Monthly Archives: June 2008

Oodles of Noodles

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I am trying to get back on track with my Weight Watchers lifestyle.  Yes, that’s right: It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.  In that spirit, I am going to work on compiling and posting my soon-to-be famous Cajun Shrimp and Andouille Fettuccine that is only 7 WW Points!

I worked from this original recipe Cajun Shrimp and Andouille Fettuccine on Recipe Zaar.  According to my Weight Watchers calculator, one serving of that recipe contains 925 calories, 60 fat grams, and 3.2 grams of dietary fiber. That’s 23 points for ONE serving!  I’m allowed 25 points per day, plus 35 weekly points on the flex plan, so that would be my food for the day!

My inspiration for this project was a recipe from the Hungry Girl for low calorie fettuccine usind the lovely House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodles.  Now, I have the Hungry Girl cookbook, and have tried her original Hungry Girl-Fredo and the Shrimp-Tastic Hungry Girl-fredo. There are other recipes: go to this entry.

Those recipes use the Tofu Shirataki Fettuccine noodles and Laughing Cow Light Wedge Cheese and a LOT of tossing and melting. The recipe that I was thinking of and found above uses good old Velveeta cheese, of which there is a low-fat version – it’s really kind of the same sort of processed cheese food.  Shrimp is naturally low in fat, and I did extensive research to find a turkey or chicken version of andouille sausage that would be acceptable.

I found a turkey andouille sausage from Wellshire Farms that was not bad. Here are the nutritional stats for a 2 oz serving.  There are four links in the 12 oz. package.  I found it at Whole Foods – which is where I also got the shrimp and the noodles.  They don’t sell Velveeta there.  Nor do they sell low-fat parmesan. I got some fat-free sour cream and the other ingredients at another grocery store.

Let’s see if I can write it in recipe form:

Celeste’s Phenomenal Fettuccine with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage

Ingredients

* 1 lb. medium raw shrimp
* 2 (12 ounce) packages Tofu Shirataki Fettuccine Noodles
* 3 links Wellshire Farms turkey andouille sausage, chopped
* Pam or butter spray
* 1 cup onion, chopped
* 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
* 1 cup chopped celery
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tablespoon flour
* 1 (or more) tablespoon corn starch
* 1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1/4 cup dry sherry
* 1 or 2 tablespoons light or fat-free sour cream
* 6 ounces 2% low-fat Velveeta cheese, cubed
* 1/3 cup grated low-fat parmesan cheese
* 3/4 cup chopped green onion
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Peel and devein shrimp; set aside the shrimp meat. Save the shells.

2. Place the shrimp shells in a small saucepan, and pour the cup of chicken broth over them. Bring broth to a boil, then let the shells simmer in it on the lowest heat to absorb the flavor.  Before using, strain out the shrimp peels from the broth. Keep the broth handy – it will be used to replace the butter for cooking.

3. Spray large saute pan with cooking spray (butter flavored, if available). Cook sausage over medium heat until browned. Add some broth, if needed, to retard scorching.  Remove the sausage from the pan and set it aside.

4. Pour some of the broth into the saute pan.  Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to pan; stir/saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.  Add some of the Cajun seasoning to the mixture and toss.

5. Drain and rinse the Shirataki Tofu fettuccine noodles well. Dry noodles thoroughly (use paper towels to soak up as much moisture as possible), and then use a knife or kitchen shears to slice them up a bit.

6. Strain the cooked vegetables, saving the liquids to add back to the pan of broth.

7. Put the noodles and the cooked vegetables and the sausage into a container together.  This allows the noodles to soak up the flavors of the other ingredients.  Toss everything together and set the container aside.

8. Now it is time to saute the shrimp.  You may use some of the cooking spray in the pan, and add the shrimp.  Then, add the sherry and some of the broth and let the shrimp simmer, stirring constantly.  Don’t overcook the shrimp. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon, leaving the broth in the pan.  You may add the shrimp to the noodle mixture.

9. Now, to make the sauce: add the cheese cubes to the broth left in the pan. Add the sour cream and flour and allow the ingredients to melt into a sauce.  Add a little more broth or sour cream if necessary, but do not make the sauce too thin.

10. Stir 2 tablespoons parsley, 1/2 cup green onions and all of the parmesan cheese into the sauce. Reserve some parsley and green onions for garnish.

(If you want to thicken the sauce even more, add the cornstarch to some of the reserved and cooled broth.  After the corn starch has dissolved, add the mixture to the sauce and allow to thicken.)

11.  The final step is to mix the cheese sauce with the other ingredients.  Take the noodles, vegetables, sausage, and shrimp and strain the mixture one more time.  Don’t worry, you will have plenty of moisture.  Pour the noodle mixture in the pan and stir it all into the cheese sauce.  Toss until everything is covered with cheese sauce.  Adjust spices and flavors to taste.

To serve, divide up the pasta mixture into 6 pasta bowls or onto 6 plates. Garnish with remaining parsley and green onions.

Okay, that’s how I remember it right now.  I will have to re-enter the ingredients into the Weight Watchers calculator, but it came out earlier as 7 WW Points for 1/6th the recipe.

I will try to make it so that the noodles are added separately next time.  I was following some of the Hungry Girl guidelines for cooking the noodles, which calls for tossing them with the other ingredients.  There are some drawbacks to using the Shirataki Tofu Noodles: they need to be as dry as possible, or they will water down the sauce.  I also like to soak them with other ingredients because they take on more flavor.  The biggest drawback is that you CANNOT freeze them.  So DO NOT attempt to freeze the leftovers for this recipe.

I am sure I will be back to tweak this entry and this recipe.  I also want to take on Elaine’s Crawfish Fettuccine from The Louisiana Crawfish Cookbook by Paul Prudhomme. It has a similar make-up, but must be stupendously caloric – it has 3 sticks of butter, 3 lbs. of crawfish tails, 1 quart of half and half, and one pound of Velveeta.  It serves 12.  Ouch!

Hey, does anyone know if you can cook with “fat-free Half and Half”?  I saw it at the grocery store.  It is definitely an oxymoron!

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Koh Phayam

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Thailand: Koh Phayam!
Image hosted by Webshots.com
by itcheefeet

This week has offered some blasts from the past.  First of all, a friend of mine who has a friend in NYC found out that he had met a high school/college of mine at an event there.  He is in the D.C. area, so I am going to try and locate him – haven’t seen him in at least 20 years.

I made a sporadic visit to Facebook and looked up some possible past connections – this time from Jasper County, Georgia.  I taught French there and also did a lot of horseback riding, so I sent Friend Requests to one guy I used to ride with (he was also a former student) and the daughter of a fellow teacher.  Since I am too lazy to write a message with my request, they will probably just think I am a stalker.  Oh, well…

Then, last night as I was working on E-Bay Auctions, I got a call from my old friend Carmen.  She was one of the participants of the academic year I spent in Angers, France.  She also has the honor of sharing my birthday (August 14).  At that time, it was rare to find someone who shared my birthday (that was before the world got so big with the internet and all).  To add to the strangeness, on one of the weekends hosted by France-Etats-Unis, we were both guests in Paris to a woman who was ALSO born on August 14th.  Spooky.

Carmen is also a French teacher in St. Louis who is hoping to make the jump to ESL.  Another parallel…  She was one of the few friends that was still in touch with my friend who now lives in the Andaman Sea, on an island called Koh Phayam.  That prompted an e-mail to him to make sure he was still alive (they did have some tsunami effect there, and I haven’t asked about the typhoon yet).  While I was waiting for a response, I did the thing that I am sure all people do:  I looked for photos of the island, and checked out Travelocity to find out the cost of visiting.

When Chris and his Japanese wife, Chiyoko, found the place on vacation, it was totally under the tourist radar.  Now, of course, it is starting to make its way onto the internet.  Still, it looks quite unspoiled.  I think that they now have access to internet at their house, as opposed to having to take the 90 minute ferry to Ranong to communicate with the rest of the world!  Now that I know that e-mail address is valid, I will write a bit more – it’s good to catch up!

BTW, it will cost about $1400 per person to fly from Atlanta to Bangkok, Thailand.  The flight would be about 22 hours, including a plane change in Seoul, Korea.  Ouch!

Lazy Daze

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Well, it looks like I am still in slow mode.  My husband is back from Nashville, but he is resting up after all of that convention activity.  So there is not a whole lot of incentive for me to jump into Take Charge and Get a Lot Accomplished Mode.  The right side of my mouth is still sore from “crown” excavation, and although I am taking a lot of aspirin for the ache, pain still strikes at strange times – often in the middle of the night.  Then I usually lie there in denial before I make myself get up and take some Tylenol PM, which takes a while to take effect.

Still, I did sell some things on E-Bay, and I am going to work on starting those orders today.  First, I am eating a lovely Lean Cuisine Flatbread Wrap (6 WW points) with a Diet Coke (0 points).  That will be followed by a small slice of the CHOCOLATE CAKE I made for my Mom’s birthday (too many Points to count…).  After experimenting with some French gateaux au yaourt (yogurt cakes), I decided that the American palate is looking for something a little more decadent and sweet in its cakes.

So yesterday, I settled on the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe – I used Hershey’s Cocoa Powder for the cake and Scharffen Berger Cocoa Powder for the icing.  I made two cakes – well, two and a half – by using my four 6 inch cake pans instead of 2 nine inch cake pans.  That way, Mom has a small cake to keep at home, and so do we!  Not that we need it…  I say 2 and a half because one of the cake layers got messed up.  I set it aside and cut the remaining 6 layers in half, making two small 3-layer cakes.  I made extra icing, of course, and then cut the messed up piece into two layers and used the remainder of the icing on it.

I have already sent two slices along to a friend, and Dad is coming tomorrow.  There MAY be one slice left for him if I hide it from my husband…  Needless to say, this week has not been an extremely successful Weight Watchers’ week.  Back on the horse by Thursday meeting, though!

When the Cat’s Away…

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So, my husband is out of town – he’s gone to a convention in Nashville.  Get ready for the wackiness.  So far, I have slept all day, eaten lunch at a French bakery, and ordered a pizza from Papa John’s.  I may even go see a movie at the Dollar Cinema.  I’m on fire!

Of course, since I am on Weight Watchers, I will have to get on track pretty soon.  Maybe tomorrow.  Then, I can continue with all of the other things I have planned – cleaning house, putting more things on E-Bay, etc.  I did sort out all of my Loteria games – I have about 20 different versions!  I have also started on a new Story Box.

I will be back to post my low WW points version of Shrimp and Andouille Fettuccine soon!

Loteria Story Boxes up on Flickr!

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Today, I spent some time uploading and organizing photos of the Loteria Story Boxes I have made.  You can see them on Flickr.

I also have a couple on sale at my Etsy shop and on EBay.

I first started doing these about four years ago.  I have a LOT of Loteria cards, and I found these unpainted two deck card boxes at Hobby Lobby.  I started by putting photos together (I first only had about two sizes, but now I have three – tinier pics come from Loteria wrapping paper I bought) to tell little stories.  I especially love the variety of male and female figures represented in the deck.  It allows for a lot of commentary on the opposite sex.

After coming up with a pleasing arrangement, I remove the pictures and paint the interior of the box.  I glue the images in and allow them to dry.  Then, I embellish the interior of the box with glitter glue.

Before adding more to the interior, I usually decorate the outside of the box.  I have several ways of doing this.  Sometimes, I glue wooden objects and appliques to the outside and paint them along with the exterior.  I also like to collage loteria images on the outside.  I was able to use my tiny Loteria wrapping paper to just cover the outside of one box without cutting the images out and arranging them in collage.  I haven’t finished with that one yet.

I like to line the edges of some of my boxes (especially those using traditional Loteria images) with thin plaid ribbon.  It is tricky to get it to lay flat around the latch!  From there, I add glitter glue, confetti lettering, extra images, an sometimes more sequins to decorate.  I try to title, initial, and date each piece.

The interiors are a lot of fun to do.  I have a vast collection of plastic and glass figures I have bought at Target, Pier One, and other stores.  Some of them used to be wine glass charms or tops of glass swizzle sticks.  I just found a LOT of glass items for a very cheap price posing as wind chimes and mobiles at Pearl Discount Arts and Crafts.  I have too many sequins and confetti shapes to use in this lifetime, and I just acquired a lot of plastic objects that used to be part of Mardi Gras necklaces.

So, I am preparing to make more boxes.  I have collected a variety of Loteria decks in Mexico and over the internet.  Using these are not as easy as it sounds:  I am very particular about not mixing print styles.  For example, I don’ mix Teresa Villegas’ loteria items with traditional ones, because the style is so different.  I may, however, combine images from some of the knock-off loteria decks I have found, if they look fitting.  It will be so much fun!

Back on E-Bay!

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After experiencing some technical problems on Auctiva, my auctions finally went up.  Check them out!

I managed to start on some preliminary clean-up of my studio space.  I moved craft items from the middle floor of our townhome to the bottom floor.  That’s a start!  Of course, my “studio” includes the garage (which has not seen a car inside for years – and may never again!) and the downstairs guest room and closet.  At the moment, the entry hall has no choice – but I hope to have it cleaned up sometime this summer!

Father’s Day Funny

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I was eating sushi on Thursday and reading Atlanta’s Creative Loafing – a weekly local newspaper.  This ad first caught my eye because I thought it would be funny to send to Dad on Father’s Day.  Then I read it a little more closely (and literally).

If you do NOT get it, read it again…

The Dog Days are Early!

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Apparently my sister made a little “out of body” visit to my house yesterday.  She is famous for being someone who takes in strays.  Just this past weekend, she took six kittens with her to a soccer game, hoping to find their new homes.  Two of the six kittens were “foster kittens” that her cat obviously agreed to nurse.

Enough about my sister.  Yesterday afternoon, I was upstairs, blogging, minding my own business, when the doorbell rang.  My husband went down to answer, but obviously felt like I needed to come down to hear about this:  a nice young lady was escorting a precious black and white puppy around the neighborhood, trying to find its home.  It was such a cute puppy!  In a flash, I envisioned a companion for Lupita, our last adoptee.  I told the girl that I would be happy to help out – I may have sounded a bit too enthusiastic…

Looooo-sieeeee….

We closed the door, and my husband looked at me.

You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to doooooo!

We had a little discussion, wherein I realized that we don’t need another dog.  Even a cute puppy.  I waited with baited breath while I waited for the call from the woman who currently has the puppy, to send it over.

Did I mention that I wrote down my phone number and gave it to the girl?

After an uneventful evening, and still nothing this morning, I returned from my mall walk thinking that I had gotten off easy.  Then, I heard the message waiting on my cell phone.  Yup, the woman who currently has the dog was calling me.  I ignored the call for the afternoon while I organized my studio downstairs.  I was just getting ready to go to my massage appointment, when I looked at the phone again.  There were 5 messages for me.

Two were from my mom and from a friend, but the other three were from the dog lady.  She had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and then was going to be out “late” tonight.  She needed to have either me or some other woman who had promised to find a home to take the dog tonight.  I stopped by the house, where the puppy was in the backyard, tied to a post, within access to the basement and shade.  I called my husband, canceled my appointment, and turned around to go home.

We have the puppy here right, now, but I am standing strong on not keeping it.  My dog has already terrorized it and expressed her disappointment with her guest’s reluctance to be a sheep.  I called the dog lady and told her that we could not keep the dog, but would be willing to take it to a shelter if she wanted us to.  She immediately said no, that there was another candidate who had found a home for the puppy.  She could pick it up after work.

Whew!!!!  I breathed a sigh of relief.  The puppy was safely in the garage, in our kennel, awaiting it’s new owner to come.

Of course, that didn’t happen.  I got a call from the other lady, and she said that she had called ALL of her relatives to ask if they would take the puppy, and they could not.  SHE has 3 dogs already, so it would be impossible for her to take the dog in.  Okayyyy.  I called Dog Lady back and told her the bad news.  I offered to take the puppy over to her place, set up the kennel and our water dispenser, and she could take over when she got home tonight.

But she’s not coming HOME tonight!  She is babysitting with a friend’s children and will not be home tonight.  I remained firm and told her that we would keep the doggie overnight, but would return her to the lady’s home tomorrow morning.  She has a fenced in yard, for goodness sakes!  She is the ideal person to foster the puppy until a home is found.

Oy vay!

Hong Kong Supermarket

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This morning, I had a crown fitting.  Let me re-phrase that:  I went to the dentist (who is a very nice man, BTW) and had my back molar blasted away and fitted with the temporary crown.  It did not hurt, of course – until the numbness wore off.  Ow!  And my tongue was injured! – Double Ow!  I’m sure that the big bowl of acidic gazpacho that I had for lunch helped to cauterize the wounds…

After the dentist, I decided to go to an Asian market.  My original intent was to see if they have the Shirataki Noodles that I paid $1.50 for at Whole Foods. I did find some, but they looked a bit like baby eel.  In an internet ADD moment, I found this quote from the Living La Vida Lo Carb blog:  “The natural looks kind of disgusting. It’s clear with brown dots. However they taste exactly the same.” I’ll consider it next time!

I ended up spending over an hour and $40 there, anyway.  I entered the market and was greeted by an unpleasant smell – as if the garbage had been left in the store!  I should have known that it was durian season!  After I got past produce, I did what I usually do in a new market.  I methodically go down the aisles.  I picked up an avocado, a green bell pepper, and won ton wrappers (to try this recipe for guava empanadas).

The rest of the time was spent on the sundries aisle, purchasing joss paper – they had SO many gorgeous sets!  Okay, I had already heard a great story from my friend Laura about one of her artist friends purchasing the joss paper in Houston’s Chinatown for art.  The women in the shop were horrified.  I just found this post that explains a bit of this – apparently, I must be sensitive.  I don’t know if that is possible ;-)!

I did buy two packages of  Vietnamese sponge cake molds and what I assume are rice cake molds.  I couldn’t resist.  The former look like a little like this, but come in a wide variety of shapes and imprints.  The latter are made of clear plastic or acrylic. and are a little larger.  What am I going to do with them?  I don’t know.  I also purchase a flat tin with 21 circular indentations – I will use them for drying my day of the dead skulls.  I bought some candles in yellow and red, a Mexican Naipes deck, a Loteria de Mi Tierra game.

Then I came home and took a nap.

Weight Watchers – 8th time’s the charm…

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One of my goals this summer is to begin the long road to getting back into shape.  I was getting revved up for that last summer, when I got back from Mexico.  That was after my glorious 5 weeks of Spanish, shopping, and chic weekend accommodations, courtesy of the Fund for Teachers grant I was awarded.  I was ready to come back and use my awesome arts integration ideas with my students.

Ah, then the rug was pulled out from under me.  I was told that I was needed to teach French to comply with the new Middle Years Programme.  When momma ain’t happy,… well, she eats.  I ate when I had a tough day, I ate in celebration… heck, some of you have seen my cupcake recipes, I cook and eat because I love to share food with people.  I get a LOT of compliments on my cooking.

I also had been getting more and more sedentary over the past years.  When I started teaching in Marietta, I didn’t have my own classroom, so I did a lot of walking during the day as I circulated from one borrowed classroom to the next.  I think there was one year where I had half use of a shared classroom – then we moved to a bigger building and I changed specialties from French and Spanish Exploratory to teaching ESL.  I had the cutest little trailer behind the school, and on weekends and evenings, I could go there with my dog and work and walk around for a break.

Then, we moved to the old high school, where we’ve been for the past 4 years or so.  As I gained my own classroom and got less exercise, I became more sedentary.  There was also easy access to the internet on my new computer, which is where I spent a LOT of my spare time between classes.  I was no longer horseback riding, and the commute to my new home 35 minutes (sometimes a LOT longer) took a lot of energy from me.  And so it goes.

At my meeting today, everyone was trying on the Time Warp cloak, which is this black smock with pockets on it.  You tie it around your waist and the group leader puts in these neat sealed bags of sand into the pockets to represent the amount of weight you’ve lost.  Well, I watched a lot of woment do it, and can understand how it could be a powerful tool.  But they were encouraging me to do it, even though I hadn’t lost any weight yet (apparently she doesn’t lug around 100 lbs. of sand with her to every meeting – it’s an occasional thing).  I guess that, if I got anything out of it, it’s that I don’t want to gain MORE!  Oy vay!

After my meeting, because today doesn’t count (duh!), I was going to go to El Torero and have a last lonely plate of chips and cheese dip.  It was 12:30, so the restaurant had a line going out of it.  I decided instead to go to Publix and pick up some sushi and Diet Coke.  So, I was “good”.

What was so funny is when my husband sat across from me at the dinner table and said, “Don’t you want to take your name tag off?”  I STILL had a name tag saying “Weight Watchers” on it with my name!  Imagine the irony of my sitting at a Mexican food restaurant pigging out with THAT on!  I guess it’s sort of the equivalent of displaying your Alcoholics Anonymous chip at a BAR!  I wonder if anyone would have staged an intervention?