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Archive | December, 2014

Beef and Turkey Stew/Soup

11 Dec

My mom cooks great food. Growing up I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should, probably because it was just a given that there would be a good meal on the table every evening for dinner and good choices of foods for my lunch box every day. I suppose most children don’t really think about it all that much, except for when they are eating something they really don’t like or want, then all you focus on is the torture of eating something that you’d rather say no to. I was a child in the not so distant past where the rules clearly stated, you eat what is on your plate. None of this pandering to the child and making a whole new meal for them, or making multiple dishes so everyone can eat what they feel like. Nope. We ate what mom cooked, and compared to a lot of kids, we were lucky. She made food that tasted good and was healthy.

Whenever I try cooking something I try to make it taste as good as my mom would be able to. I generally fail on that lol Every now and then I request a recipe from her so I can recreate something I grew up eating and really miss.

My attempt this evening was her beef stew. Theoretically an easy dish, I say this because that is what she wrote in the email when she sent me the recipe, she said it was easy to make. While I won’t go as far as to say she lied about the easy level of making the stew, I did something wrong because while it came out ok it is not at all the way she used to make. No walk down memory lane when I eat a bowl of this, just me getting used to a new dish – which ok fine, new is good, but a little disappointing when I was hoping for a taste of home.

You start with browning the extra lean ground beef, I didn’t have the quantity her recipe called for so I combined extra lean ground beef and extra lean ground turkey. Instead of breaking up in to nice little pieces like mom’s always did my meat stayed in larger chunks, which I didn’t appreciate but didn’t know how to fix lol After the meat is brown you throw in chopped onion and let that cook while you prep the rest of your veggies.

turkey, beef and onion

turkey, beef and onion

I used quite the random assortment of veggies, basically what I had on hand and a couple things I bought yesterday specifically for this dish. I put in the remainder of a bag of mixed veggies that contained cubed carrots, peas and beans. I also chopped up some baby carrots (cause I’m not eating them fast enough and don’t want to have to throw any of them out lol). Then I threw in a mixture of frozen veggies I have that is meant for stir-fries and lastly I put in a can of sliced mushrooms, tomatoes and sliced potatoes.

look at all those veggies, Mmm!

look at all those veggies, Mmm!

Oh, I also have a beef broth in there and seasonings. I used a Knorr Beef Bouillon jiggly odd little thing that you mix in to 3 1/2 cups boiling water before you pour it in to the pot. I am trying not to think about what was actually in that jell-o like substance that was the broth cause I’m pretty sure it’s nasty lol πŸ˜›

So yeah, once all the veggies and broth and seasoning are in there I brought it to a boil, stirred it a bit then lowered the temp and let it simmer (with a lid on) for, um, a while? The instructions said to let it simmer until the veggies were cooked and I had no idea how long that would take so I did the dishes, and checked on it, and puttered in the kitchen, and checked on it, at one point it looked like this…

simmering, simmering, simmering.

simmering, simmering, simmering.

After a while it seemed like it was cooked, I tried a carrot and it was cooked all the way through so yay! I added some more spices cause it was a little bland, stirred it all together and let it sit off the heat for a bit. I was hoping the extra liquid would go away, there didn’t seem to be too much and I was worried if I left it cooking until all the liquid was gone I’d scorch the bottom. When I got myself a bowlful for dinner this is what it looked like…

the final prodcut

the final prodcut

Sooooo, not like how mom used to make lol when I called and asked her what I did wrong she said I could have left it on the heat for longer and no I wouldn’t have overcooked it, go figure! lol She also said I could add cornstarch to help thicken it but by the time I called her it was sitting in individually portioned containers so that wasn’t happening. Also, I used a different broth from what she uses so that is probably why the colour is different from hers and well, there is always the fact that I have some turkey meat in there not just beef. All in all, I guess I can’t be surprised it doesn’t taste like mom’s stew cause I had too many differences from what she does, shrug.

It is more like a meat soup than a stew, which is a little odd, but it doesn’t taste bad, shrug. It made enough for one bowlful today and 6 single serving size containers, yay!

2014-12-11 19.22.51I put all but one container in the freezer and am quite happy knowing that I have a ready to heat, healthy meal at my fingertips. πŸ™‚

 

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Care Package From Across The Pond

6 Dec

I have awesome relatives over in England whom I adore, and not just because they send me junk food, though that does help! lol πŸ˜‰

My cousin sent me a care package that I received the other day. I wasn’t going to open it at first because I was thinking it was probably meant for Christmas but since I go to Alberta for Christmas I would of had to open it so I could pack the contents in my suitcase anyways so why not open it now?

She doesn’t use nearly as much packing tape as I do, which meant the opening process went super fast lol Here is what she sent me…

Junk food from the UK, score!

Junk food from the UK, score!

There are:

– two packages of Weight Watchers hot chocolate, flavoured like Jaffa Cakes

– two packages of Cheese & Onion flavoured crisps (those are potato chips)

– a Quality Street The Green Bar chocolate bar (hazlenut praline covered in milk chocolate)

– lots of Fox’s Party Rings (a type of cookie, a seriously delish cookie!)

– two packages of Weight Watcher’s cakes, one chocolate and one jam

– and a massive box of Jaffa Cakes (an even better cookie than the Party Rings, quite possibly the best cookie ever created!)

So yeah, talk about a box filled with magical wonders! πŸ˜€

I have already started in on the Party Rings, Mmm! I gave a sleeve of the Jaffa Cake cookies to a friend at work, she is from England but doesn’t have family there anymore so she doesn’t get lovely treats like I do. I am saving a sleeve of them for my trip home for Christmas, along with the chocolate bar, some of the Party Rings and both of the Weight Watcher’s cake packages. I’m not the only one on this side of the pond that likes these treats so I am opting to share them. Makes me sound so nice doesn’t it? It’s partly out of being nice and partly wanting to spare myself some calories *sheepish grin* lol

I sent the cousin that sent me these treats a care package also, it should be getting there soon-ish, hopefully it makes her as happy as her package to me made me! πŸ™‚

Back To What Worked

6 Dec

Waaaaay back, like 4 years ago, I started Weight Watchers. I didn’t go to meetings, I didn’t officially join, I got the books from my mother, the slider to calculate food points, a small notebook I could take everywhere and I started the program. If you really want to know how it went go to the very first post in this blog because that is when I started blogging. (First Post) I used this blog to hold myself accountable, since I wasn’t going to meetings or being an online member. I also blogged on an almost daily basis and listed each day what I ate, how many points it was, and if I was over, under or right on the dot with my daily points. Once I started exercising I also started blogging about that.

It was slow progress, as in suuuuper slow, my body did not want to lose the weight. I was hoping for losing two pounds a week and found I was lucky to lose one a week. Not because I was cheating, I was actually pretty good at following the plan, it was just how my body chose to be, shrug.

Well, after following Weight Watchers for hmm, a year and a bit I think, it stopped working for me. I hit a plateau and nothing I did would get my body to budge. It drove me nuts! And if staying at the same weight wasn’t bad enough, I started gaining weight! I wasn’t sure if what I was actually gaining was muscle since I was working out more, or if it was fat, all I knew was the number on the scale was freaking me out and I was having issues dealing with it.

That was when I realized Weight Watchers left me ill equipped to deal with eating healthy on my own. I didn’t really understand calories or fat grams since everything got converted to Weight Watchers points, I had no idea how many calories I should be eating, what I should be doing to get over the plateau, how or even if I should incorporate going no carb, or gluten free or any of the other fads out there. I felt adrift, with no rules to follow, no program to cling to and no idea how to continue on.

I know, I’m soooo dramatic! πŸ˜› lol

Sooooooo dramatic!

Sooooooo dramatic!

I tried a variety of things once I stopped following Weight Watchers, none of them amazing. Mostly I focused on eating less, but ended up eating way under what I should be eating on a daily basis, and not really getting the right variety of food groups in my daily food, oops! A friend put me on a super strict eating plan, designed to get me lean, because the agent I had at the time wanted me 10-15lbs underweight even though I was at the low end of the weight range I am supposed to be at for my height. The problem with that plan was it is not possible to maintain long term. It was high protein, low carb, high healthy fat, which sounds great but the quantity I was allowed a day was quite small and left me hungry all the time.

When I started the job I am at now I fell off the wagon and fell hard. The plan is also strict about timing, timing between meals and timing of meals to when you exercise and my work schedule impeded that greatly. Combine that with being oh so amazingly strict and I’ve never been able to manage to get back on that plan.

Well, obviously the various things I have tried since falling off that plan didn’t really work. I am not as large as I was when I first started Weight Watchers all those years ago, but I am larger than I want to be, and I am pissed off at myself that I let myself gain some of that weight back. I worked so hard to lose that weight, and it took so freakin long to come off and what do I do? I let myself gain some of it back?? Idiot!

Calling myself names, and feeling bad about what I let happen will not create change. A friend and I have decided that instead of just talking about how we want to look different we are going to actually start working towards creating that change, novel idea huh? πŸ˜‰

For me, this means going back to what once worked for me, that’s riiiiight, I am going to once again be Weight Watchering it! I know I said the program didn’t teach me how to lose or maintain weight or be healthy when not following the program, and I stick by that, however, when following Weight Watchers before it did work for a time. I am hoping it will work for me again and help me get a little more control over my eating plan and from there, well, I’ll have to figure something out lol πŸ˜›

So, I have dug out of the drawer my Weight Watchers books and also found the Points Calculator. I won’t be following the same Weight Watchers program I followed last time because there is a new program out, called Weight Watchers Points Plus and it works a little differently than the program I followed. There is a different way to calculate points, both the amount of points you get in a day and how many points a food is. I can use the calculator to track my points for the day and for the week, eliminating the need for the notebook, but I like being able to flip back and see my progress so I am sticking with using a notebook for tracking. Also, calculating how many points a food is will be a bit more complicated, in the old program you just needed the calories, fat and fiber but now you need more information, so its looking like the points calculator will become my new best friend lol

My Weight Watchers  Stuff

My Weight Watchers Stuff

Don’t mind the cat’s leg in the picture, I couldn’t convince him to move, lol.

Today was my first day following the program, I can’t say for sure if I ate the right amount of points as some of the food didn’t have nutritional information so I had to estimate, but I figure it’s better to track and estimate and be close to my pointsΒ than not be tracking or checking the food’s points values and leaving it all up to chance, right?

That being said, it is the end of the day and omg I am crazy hungry! *rolls eyes* I have a feeling I’m in for a rough first week…

im-so-hungry

German Christmas Market

5 Dec

For the fourth year in a row I went to the German Christmas Market that is held in the downtown core. It runs for a month or so and can be a lot of fun. It is based on the large Christmas Markets that happen in Europe and is German themed. I’ve never been to one of the Christmas Markets in Europe so I couldn’t say for certain how this one compares, I’m pretty sure this one is way smaller but the gist of it is the same…I think?

There is a carousal for all ages that my friend and I meant to go on but forgot, we kind of purposefully forgot as it was pouring rain and we didn’t like the idea of sitting on a wet horse lol There is also a massive Christmas tree that every single person there tries to get a picture in front of, for real, every single person lol, we had to wait for people to clear out so we could get a picture without strangers in it lol

Me

Me

My friend

My friend

Close up!

Close up!

One of the main things about the market is the food, I’d say half or maybe a bit more than half of the booths are food. Most of them are German foods but there is one booth that is all maple flavoured foods, we are in Canada after all! lol πŸ˜‰

For dinner we each got a, hmm, a glorified hot dog I guess, mine was all beef, I think KL got the one that had beef and pork in it but I could be wrong about that. They are topped with sauerkraut and fried onions and if you want there is also ketchup and mustard.

2014-12-04 19.34.03

With your entrance ticket you get a free mug of either apple cider or mulled wine. I know from previous years I don’t like the mulled wine so apple cider it was! Lucky for me I like apple cider lol You get to keep the mug, which means I now have 4 of these mugs lol they are small so normally not a useful size, after all, if you are having a hot drink you want a normal sized mug right? I find them the perfect size if I am having juice though. πŸ™‚

We also got dessert, I got a hot apple strudel and KL got waffle on a stick, which now that I think of it is probably not a German thing since it is at every fair type thing I’ve been to for years now and one of the few booths not manned by an actual German person lol

Hot apple strudel with vanilla sauce on top

Hot apple strudel with vanilla sauce on top

Of the two desserts KL’s was the better option, her waffles on a stick were covered in a strawberry sauce and whipped Β cream and I thought it was way better than my strudel…kind of because the strudel was a bit bland and had raisins in it, ugh, raisins, blech.

There was also live entertainment, it ranged from good, to meh, to funny.

When we got there a group was performing whose name I didn’t catch, they performed a variety of songs, all Christmas themed. The lead singer had the cutest little hat on which you can’t see all that well in the picture because she kept standing directly under a light which made my camera unhappy lol

Can you see her hat? It's adorable!

Can you see her hat? It’s adorable!

There was also entertainment provided by some extremely well dressed drag queens who are way better at walking in heels than I ever will be, not even joking about that! There was a Simone Says game, and at least three separate musical performances, lemme see, there was a Celine Dion, a Taylor Swift and hmm, I’m not sure who the other person was supposed to be but she was entertaining! Basically it was a bunch of people having a great time. πŸ™‚ The Taylor Swift impersonator was wearing such a skimpy outfit I felt bad for her lol even with all her dancing she must have been freezing!

The weather was cold, not super cold but cold, shrug, it is December after all. It was raining the entire time so thank goodness for waterproof jackets and boots! lol I bent my head forward at one point to look down and had a whole bunch of water pour off the top of my head where apparently my hood had been collecting it *rolls eyes* The rain is totally manageable if you are dressed for it, which luckily both KL and I were. I’ve gone other years where I wasn’t dressed for the weather and while I had fun I was also freezing which drastically lowered my enjoyment level, this year I was prepared! πŸ™‚

This market has quickly become part of my Christmas season tradition, I really look forward to it and hope to continue going in the years to come. πŸ™‚

A Friendly Meal

5 Dec

One of my friends from work is an amazing cook, which is not surprising since she is one of the chefs lol I often ask her cooking advice and I know I provide her with a lot of amusement because of how dumb I am when it comes to food and cooking and well, anything kitchen related lol

The other day I was stopping by her place after aquafit class to pick up an empty tin can (it’s for a craft project but I don’t buy food in cans so I didn’t have one) and when I got there she invited me in to hang out. I think she worries I don’t eat enough, or eat enough “real” food (she seems to think a spoonful of peanut butter doesn’t count as a meal, weirdo! πŸ˜‰ lol ) because she kept offering me food. In the end I got fed dinner, which was nice cause I wouldn’t have eaten anything once I got home due to lack of food and money to buy food lol, she heated up some minestrone soup and made me some toast, isn’t she so nice? πŸ™‚

Then, on my way out she gives me a huge container with food in it, she made me dinner to take home so I’d have food over the next couple days! Crazy levels of nice or what?!

The food this morning before I warmed it up.

The food this morning before I warmed it up.

Doesn’t it look delish? It’s chicken with some sort of parmesan topping, steamed broccoli and rice with carrots and peas mixed in. I think there is something else mixed in to the rice but I’m not sure what…whatever it is, it’s tasty!

I was so worried about warming it up, do I microwave it or put it in the oven or go stove top? Too many options, ack! I felt sure whichever way I chose would be the wrong way and I’d somehow screw up the food lol

Eventually I decided to warm it up in a pan, seemed safest, and I remember my mom warming up leftovers in a pan on the stove and if that’s what she does than it must be right, right? Right!

2014-12-04 15.28.16

I put the chicken in first and then sliced it up to ensure it was warm all the way through, when it was close to being done I added in the rice and the broccoli since even I know those wouldn’t take as long as the chicken lol The parmesan topping ended up breaking in to smaller pieces so some of it got a tad burned but for the most part it was ok.

Heated up and on a plate, Mmm!

Heated up and on a plate, Mmm!

So there we have it, the final product! It was super tasty and I sent her a text thanking her for about the billionth time for the food lol I can’t wait to eat it again tomorrow! πŸ™‚

A Work Party

4 Dec

Last Friday was my work’s Christmas party. I have been with this company, at this location, since it opened but this is my first year attending the party. Why? Because the people at head office always choose to have the party on a Friday night and I work that shift. No matter what they do there will always be staff that can’t make the party, that is what happens when you have a company that is open 24/7 but it surprises me there isn’t more effort put in to making sure it’s not always the same people who don’t get to go to the party. This year I got to go only because the casual girl who we call on when we need a shift covered had her birthday plans change, she took pity on me and offered to work my shift because she knew I wanted to go to the party…she knew because I had already asked her to work for me but initially she said no because she thought she was going to be out of town for her bday (which was the day after the party).

So yeah, this year I got to party, yay! I didn’t know what to expect, the previous years my friends at work always downplayed how the party turned out so I wouldn’t feel so bad for missing it lol

This year it was held at the Pan Pacific Hotel which is a fancy hotel in the downtown core. The space was really nice, huuuge windows overlooking the water, a decent sized dance floor and a nice large space for all the tables and the food.

There was a photo booth with lots of funny hats and glasses an stuff to wear, they’ve had this each year, lemme tell ya, that photo booth was never empty lol I’m not exactly sure why it is such a popular thing, I mean yeah, it was fun, but the amount of times I was dragged in there when once or twice would’ve been fine…having said that I have four of the picture strips and they make me giggle everytime I look at them. πŸ˜›

goofy people! lol

goofy people! lol

The food was super yum, it was a massive buffet with a carving station at one end where an oh so lovely turkey was sliced up for our eating pleasure. πŸ™‚ Β I attempted to make healthy choices while choosing my food and I think I did fairly well. Some food choices (like the cheesy potatoes) were obviously not healthy but I don’t feel bad about those choices because the rest of the plate was covered in veggies, and salads, and protein…so a little bit of cheesy potato won’t kill me lol There was a separate loooong table covered in all the deserts, oh so many deserts! πŸ™‚

Here is how the food portion of my night went:

Get a plate of food from the buffet.

Eat about half my dinner when I get dragged to the photo booth for a picture.

Return to my table after an absence of less than 5 minutes to find my dinner is gone. Servers cleared away my plate. Sadness.

I decided that meant I should start on dessert so I go to the dessert buffet. I got a small slice of a fruity thing (I’m not really sure what it was…) and was reaching for something made of chocolate when someone got all “omg you have to come dance to this song!” so I take one bite of the dessert, put it at my spot on my table and make my way to the dance floor.

After one dance I return to my table to find my dessert gone, servers had cleared away my plate.

Arg!

One of my friends encouraged me to go get another dessert but I didn’t want to be that person who went to the dessert buffet twice. She went for me and got me an amazing slice of chocolate cake that was super rich and covered in fruit, there was kiwi, and strawberries and mandarin oranges on top. I got about two bites in to it when someone was all “you hafta come to the photo booth!”.

You would have thought by now I’d learned my lesson but nope lol

Off to the photo booth I went, took goofy pictures, returned to my table only to find an empty spot where my plate used to be, sigh.

By this time I decided to quit the food, it was obviously the Universes way of telling me to stop eating lol I went back to the dance floor and stayed for who knows how long, remembered that I still had half a glass of wine and decided to go finish it before that also got nabbed by the servers but alas, I was too late, the servers had taken my wine.

Of all the thefts I was most distraught about the wine lol A person’s alcohol should never be taken, that is just…inhumane! πŸ˜‰

Despite the over eager servers and the constant theft of my food, it was a great night. The group of people I work with are a fun group and we danced most of the night, luckily the DJ was good! lol

It started snowing around 9pm, it was so pretty, made the drive home a bit treacherous but meh, that’s winter for ya!

The pictures below are from a couple days after the party when I was walking to work in the morning, see how pretty? πŸ™‚

2014-11-29 21.26.04

2014-11-30 06.56.31

2014-11-30 06.56.43

 

Oh I forgot! I got tons of compliments on my hairdo, I did this updo that was a combination of a couple different things I saw in various YouTube tutorials and surprisingly it turned out well. I wish I had thought to get a picture of it…I started a braid on the left side of my head that wrapped around the back of my head to end in a side pony on the right side of my head. Then the hair in the pony tail was twisted, tied in a knot and pinned in place so it looked like a loose bun. I topped it off with a clip that had a flower on it with a faux diamond centre, it was put just above the bun. You’d think the clip was there for decorative purposes but it was actually to make sure the hair stayed in place lol I was paranoid the entire night about the bobby pins falling out and the bun coming undone but it held up the whole night, dancing an all! πŸ™‚

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