Thursday, December 31, 2009
And by January 2, I've forgotten them. Or decided that they weren't really that important.
This year, I decided to try something a little different.
I'm going to set some really easy, attainable goals. One's that will boost my ever-fragile, New Year's failure rate. Goal's that will pull me out of the January 2 depression funk.
Here's a list that I'm working on. Remember, it's just a "working" list, so it's subject to change...probably on January 3.
Goals for 2010
#1. Make sure that I get the first cup of coffee. And the second. (The grounds get stuck in the throat.)
#2. Watch more HGTV...and take notes.
#3. See how many pots and pans I can dirty during the preparation of each meal.
#4. Assign dish duty to someone else.
#5. Cook every dish in my new cookbook, "Romancing the West".
#6. Try not to gain more than 10 pounds.
#7. Don't worry about 2009's 10 extra pounds.
#8. Stop obsessing over 2007 and 2008's extra pounds.
#9. Turn another year older.
#10. Try not to cry uncontrollably for the week prior and the week following said birthday.
#11. Reset goals if these seem too difficult.
I may be speaking out of turn, but I think I may be able to manage these! See, already my self-esteem is boosted!
Bring on 2010! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Growing up, my mom made a 4 bean dish that was called, "4 Bean Dish". While the title wasn't very unique, the ingredients were. I remember my mom grabbing the ketchup bottle and squirting a huge blob into the pot. Then she'd grab the mustard bottle and squirt some more.
I loved this dish! I couldn't wait until I was a grown-up so that I could eat this whenever I wanted!
Then I actually grew up.
While I still love this dish, I have learned that corn syrup in my soup isn't exactly the healthiest choice.
Hmmm...maybe my mom should rename her dish, "Corn Syrup & Bean Soup"?
So, in honor of my mom and all mom's who have used ketchup to disguise undesirable foods, (ahem, lima beans) ...this is for you.
First, fry up some really good, grass-fed, ground beef. I'm doubling this recipe, so I used 2 lbs. This makes great leftovers, so make plenty!
While the meat is cooking, open up the cans of beans. You'll need 2 (15 oz.-ish) of each; kidney beans, garbanzo beans, (AKA chickpeas), lima beans, and pinto beans. You could substitute black beans or butter beans instead. Don't drain though...the "juice" becomes the broth. It is a step up for the lowly juice...let's give the juice their moment.
You'll also need a 28 oz. can of baked beans. These are what I had, so these are what I used.
Okay, funny story. I have a very small kitchen. In a 5600 sq. ft. house, the kitchen is teeny. I had a moment of brilliance, following a weekend of HGTV, and decided to clean off the counters to make the kitchen appear larger. So I threw the electric can opener away.
My children were not amused.
So my daughter, Melissa, decided to pay me back and take a picture of me toiling over the can opening process.
She's a funny girl.
Before the meat is done, dice up a whole, sweet onion and a couple of stalks of celery. Go ahead and add some garlic. While 2 cloves of garlic are good, 3 are even better. Trust me.
Dump all of the beans (and juice!) into the crock pot. Then add the cooked hamburger. In the same fry-pan, add 1 Tb. olive oil and 1 Tb. unsalted butter. Add the chopped up vegetables and cook until the onions look opaque. Add 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4-1/2 cup sucanat (rapadura or brown sugar works too), 1/4 cup molasses, 1 1/2 tsp. dried basil, and 1 Tb. chili powder. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the liquid looks gooey.
Add the cooked vegetables to the crock pot. I then poured a quart of home-canned tomatoes into the pot. Stir well and cook on low for 6 hours.
Before serving, salt and pepper as needed.
And don't forget the cornbread!
Burger & 5 Bean Soup
2 lbs. ground beef
2 (15 oz.) cans each: kidney, garbanzo, Lima, pinto beans
1 (28 oz.) can baked beans
1 large, sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart tomatoes
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 1/2 dried basil
1 T. chili powder
Cook beef in fry-pan. Dump in crock pot. Add beans to pot. Saute onions, celery and garlic until opaque. Add mustard, sugar, molasses, and spices and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Dump in crock pot. Add tomatoes. Cook on low for 6 hours.
Serve with cornbread. Because it's the right thing to do.
**I have made this dish using dried beans that were previously soaked and cooked. It adds extra time, but is well worth the effort, especially as you are able to remove the "toots".**
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
I'm a type A, so I should be a vegetarian.
My meat-eating hubby is only supposed to eat turkey.
That's not going to happen.
But, in theory, it is a good idea.
The only thing that we really got out of that was this: tomato sauce gives us heartburn.
And we only had to spend $24.95 to learn that.
We are about 4 cows short of a herd, if ya know what I mean.
Not really our faults. So, we spent another $24.95 for the companion cookbook.
We did find a fabulous recipe for a white pizza though. White pizza means that it has no tomato sauce, which means that we can eat all we want and not get heartburn! WooHoo!
The crust is made with a grain called spelt. It can be found at most health food stores. It can also be ordered online. Spelt is an ancient grain that is gaining in popularity because it is easier to digest than wheat. For that reason, many people with an intolerance to wheat can use spelt.
I hope you enjoy this pizza as much as we do!
Basic Pizza Dough
1 Tb. dry yeast
1 cup warm water (warm to the wrist)
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
2 Tb. olive oil
scant teaspoon sea salt
olive oil for the bowl
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well with a large spoon. Add oil, salt, and the rest of the flour and work into a manageable dough. Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as the dough gets sticky. Wash out the same bowl and grease with olive oil. Put the dough back into the bowl and turn once to cover with oil. Cover with clean towel, and let rest for 1 hour. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down and divide into 2 pieces. Roll out on lightly floured surface and let rest for a few minutes. Sprinkle pizza pan or cookie sheet with cornmeal, then place dough on pan, using fingers to spread out. Brush with olive oil and add toppings. Makes 2-12 inch pizzas.
Spinach & Ricotta Pizza
2 bunches of spinach, washed, dried, and chopped
2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
4 T. fresh garlic, minced
2 to 2 1/2 t. sea salt
4 T. fresh basil, chopped
2/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 T. olive oil
Follow the general directions for pizza dough. Preheat oven to 475F. Carefully wash the fresh spinach to remove all grit, and then lightly steam until wilted. Mix spinach with ricotta, garlic, salt, and basil. Spread mixture evenly over dough. Top with grated cheeses and drizzle with olive oil. Bake on a lower rack 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 2 12 inch pizzas.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Seriously. And because we had electricity (unlike our 3 day outage last year!), it was a perfect day.
And because I got to "veg out" and watch "The Princess Bride" the next day, it made it better than perfect. Add in the dark chocolate Reeses peanut butter cups...
...let's just say, I would've given my children anything if they'd asked! Thankfully, they left me alone and didn't take advantage of me during my moment of weakness. (Okay, it was more like 12 moments of weakness, but who's counting?)
This week, we'll be "detoxing" from our sugar binge and eating from the freezer and pantry. We'll be enjoying several soups and adding in some vegetarian dishes, as well as using spelt flour for homemade pizza.
Here's what's cookin' this week...
Monday: Sourdough English muffin, poached egg, fresh squeezed orange/grapefruit juice
Peanut butter and jam crackers, clementines
*Tortellini Spinach Soup, multi-grain rolls
Tuesday: Soaked oatmeal w/ blueberries
Cheese & turkey quesadillas, apple slices
4 Bean dish, cornbread (carried over from last week)
Wednesday: Yogurt/granola/fruit parfaits
*Lentil soup, multi-grain rolls
Thursday: Plum smoothies, toast
*Black Bean Burgers, broccoli salad
Cheese fondue, pumpernickel and rye breads, fruit platter with yogurt dip, veggie platter, nitrite/nitrate free deli meats, sparkling apple cider
Friday: Waffles, juice
**Spinach/Ricotta White Pizza with homemade spelt crust**, salad
Pesto Linguine, salad
Melissa's choice (since she's cooking!)
Tortellini Spinach Soup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. olive oil
2 14-1/2 oz. cans chicken broth (or make your own)
14-1/2 oz. can stewed tomatoes (I use a quart of home-canned)
9 oz. pkg. cheese tortellini, uncooked
10 oz. pkg. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained (semi-thaw and squeeze)
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese
In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, saute garlic in oil for 2-3 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes with juice; turn heat up to high and bring to boil. Stir in tortellini and cook according to package instructions. When tortellini is almost done, add spinach; heat through. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over individual servings, before serving. Serves 6.
8 cups water
2 12 oz. pkg. dried lentils
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 quarts pureed tomatoes (Blend stewed tomatoes to get puree)
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tb. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tb. sea salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. dried thyme
2 bay leaves, broken to release flavor
6 slices bacon, cooked (not crispy!) and chopped
Throw everything into pot. Let cook with lid on medium low for 2 or more hours. Easily adaptable to the crock-pot.
Black Bean Burgers
2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 t. garlic salt
2 t. cayenne pepper (or less, if you don't like a little heat!)
8 whole grain buns, split
Garnish: sliced tomatoes, Swiss cheese slices, lettuce
Place black beans and onion in a food processor; process to a mashed consistency. Transfer to a bowl; mix in egg, bread crumbs and seasonings. Form into 8 burgers; cook on a grill or in a skillet with a little olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden. Place on buns; garnish as desired. Makes 8 sandwiches.
**I will post the recipe for Spinach/Ricotta White Pizza and the Spelt flour crust tomorrow!**
For more menu ideas, check out Organizing Junkie!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
It was the night before Christmas,
The dad was snoring
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
It was about having fun.
It was about using our creativity for good and not evil.
It was about winning the coveted "best in show" title.
This year, it was about real gingerbread and a barn.
It took a lot of patience...
And since the weatherman could not deliver snow for the holidays, we will just enjoy our white Christmas at the farm!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
So it's time to reevaluate my priorities and go in a different direction.
Hopefully, all of my body parts will go in the same direction, at the same time! At least, that's the new plan.
I already missed making an advent calendar with my children. Didn't get to the countdown to Christmas chain either. I have obsessed over the Chex mix and underestimated the amount of time it takes to bring refrigerated cookie dough back up to room temperature. Someone forgot to pull the frozen turkey out of the freezer and put it into the fridge, while someone else ate all of the Chex mix that I had obsessed over.
As my favorite character, Dory, from "Finding Nemo" said, "Swimming, swimming, just keep swimming"....
Here's the new plan...we are building our gingerbread barn this afternoon. I have shortbread cookie dough that needs baked and dipped in chocolate. (Of course!) My candy cane cookie dough is waiting in the fridge and I am going to attempt to make Chocolate Thumbprint cookies (Thanks Kym!). I will make more Chex mix (and hide it from my son Cody), and will have my daughters whip up some truffle candies.
And during all of that, I will try to remember to breathe.
Did I mention that this is my favorite time of the year? Good thing too...it could've gotten ugly around here if I didn't enjoy it all!
Here's what's cookin'...
Monday: Soaked oatmeal w/fruit
Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, sliced apples
Tater tot casserole, salad (carried over from last week, and while not the healthiest dinner, I do use organic tater tots!)
Tuesday: English muffins, poached eggs
Pita pockets with turkey, hummus and sprouts, sliced oranges
Lasagna, green salad (from last week)
Wednesday: Granola/fruit/yogurt parfaits
Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
Elk steak, mashed taters & gravy, salad
Thursday: Soaked oatmeal w/fruit
Whole wheat bagels w/yogurt cheese & turkey
Mexican Pasta Skillet, cottage cheese & pineapple slices
Happy Birthday Jesus!
Cheese & crackers, fruit (keeping it light!)
Saturday: Scrambled eggs, toast
*Christmas Dinner*: Turkey (cooked on Thursday), mashed taters & gravy, Green bean casserole, candied yams, brussel sprouts (Yes, most of my kids LOVE brussel sprouts!), Rosemary rolls, **Honeybun jello salad, **Key Lime pie, Apple pie, **Holiday Layered Surprise
1 package Rhodes rolls
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tb. cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
1 box butterscotch pudding, dry (not instant!)
Place rolls in bundt pan. Mix dry ingredients. Pour over rolls. Pour melted butter over rolls. Let rise overnight. Bake at 350F. for 30 minutes. Turn over onto cookie sheet and dig in! It is a good idea to place bundt pan on a cookie sheet while rising...it can spill over depending on the size of your pan! (If in doubt, divide into 2 bundt pans.)
**These desserts can be found in "MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook", by MaryJane Butters. They call for an ingredient called Chillover Powder that is used for gelling. It is from a red sea vegetable called agar-agar kanten, that is used in Japanese cooking. Chillover Powder can be purchased here.
Check back tomorrow to see pictures of our gingerbread barn!
For more menu planning ideas, visit Organizing Junkie.
Friday, December 18, 2009
And don't worry about the amount of butter in this recipe. Your hips will love you for it...
Thursday, December 17, 2009
When my family and I decided to use more natural products, we had no idea just how many "natural" products there were. It seems as if all of the cleaning companies decided to jump on the "fad wagon" and promote their products as healthier choices.
And make a pretty little profit off of the consumer in the process.
Personally, I'd like to keep a few more of my pennies.
Here's the deal. I use distilled white vinegar in my rinse cycle, both in the laundry and in my dishwasher. And while the smell NEVER attaches itself to my socks and saucers, it is offensive to my olfactory senses going in! *shudder*
I came across this recipe for Lavender Fabric Softener. I had some dried lavender that I had picked up a the farmer's market during the summer and now have a nice little batch steeping in the laundry room. I must admit, it smells better than I thought it would!
Homemade Lavender Fabric Softener
1 quart distilled, white vinegar
1 cup dried or fresh lavender buds
2-4 drops lavender essential oil
Place lavender buds in wide mouth, quart canning jar. Add vinegar and cover with plastic lid. (Always plastic. Metal corrodes!) Let mixture steep for 1 week. Strain through cheesecloth. Add essential oil, if desired. Add 1/2 cup to rinse cycle of laundry.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
It wasn't a lot, but it was enough...
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I've pried my nose off the window long enough to post my menu, but plan on stickin' it right back up after!
If I can get the kids out of the way first.
Really. I need some snow. Seriously. It's bad.
I bought a hat and everything.
Here's what's cookin' this week...
Monday: Oatmeal w/ peaches
(leftover) Meatloaf sandwiches, apples
Navy Bean soup (with leftover ham bone), sourdough bread, salad (carried over from last week)
Tuesday: Poached eggs on toast
Leftover Navy Bean soup, crackers, orange slices
Chicken Enchiladas, green salad
Wednesday: Plum Smoothies, English muffins
Toasted cheese sandwiches, lime jello w/ pears
*Potato/Corn Chowder, homemade rustic multi-grain bread
Thursday: Pumpkin waffles
Leftover Potato/Corn Chowder, crackers, banana
Tater Tot casserole, spinach salad
Friday: Blueberry Coffeecake
Toasted Tuna sandwiches, sliced apples
Chicken Tortilla Soup, cornbread
Saturday: Spiced Blueberry Muffins, hot chocolate
Leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup, crackers
Lasagna, sourdough, salad
Venison Stew, homemade rustic multi-grain bread
For more menu ideas visit here.
5 large potatoes, unpeeled and diced
1 bay leaf, broken in half
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 sweet onion, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup flour
1 T. sea salt
2 bags (16 oz.) frozen corn
1 cup cream
1/4 t. paprika
1/2 T. dried tarragon (or more, depending on taste)
ground pepper to taste
In large pot, put potatoes, onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf. Cover with water and cook until carrots are tender. Scoop 1-2 cups into blender or food processor and blend with 1/2 cup flour and salt until smooth. Stir into pot and let simmer until thickened. Add corn, paprika and tarragon. Mix a couple of tablespoons of hot soup into cream to bring temperature up. Then add cream to pot. Season with pepper.
*P.S.* As I finish this, the snow has started to fall. I just may cry. Now I have to go try out that hat!
Friday, December 11, 2009
This year, I've decided to boycott the wrapping paper industry.
Nobody really cares about the paper anyway. At least I don't.
I just want everything to match while waiting under the tree. And I don't want it to cost a fortune. After all, it is just paper!
For a couple of dollars, I was able to find postal wrapping paper. It comes on a very large roll, is heavy enough to deter the "peakers", and can be embellished if that's what you really want to do. We've used snowflake rubber stamps to create beautiful paper that would've cost us a small fortune to purchase.
For the ribbon, I'm using natural raffia, found in any craft store. It is very inexpensive and goes a long way. I'm using natural because that is what I already had, but I've seen colored raffia also.
Tags are made from scrapbooking paper, old Christmas cards, or cut from paper bags using cookie cutters as templates. It is a great project for the kids! In our house, it is not uncommon to find my children sitting in the living room, watching a Christmas movie and cutting tags! (We NEVER write the kids' names on the tags. Instead my hubby and I make a code for each child. It's a good idea to write down your special code though. One year, my teenaged daughter opened up a Tonka truck! Lesson learned.)
My plan was to post a picture of some neatly wrapped gifts, sitting under the tree so that you could see how nice they look.
In reality, I probably won't have time to wrap until Christmas Eve!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
This is one of the girls' bodyguards. His name is Rocco.
He's an idiot.
And he doesn't know how to guard.
But boy, can he sing!
He's part of a group that we lovingly refer to as, "The 2 Tenors". His cohort is named "Frisky Biscuit". Someday, they'll be big.
We have 6 more "boys" that tried to crash the party.
We'll be mentioning them during the holidays.
Because maybe, just maybe, somebody will want to eat them.
For now, we'll just be content to have some of these...
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thankfully, I have kids.
While I was doped up on Percoset, it seems my Christmas elves...er...children took it upon themselves to decorate our tree.
And they remembered to take a picture.
I may have to put in a good word with "Santa", but somehow, I think he already knows.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I may have stepped on the littlest one, in the process.
Although, I'm the one that ended up in the emergency room! Seems I have a condition called bursitis. Apparently, I held my granddaughter a little too much on the left side, so now the shoulder is paralyzed with pain and swelling. And I'm enjoying a little vacation time called "oxycodone induced delusions". It is a happy place to visit, but I don't think I want to live there! Because my shoulder needs time to heal, meals this week will be simple and food the kids can prepare.
I'll pretend that it's room service.
Here's what's cookin' at our house...
Monday: Oatmeal w/ blueberries
P.b. and J, apples
Fried elk steak, mashed taters/gravy, steamed broccoli/cauliflower
Tuesday: Cranberry Streusel Muffins, hot chocolate
Toasted cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
Lentil burritos, tortilla chips, guacamole, salad
Wednesday: Homemade granola
Chili nachos (leftover from Sunday)
Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, garlicky green beans
Thursday: Poached eggs on toast
Meatloaf sandwiches, fruit
Ravioli soup, homemade multigrain bread
Corndog muffins, cheetos, string cheese (housefull of kids today!)
Homemade macaroni and cheese, baked ham, salad
Navy bean/ham soup, multigrain bread, salad
Venison stew, multigrain bread
For more meal plans, visit Organizing Junkie
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Reading, (W)riting, and (A)rithmetic...not exactly 3 R's, but who am I to complain? And who would I complain to? Hmmm..
The greatest of these is Reading! At least in my book. (Pun intended...accidentally, of course.)
I am an avid reader. And not too particular either. I LOVE historical fiction, thrillers, mysteries, and books that make me laugh out loud. (My husband hates it when I read those in bed, while he is trying to get his beauty sleep!) I also enjoy reading books that teach me valuable skills and inspirational stories that touch my soul. I read a lot of Christian fiction, but also enjoy some secular authors, as long as I have my trusty white-out pen nearby. (I have one book that has more white marks than words, but the story was good.)
But what do my children read? Anything that I read, as long as it's age-appropriate. Face it, my 9 year old son isn't going to enjoy a John Grisham novel about corruption in the courtroom! And maybe in 5 years, my 13 year old daughter will appreciate a Francine Rivers romance or a Dee Henderson mystery. For now though, they have plenty to keep them busy.
This is list 1 of our reading lists. It is appropriate for elementary aged kids. We use our local public library for most books, but have found many at garage sales and trade-in bookstores. When we do have to buy books, Amazon is a great resource, as well as Sonlight.
Cricket in Times Square
Great Brain series
Magic Treehouse series
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
The Year of Miss Agnes
The Little House on the Prairie series
The Viking Quest series
Frog and Toad books
Third Grade Detectives series
Ralph S. Mouse
The Whipping Boy
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Detectives in Togas
Dr. Suess....and there are MANY!
This is just a sampling of some of the books that our grade-school age kids have enjoyed. While some books have been read on their own, others have been wonderful for read-alouds. The idea is to find books that are engaging, so that our children will develop a love for reading and learning.
And if you have a finicky reader (I've had a couple!), keep track of the books that they've read by keeping a visual where they can see it. Watch the pride in their faces when another book (or bug in our case), goes up on the wall!
And don't stress if your son/daughter isn't reading at the level you think he/she should be at. Practice makes perfect, and with the right books, perfection is just a page away.