Best Panini Ever!

We were going to meet Joe and Lizz for lunch yesterday.  I wasn’t sure where we were going to go, so all I had for breakfast was a piece of my artisan bread toast.

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But it looked naked.  Then I remembered that I won some jelly from Veronica’s bake sale fundraiser for Suzie!   I won them from Eliot’s Eats.  I’ve tried commenting on the blog but it must be going to spam, so hopefully she’ll see this!  The jelly I tried yesterday?  Serrano Mango!  Doesn’t that scream me?!

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The kids had a late start yesterday, so I ran some errands.  By the time they got here and we left for lunch it was after 2:00!  And I was hungry.  The good Biz was telling me to get a chopped salad.  But the bad Biz won!

Blackened chicken panini with mixed greens, walnuts, sliced pears and brie.

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Amazeballs.  The bread was super crispy, yet tender, the sliced pears were a nice balance with the spicy chicken.  It was huge – I could only eat half of it. I definitely need to recreate this one at home.

We had a great lunch.  Sadly, Tony cannot take a serious picture!

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Then I just got him out of the picture!  I love this one.

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They came back to our house for the rest of the afternoon before heading back to Lizz’s parents had relatives coming over for dinner.  We will see them again tomorrow and then they leave on Sunday already – a 5 day trip does go by fast!

Neither Tony and I were hungry for dinner so we ended up just eating some popcorn.  Not the healthiest of days I’ve had – and I didn’t exercise.  I was going to take 2 rest days this week, so I’ll have to hit the gym the next three days.  No worries!

My Skinny snowman challenge score for yesterday?  A big fat zero!  I need to pick up the pace on this challenge and get to the store to get more fruit, I am completely out.

I am loving these four day weekends – I could get used to this!  But I didn’t win the lottery, so boo.  Just about to fill my water bottle up – I didn’t drink hardly any yesterday.

Happy Friday!


She Has An All Snowman Christmas Tree!

Joe and Lizz got stuck in Atlanta on Tuesday night – their flight was delayed from Austin, so they didn’t get to Chicago until yesterday morning.  I knew we were going to be meeting them out to for dinner to meet her parents, but I didn’t know where we were going so I decided to make my breakfast and lunch as healthy as possible.

I wanted to make a smoothie for breakfast, but my blender is so old and loud, and it was early and Tony was still sleeping.  I decided to blend it outside!  Yep, I am a hillbilly like that. Open-mouthed smile

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  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 a frozen banana
  • 1/2 a cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

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While I know it doesn’t look pretty, this tasted really good.  I sipped it on my way to work.

I had to do a Sam’s Club run for work to stock up our beverage fridge.  I stopped at Mariano’s to hit up their salad bar to accessorize my lunch.  This whole container was $4, which I don’t think is too bad.  I had fat free ranch dressing at work.

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I also had a cup of my Cincinnati chili with jalapenos – wish they were spicier!

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We ended up meeting them at Nick’s Pizza.  We got there before them so we sat at the bar.  Love a bar that has good beer on tap!  I got a Fat Tire.  Tony?  A fucking Miller Lite.  Always Miller Lite – gah!  And peanuts are everywhere – you just throw the shells on the floor!


We ended up eating chicken wings as appetizers (I had 4) and then a double decker pizza, which is dough, sauce, cheese, more dough, sauce and toppings, then cheese.  I didn’t take any pictures at dinner – we were enjoying getting to know Lizz’s parents.

They are wonderful.  Very down to earth, they love Joe and welcome him into their family.  Lizz’s parents were both born in Mexico and didn’t come to the states until their teenage years.  Lizz’s Mom was so apologetic about her English, but she was just fine.  Lizz’s brother was also with us – he’s in 8th grade. Open-mouthed smile

After dinner we headed back to her parents house.  I felt right at home as soon as I walked in.  Want to know why? 

There were snowmen everywhere!!

She has my dream Christmas tree – every single ornament is a snowman!!  Skippy, you would have loved to see this tree!

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Yep, I was in snowman heaven!  If I could decorate today, I would, but Tony doesn’t like the decorations up for very long – I think after December 10 he’s okay, but literally by New Year’s Day he wants everything gone.  Bah humbug!

We ended up talking for hours and didn’t get home until nearly 1:30 a.m. last night!  Needless to say, I didn’t wake up until 10:15 this morning. Flirt male

So we have plans to meet the kids for lunch today, not sure where yet.  I had a piece of toast to tied me over until then.  And I have to get to the gym at some point today.  I took a rest day yesterday and I am so glad I did – I was so sore from that exercise class on Tuesday night!

So thank you to Maria and Arturo for a wonderful dinner and evening!

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So how many points did I earn on my Snowman Challenge yesterday?  35 points

  • 10 points for having veggies at breakfast and lunch
  • 10 points for logging my food
  • 10 points for getting my water in
  • 5 points for 5 positives for the day
  1. Thankful that Joe and Lizz got here safely
  2. meeting Lizz’s parents
  3. taking a rest day from working out Open-mouthed smile
  4. double decker pizza – it’s amazeballs
  5. sleeping in today

Off to jump in the shower and I’ll see where the day takes me – make it a great day!

Spicy Tomato Cauliflower Soup

I hardly ever wear winter coats.  I figure I walk to my car, drive to work, walk into work.  That is one thing I do not miss about working downtown was having to bundle up to make the mile walk to my office after getting off the train.

Yesterday however?  It was cold.  17 degrees cold.  But I still went with just my sweater because that’s how I roll. Winking smile

I still had leftover pot roast from the night before last, so I made a shredded zucchini, shredded potato, egg white hash and had that with 2.5 ounces of the beef with a small piece of toasted naan on the side.  I nuked the meat for about 30 seconds only – just wanted to take the chill off and not overcook it – still super tender.

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I decided to take a group exercise class last night, so at lunch I just swam for 30 minutes.  The indoor pool has skylights and it was sunny yesterday and the reflection of the sun off the water was just so pretty.  Almost made me feel like I was outside!


I cleaned out my refrigerator last weekend.  I know I clean it out pretty decent every couple weeks, but somehow I had a container of yogurt that expired in August!  Ew.  I did find a head of cauliflower that I needed to use up.  My idea was to make a cauliflower soup, so I started with 4 cups of chicken broth, chopped up the cauliflower and started that going. 

And here is where things just went crazy.  I thought I could make an Indian inspired soup, so I added a cup of coconut milk and some garam masala.  The result?  Nastiness.  It was too watery, not a whole lot of flavor.  So I added a 28 ounce can of tomato puree and 2 chipotle peppers – the coconut milk was a tad too sweet for me.

The result of that?  Deliciousness.  I liked the sweet/heat combo of the coconut milk with the chipotle peppers.  I also pureed it with my stick blender.  The best though?  I made this four servings of 2 cups each – each serving is only 154 calories, 3.7 fat, 27 carbs, 7.7 fiber and 6.3 protein.  I had some naan cheese bread on the side.

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So I got to the aerobics room at my gym at 5:05.  The class started at 5:15.  It was described as being “high energy cardio with strength training using various equipment such as body bars, hand weights and Bosu.”

Now it’s been well over a year since I took a group exercise class.  And the fact that I chose one to start that was 55 minutes long – I was a bit nervous.  And the median age of the class of six women?  I would guess around 55 – including the instructor!  The others were obviously regulars.  The instructor came up and asked me “have you taken a step class before?”  I had, but the last step class I took was when I worked at Sears Corporate headquarters – and I left that job in 2005!

                          at gym  tools

I have to say, while the class was fucking hard, it went by really quick.  Just when I thought I couldn’t do anymore cardio, she’d switch it up and we’d move on to strength.  And when I thought I couldn’t do that anymore, we went back to cardio.

The hardest part?  At the end, right before the cool down, we did five one minute squats against the wall with our arms out – holy shizz, I am feeling that this morning in my quads and calves.


I survived though!  And I have to say that I really pushed myself, way harder than I probably would have on my own doing a video tape.  I am definitely going to make this class a regular, and am going to see what other classes I can squeeze in – I know they have spin classes on the weekend, which means I’ll just have to get my ass out of bed! Open-mouthed smile 

I got home an hour later than normal, but I had already made the Cincinnati chili, so all I had to do was cook up the pasta.  I had mine with 1 cup of chopped broccoli and jalapeno peppers. 

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The jalapenos weren’t spicy at all. Sad smile  But I was REALLY hungry, so this was delicious. 

My pre-workout fuel – at 3:00 p.m. I had a giant fuji apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter.  At 4:15 my blood sugar was only 160, so I ate a banana, and that worked out great.  I didn’t feel a huge drop in my blood sugar while I was working out. 

           SAMSUNG                  banana

So my Skinny Snowman Tally for the Day:  70 points

  • veggie serving with every meal – 15 points
  • 3 fruit servings – 15 points
  • log food – 10 points
  • 5 positives about your day – 5 points
  1. I drank all my water using my water app as a reminder
  2. my boss is out of town on business so I got to listen to Pandora all day while I worked
  3. I cleaned out a desk drawer at work that desperately needed it
  4. I didn’t chicken out taking a group class Open-mouthed smile
  5. Tony is my biggest cheerleader – thanks Tony!
  • 64 ounces of water or more – 10 points
  • 90 minutes of exercise – 15 points

Today is my Friday!! Joe and Lizz were supposed to fly in last night, but they had trouble with their first plane due to mechanical issues, so they got stuck in Atlanta for the night.  We plan on having dinner out with them and Lizz’s parents, so I am excited about that – it’s been a long time since we’ve eaten out! Be right back

Question of the Day:  How often do you take group exercise classes? 

Make it a great day!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie & Messy Recipe Contest

This time of year I love all things pumpkin.  I ate pumpkin pie three nights in a row over the Thanksgiving holiday!  Even though it was Nicole’s crustless pumpkin pie, those calories still add up. 

So when I saw this recipe for a Paleo Pumpkin smoothie, I was instantly intrigued.  A adapted it a bit using what I had on hand.  This made one giant smoothie – the stats are excellent – 222 calories, 10 fat, 26 carbs, 5.6 fiber and 2 protein.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1.5 cups Lucerne coconut milk (80 calories per cup)
  • 1/2 a frozen banana
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 a cup of ice

Throw everything into a blender and enjoy on your ride to work.

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I wanted to point out that it was Lucerne coconut milk, and not the thick coconut milk you use when making Thai dishes. Smile with tongue out  This was super delicious and filling.  I didn’t figure out the calories until later, so I brought a zucchini egg white omelet and a slice of bread for a mid-morning snack to get some extra protein in.

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I was so happy not to have to run a 5k yesterday!  I did a different 5k, on the elliptical.  I rounded out to 40 minutes on the elliptical and then did 5 minutes of abs on the ball.

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My boss made me cry yesterday.  She had to put her dog down after he’d finished two chemo treatments for cancer.  She’s had the dog for 10 years and he slept with her every night.  I texted her and told her I made turkey noodle soup and homemade bread if she didn’t feel like making a lunch.  She took me up on it – turkey noodle soup is good for the soul.

I don’t really have a recipe for this.  I used the meat off the carcass of the turkey.  I used 4 cups chicken broth, 2 cups water, carrots and celery and Italian seasoning and lots of cracked pepper.  And finished off with egg noodles.  It is comfort in a bowl.

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Tony is the first person I’ve known to take cuts of meat that I normally would cook low and slow and to grill them high and fast.  Although this wasn’t the cut I was looking for originally, this worked just as well.

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Yep, pot roast on the indoor grill!  I just seasoned it the cracked pepper and garlic salt.  I cooked it 3 minutes each side, then flipped the meat to get the grill marks and cooked an additional 3 minutes per side.

I made pan “fried” broccoli on the side and baked potatoes.  This was so good!

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Super tender and delicious.  Before work yesterday, I had rubbed two baked potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper, and had Tony turn the oven at at 5:00 so they cooked while I drove home.

A couple weeks ago the folks at Chef’s Planet sent me an oven liner.  I actually never thought to get one, but if anyone needed it, it was me!  Check out my stove after Thanksgiving!

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Some of the cool features:

  • commercial grade thickness
  • reusable on either side
  • Made in USA (!)
  • dishwasher safe
  • safe up to 500 degrees

You can check out additional features and care instructions here.

I have a heating element on the bottom of my stove, which they don’t recommend putting it under, so I just have it on my bottom shelf. 

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It already caught some of the olive oil that spilled off the potatoes while they baked.  Once my oven cooled, I just wiped it off with a damp cloth and put it back.  So excited to use this when I make pies and casseroles!

Chef’s Planet is holding a messy recipe contest on Facebook.  Now through December 31, you can enter your original messy recipe contest with a photo to be eligible to be one of the ten winning recipes that will be featured in Chef’s Planet’s special edition 10th anniversary cookbook.  The ten finalists will also receive a gift basket of Chef’s Planet products.  I am sure I can come up with a messy recipe, my kitchen is usually messy by the time I get dinner on the table! Open-mouthed smile

So Day 1 of my Skinny Snowman Challenge.  Here are my points breakdown.  While I logged my food, this week I am not going to be a slave to the exact calorie count this week.  I also am going to weigh in every Monday to keep me on track.

  • 15 points for veggies at every meal
  • 10 points for fruit (unphotographed apple in the afternoon)
  • 10 points for logging my food on
  • 10 points for drinking 70 ounces of water
  • 25 points for trying a new recipe – the pumpkin smoothie
  • 5 points for exercising more than 30 minutes
  • 70 total points for the day

Alright, off to get ready for work – only two more days before its my weekend again. Open-mouthed smile

Make it a great day!

Chicken Wings and a Skinny Snowman Challenge

Back to the grind this morning, although I can’t complain.  I had a great four days off and I have another three day week this week.

In case you missed it, my step-son and his fiancé Lizz got married the Friday after Thanksgiving!  Just the two of them – but they’ll be coming up to Chicago on Wednesday.  With a whirl wind trip and lots of family and friends to see, I decided to take of Thursday and Friday of this week to keep all my possible options open to see them.

          joe and lizzz    married

I found out Joe’s ring is actually titanium – I guess that’s the new 20 something trend in wedding rings – who knew?  Can’t wait to see them this week! Open-mouthed smile

Tony picked chicken wings for his football food yesterday.  Usually my store sells the chicken wingettes – the smaller version that are already cut up – my store just had regular chicken wings.  I went to the butcher and asked him to cut them up for me – I forgot to tell them to cut off the wing tips, but oh well!

Usually I make my chicken wings using the copycat Hooters chicken wings recipe.  But that requires breading the wings and since I didn’t go to the grocery store until kick off of the Bears game, I didn’t have that time.  So I took them out of my grocery bag first, and had them sit in a cup of milk with Tabasco sauce for about 15 minutes, while I put all the rest of my groceries away.

Next I put 1 cup of flour in a ziploc bag with cracked pepper, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper – this was enough for eight decent size wings.  Go from the milk mixture to the flour mixture, toss to coat, dip in the milk mixture a second time and give it a second toss in the flour.

I of course used my deep fryer – set at 375.  The smaller wing portions took about 8 minutes – the bigger seconds about 10 minutes. 

Did you know that Frank’s makes an actually buffalo wing sauce?  Where the hell have I been?!

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I used about 1 tablespoon of melted butter mixed with about 1/3 a cup of the chicken wing sauce.  One word.  Amazeballs.  The chicken was super crunchy, and the sauce wasn’t too spicy for Tony.  Winning!

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Thank goodness this was my breakfast and lunch yesterday! Smile with tongue out

I was Bizzy in my Kitchen – using leftovers to make up my SIL’s lunches for the week.  So far I’ve been pretty lucky, she’s liked just about everything I’ve made – although one week I gave her tofu in a dish, and that didn’t go over too well – she thought it was chicken and the texture of course was all wrong!

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I kind of remind myself of Robert Irvine – I always use my chalk board to menu plan for her based on what I usually have on hand.  Since I forgot to bring my Mom the sweet potato spinach ravioli, Jody got an extra meal this week!

I also made potato pancakes made out of leftover mashed potatoes and chopped up green beans almandine – they turned out really good!  I check off the recipe when its done and ready to go. Winking smile

Dinner last night?  Also amazeballs.  I had grilled chuck roast and baked potatoes on the menu, but neither of us was up for a heavy meal, so we opted for sandwiches.  I made two loaves of Artisan bread and used that as the base of our sandwiches.  Tony wanted a turkey BLT.  Me?  I had a Cuban on the brain!

Mine was:  2 slices of bread, sliced turkey breast, 2 pieces of bacon, yellow mustard, pickles and Swiss cheese – I made a panini out of it and it was so good – fresh baked bread sandwiches are just crazy ass good.

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So I am jumping on Brooke’s Skinny Snowman Challenge, although I am starting today even though it started yesterday.  I’ve printed out her handy point chart so I can track my points.  It’s using the honor system – basically each week you score “points” for certain things – and there is a mini weekly challenge to do each week.

Here is the low down for Week 1:

  • lose weight or maintain your weight this week – 15 points
  • veggie serving at each meal – 5 points per meal
  • 3 fruit servings a day – 10 points
  • log your food – 10 points
  • list 5 positive things per day – 5 points
  • drink 65 ounces of water – 5 points
  • over 65 ounces of water – 10 points
  • have a meatless Monday – 10 points
  • minimum of 30 minutes of exercise – 5 points each 30 minutes (maximum 50 points)
  • First week mini challenge – try a new recipe – 25 points

If I do all of the above – the most I can score is 450.  I already missed out on the first day.  I also see meatless Monday’s being a challenge for me.  I think the best way for me to get my fruits and veggies in is to make more smoothies – green monsters and the like.  If you have any tried and true smoothie recipes, let me know!

I have to participate the full five weeks that takes us to December 29.  The person with the most cumulative points gets a change to win a prize.  And I am all about prizes!

So at the beginning of my 21 day challenge, I weighed in at:


Today I weigh:

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I lost 1.8 in my 21 day challenge.  Could I have done better?  Of course. I kind of wasn’t as committed over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I had pie three nights in a row.  I didn’t work out.  And my water drinking wasn’t what it should have been.  But it’s better than gaining, right?

So I am going bold for this Skinny Snowman Challenge.  In five weeks my goal is to be 159, which means I have to lose 9.2 pounds.  During the holiday season.  My 45th birthday is March 19, and my goal is to be back to 140 by then.

Hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend.  Did you go off track these last four days?? 

I am off to make a pumpkin coconut milk smoothie.  Yep, my husband pretty much just threw up in his mouth reading that sentence, I am confident of that.  You’re welcome honey! Open-mouthed smile

Make it a great day!