Friday, May 28, 2010

The (very) Red, White, & Blue


It’s been a really hot week here in Michigan.  Mostly sunny and until today, humid. 

My youngest daughter and I went to a local beach on Wednesday and we played in the lake for 2.5 hours.  I was very careful to slather her in waterproof sunscreen several times, but wasn’t so careful with myself.  The end result looks something like this: 

(not my picture)


My back and shoulders are the worst – but it was my own fault, so I will stop complaining.

So did anyone watch the finale of Biggest Loser? Dancing with the Stars?  American Idol?  I watched 2 out of the 3.  I missed DWTS even though I watched most of the season.  I was happy with the Pussycat Doll winning with Derek (love Derek!) and I was very happy for Michael to win Biggest Loser, even though I was rooting for Ashley.  On AI I liked the girl better – thought the guy was just kinda “meh” – but again, I didn’t watch the whole season, maybe I was wrong.  Where do you weigh in?

Speaking of weight – I lost 5 pounds two weeks ago and the scale has not BUDGED since.  I have been eating healthfully, lots of veggies and fruit, drinking almost nothing but water, exercising – and NOTHING!  I’m getting so aggravated.  I so want to see that number go down! 

Last week I read “The King’s Rose” by Alyssa M. Libby and it was quite good.  It was the story of Henry the VIII’s 5th wife, Jane Howard.  She was only 15 and married to the King when he was 50.  Ewww.  But it was a quick, simple read and I enjoyed it very much.  4/5

Now I’m reading the 2nd Alaskan Quest novel by Tracie Peterson, “Under the Northern Lights”.  This book continues the story of Leah and her brother, Jacob, who run a small trading post in Alaska.  I can’t say much about it, because it would ruin book 1 for you! 

Well, I best take my daughter and her friend to play put-put golf before their incessant talking makes my brain explode.  :)  (teens!)

Have a wonderful, safe, and happy Memorial weekend! And may God bless all those men and women who serve (and served) our country!  My grandpa was in WWII, I had an Uncle who was in the Korean war, and 3 Uncles in Vietnam.  What bravery it must take to protect the US!  I am amazed at their dedication. 



Menu Plan Monday: May 23, 2010

I wrote this last weekend and I never posted it!  So here is what we ate all week….LOL


Sunday:  NY strip steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, corn on the cob, green salad


Monday:  Garlic Lime  Chicken fajitas with roasted asparagus with garlic and green salad



Tuesday: Broiled tilapia parmesan, roasted veggies (red potatoes, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, turnips, etc.)  

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Wednesday:  Mom’s house for dinner



Thursday:  Chef Meg’s Mediterranean Chicken w/ Orzo and Rachael Ray’s oven roasted broccoli



Friday: Linguine with Spicy Shrimp and Rachael Ray’s Zucchini Oven Fries 



Saturday: Mom’s house again for dinner!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday’s with Rachael Ray: Red Pepper Pesto and Shrimp Pizza

Hi everyone!  Welcome to Saturday’s with Rachael Ray, hosted each week by Taste & Tell!


Ok, this week I completely forgot to take pictures, and I apologize! 

This recipe comes from the June/July Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine.  It looked so good that I had to try it!

Here is a pic of the pic in the magazine:

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4 ears corn, husks removed

2 red bell peppers – stemmed, cored and quartered

6 tbs EVOO

1 lp frozen peeled and deveined medium shrimp, thawed

Salt and Pepper

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 cups basil leaves, 1/4 cup thinly sliced

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 12-inch baguette – split, hollowed out and halved


You are supposed to grill the corn in the husks and the peppers.  We had a rainy day, so I improvised.

Toss shrimp in EVOO and season with S&P

Cook shrimp on grill if you are able (again, improvised)

You are supposed to food process the peppers, 1/2 cup mozzarella 1/2 cup basil leaves and lemon juice

Spread on french bread, top w/ grilled shrimp and sprinkle w/ mozzarella.  Arrange on grill until cheese is melted.

I did all of mine on top of and inside of the oven! I thought they were insanely delish!  I’d love to make them again, and use the grill next time.

Oh – and the corn is a side dish, it doesn’t go on the pizzas :)

Have a great week!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday – Hungry Girl Style

Welcome to Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Org Junkie.  This week I’m trying out several new recipes, both by Hungry Girl and Rachael Ray


*Thomas’s bagel thins w/
egg substitute, turkey sausage & Laughing Cow cheese

*Choco-Monkey Oatmeal by Hungry Girl


*Spinach tomato feta egg wrap by HG




Turkey Reuben Quesadilla by HG (from the book 200 under 200)


Rachael Ray’s Boca Burger Reuben from June issue of her magazine

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Cheesy Beefy Quesadillas by HG




Sunday:  Grilled buffalo chicken legs, grilled asparagus, oven fries, and Rachael Ray’s cauliflower with lime cream sauce* (From June mag)

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MondayHG taco salad in shell


TuesdayBroiled tilapia parmesan, wild rice, roasted cauliflower, carrots, and red potatoes


Wednesday: Mom’s house!


ThursdayShrimp & Pasta Primavera using McCormick Recipe Inspirations (free w/ coupon)


Friday:  Rachael Ray mag’s Shrimp and Basil French bread pizzas

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Saturday:  Mom’s house again! 


I hope you all have a great week and enjoy dinner each night with your families and friends!



Saturdays with Rachael Ray: Tilapia with Bulgur Pilaf

I am posting this recipe for Taste and Tell’s Saturdays with Rachael Ray meme!

I am basing this recipe on Rachael Ray’s Tilapia in coucous, except:

1.  I am cooking them separately

2.  I am using bulgur in place of coucous

Other than that, it has all the same flavors!

Here is the original recipe:

Click here to find out more!

Tilapia Baked in Couscous

  • One 10-ounce box couscous
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • Four 8-ounce tilapia fillets
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Fare exchange
Substitute any thin, delicate white fish, such as red snapper or sole, for the tilapia.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine the couscous, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes and cumin and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the 1/4 cup olive oil and the lemon juice.

  2. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the tilapia fillets in a single layer in the dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover the fish with the couscous mixture and arrange the lemon slices on top. Pour 2½ cups water around the fish, cover with foil and bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Top with the parsley.

And here are my pics:

Tilapia ready to go in the oven

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My dinner plate:

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It was really good!  The fish was tender and flaky and full of flavor.  I’ll definitely be making this again!



Friday, May 14, 2010

Why Starting Over?

I’ve been separated from my husband for 2 months now.  Divorce is in the proceedings.   While my life is infinitely better and I am so much happier – I still feel that sense of guilt that I should have tried harder.  (I should mention that my 3 children are not from my 2nd marriage – we had no children together)

I gave him ultimatums for 2 years.  We went to counseling.  We went to church.  But in the end, he chose to continue the behavior that tore our marriage apart rather than give it up.  My children were not happy, I was living a lie, I was a complete hypocrite.  I stopped going to church because what was going on in my house was something I couldn’t share with nearly anyone.

So why am I telling you all this?  I commented on another blog that I thought it was important to do some posts with a more “authentic voice”.  Most of my posts are written for entertainment purposes – recipes, book reviews, memes… so once in a while I”m going to add in a post that really comes from my heart.

In really good news – I’ve lost 31 pounds!  Don’t go congratulating me yet – I have a LOT more to go.  But I am so proud of getting over that 30 pound mark!  I’ve been sitting at the 27-lb lost mark for a month!   I’ve been following Spark People and I can’t say enough how wonderful it is.  If you have ANY amount to lose – 5 lbs or 300 lbs – check them out.  There are groups and message boards for every age group, hobby, weight and exercise need. 

So my new living arrangements are much more conducive to my weight loss.  I get out and walk several times a week.  My daughters are both walking a lot more too.  I’m home a lot more so I get to plan the meals and eat at home most nights. 

I’ve started to feel a little bit more human.  I got a hair cut and color, shaved my legs, painted my toenails and even wear makeup once in a while.  I can see a future.  I’m enjoying my kids more.  I’m more involved with their lives.

This morning my youngest asked me why I was still in bed.  I told her it was my day off work and I felt like sleeping in.  She told me I never stay in bed anymore – but at the old house I slept all the time.  She said she had to get her own food a lot more too.  (She is 10, not like she’s 3 – and she was nuking pizza – not using the oven! )

That statement is what got me to type up this post.  I still  hold guilt in my heart – but I KNOW I made the right decision.  My kids are all happy and even though I THOUGHT I was happy before – I realize that I wasn’t.  But I am now. 


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cooking Thursday – Southwest Casserole



Cooking Thursday is hosted by Sandra at Diary of a SAHM!  Stop by and visit for some yummy recipes!


I think a lot of people have different versions of this in their recipe books, but I thought I would share mine!



2 bags of Knorr Spanish Rice

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into bite-sized pieces

1-2 cups cheddar cheese


1 can black olives

1 cup crushed tortilla chips

1 can diced tomato w/ garlic and onion

1 can Mexicorn


1/2 can black beans

1 taco seasoning packet

Pam or EVOO

In a nonstick skillet, cook chicken w/ Pam or EVOO and add taco seasoning w/ 1/4 cup water.  Cover and keep on low heat.  You may shred chicken if you like it this way.

Cook rice according to directions.

Pre-heat oven to 350.

I use my Rachael Ray lasagna pan for this – but any large oven-safe pain will do.


Combine chicken, cooked rice, Mexicorn, diced olives, rinsed black beans,  and tomatoes w/ garlic and onions into large pan.  Place in oven for 20 minutes.

Add 1 cup crushed tortilla chips (we used Fritos) and top with 1-2 cups cheddar (we like a lot of cheese) and place back in oven until cheese is melted.

Note – this is NOT healthy!  lol  But it’s super good and my whole family loves it. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week!



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gifts and Good Eats

I hope everyone had a really wonderful Mother’s Day!  I wanted to share a picture of one of the things I received because I love it and wanted to tell you so!

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It’s from Target, and it’s called Caldrea.   The top pic has dish soap, hand soap, and lotion.  The bottom pic is surface cleaner.  It contains olive oil, coriander and cedar, which doesn’t SOUND like it would smell all that great, but trust me, it does!  It’s a clean, fresh, uplifting scent that is perfect to use in the kitchen.  And the surface cleaner?  I used it on my stainless steel appliances?  And it worked great!!!  Best stuff I’ve come across so far to clean them!  I highly recommend this stuff!  The 3-piece set I think is 19.99 and the cleaner was 7.99  - so it’s not exactly cheap, but not over-the-top either. 

I also wanted to share some pics of what I’ve been eating this week – so when I weigh in on Friday you’ll know why I gained/lost!  LOL

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Breakfast  yesterday was 2 breakfast tacos using turkey sausage, egg beaters, 2 corn tortillas, peppers, onion, and sausage.  Came out to 300 calories total.  Plus Yoplait light and creamy yogurt in French vanilla and 1/4 cup blackberries.

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This is what I brought to work with me, but I didn’t eat my apple :(  Bad girl!


I went out to dinner (a late Mother’s Day gift) to Red Lobster and I was really good! 


(This isn’t my pic – and not exactly what I had, but it shows the tilapia!)

I had:

2 unsweetened iced teas w/ lemon and splenda

shrimp cocktail – 150 calories

side salad w/ 1 tsp reduced calorie balsamic – 90 cals

Wood grilled tilapia – 210

Asparagus – 40 (1/2 serving)

1/4 cup rice (1/2 serving) – 70

All in all it was around 570 calories – even with an appetizer!  Woot!


Have a great day!



Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday

Welcome to Happy Homemaker Monday hosted by Sandra at Diary of a SAHM! 4452676258_fbde55c90f_mThe weather in my neck of the woods:

Today was sunny, but windy and in the 50’s. 
Things that make me happy:

Birds at my feeders!

Book I'm reading:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

What I'm enjoying on TV:

I’m LOVING Dr. Who on Netflix right now – instant watch.  Also currently on the BBC!

On the menu for dinner:

Oven baked chicken, green salad, and roasted root vegetables.

On my To Do List:

It’s nearly 10 p.m. now, so I’m going to read and then go to bed!

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:

I just bookmarked Black bean and corn quesadillas
Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers):

Silver Lining

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):

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On my mind:

Summer vacation up the East Coast! YAY!


Menu Plan Monday: May 10th, 2010

Welcome to another Menu Plan Monday, hosted by the Organizing Junkie!  Check out this meme to find literally  hundreds of menus posted every week!

Now last week I said that I wanted to try and eat healthier this week – so that is the plan!  We’ll see how long I can do it! 

Here are a couple of random pictures from my kitchen:

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This is my rooster I found at a 2nd hand store and just love him!

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Trying to make apples more appetizing for the kids!

Monday:  Chicken dipped in Egg Beaters and then in breadcrumbs and Paula Deen’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning, baked in the oven along with roasted  vegetables.  (Red potatoes, parsnips, baby carrots, garlic, asparagus)  I used a recipe similar to THIS

Here’s what they looked like before they went into the oven:

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Tuesday:  I am going out to Olive Garden and have already planned ahead.  I’m having the lunch portion of the shrimp primavera – and to figure out the calories, I went to Dottie’s Weight Loss Zone.

Wednesday: We are going to my parents’ house for dinner – so no cooking again!

Thursday:  I am going to base tonight’s dinner on a Rachael Ray recipe, Tilapia baked in couscous – except I am going to be making bulgur pilaf* instead!  I will be posting this recipe with pictures on Saturday if you are interested!


Friday:  I’m making whole wheat spaghetti with shrimp, diced tomatoes, asparagus, garlic – similar to this recipe here from Spark People

Saturday:  Going to Mom’s house again! Lucky me!



No cooking three times this week!

Have a blessed time around the dinner table with your families!

*Bulgur Pilaf:  My good friend made this a few times when the girls would get together for dinner.  We kept forgetting the name of it (either cracked wheat pilaf or bulgur pilaf) so we started calling it “THE STUFF”.  Here is how it’s made:


1 cup bulgur

1 can low sodium chicken broth/water/veggie broth/etc

1/4 cup vermicelli threads (or you can break up some noodles)

1 TBS EVOO or butter or (I use) I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

Use a sauce pan and melt butter/evoo and put in vermicelli threads.  Cook until golden.  Add 1 cup bulgur and 2 cups (or 1 can) broth/water.  Bring to boil then turn down to a low simmer.  Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork.

If you have never tried bulgur – give it a try!  It has a better texture and nuttier flavor than couscous!

And while searching – I found another great recipe for bulgur pilaf

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturdays with Rachael Ray

It’s my very first time participating in Saturdays with Rachael Ray at Taste and Tell !  I came upon this meme last week and knew right away I wanted to join in!

I knew this meme was out and I wanted to cook a RR recipe but seeing as I normally go to my parents’ house for dinner on Saturday – I had nothing planned for today!  I had just posted how I want to be all healthy and eat less pasta – but since I didn’t plan a meal for today – I had to go with what I have in the pantry and freezer --- chicken and egg noodles. 

I Googled“Racheal Ray recipe chicken egg noodles” and found this:

Hearty Chicken and Noodle Casserole


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  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables  ( I had frozen peas, corn, and spinach)
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 2 cups medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • And I get to use my Rachael Ray bubble and brown bakeware!  Woot!

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    1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the soup, milk, vegetables, chicken, noodles, Parmesan cheese and black pepper in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.

    2. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the chicken mixture. Top with the cheese. Let stand until the cheese is melted.

    I added a little garlic salt and some paprika on top too. 

    Just out of the oven:

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    And here is my plate:

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    I have to say that it was pretty darn good.  I’m not crazy about spinach, but it’s good for me so I put it in there to counteract the cheese!  LOL  My SO had two very large helpings and said it was delicious!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!  Please leave me a comment!  It gets so lonely!


    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Changes Ahead with my Menus

    Cooking for my family is one of my favorite things to do.  I take time to menu plan, make out my grocery list, match up my coupons, shop, prepare, plate, and serve meals.  Lately those meals have not been so healthful.  We do have lots of veggies and salads and very little red meat – however, our portion sizes are way too big and we eat too much starchy foods (rice, pasta), etc.

    I am a member at Spark People (which I LOVE) and I decided to base my daily menu and our family dinners on the Spark-suggested menus.  It uses your calorie range and gives you a very balanced diet. 


    Tonight I had a small piece of chicken I baked in the oven with McCormick Grinders Italian Blend (rosemary, parsley and black peppercorn, with hearty pieces of garlic, onion and tomato) and a mixture of whole wheat pasta w/ 1/2 cup white beans, tomatoes, garlic, and spinach topped with parmesan cheese.  I had a green salad, and a side of broccoli and cauliflower.  It was good!  And the chicken got rave reviews.  I got the spice for 15 cents after sale and coupon!



    And when I was looking for that picture, I found on the website some great recipes!

    Meals Under 30 Minutes

    Recipe Finder – Put in your meat and one other ingredient and see what pops up!

    So my point is – look for healthier, fresher, yummier recipes to come!


    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    My Favorite Recipe Posts of the Week

    I follow over 100 blogs on bloglines and I save a LOT of posts that I want to get back to and generally forget about! I thought I’d list some of my favorite recipe posts of the past few weeks and have them here in one place!


    Hopefully you will find them helpful too.

    Falafel Recipe from Biggest Diabetic Loser

    Diary of a SAHM’s Cooking Thursday

    Eat at Home’s Pepper Patch Pasta

    Good (& Cheap) Eats Spicy Hummus Wrap

    Taste & Tell: Saturdays with Rachael Ray

    Rachael Ray Sesame Noodles at Laloosh

    What was your favorite recipe of the week?