Wednesday, February 21, 2018

RECIPE WEDNESDAY - Mushroom and Swiss Burger

Good morning!
My plan is to start sharing more recipes. The Menu Planner is working great. I know what's up for the week and I'm spending a lot less money, allowing me to focus on a hard savings account. 

While losing weight is a journey, you can't eliminate your favorite foods. Find alternative recipes or indulge once in awhile. This recipe is an indulgence. That said, this is a healthier version of the one you'll get in a fast food place. For one... JUST HAVE THE BURGER. Don't add a large order of fries - those are the 'die' on the plate. Serve with slices of tomato or simple side salad and enjoy the luxuriousness of this Mushroom and Swiss Burger! I'm a firm believer in that moderation is the KEY to successful weight loss.

I'm really enjoying the recipes in Ree Drummond's cookbook, 'Come and Get it!'

One recipe in particular called to us. Hamburger Steak with Mushroom Gravy from her 'Under 40' chapter... meals in under 40 minutes. I did give the recipe a bit of a twist but here's the result:

These were DELICIOUS!

I started with two 1/2 pound burgers so they would be rather thick so as to be medium -rare in the center and I wanted to allow for shrinkage. I wanted them to cover the bun edge to edge. Seasoning Salt, Garlic Powder and a bit of pepper (on mine only) is all I used for seasoning. I used a cast iron skillet for the best heat radiation/ browning capabilities. You can not beat a cast iron skillet when it comes to meat or grilled cheese.

After removing the burgers from the skillet, I added a Tablespoon of butter to saute sliced baby bella mushrooms in. I followed this up with another Tablespoon of butter and 2 Tablespoons of flour. I used about 1-1/2 cup of beef broth and a 1/2 cup of red wine. Still seemed a little thin so I made a thickening of milk/ flour and added it, stirring til smooth. Then I turned the flame down to low and let everything reduce til I had a nice, thick gravy.

Ree served hers on a plate but when I saw the recipe I knew this would be the best Mushroom and Swiss burger I'd ever made. I was right.

I used Baby Swiss for Bob and I chose Provolone. After brushing the buns with butter and grilling them on another iron skillet, I placed one slice of cheese on the bottom bun, smeared about a Tablespoon of gravy, then the burger, another slice of cheese then a generous serving of the mushroom gravy.

If you are a fan of Mushroom and Swiss burgers, I recommend you give this one a try. I'm adding this recipe to our Recipe Favorites.

Monday, February 19, 2018

WEIGH IN 2-19-18


And the roller coaster has returned. I apologize for not posting last week. Bob and I were dealing with tummy issues. I didn't feel up to much of anything but curling up in the recliner. That said, the weight was 167 last week as well so I've lost a pound and held it since posting two weeks ago.

I was surprised to step on the scales this morning and not see a gain. I've been getting hungry at night. Not just the munchies but really wanting to eat. The fact that my teeth are still in pretty solid may have play a part.

This week is all over the place. Today is a prime rib roast with mashed taters and port gravy. My sister found the recipe and tried it. Said it was OMG. So I want to give it a shot. Bob loves prime rib and this was supposed to have been our New Years dinner had he been home. Their recipe is not for stout but I'm going to substitute part of the beef stock for a red wine. We love the flavor red wine adds to a rich beef gravy.

Tomorrow will be something quick, Wednesday dinner out and Thursday dinner out. By Friday I might have an idea of what to fix. Maybe Ree's chicken legs in the crock pot but I'm thinking of saving that for Sunday.

Speaking of Ree's recipes. We tried her hamburger steaks in gravy last week. I have pictures on my phone I'll be setting up later today. Come back on Wednesday to see my twist. I promise you, it was OMG delicious.

How was your week? I'd love to hear your story. How are you walking this path?
Whatever your chosen path...

Enjoy the Journey!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


This week, we are delving into our freezer. You know, that place where we shove leftovers or meat sales from the grocer then forget what's in there.

Ree Drummond aka Pioneer Woman has her 12 Favorite Freezer Staples. Let's see how they compare to yours and mine:

Frozen Peas - Yes, I keep these. But since I'm the only one to eat these, when I get the bags of vegies on sale I bring them home, open them up and freeze them in portions for me.

Frozen Green Beans - No... the only time I use frozein green beans is in the mixed vegetables.

Freeze Your Own - Absolutlely! I take advantage of produce sales as well as my own garden 

Frozen Corn Kernels - Again, this is one I buy in bulk then break down into smaller packages.
          Bob loves corn. However, corn is one of those items that does NOT breakdown in the colon 
          -potentially causing tears/ scar tissue within the colon. As we get older, this is one item to eat
          in moderation.

Frozen Fruit - Yes! Produce sales as well as pre-packaged. Because these will crystallize FAST in
         your freezer due to temperature changes in transport - either to the store or to your home, unless
         you're going to use this right away, frozen fruits and vegies will keep better if you put them in
         seal-a-meal type bags.

Raw Meats - When bringing raw meats home from the store, your  best bet is to get them out of the 
       store packaging as soon as you get home. Well-packaged meats will last longer and store
       packaging does not always meet this standard. Remember to LABEL!
       A) This gives you the opportunity to check the meat and make sure it's good. I've had issues 
            several times with bad meat... particularly chicken. Hang on to your receipt, check the meat
            and return to the store right away if there are issues. You don't want to begin dinner on 
            Thursday night, open your package to find the meat is spoiled. 
      B) Repackage into the Food Saver bags for longer/ safer freezer storage

Cooked Meat 'Components' - Anything you pre-cook. When I bring home hamburger from
           the store, I often brown up the meat and package out for quick dinners. 
           For chicken, if you know you want to do shredded BBQ chicken or Chicken and noodles, go
           ahead and cook it up as soon as you bring it home then package up the prepared meat for
           future meals. Take advantage of sales!

Sauces, Stews and soups - This is a great way to package leftovers. Ree packages hers in ziplock bags
          freezing them flat for space-saving storage. Since I use FoodSaver, I will freeze leftovers in 
           round or square pans that will fit my FoodSaver bags. After they've frozen, I dip them in hot
           water to 'unmold' then slide into the FoodSaver bags. This sucks all the air out I might not be 
           able to do with the standard ziplock - preventing freezer burn in under six months. 

          ANYTHING with a moisture content is going to create freezer burn or at the very least crystals
          in under six months - shortening your freezer life.

Casseroles - I do these the same way I do the sauces, stews and soups. 
          If I'm going to reheat in a casserole dish, I will 'freeze mold' in that dish, pop out and put in 
          FoodSaver. When it comes time to cook, I remove from the bag and pop back in it's original 

Bread Dough - I don't buy store bread doughs primarily. I have been known to buy Pillsbury Southern
        style biscuits for quick Biscuits and Gravy. But when it comes to bread dough, making my own 
        as needed isn't that time consuming. If I were as busy as Ree or worked outside the home, then I 
        would definitely take advantage of this option.

Dinner Rolls - See Bread Dough

Puff Pastry - I usually only use this or Filo dough during the holidays. So I buy as needed. But if                you're one to entertain periodically, this is a good staple for your freezer. Elegant desserts   
       without the time expenditure.

Pie Crusts - Again, this takes 5 minutes to make. She says she makes her own and freezes for when 
       she needs that quick pot pie crust or dessert for the church potluck... but seriously, pie crust 
       doesn't take that long. If you know you'll need something that afternoon... mix it up first thing, 
       wrap in plastic and toss in the freezer until you're ready for it later. The key is to PLAN - even
       when that 'plan' needs to be within the next 6 hours.

Aw Nuts! - yep... nuts will get stale pretty quick in the cabinet. I take mine out of the plastic, put into 
        mason jars and seal with the food saver... then in the freezer they go. Will keep seemingly 

Next week, we'll talk about MY pantry then the last Wednesday, MY freezer. We'll also talk about why having certain things on hand can help on our weightloss journey!

Enjoy the Journey!

Monday, February 5, 2018

WEIGH IN - 2-5-18


I'm up 7 pounds from last week but I totally get why so I'm not kicking myself and getting all bummed. Friday, I could not seem to get enough to drink. Didn't matter whether I drank water, cran-grape juice, mini coke.. nothing seemed to do it. I've also had a couple of comfort food meals this week - like the chicken fried steak, mashed taters and milk gravy - all made from scratch - on Saturday. 

Sometimes we just need those comfort foods... and they're OKAY ... as long as we remember they are to be enjoyed GUILT - FREE then move on. Guilt will pack on the pounds faster than anything. 

Go forth into the week and live your food life guilt free... 

Enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Until Bob gave me a copy of the newest Pioneer Woman cookbook Come and Get It!, I'd not given thought to actually owning one. I mean, all the recipes are readily available at woman. But now that I've held one in my hands and stuck page flags on all the recipes I want to try, I think there are copies of previous titles in my future.

I love her fun style
I love pictures of her family and the ranch
I love the step-by-step photography for each recipe

If I'm not mistaken, each cookbook also has it's share of tips. This one - Come and Get It! shares her pantry and freezer staples.

Canned Tomato Products - I tried canning my own diced tomatoes this year and just wasn't happy with the result. Until I can find a 'meaty' variety, I'll stick to the store bought. I also keep tomato sauce and paste on hand

Jarred Marinara Sauce - Since canning my own last year, I only keep a couple of jars for larger meals. I can all of mine in pints as that is pretty much all I need for dinner for two.

Syrups - Mrs. Butterworths please. I also keep Grandma's Molasses on hand for cookies or topping a hot buttered home-baked biscuit. Nothing says southern like a hot buttered biscuit with blackstrap!

Dried Beans - I keep Great Northern for ham n' beans and black.

Canned Beans - Black beans, VanD Camps Pork n Beans Van D Camp new Baked Beans. I also keep pairs of Brooks Chili base /w beans and Busch's Baked Beans with Honey. This is our go-to staple for chili.

Rice - I keep mostly Minute Rice. Not the healthiest but when you're cooking for one and you get hungry last minute, this is the way to go. My rice also includes rice side dishes like Knoll or Rice A Roni

Stocks & Broths - I don't keep a lot of these on hand. I do have bouillon paste for chicken and beef in the refrigerator so I can make up what I need without opening a 4-C box. My plan is to invest in a pressure cooker and put up my own.

Potatoes - I do keep a few potatoes on hand, but we try not to eat a lot of them. We'll get to freezer next week but I do keep tater tots in the freezer for casseroles. I also keep about 4 cans of potatoes on hand for adding bulk to a soup/ stew if needed.

Onions & Garlic - yes and yes. Bob doesn't care for onions but I  will put them in most anything. Garlic we both love... to the extent that I planted three varieties this year. Iv'e never planted garlic before so come July, I'll let you know how they came out.

Breadcrumbs - I keep bread and crackers both on hand. Last year I bought several loaves of french bread off the clearance rack at WM. I cubed them up and dried them on the dehydrator. Afterwards, I vacuum-sealed them in wide-mouth quart mason jars. I can use them as is or crush them up as needed. I also buy Townhouse crackers when they are on sale (New Years and Super Bowl). I can put a sleeve and a half in one wide-mouth quart. We use them in meatloaf, bread fish/ chicken tenders and chicken cutlets (for Chicken Parmigiana)

Salsa - I keep one jar in the fridge and one back-up in the pantry. I'm the only one that eats it. I add it to my chili and taco meat

Pickled Jalapenos - Nope.. but I do keep cans of Chopped Green Chiles for my homemade burritos.

Roasted Red Peppers - I've not kept these on hand but I need to remember to add Sun-dried tomatoes to the list. I've come across a couple of recipes I want to use them in.

Jarred Pesto - again, just a me thing. Bob doesn't care for anything green except green beans and canned peas. I keep one jar in the fridge that lasts seemingly forever.

Jams and Jellies - YES! Mostly my home canned preserves. I keep inexpensive grape for the Oriole feeder. Concord Grape jelly for Bob (store bought until I can find a good supply of grapes to make my own) and while I can my own strawberry and peach preserves, I keep a jar each of store bought for emergency PB & J cravings. LOL I keep store bought apple butter and apple sauce on hand for baking. Apple sauce is a great substitute for 'fat' in a recipe. I'm hoping to get a supply of apples this year and replenish my home-canned stock.

Unami - no but I do keep Teriyaki marinade, soy sauce and other Asian-style sauces on hand.

Olives - Not in this house :-D

Oils & Vinegars - Vegetable Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil are staples as are White vinegar, Balsamic and Red Wine.

Condiments - Who can live without ketchup, yellow mustard, brown mustard, honey mustard, Miracle Whip and BBQ sauces in multiple flavor profile varieties? Not this household!

So that's my take on Ree Drummond's Pantry Staples. Next week, we'll peek into her freezer!

What are some of your staples in these categories? I'd love to know... you might inspire me to add them to my shopping list!

Enjoy the Journey!

Monday, January 29, 2018

WEIGH-IN 1-29-18


Considering I'm just coming off the holidays and Bob has been home a full week, I'm thrilled with the 7-pound loss since the beginning of the month. I'd gone back up to 170 but then back to the 167 in time for Bob to come home and for me to win our challenge. An extra $100 in the account does not hurt a bit.

For now, my goal is to be at 155 by mid-May. I'm wanting to make a trip back home to CO and I know after being away for so long, the altitude is going to be a big adjustment... but easier if I'm a few pounds lighter. 

While hiking the mountains isn't necessarily on my agenda, I do want to enjoy time with family, doing some book research and meeting up with musicians like Ragged Union, whom I promote. If you like bluegrass music, you need to check this group out. They are awesome. I've reviewed their albums on my music blog - KellysCountry

So... with a new year, there are a couple of changes I want to make here. I'm still going to be focusing on FlyLady. I need to get my planner out and get that back in working order.

I also want to try more Pinterest recipes and Bob got me the new Pioneer Woman cookbook for Christmas. I spent yesterday morning flagging multiple recipes. Bob said the book looks more like a porcupine with all the tabs sticking out. There are some goodies in there and most are, or can be adjusted, for healthy options and use items I already have on hand. This week I'll talk about what she considers the 'staples' to have on hand then next week we'll move into recipes.

For now, I'm off to get the rest of the blogs caught up. 
Enjoy the Journey!

Monday, January 8, 2018

WEIGH-IN 1- 8-18


Good morning!

While I won't have this blog running full force for a few more weeks, I do want to keep the Weigh-In posts regular. 

I'm up a pound... and I wonder. Can what you eat the night before affect the scale the following morning?

I had two BBQ chicken thighs last night along with part of the loaded smashed taters from Coltons, an chub ear of corn on the cob and a roll.  While that seems like a big meal, I had only eaten a couple of pieces of chicken throughout the day. But because I ate it at like 5 p.m., I just have to wonder.

Your thoughts?

How's your 2018 shaping up? Enjoy the Journey!