Back to Basics

I read a fantastic blog post yesterday from Lori at Finding Radiance.  She’s lost 100 pounds the old fashioned way – watching what she eats and exercising.  No short cuts, no diet pills, just dedication.  She’s redoing their bathroom and she made the analogy between renovating and weight loss. 

The last line of the post is what struck with me the most:

It is a complete change in life to lose weight. You must do the full renovation to have permanent lifestyle changes to not only get the weight off, but keep it off.

I realized that while I started off strong in January, a few of my bad habits came back without me even realizing it.  And extra glass of wine, a piece of cheese eaten when I was looking for something else in the fridge.

I realized I have to go back to basics again.  I bought a journal yesterday. 

ffrr 014

If I bite it, I must write it.  I also found a cool new nutritional website.  While I do like because its free, this one has a price tag of $7.95 a month, with the first trial week free with no credit card to “hold” it.

What I like about it is that it’s super easy to navigate and the recipe builder is super easy to use.  The only thing I can’t figure out is how to get a total for each meal, it just keeps adding it up together.  But when I put in my weight, and my goal weight, they said I should eat 1653 calories a day.

Breakfast was a Chobani parfait – this one with a new flavor to me, apple cinnamon.  I loved this parfait in the beginning, but again, by the time I got to the last 1/4 of it, it was just too sweet.  I will eat this yogurt, but it will have to be by itself.

ffrr 004

ffrr 006

I went to the gym at lunch.  I did a 5k – this time running 7 minutes, walking 3 minutes.  I am trying to build up my cardio strength again after my 21 days of running a 5k last fall.  Not a bad time!


Lunch was leftover black bean soup from last week, but I added 1/2 cup of Mexican yellow rice and a cup of chopped baby spinach.  I added some buffalo Tabasco and it was spicy delicious.

ffrr 009

So I put in my breakfast, lunch and my 500 calorie dinner into the nutritional data on the new site, and I was still only at 1200 calories for the day!  So I made a snack of the last of my marble rye (recipe coming soon!) with a teaspoon of strawberry jam, and half an apple.  (and yes, I did take a bite before deciding to take a picture!)

ffrr 016

Dinner was Tony’s famous fried rice – so.fricken.good!  He gave me this huge bowl and I thought, I’ll eat about 1/3 of it.  Nope!  I was hangry and ate half – which my estimate is at about 500 calories.

ffrr 010

And after dinner I ate 15 almonds.  My totals for the day?

  • 1543 calories, 73 protein, 245 carbs, 31 fat and 23 fiber

What I learned is that wowza, that was a high carb day for me.  And guess how many milligrams of sodium I had??  3700!

So my plan is when I get my act together this weekend, is to not only plan out my meals, but enter them in this site to see how I can make my nutrition better each day.  I’d like to stay around 150 carbs, and watch the sodium intake.

I did great drinking my water – I bought this water bottle because its 1 liter (33 ounces) and I drank three of these before leaving the office.  I just need to drink more water at home.

ffrr 018

I have some more link love today:

So proud of Amanda at Getting to Goal – she just PR’d her last 1/2 marathon – running in Chicago in January!!  Great job Amanda!

Now that our temps are in the single digits with wind chill advisories, today would be the perfect day to try Bonnie’s pumpkin spice lattes – they look amazing!

And why have I never thought to pickle my own jalapenos?!!  Jane has the perfect recipe that I can’t wait to try.

Alright, time to get my food together and get out in this frigid weather – and in case anyone is wondering, I will be wearing a winter coat today!

Make it a great day!


Weeknight Bolognese (or chili)

I’ve been telling my boss about the Green Monster for a while.  I kept telling her that it’s high in Vitamin A, calcium, and iron.  That you really can’t taste the spinach – it tastes like a banana shake to me.

I decided to make us mini bagel breakfast sandwiches and we’d split a serving of the Green Monster.  The only thing I’ll do differently, is to bring the smoothie maker to work.  I made it at home and put it in the fridge when I got to work.  By the time my boss got in, it had been in there for about an hour, so it was a bit melty?  Not sure if that’s the right word, but it didn’t have the same texture as when it comes right from the smoothie machine.

She didn’t love it.  But she didn’t totally hate it either.  I think next time I’ll add a bit more honey to hers too.

bolog 002

bolog 005

I ended up doing 10 miles on the bike at lunch!  While we had temps in the 60’s, it was rainy and stormy pretty much all day long.  So weird to hear thunder in January!


And while I can’t stand Anne Burrel, I did watch part of her show on FoodTV.  She made pulled pork that cooked for 9 hours, but what I was mostly interested in was the North Carolina barbecue sauce she made to go with it – it had me at three cups of apple cider vinegar! Open-mouthed smile

Lunch, shocker, was more lasagna soup!  That’s the last of it, but pretty sure I’ll be making it again soon.

bolog 009

I bought some meatloaf mix over the weekend with the intention of making a slow cooked bolognese over the weekend and letting it develop flavor in the fridge for a few days.  Um, that didn’t happen.  So I adapted a recipe from Ina Garten for a weeknight Bolognese.

Weeknight Bolognese

  • 1 pound meatloaf mix (mine was beef, pork and veal)
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (I put that just on my bowl)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of skim milk

I don’t know why recipes call for 2 tablespoons of olive oil to brown meat, when I think most of the time, there is enough fat in the meat that you don’t need it.  Feel free to add it though if you want.

Brown the meat and skim off any fat.  My meat was surprisingly pretty lean, so I didn’t have to do that.  Add remaining ingredients except the milk, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.  Take off the heat and stir in the milk.

 bolog 014

You can barely see it, but I had my 1 cup of pasta and 1/2 cup of sauce on two cups of chopped baby spinach.  The heat from the pasta wilted the spinach – so good!

bolog 013

The only thing I was missing for the recipe was the tomato paste.  It only called for 2 tablespoons so I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to leave it out.  Well, our bolognese tasted more like chili!  It was still delicious though.

So Tony was able to videotape our friend squirrel!

Louise, hope you like the video! Open-mouthed smile

I’ve got some link love today.  Danica put together a WW friendly Superbowl recipe round up – I was thrilled that she linked to my buffalo chicken chili – thanks Danica!

Autumn hit this one out of the park – her take on Chili’s onion rings and battered jalapenos – yum!

And I can’t wait to try this one – Mara made green burritos – I plan on subbing in Chobani plain yogurt for the sour cream, so this would be like a Green Monster burrito!  And only 8 WW points each!

So I didn’t weigh in last week – but here is my Day 28 Weigh In.  Sorry for the crappy picture, I forgot to turn the flash off!

bolog 002

So it looks like in the last two weeks I gained 1.4, for a total loss of only 1.8 for the month of January.  It got me thinking.  While I like to think I can eat intuitively with an occasional treat here and there, I think I need to go back to counting calories for February.  And maybe not make any Jack in the Box tacos! Open-mouthed smile

Question of the Day:  How did your goals for January work out??

Make it a great day!

Ladies and Gentlemen. . . the Jack in the Box Taco!

When I started coming up with breakfasts for my boss, I asked her if she liked Greek yogurt and she shrugged her nose and said, “not really.”  I am kind of a Greek yogurt snob, Chobani is my favorite Greek yogurt.

So I decided to make her a Vanilla chobani parfait.  I made another batch of Nicole’s Sweet & Salty Granola – and then put a layer of yogurt, sliced banana, granola, and then over the weekend I made a strawberry sauce – it was 1 cup of strawberries, 1/3 cup water and 2 tablespoons of Splenda – just cooked on the stove top for about 10 minutes until the sauce became thick.

jitb 005

Guess what?  She loved it!  She didn’t even realize she was eating Greek yogurt – I think she was always eating the plain version, which I actually prefer in a parfait, otherwise its too sweet for me.

And I have to thank my co-worker J for bringing me some new flavored Chobani – I haven’t tried the pear one yet – she’s bartering the Chobani for her Souper Friday lunch – deal!  I love how you can see the bacon in the background – it’s all about balance, right? Hot smile

jitb 026

I was super busy at work yesterday, and actually thought I wasn’t going to have a chance to work out, but I basically stood up, left what I was working on and said “I am going to work out – I’ll be back in an hour.”  No one stopped me. Open-mouthed smile

I ended doing a HIIT run – 3 minutes running, 2 minutes walking on an incline, and did that 7 times.  My last 3 minute run was at 6.0 mph, or a 10 minute mile pace, and I felt great!


When I got back to work, I had more lasagna soup – I seriously have an addiction to this soup.  Check out how many times I’ve linked to it on Suzie’s blog!

On the side was some toasted Artisan bread.  So good!

jitb 010

So when Tony found a copycat recipe for the Jack in the Box tacos, the first thing that caught our eye is that these are make ahead tacos – because you have to freeze them and they go straight from freezer to fryer.  I also altered the recipe a bit, because I have no idea what soy protein powder is.  Either way, the taco meat was spot on.

Jack in the Box Taco Meat

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon plain chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon masa corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Accent seasoning (I used seasoned salt)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper

Brown the ground beef.  Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil and let boil for five minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Put in your food processor to puree.  For each taco I used 3 tablespoons of meat.  Heat your tortillas in the microwave so they are pliable and don’t break.

jitb 001

jitb 002

I folded the tacos over, and then put them in a ziploc bag.  Next time I am going to put them on a cookie sheet to freeze individually before putting in a ziploc – a couple of them stuck together and broke.

Heat your fryer or oil in a pot to 350.  Fry for 1-2 minutes.  Pry open the hot taco (careful!) and add a triangle slice of American cheese, shredded iceburg lettuce, and the Jack in the Box Taco Sauce:

Jack in the Box Taco Sauce:

Mix all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat to cool.  This was very close to the sauce – although we did agree it could have had a bit more heat and tang.

Here they are frozen and ready to go for a dip in the fryer:

jitb 016

jitb 019 copy

That was kind of a shitty picture above, but I wanted to show you how the beef got crispy on the sides from the hot oil.

jitb 024

Hot damn, these were good.  Super crispy, not greasy.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach, I ate 2 1/2 before having to stop – our dog happily licked our plates clean.

Alright, I have to jump in the shower and get my ass in gear.  It’s so weird, here we are at the end of January, it’s 7:30 in the morning and its already 57 degrees!  I wish it would stay like that, but its stormy too – I would have liked a sunny day at that temp!

Just curious – are any of you going to replicate the Jack in the Box taco at home? 

Make it a great day!

Artisan Bread Bagels

As is becoming our tradition, Tony made me breakfast both Saturday and Sunday while I did some computer work. Open-mouthed smile  Saturday was spicy eggs and hash browns.

weekend1.25 001

Sunday was apple french toast and hash browns.  I shared some of these hash browns with dog. Open-mouthed smile   Tony put some apples in the smoothie maker with the milk and egg batter – these were really good.  And I love his plating skillz with the squirt of whip cream. Open-mouthed smile

weekend1.25 012

When I was meal planning for my SIL’s lunches, I remembered that Michelle had a bunch of brussel sprout recipes on her blog.   She and I emailed back and forth and she told me that Mariano’s had brussel sprouts for .88 cents a pound!  Tony and I decided to make a trip to that store to grocery shop this week and have lunch out.

I don’t like brussel sprouts.  I try them eat time I make them, but just don’t like them.  I decided to roast them up.  I poured 1 teaspoon of olive oil on my baking sheet and spread that around.  Then cut the sprouts in half, cut side down, and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  I baked them at 400 for 15 minutes.  Then put some crumbled goat cheese over the top – I hope she likes them!

weekend1.25 004

Since we ate such a late lunch on Saturday, we didn’t think we’d be that hungry for dinner, but at about 8:00 I felt like making pizza.  Last week I made Artisan Bread, and had half of the leftover dough in the fridge.  I am re-writing the recipe here so I can link to it again, because I’ve changed the cooking method from the first batches I made a few years ago.

Five Minute Artisan Bread

I make this into two loaves, or four 12 inch pizzas


  • 6.5 cups bread flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together and pour in room temperature water.  I actually use my fingers to make sure all the flour is incorporated – I’ve used a wooden spoon before but have had lumps of flour after the 2 hour rise. 

Put in a big plastic container with a lid.  Let sit for 2 hours to rise.  Heat oven to 450 with a Dutch oven with a lid while the oven comes to temperature.  Shape your dough and put on a piece of parchment paper.  Transfer dough to pot, put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and finish for 15 more minutes.  Let cool before slicing.

So here’s how my dough looked after a week in the fridge:

weekend1.25 016

I put it on my counter that had flour on it.  It’s a shaggy dough.

weekend1.25 018

I pinched off a grapefruit size to make Tony and I a small pizza for dinner.  I know he thought he could escape a weekend without having pizza – no such luck!

weekend1.25 003

I took a picture of the leftovers yesterday morning so you could see how great the crust came out – crispy but with a hint of chewiness.  While I loves me a deep dish, this pizza is hands down my favorite one – supa thin crust.  YOLO!

  weekend1.25 008

For the remainder of the dough, I decided to see if I could make bagels out of the Artisan bread.  I figured, it works for bread and pizza, why not bagels?

I divided the remainder of the dough into 3 ounce pieces, then put my thumb in the middle and made the hole in the middle.  I boiled a pot of water with about 1 tablespoon of salt.  Don’t fill it up too high to the top, because I add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the pot just before I blanch the bagels – this causes a surge of bubbles and you don’t want water all over your stove.  (No idea how I know this will happen!)

I boiled each bagel for about a minute each side, then used egg whites brushed over the top so my sesame seeds would stick.  Heat your oven to 425.

weekend1.25 023

weekend1.25 029

weekend1.25 032

I baked mine for 25 minutes – but depending on how your oven works, you might want to check them at 20 minutes just in case.

weekend1.25 052

The verdict?  Um, they don’t taste like bagels at all – they taste like mini artisan bread!  I love them though – and I think since they are mini size, about 150 calories each.  I hope to make breakfast sammies for breakfast this week.

I also made a loaf of bread for my SIL – apparently my nephew LOVES my bread and asks each week – “Is Biz bringing bread with your food again?!”

weekend1.25 042

If you are afraid of working with yeast, this is a forgiving recipe – and like I said, it keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge, and Tony and I actually prefer the pizza dough to be about a week old – it has more of a sour doughy flavor?  And for the record, Tony liked the pizza. Open-mouthed smile

We now have more squirrels – I put popcorn out there and this black squirrel was hogging it all.  As soon as the other squirrels came around he would bite them and shove them off the table!
weekend1.25 034

This one is friendly though – and will literally sit right outside the window next to Tony’s chair – freaks him out because Tony will just be watching t.v. and this one will just pop his head up!

weekend1.25 035

Last fall we helped our neighbors pick up the leaves on their property – we have a riding mower with a bagger, so it makes picking up the leaves much less of a chore – it still takes time because you have to empty the bagger pretty often, but it cut down the time by 75%.  As a thank you they said that after football season, they would take us out to lunch.

Since today there was only the Pro Bowl going on, even though we had icy rain, we trecked up to Highland Park for some deli grub at Max’s Deli!  I put that on Facebook that I was about to get my Reuben face on, when Mara commented and told me that she used to go to this place with her grandma when she was little!


Our neighbor has been going to this place for 20 years.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a Reuben whore.  I love them.  And I am very critical about them.  It can’t be corned beef lunch meat, they meat has to be tender and melt in your mouth.  Definitely has to be on marble rye, with lots of kraut and melty Swiss cheese.  I actually prefer the thousand island on the side, and you don’t even have to ask because that’s how they serve it.


Just one word about the sandwich people:  amazeballs!  Tony had a pastrami on rye, and made equally nummy noises while eating it.  My intent was to just eat half, but I said YOLO – and ate the whole thing!  (um, with a potato pancake on the side – I had to, I was at a Jewish deli!).

So I’ll be hitting the gym hard before my WI on Wednesday, which reminded me that I never weighed in last week! 

Question of the Day:  Reuben sandwiches – Yea or Nay?

We have some weird weather this week – yesterday we had icy rain and lightening, right now at 7:00 a.m. its already 46 degrees, tomorrow we’ll be near 60, and then by the end of the week our highs will only be in the teens – so crazy!

Make it a great day!

Souper Friday–Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Rice

One of the secretaries called in yesterday, so it was a busy work day – which I love.  I think back to my early career as a legal secretary, and probably 75% of my day was spent doing electronic dictation.  The attorneys would leave their Dictaphone tapes on my ledge all lined up.  They could be dictating pleadings, wills, real estate transactions, memos, etc.  Not one attorney knew how to type.  In fact, one attorney I worked for didn’t like email when we first got it, and would make me print out his emails, he would hand write the response and have me type the response for him.

Fast forward to 2013.  All the attorneys obviously can type, and with voice recognition software, the days of dictation are long gone.  So when I have a busy day at work, I am a happy camper. Open-mouthed smile

Breakfast was the cheddar cheese side of my Green Monster quiche – so good!  Tony still says it looks like ass, but he won’t taste it.  My boss LOVED it – and the fact that she can get 1/4 of the quiche for 4 points makes her very happy.

bbean 003

So for my souper Friday at work, I decided I would make black bean soup with sausage over cilantro rice.  My inspiration came from Iowa Girl Eats.  My changes are in red.  I doubled the recipe for a group.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin (I used 1 tablespoon cumin)
2 cans seasoned black beans, drained but not rinsed (I used Trader Joe’s Cuban-style beans) (I used 3 cans of seasoned black beans and one can of mild chili beans)
1-1/2 cups water (2 cups water)
1 cup chicken broth (4 cups chicken broth)
4-5 dashes green Tabasco sauce

I added 8 ounces of cooked smoked sausage
Toppers: sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream shredded cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro

For the Cilantro-Lime Rice:
1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of 1/2 lime
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro


  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, then saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 30 more seconds, stirring constantly. Add chili powder and cumin then saute for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add drained beans, water, and chicken broth, bring soup to a boil, then lower heat slightly and simmer for 15 minutes. Scoop 2 ladle-fulls of soup into a blender or food processor then blend until almost smooth. Alternatively use a hand-held immersion blender to process 1/3 of the beans in the soup pot. Add blended soup back into the pot then add hot sauce and stir to combine.
  3. For the Chipotle-Lime Rice: While soup is simmering, bring water, oil, and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add rice, place a lid on top, then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir to fluff then add lime juice and chopped cilantro.
  4. To serve, scoop cooked rice into bottom of bowls then top with hot soup. Top with sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream, etc.

I actually use my rice maker to make rice.  After the rice was done I tossed the cooked rice with the lime and cilantro and one small pat of butter. 

I had the rice separate from the soup that was heating up in the crock pot at work – my suggestion was to have them ladle the cilantro rice in the bottom of the bowl, nuke that for 30 seconds, then ladle the soup over the rice, then top with the cheese and cilantro.

bbean 006

On the side I offered my toasted marble rye bread – promise that recipe is coming soon!  It was a huge hit.  While this soup is brothier (not a word?!) than Iowa Girl Eats, the rice soaked up some of the broth and everyone gave this a thumbs up.  I did have an array of hot sauces on the side for people who wanted to kick it up – several dashes of buffalo Tabasco was my hot sauce choice and a great one I might add!

Tony was on dinner duty last night – I am confident he offered to make dinner last night so that we couldn’t have party pizza Friday!  I bought a boneless ham on the discount rack the other night when I bought the pork.  This pork cost $3.99.  While it is fully cooked you do need to bake it – so Tony threw the ham and potatoes in the oven and cooked them both at 350 for one hour.

bbean 003

The bottom got all caramelized – notice the bacon to the left!  Pork on pork!  The pork was really juicy and not too salty.

bbean 005

bbean 011

I am going to have to have a couple green monsters this weekend to make up for the lack of veggies at dinner, but it was nice to come home and have dinner taken care of.  Thanks Tony!

Glad you all appreciated Tony’s love story yesterday about the Jack in the Box tacos.  You know what my fast food kryptonite is??

Long John Silvers!

Chicken planks to be more specific.  I would even ask for more of the crispy batter pieces to be added to my little box of goodness.  The chicken planks with hush puppies was a twice a week purchase back in the day.

chicken planks

I am happy (and sad!) that the closest LJS is more than 30 miles away, and while I do love them, with the price of gas today, it’s not worth the road trip. Open-mouthed smile

Question of the Day:  If you could have any fast food dish, not worrying about nutrition, what would it be?

I have to say that while I love McDonald’s quarter pounder, I only eat it when I haven’t had any “movement” for a while.  I literally need to find a toilet within a half hour after eating one!  You’re welcome for the visual on that one. Smile with tongue out

Tony and I are going to run a couple errands.  We are supposed to go out to dinner with our neighbors tomorrow night, but I just got an alert on my phone that we may be having an ice storm tomorrow, so we’ll see!

Have a great weekend!