Saturday, September 29, 2012

*smiley face* Weigh In

Down 2 lbs.  279.  Yesssss!

I haven't been out of the 80's ever so this will be nice to hopefully zip by the 70's (hint dear body) and get on with it!  I've got another week to get a little more off before a friend comes into town for a culinary tour so I know a few pounds could creep back on but I'm ready for them and know they'll be temporary.

But for today, I shall enjoy seeing the 7's for the first time since I'm sure I skipped over them on my way up over a decade ago.  I'll also enjoy some free museum action today.  Facebook followers will know what I'm talkin' about?  Oh, you're not a FB follower?  Well come on over!!

Anyone got anything good going on today?

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Rainy day hike, puppy lovin' and Thursday Teaser answer

Yesterday the Mr took a much needed mental health day.  We had plans to workout by doing a hike.  He decided to drop his car off at the mechanics for a tune up.  We've taken our cars to this place almost 20 years and they've been under new management for a few years and have taken a nose dive and are more interested in trying to financially violate your wallet with extras in their quote than customer service.  So mama was not pleased.  After a nap, lunch and picking up the car, we decided to head out.  It looks like the kind of weather you'd want to hike in, right?

Thankfully by the time we got to where we were going the rain passed for the most part.  We start out by doing a 14 flight stair climb which is the bane of my lungs existence but the Mr trots along like it's nothing.

It was cold and I loved hiking through the woods that were just starting to be painted with Fall's colors.

On the way back the Mr spied two deer on the trail.

They were skittish but let us get close enough to snap this pic and watch them eat for a few minutes.  It boggles my mind that some people kill these beautiful creatures for sport.  3/4 of my family being amongst them.  Boo.  Look at those sweet faces...

We were marveling at this pterodactyl hawk and hoping it didn't try to attack us.

The night before I was looking at videos on YouTube of Toy Fox Terriers.  Both of my dogs were TFT's and I was missing our girl something awful.  (I can't believe it's been 5 years without her.)  We were both craving the smell of puppy breath and warm pup, sweet kisses and a wee snuggle.  We stopped by a pet store and lo and behold, they actually had a TFT!  Is he not adorable?

Thankfully he was rambunctious and that doesn't appeal to our impatient sides so we weren't tempted to get him.  (Well that and we only own girls.  No "red rockets" in this house.  For those who don't know that term it's when the boy dog's weenie comes out to play.  Gross)

We got home and I made dinner.

BBQ salmon over carrot and spinach polenta with a side of brussels.  No bacon able to be fit in but that'll be rectified tonight.

For the Thursday Teaser, I got a lot of guesses from an aerial view of the Hawaiian Islands to grout to paint spatter.

So what is it?

Our bedroom TV...

...after Pottery Barn's oil rod air freshener thingy got pushed up against it and MELTED the plastic on the TV!!!  That's right people, if you use the rod diffuser from anywhere, make sure it's nowhere near plastic or well anything if you can help it.  (Honestly, it doesn't work that well anyway)  So consider that my consumer tip of the day.  Thanks for playing along though!  :-)

Got any plans for the weekend?
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Remembering a friend gone too soon

I've posted my feelings elsewhere but I couldn't let my feelings be contained and had to do my own official blogosphere memorial for a friend lost.

In another life, it seems, when I ran a blog about Hawaii, I came to 'know' other Hawaii bloggers. We were an extended ohana. One in particular, Skeeter Bess as we knew her, was like this beautiful physical embodiment of aloha. She was in her 60's I believe and was a pest control inspector. She lived in a tough neighborhood and was the sweetest woman ever. She gave me confidence in my blogging endeavors. She made me feel like I should say whatever was on my mind and not censor myself to make friends or conform to others expectations but always treat people with aloha, even if they didn't always seem to deserve it.

I loved following her Hawaiian adventures of her work, DIY projects and her beagle, Lance. I remember when Lance got sick and eventually died, it tore my heart out. That dog was her nugget and reader's adopted nugget. She packed up and moved back to Texas to be around family.  Her blog got screwed up and she never had the opportunity to get it fixed. I asked where she was in one of my posts and one of her friends saw it and forwarded it to her. She emailed me and we caught up, so happy to have reconnected. She said (among other things) "Mahalo nui loa for speaking so kindly of me! It feels good to know I've been missed! My heart overflows with your aloha! I return it in kind! Or maybe da kine - it all works!"

How I loved her wonderful attitude.

Life got in the way and something brought her to mind and I thought "I need to add her to Facebook like we talked about." I decided to do a little internet search on her first to see if she ever got her blog fixed. I was instead shocked to find from other bloggers she passed away a few months ago. From what I read, she apparently she wasn't feeling well, stood up and got dizzy and fell. The fall killed her, not what made her dizzy.

I immediately burst into tears and have been crying on and off the past few days completely in shock at the passing of my friend. It is amazing how much someone can be such a part of your life even when you've never met them in person. She was like this beautiful, loving grandma you'd love to have. One of those cruel twists of fate that will always have you asking "why?"

Anita, your light is not extinguished. Your aloha and beauty will live on forever. I know Lance is happy to see you and was ready with big beagle snuggles for his beloved owner. You will never know the difference you made in my life. I am forever grateful.

In honor of one of her favorite regular features "Tuesday Teaser" (here's a link to the last one she did) I'm going to do a "Thursday Teaser" (sorry it doesn't have a more catchy ring to it Skeet!).

I'm going to show you a picture and you'll have to guess in the comments what you're looking at.  (Seriously, if someone gets this, it will be a miracle.  There's a funny story behind it too)  The first person who guesses correctly can pick a topic for me to blog about in a post.  You've got until tonight at 9pmCST.  Ready?

I know it's not as good as yours Anita but I've gotta start somewhere!  You are forever in my heart.

Do you value online friendships as much as "real life" ones?  Have you ever been affected by the death of a blogger?  

Don't forget to take a guess at the teaser pic in the comments!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

School of Life

If you read my weekend recap, you saw I ran into an old high school friend.  There has been a lot of high school stuff floating around in my head lately.  There's a reunion coming up and even if I wanted to go (which I don't) we've got other plans that weekend since this is our busy time of year.  A classmate of mine committed suicide in August and it hit me harder than I expected because she was a very positive person and an inspiration to many people.  Then running into him was unexpected but pleasant because he was someone I got along with in high school.  We didn't hang out directly a lot but it was a friend of a friend kind of thing or if there were assemblies, he'd usually be in our vicinity.  He looks good, seems very happy in his life (I remember him as being kind of skittish and unsure of himself back then) and is doing well.  He said something that struck me as he was telling his partner that I was friends with his friend.  He said "the stories I could tell you!  Oh man, crazy!  Remember inter-mural volleyball?"  I laughed and pretended I knew what he was talking about because I just remember goofing off in general but it seemed like maybe he remembered specific things that got purged from my mental rolodex.

It took me back to something I remembered a few weeks ago when a girl I went to high school with but didn't socialize with moved in next door in our duplex.  She introduced herself to my mom and said she went to my high school and my mom asked if she knew me and she said "oh yeah, she wears all black, right?"  I don't know if she thought I was some goth queen or something (though I was into The Cure, Depeche Mode and such in high school but also hair bands.)  When mom told me that, I was kind of taken aback and then thought, "well, I guess I do have 80% black clothes" because that was the time when black = slimming.

I don't know if it's my age or what but it just weirds me out to think people still remember me the way I was in high school when one person's opinion seemed a little more spot on (crazy) and another person just remembered I dressed like Morticia with apparently no personality traits that stuck out.  I cringe to think how everyone else I didn't talk to that much remember me.  I know we all do that though.  I see the people who are attending the reunion and I wince because I literally have one person I'd care to see and I see her a couple times a year.  What it's made me realize is that while high school wasn't a bad experience for me, the really good times I had in those four years were made by a handful of people I could count on two hands, if I'm lucky.  90% of which are not going.  It made me even more concrete in my decision not to go because I'm just not in a place where I need to revisit those people that I tolerated.  If a couple of people I really wanted to see were going, that might be another story if we were free but meh.  I know there will be people that will want to talk me into reconsidering and I'll politely say it's a personal choice and I'm not feelin' it.  I do think I'd like to get together with the guy I ran into and my friend next time she's in town so for me that would count as a reunion.  In the end, I guess I'm just glad that people remember me in any way that doesn't require therapy! Whether I was known for being crazy, dressing in all black or a tough girl (my best friend said she was terrified of me because I was known for "kicking people's asses."  Apparently being tall, wearing a jean jacket and quoting Weird Science by saying "don't threaten me Al, you're out of shape, I'll kick your ahhhhsss" is enough to get you a rep in middle school?), I'd like to think for the most part I did no harm.

I ask myself if my weight is playing a part in this and I can honestly say not the part it played into not going to the reunion 5 years ago.  I was almost at maximum density then and I'm sure they would've started a death pool amongst the classmates to see if I'd be alive by this one.  I'm about 30 lbs higher than I was in high school which is about average of some of the popular snobs that most of us hope have put on a little come reunion time even if no one else is going to admit it or take the high road while secretly giving me an "amen."  I honestly don't know that I would go in another 5 years either.  I'd BETTER be at goal for a few years by then and I just know the way I feel now, I feel like high school has so much more importance placed on it than there should be.  The Mr and I were talking about this the other day.

We're all sold the notion that high school will be the "best years of your life" or the "glory days."  Um, it's 4 years of our lives.  A blip on the radar in comparison to the rest of our life, if we're lucky to live a good long one.  I refuse to believe that raging hormones, over-dramatizing every facet of life whether you mean to or not, trying to live up to other people's expectations of you rather than living up to your own and a host of other things that make that period of time utterly ridiculous are the "best times of my life."  Actually, if I were being honest...NOW is the best time of my life, so far.  I know it will only get better.  I know great things are in store.  Things that make me happy and living in a way that I accept and endorse instead of hanging around people who are waiting to be accepted and endorsed by people who will never talk to them again after high school.  (I was pretty big on the take me or leave me attitude in high school and if you left me, no skin off my rump.)

I know the world (especially the online kind) is a whole other level of high school to some degree because you do find those same cliques, hair twirling popular girls and bullies who try to bring you down but then you realize that there are far more people like you guys.  Wonderful, supportive people that are happy for your successes and comforting in your challenges.  People that remind you what you mean to them even when you're not sure if anything you say in real or online life falls on deaf ears.  People who have never met you yet they root for you because they believe in you and remind you to believe in yourself.  That is the reunion I want to attend.

Do you go to your high school reunions?  Why or why not?  What would you tell your high school self knowing what you know now?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tropical Butternut Squash Pasta

I don't know if you remember when I did the Tropical Butternut Squash Soup but you should because it's kind of awesome especially now that Fall is here.  (Squee!)  Well, when I saw we had some leftover, I decided to throw together another way to serve it the next night and we were quite surprised with how much we loved it.

That would be Tropical Butternut Squash Pasta.

Before you crinkle your nose up without even giving it a chance, let me tell you that we thought we were eating one of the most sinful macaroni and cheese dishes we'd ever had.  That's right, it tasted like a decadent mac and cheese but without a rump load of cheese.  (Rump load is a term of measurement correct?)

Here's what you'll need to make yours...
(Makes 2 servings)

2 servings of Tropical Butternut Squash soup
1 cup Trader Joe's whole wheat rotini pasta  (or brown rice pasta for gluten free)
2 oz asiago cheese, shredded

Seriously, this was so easy you don't need photographic instructions if you've got the soup on hand.

Boil the pasta for 8 minutes or until al dente and drain the pasta.

Add the soup to the pasta and let it heat up if the soup has been in the fridge.

When it's up to temperature, divide it into 2 greased (or cooking sprayed) oven safe bowls/dishes.

Sprinkle one ounce of cheese on top and bake in a 400 degree oven until the cheese is melted.


Nutritional information per serving:  Calories  396  Total Fat  17g  Sat Fat 9g  Mono Fat 3g  Cholesterol 25mg  Sodium 394mg  Potassium 291mg  Total Carbs 51g  Fiber 7g Sugars 10g  Protein 13g  Vitamin A 149%  Vitamin C  38%  Calcium 25%  Iron 6%

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Thanksgiving dinner, outlet malls and blasts from the past

Saturday we were going to head to the outlet mall.  We hadn't been there in like 10 years or something like that.  But I also knew they had crappy chain restaurants there and I was craving Thanksgiving dinner like crazy.  (It happens about the first day of Fall every year, I get an overwhelming craving for Thanksgiving dinner that cannot wait until the end of November)  So I hopped on Yelp and saw a couple of restaurants that offered it regularly and off we went.

It was okay.  It tasted very canned/boxed and it's just not the same as homemade.  I could make it 100x better but Saturday is the only day I get off from cooking so I need it big time.  It'll tide me over until then though even if it was meh.

It was off to the outlet mall.  We wandered from store to store and I picked up some rock salt for my new ice cream maker since it was on sale for $2.50.  I picked up a Christmas gift for my friend.  Then we went into Calvin Klein I think and I was waiting for the Mr to come out from the dressing room and just ahead of him was a guy I went to high school with.  My mouth dropped and I pointed at him because I could see he was looking at me like "is that who I think it is?" and we hugged and caught up for a couple of minutes.  We have a mutual friend and I've seen him on her FB page but I haven't been in person with him for well over a decade.  It's so funny how someone can ask you "what have you been up to since high school?" and you feel like "uhhhh...."  I told him I was a photographer that worked from home.  Not a lie, I take pics!  But it's not the kind of thing you announce..."I have a weight loss blog because while I look about the same to you, I've actually lost 213 lbs from my highest weight.  So what have YOU been up to?"  All I could think of after thinking to myself I just had to dress for comfort in jeans and a Carmel-by-the-Sea t-shirt, my hormonal pubescent connect the dots on my forehead and wind blown hair was "thank God he didn't see me 200 lbs ago!"  There might be another blog about the feelings it brought up later in the week.

I went to Coldwater Creek to try on a few things:

I bought the first one, the second one looked hideous, the 3rd one didn't fit right but of course they didn't have my size and the 4th one I should've bought but didn't and saw they don't have it on their website so I'm ticked because I felt like a luxurious wench in it.  I've never gone into Coldwater Creek because I always assumed they didn't carry big mama clothes.  Now that I'm marginally in XL's depending on the store, I go into these places and see they carry 2 and sometimes 3xs!!  Rat bastards!  So learn from my mistake, unless they look like they're dressing a teenager, take a peek's not always a Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive pre-makeover moment waiting to happen.  Anyhoo...we walked around the outlets for about 4 hours or until our feet throbbed off in pain, I can't remember which came first.

After dinner, we went out and I finished off my friend's Christmas stuff and we picked up a few things we needed including an over the door coat rack.  Do you think it fit over the door leading to the garage where I needed it to go??  Nope.  Grrrr.  So it'll go back this week and we'll get 2 wall mounted ones and spend twice the amount.  *hiss*

Yesterday I started out the first full day of Fall (and the Mr's first big project of the "work" week) with a big breakfast.

I used the last of my Trader Joe's pumpkin pancake mix to welcome Fall.  I also made 2 eggs and 2 slices of bacon and a side of maple and coconut syrup.  I am SOOO excited for this time of year and everything it brings.  I'm so tired of people griping and groaning about Fall.  You had your summer, now it's time for the rest of us to revel in our season.  Summer is overrated and HOT.  I don't care how thin I get, I will never be a fan of summer.  Bring on pumpkin everything, fuzzy socks, cozy sweatshirts, mediocre college football, gorgeous changing leaves and Trader Joe, you'd better be pumping out that Spiced Cider PRONTO!

While the Mr worked, I worked on a few of his birthday projects he could see and I'm glad to get them crossed off the list so I can start working on some other stuff.  I'm feeling the pressure coming down on me since we're moving into the last full week of September.  Where is this year going?!

What did you do this weekend?  What's your favorite thing about Fall?

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

9/22- Weigh In

I had no catchy title for this one.

Down another pound.

I will take that especially given Aunt Flo has firmly set up camp in these parts and I'm pretty sure there are some wicked monkeys swinging on my Fallopian tubes for fun.  I'm SO glad I took a rest day yesterday!  I am still a little sore in my hamstrings but I think I should be able to peruse the outlet malls today with no problem.  I'm seriously praying for a 2 lb loss next week because it would put me in a new set of 10's which I haven't seen since...let me check my Fitday...June.  That's right, all summer I've been bouncing in the same 10 lb range which is always fun.


The Mr has to work tomorrow (from home) so I guess I will work on some of his birthday projects he can see so I can start getting ahead of myself.  There's a lot of stuff coming up and I want all of his birthday projects done in the next week or two so I'm not a wicked beeotch that week, which is already going to be hard to combat since it's in one month and Flo will be packing up the day of  his party.  Lucky me.  Maybe I'll wear duct tape that weekend and pull it off just before people arrive.  ;-)

Welp, I need to get a shower and wake up (I could so stay in bed all day) and then get a move on for the day.

Whatchu doing this weekend?

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Let's crush it

Fall is here...okay it's here tomorrow, let's not split hairs.  I am loving some stuff my favorite stores are coming out with and I would like for a new house to drop out of the sky beside me so I can decorate and furnish it with the stuff I'm currently crushing on.

I do not have a kitchen that has enough room to put these canisters from Pier 1 Imports but if I did, I would hold them and squeeze them and call them George.

Also creeping around Pier 1 Imports for the upcoming Halloween season was this cute mosaic jack o' lantern votive holder!  I'm usually not a big fan of mosaic stuff but I think this is adorable!  (If I ever say "adorbs"...stop reading the blog because I will have obviously lost my mind and think I'm in modern day elementary school.)

I am buying this Winter Bird Duvet cover from Pottery Barn because if I don't have it, I think I might actually expire from sadness.  With the holidays coming up, I have always wanted to decorate our room for the season but since it's light blue and white, I don't want a cottage-y look for Christmas.  I'm very traditional when it comes to Christmas and this might actually make me go to bed earlier to roll around in it and I can run it through February when there is still snow outside.  Squee.

I got an email from Avenue saying their new Fall catalog was here.  While I love a lot of their clothes, they've been jacking up the prices so bad I can't afford to buy them unless there's a mondo sale/clearance going on.  So when there is a mondo sale, this Faux Wrap Cold Shoulder Sweater shall be mine because I look bitchin' in red!

While I was at Avenue, I would also try these Faux Suede Wrap Boots on to see if my hamhock calves are ready for prime time yet and if they were, I'd put them in my cart.  Oh wait, they don't have carts there.  I'd put them into the Mr's arms whilst he sat in the man chair across from the dressing rooms waiting for it all to be over.

Once upon a time I went to Anthropologie and bought these awesome Short Story Cheeseboards and lived happily ever after.  (After I won the lottery or shook money off of a money tree)  The End.

Got anything you're crushin' on this week?  

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shelfish Behavior

I was feelin' apologies.

My kitchen is what I refer to as a "two butt kitchen."  Honestly, you're kinda crowded if you've got two butts in there.  (Of course it's not as crowded with our two smaller butts as it used to be when we had bigger motors in the back of our Hondas.)  There's no way I can fit all of my baking and supplies in the kitchen so we have an overflow shelf in the basement.  It was looking BAD.  See...

Yeah.  Craptastic fo' sho and certainly not inspiring for me to want to get in the kitchen.  The Mr will take stuff down and put it any ol' place.  I keep stuff upstairs until I can "get to" rearranging the shelf and therefore it stays upstairs stacking up until the Mr dumps it down there or looks at it woefully.  When the Mr was trying to ward off an attack of fruit flies from the bananas, I decided there was no time like the present to get the shelves in order.  I went through everything and I checked expiration dates.  I was kind of ticked because some of the things I'd bought not too long ago were long expired meaning they were either expired (Masa) or close to it (whole wheat flour) when I bought them.  So note to self (and to you all)...always check the expiration before you buy.  I was glad to see I didn't have to throw out more than a grocery bag full of stuff and that was more due to the size of the items to be tossed like a box of cereal, a bag of Masa, etc.

I grabbed those bamboo shelves I was crushing on from The Container Store so that I could utilize more vertical space on the bigger shelves.

I used both shelves on the two bigger shelves.  The top shelf is like my "supply" shelf.  It's got all of my flours on the top bamboo shelf and underneath them is powdered sugar, brown sugar, peanut and cookie butter, etc.  In front is a loaf pan doubling as a "chip bin."  I always have stray bags of chips of all kinds from cinnamon to dark chocolate to peanut butter so it's nice to have them all in one spot.  In front of that is Nutella, oats, raisins and stuff.  On the right is my 8 cans of pumpkin (that wasn't a typo), cake mixes for cupcakes or cake balls/truffles, a blondie mix from Trader Joe's I can't wait to try and some of the Mr's dressings.

The second shelf is like my "special projects/spices" shelf.  I try to group together things I know I need for upcoming recipes so I can grab and go.  I've got holiday flavors like Candy Corn Oreos, ginger snaps, Wilton Melts and stuff like that.  The black bowl has all of my spices, extracts and mini cupcake liners.  Beside that is a container that I stacked all of my cupcake liners in so they didn't get all warped out of shape.

The last shelf has all of my cookie cutters and sprinkles in the bin on the left with my new cooling rack ready to go for Christmas cookies this year and beside that stuff to pop our own popcorn.  On top of the shelf is my mini crock pot, parchment paper and press n' seal Christmas wrap and beside that are all of our Hawaii goodies that were scattered all over but are now in one spot so we can grab them when we want them.  Then on the right is my bigger crock pot with Christmas Gladware bowls for treats at holiday time when I have to transport them to gatherings.

I didn't get to the very top shelf but it won't take much to get together.  Crossing this off the list is allowing me to breathe a bit.  It was just one of those swirling things in my head that was weighing me down mentally and depressing to look at because that's my background when I work out.  So, yay for forward progress!

What's on your to do list that you've been putting off?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkins, culinary bucket list and the rental

What a day yesterday!

I roasted some sugar pumpkins, then the seeds then I made a pumpkin recipe.  It was basically pumpkin hell.     Making my own pumpkin puree was one of those things I always wanted to do but was too lazy, same with the seeds but I'm glad I did both.  Don't get me wrong, I've got enough cans of Libby's pumpkin in the basement to qualify me for an episode of Hoarders but I still wanted to cross that one off of the culinary bucket list.  Here are some of the things on my culinary bucket list:

1) Baking with yeast.  It terrifies me.
2) Beef Wellington.  It just sounds complicated but I want to master it.
3) Make my own pumpkin puree.
4) Make one Julia Child recipe...particularly Apple Tarte Tatin.
5) Make a dutch baby without laughing.
6) Homemade marshmallows

Countless others I'm sure.

We went down and did Atletica which hands us our butts every time.  The Mr got up to refill our waters 2 hours after we finished and could barely walk.  Mobility today should be interesting for us both.  I can't wait until her new versions of it come out this Fall!  Man, I sound like a sadist.

Dinner was crab stuffed flounder over thai lime rice with some leftover roasted root veggies. Then it was time to watch our rental, A Cabin in the Woods...having the back door open gave it extra creep factor because it was freezing cold (YES!), the leaves were rustling and crickets chirping. Thankfully it was so far fetched that I won't have to worry about it scarring me if we ever stay in another cabin in the woods.  I love that Richard Jenkins (Nathaniel Fisher from Six Feet Under) was in it.  I'll watch anything he's in and I particularly love it when he's a goofball like he was in that.  

I get to work on a project for the Mr's birthday gathering today.  I hope it goes the way it is laid out in my head.  I can't wait to show you the tutorial but I can't do that until it's over since the birthday boy reads the blog daily.

Welp, that's about it for today...err, I guess yesterday.

Do you have a culinary bucket list?  What are some recipes or cooking methods you'd love to try in the kitchen?

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maple Chipotle Biscuits with Chicken Apple Sausage Gravy

I've never been a biscuits and gravy person.  I don't know why.  I like biscuits...I like gravy...I like certain kinds of sausage.  The Mr feels about the same.  The last time he had biscuits and gravy was at a popular breakfast chain restaurant in Niagara Falls in 2010 and it was quite possibly the worst biscuits and gravy ever made.  Is anyone here old enough to remember the smell of freshly copied dittos or carbon paper?  That's what it tasted like!  It was disgusting.

Lately I was seeing a lot of different cooking shows telling their audiences that it was impossible to make good gravy out of skim milk.  That ticks me off.  Don't tell me what I can and can't make.  So the rebel in me was out to prove that was a myth and I also set out to rectify the Mr's horrid biscuits and gravy experience but of course put my own spin on it.

When I served it to the Mr for dinner, he gave the look. The whole sink back in your chair, eyes widening thing, said it was awesome and the Trader Joe's sausage made it really good.  When I informed him that Joe had nothing to do with it and I, in fact, made the sausage I thought he was going to explode with pride.  "You made that sausage?!  You rock!!!"

Indeed...I do.

Maple Chipotle Biscuits with Chicken Apple Sausage Gravy

Maple Chipotle Biscuits
(Biscuit recipe only adapted from Pinch My Salt)
(Makes 10)

1 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup AP flour (plus a little more for work surface)
1 1/2 tsp Hain Baking Powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 tbsp Trader Joe's organic maple sugar
2 La Costena Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce  (seeds discarded)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Cut butter into small cubes and refrigerate until needed.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended.

Take 2 of the chipotle peppers and discard the seeds.  (I wear food grade gloves when handling them.  Those babies will burn your fingers for hours!)  Dice the peppers.

Grab your butter cubes, add in your peppers and cut into the flour with a pastry blender or two forks until it resembles crumbs.

Pour in the buttermilk and combine until dough comes together in a ball.  Turn out dough onto floured work surface. Flour your hands and lightly knead dough a few times until it's blended. Pat into a circle, 3/4 – 1" thick.

Dunk biscuit cutter (or the top of a drinking glass) into flour and cut biscuits. You can form the extra dough into an extra biscuit. Put cut biscuits together on the baking sheet so the sides touch.

Bake the biscuits on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove biscuits to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes.  Don't they look delicious?

For the gravy:
(Makes 6 servings)

Sausage portion:

1 lb Gold'n Plump Ground Chicken
1 granny smith apple
1 tbsp TJ's maple sugar
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups skim milk  (yeah that's right, I said it!)
1 tbsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Peel, core and cube apple.  Put in a saucepan with 1 tbsp water on medium low heat and stew it down until soft.  Let cool.

In a large bowl add chicken, cooled apples, poultry seasoning, nutmeg and maple sugar.  Mix until combined.  Add to a deep skillet, break it up as it cooks until a nice crust is on it then set aside on a plate. Make sure you keep any browned bits of meat stuck to the pan.  You'll need it for the gravy!

Reduce heat to medium and to the skillet (and any drippings/flavor bits leftover) add the butter and stir until it melts.  Add the flour and stir it until it's tan in color so you can get your roux on!  Add the milk and whisk until it thickens up, get the pepper and sausage and add them into the gravy.  Stir well making sure you get all  of the yummy bits off the bottom so it can flavor the gravy.  Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes giving the occasional stir and taking care it doesn't burn or get too thick.

Makes 6 servings (each serving of gravy covers 2 biscuits quite nicely).  Top the maple chipotle biscuits or your favorite kind!

So how does that scandalous skim milk gravy taste?  I should warn you, you may never make full fat gravy again.  The sweet apple-y goodness of the sausage gravy with the peppery kick enveloping the flavorful biscuits, you've got a perfect balance of sweet n' heat.  Good things happen when you dare to buck cooking tradition!

A nice full Sunday morning serving of 2 biscuits and gravy for just over 500 calories with half the fat and a fraction of the sodium of a big name breakfast restaurant or about 375 calories for 1 biscuit and generous gravy?  That's slap yo' mama good!

Nutritional information per biscuit:  Calories 142  Total Fat 5g  Sat Fat 3g  Mono Fat 1g  Cholesterol 12mg  Sodium 163mg  Potassium 83mg  Total Carbs 21g  Fiber 1g  Protein 3g  Vitamin A  4%  Calcium 3%  Iron 3%

Nutritional information for gravy per serving:  Calories 234  Total Fat 13g  Sat Fat 5g  Mono Fat 2g  Cholesterol 71mg Sodium 148mg  Potassium 44mg  Total Carbs 17g  Fiber 1g  Sugars 9g  Protein 17g  Vitamin A 9%  Vitamin C 2%  Calcium 17%  Iron 4%

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Christmas wrapping, screme eggs and bingo

 Guess what we did Friday night?

I fired up the yule log (excuse the messy armoire) and I wrapped the Mr's Christmas presents while he wrapped mine upstairs.  I also wrapped his birthday gifts so I'm good to go until the last few start rolling in and of course I need to get lists from my grandparents, friend and mom so I can really get moving.

One night last week as we were trying to go to sleep I said out loud "I can't believe Cadbury hasn't found a way to market their creme eggs for other holidays."  We thought maybe Santa hats for Christmas or turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Then as we stopped in a drug store out of town, I spied these...

That's right.  As if by magic, I saw Cadbury Screme Eggs, totally fell for the marketing and had to have one since those are my favorite thing on Earth.  They had green goo for the centers over the yellow "yolk" in the other ones.  Tastes exactly the same as the regular ones.  That should tide me over until Easter.  (Sorry, no dice for you caramel egg fans that I could see.)

We met a friend for a belated birthday gathering.  I was so glad to see the first peeks of Fall showing through...

I brought some BBQ chicken in a thermos thingy I bought and put them on Hawaiian hot dog buns and had lightly salted Pringles.  I told the Mr next time I want full octane Pringles, it was high cal day and since I don't eat them except every few years, I want the real thing.  Is it weird to say I miss the ones with Olestra in them?  I never had any anal leakage issues.  *shrug*  We had a nice picnic then exchanged gifts.  I got the ice cream maker and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home (affiliate link) book I wanted. Her dark chocolate and buckeye state ice creams are to die for (check your local fancy pants grocery store, they're carried almost all over the country now!) so I was so glad to see you could make all of her ice creams at home!

I also got a game and we played a rousing game of

That's right, Hello Kitty bingo!  The birthday girls both won 2 games.  The Mr sadly, won none.  B- o-o H-o-o.

Yesterday completely got away from us.  We got up at 7am and went to the grocery stores and stocked up. The temptation of the samples scattered around the store got the better of us since we were starting to get hungry.  One bite of a pumpkin pie tartlet, one bite of a mini sugar cookie and for donating to a cause we got  a free gourmet sugar cookie from a place I haven't had in ages.  It was SO good.  Oh I didn't mention we split the new Trader Joe's candy bar everyone is yappin' about did I?  *shrinking*

Can you say "overhyped?"  Maybe it's because I made my own just the week before in a similar recipe and mine were way better.  All you can taste is the dark chocolate, which is awesome yes but if I'm going to blow 260 calories on a whole candy bar, it's not gonna be this one.  I mean I guess I blew 130 but I did so much work in the garage, I'm pretty sure I burned it off.  Meh.  What a let down.

For lunch I thawed the Boudin sourdough sandwich rolls we got from San Fran, hollowed most of it out and made chicken meatball subs.  It was so good and filling!  With the innards I cut out, I made the Mr some garlic and herb croutons.

Then we worked on a birthday project that took a little longer than we thought and afterward we both hit a wall and needed a nap.  We woke up just before 6pm.  Oops.  We still had a workout to do and if ever there was a day I would've been tempted to skip, this would've been it.  But trashing a 3 1/2 year streak of exercise was not in the plan so down we went.  Because of the spray paint I inhaled before I remembered to put on my mask earlier, my lungs were working overtime doing Power 90 (original) and I was hacking through half of it which got my heart rate up.  Thanks?  So by the time I was done, I had almost hit my calorie burn goal and switched out a formal session with Chalene to a free weight session and burned a total of 1110 calories.  Not too shabby!  Then it was dinner time...

Garlic and herb pink salmon and roasted root veggies.  (Turnips and parsnips)  Roasted roots...I think that would be a good name for a vegan band.

Then we settled in and watched Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.  Classic.

What did you guys do this weekend?

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quick Weigh In

Down a poundish.

I don't do the whole  ".2" or ".8" crap or I'd go insane picking myself apart.  I'm in the next whole pound down from last week so there ya go.

Have a good one all!

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Christmas shopping, hard times and thigh fires

Oh my Lord...I am so tired today!  Since when did Turbo Fire become the lighter workout?  I burned just over 900 calories which was good.  It put me 400 calories over my usual burn goal and given we're doing full blown workouts on Sunday now, maybe upping the expected goal by 400 is reasonable.  Don't mind me,  I'm thinking out loud.

We had breakfast for dinner:

2 eggs (I like mine over hard if I don't scramble them), homemade chicken apple sausage patties and whole grain pancakes with pumpkin pie spice.  The sides are 1 tbsp coconut syrup and 2 tbsp light maple syrup.  It was so good.  Sometimes breakfast for dinner is just the way to go!

I got my advent calendar in the mail last night...

Yes, I'm in my 30's and I still get advent calendars.  Don't judge me.  Actually, I don't care if you do...I like 'em and I'm not apologizing for it.  I've also got my Christmas shopping started.  My one friend is almost done.  Brat.  I feel so inadequate.  Anyone else got their Christmas shopping started?

I need to make a to do list for the Mr's b-day party, things I need to get done around the house and a jaunt I need to plan.  I'm getting headaches every day for the past two days and when I don't have a list together it means I'm going to have the tornado dream and I'm not up for it this week.

In addition to approaching my emotional week o' the month, it's coinciding with two big losses in our lives.  Five years ago today we had to make the decision to put our dog to sleep.  She was in major pain, wasn't herself anymore and you could tell every day was misery for her.  She was a shell of her former self and we know we made the right decision.  She was the Mr's first dog and my first dog as an adult that was just mine and not my parents.  We still miss her something fierce.  I think tonight we'll go visit her and put the fall flowers on her grave.  Then in two days, it'll be eight years since the Mr's dad passed.  He was a wonderful man and taken from us far too soon by cancer.  So it's always a sad time for us but we try to focus on the joy they brought to our lives and smile more than we shed tears.  I just know both of those events were tailspin moments for me especially with depression.  It was horrible.  I swear I didn't know if I was going to make it through five years ago but I'm glad I did!

I was perusing Avenue's new fall catalog and ran across these:

In case you can't see the detail...they're corduroys.  Now I remember the swish swash as I walked in those bad boys as a kid when I didn't have much choice in what my mom bought me for school but now?  Oh Nelly, I would start a fire in those things with my thigh rubbage!!
Me:  "Why is it hot in here?"
The Mr:  "Honey!  Stop, drop and roll!!"

Kudos to the heavier gal that can actually pull them off without 2nd degree burns on her inner thighs!

I'm having a belated birthday gathering with a friend tomorrow so that should be fun.  I'm making homemade meatball subs to bring with us in this stainless steel thermos.  It looks to be a perfect day weather wise with a cold front coming in.  I am READY baby!  I've been looking forward to this time of year since the first 80 degree day!

What do you guys have planned for the weekend?

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just go for it

It always amazes me when progress happens in the smallest of ways with the biggest impact.  One day, you just naturally cross your legs when you haven't been able to for years.  Where did that come from?  When did your mind go from thinking you couldn't to just going for it?

I was doing Tae Bo last night.  You know, the one from 1999...doesn't make it any less relevant or hard.  But as I was doing moves that I once thought I could never do, I appreciated the chance I took just to see if I could do the moves.  There are these fighter kicks that Billy does that he basically just kicks his legs forward really fast and this is one of the moves I thought was for super skinny people and it would be a long time before I could ever do it.  It's one of my favorite go to moves now especially if I need to modify in another workout but keep my heart rate up.  He also does this one where it's a knee lift on both sides, then a kick on both sides and four jumping jacks then repeat.  I always did the first two parts but modified the jacks.  Last night I did it all the way through even though I was having one of those nights where I felt a lot heavier.  (You ever have that?  You just feel like lead some nights?)

Another one is Turbo Fire's air jacks.

Now the Mr does these all the time because he needs insane moves to get his heart rate up since he has the lung capacity of uh...something with a really large lung capacity.  Me?    I'm content to do regular ol' jacks.  Well lately I've been throwing in some air jacks as long as my knees are up for it and feel so proud of myself when I'm done.  I tend to smile when I'm done like "yeah...air jacks are my beeotch now!"  There's nothing more satisfying than bustin' out a move that you never thought you could do and not plan it, it just happens organically.  I'm looking forward to more of those moments!'re next on my list!

What move have you done that you were most proud of at the time?  What move are your looking forward to conquering?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Righting regrets

I've always liked that saying...mostly because we often don't realize how true it is.

There are many things I regret with my weight gain over the years.  From concerts coming to town that I had to pass up because I knew I wouldn't fit to lunch or dinner invites I turned down with people I ended up never seeing again for one reason or another because the restaurant they chose wouldn't accommodate someone my size to not being there for other people because the strain of self consciousness was too much for me to put myself out there in public.

One of my regrets was a mix of weight related self consciousness and just being young and selfish at the time.  There is kind of a gap in time between me and the two cousins of mine I'm closest to.  One is nine years younger than I am (the one who has lost 80+ lbs recently!) and the other is about 17 years younger.  Both have told me at various times I'm their 'favorite' cousin and I know what that means because I had the same when I was a kid and I'd like to think parts of my personality are like him.  I think it's good to have someone in your family you can look at and always know you're going to have a good time with them or you can look up to them or whatever.

When the one closest to me in age was in high school I was on my way back up from a weight loss and the self confidence I had gained was quickly dwindling.  I began to not want to go anywhere when he was a freshman so invites to see him play football were either turned down, ignored or put off for "another time."  As the high school years went by for him, my weight continued up until I was close to 400 lbs by his senior year.  Needless to say, we never made it to those football games.  My fear, whether irrational or not, of having some jerk teenage kid (or heck these days adults) yell something at me, make a noise or just do something to embarrass me was paralyzing.  So paralyzing I missed some of his proudest moments at a pivotal time in his life...the same with his sister.  She was very active in high school and by the time her high school activities came around, we were at our highest ever and we would've been the side show for sure.  We were the kind of big that makes people double take and sadly it wasn't until we lost weight that we realized that.  We only went to one event of hers and it was the most uncomfortable, physically taxing 3 1/2 hours of our lives and we knew that wasn't going to happen again until we lost weight.  We didn't start that endeavor until her senior year so again, we missed out.

As I get older, I think of things that happened to me as a kid or teen and ways that other people let me down.  When I was going through it with my limited life experience, it would feel like the world coming down on me.  I would think "why am I not good enough?" or "what did I do?" or "how could I change to make them want to be around me or have a meaningful relationship with me?"  When you're that age, you automatically think it's something that's wrong with you. You don't think that maybe there's something going on with the other person that they don't have it in them to give at the time.  I spent almost 30 years wondering why I wasn't good enough for my father to want a relationship with me to realize within the past 7 years or so that it wasn't me, he wasn't cut out to be a dad.  It doesn't make him a bad person, it's just the reality of what can happen when you have a child way before you should.  (I mean hey, I'm glad they were feelin' randy as teens but you know, I don't blame him that he didn't have the emotional maturity to realize what he was getting into at the time.  Now how it's been handled into adulthood on both ends...that's another blog)  But I'm getting off track to a degree.  I just cringed to think that someone whom I adore would ever think that I didn't go to something that was important to them because I didn't think they weren't good enough or didn't want to share in their accomplishments.

I sent him an apology yesterday.  I know with his weight problems the past few years he would likely understand a little more.  I wanted him to know that it wasn't him, it truly was us and we were just not at a place emotionally where we could get over ourselves and our insecurities at the time.  I felt better sending it even if he thought I was weird or maybe going through a personal crisis.  He told me he understood and felt the same when he was at his heaviest and never resented us and some other mushy stuff that made me cry.  But it was imperative to me that he know that it was my problem and I'm so glad he does and that our relationship is so close.  I wish we could all get that from people who have made us feel less than even if that was the furthest from their intent.  I think we all have good intentions and put people on the back burner because other things (some important, some not and sometimes we're just lazy) get in the way.  Sometimes we need to remember that our attention, even in small amounts, can mean the world to someone else and they don't care how big we are or how bad we think we look...they just want to be acknowledged by us to know that we think they're important.

Have you had regrets about the lack of time you may have spent with others due to apprehension about your weight or how you feel about yourself?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Candy Corn Oreo Fudge

There are various reasons I love the Mr.  In fact, too numerous for the blogosphere to hold.  One of the reasons is because on one of his geek blogs he reads he said "hey hon, did you know Monday Target is coming out with candy corn Oreos?  I think you need to make something yummy for the blog with those."

Why yes Mr, I think you're right.  So he went to the Target close to his work and no dice.  I called the one closest to us..."we think it'll be Wednesday."  I called the one in the next town over and they verified they had four.  FOUR packages people!  That means they were practically sold out on day one.  I risked it and drove 20 minutes over and snatched the last three packages that were left.  Don't act like I don't do anything for you!  *grin*

Aren't they cute?  They're super easy too.  Let's take a peek at the star first.

Here's what the package looks like if you plan to scramble to Target.  They're limited edition so I don't know how long that means exactly.

Ooh look at that!

Let's bust 'em open.  Look how sweet they are with their split personality!

And how do they taste on their own?  OH MY GOODNESS!!  If you're an Oreo freak and you like candy corn or buttercream frosting like I do...these babies should be purchased with caution.  They are in-sane.

Let's get to the recipe!  Here's what you'll need...

Candy Corn Oreo Fudge

(Makes 30 pieces)
12 oz white chocolate chips
1 can fat free condensed milk
10 Candy Corn Oreos
Orange food coloring

Hi guys!  I'm gonna make you into some deliciousness!

Cut up all of your Oreos ahead of time.  I cut mine in half and then each half into three's so they kind of looked like candy corn.

In a microwave safe dish, add your white chips and your can of fat free condensed milk.

Microwave for 2 minutes and stir then add your food coloring.  (I used 6 drops of yellow and 2 drops of red)  Give it a stir and microwave it for two more 30 second intervals giving it a stir in between.  It'll bubble up so watch it closely.

Quickly put half of your Oreo pieces on the bottom of an 8x8 wax paper lined pan.  (Or do it while the concoction is in the microwave.

Add your fudge over the Oreo pieces and smooth out.

Press the remaining Oreo pieces in the top, cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until set.  Then cut into pieces.

Sit back and enjoy this candy corn creation in moderation or swipe one piece and get it the heck outta the house like I did!  Remember...this is all the Mr's fault!  :-)

Nutritional Information per piece:  Calories 123  Total Fat 4g  Sat Fat 3g  Mono Fat 1g  Cholesterol 2mg  Sodium 34mg  Potassium 2mg  Total Carbs 20g  Sugars 18g  Protein 2g  Calcium 2%  Iron 1%

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This recipe was linked up at The Shabby Creek Cottage and Sweet Treats