2 disasters, 1 success.

In the interest of saving money (our first mortgage payment is due July 1st, hooray) and being vaguely healthy again, I made a structured meal plan for this week that unfortunately had two giant failures and both can be attributed to Rachael Ray.  I loathe her voice, I detest her show, yet I still am intrigued by her mish-mashy concoctions and can’t resist trying them.  I believe this week has been the universe’s intervention between us and I.AM.DONE.

Recipe #1: Crispy Oven-Fried Turkey Patties with Bourbon BBQ Sauce.

We have bourbon in the house that nobody drinks, and the organic extra lean ground beef (I don’t typically do ground turkey) was half off at the grocery store so this seemed to be a perfect place to start.  I don’t know if my taste buds were just accustomed to the bottled barbecue sugar bombs, but this sauce was just disgusting and I made it exactly how the recipe called for.  It was pointless and ridiculous to egg wash and bread the patties because they didn’t end up crispy at all.  This meal was overly superfluous, but cost us next to nothing, so the sauce went in the garbage and the leftover patties were had traditionally with cheese and on plain buns.

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The old normal

Everything is now back to business as usual.

I ran my intervals for 3 miles at around a 9:30 pace (I HAVE SHORT LEGS), and I COOKED something last night.  That is revolutionary for me lately.  Our family has been living off of salads for the past few weeks since hurricane flu struck our household and miraculously I gained back 2 of the 5 pounds I lost during the illness even though I haven’t changed my strange eating habits at all since then.  It must have been that one piece of vanilla bean cheesecake from the weekend.  Did anyone else get the below cards during the holidays?  My family knows what I like, since we got over $100 in gift cards to Cheesecake Factory. I’ll take it as, “Raychel, you are far too skinny and need more fat and sugar on your tiny frame”.  (HAH)

So many gift cards…we already used up two!

Last night I made a new favorite pasta dish that doesn’t involve red sauce.  There are a lot of different variations of this on the internet, and it’s clearly not a hard or expensive dish to make, so play around with it.  This will definitely be added to my list of go-to inexpensive weeknight dinners!

Prosciutto Parmesan Pasta

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 16oz whole wheat penne or other favorite pasta shape
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2-1lb asparagus, chopped
  • 4-6oz prosciutto (I picked mine up at the deli counter,go for Prosciutto di Parma if you see it), cut into small strips
  • Pepper to taste
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Boil pasta according to package directions
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet with smashed garlic cloves to infuse olive oil with garlic flavor
  3. Add asparagus and saute for about 3-5 minutes
  4. Pepper the prosciutto, then add to pan and saute with asparagus for another 2-3 minutes, until the prosciutto loses its color and the asparagus is tender
  5. (Optional) remove garlic cloves from your pan
  6. Mix in Parmesan cheese to desired taste.  I used about 1/2-2/3 cup total, and topped it with additional cheese after plating

Damage: 411 calories/55g carbs/12g fat/22g protein/8g fiber

**VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless you want to gain 3 pounds in water weight in one night, DO NOT salt this dish- the prosciutto and Parmesan have all the salt and flavor you will need.

My husband, the sous chef

We are all well aware of the hectic stress that comes with the holiday season.  We are scurrying all around cleaning for family, travelling for family, going broke buying presents, getting fat from baking, and et cetera.  While I am scared for my bank account, I’m feeling alright about the scale since I’m making time to keep exercising this holiday.  It’s really not that hard if you force yourself into a routine, I promise.

Because of my commitments, I achieved a very fabulous record I made for myself on Saturday despite all of the odds working against me.  I ran 5 miles (furthest ever) in 56 minutes.  My (very easy, I’ll admit) goal was to keep it under an hour and while I had to have a few walking “intervals” due to the fact that it felt like it was 1,000 degrees outside, I still made it with a pace that was reasonable to me.  The factors going against were a list a mile long, including the unexpected heat and sun beating on my head, having sliders and onion rings with long islands on Friday night and drinking coffee instead of water in the morning before the run.  My favorite part was that I picked a completely absurd route that I had never even driven let alone run before, leading to an adventurous “trail” run due to lack of sidewalks and scary cars driving fast.

With all of that being said, I am reversing all the good that run did to my body by having Buffalo Mac and Cheese.  My husband’s favorite thing is grating cheese from a block, but I wanted to cut things short and made him slice into blocks.  He had such a blast doing this… it’s the little things.

I used all reduced fat of course, since we don’t want to get too crazy up in here.  I really had the hardest time with this recipe.  It pissed me off because it took too long and used too many plates/pots/utensils and I probably should have just used my favorite cheese sauce for mac and cheese and added buffalo chicken to it. If you’d like the original recipe, I got it from the food network website.  I modified it a lot and it still wasn’t my favorite… I think it didn’t taste cheesy enough, it just tasted like saucy wings.  But perhaps that’s the purpose of having buffalo mac and cheese?  Help me out, have you had this before?

These are all of the substitutions I made that may have kept this dish from being REALLY delicious :

  • I didn’t bake it because a. I don’t like blue cheese and b. we didn’t want to wait that long to eat it
  • I used mustard the condiment instead of dry mustard powder
  • Realized my half and half was non-fat, so I did 1 cup of my non-fat half and half and 1.5 cups 1% milk
  • Like I said before, I used reduced fat cheese

If you have one, please send me your favorite Buffalo Mac & Cheese recipe!

I finally made something

There are a few things i need to consciously do to enhance this lonely blog of mine (as of late).

#1: Get more into photography

#2: For goodness sakes’… BRING MY CAMERA PLACES AND DO COOL THINGS!  I went to a really interesting prosecco/champagne tasting on Friday night… did I take one picture?  Did I make one note of which ones I liked and what I liked about them?  No, I just lived.  Which is sometimes okay, because I come across certain blog posts and think… did they actually do any of this stuff or just play paparazzi for the evening and let everyone else have all the fun?  Here, I will take a picture now of the wines we tasted.  The only reason why I can remember my favorite was because I noticed that it was the second most expensive of the spread.

#3: In that case, learn to have a good balance of living and documenting.  I love documenting.  Which was why I created this blog in the first place.  I have a list for everything and write down every thought and activity I do in my planner.  Obviously I needed a blog for my creative outlet.

This thing that I made last week… it is certainly on the weirder side of recipes I’ve ever made.  I can’t decide if I like it or not, so feel free to try it for yourselves.  It just reminds me of something Rachael Ray would make, a franken-dish, encompassing a bunch of different pre-made and often processed ingredients that would surely please little kids but not necessarily their adult counterparts.  I also hate hate hate how much sugar is added from the BBQ sauce.  I went to buy a low-sugar organic one but it was over $5 and just not fit for the budget this time around.  I encourage you to get fancy with this if you do try it and make your own barbecue sauce.

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Going vegetarian for all the wrong reasons

As you may be able to tell by now, I love mushrooms.  I also have been trying to do some more vegetarian dishes ONLY BECAUSE it’s just cheaper most of the time.  I like to think of myself as the mathematical finance queen and am playing games with our monthly budget to see how we can better save for a house.

But that’s neither here nor there.

This is a vegetarian lasagna.  I wouldn’t call it a vegetable lasagna, because I hate the normal things that go into veggie lasagna like zucchini, and i don’t like red bell peppers with my Italian dishes unless they are roasted.  UGH!  Why didn’t I put roasted red peppers?  You should add them to this dish.  This is simply a lasagna absent of meat, and still very flavorful.  Anyway, feel free to add any cooked and seasoned veggie to the ricotta cheese & mushroom mixture to better satisfy your taste bud’s desires.

Please enjoy my half devoured lasagna photo

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