Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's For Dinner?

This whole week I have been hungry for eggs.  At one point I was even hungry for a fried egg...I don't even like fried eggs!  So today, I decided I would get out my egg cooker so I could have an egg salad sandwich for dinner.

I have an egg cooker similar to this one by Cuisnart that my parents gave me after I had surgery.  I love this thing!  It reminds me of the old food set it and forget it!  The little timer goes off and VIOLA!  You're done!  You can cook up to 7 eggs or you can even poach them (if that's your thing).  Super easy and a great gadget to have.

This Is My Egg Cooker

My recipe for egg salad is really easy.  I don't have exact measurements, so I'm just going to list what I use.

Egg Salad

1 hardboiled egg
Miracle Whip (at least 1 Tbsp)
Mustard (small squirt)
Ketchup (yes, ketchup)

After I peel my egg, I dice it using an egg slicer.  Then I just mix in the Miracle Whip, mustard and ketchup.  

That's all there is to it.  The Miracle Whip and ketchup give it a little kick.  I know it sounds like an odd combination, but you should try it, honest.  I do the same thing when I make deviled eggs.  I always get funny faces when I tell people that's what I use.  Ketchup, my secret ingredient!  

My Secret Ingredient

Until next time!

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Super Easy Sweet & Sour Chicken

Where would I be without my slow cooker?  I have used it Saturday and today both!  I may or may not have a slight addiction to slow cookers.  Currently, I have 2 large ones, 1 medium one, 1 small one and 1 for work.  I have this programmable slow cooker and it gets used the most.  I love that you can set it and when it's done cooking, it will automatically put itself on warm.  My other large one just has a high, low and warm function.  It's my backup slow cooker.  My medium one is about 3 quarts and is the perfect size for 2 packages of little smokies or a dip recipe.  The small one I hardly use because the food container doesn't come out, so it pretty much collects dust.  This one is a food warmer and I use it at work.  It's 20 oz and perfect for heating food.  It's not meant to cook raw foods, but is perfect otherwise.  It has one setting which is low.  When I get to work at 6am, I plug it in and by noon my lunch is ready to eat.  I've been using the heck out of it and the best part?  The food container comes out so you can wash it!  PERFECT! 

Today I decided to make sweet and sour chicken in the slow cooker.  I took the easy way out, but it still tasted pretty darn good!  The only thing missing were the egg rolls.  Maybe next time. 

Super Easy Sweet & Sour Chicken

Super Easy Sweet & Sour Chicken

2 lbs chicken, cubed
2 (16oz) bottles sweet & sour sauce
16oz pkg stir fry vegetables, thawed
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water

  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.  In large bowl combine cubed chicken and sweet and sour sauce.  Pour into slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water.  Pour into slow cooker and mix well.  Add thawed vegetables.  Cover and cook on high for 30 more minutes.
  4. Serve over rice.  

How much more simple could you get?!  Instead of cooking rice from "scratch" I picked up one of those flavored rice packets, the Stir Fry one.  Again, super easy.  This makes a bunch, so I will be freezing some of it and I will be making it again.  Next time I might actually make my sweet and sour sauce from scratch, depending on how ambitious I'm feeling.  And I think I might add some red pepper flakes to give it a kick.

Speaking of ambitious, I suppose I'd better go start folding laundry.  I'm always shocked at how much laundry I have for being single.  Where does it all come from?!

Until next time!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Recipe Obsessed? Maybe...

Since my gastric bypass surgery almost 3 years ago, I have been a little more than obsessed with finding the perfect recipe.  I can't explain it, I don't know why, but I am.  It comes and goes, but lately it's been back with a vengeance. 

I would spend hours.  And I mean HOURS on the Internet looking at food blogs and writing down recipes I thought sounded good, or I thought I might want to try at a later date.  Then I would watch The Food Network or Man vs. Food.  To say I was still obsessed with food would be an understatement.  Then came along Pinterest plus my meal planning and let's just say it kicked my obsession into overdrive.  However, this new found obsession for recipes keeps my hands busy and out of food.  Catch 22?  Maybe.  But I have an awesome collection of recipes to chose from when I want to try something new. 

I now have notebook, after notebook, after notebook full of hand written recipes which have no organization whatsoever.  I'm trying to figure out a way to organize them all and am drawing a blank.  Does anyone have any ideas?  I've started typing them up and printing them out, but my goodness that's a lot of work!  But again, something that keeps my hands busy.  So, this is what I've come up with so far.  I thought of putting them in page protectors and then having a binder for each "category".  What do you think?  Yes?  No?  Something better?  HELP!!!!

On a side note, I've been having a lot of fun infusing my water with different fruits.  I've done a batch of watermelon lemonade (Crystal Light), cherry lemonade and strawberry lemonade.  Earlier this week I did lemonade with fresh lime juice, strawberries and mint.  It was wonderful!  Today I might try watermelon and cucumber.  The possibilities are endless!!!! 

I decided to try another new recipe tonight for dinner, Slow Cooker Lasagna.  And, are you sitting down?  I only changed one ingredient!  Can you believe it?!  Instead of Ricotta cheese, I used cottage cheese. I don't remember where I found this recipe, so if you're reading this and it's yours, please take credit for it☺

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Slow Cooker Lasagna 
1 lb ground turkey
1 jar (24oz) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 container (15oz) Ricotta cheese
2 cups (8oz) mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
lasagna noodles, uncooked

  1. Brown turkey, drain fat.  Stir in spaghetti sauce and water.  Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix together Ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups (6oz) mozzarella cheese, parsley, egg and Parmesan cheese.
  3. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.  Place one cup meat mixture on the bottom of slow cooker.  Follow with noodles (broken to fit across) and then 1/2 of the cheese mixture. 
  4. Next, scoop 2 cups of meat mixture, top with noodles and then the other 1/2 of the cheese mixture.  Top with remaining meat mixture.
  5. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top, allowing it to melt.  

The verdict?  Not too shabby!  I will be making this again, but next time I will add some of my own spices like garlic.  There wasn't enough garlic for this girl.  And you could easily change up the taste depending on the flavor of spaghetti sauce you pick out.  I ended up cooking mine for about 5 1/2 hours and then put it on warm for about 30 minutes while the neighbor and I went for a walk.

Well, I'm off to do my menu plan for next week.  I think I'm only going to try one new recipe, so I should probably be picking that out.  Have a good rest of the evening!

Until next time!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Wahoo!!! It's The Weekend!!!

We did it!  We made it to the weekend and not a day too soon!  This week seemed a little long for me because I picked up an extra day last Sunday at work, but the paycheck will be well worth it.  Just a quick post tonight because I have a recipe I want to share with you all.  With the weather being nice and cool this weekend, this one would be perfect to pop in the oven and not heat up the house.

This recipe started as a black bean casserole but I tweaked it.  A lot.  It didn't have any corn, pepper or chicken so I decided to add some and it turned out pretty darn good.  I also messed with the measurements.  I think it would have been better topped with sour cream, so keep that in mind.  Next time I might use salsa instead of picante sauce.  Mainly because I don't know what the difference is.  I'll admit it, I'm no Julia Child LOL  Here is my version of the casserole.

Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Casserole

Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Casserole

2-3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
16oz jar picante sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
12 6inch corn tortillas

   1.  In a large skillet, cook chicken.  Add green pepper, undrained tomatoes, corn, picante sauce, garlic and cumin.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Stir in beans.

 2.  Spread 1/3 of the bean mixture over the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  Top with half of the tortillas (overlapping) and half of the cheese.  Add another 1/3 of bean mixture, then remaining tortillas (overlapping) and top with remaining bean mixture.

3.  Cover and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I would say it took me about a 1/2 hour to cut the chicken, onion and pepper and that was the hardest part of the recipe.  So, super easy in my books!  I have to run, but hope to post another recipe tomorrow if it turns out well.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Until next time!

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meal Planning Stresses Me Out!!!

***Warning Long Post Ahead***


That's right, meal planning STRESSES me out.  And not just a little bit, but a lot bit!  I have been reassured by a couple of different people that once I get the hang of it, it does get better.  Let's hope this holds true.

I have been trying to get this done for what, about a month?  But I just couldn't wrap my head around it.  I spent hours and I mean hours on Pinterest looking for the perfect menu/meal planner and grocery shopping list.  And then the perfect way to store them, and use them and blah, blah, blah.  I think that's where part of my stress came from because I wanted it to be so organized.  The other half came from just deciding how I was going to attack it.  One person I spoke with had 2 different methods of attack, 1)  Plan your meals around the weekly grocery store ads and coupons or 2)  Plan around different recipes or favorite recipes.  I decided on planning around different recipes because I'm starting my new week on a Monday and our local ads don't come out until Wednesday. 

So, after all of that searching and stressing and deciding, I FINALLY came up with a meal plan this afternoon.  Now, I'm not going to lie, it took me probably about 2 hours to figure out.  I'm not only doing dinners, but I'm doing lunches also.  I decided to use this printable grocery list and this printable menu planner and put them on the fridge.  I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a couple of cheap clipboards and some magnets and easy peasy!  Done!  I think I might add some ribbon on the "clip" and call it quits.  I put the menu in a sheet protector to keep it from curling up, but didn't do that with the list in case I decide to add to it.

So, what am I having for dinner you ask?  Monday I'm having left overs from tonight, Sloppy Joes (I'll post the recipe below), Tuesday is left over BBQ Beer Chicken that I had frozen from the last time I made it.  Wednesday is Piglets In a Blanket (crescent rolls and little smokies) and Thursday is Tortilla Black Bean Casserole.  I went pretty plain on Friday with an egg salad sandwich, something nice and easy.  For Saturday and Sunday I decided to break out the slow cooker (shocking, I know) and make Slow Cooker Lasagna and Sweet & Sour Chicken.  With making 3 different "big" recipes, I should have plenty for leftovers for the following week and the freezer with any luck.  I'm hoping to try to make a couple of bigger recipes a week so I can get my freezer stocked up to make this whole thing easier.  But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?!  Now, how about that Sloppy Joe recipe:

After 4 hours in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground turkey
minced onion (as little or as much as you like)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp BBQ sauce
1/8 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste

Brown the turkey, minced onion and green pepper.  Spray slow cooker with cooking spray and place browned turkey in the bottom.  In a mixing bowl, combine soup, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, BBQ sauce, garlic salt and pepper.  Whisk ingredients together until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Pour mixture into slow cooker and mix with turkey.  Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, stirring after 2 hours if you're around.  If you're not, it's not a big deal.  Serve over hamburger buns. 

In our family, we serve ours open-faced.

So, there you have it.  An extremely long post, a couple of printables (is that even a word?!) and a recipe.  Not too shabby for a Saturday!  By no means does this make me an expert on menu planning, but this is how I started and maybe it will help you, also.  Have a great rest of the weekend!

Until next time!

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sleep Overs, The Color Run and Swimming Pools!

This weekend was a very busy one, jam packed with a lot of family, friends and fun!  For starters I had my niece staying with me, so we could do the Color Run yesterday.  We had a blast!  The weather was perfect and so was the company, I love that girl to pieces

A couple of good looking Color Runners!

My Beautiful Niece, Maddie!

Me, Struttin My Stuff!

After the run, we went to lunch which was pretty amusing.  We walked in to the restaurant and in the process of being seated our server looked at us like we each had 2 heads.  Explaining the Color Run, while covered head to toe in bright corn starch and with pink hair was a little challenging to a person that didn't speak much English, but we managed to get thru it. 

A trip to Kohl's was also on the agenda for 2 things.  First, the shoes I'm wearing in the above picture are my old running shoes from last year and I managed to get 2 blisters on my heels, so I needed a pair of cheap flip flops for the rest of the day.  And then I wanted to see if they had this infuser water pitcher.  My good friend Amanda had picked one up last weekend and has been making the best infused water all week *jealous*.  I found it, on sale AND I a $5.00 off coupon AND a 15% off coupon, so I my total bill (flip flops included) was just under $13.  SCORE!!!  I may or may not be drinking some Crystal Light Lemonade infused with strawberries while I type this.  I have some frozen fruit in the deep freeze that I think I'm going to try next, see how it works.  Wish me luck! 

And of course, what's a trip to Des Moines without going to World Market and Starbucks?  That's right, a wasted trip!  At World Market I picked up some syrups, my usual salted caramel and cinnamon vanilla (both sugar free of course) and then decided to try out English toffee.  This morning I put 2 squirts of English toffee and 2 squirts of white chocolate in my Click, along with my 2 cups of skim milk and 3 ice cubes.  It was amazing! 

And now...the pic you've all been waiting for...or not o_O

I Actually Went To The Pool!

For those of you that don't know, I haven't been in a swimsuit since 2000.  And I haven't been in a swimming pool since before then.  Today was the first time in 13 years that I've been in both!  Now, I'm going to spare you a whole body shot (you'll thank me later, trust me) but this is proof that I own a suit and that I actually went.  I was a little excited, very nervous and VERY self conscious.  But after about 20 minutes or so, I finally relaxed and enjoyed it.  It was an odd feeling going back to my childhood pool, but now that it's over, I think I'm ready to go again, after my burn goes away.  Guess there are parts of my body that aren't used to getting sunlight.  Like, you know, my whole body?! 

So now, I'm just relaxing, doing some laundry and waiting to make dinner.  I think Diet Cola Chicken sounds good and will make leftovers for lunches and dinners this week.  I'm trying to plan ahead.  Key word here trying.  This is going to be the week I get this menu thing down *maybe*.

Until next time!
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Early Is Too Early?

You know the old saying, "The early bird gets the worm"?  Well, I've been getting up early....and I mean EARLY (2AM one morning to be exact) and I've yet to catch that worm!

Ever feel like this?

I have just about made it thru my first week of day shift and I must say, it's been pretty successful.  I was worried about my sleep patterns and habits since I hadn't been sleeping for months, but it seems I may have a handle on it and so far the only complaint I've had has been from my dogs having to get up at the butt crack of dawn.  Their transition didn't go as smoothly as mine, poor little guys.  Monday, Mister was less than thrilled when he was outside at 4:45AM.  And Stella?  Well, let's just say she woke up, did her business and fell back asleep outside.  Then Tuesday, it was pouring down rain.  And Wednesday I was up at 2AM.  So, after all of that "drama" I decided I would let them out AFTER I shower, which seems to work better for them.  Who knew they were such creatures of habit like their mom?

Meal planning is still going...well, I don't think it's even going.  I have the menus I want to use printed out, I have my clipboard all ready to go, but the menu is still blank.  This week has been a little more overwhelming than I thought it would be, so I have decided to work on it this weekend.  At this point, I'm doing good to remember to grab my protein drink and something for lunch.  Go me!  I will admit, this is harder than I thought it was going to be.  The day shift transition and the meal planning thing.  But rumor has it, once you get meal planning down, it's a breeze, so I'm really looking forward to that day.

So, here it is, just after 5PM (Iowa time) and I'm about ready for bed.  Sad, isn't it?  I think maybe I'm still playing catch up from when I was up yesterday at 2AM.  At least, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Until next time!

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

I'm About To Become A Morning Person Tomorrow!!!

Yep!  It's true!  Tomorrow is the BIG day!  Day shift here I come!  I'm not much of a morning person, but I've been "practicing" all last week and this weekend by coming home after work and going to bed early (by midnight) and up at 7 or so.  That's pretty good for this night owl.  But because I'm so excited to be going to days, it hasn't really bothered me getting up early.  And for a change, I'm actually sleeping at night, so that makes a difference.  Who knew you could get things done before noon if you get sleep the night before?!

I'm pretty sure this is what I will look like at 4:45AM.

Today I've already gotten a bunch of things done and I'm pretty proud of myself (if I do say so) all before noon!  I have been to Walmart, Hy-Vee, Dollar General, put dinner in the crock pot, mowed the yard and did 2 loads of dishes.  And I'm still going strong!  Up next?!  Laundry!  Look at me go!

I've been "prepping" so to speak for days by gathering things that I think will make meal times easier while at work since I'll be eating breakfast and lunch there, instead of just dinner.  I've also been trying to get into meal planning but it's not going well.  It's harder than I thought, so if anyone has any tips, please, PLEASE send them my way.  Anywho, I picked up this 20 oz Crockpot that has a removable food container for my lunches.  I actually found it at Kohl's yesterday and it came with a bonus removable food container for the same price as the one on Amazon.  Plus I had a 15% off coupon, so I paid $16.34!  I was pretty excited! 

I'm also noticing I'm buying more and more bottles of water to take to work because I can't stand straight tap water.  And since we don't have a filter at work, I've been spending around $1.50 a day on water.  After talking to one of my friends she suggested getting the Brita Water Bottle, hence my trip to Walmart today. 

And last but not least on my list of day-shift supplies, a blender that doesn't take up too much room.  I have this same one at home, but I don't want to haul it back and forth.  With this, I can just bring the blender bottle home at night, wash it and fill it with milk and syrups on my way out the door.  I think...maybe...I might be ready for days LOL

For dinner I'm making Slow Cooker Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken, which I've made before and it's so yummy!  It makes a lot, so there are lots of leftovers (perfect to try out my new little Crockpot tomorrow) and is so tender it basically just falls apart.  Chicken + baked red potato, topped with cottage cheese = Perfect Meal. 

The finished product!

Well, I suppose I should wrap this up and get started on my laundry.  I need to get it done before my new bedtime.  And yes, I have given myself a bedtime LOL

Until next time!

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July...A Day Late

I've been a little MIA lately, okay A LOT MIA and to be honest I don't think I could really tell you why.  I haven't really been up to much, so there's no hiding behind that.  Perhaps, maybe, I've been *GASP* lazy?  Yep!  That's probably more like it.  Hey, at least I'm honest!

4th of July came and went and was pretty uneventful around here.  I worked my usual shift and had the usual calls.  "What time do the fireworks start?"  "My neighbor is setting off their own fireworks!"  "My dog ran off because he/she was scared of all of the noise, have you had anyone call him/her in?"  Yep, uneventful, but that's also a good thing, too.  While we like to rock and roll in dispatch, we also want everyone to be safe and have a good time.  Kind of a catch 22.  Speaking of work, a couple of weeks ago I made what I consider to be a really big decision in my career.  After 8 years of working evenings and overnights, I decided to bid day shift.  For the past 3 years or so, I've thrown around the idea of bidding days, but other co-workers had very important things going on in their lives, so I decided I would just stay put.  This year being 3 years post-op and pretty much maintaining my weight loss, but getting out of the exercise loop, I needed to do something and this was the change I felt I needed to make.  It wasn't the popular choice, but it was the choice I had to make for myself.  For once, I had to put myself first, even though it might have seemed I was stepping on toes, or being vindictive, I wasn't.  This was purely, 100% selfish.  All.About.Me.

Like I said, the 4th was pretty uneventful for me and even though I had to work, I still celebrated a little bit.  I made a fruit flag pizza that turned out really good (if I do say so myself).  You use a crescent roll sheet instead of sugar cookie dough and Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese.  Now, I will tell you, I messed with the recipe some (shocking, I know) but I'm just not a coconut fan.  I used vanilla yogurt instead of coconut and also instead of sprinkling the dough with powdered sugar, I used a cinnamon/sugar mix instead.  But I swear, those were the only 2 changes!

The finished product!

I also did a little bit of decorating by my front door for the holiday.  It was fun to do and was actually a combined effort (thanks to my mom who made the flags ♥).  I painted up some Mason jars and took an old wine "rack" to stick them in.  Added the flags and BAM!  4th of July at my front door!

Happy 4th of July!

So, there you have it.  I've been MIA, not really doing anything and am totally late on wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July.  Hope it was a great holiday for everyone!

Until next time!

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