The Ups and Downs of the last few months

Food wise, things have been mostly downs since March. My stomach has been in such a bad state for a very long time and I really didn’t know what was going on. In August of 2008, I was diagnosed with heartburn and given a prescription for Prilosec and told to lose some weight. Beyond that, I received little direction. Things were going ok until the holidays when apparently, I lost my damn mind. I started eating and drinking things I don’t even like such as coffee, alcohol. I was drinking soda every day when I hadn’t had regular soda for years. My body kicked into high gear and rebelled and that rebellion manifested itself in a terrible way. What I thought was a stomach bug ended up being GERD, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Oh fun! My doctor doubled my dose of Prilosec and yet still no advice on what to eat. Taking matters into my own hands, I began to research it and came across of wealth of information that began to show me what I was going to have to do in order to live with GERD. It took a few months to get my medicine and my prescription right and now things seem to be on the right track. Boring menus but at least I’m not writhing in agony because my chest is on fire.

Some happy side effects of this new way of eating, I have lost 17 lbs. In August I weighed 207. This morning I weighed 190. Most of that weight loss occurred in the last couple of months because I was trying to find the right things to eat and my stomach was in such a horrible place. Now I’m on OTC Zantac 150, once a day. The prilosec and the nexium were both making my breathing labored and my heartbeat speed up. It was very frightening! The Zantac seems to be working so far. My blood pressure is good at 110/70 and my resting heart rate is excellent at 64. During the week, I exercise by swimming at the pool and that seems to really help me feel good, too.

My diet is less than exciting these days. The list of things I shouldn’t eat is fairly long and rather depressing when you love to eat, like I do. Onions, garlic, pepper, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, lemon, oranges, limes, all no-no’s. At first, I was consumed with thoughts of, “What am I going to eat then? Will I have to eat this way forever?” I still don’t know the answer to the first one but the “what” seems to be a bit clearer. My day usually begins with a bit of cottage cheese and fresh fruit, I drink only water between meals, lunch is a sandwich or a turkey hot dog with a touch of cole slaw (no mustard or ketchup), dinner is chicken and veggies or something similar, lightly prepared. The key is to be sure it’s low in fat because fat is a heartburn trigger as well. So far, things are boring but they’re working. I’m losing weight and not suffering with heartburn.

This experience has taught me many things about myself. First of all, I have a CRAZY sweet tooth!! Living without sugar and chocolate has been so incredibly hard for me but the reward of comfortable living has made it doable. Second I have learned that at my darkest moment I won’t give up. That is reassuring, indeed. Even when I was sitting in the doctor’s office crying my eyes out, I had my doubts about whether there was a way for me to feel well again but I didn’t give up hope. Thankfully, it feels like I’m on the right path.

If you are suffering from GERD or acid reflux, I highly recommend you get a book called,”Eating for Acid Reflux” which you can find at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Acid-Reflux-Handbook-Heartburn/dp/1569244928

I don’t get any kickback if you buy it. It has made a big difference for me and I think it could for you, too, if you are not finding medical solutions to your acid reflux problem. My goal is to be off the medicine in a couple of months and to manage it completely through diet. That may not be possible until I lose all the weight I need to lose first but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!

Hope all is well in your world!

B.J. Gordey - Another great way to help with this is The Great Taste NO Pain diet. You may be surprise by all the great things you can eat.

carri - Oh Evie, I’m so happy you have found the right path to wellness for yourself!

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It’s Peach Cobbler, y’all

Mmmmmm. Have you ever had peach cobbler? Here in the South we eat it a lot in the summer time, especially with barbeque but I really had a hankering for it and just had to make myself some this week!

Now for the record, things with flour in them make me feel unwell so, these days, I really cannot enjoy many treats like these. As long as I don’t have other things with flour in them during the day, I will allow myself one small portion of this, just so I can have a taste. This is a recipe that I adapted from Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Son’s” cookbook for pear cobbler.

My Peach Cobbler

Peach Mixture
16 oz bag of frozen peaches
2 tbs butter (salted)
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 TBS pumpkin pie spice (or less depending on your taste)
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS lemon juice, (fresh squeezed if you have it)

Batter:
1 stick salted butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saute pan or non-stick skillet, empty the package of frozen peaches and allow the frost to cook off over medium heat. Add the butter, sugar, lemon juice, and pumpkin pie spice and cook for 1-2 mins. Take your 1/4 cup of cold water and add the cornstarch to it. Pour that into the skillet and cook over a low heat until the mixture is thick, stirring occasionally. As this is cooking, prepare your batter.

Place the stick of butter in a baking dish (like you would use for a casserole) and then put the dish and butter into the 350-degree oven until the butter has melted. Remove and leave the oven on.

Stir together the sugar and flour. Slowly add the milk, stirring a bit at a time, and mix well. Pour the batter over the melted butter in the baking dish. DON’T STIR IT. Gently scoop a couple of peach slices at a time from the skillet and drop them into the batter, moving around the dish until all the spaces are full of peaches. Then very carefully pour the remaining sauce from the pan over the top of the mixture (DON’T STIR) and put it in the 350 degree oven for 30-45 mins, until it’s a nice golden brown. It should look like this:

peachcobbler.jpg

Serve alone or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top. It is delicious!!!!

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Simply Life - wow that looks delicious!

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BEST. Cookie. EVER.

For a long time now, I have been relentlessly searching for the perfect sugar cookie recipe. Many years ago, I ate a sugar cookie and loved it but had never been able to duplicate the flavor myself. Until now. Oh my goodness. Seriously, I will make these so much more often than Chocolate Chip which had been my favorite cookie for several years running. Because I’m a sharer, I’m going to share the recipe with you.

For all you New Year’s dieters out there, I’m sorry for tempting you with this. They are truly, delicious.
bestcookieever.jpg

I adapted the recipe from one in Dorie Greenspan’s book called, “Baking”, and her recipe is titled, “Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies”.

2 cups all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp KOSHER salt, omit the salt if you only have iodized or cut back to 1/4 tsp.
1/2 tsp baking powder
10 Tbs salted butter at room temp (yes, I said SALTED)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 tsps almond extract

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder.

With a mixer, (I used my kitchen aid stand mixer) beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sugar and beat again for 2 minutes. Add the large egg and the yolk and beat for a couple more minutes. Add the vanilla and the almond extracts. Turn the mixer off and add the flour in increments, mixing only until it comes together. Frankly at this point, I just grab a big wooden spoon and mix the flour in by hand because my stand mixer leaves all kinds of dry bits at the bottom otherwise. Don’t overmix the dough though, you don’t want your cookies to be tough.

On wax paper, divide the dough in half. you can roll it out into discs for cutting cookies or, if you’re like me and totally impatient with that kind of thing, just roll it into a tube shape so it looks like refrigerated cookie dough you can buy at the store. Let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours then you can cut into shapes or slice and bake. Your choice!

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 8-12 minutes (depending on your oven) until they are done. The tops should not change color. They should still look pale when done.

Please make these and let me know what you think. The original recipe called for unsalted butter and 1 tsp of vanilla, no almond extract. I for one, love the combination of sugar and sweet hence the reason I used salted butter. Oh, and I didn’t have any unsalted butter in the fridge. 🙂

Make these cookies ASAP!!!

VanderbiltWife - Hello, cookie. You will be entering my mouth sometime soon. Maybe tonight!! MMMMM.

EC - V-DUB! hello, new mommy! How are you?

If you make them, please come back and tell me what you think. They come out soft and then crisp up as they “age”. If you know a way to make cookies and keep them soft, I’d love to know that, too.

My youngest won’t eat anything but soft cookies!

Joie de vivre - It’s so good to see you back blogging! These cookies look wonderful.

EC - Thank you! My New Year’s resolution is to blog here more!

Stephanie - Evie – if you put a piece of bread in with sugar cookies (like you do with brown sugar) it will keep them soft. 🙂

EC - Stephanie, SERIOUSLY?! I have never heard that before!!!! Wow, I’m going to make a batch this week and use your tip. Fantastic! You are Ryan’s hero because he really doesn’t like crispy cookies.

Stacey - Oh yummy…. those look delicious!

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French Onion Soup, Meatballs and a Kitchen Assistant

Yesterday, I spent almost the whole day in the kitchen. Well, not the whole day but several hours at least. That was not my intention when I woke up but it just ended up that way. It began around lunchtime when I was really hungry but just didn’t want a PB&J or a hot dog so I decided to make something for myself. I didn’t want to make a whole meal or anything so soup seemed like the logical choice. Since my fridge was pretty bare of any ingredients, I strode over to the pantry to see what was there and I settled on making French Onion Soup. Man, it was GOOD! If you’d like the recipe, click HERE.

As previously stated, my fridge was bare as was my pantry so I was scrambling to put together the ingredients necessary to make the soup. I had onions, beef broth, thyme, flour, butter, bread and cheese and once I put them all together, this is was I got:
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It was surprisingly good considering there wasn’t a recipe to follow and the ingredients were thrown together in a moment. The only thing I wasn’t completely wild about was the bread I used for the top but my choices were pretty limited. A slice of a baguette would have been much, much better but I used what was on hand, Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Farmhouse Style White Bread. It was put in a 400 degree oven for about 10 mins, until dry and toasted and it worked out ok but it was definitely the weakest part of the soup. If you can’t dowload the document at the link above, here is the recipe:

French Onion Soup in a Pinch

Ingredients:
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 small yellow onions
ground thyme, 2 tsp
2 Tbs flour
3 cups of broth (beef or a combo of beef and chicken)
thyme leaves, dried 1 tsp
cream or milk 1/4 cup
dry sherry
2 pieces of hearty bread
cheese of your choosing (swiss, mozz, parm)

Take your two yellow onions and cut them in half. Peel off the outer paper and skin then cut them into half rings. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat along with the olive oil. Once it is bubbling, add the onions, salt, pepper, and ground thyme and cook until caramelized but not scorched. Stir constantly to keep them from burning.

Once the onions are ready, add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the broth and then taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add the dried thyme leaves and the cream and stir in 1-2 Tbs of dry sherry. Turn heat to low.

While this is cooking, spray two pieces of bread with Pam and place on a cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven until very toasted and dry. Then, put soup in ovenproof bowls, top each with one slice of bread and then sprinkle the top with either swiss, parmesan, or mozz cheese. I used shredded mozz. Put under the broiler or in 400 degree oven set to convection until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Sit down and eat. I hope you enjoy it!

After lunch, it was time for my next projects: mini hamburgers and meatballs. I wasn’t wild with how these turned out so you won’t see the recipe here but I ended up with 24 mini burgers and three jelly-roll pans of these:
IMG_7915.JPG

Well, what the heck. I’ll tell you how I made the meatballs and perhaps you can improve them or suggest something that might make them better next time.

Ingredients:
1 lbs ground italian sausage (mild)
2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
garlic powder
onion powder
italian-style breadcumbs
salt
pepper
milk

I combined all the ingredients until moist then I pinched off a piece and rolled it into small-medium sized balls. These were placed on the pan and then cooked at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. It seemed like they needed another layer of flavor or something, like more herbs. They were fine, just not “wow” for me. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them!

Later in the day, while making the mini burgers, I called my sister for a quick minute. During the call, she told me that my niece was sad because my sister told her she couldn’t come play with us. “She can come play!” I said. So, off I went to pick up my kitchen assistant. Though I didn’t know it would work out like that at the time. 🙂

When we got back to my house, she wanted to help me in the kitchen. See, my sister cooks all the time and my niece, though only two, loves to get in there and help out. So we pulled up a stool and let her make her own creation. Look at this face:
IMG_7920.JPG
Who could tell her no?

Somewhere in our house she found a mini rolling pin and she wanted to roll out my meatballs but that didn’t seem like a good idea so I gave her a piece of bread.
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She requested some cheese to put on top and then she proceeded to roll it out. Sort of. Then she pretended to make soup and let all of us taste it, including herself.
IMG_7926.JPG
This is where a healthy relationship with food begins, by letting your children in the kitchen early. Allowing them to see where meals are created and giving them the freedom to experiment with things as well. It is one of the things I wish my mother had done with me and it is something my sister does all the time with her daughter. Wonderful!

I have to say, after being in the kitchen with all that meat cooking yesterday pretty much cured my interest in meatballs for quite some time. I’m glad I made a big batch because it certainly seems like a money saver to have so many on hand in the freezer but I think it will be a while before I eat any myself. LOL

Today, I’m making a standing rib roast for dinner so be sure to come back tomorrow for the scoop on that!

Bridget - What a sweet little helper…and that soup looks GOOOOOOOOD!!!!!

Jennifer - The soup looks mighty good. Maybe I’ll whip some up this weekend! I was in NYC last week and we ate at a place that featured French Onion Soup DUMPLINGS. I could have eaten at least five dozen.

NewRachael - That soup looks absolutely delicious! Also, the composition of your photos is pretty brilliant. Best of luck!

Mama Podkayne - Ah, meatballs, my old nemesis…..
The only difference in my recipe to yours is that we mix in shredded parmasean/asiago, real garlic instead of powder, and fresh chopped parsley. Then we also grease the cookie sheet just a bit with olive oil.

Stacey - Your niece is too adorable…. love it when the little ones want to cook!

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What’s Going On

Well, it has been a pretty crazy few weeks. After my dietary psychotic self left that incredibly desperate post, I had a change of heart and decided to stay with eating whole foods from all groups. Then, a week into November, I got bronchitis and laryngitis and am still suffering today though admittedly not like I was in the beginning. I survived the Thanksgiving holiday without gaining weight and feel like that is an acheivement of which to be proud. Now, it’s on to Christmas. The extended holiday period that is laden with sweets, rich foods, and all kinds of wonderful temptations. I do feel prepared though to meet the challenge of eating well. Can’t explain how that happened but a new sense of determination has settled over me and I feel good about things again. If you are currently or have ever battled with your weight, maybe you can identify with the schizophrenic feelings associated with trying to get a grip on the best course of action. At any rate, it feels like things are going well on that front.

Today, I sat down with my kids and we had a really long discussion about how we have been eating and what we need to do in order to make healthier decisions about the food we put into our bodies. They seem to live on the following:

  • nitrate-free hot dogs
  • chicken nuggets
  • spaghetti (whole wheat)
  • broccoli
  • peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat
  • homemade cheeseburgers
  • grapes
  • apples
  • corn

It’s not the worst list in the world but it could use a little variety. I told them that, with the state our economy is in, I cannot afford to keep running the kitchen like a restaurant and they are going to have to start eating what we eat. I just can’t fix three meals every night, it’s exhausting and expensive. So we sat together and came up with a bunch of different things that they will eat and they agreed to try some new things, too. We all agreed if someone doesn’t like the meal being offered then they have the option of eating a PB and honey sandwich instead but, they have to try the dinner I cooked first. It felt good to include them and get their input on what they are willing to do in order to make our meals more affordable and healthy for us all.

I still need to find my own inspiration in the kitchen. It hasn’t hit me yet and I’ve been yearning for it to do so. I’ve already planned our Christmas Day dinner that we eat with our extended family and I feel pretty underwhelmed by that but it is what it is. Sean and I decided that next year, we’re switching things up and, instead of doing dinner with everyone, we’re going to do a brunch on Christmas Day. So far, the only people struggling with that idea are my sister and her husband and they have said they may not make it next year. I will be seriously disappointed if that happens but, they have their own family and their own feelings about what is important for them and I can only respect the choice they make. It’s not up to me to decide for anyone else. I think it’s going to be fun though. Surprisingly, my mom is really excited about it. She was actually encouraging me to go ahead and make the change this year but I knew my sister would feel like that was too much of a curve ball so we’ve decided to hold off until next year. I don’t want to cause any bad feelings right at the holiday, ya know?

I don’t know if anyone still reads here, as slack as I have been about updating but, if you’re out there, I would love to know the answer to this question. What is your favorite cookbook or website related to cooking? I have a gazillion cookbooks sitting on the shelf and yet I cannot find anything in any of them that is inspiring me to get in the kitchen and create something delicious. What is the best book on your shelf? What is your favorite recipe? I have several books by the barefoot Contessa and find things I like in all of them but I want to try something new. Any suggestions made will be greatly appreciated!!

Here is a picture of the last meal I ate before I got bronchitis and wished I would fall off the face of the earth:
IMG_7254.JPG

It was a petite sirloin, bacon and onion potato gratin and sauteed green beans. The steak was awful. Of course, I bought it at walmart so I don’t know why I expected it to be any different. Everything else was delicious though. Especially the potato gratin. It was my first time making one and it was sooooo good!! And easy, too.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough but I am really looking forward to seeing some cookbook suggestions. And hopeful that someone still reads here enough to make said suggestions. LOL

VanderbiltWife - Evie, I turn to Rachael Ray 365 for inspiration and the Betty Crocker Big Red for standards. If you click on the recipes tag on my blog i have a lot of favorites there. vdub

EC - Hey, new mommy! My sister has that one so maybe I can borrow it from her. Rachael Ray’s recipes always turn out well, I think.

I will check out the recipes on your blog, too.

Hope you and your wee one are well!

Bridget - I’m still here. 🙂 I love Martha’s Everyday Food magazines. I subscribed for 3 years and there are still recipes I want to try…and several I go back to again.

Joie de vivre - I’m so glad to see you back! (Although it’s been awhile by this time!) I was worried about you after your October post. Keep trying!

Mary Teresa - I just stumbled upon you but thought I might answer your question. I am a firm believer in Betty Crocker big read as well. I’m also a fan of smaller “church” or community type cook books since they have down home tried and true recipes for the most part. As for websites I hit up allrecipes(dot)com as a base for any recipe or food I’m thinking of making. =D

EC - Thanks, Mary! I have a few cookbooks like that and really need to dig them out and try some things. It’s hard for me because I tend to be a visual person and like to see the finished dish. Most of the “church” cookbooks can’t afford to include that.

I appreciate your comment!!! I will get out some of those cookbooks tonight!

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