Friday, August 31, 2012

A Week In Review

Song of the Day:  Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together  ...Thanks Ms. Swift for writing yet ANOTHER song that I will 'never ever ever' get out of my head :)

 My weigh-in this week shows just how ridiculous weight can actually be.  I've apparently lost 4 lbs this week.  Don't get me wrong, I am glad to see the loss, but I haven't really done anything this week to contribute to it.  I mean, I have been eating MUCH better and mainly in smaller portions than I normally would, but I haven't worked out since Friday.  But it is towards the end of TOM and that's really where the weight loss comes from; no more bloating.  It really is ridiculous what women have to go through!  

Last night for dinner I made a chicken fettuccine alfredo bake with leeks.  It was so good - and easy because it wasn't from scratch ;)  I lightly salted and put garlic powder (tons) on the chicken (1 lb) and baked them first (350, 30 minutes).  Then I shredded it and put it in a 9x13 pan.  Then I cooked penne rigate noodles for 2 minutes less than the box recommended.  I added a jar of alfredo sauce, 1/2 cup of milk and 3/4 of a bag of shredded mozzarella (I think a 16 oz bag).  Then I added 1 leek, halved then sliced.  I mixed it all up in the pan so I didn't have to deal with an extra bowl.  Then I topped with the rest of the cheese and covered with aluminum foil.  I had time earlier in the day so that's when I did my prep, and just put the pan in the refrigerator.  When it was close to time for dinner I cooked the food at 350 for 20 minutes - with the aluminum foil still on.  Then I took the foil off and continued cooking for 20 minutes (or until cheese is bubbly).  It was so good!  Leeks have a taste between onion and garlic, so they were a perfect addition.  Here's a pic of the finished product... with a few servings missing :)

Unfortunately, Kyle can't eat it, but I'll make it again when he's gone :)

This week we also had salmon and make at home pizza.  The salmon was pretty straight forward, just lightly salt and pepper and some lemon peel.  The pizza was store bought crust, store bought sauce, mozzarella cheese (also store bought, lol), and sliced pepperoni from the deli (AMAZING).  It's not from scratch, but it's still better for you than Pizza Hut!  I don't always have time to make my own sauces, and the kind people at Classico (brand) understand that.  When I buy jarred products I tend to look for the least amount of salt and sugar, but I also go by taste (I hate Ragu). 

This week's Pinterest project:

+ Carpet Powder from Pinterest: The recipe doesn't actually say how much baking soda to use, so I just used about 1/3 of the box (what I had left, but set aside 1 tsp to make chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon :) ).  I didn't have orange oil, but I did have melaleuca oil which is a natural cleaner, and smells really good!  I put a ton of drops in the baking soda until it seemed right, probably 15-20 ish.  I didn't have a parmesan cheese container, so I tried pocking holes in a mason jar with a nail.  The holes ended up too small and not enough powder came out.  I gave up on that idea and just spooned out the powder.  Our rug wasn't smelly with anything in particular, but it just needed a lift.  The powder definitely worked, and now our house smells really good!  I also like that it's ingredients that are safe and I don't have to worry about putting Caroline on the rug.  I'll definitely use this again!

Today is my last day as a stay-at-home mom.  School starts Tuesday!  I'm really bittersweet about the whole thing.  I'm sad that the kids are going to daycare, especially Caroline.  There's so much that I may miss now.  What if she takes her first step there?  I'm also concerned that Elliot and Caroline won't get to see each other and that their relationship may suffer, but I'm going to talk to daycare and see if they can possibly see each other a few times a day.  I'm not at all concerned about Elliot!  He had a play date with my cousins kids yesterday and he had so much fun!  He was so excited that after they left he almost fell asleep while eating lunch.  And it was macaroni, which is his FAVORITE.  He's really going to enjoy playing with the other kids, and I even saw some kids from his old class still there, not that he'll remember them, but still fun :)

Well, time to get ready for the 3 day weekend!  Happy Labor Day everyone!

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Week In Review

Song of the day:  Santigold - The Keepers

I've been trying to make an effort to:
     1. Make home cooked meals for dinner, and 
     2.  Actually make/do some of the stuff that I repin on Pinterest.

So far, so good.  Some things this week were more fun than others, but I tried something new, and that's the whole point, right?

FYI: Many of the links will send you to the 'pin' on my pinterest page, not the original page they are from.  Follow the digital trail to get the recipes, and repin!

     + Ranch dressing from Pinterest: The flavor is amazing!  And the decrease in calories is even better!  The problem is it's really thin and runny.  If you like a thicker ranch (like I do) I would recommend slowly adding the milk until it's the consistency you want.  I even put it in a mason jar that I had so it even looks like the pinterest picture!  Win!
     + Chicken nuggets and chips with honey mustard from Cooking Light:  I found this recipe in the September 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine.  It's easy enough, but very involved*.  The marinade of dill pickle juice and buttermilk made the chicken taste SO GOOD!  Apparently this is what Chick-fil-A does with their chicken.  Because of Kyle's lactose allergy, I used low fat plain kefir instead of buttermilk.  From what I can tell it turned out fine, and I'll be making this substitute for other recipes as well!  I think a combination of my microwave power, how thick/thin the potatoes were cut, and how much oil was on them all contributed to the sogginess of the chips.  I would recommend thinner than 1/8" and barely any oil.  I ended up abandoning the microwave and broiling them after the nuggets were cooked.  I then put the nuggets under the broiler to make sure they were hot and crispy right before serving.  The honey mustard sauce was really good, but I did add an extra tbsp of honey.  I know they're trying to be healthy so they use the minimal amount of sugar, but I thought it was a little heavy on the mustard.  Because the meal isn't something that is easily whipped together, I've dubbed this a "weekend meal," and trust me, we will definitely be making it again!  NOTE:  The honey mustard sauce does not keep well in the fridge overnight.  Make what you'll need for the meal, then make more the next day for any leftovers.
     * This is the meal where I set the plastic bag (that held the chicken/panko bread mixture) on a still warm burner.  Don't worry, the plastic came off as it cooled.
     + Catfish from Pinterest: About a week ago Kyle came home from the grocery store with catfish.  We put it in the freezer, and I wasn't really sure what to do with it.  Like many people, outside of batter fried fish, I'm not really sure what to do with it... and I don't even batter fry fish at home, I get that at Syl's (AMAZING).  So, like any good 21st century 20 something, I went on Pinterest and found a recipe.  SO SO GOOD!  We will definitely be eating this again!  Mine didn't turn out like the picture, but whatever, it still tasted amazing.  I also added 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper to the fish.  When I think catfish, I think a little kick, and it was definitely a good add.  SIDE:  I served it with quinoa and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

     + BBQ Pulled Pork from  What's not to love about a good pulled pork sandwich??  I used extra lean pork tenderloin because I really don't like trimming meat.  I used Sweet Baby Rays for the sauce base, and instead of 2 tbsp of mustard I used 1 tbsp yellow mustard and 1 tbsp dijon mustard.  I also added 1.5 (ish) tbsp worcestershire sauce.  Thankfully I read the comments before making the pork and I definitely agree that you should dump all of the broth after the pork cooks instead of just skimming the fat (keep the onions).  I was afraid that I needed some of the broth that I had already dumped, so I did add about 1/4-1/2 cup of water after adding the sauce to the pork.  AMAZING.  This is one of our favorite meals.  There's enough meat for leftovers and to freeze another meal!  SIDE: We served the pork on wheat hamburger buns from the bakery, and topped it with coleslaw from the deli.  For sides we had potato salad from the deli and steamed bell peppers and garlic*.
     *1 green pepper chopped, 1/2 red pepper chopped, 6 cloves of garlic halved.  Stir in 1 tsp of lemon juice, Salt to taste.  Steam in pan (add a little water so the veggies don't stick) over medium high heat.

     + Pistachio-Chai Muffins from Cooking Light: I've made these muffins before, but this time I used kefir instead of buttermilk (last time I just used milk) and I 86'd the pistachios.  So really they're just chai muffins.  I wanted to be able to give Elliot one without worrying that he'd chock on a pistachio.  I did forget to spray the liners before putting the batter in, so they stick to the sides a little, but not the end of the world (we all know the top is the best part anyway).  Elliot and I both had one this morning and they're so good!  Elliot thinks they're cupcakes, lol.  I did add the frosting (so yeah, kinda cupcakes) before the 5 min cooling period ended, so it ended up running all over the place, but having only a thin coating of sugar on the muffin is probably a good thing :)  I'm planning on making another batch and freezing them for quick breakfasts for the semester. 

Random Pinterest Ideas:
     + Morning Yoga:  I'm really trying to make an effort to at least do something every day.  I've been having really bad lower back pain, and figured one of the many "do this every day" yoga/exercise pins that I've re-pinned might actually work if I actually tried it!  I am definitely liking this routine!  I just do a plain downward dog in step 3, between steps 5 and 6 I added warrior II, and I also added a few child's pose here and there.  I did the routine three times alternating with some core/leg/arm workout/activities that I've taken from a few workout dvd's that I've done along the way.  Overall, my back isn't hurting as bad and I'm not as stiff in the morning, or throughout the day.  This is definitely something I'll keep doing.

     + Detox Bath:  I've been feeling really crappy this week because of a head cold that will not go away, so I really wanted this to work.  I did have a few ingredient hiccups, and I'm hoping that's why it didn't.  I didn't have plain epsom salt, I had Dr. Teal's Relaxing Epsom Salt (which is amazing, but not for a detox), but I figured since oils were also an option that maybe my salts would be a two for one kind of deal.  I also used the ground ginger option.  According to the website you should fill the tub with comfortably hot water.  I filled our tub, but as it was filling, the water got cooler, so I had comfortably warm water.  It also says that you should start sweating within the first few minutes.  I didn't sweat at all, which leads me to believe that it's the hot water that causes you to sweat, not the ingredients... or maybe the ingredients are activated by hot water, I don't know.  Either way, it didn't work.  I stayed in there for the full 40 minutes (while reading Twilight..... I know, I know... but I didn't care if the book got wet, or if I couldn't get to a good stopping point).  It didn't detox me, but I did smell good.

All in all, not a bad week of trying new things!  In regular news, on Tuesday I picked up my school books!  I also became "that person" who takes the free text books sitting outside the bookstore that the school is no longer using.  But the topics could be helpful, and they seem really interesting - one is meant for teaching students, "Teaching children to read and write" that will be a beneficial read!  My classes this semester are Introduction to Scientist-Practitioner (psychology), Research Methods (psychology), Principals of Behavior Modification, Field Training (psychology - I find out where I'm going on the first day back to school!!), and Ballet I.  I'm ready for school to start, but I'm nervous about how it's going to affect the kids.  One thing that I'm bummed about is they won't be able to spend the whole day together like they do now.  I don't know how that's going to affect their relationship, and it really has me considering in-home care (nanny).  But I wouldn't even know where to begin in finding a nanny, and worry about reliability.  

One thing that I'm trying to do to make this semester more productive cooking wise (last year we ate A LOT of Pizza Hut and other take out) is make meals that can be frozen.  I just ordered the cookbook "Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer" after seeing it recommended on Pinterest.  I'm really excited to get it!  One thing that I do hate though, is that a lot of quick and budget friendly recipes have cheese in them.  And not like, "top with cheese if desired" but "and throw 3 cups of 3 different kinds of cheeses into the bowl."  Kyle is allergic to lactose (no, not intolerant, anaphylactic shock allergic) so I can't make anything with cheese, because there's not really a GOOD substitute.  I know there's substitutes, but please, I'm from Wisconsin.  

This week it looks like I gained almost 2 lbs.  I'm not really sure how that's even possible, so I'm chalking it up to water retention and overall feeling yucky.  I took my measurements, and even though I'm "down" only 3 ish lbs, I've lost a little over 5" total (2 coming from my waist!), so I don't care what the scale says, I'm definitely changing for the better!   

Friday, August 17, 2012

may the odds be ever in your favor.

Song of the Day:  Sammy Adams - Driving Me Crazy

I took a break from blogging because I was taking Psychology of Childhood as an online class for the last three weeks.  Any chance I had to sit at the computer was spent on school work.  And I'm happy to report that unless I get a D on my paper, I have an A in the class :)  The professor even complimented me on my responses and understanding of the material, and she's the chair of my department, so she's a good person to impress!  

Even though I haven't been posting I have been doing a weekly weigh-in.  The numbers are posted on the side of my page.  It was going pretty well, then this last week I was up 1.2 lbs.  I made a lot of bad food choices that weekend, so I'm really not surprised.  Unfortunately I haven't made the best food choices this week either.  

I am kind of on the Nutrisystem diet.  I ordered the food, and it's good, but Kyle's not traveling so it's not really practical.  And with school starting in two weeks, and my very small lunch break, I can't really make food.  It was obviously working based on my weight loss, and I wasn't even able to really work out besides taking the kids on some walks.  I can tell that I've definitely lost inches though.  Instead of ordering the food again I found their cookbook on Amazon for $5 and will pair those dinners with Cooking Light dinners.  On Wednesday I made the family favorite Chicken and Lemon Leek Linguine.  *sigh* It is so amazing!!  

I'm taking a ballet class this semester, and I'm a little nervous about it.  I'm not nervous about the actual class, more about how I look and comparing myself to the other students.  I'm taking this class because I will have 119 credits after fulfilling my requirements, I really do enjoy dancing, and I'm hoping ballet will help improve my core, which is non existent after two kids in less than two years.

I also just sent a professor my preferences for my field training posting!  Hopefully I'll hear back from her soon because I'm really excited to find out where I'll be spending the semester!  Two week break, then back to school!

And, the Hunger Games comes out tomorrow!  I haven't seen the movie yet because we really don't get out to see movies, so I think I might reread the book this afternoon!!