Sunday, January 28, 2007

OK, I did not try a new recipe this week. Shame on me. Well I did change up the baked chicken from last week a little...does that count? Here's what I did...

Took the baked chicken recipe and replaced cajun spice with lemon pepper spice. Cooked up some No Yolks egg noodles (they are more WW friendly than regular egg noodles) and plopped my baked chicken on top of that. It was pretty AND tasty!

I'd say that trying to cook three things last Sunday did me in. Yep, that's it. I need to go back to one recipe per week. I don't know what to try this week...still in the dilemma of trying to learn to cook but eat healthier at the same time. I know I know I know...cook healthy recipes. We've been through this before...I am reminded of the healthy recipe for sorbet disaster from a few weeks back. However, I do think I will invest in a new cookbook, that might help. If you were to take a look at my meager cookbook collection, you'd find titles such as... Graceland's Table (which we've discussed), Fabulous 50's Food, and Comfort Foods. Good eatin', yes. Healthy...not so much. So I may cruise Amazon later for a weight watchers cookbook or some such nonsense.

As I have no culinary news to share, I will share this. This is my fourth week to be back on Weight Watchers and I have lost 8 pounds! I'm still in shock. Mind you that's just 2 pounds per week, but it's gone by fast and I haven't really struggled a lot. I think the fact that I am trying to cook is helping. Before I got stuck on eating the prepacked, frozen, points allotted meals. I felt like I was eating the same thing day after day and after a while I just got sick of messing with it and quit trying. Well, there were other reasons that I gave up, but the fact that I was eating frozen dinners non-stop didn't help. Their good, don't get me wrong but after a while you get tired of ziti, mac and cheese, and fetuccinni. I have bought a few, but I try not to eat them very often. The other thing that is helping is exercise. I'm doing that daily and although some days I feel like I'm going to pass out, I keep going. Usually I feel better afterwards and I'm definately sleeping better lately. So that's my good bit of news for the week.

And also on the weight loss front, we are having a biggest loser competion at work. I am on a great team with fun people and we did pretty good last week. We're only into week 2, and I'm hoping this will help keep me motivated. It's hard to cheat when you know there are four other people depending on you! They're coming over to Casa de Cotton today so that we can make sure on track and maybe do some exercise or something. I'm looking forward to it...just gotta get off my butt and do some cleaning so that the casa isn't so stinky.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Me Vs. the Chicken ROUND 3

OK. If you know me you know that when it comes to cooking, chicken is on of my mortal enemies. But then I've never cooked a roast or steak, so they may be mortal enemies, too. I don't know. But anyway, I went after the chicken in a battle of wills again this afternoon and hands down, I came out the winner! Possibly the easiest chicken recipe known to man. My friend Rhonda G. told me how to make baked cajun chicken...I feel slighty more moronic than usual for NOT know how to do this before.

1. Locate chicken (already cleaned and cut, of course)
2. Sprinkle w/cajun spices
3. Wrap in aluminum foil
4. Bake in 350 degree oven until done.

That's it!! And it was G--OOO--OOOD. I even used my elcheapo Kroger brand Cajun seasoning and as she promised, it turned out nice and juicy w/that spicy cajun flavor. If only all recipes were so simple! Thanks Rhonda!!

Now, most of you are not going to believe this but the chicken was actually my THIRD attempt at real cooking of the day. Yes, I said third.

This morning I made biscuits! From scratch!! Buttermilk, no less! AND THEY WERE GOOD, TOO!! Now, like the mac and cheese, I have not perfected the art of biscuitry just yet. This was actually my third attempt at making biscuits. Lately...I'm not counting my Ellie May Clampet hockey puck biscuits from way back. Anyhow, the first time, I used 2% milk in the recipe and got a pretty good biscuit, somewhat fluffy, not crumbly. A success. But, they still didn't taste quite like the ones my grandma makes. Her's are unbelievably delicious. So I decided I'd try making mine with buttermilk(like she does) and see if they could get any closer. They weren't. Too dense, a little hard and not nearly as good as that first batch. So this morning I was thinking about what to eat for breakfast and I thought "biscuits, bacon and egg". I tried the buttermilk recipe again and realized what I did wrong the last time. I didn't follow the recipe quite right. Evidently when you cook, you have to follow the recipe or things just don't turn out right! Der. So this morning I realized that in the art of biscuitry the shortening and flour must be mixed together before you add milk or they just don't turn out right...also you shouldn't forget to add key ingredients like baking soda when called for. Don't know why...some chemical reaction/scientific explanation that I'm sure Alton Brown could spit out in a matter of seconds, but I have no clue. I just know this mornings biscuits were much better than the last round! Fluffier and not quite as heavy as the last batch...still, not like Mamaws. Hers are fluffier and just taste better. I've watched her make biscuits more times than I can count. She never used a recipe... always just dumps the ingredients in the middle of a giant wooden bowl and mixes everything up by hand. You'd think by following a recipe and from countless times watching her do it, I could get it right. However, she does have about 65-70 years of biscuit making under her belt. I have only three tries under mine, so I'm doing OK, I guess.

My final recipe of the day was sweet potato fries. Now sweet potatos aren't my favorite food, but since I am trying to lose weight and eat a little healtier, I thought I'd give it a try. It's a Biggest Loser recommended recipe(somewhat altered), so I thought I might like it. I cut a sweet potato into fry size pieces, sprinked olive oil, french fry seasoning and a bit of paprika on them and baked them in the oven. The recipe said 10-12min. I left them in longer hoping that they would get crunchy. I have a feeling a sweet potato doesn't get crunchy unless it is deep fried. So I think they turned out OK, but I didn't enjoy them(warmed up a can of corn instead). It wasn't the seasoning that bothered me, it was the taste of the SP that I couldn't get past. I'm guessing Mark, who loves sweet potatos will gobble them up, but my official stand on this is that I am not a fan of the sweet potato and I will not be cooking them for myself again.

Friday, January 19, 2007

They're Both Favorites

I spent last week watching the first season of 24 on DVD. MAN, it's good and now I miss it terribly! At first I watched two episodes a night. By the third disk, I think I was up to three episodes at a time and had to MAKE myself stop watching. I would literally be so tense I was drawn up into a ball on the couch chewing my fingernails by the time an episode would end. IT WAS GREAT! Better than any movie I've seen lately. I don't want to give anything away in case someone wants to check it out, but the twists and turns they take on that show are unbelievable! RUN to Movie Gallery and rent it people! Shea has Season 2 and I cannot wait to start on that. We were discussing 24 vs. Lost...both excellent shows. Lost is a little more fun and you get a laugh or two per episode (thanks to Sawyer and Hurley), but 24 just sucks you in and you cannot stop watching it.

Not sure which show is my favorite...Their both favorities...Lost may be a little more favorite...but if I can't watch LOST that's OK, cause 24 is favorite anyway...They're both good...They're both good! SO, I am obviously beginning to look forward to the Brian Regan concert in Feb!! Funny funny guy. Shea has a clip on his blog, and there are also clips on Hysterical! Last time we saw him, I laughed harder than I had in I don't know when. And speaking of concerts...

There is a very good chance that I may have fan club seating to Harry Connick Jr. in March. The man puts on an unbelievable show! Phenomenal musician, phenomenal voice. I think everyone should go see Harry if they get the chance. I've seen him in concert three times and have never ever been disappointed. He's always personable, charming and flat out fantastic. Jack is checking on getting her fan club tickets transferred over to me so that I can buy the primo tickets. Last time we did that they were FRONT ROW. This concert is to promote the Oh My Nola CD, which comes out on the 30th and yes, I will be buying a copy that day.

Am I supposed to talk about cooking? Still haven't done much in while. Too busy watching my "stories" on the tv! HOWEVER, I did just cook up a healthy little cheese pizza for only five WW points:
Flat out low calorie Italian Herb bread
Top with pizza sauce and some low fat mozerella.
Bake at 350 till cheese is brown and bubbly.
Really tasty for Pizza lovers like me who can no longer eat as much "real" pizza. Would probably be good with some pepperoni and veggies(if you like that sort of thing) tossed on. I could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner without ever tiring of it. BUT I haven't had any "real" pizza in weeks, and this was a tasty alternative. Tomorrow I think I am going to take on the chicken again. My friend Rhonda told me how to do baked cajun chicken. Sounded super simple and since I have both chicken AND cajun spices on hand, I gotta give it a try. I *might* even try some sweet potato fries (baked of course) to go with! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Fatties, Baked TorTILLAS and Melty Mush

There are several explanations for my lack of posts lately. 1. I’m lazy 2. I haven’t cooked anything in about a week(lazy) 3.We have CRAPPY dial up and it takes forever to log on to blogger, much less post and add pictures, which I like to do with my "experiments". Don’t quite get the full effect of the food w/o pics. Up till now I’ve been loading them from work on the weekends or after work, but I don’t particularly dig staying at work any longer than necessary. So check back later and maybe there will be some pictures of my food adventures posted. And a final reason is that I’m not sure how to proceed with the cooking.

I have decided to start following weight watchers again and I’m afraid foods like cornbread, mac and cheese, fried chicken and the like will get me into some trouble. "Why not try healthy recipes?" you ask. Since the only vegetables I enjoy are the white and yellow ones, I don’t really see that happening. But I'll think about it.

After spending several months mocking and making fun of the fatties on biggest loser, I realized while watching the finale that I now weigh more than those same fatties I’d been laughing at! Shame on me…not really, it was extremely enjoyable and often the highlight of the week. I miss the fatties! Anyway, after much thought and a month to pig out over the Holidays, I’ve decided to give WW another try lest I reach Hutt-esque proportions.

Speaking of the big fatties, I just bought the BL2 workout dvd and I've been trying work out with it daily. I think I like it, but I prefer the first installment. Tonight I decided to be a bit adventurous and try the men’s cardio workout with Bob. Why? I don’t know. Maybe ‘cause I get a real kick out of just listening to goofy Bob and since he doesn’t do the women’s workouts, I thought I’d give it a shot. The segment was only ten minutes long and I thought I would surely be able to keep up with THOSE guys (dvd was filmed while they were still relatively fat). WRONG! BIG MISTAKE!! We got to something called a divebomber and I finally had to just stop. Ten minutes of pure agony! That workout was NOT meant for girls and I won’t be making that mistake again!

It appears that I have rambled off my culinary track, so I'll get back to it.

Baked Tortilla Chips:
OK, I lied...I have done a wee bit of cooking…if you can call it that. These are pretty darn good if I do say so myself. The trick is to make sure they get good and done and eat them while they are still warm. They have a big, thick crunch (which I like)…so they aren’t like the ones they make at El Bracero, but they are a healthy alternative…

Stack up anywhere between 3-6 6inch corn tortillas(or more if you'd like). I used Pepitos--they are only 90calories & one gram of fat per two tortillas. Cut into 6-8 wedges depending on how big you like your chips. Toss with a SMALL amount of olive oil and then sprinkle on Lawry’s Season Salt and Chili Seasoning and toss it all once more. Lay out a baking sheet and bake for 10 min. Turn and bake until crunchy (about another 3-4min.) You’ll know if you get one that isn’t done…they are chewy and not delicious.

Mark and I have been eating these like crazy w/corn and black bean salsa. Yummy. I’ve also added pepper to give it a different flavor…equally yummy.

Strawberry Sorbet
I thought this would be good. It was a combination of frozen strawberries, orange juice and vanilla extract that was SUPPOSED to mix together to form a fruity and delicious sorbet. It was, to use my own phrase…bleckhy! Sour and mushy and not at all what I was hoping for, but Mark thought it was really good. I think part of the problem was my lack of a food processor. I used a mixer and it didn’t want to mix, instead, it basically melted while I tried a lot of smashing w/a plastic spatula. Now the picture of the finished product looked icy and was scooped out like ice cream...I got melty mush. I don’t know what the problem was, really, but maybe someone else can try it out.… I’ll gladly forward the recipe. Maybe I DO know what the problem was. It wasn’t ice cream and I do loves me some ice cream!

Now that I’ve caught up the blog, exercised and finished a load of laundry, I think I’ll park my rear on the couch and settle in for a night of 24. Shea just loaned me his season one box and I am anxious to get started watching it. He gave me LOST and I got totally and completely hooked on that(so much fun to watch), so I have high hopes for 24!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Well kids, the lesson for this week is...sometimes homemade is NOT better. I tried homemade Fettuccine Alfredo. What a lot of trouble..ok, so I didn't have the exact ingredients, but I did manage to pull it off and it came out tasting like fettuccini alfredo, but the texture just wasn't right. It was OK and I did eat it and am working on the leftovers, but it was not what I expected.

Here's my advice...if you are craving Fettuccini Alfredo that is creamy and yummy, go to the grocery and buy a jar of Classico Alfredo sauce and pour it over your cooked fettuccine. MUCH BETTER.