Saturday, February 28, 2015

eat through the kitchen progress

I didn't get a chance to post much last week.  I was busy with the doctor, the dentist, and a few other things.  I was still cooking, though.

I'm doing pretty good with my Eat Through the Kitchen Challenge.  I've gone to the store a few times, but just to get stuff like milk, yogurt, and veggies.  I will confess that I bought one package of chicken apple sausage, but it was because they were on sale really cheap.

This was Monday's dinner.  We had steak on the grill.  Yup. We have two feel of snow on the ground and I was grilling.  Bob was nice enough to dig the grill out for me.  Anyway,  steak with asparagus, mushroom and onion saute for me.  I bought the veggies in a single pack at Trader Joe's and sauteed it with olive oil and a little butter, then finished it with Borsari seasoned salt.  Bob had Rice-a-Roni and carrots with his steak.  So, the only thing I bought for this dinner was the saute pack. 

This is about 4 ounces of steak and about a 1/2 cup of veggies.  I didn't eat much of the asparagus, because there were a lot of woody pieces in it. Yuck!

This was Wednesday's dinner. It probably looks like a big portion, but this is a salad plate.  It was about 4 ounces of chicken, a handful of beans, and a scant 1/4 cup of rice.  Teriyaki chicken breast on the grill, green beans, and white rice with butter and Parmesan cheese.  When I brought the chicken home from the store I separated it into Ziploc bags, poured in some bottled teriyaki sauce and stuck it in the freezer.  All you do is defrost and cook.  No need to wait for the marinade.  (This night is when I discovered that I had nothing left to make side dishes with.  Guess I'll have to get creative.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

homemade onion dip

A few weeks ago I bought a couple bags of onions.  They were buy one get one free so, of course, I did.  But what to do with all the onions?  I don't always think ahead when I see deals in the store, but onions keep awhile so I wasn't worried about it.

Fast forward three weeks and I still have 5 huge onions to use up.  So, I went in search of a French onion soup recipe.  I found one that looked pretty easy.  I was all excited to make it, then realized I didn't have enough beef broth.  Story of my life.  Then I remembered I had bought plain Greek yogurt because I wanted to make a ranch dip for celery (I'm always seeing low fat recipes using Greek yogurt for gastric bypass patients).  I checked the Kitchn website to see what they had for dip recipes and came up with an onion dip recipe.  Perfect!  I'll use up all the onions and use the Greek yogurt I bought.  Plus, I had forgotten to buy onion dip when we bought chips the other day, so this was the perfect solution; I'm known for buying chips and forgetting the dip.

It wasn't difficult to make and I had all the ingredients.  Alright, I didn't have the fresh thyme, but who usually does?  Instead, I used about 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.  I didn't have to buy anything, thus keeping in like with my plan to eat through the kitchen.  The recipe says it takes at least 15 minutes to caramelize the onions.  Half an hour, or more, is more like it.  Also, they didn't get to the deep brown color shown on the website.  They were browned in some places, but not as brown as they should be.  I'm guessing they would need much longer to cook to get that deep color.

The dip tasted good.  The base is plain Greek yogurt, so it definitely did not taste like the the standard French onion dip we're all used to, but it was good.  And, boy, was it onion-y!!  After the first bite I couldn't tell, but Bob said my breath was horrific. And I could definitely still taste it the next day.  Good way to keep people at bay. ;)

Next time I make this I plan to cook the onions longer and buy a better brand of chips.  All we had was store brand and they had a tough time holding up to this dip.

Here's the recipe I followed:  French Onion Dip with Caramelized Onions and Greek Yogurt

Saturday, February 21, 2015

stuffed peppers

I'm continuing my Eat Through the Kitchen Challenge.  Today I made stuffed peppers.  The only thing I had to buy was the peppers.

Tomorrow I plan to make steak and maybe some potatoes.  Since I try not to eat potatoes too often I bought myself an asparagus saute pack from Trader Joe's.  It has asparagus, onions, and mushrooms.  Bob won't eat that, so I'll have it all to myself.  Darn.

Stuffed Peppers

1 box Beef Rice-a-Roni
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/2 an onion, chopped
4 green bell peppers
1 jar spaghetti sauce, any kind you want
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Using a large skillet, prepare the Rice-a-Roni according to the package directions.
  3. While the rice is cooking, cut the tops off the peppers. If the peppers won't stand up, cut the bottoms to make them flat.
  4. Chop up the pepper tops, minus the stems.
  5. In a large skillet, cook the chopped pepper tops and the onions until tender.
  6. Add the beef or turkey to the skillet and brown.  Drain when finished.
  7. When the rice is finished cooking, add the browned meat, onions, and peppers to the rice. 
  8. Stir in 3/4 of the spaghetti sauce.
  9. Spray the bottom of a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  10. Put the peppers in the baking dish and fill with the rice and meat mixture.  Put any leftover mixture in the pan around the peppers.
  11. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Note:  If you like a crisp pepper, adjust your cooking times.  We like them very soft.
  12. Take the cover off the pan and pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the peppers.  Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the peppers are completely soft.  
  13. Put the shredded cheddar over the peppers and return to the oven until the cheese is melted.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

chocolate hazelnut protein shake

Time for a shake!  I have to have a protein shake everyday, but believe it or not I actually look forward to my shakes.  Especially when I make them at home.  Tastes like a nice thick milkshake from a restaurant and I can make it into whatever I want.

I've recently started using Fairlife milk because it has half the sugar and almost twice the protein of regular milk.  Add that to your protein shake instead of water or regular milk, and that's a BIG protein payoff for the day! Just make sure to check the total amount of sugar you're consuming; some post-ops have issues with sugar intake.

Using the protein powders I've listed below, plus the Fairlife milk, this shake gives me 39g of protein in one shot.

Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Shake

8 oz. Fairlife Fat-free Milk (or any milk, or half milk and half water)
2 scoops chocolate protein powder, or whatever your protein container calls for (I use Bariatric Advantage or EAS)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 TB Sugar-Free Torani Hazelnut Syrup
3 ice cubes

If you're using a Bullet Blender, Ninja, etc., put the ingredients into the cup in the order listed above.  Blend until smooth.  If you're using a standard blender, reverse the order and blend until smooth.

Note:  This makes a thick milkshake.  If you're a recent post-op, you most likely won't be able to stomach this; it's very filling and the thickness might be too much for you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

strawberry cream cheese cobbler

We usually don't make or buy desserts, but since I had strawberries in the freezer that have been there a longgg time, I figured I should use them up as part of my "Eat Through the Kitchen" challenge.

I got this recipe from Facebook (here).   I saw it a few weeks ago and then promptly forgot about it.  But now that I was going to eat through everything in my freezer, I figured now would be a good time to try it.  It seemed very easy and I had everything on hand (that rarely happens).

When I mixed up the batter and then poured it into the melted butter, I was a little skeptical as to how it would bake up.  It just looked very oily and the batter was very thin, not like a typical cake batter.  But I figured if it didn't come out good I didn't waste any money on it.  Sure, I wasted some ingredients that I bought at one point, but it wasn't like I bought these ingredients for this specific purpose.

I was a little nervous about using frozen strawberries since frozen fruit usually gives off a lot of water.  But I wasn't going to buy fresh, so I had to use them.  I defrosted them and drained them as best as I could.  I spread them out on top of the batter and then put the cream cheese on top of that.

The results?  It was really good.  It wasn't soggy like I thought it would be. Although I think if I had used fresh strawberries, the bottom of the crust wouldn't have been so dense.  No big deal though.

I have two bags of frozen mixed berries and I'm thinking about making this again using those berries.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler

1 stick butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup of all Purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 quarts whole strawberries, washed and tops off
(Note:  I used 2 pounds of frozen strawberries)
4 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces.

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Melt butter and pour into 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish.

In a small bowl mix together the egg,milk,flour,sugar,baking powder, and salt.

Pour the mixture directly over the butter in the baking dish, but do not stir.

Add the strawberries,arranging in a single layer as much as possible. Sprinkle cream cheese pieces over strawberries.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling. The crust will rise up over the fruit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ham bone soup

This Christmas I decided to put the leftover ham bone in the freezer.  I don't usually save it; I either give it away or I toss it.  For years I've been under the impression that the only thing it's good for is pea soup, and I don't like pea soup.  I made it once and gave it all to my mother-in-law.  Determined to use it for something other than pea soup, I Googled "leftover ham bone" and came up with this recipe.  I had everything on hand and it was pretty quick and easy, so I decided to make it yesterday.

This is the first meal I made for my "Eat Through the Kitchen" challenge.  It came out really good.  The flavor was great and it was easy to make.  It seemed a little greasy at first (I could see all the fat on the surface), but it didn't taste greasy.  If you want you can let the stock cool and then skim the fat.  I didn't think it was necessary.

My first surprise of this challenge was seeing how much meat I'd left on the bone when I served my ham at Christmas.  After boiling the bone to make the stock, I stripped the meat from it.  I got at least two cups of meat from it! I could have gotten more, but I didn't feel like having to pick through all the fat.  When it gets so close to the bone, there's more fat and it's harder to cut around it.

I don't think I'll be throwing away the ham bone anymore!  After the next holiday I'll just make this delicious soup.

Here's the recipe:  Leftover Hambone Soup

Monday, February 16, 2015

challenge: eat through the kitchen

No, I'm not going to eat the kitchen counters and walls.  Although sometimes I swear I'm hungry enough to do that.  What this means is I am going to challenge myself to eat up everything in the kitchen cabinets, fridge, and freezer before going shopping again.  Actually, let me amend that:  I'm not going to buy meat and pantry items until I use up what I have.  Obviously, I will need milk, eggs, bread and certain other things.

I've been thinking about doing this for awhile, but it wasn't a necessity so I just forgot about it.  But lately Bob and I have had some really tough times and economizing is important right now.  What really prompted me to do this, though, was looking through my cabinets and freezer last week for something to make.  While I was looking I saw a few things I totally forgot about and I had to toss them due to freezer burn or missed expiration dates.  What a waste of money!  So, that's when I decided to challenge myself.

This weekend I made a list of just about every single food item I own; it was long list!  I figure that will help me to see at a glance what I have without having to rummage through everything.  And by studying the list it should also help me to think up some recipes, or get me to Googling so I can find new ones to try.

In addition to saving money and finding new recipes to try (and cooking more!), I'm guessing this will help me make better purchases in the future.  Ever find something in the freezer or cabinet and wonder why you bought it?  And does having to actually eat it make you just toss it out because you haven't a clue what to do with it or it just doesn't look as good as it did in the store?

I plan to post my meals here so everyone can see my progress.  I already started (with great results!) so plan on seeing a post or two soon!

roast beef with cheese and onions

Now that I've discovered the joys of cooking lunch meat (I know, it's not THAT exciting), I've realized it's a good way to use up lunch meat that needs to be used.  I generally follow the rule of eating it within three days after the day of purchase.  Sometimes I'll go four days, depending on the kind of meat.  Five days?  Hell no!

This week I was faced with having to toss some roast beef.  I had cooked beef stew and there were a few other things in the fridge to use up, so I knew neither Bob nor I would be eating it for lunch the next day and it would go to waste.  It was either give it to the cats, which I very rarely do; I throw it away, which I hate doing; or I cook it for dinner.  So, I cooked it for dinner.  I fried some onions and tossed in the roast beef.  Once it was heated, I put some American cheese on top.  Dinner was done!

It came out really good, although cooking lunch meat tends to make it a bit salty. This is a good way to get a lot of protein, it's only three ingredients, it's so quick to make, and you don't have to waste anything.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

chicken taco quesadillas

I'm very late in posting this, but better late than never, right?

I made chicken taco quesadillas last weekend.  It's a good way to use up some odds and ends I had hanging around in my fridge and cabinets.  It also helped me to start working my through my industrial-sized container of taco seasoning.

These were delicious, although a tad bit messy.  I would have like some sour cream for dipping, but I didn't have it and didn't feel like running to the store.

I was able to eat two wedges, or half a quesadilla.  Guess who got the other two??

Chicken Taco Quesadillas
Makes 4 whole 6-inch quesadillas

8 oz. ground chicken
1/2 a medium onion, diced
3 Scallions, sliced
1 cup black beans, rinsed
8 6-inch flour tortillas
Shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack, whatever amount you want



Lightly spray a large skillet with non-stick spray.

Over medium-high heat, brown ground chicken with the onions.  Mix in 1/3 cup water and taco seasoning.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 3-4 minutes until thickened.  Add the scallions and black beans and heat through.


Heat a clean non-stick skillet (don't spray with cooking spray).  Heat for a minute or two over medium heat.

Put one tortilla in the skillet.  Add shredded cheese to cover.  Add the filling on top.  Put more shredded cheese over the filling.  Put another tortilla on top to cover.  As an alternative you could top one half of the tortilla and then fold it over and cook.  That's the way they do it in the restaurant, but either way is fine.

Cook for at least two minutes and then carefully flip to cook the other side.  The idea is to brown the tortilla and melt the cheese.

Once finished, move the quesadilla to a cutting board and cut into wedges.  Assemble and cook the remaining quesadillas.


Friday, February 13, 2015

today's lunch

I'm not much of a soup eater, but this is today's lunch.

I'm embarking on a project:  to completely cook through and ear through everything in the cabinets and freezer.  I find that I routinely forget about things I have in the house and end up throwing them away because they're expired or freezer burned.  I figure I'll save money and and it will force me to cook more often.

So in an effort to reduce waste and economize, which unfortunately is necessary right now, I've decided to finally eat for lunch one of the many cans of soup I own. It's Progresso Light Chicken Corn Chowder. And I'm using my new special soup container I bought a few months ago. The soup is pretty good. A little skimpy on the chicken, but good overall. I'm having some crackers with it. Can't have soup without crackers.

I'm hoping it will fill me more than it used to. Before surgery it seemed like soup just wasn't filling enough so I usually avoided it. But my stomach is smaller now so I should feel full for a bit. Hopefully.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

gnc lean muscle meal

While I was put this weekend I decided to stop in at GNC. I don't usually go there, but I had to return something to another store in the plaza and that store wasn't open yet.

Much to my delight they had a cold case with individual protein shakes. I figured since it was the weekend and would probably forget to drink my protein shake (what the heck is it about the weekends??) I'd buy one while I was there. It's convenient and I can try something new without buying a whole package. I ended up with the store brand Lean Muscle Meal, which we $2.99. If I were a GNC member it would have cost something like $2.79 I think. 

I didn't really like this shake all that much. I've gotten used to drinking shakes that are very low in sugar and don't contain any artificial sweetener, so this tasted very artificially sweet to me. It tasted a lot like Pure Protein, which I don't buy anymore because it's too sweet. The consistency was fine, though.

Bottom line is I wouldn't buy this again unless there was nothing else available.

I was happy to see Quest protein bars so I grabbed some. Expensive though... $2.99 a piece!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

loving my fairlife milk!

I'm very excited:  Walmart carries the big bottles of Fairlife milk!  And it was only $3.98.  Yes, that's a lot for a half gallon, but it's not as bad as some other brands.

Coca Cola recently launched Fairlife milk. It's an ultra filtered milk.  They filter regular milk into it's different components and then recombine the components in different quantities.  The result is a milk with half the sugar of standard milk and lots more protein, which is great for a post-op who really misses milk.  People are saying it's fake milk, Frankenstein milk, science milk, etc. Whatever.  It's regular milk.  And it tastes exactly like it's supposed to taste.

I commented on one of Fairlife's posts on Facebook and some guy went through each and every comment and posted about how people shouldn't be eating or drinking dairy at all, but if they do they need to be drinking raw milk, stop buying science milk, etc.  He even went so far as to tell me, personally, that if I had eliminated dairy that I wouldn't have needed weight loss surgery.  Yeah, OK buddy. Because I take advice from random Internet whack jobs.

Anyway, I bought the fat-free variety.  I used to hate skim milk, but this actually tastes good. It doesn't taste watery to me.  I made a protein shake with Click Mocha Espresso Protein Drink, about 6 ounces of fat-free Fairlife milk, and about 6 ounces of water.  Yummy!!  Click has 15g of protein on it's own, but I bumped it up to 25g of protein by using Fairlife.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

great article about hunger

I found a great article today about post-op eating.  While some of it doesn't apply to a non post-op, the hunger scale is a great tool for anyone. Check it out.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

sunday breakfast

Today I tried something different:  baked eggs.

I've seen them on the Internet and it looked quick and easy, so I decided to give it a try.  I had a ton of turkey bacon in the freezer so I decided to defrost it.  I cooked some for Bob's breakfast and used the rest for the baked eggs.  There may have been some snacking in between...

The baked eggs came out good, but next time I will partially cook the bacon first; it was too soft for me and created a watery bottom.  I cooked them for about 16 minutes, which is about 4-5 minutes more than what the recipe called for.  I found after 12 minutes the eggs were more like a sunny side up and I'm not into that.  I even broiled them for a couple minutes after the 16 minutes of baking.  It produced a semi-cooked yolk, which was thick, but still a bit runny.

Bob got the leftover chicken taco mix I made last night.  (I made chicken taco quesadillas, which I'll post soon.  It's ground chicken, taco seasoning, chicken broth, scallions, and black beans.)  I put it into an egg omelet with cheddar cheese, toasted an English muffin, and gave him a few strips of turkey bacon.  The omelet was HUGE!

Baked Eggs
Makes 6 eggs

6 pieces of cooked bacon (I used turkey)
6 eggs
2 TB milk
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  3. Line each cup with one piece of bacon.
  4. Crack an egg into each cup.
  5. Pour a little milk over each egg.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes for sunny side up.  I baked them for about 16 minutes, which set the whites on top.
  9. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for use in egg sandwiches.

Bob's breakfast.  As you can see, there's big difference in our meal sizes.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

please support the Stratford Cat Project

The Stratford Cat Project is having it's annual Dine for the Cause at Uno's in Milford.  Just present this coupon when you dine-in or take-out and 20% of your check will go to the Cat Project.

From the Cat Project:

02/26/15 - Fundraising Event at Uno's Chicago Grill - 12:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Please join us at Uno's Chicago Grill located at 1061 Post Road, Milford for a fundraising event.  Have lunch, dinner, take-out or bar, and a portion of your check will be donated to SCP.  All proceeds are to benefit Riley's Second Chance Fund, for kitties with extraordinary medical needs. You must present a coupon to your server.

Here's the coupon you can download and print.

Here are the cats I adopted from the Cat Project:

Thelma and Louise, sisters

Riley, RIP buddy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

chicken taco egg muffins

I seem to have a bit of an obsession with buying eggs lately.  Just about every time I go to the store I end up buying eggs.  Usually because I'm planning on making egg muffins, or I'm planning on making Bob's weekday breakfasts ahead of time.  Anyway, I've bought so many eggs that I had about 5 dozen in the fridge,  Yes, 5 dozen.  I'm a sucker for the 2 1/2 dozen packs they sell in Walmart.  I've been trying hard to spend less out of necessity and this is usually the best deal.  It's not like I won't use the eggs, so why not buy them?

I haven't made egg muffins in awhile so I decided this weekend I would make some. I didn't want to make sausage and goat cheese again since I already have a ton of those in the freezer.  I wanted something different, preferably with ingredients I already have on hand.  I also wanted something that uses taco seasoning.  When I moved to the new house I bought a monster container of it at BJ's Wholesale.  Six months later, I have no idea why I thought I needed that much and now I need to start using it.

I ended up making up my own recipe and I'm calling it Chicken Taco Egg Muffins.  I browned half a pound of ground chicken, then added onions and scallions.  Once that was cooked I added taco seasoning and water.  Once thickened it mixed in black beans and then added the mixture to beaten eggs.  I poured it all into a muffin tin and topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

They were pretty good, but next time I might add some corn, or maybe put chunks of cheddar in the mixture.

Chicken Taco Egg Muffins

8 oz. ground chicken
1/2 a medium onion, diced
3 Scallions, sliced
1 cup black beans, rinsed
10 Eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack


Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground chicken with the onions.  Add the scallions and black beans.  Mix in 1/3 cup water and taco seasoning.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 3-4 minutes until thickened.  

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs.  Mix meat mixture into the eggs.  

Pour mixture into muffin tin and top each cup with cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes.
Pop them out of the pan within 10 minutes so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
You can top these with some sour cream and salsa if you want to.

These taste best when warm from the oven, but they will chill or freeze and reheat just fine for at least 4 to 5 days.  If using the microwave to reheat, use 60% power so they don't turn out rubbery or hard around the edges.  100% power might kill them.

Monday, February 2, 2015

breakfast pizza!

This is what I had for breakfast yesterday.  It's just a small tortilla topped with a scrambled egg, turkey breakfast sausage, a few bits of hash browns (snatched those from hubby's breakfast), and some shredded cheddar. I popped it in the toaster over for about 6 minutes.  I then splashed on a few drops of Tabasco sauce for kick. I made sure not to go overboard.  Sometimes my post-surgery tummy doesn't like spicy foods.  I don't get sick, but it causes my stomach to burn a little.

I was able to eat about 3/4 of it. Hubby got the last piece.  I think he likes that I got the surgery, because he usually gets my leftovers.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

today's lunch

I haven't barbecue chicken pizza in a long time, so I decided to use up the Perdue Shortcuts Southwestern Style chicken and make one for lunch.

All I do is spread about a tablespoon of barbecue sauce (I LOVE Sweet Baby Ray's) on a small tortilla, top it with the chicken, and then put some shredded cheddar on top.  I bake it at 350 for 12 minutes and viola!  Pizza!

I am happy to say I can finally finish one of these, although the last bite was tough and I kind of ate faster than I should.