Thursday, December 31, 2015

eggs benedict with pesto

Last month I went to Whole Foods in the morning.  They had their hot food bar filled with breakfast food, which I love because this particular location usually has a couple of selections that are different.  One week they had a breakfast pizza, which was a crispy flatbread topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese, with a touch of olive oil.  Another week they had their take on eggs benedict:  sunny side-up fried egg on top of an English muffin with Canadian bacon and cheese, and then topped with a little pesto.  This is what I've been wanting to try at home, and I finally had the opportunity.

Last week I attempted to make an appetizer for the Christmas potluck at work, but I ended up leaving it at home.  I made antipasto skewers, which consisted of grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, and marinated mushrooms.  Each skewer was then brushed with some jarred pesto sauce.  However, the skewers kept splintering and I didn't feel good about bringing them to work; I didn't want to chance someone getting a splinter in their mouth.  I ended up eating them at home throughout the week.  I then wondered what to do with the half-used jar of pesto sauce.  Then it came to me:  I'll replicate Whole Foods' eggs benedict!

What prompted me to decide to make it was that I fried bacon Monday morning. So, why not make my own version inspired by Whole Foods' version?  I, of course, didn't have any English muffins.  I improvised and used half a hamburger bun.  Not the same, but perfectly workable.   I toasted it and then spread some goat cheese on it.  (I didn't want to use plain old American cheese; it just tastes so...generic...these days.) I put the bacon on top.  Then I fried the egg sunny side up and put it on top.  I wanted to make the yolk somewhat congealed and not quite as runny, so I wrongly thought that broiling the sandwich would make that happen.  Wrong!  It just cooked the egg white on top. When I took it out the yolk was too runny, so I put it back in the frying pan to cook a little more.  But, of course, the yolk broke.  I put it back on the sandwich, and topped it with fresh ground pepper and some pesto.

It didn't look at pretty as I had hoped, but it tasted good! Unfortunately my Photoshop software is acting up, so I couldn't adjust the brightness or anything.


As you can see, my yolk broke and the pesto started weeping olive oil.


This kind of looks like a snail under a blanket.





 

Monday, December 28, 2015

how am i doing?

So, how am I doing two years later?  I'm doing pretty good.

I'm still a size 14/16.  I wish it was lower, but I've maintained that for a year and I can't complain about that.  I've never maintained my size for that long. Or a weight loss, for that matter.  I love being able to find clothing that fits and I don't need to search high and low, or just settle for whatever is on the rack.  However, it's still sometimes hard because many times I can't find a 14/16; it must be a popular size.  And buying pants is tough, because I have a lot of loose skin around the abdomen.  I eventually want to have it removed, since no amount of exercise will ever get rid of it, but it's quite expensive and it's just not in the budget in the foreseeable future.

I'm up about 10 pounds and that fluctuates up or down 5 pounds.  I'm NOT happy about that, but I'm working on it.  I'm still fighting the snack demons, which I suspect will stay with me until I can get it out of my head that just because I'm bored, it doesn't mean I need to eat.  I will say that even though I'm under 220, at the moment I feel like I'm 343 and feel like I look like I'm 343.  I know that's not logical and it's not true, but there it is. I now understand why thin people complain about how terrible they feel when they gain 5 pounds--it's totally true!

I don't really struggle with any food issues.  Nothing makes me sick.  There's really nothing I can't eat, although I do stay away from pasta.  That's just my choice, really, as I was never much of a pasta eater and it just doesn't do it for me.  I do eat bread once in while, but it's usually toast or a crusty bread.  I do need to limit sugar to about 15 grams at a time. Otherwise I feel sick.

Overall, I'm doing well.  I just need to get back to the basics and get myself back on track.  It was easy to feel like once I lost 130+ pounds and many dress sizes that the work was "done."  And that's where I fell down this year.  I'm slowly realizing that I will never be "done."  I will always have to work at it.  And I will. (And it's not as if I didn't know that ahead of time; I did.  But I guess I just didn't think too much about that at the time.)



Friday, December 25, 2015

merry christmas!



Hope everyone has a nice Christmas!

Here's a gift from me to you:  Max and Bailey under the Christmas tree. ;)


 



Thursday, December 24, 2015

one project done...finally!

Before Bob and I got sick last week we had started the process of refinishing our dining room floor.  Originally there was a rug in there, which I loved, but one of our cats ruined it and it had to be removed.  I think the cat was traumatized by the move last year and chose to take it out on the dining room, unfortunately.

A couple months ago, while I was in California on a business trip, Bob ripped out the rug.  (I love when I go away and things like this get done; it's like magic!) What was underneath was 1920s hardwood.  Very nice normally, but our house was built in 1735, so it's not exactly period-correct.  Eventually we will pull up the hardwood and expose the original wide-planked floor underneath.  But for now, the hardwood will do.

 
Before sanding. The floor was in much better shape than we thought it would be.

A few weeks ago Bob sanded it down to the bare wood--a tedious, dirty job for sure!  Even though the room was blocked off, there was still dust everywhere.  Such is the nature of the job. 

 
After sanding. I like the unevenness of the coloring. (Don't mind the mess!)

We had a hard time deciding what to do with the floor:  paint, stain, wax, or just polyurethane?  We wanted to do something that would match the age of the house, but to do that really meant doing nothing at all, or just a few coats of wax, as most floors in 1735 were not finished.  Wax would give us the look we wanted, but if it got wet, those spots would turn white.  With cats, though, that wasn't an option.  We could have painted the floor either plain or with a pattern, which was done sometimes, but we were a little leery of painting the floor, even though we knew we would eventually rip it up.  We just couldn't picture how it would look and didn't want to have to live with it for however long. We eventually decided on stain.  It was a hard decision as to what color to use.  I wasn't sure if we should go natural, go darker, go light, gloss, semi-glass, satin, etc.  We settled on MinWax Polyshades in Pecan with a satin finish.  It's polyurethane and stain in one, which eliminates the need for a separate coat of polyurethane.  I didn't want a glossy finish, since it would likely show scratches more readily.  Also, it would call to attention the fact that the flooring isn't really period-correct.  A satin finish would give it a nice glow without the shininess.

We put the first coat on last week.  It looked nice at first, but when it dried we noticed some dry spots.  I don't know if the stain didn't take, or it just soaked in more than other parts of the floor.  I was hoping to do only one coat, but it wasn't meant to be.  But then we both got sick and work stalled.  This week I was able to get in there, sand the first coat, vacuum it, and tack cloth it.  Surprisingly, it didn't take more than a half hour for each step.  The other night we put the second coat down and now it looks gorgeous! 

 
I love the glow!
 
 
Now we just need to do something with the molding.  Either we paint it, or put in another strip of molding.  Apparently all the molding was bright blue before they painted it--and everything else in the house--white.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

two years ago today: surgery day!

Two years ago today I had my surgery, which changed my life for the better:  I'm much healthier, I eat better (for the most part), and I feel good in my skin.

My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 am, so I had to get up very early that day.  I think I was up around 4:30 am or so, since I had to be at the hospital about an hour and a half before the scheduled time.  That's so God-awful early!  I made it, though.  Probably because I was excited.

I remember feeling incredibly hungry, a feeling which stayed with me all weekend prior due to the all-liquid diet. I was grouchy, tired, and a little nervous that morning.  Not about having the surgery necessarily, but that I would wake up during the surgery; that's always a fear of mine. I also remember wanting to be put under as soon as possible so I wouldn't feel hungry anymore.  I longed for some solid food to make me feel sane again.  And it didn't help knowing that Bob would be eating breakfast shortly after I was wheeled off to the OR.

While I was waiting to be wheeled in, several people came through to insert IVs (took two people to get it in for some reason), take my vitals, etc.  One of them was talking about being intubated for the surgery.  That's something I fear, because I had a terrible gag reflex at the time.  (And because giant tube down the throat!) I mentioned that I was so glad I'd be out for that, because of my fear.  She then tells me that no, I will be awake for that because I need to be able to follow commands so they can insert it.  AND I would be awake when they removed it, too!  That  launched me into a panic, needless to say.  When they came to wheel me away I asked the nurse about the tube and she yes, I would be awake, but the drugs they give me would cause me to completely forget it.  And it was true.  I don't remember any of it.

When I arrived at the OR, they got me up and the minute they did, I had to go to the bathroom.  I told them I needed to go back and they said, "Oh, don't worry.  You'll be getting a catheter soon."  I then had to tell them that I didn't have to pee, I had to go to the bathroom.  So, the nurse walked me all the way back to the bathroom, and then all the way back to the OR. Coincidentally, her name was Dawn, also; that explains why she was so nice. ;)  I was excited once I got to the OR and they got me on the table.  I knew I'd be fast asleep in a couple minutes.  And it was actually nice in there. They had the stereo going and everyone was friendly and smiling, just having a good time.  Last thing I remember is being on the table and asking if they had any Def Leppard tunes to play.  Then I woke up in the recovery room.

I spent the rest of the day sipping water from a one-ounce medicine cup and trying to get comfortable with the IV, catheter and leg pumps all hooked up to me.  Not easy.  Bob came up to stay with me for awhile, which was really nice.  Then I spent the rest of the night surfing the internet, texting people, and playing around on Facebook.

Here's another recount of that day, which I posted on my one-year anniversary:  happy one-year surgiversary to me.

And here's a cute picture of Bailey. :)




Tuesday, December 22, 2015

two years ago today: december 22, 2013

This was a very rough day. 

I woke up extremely hungry, and pretty much felt like that all day long. I remember being in the kitchen and thinking about having to cook breakfast for Bob.  I started tearing up and before long, I was having a meltdown.  That's how hungry I was!  Poor Bob, he didn't know what to do with me.  I got over it and got on with the day.  From what I can remember, I think he made his own breakfast and ate it in the other room; he was great about not eating in front of me that weekend.

I went over my sister's house later on in order to kill some time and keep my mind off the hunger.  I made a really big batch of bouillon--at least two cups, maybe more--and drank it; it didn't help the hunger.  Nothing helped the hunger that day.

**TMI Warning**  One thing I will say about a liquid diet:  just because you're not eating solid food, it doesn't mean you don't have bowel movements.  You do:  they're frequent and unpredictable, just like diarrhea, but pretty much clear in color.   I remember dreading the 20 minute drive home from my sister's house, because I didn't think I could make it without needing the bathroom.  I made it home, though.

I had Bob take some "before" pictures of me that day.  I posed in my bra and underwear.  It's weird:  even though he's seen me naked--in the daytime!--, there was something very embarrassing about him taking those pictures of me.  Maybe because it was to show how fat I'd become over the years. I don't know.  (I recently stumbled across those pictures a couple months back and I was absolutely floored at how big I used to be!  I never realized it until now.)

Later that afternoon I was required to take a dose of milk of magnesia in order to induce even more bowel movements.  The reason was that they would be cutting into my intestines and it needed to be squeaky clean in there.  So, yeah, that was pleasant that night:  I was in the bathroom even more than I had been during the day.

As you can tell, this was a very rough day for me, but I got through it.  And I swear I lost 10 pounds that day!

Actually, my final weight after the diet was 323--I'd lost 20 pounds in two weeks!

Monday, December 21, 2015

two years ago today: december 21, 2013

Another installment...

This was Day One of the liquid diet, which was a final push before surgery to shrink my liver just a little more and clean out my system.  I was allowed to have only Isopure, sugar-free Jell-O, fat-free broth, water, decaffeinated tea or coffee, and that's about it.  I remember drinking lots of broth, which tasted like the best thing on earth that day, choking down Isopure, and waiting for the misery to end.   

I went shopping that day in an effort to keep my mind occupied.  Since it was very close to Christmas, and I would be incapacitated for a bit, I finished up Christmas shopping and anything else that had to be done before my surgery on Monday. 

I got through the first part of the pre-op diet relatively easy, since I still had some solid food, but this liquid diet was tough.  No amount of water, Jell-O, and broth will fill you up when you're used to eating large meals. Sure, it might fill the void for a bit, but you never feel quite satisfied.

It was rough, but I got through the first day OK. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

two years ago today: december 17, 2013

Two years ago today I was in the second week of my pre-op diet, and was feeling pretty good about it.  That second week was SO much easier than the first week.  It's amazing how much time and effort went into food before that: thinking about food, shopping for food, preparing it, etc.  Leaves lots of time for other more important things, like watching cat videos and taking pictures of my cats.

I was preparing for the second phase of the diet:  clear liquids only.  I shopped for more bouillon and Jell-O, staples for that phase.  I was getting pretty excited, because surgery was less than a week away.  But I was also a little nervous; I'm always nervous before surgery, because I worry I'll feel the throat tube being inserted and removed, and worry that I'll wake up during surgery.

I was also enjoying being in between jobs, which is something I've never had before.  I spent my time decorating for Christmas, doing my shopping, and wrapping gifts.  And playing with the cats, or course!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

sickness go away!

I have a wicked cold for the first time since my weight loss surgery.  I love that I haven't been sick since then, but I've forgotten how miserable a cold can be.  I actually stayed home from work today.

Most people say, "Oh, it's just a cold. Take medicine and go to work!" But getting sick nowadays is a little more complicated. Sure, I can take something, but what?  Pills don't seem to be very effective on me, which is why when I have a headache I'm often suffering for a few days.  I can take Tylenol, and it works for a bit, but it seems to wear off pretty quickly. Unless my headache is bad, which doesn't happen often, I just don't bother taking anything.  I'm nervous about taking anything that would make me drowsy, since there's a very fine line these between the right dose and an overdose.  I don't mean overdose as in I need my stomach pumped.  But, rather, it will make my stomach hurt, or I'll feel dizzy or nauseous. And getting the "right" is trial and error.

So, last night I tried DayQuil. I wanted NyQuil, but I wasn't sure how that would effect me.  I took 1/4 dose of DayQuil and that helped a lot.  So, before bed I took 1/2 a dose and I was fine.  I'm thinking tonight I'll try 1/4 dose of NyQuil--a friend who had the same surgery says it works just fine.

One good thing about getting sick nowadays:  it's not nearly as bad as before I had the surgery.  I haven't had any bouts with the stomach bug.  I've gotten close to having a cold a couple times (headache and sniffles), but never a full-blown cold until now.  

Time to go rest....


Friday, December 11, 2015

two years ago today: december 11, 2013

I was on Day Three of the pre-op diet and was struggling.  I remember feeling a bit bloated and I was having a lot of headaches.  Some of it was the drastic change in my diet and the near-constant hunger, but another part of it, I believe, was consuming so much milk. I had to have three protein shakes per day.  In order to bulk them up a bit, I mixed them with skim milk. I decided to start mixing them with half milk and half water, which seemed to help me feel a little better.

I went to visit my cousin in PA for a few days, which helped occupy my mind,  Plus, I enjoy visiting her anyway.  On the way there, I stopped at the Wendy's drive-thru for lunch.  I got a garden salad, which seemed minuscule, with fat-free dressing.  No croutons or cheese, or anything that might resemble Life Before.  I cheated and got a child-sized diet soda.  I wasn't supposed to have it, but I very badly wanted one last soda.  Also, I felt that it would help fill me up a little more.  And it did.  I didn't finish it, because I felt so guilty for being weak and buying it to begin with.  And I felt like somehow the surgeon would know I had that soda.  As if he would open me up and there would be some telltale sign that soda had passed through there.  I know, that sounds crazy.  But I really felt he would know and he would just close me up and refuse to operate.  That was my very last soda.  Since then I've take just a tiny sip a few times a year and that's it.  I still enjoy the taste, but I don't ever want to get back into the habit of having soda with every meal.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

two years ago today: december 6 through december 9, 2013

In honor of the two-year anniversary of my weight loss surgery, I decided to make several posts over the course of the next two weeks that commemorate the two weeks leading up to my surgery, which was two years ago on December 23.  I figured it would be interesting to recount what was going on at that time, as well as how far I've come.

(Yes, I forgot to publish this yesterday.)

  • December 6, 2013:  I officially finished all my pre-op testing.  Over the course of six months, I had an upper endoscopy to look for ulcers (I had one, but it would be fixed when I had the weight loss surgery); I had an ultrasound to search for gallstones, among other issues (I had gallstones and had to have my gallbladder out before I could have the weight loss surgery); I had lots of blood work; a stress test; a physical; an EKG; and I also had a sleep study (it was found that I had severe sleep apnea).  I also had to go for psychological counseling to make sure there were no issues there, and that I was ready for the drastic life change I was about to undergo.

  • December 8, 2013:  I was preparing to start my pre-op diet.  I had to go shopping for salad mix, fat-free dressing, fat-free and sugar-free pudding and Jell-O, Isopure, skim milk, and bouillon mix.  I was nervous about being hungry, but was excited that I would be starting the final process before surgery.

  • December 9, 2013:  This was the first day of my pre-op diet and I was 343 pounds.  I was full of hope...and dread.  Hope for a successful surgery and a life of not having to worry so much about my weight, being comfortable in my own skin, and just enjoying life in general.  Dread for the coming two weeks, knowing that I would likely be really hungry; I just wanted to get it over with.  But it was something I had to endure in order to get to the other side.  They way I saw it--and the way I see unpleasant things, in general--is that the time will come and go whether I want it to or not.  No amount of being miserable, worried, or upset is going to stop the passage of time.  I might as well just do it and get it over with.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

odds and ends

Just figured I'd write a few words today, since it's been a few days.

I'm out of town visiting my favorite cousin.  We did some Christmas shopping yesterday, watched some movies, and tomorrow we're going to see Straight No Chaser.  We saw them last year and it was a great show.  We both love a capella singing, so we really enjoyed it. On my way home I plan to stop at Wegman's; I'm extremely excited that there's one on my way home.  It's like Whole Foods, but not as expensive and the store is HUGE!  Big variety, too.

When I get home, Bob and I will be headed to a dinner honoring volunteers of the local cat rescue, the Stratford Cat Project.  I used to volunteer regularly when I lived in Stratford.  Now it's just occasional. I'll be helping to set up for the annual Open House on Sunday, December 13.  If you're local, stop by.  There will be food, Christmas items for sale, music, a raffle for gift baskets (made by our volunteers, which are always a hit), and special appearances by several of our adopted kitties. We also will be accepting donations of all cat-related items, like food and toys.

The two-year anniversary of my weight loss surgery is looming (December 23), so I'm very conscious of the fact that I've gained a few pounds over the last six months.  I haven't changed clothing sizes, so I'm not too upset, but I've noticed that my stomach looks a little fuller and not quite a saggy as it did.  And I'm definitely scared of not being able to lose the rest of the weight in order to make my weight loss goal. The struggle to get back on track with my diet rages on, although I have to say I'm doing quite well this week while I'm away.  I'm mainly trying to stop snacking; it's a very bad habit I got into last year when I accepted a job I ended up hating. I stopped at the grocery store when I arrived and stocked up on things I should be eating instead of junk:  cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, celery and hummus, yogurt, and a bag of pretzels.  Some might argue that I shouldn't have bought the pretzels, but they're not something I'm susceptible to binging on, so I feel OK buying those.

Next week I need to start decorating for Christmas.  We normally get a real tree, so we try to wait until the second week of December.  We've brought some of the boxes down from the attic, but there's more up there.  I've looked through a few boxes already, and it amazes me how many lights I bought after Christmas last year; they we're more than half off and I couldn't resist!  I'll have to make a new Christmas stocking for Leia--she's the kitty we adopted earlier this year.  I have a mini stocking for each of my cats and I hang them up every year.

I'm still working on my book.  Unfortunately, I didn't reach 50,000 words yet, but I'm getting there.  I wrote every day for a couple weeks, and then I ran out of material.  Plus, I went out of town twice and also had some back problems that prohibited me from sitting at my desk to write. But I'm starting to work on it again. I enjoy it, but I don't think I'll ever be someone who can sit and write everyday for a specific period of time.  I have to wait until I'm in the mood and I have something to say.

Well, time to get off my ass and get moving for the day.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

cranberry, chicken, and wheat berry salad

Awhile back I bought some wheat berries.  I'm always looking for something different to try and these were inexpensive, so I figured I would give them a shot.

What's a wheat berry?  Basically, it's the entire wheat kernel, minus the hull.  They're nutty tasting and chewy in texture, and take anywhere from 30 minutes to 50 minutes to cook.  You can use them in salads, main meals, or in breakfast dishes. 

So, this weekend I decided to finally try making them.  It was easy to do.  All you do is put them in a pot of water and bring it to a boil, then put the lid on and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  After that, you check them every 5 to 10 minutes for doneness.  Then you drain them and use them for whatever recipe you're making.  If you want to learn how to cook them, try this article from The Kitchn:  How to cook wheat berries.

I decided to make a chicken and wheat berry salad.  I found this recipe on the Cooking Light website:  Cherry, Chicken, and Pecan Salad.  Of course, I adapted it because I either didn't want to use an ingredient (arugula:  I'd heard it can be bitter and didn't want to waste my money if I didn't like it) or didn't have the right ingredient (goat cheese:  all I had on-hand was wasabi goat cheese; it actually worked quite well).  I also replaced the cherries with reduced-sugar dried cranberries; cherries aren't in season.  I wanted to substitute strawberries, but they were quite expensive, since they're also out of season.  Instead of fresh thyme, I used 1 tsp of dried thyme.

I was happy with the results, although I feel it would benefit from using either regular dried cranberries or fresh fruit, as it was a bit lacking on sweetness.  It needed a little more salt, too.  But overall I was happy with it and would make it again without hesitation.



Cranberry, Chicken, and Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

3 TB olive oil, divided
2 TB apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries (see link above for cooking the wheat berries)
1/4 cup pecan halves and pieces, toasted
6 ounces shredded skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp thyme
1/2 cup dried cranberries   
1 ounce baby spinach leaves   
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Directions

  1. Combine 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add wheat berries, nuts, and chicken; toss.  
  2. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and thyme; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add to wheat berry mixture; toss. Stir in cranberries and spinach; toss. Sprinkle with cheese.
 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

update on leo

Leo is home from surgery and he's doing great.  He's nearly toothless, but it's for the better.  He has only six teeth left. They gave us a diagram showing the missing, extracted, and remaining teeth.  He also had a belly and butt shave:  Persians get very matted, even with regular brushing, and they need a "sanitary clip" on their rear ends to prevent messiness.

We picked him up at the vet last night and they commented on how handsome and friendly he is.  Actually, they said they didn't want to let him go home because he was such a good boy!  He's a pretty friendly cat, so people always like him.  He was very happy to see us and started rolling around and purring immediately upon seeing us.

As soon as we got home I fed him and he ate like a champ.  I think Bailey either didn't recognize him, or smelled foreign cats on him, because he was hissing quite a bit.  All is well now, though.  Leo took a full body bath and then went to bed. He seems happy and pain-free.


He's letting it all hang out.  Look at that shaved belly!





Friday, November 27, 2015

homemade chocolate pie

This year I did something a little different for my contribution to the family Thanksgiving meal: chocolate pie. It's a staple at our holiday meals.  Normally one of my sisters makes it, but I decided I would try it this year.  But I didn't want to make the standard pie, which is store-bought crust with boxed pudding. Not that that's bad, but I wanted to try my hand at making the pudding and crust from scratch.

It was time-consuming:   there are several steps, with rest periods in between, for both the crust and the pudding.

After mixing the crust, it had to go in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.  Then when I rolled it out and put it in the pie plates it had to go back in the fridge; that's supposed to improve the results and make the crust even flakier. I've made pie crust only once before--earlier this month when I made homemade apple pie--so I don't have a lot of practice yet.  It seemed to go well, though, despite the fact that I don't have a pastry blender; it broke the first time I used it, which was when I made the apple pie.  And I can't seem to do the two-knives thing for cutting the butter into the flour, so I just used my hands and rubbed the butter into the flour. 


Here's my baked crust.  It isn't super pretty, but it was flaky.   

Then came the pudding.  I had to mix some of the ingredients in a saucepan, then put it on the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, bring it to a boil, and then pour it over the chocolate, butter and vanilla, and then mix until smooth.  Then it goes through a sieve to remove any lumps.  Then it goes in the fridge for a couple hours to cool. Meanwhile, I baked the crusts, which then had to cool completely.  Then in goes the pudding and the pies go back in the fridge overnight to set up.


Here's the finished product, ready to hit the fridge.

Anyway, I managed it.  And the results were totally worth it:  it tasted like a dark chocolate fudge bar, and I was told that I'm now in charge of the chocolate pies.

By the way, if you're a chocolate pudding lover, skip making the crust.  This pudding is absolutely chocolate heaven!

Here's the recipe, which comes from King Arthur Flour (sorry, it's not my own recipe).  This is a well-written recipe and everything seemed to work just like it should with great results.  Note:  You really need to set aside one full weeknight to do this, unless you can work a lot faster than me.

Chocolate Pie

Crust

2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
7 to 10 tablespoons ice water
Filling

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Baking Chips)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for richer chocolate flavor (I used 1/4 tsp)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream, divided
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)

Directions

Crust:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, and salt.
  2. Cut in the shortening until it's in lumps the size of small peas.
  3. Dice the butter into 1/2" pieces, and cut into the mixture until you have flakes of butter the size of your fingernail.
  4. Add the water, two tablespoons at a time, mixing with a fork as you sprinkle the water into the dough.
  5. When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it, transfer it to a piece of wax or parchment paper. It's ok if there are dry spots in the pile. Use a spray bottle of water to lightly spritz these places; that way you'll add just enough water to bring the dough together without adding too much or creating a wet spot.
  6. Fold it over on itself three or four times to bring it together, then pat it into a disk 3/4" thick
  7. Roll the disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges. This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, without a lot of cracks and splits at the edges later. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.
  8. To blind bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9" pie pan that's at least 2" deep. This will make serving the pie easier after it's finished.
  9. Roll out the pastry for the pie to a 13" circle. Transfer it to the prepared pan, and trim the edges so they overlap the edge by an inch all the way around. Tuck the edges up and under, and flute them. Put the lined pie pan in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
  10. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and gently remove foil or parchment with the weights or beans. Return the crust to the oven for 10 to 20 more minutes, until it's golden brown all over. If the edges of the crust start becoming too brown, cover them with a pie shield, or strips of aluminum foil. Remove the crust from the oven and cool completely.

Filling:

Place the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract in a 2-quart mixing bowl; set aside.

  1. In a medium saucepan away from heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk in the egg yolks.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the remaining cream and milk.
  3. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens; boil for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the reserved chocolate and butter.
  5. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  6. Pass the filling through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps.
  7. Place plastic wrap or buttered parchment paper on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill thoroughly.
Assembly:
  1. Transfer the cooled filling to the cooled, baked pie crust. Level the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
  2. Chill the pie until ready to serve. Note:  Chill for at least 6 hours, otherwise the filling will be loose and it will be messy to slice the pie.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

leo goes for surgery tomorrow

I mentioned awhile back that Leo, my Persian kitty, has to go in for surgery to remove most of his teeth due to severe gingivitis.  The required blood work showed that his protein count was low. Possible causes are liver issues, cancer, or even just a side effect of the mouth issues.  He had an ultra sound a couple weeks ago and they didn't find any signs of cancer, so I'm really happy about that.  It showed signs of arthritis, but that's to be expected in an 11 year old cat.  He also had a urinalysis and that was completely normal. 

So, the day has finally arrived for Leo to have his surgery.  I came home from work yesterday and found he had strings of bloody drool hanging from his mouth, and he was constantly making the gnawing motion with his mouth. I felt so bad for him.  I called the vet right away last night to get him scheduled.  

The vet said he hoped that he could save some of the teeth, but it's not looking very likely.  In my experience, they usually end up taking them all.  Although, Felix had the same surgery and they left him with two teeth, which I thought was odd. If they're only leaving him two, they might as well just take them all; there isn't much he can do with two teeth. 

Anyway, Leo will be in the hospital over Thanksgiving.  I'll miss him, but he will be well taken care of by the people at Catzablanca (they take only cats).  I'll post an update over the weekend.

Here's a picture of him--again.  He's the one on the right. We were packing for Florida in 2009 and Leo and Price thought they were going with us.






Friday, November 20, 2015

cranberry white cheddar cheese

Here's something new I found at Whole Foods a couple weekend ago:  white cheddar cheese with cranberries.  I'm always up for trying a new cheese, so I grabbed a small block of it.  I picked up a couple other cheeses, also. I really like that they sell tiny little blocks of cheese.  It makes it less expensive to try new cheeses.  Plus, it's just enough for a snack or two, so no waste.

It was every bit as good as I thought it would be!  A little salty with nice fruity sweetness from the cranberries. This is a cheese that I would eat by itself, without crackers or anything else to compete with the taste.  I just hope I'm able to eat it in moderation!



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

today's breakfast and lunch

Today I ate something I almost never eat anymore:  salad.  I very rarely eat it nowadays, for several reasons.  
  1. I ate tons of it when I followed the Medifast program.
  2. I ate tons of it in the two weeks leading up to the weight loss surgery.
  3. It's a waste to order it as a meal at a restaurant, because the leftovers tend to get soggy really fast.
  4. I prefer when someone else makes the salad.  It just tastes better for some reason.
So, yeah, I'm not big on salads anymore.  The only reason I took salad today was because I had Perdue Shortcuts chicken breast in the fridge, and I got a bag of salad free from the grocery store this past weekend.  My salad consisted of lettuce, onions, ham, chicken and feta cheese.  I topped it with Italian dressing.  

Breakfast was the usual Greek yogurt with dry roasted peanuts mixed in.

Snacks were celery and Sriracha hummus (fiery!), aged cheddar cheese, and green grapes.





Monday, November 16, 2015

coconut flour shortbread cookies

I was at the library this weekend.  I was browsing the cookbooks, as usual, and came across a Paleo diet cookbook.  I decided to leaf through it, since most of the recipes were high protein and that's what I'm looking for.  I came across a recipe for coconut pancakes made with coconut flour and coconut milk.  They looked pretty good and seemed easy to make, just like regular pancakes.  I didn't feel like checking the book out, so I went home and Googled for the recipe. But first I stopped at Ocean State Job Lot to get some Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour; Ocean State Job Lot sells a big variety of Bob's Red Mill products.

I found a whole bunch of coconut pancake recipes online.  I clicked on one from a blog called Paleo Hacks.  That lead me to a post called 33 Indulgent Coconut Flour Recipes.  I clicked through and found a whole bunch of fairly simple recipes using coconut flour, one of which was these Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies.  The recipe had only 4 ingredients, 5 if you count the optional chocolate. I decided to make these cookies.  I figured they're low in sugar and lower in carbs.  And the recipe makes only 8 small cookies, which is good; I don't want the temptation around for long.

These were very easy to mix together and it only took about 5 minutes, which includes the time it took to gather the ingredients, preheat the oven, and mix the dough.  It took a couple more minutes to roll the dough into balls and flatten with a fork. Note:  make sure you use cooking spray on the fork, otherwise the dough will stick.  Alternatively, you could just flatten them with your thumb.

The recipe called for maple syrup, but since I only needed one tablespoon I didn't want to spend a ton on real syrup.  I used pancake syrup instead.

These cookies were good, but not sweet at all.  I think they would benefit from a little sugar sprinkled on the top, or the optional chocolate drizzled over the top.  I don't know how to describe the taste.  I didn't necessarily taste the syrup or the coconut flour by themselves, although there was a hint of both.  And they also don't taste like regular shortbread cookies.  Also, while they were soft, they were a bit dry; I found myself needing a sip of water to wash each one down.

I would make them again, because they're just so easy, but I might use something else in place of the maple syrup. Maybe honey or sugar free Torani syrup.

Here's the recipe if you're interested in trying them:  Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies.

Nutritional info, using regular pancake syrup and no chocolate:  73 calories, 6g fat, 1g sugar, 4g carbs and 1g protein per cookie.



Friday, November 13, 2015

tgif

I'm so happy it's Friday!  It's been a stressful week at work.  Not a bad week, just stressful.  I work at a bank and we're going through a regulatory exam at the moment.  It seems like I've been inundated with requests all of a sudden.  I know it's part of the whole process, but it's annoying to have to stop everything and spend the whole day pulling files, reports, etc.  At least it won't last forever.  Hopefully next week it will be done. The bright spot this week was getting a massive compliment from the examiner, and today I get to wear my jeans to work; it's Blue Jeans for Babies today.

I'm looking forward to a quick visit with my brother and sister-in-law tonight.  They're staying over and then catching the train to NY tomorrow.  We'll get to discuss The Walking Dead, which I started watching recently.  I'm definitely enjoying the show, although sometimes all the negativity and killing gets a little old.  The violence doesn't bother me.  I just get tired of seeing it sometimes. I just watched the episodes where they discovered, and then escaped, Terminus.  That was crazy!!  And disgusting.  But I guess if food is scarce you do what you have to do to survive. 

Leo will be going in for his dental surgery soon.  Just waiting for something to come together first. Luckily his x-rays showed nothing of concern, so he's clear for surgery.  The plan is to remove all of his teeth, although the vet will try to save the ones he can save. For the moment, we're keeping him going with antibiotic shots to control the infection.  Once he has the surgery, he should be good to go. 

And now back to work...



Monday, November 9, 2015

today's breakfast and lunch

I haven't posted this in a while, so figured I would do so today.  I'm trying to get back on track so maybe this will make me a little more accountable.
 
I've been eating a lot of junk lately and it shows on the scale.  I haven't gained much at all, but I sure feel like I have.  It's amazing how I now feel just a few pounds the same way I felt a 30 pound gain before the surgery.  I guess I've finally gotten used to my new body.
 
Today for breakfast was the usual Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt, my favorite, with an ounce of dry roasted peanuts. 
 
Lunch was 1/2 cup of Perdue Shortcuts Honey Roasted Chicken. 
 
Snack was 3 ounces of green seedless grapes, an ounce of Colby Jack cheese, and an ounce of Wheat Things Toasted Pita Chips (not shown here).  Some of it was eaten as a snack throughout the morning, and some of it was eaten with the chicken.
 
I'm definitely having a tough time with wanting to snack a lot today.  I've been snacking so often, I've gotten used to it.  I'll just have to ride out the cravings for a few days and then I'll be fine.
 

Friday, November 6, 2015

happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday and I'm celebrating by taking the day off from work.  I almost never take my birthday off, but this year I decided to do so since I had more vacation days than I did last year.

I'm not doing anything special today.  I got up early and dropped Leo off at the vet.  He has to have another antibiotic injection for the infection in his gums.  He also has to have x-rays and a urinalysis, because the vet mentioned his blood work showed low protein.  They also want to do an ultra sound, but that has to wait until Wednesday; their ultra sound person is a traveling doctor and is only there on Wednesdays. All this work has to be done to make sure there aren't any other problems going on.  Then he will have the surgery to remove his teeth. Hopefully after that, all will be fine.


Leo is ready to go to the vet.  I think Leia is glad she's not in there!


I then took a trip to Dress Barn to spend my gift card. I entered an Instagram contest awhile back and won a $100.00 Dress Barn gift card.  So, I bought some clothes for work.  Even though I've lost weight, clothes shopping is still frustrating, though.  I'm finding that many shirts are very sheer, which is odd because these are work clothes. It's not like I'm in a store that sells club clothing.  I bought a really nice Houndstooth skirt, but I had a hard time finding a white shirt to go with it.  I ended up leaving, deciding that I'll wear with it the one white top I own.  I like a white button-down shirt, but I hate collared shirts.  The length of my hair is such that my hair is usually tucked under the collar and it does weird things to my hair. It looked great, though, so it was a hard decision not to buy it.

I listened to the new Def Leppard music the whole time I was driving.  I have to say, I'm really loving the new stuff.  I was afraid to listen, because it's been so many years since I've like more that a song or two on one album.  But I think they knocked it out of the park with this one.  I like all of the songs, escpecially Man Enough, which I think I'm going to wear out!

I then came home and wrote more of my book.  It's going well.  I'm hitting the word count target each day, but sometimes find it difficult to make myself sit down and write.  And once I do start writing, I'm often looking at the word count to see how much longer I have to write.  It's not that I don't enjoy writing.  It's just that I know there's a TV in the other room and I have 24 more episodes of The Walking Dead to watch.  And I find myself struggling with details sometimes.  I feel like I remember much less of my childhood than the average person. I'm currently writing about my former eating habits.  It's embarrassing, but it needs to be done. And it's not easy to put that down on paper, even though I'm the only one looking at it.  But overall, it really is going well.

Tonight will be dinner in and some more episodes of The Walking Dead.  Then tomorrow we head to my Dad's house.  His birthday is on the 10th, so we always celebrate our birthdays together.

The girls at work bought me a blanket, among other cat-themed items.  Louise seems to like it.



And Bob had flowers sent to work.  Aren't they pretty?  My favorite colors, too! I usually keep them at work, but I had to bring them home since I'm off for three days.  I'm finding it hard to keep the cats out of them, though.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

wasabi goat cheese: ideas please!

I bought a log of wasbi flavored goat cheese awhile back, and it's been haunting my fridge ever since.  I haven't been able to figure out what I should use it for--I haven't Googled it like I normally would.  I was thinking I could make a batch of crustless quiche, but that's too predictable.  I'm thinking I want something different.  Maybe a dip or something.  Anyone have any ideas? 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

homemade apple pie: putting all those apples to use

I was feeling extra motivated today, so I decided to make a homemade apple pie.  I'm guessing it's because Daylight Saving Time ended (read:  It's Daylight Saving Time, people, NOT Daylight Savings Time) and I have an extra hour today.  I really think this is my favorite day of the year:  I get an extra hour of sleep, although I always wake up at the regular time anyway; I get an extra hour to get things done; and the day goes by very slowly.

So, I'm finally putting my apples to use.  I have many bags of apples in the freezer already; however, since I still have tons of them to peel, core and slice, I decided to use the fresh ones, which will help reduce the amount of apples in the fridge.

I felt so motivated by the longer day that I made pie crust from scratch for the first time!  Plus, I forgot to pie pre-made crust when I was at the store this morning, so I didn't have any choice if I wanted to make pie today. It wasn't difficult to do, but I've always been afraid to make it.  From what I've read and heard, it can be fussy and it has to be worked just right.  In addition, the butter and water must be very cold.  It wasn't difficult to mix, but I had to be very careful not to overwork the dough--that makes a tough pie crust.  I found it difficult to roll it into a circle, but I guess that will come with practice. The bottom crust wasn't very pretty, but the top one came out better.  I made two extra crusts to freeze, so I can throw a pie together much faster next time.

I used a combination of two recipes:  King Arthur Flour's Apple Pie and a recipe from Taste of Home.  I made King Arthur's crust and the filling from the Taste of Home recipe.  Why?  Because I didn't have two of the ingredients for the King Arthur recipe.  (Are you really that surprised?)

I was happy with the results.  The crust was flaky and light, the filling had good flavor, and the apples were still intact.

So, here's the pie before baking:



 And here's the pie after baking:


And here's a slice.  It's a bit of a mess, because I cut it before it was 100% cool.  I ate a small piece, but it's got a lot of sugar so I can't eat much of it.








Friday, October 30, 2015

time to write a book!

In case you didn't know, November is National Novel Writing Month.  And there's a website for it: http://nanowrimo.org/.  The idea is to write a novel, at least 50,000 words, during the month of November. I've signed up and on Sunday I will start my book.

I've always wanted to write a book ever since I can remember.  Maybe because I love to read.  I always enjoyed creative writing classes in high school and college.  I got some great feedback on the short stories I wrote; I still have them stored away somewhere.

Originally I was going to write about my family.  My mom used to always say that she would love to have a book written about our family.  I don't think we're much different than any other family,--I'd argue that we're less drama-filled that most families-- but maybe she was thinking more of a family history for generations to come.  But then I realized I'd have to put a lot of effort into research and interviews before I could even start writing, and I just don't have the time for that right now; work is really busy and that takes up most of my mental bandwidth.

I've decided I'm going to write about my weight struggles.  It shouldn't be difficult, since it's all about me.  Literally.  The only issues I might have are keeping up with the daily writing and doing it consistently, and organizing it.  I tend to just write whatever I want when the mood strikes me; I'm not much for organizing my thoughts ahead of time.  I'm thinking I might write down a rough outline this weekend, so at least I have a bit of structure to it.

Wish me luck!  Who knows?  Maybe I'll have a best seller on my hands. ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

expanding my horizons: spaghetti squash

I recently tried spaghetti squash for the first time.  I had stopped at Whole Foods for a certain item and decided to grab something from the salad bar.  I saw a cold salad made with spaghetti squash, feta cheese, tomatoes, basil, and peppers.  My mother and my sister always said how good it is, so I figured I'd see what the hype is about.  It was really good and I liked that the squash was a bit crunchy.
 
I then decided I should try making it myself.  It would be a good way to get more vegetables and have something different for a change.  I bought one squash at the grocery store last week; I figured I wouldn't waste too much money if I didn't like it. I wanted to duplicate the Whole Foods salad, but I also wanted to try it hot; I'd heard it can be served similar to spaghetti.  I decided I'd use half of it for the salad and half for serving hot.
 
I cooked it the other night and it was so easy to cook!  All I did was put it in a baking pan and cook it uncovered at 375 for about an hour. When finished, I let it cool a bit.  I then cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and then raked the insides with a fork.  What I got was something that looks like spaghetti, but thinner. Very easy. I put some in a container and stuck it in the fridge.  I'll make the salad either tonight or tomorrow night.
 
I took the hot portion and mixed in butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese.  It was very easy.  It tasted good, but I'm not sure I'd eat it hot again. If I did it would need to be mixed with some stronger seasonings or maybe some meat and veggies. It's a very mild squash, so it needs a bit of dressing up.
 
So, anyone have any suggestions for dressing this up a bit?  Or do you have a favorite sold spaghetti squash salad you like?
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

beef and tortellini

The other night for dinner I made a recipe from Taste of Home magazine:  Beefy Tortellini Skillet.

I subscribed to Taste of Home last year.  I probably won't renew it, though, because I find that it doesn't have a lot of recipes that appeal to me.  Most are simple, which is good, but I find them to be just OK most of the time.  Nothing spectacular.  If I want a recipe, I can Google it for free.

So, here's the finished dish.  It's just ground beef, Montreal steak seasoning, water, beef bouillon granules, frozen tortellini, and Italian cheese blend.  I made it exactly as instructed and didn't substitute any ingredients. 



It was quick and easy. I figured it might be lacking, since it doesn't have a sauce; I was right.  It wasn't terrible by any means, just kind of boring and I missed having some sort of sauce.  I thinking you could probably add more water and beef bouillon and then just thicken it a bit.

Obviously, this dish isn't really meant for a gastric bypass post-op.  I made it for Bob, but I tried some of it.  Just some of the beef and cheese, and a couple tortellini.

I probably wouldn't make this again, unless I can figure out a way to make a bit of a sauce.

Monday, October 19, 2015

kitty issues

I don't know what's going on, but I seem to be having bad luck with cats this past year.  Lou had to have part of his tail amputated, Riley died unexpectedly from possible hemophilia, Prince disappeared, and George had to be put down due to old age.  Now, Leo has to go in and have all his teeth out.

Last month I noticed some brownish marks on his fur around his mouth.  I figured it was from his eyes; he's a Persian and his eyes weep.  But then he started making gnawing motions with the right side of his mouth.  We brought him to the vet and they talked about surgery, biopsy, a possible cancerous tumor, blood work, etc., to the tune of $1,000.00+.  They gave him an antibiotic injection to start, just in case it was only an infection.  He was OK for a couple weeks, but then a few days ago started the gnawing again and was drooling. So, back to the vet he went.  Although this time we went to cat-only vet we found nearby.  There were two reasons for that:  we've been wanting to try a cat-only vet, and we wanted a second opinion. And, really, a third reason: cost.

Leo had his appointment Friday and it turns out he has severe gingivitis, a possible secondary infection, and what may be a benign tumor caused by the gingivitis.  I wish the other vet had told us this.  My husband said they didn't mention gingivitis or teeth extraction.  I was freaking out about cancer, thinking it's the end for Leo.  It's still going to cost $1,000.00+, but at least I know the chance of cancer is pretty low.

I had all the blood work done while he was there; that turned out mostly normal.  He has a really high while blood cell count, but that's very likely due to the secondary infection he's got going on.  The doctor gave him another antibiotic injection and he seems comfortable at the moment.  He'll be going in for surgery probably next week.

Lesson learned here?  Make sure you bring your cats in for dental checkups, not just their annual vaccinations.  As they get older, they develop gingivitis and other problems, just like us humans.  I feel terrible that I didn't catch this much earlier, and now the poor guy has to have all his teeth out.

Here's some cuteness for you to enjoy.

 
Leo as a kitten.  This is the day I brought him home from the pet store in 2004. 
He's one of the only cats I ever bought at pet store; all the others are rescues.

 
Leo doing what he does best:  relaxing and looking cute.

 
Leo at the vet Friday.  Each examining room  has a cat tree. 
As you can tell, he had to try it out.  Looks like he approves.
 
 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

quest protein bar: pumpkin pie

I went to the store over the weekend and decided to get some protein bars.  I don't buy a lot of protein bars, mainly because I tend to eat them like candy bars; they don't stick around my house very long. 

I like Quest best.  They taste great and they're not as high in calories as some of the other protein bars.  Plus, they have whey protein isolate, which is what I need.  And there's no added sugar. 

I noticed that the store I was in had the new chocolate mint bars and the pumpkin pie bars.  I was excited to try something new so I grabbed two of the chocolate mint and one pumpkin; I'm not a huge pumpkin fanatic and didn't want to waste money. 

I brought the pumpkin one to work today and ate it for breakfast.  I was excited, because it felt heavier than other flavors (extra food!), but I was disappointed to see it's the same weight:  2.12 ounces.  I unwrapped it.  First of all, the thing was practically florescent orange, which didn't bode well.  (The picture doesn't accurately convey the neon-ness of it.) There were graham cracker pieces under the coating, so it was very bumpy looking. 



And the taste?  Meh.  It was OK, but nothing special.  I didn't taste pumpkin.  It tasted more like a yogurt-covered protein bar.  Kind of nondescript, I guess. I wouldn't buy this again, although if someone gave me one and I was hungry, I'd eat it.  It wasn't terrible, just not what I expected.  Especially since Quest bars generally taste exactly like whatever flavor they're supposed to taste like.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

spicy chili-rubbed pork

I tried a couple new recipes last weekend, one of which is Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork from BudgetBytes.com. I had all the ingredients, plus a pork roast to use, and it felt like a crock pot kind of day, so I decided to make it.

Wouldn't you know, I didn't have one ingredient:  chili powder.  I have just about every other herb and spice under the sun, but no chili powder.  I didn't really feeling like running to the store for just one item, so I Googled and found a recipe for chili powder.  I had no idea that chili powder is actually a combination of six different herbs and spices.  I always thought it was chili peppers ground into powder. I had all the necessary ingredients to make my own, so I did. 

It was such as easy recipe.  Just cut up a pork roast, dump all the spices in a bowl, toss to coat, and then put in the crock pot for four to five hours.  What you get is a spicy roast that pulls apart very easily.  It can be used on sandwiches, in burritos, over rice, or anything else you might was to use it for.

This was very spicy. I'm not adverse to spice, but I find these days it can give me acid reflux at night sometimes.  If I made it again I would likely just use a pinch of the cayenne pepper.  Also, it didn't have as much pork flavor as I would have liked.  I didn't have a pork butt, so I used the sirloin pork roast.  That probably made a big difference in the richness.

I'd make this again making the changes I mentioned above.  It was so easy and perfect for those days when you just don't want to deal with cooking a whole meal, or if you just want to have pork in the fridge for use with other recipes.