Thirty-one. Not quite sure when this happened since it seems like a few weeks ago I was a freshman in college. That much time has passed? I don't know when. It is because Tony and I have been together since the beginning of sophomore year? Sometimes it seems like only a few weeks ago.
I spent my 29th birthday (yes, again Kathleen) with Jill. We drove into work then played at home. My Mom put Jill to bed at her house and Tony and I went to Curley's with Mel & Brian, Mandy, Jess and Jess & Scott. Laura & Brian came later for drinks. One of the things I realized this weekend was that I love going out on Friday nights. It felt like Sunday afternoon and it was only Saturday. A second thing I noticed was that birthdays never stop being fun. Lucia made a sign for my cube at work. Patricia brought in mini red velvet cupcakes. Texts and emails - some from friends far away or friends I haven't spoken to in awhile - flooded in (not really but it felt like it). I got presents.
What? I'm 31 not 13, and yet my Mom still packed shiny gift bags with funky earrings, perfume, flavored lip balm and a new sports bra because - she informed me - mine are nasty (a benefit or not of your Mom coming over every week to watch your child and sometimes swap laundry and empty the dishwasher). I wasn't expecting presents (ok, maybe something small from Tony) and yet received some of the most thoughtful cards and gifts. A block of classes at Healing Tree Yoga, Lululemon pants, a massage, gift cards to Kohl's, Old Navy and Barnes & Noble, wow! Once Jill was born, we knew the center of attention had shifted. The "Princess" as my parents called me had passed her crown. The main attraction is most certainly Jill, and for good reason. But this weekend, I felt remembered, appreciated and loved. It was very nice :)
Saturday came and I was somehow not hungover. We tackled Market Basket at full force where the Laughing Cow cheese I so love was a whole dollar less than Hannaford's. Our extra large carriage was overflowing and paper towels and dog food took up the shelf space underneath. Evaporated fat free milk, chicken broth and cornstarch were hiding somewhere in the cart along with other ingredients to continue my culinary conquest.
The smell of baking butternut squash filled our enormous 1,000 sq. ft. home. I tried a chicken pot pie recipe from Weight Watchers.
CHICKEN POT PIE
1 cup reduced fat Bisquick
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 cups frozen mixed veggies, thawed
2 cups cooked, chopped white chicken meat
2 cans Campbells fat free (Healthy Request) Cream of Mushroom soup
Preheat oven to 400. Spray a casserole dish (at least 2 inches deep) with Pam. Mix together veggies, chicken and soup. Pour into casserole dish. In another bowl, mix Bisquick, milk, and egg. Pour over the top of chicken mixture in the casserole. Bake for about 30 min or until crust is golden.
Separated into 4 large servings, each serving is 6.5 pts., which I count as 7. Half-points are pointless.
So again, this is a Weight Watchers recipe. There is no cream, butter, salt, or anything that makes food delicious. So when my mother-in-law, Kim, visited from northern Vermont on Saturday and tested the pot pie, she - like many Musantes - added a decent amount of salt.
Kim left Burlington, VT that morning where the temps were stuck in the 30s and a couple feet of snow still line the sidewalks. She came to our house where the snow has all but melted and the sun was shining for the majority of the day. What a nice change that must have been for her. And of course it was nice for us to have her visit. Family, friends and throw in a little sunshine too - what a weekend!
On Sunday, we baked sweet potatoes for weekday eating and took a stab at beef and beer stew. Recipe to follow. Again, Weight Watchers. Recipe yields 4 servings for 6 pts. each.
BEEF AND BEER STEW
1 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray
12 oz lean beef round, roast, cut into cubes
1 medium onion(s), chopped
1 item(s) (medium) bell pepper(s), chopped
2 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced (or 1 tsp jarred minced garlic)
2 medium uncooked potato(es), peeled and diced
24 medium baby carrots, about 1/2 lb
1 cup(s) fat-free beef broth
8 oz light beer
1/4 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp paprika
Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, pepper and garlic; cook until beef is browned, stirring, about 3 minutes. Stir in potatoes, carrots, broth and beer (I used Bud Light); bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir together evaporated milk, cornstarch and paprika in a small cup; add to beef mixture and stir to combine. Cook until slightly thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.
Like the chicken pot pie, the stew was tasty but nothing out of this world. What do you want for only 6 pts!