Thursday, March 22, 2007

Beefy Deliciousness

Being a complete kitchen moron, I began this blog way back in December, thinking that I would try one recipe a week, document it through photo and blog and hopefully learn to cook like a big girl. So it hasn't quite worked out the way I had hoped. I'm definately not at the Rachel Ray or Paula Deen stage in my cooking, I'm not even on the level with the syndicated Mr. Food from Channel 14. BUT compared to where I started, I have improved. I cooked the majority of Christmas dinner for pete's sake and not one person ran screaming from the table, so that's gotta count for something. I have strayed from my original plan, but I guess that's OK too. I don't plan on giving up the idea of finally learning to cook, I just don't know that I can/want to do it on a weekly basis. And you can forget the fancy and gourmet dishes for quite some time. I've got to get down the basics. I still haven't mastered the art of fried chicken(or fried anything for that matter), mashed potatoes or mac and cheese(though I have come close on that one). But through this little experiment I have begun to give a little more thought to what I eat and how it's prepared and have discovered that I kinda dig this cooking thing. My cookbook collection has grown by leaps and bounds...I find myself reading them for fun and then today I asked my lunch buddies "so, what makes good meatloaf? crackers, breadcrumbs, or oats?". The fact that those words came out of my mouth is truly astonishing. The very idea that I would ponder what makes meatloaf tastier when I don't even really like it to begin with means that I have turned a corner. A corner to where exactly, I don't know. But a corner has been turned. So keep checking in for my culinary adventures, though boring they may be, some day I'll be able to cook all fancy-like and you can say you knew me when I was still a member of the Ellie May Clampet cooking club!

I whipped up a yummy slab of beefy goodness tonight. It was super easy and oh-so-satisfying. If you don't get the FREE cooking magazine from kraft foods, you should. Go to the link at right and sign up for "food and family" by following the links on the website. This recipe comes from that magazine and it turned out soooo good. Better than I thought. During the browning of the ground beef and onions, I had a flashback to my college days when bro' Shea and I made the most nasty concotion to ever be concocted. We were using one of those sandwich pocket thingies and tried to do a taco filling. Trust me, it was nastiness defined. Anyhow, once I got over the flashbacks, I trudged ahead and created this tasty sandwich roll.

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-Ups

1 lb. lean ground beef
4 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onions (about 1 small)
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) VELVEETA Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pkg. (13.8 oz.) refrigerated pizza crust

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Cook ground beef, bacon and onions in large skillet on medium-high heat until ground beef is evenly browned, stirring occasionally. Drain; return meat mixture to skillet. Add VELVEETA; cook until completely melted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; set aside.
UNROLL pizza dough onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Press into 15x8-inch rectangle. Top evenly with meat mixture. Roll up dough, starting at one of the long sides. Rearrange, if necessary, so roll is seam-side down on baking sheet.
BAKE 20 to 25 min. or until golden brown. Cut diagonally into six slices to serve.

A few other things: As you know, I sprikle Lawry's on everything and I added some grill mates seasoning for hamburger. Used smaller portion of chopped dried onions rather than fresh(didn't have fresh). Sprinkled a touch of parmesean cheese on top of the roll pre-baking. I use Oscar Myer precooked bacon(less WW points than regular bacon) next time I will microwave and crumble it up before adding to the beef...I like my bacon Crunchy.

In case you're curious...the nutrition info at the website shows a portion being 10WW points. I used Laura's lean ground beef, less than called for amount of velveeta and I think I can get seven servings rather than 6, so that puts mine at about 7 points per serving by my calculations. Well worth it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

CDs in my car CD changer...

In case you're wondering.

1. Sting--Dream of the Blue Turtles
2. Jersey Boys Broadway Soundtrack
3. Barenaked Ladies--Rock Spectacle
4. 13 Going on 30 Soundtrack
5. CD of random 70's & 80's tunes I pulled from Bryan's iTunes
6. Harry Connick Jr. -- Come by Me

Bonus points if you can guess which one has been in the changer since we got the Jeep back before's also the CD I sing along to the loudest and most obnoxiously! Garantee that one of these six will probably still be in there in three more months. I get stuck on something and it takes a while for me to want move on to something new.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What's Cooking? Corn Chowder with Bacon!

I cooked! This turned out quite yummy I thought and other than being all thumbs at the chopping and dicing and whatnot, it was pretty simple to make.

Corn and Bacon Chowder

2 slices turkey bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbs. + 2 tsp. water
1 onion, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 med. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups whole kernel corn
1/4 cups half and half

1. In a medium nonstick saucepan over medium high heat, cook the bacon in 2tbs. of water until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel and discard the liquid. (I used pre cooked oscar myer bacon and I left the liquid in the pan, there wasn't that much)

2. Add the onion, bell pepper and 2 tsp. of water to the saucepan; saute until soft, about 5 min. Add the broth and potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 min. Stir in the corn; simmer 5 min. longer. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

3. Transfer two cups of the soup to a food processor or blender. Puree. Pour back into the saucepan; stir in the half & half and heat to serving temp. Serve, topped w/the bacon pieces.

Makes 4 servings -- I got more like 5 1/2; but the WW cookbook says if you divide the soup into fourths, each serving is four points.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly. I know a novice like myself should probably stick to the recipe the first time but I'm not big on onions OR peppers and I was feeling brave. So I used 1/2 instead of a whole onion and not quite a half of a red bell pepper instead of yellow (thought it'd be prettier). I diced them both as small as I possibly could and added the onions to my food chopper to get them even smaller. I think it worked out pretty well...I don't mind the small peppers and the soup doesn't have an onion-y flavor at all. Of course someone who LIKES onions might have found it bland. I used Green Giant Sweet and Super Sweet whole kernel corn from a can. The recipe doesn't call for salt or pepper, but I added both. It's better after it has set for a while...I actually liked it MUCH more on the second day. The crumbly bacon on top makes it even better.

**11/15/07 Update: Made this for the second time. Used regular bacon and regular chicken broth. Microwaved the bacon at the last minute for topping instead of cooking it first thing. I also let the mixture that went into the blender puree longer this time. Even tastier than the first go round!

Oh, my nola---Jackie didn't go-la (but Shea and I had a great time!)

Jackie---you probably don't want to read this post. It's a made up pack of lies anyway. The concert wasn't that good. Harry was dull and the band out of tune. You didn't miss much. Love You!

Tuesday March 12 goes down on my list of great days. Shea and I went to TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Theater to see the one and only Harry Connick Jr.

As you all know I am a HUGE fan of Harry. HUGE. Have been ever since I saw him playing piano and crooning on a VH1 special back in what I think was around 1987. I think this because Harry was performing numbers from his album 20, which he named for his age at the time and since Harry and I are the same age, I’m guessing I first saw that HCJ special in ’87. Mark and I were living in our tiny one bed room apartment  and Mark was working at McDonald’s. We didn’t have money to do anything so on weekend afternoons I’d watch VH1 while Mark was at work. (Mark is not much of a music fan---I don’t know what went wrong with him, but he just doesn’t enjoy music the way I do). Anyhow, that was when VH1 still played music and current music was still worth listening to (for the most part). I think I must have went out and bought the cassette tape the next week and have been a fan ever since.

Back to the concert…this is the Oh My Nola tour, named for his recent album and the show was spectacular! HCJ’s talent is a gift from God...and it is so obvious when you see the man perform live. Maybe it’s just me but when I watch him play piano, I can almost see the music coming up from his feet and firing through his fingers—he plays from his soul, if that makes any sense at all. It is truly a joy to watch and listen to.

And he’s funny…we were cracking up more than once. He told a goofy story & cracked some jokes. You could tell he was enjoying himself as much as we were. At one point in the show he invited the folks in the balcony seats to come up and sit in some unfilled seats in the front of the theater. I wanted to run up there at full speed, but I didn’t figure Shea would join in (which he confirmed later that he would not) so I stayed put and enjoyed the show every bit as much from our seats!

The big band was cooking and my favorite band member, Lucien Barbarin played some solo trombone and sang a little Basin Street Blues. Many, if not all of the songs at the performance were New Orleans related in some way or another. It was a good mix of up-tempo and slower songs w/just the right amount of instrumentals. Don’t get me wrong, HCJ kills when he performs the big band & crooner numbers(When Harry Met Sally comes to mind), but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the jazzy/blues thing he does on Oh My Nola and it was awesome live!

My favorite song of the night was probably Let Them Talk, a slower bluesy number. Harry played the organ instead of the piano on this one and it was crazy-good. He opened with Come by Me, another favorite tune of mine. I loved Workin’ in the Coal Mine and Jambalaya was a fun number as was the Zulu King song that he has performed at every concert I’ve been to as the closing/pre-encore song. Heck, I can’t think of a moment that was not fantastic!!

Monday, March 5, 2007

I fell off the WW Wagon

Sheesh I am a lazy blogger. It's been a month since my last post. Oh well I guess my life is just so busy and exciting that I haven't had the time... ha ha ha ha ha ha. I know you are all rolling on the floor by now. Yep, I'm just lazy (and I still have crappy dial up.)

OK, I didn't really fall off the WW Wagon. JUMPED off would be more accurate. I was rolling along doing very well I thought. And then I sorta stopped. No real reason, just once our BL competition ended at work I guess I took a license to eat everything not nailed down and to stop exercising. This has gone on for the better part of a week now.

I figure the best way to get over it is to just air it out here in this public forum for the world -- or at most five people -- to read. So now you know. I have figured out that WW only works for me when I track. The minute I stop writing down what I eat, I might as well give it up. It's like I didn't even eat that half of a pizza if I don't write it down. And if I didn't eat a half a pizza it certainly won't hurt if I drink 3 or 4 regular Cokes!!! Good Grief! NO self control.

But now that I have come clean, it'll be easier to start back. So, ya'll are my witnesses...tomorrow I start exercising, get back on WW and TRACKING every bite!

I had really hoped to get to my goal weight before my birthday. I'm 41 pounds from there (considering this post week didn't push me FARTHER away). That's a lot of poundage in just five months.

But I'm going to try...with everyone else in the family doing it, I can't stop now. Mom, Dad and Shea and even Jackie who's a stick anyway are all losing wieght and sticking to it. Heck, Shea exercises his butt off, so the least I can do is a 45min. dvd every day and take ten seconds to write down what I eat! OK, I'm sufficiently fired up now!!

...and since it's been a while...

Brian Regan was funny. Pee in your pants and laugh like Ernie from Sesame Street funny.

TEN DAYS to Harry Connick Jr. CAN'T WAIT can't wait can't wait.

The other thing I can't wait for is for Jackie and Scott to come home. I miss them terribly!

I COOKED RECENTLY! Try this for some "it so good you'll smack yo' mama" chicken. 30min. marinade (I think it's Lawry's or McCormick) in the Chipotle and Lime variety. Marinade for 30 or more min. Slap on the grill (or for the grill challenged such as myself, on the George Foreman). I had it with homemade baked tortilla chips and salsa. Mmmm Mmmmm Good.