Poor man’s “Vanilla Steamer”

So, I’m a hot chocolate person.  Let’s talk Swiss Miss with Marshmallows  and then bereave the fact that they give you so few marshmallows to make it through the cocoa.  I’m also a “fru fru” coffee drinker.  Most commonly if I don’t want to stay awake too long, I’ll order a Vanilla Steamer from Starbucks, it’s hot, tastes great, and is basically milk, steam and vanilla syrup.  It’s also 330 calories, 14g of fat and 38g carbs (37 of which is sugar).  SAY WHAT????

Starbucks Vanilla Steamer

Yesterday I was making my morning cocoa (it’s like 120 calories , 23g carbs and 2.5g fat , not including the milk I mix it in, so a total of about 280 calories, 6.5g fat and 36g carbs), heating my 8 ounces of milk (yes I go milk instead of water) and as I reached for the packet of cocoa-confection-perfection, I noticed my “Splenda” coffee creamers sitting innocently beside it.  I figure “eh, what’s the worst that could happen”.  I pour in one Splenda French Vanilla single creamer packet (you know, the ones in the little yellow straw shaped containers that you buy in packs of like, 30?) and mix my milk, take a sip and HOLY COW!  It’s about 90% of the way to a traditional vanilla steamer, is 115 calories less than my cocoa and cheaper too! A pack of 30 is about $2.80-$3.50 around here, rather than the $2.65 for an 8 pack of cocoa.

So, my new routine of “my time” now consists of a cup of steaming hot milk and French Vanilla sweetener, and life is good.  It’s also only  a total of 140 calories, 4g fat, 13g carbs.

Ain’t Life Sweet?

**Notice** This is not an Ideal Protein Approved item.  Dairy in general is on the “no” list for Ideal Protein

Recipe: Gaucho Steak & Roasted Poblanos


The page stared innocuously back at me from the book on the counter.  One would think a book would be innocent enough.  This, however, was different;  this was a cookbook.  The recipe was a trifecta:

  • Food I’ve never cooked with
  • Food I’ve been lead to believe tastes bad/weird
  • Required more than one pan to create
  • I gritted my teeth and creased the page.  The time was now.  I will become a better cook.  I will learn to cook outside of my comfort zone (my husband can only eat so much baked, crock-potted or fried chicken and pork chops), and I will brave the elements of foods I had previously thought as taboo.

Tonight’s meal consisted of the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb flank steak (I substituted a thin top round steak or something similar as the store was out of flank steaks)
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic (Cue the Dracula music, aside from Garlic Salt I never touch the stuff)
  • 3/4 tsp Cumin (Cumin, WHAT THE HELL IS CUMIN???)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt, separated (it’s salt, I can handle this)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil (Extra Virgin for me, it’s really the only way to go, somehow I think it is the protector of recipes everywhere, if you use EVOO, your odds of success increase by 65%)
  • Juice from one lime (Maybe  a little white-trashy, but I used that lime juice in the green little lime-shaped bottle from the store, it’ll last hell-a longer than the regular lime)
  • 1/2 cup of Feta Cheese (This was the scary part for me, why should cheese crumble? It shouldn’t, unless it’s moldy, or being eaten by Tom (Tom & Jerry Reference) so I was really freaked out by this)
  • 4 Poblano Peppers (I only roasted 3, and only cut up 2 so easily could have halved this amount)
  • 1 Red Onion, Large (Who doesn’t know how to dice an onion?  Well, I might not know the proper way, but I get it done, none the less)

Next, ALL these things happen at the same time, although the book tries to get sneaky about it, breaking it down.  Apparently the editor didn’t realize the reader might be a writing instructor who recognizes phrases like “Meanwhile” are the same as “At the same time”… So, screw the order of things, let’s look at what has to get done, ultimately:

  1. Roast the Poblano peppers for 5 minutes in a broiler, 5″ from the heat source.  Once they’re roasted, take them out, “skin” them (vegetable with clear skin, it sounds like an alien movie), and then chop them.
  2. Chop the onion, throw it in a medium-heated skillet along with the olive oil, or rather, olive oil, then onion, and add one of the two garlic cloves, but it has to be minced, and 1/4 tsp of the salt (alright, I just used a sprinkle).  (This was another fun adventure for me, “mincing” a 3D shape of a flower petal from hell, which slides all over the place and mocks my pitiful attempts at cutting the pieces into 1/16″ squares).  Cook the onion and garlic together until the onion is “soft”.  Not caramelized.  Caramelized is bad, although it’s really good, but it’s bad.
  3. Now, go back to those poblanos you recently skinned.  Toss them in with the onion and let them toss around a bit, then add your lime juice and some fresh cilantro (I had no cilantro, my grocery shopping skills are so inept) and cook “to heat”.
  4. Heat up a “raised grill” skillet to “medium high”.  I’m poor and don’t have a fancy skillet that has the cool little grill lines on it, so I used an electric griddle, yes, like the one you use to make pancakes on Saturday mornings.  Mince the second garlic clove and rub it into the steak, followed by the cumin and 1/4 tsp of the salt.  Massage it like you wish someone would do to you, showing it some real TLC, then drop that baby on the skillet, er, griddle…er…you know what I mean.  3-4 minutes on each side or until the middle is a piping hot 145 degrees F and you are in business!  Oh wait, not done yet.  Flip it, flop it, and drop it on a plate.  Wait 5 minutes (as my tastebuds scream BUT IT IS GETTING COLD!) and the slice it across the fibers, so perpendicular to the lines of fat/tendons etc (as opposed to parallel, back to math class we go, eh?) into 12 strips and place it on a platter (or in my place, two dinner plates)
  5. Top the steak strips with the veggie mix, then polish it off with the cheese on top.
  6. Take a moment to admire the beauty, update your will, and proceed to devour the plate, serving size is 4 (3 pieces of meat + 1/2 cup veggies)

My review?  My preconceptions about Feta cheese were unwarranted.  Sure, it’s weird on a salad, but when combine as a layer of flavor, it’s amazing.  Poblano peppers, which I had never used before, are totally going to become a staple in my kitchen.  Cumin is NOT a weird spice, it seems to put the “Gaucho” in the steak.  And last, but not least, the trifecta did not defeat me.  Although I have not done the dishes yet, the other two points of the trifecta have bowed in defeat, and my mouth smiled in victory tonight.

Eat on, my friends, eat on.

WW Points Plus Value: 6 points / serving

Meatza Sunday!

So today I successfully made “Meatza” for the first time, and I’d like to say, I am epic!  I took photos of my meatza journey today, here we go!


1 lb ground beef (lean)

1 lb italian sausage

1 green pepper

1 onion

1 can mushrooms

1 “bag” pizza cheese

Pizza Sauce (I used prego)

1 package Turkey Pepperoni (70% less fat than standard pepperoni)

Seasoning to taste (Garlic Salt & Mrs. Dash Table Blend)


Mix 1 lb of ground beef (93/7 lean) and italian sausage

So I started with 1 pound of ground beef, and one of italian sausage.  I put them together in a medium large mixing bowl, and proceeded to mash them together manually (that’s with my hands).

Smash and mash together the ground meats

Once mixed, place the meat onto a cookie sheet, roughly 1/2″ thick (make sure no small holes exist, as this will make it an awkward situation in a bit!) Note: This is enough to actually make one full and one small second batch of “meatza”

Place meat mixture onto the pan

Cook the meat at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  The meat will shrink down as it cooks.  Once cooked, drain the grease from the pan (tipping it at about a 45 degree angle worked out OK for me) and place on a heat resistant surface for step 2.

Cook at 375 for 10-12 minutes, meat will compress

Sprinkle the meat with garlic, salt, and seasonings of choice (I used garlic/salt grinder and mrs. dash table blend).  Spread Pizza sauce over the top in a thin layer, followed by cheese.

Sprinkle seasoning and cheese on top

Next, add any of your preferred toppings (I used onion, green pepper, pepperoni, mushrooms, and tomatoes).

Add additional toppings

Add another layer of cheese, and then place back into the oven for another 10 minutes.

Add another layer of cheese

When it’s finished, slice it up and dish it out!

Final product: Meatza!