A Few Days Late – A Desert Recipe

Sorry for the delayed post.

This weekend we had dinner with friends, but I made some delicious brownies for desert.  I wanted a recipe that used cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate, so  I found this one at http://www.allrecipes.com and modified it just a bit.   I made it as it is once, and the brownies were good, but I wanted them to be a bit more fudgy, so I made the batter following the recipe, added white chocolate chips, poured it into the pan, and then swirled in hot fudge using a fork.

Oh my goodness.  These were the best brownies ever.

You Will Need

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (you could use regular too!)
  • 1/2 cup hot fudge

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended.
  3. Stir in white chocolate chips.
  4. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Add hot fudge to the top of the batter, and drag a fork through it repeatedly until it is swirled into the batter evenly.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Here’s the link to the original recipe:

http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/mmm-mmm-better-brownies/Detail.aspx

Enjoy!!

Extreme Makeover – Grocery Store Edition

I am not a good grocery shopper.

As hard as I try to make good lists, buy only what’s on the list, stick strictly to my budget, and avoid the junk food isles, I inevitably leave the store with 10 extra items, $20 over budget, and with some sort of hydrogenated, fructose-sweetened, quadruple-processed “treat.”

I’m going to try something new for the next couple of weeks.  I’m making over my grocery shopping trips.  This makeover was inspired by a show that I was watching on TV last night that was “weight loss-themed.”  In the show, the trainer/mentor/healthy guru made this statement to his pupil:  “If it comes in a wrapper, you can’t eat it.”  I started thinking about how much junk is in my pantry that comes in wrappers.  Some of these things are marketed as healthy or nutritious, but  my thought is that they can’t possibly be as good for us as fresh food.

So here are the new rules for the grocery shopping makeover:

1.  I will shop only on the outside parameters of the grocery store.  This includes, obviously, the produce, meat, and dairy aisles, as well as whole grain breads only in the bakery.
There are 2 exceptions – I’m not ready to sacrifice my Diet Coke habit yet (don’t judge!), so I will go to the beverage aisle, and I also will need to go down the baby aisle to get a few things for Cohen.

2.  I will shop weekly instead of bi-weekly so that we have fresh produce and meat each week.

3.  I will make my husband do this with me.

4.  I will still take the seventh day off, where this weekend I intend to try a delicious new brownie recipe.

Tune in next week to find out how it’s going!

The Seventh Day – An Almost Disaster

Today has been a good day.  I made it to the gym, which will hopefully keep my indulgence from making too much of an impact!  And another good thing happened too!

I almost ruined dinner.

Sometime during the week I was thinking about what I wanted to cook tonight, and I was thinking back to how much I used to love the spicy ground beef and potato burritos from Cilantro’s here in Lubbock.  (Let’s all pause for a moment of silence in memory of Cilantro’s, which is no more).  Anyway, I really really loved the beef and potato combo, because….well, I love beef and I love potatoes.  They go well together and somehow make you feel slightly more American when you consume them as a pair.  So as I thought about beef and potatoes, I started to run through recipes in my head that used this combo.  I sort of spontaneously decided that I was going to attempt to make a pizza that was topped with flavorful beef and potatoes.

Sounds good, right?  Well, I’m sure that someone has tried it before, but I decided to invent my own recipe, mostly because I didn’t have time to research other people’s.  Also in an effort to save time, I decided that today was not the day to make my pizza crust, so I bought one (very inexpensively) from the store.  When I started cooking, however, I decided to try to reshape the store-bought crust from a rectangle into a circle so that I could bake my pizza on my pizza stone instead of on a cookie sheet.  This was a very bad idea.  Don’t ever try to do that.   Just let your pizza be a rectangle.  Trust me.

As I stared at the lump of dough that used to be a perfectly good rectangular pizza crust, I was struck with a flash of inspiration.  I pushed the pizza stone aside, pulled out my muffin pan, and threw together what turned out to be the most delicious, adaptable, fun dish that I’ve made in awhile.  Curtis loved it.  Cohen loved it.  I loved it.  And you will love it too!  This is definitely one to try, and I would love to hear feedback when you do!

I think I’ll call it…..

Muffin Pan Pizza Piles

You Will Need:

1/2 lb ground beef

2 small potatoes

1 pizza crust (you could also use biscuits or crescent rolls)

pizza sauce

2 cups shredded cheese – Italian blend

1 tomato

1 tsp garlic salt

1 T parsley

olive oil

 

Drizzle a pan with olive oil, dice potatoes, and brown them in the pan.

Add ground beef to potatoes, and season with garlic salt and parsley.

Brown beef and potatoes and drain any excess oil.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Grease muffin pan.

Using a biscuit cutter or a round glass, cut the pizza crust into small circles.

Place the circles of dough into the muffin pan and spread them out until the bottom of each muffin cup is well covered.

Season the dough lightly with a sprinkle of garlic salt.

Add pizza sauce to each muffin.

Add beef and potatoes to each muffin.

Add a generous amount of cheese to each muffin.

Top each muffin with fresh diced tomatoes and parsley.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and bottoms are thoroughly baked.

Enjoy!

What I love SO much about this little accidental recipe is that while we were eating them my brain was overflowing with ideas for variations.  I want to try Alfredo sauce with chicken and green chilies.  A taco version.  A veggie version.   Sausage, eggs, and cheese for breakfast.  Even a Greek version could be really good.  Be creative and make up your own adaptions!

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Stuff Happens

Sometimes in life, the rest of the world doesn’t get the memo.

What does that mean, you ask?

Well, this week in my own life, my child didn’t get the memo that his being sick would affect my ability to go to the gym or get the necessary amount of sleep to function like a successful member of society.

My bank account didn’t get the memo that I needed to go grocery shopping to be able to cook what I originally wanted to on Saturday.

My emotions didn’t get the memo that I was on a diet and they shouldn’t influence my eating choices.

And my scale didn’t get the memo that it’s numbers are supposed to go down every day.

Needless to say, not the greatest week ever.  I’m a little bit frustrated that my “not the greatest week” happened on only the second week of my project, but at this point I think the best thing I can do is get up, dust off the debris of a rough few days, and get my butt to the gym.

I guess that’s what you have to do in life when you’re handed the unexpected.  You get up, dust off, choose to trust God and His timing, and you get back into action.  Because the alternative is to sit and stew.  Or in my case, sit and have a good cry, eat a candy bar, and bemoan my plight in life.  (Which really isn’t too bad of a plight if we’re being honest!)

I will say, though, that one good thing came of my failures this week.  An awesome new recipe!!  Last night I totally cheated, and I made up this yummy dish a bit off the cuff.  Curtis and I both really liked it, and it was easy and cheap!  (But not healthy).  It’s pretty likely that it will be made again in the Thomas house….but only on our “cheat days!”  I don’t have pictures because I wasn’t planning on posting it, but the recipe is below!

Yummy Yummy Taco Melt

You Will Need:

1 lb of Ground Beef

2-3 potatoes

1/2 block of Cream Cheese

1 Packet of Taco seasoning

1 tsp Garlic Salt

1/2 Cup Water

1 cup of Shredded Cheese (I used Colby Jack)

Wash and dice potatoes.

Pour a small amount of oil into a large skillet and cook the potatoes on Med-High heat until they are tender.

Add the ground beef to the skillet, and brown the beef along with the potatoes.

Cooking the potatoes first allows them to get a little bit crunchy as they cook further with the beef.

Add garlic salt, taco seasoning, and water.

Stir until well mixed.

Reduce the heat on the skillet to Low.

Cut the cream cheese into cubes, and add to skillet.  Again, stir until the cream cheese melts and is well incorporated into the taco mixture.

Add the shredded cheese to the top of the taco mixture and cover the skillet.

When the cheese is completely melted over the top, remove from heat, and prepare as desired.

You can serve this Yummy Yummy Taco Melt in warm tortillas, taco shells, or on top of tostadas or chips.

Top with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, or guacamole!

One other fun tip is to add eggs to make really good breakfast burritos!

So there’s the silver lining to a rough week!  Make, eat, enjoy!

The First Seventh Day….Comfort Food

Yesterday was my first “Seventh Day.”  It was an interesting experience, and we definitely had some yummy food!  I learned a few things too.

For breakfast I made triple berry muffins with a crumb topping.  I wasn’t really happy with how they turned out (they weren’t sweet enough!) so I’m not going to post the recipe, but I’ll post a picture anyway.  Maybe I’ll try this recipe again later with some modifications!


For supper I made Buttermilk Chicken Fried Chicken and Granny Bo’s Mashed Potatoes.  Recipes below!

Buttermilk Chicken Fried Chicken

You Will Need:

Chicken Breasts

1 T Salt

1 t Paprika

1 t Garlic Powder

1 t Pepper

1 t Parsley

2 eggs

1-2 C Buttermilk

2 C Flour

Canola Oil

Heat oil in a skillet until a pinch of flour sizzles when dropped in (around 350 degrees).

Mix salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, and parsley in a bowl.

Mix eggs and buttermilk in a second bowl.

Put flour in a third bowl!

Sprinkle chicken breasts with seasoning mix.  Pour the remaining seasonings into the flour.

Dip chicken breast into buttermilk egg wash, then coat both sides with flour mixture.

***Repeat!  (It gets extra crunchy if you double dip!)

Carefully place chicken into hot oil and cook 10 minutes on each side, or until the outsides
are golden brown and chicken is cooked all the way through.

(If you’re not sure, it really is okay to cut into the chicken to make sure it’s done!  🙂 )

Granny Bo’s Mashed Potatoes

You Will Need:

Potatoes (of your choice – I used red potatoes)

1/2 can Evaporated Milk

Salt

Pepper

1 Stick of Butter

Wash, cut, and peel (if desired) potatoes (I like to leave my peels on!)

Fill a pot about half way full and boil water.

When the water is boiling, generously salt water and add potatoes.

Boil potatoes until they are very tender.

Drain remaining water.

Add about a half of a can of evaporated milk (or as much as needed for desired consistency), a whole stick of butter (gasp!), and salt and pepper to taste.  (Remember to taste the potatoes before adding more salt, because you salted the water!)

Mash by hand, or use your handy dandy mixer to make them creamy – it doesn’t take much!

These potatoes are simple, and SO yummy!

I took quite a few pictures of the whole experience, so I’m just going to put them in a slide show below!  Sorry….I’m not the best food photographer!  😉

As a whole, it was a fun (although heavy) meal.  Yummy, but definitely not something to eat every day!

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The Hardest Part

So far in my little project, the most difficult part has been the whole exercise thing.  I’m going to be honest.  I don’t like working out.  I am not an athlete.  And I would pretty much rather do anything than run.  The goal is to make it to the gym at least 3 days a week, and to do something – anything – active every day.  Today is Wednesday and so far I’ve been to the gym once, been on a good long walk once, and totally failed to meet the goal once.

*Sigh*

Oh well, the week is only half over, right?  The situation is not entirely unredeemable.

So why do I hate exercise so much, you ask?  Well, for several reasons, but for the sake of your time and mine I will expound on just one.

It hurts.

Exercise hurts.  It hurts while you’re doing it, and then you get the lovely privilege of being sore for days after as well.  And I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I don’t enjoy hurting.

You know, there are a lot of things that hurt in life.  I’ve experience several of them in the last year.  Heck, I’ve experience a couple in the last 24 hours too.  It hurts when God moves you and then takes away everything you thought you were moving toward.  It hurts when people you care about let you down.  It hurts when you give birth to another human being.  It hurts when you don’t know how you’re going to pay your electric bill or buy groceries.  It hurts when people damage the hearts and reputations of the people you love.  But I’ve learned something through all of these hurts.  Just like with exercise, if you are willing and determined to push through the pain, the things that hurt you ultimately shape you into a healthier, better person than you were before the hurt.  And as hard as it is, it is worth it.

I really, really wish that exercise didn’t have to be a part of being physically healthy.    But it does.  I think I’m ready to push through the pain….because I believe that I will be better when the hurt subsides, and I really do believe that it will all be worth it.

And So It Begins

Welcome to Project Seventh Day.  I’m glad you’re reading this blog, but right up front I have a confession to make.

It’s not for you.  Sorry.

Project Seventh Day is a personal blog chronicling my “self-improvement” (for lack of a better term) project for the year.  The blog is for me – to provide accountability, an outlet for my thoughts, and a place to document what I’m doing.  Initially, I wasn’t going to tell other people about my “project” at all.  I was afraid of failure, afraid of sharing this part of my life.  But the more I thought, prayed, and talked about it, the more I felt like maybe if  I was willing to be vulnerable and let other people know what’s going on with me, they could be helped or encouraged in some way.  So there it is.  The blog is for me – but maybe a little bit for you too.  I hope that you will enjoy following my progress, and that it will encourage you to make some progress of your own.

To begin, let me explain how this whole thing came about.

2010 was a crappy year.  There’s really no other way to put that.  Aside from the birth of my beautiful son (which was a challenge in and of itself!), not much happened that I care to dwell on.  So needless to say, I was ready for the beginning of this year.  I needed a fresh start, a do-over, a new beginning.  There were so many things that I wanted to be different about the next year, that it was difficult to get a handle on all of them.  As I thought about it all, I decided to combine all of my “resolutions” into one project.  Ultimately it boils down to being a healthier person, but some of the individual goals include eating healthier and exercising regularly (yes, I’m talking about losing weight!), pressing into my relationship with the Lord, improving my emotional health, and enjoying my relationships more.  There were also some silly little goals, like washing my face every night before I go to bed, taking my vitamins daily, shaving my legs more often, and not letting my husband run out of clean underwear!  🙂  But even the silly goals have a purpose in Project Seventh Day.

You’re probably wondering about the name.  Allow me to explain!

Over the holidays, my family and I were spending some time with my husband’s dad and step-mom at their home in the Dallas area.  I knew that when we went home, I would need to begin my new-healthy-me lifestyle, but I was enjoying the last few days of indulgent food and lazy living thoroughly.  One afternoon, I was perusing a cookbook (The Pioneer Woman Cooks – go get it!) and I started to feel defeated before I even began.  I wanted to cook every recipe in the cookbook.  And none of them were healthy.   I love to cook.  I love to make delicious, not-good-for-you, melt-in your mouth food that people want seconds and thirds of.  I got new cookware for Christmas.  And I wasn’t going to be able to to enjoy any of that anymore, because I had resolved to be “healthy.”  I was sad!

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t need to walk in defeat before I even started healthy living.  There was a way to have the best of both worlds.  I needed a day off every week!  I needed to have a day that I could still make a big breakfast, or try new dinner recipes, or bake a pie without feeling guilty.  And so Project Seventh Day was born.  It is an experiment of sorts.  I want to know if I can have six days a week of discipline and careful choices, and still have one day to indulge and really be intentional about enjoying food.  To be honest, I also want to lose weight while doing it!

And so it begins.  Today is my Day One.  I will check in on this blog a couple of times a week to post thoughts about healthy living, temptations, spiritual health, emotional health, and relationships.  And every week I will have a “Seventh Day” post.  It will have the recipes that I make, pictures of my yummy food, and thoughts about the experience of having a day off to enjoy life, family, and food.

My hope is that PSD will be fun to follow, and interesting to read.  I hope that you who read it will be encouraged, gain insight, and maybe pick up a good recipe or two.  More than that I hope that it provides the accountability that I need to make some much-needed changes in my own life.  Thanks for reading!