Saturday, January 31, 2015

crockpot italian chicken

I've been trying to find ways to make easy meals that don't take a long time to prepare.  I came across a link on Facebook and it was about making 40 crockpot meals at once.  You just bag all the raw ingredients and toss the bags in the freezer.  When you want to make one, you just pull out the bag, empty it into the crockpot, and cook it. Dinner is ready when we get home from work.

I wanted to do all 40 meals, but when I looked at the recipes I realized there's a lot of things the husband won't eat, or I just didn't have the ingredients.  So, I kept clicking around and eventually came to a recipe I wanted to try:  Crockpot Italian Chicken.  There were a few recipes, along with a shopping list, but this is the one for which I had everything on hand. I skipped the red pepper flakes; I'm just not a fan.

I cooked one of these during the week.  I added almost an entire small can of tomato paste, because the sauce just seemed too thin. Also, I wanted to serve it over pasta; it just didn't look like a filling meal for Bob.

I thought it was good and I'd make it again, although I would add tomato paste to the bag before freezing.  I like a little thickness to the sauce.  It was very easy to put together before I froze it and cooking it in the crockpot makes it that much easier.  I ate mine without the pasta since I'm not really supposed to have it. Besides, I don't care about pasta anyway.

This is Bob's plate.  I figured it would look better than mine.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

fairlife ultra-filtered milk

Something I used to really enjoy before my weight loss surgery was a big glass of cold milk, usually with ice.  I would often drink in down in just a few gulps.  There's just something about a cold glass of milk that I can't put into words.  After my surgery, though, it was clear that I'd never drink milk in the same fashion again.  I was sad about that.  I mean, I can have it, but I'm limited to about 4 oz.  There's just too much sugar for me.  There's about 12g of sugar in an 8 oz. glass of milk and that's a little too much for me.  I can handle about 8 to 10g in one sitting and I'm OK.

I went to Walmart over the weekend to do a little food shopping.  While loading up on eggs in the dairy section, I noticed something new: Fairlife Ultra-Filtered Milk.  Bob wanted a small container of milk for work and I thought it was one of those single-serve bottles.  I checked it out and it has 19g of protein (!) and only 7g of sugar for the whole 11 oz. bottle. I read the bottle just to make sure it wasn't some weird science project masquerading as milk.  It said that it's milk, just ultra-filtered, whatever that means.  So, I bought it.

When I got home I Googled it so I could read about it.  It's just what it says:  milk that has been ultra-filtered.  Apparently, they filter the milk "into its five components (water, butterfat, protein, vitamins & minerals, lactose) and then recombine them in different proportions."  So that's how they get more protein and less sugar.  It's a new Coca Cola product and it came out just a few weeks ago.  The cost is along the lines of specialty milks, like organic, lactose-free, etc. I didn't save the receipt so I can't tell you exactly what I paid, but I know it was under $2.00 for an 11 oz. bottle.

While I'd been eagerly waiting to try it, part of me was a little nervous that I'd bought yet another product that sucks.  You know how it is. You buy something that's supposed to taste like the real thing, or it's enhanced, or whatever, and when you taste it, it tastes like crap and you realize you got duped again and wasted a precious few bucks. So, I was nervous, but excited.

How did it taste?  Just like regular milk.  At least to me it did.  I didn't notice any discernible difference in taste or texture.  And the best part, aside from only 7 g of sugar, was that it was ICE COLD!  I didn't drink the whole bottle, though.  I decided I'll save it for when I'm craving milk.  And, yes, I will definitely buy this again.

Nutritional stats (for an 11 oz bottle):  170 calories, 6g fat, 9g carbs, 9g surgar, and 19g protein.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

lunch on a snowy day

Lately I've been craving salads.  Not sure why.  Maybe because I've been eating a lot of cheese and carbs. I don't usually care much for salad when I make it at home.  It always tastes better when someone else makes it.  But I don't like to order salad when I go out to eat either.  Mainly because I don't like leftover salad; it gets soggy. But now that I've had weight loss surgery, it's guaranteed I'm going to have leftovers.  And I can't justify spending $10.00 on a normal-sized salad when I'm going to waste more than half of it.

As a very rare treat we went to the diner the other day after spending a couple hours shoveling snow.  I decided to say, "What the Hell?" and got a Cobb salad.  The other possible choice was a grilled chicken slider from the kids' menu, but I figured salad would be better for me.

When I placed my order, I asked for the dressing on the side and a to-go container so I could immediately pack up 90% of it.  Glad I did - this salad was HUGE!  Although nowadays, most dishes look huge to me anyway; half a burger looks huge.  I was only able to eat maybe one quarter of it, if that.  I packed up the rest and brought it home.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

After the snowfall.

Griswold family Christmas tree. :)  Maybe next year?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

today's breakfast

Another departure from Greek yogurt and peanuts.  Today I toasted half an English muffin, put a slice of cheese on it, then fried an egg and put that on top.  Yummy. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

goat cheese omelet

Today's breakfast was a one-egg goat cheese omelet.  I have a ton of goat cheese in the fridge to use up so I figured a goat cheese omelet would be a nice change from the Greek yogurt and peanuts I usually eat. I've started buying goat cheese when I visit my dad in New Hampshire because it's a couple bucks cheaper:  $3.99 for a 10 oz log!

All I do is mix one egg with some milk, salt, and pepper and cook it in a frying pan with some butter (I need butter for an omelet.  No compromising on that!).  I flip it and then add about 2 TB of goat cheese to one half. Then I fold it over and it's done.

This particular omelet came out really fluffy for some reason. It's usually tough to make a one-egg omelet and not have it come out thin.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

click espresso protein drink

I'm always looking to try a new protein powder. Not only because of price (they can be expensive!), but because I get bored with chocolate and vanilla.  I add flavorings, but I want something I don't need to dress up.  And I'm not super excited about strawberry.  I'll drink a vanilla shake with strawberries or strawberry sugar-free syrup added, but I just don't care for strawberry protein powder.

I've been wanting to try Click Espresso Protein Drink. I've seen it on other blogs and decided to ask for it for Christmas.  Yes, that's my life now.  Protein powder for Christmas.  Sad, I know.  Anyway, Bob bought me a container of it and I was thrilled.

It took me a couples weeks to actually try it.  I never get up early enough to make a shake before work, and I tend to forget at night.  I tried making it by just mixing it in a glass with water, but it didn't really blend well; you really need a blender bottle or a bullet blender for this one.  When I moved I tossed my blender bottles, mainly because most protein powders don't mix well in them.  And I can't use a bullet blender at work.  Way too loud.  So, I waited until last week to finally try it.

I put it in my bullet blender with about 4 oz. lowfat milk and 10 oz. water.  I also added three ice cubes.  The consistency was pretty thin even though I added ice.  It was so delicious, though!  It reminded me of the Starbucks frappuccinos in the cold case.  Very strong coffee flavor with a hint of chocolate.

Each serving, which is about 10-14 oz, depending how much water and/or milk you add.  It has 120 calories, 15g protein, 6g sugar, 11g carbs, and 1.5g fat.  Not bad.

I would definitely buy this again.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

today's breakfast

Just about every day of my life I have a Greek yogurt with dry roasted peanuts mixed in.  It's got a lot of protein, it's low in sugar, it's filling, and it tastes great.  Plus it's easy; I like easy.  Once in a great while I'll go a little crazy and have cottage cheese with a little Splenda and some dry roasted peanuts.  Living on the edge.

On the weekends I try to stay away from those things since it can get a little boring sometimes.  Plus, I have more time on the weekend.  I'd never make eggs during the week. No time.  I have a hard enough time dragging myself out of bed before 7 am and getting myself to work on time.

This weekend I made kind of a ham hash.  I cut up a ham steak I had in the freezer and then fried it.  I then fried some onions with a little butter and put the frozen hash browns in to fry for about 15 minutes (we like them crispy).  I tossed the ham back in to warm it up.  When it was done I turned the burner off, topped it with some shredded cheese, and put the lid on to make the cheese melt.  I made scrambled eggs on the side.

It tasted great, although I think I should have cooked the ham less; it was a little dry.  Truth be told, I forgot about the ham in the frying pan.  (I need to start a blog about my style of cooking:  toss the shit together, even if I'm missing a few ingredients, forget about it while I surf the net, and see what happens.)

I was able to finish my plate.  I took about 1/3 cup of the hash, making sure to take a little more ham, and had one scrambled egg.

Friday, January 16, 2015

a different take on lunch meat

Before my surgery I used to love eating sandwiches, especially with chips added on top.  But I'm trying to stay away from bread since it will stall my weight loss.  I still want to eat some lunch meat though since it's a good protein source.

I've tried having it rolled up with cheese and dipped in some light mayo.  That was OK, but not thrilling.  For awhile I was sensitive to nitrates so lunch meat usually bothered my stomach and I just stayed away.  But then I found a couple brands of lunch meat that are nitrate-free, which were good, but without the bread it just wasn't the same.  So, what to do?

I read a few weight loss blogs and all of them have one recipe in common:  lunch meat melts.  Basically, it's lunch meat rolled around cheese and whatever else you want.  You then fry it in a pan for a few minutes until the cheese melts.  I gave it a try since I had some turkey to use up.

The results?  It was super quick to make and tasted great.  Makes me think I'm eating something totally new and the cheese isn't as overwhelming.  For some reason, the flavor of American cheese seems a little overwhelming when you're eating it with just lunch meat and no bread.

I'm glad I found a different way to enjoy lunch meat.  It made me a little sad to think that I wouldn't be eating it anymore. While there aren't any foods that bother me now, there are foods I've chosen not to eat simply because I no longer like the texture or it tastes different. Lunch meat is WAS one of them.  Not anymore!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

jd gourmet flavored oils

When I visited the Beekman 1802 farm in NY last year there was a garden festival going on in town.  There were lots of artisan booths with plenty of goods and foods to be had.  It was especially fun to sample.

The JD Gourmet stall had all sorts of flavored oils and vinegars to sample.  I love flavored oils since I don't have to think about seasoning - I just pour it and eat it.  I picked up some Basil Garlic & Parmesan Oil, Rosemary & Garlic Oil, and Cherry Balsamic Vinegar.

I'm not sure what I will do with Cherry Balsamic Vinegar yet.  Maybe use it for salad dressing or on meat.  I'm thinking it would go well with chicken or pork.

This weekend I used the Rosemary & Garlic Oil to make roasted potatoes and carrots (yum!).  I just cut up carrots and potatoes, poured the oil in, tossed it around, and threw it in the oven.  A no-brainer.  Came out really good, but I think the potatoes could have used either a little more time or a more shallow pan.

I've been using the Basil Garlic & Parmesan Oil to dip pieces of stuffing bread.  I went to the grocery store a couple weeks ago and saw that they had stuffing bread in the bakery.  I assume they take a loaf of day-old bread, run it through some kind of slicer, dry it out, and then bag it.  Voila:  bread cubes for homemade stuffing.  I bought some because I planned on making a turkey, but then my plans changed.  What to do with all the stuffing bread?  Dip it into flavored oil, of course!

Very addictive so I need to reign myself in with this.  This oil has a ton of flavor with a little kick to it.  It's hard to see, but it's packed with basil.

As you can see, the bottle is almost empty...

Monday, January 12, 2015

today's breakfast and lunch

Today is a day for leftovers. At least for lunch, anyway.  Breakfast will be cottage cheese sweetened with some NutraSweet and some dry roasted peanuts mixed in.  Lunch is leftover ham with one ring of pineapple and a few cherries.  I would love more pineapple, but it's too much sugar.  On the side is some picked over pasta salad my sister made (I pulled out the cheese, tomatoes, and a couple cucumbers).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

time for rest

The family came down this weekend for our big Christmas dinner.  Fun was had by all, but, boy, am I ready for a rest!  I've been going all week long:  cleaning, cooking, shopping, etc.

I ate way too many goodies.  Lucky for me I can only have a bite or two because of my low tolerance for sugar since the surgery.  Didn't stop me from going back for another two bites 15 minutes later, though. That's OK, 'tis the season to over indulge.  As long as I don't continue the trend I'll be fine.  I gave away most of the sweets and will bring the rest to work.  I also froze some candy, which I plan to use for baking next time an event comes around.

Prince has the right idea...

Friday, January 9, 2015

waiting for the family

The family is coming this weekend for our holiday dinner.  As you can see, Max is already waiting anxiously for everyone to arrive...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I made pancakes over the weekend.  I had a ton of buttermilk leftover from the banana cupcakes I made last month.  It drives me nuts that I can't buy just a pint of buttermilk.  I always have to buy a quart.  I use 2/3 cup for the banana cake and then have to figure out what to do with it.

I use Martha Stewart's recipe for buttermilk pancakes (here's the recipe).  I'm not overly fond of her, but she has some good recipes.  The pancakes come out very light and thin, almost delicate.  And I like that this recipe uses up the rest of the buttermilk.

I treated myself to my first pancake since my surgery one year ago.  I know, I know. I'm not supposed to eat pancakes.  Or bread.  Or pasta.  But you know what?  I'm not dead.  I had weight loss surgery.  Life isn't over and shouldn't totally devoid of enjoyment.  It's one pancake in a year so I'm gonna enjoy it.  Some post-ops are militant about their diet, but that's just not me.  I want to learn to eat to live, but still feel like I'm enjoying myself.

So, did I enjoy it?  Eh.  Not so much.  It tasted good.  It had just the right amount of butter (yes, real butter!) and sugar-free syrup (can't compromise on that, unfortunately), but it seemed too doughy.  Normally I like pancakes that are thin and not cakey, and I used to like these pancakes, but it just didn't do it for me.  I finished it, along with one piece of breakfast sausage.

It's not burnt, just dark around the edges.  Camera doesn't always take good pics when I'm using white plates.

Monday, January 5, 2015

tonight's dinner

Tonight I decided to finally open a package of Gorton's Grilled Fillets, Garlic Butter flavor.

I've had a few boxes in the freezer for at least 6 months.  I tried them when I was first able to go back on solid foods, but I found them to be too much chewing at the time.  Back then I had to be very conscious of making sure I completely chewed everything down very well.  Some foods just weren't palatable after a certain point.  This was one of them, along with pot roast and salad.  I still have to chew well, but not to the point I did before.

These things are so easy to make.  Just spray a little baking pan with cooking spray, cover it, and bake it.  When it's done you have a perfect (post-op) sized fish fillet that's full of flavor and you didn't even have to make an effort.

There's lots of protein in these fillets:  a whopping 14g!  Only 80 calories and 3g fat, no carbs.

I paired my fillet with a baked potato topped with butter.  (Yes, I use real butter.  I need flavor and I can't see spending money on the diet butter spreads.  I want to enjoy my food and learn to eat in moderation.  Eating diet butter spread makes me think I can eat a lot more of it.  Diet foods do that to the mind, and you end up eating more calories that if you just had a small amount of the regular item.) I was able to finish most of the plate.  I made sure to finish the fish since that's where the protein is.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

homemade chicken soup

I'm not much of a soup person, but I do enjoy making chicken soup from scratch, which means making chicken stock.  I'm always watching cooking shows, looking at cookbooks and reading food magazines, so I guess I like to think I'm somewhat of a gourmet chef.  I know I'm not, but I like to think I am.  Even if only when I'm making chicken stock a couple times a year.

I used to use a recipe from a soup cookbook, but I must have given that book away because it's nowhere to be found.  So, I tried a recipe I found in a cookbook I got for Christmas (How Cooking Works - awesome book!).  It's pretty easy and the ingredients are simple.

I kind of tweaked it a little based on the ingredients I had on hand.  I had some fresh herbs I needed to use up, so I used those instead of the dried herbs.  I also added some scallion scraps I had from another recipe and some dried dill.  I had the choice of using a chicken carcass or a whole chicken.  I had a whole chicken so that's what I used.  I just cut it up and tossed it in the pot (thanks to my dad for teaching me how to cut up a chicken properly!).

Here's the finished stock after I strained it and before I skimmed the fat.  Not so pretty, but it tasted good.  It needed more salt, though.  I should have added more at the end.

Here's the finished soup.  It has shredded chicken from the chicken I used for the stock, fresh carrots, elbow macaroni, and fresh parsley.

Friday, January 2, 2015

tonight's dinner

Tonight's dinner was pork chops with green beans and pasta with butter.

I had a 5.5 oz chop (bone-in) , about 1/4 cup of beans and 1/4 cup of the pasta.  I was able to finish it all but one bite of the pork.  I let George and Max have a few nibbles of the last piece.

I'm not a big pork eater, so I decided to put some Borsari seasoned salt on the pork chops and then grill them.  Out in the dark.  With no porch light.  In 30 degree weather...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

happy new year!

Louise is starting the year off right:  she's relaxing in a warm, sunny window without a care in the world.

2014 was overall a great year:

  • I finally found a great place to work and I'm happy there.  It's amazing how much better life is overall when you like your job and don't dread going in everyday.
  • I lost 130 pounds, so I'm much healthier now and have lots of energy.  My clothes are so much smaller and lighter. One would think that my suitcase would be lighter when traveling, but somehow that's not the case.  
  • We bought a house in the "country."  Bob says it's the "sticks," but he's from the city and is used to lots of traffic and concrete; we're really in the suburbs now.  

Some not-so-great things that happened:

  • I chose the wrong job at the wrong company.  That was agonizing and it felt like I'd never find the right job.  It's amazing how much a job can impact your mentality and wreak havoc on the rest of your life.  
  • Lou had to have half his tail amputated. He's fine now, although when he walks with his tail up it looks like a giant...never mind...
  • I had to say goodbye to Riley, my white Persian cat.  He was so young, but I guess he just wasn't meant to live a long life.  He was such an awesome cat and we miss him so much.
  • Everything that could go wrong with the house went wrong.  Murphy's Law, I guess.  Thankfully Bob is incredibly handy!
  • We're trying to resolve a situation at the old house, which has really wreaked havoc on our financial lives.  Incredibly stressful and it's been a big black cloud, but that will be forcibly resolved by the end of the month. I'm much wiser after all this and won't put myself in that situation again.
My plans for 2015 are to hit my goal weight (not sure what that is yet), exercise more (always a goal), and hopefully sell the old house.  I think it's all doable.  I can anything I set my mind to.  I just have to want it enough.