Monday, November 30, 2009


Joe and I got home last night after traveling to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with Joe's mom. It was our very first extensive car trip! (I'm not counting the five hour drive to see my family.) I am very pleased to report that the two of us are not only still speaking but getting along very well after spending 28 hours alone in a car together over the past week. But, geesh, I'm tired.

Joe and his mom, Jo Ann on Thanksgiving.
Joe and me on Thanksgiving. Smiling because we are no longer in a car, not using gas station bathrooms or being forced to eat fast food while on the road!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Recipe Roulette - Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers

This week I picked a recipe from Real Simple. I love meat in the crockpot but have never had a meal before where I've put the meat on rice and topped it with avocados (which I don't usually eat - I'm branching out) and cilantro. This was a nice twist on something "normal." Joe told me several times that this was one of his favorite meals that I've made.

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 red bell peppers, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut crosswise into thirds
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, oregano, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Nestle the steak among the vegetables. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the rice according to package directions.

Using two forks, shred the beef and mix it into the cooking liquid. Serve with the rice and top with the avocado and cilantro.

Read about Nichole's results.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Festival Shmestival

Tonight we went downtown for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. The main event is a parade featuring Mickey Mouse who lights up Michigan Avenue for the holidays. I wish I could tell you it was fantastic and show you all of my photos. I can't. I didn't take any pictures since I only saw the very tip-top of Mickey's head. Lots and lots of people. So many people that I was wedged in between a street sign and a very smelly, over-flowing trash can while small children sneezed on me. But I'm home now and Joe took me to dinner afterwards so things are looking up.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Recipe Roulette: Lamb Beef Kheema with Peas

Since Nichole and I are both watching our waistlines these days, our random recipe this week was one that wouldn't be tempting us to make bad choices. We made this lamb kheema with peas. Only I didn't use lamb; I used beef. I thought about using lamb but at the end of the day, and probably to my husband's dismay, I choose to use what I knew I would like. I served it with basmati rice and it was extremly tasty and very easy to make. I will definitely make this recipe again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Birthday wishes!

Today is Joe's birthday. We celebrated by seeing The Addams Family musical starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. Afterwards we went out for hot dogs, just what the birthday boy wanted. Happy birthday, Joe!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Recipe Roulette: Four-Cheese and Pesto Italian Baked Spaghetti

I chose this week's recipe and bought all the ingredients before I officially decided to go on a diet. Needless to say, this Paula Deen dish is very high-calorie (who wouldn't love something with four different types of cheese in it?) so I walked four miles on the day that I made it and used it as my splurge for the week. I was not disappointed with the results either. Very tasty. I did substitute linguine noodles for the spaghetti noodles since I have somewhat of an aversion to spaghetti noodles (yes, I realize how weird that sounds).

1 lb uncooked spaghetti
1 lb ricotta cheese
Two 6-7 ounce containers prepared pesto
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Grease a flameproof 13x9 inch baking dish. Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the package directions specify. Drain the spaghetti well and transfer it to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, pesto, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and the goat cheese. Toss the mixture well and transfer it to the baking dish.

2. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan over the pasta. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Turn the oven setting to broil and broil for one minute or until golden. Serve hot.

Monday, November 02, 2009


The diet starts now. Not only did I eat my body weight in Halloween candy over the weekend but my friend (and fellow foodie) Dorian was here. Let's just say we had a lot of plans involving food...which, of course, is easy to do. I love to entertain (and eat) and Dorian also wanted to hit some great Chicago restaurants. I should have stopped when I went to bed Saturday night with a raging stomachache wondering, "Was it the shrimp and grits? Maybe it was the chips and dip. Could have been the Bloody Mary....or the margarita. Maybe a combination of the hummus and chocolate??" Ahh.

(Dorian, Amy and Monica) Case in point - we invited our friend, Monica over for a "simple" Mexican-themed lunch.

And to top things off, we went for an amazing meal Sunday night. The desert above is actually called "Ridiculous." Why? It's ice cream, wrapped in carrot cake, then tempura fried with caramel sauce and candied walnuts. Yes, ridiculous, indeed.

Recipe Roulette: Chocolate Croissants

This week, Nichole chose these chocolate croissants - YUM. It is a super easy recipe that you could practially throw together at a moment's notice. (Needed: frozen puff pastry dough, dark chocolate and an egg.) I decided to make them thinking we could eat on them for a few days, which we did, but they are definitely better the first day. Definitely.

I did opt to not use salt on my croissants and instead sprinkled each with some sugar after I brushed them with the egg. For my chocolate, I chose Green & Blacks dark chocolate which is 70% cocoa and I highly recommend it.

These croissants will be going back in the recipe box for another time! (Hopefully in the near future.)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween!

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