How many times have you followed a recipe only to be disappointed in the end? It looks nothing like the photo and never mind if it tastes good – it doesn't look like the picture! Isn't that why we like the photos to begin with, to know the end result? I would think it’s just my own personal cooking OCD, but Pintrest demonstrates time and time again disillusioned cooks with their own disappointing culinary adventures.
I’m definitely not excluded from these food tragedies and that's really what they are, tragedies. I was wandering through Pintrest when I came across Peppermint Oreo Pops and I wondered how hard could it be? More often than not with the recipes I seem to be attracted to, I'm required to purchase some exotic ingredient like a West African guinea pepper. And yes, I'm still looking for them.
The photo link was to Lulu the Baker’s web site and I was immediately taken in by her step-by-step instructions accentuated with photos, which assured me that I couldn't fail. And, I didn't!
I did realize later that I missed an essential step because I used my memory of the instructions, which is never a good idea. But, I prevailed in the end, even though I burned the first batch of candy melts. This success includes having an eight and eleven year old helping each step of the way. I know! I still prevailed!
I’ve been trying a new recipe/project practically every night it seems and I have to say that I depend on photos for encouragement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t guarantee everything will taste good…another lesson I learned this week with some cookies I made. They did look like the picture, though. Score!
In the end, I was successful in my quest to try something new and have it turn out almost like the one in the photo. How about you? Any tales to tell of success or fail?
I've reached the final day of my self-inflicted...ahem, imposed low-carb diet. The last few days haven’t been tough at all really, but I have to admit that I didn't stick to the 20 carbs per day limit. There's only so much you can ask of a reluctant dieter.
Sadly, my scale hasn't reflected much change, just about five pounds. However I did say that wasn't the main focus (liar, liar, pants on fire). You have to admit that it helps to see those digital numbers work backwards on your scale. It's purely psychological, which is probably why shows like the Biggest Loser have their weigh-ins. It keeps the "Losers" motivated. The great thing is that my clothes are far more loose, not the slutty kind of "loose," the reason we diet kind.
Actually, both definitions apply, don't they?
One of my thin neighbors suggested I try a low-carb plan where the carbs are reduced during the week and then I enjoy myself a bit more on the weekends. He lost fifty pounds doing it, so it’s really a no-brainer that I should give it a try. I really just want to lose ten pounds, okay fifteen, so what?
There are few things I've missed while on this diet adventure, aside from the satisfaction of a full stomach, that I plan to reinstate now that it's over:
Bread - I'm a simple gal who likes a little toast with my eggs and maybe a sandwich now and then. But, I’m not one of those nutty folks who literally moan when freshly baked bread is placed before them, or the Husband who can’t seem to make it through the grocery store without eating half of a crusty baguette. You should see the strain in his face when the kids ask for a piece. I'm convinced he feels actual physical pain as he hands it to them.
Potatoes - Ya gotta have the hash-browns at breakfast! Not everyday, mind you, just on the weekends and perhaps Monday through Friday - but only those days, otherwise it's really too much.
Tortillas - Some might say this falls in the bread category, but any tortilla connoisseur knows better. These circular vessels of cuisine are essential to my well-being and I will once again proclaim that almost anything tastes good in a tortilla. I’m not sure what there is to exclude, but the “almost” is for the ones who always have to think of something. You know who you are.
Italian Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Veggies
So begins my next food adventure. Although I'm looking forward to returning some much needed carb-fuel to my menu, I do still plan to use many of the recipes I've received and researched to make low-carb options easier. I love to try new things when I cook, so why not?
And, I guess if you absolutely have to label it, it would technically be a "diet" as I'm still holding out on my body's deluded thirst for carbs. But, I'll just call it something else...like, George Clooney. It will go something like this:
"Hey, are you on a diet?"
"No, I'm on George Clooney."
See what I just did?
At the suggestion of my fabulous sister, I thought I would share what I’ve been eating lately. Not because it’s excitingly exotic, but perhaps it’s along the lines of encouraging variety to your palate. What my dear sibling doesn’t know is that the Husband and I have decided to follow a low-carb diet to loosen up the belt a bit after Thanksgiving feasting and to prep for the mounds of Christmas meals we’ll be enjoying. First let me add, we aren’t what you would call overweight by any means, but we could stand to lose a few pounds – him more than me, of course.
Normally, I don’t diet…ever. I desperately despise dieting because it’s in essence telling me what I can or can’t do with my pie-hole. And I really don’t like that. I must first offer that we don’t snack much in our house and pretty much stick to a breakfast, lunch and dinner routine. Therefore, this whole abstaining from carbs shouldn’t be too hard, but knowing I can’t have something only makes me want it more. I don’t know if you know this, any low-carb snack you want to have pretty much calls for some sort preparation that takes time. Which in all reality is the most sadistic form of torment when you feel like you’re starving to death and want to, dare I say, snack between meals.
I will stand strong, however. I’ll apply myself for the next two weeks to keep my daily carb count below twenty…ish, maybe. Sounds a bit like Adkin’s induction, I know. The difference is that I don’t refrain from my late-night-kids-have-finally-gone-to-bed-happy-hour. Momma needs to celebrate when the madness dies down. We don’t mess with that.
There are probably more don’ts I do on Adkin’s list, but I’m not going to check. My method has worked for me in the past and it will work again. I’m not offering that it’s the best way to do it, just mine. Which actually makes it the best, but we shouldn’t be too pretentious when dieting. As long as I keep the carb count low, that’s all that matters.
Breakfast on Day 1 was a spinach and mushroom frittata. Normally, I would add potatoes to the mix, but *mocking voice* I’m not supposed to. I sautéed chopped red onions in little butter for a bit before adding the mushrooms, then threw in some fresh spinach leaves. I added some chopped tomatoes to the mix before pouring in four beaten eggs and sprinkling lots of cheese on top.
The tricky part is not messing with the mixture too much so it can set. Otherwise you won’t get to use your mad chef skills to flawlessly flip the frittata. It also helps if you talk to it (kind of like a plant that needs inspiration to not die) and throw in a couple of warnings of what you’ll do if it fragments into tiny little pieces. Eggs hate threats.
Lunch was tuna fish accompanied with a boiled egg, onions, pickles and a little mayo. There’s no photo in the world that will do tuna fish justice, so I won’t even try. Likewise, the meal was very pathetic. I just dropped a glob of it on spinach leaves and feigned a smile that I was doing something good for my body as I chewed. Mmmm.
Dinner was promising considering I was trying a new seasoning I snagged at the grocery store. It was from Weber, the grill people. Mango with lime smothered all over chicken breast. I simply used my stovetop grill and piled on asparagus and mushrooms, which were doused with olive oil, salt and pepper. Everything was delicious. I know this because the Husband didn’t say, “What seasoning did you use? It tastes interesting.”
A little tip, just in case you didn’t read my getting ethnic on your friends post, “interesting” is code for "I don’t know if I like eating this, but I will pretend to feign interest to avoid hurting your feelings.”
Breakfast on day 2 and 3 weren’t nearly as exciting, but that’s just the reality of abstaining, I mean dieting. I made scrambled eggs both mornings, mixing it up each day with onions, both red and yellow, and with the type of cheese used. I always reach for the Mexican variety when selecting cheese because one, I’m half Mexican and totally biased, and two, it just requires a cheese element. I like the shredded Mexican cheese with the Monterrey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero. I also love Queso Fresco sprinkled on top. It’s not just for refried bean and tacos, people. You can also mix your scrambled eggs with cream cheese, by the way. I like to use the chive variety as it adds an electrifying element to your little ol’ egg.
Lunch on Day 2 was that infamous tuna fish I made the day before, but I cheated. It was wrapped by a delicious piece of bread, just like a warm, comforting cocoon. Bread never tasted so sweet. I was hungry, so don’t judge me. I enjoyed some meatloaf meatballs (because my teenager hates meatloaf, I make them into meatballs. I win.) for dinner along with some fresh-from-a-can green beans. Canned food is another form of cheating, I know, but let’s not fret on the details. At least I didn’t add butter, so relax!
Lunch Day 3 was celery sticks and ranch dressing. I know your mouth’s watering, right? Just keep in mind that when you are ready to chow down on your kid’s sugar cookie Pop-Tarts, you walk the line. That Johnny Cash knows how to diet.
We are now at day 4. I will add that last night dinner wasn't made by me as I had to be elsewhere at dinner time. When I returned home, I just threw some Conecuh Spicy Sausage on the grill and then scarfed it down just like a dog being fed broccoli under the dinner table by your children. But the difference is I did chew, a little bit…I think. Just so you know, the spicy Conecuh sausage is truly delicious and taste best wrapped in a flour tortilla, which I always have on hand. However, they are not carb friendly and I don't eat the carb-free type. I tried it once, but was certain I died a little inside afterwards. By the way, did you know almost everything taste good in a tortilla? Scientific fact.
Breakfast was delish, full of eggs, cheese and Lil’ Smokies. Side note: you can wrap those brave little sausages in Pillbury biscuit dough with a dab of butter and bit of cheese. If you bake as directed you’ll have your very own pig-in-a-blanket, or if you're from Houston, a Shipley's Donuts kolache. The kolache isn't native to H-town, it just seems anyone I've ever mentioned it to in other cities I've lived in look at me like I'm crazy. I rub a stick of butter on top when I take them out of the oven for additional pleasure. I dare you to share them.
As you can easily tell, I'm super focused on my low-carb diet.
Anyway, back to breakfast. I went crazy and threw some chopped green onion on top of my scrambled eggs. It actually added a little crunch the eggs needed considering it wasn’t accompanied by buttery toast. My photo doesn’t show how I showered my eggs with a bit of Sriracha, but only because the Husband says it makes them look like they were murdered. I will attest to that, but I think he’s a bit scared of the power that goes by the name Sriracha.
Lunch was a simple spinach salad, but I looked forward to our steak dinner all day. It’s a spin-off of our favorite Miami restaurant, Larios on the Beach, Bistec de Palomilla. First, I beat a piece of thin-sliced top round with the flat part of the meat tenderizer until it's rather thin, then marinate it in mojo criollo for at least 30 minutes, sometimes overnight. It’s a simple pan-fry in a cast-iron skillet after I season it with Adobo. After the steak is done, I toss in finely diced onions and garlic (lots of garlic) with some of the mojo and sauté until the onion is translucent.
Once done, its home is on top of the steak and I can’t tell you how amazingly good it is. I plan on grilling some yellow squash and zucchini to accompany it. Not exactly Cuban like the steak, but how many Cuban dishes do you know that come with veggies? That’s right…none.
I know I’m not even half way through my self-imposed two week diet, but I have lost four pounds and definitely an inch or so. I don’t really gauge my diets by how much weight I lose so much as how many inches I’ve lost. I know my clothes are fitting a bit better and when all of this is done, I’ll be more aware of how many carbs I actually eat and regulate myself better.
What I'm in need of are more ideas for low-carb meals and most importantly low-carb snacks, so I'm constantly searching the web. Do please share any recipes you have that will make it easy for me to not only survive this diet, but want to continue watching my carbs.
My photo adventures in Florida