Happy Birthday Jody!

Today is my SIL Jody’s birthday, so we invited her and her family over.  And it’s was a beautiful day!  Sun is shining, and while its on the cool side, I absolutely love this weather.

I started out my day with a big cup of coffee.  I turned on my oven and started putting together my carrot cake, when all of a sudden my kitchen was filled with smoke!  I cooked all the ribs in the oven yesterday, and I didn’t realize some of the juices spilled onto the bottom of my oven!  So I turned it off and within 30 minutes it was cool enough for me to clean (and it needed to be cleaned anyway!) 😀

So I decided to make my breakfast – a simple breakfast taco with strawberries and cantaloupe on the side.


Then it was time to make the cake!  Warning: this is not a low fat, low calorie cake!  But it is so good!

Spiced Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound carrots, shredded (I used my food processor – nice and quick!)
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil (see what I mean about not being low fat!)

Mix together dry ingredients.  Shred the carrots.  In the food processor, add both sugars, and the eggs and mix until combined, about 20 seconds.  Next, with the processor going, start pouring in the oil until it becomes almost frothy.   I put my dry ingredients in my biggest bowl – simply add the carrots and processor mix to the flour and mix well until well incorporated.

Put the cake batter into a 13 x 9 pan that has been sprayed with Pam.  Into a preheated 350 oven, bake for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the cake around half way through.  Mine took exactly 35 minutes.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened,
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Add everything to food processor except powdered sugar.  Pulse until combined, about 10 seconds.  Add the powdered sugar and process until smooth – about another 10 seconds.

Wait at least two hours for the cake to cool before putting the frosting on.  I didn’t even want to figure out the calories for this one – but calories don’t count when its someone’s birthday, right? :D  Um, pretty sure this piece of cake was insulin worthy!


Our main dish was our Chicago Style Ribs.  What?  You haven’t made this dry rub or barbecue sauce yet??  The summer is almost over people!  While this rub and barbecue sauce is so good the ribs sucked!  They were tough, not tender at all.  I don’t know where I went wrong and was mad at myself that I just didn’t make scampi steak!  Luckily my sides and dessert saved the day!

I decided to do a baked potato bar on the side.  The key to a crispy baked potato is to scrub the potatoes and let them dry completely.  Once dried, rub with olive oil and roll the potatoes in a sea salt, cracked pepper mixture.  Bake at 400 for 60 minutes.  I had sour cream, whipped butter, bacon bits,  and cheddar cheese as potato fixins.  Put your potatoes on racks to let them dry completely:



My two other side dishes were black bean and corn salad and insalata caprese.

Black Bean and Corn Salad 

  • 1 14 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14 ounce can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon Frank’s red hot suace
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Once the beans and corn have drained, add to bowl.  Mix in all other ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour so the flavors can meld.


Insalata Caprese

  • sliced tomato
  • sliced fresh mozzarella
  • chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • (and I know this doesn’t belong, but I drizzle with a good balsamic vinegar!)  You can make it to this step below and refrigerate.  About 5 minutes before serving, add the olive oil and vinegar drizzle


So here is my plate – I ate everything but the ribs!


My SIL kept telling me that she had snowman placemats that she bought for me, and kept forgetting to bring over.  She remembered!  Not only do I love snowmen but my favorite color is blue!  And of course I had to use them for dinner tonight!  Thanks Jody!


New Challenge!  I’ve really been in a slump lately with the exercise.  Once I stop going to the gym I can find a million excuses not to go!  But today I stumbled upon a challenge.  It’s a seven week challenge, and in a sense, for every pound you lose in seven weeks you donate that many pounds of food to your local food pantry.  You can get all the details hereAnybody with me on this challenge?  So I had to send them my starting weight – and mind you, I usually weigh myself in the morning, not at night, but it wasn’t pretty either way.  My starting weight for this challenge:  167!  My goal is to lose a pound a week, which could be the equivalent to 28 sticks of butter to my local food pantry!

If you have time to leave a comment to wish my SIL Jody a happy birthday, I would appreciate it! 😀

Alright, time to snuggle with my hubby – my favorite part of every day!  Come back tomorrow night, I promise to post my copy cat Panera Bread Broccoli Soup!  See you then!


BSI – Figs! Prosciutto Purses Stuffed with Balsamic Fig Goat Cheese

Today feels more like October than the end of August!  Although I love this weather – it always reminds me of field hockey season when it gets chilly outside!  Sadly, no one plays anywhere near where I live so I only see random games on t.v. every once in a while!

I used the last of our steak last night and made steak breakfast sammies for me and Tony. 


Then Tony and I made our last trip to the CSA farm.  We both agreed we would much rather hit up our local farmers market – that way we get what we want and in the amounts we want.  Seriously, the last three weeks we were limited to just 2 ears of corn!  Really??  So in 8 weeks of CSA I got 6 ears of corn, maybe a pound of broccoli, 2 pounds of zucchini and probably 6 pounds of tomatoes and a bunch of little stuff.  I will miss the sweet dog who greeted us every week!


I was not kidding when I said we had a garden growing in our gutters!  And we just cleaned these out about a month ago!  I was brave and got on the roof for the clean up.  Sadly I threw our hose down on the drive from the roof and the nozzle shattered to pieces!  Oops!  And the funny thing is that I kill almost every plant that comes in my house – instead of a green thumb I have a black thumb!


I didn’t realize Tony was taking pics!


After the roof cleaning and lunch, Hannah and I went to the store to pick up the last needed things for my SIL birthday party at our house tomorrow. 

The Menu!

  • Chicago style bbq ribs
  • Baked potato bar with sour cream, bacon bits, chopped green onion and whipped butter
  • Fresh corn and black bean salad
  • Garlic green beans
  • Insalata Caprese (fresh mozzarella with CSA tomatoes and basil)

Dessert:  Spiced Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

My mouth just watered when I typed that – this is definitely NOT a low cal dessert, it calls for 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil – but damn, its really good!

For appetizers I decided to tie in the BSI challenge this week to include figs.  This weeks hostess is Elizabeth from Guilty Kitchen.  I was too scared to even attempt to do anything with fresh figs.  I think the only fig I’ve had before today was a Fig Newton!  I bought a package of dried figs – only $2.79 for this ring!


I cut the stem off and opened it up.  Looks like the inside of a Fig Newton! 😀


I chopped up 6 figs and then added 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and salt and pepper.  I let it sit to kind of rehydrate the dried fig. 


Next I added goat cheese – by far my favorite cheese out there!  This one is a garlic herb blend. 


Then I placed a slice of prosciutto de parma on my board, and added about a teaspoon of the goat cheese mixture then wrapped it up like a purse.


I have green onions for our baked potato bar tomorrow, and thought to blanch some of the stems to wrap up my cute little packages!


All wrapped up!  I love the combination of the sour creaminess of the goat cheese with the salt from the prosciutto and slight sweet from the fig.


And then I hit “focus” on my photo editing software (Picasa) and it only colored in the green onion.  I thought it looked cool!


Dinner was simple – I had ground beef I needed to use up and Hannah felt like pasta – so pasta and meatballs it is!  The secret to a great meatball is to get a good crust on the outside, then let it simmer in the pasta sauce until cooked through.

Italian Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

I pan fry my in a combination of Pam, 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  This mix makes 8 big balls (that’s what she said!) and 8 meatballs a little bit bigger than marble size.


Let them set before moving them around, otherwise they fall apart.  Keep turning until all sides have a crispy crust.


This sauce is one I made last week – it has an orange hint to it because I made the sauce from both red and yellow tomatoes.  Just let the meatballs cook while the pasta cooks – it only takes about 20 minutes for these size meatballs to continue cooking in the sauce.


My plate – 3 meatballs, sauce, 1/2 ounce mozzarella cheese and a cup of pasta.  I did kick my plate up with crushed red pepper flakes though! 😀


Hope everyone had a great Saturday!  I think Tony is going to watch some fights on t.v. so Hannah and I will probably rent The Soloist – never saw it when it came out in the theater!  See you tomorrow!

No Party Pizza Friday Night?

What’s wrong with that?  Oh, I know.  Maybe because I had breakfast pizza and pizza for lunch!  My office had their annual support staff breakfast.  My first thought was to make bagels, but then I thought breakfast pizza would be better.  I used my simple dough for this one:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons loose) yeast
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix the warm water with the yeast.  Let sit for five minutes.  Add flour and salt and mix until combined.  Place in a bowl with oil and since I made it last night, I just decided to keep it on the counter overnight to rise.  So simple – this is how the dough looks in 6 minutes.


I realized I didn’t have bacon or enough mozzarella cheese being the end of the week, so I improvised.  I used my homemade marinara, then did chopped ham, and a mixture of cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese. 


Then I just cracked four eggs over the top!


Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 – 15 minutes, depending on your stove.  Since I cooked this at home and brought it to work, I wished I would have done the egg part at my office kitchen – but I think everyone liked it!   Then I didn’t realize the firm was going to buy pizza for lunch so you’ll have to come back tomorrow for my copy cat Panera Bread broccoli cheese soup!  OMG, it tastes EXACTLY like Panera’s!  I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.  So since I had pizza for breakfast and pizza for lunch, pretty sure I wasn’t going to do pizza for dinner!

So I stopped by my local grocery store to see what was in their 50% meat case – basically meat that needs to be sold (or frozen) by today’s date.  I scored!  I got a 1.61 pound porterhouse steak for $6!!!


And on the side I bought shell on butterfly shrimp – just 1/4 of a pound that cost about $4.  Wow, were these good!  I cooked them on the grill in a cast iron skillet with about 2 tablespoons of the scampi butter!  I kept them off the heat, just until the butter melted.


Then I finished them off on the grill, shrimp side down:


My plate had the filet portion of the porterhouse, with 3 shrimp and shredded zucchini I sauteed on top of the stove as everything else cooked on the grill.  After I took this picture I gave the other two shrimp to Tony since he had more steak than me – and still enough steak leftover to have steak and eggs tomorrow!  Such a deal for $6!



And the sun came out!  It’s been so rainy in the Chicagoland area lately, that this really made the night – although a bit on the chilly side – which I love so I am not complaining at all!  And here is our dog Ed – patiently waiting for any leftovers that may come his way!


I am off to watch the remainder of the Sox game with Tony – we were losing last time I checked!  Tomorrow’s plans are for me to clean out our gutters – um, I believe we have a garden growing in our gutters!  And my SIL and her family is coming over for her birthday on Sunday, so there is some cake making in my near future – Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting!   This is not low fat at all, but so moist and delicious – it may be insulin worthy! 😀

Have a good Friday night all and I’ll see you tomorrow night! 😀

I won the lottery! (and then came home and made Chicken Zucchini Taquitos!)

Okay, maybe I only won $21.  And maybe I spent $10 to win $21 out of a $252 million jackpot.  And maybe no one won the jackpot so maybe I spent $10 more dollars for Friday’s $300 million jackpot.  Hmm.  So what can I buy with a $1?!

This morning started out with spicy, cheezy oats.  This mornings blend was 1/2 cup oats, with 1/2 cup cooked egg whites, 1/2 ounce of mozzarella cheese drizzled in, and at the last minute I decided to add 1/2 ounce of chopped Volpi salami.  God help me I love that salami!


I don’t know if its the hot sauce, or the little bit of cheese, but it makes the oats so creamy!!   I had the last of the canteloupe, so breakfast comes in at 314 calories, 12 fat, 21 protein, 28 carbs and 4 fiber. 

Lunch was my extra spicy chili!  I think maybe because I used this chili powder that it was too hot for my family?  I got this on the food aisle at Marshall’s of all places!



I had this generous bowl with 1 ounce of tortilla chips – and may have added a splash of Tabasco with each bite! :D  Lunch comes in at 418 calories, 20 fat, 20 protein, 42 carbs and 9.5 fiber.

Then I realized I never put together my Chicken Divan casserole!  I knew I had to use up the chicken tenders I bought, so I decided to make Taquitos! 

I sauteed the chicken with taco seasoning and cumin.  Tony thought it was not very flavorful, but when I add pickled jalapenos to mine, I tend to under spice for the rest of my family!  I had shredded zucchini, and added that to the chicken once the chicken was cooked.  Then I added fresh chopped cilantro – maybe I should have added a bit of lime now that I think about it!  Hannah kind of didn’t like the look of this going in, but she loved them!


Then I heated up about 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, just so its warm.  Each corn tortilla gets a quick oil bath so they won’t split open in the oven.  Now is a good time to turn your oven to 425! 


This batch made exactly 12 taquitos.  Here they are all wrapped and ready for the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional three minutes.


I liked how Tony’s plate looked when I plated his!  He actually added Frank’s hot sauce so that will tell you how under seasoned my meat was – so I’ll definitely kick it up next time!


My plate – I had three taquitos, 1/2 cup of fat free vegetable refried beans, 2 tablespoons sour cream, .6 ounces of cheddar cheese, and 1/2 ounce of tortilla chips for my refried beans.  And you can’t see it, but my stuffing has chopped pickled jalapenos!  I just had to make sure to keep track which ones mine were!


These were so crispy, and they stayed hot for a long time too!  dinner comes in at 599 calories, 25 fat, 30 protein, 65 carbs and 8,8 fiber.

We got caught up on most of our my foodie t.v. shows last night.  Did anyone see Chopped where the guy kept double dipping his spoon, tasting the sauce and then using the spoon again??  And he cuts himself and blood was actually dripping into his dish and he wanted to keep going!  Um, pretty sure I wouldn’t go to his restaurant ever!

So glad tomorrow is Friday, though I think its our next to last jeans day at work – we only get to wear jeans on Fridays from after Memorial Day to Labor Day – its supposed to be rainy and cold tomorrow again too.  Although I should not complain, we didn’t have much rain this summer at all!

Off to finish mopping the floor and put together dough for breakfast pizza tomorrow!  Hope everyone had a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow night! 😀

It’s too spicy!

I made a big pot of chili last night, and it was too spicy for my family to eat!  I of course love it! 😀  Unfortunately, its still a bit soupy so its cooking down some more. 

I need your chili recipes!  Seriously, in the 9 years we’ve been together, neither one of us has made a great pot of chili!  Why is it so hard for us??  That and I can’t make my Mom’s scalloped potatoes, even though I’ve watched her make them a million times!

But we have to start with breakfast, right?  Almost deja vu from yesterday, except I used a Healthy Life Bun instead of a bagel.  I love the reduced fat Swiss Lorraine cheese – it always gets so melty!


And the rest of the cantaloupe on the side – this is so sweet and good!  Just the smell of cantaloupe brings me right back to my grandmas house in the summer!


Breakfast comes in at 319 calories, 9.5 fat, 22 protein, 39 carbs and 4.9 fiber.  For lunch I made a different version of my quinoa lasagna, except this time I substituted yellow squash for the spinach.  It could have used a bit more sauce, but it was still good!  Here’s how it looks right before going in the oven – I use a bread pan and make this two GENEROUS servings! 😀  I had a spinach salad on the side, which was a boring picture so I am not posting it!



And while it doesn’t look that pretty, it tasted really good!  Lunch came in at 543 calories, 16 fat, 30 protein, 69 carbs and 9 fiber!  I did get a bit snacky around four and dug into my raw almonds – while I prefer smoked and salted almonds, these are ever so slowly growing on me!


It was rainy, kinda cold tonight, and since I had to put my chili three ways on the back burner, I had a whole chicken in the fridge that I decided to roast in the oven.  I ended up using our scampi butter on the top of the skin, and stuck fresh rosemary on the inside.  it was a small bird – probably around 3 pounds so it only took about an hour to cook.


The smell of the fresh rosemary out of the oven was to die for!  And while Tony and I prefer our chicken skin really crisp like we get on the grill, this was really moist and delicious!  I made spicy carrots on the side (didn’t like them a whole lot so I am not posting the recipe – I need to tweak it a bit more!).  And I had two potatoes and made a small amount of mashed potatoes on the side.  The carrots look pretty, but they didn’t turn out as tender as I would have liked.


My plate – 3 ounces of chicken (Ed got the skin!) the carrots and mashed potatoes.  Dinner comes in at 366 calories, 10 fat, 29 protein, 30 carbs and 4.9 fiber.


Stats for the Day

  • 1267 calories
  • 42 fat
  • 85 protein
  • 145 carbs
  • 19.9 fiber
  • no exercise.  I had to cover the front desk during my lunch break, and then I was hungry and I don’t like to work out after I eat!

We are getting into football season – I need your chili recipes!!

It is BizTV tonight – we have Chopped on the DVR, the new season of Top Chef AND a Man v. Food!  Two more days til the weekend – see you tomorrow night! 😀