30 Day Challenge: Day 5 – Your comfort foods and why

Homemade macaroni and cheese either when my Dad makes it or when I make it.  My kids tend to favor baby shells over macaroni noodles so this is often how I make it.  Why is it a comfort food?  Because how can noodles and cheese be anything but comfort food?  It makes me feel safe, loved, and it just tastes darn good.

Homemade Pancakes made from my own personal recipe.  You won’t find a Bisquick or Krusteez pancake mix in my pantry, no way Bob.  I  make the best pancakes ever.  That is not grandiose bragging, but fact.  Everyone who has tasted my pancakes has agreed with the above statement.  I don’t like my pancakes big and fluffy.  I put extra milk in the batter so that they are thinner.  Not as thin as a crepe (which I also make really well), but thin.  To top of my pancakes, I put my own homemade syrup on top.  Why are pancakes a comfort food for me?  Because my Dad taught me how to make them.  I’ve been making them for years and years.  They make me happy and they remind me of home.

A delicious slice of cheesy pizza.  My favorite kind of pizza is just plain cheese.  Don’t judge me.  I believe pizza became a comfort food for me because every Friday night growing up my family would order pizza for dinner.  This is a tradition that became embedded into my DNA.  Pizza means a celebration to me.  Pizza means, TGIF, now let’s party. Pizza means family, traditions, and lots of cheese happiness.

Chocolate is another big comfort food for me.  Especially when it is paired with caramel or mint.  Every Christmas I got a huge Russell Stover’s chocolate Santa and every Easter it was a huge Chocolate bunny.  So why is chocolate a comfort food for me?  Well, isn’t it scientifically proven that there is something in chocolate that releases chemicals in your brain that makes you happy?  Well, whatever it is, I make sure I always have some emergency chocolate on hand.

Granny Smith Apples are my favorite kinds of apples.  I love their crispness and tartness.  I absolutely hate it when I bite into a mushy apple, and this almost never happens with a Granny Smith.  I think Granny Smiths are a comfort food to me because when I was pregnant with my first child I worked in a grocery store and I had a friend who worked in the produce department who wanted to make sure I was eating right (since I surrounded by fried, fatty foods).  He would always bring me my favorite apple, a Granny Smith, and for some reason I just feel so happy and taken care of when I eat them.

Cinnamon rolls are a huge comfort food for me.  I just love bread in general.  And when it’s paired with cinnamon and frosting….delish!  My elementary school had shockingly good school lunch (I’m sure it’s different now that everything comes in pre-packaged and the lunch ladies don’t cook anymore).  And every time we had Tacos for lunch, the dessert was a cinnamon roll or a cinnamon twist.  I looked forward to Taco days at school so much because I knew a cinnamon gooey goodness was waiting for me as well.  There’s just something about a cinnamon roll that makes me believe all is right with the world.

My biggest bad habit and my favorite comfort food (beverage?) is Mountain Dew.  Oh you sweet temptress.  You nectar of the Gods.  I readily admit that I’m addicted to caffeine, but I’m addicted to it in a citrus flavored sugary water form.  I know, I know, it’s bad for me.  Don’t lecture me!  I can quit any time!  (((Deep heavy breathing))).  But seriously folks, whenever I’m having a bad day…I do the Dew.  Whenever I want to eat my feelings with some Mac ‘n Cheese or pizza, I pair it with a Dew.  It gives me something to look forward to, something to reward myself with.  I’ve tried to quit so many times, but I always come calling back to her siren song.  Why is this a comfort food for me?  Well, I grew up drinking the Shasta version which has had so many names over the years, I couldn’t tell you what they call it currently.  Drinking it reminds me of sitting at the counter at my home growing up, drinking it and laughing with my family, while we watched shows on TGIF, with our weekly pizza in hand.

***This was not a good post for an emotional eater like me to write.  I’m resisting the urge to walk in the kitchen and whip up some of my best-pancakes-in-the-history-of-everdom.***


My New Year’s Resolutions 2012 – More Added

In this post published on December 30, 2011, I wrote about my resolutions for 2012.  Well, I’ve added a couple more goals that I have this year.

6 – Read a book a week.  That is until I get to the Complete and Unabridged addition of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  With 1,463 pages I’ll give myself a month or two to read that.

7 – Unless it’s a special occasion, my family is not going to eat out.  With the hubs having surgery it just became so easy to grab a sack of burgers or sandwiches instead of cooking.  Then with all the Christmas and holiday parties, it became a hassle to do anything but go out to eat, order in, having something delivered, or hit a fast-food joint.  No more!  The hubs and I are committed to preparing our meals at home, with fresh (or as fresh as we can get) ingredients.  This is going to be hard, but worth it.

(#7 came about because I am just so sick of spending money on cheap, crappy food that makes me feel crappy.  Last night I made au gratin potatoes, from scratch, cornbread, roasted turkey, and green beans.  It was so Yummy and tasted a thousand times better than what can be found at the bottom of a McDonald’s paper sack.  I’m a good cook, I just don’t like doing it.  My goal is to get over that.)

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy

I Heart The Greenery

Without a doubt, The Greenery, is my favorite restaurant. Located at the mouth of Ogden Canyon, surrounded by beautiful mountain views, you can hear the relaxing sounds of the Ogden River while you dine.

The Greenery is a family favorite. Whenever we have friends or family who visit from out-of-state, we take them to The Greenery. It never fails to impress. It’s just a simple, quaint little place, but the food is divine.
They have just about every American cuisine there. Appetizers like potato skins and chips and salsa. Salads, soups, signature specialties like the Marco Polo and Benedict Arnold, sandwiches, burgers, grilled items like steak, a salad bar, and the sumptuous desserts.
My personal favorite is the Tasty Tom sandwich. Oh, my mouth waters just writing those words. It’s a turkey sandwich on grilled wheat bread with a slice of swiss cheese and bacon. With it you can get a side of potato chips or pasta salad. And all their sandwiches come with fresh fruit. No French fries here…they don’t even have a fryer!
The hubs always gets the Pancho Villa which is a mild meat taco wrapped in a flour tortilla, baked in enchilada sauce and topped with all the fixings like cheese, sour cream, lettuce, etc. Actually, that sounds really good! I think I’ll get that next time.
I would have to say that the Benedict Arnold is probably a customer favorite. It is slices of grilled ham on a grilled English muffin, smothered in hollandaise sauce and topped with two basted eggs. One of my friends said she won’t order anything else.
My best friend Jessica, who only lived in Utah for a short 6 years, who has been gone for 14 years now, still talks about the caramel shakes at the Greenery. She’s even told her new friends about them. And whenever she comes to visit, she requests a dinner at The Greenery and she orders a caramel shake before we can even sit down.
One of their most popular selections are their Mormon Muffins. They are these delicious bran muffins served with honey butter. I have to admit that I’ve never had one because they have nuts in them and I prefer living. Without a doubt, though, they are the most popular thing on the menu.
And while everyone around me is treating themselves with a mouth-watering Mormon muffin, I order the rich, decadent chocolate cake. My Mom and I used to always share a piece of this enticing cake together. Oh man, it’s a chocolate lovers dream come true.
I have been to the Greenery for many birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations. It feels like home to me. I have so many good memories of the meals I’ve shared with loved ones there.
And one of the best parts about the Greenery? Well, it’s connected to the biggest gift shop in Utah called Rainbow Gardens. When my Mom was little, the old part of the gift shop was a swimming pool. You can tell when you’re in that section. You can get lost in there for hours. I love going to Rainbow Gardens at Christmas time and seeing all their decorations. And you can walk off the calories from all the delicious food you just ate at The Greenery.
One of the things I love best about The Greenery is it is locally owned and operated and it is one of a kind. You’re never going to find another one like it. It’s unique, you feel like family when you’re there, and the food is amazing. You can check out their menu here. Yum!

Author’s Note: I did not receive any financial compensation or any other thing of value to endorse The Greenery. I just love it there and I hope you will too.

I heart the Old Grist Mill

Aw….the Old Grist Mill.
I love this place so much I go at least once a week. I guess you could call me a regular.
I had never gone there before until my office moved to another location. Now, it’s the office favorite. We even gave it a nickname…”The OGM” (pronounced o-gum). We initiate all of our new interns into the OGM love and convert our new employees. We keep an order form in the office in case someone is making an OGM run and we can add our order in.
The OGM has so much to offer. It’s a bread company that makes delicious, amazing bread. I can’t get enough of the cinnamon bread. Although I’ve had to limit my intake since I started Weight Watchers. Their soups are so delicious and you get a huge slice of bread with each cup. There’s nothing better than that on a cold, Utah, winter day. They have a million different pastries. The hubs loves the raspberry rolls. They also have cinnamon rolls, scones, pumpkin bars, brownies, cupcakes, and several different types of cookies (and so much more…you will drool standing at the counter). And the best part? They serve Mountain Dew. Ah….the sweet nectar.
I went there on Wednesday and this is my typical meal.

Turkey and ham with provolone and mayo on wheat bread (they have a variety of veggies…none of which I like ‘cuz I’m all wimpy like that). All sandwiches come with a 1/2 ounce of Lay’s Original Potato chips. Some of the combo meals come with cookies and I only go on Wednesdays when they have their sugar cookies available. I loooooove their sugar cookies.

I know several former Utahns who make the OGM the first place they stop to eat when they come back to visit. Every time I go at lunch there is a line out the door. I honestly cannot say enough good stuff about this place.
Here is the link to the Ogden’s Old Grist Mill’s Facebook page. Right now I’m trying to win a gift certificate there because that would save me a lot of money.
Author’s note: I was not paid or in any other way compensated for endorsing The Old Grist Mill. I just love the heck out of it and want to share that with others.

I Heart Frogurt

I’m starting a new feature on my blog called, “I Heart…” where I feature local (Utah) businesses or just different things I like and talk about how much I like them. I’m not being paid my anyone to endorse these businesses or products. It’s just things I like.

I will admit, there was about a year and a half in my life where I worked at a Frozen Yogurt shop called “Golden Swirl.” I was 18, then 19 years old. We had frozen yogurt, ice cream, and smoothies. I had never really had frozen yogurt before and fell in like with it working there. It was a fun job. Most of the people who worked there were in college or high school. And yes, I was fired. Fired because I was sick, even though I had a doctor’s note. Well, I complained to the District Manager and I was offered my job back, but I decided to move on. It was the right thing to do since Golden Swirl went out of business several months later.

I have very fond memories of my “Swirly Girl” days. There were a lot of cross-business romances with the video stores guys in our same mini-mall. There was a lot of white gummi bear snitching from me. I made friends with co-workers that I’m still friends with today. I even had a stalker who came and visited me nightly and even held me captive behind the counter as he sang Journey songs to me. And people wonder why Journey makes me shudder.

Anyway, since that time I haven’t really seen any frozen yogurt shops around the Valley. Now they’re popping up all over the place. I’ve been to a couple and I have to admit that Frogurt in Riverdale is my absolute fave.

They have a million flavors and 20 billion toppings! Actually it’s only like 50, but when you can put fresh fruit, Capn’ Crunch, and peanut butter cups on your yogurt, you know there are a lot of toppings. I love Frogurt because you swirl your own yogurt. They have two cup sizes and you can choose how much or how little you want. And being a master swirler, I can always get my yogurt swirls just right. Some talents you just don’t lose. Then you can put whatever toppings you want on your yogurt. After you’re done making the most perfect yogurt and topping confection you can, you put it on a scale and they weigh it. They only charge 35 cents an ounce!

No matter how many cool flavors they have like Blueberry Tart, Pomegranate, or Pineapple, my favorite is the chocolate and vanilla swirl. I like to kick it old school. Then I top it with a generous helping of cookie dough.

The best part….four ounces of frozen yogurt is only 2 pointplus! You just can’t get a better sweet treat than that.

If you’re in the area, check out your local Frogurt. I’ll be the one hoarding all the cookie dough and/or white gummi bears (I only like the white ones).

Dinner Experiment

I don’t usually experiment with dinner. I totally respect people who can look in their pantries and fridges and come up with a delicious meal. Me? I am a recipe follower. I follow recipes exactly and don’t deviate at all. I just don’t have the gift that some people do. I mean, the most exciting thing I’ve done to a recipe is use baby shells instead of macaroni noodles in my homemade mac ‘n cheese.

Monday night I was tired of having our same old same old. I have about 10 dinner recipes that I put into rotation. So I was looking at the pantry and I saw the brown rice. I decided to make a stir fry of sorts. I was going to stir fry some chicken, carrots and broccoli together. I got all the way through chopping up the carrots and chicken before I discovered I didn’t have any broccoli. Oh yeah, and I was out of soy sauce. So I cooked up the chicken and carrots and rice, mixed them together, and dumped a couple of tablespoons of teriyaki sauce on them.
It tasted blandly okay. Which means my kids loved it. I had to dump some salt on it to make it have a taste at all. I noticed on the back of the rice box a recipe for beef and broccoli. I think I’m going to try that. And I won’t deviate from the recipe. I’m just no good at experimenting.


In this post I mentioned that I love the Tuna Helper called, Tuna Tetrazzini. Yesterday the hubs and I were out buying our lumps of coal for the children and my sister told us to go to Big Lots. Best. Idea. Ever. We wouldn’t have been able to afford Christmas this year without them! Another surprise at Big Lots is that I found Tuna Tetrazzini! Oh happy day! Now I don’t have to sacrifice my soul and integrity for some tuna and noodles seasoned to perfection.