Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Week 13 - The Desire to Find a Way

Have you ever told yourself, I'll get started next week when I have time. A hundred “next weeks” later and you’re a couple of years down the same road, still getting the same tired results, wondering why you can’t break through, why things can’t be different.

Thoughts like;
"I really want ________, but I can’t because ________________."
"I would _____________, but then ___________ might happen."
"I really need to ______________, but I am too busy with ________ right now to make the change that would free me up and take me to the next level."
"What if _____________ happens – then what?"
"I don't have time to _________."

These patterns become like dead end roads we drive down regularly
The good news is – We can change it, starting right NOW. 
Step out of the role of "I can't do this", and into the role of "I am in charge".

We have to find the strength inside of us.  That PURPOSE.  That DRIVE that lives inside of us.

I was told, if I want one principle to gain success, it is:

THE DESIRE to FIND A WAY to make it happen… 

Because if you really have the DESIRE to FIND A WAY, you won’t be looking for ONE magical THING.

You’ll just be READY and WILLING to do whatever it takes to reach your goal.

When you really have the desire, you’ll be willing to LEARN whatever you need to learn to get there.

You’ll be willing to WORK however many hours you need to work to get there.

 You’ll be willing to KEEP GOING, when you hit rock bottom, when you suffer setbacks, when it seems impossible.

It’s that self-motivation that can only come when you have a powerful reason. A reason that drives everything you do.
 Find that PASSION inside you.

If our DESIRE to find a way is UNBREAKABLE 
, then it is only a MATTER OF TIME before we reach our definition of success. 

And yes, WE DEFINE success, no one else.
 What success is to another may not be what success is for you or me.


The real questions of success are:

Repeat to yourself every day:
LIFE won’t always go my way, 


Everything we want in life is waiting for us, AND SO MUCH MORE! It just requires a decision. It requires COURAGE to make that decision. It requires DEDICATION to commit to that decision. It requires sacrifice along the way. It requires STRENGTH most don’t have to see through all the challenges along the way.

It's time to take charge.

Start now and reap the benefits in 2020.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Michele's Baked Lasagna

Many years ago, I purchased R&F Brand Lasagna noodles.  I decided to save the recipe knowing someday I would not be able to find it. Sure enough, the parent company sold and today this brand no longer exists.   But I still have the recipe.  This recipe is my base. It is great as is, but I will enhance it, making it a little different each time.  I ALWAYS double the meat that is called for.

These are my ingredients.  I start with opening my wine, because I love to enjoy a glass as I cook.

1 lb. Lasagna noodles
3/4 lb. Ricotta (or full container)
2 eggs
4 Cups Meat Sauce - See below
1 lb. Mozzarella Cheese
4 Tbls or more, Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper

Meat Sauce
1 lb. Ground meat ( 1/2 beef - 1/2 Pork)   - (I double this.)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Large Onion
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
1 Clove Garlic, chopped or pressed
1 Carrot, grated
1 Can Tomatoes, chopped or mixed in blender for a few seconds
1 (6 oz) can Tomato Paste
1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
12 oz. water
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper
1 Tsp Basil

Sauté onion, parsley, garlic and carrot in oil. Add meat and brown.
Add tomato paste, wine and water, salt, pepper and basil.  Simmer 1 hour.

Boil Lasagna 10 minutes in 6 Qts. salted water.  Add cold water until noodles can be handles.  Do NOT drain.

In a separate bowl mix eggs and ricotta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 Grease Baking dish and arrange the bottom with parallel layers of lasagna.  Add 1/3 of Meat Sauce, 1/3 Ricotta mixture, 1/3 thin slices Mozzarella.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.  Cover with another layer of each, and a third layer of each.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes. 
Serves 8

I chopped my onion, added grated carrots, and pressed garlic.
Saute in 1/4 cup Olive Oil

I added 1 lb. each of
  Harter House Ground Round (95%  lean)
and Harter House homemade Italian Sausage.

At Harter House, all of our ground meats are ground fresh daily from our own trimmings, to ensure the freshest product for your family.

Brown the meat and drain the fat and oil from the pot.
I like to use Bounty paper towels to soak up the liquid.

I added basil rather than parsley.  I love the flavor of basil and I find that fresh spices add an extra kick that always wins the prize.

Next I added chopped Roasted Red Peppers, tomatoes, and tomato paste.
I added 1 cup Cabernet Wine and 1 cup water.
(a little different from the original recipe)


Now, we let it simmer for an hour.

Next, I've set up my work station to layer each ingredient.
A little oil on the Pampered Chef Stone Bakeware. 
Layer noodles, meat sauce, Ricotta and egg mixture, Mozzarella slices, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat for three layers.  Then bake in a 350 degree oven 30-45 minutes. (since I made a larger amount, I cooked it a little longer)  Then I broiled the lasagna just long enough to make the cheese bubbly on top.

Finally, I made a Cheesy Garlic Bread with English Muffins.  Melted butter and garlic powder sprinkled on muffins and topped with shredded mozzarella.  Broil for about 8 minutes, till the cheese is browned a bit.

My hard work paid off.
I received a third place Judges Choice at our Springfield's Best Mixer, that had a Italian themed Bring a Dish contest.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Week Twelve - Unstoppable

This was a good week!
I lost the 3 pound increase I had last week plus another half pound.  I am at 16.5 lbs down in 12 weeks (or 3 months.)

Isn't it funny how a good week vs. a bad week can sometimes depend completely on our food intake.
Which is another good reason to choose nutritious options.  It helps our attitude, mood, and overall self confidence.

I have said before that I will adopt the philosophy:
"I will not eat anything that isn't healthy, and beneficial to my overall health!"
I will eat to fuel my body.

To stay motivated I have thought a lot about WHY I want to lose weight.
I know health is at the top, but appearance is my best motivator.  I want to look good in my clothes.  I want to wear cute and fashionable outfits.  I want to look professional in my clothes.  And I don't want to be uncomfortable.
I want to be able to cross my legs while sitting.  (I can now)
I want to be able to bend over and paint my toenails.
And being able to wear my jeans!  I am fitting in my largest size jeans.  (I have more sizes to get into just waiting in my closet.)

Each time I see the scale go down (usually just a 1/2 pound) I have a feeling of accomplishment.

I have dieted my whole life and the bottom line (for me) is reducing my calorie intake.  Reducing Portion sizes.  Reducing the frequency of snacking. Remove completely the fried foods, desserts, sugars and all processed foods.

To stay really present I must write down what I am eating.  This isn't for the rest of my life.  It is for today!  It helps me measure my progress, I can identify my triggers and it does hold me more accountable.  I believe my weight gain last week was related to salt intake.  I was hungry and I ate a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers.  Bad choice, Shelly!

When I eat meals that includes a protein, a fat, and a low-card vegetable, I feel full much longer.
Also eating foods with more fiber is important.  This week I want to research recipes that incorporate high fiber foods.

I can always do better
I need more exercise.  (just walking)
I need more vegetables (fiber)
I need less alcohol.  (this week I had an amazing Orange Blossom Vesper Martini. I'll have to tell about that in a different blog.)

Lastly, look at the bright side.
I told my girlfriend this week to "Get over it".  Stop worrying.  It doesn't really matter.
Be grateful and count your blessings.  I also try to pass on my blessings. It feels really good to be able to give joy to someone else.
I want to laugh.  A good belly laugh burns calories too.  But it just makes us feel good.  And smile. Consciously remind yourself to smile.  Just that alone will put us in a better mood.  Be happy and spread joy.

Now let's reward ourselves with a new outfit, instead of a big fat meal.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Lemon Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread is awesome, there’s no denying that…but lemon zucchini bread?? It’s unbelievably good.  This fruitier, sweeter, denser loaf makes a pretty perfect addition to any brunch or dessert buffet.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (6 oz.) container lemon Greek yogurt
3 eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated, drained and squeezed dry

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, beat together sugar and canola oil, then mix in eggs and Greek yogurt.
  4. Once eggs are fully incorporated, mix in lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  5. Gradually fold in dry ingredients until incorporated, then gently fold in grated zucchini and lemon zest.
  6. Pour batter into greased loaf pan, then place in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.
  8. For the glaze: whisk lemon juice into powdered sugar until smooth, stirring in lemon zest, if desired.
  9. Once cake has fully cooled, pour glaze over cake and let set until hardened.
  10. Slice, serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Week Eleven - Handling Disappointment

Stay Positive!
I have been dieting, eating less, journaling my food, and seeing my scale go down, for a full 11 weeks now.  I was at 16 lbs. down last week.  This week I gained 3 pounds overnight! and I have not yet seen it drop back down.  Wow.  I was shocked because I felt like I was not changing "that much" in my routine.   Was it a delayed reaction from traveling recently?  Were my choices really that bad?  I guess they were.

Obviously, I have been letting old habits sneak back in.  In reality, I was not focusing.  I can't tell you what I was eating differently, because I was getting very lazy journaling my food choices.  I wasn't focusing on adding more activity, and most of all, I don't think I have been drinking enough water.  I KNOW that I have not been drinking enough water.  And then there is the vegetables.  The vegetables that I'm not eating.

So that's it.  I wasn't doing what I know I need to be doing.  The crazy thing is that I feel it ALL in my belly.  My belly was actually starting to feel flatter.  I've noticed in the past, and again this time, that as I lose weight, my stomach seems to go down first just under my breasts, and then slowly going down into my mid section and then finally my lower belly, at my hips.   It has been noticeable and I have been SO excited feeling the changes.

It's time to get excited again.
It's time to revisit what it is that I really want.
I will not give up.  "Winners never quit and quitters never win."

I know you've heard it said before, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." 
It's SO TRUE!  
I have already been feeling "thin", as I am experiencing my clothes fitting loser.  When I eat the right portion sizes, I leave the table feeling satisfied, not like I need to unbutton my pants. 

I am being told that a plateau is a part of weight loss. (I know that)  And that it is an important part of the weight-loss process.  Sometimes the scale isn’t moving simply because your body is adjusting to change.  Fat-loss never occurs in 30 days or anything magical. It’s a process.

Prevention.com reminds us to;
Stay Hydrated
Don't feel pressured to eat your entire plate
Go Meatless at least once a week
Eat Wholesome foods, eliminate processed foods
Cook at home
Use Smaller plates for portion control
Limit distractions during meals.
Curb your sweet tooth.
Eliminate refined cards - avoid breads, crackers, cereals, pasta, and baked goods.  Choose whole grains.
Limit alcohol - or cut it out completely. ~ (ya, I know)
Add Fiber - 25 grams per day in the form of 3 servings each of fruits and vegetables.
Start stepping - improve your health, boost your mood.
Get enough zzz's
Get intimate.  Getting it on more often can serve as an excellent cardio workout while boosting your mood and lowering stress.
Build a support network - a workout buddy.
Keep track of your progress. Every day, every week, every month.  Also write down your feelings, challenges, and setbacks.
Stock up on healthy snacks
Cathy and Michele - 2011
Focus on lean protein.
Consider high-intensity interval training
Meal Prep - Make a double batch for busy weeknights.
Avoid snacking at night
Sign up for a 5-K run/walk.
Eat a healthy breakfast every morning.
Combat stress.  meditate, walk, take a relaxing bath, listen to soothing music, exercise.
Bike to the office.
Don't sit still

"If you fall off the horse, get right back on it."

Remember, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels."

Monday, October 14, 2019

Meatballs and Gravy

This recipe is tried and true!

I’m not going to pretend that I am Italian, because of every nationality that is mixed through my veins – Italian is about the single one that I am not. However, I love Italian food & tend to make some pretty great meals when I cook Italian food. This is something I am confident I can make well…enter Meatballs and Gravy. Now, since I am not Italian by birth (only by choice) I would not have known that the sauce is actually called gravy, when you put it on meatballs. Also, I found everything I need to make this wonderful recipe at Harter House and Harter House World Flavors.

Meatballs and Gravy
For Meatballs:
1.5 lb of mild Italian sausage
1.5 lb lean ground beef
2 eggs
2 tsp Dried Italian Seasoning
3/4 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (reduced fat)
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
pinch brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

For “Gravy”
2 large cans Cento crushed tomatoes
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 small yellow or white onion
olive oil
1/2 diced roasted Italian red pepper
fresh basil – minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
pinch sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
couple dashes hot sauce
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp of lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Open a bottle of your favorite wine and consume while cooking.

3. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs into a bowl. Once all the ingredients are blended together, you are going to form your balls. These are meant to be bigger than the kind you find in your spaghetti – since they are the main course. So you want them to fill up a good handful (why is this starting to sound dirty)…

Once you have all your meatballs formed, line them up on a cookie tray. Its really important not to crowd the tray so the meat cooks evenly. Once you have this step completed, put your meatballs in the oven – reduce the heat to 375 and cook for exactly 45 minutes. Reducing the heat allows for the outside to form a slight crunch, while the inside cooks perfectly.

4. Now we start on the sauce! Slice the onions & chop garlic & add to saucepan over medium heat with about 2 swirls of olive oil in the pan.
Once the onions have cooked and are translucent, add in the remaining ingredients for the sauce, starting with the crushed tomatos. After you have all the ingredients added & well incorporated, turn the heat to low & cover. The flavors will all blend together on a low simmer while the meatballs finish cooking.

5. When the meatballs are done you are going to take each one and add to your sauce, excuse me, gravy…. and roll around to make sure they are completely covered. Optional step is to place a slice of mozerella on each meatball (after its been rolled in the gravy) and cover again for just a minute to melt the cheese.

6. For the salad, I cheated and bought a bag of Ultimate Caesar Salad mix, but I am not kidding when I say, it was the BEST bag of salad I have ever bought. BECAUSE it has the shaved Parmesan cheese, the creamy dressing & this little spice mix to sprinkle on top that I had never seen before….
(PS, I always cut out the lettuce "ribs")

I topped my meatballs with some grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Week 10 - Mindfulness

Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment.
Mindful eating is taking the time to stop and really focus on and enjoy your food.

I want to think of food more as sustenance, but eating for me has always been a source of gratification; it's a social activity; it's a reward.  It's a comfort to my thoughts and feelings.  It all comes into play where food is concerned.  I want a higher level of consciousness.  I want to continue to learn and have a greater understanding of how food affects my body.  I want to be aware and mindful with my choices.  

There is still no question in my mind that we each have the potential to achieve our goals by putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.

We will Persevere. 
Losing weight is really hard to do, and many people fail many times before they succeed. I won't give up and don't you give up either.  Each day, commit to eating a little bit less, reducing our calorie intake. If we get off track, recommit the following day and just keep at it over time.

Last week I was in Washington state and Victoria, Canada.  As far as eating while on vacation, I did fair.  I still consumed too many high calorie beverages, but I tried to make really healthy food choices, choosing several seafood options and eating smaller portions. I enjoyed the occasional hot buttered roll.  I was also able to walk more than I do normally.   After returning home, my scale was exactly the same. Then two days after traveling home, my scale dropped another pound.    

Perhaps I could have consumed less calories while on vacation, but rather, I chose to indulge at times.  Without taking a backwards course, I am still committed to pursuing my weight loss goals.

Yesterday has passed and tomorrow has not yet arrived.  Today is what is important.  This moment in time.

Recommit, Decide.  No matter what, we are going to do this. Continue to pull your strategies together to prepare your path versus just going with the flow.  Refocusing on this decision will boost  motivation, trigger our imagination, and inspire us with new ideas.

The power of possibility.  Don't let time or resources dictate your choices. It is possible for me to walk 30 minutes each day.  Just do it.  Physical exertion always triggers a positive mental change for me. Exercise is the best medicine.  Don't sit so much.  While I'm on the phone, I can stand up and walk around. When watching TV, I can stand and pace during commercials. Instead of sitting at my makeup table, stand up. In general, I will strive to get on my feet every 30 minutes.
Take a look at what else you can do.

Envision. Have intention.  Mind over matter.  We can impact our life by what we believe is possible.  If you truly believe it is possible, you're half way there.  Never give up on what you want to achieve. "Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses. On your powers, instead of your problems." -- Paul J Meyer

Believe that you can.  The first person you have to convince is yourself.  When our choices demonstrate our commitments, we are able to access a deep well of confidence that is inside of us all.  Choose to face every event with a positive mental attitude.

Be proactive.  Tackle the unexpected twists and turns of life as they come, but don't let them impede on your focus.  "If you don't see, in your mind's eye, a picture of yourself winning - then you won't win; And not because you can't." -- Summer Sanders

Stay present to this moment.  Awareness itself will help us to consider what’s possible before aggravation can takeover and overturn our resolve.

"Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success".
Olympic National Park
- Swami Sivananda.
We attended the wedding of Hannah and Kyke Kutz

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park
The Falls we hiked to.

Lake Crescent

Michele and Cathy in Victoria, Canada

The Empress Hotel, Victoria

Finn's Seafood Restaurant, Victoria

Finn's Seafood Restaurant

We visited Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria

We visited Butchart Gardens, Canada

  Butchart Gardens

 Butchart Gardens

Breakfast at the Victoria Regency Hotel

Seafood Nachos at Nautical Nellies Restaurant

Monday, October 7, 2019

My Favorite Chicken Fried Steak

This was always a favorite dinner at my house. 
And they are on sale this week. 
Comfort food for sure.

Tips for the Best Chicken Fried Steak Recipe

  • There is no need to deep fry. I shallow fry to golden perfection with a cup of oil – or less. I prefer to use vegetable oil.
  • A heavy skillet works best. I use my favorite cast iron skillet but any large, heavy bottomed skillet will work.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan. Two at a time is the way to go. Preheat your oven to 225-250 F to keep it warm and crispy while you’re making the gravy.
  • Buttermilk keeps the steaks nice and tender and the TABASCO® Sauce adds loads of flavor without being overly spicy. I make mine with about 2 teaspoons but you can go up to 4 teaspoons if you want to up the ante. I like to keep it relatively calm and my family can add a couple of dashes on top if they like.
  • You’ll notice the baking soda and baking powder in the breading. This gives it a perfectly crispy coating that you won’t find in other recipes.
  • After breading the cube steaks, really press the flour in. You want the steaks to be completely coated with the breading.
  • Do not flip the steaks more than once. Wait until they are nice and golden brown before flipping. You don’t want to disturb that crunchy coating.

Don’t Forget the Gravy!

There are a few secrets to the best Chicken Fried Steak Gravy.
  1. Do NOT scrape the skillet. Leave all of that goodness in there. Simply remove the grease and add back in just enough to make the creamy gravy.
  2. Let the flour cook and brown before adding liquids. This builds up flavor and removes that raw flour taste.
  3. Slowly whisk in the milk AND cream (yes, I use a little cream in this gravy) This keeps lumps from forming and you end up with a smooth, creamy Chicken Fried Steak Gravy.
  4. Season at the end. My gravy usually doesn’t need any additional salt but I add LOTS of freshly ground black pepper.


  • 4 Harter House tenderized cube steaks (about 1/3 lb each)  On Sale this week
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsps TABASCO® Sauce (original)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Chicken Fried Steak Gravy

  • 4 tbsp grease
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 to 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a shallow bowl, whisk together flour, one teaspoon black pepper, one teaspoon salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In a separate shallow bowl, whisk together buttermilk , TABASCO® Sauce, and eggs. Set aside.
  • Pat cube steaks dry with a paper towel, removing as much moisture as possible. Season with one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes and pat dry again with paper towel.
  • Dredge the cube steaks in the flour mixture, shaking off excess, then dredge in the buttermilk-egg mixture, letting excess drip off, and then once again in the flour mixture, shaking off excess. 
  • Place breaded cube steaks on a sheet pan or metal rack and press any of the remaining flour mixture into the cube steaks making sure that the entire steak is completely coated. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 225 to 250 F.
  • Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a heavy skillet or large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. How much oil you need depends on the size of your skillet. You want it to be about 1/4-inch deep. We aren't deep frying the steaks, just shallow frying. 
  • Test the oil by dropping a bit of the breading into in. The oil should sizzle and bubble around the breading. Look for the oil to be glistening but not smoking - about 320-340 degrees F. Now we're ready to fry.
  • Place two steaks into the pan at a time and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Do not flip more than once or the breading will fall off. Do not fry more than two steaks or the pan will be too crowded and the breading will fall off. 
  • Remove steaks from pan and drain on paper towels. Place in preheated oven. Turn skillet heat to medium.

Chicken Fried Steak Gravy

  • Pour the remaining grease into a heat safe bowl or glass measuring cup (I used my Pyrex). Do NOT scrape the skillet clean. We want all of those bits of yumminess to remain in the skillet so they can flavor the gravy.
  • Add back in 4 tablespoons of the grease to the hot skillet.
  • Whisk in flour and continue whisking for two to three minutes or until nice and golden brown.
  • Combine the cream and milk and slowly drizzle in about 2 1/2 cups into the skillet, whisking constantly. It might look a little crazy right at the beginning, but it will all come together.
  • Continue whisking and bring the gravy to a simmer. Cook until the gravy is smooth and creamy, about 5 to 7 minutes. If the gravy gets too thick, add in a little more milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Mine didn't need any salt but LOTS of pepper!)
  • Serve chicken fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes and your favorite green veggies. ENJOY!
This recipe from; momontimeout.com