Monday, January 2, 2012

What I am, What I am not.

First of all, I am a BAKER. A precise measurement, perfect chemistry baker.  I bake cookies, cakes, bread you name it.  I am also a cake decorator.  No where NEAR where I would like to be but I still have fun with it.  With icing, the world comes alive in color and texture and design.  The creative possibilities are endless; but it all begins with a precise measurement of perfect chemistry. 

I am NOT a cook.  Oh, I can whip up a box of mac-n-cheese with the best, but tell me to create an interesting dinner aside from the 5 things I always make, and you will find me standing in front of a cold stove and an empty pot.

I am also overweight.  Why?  Because I am NOT a cook!  Therefore, I grab the easy, the processed, the fast.  If I can't pronounce the ingredient list, it's easy and thought process free!


I am NOT happy. I am not healthy. I am not energized and I am not sleeping. I am also NOT dieting.  The mere THOUGHT of restricting myself of yummy foods causes me to fail before I even begin. That is why I have decided to make a lifestyle change with my family.

I was given the inspiration by a couple of websites I happened upon. made it sound so easy!  The "rules" were easy enough...."If it has more than 5 ingredients do not buy"!  I can SO do that!  One large grocery bill later and I have my counters FULL of healthy, under 5 ingredient, unprocessed foods! 


I AM NOT A COOK!!!!!!!!!

How the BLEEP do I put this all together to make yummy, appetizing meals?! Wow, I didn't think this one through.  So, I go to my trusty laptop and google "What the BLEEP do I make for dinner?!".....turns out, that's an actual website! HA! I turned to my Facebook Family (we all have one) and begged for help.  One soul answered my plea and pointed me to where meals are planned out for me!  I'm being TOLD what to make!  I can SO do that too! 

And thus begins my journey into healthy cooking, albeit, hand-held like a toddler, but hey, we all have to start somewhere! GULP


Hopping John and Grilled Chicken


For Hopping John                                                  For Chicken
 3 Tbs. grape seed oil                                                  3 Tbs grape seed oil
 1 medium onion, chopped                                           4 large chicken breasts*
 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed                               1 tsp. each ground cumin, kosher salt
 1 red bell pepper, chopped                                                           black pepper; combined
 2 celery ribs/stalks, finely chopped
 4 cups black eyed peas**
 1 cup brown rice
 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
 3 cups warm water
 1/2 tsp kosher salt
 1 tsp black pepper
 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
 1 bunch kale or swiss chard eaves, stems removed and cut into thin strips
 1 medium lemon, juiced

*2 breasts are used in Flatbread meal
** soak dry beans at least 4 hours before using.

                                                        Grilled Chicken

1. Heat grape seed oi in a large skillet over med-high heat.
2. Dry chicken with paper towel and pat with seasoning mixture
    on both sides.

3. Arrange chicken in pan and sear for 5-6 minutes on each side
    or until no longer pink in the middle.

4. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, setting 2 breasts aside for
                                                                                  Flatbread meal.  Cut two breasts into 1/4" slices.

                                                Hopping John
1. Melt butter in a medium stock pot over medium-high heat.
2. Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add Beans, rice broth, water, salt and peppers.  Stir to combine.
4. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until
    beans are soft.
5. Stir in kale and lemon juice; cook for additional 5 minutes.

To serve: Place 2 cups of hopping john in a bowl. Top with 4-5 chicken slices. 

Crock Pot Version:
 Follow steps 1-4 but only sear the 2 chicken breasts for this meal 3 minutes per side.
Sear the other 2 breasts completely and store.  Transfer other 2 breasts to crock pot.

Add remaining ingredients.  Set on low and cook for 3-4 hours until liquid is
absorbed and rice and beans are tender.


  1. You can DO EEEEEEEEEET! I can do it! WE CAN DO EEEEET! and we can look mighty fine after we do! I love you!

  2. YES WE CAN! I think I may include my food journal and*GULP* measurements as humiliation therapy! HA!

  3. Cooking is easier than baking, so if you can bake, then it won't be long before you can cook. I do suggest that you follow recipes first though... then as you become comfortable with a particular recipe or dish... then you can improvise. I am the opposite of you. I can cook, but I hate baking. I've made many mistakes over the years and here are a few tips:

    1. do not over crowd the pan
    2. boil noodles with alot of water
    3. season as you go... little by little... and taste and adjust.
    4. underseason when braising or making soup or stew bc it reduces... so if it's slightly underseasoned as you start... it will be perfect as it reduces. If it taste good when you start, it will be salty as it reduces and very salty the next day. When reheating soups... add a little water (same resaon).
    5. When panfrying or searing, use hot hot hot pan, then don't move it until it releases itself.
    6. Garlic goes in last when pan frying. Garlic burns fast. Onions go in first to caramelize and cook off all the liquid. Don't add garlic with onions or onion juices will boil the garlic.
    7. if something is too acidic, add a little sugar.
    8. if pan frying or stir fying, add the oyster sauce or other sugary sauce last bc it will create a mess at the bottom of the pan and burn if added early on.
    9. Cook in layers... don't dump all ingredients in a pan or pot. Even if you are doing crockpot cooking... take the time to marinate the meat and pansear. It makes all the difference.
    10. Real cooking involves very few ingredients bc fresh food can speak for itself. Using fresh meats and veggies... requires just salt (kosher salt... never never never never use table salt... once you go kosher you never go back) and fresh ground black pepper (buy a pepper mill)... then just a few special spices and oils depending on the type of food.
    11. Fried rice requires day old or 2 day old refridgerated rice. The dryer, the colder, the harder, the better.
    12. learn from your mistakes... if the veggies were too mushy, take note of why (over cooked? Cut too small? Wrong shape cut? Too much water so it steamed instead of caramelizing?)
    13. watch cooking shows for techniques. Reading a cookbook is ok, but seeing the techniques is much better. - Thao

  4. I disagree with that statement...Baking is SOO much easier! HAHAHAHA! Maybe because it's the one thing I'm good at!