Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 53 and Recipe[S] #58 and #59...

Oops. I did it again. This whole dieting thing is really difficult whenever Stephen comes into town. To top it all off, I am apparently not as amazing as I think I am when it comes to weight loss. Saturday morning, I reweighed myself after BOASTING on my blog about my amazing feats of dieting, and it turns out I had gained back nearly TWO pounds. Luckily, I had already resolved to eat whatever I wanted in moderation this weekend, and somehow, don't even ask me HOW this all works out, but I have ended up losing nearly all of those two pounds again even while eating pizza, frozen yogurt, root beer floats, and this amazing meal I am about to share with all of you. I don't know how eating a tortilla on Friday night caused me to GAIN weight, but eating anything I wanted caused me to LOSE weight. Ugh, whatever.

ANYWAYS, long story short, this entry is more about sharing a pretty epic meal I prepared for the Bairds on Sunday night. I love Sunday dinners. I also love treats after Sunday dinners, and although I know the first recipe I am going to share with you isn't necessary a BAKED good, it's worth mentioning. Ladies and gents, I bring you Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta and Cookies-n-Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies.

Recipe #58: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta (as found on http://amysnewkitchen.blogspot.com... SHOUT OUT to a wonderful fellow blogger)

All right, this recipe came to be because I knew I had wanted to make something for the in-laws this weekend as a way of celebrating Stephen coming to visit us all. As I sat in his parent's kitchen on Saturday morning, his mother mentioned that for Valentine's Day, she and Dave had been treated to a meal of Chicken Cordon Bleu with some sort of sauce on it, and she could not stop raving. As luck would have it, at that precise moment, I remembered I had just posted a chicken cordon bleu recipe I had really been wanting to try on my Pinterest, one that I knew Stephen would really enjoy. I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe since I was feeding a larger crowd than the recipe called for, but it worked out beautifully... other than overheating the broiler, Dave putting the oven rack too close to it, a fire erupting on top of the bread crumbs, Ava screaming bloody murder when the fire alarm went off, and Stephen burning his hands on the cookie sheet we set the garlic bread on... all in a matter of five minutes. Well played, Bairds.


Serves 6

1 lb. Pasta (I actually used a pound and a half of penne pasta, since there were actually eight of us, plus one 2-year old)
1 cup Chicken Breasts, cooked and cubed (I doubled it to 2 cups of chicken breasts. Luckily for us, Stephen and I found these strips of chicken that were called "stir fried strips" that worked perfectly!)
1 cup Ham, cooked and cubed (Again, we up-ed it to 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups Milk
8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
2 Tbsp. Dried Minced Onion
2 cups Swiss Cheese, shredded

Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Panko Crumbs
1/2 cup Butter, melted 


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over med-high heat. Salt it and add the pasta; cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Add in the chicken and ham and toss to combine.
    - The blog said to let it cook for 11 minutes. I think I kept mine on for 15 all together, because at 11 it wasn't done.

2. Preheat the broiler. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream cheese and minced onion over low-medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes a smooth texture (about 5 minutes). 

     - A word of caution: set your broiler to LOW. LOW people. On top of that, at this point, Ava had come into the kitchen and was DEMANDING to eat pieces of cubed ham... so while I was holding her, Stephen took over. I was preoccupied, so when he started asking questions about what to do, I accidentally told him to combine the Swiss cheese and this point. DON'T DO THAT. He ended up having to scoop the shredded cheese out... way more work than needed. Sorry, love.

3. Stir into the pasta mixture. Stir in the Swiss cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
     - We also added immense amounts of Cayenne pepper at this time because the dish needed a kick. Luckily, the pepper did the trick. It gave the dish a nice back burn, which sounds weird, but it's what was needed, otherwise I think it would be too bland. 

4. Transfer pasta to a baking dish and top with Panko crumbs. Pour melted butter over crumbs and broil until browned (I gave it 4 minutes). 

    - HA HA, this is when all heck broke loose. We also forgot the butter, but I don't think it's needed.

This ended up making two relatively large pans of pasta, PERFECT!

Next up, brownies! I am always scouring the internet for brownie recipes (because brownies are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE treat!), and this one looked too fun to pass up- chocolate, ice cream, hot fudge, and Oreos? SIGN ME UP.

#59: Cookies N' Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies (as found on http://www.kevinandamanda.com)


1 box Brownie Mix (I used Ghirardelli's double chocolate brownies, with chocolate chips in the batter)
eggs & oil (with the Ghirardelli mix, it ended up being 1/3 a cup oil and one egg, I believe)
1 heaping half cup (6 oz) Cookies & Cream ice cream (they were out of cookies and cream [at least, the kind on sale], so we opted for mint chocolate chip. MY FAVORITE!)
1/4 Cup hot fudge topping (chilled or room temp)
Oreo Cookies (Double Stuff babes...)


1. Preheat oven & spray an 8×8 baking dish generously with cooking spray. 
     - In my case, the box of brownie mix called for a 325 degree oven... and I couldn't find an 8x8 pan, so I ended up using a 9x13... probably not the greatest decision, I'll explain later.

2. Combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil as directed on the back of the box, but do not add the water. 
    - OOPS, I added the water. Mistake #2.

3. Add ice cream and hot fudge to the brownie batter and stir to combine.

4. Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking dish, layer with Oreos, then top with remaining batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes or as directed on the back of the box.
     - I ended up keeping mine in for about 60 minutes.

All right, so, these brownies were GREAT... they just turned out looking a little less than perfect. When Stephen and I tried spooning them out, they were surprisingly very crumbly. On top of that, the sides ended up getting very crisp and dry, while the inside pieces were perfect. Sigh. We ended up piling tons of the ice cream and hot fudge on top of the brownies, and no one seemed to notice. They were stinkin' delicious all the same!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 50 and Recipe #57...

Just a quick post to let you all know- I'm amazing. Despite eating like C-R-A-P all week, consuming one too many cookies at my kids' Valentine's Day party, and even sprinkling a little cheese on my scrambled eggs (Eeep!), I LOST WEIGHT! Wahoo! As of this morning, I am a flat 134 pounds. I'm attributing this to my INTENSE workouts this week, as well as what I am assuming is my increased metabolism. I tried kickboxing and hot yoga for the first time, and I gotta tell you, they kicked my rear! For some reason, even though I can SLIGHTLY keep a beat and stay up to pace with the rest of my Zumba class, I have NO coordination when it comes to kickboxing. Seriously. I'm not sure if it's just because all the movements are harsh and... JABBY... but I couldn't keep up! Yoga was very relaxing, until those silly high school girls behind us started giggling uncontrollably (I was convinced something must have been poking out of the back of my pants, and became WAY too self conscious) and answering their phones. I'm sorry, cell phones shouldn't be allowed in yoga, case closed.

ANYWAYS, let's look at my goals-

Weight as of December 29th, 2011- 146.6 pounds
Weight as of today- 134 pounds
Total weight loss- 12.6 pounds
Weight loss to go until goal #2- 4 pounds

Yay! I also managed to make a super simple recipe for the blog. Tuesday was Valentine's Day (my least favorite holiday... ugh), and I decided to make treats for my kiddos. I wanted a super easy, no-brainer recipe that I could make a large batch of, and luckily I saw this particular recipe pinned ALL OVER Pinterest. It's good... but unfortunately for all of you, I was in such a hurry to chug these snacks out, that they didn't LOOK as good as they tasted. I'll just show you the pin, whattya say?

Recipe #57: Chocolate Pretzel Buttons (as found on http://www.musesofmegret.com)


2 bags Hershey’s Kisses or Hugs (nut-free), or a combination of both (I used one bag of original Hershey's Hugs and another bag of caramel Kisses)
1 large bag M&M candies (All of the stores I went to at the time were out of plain Valentine's M&M's, so I used peanut butter, with delicious results)
1 bag pretzel rounds or squares


1. Unwrap the kisses and hugs. Place tin foil over the cookie sheets to help prevent sticking. 
     - Tin foil is pretty necessary. My kisses ended up over melting, and got ALL OVER the cookie sheet.

2. Place one kiss on top of each of the pretzel squares. Place the cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 2 and a half to three minutes until the kisses soften and start to melt. Remove from oven and immediately press one M&M into the center of each kiss. Cool slightly, and then transfer sheets to the refrigerator for a few minutes to set.
     - All right, I slightly improvised on this step. The first batch I kept in for only two and a half minutes, and they were a mess. The candy over-melted, so when I placed a M&M in the center, the kiss collapsed and melted all over the cookie sheet. To try to avoid another situation like that, I went ahead and brought the time down to a minute and a half, and then I went and stuck the treats in the freezer over night to REALLY set them up. That worked much better; however, I kept them in my fridge at school that day to avoid having them melt. 

That's it. So deliciously poppable and addicting. Make these. Preferably in pastels for Easter. DO IT.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 43 and Recipe #56...

It was a pastry EMERGENCY! I needed to make a batch of cookies fast for a deserving young lady... so I found a VERY easy cookie recipe that took NO time to whip up, only used four ingredients, and was SUPER tasty. Oh my goodness. Don't take MY word for it, meet my brother:

I kinda feel like this was one of those segments that they used to put at the end of "Reading Rainbow" where the kids would recommend certain books appropriate to the theme of the episode, and they'd close with "But don't take my word for it!" and cheesy 80's segue music would come on. Anyone else feel that way? Just me?

ANYWAYS, as for my weight loss, I have been naughty. Naughty naughty naughty. And it shows. I'm up slightly from my lightest, and I am sure it's going to sky rocket some more with Valentine's Day this week. I am trying to stay positive in that even though I have been eating like C-R-A-P, I really have stayed relatively stable... which doesn't make it okay. But my muscles are getting stronger and I can stay on the treadmill for MUCH longer, so that's saying something right?

Recipe #56: Rolo Cookies (as found on sixsistersstuff.com)


1 pkg. Rolo's
1 box Devils Food Cake mix
2 eggs 
1/3 c. oil


1. Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs. Take a small ball of dough and form a ball around the rolo. (Only use enough dough to cover the rolo so it can spread through the cookie.)
     - Fun! Seriously, don't go nuts though, or you will run out of dough. This recipe made JUST enough for three batches... this is what mine looked like.

2. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes. Yields about 3 dozen.
     - Here's the goodie-goodness:

3. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
     - I did desire, and it made them all so pretty.

THAT'S IT, and they are awesome! Unfortunately, the girl I baked them for is DIABETIC... but luckily the Maxfield's enjoyed them. Thank you for taking MOST of them off my hands (again, I haven't been the greatest. I'll be good after Valentine's Day, I swear!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 38 and Recipe #55

I have had a crappy week. My current science unit at school is sucking the life out of me. I have had no social life. I am trying not to make passive-aggressive comments about people in my life who are irritating the snot out of me. And on top of that, I miss my fiance more than he will ever know. With that being said, I needed to bake. So I did. And that's really all the explaining I need to make for this post.

A quick play-by-play of where I am goal wise:

Starting weight- 146.6 pounds
Current weight- 134.4 pounds
Total weight loss since 12/29/2011- 12.2 pounds
Weight loss left- 4.4 pounds (until goal #2)

My Super Bowl Sunday/Valentine's Day treat:

#55: Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies (as found on http://www.thenovicechefblog.com)


Red Velvet Layer:
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons milk
Cheesecake Layer:
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 18 jelly roll pan with butter or spray with Baker's Joy. (I didn't have a jelly roll pan that large; I did, however, have a 10 X 15, which I used with this particular recipe, and it turned out just fine. I did have to adjust the baking time, which I'll get to later. Promise. I also made sure to not only cover the pan with foil, but coat the foil with cooking spray as well. I am NOT taking my chances.)
2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, red food coloring, and white vinegar. (My mom saw me pouring the vinegar into the batter and was slightly turned off by it. I don't blame her- vinegar should only be used in dressings and dyeing Easter eggs.)
3. Combine the dry and wet ingredients, until completely combined. The batter will be a really thick, almost moldable texture...but don't worry, that's what you want. (P.S.- we're talking super thick, like, Play-Doh thick. The batter kept clogging the mixer up, so after scrapping the dough off of it for the third time, I used my hands to knead all of the wet and dry ingredients together. Worked like a charm.)
4. Remove 3/4 cup of the batter and place it in a medium bowl. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons of milk (into the 3/4 cup of batter you just took out). Set aside the 3/4 cup batter.
5. Pour the remaining batter into the prepared jelly roll pan. Using a spatula, smooth out the batter to reach all the edges.
6. Now, in your stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined and there are no lumps. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the red velvet layer and smooth mixture till it reaches all the edges.
7. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining red velvet batter (that you mixed with milk) onto the top of the cheesecake layer. Drag the tip of a knife through the red velvet and the cheesecake layers to create swirls.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating half way through, or just until the center is set and it no longer jiggles. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. Use a medium sized heart cookie cutter to create the perfect Valentine's Day treat! (I ended up leaving mine in for a total of 45 minutes, because I am always afraid of killing someone off with undercooked cheesecake. On top of that, I was lazy, and didn't feel like using a cookie cutter, so I just cut bars. I think ended up getting 24 out of the pan. Perfect!)
These are good- soft, cheese-cakey, and rich. And yes, I allowed myself two, because DANGIT, I had a bad week and I've met my FIRST weight loss goal. Be forewarned though- yesterday morning, prior to baking, I was 133.4... I gained a pound in a day, and I am blaming these bars.
Here is a picture of the bars from the blog, because my pictures didn't do it justice...

And here are gratuitous shots of my wedding dress... because people wanted to see it... and I want to run around the house in it. And Stephen helped me pick it out, so don't stress about that tradition of the groom accidentally running into these pictures. When am I ever traditional?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 35: 135!!

Just a quick post to tell you... I DID IT! Goal #1 has been accomplished! This morning the scale read 135 and it felt FANTASTIC. I haven't been that small since my days before WSU, so at least over 6 or 7 years ago. My pants all hang off of me, I am swimming in my shirts... and I couldn't be any stinkin' happier about it.

So here's how it's going from here on out- although I have met the initial goal, I'm not going to start the next phase of the Dukan without Stephen meeting his weight goal (luckily he's close). The next phase would entail the two of us still eating lean protein and vegetables, but we can also incorporate all of the fruit we want, as well as two servings of whole grain bread a day and two carbs, plus one serving of low fat cheese. As AMAZING as a piece of nine grain toast sounds right now, I'm holding off. I am, however, starting to eat a little fruit again, just to allow my body to adjust a little. Today I had a half a ruby red grapefruit and a honeycrisp apple and let me tell you what, they were the best, most juicy pieces of fruit I have ever consumed. That good. I cried a little over the grapefruit at lunch (it's the little things!).

ANYWAYS, this means I am forging ahead with goal #2- drop to 130 pounds. Now, considering how much my weight loss has slowed over the last couple of weeks, I am giving myself plenty of time to do this. Also, I have revised my plans for treats. With the fear of plateauing, as well as beating myself up over not losing as much as quickly as I was, I will be rewarding myself at both 132.5 and 130 pounds. I deserve it. Much as I deserved those lime green and white bikinis I bought myself today!

Starting weight: 146.6 pounds
Current weight: 135 pounds
Total weight loss: 11.6 pounds
Weight until goal #2: 5 pounds