Thursday, December 30, 2010

My "Realistic" Goals for 2011


With the passing of 2010, and the ushering in of 2011, it has come to my attention that I need to make my annual New Year's resolutions.

I'm going to do something a little different this year though. For me, making resolutions sets me up for failure. I'm doomed before the clock strikes midnight. The only thing I can be sure of is that my Mister will be there, holding me close and planting a big, juicy kiss on my lips, just as he has for the last 24 years.

One of my favorite poems is by an elderly lady named Nadine Stair. At 85 years young, she wrote a lovely poem about what she would do differently if she had her life to live over. I've decided to apply that to my life in 2011.

With some changes. The italicized words are mine.



If I Had My Life To Live Over
If I Have to Make Another Resolution

I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I make plenty, but I dare them to try and stop me.

I'd relax. I'd limber up. I'll learn to fall more gracefully and without an audience.

I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I'll try to be more discreet with my giggles.

I would take fewer things seriously. I'll try not to laugh when my children ask for McDonald's or if they can "skip" school.

I would take more chances. I will step on the scale at the doctor's office without first requesting the heaviest nurse they have in the building.

I would take more trips. I'll make sure that my family is with me so it becomes more difficult for me to flee the country.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I'll talk about how much I like hiking while soaking in the hot tub and enjoying a nice glass of organic Riesling.

I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I promise to not invent Black Bean Ice Cream. Don't be sad. There is always 2012.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I'd have fewer imaginary ones. I'll give myself a reality check at least once per day.

You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. 
I'll set the DVR and watch American Idol after the vote, just to keep people guessing.

Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd do more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments. Actually, I have moments everyday. Moments of insanity. I'll try to smile through more of them.

One after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I'll learn to go with the flow, even if the flow washes me out to sea.  

I've been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. I'll only carry my cell phone with Poison Control on speed dial, a camera just in case I need legal proof for anything, a baggy full of organic raisins and my rubber boots. C'mon, I do live in the Pacific Northwest!

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way until later in the fall. I will proudly wear the garden dirt under my toes in the spring, and will keep an extra pair of flip-flops in the car, just in case the employees at Fred Meyer aren't as amused with my bare, paint-less toes as I am.

If I had to do it again, I'd travel lighter next time. I'll invest in a fanny pack. They're still en vogue right?

I would go to more dances. I'll dance as if no one is watching. Even if I know they are. With their cameras.

I would ride more merry-go-rounds. Only if the carnival guy stops making me stand in front of the "How tall are you?" sign.

I would pick more daisies. Now, that's a resolution I can keep.


Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lessons Learned in 2010


As we say good-bye to 2010, and usher in yet another year, I'd like to share with you some things that I've had the privilege to learn this year.

1. It does not matter how many times you press the "WALK" button at a crosswalk. It will say "WALK" when it is good and ready. Pounding on it just makes one look stupid. And somebody you know will always recognize you. Wisdom says to let someone else pound on the button.

2. It is never a good idea to test an electric fence with your fingers. Especially when working in the garden. It is also a bad idea to "double check" if you don't get shocked the first time. Electric fences have pulses of electricity that eventually come back around to the very place your finger is touching. Wisdom says to just believe your husband when he says that the fence is on. Or wear rubber boots.

3. Teenagers have not changed too much since I was one. They still step out in front of traffic, believing that cars will stop. Reminding them to look both ways before crossing the street is responded with, "I have the right-a-way." Maybe so, but wisdom says that the car always wins.

4. Simply removing the microwave from the kitchen is not enough to deter the family from using it. Even if it's in the basement. And since it's in the basement, sometimes people have lapses in memory...until a week later, when a putrid odor greets us at the top of the stairs. Wisdom says to just throw the microwave away.

5. Breeding turkeys is easier than one might think. Currently, we have 3 hens setting on one nest. As hatching time draws near, the normally docile hens have become aggressive. Wisdom says that we should eat turkey more often.

6. Never assume that the 10-cent discount at the gas pump will be there when you need to fill up the tank. Wisdom says that teen drivers are very resourceful when it comes to keeping a few extra bucks in their pockets.

7. Weathermen lie. Wisdom says to just look out the window upon waking, and dress accordingly. Usually this means, in layers.

8. Dangling a Snickers bar in front of the treadmill is not a good motivator to keep moving. It's way too easy to just step onto the sides and snatch that candy-bar for a quick snack. Wisdom says to dangle a rutabaga instead.

9. If the eye doctor prescribes glasses to see things more clearly, it's probably a good idea to wear them. There's a huge difference between cooking a pie at 350F. and burning a pie at 450F. Wisdom says to forget vanity and just wear the glasses.

10. Regardless of which cellular phone carrier you may have, the phone always wears out when the contract ends. Wisdom says to pay for the phone and forget the contract. Or just use the land line.

For some reason, I don't feel as if I've arrived at wisdom's door. I may have caught a glimpse of it a couple of times this year, but something tells me that I've got a long ways to go.

So, for 2011, I say...

BRING IT ON!

But slowly, just in case wisdom is on hiatus.





Sunday, December 26, 2010

An End of the Year Menu Plan~12/27/10

I have decided to declare the week after Christmas an official holiday.

Women everywhere will thank me for this I am sure.

After a month of plotting, planning, executing and shopping, we are tired. That is not to take away from any help that we received from our loving husbands and wonderful children. We are ever so grateful for all that they do. It's just that women (i.e. me) stress the small stuff. It's genetic. We worry about Christmas cards (that I didn't send), shopping (that I didn't start until the week before), baking (that I was still doing on Christmas Eve), and the house cleaning (one whiff of my boys' bathroom will attest to the fact that that didn't happen either!).

Just keepin' it real for ya. 

The reality is that even with all the hustle and bustle of the season, I wouldn't have done it any other way. 

But I still declare, the week after all the chaos, a stress-free-leave-me-alone-I'm-going-to-lock-myself-in-the-sewing-room-for-hours-on-end-and-maybe-have-an-ice-cream-sandwich-if-I-had-ice-cream-sandwiches-kind of week.

That, or I can just sit with my nose pressed against the window and wait for some snow. 

Please wave if you drive by.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here's what's cookin' this week...

~Monday~
Scrambled eggs & deer sausage
leftover Clam Chowder
Fried elk steak, mashed potatoes & gravy, peas

~Tuesday~
Egg salad sandwiches, orange slices
Baked sweet potato fries, baked salmon, green beans

~Wednesday~
Blueberry Coffeecake
Turkey/Veggie/Cream cheese Wraps, tangerines
Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, applesauce

~Thursday~
Simple Soaked Oatmeal w/blueberries
Peanut butter & jam sandwiches, tangerines

~Friday~
Fried eggs, cinnamon toast
leftover Cincinnati Chili
*Snacks*

~Saturday~
Enchiladas, fruit salad

~Sunday~
Granola

*New Year's Eve snacks: Cheese Fondue w/ goodies, Salmon dip, chips, fruit platter w/ Yogurt Fruit Dip, veggie platter w/ homemade Ranch Dip, Root Beer Floats

I should probably follow this up with some New Year's resolutions that I'm bound to break by Monday.

Or maybe I should just stick to some Tums instead.

For more menu plan ideas, visit Menu Mondays at Organizing Junkie.





Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Biscotti



Every year for Christmas, I like to make up "little trays of happiness" to give as gifts. In order to make the cut, the items must be homemade and they must be something that I would like to hide in the bathroom and devour all by myself.

Yes, I said bathroom. It's the only place where I can truly be alone.

Some of the goodies in the past have included: Chocolate Truffles, Peanut Butter Balls, Date Pinwheels, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies, Gingerbread, and the must-have for any parent, Sugar Cookies with hideous colors of frosting adorning them.

This year, I decided to go rebel and deviate from the norm.

Sometimes I do that. It keeps things interesting.

This year, I'll be giving away Reese's Thumbprint Cookies, Toffee Bars, Coconut Macaroons, Double Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Old-Fashioned Spritz Cookies and Christmas Biscotti.

In the spirit of gift-giving, I may have to avoid the bathroom until the 26th.

For regular visitors to the local espresso shop, biscotti is something that you'll recognize. It's usually sitting under a glass case or in a cute canister in plain view of the thirsty patron. Because really, who doesn't enjoy a nice cookie with their coffee? Biscotti is best eaten with coffee, tea or even milk, as it is a very hard cookie.

Biscotti and coffee. Now that's the thing Christmas dreams are made of.

Christmas Biscotti

1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C. sugar (I used organic sugar)
Zest from 1 orange (use an organic orange since you're using the zest)
1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 egg white
2 C. organic white flour
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. sea salt
2 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1/2 C. dried cranberries
1-1/4 C. unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped

For the drizzle: 1 C. white chocolate, chopped
1 t. coconut oil

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla until fluffy. Mix in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually blend into the creamed mixture.

Stir in the chocolate, cranberries, and pistachios.

Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into halves. Form each half into a 12"x3" log. Flatten slightly. Arrange the logs at least 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet.


Bake for 30 minutes, or until a light golden color. Allow logs to cool on baking sheet until able to handle, approximately 10 minutes. On a cutting board, cut logs crosswise on a diagonal into 1-inch thick slices.


Place back onto cookie sheet and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden.

Transfer biscotti to wire racks to cool completely.


In a double boiler, melt 1 cup white chocolate with 1 teaspoon coconut oil, stirring constantly. When melted, dip 1 end of biscotti into chocolate. Return to wire rack to dry. Or, lightly drizzle the chocolate over the top of each piece.

Store in an airtight container when dry.

*I found that the adults prefer the drizzle, while the kids enjoy an entire end of chocolate covered biscotti.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Edition of Menu Monday

I have fond memories of Christmas dinners as a child. It was the one meal where everyone fought over the catsup bottle, but not to disguise the taste of the food, just to enhance it. I smile when I remember my aunt, uncle, cousins, grandparents, parents and siblings passing around the bottle, and in later years, the 6 lb. can that someone was so thoughtful to bring.

Some foods just pair well together: salt & pepper, macaroni & cheese, eggs & bacon, peanut butter & jelly...and catsup with Pig-in-the-Blanket. Pig-in-the-Blanket is not the official name of this dish, some may even know it as "Cabbage Rolls", but in my family, cabbage did not evoke a positive response. At least, not with the children. So, Cabbage Rolls were given the kid-pleasing moniker of "Pigs-in-the-Blanket". And it stuck. Just as it's catsup counterpart did.

Our special Christmas meal was always prepared by my grandparents. It was a long process that began with the harvesting of 10 lb. heads of cabbage in the fall. Grandma would make lacto-fermented sauerkraut, before the fancy name, and leave it to ferment in the carport in huge crocks covered with grape leaves. She didn't shred all of the cabbage though, first she would remove the largest leaves, then steam them before placing them inside zip-lock bags and freezing them. When Christmas rolled around, the sauerkraut was ready, and it was just a matter of putting the rolls together. None of us kids were privy to the recipe until recently. Grandma is now 90 years old and can no longer stand in the kitchen long enough to make these cabbage rolls, so each of the kids got her long-guarded secret recipe. And just as her German mother did before, we now have the pleasure of sharing this family recipe with our children. A tradition that will hopefully continue on, long after I'm gone.

 Including the 6 pound can of catsup.

This week, besides the Pigs-in-the-Blanket, I'll be making Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas morning. Along with my kids, we'll be making some favorite holiday cookies and candies before finishing off the week with several Christmas desserts. I would love to give you the names of these special treats, but we haven't narrowed down the list yet. Right now, we're at 20.

I love Christmas goodies, but 20 is overkill, even for a dessert aficionado such as myself.

Unless someone else is making them.

Then 20 different goodies is a perfect number.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Here's what else is cookin' this week...

~Monday~
Salmon patties, Macaroni & Cheese, roasted brussel sprouts, steamed Swiss chard

~Tuesday~
Banana Muffins w/ yogurt cream cheese
ChiliCornbread (still being carried over!)

~Wednesday~
Ravioli Soup, Sourdough bread

~Thursday~
Fried eggs, toast
Soft shell tacos, homemade tortilla chips, salsa

~Friday~
Clam Chowder, Sourdough bread

~Christmas Day~
 Roasted Turkey, Pigs-in-the-Blanket, Fondue, Green Bean Casserole, Potatoes au Gratin, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Spinach/Cranberry/Almond Salad, Southern Ambrosia, Rolls, Smoked Salmon & Chive Cheeseball w/ Salmon Roe, desserts to be determined...

And don't forget the catsup. 

For more meal planning ideas, visit The Organizing Junkie for Menu Mondays.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GMO or Non-GMO...Ask Dr. Oz What He Really Thinks!

Rarely does my dander get ruffled before my first cup of coffee.

Rarely does my first cup of coffee get interrupted with my dander.

But ruffled it is.

One of my biggest complaints about our current food system is the labeling laws. I want to know what is in the food that I purchase from the grocery store.

The USDA does NOT want you to know what is in your food.

Recently, Dr. Oz did a show discussing GMO foods.

By George, I think he's got it!

Click on the links to watch this very interesting conversation on GMO foods.

Then do what Dr. Oz says.

Vote with your wallets.

And if that doesn't work, vote with your...votes. Contact your local representatives, senators and anyone else that will listen, whether it is pretend or not.

Just be heard.






Sunday, December 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday~12/12/2010

After sitting still for an entire week, I am ready to get back into the kitchen.

My Mister would NEVER say, "...where you belong...", but I feel like I've abandoned an old friend. 

The kitchen is where I belong. Even if I'm the one putting myself there. Sometimes you just know. 

It feels right.

A lot of things have been happening while I've been in my chair. Here's a big happening.

My son found these... 


Turkey eggs!

But, before I could say, "Google recipes using turkey eggs", this happened...


Thomasina decided to sit on them! If all goes according to plan, we should have baby turkeys in a month!

Problem solved.
~~~~~ 

While most of the country is experiencing the joys of winter, we are currently in the middle of a crazy, wet storm that is dumping water that cannot be measured in inches anymore.

I now know how Noah felt. An ark is currently in the planning stages. I will be posting a help-wanted ad later this week for laborers if this weather keeps up.
~~~~~ 

I had a post-surgery appointment last week. Good news! I was able to walk into the office on my own.

Just so the doctor could release me to do "..if it's work or fun, it's a no-no."

Ummmm...that's a release?  Thank you Jesus for my kitchen.

Hey, as long as I don't break a sweat or smile, I'm good to go!
~~~~~ 

Here's what's cookin' this week...

~Sunday~
Cold cereal
leftover Meatloaf sandwiches w/ homemade barbecue sauce, green salad

Prep: Make barbecue sauce, make sourdough bread/1st rise

~Monday~
Organic Burritos, (black beans, grass-fed beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions)

Prep: Bake sourdough 
Soak brown rice for tomorrow

~Tuesday~
Scrambled eggs & elk sausage
Nachos (black beans, raw cheese, veggies from last night)
Soaked brown rice, baked salmon w/ Tikki Marsala Sauce (Seeds of Change), Spinach salad

Prep: Soak oatmeal in buttermilk for tomorrow

~Wednesday~
Baked chicken, Potatoes Romanoff (new), green salad

~Thursday~
toasted cheese sandwiches on sourdough, raw carrots, hummus
Lazy Chiles Relleno Casserole, Elk sausage patties, corn tortillas

Prep: Make homemade granola

~Friday~
organic sausages, lacto-fermented sauerkraut
Barbecued Beef sandwiches (crockpot), baked sweet potato fries

Prep: Soak pinto beans for tomorrow
Boil eggs.

~Saturday~
Homemade granola
Egg salad sandwiches on sourdough
Chili, Sweet Cornbread (carried over from last week)

~Sunday~
Homemade granola
Baked potato bar (chili, onions, cheese, bacon, sour cream, etc..)

For more menu planning ideas, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Mondays!



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cornmeal Flapjacks & Lumberjack Prune Sauce



As a self-proclaimed French toast aficionado, I'm always looking for a good pancake recipe to tip me  towards the other side. It's a rare moment when that happens. But, over the last year, we've enjoyed Oatmeal Buttermilk Cinnamon Pancakes, Speltcakes, Sourdough Pancakes, and a boxed mix called Kodiak. On those rare occasions, if given the choice, I would choose the pancakes over the French toast. 

That is just killing me to admit.

When I found this recipe for Cornmeal Flapjacks, I decided to give it a chance, all the while dreaming of my toast from France.

But then I tried it.

I've come to the conclusion that France is overrated.

By themselves, these are awesome. With the Prune Sauce, they are over the moon.

And this is coming from a girl who is not a lover of prunes.

I made this recipe with organic white flour, but next time will use spelt flour and soak it overnight in the buttermilk. (This process helps to unlock the minerals and improve digestion by neutralizing phytates and enzyme inhibitors.) 

Our pancake favorites list has officially grown to 5.

 Sorry France.  

Cornmeal Flapjacks

1-1/2 cups organic flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 Tb. organic sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. sea salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tb. melted butter

Sift together dry ingredients. (If soaking, start the night before. Mix flour with buttermilk, cover and let set on counter overnight. In the morning, give it a stir, then continue adding the dry ingredients, stirring thoroughly.)

Mix eggs, butter and buttermilk together. (Just eggs and butter if soaked overnight.)


Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined.

Heat griddle. Brush griddle with coconut oil or butter. Fry lightly until bubbles appear and flip over. Cook until golden brown. Serve with Prune Sauce or maple syrup. (We like cultured sour cream too!)

Serves 4. 

Lumberjack Prune Sauce

1-1/2 cup water
1 cup dried prunes, chopped
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. ground allspice
2 Tb. brown sugar (I used Rapadura. Sucanat works too.)

In a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

*This will thicken as it cooks. It would also be wonderful on top of homemade vanilla ice cream.

Guess I'm more of a prune lover than I thought.

Enjoy!



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Idle Hands? Not Me!

So, you may be wondering, if you have absolutely nothing better to do, which I'm sure you do, so maybe you weren't really wondering after all, and it was just my over-active imagination....

...oh, wait. Where was I?

While oxycodone has been my best friend for the last couple of days, I've noticed that it's really a one-way friendship. I love it. It doesn't love me back.

Oxycodone makes me stupid.

AnD dIzZy.

But mostly stupid.

You see, on the meds, I can't really seem to make my body listen to my brain. My brain says, "Move your left foot forward", and my body responds with a little twitch and a spasm. Eventually, it can be persuaded to move forward, but that's after half of the household rushes to my rescue. I can't be sure, but there may have been some prodding involved.

It is now day 4, post surgery, and I feel as if weeks have passed me by. After all, Christmas is just around the corner and I am not prepared! 

So, I did what all good Momma's do when behind schedule.

I panicked.

Before I show you some of what I've been working on, I feel it is my moral obligation to tell you to pay attention to the warning labels on medication bottles.

When they say, "Do not operate machinery while taking this product", they mean it.

They could be talking about vehicles. But personally, I believe this warning is directed to people who operate sewing machines.

 
After spending an entire afternoon piecing, ironing and pinning the binding for a baby quilt I've been working on, I realized that every other piece was on backwards.

Actually, I wouldn't have noticed it at all if my daughter hadn't stated the obvious.

It was a test. She passed.

So, day 2 was spent ripping apart the binding.

Try using a seam ripper while on narcotics.

After my fingers were properly bandaged up, I decided to bag the binding until I was coherent enough to notice the obvious, and moved onto another project.

Apron #1

Apron #2

Apron #3

As long as my boys don't mind flowers and aprons, I may be further along on my Christmas shopping than I thought!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Menu Monday~12/6/10

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Mine was filled with narcotic-induced dreams and many trips to the bathroom.

And if you're new here, that will need an explanation...I had back surgery on Friday. It was a total and complete success. Since then, I've been sitting in my chair, drinking gallons of water, trying to purge the meds from my system.

Just before I take some more.

 Thank you for the prayers and well wishes.

And thank you Doctor for the oxycodone.

Seriously.

One of the highlights of my weekend was this...


...prepared by...


...Grizzly Adams!

Actually, this is my Mister. He looks scruffy because he's in a beard-growing contest at work. The winner of this contest gets to donate the "honey pot" to a charity.

I may need some charity, in the form of chapstick and lotion, if he keeps trying to smooch me with all that scruff! 

Back to the omelette...since I am unable to cook, my family has stepped up to the plate. Literally. My Mister actually looked up this recipe for Hawaiian Omelettes online, chose a 5-star recipe, then....

PREPARED IT!!!!

I love my Grizzly Mister.


Here's what's cookin' this week...

~Monday~
Soaked Oatmeal w/ blueberries
Egg salad sandwiches, applesauce
Fried elk steak, mashed potatoes/gravy, steamed broccoli

~Tuesday~
Egg salad sandwiches, raw carrots/hummus
Chicken Tortilla Soup, homemade tortilla strips (fried in beef tallow), Cornbread

~Wednesday~
leftover soup
Tortellini w/Pesto sauce and Kielbasa, spinach salad

~Thursday~
Cornmeal pancakes w/ Prune Syrup (still new!)
Toasted cheese sandwiches, applesauce
Meatloaf, Sourdough biscuits, green salad

~Friday~
Apple Cinnamon Biscuits (still new)
Organic sausages and lacto-fermented sauerkraut
Baked Spaghetti w/ Brown rice pasta (still new), green beans

~Saturday~
Meatloaf sandwiches, tangerines
Chili, cornbread

~Sunday~
Granola
Chili Nachos, Fruit smoothies

For more meal planning ideas, visit http://orgjunkie.com/2010/12/menu-plan-monday-dec-6th.html.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Tiny Break...


As you know, I've been having a few issues with my back.

A ruptured disc has been wreaking havoc and the time has come for it to stop.

After seeing a neurologist on Tuesday, the doctor determined that surgery would be my best option. And he finished his sentence with "A.S.A.P".

It does not stand for "After Supper, A Pie". Although, pie sounds pretty good right now. 

So, I will be taking a few days off to recuperate. I'm going to call it a mini-vacation.

And I'm putting in a request, to my daughters, for pie on Saturday.

I may even stand in the kitchen to eat it! 

Hope you all have a blessed weekend and I'll see you on Sunday!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cincinnati Chili



When our children get ready to move out, they make sure to grab their pillows, any furniture not in use, and this recipe.

That says a lot.

I know how important a good pillow can be.

While the flavor is to die for, I personally love Cincinnati Chili for something else entirely.

The way it makes my house smell.

Cincinnati Chili is comfort food for the body, mind and soul. It is a miracle food. This has the ability to take the chill out of the air, the ache out of the bones, and the crazy out of the head. 

Okay, that may have been a bit over the top, but since "smell-o-vision" is still a ways away from being available to the general public, this is all I've got. 

Have I mentioned that this has chocolate in it? 

Maybe it wasn't a bit much after all...

Cincinnati Chili

1-1/2 Tb. EVOO
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup plus 2 Tb chili powder
1-1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1-1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground cloves
1-1/2 bay leaf
1 oz. square unsweetened chocolate
4 cups beef broth
1-1/2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
3 Tb. apple cider vinegar
1/4 t. ground cayenne pepper
shredded cheddar cheese
Spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until tender.

Add beef and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned.

In a large pot, add chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, chocolate, beef broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Stir to mix well. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. (I like to put this in the crockpot and let it simmer all day for maximum scent benefit.)

Remove the bay leaf. Serve over hot, drained spaghetti noodles. Top with cheese.

This recipe makes 12 good-sized servings. Don't panic~This is even better as leftovers!

Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lime Crusted Mahi Mahi

Spending time in a chair leaves a lot of time for reflection.

Lately, all I can seem to reflect on is the kitchen.

Or my lack of participation in the kitchen.

It doesn't help that I've kept the t.v. tuned into the Food Network either. Those wackadoos make me feel completely incompetent and seriously lacking in the originality department. They're like the MacGyvers of food. A little twine, newspaper, corn and a match, and they've got a 3-course meal that people would pay big money for.

So, I decided to do a little creating of my own.

At first, it was only in my head. But then curiosity got the better of me, and with the help of a little Motrin, I made my own MacGyver original.

Sans the twine, newspaper, corn and match.

After all, a girl has to watch her figure.
~~~~~

Lime-Crusted Mahi Mahi

1 lb. wild-caught Mahi Mahi (I got mine from Trader Joe's)
1 organic lime, zest and juice
olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Heat a cast iron pan on medium until very hot. When it's hot, add tuna to pan.

Sear for 1 minute, flip over and sear other side for a minute more.



Drizzle olive oil lightly over fish. Be careful, it will spatter a little.

Sprinkle with salt & pepper.


Zest 1 lime.


Sprinkle half the zest over tuna; carefully turn fish over and add the rest of the zest. Let cook on each side for 1 minute.


Remove from heat.

Place on a plate and squeeze lime juice over fish.

Or...


...place the fish on a nice bed of greens, laced with black beans, green onion, raw cheese, fresh mushrooms, and hard-boiled egg for a low-carb, full-meal deal!


Salad dressing not required.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Menu Monday 11/29/10

AND WE'RE OFF....!!!!

Now that Thanksgiving is but a fading memory, except in the upper thigh area, the holiday rush can officially begin in my home.

As long as someone else is doing it.

Because sometimes life throws a curve-ball or two.

Actually, it feels as if the pitching machine was turned on "fast" and malfunctioned, pelting me with rotting, frayed, dog-slobbered balls....

A couple of weeks ago, my back decided to take the vacation that I had denied it all year. I can deal with that. After all, everyone needs a vacation now and again. But then, the "neighbor", we'll call him "Sciatica" for kicks, decided that he is far more deserving of this vacation, so he butts in and starts calling the shots.

I'm not really a fan of "Sciatica".

After enduring my first MRI, courtesy of our local hospital, I have been diagnosed with a ruptured disc in my lower back. It seems "Sciatica" had a little party and forgot to clean up, so now it looks as if a neurosurgeon gets the job. 

Just in time for the holidays.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, actually, seeing it here makes it more real for me. I'm not Wonder Woman. I can't do everything. I'm not even sure how all of this is going to play out. What I am sure of is that God is control of this situation. The important stuff will get done and the rest will just have to wait. 

I wasn't going to do a meal plan for this week, but my Mister reminded me that this is when meal planning is the most important. He also said it's important to let people see the "real me". 

I'll spare you the pictures.

You'll thank me for it.

So, here's the real me, planning a week's worth of meals, that my family will get the pleasure of preparing.

Kind of sounds like a vacation doesn't it?

Here's what's cooking...

~Monday~
Crockpot Salsa Chicken w/ Soaked Brown Rice, green salad

~Tuesday~
Turkey and Brown Rice Soup, Rustic Bread

~Wednesday~
Steel Cut Nutty Oats w/ bananas
Chuck Roast w/ potatoes & carrots, spinach salad

~Thursday~
Scrambled Eggs & Sausage
Salmon Quiche, Broccoli Salad, devilled eggs

~Friday~
Homemade Granola
Sloppy Joes, baked Sweet Potato Fries, lacto-fermented sauerkraut

~Saturday~
Yogurt/Granola Parfaits
Cheeseburger Soup, Rustic Bread

~Sunday~
Soaked Oatmeal
Chili, Cornbread

Lunches will be on a need-to-know basis...I don't really want to know...

...but the kids say they have it covered!

(Should I be afraid?)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving~Country Style!


How do you know you live in the country?

Turkey and brine cooling in the snow

When the front porch can double as an extra fridge!
~~~~~~

From our chaotic house to yours...


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raw Cranberry Relish

In honor of Thanksgiving and the cranberry that tries to be the shining star of the meal, I am reposting a recipe that I originally shared back in March. I'll be serving a traditional cranberry sauce, but will also serve this version, packed full of enzymes to help digest the rest of dinner.

Maybe the cranberry really is the shining star.

A few months ago, I decided to go "raw".

It lasted until dinnertime.

And, it was not one of my finer moments.

Since then, I have had great respect for anyone who feels convicted enough in their beliefs to choose a path and stick to it.

My path has lots of roots poking up out of the ground. I'm forever tripping over my own ideas and plans. I start down one path, see an obstacle, then switch paths, only to find myself switching back a little while later.

It makes me dizzy.

That's not to say that I am going back to raw. Hardly.

I like meat. And I like it cooked.

What I'm saying though, is with our experiment of eating fresh and local, I'll be adding some raw recipes to the mix. There will also be some steamed, sauteed, roasted, grilled, fried, baked and poached recipes. And whatever else I can come up with.

For dinner tonight, we enjoyed a roasted turkey, for no other reason than we had it in the freezer. We also had creamed, red, Swiss chard on fresh sourdough bread and raw cranberry relish on the side.

Since we have a freezer full of cranberries, we'll be enjoying this relish for awhile!


2 cups washed, raw cranberries (can be frozen, just thaw slightly)
2 peeled, cored Granny Smith apples (or other tart apple)
1 large, organic, unpeeled orange, cut into sections
1 cup organic sugar (I used the full cup, but next time will only use about half.)

Process the cranberries, apples and orange in food processor. Pulse until everything is chopped, but not mushy. I call it medium-chopped.

Pour into a bowl and add sugar. Stir well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

The colors were so brilliant, I wish they would've showed up better on film. Even outside, it's hard to convey just how pretty this is.

*Cranberries pack a nice little punch in the nutrition department.

Per 1 cup of raw cranberries:

44 calories
11.5 g. carbohydrates
4.4 g. fiber
8 mg. calcium
6 mg. magnesium
12 mg. phosphorus
81 mg. potassium
12.4 mg. vitamin c

Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicken Curry Soup



Snow, turkey and pie, oh my!

I've decided that turkey shouldn't be the only bird honored during, the month of November. Really, what has it done to deserve its own holiday? The turkey cannot fly, eats more than its fair share of feed and is rather particular about its love life.

The turkey isn't very cuddly either.


I'd like to officially nominate the lowly chicken as an honorary runner-up.

Before you scoff at my idea, think about all that a chicken does. It provides us with eggs. They are cute as babies, something that the turkey is not, and the chicken provides us with valuable fertilizer.

Not to mention delicious chicken strips. 

And the male chicken, (otherwise known as a "roo" to us country folk), provides us with something city folk can't experience.

A wake-up service.


Even if they can't tell time.

So, before you give all of your love and affection to the bird of Thanksgiving, give this soup a try.

It just may change your mind as to who is the most deserving bird.

Chicken Curry Soup
(*courtesy of Mary Jane's Farm magazine)

1 onion, diced
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
3 Tb. unsalted butter
3 Tb. curry powder
1 t. turmeric
2 cans coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14-15 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
2-4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (your preference)
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1/4 cup fresh, minced cilantro

In soup pot, saute onion, potato, carrot, celery, and red pepper in butter until celery and onions are soft.

Add spices and cook for additional minute.

Add coconut milk, broth and tomatoes; bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and cilantro and cook until heated through.

Serve with toasted coconut over the top. Serves 8.

 *This recipe was modified from its original version.

Enjoy!



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Menu Plan!


Can you believe that it's already Thanksgiving? While this is my absolute favorite holiday, there is something that I love more than turkey day.

SNOW!!




This will make butchering our Thanksgiving turkey more challenging, but snow is always welcome here.

Always.

Because it's not raining. And I have an excuse to drink hot chocolate. And it's not raining.

Did I already mention that? 

Last week, I was down with a pinched nerve in my back, so that meant the family ate whatever they prepared. 

It was almost a vacation. 

Except for the whole pain thing.

While preparing this week's meal plan, I realized that I haven't shared with you one of our favorite recipes! Cincinnati Chili is one of those comfort foods that tastes good in any season, but is especially wonderful when there is snow on the ground. And with over 300 blog posts under my belt, the fact that I haven't shared this is appalling.

I'll have to remedy that.

Here's what's cookin' this week...

~Monday~
Chili Nachos
Spicy Hoppin' John (still new!), cornbread

~Tuesday~
Scrambled eggs & sausage
 Leftover Spicy Hoppin' John
Corn & Bacon Chowder (I'll post the recipe on Wednesday!)

~Wednesday~
Cornmeal Pancakes w/Lumberjack Prune Syrup (still new!)
Leftover Chowder
Cincinnati Chili (new), spinach salad

~Thursday~
Thanksgiving Feast (see below)

~Friday~
Apple Coffeecake (still new!)
Leftover Cincinnati Chili
Leftovers

~Saturday~
Eggs & Sausage
Gobbler sandwiches on sourdough bread (turkey, Raw Cranberry Relish, cream cheese)
Turkey Pot Pie (new)

~Sunday~
Granola
Venison Stew, Buttermilk biscuits

Most of my Thanksgiving recipes come from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.

I think she may love Thanksgiving almost as much as I do.

~Thanksgiving Day Feast~

Roasted brussel sprouts
Mashed Potatoes w/ homemade turkey gravy



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving~A Meal of Love


If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you probably know that I've been out of commission this week. Due to a pinched nerve in my lower back, I've been spending a lot of time, well, on my back.

The couch is NOT my favorite place to be.

Sometimes though, something big has to happen for God to get my attention.

While I would prefer Him to whisper in my ear, the reality is that, on many days, I'm too busy to stop and listen.  

There is a song that describes life in the 21st. century by the country group, Alabama. "I'm in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush 'til life's no fun. All I really gotta do is, live and die. Even I'm in a hurry and don't know why."

This is the song I sing as we're driving, in rush hour, through Portland.

As of late, it's also the song that best describes my life. While watching a morning news/talk show, I realize that it's not just my mantra. It's the chosen lifestyle of many. Why? What are we hurrying towards? There was a segment on this show about Thanksgiving dinner. Specifically, how we busy Americans, who are always looking for a short-cut in our "I want it now" lives, can serve a Thanksgiving feast with just a few clicks of the mouse.

I'm not talking about the creepy little 4-legged ones either.

It seems, that entire turkey dinners can be ordered online and delivered right to our doors, leaving more time for us to do more stuff.

Because we can never have enough stuff.

Whatever happened to teaching our sons and daughters to be stewards of the earth? What about teaching our sons to be providers and leaders of the family, or our daughters to be keepers of the home? Are we so busy that all we can pass down to our children are more ways to cut corners, meet deadlines, or have someone else do our jobs?

Have you ever gone to a super Walmart and seen someone pay for their food with government assistance, but then pay cash for a big-screen t.v.? I have. We're raising a generation of lazy people. People who think that they have earned the right to be catered to. At someone else's expense.

We're not born that way. It is a learned behaviour.

Has the value of family life dropped in recent years? Is our personal time worth more than time spent serving our families? Why is it easier for some to donate to a favorite charity, but more difficult to model charity in their own homes?

The hostess of this morning show stated that, "...it takes 4 hours to prepare the meal, 1 hour to eat it, and another 4 for the clean-up. Happy Thanksgiving." [implied: "to me".]

If you're rushed for time during this holiday season, step back and take a good look at your life. What are you choosing? Is it a life of joy or one of duty? Are you preparing a meal out of love or is it just something that needs to be done?

The first Thanksgiving wasn't one of convenience. It was a meal, prepared by many, using the things that they had on hand, or were able to obtain with a shotgun. I am sure that there were no guest lists, caterers, or Black Friday sales to worry about. Just a simple meal, prepared by simple people, who came together for one simple reason.

To give thanks. 

This Thanksgiving, I am not only thankful for my family and friends, but am also thankful for my time  spent on the couch.

What race are you running?