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. 😀

sda’;ldakf

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.

Ingredients
Biga
  • 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
Dough
  • 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)
Instructions
  • 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!

Do I like mussels? First VLOG?!

Thanks for all your birthday wishes the last couple days – and guess what?  There’s one more!  Yep, I have three birthdays in a row – today is my Momma’s 71st birthday!  Happy Birthday Mom!

She’s going to the symphony today, so I am meeting her on Sunday after church for lunch to celebrate. 😀

So I’ve been curious to try mussels for a while now.  I see them on blogs, etc., and they just look good.  Mind you, this is coming from someone who grew up only eating 2 vegetables (carrots and cucumbers thank you) and never had a microscopic piece of any type of seafood even come close to my mouth.

So on the menu it has mussels in either a spicy tomato broth or white wine sauce.  Um, you all know that I picked the spicy broth!

I apologize for how dark the picture and video is – it was really dark.

And now for the video proof!  I am trying to think if I’ve ever had a video of my voice before on this blog, and I don’t think so!  Next time I VLOG I promise you will actually see my face. 😀  And listening to this I really have a Chicago accent, don’t I?

Tony tasted one and he said they weren’t as briny as he remembered and promised if I ate them again I wouldn’t like them.  But I did really like them!

We had a wonderful evening out, came home to watch Big Bang Theory and the Office season premieres – oh, and I may have had a couple glasses of this!

Alright, gotta get moving this morning, so a short post – let me know what you think of the VLOG!

Make it a great day!

Happy Birthday Tony!

Today I am celebrating Tony’s birthday for the 11th year!  We met in May of 2000, and in September of that year we celebrated Tony’s 40th birthday. . . now fast forward 11 years  . . . HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

What a crazy year we had – we’ve made it through his colon cancer, and he’s cancer free.  SO happy he didn’t need chemo or radiation, and while he still isn’t 100%, it’s so much better than the alternative.

We have become quite the grill masters over the years:

Sadly we had so many mosquitos this year, we hardly spent much time under the gazebo, and hope to change that with the cooler weather this fall.

And super young Tony!

We plan on going out for Italian where I am going to try mussels for the first time – wish me luck!  And I made a pecan pie for his “cake.”  He loves pecan pie!

Super Easy Pecan Pie  (pretty sure there are not a lot of calories in this pie – ha!)

  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup pecan chips (or super finely chopped pecans)
  • 1 pie crust (I used Pillsbury)

Mix all the ingredients together except for the pecan halves.  Line pie plate with pie crust, pour mixture into pie crust and then gently arrange the pecan halves on top in a pretty pattern.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 – at this point I had to put foil around the edges of the crust so they didn’t get too dark, then baked an additional 15 minutes.

You have to let cool completely before slicing, as hard as we wanted to just dig in when it came out of the oven last night!

Yesterday’s breakfast was a repeat – my sweet potato pancakes, this time with some sauteed apples on top – 8 delicious points.

It’s been absolutely gorgeous – yesterdat when I left to work out it was 65 degrees and sunny.  My blood sugar was not cooperating – it only got up to 183, so all I could do was walk for 50 minutes.  Some more pics from my walk – I’ve never taken the path on this subdivision before near my office – there is a covered bridge!

When I got back to my office I put together ground beef and spinach tacos with broccoli slaw and cilantro.  I only had time to take one picture and while the picture sucks ass, the tacos were delicious!  Each taco was 5 points. 😀

I had to run some errands after work and decided to pick up Chinese for dinner – Hannah and I split a chicken and broccoli and on the side, unpictured, bbq pork which was really good.  Dinner comes in at 15 points.

Stats for the Day:

  • 33 WW points
  • 1513 calories, 51 fat, 169 carbs, 14 fiber and 95 protein
  • 31% of calories from fat
  • 39 points according to www.fatsecret.com.
  • 50 minute walk

Q of the Day:  Cake or Pie for your birthday celebration?

Happy Birthday Tony! Looking forward to dinner out with you tonight!

Your old, busted name was Biz. We now dub yo ass:

I have Roz to thank for my laughing fit yesterday.  She wrote a post about it being International Talk Like a Pirate Day and shared a link to come up with your pirate name.  In that instance, I put in “Biz” and my pirate name was: “Fancypants” Liza Cooke.  Nice! 😀

On that same site was: www.gangstaname.com – I decided to see what my gangsta name would be.  Imagine my surprise when I put in Biz as my old name and it came up with this gangsta name!

Stupid-Ass Lumpynutz

What the hell is up with that?!  I was laughing so hard at that!  So I had to do my sister Jennifer’s name:

Rotten G

So then I did Tony:

Wobbly Crab Whacka

and then my brother Charlie:

Whipped Pud

I am not making these up!  Please, go to that link and leave your gangsta name in the comment section – I plan to have lots of laughs today!  Thanks Roz for the laughs!!

I had some work errands to run in the morning, so I didn’t get to my desk until 10, which is late for me eating breakfast.  I found these “triple health” Thomas english muffins at the outlet store – each one has 6 grams of fiber.  I had it with 1/2 cup egg whites, baby spinach and cheese with a side of fresh fruit.  Breakfast comes in at 8 points.

It was absolutely gorgeous yesterday.  When I left for my bike ride, it was 75 degrees, breezy and sunny.  I ended up doing 9.95 miles in 49:47.  The scenery from my blackberry:

And this one I didn’t retouch at all and it kinda looks like a painting. 😀

The path that I ride on has these yellow and purple flowers all over it – I have no idea what they are, but they are beautiful – they grow along side the prairie grass.

I was going to go another .5 miles to make it an even 10 miles, but I had a taco salad waiting for me!  And just so you know, it’s okay to use a serving bowl as a salad bowl. 😀

In the mix: 2 cups chopped romaine, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/3 cup broccoli slaw, 1/2 ounce shredded cheese, 1/2 cup english cucumber, 1 ounce diced avocado, 3 ounces cooked taco beef and for the dressing: 2 tablespoons light done right ranch mixed with 1 tablespoon Frank’s hot sauce – this whole delicious bowl is 10 WW points.  You better believe I licked it clean.

It was grilling weather, so I made Tony and I some cheeseburgers for dinner.  And please don’t judge that I had fries two nights in a row.  It’s not nice to point. 😀  Dinner comes in at 14 points.  The hot gardieiera made this burger.

And if you made it down this far . . . HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY STEP-SON JOE!  He turns 22 today – Happy Birthday!  We got him a gift card to Fogo de Chao (even though his fiance is vegetarian – they have the best salad bar though!) and I sent him some crack cookies – snickerdoodles and cookies I made up that had Captain Crunch in them – that recipe will be for another post.

Some pics this past year of Joe stolen of his facebook page, since he lives in Austin and we don’t see him too often.  Joe at work on the left . . . now he wears suits because he’s a fancy pants assistant to the assistant regional manager. 😀

Him and the cat Jasmine that he torments.  Jasmine has its own facebook page by the way:

 Because its close to Halloween, what Joe and Lizz dressed up for last year.  I still can’t believe she got him to dress like this!

Joe and Lizz:

Happy Birthday Joe – we love you!

Stats for Tuesday:

  • 32 points according to WW
  • 1429 calories, 65 fat, 124 carbs, 21 fiber and 90 protein = 37 points according to www.fatsecret.com
  • 9.95 mile bike ride
  • 65.5 miles completed of 125 miles in September 😀
  • average blood sugar 131

Make it a great day!