Black Friday

My Mom and I once, and only once, got up at like 3:30 in the morning about 15 years ago to get to Best Buy to buy me my first computer.  If I remember correctly the sale price was around $500, which was cheap back then, and each store only guaranteed 10 computers per store.

We waited in line for probably three hours before the doors opened.  And then we see a guy park his car and walk right in the front door without even questioning the long line of people to his left!  We knew where the computer department was and I remember running, not because I was that excited about possibly getting my own computer, but everyone around me was running so it was run or get run over.

In the end, we did get the computer, but we both vowed we would never do it again.  Even after telling Hannah this story, this did not deter her.  We have a 24 hour Wal-Mart, but they had great sales starting at 10:00 p.m.  So Hannah get her shopping face on and left around 9:45.

I guess she got back home around midnight – she said people were pretty crazy, and they changed the location of things, so DVD’s that she wanted were in the garden dept.  One of the things she was trying to get for me was a small electric chopper – sometimes there are times when I don’t need to drag out my heavy food processor.  Just as she was about to reach for one, a woman takes her arm and scoops all 20 into her basket.  So crazy!  In the end she said it was worth it, she got some other things. 😀

We had a wonderful, laid back Thanksgiving yesterday.  Usually I try to make really complicated dishes that take days to prepare in advance.  This year not only did I not have time, but my energy was tapped out.  I didn’t even start to cook anything for thanksgiving dinner until 10:00 a.m. yesterday!

On our menu?

  • smoked turkey breast with a spicy rub
  • pork loin with lemons
  • tater tot casserole (Hannah makes it every year – its amazing!)
  • mashed potatoes
  • sausage stuffing
  • gravy
  • cheddar drop biscuits
  • pecan pie
  • pumpkin pie

For the turkey I made this dry rub:

  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons onion powder (left out because we hate onions!)
  • 1.5 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

I only used about 1/4 of the dry rub because our turkey breast was only 4 1/2 pounds.  We smoked it with hickory wood chips – and we also used the water pan so it steamed and cooked the turkey at the same time.  The smoker is low and slow – it took about 3 hours to cook, the last half hour I removed the water pan.  It was so tender and juicy!

Then we did a ham/pork on the gas grill with lemons, salt and pepper.  I threw out the wrapper, not exactly what cut this is, but it really tasted more like a pork roast then a traditional ham – still very tasty – and only $8 for this whole thing!

But I have to tell you, even though we had all this delicious food on the table, what I really wanted was . . . PIE!  I found these little non-stick pie pans at a thrift store.  I only had 3 so I had to make two batches, but they came right out of the pans.

Wanna know the secret to my pie crust??  BUTTER!

Best Pie Crust – enough for two 9 inch pies or 8 mini pies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons half and half
  • 3/4 cups butter (1 1/2 sticks!)
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water (plus up to 4 tablespoons depending on how it feels)

I put the flour and salt on a big mat.  Make a well in the center and then add the cream.

Then using my bench scraper, I bring the flour into the middle and run the sharp edge of the bench scraper back and forth breaking up the pieces of butter – then slowly add the water and keep cutting the water and flour together – this process takes about 10 minutes, but its worth it.  Then I dump the mixture into a bowl – you know its the right consistency when the dough holds together and isn’t crumbly or too wet.

I made the traditional Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe.  I should have halved the recipe because now I have a huge jar of pumpkin pie filling!  I’ll have to be creative with that leftover! 😀

Fill the pies and for the pumpkin, I baked at 425 for 15 minutes, reduced the heat to 350 and cooked another 20 minutes, or until the middle is set.

Doesn’t that look so cute??  For the pecan pies, I baked at 350 for 30 minutes.

Tony said that I should never buy refrigerated dough again – this one is the best!  So we had six people at our Thanksgiving table, each person got half a pumpkin and half a pecan pie.  The best part though?  No leftover pie!  We had our indulgence and are moving on.

I would say our theme for the day yesterday was simple and low key – and it was wonderful!  Just missed having my Momma at our table. 😦

Hannah is going to be spending the day with my Mom today – I will go tomorrow in the hopes that’s the day she gets to go home.  I have a few projects I want to do this weekend – first is going through the 1,000s of pictures on my computer that I need to delete, and laundry needs to get done.

I think we are going out to lunch today and going to see the Muppets – is anyone else going to see that movie?  My Dad loved that show and we watched it every Sunday night growing up.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  I plan on going to WW tomorrow since I missed last week.  My goal is that I maintained since exercise was not in the picture this week!

Happy Thanksgiving!

After only having a few hours of sleep the night before last, and working non-stop yesterday at work, I think I crashed at about 9:30 last night and slept 12 hours straight – nice!

Luckily I only have my SIL, nephew and grand-nephew coming over and my menu is pretty simple.  I still need to make my mini pumpkin and pecan pies, and we are griling a turkey breast and smoking a ham.  Simple and delicious!

I thought I’d share some pictures I’ve taken the last couple days.  When I spent the night at my Mom’s house on Monday, I drank my coffee out of this cup – Hannah is four and my nephew Paul is probably six or eight months old?

The morning of my Mom’s surgery we shopped for a night gown in case my Mom preferred wearing that over a hospital gown – I told her she should have bought this one because my Mom has 2 cats, and the night shirt says “Cat-titude.” 😀

And we had time to stop by my twin sisters office and say hello!

Then it was time to get my Mom to the pre-op room at the hospital – they have these new gowns that are insulated and when she was laying down they had a hose that connected to it that blew warm air over your body – she was never cold. 😀

By the time they took her to surgery on Tuesday it was nearly 2:45 before I ate lunch.  She couldn’t eat so I didn’t want to eat in front of her – I had brought a protein box from Starbuck’s – it was perfect: hard boiled egg, multi-grain crackers, Justin’s peanut butter, grapes and a piece of cheese.

I ate my lunch at the 24 hour Au Bon Pain at the hospital and watched the traffic head to Chicago:

Then once she was in the recovery room, I got hungry again – this time I got a soup at Au Bon Pain – and one that I am going to try to recreate.  Although when I make this over, I will add a bit of chipotle pepper because it was just a tad on the sweet side for me, the pepper helped – kobacha squash and pumpkin soup.  I instantly thought of Maggie when I saw kobacha squash!

I spent the night with my Mom – glad I did.  I fed her ice chips, kept a cool cloth on her head, etc.  Even though she had a morphine drip, she was still pretty uncomfortable – but she slept!

Since I had to work yesterday, my sister spent the afternoon and evening with her – by the end of the day she’s gone to the bathroom by herself, sat in a chair and made six laps around the hospital floor – not even surgery is going to slow my Momma down!  I promised to save her some turkey and pie. 😀

Yesterday’s lunch was also bought at Au Bon Pain.

In the midst of me scanning documents, putting exhibit binders together, Tony emailed me and said “don’t worry, I am making dinner tonight.”  Music to my ears!

Guess what he made me??

Steamed mussels in a spicy tomato broth over angel hair pasta.  He bought 2 pounds of mussels and I thought “there is no way I am going to eat all that!”  But I did! 😀  Thanks Tony!


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  What are you thankful for this year?

My Mom is Doing Well!

Thank you so much for all your comments and emails yesterday regarding my Mom’s surgery.  Not to go into too much detail (because its her life, not mine!), we thought there may have been a possibility that she had cancerous polyps, but they turned out benign! 

So while she is still very tired this morning, she was much more alert than she was when we got into her room at around 9:00 p.m. last night, and during the night when they kept waking her up every 2 hours to take vitals.

I have to say though that the staff at Rush University Hospital are top notch.  Everyone was extremely nice and helpful, which made it a bit easier for me to leave her this morning.

I ended up spending the night, and coming straight to work – thank goodness for holiday traffic!  It only took me 45 minutes to drive 35 miles from Chicago to my office. 😀  But I probably got about 4 hours sleep, so I am keeping this short – I am making a fresh pot of coffee to keep me awake and get me through my bizzy work day. 😀

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I probably won’t be posting again until Friday, until then I wish you good eats tomorrow and hope you spend the holiday with family and friends.  😀



Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chicken Chili

I set my alarm for 6:15 yesterday morning so I could get my workout in.  I turned off the alarm, rolled over and the next thing I knew it was 7:30!  Considering I usually leave for work at 8, that didn’t give me much time to publish my blog, fix breakfast, put lunch together and shower and dress.

But since I am low maintenance, I was able to make it! 😀  Lunch was 3 ounces of the leftover pork roast I made over the weekend, since it had applewood smoked bacon it was a nice addition to my egg/egg white/spinach hash.  I had a giant clementine on the side.  Breakfast comes in at 366 calories, 20 fat, 11 carbs, 1.8 fiber and 34 protein.

I saw this recipe for sweet potato and black bean chili and knew I wanted to give it a try.  Although I made my version “company worthy” as it isn’t hot at all so it would be perfect for a crowd.  Just have garnishes like fresh jalapenos, diced red cabbage, roasted red peppers and sour cream on the side and everyone can dress it up as to everyones personal preference.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chicken Chili – makes 6, 1.5 cup servings:  257 caloires, 6.7 fat, 24 carbs, 6.8 fiber and 27 protein, or 6 WW points.

  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons smoked cumin (or regular cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • One 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 can (1 cup) black beans
  • 1.5 cups diced sweet potatoes

In a food process, process the chicken garlic and red pepper.  Pulse until you get the chicken ground up.  Heat a large stock pot, add the chicken mixture to the pot and cook over medium heat, just until the chicken is no longer pink.

Reduce heat to medium low, add remaining ingredients and cook for 45-60 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.  I garnished mine with fresh jalapeno, chopped purple cabbage, roasted red peppers and cilantro.  And I may have added a few splashes of Tabasco. 😀  I had 8 tortilla chips for dipping, so lunch comes in at 360 calories, 45 carbs, 9.5 fiber, 29 protein – or 9 WW points.

I was leaving after dinner last night to drive to my Mom’s house prior to her surgery today.  So dinner was pretty quick – I had a taco salad while I made Tony a bacon wrapped meatloaf.   My taco salad comes in at 10 Points. 😀  I forgot to dowload that picture, but I am pretty sure that you all know what a taco salad looks  like. 😀

So my Mom’s surgery is scheduled to begin at 2:15 so we have to be there at 11:15 to prep.  That gave us a little time to sleep in this morning which was nice.  All the surgeries Tony has ever had have never been scheduled past 8:00 a.m.!   I plan on spending the whole day with her, and if she wants me to, I’ll spend the night at the hospital tonight and go straight to work tomorrow. 

We hope that she will be home by Friday or Saturday.  Kinda sucks that she’s going to be in the hospital on Thanksgiving! 😦

Make it a great day!


Sweet Potato Challah Bread

Since my store had sweet potatoes on sale for .25 cents a pound (a sign next to the sweet potatoes said “.25 cents a pound up to 30 pounds.”  I can’t imagine buying 30 pounds of sweet potatoes!

I went on Tastespotting and saw a recipe for sweet potato challah.  I am trying to think, but I don’t think I’ve ever made challah from scratch before.  It’s super easy, although my braiding skillz need some serious work.  I watched a youtube video a dozen times, but still didn’t get it exactly right, but it still looks pretty!

Honey sweetens the bread:

Sweet Potato Challah

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 yolks
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
    egg wash, (1 beaten egg plus 1 tablespoon water)

In my stand mixer I added the water and yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Then I added the honey, butter, egg, yolks, salt and mashed sweet potato and mixed it until just combined.

Then I added the six cups of flour, one cup at a time, scraping down the sides as you go.  Once the dough starts to separate from the side of the mixing bowl, you know you are done.   I just wonder if I could have more shit on my counter.  Yep, its already snowman mug time! 😀

Put it in an oiled bowl and let it rise for 90 minutes.

Then I divided the dough into two.  And then each ball into 6 small balls.  This is how the braiding starts:

Try as I might, I could not get the braid right – but they still look okay!

They rose on a sheet for another hour, then right before going into a 350 degree oven, I brushed them with the egg wash and baked them for 25 minutes.

Tony said they looked great, until he realized there was sweet potato in it.  The bottom is slightly crunchy, but the top and inside is soft and tender.  Delicious!

I love the color of this bread too – would make a great addition to your Thanksgiving table!

So today is my 2nd weigh in with the Zero Scale – the verdict?

Sorry this picture is so bad – I had my camera on the wrong setting – but it says Loss 1.2.  After the stressful week I had last week, I’ll take it!  And the 15 number is from the first time I stepped on the scale – afterwords it said 7 days at -1.2, but I missed that shot.  If I were to step on the scale again it would just say 0 pounds lost since last weigh in.

My hope this week is to maintain – its going to be insanely busy, but at least the work days will go by fast!

Make it a great day!