Because You Can

Okay, we just have to get through two more days of chilly weather and hopefully we will break free from what has seemed like the longest winter in history.  I was listening to the radio last week and a local station was having a “Half Way to Halloween” party and I felt like yelling “it still FEELS like Halloween weather!”  Right now at 7:15 in the morning its only 35 degrees.

I still had leftover pumpkin buttermilk pancakes from last week, so I brought them but made a banana apple syrup.  Just cooked a diced apple in about 1/4 cup of water for about 5-7 minutes, just until the apple gets tender.  Add more water if necessary.  Then I sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, a couple pinches of cinnamon and then added a sliced banana and 1/2 cup of sugar free syrup.  That was split between me and my boss.

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This was super filling.  I didn’t even go to work out until almost 1:00.  I decided to go swimming.  My knees have been hurting a bit lately, so I ended up swimming for 40 minutes.  I like it better when its sunny because the water seems more welcoming!

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Next to the lap lanes there were a bunch of 3-4 year olds learning to swim.  Not going to lie that I was taking some tips to get to be a better swimmer from that swim coach!

It is still most definitely soup weather.  And guess what?  33rd time is a charm!  Yep, I have made Suzie’s Lasagna soup now 33 times.  I love all the links in the comments section from my blog pimping out her soup!   Seriously, this soup is so easy to make – I don’t even make the cheezy goodness because I think its awesome without it.

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I had marinated a chicken breast for dinner.  I used 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning, salt and pepper.  I left the lemons in the bag with the marinade.  My plan was to grill, but it was raining, so I just did it in my cast iron skillet.  At the end I added 1/3 cup of chicken broth to make a sauce and it was delicious.  I ended up splitting one chicken breast in half and we each had a skinny piece of chicken.

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You can’t see it really, but I sauteed a whole zucchini which is under my chicken.  I made some cheezy rice (just added some cheese to leftover rice, and 1/2  a pita with tzatziki sauce.  While both pieces of chicken were the same thickness, Tony’s piece was undercooked, so he mainly ate rice. Sad smile  He was talking to his son during dinner so when I asked him if he wanted it cooked some more, he said he was okay.  But mine was delicious and that’s all that counts, right?! Open-mouthed smile

Yesterday I was on Autumn’s blog, Good Eats Girl’s, (oops!  I forgot to add the link before!) and had made a family favorite of garlic focaccia bread that looked amazing.  I told her “I have everything to make that – like tonight!”  Around 8:00 last night I realized I still had time to make it.  The hands on time is only like 5 minutes.

You make the dough in your stand mixer.  Let it sit for an hour in an oiled bowl.  Form the dough on parchment paper and let it sit for another 30 minutes while your oven gets to temp.  Poke indentations with your fingers, and brush with olive oil and top with cheese.  She used mozzarella cheese, but I used my blended cheese ends.  Bake for 20 minutes – done!

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So light, flaky, I love the crunchy cheese bits on the side.  Today I am going to make me and my boss a roast beef, cheddar horseradish cheese and spinach panini with veggies and fruit.  Is it lunchtime yet?!

And today is WI Wednesday.  Y’all, I am not going to lie that I did not want to get on that scale.  I didn’t work out as much as I should have, I didn’t track a single thing I ate over the weekend.  So imagine my shock today:

Last week:

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This week:

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I maintained!  Whoop!  So glad I didn’t cross back over to the 170’s, and just a reminder that I need to get my ass  in gear.  I plan on doing a spin app today at lunch.

Check out Lisa’s latest post about working out – I found it very interesting!   After I read it, it actually lit a fire and I went and worked out even though I wasn’t 100% feeling it, of course felt great afterwards.  That’s just the thing, I’ve never once exercised and said “that’s a waste of time” so why is it so hard for me to get up the mojo to go workout?  She also posted this, which I loved – I may have to print it out and put in on my bulletin board at work!  Thanks for your post Lisa!

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So get out and move today – because you can!

Grilled Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

We were having a luncheon at work yesterday, so I wanted a light breakfast.  Plain Chobani yogurt, strawberries and bananas, with my homemade granola.  This is the loose stuff that’s left over from my granola clusters, which is perfect in a parfait.

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It was a busy morning.  We had to make an errand before lunch, then pick up lunch, come back set it up.  It turned out great though – I am usually in charge of this stuff, so I am happy when it all works out to plan. Open-mouthed smile

I ended up having a mixture of Asian chicken salad, some chicken and asparagus pesto pasta, and then the Cobb salad looked really good.

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Tiny problem with the Cobb salad – chock full of chopped red onion, so it was really hard to pick them out.  Michelle asked if Tony and I had tried caramelized onions because we might like those. Um, those are the worst onions of all!

I defrosted some of the ground sirloin I bought on discount last week.  I’ve made my Company Salisbury steak numerous times.  I thought of doing it on the grill!  I used less meat than before, and added more bread crumbs to keep them whole so they didn’t break apart on the grill when it came time to flip.

Grilled Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces ground sirloin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish mustard (or favorite mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 slices hearty bread
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 package brown gravy mix
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup prepared mashed potatoes

Mix the meat, egg, panko, salt, pepper, mustard and Worchestershire sauce.  Mix until combined and form into two patties.  Heat grill to medium.  Cook for about 5 minutes a side.  Remove steaks and cover with foil.  Put the cheese on the bread and put it in your top grill rack and close it until the cheese melts, just a couple minutes.

On the stove I had my mushrooms sautéing.  I mixed the 1 cup water to the package of brown gravy mix, and added that the mushrooms, turned the heat up and cooked the gravy for one minute.   I had leftover mashed potatoes, so just heated those up and it was time to assemble.

Cheese bread on bottom, steak on top of that, pour with mushroom gravy sauce and add the mashed taters on the side – make sure they get some gravy too otherwise they’ll get jealous.  I garnished mine with some chopped parsley – Tony doesn’t care for that “green shit.”

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This is a super easy weeknight dinner – literally 20 minutes from beginning to end.  I usually stock up on brown gravy packets when my store sells them 2/$1.  Only 25 calories per 1/4 cup!

And reason 3,027 I love Tony.  He was at a work related event yesterday and a company was showing how they do laser stuff.  My husband has tried to explain what all that stuff is, but it’s over my head.  Needless to say people were asking to have their names lasered on their pens, but not my hubby!

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He tried to have them take off their logo, but obviously that defeats the purpose of marketing!  I love it though – and turns out blue is my favorite color!  Thanks Tony!

I haven’t worked out since last Wedneday – wth?!!  I need to rock it out at my lunch workout today.  Make it a great day!

A Dinner Date

Saturday morning Tony and I were thrilled to see the sun.  After a pretty lazy morning we decided to head out to lunch and to do a bit of grocery shopping.

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We went to a place called The Assembly.  Back in the day, this was one of the only restaurants/bar in the area, and Tony spent quite a bit of time there in the 80’s.  They are known for their burgers.  They grill them right behind the bar.

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What did I order?  A turkey Rueben.  WTF?!  I took one look at Tony’s Parmesan burger and quickly realized my error.  It was as if I’d ordered lasagna in an Irish pub.

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He graciously gave me the perfect bite, and as soon as I swallowed I said “punch me in the face the next time I try to order anything but a burger from this place!”

After lunch we shopped a bit and then I told Tony that there was a new barber shop that I noticed that opened up by our house.  We ended up stopping by on our way home, and as luck would have it, he was next up.   He did a great job, and it was only $15 bucks!  I like how this picture turned out – I am in focus in the mirror and Nick is in focus in the mirror and everything else is blurry.

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I am loving my new lens, but still need to figure out how to use it.  I liked how these two pictures came out.

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I am a horrible work friend.  I could have lunch with them every single day for years but if I leave the company or they leave?  I rarely talk to them again.  It’s like I just shut that chapter in my life and move on.

I had a boss that was a ton of fun that I am friends with on Facebook.  When I first started working for her, she wasn’t married and didn’t have any kids.  Tony and I went to their wedding about 5 years ago, and now they have two kids.  And they moved last year and live only about 10 minutes away.

I kept joking with her on Facebook that whenever she wanted me to come over and make deep dish pizza in her kitchen, I’d be ready!  Last week she said “How about Saturday?”  Done!

I ended up making both pizza dough’s at home – one thin crust for the kids (well, the baby doesn’t eat pizza yet!) and my deep dish pizza.   And then brought everything with me to assemble once I got there.

Big G rolled out her dough and put the toppings on by herself (with a little help from me).  I am pissed because I had a small apron I was going to bring and leave with her.

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I did one sausage deep dish and one sausage and pepperoni deep dish.  The key to this pizza is to not forget to put the olive oil in the bottom of the pan, it makes the crust.

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Baby G wasn’t sure what to make of Tony!

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We also brought a red velvet cake for dessert.  When we were at the store they asked us if we wanted anything written on the cake, and we asked if they could write swear words, but they said no.  Tony came up with this:

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Thanks A & C for a great night!

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And they had a dog that reminded me of Ed – his name was Abe and he liked to put his head on my lap.

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Sunday morning was another lazy one – we slept in until 10:30!  Love.  For lunch I made us hot dogs.  Not just any hot dogs, but Nathan’s hot dogs – we think the best hot dog and worth the $$ – a package of 4 is $5.49!

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I may or may not like a lot of mustard on my dog!  It was nice enough that Tony and I could sit outside before I started dinner.  It could have been a tad warmer, but it worked. 

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I made a little cheese and crostini plate.  I enjoyed a glass of red.  Tony has switched to “summer beer” – Bud Light Lime.

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Tony also enjoyed a cigar.

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Once the sun went down, it was really cold so I got to work on dinner.  I decided to make scallops over vegetable risotto.  Tony gave this dinner two thumbs up! 

Seared Scallops Over Creamy Risotto for Two

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of Aborrio rice
  • 2.5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup cooked edamame
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 6 large scallops

In a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add rice and toast for 1-2 minutes.  Add in diced carrots, and start adding 1/2 cup of stock at a time, and stir.  I am not a constant stirrer when it comes to making risotto.  I’ll leave it alone for a few minutes at a time, then add some more broth. 

With the last 1/2 cup of broth, I add the edamame, salt, pepper.  Once the last of the broth has been absorbed, I add the Parmesan cheese and stir. 

For the scallops, I just followed Robin Sue’s method of making scallops.  I think I could have had my heat up a little more, but they were still delicious.  The secret is not to move them once you put them in the hot oil so they get a nice sear.  4 minutes on one side, just a minute on the flip.  (If you do Paleo – Robin Sue has a lot of great ideas!)  I ended up using this seasoning for the scallops that I found at The Fresh Market:

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Just yum.  This one is a definite keeper and the perfect dish to a great weekend.  How was your weekend?

Alright, off to get my shit together.  Make it a great day!

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Thanks for all your well wishes about our basement.  I spent about an hour and a half to two hours shop vacuuming the rest of the water, and did TEN loads of laundry.  I still can’t open my dresser yet, so there is still more laundry to do if those clothes can be saved.  It felt like a Saturday all day yesterday since I took the day off from work. Open-mouthed smile

I am finally posting the recipe for the homemade pasta from earlier this week.  This meal took me about 40 minutes from beginning to end, which isn’t too bad considering you are making the pasta from scratch.

A couple things I would have done differently – cut the pasta much smaller because it puffs up when cooking.  I would also roll it out much much thinner too.  Also, while I didn’t have too much trouble pulling the pasta apart after cutting it, I would put flour on the dough before making it into an envelope and then cut it.

This was enough pasta for about 3-4 servings, the stats are for 4 servings:

Homemade Pasta

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons cold water

Put everything in the food processor except the water.  Mix and add just enough water until the dough pulls away from the sides of the food processor.  Knead on the counter for about 5 minutes.  Let rest for 15 minutes.

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Once the water comes to a boil, the pasta only takes about 4 minutes to cook.  Drain and serve with your favorite pasta sauce.  Tony doesn’t really like red sauce much anymore, so I usually just put butter and Parmesan cheese on his pasta.  This time I made a lemon cream sauce that turned out really good – I got the sauce recipe from this blog, but reduced the half and half to 1/2 cup for the two of us.

While cleaning the basement (turns out I have 8 bags of garbage to toss – lost some snowmen!) I did an inventory of our downstairs fridge.  While it’s mostly a beverage fridge, it’s also my overflow fridge too – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten stuff is down there and it goes bad. Sad smile

I realized I bought tomatoes off the dollar rack last week that needed to be used up – stat!  I had also bought a pineapple to try to make a grilled pineapple salsa. 

Turns out making salsa to sell is a much bigger endeavor than I thought.  To sell salsa at a farmers market in Illinois, because it’s tomato based, has to be cooked in a professional kitchen.  To use a professional kitchen, off hours are $20 dollars an hour (off hours been 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.).  But in order to use that kitchen I have to take a 15 hour Health Certification which is $100 online.  But then I’d have to drive to Rockford to take the test and get the certificate.

Then I have to pay McHenry County a Health Permit to sell at the farmers market.  Oh, and to use the professional kitchen, I have to retain a million dollar liability insurance policy.   All I want to do is sell my salsa! Sad smile

So while it felt like winter yesterday – snow, a bit of hail, high winds, I decided to try out my pineapple salsa.  If it doesn’t feel like summer I thought I could make it taste like summer!

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Ingredients per batch:

  • 7 roma tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems cut off
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 slices of fresh pineapple

Heat your grill to medium-high.  Grill the tomatoes, jalapeno and pineapple until the tomatoes are charred and the pineapple has some good charred marks.  This takes about 15 minutes.  Put everything in a food processor and puree to your desired texture.

I made one batch mild because we are going to a friends house tonight who has little kids.  Maybe the 4 year old likes the heat, but I am not sure!  So the first batch only had 1/2 a jalapeno, seeded – the second batch had 1 1/2 jalapenos, seeds included.  You know I can handle the hot shit!

The mild batch I just pureed everything together.  But Tony said he couldn’t really taste the pineapple all that much and suggested I chop up the pineapple and stir it in the spicy batch.  Brilliant!

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Oh, and I got my new lens in the mail yesterday!!

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This picture was taken with the stock lens that came with my camera:

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This is one taken with my new lens:

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I need to play around with it, but I am really liking it so far.  I tend to get way too close to my food when I take pictures, this lens makes you take a step back.  I think it’s a lot sharper too – you can see every grain of salt!

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I love this salsa!  Spicy, with just enough sweet from the pineapple to give it a perfect balance.  Hope my friends like it! 

And a big thank you to my brother and my SIL for sending me a belated birthday gift yesterday – I got some $$ but more importantly, I got Fickle’s Pickles!  They brought me a big jar the last time they were in town, and I dropped it on the ground getting in my back door – I actually cried when it fell and all those pickles were lost!

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For long time readers, you’ll be happy to know that my brother is CANCER FREE!  It was a year ago this coming week that he was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma.  He had a full body scan a couple weeks ago that showed no signs of cancer – can I have an AMEN?!  You can read about his diagnosis here – he’s an awesome writer.  But my favorite post of all time of his?  When his first daughter went to college – I still get teary when I read it!

Alright, I have to start getting productive.  I need to make deep dish pizza dough since I am making deep dish pizza for our friends tonight.  And my kitchen floor looks like I haven’t mopped it in a year when it’s only been a week.  I hate it when the maid doesn’t show up! Open-mouthed smile

Have a great weekend!  See you Monday!

I Can’t Complain One Bit.

Chicagoland got about five inches of rain overnight Wednesday night.  Before I went to bed, I was putting laundry in the dryer and saw a bit of seepage in one corner and didn’t think much of it.

Many moons ago I had a job that required me to be at work at 7:00 a.m.  Tony ended up building me a closet in the basement so I could get dressed with lights on and not disturb him while he was sleeping.  I have a long pole that has all of my hanging stuff, then a dresser and some plastic shelving for all my workout clothes, pants etc.

So I went downstairs to get ready for work, when I hit the basement floor and water was up past the middle of my leg!  Freezing cold water!  I turned the light on, and sure enough, we had between 6-8 inches of standing water throughout our whole basement.

You can’t tell it in this picture, but the water is just below my rain boots.

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The only good thing is that our basement floor is cement, and the walls are cinder block.  Still I lost some Christmas stuff, and more than half my clothes are soaking wet.  And I can’t open the bottom three drawers of my dresser because they are swelled shut. Sad smile  And it’s only water, no sewage!

I have to give Tony props though.  He always jokes and calls himself the maintenance man, but it’s true he is one of the handiest people I know.  He quickly got one sump pump working again, and fixed another pump, so that within a couple hours, all the waiter was pumped out of the basement.

I can’t complain though.  With all the shit that’s going on in the world, one Boston Marathon suspect shot and killed, the explosion in Texas.  Thousands of people are still without power in Chicagoland – three expressways were even completely closed!

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I took today off to shop vac the remaining water, throw out stuff that isn’t salvageable, and do lots of laundry! 

I was in such a rush yesterday morning that I only had time to put together stuff for breakfast – an egg white sammie with cuties on the side.

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I had to pick up some kitchen stuff for our office so me and my co-worker went to Mariano’s to pick up lunch too.  I had stuff to make a sandwich back at the office, but I wanted some soup on the side.  My camera battery was dead, so my iPhone stepped in.  The roast beef sandwich was fine, but the soup?  SO SALTY!  I ate like four bites and had to throw the rest away.

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We call our backyard Lake Bizzy!  This is what it looked like yesterday morning:

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When I got home from work yesterday, we saw that our neighbors across the channel have sandbagged their back door – what you can’t see is the about 15 feet of back yard that is completely flooded.

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It’s been windy and we lost another branch from one of our trees:

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I ended up making burgers for a quick dinner last night.  I remembered that I had bought blue cheese the week before and didn’t use any of it yet.  I puffy heart blue cheese, but can say that I don’t think I ever even tried it before meeting Tony!

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And in case inquiring minds want to know, that’s hot sauce all over my baked fries. Open-mouthed smile

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Since I was late getting to work yesterday because of the basement, I didn’t work out.  I have a feeling I’ll have plenty of exercise cleaning today though!

So I am thankful for my handy and loving husband, the health to clean up the basement, and blue cheese. 

What are you thankful for today? 

I’ll be posting my homemade pasta recipe tomorrow – hope you give it a try! Make it a great day!