Thursday, April 17, 2014

Katie's Gourmet Instant Oatmeal

I have become a big fan of Katie's Gourmet Instant Oatmeal in the last few months and have finally tried all the flavors.

Sunday Special has to be my absolute favorite, replacing Berry DeLite by a thin margin. I think why I like it so much is the chocolate chips! Who doesn't like chocolate? :)  They melt when you heat it up and add a chocolatey flavor to the oatmeal that I don't think I have ever had before and absolutely love.

I was hesitant on the banana in this flavor at first as I typically only like banana bread and real bananas. Anything else with banana flavor, I shy away from. However, this has real banana and strawberry flavor and really does have a banana split sundae taste to it.

I tried a bowl of the Grandma's Kitchen which has apples, raisins and cinnamon in it. It reminds me a little bit of the European Deluxe but the apples were tart. I might have been over cooking it a bit, but the apples tended to be a bit chewy. I let my parents try this as my dad has oatmeal every morning before work. They agreed about the apples but did like the flavor.

And Katie's last current flavor is Tropical Vacation. Dried mango, coconut, pineapple and orange - an island in a bowl! I am not a big fan of coconut (never have been), but I love mango and the other flavors, but for me the coconut was all I could taste. My mom loves coconut though and she really liked this one.

From Mom: "I made it just one portion at a time in the microwave with water as directed and with milk. And it was very good both ways. It had a nice texture, not just mush. After gently mixing the bag, there was ample fruit for each single portion. The only thing that sort of caught my off guard was a the 'tanginess' of what I'm thinking is the orange peel. It's the third ingredient listed (oats, mango, then orange peel) -- and in my first couple of bowls of oatmeal, it was just something I hadn't expected."

My mom told me that I could buy her this flavor and she would eat it all up again and again.

My dad's only suggestion was to make individual servings. He is an "on-the-go" breakfast guy that likes the pre-measured packets out on the market. I think what I will do for him is measure out servings, place them in baggies and put the baggies back in the larger bag. That way he has his on-the-go breakfast all set.

You can find Katie's Gourmet Instant Oatmeal at:
      Albrecht's Sentry in Delafield
      Fox Brother's Piggly Wigglys in Hartland and Oconomowoc
      O' What a Day Cafe on Bluemound in Brookfield
      Book Cafe on East Ave in Waukesha (by Carroll University)
      Sendik's in New Berlin
I am very excited for Katherine as this is the Sendik's my parents and I shop in a lot and is a wonderful store. My friend Jacob recently became the liquor department manager of this location as well so make sure you stop in and check out his great selection of wine and beer. This is one of the busier Sendik's in the area and I am very proud of Jacob for getting the position. And major kuddos to Katie for getting her oatmeal on the shelves of this busy store. She will post updates as to when she will be on the shelves and doing samplings of her products.

I also heard from her that she is testing out a new flavor to hit shelves this summer. Stay tuned to her website and Facebook page for all the details.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Healthy Living Week 5

Well, here we are just about a week shy of my finale of my Healthy Living experiment and I have to say that I am feeling really good about myself. Sure there are areas that I have not perfected and areas that I epically failed at (dang diet soda!) but I do think that I have definitely made a conscious effort to think before I put something in my body for nutrition reasons.

Besides eating two Doritos chips off my boyfriend's son's plate at a cookout, I have not had a potato chip since Lent began. And I can say that I honestly don't miss them. Tortilla chips are another story but even those I haven't indulged on :)

I have really worked to bring down my portion size and make responsible decisions when it came to what I have ate and drank in the last few weeks.

I got in a 2 mile run last week Thursday. It was a little brisk, but I had to take off my gloves by the end as my hands were overheating. It wasn't a speedy run, but a run is still a run.
Friday I tried to make some Vegan Pumpkin muffins and banana bread to take to my boyfriend and his kiddos and had some pretty epic baking fails. Completely cooked on the top, raw on the bottom.Waaa. waaa (sad trumpet)
My mom and I deduced the cause to be that my oven only has one coil on the top and so the bottom of my oven doesn't warm as evening. So I'm essentially baking food from the top down instead of evenly around. We are going to work on some things to divert the heat better in my oven so I can bake some yummy treats and not waste food. Otherwise, I'll be in the market for a new oven soon if this doesn't work.
Saturday I met my boyfriend's kids for the first time and we started the day getting his middle kid fitted for a batting glove and baseball mit. Then off to Chuck E Cheese's where we all acted like a bunch of kids. I did enjoy a piece of pizza but mainly stuck to the salad bar. His boys actually eat rather healthy too and wanted salad instead of pizza. Some pizza was even leftover because they all liked salad so much. I got schooled in basketball against Tim's oldest but it was still a fun time. 
Sunday I came home early because Tim got called into work. I decided to try out protein powder pancakes and was a huge fan. A few different blogs that I follow (Run, Eat, Repeat and Blogilates) have talked about how yummy protein powder pancakes are but I was skeptical.
Besides the fact that the mix is rather gooey at first, these were delicious! I used 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder and 1 egg. I added just a bit of water and this made three nice sized pancakes. I added chocolate chips to the last pancake and the only issue is that the pancake starts out rather thin and eventually puffs up when you flip it. So the chocolate started to melt in the pan before the pancake was done. No syrup necessary, just a little bit of margarine and they were sweet enough. Highly recommend making these!
And now for the main event meal of the week - Mojito Shrimp tacos! I found the recipe a while back on Pinterest, but it's really from this blog.
Here are my modifications to the recipe: I used precooked shrimp, so I had to make sure I didn't turn them into chewy rubberbands by overcooking them on the grill. They really just need to get heated through.
The tortillas I bought didn't work, so I threw together some jasmine rice, salsa, cumin and onion to make Mexican rice and served it over that. It was really delicious. The mango really added the sweet flavor that I was looking for to make this meal different than other Mexican dishes.
And lastly - I have continued my "Oatmeal in the morning" routine and have almost finished all of Katie's Gourmet Instant Oatmeals. Just in time for me to get more at the Farmer's Markets. More on her oatmeal soon on the blog :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Healthy Living Week 4

This week was a lot better for me. Though I did have one quite indulgent meal, I really was very well behaved for the rest of the week. I really watched my portion sizes and made sure that I knew exactly what I was putting in my body.

Friday night, my guy and I attempted to check out Tubby's outside of Whitewater. We pulled into the lot and already realized we were going to be waiting. We got inside and it was very crowded and we just decided to go somewhere else as we were starving. 

He suggested the Duck Inn and not being familiar with the area, I agreed. He used to be a bus boy back in the day, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. The place is a really cute old supper club style place with a very warm and inviting atmosphere. I'll do a full review next week, but we did enjoy ourselves.

Relish trays scream supper club in Wisconsin! Veggies with house made buttermilk ranch and two types of cold press cheeses for the cracker and breadstick basket. I sampled but didn't indulge.

Cashew Crusted Duck and T-Bone steak - Both were DEEEEE-lisious. Highly recommend ordering either. Full review to come. I only ate one piece of duck and that was plenty after filling up on the salad.
Saturday was Grill Day for me - I was so excited to get the grill and so thankful for my handy guy to put it together with a little help from the directions interpreter. Seriously Brinkman, I understand you provided multiple languages, but one of them written clearly would have sufficed.

Side note: Make sure the grill is going to fit in the vehicle before purchase. We had to take it out of the box to fit it in his Passat, which I would call an average size car. How to people buy larger things without owning a truck?
Anyways, She (I will have to name my grill soon -suggestions?) lit up just fine and grilled up some awesome bacon wrapped fillets, cheddar brats and pineapple. See the pineapple chunk under the grate - first fail by the operator of the tongs (yep that was me!)
Grilled veggies also accompanied the meal and I tried to fill up on those. They were spectacular. I am so excited to make many more meals on the grill.

Monday, I tried to copycat the Pairdd  meal. The salad turned out fantastic and my guy liked it too - he was skeptical at first but I got him to eat more than I thought he would. The salmon I made on the grill and I overcooked it just a little bit. It was still really tasty, but I think the Pairdd salmon was of higher quality and I will take that into account the next time I cook on the grill.

Do you like my new plate to display food on? That is compliments of my mother and my trip to IKEA on Sunday after my cousin's bridal shower. I think it makes my food stand out much better than my burgundy plates.
And now I'm back on my flat bread kick. This was an asparagus, onion, kale, spinach, pub cheese and mozzarella flat bread. I was trying really hard to get the flavor from the duck confit flat bread at Bernie's. This was my closest attempt yet, but still not quite there. And I didn't get the middle of the crust to crisp, even on "holy aluminum foil" Regardless, the flavors worked really well and I like the combo of kale and spinach a lot.
Yesterday I checked out my neighborhood and bit and found this nice trail to walk to get to Pick N Save.
When I got home, I was starving and realized a flat bread was again in my future after going down the frozen pizza aisle at the store and seeing some yummy DiGiorno crispy thin crust pesto pizzas. I had some pesto in my fridge, so I put a thin, very thin layer of pesto on the crust. Then I loaded it up with tomatoes, onion, spinach, mushrooms, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. I put the flat bread right on the rack this time and guess what....success! A deliciously crispy, crunchy flatbread in just 7 minutes!
So now that I have found the walking path and have found my love for veggies again (I haven't had meat in two days and I don't miss it!) I'm thinking week 5 is going to show some great progress. I just have to not eat the whole flatbread (whoops!). Probably would help if I only cook half the crust at a time.

So cheers to a new month being here already and warmer weather is coming, it just has to right? Let's keep up the good work together and Happy Eating!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Healthy Living Week 3

Week 3 has been a real battle. I tried hard to not let the mind win, but I'm in need of great support to get back on track. My back pain has been a set back and I'm trying to learn to deal with it, but it makes working out very difficult. I know there is some level of working out I can do and I just have to do it.

Plus not all weight loss happens from working out - you have to work on what you are putting in your body. 

I will say that my clothes are fitting a bit better, even though the weight loss isn't significant. Sometimes it's not all about the number on the scale, but for me, I have to keep that in mind so I keep trudging forward.

I did go to Chicago this past weekend for a friend's birthday and although I did allow myself to indulge, it could have turned out a lot worse.

One slice of deep dish (how can you not), some fried chicken (a little too indulgent) but a very healthy breakfast. I did limit my alcohol intake to help cut down on empty calories and we walked a lot.

All in all, the scale was only up .5 after the weekend so I was proud.

I made a wonderful lasagna for me and my guy on Monday night and it turned out scrumptious. Though it was a bit richer, I know every ingredient I put in it and used low-cal, low-fat when I could.

So my goal for this next week is to really get back on track and work my hardest to get to my goals. Small steps begin with the first step, so it's back to veggies and salads for lunch and portion control. 


Here is my best guess at how I made mine. I really just threw it together.

Throw It Together Lasagna
1 lb. Italian Sausage (Italian turkey sausage could have been used but the store was out)
1 jar Rinaldi Spaghetti sauce
3 tsp. minced garlic
1- 14. oz can diced tomatoes (drained)

Brown Italian sausage. Drain off the grease. Add the garlic, sauce and tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. 

9 lasagna noodles, cooked
4 oz. finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup Italian cheese blend shredded cheese

6 oz. onion and chive cream cheese (couldn't find a low fat option)
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 Tbsp. pesto (Classico brand was what I had at home)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian cheese blend shredded cheese

1 tsp. onion powder
dash of salt
few cranks of pepper

Use a hand mixer to combine the filling together into a consistent mixture.

Put half the sauce into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 X 13 pan. Then lay down three of the noodles. Put half the cheese mixture evenly over the noodles and top with half the chopped mushrooms. Then put half the remaining sauce down. Add another layer of noodles, top with remaining cheese mixture and remaining mushrooms and add the final noodles for the top. Cover with sauce and remaining cup of cheese. Place in over at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbly. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with garlic bread.

It's even better the next day! I let my guy take some of the leftovers so he had lunch for work and his coworkers were jealous. 

Katie's Gourmet Instant Oatmeal

My friend Katherine and I share a love for local food made with quality ingredients. We have checked out some local eateries together a few times a year and have enjoyed all of our ventures out.

About a year ago, Katherine began a new business,"Katie's Gourmet Instant Oatmeal." She has always been one to add fruit to her oatmeal to increase the flavor and she came to the realization that she wanted to share this yummy concept with the public. Katie has done the work for you - combining all of the dry ingredients. Just add milk or water, or a combination of both and you are set to go. 

She debuted her products at the Waukesha Farmer's Market and has gradually been increasing her reach including being on the shelves at Albrecht's Sentry in Delafield and the Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly's in Hartland and Oconomowoc. You can also find her oatmeal at O' What a Day Cafe on Bluemound in Brookfield and The Book Cafe in Waukesha.

Katherine (as I call her) is very active in getting her name out there and hosts samplings at the stores she is in. I follow her on Facebook and love hearing that she is selling out and having to make extra stops at her stores to restock their shelves. She hopes to get into a few more Farmer's Markets this summer and continue to grow her fans.

She asked me to lunch to check out Pat's Rib Place as neither of us had checked it out yet, and talk a little business. She treated me to a bag of each flavor of the oatmeal and asked me to share my thoughts on her product on my blog.

European Deluxe
I am a huge oatmeal fan already and I don't know why I hadn't tried her products until then. But let me tell all of you, without even trying all the flavors yet, she has made a fan out of me!

Katie's comes in five delicious flavors  - European Deluxe, Berry DeLite, Grandma's Kitchen, Tropical Vacation,and Sunday Special.

After microwaving
I started with the European Deluxe which has blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans. The pecans really make this oatmeal unique. She is very generous with the blueberries and pecans in each bag. The flavors work well together and the cinnamon and pecans are my favorite part. The flavor really warms me up on these cold mornings.

 Berry DeLite - look at all those fruits!
I took a bag of Berry DeLite up to Appleton to have a healthy breakfast each morning when I stayed at my cousin's. Her 5-year old son asked me to make him a bowl as well and he loved the strawberries. I couldn't believe how fast he polished the whole bowl off. He said it was his favorite treat Auntie Sarah had brought him. I wanted to leave more for him, but I was selfish and took it home for me to enjoy. I'll definitely be bringing him a bag the next time I see him.

I made myself some of the Berry DeLite this morning. I make it right before I head to work. I add 1/3 cup milk and 1/3 cup water as I don't want it too rich with all milk.

Before microwaving
I have a short 5 minutes drive to the office, so it takes the temperature from HOT, HOT to perfect. Not to mention, I love a really thick oatmeal and the drive allows it to get a bit thicker.

After microwaving
This is the perfect breakfast for me and I can't wait to try the Sunday Special next. It smells so good and who wouldn't want to have some chocolate in their oatmeal?

I did give some of the Tropical Vacation and Grandma's Kitchen to my parents to try. My dad makes himself oatmeal every morning before work, so I thought this was the perfect treat to let them try. I can't wait to hear their thoughts either.

Besides Katie's Gourmet Instant Oatmeal being available in the stores, it's also available online so you can ship it to those that can't get it in the stores.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pairdd - A Gluten Free Option

I was contacted by Pairdd  a few weeks ago and asked if I was interested in trying out one of their Gluten Free meal delivery options. I was very humbled that someone found my blog and was very excited for this opportunity!

I knew nothing of Pairdd, so I Googled them and found out they are quite awesome. Pairdd is a Milwaukee-based meal delivery service that has gluten free options for you to make at home. Everything is pre-portioned out for you and ready to eat in less than 45 minutes from unpacking to plate.

The Pairdd box is delivered to your doorstep on a Tuesday and as long as you get it in the fridge within hours of delivery, you are fine. The box has two very solid ice packs inside of an insulated bubble wrap bag, keeping the goodies nice and chilled. I received Rosemary Salmon with a Kale/Quinoa side salad.

I received a large recipe card to use while making the meal and a smaller one to keep handy for future reference. One suggestion to Pairdd regarding the packaging is to make sure the enlarged image has better clarity. The image looked great on the small card.

All of the food was labeled nicely with green stickers - great branding and no chance for a mix up.

I invited my friend Kacey to enjoy dinner with me. He has Celiac Disease. I thought it was be great for him to see other meal options that are out there.

This meal came together with ease - my only issue was that my oven took a really long time to heat up to the 500 degrees for broiling the salmon.  This is my issue to deal with - definitely thinking a new stove is in order for Fall :)

Anyways, while the salmon was in the oven with the rosemary sprig on top, I followed the rest of the directions and put the salad together very easily. It was nearly efffortless - boil quinoa, chop kale, add together with chickpeas and Craisins- voila! Who would have thought that combo would taste so amazing together?!?!

I did cook the salmon just a little longer than suggested because I wanted to be certain it was the correct temperature (Yes. I'm still getting used to my oven.)

Kacey arrived just as I was lemon-ing the salmon and getting ready to plate it up. He thought the salad was spectacular and just wished there was more of the whole meal. (Side note on Kacey - he eats multiple servings of everything!) He made sure I finished all my salmon and salad and said that he would have never thought of making that salad. It was an excellent combination of flavors. He is now aware of more options for himself. And I have a option  of getting him a gift card to Pairdd for his next birthday. Thank you for the recipe and gift idea Pairdd!

The portion was the perfect size for me and I am so glad I was given the chance to try it. The salmon had great flavor and was nice and flaky. The salad was really a good combo of savory and sweet.

Pairdd has different weekly options on their menu to give their subscribers many choices. An order placed by noon on Sunday, will arrive on Tuesday. Let Pairdd do all the shopping and prep work so you can come home and spend just a few additional minutes finishing the dish.

At first, I did think the price was a little high, but then after careful consideration...If it saves me time, and I know I'm getting a nutritious and tasty meal, its price is right! And aside from great taste and healthy food combinations, I also want to consier that shipping is included (so I don't have to shop), the prep is done by Pairdd (so I have more time to enjoy pre-dinner conversations) and I'm heating at home in my new place (so there's no need to tip). Plus, this is a guaranteed Gluten-Free option. For some people with severe allergies, going out to eat or splurging on a meal, isn't always an option because their choices are limited or they may not want to risk the chance of an allergic reaction due to a mix-up in the kitchen. Pairdd seems to have thought of everything.

And about the shipping process, I wondered if Pairdd had any sort of collection of recycling of the ice packs, bags and containers. they are just too nice to toss. Well, low and behold, Pairdd has a program for that too -- yay for a smaller carbon footprint!

So I suggest you all try Pairdd for a quick, easy and healthy meal delivered to your doorstep.

Pairdd is even more amazing because they are offering my readers 30% off anyone's first online a la carte order until the end of April using this code FOODFUN.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bernie's Tap Room and Downtown Waukesha

I had a date Friday night and I introduced him to Bernie's Tap Room and the Duck Confit and BBQ pizzas/flatbreads. The BBQ pizza was new to me and I think what makes Bernie's pizzas/flatbreads so outstanding is the super crispy and thin crust. I made another fan of the duck pizza and I WILL figure out the white sauce so I can try my darndest to make this at home. We took two slices of the BBQ pizza home to not be glutinous but it was really, really good.

My date was even lucky enough to score me some duck so I can try cooking it myself too! Any suggestions on cooking duck? 

Bernie's was hopping with people and the musician was just sitting down to start his first set. I took a double take and realized it was Mike Mann formerly from ManDown, a Milwaukee acoustic guitar coverband. In the mid-2000s, my cousin and I loved seeing them and we would go to whatever bars they were at because we were sure to have fun. Call us groupies or whatever but those guys knew how to rock it the southern rock way. It was great to see Mike still out playing and still rocking it. I didn't have a chance to say hi, but I'm sure I'll see him around again.

Then I showed my date around downtown and pointed out some of my favorite stops: People's Park, Nice Ash where my friend Kacey seemed to fly out of the bar to say hi to me, Poppin' on Broadway, Jackson's, Bosco's and Steaming Cup.

And then I tripped over the barricade in the road....... :(  

Nope, wasn't drunk, it just was really dark and I didn't see how far it was sticking out. Luckily my date kept me from falling completely over but whew - be careful out there folks. Road construction is the pits! (I will probably change it to the barricade jumped out at me in future retells of this date!)

My date was not from around here, so I'm glad he was able to see that Waukesha isn't a bunch of one-way streets that you can't get around (yep that's what he thought) and it has lots to offer. And he wasn't detered by the minor construction with me as such a great navigator for his first time in downtown. He has only been to downtown Waukesha one other time getting sausages for his dad's birthday surprise from Jimmy's Grotto. He is now a fan of Bernie's and I hope to make him a fan of many other places as well (regardless how the dating stuff works out!)