What do you put on your pumpkin pie?

Do you put oil or cream?  What are we talking about. Oh yeah, this commercial.

Honestly, I like oil on mine.  It feels creamier to me, tastes better to me, and if the Apocalypse comes and I lose the mountain of Tupperware containers I have  under my cabinets to store leftovers in, I know I can rely on good old Cool Whip containers to get me through.

So what do you use?

For the record, my kids will come running if I ask who wants cool whip, but they are looking for this can of foam and the WHOOSH

Pictured taken by my DH who was apparently on a bit of a WHOOSH sugar high himself

Cherpumple – It’s What’s For Dessert This Thanksgiving

You’ve been there with me – in the bakery, trying to decide what to pick up for your Thanksgiving dessert.  Someone wants pumpkin pie.  Someone else prefers apple pie.  Another someone asked for a nice layer cake.  If you’re like me, you want to make everyone happy, so you buy one of everything.

Your table looks outrageous, and what usually happens is that everyone takes a small sliver of everything, and you’re left with a half eaten pumpkin pie, apple pie, and layer cake.  And that, my good readers, is how my arse got to be the size of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon!

Let me save your Thanksgiving – and you hind end (well, maybe not so much).  I want to introduce you to the ultimate in holiday desserts.

The Cherpumple.

In this one incredible dessert, you have all of your holiday favorites.  The Cherpumple is a cherry pie, a pumpkin pie, and an apple pie all baked into a layer cake, then topped with cream cheese frosting!  Oh My Goodness!

The bottom layer of the cake is a spice cake, into which you bake an apple pie.  The middle layer is a yellow cake, and you’ll find a pumpkin pie surprise baked right in there.  Top the whole thing with a white cake filled with cherry pie, and you have a Cherpumple!

I’m pretty sure this would save me from Thanksgiving over dessert eating.  I could never get through a whole slice of this cake, and if there was any left, I don’t know that I’d have much trouble tossing it.  But I’d love to try it.

If you want to make your very own Cherpumple this holiday season, watch this informative video by the creator of this monster dessert.

CiCi’s Pizza the good bad and the ugly

We have been to CiCi’s Pizza Buffet in Florida and in the Carolinas over the past few years. Our kids love it, and I think Eilis would rather eat there than just about anywhere.  We pretty much know what to expect when we go, and the only absolutely horrible time we’ve ever had was with my stepmom, who realized on our way to get CiCi’s that she did not have her passport or travel documents to board a cruise ship the next morning.  I don’t think we ate a thing that night.

Eilis was invited to a birthday party, and to soften the blow for Granuaile, who was not invited to a birthday party, we let her choose what she wanted for dinner.  Pizza.  Swell.

As we were driving home, Jim saw a sign at the recently opened CiCi’s Pizza in Cherry Hill that said “3 for $9.99”.  Ever the bargain shopper, he told me to pull in.

And this is where the scales of good and bad started swinging violently in both directions.

First, on the plus side, this is a really convenient location.  It’s located right near the mall we go to most often, and just around the corner from the movie theater we go to most often with the girls.

Unfortunately, on the minus side, the convenient location made for a crowded Saturday evening.

It’s okay, though, because on the plus side, Granuaile has fallen asleep, and the 3 for $9.99 is a carry out deal.  You can’t beat that in this economy!

Oh, but wait, on the minus side, when you try to order the carry out deal, they tell you it’s no longer available.

On the plus side, the staff here is damn friendly, and you almost don’t mind being told you’re not getting your pizza deal.

On the minus side, when Jim asked how much the Mexican Ole specialty pizza was, the friendly girl didn’t know. She told him to look on their sign.  Their sign is missing prices.

That’s okay, though, because on the plus side, two large pizzas rang up for less than $13, so it’s still a good price.  And the friendly girl at the cash register offered him a complimentary soft drink while he waited for the pizza to cook.

Blech.  On the minus side, the sweet tea he got from the beverage bar was weak, unsweetened, and tasted like dirty water.  You can’t really complain when you get something for free 🙁

Fortunately, on the plus side, another customer walked up and let them know that their sweet tea was a puddle of nastiness, thereby saving other unsuspecting sweet tea drinkers the fate of pond scum sweet tea.

The handsome manager in the yellow shirt, on the plus side, said he would have someone take care of it right away.  He is another friendly staff member!

If you’re considering eating in, the pizzas were replenished quickly with hot stock, and the restaurant was quite clean, especially considering how busy they were.

Unfortunately, Mr. Yellow Shirt has to inform Jim that somehow, in their rush to get our pizza ready, they accidentally flipped it upside down in the oven.  It’s ruined.  They have to start over.

But, if you’re still keeping score, on the plus side, he offers us a dessert on the house, which turns out to be a pizza box FULL of CiCi’s cinnamon rolls, which really are the only reason some people even go to CiCi’s.


Now, if you’ve hung in through the good and the bad, let me reveal the ugly.

I know – it doesn’t look ugly from here.  It’s not a pizza I would have normally ordered anyway, but Jim likes to try new things – it adds spice to his life.  But the picture doesn’t look half bad.

Ummm, ewwww.  There’s my review of the Mexican Style Ole Pizza.  It was a wet bottomed, soggy mess of a pizza with nasty old bagged salad thrown on top (you know, the kind you buy with the carrots and red cabbage?  That’s what was on top of the pizza – since when is red cabbage Mexican??).  Blech would be a compliment to this pizza.  It was inedible, so we let Jim eat it.

Gastric bypass folks – you know the drill with pizza.  Sometimes the crust is too doughy, but CiCi’s is a thin crust, and it never gives  me any trouble.  Go for pizza selections at the buffet that have more lean proteins – they do have some topped with chicken as opposed to pepperoni and sausage, and that will save you some fat and calories.  This isn’t the worst pizza, and it’s one of the few pizzas I can consistently eat without agonizing later.

In Summary, CiCi’s is fun, a good value and okay food. Don’t expect to be in Italy eatting Pizza Margherita next to the Vatican. I’ve done that, and its unrealistic to expect the same experience at a value buffet chain in America. You go for the value to CiCi’s.

CiCi’s Pizza
818 Haddonfield Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

(856) 910-2424

Thanksgiving – What to Pass and What to Pass On After Gastric Bypass

There it is, stretched out before you like an oasis in the desert.  Spread out on that table is probably a good chunk of the reason you needed gastric bypass surgery in the first place.

I myself have waddled away from the table after having multiple helpings of my mom’s bread stuffing.  And my stepfather always knows where to go to get the best Thanksgiving pies – and he usually gets several, even if there aren’t going to be too many people for dinner.  And God bless my dad – he married into an Italian family.  Who  knew there was a pasta course with Thanksgiving dinner?

But now that you’ve had your surgery, Thanksgiving dinner is like a table full of land mines, waiting to take you out.  Stick with a few simple rules, and together, we’ll get you through so you can be up at the crack of dawn to do your Black Friday shopping.

RULE NUMBER ONE – Protein, baby, protein!  And lucky you!  There’s 20 pounds of it sitting right there, center stage.  If you’re cooking, make sure you’re extra careful to keep the turkey moist.  Baste often, cover with foil for the early stages of cooking, and start checking the temperature at the earliest point in your “done” window.  Dry turkey can be a beast to get down into a gastrically altered tummy, and stuck bird will ruin your whole day.

RULE NUMBER TWO – Vegetables are not covered in cheese, bread crumbs, or marshmallows.  And if they are at your table, move to a different table.  For some of you, vegetables are hard to eat, especially raw.  But plan to have something your pouch can tolerate.

Those candied yams might go down nice and easy, but you dumpers will regret it when you’re laying on the bathroom floor, bargaining with God that if he lets you live through that delicious praline topping on the sweet potatoes, you won’t allow a sugar into the house for Christmas.  And even if you don’t dump, should you really be eating a vegetable with a marshmallow topping after gastric bypass surgery?  Probably not.  And believe me, I’ve got so much sugar on top of my sweet potato casserole, it crunches when you dig the serving spoon into it.  If you want something sweet, bake some sweet potatoes, top them with a little cinnamon and some butter (don’t overdo the butter); or have some steamed baby carrots.  Even some sweet baby peas will add a bit of sugar to your holiday meal.

RULE NUMBER THREE – Starches are your mortal enemy.  Voldemort.  The Joker.  Lex Luther.  Ban them from the table, or at least ban them from your end of the table.  Potatoes are a pariah.  Stuffing is a sin.  Casseroles are criminal.

Load your end of the table with a delicious salad.  Throw in some chopped pecans and a handful of dried cranberries so you’ll have the taste and texture of some of the things you think you’re missing.  Make mock mashed potatoes with cauliflower, or if your family has a pasta course, make your course with spaghetti squash.  You can probably eat way more starches than you should, they aren’t of any real nutritional value to you, and you can’t convince me that throwing sausage or oysters into your dressing qualifies it as a protein.  Skip the starches.

THE CARDINAL RULE – I know it’s the cardinal rule because it’s red 😉

Anyway – the cardinal rule of Thanksgiving is to make yourself a sugar free dessert.  It’s just not going to be Thanksgiving if you don’t have something indulgent.  A beautiful low carb pumpkin cheesecake on the table will give you something to really look forward to that you can enjoy relatively guilt free (don’t eat the whole thing, but have a slice!).  Put a fruit salad on the table – you’ll be surprised at how many people will reach for seconds on fresh fruit, or take a smaller piece of pecan pie, and use the fruit as an accompaniment.  And if you finish your piece of cheesecake, the fruit will be there for you to pick at instead of nibbling your way through a second piece of dessert.

Keep in mind the real meaning of Thanksgiving.  It’s not a holiday meant to celebrate food.  Thanksgiving is a holiday to cherish the meaning of family, friends, and the wonderful blessings you’ve been given.  It’s nice to gather around a bountiful table, but spend at least a little time, when the table is clear, to appreciate the REAL things you have to be thankful for – wonderful family, good friends, and a thinner, healthier you!

McRib Gastric Bypass Review

I know what you’re thinking.  Didn’t you NEED gastric bypass surgery compliments of a few too many McRib sandwiches?

This isn’t going to be a “Forget it!  It’s bad for you” review.  Actually, according to McDonald’s nutritional facts, the McRib has less calories than a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder with cheese.  It has nearly 300 less calories than the Angus Bacon cheeseburger.  It even has less calories than some of their breakfast sandwiches.

McRib is back and here is gastric bypass review
There are 22 grams of protein in the sandwich, and it is quite easy to eat off of the bun.

So when compared to say a McDonald’s Southwest Ranch chicken salad, the McRib has about the same number of calories, more protein, and is way easier to eat.

I’m not telling you to have one for every meal.  But if you’re out with your family and want to grab a quick dinner somewhere, this isn’t your worst choice.  Just skip the fries.  And the soda.  You shouldn’t be drinking it anyway.

Thanks, Jim, for spiffing up this underwear ad. I know it took a lot out of you.

Free Sandwich at Earl of Sandwich!

I’m a day late with this celebration, but it’s okay because the coupon is good through November 7th!

In celebration of National Sandwich Day – which is on November 3rd – Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney is offering a coupon good for a free Holiday Sandwich!  And it looks like a yummy one, my friends!

Click the link, and “LIKE” Earl of Sandwich on Facebook to get your coupon.

http://tinyurl.com/2aefkf9

Thanks to my Brighid for cluing me in!  What a starving college kid won’t find in the way of free food!


Kid Friendly Chili Recipe

My mom is not one for spicy foods, and whenever we were away from home, chili was always this spicy, inedible stew-like concoction that none of us kids would eat.  But my mom managed to make it so that it was simple, flavorful, and friendly toward kid palates.

My oldest daughter was a bit on the picky side when she ate, and I think for a while, we called this hot dog soup.  Soup she would eat.  The kidney beans looked like hot dogs.  And on appearance alone, she wouldn’t touch it.  But the familiar ingredients and flavors won over even Brighid.

So here is chili, the way my mom taught us.

Ingredients

2-3 Green Bell Peppers, Diced

1 Medium Onion, Diced (we use sweet onions when we can find them)

2 pounds ground beef

1 can tomato soup (plus the one can of water)

1 large can of crushed tomatoes

1 large can of kidney beans

chili powder to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Starting with a small bit of oil in a pan, saute peppers and onions.

You’ll want to keep them going until the onions start to become translucent and the peppers become tender.

Add your meat, salt, pepper, and chili powder.  Because this is for the kids to enjoy, I usually only put about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of chili powder in when I cook it.  If Jim wants it spicier, he can add Tabasco later on.

I find that by enlisting the help of the kids, they are usually more willing to try new flavors and tastes.  You might even sneak a few vegetables into a dish if they’ve helped make it!

Cook meat and vegetables until the meat is brown, then drain everything.

In a large pot, place your tomato soup, can of water, crushed tomatoes, and kidney beans.  Heat on medium until the meat mixture is brown, and then add the meat to the pot.

Simmer on low to medium with a cover on the pot for one hour.  Remove the cover, and simmer uncovered for another hour.  Stir occasionally just to make sure nothing is burning or sticking on the bottom.

We always serve ours with fresh rolls from Del Buono’s Bakery in Haddon Heights, NJ – you can get them hot off out of the oven, grabbed with your very own soon to be blistered fingers!

And the finished product –

This super easy, seasonal favorite is great for freezing, so I usually double the recipe and have some for another “chilly” evening.

And for gastric bypass post – ops – this is an easy to eat food.  I break the meat down as small as I can, so it rarely gets stuck, and I cook everything until it’s nice and tender, so even the veggies won’t give you a hard time.  It’s packed with protein and fiber, and with the mild spices, very pouch friendly!

Rumbly in my Tumbly replaced by Grumbling – Jiko Menu Change

I have several favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World, and I think because of the variety, I tend to lean towards restaurants with menu items I can’t get anywhere else.  At least around my neighborhood.

My husband and I tried Jiko on a whim one night when we failed to make reservations anywhere to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We opted to allow one of the African cast members recommend things from the menu that she might really find at home, and we were not disappointed.  The food was flavorful, bursting with spices and aromas that you certainly won’t find in my Irish kitchen, and it was a meal we will always remember fondly – and not just because we were child free that night!

It was several meals later that I opted to try the filet mignon with the macaroni and cheese.  Thank goodness for the internet, because had I not read that they did not only amazing things with the filet, but the mac and cheese was not the kind I’m used to (the orange, out of a box kind), I probably never would have opted for what looked like a meal you could get at a local steak house.

But this was an elevation of a perfect meal.  The filet, always perfectly cooked, crusty on the outside, tender inside; a red wine reduction that was so delicious it nearly made you weep; and the macaroni and cheese, with a blend of four cheeses, resting on the red wine reduction so that it soaked into the macaroni, was divine.  It very quickly became not only my favorite Walt Disney World meal, but my favorite meal anywhere.  Ever.

So today, it is with considerable mourning that I tell you my favorite dish is no more.  You can still get the filet mignon, but it now comes atop a bed of potatoes and with a side of broccolini.  Yes, I said broccolini.  They’ve replaced my decadent and delicious, cheese filled goodness with a green vegetable.

I may actually cry.

It’s not that I don’t think Jiko, being a signature restaurant, should be able to change it’s menu, but this was a dish they were KNOWN for.  Their reputation among Disney foodies was built on the mac and cheese with filet dish.  Change up something else, throw potatoes in there on another meal, but don’t mess with perfection.

Did DaVinci paint Mona Lisa’s sister after he painted the Mona Lisa?  Well, damned if I know, but I can tell you that Mona Lisa’s sister didn’t sell as well as she did.

I’m so sad to see this dish gone from the menu, and hope there is an outcry loud enough to cause them to bring it back.  I loved it, and I’ll miss it, and it will certainly give me pause before I book dinner at Jiko in the future.

RIP, my delicious mac and cheese.

Sakura celebration lunch – WLS review

Jim wanted to celebrate my A in College Algebra aka pre-calculus aka Why am I in this class again?, so instead of heading home to our usual lunch of whatever I can find that requires the least amount of my energy and time in preparation, he wanted to do something special!

We ended up grabbing a quick lunch from our local favorite Japanese restaurant. Okay, so we only HAVE 2 Japanese restaurants in our area.  One of them is Sagami at the Collingswood Circle, which we drove past all our lives and never knew it was a Japanese restaurant until we were in our late 30’s; and the other is Sakura, which has an awesome soup called Seafood Tofu Soup for Two.

The soup is a delicate broth filled with chunky pieces of vegetables (mostly carrots, celery, onions and whole mushrooms), and then given a generous helping of firm tofu along with shrimp, scallops, and crab leg cut into strips like noodles.  This was one of the first meals out that I ate following gastric bypass surgery, and it continues to be a favorite.  There are days when I have to skip the veggies, because after a soup filled with protein, the chunky vegetables can be a little too much to enjoy.

To go with the soup, Jim picked out two of the sushi specials.  They feature several different sushi rolls each month to encourage diners to try new things.  They discount them by 50%, and we’ve discovered some delicious sushi this way that we might have otherwise overlooked.  For lunch, we picked up a Paradise roll, which is shrimp tempura, wrapped with banana tempura, lobster salad, and topped with tofu and flavored mayonnaise.  Okay, I KNOW they don’t eat this way in Japan, but I am so glad they adapt these things for an American palate.  This was flavorful on many levels, with crunchy, sweet, savory, and a bit of spice in the mayo.  They are certainly flavors I would never think of putting together, but oh my gosh, they were delicious.

Sakura Japanese Restaurant October sushi specials

The other roll we decided to sample was the Pink Lady.  This was chicken tempura, boiled shrimp, and cream cheese, topped with a spicy mayonnaise.  This was a much smaller bite, and while it should have been easier to eat as a result, I have such a hard time with chicken.  The flavors, again, were amazing and multi-layered, but between the two of them, even though the other roll had more rice (which is a no-no for me), the chicken in this one did me in.

Sushi is a hit or miss thing for gastric bypass patients, and while I find I am able to enjoy a few more bites than I once did, I still have to limit myself.  The rice kills me after about three bites, and I’m left with the lovely taste in my mouth and a horrible pain in my stomach.

Sakura is a great place to stop for lunch (they have fabulous Bento boxes), sushi, or a date night dinner.  They have hibachi grills in addition to the sushi bar and the regular tables, so there is something for everyone at this great little spot.

Take out items are available.

Sakura Japanese Restaurant
910 South Black Horse Pike
Blackwood, New Jersey 08012
(856) 374-3088

Inside Starbucks coffee talk with Sandi

Inside Starbucks coffee talk w/ worlds greatest barista Sandi & picking up coffee for tonights party. Came out with a bag that turned into this setting for tonight’s party.

Why did I need to buy coffee? Contrary to public opinion, almost every picture ever seen of me, and my husband, I actually don’t drink coffee.