Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I hesitate to tell you this. . . .

But what the heck. I've been pretty much an open book so far, why stop now.

As most people know, I've been struggling with my weight since, well, since forever. I wrote about it here most recently.

I just can't seem to get motivated to workout. I have all kinds of excuses - things like I'm too tired, something good is on TV, or I just must sit here on the sofa for a very long while.

In addition to my lack of movement, my sweet tooth keeps taking over my body! When I get my body back I see that my sweet tooth has made me eat all kinds of bad things. Such a bad sweet tooth!

So, Tuesdays are the days that I go to Weight Watchers now - during my lunch time. I was getting ready to leave work today and my good friend and boss, was begging me to go to lunch with him instead. He is often not a good influence. Other people heard our discussion (because neither of us are very quiet) and one of my coworkers suggested that I should cancel my Weight Watchers membership and give him the money and he would instead hassle me daily to lose weight. I am so rebellious that this plan would never work for me. If I had to answer to someone saying, "why are you eating that?" then I would proceed to eat even more of it just to prove it to you that I could.

So, you get my point - the RIGHT motivation is key for me.

This same coworker mentioned that he and another coworker are trying to run/walk 365 miles this year. Of course these are guys who are both in very good shape and don't need to run/walk 365 miles.

Anyway, this idea marinated in my head while I was out at Weight Watchers today and I like the idea of a goal like this.

Perhaps it is because I'm currently reading "Julie and Julia; My Year of Cooking Dangerously" that I like the idea of this kind of a goal. I'm certainly behind the 8 ball on this already - here it is January 26 and I haven't logged a mile yet, but I think I could catch up.

My concern is that since I've now made this public, what if I can't/don't actually do it. What happens then? Will you still love me?

I guess even if I only walk 50 miles this year, that's still 50 miles, right?

Maybe if I get going on this I'll put up a tracker on the side showing my progress.

And if I don't get much done at all, this will probably be the last you will hear about it.

Oh the suspense!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Delicious Red Snapper

First of all, let me just say that my sister is so smart! I have been trying to figure out how to upload my pictures to Flickr and then get them to show up on this blog. She sent me a very detailed email on all of the steps and it worked like a charm! Thank you Erin!

So, on to my delicious red snapper!
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I should say that on Saturday, my Mom and I had the opportunity to meet with a very dear friend of mine, Kim, and her mother Nancy. We met for lunch at Cafe Brazil which is near Central Market. Central Market is a super grocery store, but unfortunately it is not very close to where I live. I love to go there whenever I can.

Mom and I went there after our great lunch and I was able to get some fantastic fish. I had never cooked with red snapper before, but I tried it because Mom said it was one of her favorites.

I took the red snapper and on the non-skin side I sprinkled with cumin, kosher salt and pepper. I put the fish seasoned-side down in a hot skillet that had just a touch of olive oil in it. I let the fish cook for about 4 minutes on this side.

I should have taken a picture of the non-skin side, but I forgot. Sorry about that.

But here's the fish in the pan, skin-side up. See the little piece on the right? That's Rominal's piece. He doesn't like fish at all, but he's been a good sport about it and eating whatever I make.
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After a few minutes, I turned over the fish and covered it with a drained can of chopped tomatoes, and about 1/4 a cup of salsa. I let the fish cook about 5-7 minutes longer, until it was done. And that was it!

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Knowing that Rominal doesn't like fish, I had to have hearty side dishes. This meant fingerling potatoes. I tossed these in olive oil and sprinkled on kosher salt and pepper and roasted in the oven at 425' for about 30 minutes. Aren't they cute!
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In addition to that (and this was for Bailey, because she can't get enough of this side dish) I roasted chopped up broccoli, onion and whole garlic cloves - again tossed in olive oil and put in the same 425' oven for about 30 minutes.
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Here's the finished fish again. I loved it - the fish was flaky, and not too fishy tasting. Bailey didn't like the salsa - she would have preferred a lemon type sauce. Oh well, can't win them all.

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Let me know if you try this. I really did like it a lot.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No one told me about this!

I've always prided, even boasted, about my perfect vision. Both of my parents require the use of contacts or glasses, so you would think I would have also been doomed. But somehow I have had perfect vision all of these years.

Rominal used to have to wear glasses so thick that they looked like the bottom of coke bottles because his eyesight was so poor. Then a couple of years ago he got lasik surgery and he can see perfectly now too. And poor Bailey, I've written about her eyesight here before. She's got one of my eyes and one of Rominal's.

But I have been noticing that my eyesight is changing. At first I thought it was just because I was tired or maybe because I just didn't have my morning coffee yet. But lately, there has been no denying it - my eyesight is getting blurry when I look at things up close. I can still see quite clearly at about a foot away from my head, but closer to that and things are messed up.

Is this because of all of the years I have worked on a computer? Did I look at the sun directly too much? Did I not eat enough carrots? Did I stand too close to the microwave? Or, could it be that I'm just getting older?

Your right. I probably stood too close to the microwave.

Anyway, I didn't sign up for this and I don't like it one bit.

So, if someone could please find for me my perfect eyesight, I'd like it back.

I'd get it myself, but I can't see where I misplaced it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken with Fennel

So, in an effort to eat better, the other night I made a Weight Watcher's Recipe called Chicken with Fennel and Olives. The original recipe is here.

We all thought this was pretty good. It wasn't "oh my god!" good, but good.

I like fennel, it's crunchy and has a nice flavor. I had never cooked with it before - I had only had it when other people prepared it.

This is what fennel looks like. When I mentioned to some people in my office that I was going to make something with fennel they either didn't know what it was or thought it was a spice.


3 tsp olive oil
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, halved crosswise
3/4 pound(s) fennel bulb(s)
1 small onion(s), thinly sliced
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/2 cup(s) canned chicken broth
16 oz canned Italian style stewed tomatoes, in juice
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
8 medium olive(s), black, pitted and sliced

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Saute chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, trim feathery sprigs from fennel. Finely chop and set aside 2 tablespoons. Halve and thinly slice bulb.

In skillet, heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil.

Saute fennel bulb, onion and garlic until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and fennel sprigs. Bring to a simmer, then return chicken to skillet. Cook, covered, until chicken is heated through and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives and serve.

I served this with roasted broccoli, onion and garlic. Bailey can't get enough of this whenever I make it. I just chop up the broccoli and onion into bite size pieces and add some whole garlic clove. I put this onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper (love this - no clean up for the cookie sheet!). I drizzle some olive oil over it and sprinkle with salt and pepper and put it in a 425' oven for about 30 minutes or so. At least once during the cooking I take the pan out of the oven and stir the veggies around.

You can see them in the picture below.

The chicken with fennel was only 4 Weigh Watchers points - not bad at all for a main dish, and it was pretty easy to make.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Look out - here comes a "talkie" blog.

Most of you know that I have been on a weight loss journey for over 2 years now. Overall, I think I've done pretty well. This post just summarizes where I am now.

When I look back at 2009, and if I had to label it as far as my weight loss goes, I think that this was the year that I fell off the wagon. In 2008 I had done so well. 2008 was the year that I hit a goal of 50 pounds lost. (That post is here) 2008 was the year that I cut my hair off (post here), something that I have not regretted for a minute (well, except for maybe a couple of times when I want to be completely lazy - I miss being able to just pull up my hair into a pony tail to run out to the grocery store). 2008 was the year that I turned 29, for the 11th time, er, I mean I turned 40. Basically, 2008 was a pretty good year. I felt like I had things under control and I was headed in the right direction.

Then came 2009.

Overall, I can't complain. I have a super good life and fantastic family and friends. But, 2009 is the year that I lost my way, when it comes to my weight loss goals.

My beloved Grandmother passed away in February of 2009. I am tearing up just writing that. I miss her so very much. But that's another storey for another post. In 2009 I almost had a nervous breakdown. Maybe that's not what it really was, but it sure felt like it. I haven't talked about it publicly on this blog, but basically my work was out of control, and I wasn't handling it well. On top of this, one of my cats was having issues that eventually resulted in me having to put him down. Things got so bad that I had a panic attack and was prescribed an anti-depressant. I took this for one week before I realized that this just wasn't for me. Luckily, things at work settled down, and although I miss my cat quite a lot, I am much less stressed because I don't have to worry about him on a daily basis.

These were just the highlights of last year, there were other things that just basically sucked that I won't go into.

So, not that these are legitimate reasons for which to blame my diet shortcomings, it's just somewhere along the way last year, I lost my way.

I turned back to food for comfort, I comforted myself in baking. Oh did I ever turn to baking. I love baking! I have got to find another outlet for that.

I'm mad, no disappointed, in myself for letting things get out of control again. I miss the feeling of being in control that I had. I miss going shopping because the clothes I had were too big! I hate that I'm now having to pull out clothes that I had set aside because they were too big for me before.

The biggest thing I lost was my motivation. I just didn't care. No, that's not true. I did care, I just didn't have the ability to follow through.

I'm trying to make a fresh start for 2010. Based just on the last two days, I'm doing quite well. I just have to find a way to bottle up my motivation and discipline to carry me through the days when I'd rather just sit around and eat candy or cookies.

I don't want to go back to where I was. I don't want to have to buy clothes in bigger sizes - sizes that I already passed on the way down.

So, since this is my blog, and it's pretty much a snapshot of what's going on in my life at this particular time, I wanted to write all of this down. It's been helpful for me to look back at my previous posts from when I was doing really well and remember with clarity what was going on then. I'm hoping that this will be a post that will help me to move forward.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Haystacks - kinda

So, anyone who knows me personally for longer than say, 5 minutes, knows that I have an enormous sweet tooth.

You know how some people will take a bit of something and make a face because whatever they are eating is too sweet for them? Yeah, those people. My husband is one of those people. Well, I just don't get them.

I understand food being too spicy. That's something I can relate to. But too sweet? Never. Seriously, I have yet to find a food that is too sweet for me.

So, having such a huge sweet tooth is not the best thing when your trying to lose weight. But here's something that's not completely bad.

They are haystacks, but made slightly differently. The original haystacks are made with chow main noodles and also contain peanuts.

These are made with Fiber One cereal. The box comes with 2 sleeves of twigs, er, I mean cereal. For this we will use just one.

Then you melt 1 bag of chocolate chips. And here's where you can customize it a bit. If you can't handle the sweet, use semi-sweet chips. If you can really handle the sweet, do what I do. I melted half a bag of milk chocolate chips and half a bag of butterscotch chips together. It makes it even sweeter. Yeah!

Once the chips are melted, stir them together good, and pour in the cereal. Drop the mix by the spoonful onto a wax lined cookie sheet and put in the fridge to set. Or, if it's cold where you are like it is here, just let them set for a few minutes on the counter.

Because of all of the fiber in the cereal, this treat doesn't count much in terms of weight watchers points. I get my sweet/chocolate fix, and I can still eat dinner that day. Everyone wins!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Deep Cleaning

I know, I know - another picture of a cat snuggled up. It's just that with the cold weather, that's all this cat does anymore!

Not that I'm jealous or anything. I mean, who would want to lay around all warm and snuggled up sleeping the day away.

Right, me neither. (I really would)

So, in an effort to keep busy and not go cuddle with Twister and sleep all day, I decided to tackle my pantry. I had let it go for way too long. I didn't really know what I had in there, because it had become so cluttered.

My pantry is an "L" shape, and it's a pretty good size. It's one of the reasons we liked this floor plan so much. I remember thinking that with all of that storage space we'd never fill it up. HA! It didn't take me long at all.

So, for the benefit of my readers, I'm going to show you my mess. I'm just keeping it real here people. This is the right side of the pantry - and the before picture.

Here's a more close up look at the clutter - this is the bottom half of the right side. The big bucket is for cat food. I didn't want you to think I was keeping chips or anything like that in there.

Did you see the hot-air pop-corn popper? Yeah, that hasn't gotten much use. You know how I know? It was covered in dust.

Here's the top half of the left side. The fabric you see on the left are my aprons. There's a hook on that wall that I hang them on.

And here's the bottom half of the left side. Like I said, things had gotten out of control. It was getting difficult to actually walk into my walk-in pantry.

The first thing I did was to take everything out. And I mean everything.

I had to put food on all of my counters,

and my kitchen island,

and I even buried my kitchen table in food.

Hey - I'm not proud of it, ok?

I will also admit I found some food that expired a while back, as in 2005. It was my own little archaeological dig. Going down memory lane with each expired food item. "Oh yeah, I remember why I bought that! I was gonna make this . . ."

Since everything was so cluttered, I would buy extras of things when I went to the store. I seriously have 4 LARGE bags of chocolate chips. Just in case I have a chocolate chip cookie emergency.

Don't laugh. It could happen.

Once everything was cleaned out of the pantry, I cleaned off each of the shelves and swept the floor. I had to make sure that it passed inspection.

Then I sorted and grouped the food by category. I now have a baking shelf, with flour, sugars, and multiple bags of chocolate chips in one area.

Because you never know when a chocolate chip cookie emergency could hit.

Also, I was able to move the cereal up a couple of shelves. When we first moved into this house, Bailey wasn't tall enough to reach the higher shelves. That's not an issue anymore.

Here's the finished right side.

And here's the finished left side.

I realize it is a subtle difference to the untrained eye, so I shall show you again.



I love the feeling you get when you are organized. I hope this lasts for a while.

And see that bottle of coconut rum in the top left, I treated myself to a rum and Coke after all of that hard work.

So, if you are having to stay indoors because of the cold - make good use of your time and take a nap! Just kidding.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have not made Chicken Tortilla Soup before, but I gotta say - I think this turned out really well.

It's freezing cold here, so soup was on the menu the other night. Also, this is a low fat dish, and that plays well with my weight loss goals.

Let's see if I can remember everything I did.

First I poached 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in some low sodium chicken broth. I used 3 chicken breasts because there are 3 of us. If you have more people in your house, use more chicken.

While the chicken was cooking, I chopped up an onion,

and I peeled 3 garlic cloves. I didn't chop these because I have a garlic press. If you don't have a garlic press, then chop these up too please.

Once the chicken was done, I shredded it with two forks.

I then cooked the onion and garlic in a tiny (about a teaspoon) of olive oil until the onions were a bit soft. I did this in my big soup pot.

Then I added two of these.

And 1 bag of this (I didn't even defrost it first!):

And a can of this (I drained just a bit of the juice off, but most of it went into the soup).

I also added some cumin (my new favorite spice), some kosher salt, some black pepper, and some cayenne pepper. I don't like things too spicy, but if you do - add more cayenne.

I took 4 corn tortillas (and I'm sorry, but I didn't take a picture of this - bad Wendy), and sliced them into very thin strips. These break down and make the soup thicker.

I chopped up a bunch of cilantro and threw that in there too.

Right before we ate, I juiced 1 lime into the soup, and threw in even more cilantro because I firmly believe that you can't have too much cilantro. (In this picture, you can see the strips of corn tortilla - after simmering the soup for a bit, they disappeared.)

I put a couple of tortilla chips into the bottom of each bowl, and poured the soup on top. Add a sprinkle of cheese, and, yes - more cilantro. It was so good!

Let me know if you make this and what you think.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's so cold!

It's very cold here today - I believe our high was around 30 degrees today, and it is supposed to stay below freezing for the next several days.

Our school district panicked and closed the schools around 5:30 this morning. How do I know they made this decision around 5:30 this morning? Well, I know that because they have an automatic calling system, which called our house at, yes - you guessed it - 5:30 this morning.

Getting phone calls in the middle of the night or really early in the morning is never a good thing, but this one gave us mixed emotions.

I was happy that the schools were closed, since that meant that the roads were pretty bad outside. I was not happy to be waken up at 5:30 to be told about this. I would have seen it on the news about 30 minutes later.

We all know how wonderful those last few minutes of sleep are, right? Well, I missed mine today.

So, imagine my surprise when the sun finally came up to see that our roads were completely clear - not a drop of ice or snow anywhere. There was no reason to close the schools - at least that I could tell.

I can't complain too much. I worked from home today. Which allowed me to witness this.

Bailey and Twister all snuggled up together, and they appear to both be watching her Zune.

I guess Twister didn't like what they were watching.

Doesn't he look like he's trying to tell her to skip through this part? Maybe it's scary.

Awww, they both fell asleep. How cute!

Wait, I think someone was faking it.

Twister was serious though.

I hope everyone is warm and snuggled up!

I made Chicken Tortilla Soup tonight, and I have to say, I was quite pleased with it. I'll post the recipe in my next post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cheesecake Brownies

One of the goodies that I made before Christmas was these Cheesecake Brownies. (I should mention here that these pictures were taken with my old camera - because I'm sure you can totally tell the difference.) I decided to mix it up a bit and I made them into tiny cupcake size bites. They turned out quite well, and it was super easy to do.

Here's the original recipe and the only modification I made was to bake them in the tiny cupcake cups.

Cheesecake Brownies

1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar


1.Prepare the brownie mix as directed by manufacturer. Preheat oven to temperature indicated on box. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

2.Spread the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth. Dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter. Swirl together using a knife or skewer.

3.Bake according to manufacturer's instructions. Brownies will be done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan, then cut into bars and serve. (I cooked them at 325' for about 30 minutes. I just kept checking them until they looked done.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Black Beans and Cilantro Rice

I LOVE black beans. Let me just get that out there. They are something that I have discovered late in life, but I really love them.

Can I tell you what else I love? My new camera! I'm still discovering the things it can do, but it is way cool.

Look at this neat trick the camera can do. Here's the original picture (Rominal took this tonight after dinner):

And it made a pencil drawing! Super cool!

Although it almost looks like one of those pictures that shows you where all of your age spots are. Maybe this isn't a good thing.

Ok - enough play time - on to the recipe.

After all of the sweets from the holidays, I need to get back on the weight loss wagon. This meal is very low in fat and my family will still eat it.

I start with this - (and I try to get no or reduced salt whenever possible so that I can control the sodium myself)

I put just a tiny amount of olive oil in my pan - maybe 1-2 tsp.

And then I add 1 chopped red onion and (only because I happened to have it on hand this time) 1 chopped red pepper. Normally I don't add a red pepper.

Let them sweat together in the pan. In the meantime, I chop up a bunch of cilantro. I would normally use way more than this, because I happen to love cilantro, but this was all that I had on hand today.

Chop up the cilantro well. Bailey is helping me demonstrate the chopped cilantro.

Once the onion and red pepper have gotten a bit soft and to your liking, add in the 2 cans of black beans (I drained one can of beans and dumped the the other can in whole - just because), and 1 can of chopped tomatoes (do not drain).

At this point I also added kosher salt, garlic powder, cumin, pepper. Then let it all simmer for a bit.

Right before I serve, I add the juice of 1-2 limes, and a ton of cilantro. There's no point in adding cilantro prior because you want the green bits to show up and they kinda deteriorate after a while.

To my cooked rice, I added a tiny amount of butter and some more cilantro.

Top off the rice with the black beans and a pinch more cilantro. This is how Bailey likes it.

To make this more of a meal for Rominal, I also made some turkey sausage. Yes, turkey - I'm trying to lighten things up, remember?

I originally had a picture of the whole turkey link on the side of the beans, and it just looked wrong, so here's my bowl with the turkey sliced inside.

This is a very filling and super good meal.