Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kitchen Renovation: Part 1 (Before)

Hello lovely readers! Unfortunately, Lighter Bites HQ (aka my kitchen) is still out of commission. But I wanted to provide an update on how the renovation is going!

Some background info: we bought our house in 2013. It was built in 1953, and we think much of the kitchen was original (or updated in the 70s). Green formica countertops. Avocado green ceramic sink. Oak cabinets that were structurally great but so outdated and hard to look at. Gold hardware. PANELING!

See for yourself.

Yikes. I love the "whatnot" shelves next to the sink, though - shame we can't keep them!

Are you loving the sink?

So pretty.

No words.
The renovation isn't something we were planning on when we bought the house. We figured, sure, it's outdated. But we'll live with it. But then we had a leaky roof, which caused the ceiling in our bathroom to sag, so we fixed the roof and needed to fix the bathroom ceiling as well. We figured we might as well see how much new granite would cost us, and maybe we could replace our counter and sink when we fixed the bathroom ceiling.

As these things go, new granite/sink turned into new granite/sink + knocking out the wall between the kitchen and dining room and adding an island (I've been wanting to knock out the wall since we moved in). Which then turned into new granite/sink/half wall/island + replacing all the oak cabinets. And before we knew it, we had a contractor at the house drawing up plans. 

We knew off the bat that we were going to keep our appliances. They're not stainless steel, but they're black and relatively modern, and we knew we could make them work in a new kitchen. We knew we couldn't afford new appliances and a new kitchen. And we also decided to keep the floor. The tiles are neutral and nice, and when the reno is done, we'll have the grout cleaned and they'll look as good as new.

Our contractor, who is a family friend and did all the work my parents have had done on their house, proposed some things we hadn't thought of. He suggested rearranging our appliances to make the kitchen seem bigger and get more counter space than we would have if we just replaced the existing counter. I took some convincing, but once I found out I could still get my half wall, I was sold.

And before we knew it, we were out shopping for granite and cabinets.

View from the dining room. Bye-bye, wall!

Can't wait to be able to stand here and see into the dining room and living room!

So very outdated. The fridge and pantry are moving to the wall where the (unused) kitchen table currently is.

The stove and microwave will be moved to where the fridge is, and this will be ALL COUNTER.
We fell in love with a granite called Black Galaxy, which will look amazing with our black appliances (and if we ever have the money to upgrade, it'll look amazing with stainless steel too). We picked out these gorgeous wood cabinets with black etching to match the counter and ordered oil-rubbed bronze hardware to tie it all together.

There are still some question marks about the whole process. We don't have a backsplash yet. I know exactly what I want (neutral beige subway tile), and I found and ordered the perfect one only to find out it was discontinued, so we're still looking for that. We ended up re-sheetrocking the entire kitchen, which wasn't part of the original plan, so we'll need to have the new walls painted (along with the bathroom ceiling, which will need to be painted, too). I'm not complaining though - out kitchen was paneling! Sheetrock is so much nicer. And we're still figuring out what to do about the light fixture. The light isn't in the center of the room, so we either need to have it moved or find a light fixture that works with the new cabinets.

But everything is coming along nicely and I can't wait to show you all the finished product! And, of course, start making some food in this new kitchen and share some more recipes with you guys!

I may tweet or Instagram some in-progress shots (links to the Lighter Bites Twitter and Instagram are on the right side of the page) but I think I'll save the next blog for the finished kitchen (or mostly finished, since I don't know how long backsplash, etc will take).

But for now, I'll leave you with this: Penny, the cutest dog in the WORLD, all confused and adorable about the construction.

What the hell is going on my house?!
Until next time!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lightened-Up Texas Toast

Happy Independence Day, everyone! Sorry for the long hiatus between my last post and this one - work has been busy, and I've taken on some freelance work as well, so things have been a bit crazy. I hope everyone has something fun planned for the holiday today! Me? I'll be relaxing at my in-laws' house, spending time with good people and eating good BBQ'd food (today will probably NOT be a diet-friendly day, but what can you do).

Anyway, I wanted to share this SUPER SIMPLE recipe for Texas toast with you! I was trying to think of a clever line about Texas being American and that's why I decided to wait until July 4th to share this recipe, but the truth is, this recipe has nothing to do with Independence Day. It's just really easy and delicious and you should make it ASAP.

My husband found Texas toast in the supermarket a few years ago. It's basically thick garlic bread, toasted, and covered in melted cheese. It's amazing, but definitely not amazing for someone who is trying to count calories. So a few weeks ago, I was having grilled chicken for dinner, and I wanted something on the side. My husband, who for some reason (like most men I know) doesn't have to worry about his weight, was making the store-brand Texas toast with his dinner, and it looked REALLY good. So I opened my fridge and saw that I had some English muffins, and I decided to see what I could do.

I toasted an English muffin, then covered each part with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray. Zero-calorie butter spray can be your best friend in recipes. Personally, I don't think it's tasty enough on its own to have with nothing else (I'd never eat toast with butter spray and nothing else) but it's good when paired with something else. For example, toast with butter spray and jelly, toast with butter spray and cinnamon sugar, etc. And in this recipe, it works perfectly.

Next, I sprinkled (pretty generously) garlic powder on top of the spray. Then I took some part-skim mozzarella and spread it across the top of the garlic. Pop it in the oven at 375 for about 5 minutes until the cheese melts, and there you have it - easy, delicious, lightened-up Texas toast.

I made my husband try it - he approves! He'll probably continue to eat the "good stuff" from the supermarket because he can, but I'm happy he approves of my lighter version too.

That's it! Make this the next time you have chicken or pasta and let me know what you think!

Until next time!


  • 2 Fiber One English muffins
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray (roughly 32 sprays)
  • Garlic powder (to taste)
  • 2 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese

Serving size: 2 pieces (half of recipe)
Weight Watchers PointsPlus value: 5


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Toast each English muffin to desired crispiness.
  3. Spray each muffin half with butter spray. The recipe calls for ~32 sprays, or 8 per piece of toast, because I like mine extra buttery. Feel free to use more or less as desired. Sprinkle garlic powder over the top of each piece.
  4. Distribute the cheese evenly among the pieces of toast. I've been using the mozzarella blocks lately, so I measure out 2 oz on my food scale and then slice it into small pieces and distribute them among the pieces. If you use shredded cheese, this will probably be easier to measure. Either way, each piece of toast gets about half an ounce of cheese.
  5. Put the toast on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese looks melted but not burnt. (TIP: I like to put a piece of tin foil on my baking sheet to eliminate mess).
  6. Let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Nutritional Information