Thoughtful Tuesday

FOOD

Ready for some super craptastic photos by my Blackberry?

Once a month a group of people at work are assigned to bring breakfast for a monthly section meeting for about 30 people.  Today was my group’s turn.  Last time we did this elaborate Fiesta theme and the 6 of us spent close to $300!  OUCH!  You should have seen the fruit tray I did though, it was like something straight out of an awesome paletera. 

This go round, we all wanted to do something less involved, low key, and healthier.  I suggested a DIY oatmeal bar, which evolved into a whole DIY theme with fun stuff.  Oatmeal and toast stations with all of the fixings, cocoa station, then juices, milks, and fruit.  FUN!

Some people looked at it strange but it got RAVE reviews afterwards!  Score one for me and my awesome idea.  I had quite a few people thank me for doing something different.  In my section we have 2 diabetics, 4 people on Weight Watchers, 2 vegetarians, and 1 Celiac (and those are only the ones I know of, because most don’t speak up).  I feel like I am always the one that has to point out that we have to think about others.  I try to be considerate, especially since I know how it feels for someone to only think about what’s cheap and easy and not what people can and can’t have or would like to have.  I HATE when work functions are nothing but donuts or whatever is available at the supermarket bakery or from a drive-thru.

 

There was a 2nd table with the drinks and cocoa bar but I neglected to get a decent photo of it.  And those are no pudge brownies, 2 different kinds.  I’m not wild about them, but it seems everyone else was!

Still digging my vegetable-bulgur soup that I made on Sunday with my turkey stock.  Been enjoying it for lunches with half a sandwich (cracked pepper turkey breast with spicy mustard on Ezekiel).  Spiced apples and cottage cheese for dessert.

Lol. Yes, as I admitted the other day on a poll by Heather, I keep EVOO in my desk.  Got these cute little sample size bottles from Star at RNR SA expo last year.  Great for getting those healthy oils in, even when you are at work!

Hope this “all fruits are free” thing on WW doesn’t bite me in the butt literally.  I love fruit and I know I didn’t get fat eating fruit, but still.

Dinner:  Baked red potatoes with EVOO and spices, italian mixed veggies, and Pretzel Chicken Poupon.   We both liked it.

6 Tbsp. GREY POUPON Dijon Mustard, divided
6 Tbsp.  KRAFT Ranch Dressing, divided
1/2 cup finely crushed unsalted pretzels
2 Tbsp.  minced onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp.  salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 small  boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
 
PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Blend 5 Tbsp. of the mustard and 1 Tbsp. of the dressing in shallow dish. Mix pretzel crumbs, onion, parsley, salt and pepper in separate shallow dish.

DIP chicken in mustard mixture, then in pretzel mixture, turning over to evenly coat both sides. Place on greased baking sheet.

BAKE 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Mix remaining 1 Tbsp. mustard and remaining 5 Tbsp. dressing; serve spooned over chicken.

SOURCE:  KRAFT

NOTES: I used garlic powder in addition to the ingredients for the coating.  Light Ranch Dressing.  With the type of pretzels and ranch dressing I used this ended up being 4 PointsPlus on the new WW program.

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Changes

The new Weight Watchers Power Plus plan went into effect yesterday at meetings and then online today.  I knew it was going to be different.  I knew there was going to be more emphasis on protein and less carbs (which makes me happy).  I was still VERY overwhelmed by the newness.  In time everything will be 2nd nature I know, it’s just different, very different. 

Some change is good.  Weight Watchers is a research based company.  They know what the heck they are doing.  It works, I know it works.  It’s an adjustment for everyone, new and old.  You should see the message boards today with people freaking the heck out.  I may have to take a hiatus from reading those for a while, it’s making my head hurt from all of the close-minded and negative people.   I’m being very open about the changes and I know it’s a good thing, I just have to adjust my thinking from what I’ve known for almost 4 years.  I think what many people are freaking out about is the new program discourages eating prepackaged crap and diety foods that were formerly “bargains” on the program.  Foods loaded with fake fiber and other things are no longer as pretty on paper as they were before.  The new plan focuses even more on eating what was formerly “filling foods” now referred to as “power foods”.   Eating cleaner.   I like it.

Read up on it here

I tried something new today, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter and Company.  I wanted almond butter from Super Target but they only had Justin’s maple almond, which is way too sugary for me (and I like sweet).  This PB and Co flavor was good, still a bit sugary, but tasty none-the-less.  It’s 5 WW PointsPlus for 2 T or 32 g. 

Speaking of food, had Janetha’s Mexican Casserole I mentioned yesterday for dinner again today.   I modified the recipe some, used leftover shredded smoked turkey breast from Thanksgiving as the meat, used red enchilada sauce instead of green.  Added some green onions on top and ate mine over romaine.  Today I tossed some sauteed mushrooms in only my serving (they are peeking out from under the casserole).  I love this dish, I can see how there could be many fun variations and it’s pretty quick and easy to throw together. 

Mine isn’t as pretty as hers, but it sure is tasty 🙂  Thanks gal!  Oh and it’s 6 PointsPlus on the new WW plan.  You knock out some Good Health Guidelines too, healthy grains, lowfat dairy, protein, veggies, etc.

Speaking of, I REALLY hope Santa brings me new dinnerware.  The two sets I have now are old and boring.  The blue set is from when I moved away to college, the red banded set is from when I moved to Austin after I graduated.  I just haven’t found anything I love yet.  If you’ve seen cute dishes lately, point me in that direction!!!

Thanksgiving Weekend: The Recap

Thursday~  After lunch and dinner, it was time to shop.  Mom, sister, and I hit the outlets for their “midnight madness”.  Most of the stores I wanted opened at 10.  After 1 store I was happy, Santa bought me some clothes at Ann Taylor.  However, sister and mom wanted more, so we went until midnight.  Wanted to hit Polo, since Mr. Picky will only wear Ralph Lauren (with the exception of athletic clothes, jeans, and “going-out” shirts), but there was a line to get in that wrapped around the block (they opened at midnight).  No thanks! 

I went to bed around 1.

Friday~I slept in the longest i’ve slept in AGES.  Yes, I slept until 6:30 am.  I think the last time I slept that late was exactly a year before that day.  Mom and I went to Kohl’s when she woke up (it’s near my house).  Then Lowe’s  (also by my house) to get stuff to wrap my faucets since we were having a hard freeze that night.  Lol, I only went to stores in Leander on Black Friday morning, that’s all we have, other than HEB Plus.

That afternoon the four of us were off to Mangia Pizza to watch the Iron Bowl.  My mom and I detoured to Target and Academy first, so we missed half of the first quarter (well to be honest, I didn’t MISS anything, it was bad game in the first half).  News was there before the game, so dad and Dan got to be on TV (I DVR’d it later that night).   Mom took a photo of Dan and I when we got there and Dan looks like he’s going to kill, he was that mad about the game.

Here is how he looked AFTER the game.  I still don’t believe they won, seems like a dream.  I never gave up, but I wasn’t feeling good about it either until time ran out.

We both take the worst photos, neither one of us is photogenic.   Odd, because both of our sisters look great in photos all of the time.   Half the time like here, my face looks super chubby, but in other photos, like Thanksgiving, my face looks normal. 

No pizza for me (game was in the afternoon, so I didn’t eat anything there), had Thanksgiving leftovers before and after the game, at regular meal times.  I don’t think anyone needs to eat for the sake of eating, I never eat at the afternoon games, other than maybe a snack if I get hungry and need one.  

Dad went home, Dan went out.  Mom and I watched FitTV and I packed the Thanksgiving and fall decor.  Yeah, we are an exciting bunch.

Saturday~Didn’t set an alarm, but ended up waking up at 5:30.   Waited for the sun to come up since it was below freezing and I was in no hurry to be anywhere.  I never wear tights (even then it’s capri length, I don’t own full length), but I decided to bust them out, because it didn’t warm up temperature wise after the sun started to rise.  I actually was never cold, it was around 32-33 the hour I ran and I felt fine in tights, long sleeve tech shirt, gloves, and a headband.  Good run, wanted to go longer, but knew the recovery schedule said 1 hour for a reason.

Came home, ate breakfast, cleaned my kitchen, packed mom up and sent her off toward home.  Dan and I didn’t go much of anything the rest of the day.  I put up Christmas decor and cleaned.  Oh and we watched a movie (Ransom Pride), we both thought it kind of bad.

Sunday~Woke up around regular time, shocking I know.  Tried to catch up on my Google Reader, ate breakfast and the last of my Barney Butter 😦  Still can’t find it at Whole Foods here.  Hit the gym when it opened for some weights.  Then laundry, cleaning, more Christmas decor.

I never got around to doing the outside lights.  By time Dan was ready to tackle them, I wasn’t in the mood.  Guess that is what happens when I wake up 4-5 hours earlier than him on the weekends.

THINGS I DID WITH LEFTOVERS:

We never have a ton, I usually let everyone else eat leftover sides and turkey at least on Friday.   Then I make something with the leftovers, which at that point is usually just turkey.   I like the turkey, cranberry relish, and veggies.

Turkey sandwich for with mom’s cranberry relish, turkey breast, RF cream cheese spread, on Ezekiel.   Side of veggie soup (the soup I made Wednesday night made 12 servings!). 

Pasta with Laughing Cow Alfredo Sauce leftover roasted Autumn veggies, and leftover turkey. (made 1 serving, just for me).  It was pretty awesome.

I made turkey stock on Saturday and another batch of soup, vegetable with bulgur for part of my lunches for the week.  Not vegetarian because of the broth, but very tasty.  It made a TON.  I froze about half of it for when work gets really nuts in a few weeks.

Sunday night for dinner, tried Janetha’s Mexican Casserole, but instead of ground turkey, I used shredded leftover Thanksgiving turkey breast.  It turned out to be a winner and a great use of leftovers (i used red sauce intead of green)!  By the way it’s 6 power points on WW.

Recipes: Turkey Day Grub

Thanksgiving 2010

Smoked turkey~2 ways

Southern turkey gravy

Bateman family stuffing

Roasted Fall Vegetables

Green bean-corn casserole

Mashed potatoes

Dinner Rolls

Multigrain Baguettes

Cranberry-pecan relish

Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Praline Cake 

I included serving sizes and WW points for everything, just in case you care.  The menu wasn’t planned to be low point, but in moderation, it’s actually pretty reasonable if you pay attention to serving sizes.

The recipes:

Bateman Corn Bread Dressing (small batch, makes a 9×13) 

~12 servings at 3 WW pts each

-9 inch round pan of cornbread made with 3 eggs

-8 oz herb stuffing mix

-3 buttermilk biscuits

-1 tsp sage

-1 tsp poultry seasoning

-2 large onions

-salt and pepper to taste

-turkey or chicken stock (buy turkey wings to make stock if you need to)

Crumble cornbread in large pan, add biscuits and herb stuffing pieces.  Mix together, add seasonings and onions, mix well with your hands.  Add enough hot stock to moisten, salt and pepper to taste.  (Usually done on Sunday, put in a sealed container in fridge).

Thankgiving morning take out of fridge and come to room temperature.  When ready to bake, add more hot stock to make a soupy consistency, then bake for 1 hour at 425 degreees until browned.

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Green Bean-Corn Casserole

~3 servings at 3 WW pts each (if you make my modifications and reduce the cheddar to 1/2 cup)

-2 cans French style green beans-drained

-1 can corn-drained

-1 can cream of celery soup

-1 cup sour cream (I use FF)

-1/2 cup finely chopped onion

-1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

-1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used RF)

-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

-1 t salt

-1/2 t celery salt

-1/2 t pepper

-1 row Ritz crackers (I used regular, there isn’t much difference in RF and full fat)

 Mix together in a large bowl:  soup, sour cream, onion, bell pepper, cheese, salt and pepper.  Stir in drained vegetables.  Bake in a 9×13 pan at 350 for 30 minutes.  Take out and top with crushed crackers and bake for 15 more minutes.

*I cook it in the crockpot on low Thanksgiving morning to have 1 less thing in the oven rotation.  Then before serving, I transfer to a dish, add Ritz, and broil to toast the crackers.

This is a Bateman recipe, but my family has come to love it as well. Great for work holiday parties, very easy.  I made it for work party last year and kept it in the crockpot, took the Ritz’s already browned and added them before serving.

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Keller Cranberry Relish

~10 servings at 1 WW point each, if you use 1/4 cup pecans and use Splenda or very little sugar.

-1 bag cranberries (chopped in food processor)

-1 orange (peeled, chopped in small pieces)

-4 T crushed pineapple

-1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans

-sugar or other sweetener to taste

Combine and put in fridge.  It tastes better if it has at least a day to set.  If you want to do jello, just add the ingredients to a batch of mixed cherry jello and chill in a bowl or mold.

*This is traditionally molded in jello.  I prefer it as relish-type.   Also a recipe redo, the original recipe has way more pecans and sugar.  Last few years I used Splenda, this year I went back to regular sugar, but small amount.

My absolutely FAVORITE leftover.  I will eat it in pancakes, greek yogurt, oatmeal, etc.  Plain is pretty awesome too 😉  For a twist, try a Gala apple instead of the pineapple, that’s the way my good friend Alison makes her family’s version, equally delish!

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Roasted Vegetables~recipe made as written (see link above for recipe)

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Pumpkin Praline Cake-(see link above for recipe)

*Applesauce instead of oil, egg beaters instead of eggs, reduced fat cream cheese (I HATE FF cream cheese), FF Whipped Topping, FF caramel topping,  FF milk, all natural yellow cake mix (from Sprouts).  I actually skipped powdered sugar because I forgot to buy some and I must have ran out because I always have baking staples in the pantry.  The icing was almost sweet enough without it and it was already thick enough, so I added a little Truvia to get the sweet right.  I toasted the pecans before adding them to the cake.

The cake was a huge success and was great!  I had to freeze a few slices before the rest was devoured, so I could enjoy it later on.   Makes 16 servings, 5 WW pts with my modifications.  I’m not usually a fan of most FF products (other than milk and yogurt), but in this cake, it worked well.

Things I like Thursday~Thankful Thanksgiving

The one morning I can count on Dan to be up SUPER early, minus marathons…Thankgiving 🙂 He was up and at it dark and early.  The cold front hadn’t really started yet, so it was just kind of warmish and humid.

He got the smoker going and put on these two 15 lb bad boys.  He did 2 different versions of flavor injections (spicy garlic and plain).

While he was outside tending to the smoke, jamming to music, and drinking coffee, I started a few things before hitting the gym.  I was waiting for mom but she wouldn’t get out of bed, so I went alone.  Nothing says Suzy Homemaker like workout clothes and an apron.

When I got back, I hit the showers and got back to work.  By that time my mom and dad were up.  Mom helped me in the kitchen and dad, well my dad “supervised”.  In the middle of everywhere, I decided our wine rack was in the way and needed to be moved.  Dropped a heavy bottle of red wine into the eat-in dining and all over the floor and walls (and put a nice dent in the wall).  Cleaned it up and put the rack and the other bottles against the wall.  Well walking through, I caught a bottle of white with my jeans and broke that too.  Yeah, I was so mad that I screamed at everyone to get away from me.  Not my finest hour and Dan was pretty upset that I yelled at my parents.  I got the glass, wine, and everything cleaned up with their help and did a halfway job of mopping the floor.

Finished the touches on everything, sister and BF arrived, and we started getting ready for lunch.

Before Dan, my family ate on cute little Thanksgiving paper plates and we wore whatever we wanted (I was usually in sweats).  The holiday is a little more formal for his family, so 3 years ago when his parents came, we started wearing real clothes and eating on china.  We didn’t have china, so I bought some that year.  Thanksgiving may be the only time we use it, lol!  I try to bust it out for special occasions, but I forget, that and we rarely eat in our dining room either.

Little help from momma

Wow, my kitchen was clean before the day started!  We even had to put stuff on top of the fridge to get it out of the way!

Sister helped me assemble the cake.  She’s very experienced in decorating cakes (she took a bunch of classes last year).  I had already baked it and made the icing, I just needed her to slice the layers and put the cake together, which she did.

The pecan pie was bought from Texas Pie Company in Kyle.  It’s supposed to be one of the best you can buy in Texas.  Not sure the family agreed.  It disappeared quickly, but I think any pecan pie would.  I think my dad and sister ate most of it.  I had a pie of my mom’s.  I preferred my yummy cake which I will post the recipe for later.

Time to eat!

It was divine!    My plate was, clockwise from top:  spicy-garlic smoked turkey (i’m a white meat gal), a little of Dan’s family dressing/stuffing, Dan’s family green bean casserole (not what you are thinking, will post this one too), a Central Market multigrain baguette chunk (SO good), and roasted autumn vegetables (new to us, it was a huge hit!). 

Later cake and mom’s cranberry relish was consumed. 

Happy Thanksgiving from the Kellers!  (minus Chanel).  Dan and sister’s bf were photographing.  But once again, no photos of Dan and I!  No wonder we have none 😦

Tuesday~Thankful Thoughts

There were a few instances this year that REALLY opened up my eyes to being thankful.  It shouldn’t take receiving bad news to appreciate the things you have.  Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate these things, but these occurences really made it hit home…

Yesterday I learned that a very nice man I know from work had a death in his family.  His wife of over 30 years (who also used to work at my employer).   She retired shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back.  He always wore a pink ribbon on his ballcap and always spoke so kindly of this woman.  He said she was what made him whole, she calmed him down, made him a better person.  She’d been doing pretty badly in the last year, but he was able to take her on 1 last trip to somewhere she always wanted to go…the NM hot air balloon festival.  It made my heart happy to know they got to enjoy such a wonderful event together in her last months. 

As I read her obituary yesterday I saw that she was only 54.  My parents both turned 60 recently.  Wow.  Need to hug mom and dad a little tighter all weekend long and REALLY appreciate their time on this planet.  Even though they sometimes drive me nuts, i’d be lost without them.  

Dan and I have been together 6 years, so I have no idea what 30 would feel like, but I do know that I’d be in a world of hurt without him.  I can’t even imagine the hurt and pain of losing someone you’ve spent more than half of your life with.

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Another instance was after RNR Dallas Half in March.  The following Monday, I found that a runner had died shortly after being awarded his finishers medal.  He was a former college athlete and in good shape, he was my age, he finished at almost exactly the same time as me.  I  probably ran with him during the race and walked right by him in the finisher’s chute before he collapsed.  He left behind a wife and baby.  This bothered me for weeks.  Not sure if it was the fact that he was my age and finished at the same time as me?  The fact that he left behind a young wife and child?

Made me think about what all I wanted to do before I do die.  Certainly alot more than i’ve accomplished at this point in my life!  Also made me appreciate my health and ability to run. 

Yes, I was pissed off about the tripping incident toward the finish and that I now have three ugly scars to show from that race, but that is NOTHING compared to the scars the wife and child experienced from the husband/daddy dying unexpectedly.

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Hug your loved ones a little more.  Run a little further, lift a little more, just because you can.  Smile knowing you have a good life, without having to have it pointed out to you.  Appreciate the good things in life.  Appreciate the little things in life.  You never know when it could all slip away…