Foodie Friday -- Tomato Salad

A few weeks ago when we had my husband's employees over for a pool party, I prepared quite a dishes. One of them was this Tomato Salad recipe that I got from my mother-in-law.

Easy to make ahead of time.

Marilyn’s Tomato Salad


6 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 cup olives, halved and drained
1 cup purple onion, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. turmeric
¾ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. black pepper
6 Tbls. Olive oil
4 Tbls. Lemon juice 

Toss all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate until chilled (4-6 hours or overnight).

Tips & Tricks
  • only one suggestion here--take the ingredients from salt down and place them in a container that has a lid, shake well, and then poor over the tomato mixture.


Fruit Flies and Stuff

I don't know what is going on with fresh fruit this season, but it seems that the fruit flies are one step ahead of me!

Of course, I quickly hit the Internet to see if there is a simple solution to killing the little Bas%&*ds!

There is.

Take a small dish. Add one drop of liquid dish soap. Add a couple tablespoons of cider vinegar. Stir with your finger. Set on counter and walk away.

In about 6-24 hours there will be little fly carcasses on the bottom of the container.

Nuff said!

I'm still taking a bit of a blogging break as I have been reading voraciously, but I did want to let you know that I updated all my links under the Foodie Friday tab, Weighty Wednesday, Writing 101, and my 2014 Works in Progress.

Check back during the week of August 4-8, as I have a surprise for those parents with kids (or anyone, really!) who are driving mom and dad crazy during the last bit of summer before school starts!


New Kitchen Gadget

A few days ago we after we ate at P. F. Chang's in Utica Square, we wandered through Williams-Sonoma. For those of you who haven't heard of Williams-Sonoma, you have been either A) living under a rock, or B) from a different country, but I digress. To say Williams-Sonoma is simply a "kitchen" store would be doing it a disservice, but for the sake of this blog that is what it is.

So along with vanilla extract and vanilla paste (trust me, you want both in your pantry!) We purchased a tomato corer. Personally, I have a way of dealing, or not dealing with the 'core' of the tomato, but it really bothers the hubster, so he had to have this gadget.

This is how it works, as demonstrated via pictures with my darling daughter as a hand model . . . er, ignore the chipped blue fingernails . . .

tomato corer
Press the green top in that opens the 'jaws'.
 Now, does this, or does this not remind you of virtually every evil Sci-Fi critter ever invented? Serrated teeth and four mandibles? Or is my brain just warped in that way??

Vine ripe tomato

Press top in, jam jaws into tomato

See dog under my computer desk watching . . .

Twist and pull
 And there you have it. The newest gadget in the Golla household. There were also strawberry hullers designed the same way, but slightly smaller and colored. . .  you got it, strawberry red.

Later, Peeps!


Foodie Friday -- Fiesta Corn Casserole

This summer has been fantastic! The weather has been hot, but not drought/desert heat of the previous two summers, which makes it enjoyable to lay outside and read. And I have been reading lots and lots of books. Bliss!

Along with reading, we've had a couple of pool parties. I've tried a couple of new recipes, and have tweaked, a few of those recipes. This recipe is for a 13 x 9 inch pan, but it needs to be very deep (3-inches) pan instead of the normal 2-inch deep pan. Of course, you can cut the recipe in half or even one quarter of the amounts given here. Be sure to check out the tips and tricks at the bottom of the recipe.

Fiesta Corn Casserole

4 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 jar (2 oz.) chopped pimentos, drained
1 7 oz. can green chilies, drained
1 poblano chili, seeded, deveined, chopped
2 Serrano chilies, seeded, deveined, chopped
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded, deveined, chopped
2 36 oz. packages frozen corn, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray oil in 13 X 9 inch pan. 

Thoroughly mix softened cream cheese with spices. Taste for flavor. One ingredient at a time, add the next five ingredients, mixing in thoroughly until incorporated. Mix in corn. Place in a corn mixture in prepared pan, smooth top. 

Bake for about 45-60 minutes until hot and slightly brown on the edges. 


Tips & Tricks
  • You could probably use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Let me know how it works. 
  • All the spices can be adjusted to your family's personal tastes. I would probably add a touch more salt to this mix the next time I make it. 
  • I added only a half jar of pimentos because that was all I happened to have on hand. A 4 oz. jar would add a bit more red color to brighten up the mix.
  • I seeded and deveined the peppers because I didn't want the casserole to have too much heat. In hindsight, I probably would add the seeds and leave in the veins of one Jalapeno to give it a little more kick. 
  • If you decide to half this recipe, don't forget to decrease the baking time. I'd start checking on it at the 30 minute mark.  
Later, Peeps!


Summer Halfway Over

Wow, it's hard to believe but summer is halfway over! School is set to start on August 14th and then we'll be in the swing of all things school.

I had intended to be more present on this blog over the summer, but I'm taking a bit of a break, too.

Other than being chauffeur mom and driving the kidlet to swim practices--the killer one starts at 5:45 across town--I've been reading voraciously!

I just started Jim Butcher's Dresden Files book #9, White Night. I have/had most of these books in paper format, but made the mistake of lending the first five out to someone I trusted.

Yeah, I never got the books back.

So, like when I collected records, and recollecting everything when the industry went to CD's, and now recollecting again on IPod or in the cloud, I'm repurchasing the entire Dresden series on my Kindle. Luckily I happened to catch the first seven books on  a $0.99 cent sale in June.

Who is Harry Dresden?

He's a wizard. Chicago's only wizard in the yellow pages. Each urban fantasy book is stand alone, since Mr. Butcher does a wonderful job of weaving in the pertinent backstory when needed, but reading them in order provides an overall arc of the characters.

Reading also has made this writer realize some of the errors of her ways.

Not in a bad way, but in a "holy cow, i'm an idiot" type of way.

In fact, one of my epiphanies happened when I was reading the comics.

What? Don't you read comic strips? You should. They are probably the shortest flash fiction you'll ever read. In their one, two, or three cels they paint a picture for the reader. These stories have a beginning, middle and end told in a very concise way.

This was when I finally realized that my picture book, GO AWAY, PIPER! is actually multiple stories in one book. Oops!

I didn't continue the theme of the original story all the way through to the end. In my typical fashion, I took a right turn about 2/3 of the way through the story.

Plus it's wordy, way, way, way too wordy.

It isn't too surprising considering I was just typing my picture books on the computer. Oh, I could visualize the pages, BUT I was writing what I saw instead of letting the images do their job.

So, I bought a small journal. I counted out my 32 picture book pages and now I will see how well my story fits in that parameter. Plus, I'm going to draw/jot notes down about each page scene.

Oh, yeah, I can't draw. So we're talking stick figures and general scribbles.

I hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Later, Peeps!


Weighty Wednesday -- Figuring it out . . . Again

I managed to stay the same weight at this week's weigh-in! YAY! 

One of the disadvantages of having a big weight loss one week is the chance that you might rebound and GAIN weight the next week. This has happened to me on more occasions than I care to admit. Staying the same is perfect. Now I have a focus to lose before next week's weigh in.

This last week was fairly challenging in all aspects, but the fact that I managed to keep status quo on my weight and sanity is definitely a plus.

A reminder--This blog will remain sporadic over the summer until school starts on August 14. 

With getting up at 5 to get my daughter across town to a 50 meter pool to swim for 2.5 hours (I walk during this time), doctor's appointments, and then swim in the afternoon for 2.5 hours (I sit and watch Judge Judy). I'm busy chauffeuring the kidlet all over the place!

And to top it all off, we found out that the kidlet needs braces. This was a bit of a shocker because when you look at her smile her teeth are perfectly straight. Well, it turns out that her upper jaw is narrower than her lower jaw, resulting in what is called a cross-bite, which means her back teeth don't really close. This has caused her some pain, so we checked it out. Now there are numerous orthodontist appointments added to the queue for the summer.

In my world, summer has very little structure, which can cause a huge impact with one's ability to lose weight. Movies mean popcorn. Hanging at the house might cause grazing the pantry. Doctor's appointments might mean a quick detour to the local Starbucks for a frappa-lappa-ding-dong coffee.

On the plus side, there are more fresh fruits and veggies available, and grilling proteins tends to be lower in calories than casseroles, stews, and soups.

And then there are the vacations or staycations. I've already pointed out the grazing issue if you happen to spend vacation time on the home front, but don't forget the adult beverages that add a gazillion calories to your day.

If you go away on vacation, it gives you a chance to try new foods, enjoy frou-frou cocktails you would never have at home, or simply snack more because it's available. BUT there is usually more activity in the form of sighseeing, playing on the beach, or walking around an amusement park.

So how do you need to approach the unstructured summer?

With a plan!

  • One--you know that the summer is crazy, so take that into account when you think about your daily meals.
  • Two--only on the rare occasion will the whole day go craptastically. Usually you know what is going to happen: doctor's appointments, library day, free movies, window shopping at the mall, etc.

  • Take my yesterday, for example: 5 AM get up to take kidlet to swim. . . .actually 5:12--because kidlet and I slept through the alarm. 5:30--leave house. 6--kidlet swims and I walk. 8:40 --head home. I have 40 minutes to shower and get a package to the post office, and then to my 10:00 Weight Watcher meeting. 10:16 -- leave WW to go home to pick kidlet up. 10:30--Both of us have a hair appointment--cut and color for me, highlights and cut for her. 12:45--Pick up kidlet's friend to go to mall. Eat at mall (grilled chicken wrap from Chik-fil-A). Hang at mall for a couple of hours. Bring friend home. She stays for dinner . . .must plan a meal for dinner. Originally hubs and I would have gone for a walk and had a smoothie for dinner, but not any longer. Cook burgers on the grill, in which I proceeded to burn my arm on the hot grill lid (don't ask). Though the day hadn't gone as I had planned. I still had a plan in place. If I had eaten poorly at lunch, I think I would have over eaten at dinner. 

  • Three--plan for the unexpected. You know what your day will entail, even if it is simply "go to the library". The key is to think your day through before you start to know how you are going to attack it. If you'll be in the car for a long time, take a mini-snack to tide you over. 
Vacation is different, but also the same. If you do manage to go on vacation, then you are already making daily plans. You don't have to eat out at every meal, or go nuts with the selections. Go to the store and stock up on yogurt, or fruit, or healthy snacks. 

If you do eat out at every meal, don't make all of them point-heavy. Pick an appetizer for your meal. Eat a salad (but watch out for those 'hidden' WW points--bacon, cheese crumbles, pre-dressed salad, etc). Ask for a half plate. Share your meal. Take some home, if you can, for another meal. 

And remember, that it's OKAY to leave food on your plate. This is a biggie for me. In a world where every meal is super-sized, we feel like we should clean our plate. That was the way we were raised, but that was also a time when serving sizes were more appropriately portioned. Many times restaurants serve meals that are 2-3 times LARGER than a 'normal' serving. 

Don't get caught in the hype. You don't have to finish it. Yes, it's a waste of food and money, and there will always be starving children, but you eating all the food on your plate won't help them. 

Later, Peeps!


Weighty Wednesday-- I AM the Queen of Justification

I have had serious issues over the last eight months with my weight. I would simply justified my my weight gain, my lack of point counting, my ability to eat more carbs than any person should, etc.

I managed to eat my way 18 pound heavier than my goal weight. No, it wasn't the ugly weight I was previously at, but it is still too much for my height to carry easily.

So, I refocused.

It also helped that I was unable to drink any alcoholic beverages for about 10 days due to some meds I was taking.

--I find it interesting that enjoying certain items--alcohol, bread, easily digestible foods, etc. seems to make you crave more of the same, which in turn, makes you eat more. Wonder if it's due to those darn flavorists??

Anyway, in the past when I was on plateau, I discovered the Simply Filling technique. Using this method helped me lose those first 50 pounds. If I focused, I knew I would lose this newly added weight.

Well, my friends, I managed to lose 4.8 pounds this last week!

And before you take a breath and say that it's just water weight, or I'm losing too quickly, or whatever. Let me just say that I worked HARD to lose this weight and I will NOT let anyone belittle my efforts!

I walked at least 4 miles a day, but on five of those days, I also walked in the evening with my hubby, at least 2 miles. And when I say walk, I mean WALK. Strolling is not in my vocabulary. In fact, on Monday, my daughter missed her early outdoor swim practice due to rain and she couldn't keep up with me. She would lag behind and have to jog past me, then I would catch up with her, she'd lag behind and jog past me. Lather, rinse, repeat.

In other words, I kicked her booty when we walk. This is the ONLY advantage I have over this kid. Heck, I even lose that advantage when we go to theme parks because my hubby and kidlet focus on rides and leave me in the dust--I have little short legs, while they simply open their normal stride.

When I do WW Simply Filling, I have to break it down into the very simple and basic of food. I have to be very, very strict to force me NOT to fudge the 'points', because with simply filling you don't count points. And when you do eat something with points, it's easy to keep track of them, since I still get the 49 extra weekly points.

But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy some nummy food last week. Yes, I had 0% FF Greek yogurt with fresh fruit for breakfast, sometimes with a hard boiled egg--0 points if I pop out the yolk and don't eat it. 2 points if I eat it. I also drank my coffee with a tablespoon full of cream (1 point).

Most lunches consisted of Fat Free cottage cheese and a tomato, but it filled me up! Love love love this lunch. It's weird, but I do.

My snacks were baby carrots, an apple (sliced--there's something about the ability to consume the 'entire' thing), mini bag of popcorn, or even a small 3-point serving of almonds.

Dinners were smoothies for the most part, but don't think I denied myself, I didn't. One meal was a homemade hamburger (bun included!) and fresh corn.

Another meal was a small serving of sausage tortellini with my homemade marinara sauce and a large Caesar salad.

Or on date night, I had a pistachio-crusted Chilean sea bass, with 3 scallops dripping in a lemon butter sauce, one slice of rosemary bread, olive tapenade, and 2/3 of a beer (I couldn't finish it!)

So, while I might be the queen of justification, this queen has faced the devil weight and will force him to go down in flames . . .

Because, my friends, I have my weight-loss mojo back and I'm here to make a difference.

Later, Peeps!