Monday, April 30, 2012

Did you hear the crash?

That was the very loud sound of me falling off the wagon yesterday....who'da thought that never would have happened?  So I took Sunday Off, the cliff.  Movies, popcorn, pizza for dinner then left over birthday cake!  What was I doing...oh, operating in a food coma.  Every been in one? I was yesterday.
So now my biggest challenge is how to fit the groceries I purchased for yesterday into my Points Plus program because I don't like to waste money.  I can replace the regular sour cream (I won't even break the seal on the container so it should last) with the non-fat sour cream I use the during the week in the Avocado Cream Sauce (I will post that recipe tomorrow), I will still be able to make the corn tortillas for the enchilada wrap, use the turkey, but unless I want us to eat dinner at 10:00 PM, I may have to purchase enchilada sauce because between making the tortillas and making that, I won't have time and purchased tortillas are loaded with lard / fat, whereas mine won't have any.

So I will keep you posted in between bites of salad this week so that I don't gain any weight back, but I will stick to being as nutritionally sound as possible because I know from personal experience that starving myself and not eating at all will lead to problems bigger than I wish to face at this time in my life. 

Stay tuned, have a healthy day.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Birthday Bloopers

So let’s get the worst of this out of the way.  Birthday Cake.  Marge Landers, cake decorator extraordinaire baked and decorated Army’s birthday cake.  Points- from nothing do we know points, layer of ganache, layer of chocolate mousse, two layers of cake some fabulous frosting on which she managed to create a woodsy scene with a hunter and a beagle (small pup).  I had a piece.  I estimated super high on the points and stuck to smoked turkey breast, (we smoked it ourselves; his birthday present was a smoker), and Sabras Hummus.  That I do have the points for.  I clocked myself as having used all my points.  This leads me to today’s “Sundays Off”.  I was not planning on having the cake, but seriously, who am I kidding.  YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Since I do not believe I exceeded my points for the day, taking everything into account, I taking today off anyway, but on the lighter side.
Oh, and I did weigh myself yesterday, another 1/2lb down; the weather is supposed to pick up this week, so Micro (chunky pup, see picture) and I will return to our evening walks.  Her legs are only about 7" long.  Army loves to feed her, she does the Sandwich Dance for him in the  mornings, I'll film it this week and post it, it's the best exercise of the day!

I did break down the turkey yesterday and we smoked the breast and tenders then I slow roasted (250° for about 4 hours) the legs, thighs, and wings.  I think I will break down the thigh meat and make my version of enchiladas.  I have masa harina, chipotles in adobo sauce, queso blanco and canned tomatoes.  I could even make an avocado cream, all I need is the blender, robo coup would kill it.  This could work…pictures tomorrow!
Check out Frontera's website...Rick Bayless tex mex guru, recipes, products, masa harina, ext.  (  Have him and Bobby Flay (  off on Iron Chef...that would be a site to behold.  Although, admittedly I was tickled to see the good Irish lad return to his roots and take that trip home!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Party Day!

First things first, shout out to my husband Wayne Armstrong on his birthday. 

I left work early yesterday (thank you Paul D'Ambrosio) so I could brine the pork butt and break down the turkey, cook the macaroni and potatoes, and do laundry...ahhh pipe dream!  First I stopped at the grocery store, vacuumed, mopped, started laundry, took care of the dirty dishes, and 5:30 I finally started what I left to begin.  I cooked the macaroni drained and cooled, made the brine, as that cooled I did the potatoes and cooked hard boiled eggs for the potato salad, as they cooled I finally put together our dinner and said the heck with breaking down the turkey, I’ll do that in the morning.  Big mistake.  Dinner came in really low in points because I had just did the old salad in a sack, tomatoes, 6oz of chicken, and balsamic vinegar.  The glory of preparing a great deal of food is that it diminishes my appetite.  Always has.

So this morning I had to get up supper early to dry the pork butt and dry rub it with brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  I put the wood chips in the smoker and a bottle of Bud Light Lime in the drip / steam tray, hit 275° and 6 hours.  Back up to the house (garage is a misnomer; it is bigger than my house!)  to finish the potato salad.  Pulled out the eggs, set the birthday boy to peeling them as I cut up the potatoes added sweet relish, salt and pepper, paprika, and chopped onions.  I have a Robo Coup- restaurant strength food processor, which is magical so I did not actually chop the onions, it did.  Add a lot of mayonnaise, (Army’s favorite food I think).  Put together the macaroni salad; easy, I make it the way my mom did, with canned peas and carrots and onions and, of course mayonnaise.  Army grabbed the turkey which had been defrosting in the fridge in the garage since MONDAY—guess what, not thawed.  Uh-oh.  It is currently in the sink, in cold water breast side down.  I’m thinking worst case scenario I pull of the breast meat and we grill it when it gets closer to party time.

Cake will be here in a half an hour and I have to get in the shower.  Let you know tomorrow—Sunday Off, I cannot wait until I share what I am doing- tune in tomorrow.

Have a great day, and share the love!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Two challenges, one day

Wow, so two challenges yesterday.  First lunch.  Turns out that was pretty easy.  Anne came down from Utica to drop off some items her company printed for me (G.W. Canfield and Sons if you are looking for top notch product and service) and we pondered the eating opportunites and decided upon the Hawkeye Grill at the Otesaga Hotel ( and landed on a fabulous Salmon Caprese Salad.  I personally do not like mozzarella cheese unless its melted, so I asked them to eighty six it and they did.  Anne had it with hers and said it was wonderful.  The salmon portion was approximately 4-6 ounces, visually based on the Weight Watchers cheat sheet you can access if you are a WW member.  The salad was a variety of mixed greens, tomatoes and haricot verts (I think I spied them under the fillet) and a wonderful dressing on the side.  I used points to account for a 4oz portion of farm-raised salmon and accounted for 1 tspn of olive oil since I just occasionally dipped my fork in the they not give you enough to bathe in, or what???  Who can use that much dressing and still taste the salad?

So then part two, dinner with the smoked / roasted pork butt.  Which did turn out to have great flavor.  The glory of that cut of meat is once it cools, the fat is easy to pull off and seperate from the layers of meat.  I am relatively sure there are some happy neighborhood pups this morning since I put all the fat (even the crispies, which are the best) out in the dish for them.  I did that and broke down the meat, opened up a can of red kidney beans, drained them stuck them in a small saucepan with some chicken stock and 1/3 cup of Sweet Baby Ray's bar-b-que sauce added the pork and heated it through.  Tossed together a salad- if you don't buy salad in a sack, start doing so.  You cannot blame lack of time on not having salad for dinner!  I popped on grape tomatoes, put my husband's favorite dressing on his and white balsamic vinegar on mine.  Dinner.  I will give you, not the lowest in points because that cut of meat is inherently higher in fat than say a pork loin, I used the point value for country ribs because they are roughly the same kind of fatty meat.  I still ended the day at 25 points.  Planning, its all about planning.

Tonight and tomorrow will be an adventure.  Army (husband) and I were in B.J.'s Wholesale last night purchasing the absolute worse things to eat (in the world) for his birthday party tomorrow.  I am making macaroni salad, potato salad-both with mayo; we bought chips and dips; and, a slight nod to me, items for a Caprese Salad...I just won't eat the mozz!

Have a great day, and make good food choices.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Did you hear giggling from Heaven late last night?

Ah yes, the best laid plans. Ha.  I tell my friend Jess all the time that the problem with me making plans is that the minute Gods gets wind of them, the giggling begins.  I purchased an electric Masterbuilt smoker ( item #K35546) for my husband's birthday; this coming Saturday.  I thought we better test it out since we are having a party and I wanted to be sure everything worked.  I never used one so I was kind of basing time off of a couple of different recipes with simimilar density meat.  Thankfully we were not having it for dinner last night or we would have eaten at 2 AM.  It was a 7lb boneless pork butt rubbed with brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, sea salt and pepper.  We smoked it for 3.5 hours, brought it up to the house, I cut it down the center, the dead center was still pretty pink.  Turned the oven to 275 degrees and stuck the two halves, raw side down in the pan, put the pan in the oven.  We set the alarm for 2AM and went to bed.   It actually turned out good, but at least now I know for Saturday that it needs to be in smoker early morning if I want it ready for 2PM party kickoff!

The process itself was simple, so while that was smoking I whipped up chicken breast cubes with some chopped arugula and mezzuna (Weight Watcher Points Plus can't find that either, but it falls under leafy, lettuce green world of 0 points) and cut asparagus.  Once the chicken browned (I used a total of 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil in the trusty cast iron skillet) I added the stalk pieces of the asparagus, added some chicken stock and lidded it.  Let it steam a little, threw in the asparagus tops and lidded it again.  I boiled water for some penne pasta for my husband while the chicken cubes cooked, tossed in the pasta and cooked it and drained it.  While the greens wilted and the asparagus cooked, I added the ricotta I made Sunday to the pasta, for the creamiest sauce ever.  Added pepper, salt was good since the cheese had required a good amount anyway and I ALWAYS salt my pasta water so the pasta has flavor.

My husband was happy with his cheesy pasta and chicken with vegtables, garnished with some Opal Basil (love this stuff, its like green basil, but kind of sweet) and I had the chicken and vegtables.  Five ounces of chicken breast=5 pts.  If you do not have a food scale, get once, absolutely essential to this process.  Weight Watchers website had them on sale yesterday, check it out today and see if they still do.

Today's challenge:  I am going out for lunch.  I will have to approximate portion size and carefully select what I am eating to stay on track.  Tonight is the smoked / roasted pork butt, which has a pretty high fat content so I see lots of leafy greens and tomatoes along side it for my dinner.  I'll let you know tomorrow how it works out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weigh In Day!

Drum roll please, I told you that I would let you know on weigh in here goes, down another 1/2lb.  I know, I know that sounds like nothing (get a Weight Watchers scale that weighs fractionally cause any change is better than no change!), but 2 lbs a week is what the "they" tell us is healthy for long term loss.  That's what I am going for.  Also, for you people out there who are Points Plus People, you will understand that without activity, little happens.  Sunday was the last day I was out walking, I don't like walking in disagreeable weather and that does not even begin to describe the weather in Central NY over the last few days.

As I contemplate what to where for a meeting I have today, I was in my closet looking for something, anything to wear.  I know I am not the only 3- size closet out there, and after reading a Weight Watchers Online article that I cannot link because you have to pay the online fee to participate in WW (good investment, make it) and this article posted on WebMd in 2010  I know I am not the only one.  I think my all time favorite misconception on size is that yes, Marilyn Monroe did wear size 12 (feel better now don't you?), however we have vanity-sized our way to distortion...I think today she would be like a size 2 or 4.  Something to think about.

Don't favorite easy way to cut calories and be happy?  Fat free plain Chobani yogurt and skim milk lattes!  Give them a try. 

Last night's tilapia was yummy, little points-lots of food.  Chicken tonight, not sure what I am doing with it, I will probably hit WW recipes and come up with something good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

No back up plan is never good

Maria and I never made it to Albany last was way too long for both of us.  So, no PF Chang's for dinner.  Uh-oh, no back up plan.  I was thinking I would order the lettuce wraps with the ground seasoned chicken if they still had it on the menu- been a while since I had been there.  I would have estimated the points, on the high side, always, mentally accounting for oils etc.  So I was set.  Gulp, now what?  The saving grace?  Our local Farmer's Market is held the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month this time of year and so I had just been there on Saturday.  I always pick up a variety of what I call noodle bowl ingredients and I always have Emeril's chicken stock (0 points) in the house.  I had roasted a chicken Sunday while the cheese was setting up because Tops had them for $.88 lb so I grabbed two and threw one in the freezer.  So I had shredded chicken as well.  The only challenge (I don't like problems) I had was no gluten free pasta.  I am not gluten intolerent or allergic or anything horrible, but thanks to some conversations with my older son I have found that I loose more weight without gluten products than with so Monday through Saturday they are not my friend.  My husband loves B.J.s Wholesale- that is another whole post- so we have copious amounts of Barilla Plus pasta, which in a pinch I will use because it does have the omega-3 added. 

I grabbed the wok ($14.99 at T. J. Maxx), everyone should own one, whipped out the onions, garlic, thai chilis and peanut oil.  Sliced ,chopped, and threw in the wok with a tablespoon of peanut oil.  Tossed in some soy sauce added some chopped up spinach, arugula, and mizzuna.  Wilted everybody and then invited the shredded chicken to the party added two cups of chicken stock, two cups of water and brought to a boil.  I boiled some water, cooked the pasta halfway, pulled it and tossed it (literally) into the wok.  Finished cooking the pasta, it absorbed some of the broth and we arrived at yummy town!  Points wise- 12 or so and I still came in at only 18 for the day, even with the quinoa, but I ate all day bannanas, carrots, grapes, tomatoes-- all 0 points!

Lesson learned- always have a back up!  When I made my espresso moments ago, I took tonight's protien out of the freezer.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with it!  Let you know tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Okay, Monday morning.  Fresh ricotta is fabulous.  I think probably die hard ricotta fans would argue the authenticity since I not only broke the whole milk only rule, but I also used goat's milk!  But I had the most fabulously creamy, salty, mousse like ricotta I have ever eaten...and let's face it, I did not get heavy eating carrots so it is fair to say I have probably had my share of ricotta cheese.  Here's the photo I promised.

This is was one of the best Sundays Off yet.  What you are seeing is the veal meatballs in a light sauce made with a roux from a little bit of the fat they cooked in, flour, chicken stock, and white wine.  I sauteed some Broccoli Rabe in chicken stock to take off the bitter edge it can have and then there is the lovely toasted baguette rubbed with garlic and spread with the fresh Ricotta.I did make the Panna Cotta for dessert, but forgot the picture.  I topped it with some fresh slice grapes and a touch of real Maple Syrup...yum, yum, yum!

But alas it is Monday, back at it with Weight Watchers Points Plus and start pondering next week.  I weigh myself on Wednesday mornings and Saturdays, so I will keep everyone posted on that since, honestly the point of all of this is to continue to take off the weight but still enjoy the fabulous foods I love to make that I cannot even begin to concieve of points for! 

I am heading to Albany tonight with my friend Maria, check in tomorrow to see what I was able to find to incorporate into today's 26 points.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Sundays Off is a food I have been on my whole life.  I am, and for most of my life have been, in the population of overweight / obese / overeater (did I miss one?) group of people.  How is it that a country as educated as ours continues to find indulgences to kill ourselves with? 

I did not grow up an unhappy, abused, or neglected.  Just in a family where everything was about food.  We ate to celebrate weddings, births, holidays, family, successes you name it.  And we ate when we were sad, dying, divorcing and failing.  You name it and we ate it.  My mother was a wonderful cook and baker, my stepmother makes the absolute best chocolate chip cookies ever, my sister (whose food issues far surpassed mine, God rest her soul) could bake anything.  We love food.

I have 25-30lbs that continue to come and go on my revolving door body.  Thank God the other 60-70 I lost many, many years ago remains lost out there in no man's land.  Good, bad or indifferent I lost it and maybe in this journey some of the good and the bad will come through.  I was not always exemplary in my weight loss methods.  But this time, once these go, they are gone and never coming back.  What's different this time?  Me.

I went to see my doctor in February.  Love this woman, she's tiny and fit and does not let you cop out.  She's been my doctor a long time.  We had a conversation about whether or not I wanted to live the future or allow this to be my end.  Not only am I still overweight, I have high cholesterol, blood pressure and a family history of heart disease.  Oh, that's right, let's not forget I also have Multiple Sclerosis, which brings a whole new set of utensils to the table...but more on that later, I'm sure.

She suggested Weight Watchers, said her sister swears by...and then it clicked.  She lost weight years ago, she stays on the plan because she has to because without it she would not still be fit and healthy.  For some of us it is a lifelong battle that we fight every day.  We cannot just walk away from food, or we would still die; we have to deal with it every day.  In part when I lost all the weight I did, I used the traditional Weight Watchers; I weighed, I measured, I exercised.  So this time (being mobile and on the go!) I opted for Weight Watchers Points Plus on line.  The app is on my iPad and my iPhone (have I mentioned how much I will personally miss Steve Jobs?).  I have points to use every day and tons of foods don't have points.  This is crucial for me because one of great problems (I am convinced from years of bad behavior early on) is that I am always hungry.  I eat all the time and I am learning that I would have 5 points worth of quinoa than 5 points of white rice.  Try the program and you will learn why.

But here is my problem.  Ten weeks later and 20.6 lbs less and I need a day off.  I have 40 extra points a week that I can use.  But I love food and I love to cook and create recipes and I would not know how, even with recipe builder to determine points in items such as Goose Egg Pasta.  Goose eggs are huge...and pretty with big beautiful orange yolks, but I don't know their points!  So here is my solution.  I don't use my extra points during the week and I take Sundays Off from points.  I am not recommending everyone does, but it is working for me.  I don't go crazy.  I don't eat morning to evening.  But I do let loose a little.  This morning, I woke up, made my latte (yes, I have an espresso machine, it costs me a whole lot less than picking it up on the way to work every day) and then proceeded to make some fresh ricotta for dinner later.  I used goat's milk, heavy cream, whole milk and Himalayan sea salt and of course fresh squeezed lemon juice.  I bought some beautiful baguettes last night and some ground veal. 

Dinner:  Toasted baguette slices rubbed with fresh garlic, spread with fresh ricotta mixed with chopped fresh rosemary and bite-sized veal meatballs made with fresh thyme, a (very) little fresh rosemary and whey soaked bread to make light, yummy meat balls.  A little wine and probably some homemade Panna Cotta for dessert.  No idea how to point it, but rest assured, I know I have consumed my extra's for the week!

I let you know tomorrow how it was.  Cannot do it later tonight because me and my very fat pup will be taking our extra walk to mitigate the effects of the luxurious dinner!