Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Learning to use the Uuni

Remember I showed you this?:
Hubby loves new gadgets and he has expensive taste...Its a stainless steel portable oven, basically.  But the good thing is, we can use it to cook all kinds of things - including pizza!
 Last weekend we set it up just outside of the barn and made pizzas on Saturday night {whole wheat dough, pesto, mozzarella, spinach, and sliced Roma tomatoes}.  They took about 2 minutes to cook!  They were very good, but next time we will make the crusts a bit thinner and use less cheese.  Sorry I don't have pics of that - I was too busy EATING.  Ha!
 And on Sunday we used some small cast iron dishes to make tilapia with zucchini for lunch.  I thin he got the dishes at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I also have a small cast iron skillet that I think will work.  This should help us with some food options up at Highlands on the weekends - no more giant Tex-Mex dinners or fried catfish...its all for the best.
Look at that smoke! I will get some better pics next time and maybe we will get super creative with meals out at Highlands.  For now I will say its so much faster to cook a healthy meal in this versus the BBQ pit.  You use just 2 or 3 scoops of post oak pellets and they burn up fast.  So this is great for two people.  Plus, the pizza  doesn't taste too "woodsy" like when we used the BBQ grill. I'm sure we will still use the BBQ for when we are feeding more people, but his new gadget will be fun to learn.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Mealplan Monday #234

Nothing too adventurous this week - just trying to keep it simple so that I don't have to spend as much time prepping dinner in the mornings.
Monday - Italian Spiced Chicken Bites*, eggplant/onion/tomato ragout
Tuesday - Pintos with ham hock (crockpot),onion, cilantro, jalapenos, and avocado
Wednesday - Lemon Parseley Fish, veggies and quinoa (whatever I need to use up)
Thursday - Lean Beef Patty with onions and peppers, steamed carrots
Friday - Chicken Schwarma Thighs*, sweet potato
Saturday - The Girl visits!
Sunday - Crock pot soup with ground turkey, tomatoes and leftover veg from the week

*to a pound or so of cubed chicken breasts I will add olive oil, Italian seasoning, and garlic.  Hubby can toss it in the oven for about 45 minutes while he heats up the eggplant dish.  {eggplant, onion, and peppers in a skillet on med-hi heat with a little bit of oil}.
For the Chicken Schwarma, I will season up chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and schwarma seasoning and lay in a dish with peeled and cubed sweet potatoes.  He can bake that for about 45 minutes as well.

Friday, February 22, 2019

5 thing Friday - party, wine sipping, snacks, roses, Uuni

Last Friday I helped organize a pop-up going away party for a co-worker who was leaving.
Seventeen years of loyalty and hard work, and the boss wasn't going to acknowledge it.  There's something wrong with that.  I made her a chocolate cherry cake, bought some pretty napkins and flowers, and took a tablecloth in.  The supervisor took up a small collection and reimbursed me - but I would have done it anyway.  I hate losing friends at work.
Hubby and I visited two places last weekend that we hadn't been to in a while.  Fist was The Grove in Cedar Park. Isn't this wine bottle filled structure COOL?  We enjoyed a plate of crispy brussels sprouts with our tempranillo tasting. 
Then on Sunday we went to Bell Springs.  No wine club thing going on, no tour bus, no "bride tribe" - and perfect weather.
 We always enjoyed their wines and its such a nice place to kick back. Plus, they had live music waaay up there on the deck.
 We brought along some healthy snacks so we wouldn't be tempted by the food truck.  I think Hubby is doing a far better job with his healthy eating change than I am - yesterday I ate a Twix.  Sigh. 
I hope you enjoyed your five minutes of winter in Central Texas.  All the things think it is spring. Time to get started making my plans for various gardening activities, both at Camp Rustown and at Highlands.  Isn't this giant wall of roses pretty?  I had no idea rose bushes could get this big - it was towering over our heads. {this is in downtown Dripping Springs}
Hubby's new play toy is a portable pizza oven.  We plan to use it at Highlands this weekend.  Whole wheat crust, please!  Hold the pepperoni. And there is also a pick-up party at Torr Na Lochs - fun!  Can you believe February is almost over?  The Girl will be here to pick up Teddy next weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Changing our food habits for the better!

It's been at least a week since the doc read Hubby the riot act on his health.  On the short To Do list: Lose weight, lower cholesterol, exercise.  So big changes had to be made - no sense dragging our heels.  And it will be far easier if BOTH of us jump on this train.
 Since I shop once a week and plan menus in advance, I am loathe to toss food I had already bought.  So after using a bunch of it up (meatloaf and mac and cheese, anyone?) I revamped my plan.  It helps that we are using Imperfect Produce - my grocery trips are much shorter because my lists are smaller and I really stick to them.  I am adjusting what I list on the menu to what I order from IP.  And that's easier to do when you are sitting at your computer (versus the store) making wise decisions about meals.
I have been finding creative ways to use the veggies before they go bad.  This forces me to actually COOK them not just BUY them.  {What a concept.}  We always loved veggies, but now we are enjoying them far more.  And I have new guidelines for my menus:  fish twice a week, beef only once per week, chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs, no processed frozen foods for Hubby and I.  Adding in a pot of beans more often. Menus will be simpler going forward.
Most of the "forbidden" things are gone, but I still have to feed Bubbie and he's not on a diet!  We are adding in fresh fruit, almonds, and oatmeal.  Subtracting bacon, butter, and an overabundance of cheese.  Processed foods are out, and potatoes and rice are limited.  Sweet tea is out.  Beer and eggs are greatly reduced.  The rest of the Valentine's cupcakes got tossed this morning.  So far neither of us feels deprivedAnd though its only been a few days, I feel better physically!  Hopefully he does, too.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Mealplan Monday #233

Silly man, We can do this.
Monday - Leftovers from Sunday - mom shops after work tonight
Tuesday - Simple Fish*, spinach and red onion salad
Wednesday - Honey Dijon Chicken Bites, kale and quinoa
Thursday - Split Pea Soup (freezer), grilled cheese on oat bread
Friday - Roast Turkey, skillet zucchini, mashed red potatoes
Saturday - YOYO Mom and Dad will eat salmon
Sunday - (Freezer) Linguini and Meatballs, Caesar salad (with 1/2 the dressing)
*all I did was season it, lightly dust it with cornmeal, than pan fry in a scant amount of olive oil.
I think that given our current state of trying to follow a pre-diabetic diet, mealplans will not vary too much, except that potatoes will play less of a role in my menus, as well as beef, pasta, and rice.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentine's re-cap and sad news...

 OK, first the re-cap!
I bounded out of bed around 7 all ready to BAKE.  After I made dinner for my peeps (and put it in the fridge in individual bowls, yo), I cleaned the kitchen up, then made some yummy cupcakes and set them out with pretty napkins.  I know they are all men and they don't care one bit about it.  But it made me feel good.  If I think too hard about how all of my sweet peeps are off doing completely different lives without me it makes me very sad so I DON'T THINK ABOUT THAT.
Secondly I made this amazing dip for work.  I very very very loosely followed  a recipe for "Million Dollar Dip" adding in cream cheese for some of the mayo and it was AMAZING.  Basically it is cream cheese, mayo, colby-jack, bacon, green onions, garlic, lemon pepper, smoked paprika, and worchestershire.  I served with Ritz crackers for my work peeps!  Other than that, Valentine's Day passed without incident.
OK - sad news...
Hubby was given a laundry list of bad news yesterday afternoon about the state of his health.  I feel very personally responsible as I buy and prepare the food.  (cupcakes I am looking at you) I cannot control what goes into his mouth, but I can damn sure control what I buy and prepare. And I count myself as being in it with him.  
Let the war begin.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Weekend re-cap: the overnight edition

We are missing people at work - as in, we are missing BOTH of the regular staff members that work weekday overnights.  We got a couple of emails that asked for volunteers in advance of outright assigning us a particular week, so I just bit the bullet and volunteered for one - last week.
Sunset meant it was time to get up for the day and have a cup of coffee before cooking dinner...I'm not gonna lie, it was a challenge.  But I was in it to win it.  Ahead of time I planned out when I would eat, when I would nap, when I would have coffee, what to pack to eat...all of that.  
Teddy was not a fan of me sleeping the day away.
But I call it a success because I made it through!  By the time Saturday morning came along, I was ready for it to be over.
I left work at 6 on Saturday morning, was asleep by 6:35, and woke up without an alarm by noon.  After a quick shower, we headed to Highlands.  {this is a pic of frosty trees along the road to Burnet. My lack of quality pics will likely not surprise anyone}  We picked up steaks and portabellas to grill at Highlands, spent an hour or so at Save The World enjoying a cherry ale release and grilled pizzas.
When Spring arrives, this giant tire will become a container for lantana! 
We grilled our steaks and did some odds and ends around Highlands.  Then we both called it an early night at 8 p.m.
The next day we ate a leisurely breakfast and checked on the burn barrel from the evening before.  {We are slowly making our way through the pile of bark leftover from moving the firewood stacks.}  Then we headed over to Perissos for the wine club pick-up party.
Even though it was cold and misty, we were comfy and cozy - the place is huge and was packed.  But the lunch of Chicken Parmesan Pasta was great and we enjoyed a bottle of Sangiovese in the tasting room listening to live music.
It seemed like the rest of the afternoon went by in a blur.  We were home in Austin by 3:30 p.m., made a fire in the firepit, and enjoyed snacks.  Dinner was meatballs and fettucine, Scout and Dutch bailed on us, and after I got the kitchen cleaned up and the laundry going, again, we were in bed super early.  And now its Hump Day already!
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I will bake a sweet treat for my peeps, and another weekend is just a couple days away...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Mealplan Monday #232

Monday - Crockpot Italian Roast*, mashed potatoes, chopped salad
Tuesday - Crunchy Crumb Baked Chicken, broccoli-raisin salad, leftover sauteed cabbage
Wednesday - Pork Chops with onions and peppers, kale, leftover sides
Thursday - Bok Choy and Mushroom Pot Sticker Stir Fry
Friday - Salmon, ginger carrots, angel hair pasta
Saturday - YOYO
Sunday - Meatloaf, baked macaroni, mixed veggies
*I was going to make Italian Drip Beef, which calls for pepperoncini, but guess what I forgot to buy last week?  So I improvised!  I added a little olive oil, a couple tablespoons of  Italian seasoning/dried parsley, pepper, salt, and garlic powder to about 1/3 cup lemon dressing and poured it over the roast and set the crocpot to low for 8 hours.  I will report back to tell you how it came out!

Friday, February 8, 2019

5 thing Friday - cling free window, brewpub, lounger for two, lunch, the view

I'm sure that somewhere in my blog there is a pic of when I put that stained glass looking window cling on a couple of windows in the front room - Including the small one at the top of the front door.  It had to be about 9 years ago.
 But I can't find here is what it looks like now, without the window cling.It was starting to look yellowy and I realized that I basically hated it.  So down it came.  So much better.  Its weird how I looked at it every day and then one day in particular I thought, "Oh.  I hate that."
I cleaned up both sides of that window then I put a candle and some greenery up there.  When I decorate for Spring, I will change it up.  So much more light in this area now!
Hubby and I met up at a new brewpub last Friday after work - Brewtorium.  We split a burger and a thin crust pizza and it was wonderful.  The place was packed and yet still Hubby managed to recognize old acquaintance from Scouting days.
For Christmas, Scout and Dutch purchased us this lounger built for two!  It now has a home at Highlands under a couple of trees and makes a great place to nap.
An al fresco lunch of turkey breast from a turkey I roasted up a couple of weekends ago, a sliced poblano, a red bell pepper, some fresh garlic, and two frozen twice baked potatoes.  {Followed by a nap in the aformentioned lounger...}
The "before" picture of a clump of little oak trees we are going to slash down, with several dumpcart loads of bark we are going to dispose of in the burn barrel.  After all is said and done, this view should greatly improve!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A favorite meal - fish tacos

Every now and again I switch up the order of my menus - I felt like having the fish tacos last night, instead of Friday, for example.  This is a favorite meal at our house - only Bubbie will not eat fish and I usually throw a few chicken strips for him to make tacos with instead.  There's really no recipe to this.  Heat some vegetable oil in a non stick skillet while you coat some tilapia filets with seasoned cornmeal.  Fry them up until lightly browned, then build your taco!
Last night we had a cilantro/purple onion mix, fresh lime, sliced avocado, shredded monterrey jack cheese, and fresh flour tortillas.  {we love the ones from Central Market}  The toppings change depending on what I have on hand or feel like prepping.  I also cooked a small pot of rice using green chile salsa in place of some of the water, and adding in some garlic, salt, and pepper as well as a handful of frozen corn.  A fast and fresh meal that really fills us up and soooo good!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mealplan Monday #231

Monday - Crockpot Beef Stew (using carrots, potatoes, onions, and leftover smoked rib drippings)
Tuesday - Pork Chops, sauteed cabbage, mac and cheese
Wednesday - Black Bean Chili, Fritos and cheese
Thursday - Apricot Chicken, rice, peas
Friday - Fish Tacos with shredded cabbage, mont jack, purple onion, cilantro, sour cream
Saturday - YOYO {Mom finished with the Week of Overnights!}
Sunday - Meatballs and linguini, salad, garlic bread

Friday, February 1, 2019

Catching up, 'cause January is in the books!

You know how you get to the end of a busy week and still feel like you have catching up to do?  Even though you have ticked a mountain of things off your to-do list?  
And you are POOPED?
That's my today.  I didn't really do anything this week I could document as creative, unless you count that I made a from scratch blueberry and blackberry topping for Hubby's birthday pie that was fantastic. {fresh blueberries, frozen blackberries, maybe 1/3 c sugar in a sauce pan until bubbly, then 1T cornstarch slurry to thicken it up.  Cooled and poured over The World's Easiest Cheescake Pie}  Sorry, no photo...I am hip deep in laundry this morning, having unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, made a simple supper for the boys, and ironed a few shirts for Hubby.  Then it's off to work...Then tonight we are meeting at a new to us brewpub to lay our plans for a fun (I hope) weekend.  
And poof!  Just like that January ended...


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