Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicken Tacos

Alex and I have been married exactly one month today, and man, it FLEW by. It's funny, you spend all this time (10 months in our case) planning for one day and often it seems like it will never come. But once the day is over, time just disappears. I've been trying to keep myself busy post-wedding. I got the PWC (post-wedding chop) on Saturday.  See!



And Alex and I have been working slowly on updating the living room. We got new furniture a few months ago, and just last weekend Alex and his dad hung our new can see them behind me in the 'after' picture. Alex actually picked them out himself. Next chore to tackle is painting that wood paneling you can also see in the background. Why was that ever popular? Alex's parents owned this house before he bought it from them. They hung that paneling when Alex was an infant. He's now just a few months shy of 31. I initially planned to bring it down and repair the drywall, but I think that I prefer the ease of painting over it for now...and our savings will appreciate that as well, leaving us more to spend on updating the kitchen....which we will come to in another post.

We still have a lot to do around the house, as I see it, but the small changes we've made have had an impact. We had a bbq this weekend and several people commented on how good it looks. That makes me feel optimistic.

I meant to make a post about our bbq, but I was having so much fun I forgot to take any pictures. We had tons of yummy food, the weather was actually nice and cool....and I had, like, 5 Bud Light Limes...which may be why I forgot to take pictures?

Tonight we'll be celebrating our 1 month of marriage with chicken tacos. We still have TONS of taco shells (soft and crunchy) leftover from the wedding. I pulled 2 chicken breasts out of the freezer and put them into the crockpot with a can of rotel and 1/2 packet of taco seasoning, where they've been slowly simmering since this morning....and it smells SO good.

I take it out of the crockpot when it's fall apart done.
Then take two handy forks
and shred.

I put tomatoes, onions, salsa and sour cream on mine. They look a little bland, but they were delicious. I served with a green salad, and damn it, Weight Watchers, I only got to eat 3 and cried a little when they were gone.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pizza Party Time!

Last night I was home with no real plans and no dinner plans either. We are having a bbq with all our friends tonight, so I didn't really want to do anything crazy for dinner. I looked in the pantry and fridge and realized I have stuff for pizza, so a pizza party it was!

When I first started making my own pizza dough, I naturally turned to the queen of Italian cuisine, Betty Crocker. I keep on using this because it's so easy, there's hardly any wait-for-it-to-rise time, and, most importantly, it has been given the Alex seal of approval.

Sometimes I make my own sauce, but my sister gave me some canned pizza sauce after they went through a recent pantry purge, and easy sounds just right for a Friday night.
And here it is with the rest of the toppings (pay no attention to the clutter, the kitchen is party central for tomorrow's festivities)...
I rolled out the dough onto my trusty pizza stone...added sauce (oops, maybe too much)...cheese, then turkey pepperoni.

Baked at 425* for like a million years...that what my stomach tells my brain, anyway. I'M HONGRY!
And 20 minutes later we have this...

Which I turn into this...
and then I eat it and we shan't discuss what it turns into after that.

After dinner I took Noodles on a long walk, then Alex and I watched Due Date, which was pretty funny.  I'd recommend pizza, long walks with dogs you love, AND Due Date, which means last night was pretty much a win.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Baked Chicken with Dijon and Lime

Yum! Last night we had Kimmy and Brian over for dinner and a movie. I'd just seen this recipe earlier that day and new I had to try it. I didn't have chicken thighs, though, and I didn't want to stop at the store, so I used the boneless skinless chicken breast. I thought it was really yummy. I'm not sure how much difference the lime made, as I couldn't detect it's flavor, but the whole thing was really yummy. Kim and Brian said they liked it and it even got Alex's approval.  I served with roasted potatoes and a green salad.
 The red stuff is ketchup...I love it with my potatoes. I've been known to put it on a plain baked potato. It sort of tricks me into thinking I'm eating fries.

After dinner we played movie roulette.  Five movies go into the playlist and only one comes out, selected at random. I must say I lost the gamble last night, as The A-Team was selected. Ugh, I can now say I've had the pleasure of sleeping through half of that movie twice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


So, here we are into week 2 of this little experiment and I guess I haven't given up yet, so that's something.

When I first decided to try this cooking at least 3X week thing, I perused several recipes and found this glazed pork loin. It looks yummy and simple enough. I love pork tenderloin because it's so easy and lean and a nice departure from boring old chicken breast.

Armed with my shopping list, Alex and I went to Sam's Club to purchase ingredients. They happened to have a sample of Hormel's peppercorn pork tenderloin, and Alex said he really liked it. I went through the options in my head and realized I could prepare something I KNOW he likes, but that will be boring and not so exciting for me OR I can buy the plain tenderloin and season it myself, try something new and risk the chance he hates it. I bought the pre-marinated loin.

And if I'm being honest, I'm sorta pissy about it. This is part of why I stopped cooking much for the two of us. He doesn't have an adventurous palate. There are so many 'don't even go there' foods, that I'm restricted. And even when he DOES like a food, he's not really over the moon about it. I don't get the validation that I desire from him. I'm a pretty dang good cook, or I can be, but I doubt he realizes or cares.

BUT, I'm not giving up yet. I roasted that pork loin and I reheated the leftover scalloped potatoes. When I initially planned the meal, we were going to have mashed potatoes. But that was before I knew I was going to have so many leftovers. I know scalloped potatoes aren't Alex's favorite dish, but I don't like to waste food, so we had scalloped potatoes along with the world's best green beans.

So, I prepared all the food and I sliced into the roast. I called Alex into the kitchen, and immediately he asked me "are thsoe cheesey potatoes?" while giving me a suspicious look. YES. THAT IS WHAT WE ARE EATING! My god, I was irritated and hurt. I guess I probably knew that was gonig to be his response, but it's not the response I deserved or craved. It's proably always going ot be this way and I'm never going to be validated in my cooking from my husband. So, maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. I will continue to keep trying new HEALTHY recipes and we'll see what sticks.

For the record, I prefer less flavor in my pork. The pre-marinated stuff is overkill to me. I don't really reccommend it. We purchased a package of 2, so we'll have it once more and then I'll be seasoning my own pork from then on. Scalloped potatoes are obviously a sometimes food, because he doesn't like them and because they're really too indulgent. Green beans for the win.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Megan's Making Herself a Priority

I did have a yummy meal planned for today, but we have a TON of leftovers to work through, so Alex had the last of the leftover spaghetti green beans and I had leftover ravioli lasagna with a salad.  SO, how about we talk about something different?

I mentioned that whole Weight Watchers thing in my first post.
It sounds so simple to say "I'm on Weight Watchers", but OMG y'all. This is not a simple matter in my life. Weight loss, body image, self-esteem...all of that is a daily struggle for me. Man, diet is like an hourly struggle.

I grew up a chubby kid and grew into a fat adult. I was always the fat kid and there's a whole slew of emotional baggage that comes with that. It doesn't take a genius to see how misplaced our values are in this country when it comes to physical appearance. Thin = healthy. Fat = lazy and sick.

My "weight loss journey" started about 7 years ago. I was 25 years old,and a size 20. I was obese. I'd always been obese, so I really didn't know that I had a choice to be anything but obese. I was unhappy about it, but I figured that was just my lot in life. For some unknown reason I randomly decided I should give Weight Watchers a try. My mom had done it before, she'd lost weight with it. I asked her if she would be interested in going to a meeting with me. I had no idea what I weighed before that meeting and had no idea what to expect. I thought I'd try it and see if I could lose 30 lbs. I actually LOVED it. I love food and I love cooking and I liked having some structure and getting to try new things, and the weight came off.  I lost 75# in a little over a year. I was a size 10/12. I was exercising regularly and I could buy clothes in the "normal" section of the store. I felt so good about myself.
I worked hard and maintained my weight loss for several wasn't EASY, but it wasn't really a struggle. It was just a part of me, this is how I eat.

But, shit happens. I went through some significant changes in my life and started to allow myself more treats, more drinks, more fun. I gained 5#, then 10#. I knew I had to put a stop to it, and I put myself back on the diet. But this time it wasn't so easy. I struggled to lose a pound or two, and the second I ate anything indulgent, I would eat ALL the 'bad' foods. I actually gained another 10 pounds while trying to loose the first 10 I'd gained. I was so discouraged. But, at the same time, I was really proud of myself, because though I was gaining weight and going up in pant size, I was increasing my activity level. I went from running 5ks a few times a year to running several 1/2 marathons a year. I was trying new activities at the gym and really pushing myself to work out. HOW can I be so much more fit, yet still so much fatter? And why do I not care that I'm fatter? Or, I don't care until I try on clothes and am not happy with how I look.

I am tired of putting so much focus on the number on the scale and the label on my pants. I have allowed my feelings of self worth to be determined by how "good" I was on my diet or how tight my pants feel. I want a do-over and I know that for this to work, I need to make my focus on my general health and not the number on the scale. But that means I also have to make the effort to really overhaul my diet. I try to eat healthy foods, cook with real food and not food products, but I have a serious sugar problem along with a bit of a binge eating problem. I allow my mood to dictate my food intake, and not my caloric needs. 

Today I am committing to taking care of myself...and I know that I'm going to have to recommit every day, and probably every hour and some days every minute. But I am ready. I will mess up sometimes and I'll need to forgive myself. And I'm going on my honeymoon in two weeks, and I guarantee you I will not be on a diet that week. BUT, I am going to come back to my home and make this promise to myself again...and again...and again.

Potluck Love

I'm so excited for tonight! We're celebrating Kimmy & Brian's upcoming wedding with a double shot - Shower AND bachelorette party tonight.  Kim had the awesome idea to have a potluck shower where the guests all bring a favorite dish and share the recipe with the future bride for her files.

I received the invitation and was disappointed when I found that I was requested to bring a drink.  A drink? That sort of takes the fun out of this for me. We joked that the invite was actually intended for Alex, who tends to pour a very stiff and often creative drink for anybody who is foolish enough request it. Luckily, I was able to trade with my cousin-in-law (?) Annette, who's a million months pregnant and somehow under the very wrong impression that she's not a good cook. So, now she's on drinks and I get to bring a main dish!  Squeee! I totally ignored the rules and decided to make a dish I've never cooked before, ravioli who knows if this is a 'favorite', but it sounds yummy.

The recipe calls for "spaghetti sauce."  I decided to make my own, rather than use the jarred stuff.  And I'm NOT sharing my recipe. Not because it's top-secret, but mostly because there is no recipe.  It usually goes something like this. Pour olive oil in a pan, add TONS of garlic, some crushed tomatoes, some italian seasoning and salt to taste.  

AND because that was fun, that means it would be TWICE as fun to bring two dishes, right? Which is why I volunteered to make a side dish for my friend, Lori, who is working full time while completing a Master's degree AND preparing to go overseas in a month to teach for a, she's just a LITTLE busy. I decided to bring one of my favorite not-really-a-recipe recipes, crockpot scalloped potatoes. This is a thing I've made before, but I've never made it like this before. It's really more of a use what you have in the kitchen sort of recipe.

I started with 3 pounds of potatoes, which I peeled and thinly sliced. Add one medium chopped onion and about 1 clove garlic (sometimes I'm lazy and buy the pre-chopped stuff)and throw them in the crock pot.
Then I mixed 8 oz of cream cheese with 8 oz of sour cream, 1 T dijon mustard, 1 cup of milk, and salt & pepper taste. I poured that creamy mixture over the potatoes and topped with 2 cups of colby jack cheese.  Looking at it now, that seems like a LOT of dairy, but this is a party, people. Cheese is love.
My crockpot is crazy fast cooking, so I put that on low and will check ever few hours for progress.  I imagine it will take about 4 hours to get all yummy and cooked through.

5/23/11 ETA: Sorry, no pictures. The entire day was a whirlwind (literally with tornadoes) and I forgot to snap pictures of the end result. It was delicious, though.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spaghetti is the instant classic

Tonight's menu was supposed to be yesterday's menu, but I took Noodles on a walk and Alex got other ideas and decided to eat some leftover pizza before we got back home.

So, here it is, Alex's favorite meal, and a likely constant in the weekly rotation. Spaghetti with meat sauce. If we don't eat this every week, we come darn near...and because Alex likes the jarred sauce as much as my homemade, we just stick with what's easy. Working girls need their short cuts. Being the Sam's club devotees that we are, we use Member's Mark All-Natural Four Cheese Pasta Sauce , with 96% lean ground beef, NOT meatballs.

Alex has already confessed his distaste for meatballs after the first time I laboriously created that meal in attempt to impress him. I do try to fancy it up a bit with some extra seasoning from our pantry. If you've been to my house, you've seen the wall-o-spices that I married into.

Oh, and I don't even MESS with that whole wheat spaghetti crap. Please refine my flour as much as possible before I wrap it around my fork, thanks.

This will be served with fancy green beans, again from Sam's. I am as excited about these as a girl CAN be about frozen green beans. They are the tastiest and easiest frozen vegetable I've yet to encounter and Alex actually likes them, too, despite the fact they are a vegetable that isn't corn.

So, there you go. Bow down to my culinary genius. It may not seem like much, but this is one of the reasons Alex told me he had to marry...he needed somebody to make his spaghetti. I'm am so lucky to be that somebody.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Picante Chicken

Hi! I am creating this blog to chronicle my goal to prepare fresh food for me and my new husband more frequently. I LOVE to cook, but life gets busy and before I know it, the week is over and hubby has been living on his staples of chicken fingers and french fries and me on veggie burgers. I have made a goal to cook 3 times a week for the two of us from now on. Alex is a BIT of a picky eater, and I'm a Weight Watcher for life, trying to lose the 10-15ish pounds I found since we started dating. It will be a challenge to create healthy and tasty foods that he will enjoy.

Tonight I will be trying this recipe for Picante Chicken, served with steamed rice and a corn & black bean salad. I'll check up with reviews and possibly pictures, though that may be a bit too technologically advanced for me. :-/.

ETA: The verdict is in: he likes the taste, but not the texture of the sauce. I liked it well enough, but am not devastated that it isn't an instant classic. Will we make this again? Probably not. Would I recommend it to a friend? It's worth a shot.