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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Open Faced Tuna Melt


Open Faced Tuna Melt
Serves 2

1 can (5 ounce) tuna
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 slices rye bread, toasted
Arugula
4 strips of cooked bacon
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 slices cheese (your choice, I used a marbled slice of Colby-Jack)
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Mix tuna, onion and mayo.
  3. Top each slice of toast with arugula. 
  4. Spread tuna mix over the arugula. 
  5. Lay the bacon on the tuna, then the avocado, and top with cheese.
  6. Place in oven for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
Nutritional data: 
Calories:          380
Fat:                23.6g
Sat fat:             8.1g
Chol:           68.1mg
Sodium:    624.7mg
Carbs:            18.6g
Fiber:               2.7g
Protein:          28.3g

Served with a side of Snapea Crisps. A crunchy and tasty side instead of the more traditional potato chip. Healthier, too.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stop Trying To Be Happy! Just Enjoy Life!

Today we have a guest post by Scott Wilson. An author and engineer, Scott finds problems and then designs the solutions. With his blog, Designed2Succeed, he helps his readers design their most important project: their own lives.

After you read his post, please leave him a comment here, and then check out his thoughts on his blog.
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Everyone wants to be happy, right? I mean as far as goals go this one seems to be right up there on most people’s list. The United States constitution even guarantees the right to pursue happiness. So much of the modern advertising industry is built upon the premise of selling the elements that deliver happiness. It is safe to say that trying to be happy is definitely a common priority within our society.

People do many things in their unending efforts to become and remain happy. They seek friendship, love, romance, marriage, children, fame, fortune, spirituality, god and so much more all hoping that these will lead to lasting happiness. It is my observation that all of these things have at best fleeting success in attaining happiness.

Every single one of the ideals that I have mentioned above is mixed with joy and pain, happiness and sorrow. The best friendships will still occasionally disappoint. Romance waxes and wanes. Marriage and families are filled with great joys and heart-crushing events. Even religion and spirituality do not grant immunity to the trials and pains of life.

And yet mankind spends an amazing amount of time and effort chasing the dream of happiness. In this powerful pursuit we demonize sadness and depression. North America is an abundant and rich country where we enjoy a standard of living that far exceeds that of over 60 percent of the world. Still Americans currently spend an estimated $11.3 billion dollars annually on anti-depressants, consuming more per capita than any other nation. American use of anti-depressants skyrocketed 400% from 1988 to 1994. We go to great pains to avoid being unhappy in any way and in the process we treat almost all sadness as an illness.

So what is wrong? Why can’t we seem to lay hold of this ultimate prize despite our herculean efforts? We have material wealth and security like no other nations but we are failing at the very pursuit that our predecessors nobly guaranteed for us. It actually seems that the harder we try obtain happiness the more difficult it becomes to obtain. I actually believe that this principle holds true, and so I propose that it is truthfully our very quest for happiness that causes the problem.

We live in an impermanent world. All things that live will die and everything that is created eventually decays and fails. Why then do we expect our happiness to be permanent? In Zen Buddhism it is believed that our attachment to objects in this ever-changing world that leads to sadness and frustration. There is much truth to this belief, however even detachment will not guarantee happiness just as an absence of pain does not guarantee pleasure. So the problem of happiness remains.

I propose that we release our iron grip on the pursuit of happiness and instead focus our pursuit on joy. No, I am not just playing with semantics. Joy is defined as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (from Merriam-Webster). I believe that it is the last part of this definition that is telling: ‘emotion evoked by… the prospect of possessing.’ There can be joy in the pursuit even if the item pursued is not obtained. I would go so far as to say that we can actually enjoy pursuing happiness even if we fail in that pursuit!

I further submit that joy supersedes happiness. As my father lay in pain dying of bone cancer in I enjoyed our much of our time together and so did he. Despite all that my father was experiencing he still enjoyed the simple pleasure of a cappuccino from a local coffee shop. Were we happy? No, not at all. That did not stop joy. In my life and in others I have seen joy in the midst of sorrow, pain and even death.

We need to allow ourselves the ability to experience joy. This often involves slowing down and actually paying attention to and experiencing our lives. We can have goals and quests for worthy ideals but we need to expect that there will be bumps on those journeys. Let not our pursuits rob us of our joy. I have observed people in pain struggling to be happy at Christmas, the supposedly happiest time of the year. In their struggle, these poor souls not only fail to obtain happiness but they deprive themselves of their joy.


Can we still pursue happiness? Yes, but don’t expect to catch it and keep it. Happiness will come and go, and that is alright. Do not run from sorrow especially when the seasons of life call for it. Hold fast to joys, especially the simple ones. Joys can be our greatest treasures in times of tribulation. At all times take pleasure in kindness, smiles and love. In this challenging life, when happiness seems so far off, remember that there can still be great joy in the journey.
©Scott D. Wilson 2014


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche


Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche
Serves 6

One 9" pie crust (store bought or homemade--I used store bought because I was in a hurry.)
1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sied chunks
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
Spices/Herbs (I used 1 tsp Penzey's Sunny Paris. You can use the herbs of your preference.)
2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. If frozen, thaw the broccoli. If fresh, chop as directed and microwave until hot, but not soft (5 minutes.)
  3. Spray 9" pie tin with cooking spray. Place pie crust inside. 
  4. Whisk egg and egg white.
  5. Drain excess water off broccoli, and place in pie shell. Sprinkle herbs over. 
  6. Sprinkle half the cheese over broccoli.
  7. Pour egg evenly. Top with remaining cheese.
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes.
Nutritional data:
Calories:         213
Fat:                12.8g
Sat fat:             3.8g
Chol:          40.2mg
Sodium:   248.9mg
Carbs:           16.3g
Fiber:              1.4g
Protein:             7g

Note: this recipe makes a small quiche. The egg filling is not deep. If you want this to be more substantial, double the egg and egg whites. Keep the broccoli and cheese the same.

You can also vary the ingredients. You can use different vegetable, or add meats. Use all whole eggs if you want. Your options are only limited by your imagination and the ingredients in your fridge and pantry.

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Note: the link to Penzy's is NOT an affiliate link. Affiliate links will earn me a small commission when readers purchase something. Not all links are affiliate links. Many are placed here only to make your cooking easier. When you do click on and buy an item from an affiliante link it does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Love Writing to You, But I Have a Request

I do. I really enjoy the process of putting my thoughts on paper. It helps me get organized (because often I experience rambling, stream-of-conscious thoughts, sort of ADD and ...oh, look at that squirrel outside!)

(Joke.)

Seriously, I do enjoy the writing process. It is simultaneously energizing and relaxing.

But.

It takes time. Food posts are relatively easy. I take a picture and pair it to my already recorded recipe and BOOM! A new post.

Writing a thoughtful post takes more time. And since I never know how long my post will be, or even the exact topics my post will cover, writing tends to consume a lot of time.

So, I am asking for help.

Are you a blogger, one who writes about topics that you see here? Food, motivation, inspiration, and the frustrations of daily life?

If yes, would you like the chance to be a guest blogger here? Depending on the response to this proposal, I might need a guest blogger once a month or once a week. I just don't know. The blog posts would be cross-promoted to my podcast, as well as my Twitter and Facebook.

Here is my podcast links to various sources. You can listen to see if the content will match yours.
iTunes  http://MakeYourSomedayToday.com/iTunes
Stitcher http://MakeYourSomedayToday.com/Stitcher
TuneIn http://MakeYourSomedayToday.com/TuneIn
Player.FM http://MakeYourSomedayToday.com/Player.FM

If you are interested, send me a message to my email Trevor@MakeYourSomedayToday.com If you know someone who might be interested, send them a link to this blog post or just tell them.

There won't be any cash involved, but you will earn my happiness and respect, and I will spread the word of your message as far as I can.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Grilled Pork Roast with Port/Vidalia/Fig Sauce


Grilled Pork Roast with Port/Vidalia/Fig Sauce
Serves 4

Recipe for the sauce:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thinly, then quartered
1 tablespoon flour (any type)
1 cup port wine
4 figs, stems removed and halved

  1. Preheat a non-stick skillet over med-high heat.
  2. Add the coconut oil. (You can use any type of oil, but caramelized onions made with coconut oil creates a delicious flavor combination.)
  3. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion, and turn heat down to medium. Season the onions with a bit of black pepper. 
  4. Let the onions slowly caramelize. This will take 20-25 minutes. Don't rush it. Cooking them fast will fry them crispy. The idea here is to make them convert their sugars into caramel and break down all the cell stucture. They will end up incredibly fragrant and soft.
  5. When the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle the flour over them and stir to combine.
  6. Increase the heat to medium-high.
  7. Slowly pour the port into the onions, whisking constantly.
  8. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, lay the figs in the sauce and let them get warm. 
  9. Serve over sliced pork.
Fig season is relatively short. Enjoy them while you can find them.

Nutritional data for 2 tablespoons sauce and 2 fig halves.:
Calories:        133
Fat:                3.7g
Sat fat:           3.1g
Chol:                0g
Sodium:     4.5mg
Carbs:         14.9g
Fiber:            2.1g
Protein:         0.9g

Tips for roasting a pork half loin on a grill:
When cooking a pork half loin on the grill, I like to season it with something good, like Penzey's Bavarian Style seasoning.

I also do not place the roast directly on the grate, but I also do not use a pan. I want the heat to directly roast the meat, without it sticking to the grill. My solution is to take a handful of herbs from my garden (usually a few rosemary branches and make some basil boughs) and place those on the grill, and then the roast on top. The herbs will mostly burn (eventually) but they will infuse the meat with their gentle flavors.


You may be wondering what is sticking out of the top of the roast. That is my secret weapon for grilling food that is fully cooked, but still moist. That is a Taylor Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer. You set the desired tempurature of doneness (145F for pork roasts), and then you can let it go. It has an alarm that sounds when the temp is reached.


When your roast hits 145F, remove it from the grill, tent it with some aluminum foil and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it.

That knife you see is a very nice knife, an 8 inch chef's knife, that I bought at IKEA. You can get a similar knife from Amazon. The patterns in the blade is called Damascus steel, and is made be repeated heating in forge, hammering flat, folding over and then repeating if many times. There are master knifemakers who still make them in that method, each knife taking more than a day to craft. Those knives sell for $200-400 per INCH of blade! I paid less than $50 for mine, and the knife that I show you in the Amazon link is $111.00. A Damascus blade tends to keep it's edge longer, and I just love mine.

My dream is to own one of those handmade works of kitchen cutlery art. It will happen!

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Note: the links to Amazon are an affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one something, I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today

Friday, September 19, 2014

Marsala-Poached Figs


Fresh Figs, Poached in Marsala
Serve 6

1/2 cup sweet Marsala
1 cinnamon stick
3 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon honey
6 Figs, stems removed and halved
Walnut halves for garnish
  1. Combine first four ingredients in a medium saucepan. 
  2. Bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until syrupy. 
  3. Add figs. Cook another minute, or until thoroughly heated.
Nutritional data (2 fig halves and approximately 1 tablespoon sauce)
Calories:           64
Fat:                 0.2g
Sat fat:              0g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:      1.4mg
Carbs:             13g
Fiber:             1.5g
Protein:          0.4g

Don't forget to listen to my podcast, Make Your Someday Today! It is a motivational podcast, featuring interviews with musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and weight loss success stories from around the world. I also answer listener questions, and beginning with Episode 49, I give my "Recipe of the Week!"

If you go to the website http://makeyoursomedaytoday.com/ and click on the yellow VARSITY SQUAD button, you can join the Varsity Squad of listeners, who receive advance notice and huge discounts on future events and products.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

BLT Pasta Salad


BLT Pasta Salad
Serves Approximately 16 (one cup portions)

1 pound shell pasta
8 slices of thick-cut bacon (ideally, low sodium)
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 ounces fresh arugala
1 bunch green onions, sliced, greens and whites

  1. Bring a large kettle to a boil. Salt the water. When boiling, add the pasta and cook until "al dente", 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the pasta boils, fry bacon until crispy. Chop and set aside. 
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease.
  4. Return the skilletto stove over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes begin to soften (2 minutes.)
  5. Drain the pasta, saving 2 cups of the pasta water.
  6. Return the hot pasta back to the kettle. 
  7. Add the arugala and stir gently.
  8. Add the tomatoes and garlic, the green onion and one cup of the reserved water. Stir to mix.
  9. Top with bacon, and more pasta water if you think it needs it. 
  10. This can be served warm or cold.

Nutritional data for one cup:
Calories:         103
Fat:                 2.3g
Sat fat:            0.6g
Chol:              3.8g
Sodium:        47.9g
Carbs:           17.2g
Fiber:              1.3g
Protein:           4.4g

You can increase the health benefits by using a high fiber pasta, but Tammy and I don't eat pasta that often and we simply prefer the "regular" white pasta.

Don't forget to listen to my podcast, Make Your Someday Today! It is a motivational and weight loss podcast, featuring interviews with musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and weight loss success stories from around the world. I also answer listener questions, and beginning with Episode 49, I give my "Recipe of the Week!" 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pan Seared Chicken, Roasted with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives



Pan Seared Chicken, Roasted with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 chicken thighs, skin-on, but excess trimmed
2-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 onion, diced
1-2 pounds cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup green olives, halved. (I used Mezzetta Garlic Stuffed Olives)
Herbs of your choice (I used Penzey's Tuscan Sunset.)
2 ounces Marsala wine (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F.
Using a 12 inch, oven-safe skillet, preheat over medium high. Add the oil.
Season the chicken, both sides, with your spices, and salt/pepper if desired.
When the oil begins to shimmer, carefully lay the chicken in the skillet, skin-side down. Let the the skin get browned. Do not turn them, or even move them to get the best results. This will take 6-7 minutes.
While the chicken thighs sear and brown, slice the garlic, dice the onion, and halve the tomatoes and olives.
After 6-7 minutes, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

With all cooking juices still in the skillet, add the garlic and onion, then the tomatoes and olives.

Carefully return the chicken to skillet, skin side up.

Pour the wine into the skillet (if you are using this.)
Place skillet in oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or when the internal temperature of the chicken is 165F.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional data for one thigh and 1/6 of the tomato/olives:
Calories:          286
Fat:                 11.8g
Sat fat:              1.5g
Chol:               65mg
Sodium:     356.2mg
Carbs:             22.3g
Fiber:                2.9g
Protein:             26g

You could certainly serve this on a pasta, such as angel hair or linguini.

Don't forget to listen to my podcast, Make Your Someday Today! It is a motivational podcast, featuring interviews with musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and weight loss success stories from around the world. I also answer listener questions, and beginning with Episode 49, I give my "Recipe of the Week!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Fresh Figs


Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Fresh Figs
Serves 4

4 fresh figs
2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto (approximately 8 slices)

Wrap each fig with the prosciutto, and secure with toothpicks. (If you can't find prosciutto, you could try very thinly sliced bacon.)


Preheat your grill on high for 5 minutes.
Place the figs on the grate. Turn often so that all side cook, but not become burned.

Serve warm.
So easy. So elegant. The grill intensifies the sugars, and makes the fig softer, but not mushy. The prosciutto adds a velvety texture from the fat as it melts into the fig, and the meat is lightly smokey. The contrast between sweet and savory is wonderful.

Make these while you can still find fresh figs!


Nutritional data (per fig):
Calories:         67
Fat:                 1.7g
Sat fat:            0.5g
Chol:         12.5mg
Sodium:  230.5mg
Carbs:            9.6g
Fiber:             1.5g
Protein:          4.4g

These would be incredible as a starter or a dessert. I think that since this is a sweet and slightly fatty dish, a semi-dry sparkling wine (possible a Moscato d'Asti) would be a nice match.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Walt Disney and John Wayne Give Great Advice

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

I remember when I needed to wear size 3XL scrubs. I was miserable, but I had given up. I assumed I was just destined to be fat. And it was embarrassing to work in an ER and be nearly 300 pounds. I wanted to weigh less, but I was afraid to try, because I was afraid to fail. Again. I dreamt of being “near normal”, of wearing clothes that did not come from a “Big and Tall” section of the store.

When I finally made the decision, my wife and I started a “diet”. We lost weight, for a while, and then we predictably put it back on. Finally, in May 2011, I decided that enough was enough and started using LoseIt and she started using Weight Watchers. We both realized that if we didn’t take action—now—things would only get worse, until very bad things began to happen.

We were both committed to our goal, and yet we were both scared. We were worried about what our friends and relatives would say, but the compliments and the sharp little attacks, such as, “Oh, so you’re trying to lose weight again, hm? What makes you think it will work this time?”

We were afraid of failing.

We didn’t stop. We lost weight. We donated clothes as soon as the no longer fit. We have supported our local Goodwills with all our donated clothes (and we shop there, too.) We got more active. I started walking and discovered that I enjoy it. I bought a Fitbit. My wife got active with DVD exercise routines and yoga.

And the losses continued. We continued to be afraid of failing, of reverting back to our old habits. We developed a habit of planning a week’s worth of meals, and buying only what we need for the meals. We got into the habit of walking our dog once or twice a day. We started parking as far from the entrance to stores as possible and getting extra walking. I stopped using elevators.

We continued have successes and we continued to be fearful of this being only temporary. We solidified our habits, sort of making them institutionalized. We developed a grocery shopping list that I have on my computer to make shopping more efficient. We have our weekend routine of hitting various thrift stores together. We eat meals together when my teaching/clinical schedule allows it, sitting at the dinner table, not in front of the TV. We get up early in the morning to walk and workout. We eat a hearty breakfast and I prepare every day. I pack our lunches and snacks for the day.

We stopped feeling “fear” about slipping back. We were too focused on our plan to have time to worry. We just kept on doing what was working. Life became routine. Weighing and measuring food was normal. The losses continued.



And then I hit my goal. To reinforce my commitment, I tattooed a phrase on my right wrist, forever reminding me to never quit. (An explanation of the phrase can be found in a blog post from January 19, 2012.)My wife continued to lose weight. Fear of failure subsided, but was replaced by eternal vigilance. And the fear of regaining. I continued to weigh/measure my food, and log everything. I still do, and plan to continue until the day arrives where I am unable to care for myself.

My wife’s losses have eclipsed my own. Her success has been remarkable and serves as my inspiration. She is my hero. My maintenance for 16+ months serves as her inspiration, as validation that successes can be realized. She calls me her hero.

We started this journey out of fear. We feared what could—no, what would—happen if we left our habits and practices continue unchecked. In the ER, I cared for people who had heart attacks and strokes. Diabetes and high blood pressure were common conditions. I was afraid of that. Moreover, I was afraid that when I had my heart attack—not if, but when—I would be that patient who required a “team boost” because I was too heavy for two people to move in the bed. I was ashamed of myself in advance.

Fear propelled us into action, and helped to keep us on track. Our fear of failure was great. It was not great enough to prevent us from quitting, but it was great enough to serve as a light whip at our backs.  We used it to motivate us, not to cripple our efforts.

Our dreams are coming true, because we were not too afraid to act. We had the courage to succeed. As David Joseph Schwartz said, “Do what you fear and fear disappears.”

John Wayne said it even better: “Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway.”

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Note: the links to LoseIt and Fitbit are my affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one (or both) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beer Battered Tilapia, with White Tartar



This was one of my entries into the 2014 Mezzetta Make That Sandwich contest.

Beer Battered Tilapia, with White Tartar
Serves 4

4 Kaiser rolls (or other large roll)
Beer Batter (or any other fish batter, your preference)
Enough cooking oil to fill a pot to 3-4 inches
4 tilapia fillets, 3 ounces each (or any mild-flavored fish)
Lettuce

Beer Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten.
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne powder

12-24 ounces of beer (Do not use a very hoppy beer, like an IPA. Use a British Mild, like Boddington.)
  1. Combined the first four ingredients.
  2. Mix in egg.
  3. Slowly add the beer while stirring to prevent lumps. This should be a thin batter. You may only need 12 ounce, but 16 is more likely. When you dip the fish into it, you should still be able to see the fish through the thin layer of batter. (If you have extra, drink it!)
  4. Heat oil to 375F (using a thermometer is recommended.
  5. Dry the fish fillets.
  6. Mix all ingredients for the red tartar while waiting for the oil to get to temperature. (The sauce can be made a day in advance for better flavor.)
  7. When the oil is hot, dip the fillets into the batter, and carefully lower into the oil. Depending on the size of your fryer, you may only be able to fry one fillet at a time.
  8. When the fish is beginning to brown, carefully turn it over.  Total cook time will be 6-10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oil and fish.
  9. While the fish is frying, prepare the bun. Toast the cut surface.
  10. Lay lettuce on the bottom. When the fish is done, and drained, lay on the lettuce and top with 1 tablespoon red tartar.

When I make this, I use the remaining batter by dipping Mezzetta Roasted Red Bell Pepper and then frying them until golden brown.

I'm not giving nutritional data for the sandwich. It will change if you use a different fish, make your batter thin or thick, fry it darker, use a different roll....the variability will change everything. 


White Tartar
2 Tablespoon Miracle Whip salad dressing
1 tablespoon Mezzetta Capers
2 Mezzetta Sweet Banana Wax Peppers, sliced

½ ounce (4 pieces) Mezzetta Cocktail Onions, chopped
  1. Mix all ongredients together and chill. Making this a day in advance is recommended for best flavor.
Nutritional Data (per tablespoon)
Calories:         32
Fat:                2.4g
Sat fat:           0.1g
Chol:              0mg
Sodium:  388.8mg
Carbs:            2.2g
Fiber:             0.1g
Protein:          0.1g

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pulled Pork Chili


Pulled Pork Chili
Serves 10 (1 cup portions)

This morning I woke to 45F temperatures. To me, that means chili season. But some chili can be high fat, and some high sodium. This is neither, just high flavor. This is one of those little life hacks that I talk about on one my Make Your Someday Today Trevitorials. Make good food and eat it. When you make it yourself, you know what is in it!

In a large (3-4 quart kettle) add:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
Add your preferred chili spices

Sautee that together until the onions begin to get translucent (5 minutes)
Add:
1 tablespoon tomato paste. Stir to mix together, then add:
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained, and low sodium if available
2 cans beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound pulled pork

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. After 30-40 minutes, taste and add more seasoning as needed. This is better if you can then chill it for a few hours or overnight.


So, why is the beer in the picture? I make my beans with a pressure cooker. I use 1 cup dried beans (here is a mix of white navy beans and black bean), one onion diced, 2-4 cloves garlic minced and 4 cups beer. This is one of my favorites, Green Bay's own Wisco Disco. Put the lid on, set to high pressure and leave them cook for 45 minutes. When it is time to add the beans to the tomatoes, I dump everything in, beans, beer, onion and garlic.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         210
Fat:                  5.4g
Sat fat:             1.7g
Chol:           38.5mg
Sodium:      32.7mg
Carbs:            18.2g
Fiber:               4.6g
Protein:            19g




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie


Chicken Pot Pie
Serve 6 (8 ounces per portion)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces cooked boneless/skinless chicken, diced
1 can (approximately 12 ounces) cream of chicken soup (you can also use cream of celery or mushroom)
1/2 cup wine (your choice, I used a sweet Marsala for this)
12 ounces frozen mixes vegetables, thawed
1 prepared pie cust (homemade or store bought)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat large non-stick skillet over med-high heat.
Add oil, onion and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add diced chicken. Saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Add soup and wine. Mix together.
Add vegetable. Reduce heat and let it simmer. Everything should be hot when you out this in the oven.
Spray a 9" round baker (or 8X8 square) with cooking spray.
When the oven is ready, pour chicken/veggie mixture into dish.

Carefully lay pie crust over the top. Trim edges. Cut two slits into the crust, to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the crust browns.

Serve immediately, or the next day.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         305
Fat:                 11.1g
Sat fat:              3.1g
Chol:            62.6mg
Sodium:     269.1mg
Carbs:             13.3g
Fiber:                1.5g
Protein:           11.9g


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pulled Pork Meets South Florida


This was one of my entries into the 2014 Mezzetta Make That Sandwich contest.

Sandwiches are fun! A complete meal you eat while holding it. And mashing to regions into one sandwich is tasty. Pulled pork (which I first had while traveling through Tennessee, where my friend Chester lives and teaches) meets South Florida breads (where you can also find Leah and her digital magazine, Just Jew It) in this example.

Pulled Pork Meet South Florida
Serves 1

1 Miami onion roll (you can substitutes another roll if you want.)
4 ounces pulled pork (I used Curley’s Sauceless Pulled Pork for the contest.)
1 ounce Mezzetta’s Roasted Red Bell Peppers
1/8 cup (1/2 ounce) Mezzetta Deli-Sliced Mild Pepper Rings

1 tablespoon Mezzetta Olive Oil
  1. Slice roll. Toast if desired (I prefer my rolls toasted)
  2. Warm meat until hot (less than 1 minute in a microwave.)
  3. Place Roasted Red Bell Peppers on bottom half on roll.
  4. Top with meat.
  5. Top with Mild Pepper Rings.
  6. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
I'm not giving nutritional data for the sandwich. It will change if you use a different type of pulled pork, or use different roll....the variability will change everything.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Baked Eggs in Ham "Flowers"


Baked Egg in Ham "Flower"
Serves 1

1 ounce shaved ham (2-4 slices)
1 egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
Line the tin with ham slices.

Carefully crack egg into the ham flower.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the egg is set. Remove before it is fully cooked, it will continue to cook for about 3 minutes after removing.

When done the yolk should be thick and hot, but still fluid.

I served it on a toasted whole grain English Muffin, topped with a slice of horseradish cheddar and a drizzle of coarse German mustard.

Awesome!

Nutritional data (as I served it):
Calories:       373
Fat:             20.5g
Sat fat:          9.8g
Chol:         416mg
Sodium:    855mg
Carbs:         14.3g
Fiber:               2g
Protein:       31.7g

Monday, September 8, 2014

Grown Up S'Mores


Grown Up S'Mores!

Cookies (your preferred variety) or Graham Crackers (more traditional)
Marshmallow Creme
Nocciolota Organic Hazelnut Spread


I made these using soft sugar cookies. They would be delicious on almost any kind of cookie.

I won't give nutritional data (for a couple reasons.) The number will widely vary based on the cookie or cracker you choose, and if you make them open face (like I did) or put a second cooking on top. The numbers will also vary based on how much marshmallow creme and Nocciolata you use. And lastly, sometimes, you just don't want to know the numbers.

This dessert was absolutely delicious. The Nocciolatta (a more refined version of Nutella) added a wonderful chocolate-hazelnut flavor. Nocciolata has a slightly stronger hazelnut presence, and is smoother, and slightly thinner than Nutella.

Thanks to Kara McKena for sending me this delicious food to sample!

Success Is Internal, But The Growth is External

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”
Ayn Rand

My wife and I are re-watching the TV series “Mad Men” and one of the characters likes Ayn Rand. I like her quote above, but I would replace “creative” with the word “successful”.


My awesome wife, Tammy!

We are competing internally. I don’t care how many challenges you join on LoseIt, the battle for weight management is a fight with your own body and mind. The battle for success in the field of podcasting or blogging lies inside you, with your ability to create a quality product and connect with your audience. It does not matter who else is podcasting or how many other blogs exist. Their success will not diminish your potential success. 

True success occurs because you want to become the person that you really are, not by wanting to lose weight faster than your neighbor, or publish more blog posts. If you entered a marathon, would you prefer to define your personal success based on how well you placed compared to the other runners, or based on the percentage of improvement over your last marathon? Why would it be any different here?

Achieving success is more than a number on a scale or download numbers on iTunes. It is being part of a group effort, of working for the common good. My guess is that people who are not interactive here and in the forums are the people who rapidly give up. When we post to each other and respond in the forum, we are all doing what we can to support someone else. We sometimes give them a new idea to try. Sometimes we are the bucket of cold water trying to bring some reality to the situation. But in either case, we are part of a team and looked at from afar, everyone gets better.

Looking back at running for a moment, which is run faster, four people competing in a one mile race or a team of four running the 4x440 relay as a team?  It is the same distance, but the relay will be completed MUCH faster, because each person does their part for the whole team.

The people of “Mad Men” competed externally and internally. They were all afraid of losing business to another firm and they all wanted to be the most productive account executive for personal rewards. They generally succeeded but I just wonder what they could have accomplished if the various departments and people acted as if they were integrated rather than separate units. If everyone were part owner instead of a salaried employee, there would be incentive to make sure you help the person next to you instead of sneak behind them for personal glory.

Make Your Someday Today is all about individual choices and responsibility, but it is also about everyone helping someone else. We all have knowledge and expertise. We all have needs and weaknesses. We can all participate in making others successful, because choirs sing best when many voices are singing the same song.

Personal experience: I would guess that many people reading this know the song “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. My wife and I attended a Billy Joel/Elton John concert back in 1995 at Milwaukee County Stadium with 54,000 people in the stadium. At the end of the concert, in the final curtain call, both singers came out without their bands and backup singers. They sat at their respective pianos for two final songs. The first song they both sang was “Good Bye, Norma Jean”. It was beautiful. And then they both played “Piano Man.” I love that song. I always have and always will. It is a beautiful solo ballad. But to this day, I still get a shiver down my spine when I think of 54,000 people rising to their feet and singing “Piano Man” in unison. I will never hear anything like that again. It wasn’t a planned sing-along. The performers didn’t invite us to serenade them. It was a spontaneous event.

There were good singers in the crowd. There were also singers who sang like me. And I am sure we sang in many different keys. None of that mattered. Our combined voices created a one-of-a-kind choir. The applause afterwards was deafening, because we were applauding ourselves for helping each other be better. There were a few tears, as well, for no apparent reason other than beauty takes many unexpected forms.

We can all do that here. Everyone here can be helped and at the same time be helped. The only saying is that the rising tide raises all boats.  Be part of the tide that raises everyone around you.


(Post-script:  As I sit here proofing this essay, with my iPod on shuffle, “Piano Man” begins to play.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Crab-and-Shrimp Cake Sliders


This was one of my entries into the 2014 Mezzetta Make That Sandwich contest.

Crab cake sliders? Is that possible? Yes! And they are calorie-friendly and taste incredible. That is an important combination (calorie budget friendly and delicious.) On my podcast Make Your Someday Today, we talk about how to combine important life features, such as meeting deadlines and still enjoying life.

Crab-and-Shrimp Cake Sliders
Serves 24 sliders

2 dozen small buns
1 jar (drained) Mezzetta Gourmet Deli Roasted Bell Pepper strips & Caramelized Onions
Shredded lettuce

Sliders:
4 egg whites
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup plain, fat-free Greek-style yogurt
½ cup Mezzetta Cocktail Onions, chopped, drained
2 tablespoons Mezzetta Capers, chopped
1 can (6 ounce) lump crab meat, drained

1 can (4 ounces) tiny shrimp, drained
  1. Slice the buns. Set aside.
  2. Combine the first five slider ingredients together.
  3. Fold in crab and shrimp, mixing only until combined.
  4. With clean wet hands, form the mix into ping-pong size balls. You should get approximately 24. Set aside.
  5. Combine the four sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate. (At this point, the sliders can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge overnight. The sauce will be better if left to become fully-flavored overnight.)
  6. When ready to cook, pre-heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Spray with cooking spray.
  8. Working in batches, place the crab-and-shrimp balls in the skillet. Gently press to flatten. They should be approximately 2 inches in diameter. Do not crowd them they should not be touching.
  9. Let fry until the edges get golden, then flip. (2-3 minutes per side, depending on the heat and how many are in the skillet.)
  10. Open the buns.
  11. Sprinkle lettuce on the bottom, and top that with Roasted Bell Pepper strips & Caramelized Onions.
  12. Place cooked slider on next, and top with approximately 1 tablespoon sauce.
  13. Serve hot.

Nutritional Data (per slider)
Calories:         27
Fat:                0.1g
Sat fat:           0.0g
Chol:        25.9mg
Sodium:  104.6mg
Carbs:            2.5g
Fiber:             0.1g
Protein:          3.3g

Sauce:
1 cup low fat mayonnaise
12 Mezzetta Garlic Stuffed Olives, sliced
12 Mezzetta Cocktail Onions, coarsely chopped
 ½ ounce Mezzetta Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped

Nutritional Data (per tablespoon)
Calories:         31
Fat:                3.1g
Sat fat:           0.3g
Chol:              0mg
Sodium:  166.2mg
Carbs:            1.4g
Fiber:             0.1g
Protein:          0.1g


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Beer Battered Tilapia, with Red Tartar


This was one of my entries into the 2014 Mezzetta Make That Sandwich contest.

Fish fries are a way of life in Wisconsin, but rarely do you get a sandwich quite like this. I enjoy finding new combinations of favorite foods. It brings excitement to the meal. Life is meant to be enjoyed and relished. We all need to find our place in the world. That is why I host my podcast Make Your Someday Today. I talk to successful people from around the world, like Julie (a Ukrianian-born Israeli who specializes in time management strategies) and then we apply their life-stories to you (and to me!)

Beer Battered Tilapia, with Red Tartar
Serves 4

4 Kaiser rolls (or other large roll)
Beer Batter (or any other fish batter, your preference)
Enough cooking oil to fill a pot to 3-4 inches
4 tilapia fillets, 3 ounces each (or any mild-flavored fish)
Lettuce

Beer Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten.
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne powder

12-24 ounces of beer (Do not use a very hoppy beer, like an IPA. Use a British Mild, like Boddington.)

  1. Combined the first four ingredients.
  2. Mix in egg.
  3. Slowly add the beer while stirring to prevent lumps. This should be a thin batter. You may only need 12 ounce, but 16 is more likely. When you dip the fish into it, you should still be able to see the fish through the thin layer of batter. (If you have extra, drink it!)
  4. Heat oil to 375F (using a thermometer is recommended.
  5. Dry the fish fillets.
  6. Mix all ingredients for the red tartar while waiting for the oil to get to temperature. (The sauce can be made a day in advance for better flavor.)
  7. When the oil is hot, dip the fillets into the batter, and carefully lower into the oil. Depending on the size of your fryer, you may only be able to fry one fillet at a time.
  8. When the fish is beginning to brown, carefully turn it over.  Total cook time will be 6-10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oil and fish.
  9. While the fish is frying, prepare the bun. Toast the cut surface.
  10. Lay lettuce on the bottom. When the fish is done, and drained, lay on the lettuce and top with 1 tablespoon red tartar.

When I make this, I use the remaining batter by dipping Mezzetta Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Mezzetta Garlic Stuffed Olives and then frying them until golden brown.

I'm not giving nutritional data for the sandwich. It will change if you use a different fish, make your batter thin or thick, fry it darker, use a different roll....the variability will change everything. 


Red Tartar
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Mezzetta Gourmet Deli Sweet and Hot Pepper Rings
2 Mezzetta Garlic Stuffed Olives, sliced
½ ounce (4 pieces) Mezzetta Cocktail Onions, chopped
1 tablespoon liquid from the cocktail onion jar (to thin the tomato paste)
  1. Mix all ingredients together and chill. Making this a day in advance is recommended for best flavor.

Nutritional Data (per tablespoon)
Calories:         15
Fat:                1.4g
Sat fat:           0.0g
Chol:              0mg
Sodium:  116.2mg
Carbs:            2.9g
Fiber:             0.1g
Protein:             0g

Friday, September 5, 2014

Kicked-Up Grilled Cheese


This was one of my entries into the 2014 Mezzetta Make That Sandwich contest.

A good grilled cheese is a common comfort food, and to be honest, one of my favorite meals when the weather is cold and dreary. On my podcast, Make Your Someday Today, I ask my guests several food questions, and one is to discover their comfort food. It is refreshing to hear that many people have similarities, all over the world. For many people it is carb-related foods. Find out what Ilias in Greece, Steve in CanadaAlastair in Ireland, Ani in Armenia, Berni in Minneapolis and Chester in Tennessee prefers! Then listen to my 15 other guests!

Kicked Up Grilled Cheese
Serves 1

1 large slice of hearty bread (or 2 smaller slices) I used a single slice of homemade artisan bread
1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise
2 slices Swiss cheese
1 ounce Mezzetta Gourmet Deli Roasted Bell Pepper strips & Caramelized Onions
1 ounce Mezzetta Gourmet Deli Sweet and Hot Pepper Rings

½ ounce (4 pieces) Mezzetta Cocktail Onions, chopped

  1. Preheat non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Assemble sandwich (bread, 1 slice of cheese, Roasted Pepper & Onions, Sweet & Hot Pepper rings, chopped Cocktail Onions, remaining slice of cheese, final piece of bread)
  3. Spread half the mayo on the outer side of one piece of bread. Season with a touch of black pepper. Lay mayo-side on the skillet.
  4. Spread the second piece of bread with mayo.
  5. Carefully turn the sandwich when the edge starts to brown (2-3 minutes).
  6. Let the second side brown (another 2-3 minutes.)
  7. Serve.

Nutritional Data:
Calories:          315
Fat:                12.2g
Sat fat:             4.1g
Chol:             24mg
Sodium:   774.5mg
Carbs:           41.8g
Fiber:              3.8g
Protein:         12.3g


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Artisan Bread (with less than 10 minutes of work!)


We are all busy. It's unfortunate, but true. However, few people are truly too busy to make this bread. It takes less than 5 minutes on day 1, and then less than 5 minutes on day 2 to make this bread. (Of course, additional time is needed for rising and baking, but those happen without you even needed to be in the kitchen.

It is almost automatic bread. And it is absolutely delicious. Bread this good might be illegal in some jurisdictions!


My Homemade Artisanal Bread

Makes 10 slices, each approximately 1.5 ounces.
My recipe (for 4 one-pound loaves)

Whisk together:
3 cups tepid water (95-105F)
1 tablespoon yeast (any dry yeast)
1 tablespoon salt (any type)

Stir in 6.5 cups of flour. Any flour works, but 100% whole wheat is a challenge. Mixing white with whole wheat and/or rye work well. I usually use at 4 cups general purpose white with 2.5 cups of whole wheat. As long as you use a total of 6.5 cups of flour, you will end up with bread.

Stir just until everything is wet and combined. Do not knead--ever. Cover loosely, and let rise on the counter for 2-3 hours (if you forget overnight, don’t worry, it will not ruin the bread.) Place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, cut 1/4 of the dough out. Dust with flour. Working quickly, form the dough into a ball. 


For the greatest ease, place the formed loaf of a corn-meal dusted pizza peel.
                                                        
                                            Picture from Amazon. I use this exact Pizza Peel

Let the dough rise for 40 minutes. These make free-form round loaves, not rectangles.  Do not bake in traditional bread pans.

Preheat oven and baking stone to 450. Boil 2 cups of water, and pour into an oven safe dish and place in the oven while pre-heating. (The water creates steam to help develop a very crunchy crust. It will work without the steam, but the crust isn't as nice.)

When the dough has risen, make several shallow cuts in the surface of the dough. Sprinkle corn meal on baking stone and place dough on the corn meal. Bake for 35 minutes.

The dough will keep in the fridge for up to 14 days and as it ages, the flavor develops into more of a sour dough character. When the last of the dough is used, do not wash the container. Immediately refill with the ingredients for more bread (this will quickly develop that wonderful sour dough flavor.

Nutritional Data:
Calories:         66
Fat:                0.4g
Sat fat:           0.1g
Chol:              0mg
Sodium:  117.2mg
Carbs:          14.2g
Fiber:             2.4g
Protein:          2.7g

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Finding simple ways to enjoy life, and yet stick to both a financial and calories budgets are common themes on my Make Your Someday Today podcast, We all want the best of all possible options. When you take a little time to make your own, you get the best results.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pickled Scallions


Pickled Scallions

2 cups white vinegar
2 cups Splenda (or table sugar)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 pound scallions, roots trimmed and cut to fit in the jar standing up
  1. Bring first 6 ingredients to a boil on the stove, and simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. While that is simmering, trim the scallions, wash under cold water, and stand up in a glass jar.
  3. Remove pickling liquid from the stove and cool (covered) to near room temperature. Pour over scallions. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. This will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
  5. Note: next time, I will also cut some jalapeno peppers in half (the long way) and add them to the jar for pickled peppers and onions.)
Excellent with burgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, and pork ribs.

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Finding new ways to make simple foods that enhance life is a common theme on my Make Your Someday Today podcast, We want to live life, enjoy life, and become the best we can be. Don't you?