Monday, March 30, 2015

today's lunch

This probably doesn't look appetizing but I assure you it does taste good! Cottage cheese mixed with nutra sweet, dry roasted peanuts and unsweetened coconut. Yummy!  I had to use up the cottage cheese. 

This would have been a breakfast and lunch post, but I forgot to take a pic before I ate it all. It was greek yogurt with peanuts (what else??) And celery sticks with hummus.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

today's breakfast

Today I made scrambled eggs for Bob and I and topped them with American cheese.  They came out perfect:  nice and creamy and soft.

I made some fried potatoes and onions with it.  I bought a couple bags of red potatoes a few weeks ago (buy one get one free!) and I've been trying to use them up. Tonight I'll be using them to make mashed potatoes to serve with the Swedish meatballs I plan to make.  No, I'm not making the meatballs from scratch - I have a huge bag of Ikea meatballs in the freezer -, but I'll be making the gravy from scratch.  I've noticed that the Ikea gravy packets don't go very far at all so I ran out of them way before using up the meatballs.  That's OK, because the Ikea gravy just seems processed?...I guess those are the right words to use.  Tastes fine, but I'd rather make gravy from scratch.

This amounts to about 2 eggs, a slice of cheese and about 1/4 cup of potatoes.  I was able to finish everything except a few potatoes.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

eat through the kitchen progress

Well, I've done pretty well with this challenge so far.  I've had to toss some frozen green beans that looked like they had been in the freezer a very long time; I don't even remember buying them.  I tossed some hamburgers that got freezer-burned.  Other than that, though, I've been able to use my freezer items without a problem.

One thing I will say is that when you do something like this, you need to be prepared to eat a lot of the same meat.  I had a ton of chicken in the freezer when I started, a little pork, some beef and a few other things.  I wish I had thought to buy some beef ahead of time, but it is what it is.  I've tried to be a little creative by making the Broiled Yogurt Chicken, Italian Crockpot Chicken, and a few other things. But I'm not sure how much more chicken I can take.

This has really tested my ability to not make spontaneous, unplanned purchases.  I actually have to fight my way through the store, because I just want to toss stuff in the cart; I'm so used to doing that.  I will admit I broke down and bought some hamburgers and hot dogs the other night, though. I just had to.  The thought of another chicken dish just got to me.  Other than that, I've stuck to buying just what I need to make a certain recipe or for the week's lunches at work.  I really can't afford to make a lot of unplanned purchases at the moment; however, that will be solved by the end of April.

I think I might do some baking this weekend since i have tons of cocoa powder and other baking stuff on-hand. I'll have to bring it all to work and dump it over in my team's cubicle area so I don't graze on it all day (more on that another time).

If I post any more chicken dishes next week, I'll be sure to make something a little more exciting that grilled chicken!

Monday, March 23, 2015

roasted potatoes with carrots and onions

This is a delicious way to use up buy-one-get-one-free bags of red potatoes, the half an onion haunting the back of the fridge, and the last few carrots leftover from the January family meal (yes, they were perfectly fine and crispy; carrots last).

This is so simple. All I did was cut up red potatoes, onions, and carrots (peeled, of course); toss them with olive oil and Sicilian seasoning (got it at Ocean State Job Lot for a couple bucks; it's a seasoned salt); and put them in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Just stir it up once in awhile and that's it.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

today's breakfast: a properly made egg omelet

I've ate and made many egg omelets in my lifetime.  I make them for my husband and occasionally for myself, but apparently I haven't been making them the right way.  I make them the way my mom did when she cooked for my grandmother:  when one side is done and the egg is no longer liquid, you flip it to finish the cooking. But I've been reading How Cooking Works and am told that that's not the right way to do it.  Not in so many words, but the diagrams imply it.  The proper way is to cook it one one side until the eggs are no longer liquid, put any fillings in the middle, and then roll the omelet onto the plate.  The residual heat cooks the center of the omelet.

I tried making a proper omelet for my husband last week and it was pretty flat.  I'm thinking I used way too much butter in the pan.  I don't usually use so much, but I had a piece of butter to use up.  No sense in putting one little pat of butter in the fridge.  He said it tasted good, though.

So, today I tried making one for myself.  I beat two eggs with a little skim milk (my beloved Fairlife milk) with some salt and pepper.  I used just enough butter to coat a hot pan.  I poured the eggs in and it immediately started to set.  I lifted the corners from the pan and tilted it to let the uncooked egg run underneath.  Once there was almost no runny egg leftover, I added herbed goat cheese in a line down the middle.  The I tilted the pan away from my and tried to nudge the corner over the middle (easier said than done!).  It didn't roll itself like the book says, but I didn't destroy it either. So that was good.  I then brought the pan to the plate and tilted the pan over so the omelet rolled over onto itself, finishing the roll.

I have to say, it tasted better than the omelets I usually make.  Maybe because the inside is cooked just enough to keep it creamy.  It was definitely a little flatter, but I find I now prefer an omelet made this way. It didn't seem as dense, which is good since I can't eat much in volume these days.  Also, the omelet was browned a bit.  Doesn't matter, really, but I keep hearing Chef Ludo Lefebvre in my head, screaming that there should be "no coloration!!"  You'll know what I mean if you watched The Taste last season.  My omelet doesn't look like his, but it was good!

The bonus in all this, other than mastering a proper omelet, is I used up the last of the goat cheese and didn't have to throw it away.  Another meal to help me eat through the kitchen.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

broiled yogurt chicken

Awhile back I made homemade onion dip with plain Greek yogurt I had on hand.  Since I had a big container of it, and I hate plain yogurt, I had to figure out what to do with the rest of the container.  I didn't want to throw it away, so I was determined to use it.

For Christmas Bob bought me a used cookbook I wanted:  How Cooking Works.  It's an older cookbook (it talks about microwaves being "among the recent innovations"), but it's chock full of information.  It talks about all the different cooking methods and why one works for certain foods and others don't, the different cuts of meat and poultry and how to shop for it, how ingredients work together, and how to choose the right ingredients.

I wasn't looking for a recipe containing yogurt when I was reading through the book last week, but I happened to come across one while reading about poultry:  Broiled Yogurt Chicken. It looked very easy:  marinade the chicken and then broil it.  I scanned the list of ingredients and guess what?!  I had them all!!  (Well, technically it called for a whole, cut-up chicken and I had boneless breasts.) The only issue was putting together the marinade without Bob seeing it.  It had an ingredient that would automatically take it off the "normal foods" list:  cider vinegar.  He hates vinegar.  I'm not overly fond of it on it's own, but I'm fine with it as an ingredient in salad dressings, buffalo chicken wings, and sauerkraut.  Anyway, I decided to try this recipe.  It was different and easy, I had all the ingredients, and I would use up more of the Greek yogurt.

Overall, it was a good dish.  The chicken was very tender and it had a tang to it.  It was also very garlicky; good vampire deterrent!  It cooked much more quickly that the recipe said; however, I used boneless chicken breast rather than a whole cut-up chicken.  I'm not sure I'd make it again, mainly because I just don't usually buy plain yogurt and I don't think I'd buy it just to make this.

Broiled Yogurt Chicken
(adapted from How Cooking Works)

1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek)
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 TB cider vinegar
1 TB soy sauce
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
*Note:  You can use any kind of chicken in this:  parts, boneless breasts, boneless thighs, etc.


  1. Combine all ingredients except the chicken and whisk together.  
  2. Put the chicken in a Ziploc bag or non-aluminum bowl and pour the marinade over it.  Seal tightly and refrigerate for 2 to 4 days, turning it whenever you think of it. (I kept it in the fridge for 2 days.)
  3. When ready to cook, put the broiler on High.  Move the oven rack to the very bottom so it's far from the broiler flame.
  4. Put the chicken skin side down on a rack in a shallow baking pan.  Add a little water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  5. Broil for about 10 minutes and then turn the chicken over to broil for another 10 minutes until cooked through.  Baste a couple times with the water in the bottom of the pan.  Note:  Be sure to check the chicken often.  Broilers get very hot and there's usually a fine line between under done, perfect, and charcoal.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

shepherd's pie

All my life I thought Shepherd's Pie was a bland casserole consisting of ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper, a layer of creamed corn, and then topped with mashed potatoes.  It was then baked until heated through.  I liked it at the time and thought it was just fine...until I made this recipe.

This is my favorite Shepherd's Pie recipe.  Until I find another one, anyway.  It's got deep flavor and it's easy to make. Yes, it takes a little time if you don't already have the mashed potatoes made, but it's worth it.

If you don't have mashed potatoes already made, or raw potatoes to make mashed potatoes, just buy a packaged potato mix.  Yes, I said that.  I've used these mixes many times.  Hey, it's easy and I'm all about easy.  Plus it saves a lot of time if you want dinner within the hour.  If you use a packaged mix, go for a flavored one like four cheese or sour cream and chives.  It gives the pie that much more flavor.

I'm happy to report that I didn't have to buy anything to make this.  Let me rephrase that:  I didn't have the shredded cheddar cheese I usually use, BUT I had taco flavored shredded cheese.  I know, it sounds odd to use taco flavored cheese on an Irish dish, but that's what I had on hand and I didn't want to go out and buy more cheese.  It actually gave the dish some more flavor since I had just plain mashed potatoes to use today.

So, here's the dish in process.  Recipe below.  I adapted this from a recipe I found online.

The beef mixture before it goes in the baking pan.

All browned and ready to eat!

My portion.  I ate about one cup.

A very thick layer of potatoes. I wanted to use up every bit I had so I didn't stick to the recipe on this part.  I did not make the Cheesy Mashed Potatoes recipe it calls for below.  I just used my leftover potatoes and topped with shredded cheese.

Shepherd's Pie

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 pounds lean ground beef or lamb (I use beef)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef stock
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, recipe follows*
(*Note:  I usually use plain mashed potatoes and top with shredded cheddar cheese.  You can use a packaged flavored mashed potato mix if you want. Or you can make this recipe.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Add butter and oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Saute onions, celery, and garlic until tender for about 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Once the vegetables have softened and start to brown a little add the tomato paste and mix evenly. 
  4. Add the ground beef and cook until beef is no longer pink about 10 minutes. 
  5. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook and simmer for another 10 minutes. 
  6. Mix in peas and carrots. 
  7. Transfer mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and spread evenly. Place potato on top of ground beef mixture and spread out evenly.  If you are using anything other than plain mashed potatoes, rake through with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. If you're using plain potatoes, simply top with shredded cheese.
  8. Place the dish into the preheated oven and cook until browned about 20 minutes. Spoon out the shepherd's pie and serve. 

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes 

4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, quartered
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated mature white Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Fill a large saucepan with cold water and a tablespoon of salt. 
  2. Add potatoes to the water and bring to a boil. Let potatoes cook until soft about 20 minutes. 
  3. Once the potatoes are at a desired density, drain the potatoes and place them back into the saucepan for mashing. 
  4. Add butter and cream and begin to mash potatoes into a semi smooth consistency. 
  5. Once at desired texture add cheese and mix well. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, March 16, 2015

baked lentils

Here's another Eat Through the Kitchen Challenge meal:  baked lentils.

I made this in January 2014 when I was only about a month and a half out from surgery.  At that time I could barely manage 3 ounces.  I was able to eat more this time, about 2/3 cup. Not sure how many ounces that is in weight, but in volume it's about 6.5 ounces.

I didn't have to buy anything to make this. Surprisingly, I had everything on hand.  Even the cheese.  And even after making this, I still have enough ingredients to make it two more times.  But I won't do that anytime soon; it's a bit of an overkill.  It's amazing to think that only 1 3/4 cup of uncooked lentils makes this much!

I really like this dish:  it's cheap to make; it makes A LOT; it's very easy; and it tastes great.  Even hardcore meat eaters will likely enjoy it.

B.C. (before cheese).  Almost done cooking!

It's done!

My portion.  About 2/3 cup.

Baked Lentils

12 oz. dry lentils
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp dried thyme
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can stewed tomatoes, with juice
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (as little or as much as you want)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a 9X13 pan, combine the water and lentils. Season with the bay leaf, salt, pepper, marjoram, sage and thyme. Stir in onions, garlic, and stewed tomatoes.
  3. Bake covered for 30 minutes. 
  4. Remove from the oven and stir in the carrots and celery. Cover and continue to bake until the lentils and vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. 
  5. Remove from the oven a third time, stir in the green bell pepper and sprinkle cheese over the top. 
  6. Bake, uncovered, until cheese has melted, about 5 more minutes.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

goat cheese!

I had half a log of herbed goat cheese in the fridge, so I'm trying to use it up as part of my Eat Through the Kitchen Challenge.  Goat cheese is something I am loathe to let go bad in the fridge or to throw away; it's not cheap!

Last night I made a snack of goat cheese on crackers.  But these weren't just any old crackers - they were American Vintage Wine Biscuits, Red Wine and Black Pepper flavor.  I sampled them when I was in Whole Foods a few weeks ago and decided to grab a bag.  I can't really describe the flavor other than to say they're very rich tasting with a hint of black pepper.  They have just a tiny kick at the end.  These crackers were made for the rich creaminess of goat cheese.

Today for breakfast I did a very loose take on Eggs Benedict:  half a toasted English muffin topped with one sausage, one scrambled egg, and herbed goat cheese.  It was delicious!  I was able to finish it, but I was REALLY full.  Probably would have been easier if I'd eaten slower; I kind of gobbled it down. (I need to STOP that!)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

eat through the kitchen progress

Sorry, no pics today.  Not because I haven't cooked, but because it's embarrassing:  some variation of poultry, rice, and veggie for the last week.  When I started this thing I didn't realize I had so little beef in the freezer.  And so. much. chicken.  So much.  I may have to break my rule of not buying any meat just so I can get a little variety.  Or I'll need to Google my fingers off and find a really different chicken recipe.  Actually, I have a ton of lentils and quinoa in the cabinet.  I'm sure I can figure something out.

We've been doing good, though.  I've gone to the store a few times, but I haven't bought anything I don't need.  I've mostly eggs, milk, bread, and lunch meat.  Stuff like that.  I did buy a few unusual ingredients, like coconut milk, but that was because I found a recipe and that was the one item I needed to complete it.

I'll try and get a little creative this weekend so I can post something.  I just didn't want to post chicken again.

But since I want to post a picture, here's one of Leia, the new foster cat.  She's gettin' down with the catnip while Bailey watches.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

today's breakfast and lunch

I have a little more color today. 

Breakfast is the usual Greek yogurt with peanuts mixed in.
Lunch is boneless skinless chicken thigh with green beans.
Snack is some Irish cheddar. Yummy. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

eat through the kitchen progress

I'm making decent progress on my Eat Through the Kitchen Challenge. I made seasoned brown rice last week and used that for a few dinners. I also made pasta and sauce. I added some frozen meatballs that were left in my freezer, courtesy of my sister. 

Boneless skinless chicken thigh with seasoned brown rice and corn.

Preseasoned turkey tenderloin with seasoned brown rice and corn. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

seasoned brown rice

A couple days into my Eat Through the Kitchen Challenge I realized I have nothing with which to make side dishes.  I had a couple boxes of Rice-a-Roni, but no potatoes or anything else.  Part of this challenge is to not buy anything that I don't absolutely need.  Side dishes aren't a necessity, but it gets a little boring eating nothing but meat and veggies.  And I don't want to use all my pasta up.  So, I broke down and went to the store.

I originally was going to buy prepackaged sides like Rice-a-Roni, scalloped potatoes, and maybe some Pasta Sides.  But when I was in the store I noticed that Rice-a-Roni is now $1.79 a box!  Sorry, but I'm not spending $1.79 on a box of rice that provides only about 3 servings. Then I noticed the huge bags of plain rice.  Five pounds for $2.99!  I'm not very creative when it comes to rice so I hesitated to buy it, but then I figured I AM good at Googling, so I was sure I could find lots of recipes for seasoning rice. Into the cart it went.  I bought brown rice, because Bob prefers it over the white rice.

I got to Googling when I got home and found tons of recipes for seasoning mix.  Of course I didn't have one or more ingredients for 90% of the recipes, so I settled on one that's supposed to simulate chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni.  So many of the recipes called for cups of ingredients, but I finally found one small enough to season just two batches of rice.

It came out really good, although I had to add salt to it.  It had good flavor and the rice had a nice chew.  Very easy, too.  I just have to make sure I don't keep sampling from the finished pot next time I make it.  Too many carbs will stall my weight loss.  Plus I don't want to make a habit of eating rice.

Seasoned Brown Rice

3 1/2 TB of Seasoning Mix (below)
4 1/2 cups water
1 TB butter
2 cups uncooked brown rice


  1. Toast the rice in a skillet over medium heat.  It should only take a few minutes. 
  2. Pour the water into a sauce pan and add butter.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the seasoning mix and the rice and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the liquid is gone.  Stir several times throughout cooking.
Seasoning Mix
Makes enough to season two batches of rice.

2 TB dried basil
2 TB chicken bouillon granules
2 TB dried parsley
2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

today's breakfast and lunch

I can't seem to break out of the habit of eating foods from the same color group.  Seems like almost everything I eat is some shade of brown.  It's not on purpose or because I don't like variety.  It just happens.

Breakfast was Greek yogurt, toasted coconut flavor.  Peanuts mixed in, as usual.  I never cared much for yogurt until I had the gastric bypass.  Now I find that I crave it, which is good because it has a ton of protein.  And if you buy the right one, it's low in sugar and calories and doesn't taste like they dumped a truckload of artificial sweetener into it.  I always buy Dannon Light & Fit Greek, although I tried the Great Value brand from Walmart this time.  Pretty good.

Snack was celery and hummus. I'm on a celery and hummus kick lately.  It takes care of my urge for something crunchy and helps me avoid a ton of calories when I want to graze. (I picked up the really bad habit of grazing when I was in that last job that I hated.)

Lunch was some sort of chicken I picked up at the Whole Foods hot bar.  I know, I know.  I wasn't supposed to buy anything I didn't need, but life has been crap for 8 months and I felt I deserved to treat myself to a small container of chicken.

Monday, March 2, 2015

kay's naturals protein chips

Here's another Kay's Naturals item I bought at the health food store last week:  Kay's Naturals Crispy Parmesan Protein Chips.  This was another staple when I was on the Medifast diet.  12g of protein!

These taste good.  They're not super cheesy; it's more of an herby taste.  I like them, though.  Very crunchy so it should satisfy your need to snack.don't expect them to taste like regular cheese balls or doodles.  The quantity is decent, but not as good as the puffs I wrote about the other day.  The cost is about $1.69, depending where you buy them.  If you get them at you can get them for $8.59 for 6 bags.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

kay's naturals protein puffs

I discovered a health food store in my new hometown recently.  I don't usually buy much when I go to these stores, but I like to look and see what they have.  Lots of times they have protein bars or specialty items I want to try.  They had some good stuff, but it was SOOO pricey.  More than Whole Foods charges, actually.  I didn't buy much.

One thing I bought was Kay's Naturals Mac & Cheese Protein Puffs.  I used to buy these online when I was doing the Medifast diet.  They were a cheaper alternative to the Medifast food and the nutritional content was identical.  I decided to revisit since I'm often looking for something to crunch on at work and these are high protein.  If I'm snacking, I might as well get some protein in there.

They taste good, but don't expect them to taste like regular cheese balls or doodles.  They're cheesy, but they're also "diet" food.  But if you know that going in, you're probably going to like them. What's nice is there isn't a weird protein taste.  And there's a good quantity of them in the bag.  The cost is about $1.69, depending where you buy them.