Category Archives: Cooking

All in for Fall

Fall has arrived here in Colorado. It seemed to happen almost overnight. Or maybe I’m just not as observant as I could be. The temps are now pretty steady in the 50’s at this point so the days of wearing sandals on the regular are gone, at least until March or April anyway.  The leaves are changing and as I’m driving around I’m treated to the sights of beautiful maples with rich hues of burgundy, gold, and orange.

Here’s what I am loving about this particular fall season:

  • Waking up to those dark mornings. I know, it sounds a little weird, but there’s a coziness I feel when I’m padding down the stairs in pursuit of a cup of hot coffee, of course, in the wee hours after a good night’s slumber and the house is shrouded in the quiet darkness. It’s peaceful and comforting. Though some mornings as a result I have to put up a pretty good internal argument against crawling back under those covers.
  • Cooking hearty meals and delectable, soul warming desserts. Recently, I made a recipe I’ve had forever and came up with a way to make it even more scrumptious. I will share that recipe at the end of this post. I also made my blogger friend CJ’s apple cake on Sunday and it was seriously the bomb! I highly recommend it! I got a lot of compliments from my co-workers when I brought it to work yesterday. It’s the perfect go-to for fall potlucks.
  • Bringing out the fall wardrobe. I was smart over the summer and picked up a few pieces while thrift store shopping to add to what I already had. My girly-girl side came out as I tried on different combinations of things to wear to work and when simply being out and about this fall.
  • Speaking of fall wardrobes, another thing I’m getting pretty psyched about is Halloween costumes. As I mentioned in my fall themed blog post last year, being empty-nesters has allowed us to re-claim this holiday for ourselves. I am currently pondering what costumes we will be donning this Halloween. Contenders are me as a good witch and Hubs as Johnny Cash (my version of super heroes for these times we are in) or “Blue Waves” (which we fervently hope come via our ballot boxes next month). Here’s us in our costumes last year…20171028_201957 (1)
  • Voting season: oh, so many reasons to be happy about this. Like perhaps there will be a surge in the number of Americans casting their ballots. Perhaps sane, rational, not geriatric and not all male candidates will be elected this time. Also that it-namely, the constant political ads and political junk mail-will be over on 11/7.

Now for that promised recipe:

French Dip Sandwiches

Disclaimer: I wrote down this recipe eons ago on a recipe card, and if I could credit the cook who I got it from I would, but I have no earthly idea who that would be.

Ingredients:

3 lbs. beef chuck roast

2 Cups water

1/2 cup Soy Sauce (I always use the low sodium kind)

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 bay leaf

3 whole peppercorns

French bread

Put the beef in the crockpot. Mix up all the other ingredients (minus the french bread of course) in a bowl. Pour it over the beef. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8 hours + if you like. Shred or slice (depending on the level of tenderness) the beef and put between two slices of crusty french bread.

My attempt at morphing the leftovers (which I froze last week and am thawing as I write this) into something even better is this: Slice yellow onions and saute them in butter. Drain the liquid from the beef and cook it in a saucepan, possibly adding additional water and beef bouillon. Heat up the slices of beef in the microwave. Put the broth in soup bowls and add the onions, then the beef. Top with shredded mozzarella. Cut up chunks of the french bread and toss it into the soup bowls. Voila! French onion soup, my way.

What are you jazzed about this fall season? 

 

 

 

 

Food, how I love Thee

 

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What you see above is a picture of a supper I made a couple of weeks ago. Hang with me here, and I’ll share the oh-so-simple recipe at the end of this post.

For lack of a better term, I am a die-hard “foodie”. I understand that one should not “live to eat”, but rather “eat to live”. Intellectually, I know that is the healthiest way to think about food. In spite of this, however, I lean towards the latter and not the former.

A few years back, I made a decision to adopt healthier eating habits. My weight had grown to an unacceptable level in my view and I believed it was time to make some serious changes in my daily diet.

So after reading a few dieting books, I decided to go low carb. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I found myself mostly missing bread and baked goods, but not much else. I kept a daily food diary, which I think was the best tool I could have employed for this endeavor. I ended up losing 23 lbs over the course of about 5-6 months. I felt great about myself. I got myself down one pants size. People noticed.

However…I slowly but surely started to slip back into my old ways, enjoying bread on a semi-regular basis and increasing my consumption of chocolate. About a month ago, I told myself that while I’d managed to gain approximately half of the weight I’d lost, I was not continuing to gain even more weight. I was not gaining but “maintaining”.

Oh, the things I tell myself to justify poor nutritional choices.

I will at some point, in the not so distant future, purchase myself a brand spanking new notebook in which I will document my daily food intake. After of course I  recover those tried and true low carb recipes I collected back in the day when I was uber motivated to shed the weight.

Hubs and I recently returned from our epic summer road trip to visit family in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I made the conscious decision to wholeheartedly embrace the “live to eat” method. The “YOLO” diet, if you will. Justified by the fact that I was on vacation. 

My vacay diet consisted of the following: cheeseburgers and french fries. Ice cream treats. Potato chips. Lots of those. Candy. Cinnamon rolls. Cookies. Pancakes. Banana cream pie.  I basically ate like the 10 year old version of myself in the lazy days of summer. And I have no regrets. Though to be honest, I am a good 6 lbs. heavier now as a result of this “no holds barred” foodie fest.  I am verging on the precipice of having to purchase pants in a larger size at this point.

I refuse to purchase larger pants. Even if they are purchased for a pittance at my favorite thrift store. Even if they are far more comfortable and don’t leave red indentations in my mid-section after taking them off. Not. Gonna. Do. It.

Luckily, the recipe for the supper I photographed for your hungry eyes is indeed both low carb and highly delicious. Here it is:

4 chicken breasts

Store-bought pesto (or homemade, if you happen to grow your own basil as I do)

Chopped garlic

Fresh mushrooms

Fresh tomato

Shredded mozzarella

Brown Rice ( I highly recommend Success Rice. Easy-peasy, trust me)

Using a mallet (and some pent up anger), pound chicken breasts between a couple of pieces of parchment paper. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper to your liking.

Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet, then add some chopped up garlic and fry that up a little. Then add the chicken breasts. If it doesn’t appear to be cooking quickly enough, throw in a bit of water and cover the pan for a bit.

In a separate pan, heat up some olive oil and add the mushrooms. Once those are cooked up nicely, add them to the skillet with the chicken in it. Once the chicken is almost done, slather some of that delicious pesto on top of the breasts. Heat that up a bit, then sprinkle as much mozzarella on as you like. Slice up a tomato and put it on top. Cover the pan and heat it up a little more.

I’m going to assume you knew to make the brown rice in between all these steps.

Then simply plop your rice onto plates, and place a chicken breast onto that and chow down.

Enjoy, folks!

The food of winter: Chili

I love chili. Making it, eating it, experimenting with it. It’s one of those rare dishes that almost everyone I know loves. It’s especially perfect during these winter months when you are chilled to the bone. I remember as a kid, when my mom would make a big batch, I’d watch my dad slather on what had to be a good tablespoon of butter onto each Saltine to accompany his hearty bowl of chili. To my dad, everything is better with butter.

One of the few things I remember my dad’s mom making was chili. Only hers was different than all the rest. She added chunks of celery and spaghetti. It was more of a soup than a chili, actually. It smelled and tasted delicious.

My oldest spawn has always been a fan of chili herself. Every year, while we were living in Wisconsin, there was a chili cook off sometime in February. She and I always talked of attending, but for whatever reason, we never did. I regret that.

When Hubs was on a rotating shift schedule and the spawn were elementary school aged, I remember heating up a can of Hormel chili (no beans) in the microwave to create chili dogs for supper sometimes.  My oldest and I loved this messy treat, while the youngest was perfectly happy with a plain old hot dog.

So in that spirit, I’d like to share with you the version of chili I came up with earlier this week. Hubs and I agreed it was the best chili I ever made, so I thought it only right to share it with you all.

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Ingredients:

1 lb. beef stew meat

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 small cans tomato sauce

1 can black beans, drained

1 can chili beans, drained

1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes

Chili powder, to taste

Chihula hot sauce, to taste

Heat up the oil in a skillet. Brown the beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. It’s ok to leave it reddish inside. Plop it into a crockpot. Add cans of tomato sauce, black and chili beans, and Ro-Tel tomatoes. Sprinkle in some chili powder and Chihula, to taste. Give it a good stir and set the crockpot to low. After a long day of work, walk in the door and savor the aroma. Pat yourself on the back for taking the approximately 20 minutes this morning to put this deliciousness together. Chop some yellow onions and get out the shredded cheddar and sour cream. Spoon up that chili into bowls and add the flourishes to your liking. Eat up!

And if you’re a family of two like we are, give yourself another pat on the back, because later in the week, or heck even next week, you will have a night of no cooking, because this chili freezes very well in individual plastic tupperware thingies.