Sunday, September 18, 2011

French's Tangy Ranch Chicken & roasted veggies!

Last post of the night!  Whew!  I gotta give credit where credit is due. This one comes from the recipe makers at French's. :-)

I noticed this recipe on the back of the bottle of mustard I bought last week.

It's called Tangy Ranch Chicken and it caught my attention  (haha, that rhymed, lol)!  A couple of minor tweaks from French's original ingredients and it's a lovely WLS friendly dish! For four servings, French's suggests using:
2/3 cup ranch dressing
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup French's yellow mustard
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

I am single and I do not have any children, so I just wanted one serving of this.  Now, I am not a math whiz by any stretch of the imagination {I am a social worker...we don't do math..., nah, eh-uh, nope; no math! ;-)} and frankly, I don't aim to get things perfect!  Most often when I cook, I just throw things together and use whatever amounts (measured out) seem fitting.  So, for one serving of the Tangy Ranch Chicken, I just guesstimated how much of the sauce I would need for one chicken breast. 

I used:
one boneless skinless chicken breast

(I scored a packet of five individually wrapped chicken breasts for $3 tonight at Kroger!!)...

Continue ingredients list after inserting random, but totally awesome fact!...   :-)

1/8 cup FAT FREE ranch dressing
1/8 cup mustard
1/2 tsp splenda brown sugar

There was some sauce left over, but happens!

In a small bowl, mix together the mustard and the ranch until well combined.  Add in the splenda brown sugar and mix well...

Hahhaha!  Pay no mind to the jar of pickles in the background...pre-dinner
 nibbles (probably part of the reason I couldn't finish my dinner~! 
Ah, how I heart pickles...  :-)

Then, put the chicken breast into the sauce mixture.  Stir the sauce onto the chicken breast until it is fully covered...

Let it marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While that's working, prep your veggies for roasting!  I had a bit of broccoli and cauliflower left over from last week that needed to be used.  If  you have never tried roasting your veggies, you SHOULD!  It gives them such a sweet taste because all of the natural sugars brown up and the veggies get nice and crisp and brown on the edges....SO GOOD!  :-)

To roast the broccoli and cauliflower I used:

About 1 1/2 cups of the veggies
salt and pepper to taste
a sprinkle of Molly McButter seasoning
olive oil cooking spray

Pre-heat your oven to 400.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray with Olive Oil spray.  Put the veggies on the baking sheet and spray with more olive oil spray.  Sprinkle them with S & P and the butter seasoning.  Using your hands, mix it all together well, making sure the veggies are well coated with the seasonings and spray. 

Pop them in the oven for 30 minutes and wha-la!... Super delish, crisp, sweet & savory roasted veggies....

During the last 8 minutes or so of the veggies roasting, get the chicken out of the fridge.  Pre-heat your Foreman style grill (mine is Hamilton Beach and works just as well) for five minutes.  Then, spray with cooking spray and add the chicken.  I poured some of the extra sauce on top of mine...

Grill for about 7-10 minutes and ENJOY!  The sugar helped to create a super yummy and sweet golden layer of goodness to the chicken.  The mustard gave it a nice TANG and the ranch made it savory!  All in All, it was GOOD!  I for sure see myself making this again! 

Now, the chicken and veggies combined provided me a super yummy dinner plate....One that I was mentally ready to devour.  Packed with lots of protein and fiber goodness....

Little did I know the BOSS (a.k.a. my pouch) had a different plan again this evening....I couldn't even finish half of it...

O'well~!  The boss is in charge over here...  Leftovers will be great for lunch tomorrow! 

Well, finally, sweet readers I have come to the end of blogging tonight!  My apologies for putting them all up at once, but as mentioned in a previous post, this semester of Grad school (I am working on my Master's degree in Social Work) is not taking it easy on me!  Combined with working full time, doing a 20 hour per week work based practicum, and teaching Zumba four days a week, and dealing with all of the other responsibilities of life, I manage to stay quite busy!

I am so thankful for you taking the time to read my blog posts.  More than anything, I hope the postings help you with creative ideas for eating or inspire you or encourage or motivate you in some way.  Managing this blog is definitely helpful for me as a great outlet for my cooking experiments, emotional ups and downs, hi points in this journey and low points, and everything in between, but it is also my way of paying it forward to all of my readers!  Even if only one thing I say or one recipe I share makes a difference for even just one single person, then it is worth every word typed and the time taken to type it! 

I am so happy to report that I am still going strong on my new goals.  The motivation and drive I was lacking for so many months is back in FULL FORCE and I LOVE it!  I can not wait to lose all of this 20 + lbs I gained (it was actually 24lbs total).  Which, by the way I am happy to report I have lost 10 of those disgusting pounds already!!  So, here to keepin on keepin on~!

Everyday as you go through your journey, whatever your journey may be; remember you DESERVE to be happy and healthy and you are 100% capable of achieving EVERY single one of your goals!  Work hard, stay committed, eat right, be active, drink lots of water, and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!  Do those things, and I promise you, you will watch your goals be met right before your very eyes!

Till next time sweet readers....

Lots of Love,


Oh so Yummy WLS friendly FRENCH TOAST!!!

This one makes me excited!  I love love love french toast, but traditional versions can be, eh, uh, well... not so WLS'er friendly. 

I have made this before, but never captured the process for my blog.  Last, night around dinner time I got a taste for it so I had breakfast for dinner!  Then, I had breakfast for breakfast again this morning!  I'm telling ya, its good stuff!


2 slices Healthy Life high fiber bread (white or wheat, I used white this time) [NOTE: this bread is only 35 calories per slice!]
1 large egg (or the equivalent of an egg substitute)
1/4 cup 1% milk (or whatever kind you use)
Pumpkin pie spice
2 packets of no calorie sweetener
"butter" cooking spray
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup

Preheat a skillet and spray it with the no calorie butter cooking spray.  In a small bow, wisk the egg and milk together.  Add one packet of sweetener.

One piece at a time, dip the bread into the egg/milk mixture and place it in the skillet...Sprinkle on some of the pumpkin pie seasoning to your liking!

Cook until golden brown on each side.  You can use the second packet of sweetener to sprinkle on the toast as it cooks, if you wish.  I am a sweets fanatic so I did, but this is optional~!

When it's done top it with one serving on sugar free maple syrup (1/8 cup per piece, 1/4 cup total) and ENJOY!

Seriously, this is HEAVEN on a plate! 

O-M- JEEEEBUUSSSS!  It is good, good, good.  I am dang near tempted to go make another batch!  But, once again the pouch is the boss and I couldn't even finish my dinner (that post is up next)!

Till next time...hope you try it, hope you like it!

Lots of Love,

Almost my momma's boiled cabbage and sausage "soup"

Almost.  The main difference being that I used turkey smoked sausage and she always used the real deal smoked sausage.  She also added potatoes to her cabbage soup.  While it was amazingly delicious (my mom was an AMAZING cook), her version definitely wasn't as friendly to the waistline as my version is.  :-)

It's really quite simple (y'all know by now, simple is how I roll~!  :-)

3/4 head of cabbage, chopped
1 package (any brand you like) turkey smoked sausage
2 cups reduced sodium beef broth (you could use chicken broth, veggie broth, etc.--I just happened to have beef broth on hand so that's what I used)
Water (enough to just cover the cabbage after you've added the broth)
Salt, Pepper, garlic powder to taste

Start by cutting the sausage into coins like so....

Spray a large cooking pot (I ended up having to upgrade) and add the sausage to the pot.  Let it brown up a bit before you add the rest of the ingredients.

While that's going, get your cabbage chopped up.  There will be TONS of it.  What is it about cabbage that makes it EXPAND so much when it gets cut into?  

NEVER ending cabbage, lol~!

Okay, now that the sausage is browned up a bit, add 2 cups of beef broth (or which ever type of broth you prefer) to the pot....

Then, add the cabbage....(Note the much bigger pot in the new pics below!  I was QUICKLY reminded just how much cabbage I was working with~!!)

Add seasonings...salt, pepper, garlic powder....I just eyeballed it.  I like my cabbage spicy so I went heavy on the black pepper.  :-)

Stir it all together, set the heat to medium low and let it cook away.  I left mine on the stove for at least an hour.  Quite frankly I got busy with homework (this semester of grad school is kicking my ACE!) and forgot about it so I am really not sure how long it was on....but it wasn't any longer than two hours, I'd say! 

When I went back into the kitchen I found a nice hearty warm pot of goodness waiting for me!

Now, if you notice I put the work "soup" in fancy little quotations.  Why, you ask?  Well, because although you need liquid to cook the cabbage and it is perfectly fine to leave the liquid in after cooking, I like my cabbage "dry" if you will.  So, I drained the liquid off before I divided it up into 1 cup servings...

Yes, okay...this cup has some broth in it.  This is one that I was
testing the taste of the cabbage before I finished cooking it!

I got 12 cups out of the whole pot!  I see lots of cabbage eating in my future!  LOL.  :-) 

So, until next time...hope you try it, hope you like it!

Lots of Love,


"Fried" cabbage and slow cooked corned beef

Hello again sweet readers!  I have got lots to share with you tonight!!  I am gonna start with some things I cooked up a few days ago and then yesterday.  It's been cold (sometimes) here in Indy.  All of my Indy readers...ya'll know what I mean by sometimes.  One day its 40 degrees and the next its 80.  There is NEVER a dull moment when dealing with Midwest weather.  Never. 

So, anyway the colder weather combined with my efforts to branch out and experiment with and eat a broader variety of vegetables than normal led me to buying a nice big shiny head of cabbage!  I bought it a week or so ago with the intentions of making a pot of boiled cabbage and sausage similar to how my beloved sweet momma used to make it (RIP momma, love you).  I did make that pot of cabbage and that post is coming up next, but I also managed to squeeze in another use out of it.  If you don't know, a head of cabbage goes a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG way.  Like, the stuff seems never ending!  It is most certainly a great BANG for your BUCK! 

So, one night this past week I had a friend over for dinner.  It just so happened to be the same day that I had left a super yummy corned beef in the slow cooker all day (when I came home it smelled HEAVENLY in my house!)  The corned beef was effortless.  I opened it, I poured one cup of reduced sodium beef broth in my slow cooker, added the meat and seasoning pack, turned on the slow cooker and walked away.  DONE.  Insert picture here...  :-)

Mmmmmmm.  So good!

Slow cookers are wonderful~!  :-)

Back to the regularly scheduled blogging! 

Not knowing I would have a dinner guest until it happened, I hadn't planned to make anything else so I need to throw something together quickly.  Then, I got to thinking about that cabbage and a version of "fried" cabbage I had eaten several weeks ago that had been given to me on a plate of food from a Sunday dinner.  Ya'll that cabbage was good, but there was not one single thing about it that was weight loss friendly.  Zero. Zilch. Nada.  So, anyway back to the point....all this led me to thinking...."I can totally make a weight loss friendly version of "fried" cabbage" and so, I DID!  :-)

1/4 or so (honestly, I didn't measure it, I just cut it up until it was enough) head of cabbage, chopped (note---I used about 1/4 of the whole head of cabbage, not 1/4 cup!!)
1/4 cup or so (again, no measuring, just eyeballed it) chopped onion
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
cooking spray


Preheat a pan on medium heat.  Add the onions and saute them until soft...

Add the cabbage.  Season.  Stir.  Cooking for about 15 minutes until the cabbage is soft, but still crisp...

 Wha-la!  That's it.  You just made "fried" cabbage. 

Now, I am sure there are TONS of variations that can be done with this.  TONS.  As you can see by the lack of measuring, it was a total experiment to me (as most of my cooking is) and it worked out just fine (as most of my cooking does)!  So, experiment, have fun, learn something new, enjoy, and PLAY with your FOOD people! 

For the other side with dinner (requested by my dinner guest) was a side salad...just for kicks, I took a picture of that too! 

Yumminess on  plate looks a little something like this....

Now, on that day, as hard as I tried.... I could not finish it all.  The pouch was not having it.  I managed to get my protein first and the majority of my cabbage in, but the salad didn't stand a chance for me that night.  All of you fellow WLS'ers know....the pouch is the boss!  

Well, that's all for this one folks....up next....that pot of boiled cabbage I mentioned!

Till next time (which will be in like a few minutes, LOL),

Lots of love,


Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn's Red White Chicken Chili

Yep, you read that right!  I have a recipe to share with you.  It's a variation of White Chicken Chili, but by the time I got done experimenting, it was Red.  So, it's Red White Chicken Chili! 

Allow me to give a little back story to this.  :-)   As some of you might know I am a Zumba Instructor.  Zumba is hands-down-with-out-a-shadow-of-a-doubt one of THE BEST things that have ever happened to me.  It is my passion, my love affair; my niche, my energy.  It is part of who I am and I am so thankful for it's many many many, countless blessings.  Aside from blessing me with the ability to get an amazing workout AND share it with others while having a super fun time, Zumba has beyond blessed me with a network of Zumba sisters and brothers and has created a sisterhood for me that I have never had before; one that I can never find elsewhere; and one that can never ever ever be replaced.  My Zumba family is as close to me as my actual family and I love each and every one of you! 

A few weeks ago one of my Zumba sisters hosted a martini party at her home and each of us brought a dish to share with the group.  One of the ladies (my beloved Zumba instructor---love you Gena!) brought a dish called White Chicken Chili.  Y'all....she KILLED it!  It was so good....and loaded with protein.  I told Gena I wanted the recipe, but as the night went on and we were Zumba'ing and socializing our hearts out, I forgot about getting the recipe.  Luckily, toward the end of the night, I over heard Gena say "McCormick White Chicken Chili" to someone else.  That's it.  That was all I heard.  But, it was enough for me!  LOL...  I know McCormick quite well. 

So, needless to say, I was on a mission to re-create the chili.  The next time I went shopping I wondered over to the seasonings aisle and I found the packet of McCormick's White Chicken Chili seasoning mix.  As I was looking at the seasoning packet, I noticed some tips for making different variations of the chili....and thus, Autumn's Red White Chicken Chili was born....

The Ingredients: Disclaimer:  This was kind of a spur of the moment experiment so the ingredient pictures are separated and may not show all of the things that were included!

2lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
2 packets of McCormick's White Chicken Chili Seasoning
1 can chili ready chili beans (undrained)
1 can chili ready chili tomatoes (undrained)
1 can mild rotel style diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can ranch style beans (undrained)
1large onion chopped

Directions:  (you could do this with your eyes closed!)

Pour the rotel tomatoes into the bottom of your crock pot.  Then, layer the chicken into the crock pot.  The add the onions, the beans, and the chili tomatoes.  Top with the McCormick Seasoning.  Stir all ingredients together.  Set on low and let 'er rip!  I put mine on around 9pm or so and when I woke up around 4am, it was done.  So, about 6-8 hours on low will do it~! 

Doesn't it look so good?!?!  It is protein packed goodness, might I add!!!

For an experiment, it turned out QUITE DELISH~~~!!!  I am telling you...this is one to keep in the recipe index!  It is super easy, super quick, and super good! 

There was so much of it, I ate on it for three days for lunch at work and dinner at home.  As I heated it in the microwave at work for lunch, my co-workers asked me what I was heating... they said it smelled really good!  So, I took the rest of it into work and gave each of them a bowl of it.  Every single one of them said they enjoyed it!!

So, here's to hoping you try it and that you and your family enjoy it as well~!

Till next time...

Lots of Love,

PS--Update since my last blog, "Finally, IT clicked":  I am going strong, doing well, and feeling good!  It feels SO good to be back on be normal again.  My body is thankful that I am treating it right again, finally!  I have been within my calorie goal every day and I have made it a point to get in more exercise than just the three Zumba classes I teach each week.  Because of those things combined....the pounds are coming off!  I keep myself motivated by constantly reminding myself that I want to fit back into my size 12 pants.  I have them hanging all around my house as a constant reminder and I have a picture of one pair on my phone.  So, every time I pick up my phone I see them.  The constant visual reminder is definitely helping!  I am SO motivated to get this extra weight off of my body and get back to where I was!!!  Once I get there, I will set new goals to continue in my weight loss and overall just taking care of myself and living a healthy life!!  :-)  A warm thank you to everyone who supports me in my journey be it through prayer, encouragement, guidance, tips, motivation, etc. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Finally....IT clicked.

Well hey there, stranger!?!?!  Okay, okay, So I am the stranger.  My bad for that....for being MIA since July 4th.  There really aren't any excuses for why I haven't been actively blogging, except for the fact that this summer has been one of the worst ever for me and quite frankly it has kicked my ass.  Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  In every single way possible...

I wont go into too much detail b/c it is very personal stuff, but to sum it all up:  my brother died a very untimely death after a bizarre and tragic accident in late June, one of my beloved nephews started having some scary medical issues, and early July-early August brought me some of the worst emotional experiences I have ever had to deal with in terms of relationship Bull Shnaz.  Clearly, the devil was busy trying to bring me down.  I almost let him win...

Even before all of that happened I hadn't been exactly following my meal plan.  I was cheating pretty often and I knew I shouldn't have been, but I was just in a weird place and quite frankly, I quit caring.  No, that doesn't excuse it, but eating is the only way I have ever known to deal with my emotions.  After the devil got done dishing all of that out...well...let's just say that it would be unjust to say I was cheating.  I just flat out gave up.  I have been eating with complete reckless abandon.  Eating every single emotion I feel, every single time I feel matter what it has been.  I did not care, I just smothered everything with fast food, junk food, sweets, you name it.  Everything and anything bad for me....I have intentionally sought it out and devoured it....usually on more than one occasion.  What is the result of that...?  I have gained 20lbs since May 2nd.  No joke.  I am embarrassed to admit that, but the truth is the truth and it is UGLY. 

I have been telling people close to me who also struggle with weight issues that "it just hasn't clicked yet" for the past few months.  What is "it"?  "It" is something that clicks in my head and in my heart at the same time.  "It" comes from a deep internal place and it is the burning motivation from within to eat right, exercise consistently, and lose the rest of my weight and to NOT let obesity beat me!  For the past few months that "it" has been buried under stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness, etc, etc, etc and every time it would try to peek thru, I would smother it with all of the worst foods possible.  I kept saying, "I just need it to click and I don't know why it isn't clicking."  But the truth is, I did know why it wasn't clicking...I was not LETTING it click.  I was blocking it.  I was shutting it out.  I was AVOIDING it.  I lacked all motivation and I just did not care.  I was tired of caring, tired of trying, tired of fighting.  I basically gave up, all along deep inside me hoping that "it" would just ignore me and CLICK CLICK CLICK. 

Then, this morning....out of the blue....IT CLICKED!  I finally feel that motivation again.  I am ready to fight with vengeance to get back on track and get rid of these 20lbs I have put on.  I am SICK of being this size.  I hate the way I feel and I have to change it!  Period.  End of Story.  There wasn't really any one thing that made it click, it just happened when I woke up this morning.  I KNOW that if I do not stop while I am ahead that I will be over 400lbs again before I know it.  and I REFUSE to let that happen.  I am OVER it.  I am DONE.  I will NOT lose the battle to obesity.  I will fight this fight every single day for the rest of my life.  OBESITY will NOT beat me.  But, truth be told...  I am scared.  I am nervous.  I am anxious.  I am so fearful that I will mess it up again.  I am fearful I will fail again, but some fear is healthy the way I see it.  

As part of my process I know I MUST:
  •  I MUST get back to blogging regularly as an outlet for my emotions and my progress.  Putting things out there on my blog really helps me cleanse my soul and I hope it helps some of my readers in some way.  It also keeps me accountable. 
  • I MUST get back to working out more often than just 3 days a week which is all I have been doing. 
  • I MUST make healthy food choices that are part of my approved meal plan.
  • I MUST utilize my support resources consistently.
  • I MUST track my food and exercise daily...b/c as much as I hate doing it...I KNOW it works.  I have proven that to myself before. 
  • I MUST know that I deserve to be fit, healthy and active.
  • I MUST know that I deserve to beat obesity...and...
  • I MUST know that I will fight this fight every single day for the REST of my life.
  • I MUST know that it is within MY CONTROL to make good choices and to take things one step at a time.  One bite at at time. 
So, with that said, I will bring this entry to a close.  I ask all of you who believe in the power of prayer to please say one for me.  What I am learning more and more each day is that I can not do this on my own, but with God in my life and by my side...I can do anything! 

There will be more to come soon sweet readers, I promise. 

Till next time....

Lots of love,