Getting back on the horse…

I weighed myself this morning at a (not so) skinny 251.7 lbs. Yes, I gained a little post wedding but it’s not as bad as I thought!

There was a little voice inside my head that yelled, “Time to get back to the GYM!” I think it was Jillian…is she my Jiminy Cricket?

We’ve been back from the honeymoon for about two weeks now, and I’ve decided to go back to the Y. I’m sure I’ll see the regulars in my gym class, and they may joke about how a wedding isn’t THAT long. I deserve it for being a lazy newlywed. :)

I remember losing so much weight very very quickly in the beginning of the year. It scared my mom into thinking that the dress wouldn’t fit me at all come May 23rd, so I really didn’t diet hard the next few months and basically maintained my loss. The milkshakes were yummy. :) Unfortunately for me and my cravings, I have no dress holding me down, so it’s time to lose the weight!

My leg muscles are already scared of what is to come in circuits/kickboxing class. I’m sure my instructor will kill me today (and then I’ll reward myself with fro yo for the efforts).

And, big news — DH will be joining the Y with me next week! EEP! (He would join today, but new member orientation is next Monday.)

Shipping some baked goodies

I really enjoy baking. It’s one of those things that gives me instant gratification, especially when it is done correctly. :)

For a wedding shower gift, I received this KitchenAid Mixer from my grandma. So, I needed a reason/excuse to break it in. My friend in Dallas jokingly told me to make her some awareness cookies…I wasn’t joking when I said YES!

So, using some methods I learned in cake decorating classes, I made her 2 dozen cookies with a few extras for DH to munch on. I can’t make sugar cookies without him wanting some!

Here comes the hard part, or so I think: shipping these from Baton Rouge to Dallas. Cookies aren’t the most delicate, but you can’t exactly throw them around! I found some ideas months ago on The Hyper Homemaker (the blog no longer exists, so I can’t link) to help me with shipping these.  So, I bought a huge roll of bubble wrap and went to work!

First, I put 5-6 layers of bubble wrap at the bottom of the box. Then, I rolled small sections of bubble wrap along the walls of the box to cushion the cookies going in.

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Then, I laid cookies down in the box to where it all fit snugly. This worked out to 6 cookies for me.

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I repeated this four times until all the cookies were in the box. I put 5-6 more layers of bubble wrap on top in the end and taped it in. I gave it a test shake and didn’t hear a thing. So, I think these bad boys will be safe! Just in case, though, I wrote “FRAGILE” all over the box.

I hope she enjoys them and they make them to Dallas in one piece!

Save the Tatas!

I haven’t touched royal icing in months. There was a reason though. My hand mixer had settings of fast and faster. It really grated my nerves when I had to make this icing, because it would result in large powdered sugar clouds that took over my kitchen, resulting in the need to REALLY clean our kitchen. (I’m talking on my hands and knees because the floor was so sticky!)

So, now I have my precious KA mixer from my grandmother as a wedding gift. I was mentioning to my best friend that I needed a reason to bake, because I really wanted to break my mixer in. She said I could make her sugar cookies (she was joking). I wasn’t — so I now have the task of making her 2 dozen breast cancer awareness cookies.

Let’s just say icing making in the KA mixer is a DREAM. In fact, it’s making me want to enroll in Wilton Course 3, to finish off the series. (I took 1, 2 and 4 already…there are cake examples in this blog if you’re interested!)

I used my no-fail recipe from the ever-so-wonderful Cookie Craft book. I don’t like to share recipes out of books, because of potential copyright infringement. I don’t want to get in any kind of trouble here!

However, just to let you know, I highly recommend this to anyone needing inspiration and ideas for making pretty rolled cookies. I used the royal icing recipe from the Wilton website.

Pardon my icing skills, by the way, I’m VERY rusty!

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Wish me luck on shipping these bad boys to Dallas. I’m going to be using some tips that I starred from The Hyper Homemaker’s blog (which is no longer up, sadly, but will always be handy in my Google reader!).

The little ones

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This is our humble vegetable garden. In the beginning of the Spring, I bought gift cards to a local nursery for HALF OFF. How, you ask? Well, local radio stations all across the country host these half off hook-ups, usually every Friday. There are gift cards for random local businesses (old and new) but it’s extremely limited so you have to get to the website RIGHT at the time the sale starts to get the goodies! Here’s the link to my local (Baton Rouge/New Orleans) half off deals!

So, with the nursery gift card, I ventured to start a vegetable/herb garden. I’ll talk about my herbs another time…the heat is currently not being their friend! I bought a 6 pack of creole tomatoes (you haven’t eaten REAL tomatoes unless you’ve had these IMO), one cherry tomato and one jalapeno (for DH..he loves peppers!). They were SO tiny, and now LOOK at what they have turned into! Crazy…

Well, let me not keep you in deep suspense. Take a look at the little ones…feel free to “awww”.

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Cherry tomatoes…awwww.

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Creole tomatoes..mmm!

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Baby jalapenos.

I’m sure you’re wondering…what the heck are we going to do with all these veggies? Let me show you some ideas that I have!

Bacon wrapped jalapeno thingies
Salsa
Marinara Sauce

There are more, but I’m also thinking with the salsa and marinara sauce, to try my hand at canning. I know, I’m trying to be so MARTHA it’s not even funny.

But there you have it, our little ones. :)

Baked Pizza Casserole

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I like to peruse The Nest a lot. I read forums about cooking (of course), gardening, financial matters and fitness. I found this blog on the health & fitness forum and I’m SO glad I did. Amanda of Random Ramblings posted this great recipe that I just had to try. It’s W/W friendly and involves PIZZA. I’m there!

Baked Pizza Casserole
Source: adapted from Random Ramblings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean beef
  • 1 can chunky italian tomato sauce
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese  (We used 1 1/2 cups…I love cheese!)
  • 1 refrigerated roll of pizza dough
  • 1/2 tsp. each of oregano, marjoram and basil
  • 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Brown meat in a pot and add spices during the cooking time. Add tomato sauce and stir together.
  2. Put meat mixture into pan. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Add cheese and cook another 5 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Spray a 9×13 pan (or use parchment like I did) and spread dough onto bottom. Make sure it goes up the side a little to catch the toppings when you put them in the pan.

 

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Serves: 6   POINTS* value: 8 (since I added extra cheese!)

Making a routine…

I didn’t think it would be this difficult to get back into the swing of things. Before we got married, I’d work-out 4 days a week at the local Y, go home, get/make dinner, watch TV and call it a night. Now that we’re married and all, it feels different. It shouldn’t, but it does.

I feel obligated to clean the house more, like my mom used to do. A happy house is a clean house, I guess you can say. The problem is, it’s truly overwhelming and sometimes, I don’t know where to start exactly.

I feel obligated to cook every night. I used to not care, but now that DH and I are on a diet, I feel like I’m primarily responsible for the menu planning and cooking. That’s pretty overwhelming as well, because I’m always trying to find the best bang for the buck to meet our food budget, which I set at $250 a month. It’s feasible, but will take some work.

Weirdly enough, I don’t feel obligated to work-out anymore. I fit in my beautiful dress, so why lose the weight? Why put the energy forth? I know it’s worth it, but cooking and cleaning feel like my first priority when my HEALTH should be my first priority.

Somehow it seems like DH is in his own routine, back to the norm. He’s still doing yardwork, helping me clean after cooking and fixing random things around the house. How does he do it?

It’s so weird getting back into the swing of things. If you’re married, how did you get a routine going that didn’t feel so awkward?

Chicken Enchiladas

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I recently saw these on Mrs. Sac’s Purple Kitchen and thought about how great it would be to make these. DH and I’s favorite restaurant is a local Mexican restaurant, but we hate to go out to eat since it gets so pricey. So, with this recipe, I was hoping to bring some great Mexican food to him!

This is a recipe from Tyler Florence on Food Network and the ratings were excellent, so I knew I had to give these a try!

These were delicious, though DH would have been happier had I put the stewed tomatoes in the food processor (he’s not a fan of tomato chunks). I will say though, this makes 16 enchiladas, so if you don’t want as many, you might want to halve the recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas
Source: Food Network (Tyler Florence)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheese  (I used way more than this!)
  • Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.
  3. Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.
  4. Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Smothered Chicken

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If the title sounds familiar to you, it is. Remember when I called it my one of my best dishes to date? Yes, it STILL cannot be topped. So, I decided to make it last night for DH and I. This time, I added more Tony Chachere’s spices (in case you didn’t know, it’s a Louisiana cajun spice mix.) to it to give it more of a kick. The results? It was even better! That kick is just what it needed!!

Check out the recipe here!

My newest indulgence

You may not know this about me, but I’m about 70 lbs. overweight. I’ve been dieting for years, on and off. My willpower and I have a strong love/hate relationship. Sometimes, I get spurts where I lose 20 lbs. and sometimes I gain 2 lbs. I’ve pretty much stayed in the 240-260 lb. range for about 7-8 years. Yes, I know 70 lbs. from 240 is 170 and that sounds a bit high, but here’s something else about me, I’m 5’11″. Yep, I am pretty dang tall! (I swear, the air is thinner up here!)

Anyway, I’m always on the look-out for diet friendly (but doesn’t taste like cardboard) snacks. I subscribe to Hungry Girl, and while I really dislike her recipes, (out of the 4 I’ve tried, they have all come out flavorless and nasty) I do take her snack/brand advice seriously and try some new things. My latest is the Vitamuffin tops.

I found them in the freezer section of my Target (near the organic stuff) and I’m in love! I was apprehensive to try the deep chocolate, because I hate dark chocolate! However, this isn’t like that at all. It’s yummy, chocolatey and indulgent. Most importantly, it’s only 100 calories and full of vitamins. As far as portion size goes, it’s about the size of my palm, so it’s not that small.

I highly recommend them as a breakfast item or snack during the day! If you don’t have a Target near you, I know they sell them online as well!

By the way, I know this sounds like an ad for Vitamuffins, but I swear it’s not. I’m not that popular to get companies asking me to advertise. ;)

Salisbury Steak

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Again, here is a recipe I made way back when in the planning days. We had some ground beef thawing in the fridge, and we weren’t in the mood for burgers. So, I came across this recipe and decided that we should give it a try.

These were very juicy and flavorful salisbury steaks. I would definitely make these again!

Salisbury Steaks
Source: Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed French onion soup
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together 1/3 cup condensed French onion soup with ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, salt and black pepper. Shape into 6 oval patties.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown both sides of patties. Pour off excess fat.
  3. In a small bowl, blend flour and remaining soup until smooth. Mix in ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder. Pour over meat in skillet. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.