Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hansel and Gretel are Homaha

I have been MIA lately - we have been in Bismarck, North Dakota visiting Dwight's family. Door-to-door is 615 miles of mostly this:

Now, my mother-in-law is a wonderful cook, but she IS from Germany and only cooks German food. She did her best to properly fatten us up before she sent us home:

Oxtail soup with a sandwich of pepperoni, two kinds of cheeses, pickles, and ketchup

Cinnamon rolls

Linzer torte

German "pancakes" with swiss cheese and white asparagus

Rouladen, which as Alex says, is "meat wrapped in meat". Ron Swanson would approve.

Rouladen, red cabbage, and potato balls

Black forest cherry cake
Sauerkraut, spareribs, and spaetzle
Breakfast at the hotel. The orange was for later.
 While we had a really nice visit, it was good to get home and back to eating (relatively) healthy:

Breakfast today was an orange, Greek yogurt, granola, and coffee

Lunch was grilled cheese and Campbell's Tuscan style chicken and white bean soup

Afternoon snack: banana and Justin's chocolate almond butter

Dinner: big salad with shrimp, peppers, and goat cheese and a ciabatta roll with Tuscan artichoke spread. (Hmm...must be Tuscan day at our house. The spread is part of a Napa Style gift box from Jeanie and Tom - so good.)

Not only did we eat healthier, but we both logged some treadmill miles today. FELT SO GOOD!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leftover cheesecake is evil and it knows my name

I have not been nearly as consistent about blogging as I'd like to be, but as this is ostensibly a "healthy living blog" and I have been eating like a fat kid lately, I feel like too much of an imposter to write anything. Take, for example, the white chocolate cheesecake left over from our dinner party last weekend. Every time I walked by the fridge, it whispered my name. And then when I successfully ignored it the first few times, it started yelling at me. You know how this ended up. It was delicious. And here is the recipe in case you want to be tempted too. I got it several years ago from the flyer that Baker's supermarket sends out occasionally; it is "courtesy of our Chef Ann."

White Chocolate Cheesecake
Serves 16

1 (13-oz) pkg chocolate chip cookies - I use Chips Ahoy
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

4 (8-oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 oz white chocolate, grated
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 oz white chocolate, grated
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Place cookies in food processor and process to crumbs. Combine crumbs, butter, and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl; mix well. Press onto the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan; set aside.

Beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until soft and creamy. Gradually add 1 1/3 cups sugar, beating until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in 3 oz. white chocolate and vanilla.

Pour mixture into crust; bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until cheesecake is set. (I usually have to go an hour.) Remove from oven. (Turn oven temp up to 400 degrees.) Let stand for 10 minutes.

Combine sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 oz white chocolate, and almond extract in a bowl; mix well. Spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven. Cool completely; chill at least 8 hours. Remove from pan before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

We are anticipating Snowmageddon here in Omaha. School was cancelled for today, although we only have a dusting as of 2:00 p.m. It is supposed to ratchet up in intensity, dumping 7-10 inches before it is all over tomorrow around noon. When I went to pick up a few groceries yesterday, they were totally out of eggs and pickings were pretty slim in the bread section. To pay us back for the nice winter we've had so far, it is also supposed to storm Sunday into Monday. At least it's the end of February and won't stick around for long. Hard to believe it was in the mid-50's last Sunday.

So how did I prepare for the storm this morning? Well, I went to Target in search of the perfect color bedskirt for our new bedroom, which is the topic for another post. I have the duvet and shams, and picked out what I thought was the right color at Bed Bath and Beyond (or Bad Breath and Beyond as Aly's dad calls it.) Even though it matched the shams in the store, and looked okay when I got home when our walls were rag-rolled deep blue, when I pulled it out today to iron it, I gave a little involuntary shriek. It was so not the right color!!!!! I just bought the two colors of gray bedskirts they had at Target and one of them worked. I have a few returns to make next week. (It was pretty funny in the store, though, as everyone has their carts heaped with food and I'm buying two bedskirts).

Dwight is up painting our ceiling now, so I'm going to pour myself some coffee and watch him work.

Stay warm!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hosting a dinner party the OCD way

I don't mean to make light of anyone who really has OCD (God knows I have enough issues of my own), but I am the oldest child, like to be in charge, am bossy, and really really really organized (and perhaps have a touch of OCD).

So a few weeks ago, Dwight said we should have a dinner party for a specific group of friends (his, not mine). I said sure, and once a date was agreed upon, the plan was set in motion. The day is tonight, so how, you ask, do I have time to sit and write a blog post when eight people will be arriving in less than four three hours? Organization, organization, organization. It's a curse. Here's just a peek into my brain:

I planned the menu a few weeks ago, and by planning the menu, I mean I decided to make the exact same thing I made for our Christmas Eve dinner. Everyone loved it and it made lots, so I know the quantity is sufficient. We're having beef tenderloin with a shallot-mustard sauce, Jeanie's rice-a-roni as we call it (a delicious rice / vermicelli dish made with butter and french onion soup), asparagus with gremolata, a chopped salad, and white chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

I picked up the tenderloin last week at Costco and got the other ingredients earlier this week. I did major deep-cleaning earlier in the week so all I had to do yesterday was vacuum and dust (not even dust - just Swiffer), and Dwight cleaned the bathroom today.

I ironed the table linens earlier in the week, and I set the table with the chargers and glassware on Thursday. I bought flowers at Sam's yesterday, split up the bouquets and made some low arrangements (HATE trying to talk over tall stuff.) I also figured out which serving dishes I'd need and got them out along with the necessary serving utensils.

Of course they're labeled. What did you expect?

I made the white chocolate cheesecake yesterday. I could have made the rice and the sauce ahead and just refrigerated, but I knew I'd have time this morning.

The shallot-mustard sauce is pretty fabulous, so much so that I made one-and-a-half times the recipe. That did involve a lot of shallots:

Shallots get to me the way onions do some people, so I pulled out my handy-dandy onion goggles:

They really work!!
(And yes, I am wearing my cat nightie. I am a firm believer of not showering early when there is a ton of work to be done. I know my hair is rolled-out-of-bed fresh, and I'm pretty sure I haven't brushed my teeth. What you see is what you get - I've never claimed anything else.)

So while the sauce was reducing, I started the rice. And talk about multi-tasking: I chopped the ingredients for the gremolata (olives, lemon zest, Italian parsley, olives, and garlic) as well. Everything was done by noon, as well as setting up the bar area and getting appetizers organized.

As hostess, I get the pretty wine glass. Thanks, Emmy!

I need to assemble caprese skewers (cherry tomatoes, little mozzarella balls, and basil drizzled with some balsamic). I am also making one hot app - a carmelized pear dip from a mix, but I'll do that right before people arrive. 

Dwight ran out to get some ice and brought home lunch:

If you're from here, you know what this is. A runza is like a pierogi - meat, cabbage, and cheese all baked in a pastry. I have one maybe twice a year, but the kids always try to get one when they're home.

So you can see we're just in a holding pattern for about another hour or so, then I can start the last-minute stuff. See? You too can have a party and not be crazy the day of!

Okay, here is the recipe for the tenderloin that I got from my friend Teri and is never-fail. You want this in your recipe repertoire! It comes out perfectly medium-rare in the center, with a bit better done at the ends. (If someone wants better done than that, well, that's why microwaves were invented.) 

Teri's Tenderloin:  The meat has to be at ROOM TEMPERATURE. This is CRUCIAL!!!! Take it out several hours before you'll be cooking it!!!! Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line your cooking pan with foil large enough to wrap the meat in - but don't wrap it up yet. Rub the meat with olive oil and whatever seasonings you like - olive oil, garlic, onion powder, cracked pepper. Place it on the foil-lined pan and bake for 25 minutes exactly (still unwrapped). Once you take it out of the oven, immediately seal with the foil and let stand for 10 minutes to finish cooking. Slice and serve.

Shallot-Mustard Sauce
4 T butter
6 large shallots, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups beef stock
2 T Dijon mustard
4 tsp grainy mustard

Saute the shallots in butter until tender. Add beef stock and vinegar; simmer until slightly reduced. Reduce heat and add mustards. Keep warm and serve with beef. (Or make ahead, refrigerate, and rewarm before serving.)

Okay, so even though I finally showered, it's time to slap on some make-up (and maybe have a glass of wine!)

Since the last time I wrote was before Valentine's Day, check out what my valentine got me:


Monday, February 11, 2013

Everyone's diet starts on Monday

Every Monday is like a mini-New Year's Day. All resolutions start again. Actually, I am pretty good on the nutrition and activity front Sunday through Friday about noon, and then Friday night and Saturday just undoes all the hard work I've been doing. I wish I knew the answer as to how to fix that.

I had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself last week, after I had french fries not once (which would have been okay) but twice the weekend before. And a fair amount of alcohol was consumed as well. What do I think I am - in college? Ugh.

I did survive the weekend relatively unscathed, so maybe the little chat I had with myself helped. What really helped was having a sick husband all last week so I only cooked for myself, and that was mostly the Weight Watcher's soup. This week will be a bit more of a challenge as we are going out with friends on Friday, and then having a dinner party for ten here on Saturday. Somehow, I don't think I can get away with serving vegetable soup.

Aly was in Lincoln this past weekend to visit her family, and she and her mom and sister made the trip up to Omaha to do some shopping. I was able to join them for lunch - it was so nice seeing all three of them. I love how our family just keeps getting larger!

Favorite daughter-in-law!
We had lunch at Bravo, and they have a new light menu (or "diet menu" as our server called it):

I had the Flatbread Roma and the field greens salad, all for the grand total of 510 calories. I ate about 3/4 of each, so it only came to 383. There is something about filling up with volume, because even though the calorie count was relatively low, I was pretty full.

My afternoon snack was a package of cashews, and then I made grilled veggies and some sauteed cod for dinner. I really need to learn how to cook fish better, otherwise there would be a picture. I had some popcorn - my new go-to snack is Skinny Pop Popcorn from Costco. You get four cups for 155 calories, and it tastes GOOD.

Breakfast today was the usual: PB bagel thin, some Trop 50, and all the blackberries we had in the fridge. It's time to go grocery shopping today.

It's supposed to be warmer and less windy later, so an afternoon run is on the schedule.

Just a quick update on the hockey weekend:

We dropped in at the Mattress Factory, since the UND alumni association had said that would be Sioux headquarters both days pre-game. Look at all the green! And this is an OMAHA bar! Both floors were jam-packed with UND fans. We were hoping to see someone we knew, but made some new friends anyway.

I love free trinkets. In addition to pom poms, we got beads.
The indoor game was rocking Friday night! The funniest chant, started by some UNO fans, was "We have a mascot!" alluding to the fact that UND is no longer the Sioux. They are just called "North Dakota" for the time being. Stupid NCAA.

The ultimate fan. We practically had to show our season tickets to get the Go Mavs finger!
Kirk picking Dwight's nose with his giant foam finger
Saturday's outdoor game, while a good idea in theory, just didn't work as expected. For one, it was so warm that the sun affected the afternoon's junior hockey game. The sun heated up the dye for the blue line, and the kids were tripping over it or actually jumping across it. 

We came down for the what was supposed to be late afternoon game, but the 4:00 start was postponed until 6:30. They wanted the sun to set and the ice to firm up. The Sioux fans that we talked to the night before were excited that the game would be played where the College World Series is played - TD Ameritrade Park. 
I had Sioux gear on under my red jacket. Hey, I live in Nebraska. You need red outerwear here.
 So it's 11:30 now, and the roofing guys were supposed to be here between 10 and 11 to do some work; time to make a phone call.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Hockey weekend in Omaha

We are hockey fans at our house - after all, we both graduated from UND (when they were the Fighting Sioux, stupid NCAA.) Only Michigan has won more national titles than North Dakota. And as my sorority house, which was farther from campus than any other house, was virtually across the parking lot from the Winter Sports Arena, many a Friday and Saturday night were spent cheering the boys on. (Of course the team was pretty crappy when we were there, but it WAS nearby, and when it's 35 below zero, a close walk is appreciated.)

When UNO started a program here, we were inaugural season ticket holders and members of the Blue Line Club for several years until they switched venues, from the small, decrepit Civic Auditorium to the spacious new Qwest (now Century Link) Center. After one season there, we gave up our tickets. It was TOO big, and even though attendance is routinely around 8,000, that's pretty sparse in a 14,000 seat arena. However, once UNO joined the WCHA, and word got out that they will be building a new, smaller rink, we re-upped again last year. (We want to be in line for good seats, you know!) So that brings us to this weekend - North Dakota is coming to Omaha, and I have to decide what to wear:

Tonight: white tee shirt, green Sioux coverup, UND fleece

To make it even more exciting, tomorrow afternoon's game will be outside! After the skating nationals were here the other week, they moved the practice rink over to TD Ameritrade baseball park. I told Dwight I wasn't going if it was cold, but as the temp is supposed to be around 50, he will have a date after all. I'm thinking he's not going to need the hand warmers that Santa put in his stocking this Christmas. (Apparently the warm weather isn't a concern for the ice, but rain is. It's supposed to stay dry here until Sunday.)

A small dilemma for tomorrow: we are invited to the UNO President's Reception prior to the game. I think it will be the Sioux tee under the UNO jacket. Dwight sure as hell won't be wearing his UND hockey sweater. However, it is big enough that he can wear it over his jacket, so we'll just stop by the car on the way to the game. I bet there will be pictures!

Food has been really boring this week. I made a big batch Weight Watcher's vegetable soup with double the veggies (but no zucchini) and have been eating that every day, sometimes twice a day.

If you've ever been to WW, you know this is the first recipe they give you

Dwight had a nasty virus since Monday and was as sick as I have ever seen him. I made him some chicken soup, but he barely ate any. Luckily, today he woke up feeling almost himself, so it's game on.