Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Slow and Steady Wins The Race? January 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 4:32 pm

I am in week four of my year of me and so far I am down 5 pounds.  Not exactly where I want to be, but it’s better than five pounds up, I guess.  I am still having a hard time eating all the points I’m given.  Part of the problem is reminding myself to eat breakfast.  I’m just not hungry until about 11:00 and by then, it’s lunch time.  I am eating breakfast most days, but since I am choosing healthy options, I only tend to spend 5 or 6 points on that meal.  My snacks are usually veggies or fruit or the rare baked chips and salsa.  Lunch is usually light, consisting of a turkey sandwich or fish and sauteed veggies, dinner is the most points heavy with 10-11 points.  All told, I generally eat 27-29 points per day.

I really am trying to convince myself that it’s not about the weight, it’s about getting healthy.  Really, that is my goal, but part of being healthy is not being so overweight.  I want to start seeing the results of all my efforts.  I want my body to fall into line and start dropping weight that reflects the changes I’ve made.  I want to feel like I can use my flex points one week and not worry that it’ll mean that I gain weight.  Normal people eat queso once in a while and don’t have to sweat that it will undo all of the healthy choices they’ve made that week.  I read on the Weight Watchers site that they want you to use their flex points and that the program is designed for you to use them and still lose weight, but I just don’t trust that it will happen, yet.  Maybe once I have a loss over three pounds, I’ll believe it.  Although, knowing me, it’ll just make me more driven to work harder and go for 4 pounds.

Look, I know I didn’t get here overnight and I’m not going to reach my goal in a blink either.  I’m just sharing with you, cyberworld, the frustrations that come with changing one’s life.  I blame this latest mood swing on the gym showing the best places for nachos on the big screen t.v.!

Peace and healthy eating!


Shrimp Piccata on Pasta January 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 11:15 am

Shrimp Piccata over pasta

Re-learning portions has been an adventure.  It makes me think back to all the bowls (yes, plural) of pasta I used to eat.  Sometimes two bowls of spaghetti in one meal!  Ugh!  It’s embarrassing now, but at the time it was just delicious.  Of course, about 1 minute after the last forkful, it was uncomfortable.  Buttons had to be undone, posture had to be relaxed, because, my brain is apparently a long way from the stretch sensors in my stomach and the telegraph line (you’ve got yours and I’ve got mine… – 10 points if you can tell me the next line) is a little bit slow.  Now that I weigh everything, I can see how much more I was eating over what I should have been eating.  The funny thing is, I’m not any more hungry after dinner now, but I’m also not struggling to take a deep breath and I’m not sluggish and uncomfortable.  A definite improvement!

Tonight’s dinner started out as a bit of an indulgence.  I was wanting pasta with my shrimp and a nice sauce to go with and I had a pretty good amount of points left for dinner.  Once I put the recipe in Weight Watchers Recipe Tracker and made a few tweaks, it actually came out very points friendly at only 11 points per serving, including the pasta!  Did I mention it has wine?  and BUTTER!  I would dare say it has too much butter (cue sound of tires screeching to a halt)!  I dialed back the butter in the recipe below and I bet you won’t miss it, because you’ll still taste it.  So without further ado, here’s your pasta and butter dish!

Shrimp Piccata on Pasta

(makes 4 servings)

adapted from Epicurious

  • 1 pound of shrimp (I used pre-cooked, peeled shrimp)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cups white wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cups fat free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces capellini
  • I also added some red bell pepper, diced (for color)

Bring some water to boil in a large pot.  Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.  Remove from heat, but do not drain.

While the pasta is cooking, combine 1 Tbsp of the butter with the flour to make a thick paste, set aside.  Heat wine, stock, garlic, and lemon juice over medium heat until boiling.  Add flour/butter mixture and whisk until incorporated.  Continue to boil until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Add the capers, parsley, remaining butter (red peppers, if you are using them) and shrimp and toss to coat.  Heat only until shrimp is warm, don’t over cook unless you like rubbery shrimp.

Drain pasta and divide evenly among four plates.  Using a slotted spoon, remove shrimp and place over pasta.  The remaining sauce can be divided among the four plates.  Serve with a nice salad, or my favorite stand-by, sauteed spinach.  Enjoy the decadence of an 11 point meal!


Resolving To Be Patient January 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 4:38 pm

Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions.  Looking back, I feel kind of ridiculous about the whole thing.  I went to the gym after working Sunday night to meet my gym buddy and fellow Weight Watcher, Eileen.  It was the big one week weigh-in.  I was pumped!  I just knew I had lost three pounds.  I’d been good all week, using only an average of 30.2 of my 40 allotted daily points, had only had one “skinny” Texas Martini at happy hour this week and had worked out six days out of seven!  I was walking tall and feeling good….until I stepped on the scale.  It turns out I lost 1.8 pounds.  I know, I should have been happy, right?  That’s what everyone told me, and I was…sort of.  Mostly I was disappointed and discouraged.  I mean, I was happy I lost, just not happy with the amount.

I don’t know how many of you know how Weight Watchers works, but basically, you are given a number of daily “points” along with a weekly allowance of flex points.  You can also earn activity points based on the type and duration of exercise you do.  These points are then traded for food.  Some foods are free (most fruits and veggies) and the rest have a points value based on the fat, protein, carbs and fiber content.  Choose wisely, young grasshopper, and you can stay full and satisfied while staying within your points.  This is exactly what I did.  I made conscious decisions to eat healthy foods and chose not to have the indulgences I usually allow myself.  I could have, for example, had a regular martini, or two at happy hour and definitely had the points accumulated for it, but chose to get the sugar-free option.  I could have stopped off at Starbucks before work and had a grande chai soy latte, but didn’t.  I only used my daily points and sometimes found myself well below them, albeit unintentionally.

My disappointment stemmed from a fear that if I ever did use all the points I’m allowed, that I would not lose, or worse yet, that I would gain!  I felt a little defeated and couldn’t seem to shake it.  The odd thing, is that where I might have given up and eaten something comforting (read bad for me), I instead ate almost nothing that day.  The nurse in me knows that any time you start a diet, or in my case a change in your normal way of eating, where you consume less calories, you convince your body to hold on to its stored fat.  I know this only lasts for a week or two before the ol’ body falls in line and realizes there’s a change in how it’s going to be managed.  I know this, and yet, I was devastated.

I am so thankful for my Facebook friends.  They, who have been cheering me on daily when I post about going to the gym or eating something healthy, were also there to pick me up yesterday and tell me to be strong and keep it up.  I’ll admit I whined excessively and I needed to have myself verbally bitch-slapped out of my mood.  So thank you to Eileen’s husband, David who told me I was done whining.  That I didn’t put the weight on overnight and I wasn’t going to get rid of it overnight.  Thank you to Frank, who reminded me what I already know about my body holding on to the calories that it thinks won’t be coming anymore (and they won’t, dear body, but we’re going to learn to live without as many of them).  Thank you to every “you can do it” and every “don’t give up” because, even though sometimes we think we stand alone, it’s nice to know that we don’t.


Resolutions January 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 9:13 pm

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? Time to make resolutions to lose weight, improve health, exercise more. I am among those trying to set out on a new journey to a better, healthier tomorrow.  My 40th birthday is coming up in a little over six months and it’s time for me to start taking care of the body that has been taking care of me.  I have joined Weight Watchers and Gold’s Gym for the new year and together with some dear friends of mine, I am determined to learn what, really, I have known all along – how to make and eat healthy food and incorporate physical activity in my everyday life.

Will this affect this blog?  Well, of course.  I blog foods that I cook, so if I am making healthier foods, they will be reflected here.  I will probably still do some desserts because I take those treats up to work.  I hope you’ll stick around and try some of the new things posted here.  I promise to make food that is tasty, even if it isn’t loaded with cream and cheese.  I may occasionally cook up something decadent, because part of re-learning healthy eating is knowing that the occasional rich dish is not forbidden, but can be enjoyed in moderation.

Cheers to all of you and to a healthy new year!


Delia, the Free Range Nurse


Chicken Pot Pie January 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 10:38 am

Chicken Pot Pie

I love chicken pot pie!  I mean, what’s not to love (other than the quality cellulite you’ll have after eating it)?  Creamy sauce, tender veggies, pastry…during dinner!  Sign me up!  As much as I love a good chicken pot pie, I really only make them once a year and before this year, I always used Campbell’s cream of chicken and mushroom soup for the sauce.  Now that I try to make things from scratch, even if only to see how it’s done, I don’t know that I’ll go back to the old way.  Home cooking from scratch really does taste better, in my opinion.  Now, sometimes I don’t have time for “from scratch” cooking, and I’ll bet you don’t either.  In that case, certainly you could use cream of chicken, or cream of chicken and mushroom soup, add vegetables and cooked chicken and use a store bought pie crust.  Just promise me that at some point you’ll try it this way.

Chicken Pot Pie

adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow onions, diced (2 medium onions)
  • 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots, washed
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced thick

For the pastry:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice cold water
  • 1 egg beated with 1 tablespoon heavy cream (or water), for egg wash
  • flaked sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.  Remove the meat from the bone and cut into large cubes.  You should have about 4-6 cups.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock.  In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions and carrots over medium-low heat, until the onions are translucent.  Add the flour and cook over low heat for 1 minute more, stirring until thick.  Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce.  Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick.  Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and heavy cream.  Add the cubed chicken and the rest of the vegetables.  Mix well.  Turn off heat and set aside.

For the pastry, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.  Cut in cold butter using a pastry cutter until the butter is about the size of small peas.  Add ice water, starting with 1/2 cup and using your hands, bring the dough together, trying to handle it as little as possible, so the butter stays cold.  If necessary, add more water, a little at a time, just until the dough comes mostly together.  Dump the dough onto a clean, floured counter and knead, quickly, into a ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling among 6 ovenproof bowls (I used soup tureens, but you could use large ramekins or any oven-safe bowl).  Ina says this recipe makes 4 servings, but we very easily made 6 large servings.  Divide the dough into six equal portions and roll each piece into a circle large enough to cover your bowl.  Brush the outside edge of the bowl with egg wash, then place the dough on top.  Trim the circle to 1/2 inch larger than the top of the bowl.  Press the dough onto the edges to make it stick, then cut three slits into the dough to allow steam to vent.  Brush egg wash over the dough and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  You could also sprinkle some parsley flakes for color, if you want to get a little fancy.  Place pies on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Enjoy!


Coming Soon: October 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 1:41 pm

Hi there!! I know I’ve been a naughty blogger. I up and disappeared on you, but I promise to post again, soon. I do have more recipes to share, but I will probably start posting just the recipe along with a picture or two of the completed dish. I look forward to sharing with you.


The (not currently so) Free Range Nurse.


I Really Love Your Peaches, Wanna Shake Your Tree June 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 9:21 am

Yesterday, some friends and I headed out to Fredericksburg, Texas to pick our own peaches.  There is something really delicious about fruit that is left to ripen on the vine.  A very noticeable difference in the sweetness and intensity of flavor.  If you’ve never grown your own fruit or vegetables, or picked your own from an orchard or farm, you really owe it to yourself to get out there and get your hands on some tree-ripened fruit.  We were lucky enough to be able to find both peaches and strawberries.  Unfortunately, the blackberries were not quite ready and were entirely too sour.  Now the big dilemma is what to make with the 1/2 bushel of peaches I picked.  I have to move fast since the fruit is already ripe and ready to eat.  I am definitely going to make peach ice cream.  I have three different recipes I want to try, but I’m going to start with my man, David Lebovitz.  There will also be peach cobbler, for sure.  My question to you, dear reader, is what is your favorite peach recipe?  Share one with me and perhaps I can share it with the other 20 or so readers.  Oh what a celebrity you’ll be.


So Many Choices April 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 8:00 am

Is it possible to be in love with a grocery store?  If it is, is it also possible for the relationship to be a little bit disfunctional?  Such is my relationship with Central Market.  It is a store I both love and yet, it is also a love that overwhelms me.  First, the distance it is from my house is an issue (it’s about 18 miles, one way).  There is often heavy traffic somewhere along the route, a major annoyance.  Once there, I have to deal with the lack of parking.  It’s not that the lot is small, it’s that the lot is small for the number of other shops in that shopping center.  This is just the beginning.

Inside the store, I am overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of fresh produce.  There are too many options and everything looks entirely too good!  I want to buy it all!  I don’t have recipes lined up, but I can google that when I get home, right?  It isn’t a matter of going to the store with a full belly; this isn’t about picking items out of hunger.  This is choosing things because you’re curious, because you’re inspired, because you saw it.  This is dangerous.  There are marketing geniuses at work there.  Apples are stacked just so, fresh pineapples sit on fields of shaved ice, mushrooms of exotic names and appearances peek out of darkened bins, fresh greens with names you’ve never heard of beckon, try me, pick me. (more…)


Coming Soon: February 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 12:31 pm

This week, I’ll be making lemon curd (its use to be determined), chicken pot pies, and lasagna.  I will also try to find something low carb and/or healthy, but I make no guarantees, it’s not my usual cooking style.

Until then, enjoy the Austin sunshine.  It’s nice to finally see it.


Broken Promises February 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 4:21 pm

Okay, I know I said I’d get those recipes up, but work is busy right now, which means so am I.  I will have three recipes up sometime this week (I hope).  Until then, make one of the recipes I’ve posted and let me know what you think.  Diane, you can be excused since you’ve already tried one.  Thank you everyone for reading!

Love from the Free Range Nurse!