Thursday, December 31, 2009
It's been quite a year, hasn't it? So much so that I was thinking of doing a Stories from the road year-in-review for today's post. But, when I woke up to a pounding headache from this damn head cold I've been messing with for ions, I decided I might have to tweak my plan. So, I scampered into the bathroom, took my trusty Theraflu, came downstairs to put the kettle on for tea and figured I'd ponder the idea for my year-in-review post. As I flicked on the Christmas tree lights, I caught a glimpse of what was happening outside---a winter wonderland had appeared overnight. Softly fallen snow draped our neighborhood. Untouched. Glistening in the darkness. And, as I gazed out the window, I realized that this was the perfect morning to sit and watch the morning unfold, sipping my tea and silently reflecting on a year that's been....well....quite a year. So, that's just what I did.
May you find a special way to celebrate this last day of 2009......
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
and, a special plea for some menu/recipe suggestions to ring in the New Year!
Every year, at this point of the season, we have consumed every holiday food imaginable--cooked every which way. Thankfully, Carmen's birthday always comes along and we get the chance to go out and eat something different....something I don't have to cook or clean up after. And, everyone can get exactly what they want. But, before we do that, we're piling in the car for a little family day trip....yes, more family togetherness....ahhhh! Then, after we've sufficiently bonded, we're headed to one of our favorite neighborhood spots....a little place I've told you about many times....where they have the most amazing crab bisque on the planet.
And, their martinis aren't so bad either......
So, I will not be planning a menu or cooking anything for today. Sure, I might be referreeing some spats and coaxing some smiles but I will not be cooking or doing dishes. But, have no fear...food and recipes will still be a big part of my day! As we drive and bond and celebrate and sing Happy Birthday, I will be mulling over my New Year's Day menu--when Carmen's whole family comes over to celebrate his birthday and the holiday. It's a tough menu for me to come up with---I labor over it so much so that I think I drive my family completely insane with my angst.
In my mind--the rules are simple for my New Year's Day dinner--I need to serve some kind of pork and not serve anything super-holiday-related....so, I stay clear of ham and sausage. Some years I try to make it somewhat formal, other years I strive for a laid back and casual vibe while other years I go all out and really do it up fancy-schmancy. No matter what, I try to make it special....because, let's face it-- it is special--it's Carmen's birthday dinner and it's the first day of a brand new year.
I need your help.....
To recap--I am looking to have a special dinner menu that is focused on pork but not anything too traditional and it has to appeal to a wide rage of taste buds and it has to meet my standards by being memorable. Oh, and one more thing.....I have promised to make baked potato soup. So, that's definitely on the menu.
Any ideas yet?
The thing about New Year's Day is that everyone has had quite enough of the holidays by that point. They are just a wee bit ragged, a wee bit sick of ham and a wee bit tired of eating and drinking. By the time my guests arrive on my door step--they are holidayed-out. 100% on holiday overload. Which means that my dinner is one. more. thing. they have to do. It's really not the way I aim to entertain! Which I suppose adds to my menu wrestling a bit.
I know, I know....I'm making this into such a big deal.....
But, really.....it is a holiday meal and I am having guests in my home. And, in my mind, that makes it important. I'm a firm believer that when you invite guests--they are exactly that--guests. They need to feel special and they need to feel as though everything is effortless--all the result of magic and fairy dust--not a result of hours pouring over menus or slaving in the kitchen or hiding dirty pots and pans in the basement. It's about creating an atmosphere. And, a part of that atmosphere is what is on the menu. In some ways, the food sets the tone for all of it. In my heart and mind, having guests for dinner is not about anything other than making them feel welcomed, entertained, relaxed and appreciated. And, fed with love. It's not about clearing the table or doing the dishes or leaving my kitchen spic and span when they leave. Honestly, honestly--it's not. It's about the experience of sharing a meal together to celebrate that moment in time. It's as simple as that.
It's. as. simple.as.that?
Why, yes it is.
Especially if you plan ahead and beg blog readers for help.....
With that in mind.....in honor of the last Tastey Tuesday of the 2009 Holiday Season as well as Carmen's birthday and my sanity and the fact that I lost over 100 pounds.....how about sharing a few your tried and true recipes that I might be able to use on New Year's Day?????
And, as a thank you to you for your help......here's a recipe I used on New Year's Day 2009......
- 3 or 4 pork shoulder blade steaks, cut 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (3 1/2 to 4 pounds total) (I pounded them to get then thinner)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves, smashed and slightly chopped
- 5 teaspoons lemon peel, grated
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons bottled capers, drained
- 5 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 2 1/4 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
Preparation:Combine wine, garlic, lemon peel and 3 tablespoons juice, 3 tablespoons capers, mustard, 2 teaspoons cracked pepper and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl.
Place pork in single layer in 2 1/2 gallon resealable plastic bag or large glass baking dish. Pour wine mixture over pork. If using bag, close bag to seal. Turn bag or pork over in dish to coat with wine marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or in refrigerator for up to 1 hour,
Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat for direct grilling. Remove steaks from marinade, brushing off any large pieces and reserving marinade. Transfer marinade to small sauce pan. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute; remove from heat.
Grill steaks, uncovered, for 6 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, turning steaks over halfway during grilling and brushing occasionally with reserved marinade. Transfer steaks to carving board. Loosely cover with foil; let rest for 5 minutes.
Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon capers. Cut into serving pieces before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Happy Birthday Carmen!
And, thanks to everyone who joined in on this year's Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange!
Monday, December 28, 2009
to go to work.........
Whoa. I'm dragging just a little bit and my body feels like it's been used and abused. My entire digestive system is crying out for a bit of normalcy. And, my band is begging for some rest from the constant testing.....yes, that luscious eggnog cheesecake can get through there just fine, thank you.
So, for today....it's goodbye to the wine-infused lunches, the mid-day cookie breaks and the pre-dinner martinis and evening cordials. But, I won't, I repeat--I won't--give up my chai lattes. That's my final answer.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
The Three Wise Men....
(well, in my case...2 wise men
and 1 wise woman)
Did you know that I am living with three of the smartest people on the planet?
Yes, it's true.... three of the smartest people on this planet live right here.....in my house.
Lucky, lucky me.
I don't know about your house, but here in Judiland, everyone has an opinion about everything!
From what I cook to what I say to what I do and everything else in between.
Everything....and I mean everything....is up for debate.
And, it's making me crazy.
It's hard to imagine that I'm actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow.
I'm going to leave Mr. PhD and Miss College Co-ed home to battle out their smarts on their very own.
And the man of the house can go wow the engineering world with his vast knowledge and supreme intelligence on everything from the proper way to load the dishwasher to the best way to use a remote control while sitting in a recliner.
But, for now....I need to caffeinate myself for another day of fighting the forces of blinding brilliance.....
Saturday, December 26, 2009
But, I confess it all---right here, right now....to you, my faithful blog readers. And, I ask for your mercy. And, I beg for you to put in a good word for me with the man in the red suit. I don't want to go on the naughty list so soon...
Today is another day.
And, I promise to do much better today.
Much much better.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Last night, as we stood by his bedside as he struggled to take each breath, the carolers sang in the hallway. In his gentlemanly way, he tried to sing along. It came from his heart...as it always does. Remember this story from last year....?
Please pray that God, in his mercy, gives my dear, sweet Uncle Pat the peace and comfort that he so deserves.
This moment has come too quickly. Too much by surprise.
Funny thing....when the call came....it didn't matter that I hadn't finished shopping or wrapping or cooking.
Nothing mattered. Nothing at all.
My uncle's merry, Irish blue eyes are fading.
His sense of humor--despite his situation--is still in tact.
He still responds in jest...his off-color sayings, his wickedly loving jabs-- despite his illness and his dire circumstances--remain.
Perhaps it's his reward for a life lived in the fast lane but never missing Mass--no matter how many shots of good Irish whiskey he consumed the night before.
I'd like to think God is saying "Patsy, you weren't a bad boy afterall" and my uncle is trying to hold on to his image and prove God wrong.
Over the past 2 years, I've told you so much about him......here's a few reminders....
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Where the Boys Are
Telling you all about Uncle Patsy was the easy part.
Now, we just have to tell my father.....
I'll be leaving here shortly to take my father to Mass....a place where I know he can hear what I have to say.
I just can't stop thinking about the Christmas Eve when Uncle Patsy drove across town--in a snow storm--with the top of his fancy convertible down--so that my sisters and I could have our new organ to play Christmas carols for him.....
It brings me a smile.
Memories....that's what Christmas is all about.
After you say your prayers for my uncle, please go out and make some memories.
Everything matters. Except for the wrapping and shopping and cooking I didn't get done.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I'll let you decide how you will get your own merry on......
As for me.....it's starts right here, right now! And, that's a promise.
I shall have zero tolerance for any damn thing that gets in my way of getting my merry on.
So, unless you want me to hit you over the head with a yule log, I suggest you put your santa hat on, stick a candy cane in your mouth and sing Jingle Bells.
Oh, and please call me Your Majesty, Queen of Christmas.
Call me Your Majesty, Queen of Christmas, Royal Highness of Size 10 Petite, Duchess of Thinness, High Priestess of Lapbandom and Empress of Judiland.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
We've been nursing some lousy head colds and sore throats and body aches and overall tiredness here in Judiland. Definitely not a good way to usher in the holidays. But, it is what it is. So, in honor of feeling lousy and exhausted and quite unmerry......I decided to start off with a spicey comfort food recipe with a few of my fav ingredients that will chase germs away and bring a little merry back.....
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
- 1/4 pound shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more if you are so inclined!)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the crabmeat, garlic, jalapenos, Monterey Jack, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, and mayonnaise in a medium-size mixing bowl. Toss gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into a medium-size mixing bowl. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly on the top of the crabmeat mixture. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving with your choice of veggies, crackers or tortilla chips!
And, just for medicinal purposes......you might want to wash it all down with:
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, ( store bought is fine)
- 1/3 cup Tequila Blanco (about 4 ounces)
- 1/8 cup Triple Sec (about 1-ounce)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 ounces)
- 12 ounces ice cubes
- Margarita salt, optional
Combine all ingredients, except salt, in a blender and pulse until frothy and well combined. Rim glasses with lime juice using a lime wedge then dip in margarita salt, pour margarita in your glass and wa-la....you will be cured!!!
Okay, if none of that works......
Cranberry-Apple Dump Cake
1 (21 ounce) can apple pie filling
1 (18 1/4 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Dump cranberries into an ungreased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Dump apple pie filling into pan. Spread mixture evenly and spread dry cake mix on top. Cut up butter and dot top of cake. Sprinkle walnuts or pecans over the cake batter. Bake at 325° for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream!
And, just in case you need to kick a few extra germs out....follow it up with:
1/2 oz Chambord raspberry liqueur
2 oz cream
But, if for some reason you need a little extra comforting.....
May I suggest an old fashioned remedy......
3/4 cup of hot tea
2 shots brandy
1 slice lemon
Brew tea, add to mug. Mix in honey and brandy shots. Add lemon slice. Sip slowly then go to bed and dream of sugar plums.
Followed by George Clooney crawling in beside you......wearing nothing but his Santa belt.....
Feel the merry return.
Monday, December 21, 2009
there's only 4 shopping days left until Christmas......
which means there's only 4 more days until Christmas......
which means that I don't have time for a Monday meltdown or a whining session or to bitch and moan or to shake my fist in the air or stomp my feet or set my hair on fire.
All I have time for right now is to remind everyone that there's only 4 more shopping days left until Christmas....
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Yesterday was sinful.....I stayed in my robe and slippers all day long.
I tried...yes, all day, I tried.....
But....my nose and my throat and my head and all those body aches just over took me.
And, then there were the movies and the magazines.
Sometimes a girl just has to give in to feeling like shit and being a complete waste.
Yeah, well...that was yesterday.....
TODAY....I'm going to keep the drugs going and the let's-ignore-feeling-like-shit vibes going. And, I'm going to visit Starbucks for my Chai Latte (f*ck, why did they do away with those energy shots?) and do what I need to do.
TODAY is all about baking cookies, wrapping gifts, making f*cking memories and re-making those goddamn lists.....
In between it all, my full nest will want to eat and will make messes that they won't clean up and there's a Steelers game that will require football food and I'll need to visit with my father and attend to his needs and do laundry and shovel snow and figure out menus and shave my legs and my Lapband is tight and I need my eyebrows waxed and I'm pretty sure I forgot some pretty major Christmas gift....
And, to top it off.....tomorrow is Monday!
That's if I make it until tomorrow.....
Yes, I need to take a deep breath.....
Because, yes, this is the most beautiful time of the year.....
Saturday, December 19, 2009
that's one way to cut down my to-do list.....
Snow, a touch of the flu and a full house....perfect reasons to light my smell-like-Christmas candles, make our fav hot chocolate, pull out the board games and piles of magazines, decorate the tree, watch some sappy holiday movies, whip up some comfort food and forget about the mall, the grocery store and all those other places I need to get to
Snow gods, if you can hear me......keep the white stuff coming! block all the roads! close down the town! blanket my world in snow with no chance of escape.....
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
On this cold and dark December morning, I shuffled across the hall to witness a beautiful site--my little girl slumbering under a pile of pink and ruffles. Her angelic face, silky locks and delicate little hand peeking out from a sea of pastel froth with the smell of her perfume filling the air, mingling with the scents of Christmas candles and pine. Ahhhhh......
Now, I just have to fill the bedroom next to hers and my world will once again feel right.
As I descended the steps and spied the Christmas tree--twinkling in the darkness of the living room--just waiting for my two children to cover it in their special ornaments--all of the stresses that filled my heart and mind these past few weeks suddenly felt lighter. And, I am once again.....completely and utterly overwhelmed by the joy and peace that mother love can bring.
Thanks to the kindness of my incredibly sweet and extremely adorable niece (who happens to go to graduate school in Collegeland with Toni), my little girl came home two days earlier than expected. What a lovely Christmas surprise. Hard to believe she's finished her first semester as a college girl. Even harder to believe is that her mother made it through.
Now, my holidays can truly begin.....
Oh yes, I am merry.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
If not....I suggest you glide on some shiney cherry-hued lip gloss, put on your funky holiday sweater and your red go-go boots and start Christmastizing.
It's the only way to make it through the final stretch.....
Well, I might also suggest a little holiday spirit..........
3/4 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. dry red wine
3/4 oz. gin
1 oz. orange juice
Mix all ingredients, except lime slice, with cracked ice in a shaker or blender, pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass, and garnish with lime slice.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
.....these weeks sure do go by fast!
Now that we're heading into the final stretch of pre-Christmas parties and whipping up all those scrumptious foods we signed up for as well as putting the finishing touches on our decorating and shopping and wrapping, we're running out of steam and possibly even money!!! 'Tis the season....right?
In honor of this time of the year...when our pocketbooks are getting lighter and we are worried about packing on the pounds and we can't think of one more thing to make.....I wanted to share a recipe that you can use to take to a big pot luck (as I am doing today) or as a nice starter for your holiday meal. And, with the addition of a few extras--it can also be a wonderful meal in itself! It makes a nice presentation, is extremely yummy and can be made less expensively by using store or off-label brands. Plus....it's a salad! And, we life-long dieters know---salads are always a welcome addition to any holiday spread. Although, don't let the word "salad" fool you.....it' s not exactly diet-conscious. But, it can fool you into thinking that it is.....with all that lettuce!!!
Sometimes it's okay to be fooled....
Judi's Big Holiday Salad
(MIX together at least 2 hours ahead to let the flavors mingle...put in fridge)
1/2 bottle of Balsamic Vinegarette Dressing
1/2 bottle of Creamy Ceasar (or Creamy Garlic Ceasar) Dressing
Now, come on.....share some of you fav recipes.....
Monday, December 14, 2009
I'm not sure what possessed me to eat those potato chips yesterday. Maybe it was the pre-lit Christmas tree that is no longer lit. Or, maybe it was the ice storm that delayed my early morning plans to grocery shop. Or, could it have been the fact that it was Sunday and today is Monday? Or, maybe, just maybe it was as simple as--they sounded so awfully good when I spotted them on the shelf of the snack cupboard---gourmet peppercon ranch kettle chips. Perhaps there was nothing complicated about my reasoning for eating those chips. It is just what I did. There doesn't have to be some grand plan or underlying issue that made me eat those chips. As a matter of fact--I' m going to quit trying to analyze it all and focus on Monday. Because getting through Monday takes every ounce of energy and focus that I have.
Here we go.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Alright, so, yeah....I did take the day off yesterday and headed to the Christmas tree capital of the world, the birthplace of Jimmy Dean--to hang out with my fav girl. But, it was worth it. We shopped a little, talked a little, had a lovely lunch, went to Starbucks, and just enjoyed the scenery. Sometimes you just need a good dose of forgetting about everything.....
But, now it's time to get back to real life and tangled Christmas lights....
Saturday, December 12, 2009
You know those packages that parents send their children during finals? They are filled with treats and nourishment to help them get through their tests and projects and papers and late nights. Well, with everything that's been going on in Judiland, I never got around to ordering one for Toni. Although, to be honest, I'm sure she would have called home immediately upon receiving it to reprimand me for sending such unhealthy food. She's very careful like that.
So, yesterday morning, amid all the chaos and craziness, when I found the order form for the "Finals Support Basket" in my purse, I felt just awful. All day long, it bothered me--especially the part of the brochure that said "don't let your child be left out". That just nagged at me all day long. I couldn't shake the visual of every other student on campus receiving their package and my poor daughter standing there dejected and empty handed---feeling unloved and unsupported.
That's when I decided that there is no support basket in the world that could take the place of a mother's love and care.
So, in a few hours, I'm hopping in the car to go to the Christmas tree capital of the world (where she happens to go to school) to wisk my favorite college girl off to lunch at Benjamin's---a lovely little place in her quaint college town that we just love.
The shopping and the decorating can wait.....
Friday, December 11, 2009
Call me frigid.....I don't care.
Because underneath it all......I've got the cutest pair of red silk undies on my freezing ass.
It's mighty cold here in my little suburban hamlet. The wind has been whipping and the temps have been falling. They always say the thin girls feel the cold weather more than the fat girls. But, I'll take freezing my red silk clad ass off in place of having a freezing big ass wearing red big girl panties. I'll gladly don a pair of leggings under my size 8 jeans and wrap an extra scarf around my neck (and it looks so stylish!) if that's what I need to do. And, I have no problem wearing a cute furry vest under my jacket and a pair of darling, ruffled red leather gloves. And, if I have to wear that cute little red flannel bucket Toni left home....it's no problem. And, if the day calls for an extra chai latte or even a hot toddie--I'm game. My 115 pound "blanket" might be gone but my mind is still in tact.
Life might not be perfect and I might be shivering and cursing the cold but at least I'm doing it in my size 8 jeans.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
another question to ponder......along with is there really a Santa Claus?
The other night, as my sister, her friend and I sat a little Mexican cantina sipping some damn good margaritas, the subject of my weight loss surgery came up. Doesn't the topic of weight--in some form or another-- always come up when a few women get together?
Well, at least with the women I know....
In any case, it seems like everyone knows somebody who has had weight loss surgery. And there's always a story to tell. Typically, I'm the one telling the stories. But, on this particular night, I was listening to them. The story (or more accurately...the stories) revolved around women who had weight loss surgery, lost a great deal of weight and then gained it all back....and then some. Sad, sad stories. After story number two--I needed another margarita. Extra calories--yes. But, mostly, I needed # 2 to beat down my fears.
Will I soon be one of those women in the stories that other women casually talk about as they sip margaritas?
I mean, it's not like I've never been down this road before. No, no, not sitting on a bar stool drinking margaritas. I've been the girl who lost a great deal of weight and without even realizing it, put it all back on....and then some. We all know the dieting drill....we lose the weight and gain it back only to lose it again and gain it back again, again and again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It's the curse of the lifelong dieting lifestyle. The life sentence that comes with food love and fat genes. The battle of the bulge. The albatross of obesity. The end result of yo-yo dieting, gaining and losing, over eating, restricting food and always seeking that magic bullet to end the sufferage. I am astutely aware that losing weight is the easy part.....keeping it off is the hard part. Which means that I am doing the hard part. Perhaps that's why I needed margarita #3....with extra salt, please.
Just like those onion rings that have been stuck in my brain since Monday--I haven't been able to stop thinking about gaining back the weight. Part of me thinks it's absurd to even worry about it. Yet, another part of me--with all of my collective wisdom--thinks that maybe right now I am living in la-la land where I am wearing a Size 10 petite (sometimes even a size 8) and that soon I'll be crawling back into those Size 12s and calling Jody with a Size 14 emergency soon after that. Only to be followed by returning to the plus size stores I haven't shopped in since way back when....thus once again revitalizing their business!
Does the fear of being fat ever really go away?
Or, is it a real fear that I need to seriously work hard not to realize?
I mean, I can't imagine--with the small amount of food that I can eat that I could somehow gain it all back.....and then some.
But, will that change over time?
Is my weight loss real?
And what about Santa Claus?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Yesterday, in order to deal with Monday, I got some onion rings for lunch. Onion rings are one of my favorite foods. But, they are not something that I eat very often--especially for lunch. But, when I walked into the food court in our building and I smelled those onion rings--I just had to have them. Unfortunately, they couldn't just sell me a few onion rings--I had to buy an entire basket. So, I handed over my $2.95 and bought the basket--with the hopes of sharing them with some of my coworkers in the office. As it turned out--even though everyone was lured by the smell and my hallway was a-buzz with onion ring love declarations--I didn't have any takers. That is--until I practically forced one on Rebecca and one on Gerry. Which left me with the rest. Thankfully, my Lapband didn't allow me to eat too many. But, oh, they were so good. Fresh. Crispy. Hot from the fryer. With a side of ketchup. Just the way I like them. Onion ring ectasy. For sure.
I've been thinking about those onion rings ever since. Thank God the food court will be closing down in a few days for the holiday break. Hopefully, I'll forget all about them come January. Because I'm pretty sure I'd be buying onion rings a little too often if I could. If they are out of sight (and smell), they will be out of mind. But, for right now--they are still on my mind. So, to keep me from taking a trip to the onion ring counter today--I figured I'd get my onion fix some other way.
Here's a few onion-ring-inspired recipes you might want to try. I guarantee their yumminess.
- 3 pounds sweet onions, such as Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Maui(sliced thin)
- 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, splash of balsamic vinegar
- 12 medium shallots, halved (about 12 ounces)
- 2 cups beef broth and 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup tablespoons dry white wine
- Salt and pepper
- 6 ounces cheese--grated (I use any sharp firm white cheese I have on hand)
In a large skillet, heat butter & oil. Add the onion slices in a single layers. Gradually add the wine. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until golden brown and carmelized (about 10-15 minutes). Keep an eye on them and turn frequently. Splash with balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes.
Transfer mixture to soup pot, add remaining ingredients (except for cheese)
Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 40 to 45 minutes--stirring occasionally.
Ladle into bowls, top with cheese (you can put it under the broiler or just stir in to melt)
Makes about 6 main-dish servings
- 4 large Vidalia onions
- 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup shredded (fresh) Parmesan cheese
Directions:Peel onions, leaving roots intact. Cut each onion into eighths, cutting just to the root, but not through. Place each onion on a lightly greased square of foil. Press butter into onions, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cheese. Wrap in the foil then arrange in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 400 for about 1 hour.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced onions
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. Refrigerate and stir again before serving.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Perhaps you were decorating or shopping or baking or doing some holiday thing.
Or, maybe you were having visions of sugar plums.
Or, maybe you were sleeping or getting a pedicure or you were hungover or you might have been stringing popcorn.
Or, who knows.....maybe you thought I was being extra nosey with all my questions.
Well....I forgive you all for not sharing your inner most Christmas secrets.
After all....it's not like I answered my own questions! Right?
Alrighty then, I guess I better set a good example.....
Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Definitely HOT CHOCOLATE! We use Williams Sonoma--I spice it up with a little dash of cinnamon, vanilla and cayenne pepper and top it off with marshmallow creme. Can't wait until the kids get home so I have good excuse to make it!
But, with that being said....I make a mean Egg Nog. I don't like it but Vince loves it....
Favorite Christmas carol?
When I need a little comfort....it's O Holy Night....my mom's fav.
When I just need to think "Christmas"....it's White Christmas
When I want to get my feeling good and smiling vibes going...it's Bruce's rendition of Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. I have so many memories of concerts sitting in E-5.....
Favorite Christmas movie?
Again, I'm a fickle girl....
When I want to feel warm and holidayish....White Christmas
When I want to laugh.....Jingle All the Way
On, geez....I love 'em all....
No matter what....I'm a sucker for holiday movies....!
What's on the top of your Christmas tree?
This is a tough question since I have only managed to put one Christmas tree up so far...my dining room tree. On the top of that tree I have a spiked, sparkled, snow covered thingy with a white and gold chiffon bow attached with a fluffy angel that has a Merry Christmas wire thingy sticking out of it....
Oh yeah...that explains it real well...
And, I'm not sure if what usually tops our big family tree will actually work this year since it was on it's last leg last year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my rotating Avon Santa and His Sliegh will continue flying on the top of my tree! I love it!!!
As for all the other trees......I have not put them up yet. Who knows what will top them....it depends on what kind of mood I am in!!!
What's your favorite Christmas tradition?
My Christmas Eve drink with Carmen.....it's the one time in his busy world that he actually makes my drink. He makes a perfect martini. I wait all year for it. It's the most relaxed time the two of us share all year long.
What's your favorite Christmas food?
Pasta with aglio olio. I miss pasta so much!!!!
What is your best Christmas memory?
Christmas Eve when I was growing up with my mother and our big Italian family. I only had 14 years of it---but those years have lingered on in my Christmas heart. After my mother died, I dreamed about doing it "when I grew up". Someday, I will recreate that memory and give myself and my children the gift of that very special time. During the holidays, my biggest heartbreak is that I have never been able to fully keep that tradition. But, I dream of the day when I will.
Alright, now that I have bared my Christmas soul perhaps YOU can be brave and do the same!
Yeah, Happy Monday!!!!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
There's nothing like the sound of Bing crooning the Christmas classics to get us all in the mood for decking the halls and shopping the malls.
Ain't that right?
That's what I'm banking on......
It's cold and dark and early here in my little suburban hamlet. I've been starring--bleary-eyed-- at my to-do list since 4:30 am. But, nothing's happening. I'm looking for inspiration and motivation.....but I'll have to settle for caffeine. Starbucks isn't open yet and even if it was-- I'm still in my fuzzy leopard robe, my hair is not very presentable and I'm pretty sure I have remnants of yesterday's make-up under my eyes---not a good look to flirt with my cute barista. So, I'm going to scuffle my way into the kitchen and put on the kettle for tea. Maybe I'll start humming some Christmas carols....
I've got soooooo much to do......
Alright, alright.....I have a wee little confession to make.....it's still totally Thanksgiving here in Judiland. Oh sure, the neighborhood is slowly transforming itself into a festive holiday lane....with the lights and the swags of evergreens and the wreaths and the big red bows. Everyday, I spot a new Christmas tree sparkling in a window and a new decoration popping in a front yard. But, in my little red brick cottage....there's pumpkins on the doorstep and garlands of fall leaves with orange twinkle lights framing the doorway. The Christmas transformation has not happened yet. But, it will....I promise. Maybe it's just that whole empty nest thing that I've got going on that's slowing me down---you know I do blame everything on that lately! Or, maybe it's just life in general that's been getting in the way. Or, heaven forbid--maybe I'm not in the Christmas spirit...quite yet. Whatever it is--I must banish it--along with the pumpkins and the orange twinkle lights--from my little world. Because we all know that if Judi doesn't bring Christmas to Judiland, there ain't no one else that will.....
So, Bing baby....can you throw yourself on the turn table and sing a little while for me?
I need carried back to when my mother would pull out her prized White Christmas album, put it on the hi-fi and my dad would tell his infamous story of hearing White Christmas for the very first time (as he was returning from WWII) as his Army ship crossed into American waters a few days before Christmas....making him and all his comrades cry.
Yep, there's nothing like a little Bing, a few memories.....and some good strong tea.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
and clearly I am not alone!
Ahhhh, it feels good to be among friends.....
Yesterday, after I posted about my eating transgressions, my email overflowed with support and comfort as well as many admissions of recent eating transgressions from so many blog readers!
It's amazing what a little confession will do....
Which brings me to this point that one blog reader (who will remain anonymus) made.....
If we don't admit to our bad behavior by ourselves then someone else will rat us out!."
Yet, here in my little blogland....I'm appreciative of the smallness of my world stage. And, I'll offer up my confessions when it works for me....and maybe even when it works for you. Because sometimes it's just nice to know that you're not alone when you're scarfing down mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.......
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
There, I said it.
Did you hear me?
Do I need to repeat it?
Alright, I'll talk a little louder.....
I've been eating little chocolate baubles and left over pumpkin pie with whipped cream and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy......
Can you hear me now?
I'd love to think that by admitting to this, the calories will somehow evaporate. A-la the confessional diet. But, that particular diet never worked very well for me in my pre-Lapband days. I doubt it's going to work now. The only good thing (if there is a good thing!) is that I can't eat as much of those things as I once did. Well....except for the mashed potatoes--they go down just fine and gravy helps even more. And, I'm doing an amazingly fine job eating those mashed potatoes with gravy. (holiday leftovers....pure evil in a tupperware container)
I gotta get a grip.
The bad thing about the rationale that I can't eat as much as I used to so that makes it okay is that since I am at a much lower weight, it won't take as much to put a few pounds on me. And, regardless of my Lapband....I am still living in Judi's body. It's a body that gains weight at the speed of light. A 48 year study was conducted and the results were indisputable. It was scientifically proven that this body of mine can gain weight in just a few short hours! Give me a holiday season and this body can jump 2 pants sizes. It's all very well documented.
Now, I'm not going to panic over a few pounds. No. No. That's my old life. That's the feast or famine Judi way of life. But, damn, I'm definitely panicking over the fact that I've been eating little chocolate baubles and left over pumpkin pie with whipped cream and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.....
Yes, I have my moments. My not so perfect moments. And, I'm smack dab in the middle of a stretch of them. Just when you think you can come here to my blog and get inspiration from the perfect Lapbander, you find out--she's eating little chocolate baubles and left over pumpkin pie with whipped cream and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.....
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Let's start off with a super easy, quick, not-exactly calorie or fat conscious (but completely Lapband friendly) recipe that's sure to woo your guests and comfort everyone around you. The key here is to keep the ease of this recipe a secret. Don't tell anyone what it really is. Trust me, it's a keeper......
I'm known far and wide for these....
Judi's Famous Mashed Potatoes
3 small bags of instant mashed pototatoes--mix them up!
Add 1 package dry Ranch Dressing
Throw in butter, milk and chicken broth and a big dollop of sour cream
Lots of black pepper
Mix it all up!
Throw it in the microwave
(for the amounts and times, check the directions on the bag and go with the consistency, butteriness you prefer)Now, remember.......shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!
Monday, November 30, 2009
If you recall, my new thing in November was to greet each Monday with a note of thanksgiving. A simple thank you for an insignificant, almost invisible thing in my world that gave me a reason to stop and say "gee, I'm thankful for that". Little things that on the surface would not seem worthy of thanks or even a second thought. Things like chili beans, Monday diet declarations, sturdy lawn and leaf bags and lip gloss. Not exactly earth shattering things. But, things that somehow made my life easier, made me smile or brightened up my day just a little bit. The exercise was intended to make me stop (and you too!) and think about Mondays in a whole new way and force me into realizing that all things--big and small--can be and should be looked at with gratitude. With the hope that it would turn into a habit. The thought was that after spending a few weeks doing this--all of a sudden I'd look at everything with new eyes and give thanks for it and I'd no longer greet Monday with the same "oh shit" attitude that's become the norm. And, so, it was with great intent that I pushed myself to find the small things--the seemingly unworthy things--that impacted me and that I really, really should have been thankful for. Thus, the choices that I made and journey I took.
Today....on this final Monday and the final day of November....I am considering this a bonus Monday. Mostly because I declared that last week was the fourth and final Monday of November....I somehow didn't realize there was one more. Caught me quite by surprise. Which sort of made me say..."oh shit, it's not bad enough it's Monday now I gotta think of something small to be thankful for." And, I almost tried to pull the wool over everyone's eyes and ignore that this was a Monday in November and not even mention anything to do with thankfulness. Then, I realized...I clearly didn't learn anything these past few weeks. Red-faced, I knew what I had to do.
So, when I contemplated what my blog topic would be today....I realized that if I was following my own guidance (that I was giving thanks on Mondays in November) then I had to keep to the plan and find something to focus on with appreciation and give it it's due. Which, to be quite honest, was quite a conundrum. Why? Well, mostly because the past few weeks--as I inched my way towards Monday, seeking out an ordinary thing to be thankful for became purposeful---making it much easier to wake up on Monday and talk about what I decided to be thankful for. You didn't think I just came up with those things at the last minute, did you? And, because I thought my Monday thankfulness was over with--I didn't even think about it. And, if truth be told--the past week, my mind has been cluttered with gravy-making, getting the mashed potatoes just right and the non-stop dirty dishes that kept appearing in my sink. So, how could I even begin to wade through all of that to uncover something to be thankful for? Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
I'm telling you---here I am--not even out of the month that's dedicated to giving thanks by a presidential declaration and after having spent the past 4 Mondays on a self-imposed thankful quest and I'm struggling with finding one small thing (not a big one!) to give thanks for?
Yeah, sort of.
Let's try this again. Perhaps if I put another spin on it.
You see....I have a lot to be thankful for. A lot, a lot, a lot. From family and friends and good health to chili beans and lip gloss and lawn and leaf bags. It's all worth of thanksgiving. In fact, even Mondays are worthy of thanksgiving. Even this dark and rainy Monday morning when I'm not feeling the least bit thankful for my alarm clock...I'm thankful that I'm alive and well and that I had the opportunity to get those dirty dishes that are in my sink dirty. And, I'm thankful that the water was hot in the shower and the furnace was running when I got up and that my slippers were right beside my bed when I put my feet down on the floor. And, I'm thankful for Mondays. Especially bonus Mondays. Like today. Because they make me realize that my journey never ends, that I am a work in progress and that I still have quite a ways to go.....
So, what am I really thankful for today?
What small, insignificant thing am I giving thanks for on this truly final Monday of November?
That I have to go to work and not stay home and do more dishes.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
because today I've got some good-bying to do.....
It's hard to believe more than a week has passed here in my filled nest. In between all the cooking and the shopping and the celebrating and the talking and the movie watching and the eating and the waking up to beds filled with touseled hair peeking out from beneath piles of covers.....there was hardly enough time to breath. There were socks on the floor again and the lingering smell of Britney Spears perfume in the hallways. There were extra towels and piles of dishes in the sink. There were fights over the TV and there was waiting up on the couch and worrying over the little things--like where in the hell are they? Yes, it was life in Judiland......with 2 kids. Well....2 adult kids. My kids, nonetheless. A full house that filled my heart.
But, today.....it's time to send them over the rivers and through the woods....back to PhdLand and CollegeLand. With the cars packed full of their clean clothes, the left over turkey and their baubles and treasures. My heart is heavy this morning as I plan a special breakfast. But, I'm comforted in the knowledge that Christmas break is only weeks away.......
And, I'm left to wonder.....will this empty nesting ever get easier?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
It wasn't the turkey or the stuffing or the pumpkin pie or even the beautiful bread that did me in this weekend.
I did just fine with all of that.
No, it happened yesterday.
My very own private foodie call.
Followed by a little pity party.
After a marathon shopping trip, Toni and I met some folks to go to the movies and then on to dinner. As I sat in my seat sipping on the Starbuck's non fat chai latte that I smuggled into the theatre....wearing my fancy 3D glasses....a Wendy's hamburger appeared on the massive screen. With cheese. And onions. And mayo. And pickles. And ketchup. A double decker Wendy's hamburger......right there....as big as life. A beautiful 6 foot tall hamburger.....with all of my favorite things....busting off the screen....into my world. I never knew how amazingly gorgeous a Wendy's hamburger could be.....
After the movies.....off to dinner at Cadillac Ranch. Where they have a menu filled with ......yes, you guessed it.....burgers. Hamburgers tacked high with condiments and sauces....stacked high with deliciousness. Oozing with beauty. Did I mention the fried onion ring toppers?
Yeah, well.....I decided to share a margarhita flatbread pizza with Toni. And, then, on a whim, I ordered their heavenly mashed potatoes. And, I topped it off with a martini. If I couldn't have a hamburger....a martini (or two).....would have to do.
Let's just say this....when you go to a burger joint....don't go ordering fancy pizza. It ain't their specialty. And, unless you have it on good authority that their mashed potatoes are something pretty special.....don't bother ordering them either. Sometimes you just have to have a burger.
Unless you have a lapband....
Then, you just have to order another martini.....
And a pity party.
NOTHING tastes as good as thin feels.......
NOTHING tastes as good as thin feels.......
NOTHING tastes as good as thin feels.......
NOTHING tastes as good as thin feels.......
But the martini was pretty good.....
Friday, November 27, 2009
This girl is not dropping........!
Welcome to my newest Blog followers....I'm soooo happy to have your here! I'd stop and say something amazingly prolific but I'm on my way out the door to shop. Now that you're one of my followers....I need you to be aware of the fact that I STOP FOR SHOPPING!!!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to
To make all my friends feel that there is
To look at the sunny side of everything
To think only of the best, to work only for
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile
To give so much time to improving myself
To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side,
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
That's life in Judiland, USA today.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
1 1/2 oz. Laird’s AppleJack
1 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Fresh lime juice
2 dashes of cranberry juice
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Pour 1 1/2 oz. Laird's AppleJack over ice in a tall glass. Add 4 oz. orange juice with a splash of cranberry juice. Garnish with an orange slice.
1 oz. Lemon juice
1/2 oz. Grenadine
2 oz. Laird's AppleJack
Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass, or serve over ice.
2 oz. Laird's AppleJack
1 oz. Sweet vermouth
Dash of bitters
Gently stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Add cherry.
Monday, November 23, 2009
It's time to give thanks.
Remember...that's what we're doing here on Mondays in November.
We're not bitching and moaning about the fact that it's Monday.
We're kicking off our week with a simple thank you....
I'm saying thanks for the little things I often overlook.....things that probably never get the respect and thanksgiving they deserve....
If you need a little refresher....click here
So, what seemingly insignificant, simple, little thing am I thankful for on this fourth and final Monday of November?
Let's see--on the first Monday, I was thankful for chili beans.
On the second Monday, I was thankful for Monday diets.
On #3, I was thankful for sturdy lawn and leaf bags.
And, now as we usher out the month and begin preparing for the special day when we give a big thanks for all of the wonderful things in our lives, I am taking today to be thankful for Lip gloss.
Yes, that's right blog friends---Lip gloss.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
(after a marathon discussion on recipes, upcoming meals, menu planning, etc)
Toni: That's all we talk about is food!
Thankfully, talking about food still works with my Lapband.
Please don't take that away from me!
Back to the kitchen......
Saturday, November 21, 2009
It's that time of the year when we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. We're whipping up traditional favorites, family recipes and trying out new dishes. All of it to serve to those we love and those who love us. I find immense comfort and joy in all of it. Even when the world around me feels chaotic and uncertain--cooking in my kitchen brings me peace. I'll gladly get up at the crack of dawn to begin the process of putting together a special meal. I'm not crazy about cleaning up after a cooking marathon--I sure can make a mess--but it comes with the territory.
On this chilly November morning, as I think through my weekend cooking plans and dig through old menus of holidays past (yes, I keep detailed logs!), I find myself slowly letting go of the stress and the angst that gripped me this week. Life is not always perfect and many times we find ourselves at odds with even our own feelings and thoughts. And sometimes when we least expect it, we find ourselves hurt and confused. Yet, being in my kitchen this morning, I am coming to a final peace with what life served up to me this past week and I'm beginning to see some measure of comfort in having to do the dishes.
I'm pretty sure that means my secret ingredient is acceptance.
Recipe For Life
4 cups of Love
2 cups of Loyalty
3 cups of Forgiveness
1 cup of Friendship
5 spoons of Hope
2 spoons of Tenderness
4 quarts of Faith
1 barrel of Laughter
Take Love and Loyalty, mix it thoroughly with Faith.
Blend it with Tenderness, Kindness & Understanding.
Sprinkle abundantly with Laughter.
Bake it with Sunshine.
Serve daily with Generous helpings.
Friday, November 20, 2009
It's been a long while. In fact, the last time I remember buying a pair of Levi's, I was a waitress at Eat'n Park and had to scrape my tips together to buy them. But, buy them I did! And, I wore those Levi's everywhere--from the halls of Keystone Oaks High School to the lovely greens on California State College's campus and beyond. They were my 'vi's and I loved them. They were with me through smoking Salem cigarettes in the high school girls' bathrooms to drinking rot gut beer in fraternity house basements to rock concerts at the Civic Arena to shopping for wedding bands to signing the papers for my first house. Me and my 'vi's. We did it all....and then some. I wore them until they had frayed bottoms, holes in the knees and thinning fabric on the ass. And when I couldn't wear them anymore---when I became pregnant with Vince---I shoved them in a drawer with the intention of wearing them once again. And, I may have worn then again....for that little snippet of time in my late 20's when Weight Watchers did it's magic on me.
But, now, blog friends, I have myself a new pair of 'vi's. I got them a few weeks ago at Walmart and I couldn't be happier with them. When I slid my legs into them and wiggled them up my body and zipped them up with a quick deep breath (deep breaths while zippering are a must with jeans!)--I could feel my soul saying hello to that little tab on the pocket.....hello 'vi's...what kinda adventures will we share this time around? I almost wanted to run down to my old high school and light up a smoke on the second floor girls' bathroom. But, no, I figured it was time to wear my 'vi's doing the things I do in the here and now.
So, I snuck out on the deck and lit up a smoke.....
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Whiskey has never been my drink. Probably because it was the very first alcohol I experimented with as a kid. In a 60's household where the patriarch is Irish--that's what you had--whiskey. It tasted lousy in my mouth, burned my throat, scalded my entire digestive system and completely fire bombed my stomach. After that...I was off the stuff. No more sneaking my dad's stash.
Haven't touched the stuff since I swigged it on my basement steps. Until last night.
Yesterday was just one of those days. Oh hell....the past few days have those kinda days.
I won't bore you with the details.
Let's get back to talking whiskey....
Last night, when I finally let myself sit down, I found myself needing a little something. I didn't want wine and I didn't want gin. You know it's a very different kind of day when I say wine or gin wouldn't do. I wanted something soothing and comforting....something that went straight to my soul.....the place where I needed it most. As I pondered my choices, I began flipping through magazines. Within moments--it was as if the magazine gods knew exactly what I needed and understood the urgency of my plight. Because without much flipping.....there it was--page 168--Rachael Ray Magazine....Fran Drescher's Green Tea Hot Toddy
I never knew how amazing a hot night cap and be. Until last night.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Often times, when we reach a milestone or a goal, as I have....with losing this weight....we find ourselves so smitten with the our accomplishment and the end result that we forget that we could have never done this alone.
When I think back to the moment when I decided to take on this blog, I vividly recall thinking that I would record my weight loss, maybe share my food intake and document my success in pictures and possibly little stories. It wasn't going to be all that fancy or creative or even time consuming. I just wanted to find a way in those early days to focus myself--make myself accountable to something or someone. I wanted to sit down a few times a week and devote myself to what I was undertaking and make it part of the program. It was not going to have a long life....it was just going to get me through those first critical months.
I'll let you in on a little secret---the reason why I didn't see Stories from the Road having a long life is because at the same time I was starting this blog, I had my eye on starting another blog that was going to be about my passions---my creative endeavors--the things that made me tick. It was called Sweet Judi Blue Eyes. Oh, I had such grand plans for it (in fact, if you check my profile page...you'll see it there "under construction").
Stories from the Road was going to be my starter blog, my test blog so to speak. I mean--how much could a girl talk about her Lap band and losing weight? I imagined myself sitting there writing and exploring the creative side of me--sharing my thoughts, my projects, my writing, the real me and whatever I was up to on my real blog---Sweet Judi Blue Eyes.
But, it didn't quite happen that way....
And, do you know why?
Because of you....
Having you travel this journey with me, my days took on new meaning. YOU made all the difference. Even if I couldn't see you or perhaps I didn't even know you--I knew you were there. I mean--come on--every morning sitting in this little office off of my kitchen typing into a machine to unknown people! Who would have guessed it would become as much a part of me as my shoes? Thus making you not only part of my success but a part of my life.
So, whether you like it or not--you are on this journey with me and it ain't over yet.
Keep those shoes on.
Hope that's okay with you travel buddies!