Friday, August 31, 2012

Fabulous Friday Recipe Review

Happy Friday to you!  Better yet, happy Friday of a long weekend to you!!  I am so happy it is Friday that I don't know what to do with myself.  Oh, I know...let's talk about last night's dinner.


As I mentioned in yesterday's post the planned dinner for last night was Skinny Taste's Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats. They were ridiculously good. If you like enchiladas you must make this recipe now. Go. Oh, wait keep reading...then go.

The recipe calls for shredded cooked chicken and Gin's blog mentions a great tip for having cooked chicken breast on hand by cooking some in the crock pot to prep for the week.  I am not this organized so my cooked chicken was prepped by my grocery store.

And they had flowers.  :)  My cook book is in the picture on the right.

This was the first time I made this recipe and I will admit it took a little work.  There was more prep to it than I usually do on a weekday night.  Next time I think I will be able to cut down on that by prepping a few things ahead of time.  Also knowing what I need to do to make the recipe will cut down on time...making an involved new recipe always takes a little longer the first time you make it.  It was totally worth the effort, so don't let the prep work deter you from trying this one.

I changed very little about the recipe...I upped the garlic in both the sauce and the chicken mixture...I am a child of an Italian mother and always up the garlic in my kitchen.  I left the cilantro out of the sauce.  After studying in the Yucatan where cilantro is not only in every dish but also made into a soup, I began disliking its flavor.  Don't judge I know most people love it, I however cannot stand it and can pick up its evil flavor even when it is chopped finally and attempts to hide from me.  I did purchase cilantro and chop it up for garnish.  Not on my plate, but on the husband and mom's plates.  It was pretty.

The serving size for the recipe is one zucchini boat for 3 weight watchers points plus.  I had it as a one dish meal and ate 2 1/2 servings for almost 9 points plus.  I also sliced some avocado up on the side.  The husband and mom had some jalapenos too.

Now make your grocery list and plan to make these.  They are delicious.

The other fabulous Friday food I have to report on is Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter.


I discovered yesterday at lunch that it is fabulous on a rice cake.

I haven't purchased rice cakes in years, but picked some up on a whim at the store this week.  They were wonderful with my smoked turkey as an open faced sandwich and with this chocolate hazelnut butter as a sweet snack after lunch.  Delicious.

I hope you enjoy your long weekend!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shopping, Meal Planning and Cooking

Has this week been super busy for everyone else?  I will be honest, I am very excited about a three day weekend.  I am ready NOW.

My evening was very busy last night.  It was grocery store night, so as soon as I got home yesterday I quickly switched into cooking mode and made dinner so I could get to the store.  On the table last night: pork chops, green beans, and potatoes.

You have possibly heard me mention Allegro marinade (more about it in this post) I used it combined with Dijon mustard last night to marinate the pork chops.  It was delicious!  The pork marinated for about 30 minutes or so while I prepped everything else.  If you are way ahead of schedule you can marinate the meat the night before, I am sure the flavor would have been even better, but I didn't get my pork thawed until the morning, so I was going with what time I had.  I added a little garlic salt to the chops before tossing them into the grill pan.  The Dijon mustard and allegro worked very well together.  I will definitely do this again.

My favorite part of the meal was the potatoes.  The pork chops were good, but the potatoes were awesome.

I used what was left of my olive oil dip from the weekend, so the olive oil was nice and garlicky.  I added more spices (that were already in the olive oil dip, but since I was seasoning a pan of potatoes I needed more).  Here is what I did:
  • 4 medium new potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • seasoned olive oil (about 2 tbsp)
  • garlic salt
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • red pepper flakes
  • fresh cracked pepper
Yes, the only thing I have measurements for are the potatoes and the olive oil...the rest I just eye ball and go on taste.  Toss seasonings with potatoes and bake in a 450 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until desired crispiness.  I stir the potatoes every 10 minutes or so.  This made 4 servings.

After dinner I was off to the store.  In order to stay on track and have on hand what I need for the week I make a meal plan before I make my grocery list.  This helps me know exactly what I need to have in the pantry/fridge and means I am prepared so I don't have evenings where trying to figure out what's for dinner turns into a call for delivery.  I use Pinterest and Weight Watchers online to keep lists of my favorite recipes and of course I have plenty of hard copy recipes at home.  To make my meal plan I peruse my recipes...I usually try a new one each week and we evaluate it as to whether it is a "keeper" or not.  The husband and I also discuss what we can do with the seasoning to make it are just suggestions you know.  :)  This week's menu includes:

The enchilada zucchini boats and the black bean quinoa are the new recipes I am trying this week.  I will let you know how they are.  The enchiladas will be tonight and the quinoa will be a side for our barbeque on Labor Day.

My one other tip for the grocery store...arrange your list like the store is arranged.  It really helps you go through the store and your list without having to do a whole lot of back tracking because you missed items.

After my marathon at the grocery store, I settled in with my book.

I'm not very far into The Lost Symbol, but it already has me hooked!  I picked it up again this morning during my extra coffee time.  I definitely be reading tonight!

Do you have any tips for meal planning and conquering the grocery store?

What are you reading?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Weekend Recap

We started off the weekend by having some friends over on Friday night to have some cocktails and snacks.

Cheeses, warm bread, and olive oil dip; Carrots, celery, and ranch dip

It was a great time.

The rest of the weekend was spent preparing for my mother to come home to Houston.  When she is in Houston she stays with us and her room was not so much ready for a guest.  We got it mostly situated and got some of it unpacked.  Sammy was excited to see her GeeGee (that's what the grandchildren and animals call my mom).

"I love Geegs.  I'm glad she is coming home."

Sunday we got massages.  Ah, massages.

I picked my mom up from the airport yesterday.  She came in a day earlier than planned because of the storm in the gulf.  She was worried about her flight getting out of Jackson today and about my sister having to drive her to the airport in the bad weather.

My mom loved the house.  This was her first time back since before we had a functioning kitchen.  She loved everything that we had done and very much enjoyed the baked tilapia dinner.

I added tomatoes to my baked tilapia recipe last night.  I am not a fan of the tomatoes so I left them out of my foil packet, but the husband and my mom liked it a lot.  You can find the recipe for the baked tilapia packets in this post or on my recipes page.  I served it over orzo last night with a side of yellow squash.

Yummy dinner.

This dinner came in at 12 weight watchers points plus; that included a cup of the orzo pasta.  If you are a member of weight watchers online I have created this recipe as a community recipe so you can also find it there.

Sammy slept at the dinner table right next to my mom.  Love.

My mom commented yesterday when I picked her up that 3 months was the longest we had lived in separate towns before.  It is true.  I am happy she is home...don't tell her...but I did miss her a little.  Ask me again in a couple of weeks if I am still happy she is home.  LOL

As part of my unpacking over the weekend I found my scale.  Uh, oh.  I was brave this morning and got on it.  I have gained 6.5 pounds while we were without a kitchen.  Bummer.  Oh, well I have entered my weight in my planner and logged my food from yesterday and today and my gym bag is sitting under my desk at the ready for my lunch hour workout.  Here we go!

I hope you had a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In With the Old

If you know me or you have been reading my blog for a while you know that the husband and I just took over (and are getting close to finishing small remodels in) my mom's house.  In addition to taking over the house; my mom, sister and I went through all the stuff my mom had collected over the years.  We did what my mom refers to as "the big clean out".  This clean out included things she inherited from her parents, my dad's parents and all of their parents.  In turn, my sister and I have now inherited all of these items.  My mom complained a lot during the clean out, but we were very happy she was here with us for it.  It is nice to inherit things and not be in mourning; plus my mom is here to enjoy all the new uses I am finding for all of these old antique items that are new to me.

I have been wanting a ring holder for the kitchen.  I don't know about you, but when the going gets messy I like to keep my rings out of it.  Well, I found these two small silver dishes....I guess you would call them my antique stash and last night I polished them up.

The little round one will serve as a ring holder in the kitchen.  It is small enough to fit on the ledge near the sink.  Perfect way to avoid this:

Look at that beautiful granite!  ;)

They both polished up pretty well.  The larger dish will go on my dressing table which is kind of cool since I am pretty sure this dish was my grandmother's and the dressing table was the husband's grandmother's.

Love this little has tiny feet on the bottom.

I can't think of a relative with a W name and I have no idea what they did in '62 to have this little dish made, but a W really works for me.  :)

Needs a little more elbow grease, but it will be pretty!

Dinner last night was a mix of all the produce and a couple of freezer items that needed to go, you could say it was somewhat of an antique as well (nice transition, right?).  I made angel hair primavera.  The angel hair I found in the freezer along with a half bag of edamame.  The rest of the veggies were what was left of the produce I bought during the last grocery store trip.  On a side note we went to the grocery store after dinner last night so no need to worry about my fresh vegetable intake for the rest of the week.

This was super easy and it made our dinner and two lunch leftover portions.  I had two cups for dinner last night, but will only have 1 1/2 cup servings for lunches.
  • tons of fresh chopped garlic (I like tons...if you do not, feel free to cut back)
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  • 2 cups cherry tomato, whole
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 package fresh angel hair pasta
  • 1/8 cup chicken stock (more if you need it)
  • 2 stems green onion, sliced thin
  • 6 tablespoons reduced fat feta

Add one teaspoon olive oil, onion and bell pepper to a large non-stick skillet (preferably one with a lid).  Sprinkle veggies with garlic salt and cover to saute.  While the veggies are getting started fill a large pasta pot with water and begin to bring it to a boil, once the water begins to boil remember to add a little salt.

Saute veggies until the onion is translucent and the pepper is tender.  Add in a little of the chicken stock, edamame and cherry tomatoes and keep sauteing.  Once the water is at a rolling boil add the pasta and give it a stir so it does not stick together.  While you are waiting for the pasta to come back to a boil toss your spinach in with your veggies to wilt.  The fresh pasta cooks quickly...angel hair only takes 1 - 2 minutes so you have to be quick with your juggling here so you do not overcook your pasta...while the pasta boils add your green onion to your veggie mix. 

Drain your pasta, toss with remaining two teaspoons of olive oil and sauteed veggies.  Serve topped with pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of reduced fat feta.

This dinner was a serious hit with me for what little planning it took and how much I got to clear out of my fridge and freezer making it.  Mmmm...I am already looking forward to lunch.

Today will mark my third lunch time gym trip this week.  Woohoo!  I got a new lock for my locker room locker.  It is fancy.

Yes, being purple makes it fancy.

 Happy Wednesday!  How is your week going?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sometimes Boring is Fun

Yesterday evening was boring...and I loved it!!  We cooked dinner.  The husband grilled the drumsticks I marinated and I think he secretly loved it.  I asked him what he was doing on a Monday night and he said (with a smile), "Grilling in my backyard".  Okay, so maybe not secretly.  I made zucchini and Spanish rice (nothing fancy...straight from a package) to go with our chicken.


Then I measured the living room to make sure this little gem would fit where I wanted it to.


It is a storage bench which I think will look much better than the basket I have in the corner now.  Plus it is extra seating!  It is only offered online, so I hope I like it as much when it gets here as I do in the picture.  I would like to have seen it before purchasing, but I went ahead and took my chances.  It was on sale and exactly what I was looking for.  I ordered it this morning.  I would have ordered it last night, but our power went out.  It wasn't raining or anything in my area.  Just click...gone.  I found it very rude.

I hope you have a terrific Tuesday!!  It isn't Monday anymore!

Smile!  This picture is compliments of my niece.  This is one of their new kitties.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Recap

It was a food and drink and house work kind of weekend.  We started off on Friday evening at a wine tasting at Fleming's.  It was pretty fantastic.

The tasting was a throw down, think Bobby Flay on the Food Network, between two sommeliers.  The tasting was new world wines versus old world wines.  I don't know what the difference between the two officially is, but I can tell you I liked the new world wines better and those were the ones that won.  The wines were paired with small appetizers and you could really tell how well they went with the food they had been paired with.  We each got to put our sheriff badge in to vote for the wines we liked the best for the people's choice vote and then the wine director from the River Oaks Country Club declared his winner.  The new world wines won in both cases.  It was a fun evening.

Saturday the contractor and his guys were tying up looses ends in the kitchen.  We are down to paint touch ups and transition strips on the floors between close!  Saturday evening Rebecca had us over for dinner.

It was delicious...grilled chicken, sun dried tomato basil couscous and salad.  We did our grilling in the rain.  We are adventurous.

Sunday we spent getting things more organized in the house.  We got the living room arranged the way we want it and got a table that we do not want in there out.  I am pleased with how it is all coming together.

Happy Monday to you!  How was your weekend?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recipe Wednesday

I had another lovely evening cooking in my kitchen yesterday.  Dinner turned out so delicious that I won't even waste time talking about anything else before diving right into the details and the recipes.  If you are a Weight Watchers member you may have seen their recipe for Mediterranean chicken.  It was my inspiration for the Mediterranean chicken I made last night along with my cheesy orzo.

Nom, nom, nom

Mediterranean Chicken
  • 12 ounces chicken breast tenders (4 oz per serving)
  • garlic salt
  • lemon pepper
  • olive oil spritzed from a misto (or olive oil cooking spray)
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1 Roma tomato, cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 of a cucumber (I used the seedless kind), cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1 medium avocado, cut into bit sized pieces
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
Season the chicken tenders with  garlic salt and lemon pepper.  Heat a non-stick skillet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray (I used my misto) and cook on medium heat until chicken is cooked through.  While the chicken is cooking begin assembling the salad that will go on top of the chicken.  Combine the onion, tomato, cucumber, olives, and feta in a bowl and set aside.  Whisk together the lemon juice, 4 teaspoons of olive oil, some cracked black pepper, and a little sea salt.  Toss this dressing with the salad ingredients and then cut and add the avocado; toss to coat.  Serve over the cooked chicken.  This recipe makes 3 servings.

Ema's Cheesy Orzo

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 3 laughing cow light creamy Swiss wedges
  • garlic powder, to taste
In a small sauce pan combine 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon and bring it to a boil.  Add orzo and reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes until there is no more liquid (like you would cook rice).  Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup hot water mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of chicken bouillon, 3 laughing cow cheese wedges and garlic powder.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.  This recipe makes 3 servings.

Yummy!  Seriously.

While I cooked I enjoyed this lovely mocktail.  Light cranberry juice, La Croix lime sparkling water and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Well hello beautiful breakfast room shelves in the background.  Weird that you snuck into this picture.

This morning at the bank drive through I saw a woman and her dachshund in line.  This isn't interesting news on its own, but the woman and her dog were without a car.  Apparently she forgot it this morning.  The good news is she remembered to get dressed so she is a step ahead there.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Busy, Busy in My Kitchen

I am loving my kitchen.  It isn't totally finished, there are still little things to do, but it works!  My lunch hour was spent at the grocery store yesterday.

Hello fully stocked produce basket in my functional kitchen.  I have missed you and I am glad you are back!  You will not be fully stocked for long!

My evening was spent cooking!  I love to cook (don't know if you knew that).  I made a pot of my Beans and Greens can find the recipe in this post: Sunday Preparation and the husband had the honor of taking a serving for lunch today.  I brought a small serving and a gigantic salad for my lunch.  The only thing I did differently to my recipe this time was add 1/4 cup of orzo pasta to it.  Yummy.

Beans and Greens Soup

The rest of my recipes for the evening were adapted from Skinny Taste recipes.  I have been pinning a lot of her recipes while my kitchen was torn apart so I have a lot to try.  First, I made Skinny Taste's Overnight Oats.  We had them for breakfast this morning.  I left the sweetener out of the husband's batch...he doesn't have a huge sweet tooth.  In mine I used a sweetener packet of truvia; not the liquid kind like the recipe calls for.  I loved it.  I will make another batch tonight for breakfast tomorrow.  The only thing I will do differently tonight is add a little more cinnamon.  I could barely taste it this morning.

Then for dinner I made Skinny Taste's Chilled Lobster Salad with Sweet Summer Corn and Tomatoes.  I was worried about the husband liking this salad, but he totally loved it.  I did modify the recipe a little since I didn't have any steamed lobster on hand and I added reduced fat feta cheese.  Here is what I did for two servings:

  • 2 servings of imitation lobster
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat feta
  • 3 cups mixed baby greens

Combine  first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  For the dressing combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the feta cheese and whisk together.  Toss the ingredients set aside in the bowl with the dressing.  Split the mixed baby greens between two plates and top with the lobster mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining feta cheese.

It was so good!  It was sweet and savory...I will definitely make this again.  It is a great summer meal.

In other news, today is my sister and brother-in-law's 19th anniversary.  Wow...that is a long time.  They got married the summer after I graduated high school (oh,

Awe, sweet!

Happy anniversary Audrey and you guys!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!!  I am not usually the type to say that...but I had such a great morning!!  I went to bed pretty early last night so I was up a little earlier this morning.  I got so much done including making a gigantic salad for my lunch today.  It was a very productive morning so I am in a great mood.

My gigantic accomplishment on Saturday: unpacking the remaining kitchen boxes and getting everything put away!  I am thrilled with the shelves in my breakfast room.

Hello pretty space!

Saturday morning I had my coffee at the breakfast room table just so I could take in my handy work.  I haven't decided what will be hanging on the wall in the middle yet...but I am super pleased with my shelves.

Oh, and here is our new fridge...I am in love!

The husband did tons of work over the weekend including hanging the pot rack.

It was a very productive kitchen weekend.  I am so ready for the little odds and ends to be done.  I am ready to take after pictures and do a before and after post.  :)

Now that the stove is in place and off the sun porch, I centered the sofa out there.  The sun porch is attached to our bedroom, so the sofa area out there will be a sitting room off our room.  I am excited to have it finished too, but getting the sofa in place was pretty cool.  I laid down on it after I moved will be a great nap spot.

View from the sun porch sofa.  LOL

Sunday I took a trip with the gals to Minute Maid Park to see the Astros play.  It was a fun day.

I think our ballpark is pretty.  The Astros didn't win for us, but we still had fun.'s to turning a productive Monday morning into a productive week!!  Have a great day!!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Coming Together

This kitchen remodel has felt like it was taking a lifetime, but I can finally say it is coming together.  The subway tile back splash got its grout yesterday and it looks great.

I am still in love with the new faucet despite the scratches on the windowsill.  I will be very happy when those are fixed though...such a pretty faucet deserves a pretty environment.

Hello gorgeous!

Did I tell you we are getting a new refrigerator?  Great story.  We used all the existing appliances in the kitchen and planned on keeping the fridge.  Well, I had to call my credit card company for something a couple of months ago...I got a very helpful and very excited customer service guy on the phone.  Once he had answered my questions he asked if there was anything else he could do for me and I said no.  And he said, well how about a points balance before I let you go.  I said, a points balance?  And he said, oh this will be fun. 

I had no idea my card earned points...I suppose that should be a lesson to read the mail from your credit card company and not just automatically consider it junk.  Anyway, I have had this credit card since I was an undergrad (so like two and it turns out I had a lot of points ready for the using.  In fact there were thousands that I was going to lose come March 2013.  To make a long story short, I had enough points to get a $1,000 gift card to Sears and still have lots of points left.  So, my new almost free fridge comes today.  Woohoo!

"I like the fridges.  They has the noms."

I saw this on Facebook last night and felt it needed to be shared.  I have been feeling like this a lot lately.

Mmm Ice Cream

Happy Friday!!  I have to work tonight.  Oh, boy.  But I get the afternoon off to hang out with my new fridge.  I hear new appliances are very entertaining.  It was true for my washer and dryer, so I am very excited.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Faucets and Subway Tile!

One of my first purchases for the kitchen has turned out to be one of the last things to be installed.  I have waited a long time, but yesterday I came home to see my new faucet.  I am in love.


I did have to pout a little because in order to install the faucet, since it was a tight space, they scratched my windowsill.  Of course they will fix that...but still...I pouted.  

My subway tile back splash was installed yesterday also.  I love it!

I'm keeping the drop cloth.  I think it really adds to the space.

They will be grouting the tile today.  Hurray!

And I cooked dinner last night...chicken tenders breaded with Italian bread crumbs, roasted brussel sprouts, and whole wheat couscous.

Yes, I had already started eating before I took the picture...I was hungry.

Have a great Thursday!!