Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

This recipe looks SO GOOD.
It comes from Michael at inspiredbycharm.com

Crunchy, creamy, smooth, and tart.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts finely crushed (in food processor)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Concord grape jelly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, crushed peanuts, brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix in melted butter and stir to combine. Mixture should resemble wet sand. Press into the bottom and about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake the crust 12-15 minutes until it is set and just beginning to brown. Cool completely.
  3. Set the oven to 325 degrees F. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter about 5 minutes or until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar and remaining ½ teaspoon salt until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time; then add the vanilla. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Use a spatula to level the top. Bake 40 - 45 minutes until slightly puffed, set along the edges, and still a bit wobbly in the center. Let cool completely.
  5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk the jelly until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. Pour evenly over the cheesecake. Spread lightly with a spatula to create a thin, even layer.
  6. Refrigerate about 2 hours until the jelly is set. Cut into bars. Wipe off the knife between cuts to keep the edges of the bars clean. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Week Eight - Traveling and eating right

This week, I had comments from people that had not seen me in a while, and they asked if I had lost weight.  I am down 15 pounds in 8 weeks. As I mentioned before, my goal is to lose 60 pounds.  I am one quarter of the way there.  Amazing.  I do NOT want to stop the momentum.

Tomorrow, I am headed out of town for 8 days.
We will fly to Seattle and then we will be attending the wedding of one of my relatives.  After that, we plan to explore Victoria, British Columbia.

How does a person diet on vacation?
Should a person even try to follow a diet plan on vacation?

The answer is, "What do you want most of all?"

I have been successful and I have also been unsuccessful on vacations.
When I have given myself permission to splurge, I have had a harder time focusing upon returning home.

So, today, my plan is to continue making healthy choices and eating within my calorie range to the best of my ability.

I will have an opportunity to be more active, walking as we explore different areas.

It may be a little more difficult to eat in new restaurants, with new cuisines available.  And I don't want to deprive myself.  I will have an appetizer as a meal, or split a meal with someone.  I also know that I can ask to have something prepared differently, and restaurants are more accommodating than ever with special requests.  If I have to taste something, I can just have a bite from my mother's plate.
I will also eat VERY slow and really savor every bite.

If I can avoid alcohol, I will definitely make better food choices.  Certain situations just call out to me to enjoy a beverage along with a spectacular view.  This will really be my most difficult challenge.  Even before I leave town, I am on the fence, thinking "will I" or "won't I"?

 I will continue to drink my water.  I will FOCUS!   I will DECIDE ahead of time to skip the adult beverages.

I will make sure that I have a healthy snack available.  A piece of fruit, a protein bar or protein drink mix in case I am feeling hungry between meals.

Have you ever "hit the gym" at the hotel?  A lot of people do that, but I am not usually that person.  It IS an option to consider.  I will also have a girlfriend with me and she will always hit the gym on vacation.  She may influence me to go with her. 

I plan to make this vacation more about filling my days with activities rather than food. 
I have already made a lot of changes to my routines.
I can do this!
I am not going to stress about anything.  Just relax and enjoy the adventure.

And when I return, I will rejoice with another loss at the scale.

What do you want, most of all?

Crispy Skin Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

I will put this roast in the oven and enjoy the aroma ALL DAY LONG!

I grew up on this roast.  My family is German and Bohemian, and we always put Caraway Seed on it, and served it with sauerkraut, potato dumplings, and a brown gravy made from the roast drippings.  If you're interested, the recipe, Pork, Sauerkraut & Dumplings, is in our first Harter House Cookbook.

I bet, it’ll feed your entire family for a few days! 

It makes the best Pulled Pork and it's just plain delicious. 

There are 2 parts of the pork shoulder – the Picnic Roast (what we’re using) and Boston Butt (which comes from the upper part of the shoulder).

The Picnic roast will have meaty chunks of pork that we can literally pull apart with our fingers. It does take a little extra cooking time, and a little more patience  - and a really great value.

When you purchase a fresh picnic at Harter House, it is usually frozen. (Fresh meaning not cured, as in a ham) I have learned that if I put the roast in the oven frozen, at 350 degrees for 7-8 hours, it turns our perfect and the skin is ALWAYS crispy.

The following recipe comes from ruled.me  blog.
"This recipe cooks the roast from a thawed state, at a lower temperature, for a longer period of time.
Since I am a huge fan of the crispy skin, I have always cooked the roast from the frozen state to ensure the crispy skin."  ~Shelly
  • 8 lbs. Pork Shoulder (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
1. Completely wash and pat dry the pork. Leave on the counter-top for 2-3 hours to come to room temperature.


2. Once the pork has been dried and is coming to room temperature (after a few hours), preheat your oven to 250F. Mix together all of the spices in a bowl.


3. Starting skin side down, pat the salt rub all over the pork to completely cover it. Once the bottom is done, flip and place on a wire rack that’s sitting over a baking sheet covered in foil. Spread the rub on all sides and top of the pork.


4. Once your oven is preheated and pork rubbed, place into the oven and bake for anywhere between 8-10 hours. I did 10 hours for my 8 lb. roast, but if you have smaller sizes or bigger sizes, you will have to adjust accordingly. You essentially want the internal temperature to be about 190F.


5. Remove the pork from the oven and cover with foil. Allow the pork to rest for 15 total minutes. Preheat oven to 500F.


6. Once pork is rested and oven heated to  500 F, remove the foil tent from the pork and place into the oven. We will rotate the pork every 5 minutes to allow for even cooking of the skin (YAY CRACKLINS’). There may be smoke that comes out of your oven during this process due to the fat that dripped off during the roasting time. You can either open the window or remove this fat previous to putting into the oven.


7. Take the pork out of the oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing/digging in.


8. Serve up for family and friends alike – the pork should be completely tender, easily separating from the roast by pulling the meat off with your fingers.

Crispy Skin Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder That Pulls Apart With Your Fingers | Shared via www.ruled.me/

This makes a total of 20 (6 oz.) servings of Crispy Skin Pork Shoulder. 


Friday, September 20, 2019

Top 10 Tailgate Tips

Harter House makes it easier than ever for all you sports fans out there to enjoy the craziness that is Game Day!
There is nothing more American than a picnic or tailgate party. One of the best things about tailgating and summer picnics is getting out of the house and dining al fresco (outdoors). Whether it’s at the backyard picnic table, on the screened-in porch, on a tiny terrace for two, at a favorite park, in the parking lot at a baseball game or a football game, it’s one of the best ways to enjoy life.
1.Determine the menu. Start at Harter House Supermarkets and keep it simple. Do as much party planning and food preparation as possible ahead of your party. This will allow you to make the most of the weather and atmosphere -- enjoying a relaxing meal outdoors (al fresco) with family and friends.
It’s easier to make a lot of only a couple of foods, rather than a little of a lot of different foods.
A satisfying menu includes a crunchy appetizer (for people to eat while you’re getting other foods ready), meat or sandwiches, a side dish or two (such as potato, pasta or fruit salads because they are dressed beforehand) and a dessert.
Take both hot and cold drinks. If it’s chilly, a thermos of hot coffee or cocoa will be very welcome. Be sure to include hot beverage cups.
It’s the “little things” that can make all the difference. Keep the surprises coming throughout the party.

2.Gather the equipment you will need.
If you plan to grill meats or vegetables, make sure you take the grill, the charcoal or gas, tongs, etc.
If you plan to make frozen drinks, take your blender plus an appropriate power source. Consider purchasing a power inverter that converts 12-volt DC power from your car’s battery into 110/120-volt AC power for appliances.

3.Make a list and check it off.
Don’t forget to take a blanket, plenty of paper or plastic plates, napkins, plastic flatware, serving utensils, plastic cups and glasses and/or tumblers, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, condiments, clean-up cloths and trash bags.
Pack a first-aid kit with sunscreen, insect repellent, Band-Aids and wet wipes. Remember to include any necessary medications.
Don’t forget the radio/CD player.
Include a cover in case of rain and a flashlight if it gets dark.

4.Keep Cool: Take at least two insulated coolers.
One cooler should be filled with ice, water and plenty of other cold drinks.
The second cooler should be used to keep perishable foods like meats cold until cooking time. It’s also best to keep chilled pasta, potato or fruit salads cold until serving time in a cooler.
Travel with your cooler inside the air-conditioned car rather than packing it in the hot trunk.

5.If grilling meat, chicken or fish at the tailgate, add extra flavor by marinating the meat in the refrigerator before you go.
Use resealable plastic bags for easy transport and clean-up. (I recommend Ziploc brand bags.) Simply discard the bag after use. Keep marinated meats in the cooler until ready to cook.
Cook meat, fish and poultry thoroughly. See the following guidelines from the USDA on proper meat temperatures to ensure safety:
Poultry (170° F for white meat and 180° F for dark meat, juices should run clear)
Beef (145° F in the center)
Pork (160° F, with the center remaining slightly pink)
Ground Meat and Poultry (160° F, measured through the patty)
Never place grilled meat on a plate that has had raw meat on it.

6.Be safe. Food safety is extremely important.
As always, wash hands and work areas before preparing food.
Pack a jug of water, antibacterial soap and wet cloths for washing your hands before and after handling raw foods, such as chicken, beef, pork or fish.

7.Keep hot foods, hot! Keep cold foods, cold!
Keep hot foods in an insulated jug, a slow-cooker plugged into your car battery, or in an appropriate pan sitting on the hot grill. (See Tip #2 above.)
Use insulated heat-and-tote containers (such as Pyrex Portables) to transport hot or cold foods to the tailgate party. These will keep foods hot or cold for a few hours.
To keep foods cold while serving, place salads and desserts in a smaller container, then place the smaller container in a larger container. Fill the larger container with ice to surround the smaller one.
Remember that foods such as meats and dressed salads should not be left out for more that two hours or you run the risk of food poisoning.
Do not leave any leftover food out on the tailgate or picnic table. Put leftovers back in the cooler as soon as you're finished eating. Replenish the ice if it melts. Keep leftover food only if there is ice still in the cooler when you get home.

8.Take enough food to feed your group of friends and to share with your fellow tailgaters. Invite others over to taste your creations and share your favorite stories; it’s a great way to meet new friends. Remember that eating outdoors can make people extra-hungry.

9.Show your colors by using thematic plates, napkins, plastic flatware and decorations. Don’t forget the matching tablecloth. Baskets of fresh fruit make beautiful, edible centerpieces. Then have fun, fun, fabulous fun!

10.Clean up thoroughly after your tailgate party or picnic.
Take your trash home with you. Put out any hot coals, etc. from the grill. Leave the site as you found it. Be kind to your neighbors.

 Don’t forget to bring the chairs, burger or your tickets EVER again. Make sure to mark things off as you pack them up so you don’t show up to the tailgate without that crucial piece of tailgate equipment!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Week Seven - My Body is Changing

When was the last time you remember walking past a window and you caught a reflection of yourself in the glass?   What did you think?  Not too long ago I remember thinking, "Wow, I'm looking really fat!" 

I have been paying attention to the reflections lately. 
As I pass the front windows walking into work and also in the freezer aisle of the grocery store I can see my reflection.  This week I found myself thinking, "I'm looking better.  My stomach does not look as round.  Yay!"

Time passes really quickly, as we all know. And my progress has really amazed me in a relatively short period of time. Every single week something is changing in my body and I can see and feel it.

Week one I lost 4 lbs. - It felt good to see the scale go down.

Week two,  Just 1 more pound down,  but I was still determined to focus and make changes.  I noticed I was leaving the table not feeling stuffed.  I was still taking too many liberties with my choices and I wanted faster results.  So I focused on paying closer attention.
Week three, down 2 more pounds.  I'm choosing far fewer adult beverages.  I am making better food choices.  This week I noticed that my nice shorts are much more comfortable.  I remember thinking, I must have lost a full inch in my waist.
Week four -  My scale is down 9 pounds in four weeks,  I'm starting to really feel it in my clothes now.  My routines are getting a little easier.  I'm not fighting hunger and food cravings like I was before. 
Week five -  A Labor day party.  It's easy to get derailed.  I reminded myself that I've got this.  Keep going, don't give up.
Week six -  I got into a pair of jeans I hadn't worn in years.  And a favorite top is not puckering at the buttons.  I am getting into my old favorite clothes again.  I have so many sizes in my closet.  With every smaller size, I have cuter and better fitting choices.  Now I am really starting to get excited.
Week seven - This week!  I am now down 13.5 pounds.  I hop on the scale every morning, and more times than not it is again 1/2 pound down .  I tell myself that if I don't eat or drink this thing I'm craving, that the scale WILL go down tomorrow.  It is my motivation.  I think my face looks thinner too.  I did see a picture of myself this week that I didn't like, which only reminded me that I am not where I want to be.  Keep going!

My favorite dinner this week, (I had it twice) was 1 piece of 5 oz. Sole rolled with scallops & crabmeat stuffing, with some Santa Fe Style vegetables. Of course we sell it at Harter House. (Republic Road for sure)  I found the nutritional info for the sole and was actually surprised at the calorie count.  It is really rich and delicious.
Serving 1 piece -  Calories 250.  Calories from fat 110.
Total fat 12g,- Carbs 20g - Protein 16g

The key to losing weight and keeping it off is finding out what motivates you.I want to look good in fashionable clothes.

Don't think of this time as taking stuff away.  Rather, we are adding new and healthy habits that will enhance our life and make us healthier and stronger.

I will continue to recite daily positive affirmations.  It may seem corny, but I know it works. "I can do this!"

So remember:  You're a winner, and nothing is impossible.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Grilled Potatoes with Rosemary Mushrooms & Onions

If you're looking for a great side, this might be a great dish.

I have made similar recipes, cooking the potatoes, mushrooms and onions in a Reynold's foil package.

But now, at Harter House, we have the Creamer potatoes from the Little Potato Company.

Oven/Grill varietals are packaged in a handy foil pan that’s big enough to fit all of the vegetables. Plus, no dirty dishes to clean because the foil package can be placed directly on the barbecue grate or in the oven.

Start by following the package direction – tossing the naturally sweet little potatoes with olive oil and the enclosed seasoning (reduced sodium and no artificial flavors) – then sprinkle half of a chopped red onion over top. While the potatoes and onions are getting toasty and tender on the grill, chop the mushrooms and toss them with olive oil, crushed rosemary and a pinch of salt. Stir them into the potato mixture and cook until the mushrooms are tender and the potatoes are starting to brown.

Great herb flavors, caramelized, tender and downright delicious.

  • 1 package Little Potato Co. Oven/Grill Ready Creamer potatoes (I used Garlic Herb)
  • ½ red onion, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz. Cremini mushrooms
  • ½ tsp crushed rosemary  
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Remove the cardboard and plastic covering from the potato package. Add the onion pieces, 2 tablespoon of olive and the seasoning packet. Stir to coat.
  3. Place the foil package directly on the grill (or in the oven) and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the mushrooms, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, rosemary and salt. Stir the mushrooms into the potato and onion mixture. Cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  5. Garnish with parsley. Serve.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Week Six - Re-program Your Brain

A diet is saying yes to the skinny jeans 
by saying NO to the donuts.     

Blake Lewis and I danced in a flash mob
performance last Saturday at 
The City Market on Commercial.Street.
We will perform the same dance again
this Saturday, 
at The City Market on Commercial Street.
with 10 other couples, 
Sept 14, 2:45 pm, 
 Springfield CultureFest

This week I put on a pair of jeans that I have not been able to wear for a very long while. And also a top that did not pucker at the buttons.  Boy was that exciting.

As you can see from my picture, I am still quite thick in the mid section, but I AM losing inches around my waist, chest, and hips, slow but sure.

I have lost just 1 more pound in the last two weeks, for a total of 10.5 lbs.  I need to stay focused and not lose my way.

Phil McGraw said, "Successful weight loss takes programming, not willpower."  I agree.  Getting our head on straight is the most important factor in changing our habits.  We must have a clear vision of what we really want to accomplish.

"When it comes to ideals of beauty and body image, we are incredibly hard on ourselves.  We need to program our minds to believe that we are healthy, thin, and beautiful already.  Now we can go out and make healthy choices that will keep us beautiful.

Stop eating mindlessly and start eating mindfully
Plan your meals in advance
Organize your kitchen
Eat more protein
Use smaller plates… and bowls
Serve yourself 20% less
Cut your food into small pieces
Eat with the wrong hand
Eat Slowly
Go for a Walk
Don't eat in front of the TV
Switch your snacks.  Even water and chewing gum can be an appetite suppressant. Choose 100 Calorie snack packs.
Keep a journal - Food, emotions, cravings, thoughts, etc.

We must use our conscious mind to reprogram our subconscious mind. THAT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. 

We need to re-focus on WHAT WE WANT, on our NEW desire, new behavior, and on our new CHOICES. Here we need a real REASON, a DESIRE which drives us to make different choices.
A WHY that is so much bigger than that piece of cake or processed junk food…….
  • Is it better health?
  • Is it being better looking?
  • Lighter? Sexier?
  • More mobility?
  • More energy?
  • More confidence?
  • WHY do you want to lose weight?
  • In what way will your life be different after you achieve your desired weight? 

Are you aware that only 10% of your day is governed by your conscious mind? That means 90% of your daily choices and behavior come from the stories, or the neural pathways already carved in your brain, making choices FAST.

Our job is to create the new programming that will manipulate our choices when will-power runs out. To do that, we use the power of our imagination.

YOU CAN Live the life of your dreams NOW. 
You can see it. 
You can CONSCIOUSLY start taking steps to turn that vision into your new reality.
You can visualize yourself being a smaller size, feeling elegant and attractive.  Go ahead and visualize that you are rich as well.  And we should remember always that we truly are rich in Love, friendship, intelligence, etc.  The things we can't put a price tag on.

Imagine how you FEEL buying new clothes. FEEL how they touch your healthy elegant body. 

Tell yourself positive affirmations.
I nourish my body with healthy food.
I enjoy going for daily walks to help my body become strong, fit, and healthy.  
I LOVE my body.
I am strong.  I am powerful.  My arms are not flabby, they enable me to achieve my goals.
I am strong in mind and body.
I am living a healthy lifestyle which enables me to…………..OR so I can………..

To reprogram you MUST
  • See these affirmations regularly.
  • Post these affirmations on Post-it notes around the house, in the car, OR
  • Set these messages as daily reminders in your phone.
  • Read it and FEEL IT.
Repetition is the key to creating new neural pathways so when you go to make a decision around food or exercise, your subconscious programming will start to take over, helping you move forward to a successful outcome!!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This homemade butternut squash soup is the best I’ve ever tasted! This recipe is super creamy (yet cream-less) and full of delicious butternut flavor. Leftover soup tastes even better the next day. Recipe yields about 4 bowls or 6 cups of soup.


  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved vertically and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup chopped shallot (about 1 large shallot bulb)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Up to 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, to taste (substitute olive oil for dairy free/vegan soup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside (about 1 teaspoon each). Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  2. Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and discard the tough skin.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet (or large soup pot, if you’ll be serving soup from that pot), warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  4. Transfer the cooked shallot and garlic to your blender. Add the reserved butternut, maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can work in batches if necessary, and stir in any remaining broth later).
  5. If you would like to thin out your soup a bit more, stir in the remaining cup of broth (I used the full 4 cups, but if you used a small squash, you might want to leave it as is). Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to taste, and blend well. Taste and stir in more salt and pepper, if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately (I like to top each bowl with a little more black pepper). Let leftover soup cool completely before transferring it to a proper storage container and refrigerating it for up to 4 days (leftovers taste even better the next day!). Or, freeze this soup for up to 3 months.

Garnish and Variations

Classic garnishes for Butternut Squash Soup include a dollop of sour cream, plain yogurt, or crème fraiche.  A sprinkle of minced cilantro or thyme is also tasty.

  • Creamy - Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream after blending and gently heat until warmed through.
  • Spicy - Add 1 chopped jalapeno and 1/4 tsp. cayenne with the garlic.  Stir in up to 1/4 cup brown sugar at the end.  If you like, cream is also a nice addition to this version.
  • Roasted - Roasting concentrates the flavor of the vegetables.  You can use this method with any of the other flavor combinations you like.  Put halved and seeded Squash cut-side down in a large pan.  Arrange halved and peeled onion and garlic around the squash.  Pour in 1 cup of broth and roast in a 375 F Oven until very tender, about 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Scoop out the squash flesh from the peel and put in a blender, along with the onions, garlic, and remaining broth.
  • Gingery - Add 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon ground ginger along with the garlic.  Make it even gingery-er by melting 4 tablespoons butter in a small frying pan.  Cook until it turns light brown and add 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger.  Swirl the ginger butter on top of each serving.
  • Warm Spices - Add a combination of 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon, and/or black pepper along with the garlic.
  • Many Squash - Switch out up to 2 lbs. of the butternut squash with acorn squash.
  • Protein Packed - Whirl up to 8 oz. of soft or silken tofu into the soup.  Be sure to whirl it in the blender or food processor for a full minute or so to fully incorporate the tofu.

Shelly's Green Tomato Relish

Is it just me or is Sunday made for cooking? This past week I picked up about 20 green tomatoes.   I LOVE green tomato relish. I used to help my mother-in-law make it every fall in her kitchen, using a recipe handed down from her mother and grandmother. We would use a food grinder and it was really messy. Today I use a food processor and, although I am still a pretty messy cook, the process is way faster and easier.

Here is my recipe, which is cut down from the original.

Green Tomato Relish
20 Green Tomatoes
3 Large Red Peppers
3 Large Green Peppers
2 Large Onions

Grate vegetables in a food processor. Cook slow about 15 minutes. Drain if too much juice.

In another pot, mix together and bring to a boil;
2 Cups Cider Vinegar
3 Cups Sugar
1 TBL Salt
½ Tsp ground Cloves
½ Tsp Allspice
½ Tsp Cinnamon
½ TBL Mustard Seed
½ TBL Celery Seed
(I really love spicy relishes also and always consider adding Jalapenos, but then I don’t. I bet it would be really good though, if you like spicy)

Add to Vegetable mixture and boil another 15 minutes.

I have Mason Jars and we sell Mason Jar LIDS at Harter House. (At least for sure at 1500 E. Republic Road)

I boiled the jars to sanitize then. Then filled then full with the relish mixture. My Mother-In-Law always let the full jars stand upside down on the counter to cool, to help seal the jars. So I will do that also, because that’s the way I learned. My kitchen smells SO GOOD! A mixture of sweet and sour.

And Barbara Kauffman, you’ve got a big jar of Shelly’s Homemade Green Tomato Relish with your name on it!

This batch really made a lot too. Three large jars, three medium jars and three small jars with just a bit more that we will serve with dinner tonight. Jars do not need to be refrigerated till opened.

By the way, our dinner tonight is Harter House Baby Back Pork Ribs with Big John’s Homemade BBQ Sauce ~ Fresh from the Ozarks ~ available at both Harter House locations in Springfield.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Week Five - Don't give up

You may think that I am writing these blogs for you.  (And of course, I am.)  But I am also writing these blogs for myself.  I need to keep reminding myself that the end result of healthy eating, will be a happier, healthier "Me".  But those old habits want to creep into my daily life.  Like a Labor Day party with friends bringing dishes, and fun mixed drinks.  Just one can't hurt, right?  And then one turns into two, and all restraint takes a back seat to fun. 

It's time for an attitude check. 
It's another new day. I don't have to be perfect, I just have to keep moving in a positive direction.

Focus on water, again.  Focus on healthy, quality foods.  MORE vegetables.  I did make this delicious Southwestern Vegetable Medley for my Labor Day party.  And it was really a hit.

Focus on tracking again with MyFitnessPal.

Focus on activity.  Sometimes all it takes it getting myself out the door.
Remind yourself, "You've got this, keep going."
Positive Self-talk is good. 

I love eating out, but cooking at home ensures that I know exactly what going into my meals and how much I am actually eating.  Did I say, more vegetables?  And less carbs.

Keep some healthy snacks around like nuts and fruit.  Fruit can satisfy a sweet tooth, but don't eat too much. 

Stop eating in front of the TV.  Be aware and mindful of the delicious food you're taking in. 

Instead of rewarding myself for walking three days in a row with a pizza and milkshake (which pretty much negates the work I've just put in), I will get a new outfit or buy a new book I've been wanting. 

Make sure we are sleeping well.  This usually isn't an issue with me, but lack of sleep certainly affects us in a number of negative ways.

Review possible ways to decrease or better handle stress in our life.

Take a multivitamin and probiotic every day.

I need to remember to be kind to myself and my body.  Have patience.   I know that I am still focused and not willing to quit this journey.  I need to focus on tweaking my lifestyle and making subtle changes to my daily routines.

Paula reminded me this week, "If you don't have the environment you want, go about creating it.  There are things we cannot control, but we can influence our environment and our circumstances.  We can change.  We can try new things.  And we can start right now, right where we are.  No matter our age or our circumstances."

It's possible

Monday, September 2, 2019

Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti

Creamy alfredo sauce, savory chicken, hearty pasta,
two delicious kinds of melty cheese — what’s not to love?!
There’s a reason why this one will always be a classic.


Chicken Baked Ziti Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (or any pasta shape)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
  • 1 batch alfredo sauce (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • toppings: lots of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, finely-chopped fresh basil or parsley

Alfredo Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


To Make The Chicken Baked Ziti:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and alfredo sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.
  3. Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of cheese. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.

To Make The Alfredo Sauce:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Possible Variations:

There are so many ways to customize this chicken alfredo bake!  For example, feel free to…
  • Add in veggies. Broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, and any number of other veggies would be delicious added to this chicken alfredo recipe.  Just note that they won’t get cooked much during the 20 minutes of baking time.  So if whatever veggies you add require a longer cooking time, feel free to toss them into the boiling water with the pasta for a few minutes or sauté (or roast) them for a few minutes before adding them to the casserole.
  • Add in extra Italian herbs. If you would like an herbier chicken alfredo pasta, feel free to add some dried Italian Seasoning or chopped fresh Italian herbs into the alfredo sauce.  (Or, you can also sprinkle some chopped fresh basil on top of the pasta after baking.)
  • Nix the protein.  Not into chicken?  Feel free to use shrimp in this recipe instead.  (Or make it vegetarian and add in some extra veggies instead.)
  • Make it spicy. I really love sprinkling lots of crushed red pepper into (and on top of) this casserole to give it a bit of a kick.
  • Make it cajun. To give this recipe a Cajun twist, feel free to stir 1-2 tablespoons Cajun seasiing (to taste) into the alfredo sauce.
  • Make it gluten-free.  Just use your favorite certified gluten-free pasta, and my gluten-free alfredo sauce recipe.

This recipe comes from GimmeSomeOven.com

St. Louis Style Pork Steaks


Having been partially raised in St. Louis, Missouri I grew up on pork steaks. St. Louis pork steaks are "steaks" that are cut from a pork butt. One recipe calls for the meat to be seared over a hot charcoal fire and then braised in a mixture of beer and barbecue sauce. How can you possibly go wrong with that?  ~~Shelly

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

These are really simple, but the results are spectacular. I use a basic salt and pepper seasoning with a little garlic. I'd urge those of you that are barbecue masters to resist the urge to over-complicate things by adding a bunch of extra ingredients.

Start with steaks from Harter House.

4 large Pork steaks
3 Tbs Kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbs Black pepper, ground fresh
2 tsp Granulated garlic (not "powdered")
16 oz Beer (I used Bud Light)
18 oz Your favorite barbecue sauce (I used KC Masterpiece)

Note: You’ll also need two 9×13 disposable aluminum roaster pans.

Combine the salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl and mix well.
Season both sides of each steak liberally with the seasoning, then place them in zip-top bags and refrigerate at least three hours, or overnight.

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Start your grill and prepare for direct cooking over high heat (450-500º). Sear the steaks on each side.

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

While the steaks are searing, combine the beer and barbecue sauce in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

 Put the steaks in a single layer into the disposable aluminum pans and cover them with the beer mixture, putting half of the beer and barbecue sauce mixture into each pan.

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Cover the pans tightly with foil.

Move your coals to one side of the grill for indirect cooking. Put the pans on the side of the grill opposite the coals and cook, indirect, for 90 minutes.

Note: Add charcoal as needed to keep the temperature at about 350º throughout the rest of the cooking time.

Remove the steaks from the pans and quickly sear them over direct heat (about 2 minutes per side). Remove to a platter and let rest for about five minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Makes about 6 servings