Saturday, May 30, 2009

Becca's reception

Did a reception last night. Do you wonder how I catered food for a party with the bodybuilder diet thing? Yeah, by the end of the night I blew it. Bless me mother confessor for I have sinned. I just run out of time to eat, and then I get SOOO tired I have no will power left. Zero. Back on the wagon today (or is it off the wagon as Seinfeld says? doesn't the food come to the village in a wagon? ). Extra tired last night, because my helpers kind of dwindled at the end and I had to pack up my stuff myself (although I had help carrying the coolers thank goodness). The family offered near the end--but it was their wedding for pete's sake! Also long drive to get home. Enough complaining. Beautiful wedding. I wish I had dared to take a picture of the bride and post it, she was beautiful. Victorian ivory lace veil just simply placed on her head, and the dress too --scrumptious. That was kind of the theme. They had victorian pitchers and wash bowls as centerpieces, and lilacs and roses. The plates were even gold-rimmed cream. No clear crystal.
This presented kind of a challenge for me, as most of my stuff is clear crystal or silver. I had to borrow gold colored serving spoons, and bought some white platters and things to match the set-up. In particular the salad was a serving dilemma. I finally bought an extra-long platter to serve it from, which I think displayed nicely, although we had a couple of coordinationally challenged guests that pushed salad off the edge, no biggie.
The other challenge was the centerpiece and garland. I REALLY wanted to use viburnum snowballs. I needed a white flower, and they were beautiful all around my town this week. All around my 6 days of 80 degree heat town. I went to cut them at 6:30 yesterday morning, and they fell apart in my hands. I went to three different bushes in different parts of town and got some from each. Finally, as I was driving up to the event, I noticed that in the mountain town where it was held, all of the lilacs were still in bloom, and viburnums were just getting started! I stopped a total stranger in his yard and asked if I could cut some of his. He even gave me clippers to use and and old bucket to keep them in. Amazing how nice people can be to a psycho lady in an apron walking into your yard holding a kitchen knife in her hand (I needed SOMETHING to cut them with --it was all I had). I still had to use some of the Springville-Mapleton flowers, and they were a little droopy by the end of the night, but not too bad.
I also bought 4 packs of toothpicks so I could have enought green ones to use for the sandwiches, but some helpers forgot. I know I'm crazy, but I just wanted green ones used. I thought it looked nicer.
I wish ferns grew better in Utah. They're acid loving, and while I have seen some people manage it, I haven't tried. Ferns are what I really wanted for this table. Remember Anne decorated her table with ferns and roses for the lady authoress she thought was coming to tea? I'm always quoting Anne of green gables --not even my favorite books I swear. I wanted the big puffy white flowers and ferns when I they told me Victorian. I tried using yarrow foliage, that looks pretty fernlike, but it didn't hold up super well. Had to rely on the little bit of my tried and true euyonomous. At least it wasn't in the church so we could do candles. I love candles. Still. Even after all of the candle hoopla of the past couple of decades.

Here's that salad platter. What do you think? Love it that my chives were in bloom to garnish and sprinkle on top.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Well, it took me a while, but I thought I'd make some explanations as to why I'm doing this bodybuilding thing. When I was in college, I took a couple of weight lifting classes, but never did much with them. Then Jeff and I did "body for life" after I had my second baby, and I learned a little more. Jeff has always pretty seriously trained and I wanted to learn more about it. I've always exercised, but there are some ways that are more effective than others apparently. Still I've always felt pretty strong, a pretty strong person. When Kai was just a baby, I was training for the Salt Lake marathon(by the way, why is that more acceptable than bodybuilding in the mainstream? ) and all of a sudden, started to feel awful. I went from running 11 miles one Saturday, to not being able to run down the block the next week. After all of the tests came back, I was diagnosed with Graves disease. I was floored. I didn't feel I was the type of person who GOT a serious disease, a chronic lifelong disease. I was too strong and healthy right? I guess not. It was really hard not to exercise and garden and stuff through the next few weeks while they checked out damage to my heart, and got my medication all stabilized. I didn't get to do the marathon. When I moved here, I got into the Tae Bo thing, and MAN --that blew away running (at least how I run) as a workout. I got a new passion. Then a weight class started at the same place I was Tae Bo'ing and I did those too. Pretty soon, in my stake a girl taught an exercise class, and said she was doing a fitness competition, and kind of got me interested. I liked the idea of being really strong, and being that disciplined too. Kind of to prove the Graves isn't in control you know? When an attack hits, it starts eating up your muscle. I hate the idea of that. Jeff bought a book, kind of for me too (at least I've read more of it than he has) last year "Get Lean" by Lee Labrada about bodybuilding and competing. I talked to all of my friends in the neighborhood about maybe doing a competition together, and nobody was up for that restrictive a diet, but we all did "Body for Life" together last spring (maybe 10 of us). I didn't really make much progress, I still felt I needed something more --a real goal, something a little out there to shoot for. Just to clarify, this is all just natural bodybuilding --no steroids or bad stuff. So this time around, when I had a little personal money saved up from the last few catering jobs (ironic isn't it? food payed for this--) I booked the personal trainer and told her I wanted to do the NGA Natural in Sept.

Some LDS friends and family might wonder about the modesty issues. These bathing suits aren't modest, (although hardly anyone does a thong anymore Dad), the idea is to let the judges see your body and judge fitness, proportion etc. In my mind though, it wasn't like I was going out in public in this suit. (From some peoples' point of view maybe it is more public though than just going to the beach or pool, I see their point, I just didn't feel that way.) I didn't feel it was a sensual type thing either, I still don't think that. However, I probably won't do the show now. I guess I've decided that if people might question where I stand on modesty because of it, or if I might be seen as something I'm not, I probably shouldn't do it. I guess I can't imagine Sheri Dew ever did a fitness competition. I just wanted to get there, for once, to that lean, strong, physique, and this goal was how I planned on motivating myself. You have to admit, thinking a panel of judges will look at the cellulite on your thighs would make you think twice about cheating.

I'm looking for a new goal. I'm sticking with it still, paying a trainer is a motivator too, but I need something to shoot for. I'm thinking of sending in pictures for a "Labrada fitness challenge" or fitness challenge. Any ideas? Jeff says just schedule with my trainer a "private show" and ask for her critique on how well she thinks I would have done. That seems a little cheesy to me. Any ideas?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

That's better.

(see post below)

Death of a foodie.

Deja wanted to see the new plate. Here it is. It's a tupperware. Tilapia poached in lemon juice, 1/2 cup buckwheat, 1 cup green beans. Doesn't sound too bad does it? Everything is PLAIN though. I originally thought I could add different herbs each time, etc. to mix it up, but frankly, it's salt and fat/oil I miss on everything. I admit I cheat a little with season salt once in a while. I figure when I'm 5-6 weeks out from the contest I can cut it all out.

For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, I'm planning on entering a fitness competition this fall. Do you know what that is? It's like bodybuilding. I decided that at least one time in my life I'd like to look like this:This is Sandy my personal trainer. By the way, do you see the competition suit she's wearing? Those guys cost like 1500 dollars. Maybe I can find one used (eeew)? I don't think I can buy one for my competition that's that much. Anyway, so I've got 7 meals a day, 2 of which are egg whites, 2 of which are protein shakes (with ground oats mixed in), and three are like the ones in the picture up on top. These are the high carb days though. On the other days (3 a week) you cut out the brown rice or yams, and the oats. I can have half a grapefruit on the low carb days, otherwise there is no fruit. It's around 1800 calories, so I'm nowhere near hungry, I haven't had a day yet where I could eat all the food. I'm trying, but usually I miss 1-2 meals. A gallon and a half of water a day. --Interesting side note, I asked my trainer if it gets easier to "hold your water" later, if you get used to it or something. She said you get used to going to the bathroom more often. Sigh.

Training (lifting) is five days a week, broken up into body parts (each workout is about 50-60 minutes), and cardio is 6 days a week for about an hour too. Luckily she said it's OK to use my kickboxing teaching time as cardio. I'm pretty good about doing my whole routine with the class (unless I forget something in the middle --I can tell there's no sugar in my brain beacuse yesterday I had to go back and look at my class plan like 4 times).

No cheat meals, no cheat days. Also no alcohol, which, as I told my friend shouldn't be a problem, but some days....(just kidding). I've kind of avoided social situations so far, and food hasn't been too bad temptation wise. The hard part is all the time I spend cooking and prepping food. Then yesterday we added in all the suplements (fish oil, flax seed oil, glutamine, BCAA-- branch chain amino acids, plus all the calcium, vitamin c, vitamin e, minerals etc. that I'm already taking some form of), and I swear to get them ready added another 20 minutes to my morning.

The best thing though, and I should have mentioned this at the top, is that Jeff is doing it with me. Jeff hasn't gotten hungry. He's done better than me with eating all of it, but still- that shouldn't be enough food for a man 20 pounds heavier than me, and lifting and stuff too. Jeff's super cheerful (as opposed to my Eyeore-ness) about it all, and super supportive. Anyway, we'll see where this goes. She's going to change it after three weeks, and I'm betting it means she's just going to cut the calories. We'll see. I miss fruit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pierogies with turkey, tarragon, and spring vegetables.

One more recipe for you guys as I enter the black hole of good eating. I started with a personal trainer this week, as I want to try to enter a fitness competition in September (think bodybuilding). I've been thinking about it for a long time, and that day when I made the bread pudding? And ate it all day? remember? That's when I decided to go for it. Sometimes you need a big goal to kick you into line. I went through a true mourning period for my lost lover (food --good food) and then carb loaded on sugar and pasta last night. So yeah, my first day on the egg white and chicken breast and brown rice diet started today (with a little Molly McButter if you're a good girl --yeeesh), and I know there is no way I can do this if I have to cook 7 times a day, so I've got to make things all ahead of time, and I'm gearing up to cook up 10 dozen egg whites, 7 pounds of chicken and 6 pounds of tilapia with no salt, and I thought I'd finish this post while I try to make myself do it. I actually cooked this last week. It was really good, and it made the pierogies not such an unhealthy meal with the added protein and veggies.
Have you ever had pierogies? A guy from Canada that went to Monterey with me for a spring semester (we studied marine biology) in college used to eat them all the time, and made some for the rest of us. I wonder what happened to him? He was engaged to what seemed like a really mean girl. Like strange mean. One time we tried to call and pay for her to fly out and surprise him, and she got mad. What the? OK back to the pierogies. They are like pasta, but filled with potatoes, and sometimes onions or cheese. OK here's the recipe :

3 T. olive oil
1 lb. pierogis
10 baby carrots (cut in half lengthwise on a diagonal)
12 oz. mushrooms (quartered)
1 large red onion (cut in thin wedges)
3 cloves garlic (put through a press or minced)
1 lb. asparagus (cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces)
9 oz. Turkey breast thinly sliced, in strips (I confess I used good quality deli meat, but it was really good)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 T. or more snipped fresh Tarragon

Cook pierogies according to package directions in boiling water. Remove and keep warm. Saute the onion, garlic, and carrots in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the other vegetables, and reduce to medium . Keep cooking, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are starting to soften (maybe 6 minutes?) and the liquid released from the mushrooms is gone. Add the chicken broth and salt and pepper and turkey and pierogies, and cook (and gently stir) over medium high until some of the broth is evaporated, and turkey is heated through. Remove from heat and add snipped tarragon (I've got some in my herb garden if you need some).

I like to serve with shaved parmesan to pass at the table. It makes the kids think it's fancier (OK, and me too).I should give some credit here for BH&G's Spring Vegetable Braise, but I've changed so many things in this it's barely recognisable I'm afraid.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Honey -lime chicken enchiladas (with apologies to Kira).

I promised my friends to blog that honey-lime chicken enchiladas recipe, so apologies to all the family members who read Kira's blog and have already seen this. It turned out pretty great, although I think with the right cheese it would be better. Just trying to be frugal, and sometimes it backfires! (Notice the real plate Kelli? Are you proud of me?).

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts), cooked and shredded
12 corn tortillas
2 cups of Mexican cheese blend, shredded (1 small bag usually is 2 cups)/ I used some fresh mozzarella I had from a catering job, but I recommend cheddar or Mexican blend.
1 14-oz can of green enchilada sauce (I think red would be fine, and actually look prettier)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of heavy cream (I used fat free sour cream -- and it was fine)
nonstick cooking spray
1 Tablespoon of chopped cilantro, to garnish (and chili powder or paprika to sprinkle)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Place the cooked and shredded chicken in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.In a small bowl, place the honey, lime juice, chili powder and minced garlic or garlic powder. Whisk together thoroughly to combine. Pour this mixture over the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator while you prepare the tortillas. Heat a large griddle till a drop of water skitters across (about 350 degrees F). Spray the surface with non-stick cooking spray or a oil it with a little bit of canola oil in between each round of tortillas. Heat tortillas about 20 seconds on each side till warm and flexible and some golden brown spots have appeared. Spray the sides and bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish lightly with cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine the enchilada sauce and the heavy cream. Spread about 1/2 cup of the mixture in the bottom of the oiled baking dish. Add a large spoonful (about 2 tablespoons) of the chicken mixture to the center of each tortilla in a line. Cover the chicken with a large tablespoon (or big pinch) of cheese, then roll the tortilla up from one side to make a rolled enchilada, and place seam down in a pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken, cheese and tortillas. You will use about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese for the filling and set the remainder aside for topping the enchiladas in the pan. Add the remaining marinade mixture to the enchilada sauce and cream mixture, if desired. Pour over the top of all the enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake the enchiladas for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and starting to brown on top. Garnish with swirls of chili powder, paprika, and chopped cilantro. Serve with sour cream, black beans, and rice or a green salad for a great meal. Serves 4 to 6 (so I doubled it so I'd have leftovers - I baked for an hour)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Crazy hope of America

Tia's in 5th grade. In Utah county, that means she's automatically in the Hope of America show in the Marriot center at BYU. Tia wasn't excited about it. I wasn't excited about it. Jeff said "why are you going then?" sometimes husbands don't get it. I tried that Karl G. Maser quote on him "but ask me to keep my word and draw a chalk circle around me..." (how does that go? I just remember there was always a chalk circle drawn around the Maser statue when I walked by it drawn by some clever freshman) but the whole commitment thing has never been a huge issue for Jeff. he doesn't commit to things unless he's sure he wants to do them. Me? (and now Tia too apparently) I commit to everything and then bellyache about them the whole time. Anyway, Tia felt they were counting on her, so we went. First I took Ari to speech therapy right near there, and then we went. What this means, is that from 4:30 until 9:00 we were at BYU sitting around. Kai was bouncing off the walls by the end of it, and even assaulted some guy in the row in front of us at one point (just started hitting his head and rubbing his hair --I just looked horrified and kept saying I'm sorry to the guy -- and put Kai in the "Mom straitjacket" for the next 10 minutes).
It was kind of cool looking I admit though --just like the "living flag" in Lake Wobegon, but with t-shirts instead of hats. Billions of kids. It seemed like. But the waiting for an hour and a half (no kidding!) to start, and then far too long a program, was not cool.
But yeah, when they all put their hands up at the same time, and did stuff in unison, it was amazing. I should say at this point, that Tia freaked out halfway through with the big crowd, and I had to come find her in the flag and leave 3 songs early. I wasn't sorry to miss the traffic snarl coming out of there.
I loved the big kid chorus, but this was my favorite part of the show: Jean's Golden Girls. About seventy of these ladies, all over 50, and they were so sharp! Really well trained. They looked fantastic! One of them was 92 years "young" and did a dance solo at the end. The whole stadium was packed with parents of the kids, and everyone was on their feet stamping and whistling for this lady. Loved it. (but not looking forward to Ari and Kai's turns.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

If life gives you lemons...

Remember this centerpiece from the last blog? Yep. Them's some lemons. I had about 1/2 a case of lemons to use up in some way before they molded or something. I saved a few fresh to use in my morning smoothie (skim milk, lemon juice, banana, soy protein, a big honkin handful of spinach, and a little splenda --don't knock it 'til you try it), but still needed to do something with the rest. I was thinking "preserved lemons" a la Morroccan cuisine, but when I looked up a recipe I reallized I could then only use them for savory dishes, and I wanted to have them around to put in cakes and things too. So I did kind of a candied lemon slice in syrup.
It's been a while since I canned, first time this year, and you know what I always wonder? Why do I always have 200 wide mouth canning lids on hand, and almost every jar I have is standard? I did have one measly box of standard lids luckily in the back of a box.

OK. So you take 3 pounds at a time, and soak them overnight in just a little bit of water. Then measure them out into a wide, shallow pan, and add an equal amount of sugar (see? that's why I said MEASURE. I wondered that too the first time I saw the recipe. Boil the heck out of them. Maybe ten minute hard boil.
After that, pour into sterilized jars and process. You will probably have about a quart of lemon syrup left, which I processed along with the others. Yummy on the white chocolate coconut bread pudding I made yesterday (and ate all day --sigh.), also easy lemonade starter, pancake syrup, or green drink base (I'll tell you about that some other time --with water,spinach, mint, and ice in a blender ). I'm excited to have lemons on hand now. Sometimes I really want lemon peel, or lemon flavor and I've run out, and fresh lemons aren't something I keep around constantly like a pantry staple.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two salad weekend

You guys are probably sick of catering posts, I've just had a lot (for me) of jobs lately. As they consume my ENTIRE life for the duration of the planning process, until they are over, that's all I think about really. This weekend I had a luncheon/party for a girl who graduated summa cum laude from UVU on Friday, and then a wedding reception last night. I've got the reception pictures up here first because blogger uploads BACKWARDS (which is annoying to say the least).

This was an interesting reception. The groom was Chinese, and there were all of these ceremonies and things honoring the family, etc. Really neat. We did a light buffet menu: Fruit towers, strawberry spring greens salad with the strawberry balsamic dressing, bruschetta caprese with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, with my own lemon herb vinaigrette, and phyllo shells with lemon-vanilla cream, fresh berries, and a white chocolate squiggle.

This was kind of a fun centerpeice. They were doing key limes in hurricanes for the tables, so I kept the citrus theme, and did lemons on the main table.I also used white lilacs (free from a friend, and a local park ssssshhhhhhhh.).
Here are the phyllo shells. I thought they turned out really good tasting, I was a little disappointed with the filling not setting up firmer than it did, but they still looked OK. I was also worried theat this was the only sweet thing on the menu, and was afraid we wouldn't be able to keep our platters filled, but the bride's mother let us serve cake from the very beginning of the reception, so that was OK. These take a little time to put together.

These are the pictures from Friday's lunch. UVU's colors are green and yellow (just like Lemon Grove Junior High :) ) so I used white lilacs, and oregon grape blossoms. I feel so lucky these were in bloom right now. For this menu we did the same as my Tae Bo lunch that I posted on recently. Funny, at that lunch every one filled up on salad, and we had lots of soup left over, but at this lunch it was outside, and a little chilly, so everyone ate soup, and we had salad left over. Go figure. Sometimes it's hard to plan these things exactly right.

I also did an entire flat of chocolate covered strawberries, and although we only had a group of fifty or so, there wasn't even one left. That DIDN'T surprise me.