Chili, Chicken and Chicken

We made it back safely and WE’RE MARRIED!  I’ve been busy since we returned.  I went to Social Security to change my name and sent a form to the school to change my name there; I was online for hours ordering all my law school books; and I have dealt with financial aid (which was/is a huge headache).  And that’s just naming a few things.  So, one thing I haven’t been doing too much of is cooking.  This week we had 2 nights of chili and 2 nights of chicken meals and tonight I’m just finding something in the pantry.  Seriously, this evening I just want to stare at the TV, maybe watch a Christmas movie – or 2!  We have managed to watch Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, which was a childhood favorite.

Below are some pictures of this week’s eats.

Rachael Ray’s Steakhouse Chili (click for recipe)

Really simple, easy and delicious.

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

All I did with this was dab some dried thyme, salt & pepper on the chicken, then put it in the skillet with some EVOO.  Cook it until it is well-browned, then set chicken aside.  Drop in 2 tbsp. each of balsamic vinegar and honey.  Let it bubble up and stir, stir.  This takes 1 to 2 minutes.  It may still appear runny, but it will turn to glaze on the chicken.  This was served with roasted Brussels sprouts (tossed in EVOO, salt & pepper) and instant potatoes – that tasted nothing like instant because I added milk and Gruyere cheese.

Rotisserie Chicken and Vegetables

Wednesday I picked up a rotisserie chicken, which I don’t do often, but think I’ll probably do more often now that I’ll be attending school. Healthy and delicious!  I paired this with roasted zucchini and tomatoes (tossed in EVOO, salt & pepper) and again with more Gruyere potatoes.  I only took a picture of the vegetables because I’m sure you’ve seen a rotisserie chicken breast before, and the potatoes are in the picture above.

Like I said, it has been an uneventful week in food.

I have only worked out once this week, and I probably won’t again until Saturday because when I take a deep breath it feels like someone punched me in my back.  I blame you, Jillian! I did Week 2 of the new DVD I have – Ripped in 30.  It was a big step up from Week 1 – WOW – or maybe it was the fact I haven’t worked out in a week and a half.

I hope to update with our Santa Fe/Taos, NM eats soon because there was some good stuff! We also got a new camera, so the pictures will be a lot better – celebrate! Sadly, this week I still used my iPhone to take these photos because I didn’t feel like breaking out the camera to take one picture a night and have to upload them, blah, blah.

If no update before Christmas, then I hope everyone has a very, merry one!

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Thanksgiving Leftovers and a TRIP!

I realize I haven’t updated the recipe for the Tofu Fried Rice.  I’ve been stressed! There are way too many things happening this month – way, way too many.  But the best thing happening is Brett and I are getting married!  We leave tomorrow morning to travel to Taos, New Mexico for a few days, and we’re getting married there on Thursday.  I hope we get some much needed rest and have a good ole time because we deserve it.  On an earlier post, I said I had news to reveal – well, at that time I didn’t know we were getting married, so my news is I got into law school! Finally decided to take the plunge after all these years (I’m talking about school, not marriage).  The stress of dealing with financial aid is enough to make someone jump off a cliff.  The financial aid office personnel has been NO help and actually rather rude.

While we’re away, the landlord is going to steam clean the carpet in one bedroom, the only room with carpet in our apartment.  Great idea, but we had to get EVERYTHING cleaned out of said room, and this room is basically our catch-all, kind of “junk” room.  So, last night Brett and I moved a mattress, box springs, a couch, a chest of drawers and a bunch of other stuff off the floor to various parts of our apartment, so now we have to return from our marriage getaway to a house of misplaced junk and then move it all back.  This is also stressing me OUT.  But we got it all done last night, so I hope tonight I just have to wash clothes and pack, and then we can jet set our way outta here!  Needless to say, I haven’t prepared any amazing meals recently.  But, last week we did have our Thanksgiving leftovers in the form of a pie.

Thanksgiving Leftover Pot Pie

Our leftovers were green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.  I dumped this all into a bowl and stirred it together.  Next time, I will layer instead because the stuffing took over the whole dish.  I added some canned turkey gravy and some store bought rotisserie chicken.  I bought 2 pie crusts and lay them out until they flattened, then I put one in the bottom of a pie dish and topped it with the other.  I baked the pie at 350F for about 35 minutes before I turned the oven up to 400F and baked it another 10 minutes.   We had this with a can of jellied cranberry sauce.  It was delicious!! But like I said, layering would have been better.

Saturday Brett and I did a little shopping for some cold weather attire and then stopped at Guadalajara again.  This time I got enchiladas off the brunch menu – stuffed with chorizo and eggs.  Oh, this was MUCH better than the fish tacos I had last weekend.  I ate both of these enchiladas and I’ve never finished an enchilada dish.

Brett had the same thing as last week, so no picture.

Friday night I did a new Jillian video – Ripped in 30.  I did week 1 which wasn’t very challenging (because I was already doing Level 2 and 3 of the 30 Day Shred).  I did like the video though, so I’m excited to move on.  I think tonight I may do Week 2 – if I’m not completely wiped out.

Sunday I went with Brett to his gym and worked my arms and chest HARD.  So sore.  And I did 1.83 miles on the elliptical burning 150 calories.

Oh, I almost forgot. I did do a little baking on Sunday.  I baked The Pioneer Woman’s The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. (It really is THE BEST). I brought over half to work for a coworker’s birthday, and kept the rest for Brett and me.  This is the best cake ever. NOM!

One last day of work and I’m ready to head out tomorrow morning! There is a winter weather warning for Taos today, but I’m hoping it’s mostly in the mountains.  Maybe we should rent a 4-wheel drive?  I don’t care; I’m ready! 🙂

Weekend Update with Mac ‘n Cheese

Turns out Saturday we didn’t go to Bally’s, but we did get important stuff accomplished.  BUT, Sunday we went!  I was there mostly to get some running in while Brett pumped massive iron, but since we were at a gym, I had to try out some machines.  I did a few machines for my chest, back, triceps and biceps.  And I definitely felt it the next day…and the next day (today). Ouch!  As soon as I started running on the treadmill, a pain shot up my left leg.  I knew I wasn’t going very far and ended up having to stop after .5 miles.  I was so upset.  I should probably rename my blog “Banana CAN’T Run.”  Le sigh.  I did move on to the elliptical and did almost 2 miles – Brett was ret to go.  Still burned 142 calories in 1.7 miles, plus probably the 50 or so on the treadmill, so not a bad day.  Still bummed about the running thing though.  At some point, maybe I’ll have someone analyze my gait, but for now…elliptical and Jillian’s Shred are where it’s at.

On to some delicious eats!  While we were out getting important things done on Saturday, we stopped at Guadalajara to eat.  We started with an El Presidente margarita, which is a margarita mixed with brandy.  Oh, it was YUM! Recommended!

I decided to go out on a limb and get fish tacos – fried in a Dos Equis batter, with a side of fiesta rice.

The rice was a little plain to me.  I prefer cilantro rice or Spanish rice.  And the fish tacos were…not great to me.  Everything on the tacos was good, but the fish itself tasted a little fishy – and I don’t like that, so I didn’t eat all of mine.

Brett got carne asada (I think) with a cheese enchilada and Spanish rice.  I’m not a big steak-y eater, but his meal was pretty delish.  I wouldn’t order it for myself, but it tasted better than mine.  And I enjoyed his rice for sure.  Notice his margarita has been sucked dry.

On Sunday, we made some juicy steaks on the grill with a side of mac ‘n cheese.  I never make mac ‘n cheese and I don’t know why…because I love it so much.  When I stumbled upon this EASY recipe, I was sold!  I got this from Pinterest, but didn’t repin, so I googled the original blog post.

One Pot Mac ‘n Cheese (click for recipe and blog post)

I didn’t take pictures of the prep because it was dark and rainy outside and Brett was fiddling with the grill and steaks, and I just wanted to hurry this dish along.  We did everything as the recipe states, but it didn’t take 15 to 20 minutes to cook; it was more like 5 minutes.  When the milk reduced and the mixture was creamy, we chose to add Gruyere cheese (omg, nom!) and a little parmigiano-reggiano cheese for good measure. Then topped with 7 or 8 slices of crumbled bacon (that I baked).  And this side dish was fast, easy and one of the most delicious mac ‘n cheeses I have ever tasted.  Definitely recommend! (which is why I named this post “with Mac ‘n Cheese”).

Just look at that steak!! Again, not a big steak eater, but this steak was cooked to perfection – thanks, Brett!  A most delicious meal on a rainy Sunday  night.

Monday night was a repeat – Ground Beef Stroganoff. Brett is out of town tonight and tomorrow night, so I’m making tofu fried rice tonight because Brett likes meat, so I’m excited for a meal I love!  Will post that recipe tomorrow.

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.

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!

Post-Thanksgiving Weekend Eats

On Saturday I made what my mom calls “hot ham rolls” but I didn’t use her recipe.  I used one I had found on Pinterest.

Hot Hawaiian Ham Roll Sammies (original blog post from pinterest here).

Ingredients:

This one was pretty easy.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut the ham rolls in half lengthwise and set aside.  Chop up the onion and simmer in a stick of butter for a few minutes.

Add the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce (not pictured) and poppy seeds (pictured without poppy seeds and Worcestershire).

Place your rolls on some foil in a 9×13 dish, then top with the onion mixture (save a little to top the rolls with).  Top the mixture with about a 1/2 lb. of sliced/shaved ham, then 8 slices of Swiss cheese.

Then add the top half of the rolls and slather on the rest of the onion mixture.  Ours was greasy/oily looking by this point, so I didn’t put very  much on top.

Then cover with foil (and refrigerate if baking later) and bake for 20 minutes.  Cut and enjoy!

These kept me full for most of the day, probably because I ate 3 (or was it 4?) of them.  Delish!

On Sunday, we enjoyed some football and grilled sausages with a side of pierogies.  That’s a lot of sausage!  But they were buy one get one free.  Regular ole kielbasa, cheddar & jalapeno, pecan smoked andouille, and pecan smoked something else that I can’t remember at the moment.  I do love pierogies!  These were potato and cheddar, which is our normal go-to.

Oh, and that would be a Sam Adams Boston Lager in the background. Mmm!

I shall return with some delicious hearty minestrone we made on Monday night and my workout update!

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.

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