Beef Shank Stew and No Power

Yep, the leftover queen strikes again!  This time in breakfast form:

  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 1/4 cup fat free refried beans
  • 1 scrambled egg
  • 2 ounces leftover taco chicken from the night before last
  • 1/2 ounce shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped romaine
  • taco bell taco sauce 😀

This was a supa filling breakfast for 10 points.

It’s official – I am sick.  Not horribly sick, but when I woke up yesterday morning it sounded as if I had just smoked a pack of marlboros.  My chest feels a bit tight and now my runny/stuffy nose is sneezing a lot.  So I took yet a 3rd rest day from exercise.

I remembered I had my leftover Irish potato soup in the fridge at work, and thought that would hit the spot.  However, I forgot I fed one more person at the office and realized I had about 1/2 a cup of soup.  I am generous to a fault, aren’t I?! 😀

So I went across the street to Jimmy John’s and got the #5 Vito – no cheese, mayo, tomato or onion, but extra hot peppers. 😀  11 points.

And for everyone who was interested in the pumpkin spiced marshmallows yesterday, here’s what the package looks like – and like the packaging says, these are good for snacking!  I bought them at Wal-mart and they were in the center aisle with all the baking stuff.

A few weeks ago I bought beef shank meat – check out how cheap it is!

I wasn’t sure exactly how to treat the beef shank, so I decided its such a cheap cut of beef, that I would use my slow cooker, and made a version of beef shank stew:

Biz’s Beef Shank Stew

  • makes 6 servings for 5 WW points  (198 calories, 4.2 fat, 24 carbs, 3.5 fiber and 16 protein)


  • 3 beef shanks (I ended up getting 12 ounces of meat after removing fat and the marrow bone)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (about 5 large)
  • 1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed, and sliced (I left the skin on)

Spray the bottom of your crock pot with Pam.  Add frozen beef shanks to the bottom, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Peel and sliced the carrots, add them to the crock pot.  Dice the potatoes into big chunks and add to the pot.

In large bowl mix vinegar, olive oil, flour, tomato juice, tomato juice and stir until the flour is completely dissolved.  Pour mixture over beef and veggies, then add the 2 cups beef broth.

Cook on 8 hours. 

When I got home, I took the beef shank out, took out the marrow bone, cut away any visible fat, shredded the meat and then mixed it all together.  Holy yum, I am sure the marrow helped add a depth of flavor to this dish.  I didn’t notice the beads of fat in my gravy until I took a picture.

The meat was so tender, but I have a feeling this is more than 5 points, so I am calling it 9 points and with a slice of my beer bread to soak up the gravy, dinner comes in at 12 points.

We were just sitting down to dinner when the lights started to flicker on and off.  Tony yelled “go run turn off the computer!”  I raced to the back of the house, unplugged it and turned off the lights – it was super stormy and high winds.  It was still kinda light out so we enjoyed our meal sans Wheel of Fortune.

So we did the only thing we could do.  We went out for beers!  We had to adapt and survive people!  So we found a bar that had a parking spot right in front and lo and behold they had $2 Miller Lites.  Even though they had Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest AND Blue Moon on tap, I stuck with the light beer.  Um, maybe I had three. 😀

Then we drove to the bar close to our house, who for some reason had power.  Had my 4th beer there when one of the patrons got a call from their house saying the power was back on.  It was probably around 9:30.  As soon as we step out of the bar, all the lights go off.

We both had had enough beer, so we went home anyway – and the power was on! Woot!  I start cleaning the kitchen, then the power goes out again – this time for another hour and a half – it finally came on around 11 as I was going to bed.

Here is a sequence of pictures of our weather.  The first picture was when I was walking into my office:

The next picture was when I was driving home – it was super sunny and blue skies on one side and dark angry clouds on the other:

This is the last long road I take to get to our house.

I guess we can’t complain too much – the last time our power went out it was off for 4 days!  It was fun hanging out with you Tony! 😀

Okay, I need your help – Tony bought me this big container of baby spinach, now I need ideas on how to use it up – any recipes left in the comments section would be appreciated! 😀

Stats for Thursday:

  • 49 points – I think 16 points for the beer?  I need to double check that
  • no exercise
  • average blood sugar 112

Happy Friday!  Make it a great day.  Not looking forward to my WI tomorrow, but I am going anyway.  Not sure how my lack of exercise is gonna effect the WI – tune in tomorrow to find out. 😀

Mexican Chicken Noodle Soup

I must say I think I’ve been pretty creative so far cooking out of our pantry/fridge/freezer this week.

Breakfast was an egg white spinach breakfast sammie on my ciabatta bread with a side of sliced kiwi (which is the last kiwi – bummed I didn’t buy more at TJ’s because they are really good and big.)  That’s what she said.  Breakfast comes in at 11 points.

I feel like I have a cold coming on – my nose is stuffy one second, then runny the next.  Hope you didn’t just put something in your mouth when you read that last sentence. 😀  So I didn’t work out again.  But I was so excited about my soup!

Mexican Chicken Noodle soup

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 corn tortillas, torn into chunks
  • 3 ounces cooked chicken (picked off my roasted chicken last night)
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce (I  used my homemade marinara)
  • 2 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. to 1 tablespoon chipotle peppers depending on how hot
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • zest of  1 lime
  • 4 ounces cooked egg noodles (that I had leftover from stroganoff the other day)  Am I the only one who always makes too much pasta?

Mix all the ingredients into a stock pot, except noodles, lime and cilantro.  Cook for 20 minutes, until the zucchini are tender.  Add noodles and cook 5 more minutes, or until noodles are warmed. 

Remove from heat and add cilantro and squeeze of one lime.

Holy yumz, this was delicious.  I love the corn tortillas in the soup, it thickens it up and has that smoky corn tortilla taste.  Had just enough heat (I used 1 tsp. chipotles in adobo) without being over powerful, I do think the cilantro and lime juice make this.

Stats:  4 servings (1.5 cups) 233 calories, 4.2 fat, 31 catbs, 2.4 fiber and 15.9 protein, or 6 PointsPlus). 

I had mine with a serving of tortilla chips – so lunch comes in at 10 points.  And since I wasn’t feeling too great, it was time to bring in my fall/winter treat – cafe mocha. 😀  One package diet cocoa mix (its 25 calories a package), Jack Daniels coffee (yep, that’s the coffee we drink – the men in the office like it better than Starbucks), a squirt of whip cream and a few pumpkin spiced marshmallows – a perfect 2 point treat. 

And while I still haven’t restocked our deep freeze since our 4 days without power this summer, I did find frozen chicken breasts in our small freezer, so I made one of my favorite dinners:  Mexican Fiesta!  Pantry items used, corn tortillas to make tostadas, tortillas, taco sauce, refried beans.  Fridge items used: shredded lettuce, cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos. 

Dinner comes in at 12 points.  Hannah and I were going to see the Idiot Brother movie, but it’s no longer playing in our area anymore, so we got our eyebrows waxed, and came home and watched Biggest Loser.  Not gonna lie, I don’t think I miss Jillian being on the show at all!

Stats for the Day:

  • 35 points
  • no exercise
  • hoping my head cold doesn’t get worse
  • average blood sugar 121

You all will be jealous – check out the sale price for chicken breasts at my store!  $1.17 baby!  😀

I am still trying to improve my camera skillz – check out this cool post – I think even I can understand it!   Make it a great day!

T-Pain Microphone and Irish Potato Soup

Okay, can I just say that my blog post title basically kicks ass! 😀

I decided to get a gag gift for Tony’s birthday last week.  We had seen an infomercial for T-Pain’s microphone – you can sing into it, get beat box rhythms – here is what the microphone can do.

So Tony has been sending me love songs at work and leaving them on my voice mail.  Here is the latest one on a day when I told him I was really busy.


I just saved it on my voicemail and it makes me laugh every time I hear it – thanks Tony! 😀

It’s still overcast/rainy/crappy outside, so I decided I wanted oatmeal.  Now I know why I don’t eat this too often, I added a teaspoon of agave nectar, with 1 chopped apple, 1 tablespoon of raisins and a small packet of McDonald’s granola – it was just way too sweet.  I missed my cheese. 😀  Although I will say that it was filling and only 6 WW points for the whole bowl.  I think I got the McDonald’s granola packets from my Mom that she got at the food pantry she volunteers at – if they don’t have enough for everybody, they can’t hand it out.

And since I am still working out of my pantry/fridge/freezer, I give you Irish Potato Soup with Honey Beer Bread.  It’s rare if I don’t have chicken broth, potato and carrots on hand.

Irish Potato Soup (makes 4 servings, 246 calories, 12 fat, 25 carbs, 4 fiber and 9 protein = 6 WW points per serving = about 1.5 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pound Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 2 large carrots, shredded (mine came to a generous cup)
  • 32 ounce chicken broth (Dollar Tree sells 32 ounce boxes of chicken broth and beef broth for $1 – nice!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I used bacon salt)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Melt butter in stock pot.  Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through. 

I used my potato masher because I wanted a chunkier soup – feel free to stick blend for a smooth soup. 

Honey Beer Bread (makes 12 servings, 146 calories, 2.2 fat, 26 carbs, 1.2 fiber and 3.3 protein = 4 WW points).

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 bottle of light beer
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter (may leave this out next time)

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add beer and honey and mix just until the mixture is combined.  Pour 1 tablespoon of butter in the bottom of your bread dish, and then add bread dough, then finish off with the remaining butter.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes (I used a glass dish, so it may take longer in a different pan).

I actually liked the extra texture of leaving the potato skins on.  This one will be a repeat for sure, and the bread is super quick. 😀

I never worked out at lunch, it was pouring rain pretty much all day and when I thought it would let up, it would start up again. 😦

When I went to TJ’s over the weekend, I picked up this small oven roaster – love both the size and the price!

Before work I added sliced lemons, sea salt with rosemary and cracked pepper and wrapped it up.  I asked Tony to heat the oven around 4:45 to 475 – bake it for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 and then I’d take over when I got home from work.  It was cooked perfectly – starting out the first 30 minutes at a high temperature seals the skin and ensures that you will get a crispy skin (I gave my skin to the dog). 😀  But keep an eye on it – you may have to cover it with foil half way through so the skin doesn’t burn.  Um, and please ignore the random shit on my counter.  Thanks.

On the side I had smashed potatoes and sauteed zucchini – again, another comforting dinner that doesn’t break the WW points bank.  This plate comes in at 9 points.

Loved reading about who inspires you to cook on yesterday’s post!  Thanks for sharing your memories with me!

Stats for Tuesday

  • 29]points (I added 4 points of tasting my soup I made after dinner last night)
  • no exercise
  • average blood sugar 151 (thanks carby breakfast!) 😀

Tonight is hanging with Hannah – we are going to go see My Idiot Brother. 😀  Make it a great day!

Come back tomorrow with Mexican Chicken Noodle Soup using the leftover noodles from the beef stroganoff, chicken from the roast last night and leftover marinara sauce – sounds weird, but this just might be my new favorite soup. 😀



Who was your Cooking Inspiration?

I woke up to a stormy morning, leaves were flying across my yard, it was raining sideways at some points.  Icky way to start a Monday!  I brought Old Blue as my camera to work today – I thought it would just be dark all day so didn’t bring the DSLR.

Be prepared from some interesting eats this week.  I decided not to grocery shop and use up some of the pantry/freezer items we have on hand.  Although, I did spend $20 bucks at Trader Joe’s on Sunday. 😀

Breakfast was a spinach cheezy egg white sammie on 2 ounces of ciabatta bread with a sliced kiwi on the side.  Breakfast comes in at 9 points.

I was super busy at work, and it was iffy because of the weather if I was going to get a walk/jog in.  I was at a good stopping point, and checked and it said between 12 and 1 it was an 80% chance of rain.  I thought about it, and said “who the hell cares if I get wet?”

With Shelley’s hat she gave me and my hoodie, it was all good.  It sprinkled on and off and I ended up walking/jogging/running for 55 minutes.  It felt good I hadn’t worked out since last Wednesday!

I ran through the covered bridge only to discover there was a small waterfall on one side of it – so pretty!  I still have no idea, but my blackberry pictures come out looking like paintings!

Lunch was delicious tasting if it doesn’t look appetizing – 1/2 cup of bbq pork (chopped up from a roast I made last weekend) on Thomas light english muffin, and an apple, edamame, grape spinach salad – it was supa filling and comes in at 10 points.

So before leaving work I pulled out a small sirloin steak and some chicken breasts.  On my drive home I started to think what else I had and decided to make a chicken and steak stroganoff.  I did have to stop at the store to pick up coffee creamer so the only thing I needed was the mushrooms.  So add $5.27 to my grocery bill this week. 😀

I adapted this from Cooks Illustrated:

Beef Stroganoff
recipe from Cooks Illustrated

1 1/4 lbs sirloin steaks, tips ( trimmed of excess fat and cut lengthwise with grain into 4 equal pieces) (I had 12 ounces of steak and chicken)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (I only used 1 teaspoon)
1 lb white mushrooms, quartered (I only used 8 ounces since Tony is the only one that eats them)
2 teaspoons hot water
1 tablespoon dry mustard (I used 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard)
1 teaspoon sugar

fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onions, finely chopped (you know I left these out)
table salt
2 teaspoons tomato paste
4 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. white wine or 1/3 cup dry vermouth (I used 1/3 cup white wine)
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream (I used 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves (nope)

Using fork, poke each piece of steak 10-12 times. Place in baking dish; rub both sides evenly with soy sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.  (I marinated for 15 minutes)

While meat marinates, place mushrooms in medium microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until mushrooms have decreased by volume by half, 4-5 minutes (should be as much as 1/4 cup liquid in bowl). Drain mushrooms and set aside; discard liquid. Combine water, dry mustard, sugar, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl until smooth paste forms; set aside.

Pat steak pieces dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Heat oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place steak pieces in skillet and cook until browned on all sides and internal temperature registers 125 to 130 degrees, 6-9 minutes, reducing heat if fond begins to burn. Transfer meat to large plate and set aside while cooking sauce.

Add mushrooms, onion, and 1/2 tsp salt to skillet and cook until vegetables begin to brown and dark bits form on bottom of pan, 6-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring constantly, until onions and mushrooms are coated, about 1 minute. Stir in 1/3 cup wine, beef broth and mustard paste and bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce has reduced slightly and begun to thicken, 4-6 minutes.

While sauce is reducing, cut steak pieces across grain into 1/4″ thick slices. Stir in meat and any accumulated juices into thickened sauce and cook until beef has warmed through, 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let any bubbles subside. Stir in sour cream and remaining tablespoons wine; season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.  I didn’t have any parsley, so I just quickly shred some zucchini and added some crushed red pepper to mine.

For the meat mixture, each serving (makes 4) comes in at 282 calories, 14 fat, 7 carbs and 25 protein, or 7 WW points.  With the cup of cooked egg noodles, dinner comes in at 12 points.

Holy yum, was this good – and a super easy weeknight dinner – this was done in about 35 minutes from beginning to end.  And while I love the flavor of mushrooms, can’t stand the texture – best part about this meal?  Tony gave it two thumbs up! 😀

When I was at my Mom’s house yesterday, I was going through some old photographs.  I think I should carry this picture around with me as inspiration that at least at one time I had a flat stomach!  I have the hot sexy red bathing suit on, my sister is sporting a klassy short/shirt up to boobs look.  Gotta love 1985 swimwear!

The next picture I found was of Hannah and my Dad – probably taken around 12-18 months before he died.

My Dad didn’t really learn how to cook until the late 1970’s when he decided to try his hand at restaurant management and went back to school.  One of the classes he had to take was cooking classes, and he would come home and show us his skillz at making crepes suzette!

I think he made them five nights in a row if I remember correctly.  And while my Mom is a great cook, my Dad was I think more adventurous of a cook, which I totally didn’t appreciate at the time.  My Dad’s Mom however was a horrible cook.  I remember goign to her house and she would make us Chef Boyardee boxed pizza – and she would take her slice, eat the sauce and cheese on top, then put more sauce and cheese on the naked pizza dough, and put it back in the oven – she wouldn’t eat the bottom crust until the second time around.

My Mom’s Mom had a can of bacon grease on her stove at all times – need I say more? 😀

So who inspires you to cook?  Parent/grandparent/friends/t.v. chef?  Just curious!

Stats for Monday:

  • 55 minute walk
  • 31 WW points
  • average blood sugar 129
  • I put the strength rock on my bedside table so I can see it when I wake up 😀  Thanks for the idea Jacky!

Latin American Food?

So I told you yesterday that I was meeting my Momma for lunch to celebrate her birthday yesterday.  What I didn’t tell you was that I happily dragged my SIL as my partner in crime to surprise my Mom and went to her church service.  She was so surprised!  And the surprise was on us because she also had a duet during the special music section of the service.  You did great Momma!

So originally our plan was to hit up Wildfire in Schaumburg.  We both love their burgers.  But since we were now in the Oak Park/Forest Park area, we had to switch gears.  We met back at my Mom’s house and decided to go to Aripo’s, which is on Marion Street in the heart of the Oak Park mall.  None of us had had Latin American/Venezuelan food before so we decided to throw the dice.

We decided to get three of their signature dishes, and then just share.

First up was the Bistec encebollado – thin cut sirloin steak with carmelized onions and white rice.  Um, the two nuts I were with LOVE carmelized onions so I was out voted 2 to 1 – the steak was delicious after I scraped off the nasty onions.  Nice and tender and super flavorful.

Then was the Pabellon Criollo – shredded beef, white rice, black beans, fried plantains and crumbled white cheese.  The beef was a tad dry, but still very good.

Then we had Cachapas – Venezuelan corn panckes with De Mano cheese and shredded chicken – I think this dish was our favorite and I am definitely going to try to recreate the corn pancake – perfect combination of salty and sweet.

I actually expected the dishes to have some spice to them, but while flavorful, were not spicy at all.  Luckily two of my best friends decided to join me.

I asked my Mom if she wanted dessert and when I mentioned “flan” she said yes immediately.  Although this one was different, it was thick and almost tapiocaish (yep, I am counting that as a word!) with a delicious carmel sauce on the bottom.  I had a couple bites and enjoyed a Venezuelan latte on the side.

We then went to Trader Joe’s because my SIL had never been to one.  Picked up a roast chicken, some edammame (sp?) and some fruit.  I think I am going to try to recreate my meals this week with just what we have – I will have to be very creative, but I think I can do it. 😀

Then we went to Penzye’s spices, and while I normally think their prices are rediculous, I did buy a 2 ounce jar of seasoning called Italian sausage to make your own sausage – how cool is that?  And I picked up a bumper sticker that screams me.  Shhh. Don’t tell Tony I already put it on the car!

We also hit up Ten Thousand Villages, which is a fair trade retailer.  OMG, so much stuff to look at you could literally spend a couple hours in there.  I bought something simple that caught my eye – I bought one for me and for my SIL.

This will be my mantra this week – strength to stay on plan, get my exercise goals in, drink my water, etc.  I haven’t decided where I am going to put it to remind me – any suggestions?

Have any of you made any Latin American food at home before – please share any recipes in the comments section!

How was your weekend?  Make it a great day!!

It was fun being a caterer for a day and Week 2 of Holiday Challenge

I’ve been really Bizzy in my kitchen lately.  A friend and co-worker was having a house warming party, and after helping her with the menu (um, fyi – sandwiches from California Pizza Kitchen for 40 people was going to cost $400!).

While her mom and sister were helping with some dishes, I shopped, cooked and prepared six appetizers.

  •  baja fresh salsa with fresh homemade tortilla chips
  • mini reuben bites
  • mini cheddar drop biscuit ham and cheese sammies (biscuit recipe below)
  • chicken pesto meatballs in a diablo marinara sauce
  • mini twice baked potato bites (recipe below)
  • bruschetta with homemade garlic crisps (recipe below)

One thing I noticed when I was cooking for someone else?  I hardly took any pictures, and lost a few that I did take somehow!   Somehow two of the six apps survived:

Mini Cheese Drop Biscuit Ham and Cheese Sammies

for the biscuit

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk is fine too)
  • 1 stick of melted butter (yep!)

This is truly simple because you put all the dry ingredients on the bottom, then add the milk and butter, and stir until just combined.  Set your oven at 450.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring spoon, and then divided that mixture in half to get the tiny sized biscuits I wanted.

While this sounded like an easy appetizer, making 100+ biscuits, then letting them cool, then carefully cutting them in half and building a ham, provolone, lettuce and spicy mustard sammie together was quite time consumming!

I don’t have any really big containers either, but discovered that the Dollar Tree has these aluminum pans with lids for $1 each – some were deeper than others, but it worked perfectly.

 Another appetizer that was simple, yet time consumming, was the mini potato bites:

Mini Potato Bites for a Crowd

  • 6 pounds of baby yellow golden potatoes
  • 1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped
  • drizzle olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • green onion for garnish

Slice each potato in half, and using a teaspoon, scoop out the inside of the potato, careful not to cut through the skin.  Cut a tiny slice off the bottom of each potato so it lays flat on your baking pan.  Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 for one hour. 

Once they were cooled, I sprinkled with the bacon and cheddar cheese, and at the party I reheated them in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, then finished them off under the broiler for a couple minutes.  Then garnished with sour cream and green onions.

Just an fyi, coring out six pounds of potatoes takes a long time – I think it took me about an hour just to do that!  But they were delicious!

I was worried there wasn’t going to be enough food, but it turned out perfectly.  But I’ve realized I think I would lose my love of cooking quickly if I ever catered again – helping out a friend once is nice, but I don’t think I’ll do it again.

Best part though?  My food cost, including the boxes from the Dollar Tree . . . $91.72!  Here is how I saved money – for the chicken pesto meatballs I ground my own meat and was able to score boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.29 a pound.

I made my own tortilla chips – my store sells fresh corn tortillas, 10 in a package, for .25 cents.  I ended up making 320 tortilla chips for $2.  It just took a while to deep fry them, but everyone loved them.

For my crostini that went with the bruscetta, Jimmy John’s sells their 12 inch day old bread for .50 a loaf.  I picked up 4 loaves for $2.07, and ended up making 200 crostini – I made a mixture of melted butter, garlic and Italian seasoning, brushed over the top of each slice and baked at 350 for 10 minutes.

By the time I got home the last think I wanted to do was cook, so Tony and I ordered a pizza.  We had enough box tops saved to get 50% off any pizza, so we decided to go with the Chicago style deep dish.  Only catch was I had to pick it up.

So I call, make the order, and about 30 minutes later I go pick up the pizza, but they don’t have my order.  I was like “they told me it was going to be $11 with the 50% box tops, and that it would be ready in 35 minutes.”  Still they have no record.  I call Tony, he texts me the number I called which turns out to be . . . the pizza place 1/2 a mile away!

I was so embarrassed!  So I go to the place I actually ordered from, and apparently they have the same box top coupon deal too – only my box tops are not from them.  When I told her that, she took the box tops, threw them away and gave us our pizza for $11!  And she said “you’ll probably like our pizza better!”

It was a good pizza, but Tony and I just watched America’s test kitchen make a true Chicago deep dish pizza – and that is the next pizza on our list to make – hopefully next weekend!

Week 2 Holiday Challenge

I only worked out 3 times last week, and towards the end of the week with Tony’s birthday (and pecan pie) I ended up being up .2.  And this weekend with constantly tasting the food I was making, deep dish pizza and another slice of pecan pie last night, I really need to focus the rest of this week.

How was your week?  Anyone have an achievement to share, or does anyone need some extra cheering?

I am meeting my Mom for lunch to celebrate her birthday today – not sure where we are going – we thought Bonefish (love their bang bang shrimp!) but they aren’t open for lunch.  We’ll see!

Enjoy your Sunday – I plan on staying in 1st place in the football pool with Tony, my step-son and his friend. 😀


Weekly WI and Ciabatta

I consider my WI to be a success, even though I am up .2 this week.  We had a great birthday dinner out, and I only worked out 3 times last week.

I regularly tape America’s Test kitchen shows because I am a visual person – I am much better at recreating something if I’ve seen it, rather than read the instructions of a recipe.  You’ll see why when I copy the recipe below from their website – it looks intense, but this is really very simple.

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1/2 cup water (4 ounces), at room temperature
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 cup water (6 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk (2 ounces), at room temperature (see note)
  • 1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours).
  • 2. FOR THE DOUGH: Place biga and dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed until roughly combined and shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute; scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until dough becomes uniform mass that collects on paddle and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 6 minutes. Change to dough hook and knead bread on medium speed until smooth and shiny (dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  • 3. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough six more times (total of eight turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes longer. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.
  • 4. Cut two 12- by 6-inch pieces of parchment paper and liberally dust with flour. Transfer dough to liberally floured counter, being careful not to deflate completely. Following photos 6 through 9 above, liberally flour top of dough and divide in half. Turn 1 piece of dough so cut side is facing up and dust with flour. With well-floured hands, press dough into rough 12- by 6-inch shape. Fold shorter sides of dough toward center, overlapping them like business letter to form 7- by 4-inch loaf. Repeat with second dough piece. Gently transfer each loaf seam-side down to parchment sheets, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let loaves sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (surfaces of loaves will develop small bubbles).
  • 5. Slide parchment with loaves onto inverted, rimmed baking sheet or pizza peel. Using floured fingertips, evenly poke entire surface of each loaf to form 10- by 6-inch rectangle; spray loaves lightly with water. Carefully slide parchment with loaves onto baking stone using jerking motion. Bake, spraying loaves with water twice more during first 5 minutes of baking time, until crust is deep golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of loaves registers 210 degrees, 22 to 27 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, discard parchment, and cool loaves to room temperature, about 1 hour, before slicing and serving.

See what I mean?  The hands on time is really not all that much, it’s just the repeating rises that takes time – and you have to start the biga the night before.  It took about 2 minutes to put together and mix and then just sat covered on my counter overnight.

In the morning it looked like this:

See all the bubbles that developed overnight.  It also has a sour doughy smell to it, which gives the bread an extra tang that I love.

It’s a supa sticky dough too:

Divide the dough in half and make each half a rectangle:

Then you fold it like an envelope:

Then I reshaped the dough on parchment paper for the last 30 minute rest.

Then baked them – the diretions said to spritz the dough 3 times in the first five minutes so it doesn’t develop too much of a crust, but I don’t have a spritzer so I just put some water on top before putting it in the oven.  I actually loved the crust.

Love all the holes!

This one is a keeper!  But then again, like cheese, pretty sure there isn’t a bread I don’t like.

I have to give a thank you shout out to Anne Marie because I won her latest giveaway – check out the loot!  I am loving the new cookie sheet – nothing sticks to it!

Thanks for all your nice comments on my vlog post yesterday – I promise the next one I do you’ll actually see my face!

Have a great Saturday!