Thursday, May 29, 2014

lily's no sugar added chocolate

I've been trying sugary items here and there, but I've found that I no longer crave sweets in any form. Typically I have one bite and that's it.  I find if I have any more than that, my stomach doesn't feel quite right for a few minutes.  Most of the time I don't bother, because I don't like that feeling and sweets just don't have the allure they used to have.  And that's fine with me.  

Now that I've had gastric bypass ("GB") surgery, it's important that I limit my sugar intake.  Too much sugar is usually bad for anyone, but with GB patients, it especially bad because lots of us are now very sensitive to sugar and it can cause something called dumping syndrome.  

Dumping syndrome is defined as:  "a group of symptoms most likely to develop if you've had surgery to remove all or part of your stomach, or if your stomach has been surgically bypassed to help lose weight. Dumping syndrome occurs when the undigested contents of your stomach are transported or 'dumped' into your small intestine too rapidly.  In addition, people with this syndrome often suffer from low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, because the rapid "dumping" of food triggers the pancreas to release excessive amounts of insulin into the bloodstream." (I got that from  Symptoms can include:  nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, lightheadedness, bloating, belching, heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, sweating, weakness, fatigue, shakiness, feelings of anxiety, nervousness, mental confusion, and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).  

I don't think I've experienced dumping.  Yet.  I do feel quite tired when I've eaten a little too much, similar to how we feel after eating a big Thanksgiving dinner, but I don't think it's dumping. 

I went in search online for good sugar-free chocolate, mainly because I wanted to try a protein donut recipe and it called for coating the donuts in melted SF chocolate.  I found several brands that are supposed to be very good, but, of course, I couldn't find them in the store.  So, I went to Whole Foods, because they usually have items you can't find at regular grocery stores.  

I found Lily's No Sugar Added in milk and dark chocolate flavors.  It was $3.99 a bar and it's a good size - 3 oz.  And they're sweetened with Stevia.  

These bars melt very well and taste great.  They taste just like regular chocolate; I couldn't tell the difference.

My typical serving size is about 2 squares.  I don't have it everyday.  Maybe once a week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

dinner last night: stuffed chicken burger with fried potatoes

Last time I went to BJ's Wholesale I found stuffed chicken burgers:  Jack's Special Grilled Applewood Smoked Uncured Bacon & Cheddar Stuffed Chicken Patties.  I tend to find lots of good stuff like this when I go there.  They're fully cooked and ready to eat.  Just heat and serve.  They're also individually wrapped, which I like.  I hate having to pry apart frozen burgers.  I spend most of the time hoping I don't, a.) split my hand when the knife finally goes through, or b.) lose my grip on the burger and it slips on the counter and goes flying across the kitchen.

I put them on the grill for about 10 minutes while I cooked Bob's steak.  Since they're fully cooked already, I held them off to the side so they don't dry out or start losing their stuffing.  I also cooked some carrots and fried potatoes for Bob.  In the time it took me to bring them in the house and finish the sides (about 10 minutes), the burgers were nearly cold.  Next time I will wait until the other food is nearly ready before heating them up.

I ate my burger without a bun.  Bob had his the same way.  I added a few fried potatoes.  I was able to finish most of it - about 3/4 of the burger and three of the four potato slices.

I thought the burgers were pretty good.  I could definitely taste the bacon, but I couldn't actually see it in the filling.  I think next time I will eat it more like a burger and put it on a wrap or something.  Or maybe make a dipping sauce for it.

As you can see, my burger sprung a little leak.

slushy ideas please!

Now that I've figured out how to make a slushy that's low in sugar, I'm looking for some inspiration.  Anyone have any ideas for me?  Post in the Comments below.

How to post a comment:  After you enter your comment you have to select a profile.  Select Name/URL and enter your name or whatever name you want to use (URL not required), or you can select Anonymous.  I've disabled comment approval, spam filtering and all that so it should be easy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

first slushy of the season!

Lately I've been craving, craving, a fruit slushy.  I'm not talking about the fresh fruit smoothies of today.  I'm talking about the ones I used to get at Dip Top in Orange back in the day.  Basically, they were just crushed ice and sugary fruit-flavored syrup.  My favorite was always watermelon.  I usually drank them so fast that I ended up drinking out all the syrup and there was just ice left over.  And of course I got lots of brain freezes.  

Post-surgery I need to limit my sugar intake, though, so as not to trigger dumping syndrome.  Plus, too much sugar is never good in general anyway.  I had been trying to figure out how I could have a slushy without all the sugar and still get the sweet, fruity taste.  The obvious choice was fresh fruit, ice, and some Splenda or Nutrasweet.  But I didn't think I would get that strong fruity taste I was looking for.  Fresh fruit just doesn't pack the same punch as the artificial fruit flavorings.  At least, not for someone who grew up disliking fruit and usually guzzled sugary Kool Aid and other artificial drinks.  I posed the question on a weight loss forum I read and the one thing I hadn't thought of was adding Sugar Free Torani Syrup.  It has a very concentrated flavor without the sugar.

My favorite slushy flavor is watermelon, but I didn't think I'd find Torani watermelon syrup in the store (I would have to order it online), so I decided to go with strawberry.  I headed to Bed Bath and Beyond today to get some strawberry syrup, but they didn't have any, so I grabbed black cherry instead.  (I picked up coconut and peppermint, also.  I'll add those to a chocolate protein shake.)  I then went to the grocery store to get some frozen fruit.  Since I bought black cherry syrup, the plan was to buy frozen cherries.  Instead I grabbed strawberries, forgetting I don't have any strawberry syrup.  I finally remembered and then looked for cherries.  Nope.  None.  I thought maybe the natural/organic food section would have them so trudged the whole length of the store to the organic food section.  Raspberries, blueberries, and mixed fruit, but no cherries.  I then remembered I had raspberry syrup at home, so I bought the frozen raspberries.  I was going to put the strawberries back, but I was too lazy to walk the whole store again.  Besides, everyone and their mother's brother's uncle was in Stop & Shop today and I didn't want to have to deal with dodging slow movers, dawdlers, and kids.

I came home and made my raspberry slushy, finally!  And it was delicious.  So worth it!  The only thing I didn't care for were the raspberry seeds, but there's no way to strain those out really. (Recipe below.)  I'm thinking next time I will add a Crystal Light lemonade single pack to the mix to make a raspberry lemonade slushy.

Raspberry Slushy:

1/2 cup frozen raspberries
about 10 of the smaller ice cubes (ice maker kind)
water to cover (fill to the max fill line of a tall bullet blender cup; it's about 8 oz. of water)
1 packet Splenda (more or less, or none, if you prefer)
1 TB Sugar Free Torani Raspberry Syrup

Blend until ice is completely crushed.  

You'll need to stir frequently while drinking, or drink with a straw, because the ice tends to rise to the top.  

You can make lots of different flavors by changing the fruit and syrup combination.  Torani has tons of different syrups to choose from.  Click the link in the second paragraph above to see their selection.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

weekend in review

Hope everyone is having a nice holiday weekend.  It's a gorgeous day today and the temperature is in the 70s.

Bob and I went to the Beekman 1802 farm in Sharon Springs, NY, this weekend.  It's a goat farm owned by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, the winners in season 21 of The Amazing Race (2012).  They've opened the farm up to tours during the town's Garden Party weekend and this year I got the chance to go.

We stayed in Albany and then drove an hour to Sharon Springs yesterday morning for the tour.  It rained most of the way there, of course. There's no public parking at the farm, so we had to park on Main Street and then take a shuttle bus from their store, Beekman 1802 Mercantile.  (Actually, it was a school bus, but it got us there.)  I checked out the store before the bus came.  It was a lot smaller than I pictured, but they had some good stuff.

It was a short 10-minute ride to the farm and as luck would have it, it stopped raining when we got there.  But that was short-lived.  The first stop was the mansion, built by William Beekman in 1802.  It's beautiful.  We weren't allowed onto the porches, because it's John and Brent's full-time residence.  Next was the crypt.  It was kind of creepy knowing the purposed it served in years past.  When a family member passed away in the winter, they were put into the crypt ("cold storage") until springtime when they could be buried in the family plot.  Next was the pool area and then onto the formal garden area.  The grounds were beautiful with over 60 acres of rolling hills, a pond, and weeping willows.  The final stop was the most anticipated (for me):  the barn.  They breed goats and use the goat's milk in many of their products so there were lots of goats.  And one llama, Polka Spot.  I got to see Faintly, the runt of the goat litter last year.  She came back to the farm for a "guest appearance."  There were also some baby goats, or "kids."  So cute!  I got to hold one. His name was Hans.  He was so warm and soft!  I just wanted to sneak off with him.  My new house does have a barn...  Just as we were thinking about leaving the barn, the skies opened up and it downpoured.  That was OK with me.  It gave me more time to pet the goats.  Many of them were trying to grab my shirt and umbrella.

The tour was fairly short, maybe 45 minutes total, but we were free to roam afterwards and decide which shuttle bus we wanted to catch back to Main Street.  We walked around a little then hung out under one of the huge trees to get out of the rain.  About 1:30 PM the shuttle bus arrived, but the driver drove into a ditch and couldn't get out.  It was Farmer John to the rescue!  (Farmer John is the one that tends to the goats.) He brought out the tractor and was able to pull the bus out of the ditch.  We were on our way pretty quickly.

When we got back to town we browsed around the Garden Party vendors on Main Street for a bit.  We picked up some real maple syrup and maple cotton candy for Bob, and some flavored oils, cherry balsamic vinegar, and fresh made goat cheese for me.  I snacked on lots of samples, too, since I had run out of water during the tour and was getting pretty hungry.

Then it was back to Albany for a late lunch, then on to the hotel to relax and catch up on my magazine reading (I'm about 6 issues behind on Cooks Illustrated).  Bob napped and then watched some Pawn Stars on the iPad.

Then it was back to reality today.  The drive home was beautiful, unlike the drive to Albany on Friday night, which was rainy the whole way.

Here are some pictures of our trip to the farm:

Front of the mansion.

Back of the mansion and formal garden area.

Back of the mansion and formal garden area.


Hans and I.  I wanted to steal him!

Faintly, the runt of the litter last year.


Bob petting a goat.



Polk Spot (the llama in the back).

Front of the mansion.

Headstones in the crypt.

The crypt.  Yes, those are real bones.

Doorway to the crypt.

Grave marker for William Beekman and his family.

The bus, stuck in a ditch.

Farmer John to the rescue!

Alpacas at the Garden Party.  We saw a pig, too, but I didn't get a picture.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

first trip to mcdonald's, post-surgery

Today was pretty busy:  3-hour meeting at work this morning, lots of follow-up stuff from the meeting, last appointment of the root canal process (got the crown!), trip to BJ's, then home to meet with the appraiser. Needless to say, no cooking happened tonight.  I didn't feel like driving to Duchess (my new fast food place), so I ended up stopping at McDonald's.  Definitely not my first choice, but it's at the top of my street and I wanted to get home.

This was my first trip to McDonald's post-surgery.  When I got to the drive-thru I had no idea what to order, and then I remembered they used to have something called a Snack Wrap and it had chicken.  I asked if they still had them since the menu isn't very well-organized.  Plus, I always feel this insane pressure to ordeer right away and not upset the flow of the drive-thru.  They did so I ordered the wrap with grilled chicken and Ranch dressing.  Remembering how tiny these things were, and how hungry I was, I ordered three of them.  Yes, three.  I ordered with my pre-surgery mindset.  I got Bob a Quarter ounder and some fries.

For anyone who is wondering, yes, I snuck a few fries from the bag.  So, I got home and opened the bag and took out a wrap.  It seemed really big to me.  It seemed to be the size of a standard sandwich wrap, which anyone who has had a McDonald's snack wrap knows it is not nearly as big nor as heavy.  It's amazing what this surgery has done to my perception of serving sizes.  Before surgery, those three snack wraps would have been just that:  a snack.  Or an accompaniment to a Big Mac and fries. (More on that another time.)  Now?  One wrap looked, to my post-surgery mind, to be the equivalent of a Big Mac, plus fries pre-surgery.  Make sense?

I ate the one wrap, but not without ripping off a good part of the wrap to minimize the amount of bread I was eating.  Plus, it just seemed to bulky.  I had one of Bob's chicken nuggets and a couple more fries.  And I'm full.  As full as if I'd had the Big Mac and fries.

Was the magic still there?  No, not really.  It's a decent stand-in when I can't get something better, but I no longer crave McDonald's or really even think about it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

weekend in review

This weekend I went to New Hampshire to see my nephew graduate college (first one is his family).  It was a very tiring weekend, but exciting.  I was so happy to see my nephew graduate.  I have to admit I was tearing up when the processional started. It was a mixture of pride in him, happiness at seeing him achieve this big accomplishment, and knowing how he was feeling as he walked into that stadium in his cap and gown. (If you ask him, he'll say he was bored and the ceremony was long, but I know he was feeling good.)

It took me 5.5 hours to drive up Friday night, rather than 3.5, due to traffic.  Luckily I made it to the restaurant in time to have dinner with everyone.  I had a French onion soup (my favorite soup!), but didn't eat the crouton.  Oh, how I miss that crouton!  I ate the cheese, though, so I was OK with it.  I also snagged some of my sister's lobster meat.  (She eats like a bird, so now we could actually split a meal and still not finish it.)  I had a sip of my other sister's margarita and that satisfied me.  It's still strange to me to go to a restaurant and just have soup while everyone else chows down on apps, drinks, a meal, and dessert.  But this is my new life and I chose it.  Makes eating out cheaper, at least.

After graduation we went out to lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse.  It was good.  I ordered the steak tips with onions and mushrooms, and a side of mashed potatoes.  I ate all the potatoes and just a piece or two of the steak.  The rest of it came back to my dad's house with me (I got two more meals out of it!).  I was going to order an appetizer, but the only thing that wasn't fried or didn't have bread with it was the spinach dip, and that's full of fat and calories.  Then I was going to get chicken tenders, but I'm getting tired of those.  They seem to be the "old standby" when I go out to eat now, mainly because restaurants almost always put them on the appetizer menu, which makes it cheaper (I've become a total cheapskate since surgery).  I almost ordered the blue cheese burger, but didn't want to waste the bun or the fries.  Eventually I'll be able to eat more.  Until then, I'll need to become OK with wasting food, or I'll have to stick to a few dishes when eating out.  Or order things that reheat well.

I'm happy to report that even though I was away this weekend and ate out a lot, I still lost 2 pounds!  I'm getting really close to 100 pounds lost.  I never thought I'd come this close to 100 pounds in less than 6 months, but it's happening.  I recently went through my old clothes and was able to pull out some and wear them.

Monday, May 19, 2014

chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts

Today's lunch is chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts.  I got it from a deli I used to go to a lot prior to surgery. Since I forgot my lunch today for the first time in more than three months I figured I'd treat myself. And it's also beautiful outside so it was a nice break during the work day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

easter ravioli for dinner

There's an artisan pasta company next door to us and they occasionally give us a few packages of pasta. Nice perk, but it doesn't really make up for the noise and traffic we have to deal with.  But we won't have to deal with that for much longer; we're in the process of buying a house.

Tonight I cooked the two packages of Easter ravioli they gave us a month or so ago.  It's egg-shaped and comes in green, yellow, and pink pastel colors. Pretty interesting too look at and quite colorful.  

I made my own marinara sauce and served it over the pasta with some grated Parmesan cheese.  As you can see, I only put three of the raviolis on my plate.  I'm really not supposed to eat pasta, and I normally don't, but I wanted to try these.

The cheese inside was delicious and they were much better than the standard store-bought ravioli.  But I found myself squeezing out the cheese and leaving the pasta behind.  I ate one and half raviolis and ate just the cheese from the rest.  And I ate the sauce and Parmesan cheese, too.

I'm just not a pasta person.  Never was.  But even less so after surgery.  It's lost it's charm.  But give me a manicotti or stuffed shell and I'll suck out all the cheese!

Looks kinda pretty, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

the week in review

I've had quite the week.

Although I haven't reached 100 lbs lost, I made it below 250 today!  I'm very close to my next milestone, though.  I went through my closet and tote boxes last night in order to find something that actually fit.  I found some denim capris that I bought a couple years ago and never wore.  Now they fit!  And I didn't look old and frumpy last night when I went out, which was nice.

I reported earlier last week that we put in a bid on a house.  The sellers countered, then we countered again. We found out late Wednesday night we won the bid.  So happy!  We just love the property and the amount of space in the house.  Next on the to-do list is the inspection, which will happen this week.  As long as nothing really big is found, looks like we'll be moving in a couple months.  Our contract says we have to close by June 30.  I keep saying that I'm going to start going through my cabinets, but somehow I always find something better to do.  Guess I'll need to buckle down very soon.

I also reported earlier last week that I got a sign that not all hope is lost of getting into the right job.  Nothing has changed with respect to that, but I had a talk with my boss this week about the whole situation.  I told her how I'm feeling and that I took the wrong job.  She was very professional about it.  She is trying to incorporate more things I like to do in order to make me like the job more, but I pretty much know that this job isn't for me.  It may have been right a few years ago, but I just don't want to do this kind of work anymore.  I need freedom and independence.  I feel too boxed in right now.  People had told me not to say anything, because the boss might decide to let me go.  But she asked me point blank how things are going with the job and I couldn't lie.  I'm just not someone who lies.  Too exhausting and confusing to keep up with lies.  I'm so happy I said something; I feel so much better about the whole situation now.  And I'm still employed!

I really believe things happen for a reason, in the order they're supposed to happen.  And I also believe that had I not come clean with my boss at work, we wouldn't have won the bid for the house.  Also, as much as I'm dying to get into the other company, he's not ready for me yet, which is good because I'm trying to get a mortgage and I can't change jobs right now.  It's just not meant to be at this moment in time.  Sounds weird, maybe, but that's what I believe.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

sun bathing beauties

Thelma and Louise decided to take advantage of the sun today while they could.



today's breakfast: feta cheese omelet

I decided to have an omelet this morning.  I haven't had one in a very long time.  Since I've had the surgery, there's really no point in getting one when we go out to breakfast.  I eat a few bites and I'm done.  And I'm not into leftover eggs.  I tried making one a couple months ago and it just didn't come out right.  So I tried again and this time it was yummy.

I beat one egg with a little 2% milk and cooked it in some butter.  At the end I added about half an ounce of feta cheese.  I served it with one of those maple apple chicken sausages.  I was able to eat about 3/4 of the plate.  Max was allowed to finish the rest.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

scp tag sale postponed

Just an FYI that the Stratford Cat Project's semi-annual tag sale, which was to be held this coming Saturday, has been postponed until 05/31 due to the coming rain.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

mexican chicken casserole

Tonight I made a new recipe.  I followed one I found online, but changed it quite a bit.  I used ground chicken instead of canned.  You can use raw boneless skinless chicken breast if you want.  Whatever you have on hand is fine.  I also added corn and used taco seasoning instead of a few other herbs and spices.  it was just easier for me and I thought it would taste better.

I liked it a lot, although next time I would let the mixture cook longer in the pan before I top with cheese and broil.  It wasn't hot enough for me.  I put some sour cream on top.

I had no idea what to call it so this was the best name I could come up with.  It isn't actually baked so I guess it isn't a true casserole, but oh well.

Mexican Chicken Casserole

1 yellow onion chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 lb ground chicken or turkey, uncooked
1 envelope taco seasoning
3/4 cup water
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (or cheddar)
Note:  I'm a cheese fiend so you might want to use less.
Sour cream, for topping (optional)

  1. Cook the ground chicken until nearly cooked through.  
  2. Put the yellow onions in the pan with the chicken and cook until the onions are tender.  
  3. Put most of the green onions in with the chicken and saute for a minute or so.  
  4. Add the taco seasoning and water.  Cook until thickened.  
  5. Add the black beans and corn.  Stir and heat until heated through. 
  6. Pour into a casserole dish or baking pan. Top with the shredded cheese and remaining sliced green onion. 
  7. Broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned. 
  8. Top with sour cream, if desired.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

some good news

Just thought I'd stop by with a little update.

I've written about my issues with my new job and the fact that I made the wrong choice.  Mentally, it has really done a number on me over the past several months.  I've been pretty miserable and hopeless about it, but today I got a good sign that not all hope of getting into the other company is lost.  I hope to know more by the end of the week, but this has put me in a good mood once again.

Also, we put a bid in on a house this morning!  It's in the middle of the state and it's an OLD house.  VERY old.  Like, centuries old.  We feel like it's "the one."  It's got the kind of property we want and the amount of square footage we want.  And it's got one more bedroom than we were looking for, which is a big plus.  Yes, we will need to do some work, but it doesn't appear to be anything major.  Just removing wallpaper, painting, etc.

We actually put the bid in at 11:30 pm last night.  We had gone to see the house on Saturday (our second time seeing it).  We saw some issues and walked away not really 100% sure if we wanted to bid.  We talked a lot about it over the weekend and flip-flopped several times.  Late Sunday night we decided to bid.  Unfortunately, we didn't hear from the realtor until late last night and found out there's another bid on the house.  So, at 11 pm I was editing the numbers on the contract, signing, then waking Bob up so he could sign.  I snapped a picture with my phone and emailed it to the realtor at 11:30 pm.  I could have done it this morning, but with another bid on the house, I didn't want to chance being too late.  The seller has three days to decide, so this is going to be the longest three days of my life!

So after sending the bid off to the realtor, I tried to sleep and of course my mind was going a million miles an hour.  In my mind, we're already moved in and working on the various projects, picking out paint, etc.  Then Bailey finds a stink bug in bed, which was just wonderful.  Bob caught it and did, I don't know, something, to it.  For the next hour Bailey kept looking for the bug.  In the window sills, across the pillows, on our night stands.  Then I've got Riley, the white, fluffy Persian, glued to my side, on his back, with his paws in the air.  Then I was hot.  Then I was itchy.  Then the pillow was hard.  Needless to say, I was exhausted this morning!

Monday, May 5, 2014

chocolate protein donuts

I finally made the protein donuts I've been wanting to make.  I had all the ingredients, but was lazy about making them.

I topped mine with no sugar added dark chocolate and either unsweetened coconut or chopped peanuts. The chocolate I used I found at Whole Foods and it's Lily's brand.  You can look here:  Lily's Sweets.  This chocolate is delicious.  You would never know it's sweetened with Stevia and contains no added sugar.  It's $3.99 a bar, though; however, I don't eat chocolate hardly ever anymore.

These donuts were awesome!  The almond flour gives it a nice taste and they are chocolatey.  They don't taste fake at all.

Here's the recipe I followed.  I didn't change anything:  Chocolate Protein Donuts
Note:  The recipe makes 24 donuts.  I would probably bake these for maybe 6 minutes instead of 8. Seemed a tad dry, but that could be what they're supposed to be like.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

quinoa mac and cheese

I found this recipe on my bariatric surgeon's blog, The Skinny.  Although I don't miss pasta, I do miss the occasional macaroni and cheese dinner.  After all, I'm a cheese lover.  And it doesn't get much better than gooey cheese and crispy, browned corners.

One thing I CAN have now, instead of pasta, is quinoa.  It's a grain and the texture is a little chewy.  I don't care for it on it's own, but it's good mixed with other things.  It's pretty versatile.  It can be expensive, though.

I made this yesterday and it came out really good.  It wasn't really gooey, but it had a good cheese flavor.
As usual, I made a couple modifications.  All that really means is that I skipped the optional veggies and used more cheese.  Oh, and added bacon.

Here's how I made mine.  If you want the original recipe, click here to get it:  Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Quinoa Mac & Cheese

This makes about 12 servings, give or take.  For someone who's had bariatric surgery, it might be more like 14 servings.  For someone who hasn't, it's probably about 8-10 servings.

Each serving contains:  225 calories, 12g fat, 16g carbs, and 16g protein.
Note:  This is based on 12 servings.

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
Veggies of your choice (optional)
Pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups 2% milk (or skim)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup real bacon bits or crumbled bacon, any kind

  1. Lightly saute any veggies you would like in this dish.  Saute the garlic also.
  2. Cook quinoa to packaged instructions until fully cooked. (About 15 minutes)
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. 
  4. Coat 13×9 inch dish with cooking spray.
  5. Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl.
  6. Fold in quinoa, optional veggies, garlic, bacon, salt, and cheese. Stir very well.
  7. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses and bake 30-35 mins, or until lightly browned.

bacon pancake bites

A few weeks ago I made sausage pancake bites and they didn't come out like I expected.  I was supposed to use pancake mix, but I didn't have any so I used baking mix.  They came out dense and spongy.  I ate them, but they weren't the best.

So, today I made bacon pancake bites with multigrain pancake mix, like I was supposed to last time, and they came out so much better.  They had the consistency of a muffin.

This is the recipe I used, which I doubled:  Bacon Pancake Bites

Bacon Pancake Bites

Makes 24 bites
Each bite contains:  28 calories, .5g fat; 5g carbs, and 1.25g protein

1 cup multigrain pancake mix, dry (I used Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake and Waffle Mix)
2/3 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup Torani Sugar Free Caramel Syrup
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (I used real bacon bits, 2 1/2 TB)

Mix pancake mix, milk, and syrup together until thoroughly combined.

Pour batter into a 24 cup mini muffin tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Fill about 3/4 way up.

Top each muffin with some crumbled bacon.  Make bacon the day before for breakfast and save two pieces, or you could use a couple of those pre-cooked slices or real bacon bits.  I mixed my bacon into the batter, but if you want to have prettier bites you can put it on top.

Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until golden.

Serve with maple syrup (or sugar-free maple syrup) for dipping.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

stratford cat project semi-annual tag sale coming up!

05/10/14 - Annual Spring Tag Sale- 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

We will be having our Annual Spring Tag Sale located at 1473 Nichols Ave, Stratford. Donations of new or nearly new items gratefully accepted. Come and find a treasure! All proceeds to benefit the rescued kitties of SCP.  Rain date 5/31.

FYI...this is a HUGE tag sale!  We usually have tons of stuff to sell.

If you want to donate items to sell just contact the Stratford Cat Project at (203) 375-7009.

Friday, May 2, 2014

"I could do anything": the job from hell

Yesterday I created my job from heaven.  Now I'm supposed to create my job from Hell, which should be the exact opposite.  I have to come up with things that would make me want to quit or avoid the job altogether.  This won't be hard.

OK, here's my job from Hell:

I have to be to work at 8 am or earlier, which means setting my alarm and going to bed at a reasonable time. (Wow, I already feel like I'm in prison after that one sentence.)  The work day starts at 8 (or earlier) and goes until after 5 pm. I'm non-exempt and hourly, and allowed no overtime, which means keeping track of every hour.   If I have an appointment I have to take PTO or make up the time.  My boss micromanages me and always wants to know what I'm doing and why I didn't get X or Y done.  I sit in a cubicle next to someone who talks to herself all day.  People interrupt me all the time and like to stop by and chat for 15 minutes or more.  The boss doesn't get personal and never asks about my family or home life.  All day it's go, go, go.  I do work that requires dotting every I and crossing every T and keeping up with the latest industry news to a fault.  I'm a worker bee and have no say in anything.  I work in only one area.  I have no freedom to direct my own work.  I have to attend multiple meetings everyday.  I've got lots of system knowledge, but it's never called into use.  Working from home is not allowed.  Ever.

It exists and I'm pretty much living it right now.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

"i could do anything": the job from heaven

I like this exercise.  I'm supposed to create my job from Heaven.  Basically, I have to come up with a job that includes everything I love and want to do, no matter how crazy or unattainable it seems.  The only rule is that my "job from Heaven" has to include actual work and hours I want to keep.

The next exercise, which I'll post tomorrow, is to create my job from Hell.  I think that one will be pretty easy now that I've left my old job and have a new one.  I can drawn on the experiences of both and hopefully avoid the "job from Hell" in the future.

OK, here's my ideal job:

I don't need to set my alarm, because my hours are flexible.  The typical work day starts around 9, but could be earlier if I feel like getting out of bed.  I'm exempt and salaried; no need to punch a time clock or worry when I need to leave for an appointment or come in late because I'm ordering Def Leppard tickets.  I have an office with deep purple walls.  Each morning when I arrive the boss asks me how I'm doing, how are my cats and husband, and tells me about how he and his family are doing.  I work at my own pace, I have goals to work towards, my work actually means something to me and I enjoy it.  I eat lunch out everyday and then come back and write a review about it on my blog; I get paid for that as part of my job.  The boss allows one hour of reading time so I can catch up on all the novels I'm waiting to read. I also get time to take a cooking lesson when I feel like it.  No one interrupts me during the day, and if they do, it's a short conversation.  I work independently, only involving the boss and other people when necessary.  When I'm not reading or writing restaurant/food reviews, I teach people how the systems work and write custom reports that help the boss determine the next step for the company.  I write procedures and fix some computers.  I figure out any new systems we have.  Since I know everything about the system, people are always amazed at how I was able to extract information with so few tools available to me.  It's a small company where everyone knows everyone else and people care.  It's more like a family.  Oh, and I get to work from home one day a week.  I have a say in the decisions and often recommend decisions.

Wonder if this exists??  If so, let me know.  I'll get right on it!

a cat and some homemade lasagne

Dinner last night was homemade lasagna, which was made with homemade pasta sauce.  I ate around the noodles, because I'm not supposed to be eating pasta; it can expand my new stomach.  I didn't want it anyway, though.  I had some dental work done the other night and my tooth was still sensitive, so I didn't want to have to really chew anything.  I tried those no-boil lasagna noodles and they worked well.  Max was my dinner companion, although I put him down while I was eating.