Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Get Mikey to try it...

If you're of *ahem* a certain age, you might remember the Life cereal commercial with Mikey. "Let's get Mikey to eat it... He won't eat it, he hates everything... He likes it, hey Mikey..."  I'm not saying The Aussie is as fussy as Mikey, but there are certain things he likes and many things he would never have thought of eating.  Enter last night's dinner. I gave him the option of omlette for dinner, but I told him that I had an Asian inspired pork mixture to fix. I told him they were kind of like rissoles, but with Asian flavors. (Rissoles are basically meatloaf in patty form that are breaded and pan fried.) He said he'd try it, which made me very pleased.  I have to tell you, these were good! Mikey liked it!

Asian Pork Burgers (makes 4)

1 pound extra lean ground pork
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 scallions, finely sliced
3 large garlic cloves, crushed in press
1 T low sodium soy sauce
1 t fish sauce
1 T Mae Ploy sauce (sweet chili sauce)

Topping: (if you can, make this a couple of hours ahead so that flavors blend)

1 bag of "rainbow slaw" vegetables
4 T rice wine vinegar
1 T Maey Ploy sauce


1 T mayo
1 T Mae Ploy sauce
1/2 t Sriracha sauce (spicy chili sauce)

4 toasted burger rolls

Put topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Put burger ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour so that flavors blend.

Form four patties with the meat mixture, about 1/2 an inch thick.  Spray pan lightly with cooking spray. Over medium high heat, cook until the juices are clear, about 5 minutes each side. Since this is pork, do not undercook.

To assemble: Mix together the mayo with the Mae Ploy and Sriracha. Spread on the top and bottom halfs of the toasted rolls. (Yay to Kroger for now carrying whole wheat burger rolls).  Place patty on roll and top with the rainbow slaw. Make your tastebuds happy and enjoy!

BTW, these are great without the roll, served with brown rice and the slaw as sides, with the dressing drizzled on top. As in, yes, that's what I'm having for breakfast. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Twenty Questions

For fun, especially since I got a bit deep (for me) in yesterday's post, I thought I'd lighten it up with a game of 20 questions. (I got the idea from Hanlie)

1. What is your favorite dessert?  Pudding with whipped topping or cheesecake.

2. What's the last thing that made you laugh (a belly laugh, not a giggle)? Watching the Rude Chef skit by Armstrong and Miller.

3. Are you left-handed or right handed? Right handed.

4. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning, out the door? I'm lucky enough to work from home, but I try to have changed out of my PJs by lunchtime. ;)

5. They say everyone has at least one book/novel in them. If you ever got around to writing yours, what would it be? Probably a cookbook. No surprise there, huh!

6. What is your favorite quote? Time takes all but memories.

7. What is your favorite comfort food? Probably mashed potatoes with butter.

8. What are you wearing today? A running skirt and tank top with a velour hoodie.

9. Where is your happy place? Snuggling with the dogs and my hubby.

10. Who do you miss (dead or alive)? My dad.

11. What can't you forgive? I try to be forgiving, but how people treat my husband is right up there on the can't/hard-to forgive list.

12. If there was ONE thing you could go back in time and change, would you, and what would it be? I would change a stupid situation I found myself in when I was in my 20s.

13. Are you a girly-girl? You might not think it to look at me, but I kind of am.

14. What do you like most about yourself? My compassion.

15. What do you like least about yourself? Too many things to list.

16. Do you have any tattoos or piercings? Yup.

17. What is scarier - snakes or spiders? Spiders. The poisonous ones in Australia freaked me out. There are some nasty ones in Texas, too.

18. What type of movies do you like? Action movies.

19. What foreign country would you like to visit most? Italy is right up there. I've been listening to Earworms language program in Italian lately. I can order a coffee and ask for a table for two by the window! I'd love to see the Taj Mahal, too.

20. What are you grateful for today? I'm grateful for my home, my family, the fact that I can work from home, that I am healthy. I'm blessed in so many ways.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A recent FB post

Feeling very out of sorts, I posted the following on FB on Saturday morning:

You probably don't know how painfully shy the person who showed up at your club's group run is. Or how far out of her comfort zone she was. Last year, when she showed up for a run, people were welcoming, so she thought she'd be okay. A couple of you said good morning as you walked past her, but after 10 minutes of standing there, nervously clutching her water bottle, feeling anxious and out of place, with no one talking to her, she left. But you probably didn't notice that.

The supportive comments this post received meant a lot to me. You see, not everyone knows how shy I am. It took a lot for me to even drive to this group run. When I got there, it took a lot for me to get out of the car. I seriously considered turning around in the parking lot and just driving home. But I didn't. I metaphorically put on my big girl panties and got out of the car. I slowly walked to the club house, and nervously said good morning to the people who were already there. A couple of people acknowledged me, but most didn't. The few women that were there just continued on in their conversation as if I was invisible. And that's what I felt like. Invisible. I toughed it out for several more minutes, feeling more and more like a loser the longer I stood there. Funny how the big girl panties can quickly disappear in situations like this. Finally, feeling a panic attack coming on, I walked away from the club house, back to the car. I managed to drive away (past the club house, mind you) and get down the road a bit before I started crying. 

When I got home, it was not even 7:30, so The Aussie was still in bed. I climbed in beside him, doggies hopping on the bed to snuggle with us. He asked what time it was and I said 7:30. Puzzled, his asked "aren't you going?" I told him I was back. He asked what happened. While he's a very outgoing person, he knows how difficult things like this are for me. He just held me as I cried while telling him what had happened. He told me that I at least made the effort and that was what was important.

It was important. I made the effort. But I won't be again. Oh, I'll show up for races that this group puts on a couple of times a year, but I won't be showing up for group events. Want to hear something funny? When I was half asleep not long ago I thought about why I sign up for races. This is going to sound pathetic, but part of it is the pictures of groups of friends all running together, wearing goofy costumes, having fun. It's like I'm still the nerdy little kid, always picked last for the team, looking at a group of friends from the other side of the chain link fence. I want to be a part of their popular group. But I'm not. A dear friend left this comment to my post ... When you are out there in a race it is just you and the pavement. You have everything you need inside you right now... She's right. I do have everything I need inside me. I'll be fine. Just me and the pavement.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My new best friend is a salad dressing. Or how to torture yourself on Sunday morning part 2.

Please pardon the sorry excuse for a food picture, but this is one delicious pasta salad. Thank you, thank you Sandwich King. In addition to the grilled veggie sandwich that I made yesterday for lunch, he put together a spring pasta salad in this weekend's episode. Obviously, you use what's on hand if you don't have yellow roasted peppers in a jar or shallots. (Actually, I did have a shallot, I just forgot to put it in the salad.) And if you'd rather use agave nectar instead of honey, go for it.

Spring Pasta Salad (makes about 10 cups)

8 oz brown rice spirals, cooked, rinsed in COLD water, and drained
1 bag of frozen peas, thawed
1 bunch of asparagus, blanched and thinly sliced
1 bunch of snow peas, blanched and sliced ( used a big handful)
1/4 cup roasted red pepper (in water), diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 jar artichoke heart quarters (in water), drained
1/2 cup dressing (see below)
salt to taste

Mix together in a large bowl, add dressing and gently toss to coat.

Lemon Mustard Dressing (aka my new best friend)

1 t dijon mustard
1 T agave syrup
1 large clove of garlic, grated
zest of one large lemon
juice of one large lemon
1 T fresh dill, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil (the oil should be about the same volume as the other ingredients)

Place all ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake.

This is such a lovely dressing. I am lucky that I have a dill plant that hasn't bolted up at the community garden. It really goes well with lemon and garlic. Our assignment for Weight Watchers this week is to try a new vegetable. I picked up a big bunch of broccoli rabe at Sprouts after the meeting on Sunday. I am thinking I will blanch it and dress it with this salad dressing. To paraphrase Dr Seuss, Oh The Places We'll Go...

Monday, April 16, 2012

How to torture yourself on a Sunday morning.

My regular Weight Watchers meeting is on Sundays, and I try not to eat much before the meeting so I don't mess up my weigh in. Normally I'm not at home for part of the time, but I was a bad person and skipped church because I was being a wuss and didn't want to go out in the torrential downpour. So what did I do yesterday before the meeting? Watched cooking shows. Dumb idea. I was getting downright stabby, but the food being made looked so good. I've never watched Sandwich King before, but I do like sandwiches, so I continued to torture myself by watching. One he made was a grilled veggie sandwich with goat cheese spread. Eww to the goat cheese, but the veggies looked good.  I don't recall what he marinated his veggies in, but I did a simple balsamic vinegar, olive oil and italian seasonings marinade and popped the sliced vegetables (yellow squash, zucchini, red onion and later I added in portobello mushrooms) in a plastic bag this morning. By lunch time they were ready to grill. One of the pluses to working from home is cooking up your lunch. Grilling it was a first for me. (Note to self, go clean up the pieces of onion that fell through the grill grate.) This sandwich was huge! I'm still full at 5:30 pm. Instead of goat cheese, I combined about 1 T of shredded queso fresco and 1 T of fat free cream cheese, and a bit more of the italian herbs. I now have a great substitute for goat cheese!  The huge pieces of flatbread really added to the points, but overall, it was worth it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Gadget

I was invited to a Pampered Chef party recently by a woman from church. It was my first one, and I didn't quite know what to expect, so I went online to see what kind of products they have. One thing that caught my eye was the microwave chip maker. I like crunchy, snacky things, but not the fat and calories that many crunchy, snacky things have.

Yesterday morning, before work, I pulled out the mandoline that The Aussie gave me for a birthday present a couple of years ago. I have had so little success with it, but I watched a video recently to try and figure out how to use it. Success! I managed to make thin slices of sweet potato with the mandoline. I placed them on the trays and started microwaving. The guidelines say 3 minutes, but it took about double that time. Maybe my slices are thicker than they recommend, but I wanted crisper chips.

Voila! This is actually both trays worth of slices (minus a couple I ate), so they really shrink down a lot. These weren't seasoned, but you could make them spicy, sweet, whatever you like.  Hello little crunchy, snacky things... I think I'll be planting sweet potatoes this summer at the community garden. I don't want to run out.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aftermath of the storm

Last night I headed up to the community garden to survey the damage. Below is an example of what was coming down in the yard on Tuesday afternoon. It sounded like a meteor shower hitting the house. A very loud meteor shower. The extent of our damage, at least that we've discovered so far, is a broken window in my husband's work room upstairs. That'll be fun to fix.

This little tomato got clobbered. It was the worst of the six I planted this weekend. Poor thing. I'll be taking it out and planting a new one. The others weren't happy, but they were still standing.
The potatoes came through nicely. I need to buy more compost to top up my rows.
Part one of my Three Sisters faired well. This is the corn, that was planted a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend I planted the beans. They haven't sprouted yet. No picture of the swiss chard. There's a bit of hail damage to the chard, but it won't make it taste any less yummy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

No Knead Bread

After the craziness of yesterday afternoon, spending "quality" time with the dogs and the parrot in a closet under the stairs, listening to tornado sirens blaring and hail hitting the house, I decided to try making no knead bread. I don't know how I stumbled upon this blog but I'm glad that I did. Now I love bread. Probably too much. Especially when it's warm from the oven or bread maker, slathered with butter... oops. Drooling now.... As you know, I've been doing Weight Watchers since the end of October, so it's not a treat I allow myself very often. And since I've pretty much been at a plateau since I hit my 10% goal, I probably shouldn't be treating myself now. That's life, though. I can eat things, but I'd better be prepared to exercise more and eat plently of healthy things, too.

I have a bread machine, which makes great bread. When I've tried to make it by myself, I've totally messed up. Last time, I ended up with bread that wouldn't rise, and was so tough. I think the yeast continued to rise in my stomach, which was NOT a good thing. So when I heard about no knead bread, I thought it would be neat to try. So last night, after I signed off from work, I put the dough together. Flour, salt, yeast and water. Pretty easy, huh? I'm not 100% sure my yeast was fresh enough, but it rose. The trick to no knead bread is that you don't mess with it. It sits in a bowl, on your counter, overnight. Simple.

No Knead Bread
3 cups AP flour
1 3/4 t salt (Note: this was too salty. I'll reduce to 1 t next time)
1/2 t yeast
1 1/2 c water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast. Stir in the water, mixing enough to ensure that it's worked in. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours on your counter.

This is what it looked like this morning, after 13 hours. When you're ready to bake, heat up your oven to 450. When it reaches temperature, put your dutch oven and lid in to heat for 30 minutes. (Note: I read that my dutch oven lid can only be safely heated to 400 because of the handle, so I heated the bottom for 15 minutes at 450, reduced the heat, and when it hit 400, I put the lid on and heated for another 15 minutes.)

While the oven is heating, dump out the sticky dough mixture on to a heavily floured counter and shape in to a ball. Mine didn't really come out as a ball, more like a blob. Cover with the plastic wrap and let it rest while the oven and the pan are heating. After the pan has heated for 30 minutes, remove from the oven. Pick up the blob and put it in to the pan. Cover and stick in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove. At this point, I removed the lid and stuck it back in for a few minutes to get it a bit more brown. When it's baked, carefully remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Isn't it pretty?

Now all I need to do is figure out how many WW points this loaf is so I don't eat the whole thing!