It’s Raining and 70!

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see some rain – our grass is so dead and crunchy, that we haven’t even mowed it for probably six weeks.  When I left work at 5:00 last night?

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My friend and blog reader M.J. was complaining about temps in the low 60’s in her neck of the woods – I told her I would gladly trade places with her (and someday visit!).

I am back to my breakfast parfaits!  This one was fresh pineapple and blueberries. 

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So I was happy to be able to go to the gym and beat the heat at lunch.  My plan was to swim outside, but apparently there had been an “accident” and the outdoor pool was being closed for cleaning, and there were swim lessons going on in the indoor pool.  Plan B – run!

Not gonna lie, this run was tough.  I kept wanting to stop, which I did a few times, but walked no longer than 2 minutes.  It just amazes me how my stamina ground to a halt the few weeks I skipped working out.

But I did a 5k – in 41:01.  Not going to break any world records any time soon, but I will get there – I am loving how I feel after working out. Open-mouthed smile

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They have a restaurant/café in the gym on the lower level.  My boss wanted me to pick her up a sandwich.  While waiting I turned around to see this:

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I have never seen a beer cooler in a gym before, but then I have to remember it’s a tennis club – there was a wine cooler next to it. Open-mouthed smile

Lunch was chili mac, although I am not sure I’ll use these noodles again – they kind of sucked up all the liquid – but it was tasty.  I used this recipe.

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Saturday night when we had Tony’s family over, I was cooking up a storm but I was also sweating up a storm – literally sweat was beading down my back.  I looked at the thermostat and it was 83 degrees in the house.  I quickly put the temp down to 72 to quickly cool it off, but it never got below 80 degrees – my poor nephews girl friend was sweating balls too. Sad smile

Luckily Sunday wasn’t too hot, so we were able to get some nice circulation going, but yesterday was so hot – we got a guy to come look at our condenser (that we just paid $120 last week to fix) and found out that some coupling was broken – so $215 later, I don’t have boob sweat anymore – yeah!

So it was a quick dinner I put together after the AC guy left – can’t go wrong with burgers!  I love these pickles – I normally don’t like sweet pickles, but these have sweet and heat = win.

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I also found these buns, which are nice and soft and only 170 calories each:

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My plate:

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But guess what?  After eating half of the burger, I was stuffed, so the dog got the other half – mustardy bun and all – except I ate all the pickles, I am not stupid. Open-mouthed smile

I did have a few snack crackers later on in the night, but portioned out, so its all good.

Alright I have to scoot – when my Mom was over last week she noticed a mole on my face and was like “when did you get that?”  I said about six months ago, and she said that I should probably get it checked out at a dermatologist office – never been to one of those! 

But after reading about Heather’s trip to the dermatologist last year, its better to be safe than sorry.

Make it a great day!

No Fail Potato Gratin

How the hell did it get to be Monday already??  I had a bizzy weekend, and a relaxing one too – best of both worlds!

Tony and I went out to eat Friday night at Wool Street.  Except they didn’t have Rolling Rock on tap – boo. Sad smile  They have awesome burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, but I felt like tacos.  I ordered the shrimp tacos, but sadly forgot to ask if they were breaded, and they were.

I also said “make sure that no onions even come within five feet of my plate – thanks!”  The mango salsa that was slathered over the top?  Chock full of the nasty red onions.  Note to self, don’t order tacos in a place known for burgers and pork!

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The weather was perfect Friday night – around 70 degrees, a light breeze.  Tony and I sat outside and talked and listened to music for a couple hours – nice. Open-mouthed smile

Then Saturday it was unpack my Mom day!  The movers were delivering all her stuff and when I got there around 10:45, the movers were just finishing up – perfect timing.  I love her house – my pictures didn’t turn out so I’ll have to take more the next time I visit her.  It’s a ranch, with a huge basement.

Everything is new, the appliances, paint, floors, etc. – move in condition.  While unpacking some stuff I came across a box that said “hall closet.”  Inside were dolls that my sister and I used to play with . . . 40 years ago!  My Mom made all our doll clothes, these outfits had matching hats.

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They are actually in pretty good shape considering how old they are – I think my sisters daughter Claire is the last one to play with them. 

I got to see Hannah on Saturday so I got to give her lots of hugs and kisses! Red heart  I miss her!

I stayed about 4 hours, then had to high tale it back home – my SIL, her grandson, my nephew and his girl friend came over for dinner.  My nephew and his girl friend are moving to Tennessee in a week and a half, and Saturday night was the last night that we would see them for a while.

Tony, being the wonderful husband that he is, did the grocery shopping for me.  Okay, now I write a grocery list by recipe – so if I am making burgers I’ll have:

  • hamburger meat
  • hamburger buns
  • American cheese

Then if the next recipe is gnocchi gratin, I’d add:

  • gnocchi
  • bacon
  • milk

Tony literally shopped right down my list, so he would go to the meat section to get the burger meat, then to the bread section, then got American cheese, only to back track back to the meat department to get the bacon and then back to dairy to get the milk.  He said he went back and forth across the store 11 times!  Sorry sweets, but you were a big help!

Not only did I have just 2 hours to prepare dinner, which was marinated pork loin with two side dishes, I also put together five dishes for my SIL for the week.  It was like I was on Dinner Impossible!   And speaking of that show, have you seen Chef Robert Irvine’s body – how the hell does a chef have a body like that?  Oh, I guess you have to actually walk into a gym to get a body like that! Open-mouthed smile

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But I got it all done.  I think my favorite dish of the night was a gnocchi & bacon gratin.  I’ve talked about it before, but scalloped potatoes are like my worst enemy. No matter how long I cook them, the potatoes are still crunchy.  The only way I can make a good one is to microwave the casserole, but it always spills over and it is such a pain to clean up.

No more – say hello to my little friend – gnocchi!  Gnocchi is made of potatoes, so there was no way I could screw this up!  I adapted it from this blog, but left off the buttered crumb topping – Tony said he didn’t think it needed it – I think next time I’ll add it for a bit more texture, but this was delicious.

Gnocchi and Bacon Gratin

  • 3 slices of bacon (I used smoked applewood)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 16 ounce package of gnocchi
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook gnocchi for 2 minutes, then drain with cold water to stop the cooking process.  While water is coming to a boil, cook the bacon until crisp and cool and chop.

Melt the butter in the pot.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add flour and stir to make a paste.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to make a thick sauce.  Remove from the heat and add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and cheese.

Then in a big bowl I added the cooked gnocchi, the broccoli and then dumped the cheese sauce over top and mixed really well.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

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No crunchy potatoes this time!  I’ve never really thought of using gnocchi any other way then just cooking it and putting red sauce on top with some Parmesan cheese.  Do you use gnocchi in a different way?

I somehow over cooked the pork, even though I took it off the grill at 150 and let it rest – oh well, it was tasty, but just a tad on the dry side.

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So yesterday?  Totally relaxing.  I didn’t wake up until 9:00.  I made an unphotographed breakfast panini for breakfast while drinking iced coffee and read the newspaper.  I kinda dozed off here and there for about 30 minutes.  Then finally took a shower around 1:00. 

Tony asked what I wanted to do for lunch and I said “I don’t care!”  So we went to a buffet in Hoffman Estates. 

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For $22 dollars for lunch, I was a bit nervous because the reviews on Yelp were either “Loved it!” or “the food tastes like ass.”  Nothing really in between.

Wow – so much food, so little time.  I started with the build your own stir fry, which was really, really good.

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Lots of veggies!  You just hand the cook your plate with the sauce on the side and he grills it on this flat top grill – super hot.

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They also had tons and tons of seafood – I think next we go – I’ll concentrate on the build your own stir fry and the seafood.

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They also served raw sushi, so Tony well got his $$ worth!  And I tried red bean ice cream for the first time – tasted like vanilla ice cream to me!

I did a clean sweep of my closet and laundry – not only is all of our laundry done, but folded and put away.  I have all my outfits laid out and my gym clothes for the week.  I am so excited to go to the gym – my exercise mojo is back with a vengeance!  I remembered to pack sun screen, so I will try to swim outside today if it isn’t too hot.

What was the highlight of your weekend?  Make it a great day!

I ruined the surprise!

Can I have every afternoon off please?  Because I knew I was leaving at 12:30, the morning actually moved by rather quickly.  I stopped on my way home to vacuum out my car – when the hell did it start to cost $2 for the vacuum machine at the gas station?!

All I had for breakfast was a yogurt from McDonald’s so I was hungry for lunch.  Since I was home I decided to make a panini – this one had mortadella, roast beef, a slice of pepperoni and provolone with some baby greens.  Oh, and lot’s of Gulden’s mustard!

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Then it was clean, clean, clean .  . . oh, and make Good Eats Girl’s Blueberry Lemon Muffins!  These are delicious.  I think the streusel topping makes these.  I did adapt it a bit because I left out the apple sauce because I couldn’t find it have any, and I halved the amount of streusel topping.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins with Streusel Topping

(slightly adapted from Good Eats Girl – thanks Autumn!)

For the muffins:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fat free half and half
  • 1 cup blueberries (tossed in flour so they don’t sink)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

For the streusel topping:

  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

I am a lazy baker, so I just threw the dry ingredients in a bowl, mixed well, then added all the wet ingredients and mixed just until combined.  I used a fork to mix the streusel topping and just evenly distributed that over the muffins.  Each muffin was about 2/3 of an ice cream scooper and I got exactly 12 muffins.

Baked at 400 for 23 minutes exactly.  Start checking them around 20 minutes.

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I made these for my Mom’s breakfast this morning.  Now that Hannah’s moved out our second bedroom is now our guest bedroom!  My Mom had all the movers move everything out of her house yesterday and she and Hannah cleaned the house when it was empty.  I have to give a huge thank you to Hannah.  Organizing/cleaning, etc. is her strength and my Mom said she never would have gotten everything done without her help.  Open-mouthed smile  (proud Momma here!)

So here is how I ruined the surprise (and reason 2,971 I love Tony . . .)  About every other day I go on our bank accounts website and see what’s come through etc.  I’ve had fraud on my debit card before, and I try to stay on top of things so nothing falls through the cracks. 

I saw a debit charge for the fitness center right by my office.  Last year when I moved into this new office, we had our premium membership at a gym by our house, and while I visited the gym and loved it, I couldn’t justify the extra cost just for me. 

Fast forward to now – I have a Charter Fitness membership for $10 a month.  It’s basic, but it serves its purpose.  So I called the fitness center and left a message for the woman in charge of membership and told her there had to be some sort of mistake.

In the midst of my cleaning, Tony calls me and says “did you call the South Barrington fitness center?”  I said yes because there was an unauthorized charge on our account.

Duh!  Tony was surprising me by signing me up at the fitness center – which is literally a minute drive from my office and has all the bells and whistles – indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, nice locker rooms, fitness classes, you name it.  So while I ruined his surprise THANKS TONY!  He knew I wouldn’t do it myself, so I am happy he did it.  With this weather being so hot, I love that I’ll be able to get my lunch time workouts on. Open-mouthed smile  I even got a free coffee travel mug too.

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Since my Mom was coming over for dinner, I decided to make marinated flank steak, twice baked potatoes and a zucchini gratin.  The only problem was that I was out of milk.  I decided to see if it would work with chicken broth.  I melted my 2 tablespoons of butter, stirred in 2 tablespoons of flour, and slowly poured in 1.5 cups of chicken broth.  It was thickening nicely!

Until I tasted it and obviously what I had made was chicken gravy!  So I went to my fridge and mixed in 1/2 a cup of cottage cheese, 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/2 a cup of shredded extra sharp cheese.  I only added cracked pepper because there was enough salt in the chicken broth. 

Second time around I could only taste a hint of the chicken broth. Open-mouthed smile  I nuked three zucchini in the microwave, let them cool slightly then sliced into coins.  I laid the zucchini on the bottom of my casserole dish, added the chicken/cottage cheese mixture then topped it off with 1/4 cup of Italian bread crumbs mixed with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

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I really liked the gratin, my Mom thought it was okay, but would have preferred a more crisp tender zucchini.  Tony took one look at it and said “no fucking way.”  Hey, he got me a gym membership so I can cut him some slack on not trying my food!

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I couldn’t find my placemats, but I had some scrapbook paper that I picked up at Michael’s a while back when it was on sale for 4 sheets for $1.  I thought they subbed in nicely for placemats!

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I found yet another food porn site, this one literally is called www.foodporn.net.  They are much more forgiving at accepting pictures than Tastespotting and Food Gawker, my steak house burgers with creamed spinach sauce made it on their site!

I am going to check out my new gym at lunch today.  I have been dying to swim since its been so hot out – my suit, work out clothes and goggles are packed – thanks again Tony for such a wonderful gift!!

I won’t be blogging again until Monday.  I’ll be helping my Mom unpack tomorrow, then tomorrow night I am having Tony’s family over – my nephew and his girlfriend are moving out of the state at the end of the month, and Saturday night is the only time they are available for one last dinner at our house.

I think we are going to do the marinated pork tenderloin they sell at Sam’s Club, but I am still not sure what side dishes to make – if you have a tried and true side dish, can you leave a link in the comments?

Have a fabulous weekend!  Hugs!

I Got A Ticket

Before I left for work yesterday, it was raining pretty good – its so nice to see some rain!  It was short lived though. . . by the time I left for work it was puffy clouds and blue skies.

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And, I always think of Lori, yesterday was Bagel Wednesday!  This was an asiago cheese bagel with 1/2 ounce of salami, 3/4 ounce swiss cheese, and a baby spinach scrambled egg.

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The weatherman kept talking about the break in our heat.  It was still 95 degrees yesterday at lunch, so I ended up running more errands at lunch. Sad smile

I grabbed some soup from the freezer for lunch.  Once I defrosted it I realized it was chicken noodle soup.  I must have grilled this whole chicken because the soup had a nice smoky flavor to it.  It was about 2 cups of soup and was surprisingly filling.

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Yep, I couldn’t decide which picture to post, so you got all three.  You’re welcome. Open-mouthed smile

So I get home from work and the mail is sitting on the counter.  I see a letter from Enterprise and I think its because they wanted to thank us for a three week rental last month, or a survey.

Nope.  It notified me that I had gotten a red light ticket while I was driving the rental car.  At the bottom of the letter it said that they would charge the credit card on file $18.  As much as I was pissed about it, I thought “well, it’s only $18 dollars!”

Um, guess again.  It gave a website where I could see the video.  And true, I did a rolling right turn on a red light, but the ticket is $100!  What’s worse is that the same thing happened to Tony last year and he’s avoided that intersection and hasn’t shopped in Fox River Grove since.

I won’t ever come home using that intersection again – and FRG – I am flipping my finger up at you as I drive by!

Whew, okay, where was I?  Before work yesterday I went into our downstairs fridge to get something and realized I had forgotten about ribs I bought over the weekend.  I had rubbed them with dry rub and had planned on cooking them low and slow on Sunday and then finish them off on the grill during the week this week.

Tony was working from home yesterday, so around 1:30 he put them in the oven at 210 degrees.  I didn’t take them out until I got home around 5:45.  They were perfect.  Just 5 minutes on the grill with BBQ and dinner was done.  We had delicious corn on the cob on the side that I just microwaved on fresh veggie setting.  Dinner was literally ready in 10 minutes thanks to Tony baking the ribs. Open-mouthed smile

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Guess what?  I didn’t snack at all last night!  I just kept telling myself “The Kitchen is Closed.” 

I am taking a half day today.  Work has been slow this week and my Mom is closing on her house tomorrow and the movers are taking all of her stuff so she’s having a sleep over at our house.  I just need to do a clean sweep – the past three weekends I haven’t had time to do a deep clean. 

My Mom also has to have food at the ready within a few minutes of waking up, so I plan on making Autumn’s Blueberry Lemon muffins with streusel topping.  I’ve always loved the blueberry/lemon combo!

Here’s to a short work day!  Question of the Day: Have you ever gotten a ticket from a red light camera before? 

Wanna See Something Gross?

This no rain this summer and unseasonably high temperatures, the only good thing is that there are hardly any mosquitos.  I think I’ve had one mosquito bite all year.  However, with the good, sometimes comes the bad.  FLIES.

I think its probably because our garbage sits in sweltering heat for a week before being picked up, but the flies have been unbelievable.  Tony happened to be talking to his son about the flies and living in Texas, he said he had the same problem.  He suggested we get a fly trap that you hang about 20 feet from the back door.

Sure enough within a couple days, the thing was FILLED with flies.  The fly trap stuff fills about the bottom two inches of the bag – there is about 3-4 inches of dead flies on top of that (thousands!) and they still can’t stay away.

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All I know is that when its time to take it down and replace it?  I am going to let Tony take on that wonderful task.  I am a giver like that. Open-mouthed smile  And if you are eating your breakfast reading this, you’re welcome. Rolling on the floor laughing

Tony was going to have to be out of the house for work yesterday, and on the days when we are both gone, I try to get Ed out on a walk.  The sad thing he’s getting so old the walks are painfully slow.  So we “walked” for 30 minutes to the river and back.

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It was a phone picture, so it’s not that great.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the river I took in November 2009.  Blog reader Teresa even asked me if she could have the picture and she blew it up and had it framed and it’s now in her dining room. Open-mouthed smile

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Yesterday’s breakfast was I guess what you could call a hash – 5 ounces of new potato, once chopped zucchini, 2 ounces deli ham and a scrambled egg – on the side was a cup of delicious cantaloupe. 

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I had to run some more errands at lunch today – check out the temps at noon yesterday!  Eek – I already have over 1300 miles on my car!

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On Sunday night Tony and I had seared ahi tuna with some noodles.  We both couldn’t finish the tuna it was so much, so I decided to make a cold salad with the leftovers.

One cup mixed baby greens, 3/4 cup cooked pasta, 1 carrot and 1 zucchini, that I sauteed ahead of time so they were tender crisp, and one of my new favorite salad dressings:  Trader Joe’s light Champagne vinaigrette.

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I have to be honest though – while I was out running errands my eyes kept seeing all my other alternatives to my healthy salad:  Lily’s Mexican restaurant, Nick’s Pizza, KFC.   I kept telling myself “just go back to the office and eat the damn lunch you made!”

And I am so glad I did – this salad was delicious!

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I am so glad that I have gotten used to having tuna look like that – the first time Tony made it for me I made him cook it until the whole thing was grey! Embarrassed smile

I picked up a cut of meat at the grocery store that I am confident I’ve never brought home before – but the price got me – turkey cutlets!

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I ended up making turkey cutlet Milanese – just dipped the cutlets into liquid egg whites, then a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs and a couple tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  I Pam/Butter fried them – probably used a tablespoon of butter between the two.  Since these were so thin, it only took about 2-3 minutes a side.

I made new potato mashed potatoes (because I was lazy and didn’t want to peel potatoes!) with some packaged gravy mix on top.  It’s weird that since its been so hot, its too hot to grill!

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I also am kind of tired of counting every single calorie.  I pretty much know how many carbs are in a particular meal to manage my insulin intake, so I think I am going to take a break from it for a while.  I know what I should be eating and doing, it’s just a question of putting that practice into place.

Maybe if I stop over analyzing everything and just live, the scale will move in the right direction.  All I know is that I have to stop snacking at night.  I never used to eat after dinner, but somehow these last couple months I find myself looking for something to eat around 9:00 p.m., even though 9/10 I am not even hungry.

So my kitchen is now going to be closed after dinner.  The only thing I will allow myself to eat if I am actually hungry is fruit or veggies.

It’s 77 degrees this morning and raining, but should taper off by lunch time.  My plan is to get out at lunch for 50 minutes, and I am actually looking forward to it!

Make it a great day!