Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fondue and Grilling Fun!

I hope you had a nice weekend... it was a busy one for us!  We went to a cookout, had a fondue night (just barely!), had lots of playground time, worked on the house, bought a new sofa, and I feel like the list goes on and on... 

I feel productive, yet exhausted.  Though I didn't feel exhausted until today.  In the rain.  The gloomy, gloomy rain.  Why does rain make you feel like that?  Is it just me?  I wasn't even all that tired today (and I do know tired), but I could probably have taken a solid 2-hour nap.  If I napped well.

I digress.  

It's the food you're here for, isn't it?  

First off, Fondue Sunday with Neal and Casee!  :-)  

They sure do look like a weird bunch, don't they?  (Love you guys!)

Things I learned on Fondue Sunday:

1. You can solder a cord and finagle it so that it works (if you can't find the real fondue pot cord because you moved).  Thanks hubby!

2. Hard cider is delicious.  Seriously, Angry Orchard?  Do it.

3. There's a fine line between cheese fondue and a big lump of gooey cheese that barely counts as fondue.

4.  Fondue pots are not easy to clean when they are filled with gobs of cheese.

5.  You cannot take a picture of someone stirring fondue without it being a blurry, action shot (See below).

We used a vegetarian broth base and then added some garlic, Worcestershire sauce, ground mustard, and cheese (Sharp Cheddar and Colby Jack).  Now, it's been a long time since we've had a fondue night, but I've found that pretty much whatever you put into a cheese fondue is delicious.  Tomatoes, mushrooms, tofu, apples, carrots, celery, oh, and crusty bread.  Rock on.

I heart fondue.  :-)

Oh, and yes, Jimmy did indeed solder a cord to make our fondue pot work.  We probably spent an hour looking for the cord and couldn't find it!  Ugh.  (I still haven't found it, for the record.)  I thought for sure it would show up immediately after we made the fondue.

Next up... last night's dinner.  I would say that this was something I would never have eaten as a child.

Chicken Sausage with Grilled Onions, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Carrots

I'll be honest.  Not my favorite.  Here I was, trying to like sausage.  What was I thinking?  I'm just not a fan!  With the exception of the Hot Creamy Sausage Dip my mom used to make.  Click here to see the blog post where it was included.

By all means, if you enjoy sausage, cook some up!  I got chicken sausage that was already de-cased or whatever you call it.  I HATE de-casing sausage.  It's icky.  Anyway, since the sausage was already de-cased, it was certainly one of the easiest meals I've made in a long time.  Just chop everything up and throw it on the grill pan.  Enjoy!  :-)

Okay, this post is getting out of hand.  Bear with me!  Here's what I had today...

Moooooore Eggsalad!  (On an Arnold Sandwich Thin)

Can I tell you that it was amazing?

For dinner, I was going to make Grilled Eggplant with a side of Red Pepper Sauce.  Then I realized that you actually need to have a real grill to make that happen.  So, I chopped up an eggplant and grilled it with some mushrooms and red pearl onions (better than the white, yum!) and applied it to some spaghetti noodles with tomato sauce and roasted red peppers.  Mmmm...

Eggplant Spaghetti?

Not exactly the prettiest dish, but it was delicious.  AND... it made enough leftovers so that the hubs has lunch for a week.  I'm not kidding you.  A WEEK.  Score!

Until next time...   

Friday, May 24, 2013

What's Your Favorite Food?

I'd like Friday night to be Pizza Night.  

It's funny, most of the time if you ask people what they're favorite food is, they say pizza.  (Is it your favorite food?)  I don't know if it's because they can't think of any other foods when they're asked the question or what.  I wouldn't say that pizza is my favorite food, but I sure do like it.  

Anybody else have a pizza line in high school and eat pizza every single day?  With tater tots?  Mmm.  *mouth waters*

*Side note: I was recently introduced to the idea of crab tots, which sound amazing.  I've never had them, but I may have to try them for the blog's sake.  Don't worry, I won't feed them to my shellfish-allergic husband.  

Back to PIZZA!  I made one tonight using a whole wheat pizza crust.  
Add chunky pizza sauce and pizza cheese... 

Add sliced up turkey bacon...

Add mushrooms for ME and ham for the hubs...

Um... a touch more cheese...


Something kinda funny... I may have gotten that pizza pan from a delivery place years ago.  When they delivered the pizza, the pan was definitely still in the box.  Thank you for the pan whatever delivery place gave it to me with my pizza!  I hope I tipped you well!!!  

You know as well as I do that you can put anything on pizza.  That's why it's so amazing.  Lately I've been doing lots of English muffin pizzas for my little one.  It's a great way to keep the portion size smallish.  I think she kinda liked this pizza tonight though... she definitely ate all of the toppings right off it.  Can't say I blame her.

Oh!  ...and for your viewing pleasure... I present to you... *dun dun dun!* ...my favorite way to eat MY favorite food (and my lunch today)...

On Waffles!  ;-)

Surprised by my favorite food?  Shame on you.  

What's your favorite?  :-)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Best. Eggsalad. Ever.

Sorry friends!  I was almost too busy picking out paint colors to remember to blog.  Almost.  Here I am!  I have been de-wallpapering our basement from this terrible atlas wallpaper and looking forward to painting the walls something fabulous.  

I hope you didn't miss me too much... I mean, I haven't really given you much chance to miss me this week, have I?  I'm on a roll, but I can't promise anything over the weekend.  You just never know what will happen on the weekend.

For now, here's a picture of the best eggsalad in the world:

Alissa's Eggsalad

It certainly is not the best picture of an eggsalad sandwich, but I think that I've officially mastered eggsalad.  Should I reveal my secrets?  To you?  Hmm... mayhaps.

First, I will say that if you know me at all you know that my all-time favorite way to eat eggsalad is on a waffle.  A homemade Belgian waffle made with the Bisquick waffle mix.  That's normal, right?  I've made other kinds of waffles, but Bisquick is best.  Just my opinion.

I generally don't like anything crunchy in my eggsalad (or tuna, for that matter, but I did break that rule last night!).  Celery is not allowed near my eggsalad at all, so if you're a celery-lover, leave now.  I've also been trying to add veggies to everything I eat, so there might be fresh spinach and scallions on the sandwich, which breaks all kinds of Alissa-laws.

Anyway, you hard-boil some eggs.  I always put a pot of water on my stove and add the eggs right away.  Once it's boiling, I let the eggs sit in the boiling water for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, I turn off the heat and let them sit there until the water stops boiling.  I scoop them out with a big spoon and put them into a container in the fridge.  I NEVER have to worry about the eggs being hard to peel... and there's something nice about knowing how your eggs got hard-boiled *ahem ahem* (you know who you are).

Alissa's New Eggsalad Recipe
2 Hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 t. Light Mayo
1 Laughing Cow cheese wedge (any kind, except blue cheese or swiss-yuck?)
Season with paprika, pepper, Old Bay, and ground mustard (or none of the above if you don't like them)

Put all of the above into a bowl and mix and then add to your waffle... er, sandwich.  Pita?  Flatbread?  Whatever.

Add tomato, avocado, spinach, scallions, etc. if you're feeling particularly adventurous.  It's really that easy.  Mmm... :-)

For dinner, I may have made some more Mexi-Rice Bowls, but with organic beef and a ton of grilled veggies.  I got compliments from both my dad and hubby.  Score!  Little did not seem at all interested.  She spit out the pearl onion, part of a red pepper, and the avocado I had her attempt to eat.  She did like the meat, though.  Baby likes meat.

Grilled Mushrooms, Red Onions, Red Bell Peppers, and Pearl Onions

Alissa's Beef Mexi-Bowl

So, brown rice, organic ground beef, avocado, fresh salsa, black olives, light sour cream, scallions, pearl onions, red onions, red bell peppers, and mushrooms.  Ahhhh-mazing.  

Have I convinced you to try it yet?  I love Mexican food.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oatmeal Fail.

I woke up this morning in a grumpy mood, because I have a cold and didn't sleep well.  Little one was excited to see me, but still.  Grump grump grump.

So, we got out to the kitchen and I got her all settled in with breakfast and then realized that I was out of the instant oatmeal I've been eating.  Doh!  I'd been meaning to try to make some oatmeal with oats that I've had in my pantry, so I figured 'Hey, why not?'.


It may not look half bad, but trust me, it was all bad.  They were old-fashioned oats (which I heard makes a difference because they are thicker than steel cut?) with some honey, sliced almonds, and raspberries.  I took a bite, almost vomited, and then added some blackberries and blueberries as well.  Bleck.  How do people eat this?


So, I put it out there on good ole' FB this morning and some lovelies suggested adding brown sugar, cinnamon, apples, pumpkin, raisins, craisins, agave, baby food, sliced bananas, maple syrup, etc.  Apparently steel cut oats are amazing?

You know what I did tonight?  I bought more instant oatmeal.  Rest easy, Alissa, good oatmeal is coming in the morning.  :-)

How do YOU make oatmeal?  What did I do wrong?  Is it really just supposed to be that disgusting?


Dinner tonight!  It was yummy!  Here are some pictures!  :-D

Summer Tomato Soup

I got this recipe out of a book called 1 Stock, 100 Soups by Linda Doeser.  I haven't actually used this book much, but thought I'd venture out into soups again.  There are so many different ways to make your own tomato soup!

Red Onions, Scallions, Celery, and Garlic simmering...

Add Tomatoes...

Cook for a while...

Blend.  Oh!  This might be tough if you don't have an immersion blender...
(Got one for Christmas!)  

Season it! 

Sorry, I don't think I can be much more specific than that without violating copyright laws... and I did tweak a few things to make the soup lower calorie when I made it.  You can make your own vegetable stock or buy it, add any kind of veggies (which might make it less of just a tomato soup, but who cares?), and of course season it the way you like.  Experimenting is fun.  :-)

To go with the soup, I may have made some tuna melts... not really Alissa-style because they had celery in them.  I NEVER add celery to my salads.  Why did I this time?  Eh, I figured it was a good way to get some good veggies into dinner... *sigh*  Who am I becoming?  Hehe.

White Albacore Tuna in Water (60 cal per sandwich)
Then I added a teaspoon of light mayo, a stalk of celery,
and I would have seasoned it with Old Bay, but I forgot.

Lay them on a tray and add cheese if you desire it!

Alissa's Tuna Melt

As you can see, I often desire cheese.  I'm working on that.  In the meantime, it was pretty darn delicious and the whole dinner was about 557 calories.  Works for me, but if you need to lighten things up, as I said, there are lots of ways you can do it!

How do you like to eat tuna?  I used to only eat it with pretzels.  Little salty ones.  Oooooh, with dill relish mixed into it.  Mmm... tuna.  ;-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Delicious Day

Two posts this month!  I'm on a roll, baby.  

This week I'm cooking all kinds of fresh veggies.  In my refrigerator/freezer/pantry right now are:
  • Corn on the cob
  • Beets
  • Mushrooms
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes (grape and regular)
  • Onions (pearl, red, and scallions)
  • Broccoli
  • Snap Peas
  • Squash and Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Red bell peppers
Last night, I made a good old favorite:

White Chicken Chili  (456 calories)

You can follow the directions on the seasoning packet, but I often like to make my own seasoning to save a little money (and lower sodium!).  If you've got the spices to do it, do it!  Different recipes offer up different spice suggestions... garlic, oregano, cumin, onion powder, etc.  I always add a touch of cayenne pepper to spice it up.

I will say that I also always use ground chicken because I know when it's cooked.  Cook it in a bit of EVOO.  This was organic ground chicken and I added a can of chickpeas, a can of cannellini beans, and a cup of water.  Bring to a boil, let it simmer covered 10 minutes, then top with a healthy handful of cilantro, a bit of shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.  The calorie count above included the cheese, light sour cream, and cilantro... and it was a third of the entire recipe.  Hubs got to take the last third for lunch today.  Lucky punk.

On the side... this was about 1/2 a yellow squash and 1/2 a zucchini (both fairly small).  I sprayed my grill pan (do you have one???) with a bit of PAM and grilled them up.  Mmm...

Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini  (45 calories)

Tonight's dinner was a little more ambitious because it was a new veggie recipe using my grill pan (best thing ever) and I cooked chicken tenderloins instead (which scare me because it's harder to tell when they're cooked!).  

Success and success!

Chicken Tenderloins (110 cal for 2)

Grilled Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper,
Grape Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Pearl Onions

Grill them all on the grill pan and then enjoy as much as you want!  Not a ton of calories for any of these veggies!!!  Have you ever had a pearl onion?  I hadn't had one before and they are a little bit sweet.  I like!

Summer Vegetables with Fresh Salsa

Okay, so I cheated a little bit with this recipe... I was going to make the Cherry Tomato Salsa that was recommended to go with the "Summer Vegetables", but I had fresh salsa in my fridge.  It included tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, so I just went with it.  Yum.

I seriously probably could have eaten the entire bowl of veggies.  They were that good.  Who knew that salsa would make them better?  Okay, maybe all of the veggies except for the bell peppers.  I don't really like bell peppers, but I ate them anyway in the attempt to get my little one to try some.  Hehe.  Fail.

Dessert, you ask?  Why yes, I did make some!

Pumpkin Pudding (Yes, that's a piggy whisk)

Pour into ramekins (1/4 Jell-O box is 130 cal if you use skim milk)

Add toppings!  Raisins?  Granola?  Fruit?  What do you like?

Today was a delicious day.  What did you eat that was delicious today?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Finding a Balance

Well hello friends!

Remember me?  

Your good buddy who used to cook and blog about it?  



Well, I've decided to come back and blog more often.  I know I've said that before, but I'm revamping my lifestyle (and that of my hubby and daughter) and want to share some new recipes as I try them out.  Here's the deal... my daughter is 18, almost 19 months old now, and I gained a ton of weight when I was pregnant.  In the past almost 19 months, I've lost about 84 pounds.  How did I do it?  A little bit of Weight Watchers, a whole lot of exercise (Stroller Strides, which is apparently now called Fit4Mom, and TurboFire), and most recently, calorie counting using an app and website called Lose It!  (I may have ditched WW when I discovered that calorie counting worked better for me... to each his own!)

I buckled down with the hubs around Thanksgiving and took off a chunk of weight that I've been struggling to lose forever.  I'm still not quite where I'd like to be, so I'm continuing the journey, just trying to invite more vegetables and grains and healthy things into our lives.  Welcome veggies!  Welcome grains!  It's good to see you!

Trying to balance protein, carbs, and good fats has been a struggle for me, but I think an important one that I need to address for my body.  So, here's what I ate last night... sorry, it's not the best picture!  

Alissa's Mexi-Rice Bowl (570 calories)
1/2 c. Brown Rice
3 oz. Ground Turkey (spiced like taco meat- you could use a seasoning packet, but I make my own)
1/4 c. Scallions
2 T. Salsa
2 T. Sour Cream
4 Grape Tomatoes (chopped)
1/4 c. Black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/8 c. Shredded Cheese (any kind- I used a Mexican blend because it's what I had!)

Now, if you wanted to cut calories even more, you could ditch the cheese or use less rice and add other things like spinach leaves or mushrooms.  Avocado or guacamole would be a yummy addition, and if you really wanted to, you could put it all in a giant burrito shell.  You could ditch the meat entirely if you are vegetarian or use Morningstar crumbles (which I sometimes love).

That's what's great about Mexican food.  It's good any way you eat it.

I also wanted to share some pictures of my new tomato and strawberry plants... now that we have a house *gasp* and it has a deck *gasp*, we have space for things like plants!  :-)

1. Don't kill them.
2. Keep other animals away from them so we can eat the fruits!

I added the second goal yesterday when we saw two little red strawberries sitting on the railing of the deck.

Can you see them?

Who took a bite and left it there???
I was happy to see that there was a little red strawberry still in the plant, so I picked it and shared it with my loves at breakfast.  ;-)

First Strawberry Success!!!
I checked the deck railing this afternoon and the two strawberries on the railing are both gone.  Squirrel?  Bird?  I hope you enjoyed them!  You won't be getting any more!

On that note, how do I keep birds and squirrels from getting more?  *Keep in mind that I've never been successful with plants.  Ever.  In my life.

I'm hoping to change that.

Happy cooking, friends!  :-)

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