Category Archives: Weight Loss Journey

Salmon with Spinach and Artichokes

Last Saturday I mentioned Chuck’s trick of combining favorites from your fridge for a new twist, and here’s what happened when I followed my own advice! If you love grilled salmon and guacamole as much as I do, try this sometime:

  1. Prepare some wonderful, homemade guacamole. (If you don’t have a a recipe, you can try mine, found here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/an-avocado-boat-of-ideas-especially-fantastic-guacamole-with-an-orange-twist/
  2. Grill your salmon (about 4-8 oz per serving, grilled 2-3 minutes per side) with your favorite spices. (I like fresh-squeezed lemon juice, Italian dressing, sea salt, Lawry’s seasoning salt, and lots of pepper, but that’s just me.)
  3. Prepare your veggies while the fish is grilling. (You’ll probably need to assemble all the items so the cooking time is just 5-6 minutes.) This includes:
    1. 1 chopped onion (this recipe will serve 4-6) sauteed in 2 tablespoons of butter until nicely browned. Add
    2. 6 oz fried, chopped bacon (optional but good if you eat pork; you can also fry this with the onion and cut the bacon in pieces after it’s crisp, but that takes an additional 5+ minutes, so cook it before you start the fish)
    3. 1 can quartered artichoke hearts (drained)
    4. 8 oz. cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
    5. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh, pressed garlic, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil, 1 teaspoon dried (or fresh) oregano
    6. 1 large bag (about 16 oz) spinach, added last and cooked just until tender and starting to deepen in color
    7. Add salt and pepper to taste (and do taste it to make sure it has enough sparkle!)
  4. Arrange the veggies evenly on the plates, add the salmon, and crown with a scoop of guacamole. Serve immediately. It’s especially good with fresh fruit and rolls, although I didn’t remember to take a photo of the entire ensemble. Pretty much guaranteed to please anyone who likes the individual ingredients.  🙂

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat? With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding. (Job 12:6-13)

Anybody for a Watermelon Cake? How About a Wedge Salad?

My grandson Reid asked his mother for a watermelon cake for his birthday. Apparently they’d seen a picture on Pinterest. Carlie says it tastes like a cold wedge of fruit salad, and everybody who tried it liked it, although there was some dissension over whether or not it really qualified as a “cake.” So, I think this might make the perfect “wedge salad” to serve for the Fourth of July. If you bill it that way, don’t you think the kids will love it? Think how (relatively) healthy it is as a dessert, too…just watermelon frosted with sweetened whipped cream. I’m definitely going to try it on my grand kids. If you try it, let me know what you think, and I’ll  do the same!BTW, here’s an earlier fruit extravaganza that Carlie made some years ago to help feed our youth group! Talk about talent and good taste!  🙂  Thanks for being such a stellar daughter-in-law, Carlie! You’re a doll. (Actually, I have to say, I’ve got five of the best son and daughter-in-laws in the world!!! No prejudice!!!)

Summery Fish Tortillas

         Fish tacos have pretty much taken the world by storm in the last decade, but so far, I don’t know of anybody (besides me) who’s serving fish tortillas.
I think they’re a perfect summer dish—and pretty scrumptious to boot—
so if you’re looking for something a little different, try this:

Summery Fish Tortillas
(Makes 4 large tortillas)

Make cold slaw:
2 cups shredded cabbage and carrots (or cold slaw mix from store)
1 tablespoons Italian dressing (Wishbone or your favorite)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise  or aioli sauce (made by adding 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce to the mayonnaise and stirring)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional, but I think it really adds)
1/8 teaspoon Lawry’s (or your favorite) seasoning salt
Additional spices to taste: onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper  Add:
8 oz. diced, cooked Ahi tuna (could substitute tuna fish or chicken breast)
8 oz. halved grapes (could use 1 chopped mango or black cherries instead)                                                       Mix thoroughly.

Make the tortillas:
Divide the filling evenly onto 4 large flour tortilla wraps
Sprinkle each liberally with your favorite shredded cheeseMicrowave each tortilla open-faced for 40 seconds (until cheese is melting)  Fold into the traditional tortilla wrap and serve. In a way, it’s a quick, healthy meal in one, complete with protein, fruit, carbs, and veggies, but you can also serve it with sides, or eat two, (or save room for a little dessert…) depending on how hungry you are! When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:3-9)        (Thank you, Bob Hardee, for this last photo, which he took in Florida.)

 

Summer Chicken Pasta Salad

Joel made us such a yummy pasta the other day that I asked him what recipe he used. He said he just made it up, and that he used to make it every once in a while when he lived in Boston and it was too hot to cook. So, if you’re looking for a cool dish for a hot night this summer, try this one:

Joel’s Chilled Chicken Pasta
(Serves 4-6)

Marinade:
1 pound boneless chicken (Joel used thighs, but breast meat or whatever works fine) in a dressing made of:
 lemon squeezed
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped thyme (can use crushed; fresh herbs are great if you have them, but if you have dried herbs from the seasoning rack, that works too)
1 pressed clove of garlic (not the whole bulb, just one section of it)
2 tablespoons olive oil

If you’re really ahead of the game, marinade the chicken in this mixture (covered) in the refrigerator overnight. If not, at least give it a few hours. Then, grill the chicken (or pan-fry).

Meanwhile:
Boil 1/2 pound radiatore (or other) pasta al dente with salt to taste.
Drain and chill.

Cube (or chop):
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 yellow pepper
1 small onion
1/4 cup chopped olives (green or black)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese (or some type of hard, Italian cheese)

Mix these veggies with the cooled pasta and toss with:
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
1/4 c. fresh Rosemary chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

To finish:
Cut grilled chicken into thinnish slices. Salt and pepper to taste. Place on top of salad. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  🙂Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” (Ecclesiastes 10:17).

 

Easy Caramel Sauce for Dipping Fruit

Serving fresh fruit for dessert in the summer is one of the best ways I can think of to promote healthy nutrition while still catering to the sweet teeth most of us inherited through no fault of our own but as part of our DNA. (Okay, so it’s really a learned behavior, but most of us have learned very well.) One way to dress up fruit for a special occasion is by serving dipping sauce. Melted chocolate or caramel are probably the two favorites.  A simple way to make caramel sauce is to boil together 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 1 cup brown sugar (packed) for just a few minutes until the sugar completely dissolves and the sauce thickens. (This serves 4-8.)        An even easier way to serve one person is to place 9 caramels in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of milk or cream, and pop it in the microwave for a 45 seconds. Stir vigorously until smooth, and serve immediately! It goes great with apples, pears, and bananas…and probably any other type of fruit you like! Did I mention ice cream? No? That’s good, because even though it’s great on ice cream, that’s probably too fattening!

 My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:13-14).

Pumped Up Waldorf Salad

One of my favorite salads at the CMDA conference last week was a Waldorf salad with broccoli added. That (coupled with a video course I’m taking on optimizing brain fitness, where I was reminded yet again of the importance of eating many portions of fruits and veggies daily) got me thinking about how I might want to augment this perennial favorite into something especially delicious and nutritious that might make a good main course on a hot summer day. I tested it on my very discriminating fans (aka husband and youngest son), and it passed the taste test, so here it is:

Chicken and Kale Waldorf Salad
(serves 6)

12 oz canned chicken breast (You could also use tuna or salmon, or if you’re vegetarian, you could substitute tofu or cheese cubes)1 cup seedless grapes, sliced in half (could use apples or some combination) 2 stalks chopped celery
4 chopped fresh basil leaves (or 1 teaspoon crushed basil, but fresh is so much better. Think about starting a window herb garden on a sunny ledge in your home so you have a supply of fresh herbs. Doesn’t cost too much, and it really adds to the flavor.)
1/2 small onion chopped
1/2 red (orange, yellow, green…whatever) pepper chopped1 cup kale (torn into small pieces) 1 ear of (already cooked) corn. (Slice corn off the cob and break into chunks.)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other favorite nuts or seeds)Mix everything together, and then add the seasonings:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Lawry seasoning salt (or whatever you like)
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (did all the halves get boring?)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup mayonnaise (or your favorite salad dressing)                  Can’t you just imagine feel how colorful, healthy and tasty this is??? Serve it on a leaf boat with some jazzy veggie soup and naan bread (or whatever). Voilà, you have all five of your fruits and veggies in one delicious meal! Of course, it your family are really hungry, hungry hippos like mine, you might need to serve apples with caramel sauce for dessert…but maybe that will be next Saturday’s recipe…   🙂

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psalm 143:10).

Gourmet Dressing and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

There are lots of awesome-sounding recipes for stuffed mushrooms out there, but I was looking for a vegetarian recipe that might cater to my son’s Lenten fast of “no meat,” and I didn’t see anything that looked completely veggie and still really awesome. That’s when it occurred to me to look in my fridge. What was there? I still had the remains of some gourmet dressing and gravy, although the turkey and mashed potatoes from our dinner party the other day had already disappeared. Shall I? I wondered. In truth, I’m forever experimenting with recipes, but not all of my experiments are successes. Did I tell you about the time I pureed some leftover fajitas to make chicken fajita soup after my son’s oral surgery? It turned out like baby food, and my husband couldn’t get past the look to even figure out that the flavor was still just fine! He stuck out his tongue and turned the bowl over on the table. (Well, he pretended to, although he didn’t really). He ate chips and cheese that night… At any rate, I thought I’d try using the leftover stuffing, and if it failed, I’d just not mention it. However, it passed inspection by both my culinary connoisseur husband (for whom a major priority in travel is experiencing great, new food), and my twenty-something son, whose appetite is still  hale and hearty. Of course, it starts with really great stuffing:

Really Great Stuffing 
(
serves 6-12)

Sauté the following (one at a time) until tender with 1/4 c. butter:
1 smallish onion3-4 stalks chopped celery (about 1.5 cups)  (Don’t add the leaves until you add the final seasonings, so they stay green)1/2 yellow (or red) pepper
2 tablespoons fresh garlic4 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 small can sliced water chestnuts  (Of course, you can leave out any of the above ingredients that you don’t like; it’s all about flavor and personal taste.)

Once all the veggies are tender, add:
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s, but whatever you like works)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
The celery leaves. (You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds if you like.)

Stir thoroughly, and then add:
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter (I didn’t say this was going to be fat-free 🙂  )
1/2 cup rolled oats (secret ingredient I learned from my brother-in-law; holds everything together nicely)
12 oz. stuffing mix (Or, you can make your own by cubing dried bread…if it’s not moldy.  🙂  If you make your own, you might need more seasoning. Test it.)
2-3 cups turkey broth (or broth from whatever meat you’re roasting; enough to make everything damp).

Heat and stir lightly until everything is moist, then scoop into a covered baking dish and pop in the oven at about 350° (or whatever temperature you’re using for your roast) for an hour (or less if the temp. is higher. A half an hour could work; check it to make sure it’s browning but not burning. The dressing is in the center of this picture.)

From there, it’s not hard to make first-rate stuffed mushrooms!

First-Rate Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
(Serves 4)

1. Wash 4 Portobello mushroom caps and place them in a large frying pan.
2. Sauté with 1/4 cup butter on both sides until starting to brown. Turn off heat.
3. Mix 2-3 cups of leftover stuffing (or whatever you have left) with
1 cup gravy (or howmuchever you have left) and
4 ounces grated pepper jack cheese (or whatever you have on hand). (Also, if you have leftover turkey and are not intentionally trying to avoid meat, a little chopped turkey would definitely add to the flavor and protein content.)
4. Heat the dressing, gravy, and cheese in a separate pan until they’re starting to mix well. (Gravy runny and being absorbed, but the cheese doesn’t have to be completely melted.)
5. Ladle the stuffing into (and on top of) the caps (gill side up).
6.  Add 1/4 cup water (or just enough water to keep the mushrooms from burning; they should be producing their own juice at this point, but you can add a little more water if needed).
7. Top liberally with grated cheese (I used cheddar, because that’s what I had)
8. Cook with the skillet lid on, at very low heat, for about 10 minutes, or until everything is well steamed and the cheese is melted.
9.  Serve immediately with a few of your favorite sides. (You could also serve it in a bun like a hamburger, but it would probably take both hands to handle it.)

I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving
” (Psalm 69:30).