Week 35: Cookies, Milk & My Foolproof Plan For Keeping The Pounds Off During The Holidays

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My little baker in training.

If I only have time to make one kind of Christmas cookie, which has been the case since a little lady named Stella Mabel came on the scene, I make Mexican wedding cookies. Until college I actually didn’t know that they were called anything but “butter balls” since that is what my mom called them growing up. In fact my recipe card says Butter Balls. Since butter is their primary ingredient it only seemed natural. Tuesday, my mom’s group had a cookie swap which produced some delicious results. There were chocolate chip cookies, delicate lemon cookies, peanut butter, ginger snap, macaroons, peanut butter-oat with M&Ms, chocolate, and so much more. We’ve slowly been eating our way through the tin thoroughly enjoying everyone’s labor of love. We also have homemade fudge and dark chocolate dipped pecans brought to us by our wonderful neighbors. It makes me want a glass of milk just thinking about eating any of these treats! Santa knows what’s up with that combo. I can hardly have a bite of cookie or fudge without getting the itch for a glass of skim milk. I grew up hating skim milk and now I drink it every day with my lunch, when I’m thirsty, and in my cereal. It’s my other water. Delightfully refreshing and of course hydrating. I do not however believe skim milk or any percentage of milk other than half-and-half should come in contact with my morning coffee. Oh no. I would honestly rather go without coffee than have to drink it with milk. Good thing Travis married me for my flexibility. Ha! Funny story though about my cookies and milk and coffee and half-and-half habit. I’m now lactose intolerant. As of Tuesday. Actually it was probably as of about 4 weeks ago I only just figured it out on Tuesday. And now I feel amazing (again)! Turns out you can develop temporary (fingers crossed) lactose intolerance from something like food poisoning which I had over Thanksgiving. The good news is that there is lactose-free almost everything (except the good Ben & Jerry’s flavors), the bad news is that lactose-free milk isn’t something I really enjoy drinking on its own. Life has been a little bit sadder since this new discovery but I am sure someday soon I will be able to make up for it in droves. So here’s my golden plan for keeping the holiday pounds off: get a food borne illness, remain nauseas for the next four weeks, become unable to drink milk which is required for cookie enjoyment, and click your heels to the New Year! Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Slow-Cooker Chicken Pho

  • I love this recipe! It takes about 10 minutes to throw everything in the crock pot in the morning. I think the hardest part is fishing the spices out of the crock pot later.
  • Because it cooks for so long the broth gets a long time to flavor. If your crockpot is big enough I would add another container of chicken stock since the broth kind of disappears with all the other things that end up in there.
  • And the more garnishes the better of course!

Tuesday: Mongolian Beef & Veggies with Soba Noodles

  • This recipe was pretty straight forward and a great way to be creative with any vegetables you have in the fridge.
  • The one trouble I always have with soba noodles is that they cake together terribly no matter what I put on them (oil, sauce, etc.). I kind of wonder if I might be overcooking them…note for next time.

Wednesday: Delicata Squash & Tofu Curry with Quinoa

  • I cut the tofu in half all three directions ending up with 8 squares and cut those squares in half again to get 16 triangles. I then browned them with the spices on each side for 5 or so minutes. I find the triangle is easier to flip and gets more consistently browned than cubes that I toss around and never properly brown. But maybe this is a personal problem.
  • I added the chard stems in with the onions and squash rather than tossing them.
  • I opted for full fat coconut milk since it didn’t seem like an overwhelmingly filling dish otherwise. Super glad I did. It was delicious!

Thursday: Cornbread Topped Chili Casserole with Green Salad

  • This was a good dinner but certainly not memorable.
  • I didn’t have lean ground pork so I wish I had browned the meat first, drained it, and then added the veggies. I managed to drain most of the fat off but it would have been easier the other way.
  • I thought a cornbread topping with all cornmeal might be a bit dry and grainy so I cut it with half flour. It was a little dense, but not grainy!

Friday: Dijon Salmon with Green Bean Pilaf

  • I become a bigger fan of cooking fish in the oven every time we do it. The fish cooks so quickly and doesn’t dry out. And I can do it all by myself!
  • I also really like recipes that give you the whole meal like this one. Veggie, grain and protein all in 30 simple minutes.
  • Aside from cooking my own brown rice I pretty much followed orders here.
  • Since I don’t love mayo I only used 1 Tbsp but do as you wish.

Bonus Recipe: Nonna’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

  • This is a crock pot recipe that I just love but it takes a little bit longer than a typical weeknight meal and there is no way I could get this ready in the morning with Stella awake.
  • If you are a purist as my dad is you brown the meatballs before putting them in the crockpot. If you are me, you don’t. You choose.
  • This time around we did 1 lb of bison and 1 lb of venison Italian sausage but any combo will do just fine.
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