Cooking hiatus

So yeah, I haven’t been cooking much lately. Had some issues with my teeth and ended up needing my wisdom teeth removed. I had to consume only liquids for like 2 weeks, and between being in so much pain and then being on painkillers, I don’t remember much, but I’m pretty sure the kids were still being fed.

But then of course when there’s a break in my kitchen experimenting, I always seem to lose my cooking mojo. Last night I was trying to make waffles when my waffle maker decided to, you know, just stop working. Thanks, waffle maker, thanks.

Dinner: French Toast and Monte Cristos

The Plan: French toast for the kids. It’s easy, filling, and they both eat it. But how could I turn it into something else for me and Old Man Diabetes? Stuff them with yumminess, of course! I didn’t include sugar in the egg dip so it could be used for both meals as well. I used Milton’s multi grain bread for the kids and Dave’s Killer bread for us.

The recipe:
Egg mixture:
1 egg
3 or 4 glugs of egg whites out of the carton
Big splash of milk

Kids’ version:
Cinnamon sugar mixture, optional
Strawberry jam or maple syrup

Parents’ version:
Ham
Cheese, I used Havarti
Kale spinach mix (it’s a Costco sized bag, so I’m putting this shtuff on *everything*)

I meant to add a capful of vanilla extract, but forgot, and nobody seemed to mind.

I cooked the kids’ French toast first. After dunking the slice into the egg mixture, I’d place it in the pan over medium heat. To add a bit of flavor to theirs, I’d sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of each slice before flipping. I set my toaster oven to warm and throw them in there while I cook the rest.

For the parents’ version, I only dipped one side of one slice of bread, put that in the pan, then pile the insides on, then dip the other slice and place that on top. It made it easier than trying to dip a whole sandwich.

The Verdict:
Me: good, hearty, filling.
Huzz: surprised it turned out so well.
Girl: asked if there were any leftovers the next morning!
Boy: ate without a fuss, which is basically the best response I could get from him.

Dinner: Coconut Chicken Curry

The Plan:
Dump some stuff in the crockpot, serve it as soup for me and the huzz, and serve just the chicken and veggies to the kids with rice. It was both a success and a fail.

I started by throwing frozen chicken tenders into the crockpot, then covered them with one can chicken broth. (Yes I use very technical terms and precise measurements) I heated some butter in a pan, added some curry powder (not too much…. you know…kids) garlic powder, powdered ginger, black pepper. I let them bubble away in the butter (I think it helps ‘wake up’ the flavors) but careful not to burn them. Added that whole mixture into the crockpot. I then added one can coconut milk.

Do NOT do that. Don’t add the coconut milk at that point. It cooked for way too long and became…. I don’t know the word for it… coagulated? separated? Anyway, it was not appetizing to look at, so the soup idea was no longer an option.

I turned the crockpot on high, started the rice cooker (with quinoa in the top steamer!) and we went to the gym. When we came back was when I discovered the liquid got all gross, but added some cauliflower florets and peas to the pot. Now, if I had a bottomless bounty of every kind of veggie out there, I would have added maybe some potato, red pepper, some fresh basil. But I don’t, so I work with what I have and what everyone likes/needs. Cauli is good for the huzz’s diabetes, the kids like peas. Close enough for me.

When I make this again, I would add the can of coconut milk at the same time I add the veggies. I think it would cook just long enough to heat it through, but not for it to break down. To make mine at least appetizing looking, I added a bit of half and half to make it appear creamier. Now would be a good time to readjust the seasonings if needed, and break up the chicken tenders if you wanted.

 

The Recipe (not very precise):

8 frozen chicken tenders

1 can chicken broth

1 can coconut milk

veggies (I used cauliflower and peas, but potato, sweet potato, bell peppers, green onions, basil or lemongrass would work wonders)

curry powder, and, if you want, black pepper, powdered ginger, garlic. Sriracha if you like it hot.

 

The Verdict:

Huzz: Had 2 helpings., but didn’t say much.

Me: It was alright. I want to make it again to see if I can improve on it.

Girl: She ate it, she said she liked it, but I’m pretty sure she was just being polite.

Boy: OMG the boy. Refused to eat it. He kept screaming that he wanted “the chicken but without the chicken.” W.T.F. We tried to understand, really we did, but I think 3 year olds are just not to be understood sometimes. I gave up and walked away, when I came back, Huzz said he got the boy to eat everything on his plate. And yes, even the chicken, and even the “chicken without the chicken.”

 

Side Dish: Rice and Quinoa Cooked at the Same Time! In the Same Machine!

Really folks, it CAN be done.

I had the rice cooker ready to go for the kids, and thought, “Oh well. Might as well try it.”

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My rice cooker came with a metal expansion pan that you just put on top.

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First I tried to cover the base with plastic wrap…..yea….don’t do that. Then I switched to aluminum foil. I put a ½ cup quinoa in the foil and carefully added 1 cup water. I gently and carefully pulled the foil up, so that the outside ring of holes were visible.

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We came home from the gym and both were cooked to perfection! I served them with  coconut chicken curry. I’m not the biggest fan of quinoa, so I mix half rice and half quinoa. Oh and I ALWAYS rinse it after it cooks.

Dinner: Egg Scramble

The Plan: I was planning to do a quiche, but as usual, time got away from me and I had to rethink it. I didn’t want to cook the eggs 2 different ways, so I decided to do one big scramble and let everyone whine about it.

Egg Scramble:

A “kitchen sink” type of recipe.

 

8 eggs (3 for huzz, 2 for me, 2 for girl, 1 for boy. Changed my mind and only added 7, glad I did)

1/2 cup frozen spinach/kale mix

1 cup ham

1/4 onion, chopped

1/4 cheese

Splash of milk

Salt, pepper, whatever

 

Cooked at med-low heat. Served us huge portions, and kids got small portions with toast.

 

The Verdict:

Mom: quick and easy and pretty darn good.

Dad: had 2 bowls full. Whenever he has seconds I KNOW he likes it.

Girl: Pouted through dinner but ate it anyway and was promised dessert.

Boy: Devoured the toast. He informed me eggs were not “his favorite”, which apparently is a legally binding rule that means you don’t have to eat it. Sigh.

Dinner: Mini Meatloaf

The Plan:

Make a meatloaf, pasta and veggie mix for the kids, buffalo cauliflower for us. But the best time for us to go to the gym is right before dinner. Sooooo convenient, right?

We were all so hungry by the time we get home, we couldn’t wait for an entire meatloaf to bake in the oven (not to mention here in Phoenix, it’s WAY too hot already to be baking anything). So I decided to turn them into hamburger patties and just call them mini meatloaves.


Mini Meatloaves

With veggies and pasta for the kids, buffalo style cauliflower for the parents

ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 slice of bread (this is a great way to use up those heels)

enough milk to soak bread thoroughly

1 egg

1/2 onion, chopped small enough so children won’t notice it

2 handfuls frozen spinach and kale mix, chopped smaller, cuz you know, kids.

directions:

Dump all that in a bowl. I usually put the bread in first, then the milk, and let that soak in. I break up the bread along the way so there’s no big chunks of bread anywhere. Put everything else in the bowl and mix well.

Divide the mixture into fourths. Shape 2 of the fourths into patties. I stuffed my patty and the huzz’s with cheese but it didn’t even need it. The other 2 fourths I cut in half again, to make 4 smaller slider sized patties for the kids.

I cooked these in a pan with minimal oil over medium to medium high heat. Because these had other ingredients in them, I wanted to make sure these cooked completely before getting too brown on the outside. I was concerned these would crumble or break, but they did fine.

After they cooked in the pan, I kept them warm in the toaster oven. I squirted on a little ketchup before putting them in there.  For me personally I can’t have meatloaf without that ketchup top.


The Verdict:

Mom: Wow. Freaking delicious. Why have I not made these before.

Dad: Gives me the thumbs up every time we happen to make eye contact during dinner. Cannot speak due to food constantly being in mouth.

Girl: Took one bite and made a face and quickly took a drink of water. I explained to her that getting healthy isn’t just about going to the gym, it’s about eating right too. She said okay and ate the rest of it and smiled. Sometimes I love her.

Boy: The boy did not even try a bite, because it “looked disgusting” or “smelled like fart” or whatever 3-year-old boys say when they are being impossible. Both kids ate their pasta, because what isn’t delicious covered in butter, but they picked out some of the veggies because it is imperative that they must hate one aspect of all meals.

Parent Side Dish: Buffalo-style Cauliflower florets

The Plan:

The huzz and I are trying to really limit our carbs. We eat some during the day, but I realized I really needed to cut back on them for dinner. I had made these once before and we both liked them, but this time I made them way less complicated and we didn’t seem to mind.


Buffalo style Cauli

2 cups-ish of cleaned, trimmed cauliflower florets of bite-size

2 TB butter (just do it okay)

Several dashes of hot sauce (I use Frank’s for authenticity, but the huzz adds Valentino or Sriracha to his)

Salt, black pepper, garlic powder if you so choose

Melt butter in a med-hot pan. Throw in seasonings, and hot sauce. Beware of the sizzling hotness.

Throw in the florets and toss to mix thoroughly.

I added a splash of water to help cook the florets more and also to help the sauce get into all the nooks and crannies. Cook until heated through and water has evaporated but before the florets get mushy.


The Verdict: (no kids on this one)

Mom: Cooked them the laziest way possible and huzz still loved them. I wish I could get that fried-crispiness on them, but I didn’t care at that point.

Dad: “Excellent dinner, babe. Mmm!”

Recipe idea: Is there a such thing as Healthy Leftovers?

So, once a week we go visit our in-laws. They love spending time with the grandkids, I love not having to cook. And as any good grandmother should, she sends us off with lots of good leftovers.

But you can’t- and shouldn’t- eat a Sunday dinner every night of the week, so I try to find healthy (or frugal or both) ways to serve it a second time.

Tonight was easy. Leftover ravioli for the kids. Usually I would have helped myself to a hearty portion, but tonight I did this:

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Only 4 ravioli, served on a bed of spinach and a few grape tomatoes, sauteed in garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. It will sit in mah belly so much nicer than 2 big bowls of just ravioli.

 

A big, fat, hefty update…

So yea, stuff happened. Oh shoot, wait, there’s laundry. Hang on a minute.

Ok so, where was I at? Oh yes, life. So we had to move out of state, and then once we were moved I had to get everyone adjusted and all that. You know, the usual mom stuff.

Before that, I had found it becoming easier and easier to get the husband (I’m just going to call him “the D” for Diabetic from now on) to eat healthier. Instead of trying to make a whole separate meal for him, I’d make the same thing for everyone, but add carbs for the kids, or add extra veggies for him. It was easier on me, everyone was fed, and I had less and less to blog about.

Fast forward to now. Fast forward to ME being the one with health problems. Nothing serious but just so many ailments and aches and pains or whatever. My last doctor’s appointment was a couple weeks ago, and they weighed me…

And I’m fat. Nobody had to tell me. I realized it for myself. And it’s not about getting skinny, or having a bikini body, or trying to be like the celebrities. It’s about getting healthy and staying healthy. It’s the little things.

Here is a list of a few little reasons why I want to lose weight:

  • I don’t like that it’s practically an hour long process just to stand up from sitting on the floor with my kids.
  • I was never a big fan of being pregnant. Now I have a gut baby.
  • I’m tired of feeling tired. Sluggish. Weighed down, physically and mentally.
  • One flight of stairs should not leave me winded.
  • My ass is so big I knock things over with it.
  • I get all sweaty and shit.

Honestly, I could go on and on but you get the point.

It’s so easy to forget about yourself, especially as a mother. To forget what you like, what you want, what you need. But I have decided that 2016 is the Year of Mom. The year where I put myself first in line, top priority. If nothing else, I can consider it an experiment, and at least I’ll be able to say I tried.

To start things off right, I got a Fitbit for my birthday! I’m tracking my calories in and calories out, keeping a food log, looking at how active or inactive I am all day. I’ve only been using it for less than a week but it’s so helpful to see everything right there in front of me.

So. Now this blog will be about MEEEE losing weight (hopefully). I’ll try to weigh myself every week (maybe. Sometimes that just adds insult to injury.) and daily I’ll add any tidbits that helped me or might help you, if you’d like to join me.

 

 

Recipe Fail: Cauliflower Gnocchi

I had scoured Pinterest for a cauliflower-only recipe for gnocchi and couldn’t find any that were only cauliflower, or looked relatively easy, and only using ingredients I already had. So I made my own. I paired this with the meal I call CHamPP, Creamy Ham Pasta and Peas. It’s one of the kids’ favorites, it’s easy for me, everyone is happy. Except now for the diabetic. So I was REALLY hoping for something easy to go with it. I made it one night and he went crazy for it. I tried making it again and it was an Official Disaster. It completely broke down in the water so I served the poor guy basically cauliflower soup. I am determined it to try again, it was so good and easy, but I have a feeling it will take quite a few more attempts. The first time contained:

cauliflower, cooked/steamed in the microwave, cooled, wrapped and wrung in a towel.

an egg, maybe two?

a Tablespoon or so coconut flour. I was really hoping it would help it bind but was afraid if I added more, it would add an undesirable flavor.

a Tablespoon or so of all purpose flour. Yes I know, terrible but necessary.

Parmesan cheese

Garlic powder

The second time I made it:

I did not wring out the cauliflower, and I think that’s where the biggest mistake was. The less water the better, or else I’m thinking I have to add more flour of some kind and I don’t want to add too much.

I didn’t chill the gnocchi before cooking. I’m still not sure this made a difference but I did that the first time and they kept their shape.

Actually, for that matter, do I even need to boil them? Maybe i could just cook them in the sauce? The first time I made it, I simply added some butter and half and half (yea I know) to the pan after browning the gnocchi a touch. If it’s mostly cauliflower, maybe the flour, if I add any at all, would cook enough through the browning and sauce? Hmmmm, I may be on to something.

Definitely worth a do-over!