My thumb is turning green..

I harvested the first of my cherry tomatoes this week, and I am so surprised by myself! I can’t believe I grew these in our little garden!

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Now, what am I going to do with these beauties? :) My creole tomatoes are starting to turn red as well. I see some fun recipes coming soon!

Pot Roast

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On our honeymoon, my fabulous DH brought me to the outlets in Orlando, where there was a Le Creuset outlet. I was overwhelmed by the beautiful cookware there, but I was on a mission – to get a 5 quart dutch oven in a pretty, fun color!

And did I? Yes, yes I did! I bought a dijon colored one for just over $100, because I purchased a “second quality” oven and also had a 40% off coupon given to me by the lady working there. Second quality still has the lifetime warranty, and it’s called second quality because of purely just cosmetic flaws. I don’t personally see flaws, so I was super stoked to buy it!

I promised DH I would break this bad boy in with a pot roast, and I found the perfect recipe on Cooking Light online. This recipe did not disappoint at all.

I made a few adaptations, which are noted in red.

Classic Pot Roast
Source: Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 1  (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed (We used rump roast..it was on sale!)
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  cups  coarsely chopped onion
  • 1  cup  dry red wine
  • 4  thyme sprigs
  • 3  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1  (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 4  large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 2  pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound whole mushrooms, cleaned
  • Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chuck roast with salt and pepper. Cut small slits in the roast and put cloves of garlic in for flavor. Add roast to pan; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove roast from pan. Add onion to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender.
  2. Return browned roast to pan. Add the red wine, thyme sprigs, chopped garlic, beef broth, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a simmer. Cover pan and bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until the roast is almost tender.
  3. Add carrots, mushrooms and potatoes to pan. Cover and bake an additional 1 hour or until vegetables are tender. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf from pan; discard. Shred meat with 2 forks. Serve roast with vegetable mixture and cooking liquid. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.

Back to Wilton I go!

I’ve taken Wilton classes before. In fact, I took Course 1 (Easter Cake, TGIF cake, Final Cake), Course 2 (Final Cake) and Fondant/Gumpaste (Gumpaste flowers, Final cake). I skipped Course 3 because I was afraid of tiered cakes. It’s a fear I have and plus, how the HECK do I pawn off so much cake?

I decided to just take the class. I’m getting very rusty in my skills and could use a fun refresher to get me ready for some upcoming cake fun.

I’m very excited about this course!

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Image source

Here’s what it covers according to Wilton:

Reach a new level of decorating sophistication with the beautiful flowers and techniques in Course 3. Begin with intricate accents such as embroidery and lace, stringwork, garland and ruffle borders. Discover the beauty of decorating with rolled fondant — for covering cakes with an immaculate smooth surface and shaping fun figures and elegant flowers. Add several new icing flowers to your repertoire, including lovely holiday blooms like poinsettias and Easter lilies. Complete your course by assembling and decorating a towering tiered cake with beautiful stringwork, flowers and borders.

Stay tuned next month for some fun new cakes! And a neat (hopefully) cake decorating surprise too!

Chicken Pot Pie

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I am always looking for ways to make my cooking/baking skinnier and tastier. I have been questioned a few times on my blog as to why I feature some recipes that aren’t so skinny, when in fact, my blog’s name is “Skinny Food by Amy”. I like to feature ALL recipes that I cook/bake. Some recipes are made for people who have no interest in lower fat foods, so I make the full fat/calorie versions. Also, I prefer to make some recipes verbatim at first, before experimenting and adapting. For example, the cake batter ice cream. This was my first ice cream and I wanted to ensure that it came out good! Now, after a couple of recipes,  I’m getting more and more comfortable with the ingredients involved in making ice cream, thus, now looking for skinnier versions.

Now, after explaining why everything isn’t so skinny, here is a skinnier recipe that actually ended in a FAIL. I don’t like to blog about fails, really, but I’m still learning how to cook/bake so I have to share when mistakes happen. The picture above looks really good, but after following the recipe verbatim, the pot pie came out bland. Really really bland.I should’ve adapted it, being from Louisiana and being used to spicy, spicier and spiciest! Ugh…

Next time I make this, if there even is a next time, there will be TONS of spices added! I will admit, however, the biscuit topping was delicious! Can’t mess up Bisquick!

Chicken Pot Pie
Source: Weight Watchers forum

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cut-up cooked chicken
  • 1 bag (12 oz.) Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup fat-free (skim) milk
  • 1 cup Bisquick Heart Smart® mix
  • 1/2 cup fat-free (skim) milk
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. In ungreased 2-quart casserole, mix chicken, vegetables, soup and 1/2 cup milk. Microwave on High 4 minutes; stir.
  2. In small bowl, stir Bisquick® mix, 1/2 cup milk and the egg with fork until blended. Pour over vegetable mixture.
  3. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 6 servings.

Calories: 220, Fat: 6g, Fiber: 2g
POINTS*: 5

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Watermelon Sorbet

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I’ve been looking at watermelons in the stores a lot lately. It’s so hot outside (100+ degrees – heat index) and a nice, refreshing watermelon was what I was craving!

So, I went to the local produce stand and bought my first watermelon of the summer. I was having company over last night and wanted to end the meal on a lighter note. I was originally looking at The Perfect Scoop for inspiration, but I didn’t have limes. I was afraid to use lemons instead, but found this Alton Brown recipe on Joelen’s blog. It used lemons! YAY!

I’ve never cut up a watermelon, so I was sure that I was going to make a juicy mess. It wasn’t all that bad, but look at how GORGEOUS and ripe this watermelon was…mmm!
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The verdict? This was a light, refreshing sorbet and a definite MUST for the summer! Seriously make this for your 4th of July party! Your guests won’t be disappointed! Also, it’s (along with other fruit sorbets) VERY skinny, especially if you made this with Splenda, which I didn’t have on hand at the time. :)

I’m submitting this to Joelen’s monthly Tasty Tools event, which features the ice cream maker! I’m sure there will be a ton of great summer treats for this blogging event so definitely start following her blog if you haven’t already!

Watermelon Sorbet
Source: Alton Brown –  found on Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound, 5 ounces diced watermelon, muskmelon or honeydew
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (omitted)
  • 9 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups

Directions:

  1. Place the melon in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vodka, and sugar and process for another 30 seconds. Place the mixture into the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F; depending on the temperature of your ingredients and refrigerator, this could take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Makes 12 (1/2 cup) servings.
(I added a little too much melon than stated, and it was overflowing in the ice cream maker, so I estimated based on 1.5 quarts yielded instead of Alton Brown mentioning this yields 1 qt.)

Calories: 112, Fat: 0.4g, Fiber: 0.5g
POINTS*: 2

Southern Shrimp & Grits

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This is a very well known dish around here. The last time I had this was at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans in a BBQ Shrimp form with brie mixed in the grits. It was decadent and wonderful!

DH’s dad gave us a bunch of frozen shrimp and at first, I was going to make a Shrimp Scampi. However, after watching a throwdown for Shrimp & Grits, DH and I changed our minds. :)

We knew that we couldn’t have the heavier versions featured, so I turned to Cooking Light online for some inspiration and I found a great recipe! I will say, the only thing we will do next time is omit the bell peppers. DH and I agreed that it just tasted like it didn’t belong in there at all.

Southern Shrimp & Grits
Source: Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1 1/2  pounds  peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 2  bacon slices, chopped
  • 1  cup  frozen chopped onion
  • 1/4  cup  frozen chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic
  • 1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup  chopped green onions, divided
  • 5  cups  water
  • 1 1/2  cups  uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients; set aside.
  2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in shrimp mixture, broth, and 1/4 cup green onions; cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring frequently.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually add grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in butter and salt. Serve shrimp mixture over grits; sprinkle with cheese and remaining green onions.

Nutritional Information
Serves 6

Calories: 408, Fat: 12.5 g, Fiber: 2g
POINTS*: 9

Keeping it Fresh!

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My husband and I decided to splurge on a FoodSaver post-wedding. It was one of the things off our registry that we really wanted to have, because meat is pricey when you are buying it in smaller packs. So, to save money I usually raid Sam’s once a month and buy our meats in bulk.

Our usual meats that I buy are chicken breasts, ground turkey and ground beef. We save a good bit of money buying in bulk, and we just package our meat in portions for 2. I used to use saran wrap, then foil,  and then put that in a quart sized freezer bag. However, now, I just take the FoodSaver bag roll, cut it to size, seal one side, put meat in and seal the other side. It sounds hard, but really, it’s not!

Besides saving us time on sealing foods, it also saves us major freezer space!

Check out my bottom freezer drawer! This thing used to be overly full with the same amount of meat!
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Another great thing? It makes food last longer in the freezer as well! Not that we don’t use meats often enough, but hey, it’s good to know that it’s keeping our food fresher than the old method!

This is the machine model that we splurged on. I like that it has a built in roll holder for easier storage.

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This machine definitely works for us! To see what works for other bloggers, check out We Are That Family!

Happy One Monthiversary!

It’s hard to believe at this time one month ago, I was getting primped and ready for the big day!

I remember the excitement that ran through my head and the sheer “I don’t care what happens anymore.” mood that I got in when we hit our first snafu. I just wanted to get married!

While I still don’t have my pro pics, here’s a few pictures to tide you over until they come in!

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Our beautiful (not to mention, delicious) cake and Gocco’ed napkins!

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Our LSU themed kingcake!

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This one is fairly laughable. We were supposed to kneel after placing the flowers at the Mary statue…I plain forgot!

I’m so happy to be married to my husband. He totally gets me and makes me feel awesome! Here’s to many more happily married months to come!

Almost National Champs! :)

Not sure if I mentioned my obsession for anything LSU related, as I am LSU alumni. I don’t really pay much attention to baseball in general, but this year, the baseball team is REALLY good. So good, in fact, that they are playing University of Texas tonight for the National Championship. Who’da thought? (I’m more of a football fan…don’t come between me and my football!)

geaux tigers

Yes, I painted myself EVERY game my senior year of college! Totally worth it btw…

I figured I might watch this game tonight (after kickboxing hehe). Like I said, I’m not really into baseball but when it comes to the Tigers being possible National Champs against TEXAS? (If Texas baseball is anything like Texas football, I’ll definitely be watching!)

So, before football season starts in a couple of months, I’ll get to say “GEAUX TIGERS!” in excitement tonight. :)

My health goals!

I’ve been lightly treading the waters of embracing my diet/fitness fully since the wedding. I’m back to watching what I eat, but sometimes I splurge all too much! I used to be so much more determined. I need my willpower back, and I’m hoping the accountability of this blog entry plus whoever reads this (yoohoo! anyone? bueller?) will keep me going.

Right now, I *grumble* am flirting with 250 lbs.

By the end of the summer (end of August), I WILL be in the 230s.
By Thanksgiving, I WILL be in the 210s.
By New Years, I WILL be in ONEDERLAND (that’s weight with a 1 in front of the two other numbers, not a 2)
By my 26th birthday, I WILL be in the 180s.
By summer 2010, I WILL be at GOAL! (170 lbs.)

Those are my health goals and PLEDGE to myself and to you guys! I will get healthier and blog about my triumphs, falls, whatever happens. I know it won’t be easy, but my health is worth it!

I will be giving myself some great rewards for reaching these goals too…

Reaching end of summer goal  — Lowlights/Highlights to darken hair up
Reaching Thanksgiving goal — new dSLR camera!
Reaching New Year’s goal — a (tiny) shopping spree for new clothes
Reaching 26th bday goal — an iPhone…oh I want one SO bad!
Reaching GOAL — Lifetime of health and who knows!

Oh and to help someone else out with their health goals, go to 344 Pounds blog. He is asking for readers to give him a killer workout!