Beef Orzo Soup

Tuesday, I strapped on my new IT band strap thingie and went downstairs to use the treadmill.  My leg started hurting almost immediately, so does that mean it’s not my IT band that’s the problem?  It’s starting to get frustrating because I want to run for over 2 miles and it seems that’s never going to happen. I’d rather run less distance more often than more distance less often.  Anyway, here’s a pic of my stats.

I did a 5 minute warm-up walk, then restarted the treadmill for 33 minutes.  I only made it 26:21 obviously, then I started it over and cooled down with a 3 minute walk.  That’s a sloooooow pace.  I can’t get my pace up because I have to walk quite a bit of the 2nd mile because of my leg.  Sigh.  But, hurray for calorie burn!

Tuesday night I made a Weight Watchers recipe – Beef Orzo Soup (click for recipe).  I made this without mushrooms because I just don’t like mushrooms.  I wish I liked mushrooms, but no.

Ingredients:

This came together rather quickly.  I guess the longest part was waiting for the orzo to puff up, and that was only about 8 minutes.  I took the first picture because the soup looks so verdant!

After the orzo cooked:

And in my bowl:

Pretty, eh?  This wasn’t bad, but I didn’t go back for seconds, nor did I want to.  Brett didn’t go back for seconds either and didn’t eat it for breakfast the next day.  It was good, but not great.  Glad we tried it though.

Wednesday night we had a repeat – Sliced Sausages over Spaghetti (click for past post).  It was pretty delish! Mmm, sausage.

Wednesday was a rest day from exercise.

Thursday, I did Level 2 of the 30 Day Shred and then baked chicken and roasted some Brussels sprouts.  We have that meal pretty often, nothing new there.  Very good go-to!

It is now Friday (FINALLY!) and taco night!  Another rest day from exercise and tomorrow I’m going with Brett to Bally’s – he gets a discount through his job and I have a free guest past for a week.  May try the elliptical and bike to see if it’s easier on my leg.

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Tomato Minestrone with Garlic Bread Croutons

Starting with my workout update because it is less appealing than food.

Monday: I did Level 2 of 30 Day Shred but this time I used 5 lbs. weights for the strength portions, except for the last strength portion because my arms felt like they were mush.  It is now Thursday and my right bicep is just now to where I can straighten my arm without wincing.  Wow.

Now, on to the delicious minestrone! This is a Rachael Ray meal and it did not disappoint…except for the fact that it says “From: 30 Minute Meals.”  Well, this meal took us a lot longer than 30 minutes to make, mostly because of all the chopping involved.  We need a bigger cutting board for sure, or maybe we just need 2 so I can chop, too, because Brett is a fast chopper and it felt like it took FOREVER.

Tomato Minestrone with Garlic Bread Croutons (click for recipe)

Ingredients:

Here’s a picture of the beautiful plethora of vegetables…

After the tomato was added…

And one picture with bread and one without.

The bread was SO good.  We used a French baguette because that’s what the store had, and I like French bread.  We had a long baguette, so we just cut it into 8 pieces, topped with the butter and garlic mixture, then browned it slightly under the broiler.  Then add the cheese and broil a few more minutes until melted.  NOM!  We had this meal for dinner, then Brett had it for breakfast the next morning and we both took some for lunch and there was still some soup left over.

I would make this dish again but would probably make it a weekend meal.  It was so very yummy, but with the chopping involved – definitely a Saturday or Sunday feat.

Next update, Weight Watchers Beef Orzo Soup!

Thanksgiving

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving break.  Rest, rest and more rest!  Oh, and eating…lots of eating.

On Thanksgiving day, I put the turkey in early to bake for a couple of hours.  I won’t pretend like I stuffed a raw turkey and baked it forever.  I bought a pre-cooked smoked turkey from HEB because they have some delicious turkeys.  Check this beauty out!

Around 11:30 our guests arrived – Jon and Astrid – from Norway.  Yes, they journeyed all the way here, just for my delicious Thanksgiving fare.  Okay, not really.  Jon is traveling around the U.S. for something like 3 months (lucky!) and Astrid is with him on part of the journey.  I will point you to his blog post (Ghost of Goldwater) for pictures and a recap because he summed it up nicely.  I did steal one of his photos of the Thanksgiving spread.

We had a ton of fun and before we knew it something like 11 hours had passed.  Time for bed!  I went to bed stuffed and happy except for the massive headache I had. Luckily it was gone the next morning.

Our Thanksgiving spread consisted of smoked turkey, Loaded Mashed Potatoes (from Taste of Home), my grandmother’s dressing and gravy (I really need to type this up), the good ole standard green bean casserole, cranberry sauce (from the can without chunks because that’s how I roll), rolls, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.  I’ve made so many pumpkin pies this year, and more are to come.  I use condensed milk instead of evaporated milk and oh is it ever so creamy! Recipe here.  A vendor at work gave me the pecan pie from a pie place here in Houston.  It was pretty yum, but the pumpkin pie definitely trumped it.  Let me tell you those loaded mashed potatoes were something else.  We all loved them. I would love to make these again, but I will need guests because I’m afraid Brett and I would finish the whole thing ourselves.  They are THAT good.

More food pictures . . .

Jon was kind enough to bring us some chocolates from Norway.  Brett has polished off lots of it already.

Friday we did absolutely nothing but watch movies all day because we had a free preview weekend with ATT U-Verse.  I didn’t even get out of my pajamas.  It was awesome.  I will do another post to update on the rest of the weekend’s eats.

As for workout updates, I did Level 2 of the 30 Day Shred on Monday, and then had every intention of running on the treadmill Tuesday night, but I received some wonderful news (that I will reveal later) and a celebration was in order, so Brett and I went to Star Pizza instead – our usual celebratory spot.  And, I didn’t work out again until Saturday when I did Level 3 of the 30 Day Shred and I thought it was worse than Level 2.  I really like Level 2.  Level 3 kicked my  butt and I am still sore today (Monday), so I should probably do it more often than the other 2 levels.

Crockpot Orange Chicken and other weekend glutton

Friday, we ventured out to get the Thanksgiving feast groceries.  Afterward, I made a recipe from Pinterest.

Crockpot Orange Chicken (click for original blog post with recipe)

After putting away all of those groceries, I was burning up . . . and over it (and all things in general), so there are no pictures of the ingredients and prep, just a shot of the orange chicken, served over some delicious jasmine rice.

Yep, on a paper plate! We never have paper plates in the house, but figured for the holidays, leftover eating, etc… needed. This chicken was really good.  I wouldn’t make it often, but it was an interesting Saturday meal, and something different.  While the chicken was cooking, I did Level 2 of the 30 Day Shred and rocked it.

Sunday, we didn’t have to go for our normal grocery run, so we slept in a bit, then went to redeem our Voice Daily Deal at one of our fave places, Natachee’s Supper ‘n Punch.  $12 for $24 worth of food.  Yum!  We first each ordered a Bloody Mary (they are only $2 on Sundays – score!).  The coupon doesn’t go toward alcoholic beverages, so we still had to order $24 worth of food. No prob!  We started with queso & salsa with chips.

I got the same thing I did last time – I just love the breakfast sandwich! Mmm, guacamole.

Here’s a pic of the delicious bloody ketchup Mary.

I also got a side of fries.  I didn’t take a picture of it, so I wouldn’t look like such a glutton, but here I am documenting it.  Actually, I ate one-half of my sandwich and a bite or 2 of the other half, and maybe 3 fries.  I really filled up on the Bloody Marys chips.

Brett got the chicken fried chicken with mashed potatoes and mac & cheese. OH MY!

Then, we went home and cleaned the house for a couple of hours – like REALLY cleaned.  Brett did an amazing job on the stovetop and the wall by the sink – why does cheese always get stuck there?  We rewarded ourselves with a Saint Arnold Sailing Santa beer and it didn’t disappoint!

We may or may not have ordered Chinese food later on in the day.  Like the title says – glutton!! It’s the holidays, y’all! No? YES!

Tonight I hope to do the 30 Day Shred and eat some canned soup.  Yes, tonight and tomorrow night we are both eating canned soup because Wednesday evening I will be cooking up a storm…and eating tamales – the Texan Thanksgiving way.  I’m hoping that the strap I bought to stabilize my IT band comes in tomorrow, so I can test it out on the treadmill after work.  We shall see (if it actually comes in…and if it does, if I actually go test it out after work – I’m serious about it being the holidays and not wanting to do anything, but eat).

Tater Tot Casserole

Yesterday we had our pot luck Thanksgiving lunch at work.  I ate a tiny bit of everything, but it filled up my entire plate.  Delicious turkey and ham, mac ‘n cheese, spinach fudge (no chocolate, was sort of like a quiche and it was GOOD), dressing, green bean casserole, broccoli/cheese/rice casserole and potatoes (which I didn’t eat because the person who cooked it announced he had cut the end of his finger off while cutting the potatoes – NO THANKS!).  I also had a pecan pie bar (mmm) and a slice of pumpkin pie.  Needless to say, I told my boss he could find me under my desk sleeping if he needed me.   Bring on Thanksgiving!

Now, I obviously didn’t really think through this week’s supper menu because I had Tater Tot Casserole scheduled for last night.  And, I had the meat in the fridge for a few days and didn’t want to freeze it, so I went ahead and made it for supper even after the mega-lunch feast.

Tater Tot Casserole (from Pinterest – click to see original blogger’s recipe)

Ingredients:

This was too easy.  Brown the meat, pour off any fat, add salt & pepper, then add chopped onion and cook until onion is softened.  Then pour into 2 quart casserole and mix in cream of celery soup, and top with tater tots.

Bake at 375F for 35 minutes, then top with shredded cheddar (however much you prefer) and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.

This was really good, but I had eaten so much lunch, I didn’t consume a whole lot of it.  I also don’t know that I would repeat it because it’s just not a meal I would crave often. I do love some tots, though!  Brett said he liked it, but he didn’t eat his normal hefty amount, so I don’t know if he was just being nice.  I always tell him I didn’t invent the recipe, so it won’t hurt my feelings if he doesn’t like it.  He also had eaten some leftovers that I had brought home – ham and turkey – so he could have been a little full from that. Hmm…

Before I put the casserole in the oven, I did Level 2 of 3o Day Shred.  I didn’t feel like it, but I had the time and I knew I needed to burn off at least a little bit of lunch, so I went for it.  Man, it hurt.  I had to modify some things because my left leg was hurting, but all in all, I did it to work my upper body and to get some cardio.  It was awesome as usual. I felt really worked afterward, but today I’m not sore, and I like a little soreness, so I know I’ve burned.

I was going to walk or jog a little on the treadmill today, but my left leg needs some more rest.  I also have to make another pumpkin pie tonight for Brett’s pot luck tomorrow and I may make some trash (aka nuts & bolts aka Chex party mix aka (insert whatever you may call it), and I have to cook supper, so I’ll be busy!

Roasted Cabbage

Got back into the workout groove last night with Level 1 of 30 Day Shred.  I love Level 1! But this morning I wasn’t feeling that sore, so I was wondering if next time I should level up, but now the soreness is finding my leg and chest muscles.  Ahh!  It cooled off overnight, so a run is looking promising for this evening.

Last night we had baked chicken, potatoes and cabbage.  I was going to boil my cabbage like I always have in the past, but after roasting veggies and loving them, I thought heck, I can roast cabbage, too!  I had no idea what I was doing, but I cut the bottom off, then stood it up and cut down it’s middle, lay those 2 pieces flat and cut them each in half, then cut those pieces in half.  I put them on foil on a cooking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, topped with Kosher salt and pepper, then baked at 400F for 20 minutes, carefully turned each piece (some fell apart but that was cool), topped with more salt & pepper, then baked for 18 more minutes.  Oh my, the cabbage was good!  You could actually taste the cabbage itself than when you boil it and it’s all salt (at least mine anyway).  I still like boiled cabbage, but I see lots more roasted cabbage in my future.

I didn’t realize the pre-roast cabbage picture was so blurry.

The chicken is seasoned with Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing & Marinade.  I rubbed it on both sides, then baked it at the same temp as the cabbage, 400F, for 20 minutes, turned it and then baked about 15 more minutes.  Brett prefers the Lite Zesty Italian dressing, but both are good to me.

Layered Mexican Casserole and Scooter’s Spaghetti

Last Tuesday night we had this . . .(from Picky Palate)

Layered Mexican Chicken Rice Bake (click for recipe)

Ingredients:

I started the rice boiling, then added it to the vegetables that had been sauteed.  Then dumped in my cumin.

To cook the chicken, I boiled (poached) it in a little water, then shredded it with a fork.  Here’s what it looked like with the salsa mixed in.

Then, layer.

Before and after.

The top picture is how I left this dish while I went out for a quick 2 mile run.  I don’t have my stats with me because they’re on my new Garmin. I no longer use my Runkeeper app, so I can’t check my phone easily.  When I returned from the run, I topped the casserole with cheese and popped it in the oven.

This was just OK.  It was dry and needed more salsa.  That may be because I think I used a little more rice than was called for.  I also don’t like the layering in this dish.  I think a good stir (with added salsa) is what this dish needs.  It wasn’t worth the dishes I had to use.  My kitchen felt like a mess, but it could be because I was frustrated and wanted to run before it got too dark, but I’m borderline OCD when it comes to cleaning before I walk out of the kitchen.  So, I cleaned everything up before I went for the run and it seemed to take forever, then I came back to this mediocre dish.

Next up, Wednesday . . .

Scooter’s Spaghetti (click for recipe)

I got this recipe from Pinterest.

Ingredients . . .

This dish was really easy.  The only “time consuming” part would be chopping the onion, garlic and pepper.  After that, place the vegetables in a bowl with the butter, then microwave on high for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes.

Then add the cream and milk.

Ooh, creamy!  Brown your meat, then pour in the tomato sauce.  Put a little meat sauce in the bottom of  the casserole (I used a 10×6) then pour in the cooked spaghetti and top with the creamy concoction.

Then add the rest of the meat sauce. I then left this and did the 30 Day Shred.  After that, I topped with parmesan cheese and baked.

Top with the onions and bake for the final five minutes.

I was happy with how this turned out, but it was really rich and creamy.  I couldn’t eat too much of this – probably a good thing!

Thursday night we made tacos because we didn’t have anything planned for that night, so we made our usual Friday meal on Thursday, then Friday went out for pizza at Star Pizza.  Star used to be our go-to Friday night spot.  We have discovered other pizza places and haven’t frequented there near as often, but they still greet us with a smile.  The same people work there and the host always jokes that he doesn’t have our usual corner table available.  Why would it still be “usual” if we haven’t been there in 2 months?  Aww, so sweet.

To be honest, I can’t remember which days I ran and which days I shredded.  I need to check my Garmin watch and update this, so I’ll know for future reference.

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