Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew

Before we take this post any further… I’ve got some exciting news!  These two are officially off the market, and are engaged!!

Tiffany Alex | No Thanks to Cake

On a somewhat gloomy morning, Alex surprised Tiffany at Union Station along with a group of her closest friends (from near and far, I might add!)  He got down on one knee, expressed his love, and she said… “Of course!” It’s incredible to have a chance to witness something like this.  Interestingly, some tourists went ahead and set up their camera and tripod and video’ed the whole thing, too.

Ahhh… Love.  So nice to see these two have found each other.

So… after brunch and when Denver skies decided to get remarkably gloomy, I came home and filled my crockpot…. with this.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Ca

I’ve written before about Cabbage Rolls being the ultimate “comfort food” in my home.  When the twin towers came crashing down in 2001, I made cabbage rolls in my kitchen at my little apartment in Franklin, TN, while watching the coverage.  It’s warm, filling, and just tastes like a hug…. and most of all, I love them.  Let me also say, they’re saucy and (some may say) stinky… but I think they’re perfect!

The challenge I have is that I don’t always have the time it takes to make the traditional recipe, nor the desire to destroy my kitchen during the process.  So, this year, I’ve made a few different “easy” varieties.   While it still takes a while to cook, the prep time is significantly lower than the traditional, and you still get to enjoy the flavors.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew

Serves 10

INGREDIENTS

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

1/2 head cabbage

1 lb. extra lean ground beef

1/2 cup brown rice

1/2 cup diced onion, more if desired

1 can sauerkraut, drained and rinsed

1 package turkey smoked sausage, diced

1 can tomato juice

salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Saute the beef in a skilled until fully cooked.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Place beef in a food processor and pulse (optional).

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Place ground beef in the crockpot, along with the diced smoked sausage.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Add onion (extra if desired.)

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Coarse chop your cabbage and add that next.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add the sauerkraut and the rice, and stir to combine.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Add the full canister of tomato juice, and stir once again.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Turn on the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours until the stew is done.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

9.  Once done, dish out 1 cup servings and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Stew | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1 cup serving:

CAL 182; CARB 12g; FAT 7g; PROT 17g; FIB 3g; WW Points Plus: 4

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Spiralized Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

Last weekend, my friends Deb and Matt had us over for a Huskers watching party!  When the weather gets cooler and football season begins, it gives us yet another reason to get together… and who doesn’t love watching the Huskers play while sitting outside on their fabulous patio?  Such a great night!

I always try to bring something on the healthier side to bashes like this.  And, actually, unless it’s dessert, I really don’t make anything that I don’t consider to be healthy.  The group as a whole tends to be very pro-cucumber, so I knew this would be a hit… and an excuse to get out that new spiralizer of mine (still in love, y’all!)

Spiralized Tzatziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

This salad comes together quite quickly, with the help of a good spiralizer (this is the one I bought)… I even spiralized the red onions, just to see what would happen.  I think it made the dish even more perfect.  I call it my “tzatziki” salad because it tastes like that crazy good Greek cucumber sauce you get with gyros… you know, the one you want to eat with a spoon?  Well, grab a fork, this salad will fix your craving… 

Spiralized Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

Adapted from First Home Life Love

Makes 5 cups

INGREDIENTS

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

2 English cucumbers + 1 regular cucumber

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup fresh dill, minced

3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tsp. sugar, salt and fresh black pepper (more to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Peel your cucumbers and cut them in half to prepare them to be spiralized.  If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can always simply thinly slice by hand or with a mandolin.

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Use the blade that creates noodle-like cuts, and spiralize your cucumbers, catching them in a large bowl.

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

3. Use the same blade to cut your onion, and great ready to see pretty pretty spirals…

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Place the onion and cucumber spirals in a large bowl.  Toss them, and break them up every once in a while (so as to make sure that it’s not just one big cucumber noodle.)

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

5.  In a medium bowl, make your sauce.  Mix to combine the sour cream, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and dill.  Whisk until combined well.  Note:  I added the full 1/4 cup dill, but tested it along the way… for some reason, I was nervous about all that fresh dill.  It was amazing in the end, don’t be afraid! 

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add the dressing to the vegetables.  Note:  Do not mix the veggies and dressing more than 1 hour before you want to serve it.  Also, the dressing will thin out significantly due to the cucumbers having such a high water content.  You’ll have tons of dressing leftover, but it’s all good… I actually saved it and added it to another batch of cucumbers for a second round of salad!

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve (no more than 1 hour for best results.)  Note:  I ate the leftovers the next day and they were completely soupy and marinated and tasted amazing!  

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Spiralized Tzaziki Cucumber Salad | No Thanks to Cake

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Jenny Volumizing: Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico

I’ve been raving about the new Jenny Craig foods for the past few weeks on Instagram and here on the ol’ blog.  They’re just THAT good!

The dish I’ve grown the most attached to is the new pizza.  Just when I thought I couldn’t love a pizza more than the former Rising Crust Pizza, Jenny introduced the new Pepperoni and Margherita lunch pizzas.

In true NTTC fashion, I’ve figured out a way to transform this awesome pizza into an even more amazing version of itself.

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve always believed in baking frozen pizzas over nuking them in the microwave.  Seriously, take the extra time and dirty a baking pan… it’s worth it every time.  The “FANTASTICO” comes from the fact that this pizza is so delicious, it doesn’t taste as thought it’s a healthier version of anything…

Note:  I’ll also add that this recipe can be applied any of your favorite frozen pizzas, adjusting the baking time as needed to melt all the cheese and brown the crust.  

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

1 package Jenny Craig Pepperoni Pizza

1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese – Garlic & Herb flavor

diced onions

shredded spinach

banana peppers

diced tomatoes

Williams-Sonoma Pizza Seasoning

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Remove pizza from the packaging and place on a pizza pan.  Spread with one wedge Laughing Cow Cheese.

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Layer with your favorite toppings: diced onions, banana peppers, diced tomatoes, and shredded spinach.

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 14 minutes until pizza is golden brown along the edges.

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Remove to a cutting board to cool.  Slice and serve!

Pepperoni Pizza Fantastico | No Thanks to Cake

Enjoy!!!

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Strong Reactions to Simple Questions

So… something crazy has been happening for the past few weeks.  I may ramble a little here, but it’s important for me to get this out.  Thanks for hanging in there…

By now, you guys know I lost the bulk of my weight on the Jenny Craig program.  I joined in desperation.  I joined to try something new, and thankfully, it WORKED.

Before-After Rockstar | No Thanks to CakeOver the past year and I half, I’ve moved away from the Jenny program.  I don’t eat their food as part of a structured Jenny Craig food plan, but I do work them into my weekly meal planning.  I don’t do consultations with them on Saturday mornings anymore.  Instead, I stop in just about every week to pick up food.  There are several foods that have become staples to me, and from a convenience perspective, keeping them in my freezer makes sense.

My picky and always-in-a-morning-hurry self loves to pop the JC Cinnamon Rolls in the microwave in the morning before work.  A breakfast that takes 27 seconds to make, is well… my kind of breakfast, especially when it has cinnamon and rolls in the title.

Jenny Craig Cinnamon Rolls | No Thanks to Cake

Regardless, I’ve found a way to maintain my weight by eating half on the program and half off.  This makes it possible for me to grab lunch with customers throughout the week, while eating JC Stuffed Shells for convenience on the days when I’m in the office.  For me, it’s a great mix.

So… something’s been happening when I’ve been doing my “grocery shopping” at my local Jenny Craig location on Saturday mornings.  There’s a new consultant who’s been asking a lot of questions… and asking in a way that just hasn’t been resonating well with me.

“Can we get you on the scale?”

Can you tell me exactly why you don’t come in for consultations?”

Do you know your weight?”

Are you formally on maintenance?”

This sounds like pretty normal chatter for a visit to a weight loss center… but the fact that she’s so insistent has been FLYING ALL OVER ME.  That’s Southern talk for annoying the heck out of me.

Again, this consultant is doing her job.  She is asking the questions she has been trained to ask.  The questions that she’s been guided to ask to benefit her clients most… but to me, I’m reacting as though it is an accusation, an accusation that I need to do more, be more, and lose weight.

It’s been two weeks in a row of considering walking out of Jenny Craig forever, and even with thoughts of stomping out and leaving all those beautiful cinnamon rolls behind, I haven’t.  In each situation, I avoided her questions (much to her dismay) and convinced her to just let me pay and go. In each case, I walked out, feeling defeated, head hung low, and just wanting to cry.   Again, my reaction to this lady doing her job.

This week, I chatted with one of the other consultants regarding the situation… indicating that I was just wanting to buy food for now and asking if we could lower the pressure for a while.  And, in that small little office, I started to cry again.

I hadn’t cried about my weight in some time, and it’s amazing that it always seems to happen in that same office.   With the centre director when I joined, with Amalia (I’m sure I cried with her – love that gal!), and now again this week with Crystal.  As I cried, the words that poured out were my truth (Cue the waterworks): I’m tired.  I’ve focused so hard for the past four years on losing weight, and I just want to be okay with living for a while.  For now, living means I buy food to have on hand, just like I would at the grocery store.  Some days I eat Jenny, and some days I eat Subway; other days I may cook a full meal at the house.  

Crystal was AWESOME, and she totally got where I was at… and she told me to just let her know if/when I’m ready to try to lose again and she and the team would be happy to help.  Love that response!  Until then, she took my order for 7 cinnamon rolls and 4 stuffed shells, and I headed out.

When I look a little closer at my reaction, I realize the consultant who I struggled with for the past few weeks was simply verbalizing the things I ask myself every single day.  I’m really trying to lighten up on myself in the area of self-criticism, especially in the area of weight loss.  In these moments, it was like all my own thoughts and judgment were spewing out from a stranger, a stranger that doesn’t know how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am, and a stranger who had no intention of pushing my buttons like she did.

I wish I could just smile and step on the scale for her, but I just don’t want to right now.  I’ve worked my butt off to lose 60+ lbs over the past four years… and one day, I’ll lose that extra 15 that I’m carrying that I have on my “to-do” list.

For right now, I’m filling my to-do list with things like making plans to see the Cartier exhibit that’s coming to Denver, planning a CAbi Party for later in the month, and knitting a capelet to wear when it gets cold.  Eating healthy and losing weight are always on the list, but in all honestly, they’ve become a given, and are just how I live… frankly, they don’t even make the paper list anymore.

I absolutely know that there will never be a day where I can just eat anything in sight.  That’s not who I am, nor what my body needs.  I’ll always have to be cognizant of what goes in, and I’ve made peace with that… it’s the judgment I’m trying to curb, both internal and external, and man, it’s just not easy.

So, you too might have been wondering when I’m going to share my weight again or to talk specifically about weight loss.  To be honest, I really don’t know.  All I can tell you is that as soon as it happens, you guys will be the first to know… and that in the meantime, I’m working on maintenance and being nice to myself about it.

Thank you to each of you for (albeit virtually) standing beside me on this journey, for celebrating my successes, and listening to my woes.  It’s all a part of the process… and the details are what make them real and what make the process continue.  Even this specific moment contains learning, I just know it… xoxo

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