and was a big piece. We're thinking between 6 and 8 ounces! He insisted on spreading more wasabi on it and we found it very entertaining watching his eyes burn and nose hairs sizzle.