Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Witchy Poo

It's been quite a few years since I've even wanted to do any Halloween crafting. I don't think I've even decorated inside for Halloween the last couple of years. We've done the outside, just not inside. I just wasn't into it. But this year, something changed. I'm actually excited for Halloween. So, I got out the decorations and with Baby Girl's help, got the house looking spooktacular (yes, I went there). I bought some new stuff, but wanted to make some things as well.

About 14 years ago I made a witch out of clay pots. It was the cutest thing ever! I made one for me and one for my mom. It was special to me because it was the first thing I had made for Halloween after my dad died. My dad was a HUGE Halloween fan. He dressed up every.single.year. I guess that's where part of my love for it came. So, to get my mom into decorating (as my dad would have done) I made her a Witchy Poo. Well, my mom died eleven years ago and I kept her witch. I'm glad I did because Bear accidentally broke mine. So, I used my mom's until Bear's dad accidentally broke hers about 8 years ago. When Bear called to tell me his dad had broke my mom's witch, I literally had to pull off the road and cry. I cried like my mom had died all over again. Still to this day, I get emotional about it. I know it was just a "thing" but it had great sentimental value to me. I guess that was another reason why I didn't want to make another Witchy Poo. But, this year, I decided I did want another one, so that's what I did.
Close up picture of Witchy Poo

If you're interested in making a Witchy Poo here's what you'll need and how to do it:

2- 8 inch clay pots
1- 8 inch platter
2- 6 inch clay pots
1- 6 inch platter
1-4 inch clay pot
wooden doll head
black felt
Halloween ribbon
green, purple, black and orange outdoor paint
wooden circles (extra small and small. I got a bag of assorted)
E6000 glue
Protective spray or shellac

First paint all your pots your base colors. They sky is the limit. Use your imagination. How do you want your Witchy Poo to look? Then glue her together. The body is the two 8 inch pots. The feet is the 6 inch platter. The head is one of the 6 inch pots. Her nose is the wooden doll head. Her eyes are the wooden circles. Her hair is the raffia. Her hat is the 8 inch platter and the last 6 inch pot and four inch pot. Her cape is made of  the felt. Make sure you let the glue set for at least a day before doing detail work on her. It may take a couple of coats of paint (especially if you are using orange or green). Take your time. It took me a couple of days to get her completed.

Have fun making her. Don't forget to protect her by spraying her with something like Crystal Clear. I hope you get a lot of enjoyment from her. 

Here she is outside

Monday, July 8, 2013

Gina's sandwich

So I was really in a creative food mood today and created a sandwich that was delish!! I'll prerequisite this blog by saying that I eat the same sandwich pretty much every day...An everything thin bagel (toasted) with cream cheese, turkey and spring salad. Sometimes, I'll add a mango salsa if I have some made. So, I had bought some goat cheese for a change. I've tasted it only once and knew it was similar to cream cheese, just more tangy. So I figured it would be nice to try it on my sandwich in lieu of the cream cheese. So I was thinking of what else I could put with it and thought, "red pepper, onion, and almond" and since I enjoy mango, I thought, "peaches" too. And to add some sweetness to balance the tartness, I thought, "honey".

This is how I made it:

I peeled and sliced a peach.

Then, I thinly sliced some red pepper and onions. To a pan, I added about a tbs of olive oil. I sauteed the onion and red peppers for a few minutes. I then put in a few almond slices to toast. I also added a splash of white wine vinegar as well.  In all, about 5 minutes. I then added a little bit of goat cheese (1/2-1 ounce). I heated those items until the cheese had melted.

On my toasted everything thin bagel, I put some turkey slices (3 on each side). I use Healthy Choice Oven Roasted Turkey.  It doesn't have any preservatives like other sandwich meats, so I feel pretty okay with eating it. I then added the cheese mixture (I put it on the turkey so it would drip through the hole in the bagel). Next, I added a few slices of peaches. I finished it off by drizzling some honey on top. I put the two pieces together and viola! A yummmmy sandwich!

It was so fast and tasty. This will be on the rotation for sure! It totally fit in my 200 calorie lunch and it kept me full until dinner.

Asian Flare Tilapia

Tonight I decided to make tilapia with an Asian flare. I had made tilapia many times on the grill and served it with mango salsa. Tonight, I wanted to try pan searing it and having a lovely sauce to go with it. I had already had a creative flare at lunch and was really trying to think of a simple, yet delicious sauce. So this is what I came up with:

I started with the sauce:

1/4 of pineapple, sliced and diced
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 mango, sliced and diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1-2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

I started out by peeling and grating the ginger. I have never used fresh ginger root before, so I Googled how to peel and grate it and I found a fantastic website that helped me out: http://www.wikihow.com/Grate-Ginger. I would have never thought to use a spoon to peel the root, but it worked like magic!

I peeled a mango and sliced it and put a few (about 3 good size or 4-5 smaller size) in a bowl. The rest, I diced. I also bought fresh pineapple already cut (there were about 6 wedges in the package) so, I diced three wedges, again keeping about 4-5 bits in the bowl with the sliced mango. I added the diced mangoes and pineapples together to use as garnish later and put those back in the fridge.

I put the grated ginger, sugar, chopped cilantro (which happens to be my FAVORITE herb of all time!!) in a small bowl.

To a medium pan, I added the olive oil and once heated, I added the mango and pineapple, a dash of salt,  black pepper and juice out of half an orange.  I cooked them for just a few minutes, then I added the ginger, sugar, cilantro and soy sauce. I cooked the sauce until it was cooked down. It looked like shit but tasted awesome! I have got to figure out how to make a sauce with fruit.

The Fish:

1 tbs of olive oil
1 tbs butter
garlic powder

I pan seared the tilapia in a tablespoon of butter and oil. I seasoned the fish with salt, pepper and a tiny bit of garlic powder. I also squeezed half a lemon on the fish after it had been cooking about 5 minutes.

Ginger-sesame Jasmine Rice:

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup jasmine rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon mince garlic
1 tablespoon sesame seed
2 tsp fresh grated ginger

I made a ginger-sesame seed jasmine rice. I added one tablespoon of butter and sesame oil to a pan and sauteed 1 tablespoon of sesame seed and 1 tablespoon of garlic for about 3 minutes. I then the grated ginger. While I was doing that, I brought 1 1/2 cups of water to boil and added 1 cup of jasmine rice. The rice cooked for 15 minutes. After cooking, I added the sesame, ginger and garlic and mixed well. I garnished the rice with the diced mangoes and pineapples.

Sauteed green beans w/ almonds

French style green beans (I only had frozen, but I would prefer fresh) Ever how much your family will eat.
1 tbs olive oil
almond slices to taste
garlic powder

I also sauteed some french style green beans and sliced almonds in about a tablespoon of olive oil. I seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic powder. It doesn't take long for these to cook and they are always a BIG hit with Baby Girl!

It was a yummy dish. Everyone really enjoyed it. I was only disappointed in the sauce. It was not sauce like at all. It was mush, but still very, very tasty. This is definitely on my make again list.

This is a healthy dish that is totally in my 500 calorie meal.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cluck Went the Chicken

I had a really pleasant day today catching up with a dear friend as our daughters happily played together. I was glad I had planned an easy salad for dinner tonight because I was really hungry when I got home and I didn't have a whole lot of time to make dinner.

I made Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken.

What you'll need:

  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken, (about 12 ounces; see Tip)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced ripe black olives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

What you do:

The recipe called for any cooked chicken. I actually grilled chicken for this recipe. I just seasoned two breasts with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. While the chicken was grilling, I made the salad.

For the dressing combine the vinegar, oil, I used dried oregano, garlic powder, salt and powder in a container. I used the measuring cup I measured the vinegar in to add the other ingredients. Then whisk the ingredients well.

In a large bowl, I added the lettuce, tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes), cucumber (I used an English cucumber), red onion, black olives and the feta cheese.  I also added a little bit of sea salt and ground fresh pepper. I then added the dressing and tossed the salad to mix the dressing well with the salad. The salad looked so pretty. Baby Girl even commented how nice it looked.

When the chicken was cooked, I let it cool for about 5 minutes then chopped it and put it in the salad. I mixed the salad again to distribute the chicken.

I also took two whole-wheat pita bread and brushed a little olive oil on them and added a little bit of Parmesan cheese on top. I toasted them until the cheese was melted and the bread golden brown. I cut them into slices and served with marinara sauce. They were like bread sticks.

This salad was DELICIOUS! I'm not a fan of Italian dressing but this was exceptional. All the ingredients just complimented each other so nicely. Nothing over powered one another. 

I highly recommend this easy to make salad. It was also very filling. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Big Mac Attack!

I had a pretty stressful day today. I went and had my annual mammogram. The actual mammogram doesn't hurt. I've never minded it. I do have to say, I preferred it before I got my breast reduction, so it is true, the smaller the boob the more it's uncomfortable. What I hate is the waiting. I've had a couple of scares and they always play through my mind while I'm waiting to be smooshed and even after until I either get a letter (which is good news) or the dreaded phone call to come back. I've set my thoughts on positive and am sure I'll get the good news letter but never the less, it still stresses me. When I got done, which was around lunch time, I immediately wanted a Big Mac. So now you know my deep rooted secret (only if you don't know me), my comfort food is junk food. Hello, my name is Gina and I'm a junk food junkie.

Since being on this new way of eating, I've steered clear of all pre-made/fast food. I almost caved and asked Bear to bring us home a Big Mac, which he would do without hesitation, but then I took a breath and thought, "No! I'm not going to undo the work I've done!" A few years back, I ran across a low calorie version of a Big Mac. It was by Devin Alexander. So, I found the recipe and decided that I will have my Big Mac and french fries I am so craving.

Here's what you'll need: (this is for one burger)

3 ounces 96% lean ground beef (about 1⁄3 cup)
 2 pinches of salt
 1 sesame seed hamburger bun + 1 bun bottom
 1 slice (1⁄2 ounce) 2% milk yellow American cheese
 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon McDonald’s Big Mac
 Sauce (below)
 1 teaspoon finely chopped white onion
 1⁄3 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
 2 rounds dill pickle

Here's how to do it:

I used ground sirloin because I just don't trust what's in lean ground beef. It makes me just wonder. I also used regular Kraft Singles. I know, I know...they are not real cheese, but dang it! For a Big Mac, you gotta have just regular old Kraft Singles! I took 9 oz of meat and divided it into 6 patties. You want them to be thin. I seasoned both sides of the patties with salt. Then as the recipe states, I put them on wax paper on a plate and put them in the freezer for about 5 minutes.

I then cooked them on my electric griddle. Man, do I love that thing! They only take a few minutes on each side because they are so thin.

I took the buns and cut the top bun in half horizontally so I would only use one bun instead of a bun and a half. I mean, what are you going to do with the other top bun? Such a waste! Then I toasted them on the griddle while the burgers where cooking.

I then put just one piece of cheese on one of the patties for each Big Mac. Then I assembled the burger. I put the sauce on the bottom, then added the burger with the cheese then added the bun that was cut from the top part of the bun and then added the last burger. I then placed the onions, pickles and lettuce and placed more sauce on the top bun. Viola! you now have your Big Mac!

Here's the recipe for the sauce:

What you'll need:

1⁄3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dill pickle relish
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon finely chopped white onion

Here's how to make it:

Put the mayo, relish, ketchup, sugar and mustard in a bowl and mix. I actually divided my mixture as Bear said he didn't want any and Baby Girl wasn't eating it either. It will stay good in the frig for up to a month so I put what I wasn't going to use tonight in a container to use later. I then added about 2 teaspoons of chopped onion to my mixture for tonight. Easy peasy. The only thing, and I'm not sure if it's because I haven't ate a lot of sugar lately, it seemed really sweet to me. I probably could of/should of left out the sugar as the low fat mayo was sweet enough.

I also made homemade fries to go with my Big Mac:

What you'll need:

I used 4 Russet Potatoes
salt, pepper
and olive oil

Peel your potatoes. I cut my in half vertically and then cut them into fries. I then put the fries in a bowl of water. This will make your fries crispy when you cook them in the oven. If I'm in a hurry, I add them to a bowl of hot (out of the tap) water. Tonight, I had plenty of time, so I put them in a bowl and let them sit until I was ready to bake the fries. Once I was ready, I drained the water and added olive oil (enough to get on all the potatoes, about a tablespoon) and salt and pepper. I put them on a cookie sheet that I've sprayed with cooking spray. I then put them in a preheated 425 degree oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes. Until golden and crispy. They are so yummy and healthy as you're not frying them. I did goof tonight and put my oven on 450! Why in the world I did that I have no idea, so my fries burned. Some were still edible but over 3/4 had to be tossed.

Now if only I could figure out how to make Cheester's Hot Fries I'd be in bliss.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Greek To Me!

Tonight for dinner I made Mini Greek-style Meat Loaves with Arugula Salad. 

What you'll need: 

  • 10 ounce ground sirloin 
  • 5 ounces lean ground lamb
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated red onion
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • large egg, lightly beaten 
  • Cooking spray 
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt 
  • 2 ounces reduced-fat feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) diagonally sliced seeded peeled cucumber
How to make it: 

I chopped all my herbs first and put 1 tbs each of the mint and thyme in a bowl. I put 1 tsp each of the mint and thyme in a smaller bowl to use for the "sauce". I couldn't grate the onion so I finely chopped that sucker and cried while doing it. I had forgotten how strong onions are that are not Sweet Onions (which is what I use 99% of the time). I put the onions in their own bowl. In the bowl with the 2 tbs of herbs in it I added 1/4 tsp of sea salt, the ground all spice, red pepper and the fresh minced garlic. I sat that bowl off to the side until I was ready to make the mini meatloaves. 

In a glass bowl, I added the yogurt, feta cheese, 1 tbs of lemon juice and the 2 tsp of the reserved herbs. I didn't have couldn't find my mini processor so I used my hand wand (which didn't work too well, but well enough)to mix the items. After mixing with the hand wand, I did use a whisk as well. Once it wasn't so lumpy, I put it the frig until I served the meal. 

I then mixed the dressing which consisted of 1 tbs of lemon juice, 1 tbs of olive oil, 1/8 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of freshly ground pepper. I whisked those ingredients together well. I then used a baby arugula and baby spinach mix I got from the store. I then peeled and sliced an English cucumber. I added those together in a big bowl w/ a lid and added the dressing and shook the crap out of it to coat it well. I stuck the salad in the frig too until it was time to eat.

I turned the oven on to 450 degrees. I then used 15 oz of ground sirloin. The recipe called for 10 oz ground sirloin and 5 oz ground lamb. Well, I've never eaten lamb and I didn't want to buy a pound for who knows how much (I know it is more expensive than beef) to maybe not like it. Not to mention it is a baby sheep. That makes me sad. I know, I know...a little bit of a double standard. I can eat beef and chicken but the only baby I eat of those is eggs aaannd they are not babies yet, so I feel okay with that. Any way, back to making the meal...I took the meat and added the bread crumbs and onions. I mixed it pretty well by using my hands. Then I added in the bowl of herbs and other items. I mixed it with my hands as well. By this time, Bear was home so I had him lightly beat the egg. He looked at me like I was speaking in tongues when I asked him to lightly beat the egg. I forgotten he's not a cook. LOL. Once I explained to him what it meant, he got right on it. I had him add the egg to the meat mixture and I mixed it well by using my hands. I was going to use my ice cream scooper to use to put the meat in 8 sprayed muffin cups in a muffin pan, but my scooper is broken, so I just used my hands. I tore off pieces, like making cookies and put them in the muffin cups. I baked the meatloaves for 13 minutes and then put them under the broiler for 2 minutes for a total of 15 minutes. 

I also made mashed potatoes to go with it. I mean you can't have meatloaf without potatoes. To cut down on the fat, I used chicken bouillon cubes instead of butter. I did add some garlic powder because I felt it would compliment the rest of the meal. 

The Verdict:

I'm not going to lie. When I tasted the "sauce" it was AWFUL! I thought, "oh crap! What I have made?" But I was going to wait and see how it all came together before really judging the meal. But in the back of my mind I thought, "Baby Girl and Bear will love this and I'll hate it." That's the norm. Bear asked how it was going to be and I was truthful and said we may have to end up going out to eat. But that didn't happen. With the sauce on the side and added it to each bite of the meat it was delicious! The salad was really nice too. Again, I haven't bought new EVOO so it still had that too "robust flavor" but it was nice with the cucumber. And as predicted, Bear and Baby Girl enjoyed the sauce and meat a little more than I did. I could do without the sauce. Both Bear and I loved the salad (the cucumbers were outstanding) but Baby Girl didn't like it at all. In all, I'll make this meal again. It was easy and very yummy and HEALTHY! 

Give it a try.  You won't be disappointed! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sweet Tooth Fairy

I was wanting something sweet so I made Chocolate Almond Cherry Crisps.
Dense yummy balls...
What you'll need:
 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
 3/4 cup of white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
 3/4 cup of chopped cherries
1/3 cup toasted chopped almonds
 1/2 tsp vanilla.

What I did: I melted the chocolate in the microwave in a microwavable bowl. I then added all the other ingredients and stirred away. I took wax paper and put a sheet on a cookie sheet. I used a cookie scoop and dropped about 30 crisps. I put the sheet in the refrigerator for about an hour.

The Verdict: 2 crisps are about 100 calories. Perfect for one of my snack allowance.

They were so easy and yummy. Bear even liked them. Two is plenty. It gives you all the sweetness you need. I love the CRUNCH too. The original recipe doesn't call for the cherries or the almonds to be chopped or even for the almonds to be toasted. I felt toasted almonds would taste better so that's why I chose to toast them. I also didn't want the almonds or cherries to be over powering so that is why I chopped them. I will definitely be making these sweet gems again!!

I also made, a few days ago, Brownie Cookies.
The last two cookies
What you'll need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa 
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Spoon in the flour using a knife to level. It will make the cookie more airy. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the cocoa (again, I used a spoon to add the cocoa then leveled with a knife) and sugars. The result will look like brown yummy sand. Add to the "sand" the yogurt and vanilla. Stir to mix. Add the flour mixture and stir until wet. It will resemble brownie mix and smell like it too! I almost made brownies, but decided to stick to the recipe. Spray your cookie sheets with your cooking spray. I then used my trusty cookie scoop and dropped about 24 cookies. I have a gas oven so I baked mine for 10 minutes. Take them out and let them cool 3 minutes on the sheets then transfer to cooling racks to continue to cool. I put them in plastic bags to keep. They're only two left so that tells me something. :)

The Verdict: One cookie is around 80 calories. That's why I've only eaten two. That's almost one of my snack calorie allowance.

I ate one the day I made them (they weren't quite cooled) and then ate another one the next day as a dessert. I prefer them cooled. They were like a brownie with crispy edges. That's when I named them Brownie Cookies. Both Bear and Baby Girl like the cookies. Bear more so than Baby Girl. They are a good alternative when you want a more healthy cookie.

  • Both recipes are great for your sweet tooth! Enjoy!