Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shrimp and Tomatoes and Feta- OH MY!

Wow! That's really all I can say about this incredibly simple dish! It's a grand slam in my book - and boy am I glad since I made two pans of it and took one over to my friends Michelle and Carl (proud new parents of Baby Evelyn Pearl!!! Seen below being held by the weeone!) and I wanted it to taste good for them!

Anyway, our evening is a quiet one, here at home hanging out, so it's a perfect make-dinner-night! The weeone was not able to assist me this evening since she has been sent to her room for the day....that's a whole different blog post! The hardest part of this whole meal was peeling the shrimp. My Krappy Kroger doesn't carry peeled, deveined, raw shrimp and all I had on hand was peel-on, so I defrosted 2 pounds of shrimp and got busy peeling.

While I peeled, the onions and garlic made my house smell so good. Nothing really beats the smell of house that is cooking up some love! To the onions and garlic a couple of cans of diced tomatoes were added, followed by some parsley (I couldn't find dill and left it out and don't think the dish suffered a bit from it). Once that was done - it's off the heat, and all you do is add the shrimp, sprinkle with the feta and bake it for 12 minutes! Easy-peasy!!! This is a DEFINITE repeater for us. The weeone would like less feta, I'd like a tad more, so next time we'll have a feta-heavy side and a feta-light side!

So that was was good...

I hope you all have a great Superbowl Sunday tomorrow!!!


Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
Ellie Krieger
The Food You Crave

4 servings (1 1/2 cups each)

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
* 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
* 2 (14.5-ounce) cans of no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juices
* 1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill
* 1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, dill, and shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the feta over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes.

Nutritional Analysis
per Serving
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Calories 300, Total fat 11g, Saturated fat 4.5g, Monounsaturated fat 4g, Polyunsaturated fat 1.5g, Protein 35g, Carbohydrates 12g, Fiber 2g, Cholesterol 240mg, Sodium 710mg

Some weeks just fly by...

Wow- is this week over already? Where did it go? Ours went a little bit of everywhere! We didn't cook at home this week as much as I'd like, but there was lot going on so I'm cutting myself some slack! I wasn't feeling well in the beginning of the week, so although we cooked those Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheeses on Monday, we just had leftovers on Tuesday.

Wednesday the weeone had dinner with her dad, and I went to my Women's Bible Study at Grace Bible Church and then met a few girlfriends at a new local hangout. The place is called Cedar Creek Cafe, Bar & Grill. It's a great place and part of the the Onion Creek / Dry Creek Family. I was already a fan of Onion Creek to go have a beer, a fan of Dry Creek for a great burger and so it only makes sense that I would love Cedar Creek as well...and I do! In fact, I liked it enough just having a beer with the girls on Wednesday that the weeone, my parents and I went for an early dinner/happy hour Friday! The atmosphere is great. They have a good selection of draft beers, a full bar and a menu that's more than just bar food (although there's plenty of bar food options if that's what you're looking for). It's not super cheap, but you can get a burger and fries for around $8, however their wings are $1 each, so a bit pricey. The biggest downside to Cedar Creek is the service. I'm not sure when they opened, but their waitstaff and bartenders need some help. I stood at the bar for at least 10 minutes while the staff chatted amongst themselves. So although I like the place - you've got to have a chunk of time and not expect much in the way of service to go hang out at Cedar Creek.

Happy Weekend everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese? It sure sounds good!

I was really intrigued by the title of the recipe Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave. It just sounded sooo yummy. I guess I had a flavor in my mouth that I assumed it would be....but it wasn't quite that. Don't get me wrong, these were pretty good, but nothing to rave about. I think if I make them again, I'd up the pepperjack cheese a bit. It seemed like a lot of sweet and not so much spicy. I'd personally prefer it the other way around. The weeone thought they were perfect - of couse, since she's not a fan of spicy.

We paired these with some leftover Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo to complete the meal. It was a bad choice on my part. The flavors didn't go together at all. Next time I will stick to serving tomato soup with grilled cheese!!! But look how pretty they are!

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

Serves 4

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 large red onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
8 slices whole-wheat bread
3 ounces pepper Jack cheese, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 medium rip beefsteak or hothouse tomatoes, sliced
Cooking spray

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden and the edges are browned, 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the cheddar cheese between 4 slices of the bread. Spread 1 tablespoon of the caramelized onions on top of the cheddar, then top with the pepper Jack. Place 1 large or 2 small slices of tomato and the other slice of bread on top.

Clean and dry the skillet, then coat with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Place one of the sandwiches in the skillet and weigh down with a heavy skillet or plate. Lower the heat to medium-low and grill until the underside is a deep brown but not burnt and the cheese is partially melted, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the sandwich and gill the other side until it's nicely colored, another 4 to 5 minutes. Slice in half and serve hot. Repeat with the other sandwiches.

Serving size: 1 sandwich
Per Serving: Calories: 350, Total Fat: 18g (Mono: 2.5g, Poly: 1g, Sat: 8g), Protein: 16g, Carb: 33g, Fiber: 5g, Chol: 45mg, Sodium: 560mg

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I have joined the cult...I love Dave Ramsey!

I've heard a lot about Dave Ramsey. I've listened to his radio show a few times. I have a friend, Sarah (not the same one as the dietician), who has one of his bumper stickers on her car. It says "Debt is normal - Be Weird!". She and her husband are budgeting pros and they live below their means so they can save for the future as well as for today. I've been intrigued for a while now and have many conversations with my friend about it. I started budgeting in November, but when the "oh my gosh it's Christmas!" shopping rush happened...I sort of gave up.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and my friend, Becky, emails me to say she can get discounted tickets to Total Money Makeover Live event with Dave Ramsey. My interest was already piqued, so I checked my calendar and quickly agreed to go with her. I really had no idea what to expect. Would it be a boring 5 hour talk about investing? Would it be someone telling me I was a bad person for wanting to spend money on new clothes or tvs or toys for my child? Would it be a room full of hippies that wear hemp clothing and drive Vegas? I wasn't sure what to expect.

What I got was amazing! It was 5 hours of entertaining education. Dave's methodology and philosophy are simple enough - do what your grandmother told you to do - save money to buy what you want and pay cash. It's pretty much that easy. Dave, of course, has several steps to get you to this place and recommendations about how much money to save, how to do it, how to invest, where to invest, etc. It was valuable information.

I think what surprised and delighted me the most was that Dave recognized God's role in our lives - all parts, financial included. He says that if you read the book of Proverbs enough you'll have a PhD in finance...I might try that. =) Anyway, I highly recommend checking Dave and his philosophy out. If you do, you might try being Weird.

Click on the link above to check out Dave's website and learn more!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Soup Weather Left...but my Soup Cravings are Still Here!

This journey of mine is an interesting one. In the past I've hit a "diet" pretty hard, trying to increase my water intake, cut calories, increase exercise and anything else that deemed "essential" all at once so I could be an "after" as soon as humanly possible. That's what you're supposed to do, right? Well, maybe, but that has never worked for me. I am still a "before". I am proof of the failure of diets. I've been on many, lost some weight, gained some weight, but never really succeeded. So, the approach is different this time and it's noticeable for me. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, read this post from late 2008. I'm drinking a lot of water. Am I conscious of what I eat? Yes. Have I made huge sweeping changes? No. Will this take longer? Absolutely! What are my odds of success? Much higher.

I know I mostly talk about recipes I'm trying out, but I wanted to remind everyone how I got to this place and why I'm trying to cook through THESE books and not others....there's a method to my madness! =) I promise.

So, what's the latest meal? A really, really good one. I post and read lots of things on the Bulletin Boards over at Cooking Light's website. There have been lots of conversations about Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave. Almost every time someone starts a thread about this book, raves come in about her Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo. It's a tempting recipe thanks in part to a fantastic photo in the book! So, I'm still in the mood for soup despite the warm temps here in Houston, so I thought I'd give it a go.

It's a really simple recipe, but it does require more pots / pans / containers than I expected for a soup. You start in a soup pot by cooking the cut up chicken breast, then move that meat to another bowl to wait for it's grand entrance to the soup. Then you cook the veggies, dusted with Thyme, in that same soup pot and when they're soft enough to swim, add the broth. The orzo joins the party when that swimming pool turns into a bubbling hot tub. So the boiling broth lets the orzo become nice and tender. While that's going on, you take a 2nd pot to warm just a cup of broth - but don't boil it! 2 whisked eggs blended with fresh lemon juice are then married slowly to the hot cup of broth and added to the main soup pot to thicken things up. The chicken takes a final dive in at the end just before you season it with salt and pepper and send it piping hot and tasty to a soup bowl! It took me about 20-25 minutes to put this soup together along with 2 pots and 2 bowls and an array of measuring cups and spoons, but it was worth every bit of it!

This is definitely a soup I'll make again! The lemon is there, but not overpowering, the thyme does it job nicely in the background and the orzo gives you just the right amount of starch to make you feel full. This would be a great replacement for chicken noodle soup when you are under the weather and I'm thinking I need to see how it will freeze so there is always some just a defrosting away!

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave

Serves 4


4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, preferably whole-wheat
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

Per serving: Calories: 280, Total Fat: 10g (Mono:6g, Poly: 1g, Sat: 2g), Protein: 26g, Carb: 22g, Fiber: 2g, Chol: 39mg, Sodium: 291mg

Friday, January 23, 2009

Slacker...that's my new name! But a Meal, a REAL MEAL!

I got a bit lazy for about a week and a half. I had planned a menu, but hadn't shopped for said menu or actually cooked from said menu! There was some eating out. I have to admit it. There was some overindulging (can you say "queso AND nachos"?) It was enjoyed, as all overindulging should be, but it's time for my birthday to be over!!!! I guess there is this slight joy at the fact that I am actually ending the overindulging! There was a time where that period would have lasted! =)

So, I had this menu planned and one of the items on it was a Crustless Quiche recipe from Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great. One of the things that I've really come to love about this cookbook is that it never locks you in to a one note recipe. Pam does an amazing job of giving you a very basic recipe and then multiple variations on it so that you can make it 5 times and it's never the same! I love that! Learn the basics and a couple of variations and your meal repertoire expands exponentially.

The recipe we made last night was a Crustless Quiche and the flavor variation was Quiche with Sausage, Apples and Sage. Doesn't it just sound yummy??? The weeone LOVES sausage and she hasn't met an apple she didn't like (although since her top two teeeth as still missing she's not eating them whole these days!), so it was a perfect recipe for us. It was a hurried night as she had guitar lessons and I had to work Softball Registration for the Oaks Dad's Club where the weeone plays softball, so a quick easy meal was in order and this completely fit the bill!

The basic quiche recipe came together in about 2 minutes since it's just a few staples (eggs, liquid eggs, evaporated milk, dijon mustard and salt and pepper). The most work was diced the Granny Smith apple and the chicken sausages and that took...oh...about 3 minutes! So really preheating the oven took longer than the hands on prep of the quiche. The longest part of the recipe was the baking - 25 to 30 minutes is what the recipe called for and it took about 5-7 minutes longer for us, so if you make this, don't plan a close call crazy night like I did!!!

This was right before the quiche hit the oven! There was no time for an "after" shot!

Overall this was an easy recipe that was good and we will repeat (at least in other flovor variations if not this same one!). The weeone and I both had a slice of quiche again this morning for breakfast, so it was definitely a cook once, eat twice kind of meal!

Quiche with Sausage, Apples, and Sage
The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight & Eating Great
by Pam Anderson

Serves 6

Basic Crustless Quiche

Filling ingredients of choice (see recipe that follows)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup liquid eggs or egg whites
1 small can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
dried herb of choice ( see recipe that follows)
Cheese of choice (see recipe that follows)

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a 9-inch Pyrex pie plate
Prepare filling ingredients and set aside.
Whisk eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in herb, cheese, and filling ingredients.
Pour mixture into pie plate and bake until just set, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges and serve.
(about 67 calories per serving without cheese)

Sausage, Apple and Sage filling recipe

2 teaspoons oil
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into medium dice
6 ounces fully cooked lean chicken sausages, quartered lengthwise and cut into medium dice
1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
3 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 3/4 cup)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple; saute until caramel brown, about 4 minutes. Add sausages; saute until golden brown, about 2 minutes longer.
Add sage, cheese and filling ingredients to egg mixture.

(192 calories per serving)

So..what about you? Anyone have a lowfat and healthy quiche flavor combo that they love? Or a recipe for one of those crazy nights when you have all of 45 minutes to cook, feed everyone and run out the door? What do you do on those night? Used to be we'd hit the Chinese restaurant down the street or pick up some other sort of takeout...what do you do? I'd love some other ideas!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A whole week gone...

...yep a whole week. I deserved it. It was my birthday week last week and, well, we ate out a lot! =) Nothing obscene or crazy, just celebratory and fun. We started back on the cooking front tonight with a homemade pizza. I'm a bit under the weather and we had a 1/2 pound crust already made, so it was a simple cheese pizza. It was quick, easy and delicious. Tomorrow night we'll start back with our planned menus and fabulous meals.

It was kind of fun....playing hooky for a week!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Two Post Sunday - Let's Chat about Water...

I have never been a big water drinker. I hate the way it tastes first thing in the morning, so I've spent my adult life kicking off my day with one of two things - either Diet Dr. Pepper or an iced Venti non-fat Chai latte from Starbucks. Neither are probably the ideal way to start the day, but either would get me going in the morning and put me in the right frame of mind to begin a workday.

If you've been reading my blog since the 1st of January you know that I'm working with a good friend who is a dietician, Sarah, to get a better handle on my eating habits and to FINALLY lose the weight that I've been carrying around for the last 8-10 years. Sarah knows that for me, eating is a social thing, an emotional thing, a habitual's not just about filling a belly that is in need of food or providing a body with the nutrients that it needs to get through the day. So, the first steps that I'm taking are to keep a food journal - which I do through Evernote and to drink 1/2 my body weight in ounces of water each day. I'm not a small girl, so that number of ounces seemed extraordinary to me in the beginning, but Sarah touted lots of reasons for drinking a lot of water and staying hydrated, and, well, she's a professional, so I guess I should believe her!

Being my skeptical self, I've done a bit of research about why water is so essential, not just to people who are trying to shed pounds, but to everyone who walks the earth. Below is a little bit of what I've found. I hope it inspires you to put down that Diet Coke or whatever you're sipping and pick up a bottle of water instead. I've already begun to see a difference in how I feel!

The following is an excerpt from

1. Drinking water enhances fat loss

Water is an essential nutrient. All chemical reactions in the body depend upon it. If you’re trying to lose weight, this can’t be ignored. You won’t be able to lose weight without water to flush out the by-products of fat breakdown. When there isn’t enough water to dilute the body’s waste products, kidney stones may form. When the kidneys aren’t working to their full potential, the liver must step in and help. Once this happens the liver can’t optimally perform its other important functions. As a result, burning fat has to wait.

2. Combat ailments by drinking more water

In many cases, fatigue, headaches and back pain may be caused by dehydration. If you suffer from an afternoon nod off, try drinking more water at lunch. If you or your children complain of frequent headaches, the amount of water you’re drinking could be responsible. And, muscle spasms are also caused by not being adequately hydrated.

3. Drinking water can reduce hunger

Experts say that hunger pangs are often misinterpreted cravings for water. Try drinking water before your regular meals and see if it helps you cut down on the amount of food you eat. It really works as an effective appetite suppressant. Avoid counting tea, coffee, sodas and juices in your fluid intake. Coffee and tea contain caffeine which has a diuretic effect and makes you lose water. Sodas and juices are too sweet—because the body must dilute them, they cause more dehydration.

4. Look younger - drinking water hydrates your skin

When the skin is properly hydrated, it looks plump and more radiant. Water will keep the toxins flushed out and help you to cool off through perspiration. Muscles need to have enough water to make them look full too. Deprive yourself of water and you’ll see the difference in the mirror.

Are you dehydrated?

Just how do you know if you’re getting dehydrated? If you have a dry mouth, produce less urine, have very dark urine and/or feel dizzy or faint you probably need water, quick. Drink at least 8 glasses a day. Experts now recommend even more, up to 12 glasses a day. To be more precise, drink ½ ounce per pound of body weight. If you exercise or are very active increase the number to 2/3 ounce per pound. Try monitoring your water intake closely for the next month. When you drink enough, you’ll look and feel better.

Girls Night it EVER a bad thing?

Everyone needs a girls night out every now and then. This was a tough week for a couple of my friends and so I wasn't surprised when Staci called and said, "Let's get a group together and go out on Saturday night!". I was skeptical when I realized who all she'd invited - a couple of whom I didn't know well or at all. It turns out the mix was perfect.

It amazes me how long it can take to decide on a location to go out. It's as if as soon as someone asks you where would be a good place your brain completely stops working. It's bizarre really! So after a series of email and phone calls we settled on Pappasito's Cantina. It's a local chain - Mexican food - loud restaurant - reliable.

I think my favorite part of last night was that Staci drove her big ass, gas guzzling Suburban and picked us all up! I don't think I've gone out with everyone in one car since college. It really is a lot more fun for all the girls to pile into one car. I'm not sure why it's more fun, but it is, trust me!

We had to wait a while for a table so we started with a round of drinks at the bar - margaritas all around except for Sarah and her Johnny Walker red on the rocks and Brooke's water (she just started Weight Watchers and we certainly didn't want to derail such noble efforts!). The group meshed quickly and we started firing off smart ass and random comments. It wasn't long before we had Staci crying from laughter, which just makes us all laugh more.

I guess I should mention that I did drink water throughout the night - about 2 full glasses, so I wouldn't get dehydrated and hear Sarah talking in my head (the Sarah that was with us is not the same as Dietician Sarah).

Great food, great margaritas and great girls...all in all a fun night.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

One night off...and one rushed night

Yesterday was Wednesday. On Wednesday nights the weeone has dinner with her dad. My plan was to eat leftover soup from the other night out of the refrigerator. As things often do, they didn't go as planned. =) I ended up going out for a quick dinner with Staci. We hit up a little Mexican joint not far from home called Tecate. We split an order of beef fajita nachos and had a good time lifting each others' spirits after a long and tough day.

This is the time of year that the weeone and I start gearing up for softball season. She plays. I don't. =) However, I'm on the board at the club she plays with, so tonight was my turn to hang out and work at registration. That meant we needed a quick dinner. I mentioned that to the weeone and she said "Rachel Ray can make dinner in 30 minutes, Mom, so we can do it!" It was really cute.

So for our quick dinner we made Crispy Chicken Fingers from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave along with some frozen french cut green beans and lightly smashed red potatoes. The chicken fingers were quick, easy and fun to make with the weeone. They are coated in crushed Corn Chex which gives them a great crispness as well as good flavor. This will definitely be made again in our house!

Crispy Chicken Fingers
The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut across into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
Cooking spray
4 cups whole-grain corn cereal (recommeded: Corn Chex or cornflakes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the chicken and buttermilk in a shallow dish. Cover and chill for 15 minutes.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Put the cereal in a sealed plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a shallow dish. Season the chicken with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in the cereal to fully coat and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Leave the chicken on the baking sheet to cool slightly. It will become crispier.

4 Servings
Nutritional Analysis
Per Serving: Calories328,Total Fat:6 grams, Saturated Fat:1 gram, Protein: 36 grams, Carbohydrates:33 grams, Fiber:1 gram

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mamma Mia, Pappa Pia...our kitchen is a Pizzeria!

Tonight was proclaimed Pizza Night by the weeone, so who am I to stand between a 6 year old and one of her favorite foods? We spent about 10 minutes early in the evening together making our own Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough. Making it was much easier than you'd think, much quicker than you'd think and WAY more fun than you'd think. We followed a recipe that I'd originally seen on a friend's blog, Culinary in the Desert. It's a great pizza dough that is pretty healthy in comparison to lots of other recipes available. It originated from Eating Well Magazine.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough

To make 12 ounces dough:
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons), such as Fleischmann's RapidRise
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2-2/3 cup hot water (120-130°F)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

To make 1 pound dough:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons), such as Fleischmann's RapidRise
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water (120-130°F)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. With the motor running, gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water; if too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Process until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it, sprayed-side down, over the dough. Let the dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes before rolling.
3. Place a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on the lowest oven rack;
preheat oven to 500°F or highest setting. Roll and top the pizza as desired
(we suggest a 13-inch circle) and bake the pizza until the bottom is crisp
and golden, 10 to 14 minutes. Serve immediately.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per 12 ounces: 766 calories; 12 g fat (2 g sat, 8 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 142 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein; 16 g fiber; 1,882 mg sodium.

Per 1 pound: 1,032 calories; 18 g fat (3 g sat, 12 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 189 g carbohydrate; 33 g protein; 21 g fiber; 2,509 mg sodium.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Store in a plastic bag coated with cooking spray in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

The weeone and I each shaped and topped our own pizzas. She used marinara, shredded mozzarella and sliced tomatoes. I used marinara, fresh sliced mozzarella, diced canadian bacon, sliced tomatoes and Penzey's Pizza Seasoning, and crushed red pepper.

We really enjoyed this meal both in preparing and eating...definitely a repeater.

So, we're 3 nights into "dining at home" and it's really been a hit so far. One of the secrets to our success at this point is that the weeone has no sports going on right now, so we're not rushing off to practice mid-evening. It will be interesting to see if we can keep this pace once softball season starts in early March. I guess I'll have to figure out some crockpot meals for that time of year! If you have healthy crockpot recipes that are hard to screw up, feel free to share!!!

My food journaling is going well and so is my water consumption. In fact, I'm drinking so much water these days that the Dr. Pepper corporation is probably starting to wonder what happened to it's Diet Dr. Pepper sales!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009's cold in Houston!

We're having a bit of cold snap today and tomorrow in Houston. For those of you who deal with "real winter" you'd laugh at what we consider cold! The high today was 49 degrees!!! It was also drizzly which I think always makes it all seem so much colder.

Since it's not cold often, I thought I'd take advantage and make SOUP! I love soup. The weeone? Not so much, but I'm working on her. Up until now Tortilla Soup was the only thing she's given a thumbs up to, so tonight I made something not so distant from Tortilla Soup - Creamy Chili-Corn Soup with Chicken and Black Beans from Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight & Eating Great.

This was a fantastic choice! It's a quick soup and is ready to eat in about 15 minutes. I would definitely recommend this one for a busy night with little time to make dinner. In fact, I'm pretty sure this soup is faster than trying to pick up take out or driving through a fast food joint!

It starts out with EVOO and garlic sizzling away. You add the spices until your kitchen smells divine, then round it out with a host of cans - diced tomatoes, beans, creamed corn, diced green chiles, chicken broth. And just as you're ready to serve? You top the colorful creation with some chopped cilantro! It's a beautiful dish. I served some easy-to-make-and-always-reliable Jiffy Corn Bread muffins along side of it. I'm really looking forward to having the leftovers of this one!!!

The weeone doesn't like things spicy, so I only used 1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder when I made it and then I added a dollop of sour cream when hers was served so the spices wouldn't send her screaming for more milk! She seemed pleased with this recipe and told me she thought we should make it again some time. I call that a success! Of course, it may have been the cornbread that she really loved, but whatever I have to do to get her to love soup like me - I'm willing to do it!

Creamy Chili-Corn Soup with Chicken and Black Beans
from The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight & Eating Great
by Pam Anderson

2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) creamed corn
1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, drained
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, heat oil and garlic over medium-high heat until garlic starts to sizzle. Add chili powder and cumin and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add corn, tomatoes, broth, beans, chiles and chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

377 calories per 2-cup serving

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Day #1 - A Success!

Well, today was the first day of "dining at home" and it was all-around a great success. Tonight for dinner we had Crab Cakes, Baked Onion Rings and Baked Grape Tomatoes with Parmesan Cheese. The weeone was a great help in prepping tonight. I think she was just so excited that we were having onion rings that she could hardly contain herself!!!

The Crab Cakes and Oven Baked Onion Rings were from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave. They were both simple, tasty and healthy options. The Baked Grape Tomatoes with Parmesan Cheese was just an idea in my head that sounded good and, as it turns out, was great!

Here's what the plate looked like when we sat down to eat -

In her cookbook, Ellie pairs the Crab Cakes with Smarter Tartar Sauce. I didn't make it, as I'm not a big fan of tartar and I knew that the weeone wouldn't eat it, but I'm sure it's a great option if you are a fan of tartar sauce. I seasoned my crab cakes up a bit at the table with some extra Old Bay Seasoning and a splash of Tabasco. The weeone ate hers just as they came out of the oven.

The only change I made to the Onion Rings was to omit salting them when they came out of the oven. That ended up being a wise decision as there was plenty of salt from the potato chip crust.

Crab Cakes

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 scallion, including green top, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lump crab, picked over for cartilage
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Smarter Tartar Sauce, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl mix together the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning and hot sauce. Stir in the bell pepper and scallion. Gently fold in the crab, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Put the remaining bread rumbs in a shallow dish.

Divide the crab mixture into 8 mounds. Shape 1 mound into a round and coat in bread crumbs. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and flatten the crab cake to form a patty about 1-inch high. Repeat to form the remaining crab cakes.

Bake until golden on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Gently flip the crab cakes and cook until the second side is golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Oven Baked Onion Rings

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups baked potato chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 large Vidalia onions, peeled


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spray a baking sheet slightly with oil and set aside. Place potato chips in the bowl of a food processor and process into crumbs, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a shallow bowl, add cayenne, and set aside. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of flour, salt and pepper and set aside. Slice onions into 1/2-inch circles and separate into rings, keeping only large, whole rings (reserve rest of onions for other uses). You should come out with about 12 to 14 rings.

Place the remaining flour in a sealable plastic bag, then add onions, and shake to coat. Dip onions 1 at a time into the buttermilk mixture, then dip into potato chip crumbs and place on baking sheet. Spray canola oil evenly over rings and bake for 20 minutes, or until coating is crisp. Season with salt, to taste, and serve immediately.

The Baked Grape Tomatoes with Parmesan were simply halved grape tomatoes sprinkled with a small amount of shredded parmesan cheese baked for the last 10 minutes that the onion rings and the crab cakes were in the oven. These were juicy, sweet and will definitely be a repeater in this house!

Overall - a great and fun meal. This was the perfect start to my new "dining at home" plan. I think what I liked about it the best was how much fun the weeone and I had cooking together. This will be a great time for the two of us together each evening if she continues to show such enthusiasm for cookign with me!

Sometimes friends come first...

I had plans to cook dinner Saturday night. The chicken was defrosting in the fridge. It was all set. The weeone was excited to help cook. But sometimes, friends come first.

My dear friend Staci had been in Chicago for 4 or 5 days with her husband and 3 kids. I called her around 4 yesterday afternoon to check and see if they'd gotten back into town yet. She was at wits end. They had arrived at the airport, picked up their bags, gotten the car, loaded the bags....and the car wouldn't start! So when I called she'd just gotten off the phone with a tow truck and wasn't sure how they were going to get home. Needless to say, my plan was derailed as I headed to the airport to lend a hand, and a ride! We ended up all eating dinner together as it was almost 6 by the time we got back to her place. Alls well that ends well. Last night's dinner will now be tonight's!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Getting Down to Business...

2009 is going to be my year. If I want to succeed, I've got to start it off on the right foot. What's the right foot?

#1 - Do what Sarah says. If there's one thing I've learned over the past 10 years it's that even if I think I know best for me, I don't always do best for me. Time to change that.

#2 - Stop eating out so much. The weeone and I eat out an exorbitant amount. What's crazy about that is that I love to cook! I always feel rushed though and never plan well enough to actually get a meal on the table in the evening. That's changing. I participate in a cooking bulletin board. I've been on it for years. One of the things I've watched the others on the board do over the years is plan menus each week. So, today I sat down with Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave, Pam Anderson's Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great, Rachel Ray's Big Orange Book, and the latest issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine (Jan/Feb 2009) and I planned a menu. I planned 5 meals between tomorrow and Thursday of next week. Four of the five are new recipes to me, but I figure I need to expand my horizons. So, over the next week I'm going to share my food with you. I'm not a photographer, but I'll try to take some decent photos as well as provide the recipes and tell you what I think and what the weeone thinks.

#3 - I have to move more. I've done a couple of at home DVDs in the mornings over the past few weeks and I'd like to keep that up. Monday starts our normal schedule again and hopefully that will help set this new move more program into a more set rhythm.

#4 - I have to have fun. If I know anything about myself it's that if I stop having fun and enjoying what I'm doing, I'll just stop. To keep this up and be successful in the "My Year of 2009" it's gotta be let's keep it interesting.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I wish all my friends and family a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! Welcome to 2009!