Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More than a year?

I just looked at the date of my last blog post...and it was in May of 2012.  Which means that it has been nearly 14 months since I've posted?  What in the world have I been doing??  I mean, besides sending a kid off to kindergarten, a few hospital visits here and there, graduating college (freaking finally! Gah!), and...oh yeah.  QUITTING MY JOB and starting my own business.  I guess there have been a few things here and there that *may* have contributed to my overall lack of personal food blogging.

So, what's changed in a year, besides what's listed above?  Nothing, and everything.  How is that for an answer?  

So, let me catch you up.  Last summer was pretty uneventful as far as major life events go.  The kids played a little t-ball that one of my BFF's and I volunteered to coach (meaning...we volunteered our husbands and spent the rest of the time in the dugout wondering why we get ourselves mixed up in these things).  Kindergarten started for the oldest Ericson kid, Miss Tayler.  Gavin entered his last year of preschool, and turned 5, which means that I officially no longer have babies in the house.  Do I ever wish for another one?  Sometimes...but then sometimes, like this weekend, I have four REALLY GOOD kids in my house at one time...and no.  Hell no.  I'm good with two and the self-sufficiency that they are starting to bring to the table. 

So, long story short....Kindergarten starts off well.   Adjustments seem to be happening, all is hunky-dory...and then I get a phone call that changed the rest of the year.  My kid got sick at school.  I know, I know, what's the big deal, right?   Every kid does.  I still remember one of my best friends from grade school yakking all over me at the lunch table.  It happens.

But then it started happening Every. Single. Day.

Now, as a parent...there is nothing in the world that leaves you feeling more helpless than when you can't "fix" your child.  Doctors were consulted.  Play psychologists were involved.  I had more meetings/talks with the principal and/or faculty than I ever hoped to have...not just for one year, but for their entire school career.   I won't go into specifics, but suffice it to say, everyone was frustrated, and I watched my happy-go-lucky, sweet, outgoing little girl turn into a timid, scared, shell-of-her former-self girl.  It was, to say the VERY least, heartbreaking.  Also?  Scary.  Traumatic. Infuriating. The list goes on and on.  And those were just my feelings.  I can't imagine what her six-year old heart felt every day. 

So, for the sake of brevity, it goes like this:  Gluten blood panel ordered.  Positive.  Next step would be?  Endoscopy with biopsy of the intestines.  Here's where we drew the line.  We didn't want to put her through a test (mostly, I didn't want her knocked out), where ultimately, the outcome would be the same even if she did come back positive.  We would have to go Gluten Free.  There's not a medicine that fixes it. 

We decided that we would do this as a family.  If Tae couldn't have wheat, we wouldn't, either.

She's done SO much better than we have.  Every thing she eats, she asks about the gluten content.  She's excited when we find some of her favorite standbys (Thank you Annie's GF mac and cheese) are an acceptable substitute.  I ordered GF flours, Bisquick, Pasta, goody mixes (of the chocolate chip cookie, brownie, and cupcake variety). 

The results?  She doesn't have to get up to use the restroom every meal.  Bathroom visits are more pleasant.  I don't have to spend hours at night rubbing her belly because it hurts.  In short, it seems to be working.  She seems happier, too.  I hope that when she goes back to school this fall, this last year is a thing of the past.  If we never mention it again, it will be too soon.

We're starting to emerge from the shock of changing everything over.  When we  implemented this, I went through my pantry, and put everything that had wheat in it in a bag to give away.  I've never seen a panty look so empty afterward.

We're making it.  I seriously love to cook, and this has forced me to get back to cooking for my family.  Funny how things work out, you know?  I left my job in May to pursue my dream of running my own business (from home), but it's given me SO much more time with my kids...and it gives me the opportunity to make these changes without throwing everyone in to the six o'clock (alright, 7 or 8 o'clock.) dinner panic.   So, this blog is about to take on a new theme...I mean, it's still better from home.  But, now it's better from a gluten-free home. 

Oh, did I mention the weight I've gained in the last year from the sheer amount of stress??  Because, that's what I do.  Stress, then eat (and drink wine).  Stress, then eat (and drink wine).

We'll be tacking that big ol' elephant in the room too. (no pun intended...ish.)

So, here are some of my "We're all in this thing now" recipes from yesterday and last night.  I can't wait to keep exploring!! 

First up:  Scrambled eggs with a little cheddar cheese, and some green onions (ok, so the kids didn't eat the green onions.  But they should have, because they were delish.)  Also, we *may* not have gotten up and around until 9:30, and ate eggs at 11.  I'm just saying this is a possibility of why we didn't actually eat lunch...

For snack, we had some hummus that I made, and some bananas.  I found a recipe that I've tweaked a bit to make my own that's pretty dang good...and it never lasts more than a day in this house.  Seriously.  Every time I make this, I think "Holy Cow that's a lot of hummus", and by the same time the next day, I'm lucky if I get a scrape off the bottom.  I've also found the it's a GREAT way to get these kids to eat some fresh veggies.

And now, the dinner beast.   One of my favorite things to eat/make is pork shoulder/butt recipes, because a.) it's super versatile b.) it doesn't dry out as easy as chicken and c.) it's freaking delicious.  You'll notice it a lot as I progress through these blogs.  It usually goes on sale every other week, so every other week or so I am making some kind of variation of it, and freezing the other half.  Two weeks ago, I made Pernil, which is Cuban pork.  I'm pretty certain that I've shared this recipe on here before, but the base recipe comes from Skinny Taste (which, if you haven't visited that sight, you should.  I mean, finish reading this first, and then GO!).   Of course, I think I have something against following a recipe to the letter, so I've altered it to fit our taste.  And now that I look at the recipe, I realized that really I actually don't follow it at all...hmmm...so here is my version.

I served this with my refried beans recipe.  I also made some instant brown rice cooked in chicken broth, and when it was done cooking, I splashed it with lime juice and added about tsp of chopped cilantro.  Steamed fresh broccoli rounded out the meal.  YUM.

Chris has been begging for some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (his fave), so I decided to make my first venture into GF baking from scratch last night, too.  It's really not that much different.  I followed this recipe to the letter (I am a great cook, and a mediocre baker at best!), and I have to admit, GF or not, these are probably the BEST cookies I have ever made.  Delish.  I have a feeling these aren't going to last long around here. 
So, all in all, a pretty successful day.  I just got finished making my first loaf of GF bread (as opposed to having to pay $6 a loaf for it!), so we will see tomorrow how that turns out! 


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Finals ALMOST completed!

Finals.  Ugh.  Every college student's evil nemesis.  Even those of us finishing school ten years later than originally planned (oops) dread this week.  So, because I'm so incredibly awesome at foresight, I re-start the blog at the beginning of the most hated week ever.  Brilliant, I tell you.

You can obviously read how well THAT endeavor turned out. I guess I should clarify.  Most of the week was actually pretty good.  I've got some serious work to do this weekend regarding breakfasts and lunches, but we have had some amazing dinners from home this week.  In fact, every night except for Tuesday (class night) we had dinner.  I call that a success. (My blog, my award system)

So here's how we fared:

I made Peruvian Chicken Monday night.  I freaking love this stuff.  For real.  I am pretty sure that I could eat it every day.  I still long for the real Pio Pio in NYC (which is not a negotiable on my NYC trip in 2.5 weeks.  We WILL eat there), but I am getting pretty dang close with my recipe.  It's a little Peru via NYC via KS. I also made Cilantro Lime Rice (I add extra lime) to go with it, and sauteed some asparagus.  DELISH.

I know that I've mentioned time and time again what troopers my kids are when it comes to trying new foods.  They really are, though.  When I make this now, even they love to get extra Aji Verde sauce.  You know how there are some things that sometimes you are secretly glad that only you enjoy?  Because maybe you are a tiny bit selfish about some things still?  Yeah, this used to be one of those things for me.  Now its a fight to see who gets the last drop of the sauce.  I even doubled it this time. 

Tuesday night was class.  That meant a crappy sandwich...but afterwards I enjoyed a lovely Tallgrass Oatmeal Cream Stout.  Its my current favorite stout. (mmmm...speaking of...)
Wednesday night I decided to try another brand new recipe. Before I post it, though, I have to admit something.  I am one of those individuals who is completely guilty of pinning TONS of recipes on Pinterest that I NEVER get around to making.  They look amazing, and I may even make a pretense of a list to get the ingredients to make some of the things...and no.  I'm resolving to change some of that, and this is one of the recipes that I've had on there the longest that I've been wanting to try.

I made these Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls, because I figured they were a.) pretty dang healthy, and b.) pretty dang easy.  When you can get healthy AND easy, and as an added bonus the stuff comes out tasty...you are pretty much supermom.  Cape optional.
They were actually good.  Were they as good as fried egg rolls?  Do you even need to ask that question?  But I was pleased with how they turned out.  I made some for the kids without the hot sauce, and was declared the best cook in the galaxy by my four-year old.  That's right son.  Don't you forget that mommy's the best.  :)

Moving on to Thursday.  I have to admit, this is the night we *ALMOST* blew it, but thankfully, in a moment of clarity, we persevered.  I hadn't set anything out the night before, so I really had no idea what I should make.  Then I remembered that I had some Pernil (which is an outstanding Puerto Rican style pork) that I had made up about a month ago, and had frozen.  I popped that package in the microwave, whipped up another batch of Cilantro Lime Rice, simmered a can of black beans on the stove with a little butter (1 T. per can of beans), and fired up the grill.  I took a zucchini out of the fridge and sliced it on the diagonal, and then gave it a toss in some EVOO and minced garlic.  When the grill was hot, I grilled the zuchinni, and then assembled everything  listed above into a tortilla,  plus some shredded cheddar cheese (of course.  A burrito is simply NOT a burrito without shredded cheese), and some of our favorite salsa (if you LOVE some heat to your food, I highly recommend you trying this salsa.  You're welcome in advance.)
Once everything was in the tortilla, I spritzed it with a little EVOO, and plopped it back on the grill to crisp up. 

I'm in love.  Like, leave-me-alone-while-I'm-eating-this-or-you-might-lose-a-limb love.  I love it when stuff I throw together COMES together.  And I kept it healthy (aside from the carb-loaded tortilla, but who's counting that?)

So, we move on to Friday.  Have you ever heard the term "Friday night letdown?"   Doobs always used to tell us that on Friday nights, and we didn't understand why she could possibly have no energy left ?  Friday nights are party nights, right?  Enter Kylie's thirties...exit party nights.  Friday nights=Friday night letdown. Talk about hitting walls.  (yes, plural)  This whole last week, I had wanted to try a pizza on the grill, though, and this seemed like a great night to try it.  (Especially because I had a paper due at midnight.  That's always a good time to experiment with all things culinary).  I decided to try a meatless option, and I'm sure glad I did.  I even made the crust (just the dough on that link, nothing else.  I also subbed 1 1/3 c. of white flour with whole wheat flour).

Prep work looks delish, huh???

After all was grilled, I set the squash/zucchini to the side, put the blackened peppers in a Ziploc baggie for about half an hour (this lets the skin steam, and it will peel right off).  I split the dough into two pizzas, and saved one of the crusts for tomorrow.  The other I placed on the grill, brushed with EVOO, and waited until it started to brown a little.  Then I flipped it to cook on the reverse.  I used Pesto for my sauce (of the Trader Joe's variety), and fresh mozzarella as my cheese (again, no cheese= not a real pizza).  I topped with all my grilled veggies, and when all was melted, I pulled it off the grill, and while still hot, added the Pièce de résistance....a sprinkling of goat cheese.  Who needs meat?  I would literally eat this every. single. day.
And my wonderful, glorious, fantastic piece...
So, that is our dinner menu for the last week.  I've got lots of plans for this weekend to help us get the whole package (you know, breakfast, lunch, AND dinner) thing down, so stay tuned!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Round 2

Holy Cow.  It has been three months since I've blogged.  Three. Stinking. Months.  Where has the time gone?  I mean, I know people say that all the time, but really?

First things first.  Confession time.  I stink at holding myself accountable.  I get on a bandwagon for a good three, four weeks at a time...and then I fall off the face of the earth.  Maybe it's commitment issues?  I'm not sure. Once I stopped writing, we slowly fell back into our old habits. You know things have gotten out of control when your husband asks you if it would be possible for you to cook something. Oops.  Finals, homework, kids, etc...it's not an excuse.  Everyone has a busy schedule, and I am certainly no exception to that rule.

The thing is, I really LOVE to cook...and not to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty damn good at it, too.  I've mentioned it time and time again on here.  It's my therapy.  Some people shop, others drink...and I while I do enjoy  both of those things immensely as well, cooking is MY time.  I don't like to have others in the kitchen while I'm cooking.  It's a freaking chaotic mess.  I'm here, I'm there...and please don't be in my way, or I'll get irritated...and that's exactly what I'm trying to get over while I'm in there.

So, here we go.  Back to the basics.   I can say that I am more confident starting this time around, since finals are nearly over. I also am going to cut myself some slack.  If I don't post every single night? I know that you won't stop being the loyal readers that you are.  I hope you are as excited as I am to tackle this project again. Also, before too long, my garden will start producing...and things will get REAL exciting then.  (see?  total foodie nerd.)

Ok, so here's the game plan.  I have exactly three weeks and 2 days before I leave for New York.  During that time, I would like to cook as many meals as possible from home because; 1.) I want to save money to actually GO to NYC and 2.) I want to lose another 8-10 lbs before I go.  Once in NYC, all bets are off, as I will be enjoying every single last morsel of food and drop of wine.  Upon return, the blog is back up and running, but this time, it's not just about a thirty day challenge. 

This time around is also going to include my progression towards my first 5k.  I started training about a month ago...and it's been about two weeks since I've done anything toward that, too.  Geesh.  Issues, I tell you.  I want to do the Koman Race for the Cure race in August in KC.  Obviously, it an important cause to me (Love you Doobs)...but finally losing the rest of my weight also helps decrease the chance that I, too, could develop breast cancer.

So here goes.  Round 2.  Less Pressure.  A built in fan base and cheering club.  Are you ready for this?

Dinner tonight:  Marinated sirloin steak with blue cheese sauce,  Grilled sweet potato medallions (if you have never had sweet potatoes on the grill, go fire that bad boy up RIGHT. NOW.  I promise you that you will call me and thank me.), and frozen SteamFresh peas.  I even grilled the steaks and potatoes myself (I'm high fiving myself.  Seriously. Score 1 Kylie.) This meal was delicious.  My kids ate every single bite on their plates, including some of the sauce.
I should have taken a before picture of my refrigerator before Chris cleaned it out today, but it was insane...and now it's ready to go for our new and improved challenge.  I went to the grocery store, and stocked up on everything healthy.  We've got healthy snacks, sides, main courses.  It's going to be fantastic.  While it doesn't seem like three months ago, I do know that I felt SO much better when I was in charge of what was going in my family's mouth.  Physically, I felt better myself.  Processed food just makes you feel so lethargic and tired, and you fall into this vicious cycle of eating out because you're tired, when really...it's probably what is making you tired.  So, again...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Has it REALLY been a week?

First, a show of virtual hands for those that thought I had possibly fallen off the face of the earth, let alone given up the good fight of the thirty day challenge.  Yep, that's what I thought.  Most of you!!  That's okay, because not posting for a whole week is insane, but that's kind of how this week has been...between my job, an accounting final for me, a statistics test for Chris, a major room redecoration over the weekend, and just day to day endless freaking activities (not to mention also having a four year old and a five year old)...I fell behind on blogging.  I've missed it though, so I'm back to it.

So, upfront, I will admit that since my last post, we have ordered pizza twice.  In our defense, once was Friday night when we were really too exhausted to care anymore, and once was Sunday, when we had my parents over helping us finish my daughters room (which didn't get finished until 11pm on Sunday night.  We all had to work Monday.  I'm sure we were superstars that day.)  So, that puts our dinner count at 2.

Lunch?  Yeah, well, that's been a bit of struggle.  Last Friday, I broke down and bought lunch, since I had been SO good all week long...
That's right.  I bought two tacos from Tacos El Sol.  Worth every single penny of the $3 I spent on them.  I figure, if I bring my lunch every day, then rewarding myself at the end of the week with a couple of pan fried tacos is well deserved   :)  (again, my blog, my rules!  ha!)
Ok, so on to the stuff that I have cooked (because, believe it or not, throughout the past week, I still cooked quite a bit...or at least warmed the frozen stuff we had purchased.  Still counts.)


I've had Trader Joe's Country Pumpkin Spice Granola (super delish)...

I've made up breakfast burritos...
And my newest invention.  Remember when I made the pancake sandwiches?  Well, I decided to get a little more creative, and this is what I came up with.  A regular pancake stuffed with turkey sausage, cheese, and scrambled eggs.  Brilliant, right?  It's really not that much different that actually making the pancake.  Put the batter down, and once it's set a little, add the sausage, cheese, and egg, and then pour a little batter on top to cover.  Flip like normal, and...viola!  The only thing I am not sure of with these bad boys is how well they would reheat after being frozen.  On the sandwiches you can take off the other pancakes if they start to get too hot, but these you obviously can't, so...if you aren't going to eat them within a couple of days, I may reconsider. 

Lunches have been mostly leftovers.  I know, I know.  Boring stuff.  But how else are you supposed to effectively use up the leftovers in your fridge?  Besides...this really is a huge step for me people.  I mean, bringing my lunch...whoa.  But bringing leftovers for my lunch?  Previously unheard of.

Dinner the last week...well, besides the two nights of pizza, we have had:
Garlic sauteed shrimp with pinto beans, Spanish orzo, homemade guac, and chips and cheese.  (this would be the night my daughter decided to go all manipulative on my husband....since all my readers are my facebook friends, you will recall this situation.)  It was SO good.  Actually, here is another picture:
I know that it seems odd, but seriously...this is one of the best burritos combinations that I have ever had, from any place.  I don't know that it would be good the next day, but this night?  Holy cow good.  It's a weird combo, but it you try it, you'll love it.  Promise.  That was Thursday.

Friday night was pizza delivery, mostly because we rock.

Saturday night was all about the frozen conveniences that Trader Joe's has to offer.  (yeah, I know I mention them a lot.  I can't help it.  I love their stuff.)  We had a full Chinese meal for four that cost us less than $10 total.  Score 1 for Team Ericson.
Pork Pot Stickers, Chicken fried rice, and mandarin chicken.  We saved ourselves at least $20 by not ordering this from the regular Chinese restaurant, and honestly?  It was just as good.  You really do owe it to yourself to get some good quality frozen food to have on hand, because when you want Chinese and you have all this in your freezer...you're good to go.

So Sunday night was another Pizza night...wow, awesomeness two nights in a weekend!

Monday night was tacos. I don't know why I didn't think to take a picture, but I didn't.  I had made a bunch of taco meat up about a month ago and had stuck it in the freezer, so it's a great go to meal.  And who doesn't love Tacos?  I'm pretty sure that I could eat them every single day of my life.  I definitely know they would be on my last meal menu should I ever find myself on death's row. (weird thing to think about, I know)

Tuesday night was class...which means Sandwiches.

Tonight was something a little different.  I made two different types of Stromboli.  A pizza one for the kids with homemade marina, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, and fresh grated Romano and Parmesan cheese.  I also added some pesto as well.  It was fantastic!

For our Stromboli, though, I wanted a little spice.  I used three alarm cheese, habanero cheese, party time ham, a little olive oil, some Chili Lime seasoning, some Chipotle Rub, super sharp cheddar cheese, Havarti cheese, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red bell peppers. (I know this seems like lots of cheese, but I cut my cheese really thin with a veggie peeler...so I can use lots of different kinds!) 

This. Was. Amazing.  I realize that sometimes it's frustrating to read my blog and see that I don't really use measurement of any kind...but that's just how I roll.  :)  Seriously, I hate measuring, so unless I'm forced to because I'm baking or making pancakes, I just don't do it!  We paired the Stromboli's with some nice leafy salads, and had a great, quick meal1

Lastly, I thought I would share that my kids are getting into the spirit of this, as well.  Tae decided she was going to make snacks for everyone this weekend, and this is what she brought:
I was actually really proud of her, because she did, for the most part, make some really healthy choices!

So that catches up our week.  Again, I apologize for my lack of posting, and will definitely work on not letting that happen again!

Until then, much love and good eats!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Celebration of Sorts

Today we are about two and a half weeks into this challenge...which means that we've made it over halfway!  I thought it only fair to give an updated tally of where we stand so far:

Chris- 3 lunches, no breakfasts bought

Kylie- 1 lunch, 1 breakfast bought

Dinner eaten out when we could have eaten in:  0!!!!!!

I'm actually REALLY proud of those stats!  Those are manageable levels...lunch or breakfast once a week is definitely not a deal-breaker.

Yesterday was class day for both of us. I thought and thought about what I wanted to have for breakfast, and the only thing that I could really think of that I wanted was...more no-bake cookie oatmeal.  I have literally had it for three days straight.  I'm going to try to go for something different tomorrow, but who knows.

Lunch yesterday was cottage cheese and nice leafy salad (spring mix and baby spinach).  I also added feta cheese, and used some  strawberry balsamic vinegar and tuscan herb olive oil for the dressing.  Remember when I talked about certain ingredients being worth it to spend a little more on?  Balsamic vinegar and olive oil definitely fall into that category for me.  When you have great ingredients, you don't need a lot of extra things on your salad to have a fantastic, tasteful meal.  Trust me.  I have both the generic kind and the good stuff in my cupboard...you're welcome to come over and taste the difference.

There's this wonderful little shop called The Tasteful Olive in Old Overland Park, KS.  The shop has all kinds of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and you can taste them before you buy them.  LOVE this place, and I highly recommend trying it out, especially if you are still getting a feel for the kinds of tastes that you like.  As an added bonus, Penzey's spice store (love, love, love) is two buildings down, so you can load up on all the good spices while you're there as well...and again, you can sample before you buy! (PS-if you do go to The Tasteful Olive, don't actually DRINK the olive oil, just taste it on your tongue.  Otherwise you may find yourself burping olive oil for the next six hours.  Right, Chris?)

For dinner last night...

Kidding, Kidding.  (well, kind of...)  I actually went out to dinner (this one was planned for, so I don't count it as impromptu dining out! ;)  My blog, my rules!  ha!) with my classmates to celebrate the fact that we made it through our accounting class!!  Whoohoo!!  This delicious beer was Young's Double Chocolate Stout.  It. Was. Delicious.  I ordered a chicken queso wrap as my meal, but it wasn't that great.  Good thing the beer was so it wasn't a total loss!

For lunch today, I had leftovers...I know, I'm proud of myself, too.  I actually took some of the jambalaya stew stuff that we had made the other night that I had frozen.  I'll admit...it wasn't too bad.

Dinner tonight was probably one of my favorite meals that we've had so far, and it was one of the simplest.  I made turkey burgers on whole wheat buns with chipotle mayo, some provolone and super-sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and romaine lettuce.  We had some garlic fries that were pretty dang good, too.

Long story short?  We're still eating good.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Case of the Mondays

Peter: Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday, and you're not feelin' real well, does anyone ever say to you, 'Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays'?

Lawrence: No. No, man. ... I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man.

Talk about a case of the Mondays for me.  Phew.  I am GLAD that this one is over.  I've been struggling with balance in my life lately, and today, I finally had an epiphany...it's time to let some things go.  I can't do everything.  I know, I know, sounds pretty cryptic, right?  I don't even know for sure what it is that I am going to let go of, but I do know that it's definitely time to re-prioritize.

One of the shocking things about this particular challenge for me though, is that while this would SEEM like it's adding one more thing to my life, in actuality it's forcing me to make time for myself, everyday, to do something that I love to do.  While I am cooking dinner, I can actually feel stress leaving my body. It's therapeutic, in that cooking forces me to NOT think about the rest of the day...and when I can look back on the day, after I've had that step away, the things that I thought were so pressing seem less important.  The little faces and hands that helped me make the dinner come back into the forefront, where they are supposed to be.

When my husband, kids, family, and friends enjoy eating what I've prepared, I feel proud, and accomplished.  I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to KNOW what my kids are eating, but to see them getting involved too.  Since I've started this, we've tried lots of different recipes, and they've tried every single one of them like little troopers.  Not only are we becoming more well-rounded and focused on what we are eating, they are as well.  We constantly talk about what food is healthy, and what kinds of foods are okay to eat only in little amounts. 

Then there are my friends that read this everyday, and post words of encouragement, or send me emails, or stop me in the halls at work or in the grocery store and tell me that I've inspired them.  Wow.  That's an incredible compliment, and it means so much to me that you are willing to give a small portion of your day to read about how mine went.  I now have people sending me recipes to try, as well!!  Believe me, I will be trying them, and taking pictures of them, and giving you props!   (PS- I totally have eight official followers of my blog.  You guys rock.)

Holy cow that was some serious stuff.  Heavy, man.  While I joke around and do my best to spread my narcissism and sarcasm as far as it will go (which is pretty damn far), this challenge really has changed a lot of things in my world, so I thought it only fair to share as much.

On to the main events...today's meals!!  I received an email last night from my friend Nicole with another suggestion for me on how to eat oatmeal, and I have to say, I was instantly intrigued.  I actually wanted to go to the kitchen right after I read her email and make this for myself, but I refrained so that I could have the tasty treat in the morning as breakfast.  Do you like No-Bake Cookies?  They are one of my faves...and if you like them, you will LOVE this:
That's right.  No-Bake Cookie Oatmeal.  Boom.  How, you ask?  SO EASY!!  I still used my Trader Joe's steel cut oats (still got the texture complex), but per Nicole's recipe, I added a packet of Sugar Free Hot Chocolate Mix, and a tablespoon of peanut butter (hooray for extra protein!).  AAAAAHHHHHHHHH! (This is my equivalent of the heavens opening up, God coming down and placing my breakfast plate in front of me, and telling me "Yes, Kylie, you may eat cookies every day for breakfast for the rest of your life and you will never gain weight from them again.")  Nicole, I owe you big time for this one.  I can't wait to let my kids try this!

I didn't actually eat lunch today, as some of the earlier musings from the blog weighed pretty heavily on my mind...but by three I was ready to start thinking about dinner!!  I wanted something a little lighter.  I remembered a recipe that I had seen on SkinnyTaste.com for a lighter Chicken Parmesan, so I used that as my inspiration as to what to have for dinner, even thought I didn't actually follow the recipe very well.  Here is my adaptation. (Instead of typing all my recipes on here for you to have to read through, I started a little side blog just to post my own recipes I make up, or recipes that I've used from others that I can't find an electronic link to post.)

This was REALLY good, and REALLY healthy as well.  Another score for a full day of healthy meals!  Tayler started to get excited as it was cooking, because she thought it smelled like pizza.  She told me tonight that anything that had red sauce on it like pizza was just "so delicious".  Totally agree, kid. 

So, that's the day.  Not a bad one by any means, but definitely one that got me thinking, and left me grateful.  Tomorrow night is class night, so I guess I had better go and see what I can whip up! Until tomorrow night...



Sunday, January 29, 2012

A New Week, A Better Plan

I said it last night, but I will say it again.  I seriously can't believe that the weekend goes by so incredibly fast.  Today was another busy day filled with family and friends.  Church this morning, followed by a baby shower this afternoon for Shelley, one of my friends from high school.  She's having twin girls, and she looks so adorable!!  I also got to see several other friends at the shower today, so it was a good afternoon. Chris's parents came up to see us today as well, and we spent the evening hanging out, cooking, and laughing.

Chris and I decided to approach this week with a better game plan, so that we're not (for lack of a better completely accurate sentiment) completely pissed every morning as we try to gather our lunches for the day or incredibly perturbed at having to figure out what we are making for dinner every night.  We've made a meal plan.  (yes, duh, I realize NOW that we should have been doing this all along.  Getting the ingredients for twelve recipes just seemed like enough.  I didn't realize scheduling when to actually make them would make that much difference.)

So, tonight we tried two new recipes that were outstanding.  Again, we pulled them from the Guy Fieri cookbook I mentioned a couple of posts again.  If there is one thing that Fieri does, it's infuse A LOT of flavor into his dishes. We made two different kinds of sandwiches for dinner with his folks, but we also doubled the recipes so we could freeze some and take some for lunches this week, too.

First up was a Jambalaya Sandwich.  CAUTION:  IF YOU ARE A VEGETARIAN DO NOT CLICK ON THE PRIOR LINK!!! (I'm sure by now I would have scared any of them off anyway with as much meat as this family eats.  That being said...) I don't know that I have EVER in my LIFE put this much meat into one meal.

This. Is. Amazing.   The recipe has some outstanding spiciness to it.  I did add some cornstarch when the cooking time was up to thicken the sauce a bit, which the recipe does not call for, but makes the sauce even better, if that's possible.  Not only was this DELICIOUS as a sandwich, but I think it will be amazing on top of rice too.  (also, a side note.  If you decide to double this recipe, please be prepared to spend at least an arm, if not a leg as well, buying the meat for this.  I will be watching sale ads even more closely now so that I can afford to make this again! ha!)

For our second sandwich option of the night, we made Saigon Pork Subs.  We were not disappointed with these, either.  Very nice spiciness, and the pork was SO tender.  This dish does take a little longer to cook though, so if you decide to make this one, make sure to plan ahead time-wise.  At least I didn't start it at 8pm as I have some other slow cooked pork recipes in the past. The cucumbers are marinated, so they lost some of their fresh cucumbery taste, which is good for me since normally I can't stand them.  They work well with this sandwich, though. 
Sheri, my mother-in-law, makes out of this world pie from scratch, and she brought us a coconut cream pie today that she had made.  SO GOOD.  This was our dessert for the night.  It was honestly a perfect end to a great meal.  Thanks Sheri!!

So, tomorrow we start with the new game plan.  Hopefully this week finds us less harried.  We may even sit around in a circle and sing Kumbaya since we will be so organized and harmonious with this new meal plan.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.