Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, bloggies! These are the pumpkins Matt and I carved. Mine is Oogie Boogie from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and Matt’s is…. some creepy thing with big sharp teeth.

We’re having a small group of friends over to help pass out candy, watch movies and eat treats. Luckily for me, I’m learning that treats don’t all have to be sugary! In addition to the cauldron of Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, Reeses, M&Ms and Twix, we’ll have a giant veggie platter heaping with celery, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and cucumbers. We also have goat cheese, gouda, light brie and Vinta crackers for a savory nibble.

We would have some of these if they hadn’t all been eaten in a voracious cleaning frenzy… After carving our pumpkins, I washed the seeds to remove the gooey pumpkin guts and tossed them with a little bit of olive oil and some creole seasoning. The result was delicious! Pumpkin seeds have such a fresh, unusual taste to them – and lightly roasting them brings out this wonderful nutty flavor.

I’ve found it a little challenging to eat healthy this week when I’ve been surrounded by candy and junk, but now that I’m finally getting over this horrible cold, I’m excited to head back to the gym and get back into my fitness routine. I’ve been doing okay at keeping my hands out of the candy cauldron, but the hectic pace of the week kept me from doing my best in terms of nutrition.

What do you have planned for Halloween – tricks, treats or none of the above?


Semi-Homemade Chicken Potpie

I’m all about shortcuts – which is why this semi homemade chicken pot pie is the PERFECT fall treat without all the work. I promise, even people who normally don’t know the recipe for ice cubes can make this one. It’s an awesome comfort food dish – and this recipe will easily feed four people… or 2 with leftovers for lunch 😉

Here’s what you’ll need:
One package of rolled up pie crusts (usually in the butter section)
One can of either condensed cream of mushroom, chicken or celery soup (I use 90% FF Cream of Mushroom)
1 Carrot, peeled and sliced
2 celery ribs, washed and sliced
1/2 small onion, diced
2 small chicken breasts, diced
2 small russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cube chicken boullion
2 TBSP water

All ya gotta do is:

0) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
1) Cook the diced chicken, potato, carrots, celery and onion on medium until chicken is no longer pink and potatoes are toothy (soft to the touch but not completely done.)

2) Add cube of chicken boullioin to the two tablespoons of water (or just throw it in the pan) until it dissolves.
3) Turn off the heat, and add the can of condensed soup to the pan. Mix it all up until well coated. Leave it alone for a few minutes while we prepare the crust.

4) In an ungreased pie pan or even a rectangular baking dish, unroll the first pie crust. It’s floppy, so don’t be pissed at yourself if it rips. It happens. Fold the edges upwards to make a little crust.

5) Evenly add the contents of the pan.

6) Unroll the next pie crust and drape it over the filling. Pinch the edges to create a nice thick crust.

7) Stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden. See? Wasn’t that easy?

Weekly Weigh In – A Good One

Do you hear the trumpet fanfare? Can you see the confetti falling from the sky, a million rainbow sprinkles tumbling from the clouds? How about that giant, gold trophy I have in hands? Can you see it? NO?! Well damn, you’re just going to have to imagine it – because – I have FINALLY reached a major weight loss milestone of 10 pounds!

10 pounds is big, people. 10 pounds is a sack of potatoes. 10 pounds is two fairly heavy dumbbells. 10 pounds is loose jeans and a smaller tummy roll, a shrinking double chin and a major boost in terms of weight loss confidence. YAY! 10 pounds! I’m back to my wedding day weight! (I’d like to blame those 10 pounds on the following things: Honeymoon pina coladas and fettucine alfredo, grad school, and Sarah Palin. Just kidding on that last one.)

I weigh the exact same thing, now!

Here’s the irony. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this, but I’ve been off Weight Watchers for about a month and a half now. It just wasn’t doing it for me. I just did not track – and it might have been laziness, but I never seemed to remember to update my tracker. I couldn’t justify the expense anymore when I quite simply wasn’t doing it. So what have I been doing? I’ve been eating less. Being sick the past few days has shrunk my appetite, but besides that, I just kind of realized that I don’t need to eat as much as I normally do. Instead of having a third small taco, I stop after the second and wait. Chances are, that magical little “FULL” indicator inside of me will turn on after a few seconds, and I continue living in my merry way, satisfied and on my way to weight loss with the simple decision of having one less taco.

Seems simple, right? Why is it that so often the things we’ve struggled with for so long are really just so simple? These 10 pounds have inspired me to keep it up, and apply this new-found knowledge to the next few months. Things are going to be hairy for awhile with midterms and holidays, but armed with my new “Wait and see if you’re full” strategy, I feel confident that I can knock out at least another five pounds before beginning 2012.

How are you doing?

Starve a fever, feed a cold?

I’m interrupting recaps to post a whiny and timely entry about being sick, and what weight loss/eating is like when you’re sick. You know how it starts. The little tickle in your throat, the slight stuffiness in your ears… and then, the one nostril that starts to leak a little bit  and before you know it, you’re a sneezing, sniffling snotty mess. I stayed home from work on Friday and remained largely bed-bound, and all day yesterday I pretty much laid around trying to recover.

The little chicken that I was hoping would save the day after being made into a pot of chicken noodle soup. It didn't work.

The past two days I’ve had NO appetite – none – not for the tiny cupcakes I got with a groupon, not for my usual weekend love affair with homemade popcorn. I had to force myself to eat a frozen entree and a bowl of HOMEMADE chicken noodle soup yesterday (Yes! The kind with a whole chicken!). Each bite felt gummy, unsatisfying and frustrating, especially because I couldn’t taste anything. I always know that I’m sick when my appetite goes away, because I am normally ALWAYS hungry. I can easily out-eat my husband. I’m not the type of person that would elect to take a “food pill” instead of eating, because I derive an almost obsessive pleasure from a big bite of a heaping sandwich or creamy spoonful of ice cream.  I missed my two familiar friends, Taste and Hunger.

The yummy Mexican food that saved the day

I knew things were lookin’ up today when I met my lovely friend Julie (Read about her adventures in Israel!) for a study session at a coffee shop. Halfway through our work, I felt the familiar rumble of hunger in my tummy – and I thought, Ah! At long last HUNGER has returned to me! We took a lunch break at a delicious little taqueria where I annihilated a cheese enchilada with rice and beans and a basket of chips. Not only did my appetite return with a vengeance, but so did my super-human taste buds. The sharp tang of onion in the pico de gallo danced on my tongue, while the salty tomato seasoning on the rice mingled with the sweet refried beans. Ah, Taste and Hunger, how I have missed you. As someone who desperately needs and wants to lose lots of weight, I admit – even though my weight loss goes much more smoothly when you’re not around (Yup – this cold helped me knock out another 3 pounds), my life would not be the same without you, Taste and Hunger. Despite our issues, I’m so glad I have you in ample amounts.

You + Me = Satisfied We Shall Be.

Midwestern Magic, Part 2

Grandma and I

After leaving the Wisconsin Dells, we arrived in Maplewood, MN around 5 pm – perfect time for a barbeque! It was great seeing my aunts, uncles and cousins – and my sweet grandmother, who’s turning 90 in a few weeks but still has a razor-sharp wit. My dad was grilling up salmon burgers and cranberry walnut bratwurst, and the table was heaping with apple ambrosia dip, roasted potatoes, smoked salmon and three types of pie. We ate and then sat around being merry – here’s proof.

Some of you reading this blog know that I’m a big klutz – and if you don’t, well, you do now. As I oohed and ahhed over the beautiful handcrafted doll house at my grandmother’s house, somehow my big old booty bumped into a little TV tray and sent diet coke splashing everywhere. Thankfully everyone was cool about it and helped me blot at the carpet, but how embarrassing! My butt apparently has a mind of its own – thank god it doesn’t have its own zip code. (Just a few days later my butt took down a plate of grilled cheese. I guess my butt is striking back for being sat upon all these years.)

Top the Tater

After the BBQ, I had a strange craving… for TOP THE TATER! You folks in the Midwest might know what this is – a sour cream dip filled with chives and other herbal seasonings. My cousin Sarah bought some once with Old Dutch potato chips (locally made in Minnesota) and I was hooked by the salty, creamy combination. I figured… when in Minnesota, do as the Minnesotans do – so I splurged at 11 pm (come on now, only 9 pm Cali time) and bought some Old Dutch and Top the Tater to eat in solitary bliss in my hotel room. Yeah, yeah – bad weight loss blogger (HONEST weight loss blogger!).

A classic photo I found in my Grandma's album - hopefully this is the ONLY topless picture of me on the internet!

The next day we spent at my Grandma’s house catching up, looking at old photos and helping her with some household stuff – I learned how to properly wash windows. Did you know that the correct way to wash windows is to wipe downwards on one side, and then wipe horizontally on the other? No streaks! We relaxed over lunch and told old stories – and then we were back in the car with my dad, heading to Chicago to see my cousin Becky get married! Come back Monday to read about her awesome and unusual midnight wedding snack!

Midwestern Magic, Part 1

Wisconsin Dells in October

Matt and I began our trip by flying into Chicago… and then renting a car and driving four hours away. DOH! Here’s why. My grandmother and lots of other family members live in Minnesota. Airfare was considerably higher to fly into St. Paul, for some reason, than it was to fly into Chicago. So – we rented a sexy Nissan Sentra and hightailed it to the Wisconsin Dells (halfway to my grandmother’s house in MN), where we spent the night in a seedy Super 8 and then woke up to to do some tourist stuff – including nomming on delicious Dunkin’ Donuts!

I touched the rocks as we squeezed by!

First up: An Original Wisconsin Dells Duck tour! Ducks are amphibious vehicles used in World War 2 – they’re half boat, and half truck, so they can journey on land or in water. We started our tour by splashing into the Wisconsin River – marveling at the changing leaves and awesome rock formations. The duck crawled out of the water and into the woods – through narrow rock crevices and trees like these. The tour guide was a sarcastic college student no doubt used to pleasing the more elderly of the group, so he had a good time ribbing me about my “Elton John Sunglasses” and why Matt and I weren’t hard at work unlike all the retired folks on his boat. It was fun!

Moo-ve over Wisconsin, we're comin' thru!

After our duck boat tour, we were on our way to Minnesota – but not without a stop at the “cheese factory”. Proving once again that my career in marketing communications has no effect on whether or not I fall for traditional marketing tactics, I told Matt we HAD to stop at the advertised “cheese factory” off the highway. Cheese Factory? More like tiny cheese store with no aforementioned factory and lots of cheesy (har har) tourist tsotchkes. There was, however, a chance for me to fulfill a life long dream of posing for a photo with three very mild-mannered Holstein cows. And by mild-mannered, I mean fake – because come on – what sane person  would really sit on a cow?

Bringing the bib back in style - one fried cheese curd at a time.

We picked up a bag of cheese curds for the hell of it and we were off again, with one more stop to make at the Norske Nook to pick up a blueberry pie to bring to the family. Norske Nook is a Norwegian bakery and eatery based in Osseo, WI – a tiny smear of a town with wide roads and beautiful old farm houses. As a little girl, my grandfather would take us to the Norske Nook and my sister and I would press our faces against the glass of the pie display case, oohing and ahhing over the many delicacies that lay before us. We got our giant blueberry crumble pie – and with one last stop at Culver’s for a quick lunch of butter burgers and fried cheese curds, we were off to Minnesota!

Check back on Friday to read all about our time in Minnesota – including tales of my unfortunate diet coke-butt-bump and late night adventures with Top the Tater!

PS: If you enjoy this blog (And I hope you do! If you don’t… well… *tear*) , please “like” it on Facebook at facebook.com/doublechindiary ! Big thanks to all of you that already have!