Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bon Voyage!!! (in 5 months)

We (Momma B, Aunt Lynn, Leslie and myself) have been talking about taking a Mediterranean Cruise for a while now. Since the wedding is out of the way and my mom said we need to take this trip "before Amanda starts making babies", we finally set a date!

We'll be arriving in Barcelona, Spain on June 13th -- a day before the ship leaves port (we're traveling on Norwegian Cruise Lines -- we want to try "freestyle" cruising!). We wanted to be able to see Barcelona for more than a few hours (and be able to adjust to the time change).

From there we'll be spending two days at sea before we arrive in Valletta, Malta.

From there we'll be hitting up 4 more ports of call, with no days to rest in between! Naples, Italy; Rome, Italy; Florence/Pisa, Italy and finally Cannes, France before we return back to Barcelona.

I can't wait -- we went on a cruise back in 2001 and it's been far overdue. I love cruising -- and am especially looking forward to seeing more of Europe!

Now I need to get my name changed on my passport....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I won't go to jail, will I?

So, it just struck me that I'm not really "citing" the WW recipes that I'm making. However, they've all come from the WW Website, which I'm a paying member of, and the recipe section is a "members only" area.

Also, a lot of them are also in my WW cookbooks. So -- I don't know the correct way to give credit to WW for the recipes. Can I count this as my disclaimer post?!

Cheesy Bean & Rice Burritos (not from Taco Bell!!)

Driving home from work on Friday I got a hankering for a Cheesy Bean & Rice Burrito from Taco Bell -- what what I thinking?! I haven't had Taco Bell since my college days when we'd do post-bar Taco Bell runs. After all, that's the only time Taco Bell tastes good, right?

Well, since I'm doing WW'ers I decided I'd try my hand at re-creating the burritos in a better-for-you kind of way. They were quick and easy, and since all of the ingredients have a decent shelf life, I think I'll keep the "staples" in my cupboard at all times!

I used the online WW calculator to determine the point values for each burrito. If you're not into a "healthier" burrito, the ingredients can easily be altered to be a more fattening version.

Cheesy Bean & Rice Burritos


6 Medium Whole-Wheat tortillas
1 can Fat Free refried beans
2 cups Spanish Rice
8oz Low-Fat Velveeta cheese (half of a 16oz block)

Chop the Velveeta into small 1" cubes and warm in a medium saucepan over Med-High heat until melted, stirring often. Meanwhile, heat the refried beans in a small bowl covered w/ plastic wrap for about 4 minutes until heated. Prepare spanish rice per package directions (I used Uncle Ben's "Ready in 90 seconds" kind) and mix with the melted Velveeta cheese, keeping warm so the mixture stays melted. Warm the tortillas per package instructions (I just heated them in the microwave for about 30 seconds).

Spread 1/4 c. of the refried beans on each tortilla, then 1/4 c. of the rice/cheese mixture. Roll the tortilla into a burrito shape.

Prepared as above instructions, each burrito is 4.5 WW points, however, I liked a more cheesy/rice-y burrito, so I used 1/2 c. of that mixture, which changed the points value to 7.5 points per burrito. If made as the first instructions, this recipe will yield 6 servings.

I served with El Paso Mild Taco Sauce and FF sour cream on the side.

(I really need to work on taking pictures of my latest creations!)

Fish & Chips -- the good-for-you way!

This is yet another WW recipe and it's a favorite in our household! I just made it for the first time on Thursday and it was husband-approved, which is hard to do with my new attempts at cooking! :)

Fish & Chips

1 lb fish filets (I used Cod) cut into 1" fish sticks
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thick fries
2 egg whites
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 c. skim milk
1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the egg whites until frothy, and coat the fries in the egg whites. Place the fries on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I used Lawry's Seasoning Salt). Cook until the fries are golden brown and crispy, about 40 minutes, turning once during cooking.

Meanwhile, whisk the milk and mustard in a medium bowl until well blended. Place the flour in another medium bowl and the bread crumbs in a separate medium bowl as well. Coat a fish stick with the flour, then the milk/mustard mixture, and finally coat well with bread crumbs. Place the fish stick on a baking sheet that is coated w/ cooking spray. Repeat for the remaining fish sticks. Coat the fish sticks lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minuets, or until fish is flaky and fork tender.

Each WW serving is 5 points (Two 1" fish sticks and 8 thick-cut fries). Serve with tarter sauce.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?

Cooper did!

Or rather, he stole the brand new package of Chips Deluxe Rainbow Chip cookies I bought from our company store for Keith. Stole them right off the kitchen table!

This was my phone conversation with the vet this morning:

Me -- "My dog ate an entire package of chocolate chip cookies last night"

Vet -- "Was there chocolate in them?"

Me -- :::Rolling my eyes::: "Yes...they were chocolate chip cookies"

Vet -- "Does he seem to be acting lethargic or having any unusual bowel movements?"

Me -- "No, he seems fine"

Vet -- "Ok, just keep an eye on him and if his condition changes any, give me a call"

Me -- "I'll be gone 9 hours at work today, I won't really know if anything changes"

Vet -- "Well, those cookies don't have that much chocolate, I'm sure he'll be fine"

I wanted to bang my head against the wall after that conversation. I'm just glad I was talking to the new vet at the office, and not our regular one. Otherwise I'd be searching high and low for a new vet!

I'm not worried about the chocolate; after all, my parents dog consumed an entire bag of Hersey kisses (tin foil and all) and he's still going strong!. What worries me is the fact Cooper at over 4,000 calories last night!

Potato-Wrapped Salmon (yum!)

I tried a new WW recipe last night, and I must say, it was quite yummy. It even got rave reviews from the husband, which doesn't happen too often with my cooking! :) It was a bit labor intensive (in my opinion, since I don't really cook much) but the end result was well worth it. I made some of my own changes, but it worked out pretty nicely.

Potato Wrapped Salmon (4 WW points per serving)

1 lb Salmon, cut into 4 filets
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly, lengthwise
4 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs melted butter (or margarine)
1/4 Tsp table salt

Coat the potatoes with the lemon juice and salt in a colander. Set aside until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spray a square sheet of wax paper with cooking spray (preferably butter flavored). Create a "rectangle" of the potato slices by overlapping the edges. Spray the potatoes w/ cooking spray. Place one salmon filet lengthwise on top of the potato rectangle. Brush with 1 Tbs of mustard. Lift the left edge of the wax paper so that the potatoes are wrapped around the left edge of the salmon filet. Press the potatoes onto the salmon if they won't stay. Repeat with the right side. Place 2 potato strips on top of the salmon filet to hold the other potato edges in place. Brush with melted butter. Repeat with the remaining fillets, place on a cooking sheet (sprayed with cooking spray) and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are set. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 325*.

Once the potatoes are set, remove the plastic wrap and place the cooking sheet w/ the salmon fillets in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn the broil on and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown.

**Instead of wrapping the entire salmon filet with the potato, I just placed the slices on the top of the salmon. This way I could remove the salmon skin after cooking. I also sprinkled a little salt and pepper on the top before I turned the broil on.

I served this dish with some steamed asparagus and wild rice. It was Delicious and husband-approved!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hello Mr. President

Out with the old and in with the new! (Finally.)

Today our nation welcomed President Obama into his new role. While I did vote for McCain (and I still support that), I will be the first to say that I will support our new President and I have faith that he can lead our country to a better time. I don't think that having a half African-American President (because c'mon folks, he IS half white too) will solve our nation's racism problems, nor do I think it'll open up doors that haven't already been open. The doors haven't been closed -- people, both black and white, just need to learn how to push them open.

With that said, I admire Obama for strength of his character and the visions he has for our wonderful nation. While I know nothing will be solved overnight, it is my hope that we'll see some progress during his 4 year administration. And who knows, if the progress is enough, maybe we'll have Obama around for an additional 4 years?

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Knot Gods Hate Me

To all my Knotties --

The Knot Gods are hating me right now. I've send them like 48 emails since Friday telling them that I can't reply to any posts. Whenever I try, the screen re-loads with the message box blank and a red asterick next to "Message". Argh! I'm at a loss -- and going though serious knotting withdrawl!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our Weekly Menu

I'm trying to be better about planning our meals for the week so we can save $ on groceries and food won't go to waste. I'm sticking to my January New Year's Resolution of not buying any more food at work and always bringing my lunch, so cooking dinner leaves me a nice option of taking leftovers for lunch.

I just started doing Weight Watchers again and I knew if I cooked WW recipes for dinner and didn't tell Keith, he'd eat them with no complaints. I tell him after the fact that it was a WW recipe :)

I'll try to post about my cooking adventures and maybe even a picture or two, but for now, here's dinner for M-F. I still have to figure out the weekend.

All of these recipes can be found at www.weightwatchers.com

Monday - Chicken & broccoli casserole w/ brown rice

Tuesday - Bacon & Egg Hashbrown Stacks

Wednesday - BBQ Turkey Joes

Thursday - Fish & Chips

Friday - Potato Wrapped Salmon

I haven't figured out any side dishes, nor have I even gone shopping for these recipes, so the menu is subject to change.

Men and their toys...

Keith was going stir-crazy today so went out and did a little shopping. He got this brilliant idea that he wanted a RC car/Jeep/truck/motorcycle/helicopter. We went to 4 different stores because I told him he had a $20 limit. I mean, c'mon, we all know he'll have it broken in a day anyway.

So, he found this little RC Jeep at Walmart* and was so excited to bring it home so the dogs could chase it. Well of course they're terrified of it, so he got this bright idea to stick a dog bone treat in the back of it with the hopes they'd be more inclined to want to play.

Needless to say Cooper is hiding out in the guest bedroom and Harley is now snacking on the bone after the Jeep took a tumble off the coffee table (don't ask) and the bone went flying.

Who needs kids when you're married to one? :)

*I like Walmart for their deals but I try to avoid it on the weekend at all costs. I saw enough greasy haired toothless people and guys who I wanted to run up to and pull their pants down since they were at their knees anyway to last me a lifetime. Ah, the joys of weekend shopping at Walmart.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cooper and Doorbells

I forgot to mention that one of Cooper's favorite things to do is bark whenever he hears a doorbell ring on TV. And bark loudly, like someone is trying to break into our house.

With that said, have you seen the Publisher's Clearinghouse commerical where they win $5,000 a week for life? And the doorbell rings 5 times in a row?

Yep, that's always fun when it comes on. Cooper likes it anyway.

Meet our furbabies

Most proud parents talk all the time about their children -- well, I talk all the time about my babies too -- the furry kind. So, it's only fitting I introduce them to the internet. After all, what kind of parents would I be if I didn't exploit my children via the web?

Meet Cooper, our 3 year old Black Lab (mix):

Cooper enjoys sleeping at the foot of the bed, chasing his feline "siblings" around the house, going for long runs on grandma & grandpa's 60 acres, swimming for hours in the ponds, biting his sister's tail and being a daddy's boy.

Next up, meet Harley, our 1 year old Lab/Basset Hound mix --

Harley enjoys sleeping under the covers on mom's side of the bed, pulling all of the stuffing out of her stuffed animals, chasing her brother until he plays with her, wagging her hail so hard she looks like she's going to fall over, barking at the deer in the neighbors yard (have you ever heard a hound dog bark? It's not pretty) and being a complete momma's girl.

Looking back, I can appreciate the humor in Harley distroying a wedding magazine I hadn't even read yet. But at the time, it wasn't pretty.

Unlike most brothers and sisters, Harley and Cooper really do enjoy each others company:

Now, it's time to meet the kitties! Boo (the black one) and Peeka (the tan one) are both 6 years old and were rescued. Boo was rescued when he was no older than 6 weeks old from underneath a parked car in GVSU's main parking lot. I always wonder how he got there and how scared he must've been! Peeka was a recuse from a crazy cat lady who trapped them and tried to keep them all. Crazy....

Boo enjoys being lazy, sitting on the couch like a human would, running to the kitchen when he hears popcorn being popped, and curling up and cuddling with his parents.

Peeka enjoys hiding out in the guest bedroom, sitting in empty laundry baskets, and watching the birds outside. She hates her canine siblings. With a passion.

And there you have it -- our furbabies who we love dearly. if I don't have a crazy husband story to blog about, odds are I'll have a crazy furbaby story!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bagel and Cream Cheese...what?!

Back when the husband and I were still dating, we were spending a hot summer night on the baclony of my apartment enjoying some cold beers, just talking and watching the world go by. We were talking about nicknames for each other and the conversation got pretty funny.

At the end, we decided on Bagel and Cream Cheese. Why, you ask? Well, the way Keith defined it was "You're the bagel because you have a hole and I'm the cream cheese because, well, you know".

Ah, isn't he romantic?

The next morning we were having morning coffee and talking about what kind of Cream cheese Keith could be -- strawberry...garden veggie...chives and onion....or original. Then he asked me what kind of bagel I wanted to be. I just stared at him blankly and he said, "You might not know what kind of bagel you are, but to me, you're my Everything Bagel".

And that, my friends, is how the corny nicknames ended up sticking around.