Monday, May 31, 2010

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday: Banana-Chocolate Cookies

Day 152.

I've learned that a diet high in animal products doesn't work for me. When my husband started following the Atkins diet, I naturally started eating more meats, cheeses, and other animal products and my health worsened. So, I pulled back. Lately, I've been searching out meat-free alternatives because I feel better when I eat more plant-based foods.

Let's face it, though: Every way of eating MUST include chocolate. I found this recipe for vegan banana-chocolate chip cookies and tweaked it to my liking. They turned out pillowy, moist, sweet, and satisfying. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Healthier Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

What You Need:
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (you can use cow's milk if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mash your bananas. Add milk and peanut butter. Stir well to combine.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Add all at once to dry ingredients. Stir to combine.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop by tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes.

Need more tempation? Visit Blessed with Grace for more nummies.



A few days ago I posted my monthly shopping trip and mentioned that I scored 25 pounds of fresh Georgia peaches for roughly 50 cents per pound. :o) Today, I spent about an hour turning half of them into freezer jam. This was my first time making jam. It was so easy a child could do it. As a matter of fact, I did enlist the help of my two daughters. We all got sticky together.

The scent of ripe peaches filled the air in our home all afternoon. It was heavenly.

Being that it's summertime, many of us will come into bounties of fresh fruit. One way to extend the life of that fruit is through freezer jam. You don't need any special canning equipment and it takes only three ingredients to do. Here's how it's done:

  1. Peel your peaches. You're going to need four cups' worth of mashed peaches. This was about 18 peaches for me. Remove the pits and dump them in chunks into a large bowl.
  2. Mash them really well with a potato masher. I left lots of chunks in my jam because I like chunky spreads, but let your taste buds guide you.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cup sugar with a packet of pectin (I found one specially formulated for freezer jams).
  4. Stir together the mashed fruit and the sugar-pectin mixture. Stir for three minutes.
  5. Funnel into jelly jars.     I found these lovely plastic freezer-safe jelly jars made by Ball. Leave 1/2" head space in each jar. Seal the jars.
  6. Let the jam sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or until thickened.
  7. Refrigerate or freeze. The label on the pectin says that the jam will keep for three weeks in the fridge or a year in the freezer.
*I had a little leftover mashed peach mixture so I plopped it into popsicle molds for homemade all fruit popsicles for the kids.

Menu Plan Monday 5/31 - 6/6 AND Weekly Garden Update

It's that time again. Time for another menu plan. Here are some of the foods we enjoyed this week:

The kids are out of school, so my menus require more structure to keep me on track. Now, there's no guarantee I'll stick to this very menu, but I'm going to try.


Breakfast: cheesy scrambled eggs & tortillas; juice; strawberries (all breakfasts are eggs for husband on Atkins)
Lunch: macaroni and cheese; cucumber rounds; grapes; tomato slices; cookie; water (all lunches for husband are tuna or egg salad)
Dinner: Lentil Rice Soft Tacos (Bunless Burgers with Lettuce for Husband)
Planned Snacks and Dessert: watermelon; plums; popsicles; carrot sticks; Chocolate-Banana Cookies


Breakfast: cinnamon coffee cake; milk; blueberries
Lunch: grilled cheese; tomato soup; honeydew melon; water
Dinner: Mexican Pizza (Bunless Burgers with Lettuce for Husband)
Planned Snacks and Dessert: watermelon; popsicles; Chocolate-Banana Cookies


Breakfast: sweet potato pancake with cinnamon butter; peaches; milk
Lunch: macaroni and cheese; apple slices; cucumber rounds; cookie; water
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers; Roasted Brussels sprouts; Chili Potato Wedges (meatballs for husband)
Planned Snacks and Dessert: bean & cheese quesadillas; oranges; popsicles


Breakfast: toast with jam; yogurt with fresh berries; juice
Lunch: leftovers from dinner; fresh fruit; water
Dinner: Cheese Manicotti; salad; garlic bread (meatballs for husband)
Planned Snacks and Dessert: oranges; popsicles; plums; quesadillas


Breakfast: breakfast enchiladas; grapes; milk
Lunch: fresh veggie salad; bread sticks; cookie; juice
Dinner: Red beans & rice served with lettuce and tomato; tortillas (pork chops for husband)
Planned Snacks and Dessert: oranges; popsicles; strawberries


Breakfast: fried egg sandwiches; strawberries; milk
Lunch: fruit salad; cucumber and tomato rounds; cheese cubes; crackers; water
Dinner: brats & burgers (some beef, some veggie); baked potatoes; fruit salad
Planned Snacks and Dessert: yogurt with honey; popsicles; cheese crackers


Breakfast: baked oatmeal; honeydew melon; juice
Lunch: leftovers from dinner; fresh fruit; water
Dinner: Creamy Peanut Soup; PB&J sammies; apples (chicken wings for husband)
Planned Snacks and Dessert: yogurt with honey; honeydew melon; peach sorbet

A quick update on our patio garden:

We determined that our pepper and tomato plants were being viciously attacked by relentless aphids and cutworms and have begun taking action against them!

So far, we've enjoyed the following from our garden:
  • 7 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 green onion
  • lots of chives, basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, and thyme
  • 3 sweet banana peppers
  • 3 strawberries
  • 2 Serrano peppers
Not much...but it's ours, and the flavors can't be beaten.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Breakfast and Bites Around the Blogosphere

Day 150.

Yesterday, I got my very first fire ant bite since moving to Georgia almost a year ago. The little devil bit me on my Achilles tendon and it's been swelling, itching, and hurting ever since. Anyone have a home remedy for ant bites?

Here's a recipe for some yummy, healthier waffles to kick-start your Sunday. The cook up puffy, fluffy, and aromatic. Enjoy them with apple butter, honey, or maple syrup...or just by themselves.

Apple-Cinnamon Waffles

What You Need:
  • 2 cups flour (use all-purpose, whole wheat, or a combination of the two)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (you can actually omit this entirely if you'd like!)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • dash of sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat your waffle iron.
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with milk. Stir in applesauce.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients.
  5. Pour 1/3 cup batter onto a standard size waffle iron and cook as manufacturer suggests.

Bites Around the Blogosphere
A weekly segment in which I recommend delicious recipes and articles around the blogosphere.

  1. Little Calf, Little Calf Bento Lunch at A Pocket Full of Buttons
  2. Sweet and Spicy Shrimp at Andrea the Kitchen Witch
  3. Homemade Ding Dongs at Beantown Baker
  4. Fried Ice Cream at Christy
  5. Thai Chicken Pizza at Confessions of a Bake-Aholic
  6. Penne A la Vodka at Jenn's Food Journey
  7. Broccoli with Bacon and Breadcrumb Topping at Mennonite Girls Can Cook
  8. Blueberry and Cheese Rolls at Out of the Box Into the Kitchen

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Shopping Day

Day 148.

It's my mega shopping day today. Remember that I don't usually use coupons. I probably could do better if I did, but I am awfully particular about my shopping so couponing isn't the best match for me. I shop twice per month: one mega trip early in the month, and one small trip mid-month.

Here's what I bought:

from the local health foods store:
  • organic green lentils
  • organic quinoa
  • organic cocoa powder
  • aluminum-free baking powder
  • aluminum-free baking soda
  • 2 packs of dehydrated sugar snap peas
  • organic chia seeds
  • energy drink for husband
  • organic Jammie Sammies (2 boxes) for kids
  • Ener G egg replacer
  • natural root beer for kids
total spent: $44.34

local farmer's market:
  • 25 pounds of peaches for $13.95!!!
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • bananas
  • 4 big tomatoes
  • huge watermelon
  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • honeydew melon
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 bunches broccoli
  • 2 bunches green onion
  • salad dressing
  • quart of honey
  • pickled jalapeno peppers
  • yellow onions
  • celery
  • russet potatoes
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 2 quarts strawberries
  • 12 plums
  • 3 kiwis
  • 6 oranges
  • 2 lb carrots
  • 3 lemons
  • pecans
  • walnuts
  •  fresh ginger
  • 2 lb cherries
total spent: $96.41

grocery store:
  • Tropicana light fruit punch on sale for $1 (3)
  • almond milk
  • vanilla almond milk
  • apple juice
  • gallon milk
  • plain Greek yogurt (organic)
  • 24 ct Charmin toilet paper
  • olive oil mayo
  • 5 dozen eggs
  • sour cream
  • tub butter
  • mozzarella
  • white American cheese
  • ketchup
  • hot sauce
  • butter (3 lb)
  • cheddar cheese (3 lb)
  • turkey smoked sausage
  • freezer bags (for my peaches!)
  • Splenda (hate the stuff, but Hubs uses it)
  • 5 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • manicotti
  • organic whole wheat flour
  • mustard
  • Parmesan cheese
  • mac & cheese (cheap brand, moment of weakness for kids)
  • dry red beans
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • organic graham flour
  • all-purpose flour
  • sugar
  • Oreo pudding (moment of weakness! long day!)
  • bandages
  • pocky x2
  • salsa
  • penne
  • spaghetti
  • tomato sauce x4
  • tuna x8
  • apple cider vinegar
  • olive oil
  • dish soap
  • diced tomatoes x3
total spent: $141.82

Plus nearly $100 at a German grocer -- we seem to have lost the receipt and I can't recall everything we bought, but it included wieners, brats, breads, coffee, treats, cheeses, and sausages.

 total today: Roughly 382.57

A trip tomorrow to Publix for some ground meat and a few other things will set us most of the month. :)

Ahem. A quick edit here. That quick trip to Publix took us an hour and we spent nearly $200. Ouch. We've over budget this month. I decided to go ahead and include all of my husband's Atkins needs in our budget, because it's obviously a part of our food budget. Asterisks denote things bought purely because he needs them on his diet plan.

  • natural peanut butter x2
  • tic tacs lol
  • Hersey chocolate bar 6 pack x2
  • parchment paper
  • 8 ears of fresh corn
  • candy bar at checkstand (that and tic tacs were a treat for kids)
  • old fashioned oats
  • window cleaner
  • Greek yogurt (on sale $1 each) x5
  • grade b maple syrup
  • Spanish peanuts
  • Brussels sprouts
  • sour cream
  • butter
  • hot dogs
  • Atkins bars x2*
  • powdered sugar
  • diet sodas x6*
  • vegetable oil 
  • pork roast*
  • mozarella
  • baby back ribs*
  • ground chuck x3#*
  • corn tortillas
  • flour tortillas
  • low carb tortillas x2*
  • pickle & pepper loaf*
  • mesquite smoked turkey*
  • pepper jack cheese*
  • cheddar cheese x3
  • peas x3
  • flat bread x2
  • freezer packs x2
  • ranch salad dressing*
  • creamy Italian dressing*
  • pepperoni*
  • mayonnaise (B1G1F)x2
  • low carb pita*
  • jalapeno jack cheese @ deli*
  • 3 pack dishcloths
  • lime
  • avocado
  • 1/2 & 1/2
total at Publix was supposed to be around $50 but came to $180.69

for a total spent so far for June of $563.26 :(

Well.... at least some of the things will last longer than June. Still...we're going to end up way over budget for the month.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ahh Fatso! Eat Something!

Day 147.

My paternal grandmother died years ago. I have fond memories of visiting her in the basement of her tenement home, which she owned and shared with several of her adult children. She lived modestly, but cooked feasts for anyone gracing her doorway. At minimum, a guest would be served sweet bread (with a whole egg cooked in the middle), cheese & "pops" (Portuguese rolls, and the cheese was St. George), and rice pudding. You were also likely to be served linguica, kale soup, or octopus.

She called everyone Fatso. It was a term of endearment, said lovingly in broken English. "Ahhh, Fat-SO! Eat something!"

My grandmother came to the United States from Portugal in search of a better life for her family. She raised many children. She owned a home. She attended church every Sunday (and probably even more frequently than that). She wore black to mourn the death of her husband. She spoke broken English all her life. She wore thick glasses and she loved Portuguese soap operas. She sang Portuguese songs and almost always wore a smile. And she made the best darned sweet rice I've ever eaten. This is not her recipe, but I duplicate it in her honor. It's as close as I can seem to get.

Portuguese Sweet Rice in a Slow Cooker

What You Need:
  • 7 cups of milk
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 more cup of milk
  • a stick of cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • a long strip of lemon peel
  • ground cinnamon for serving
How it's Done:
  1. Combine 7 cups of milk, the rice, the sugar, the lemon peel, and the stick of cinnamon in a large slow cooker. Cook on high 4 hours. Stir.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the beaten eggs, 1 cup milk, and vanilla extract. Temper in the egg (this means slowly add some hot rice & milk to the cold egg and milk, stirring constantly, until the egg mixture is the same temperature as the hot rice mixture. Then, stir the egg mixture back into the crock).
  3. Cover and cook on high another hour to two hours. Remove lemon peel and cinnamon stick.
  4. Serve covered in ground cinnamon, either hot, room temperature, or chilled.
For more delicious recipes, visit Diary of a Stay at Home Mom and  Joy of Desserts.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waste-free School Lunches

Day 146.

I'm not the greenest mom on the block. There's much more I could do to live a greener lifestyle. But one thing I'm adamant about is packing a waste-free lunch. I haven't always felt this way, but throughout the school year, I couldn't help but notice how many plastic zip-top bags, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil we were using in our children's school lunches!

I was being frugal by not purchasing ready-made snacks and drinks, but our typical school lunch consisted of the following:
  • a sandwich in a zip-top bag
  • carrots or other crunchy veggie in a zip-top bag
  • fruit (in its own wrapper most times)
  • a snack - muffin, cookie, bar - in a zip-top bag
  • juice or milk in a thermos
  • paper napkin
If I made that lunch each of the 180 school days for my two children, we would have used 1,080 zip-top bags and 360 napkins! And that's just in one school year.

I'm converted. I believe in waste-free school lunches. So I've spent the past two months researching various companies, trying to decide which lunch system would work best for us. I had them narrowed down to a few companies.

Then, I won an Easy Lunchbox System, courtesy of Kelly at Easy Lunchbox, at a giveaway held by Keli of Feeding Four.

I'd seen a few reviews of the Easy Lunchbox System around the web, and was curious about it, but not ready to commit to a purchase because of my reservations. I was worried that the containers would feel flimsy and breakable, in particular.

I'm glad I had the chance to try it out! I'd like to share with you my thoughts on the system. Here are the pros and cons as I see them:

  • They cost less than most of the other lunch systems I'm considering. A set of 4 containers with lids runs $13.95. The cooler that fits the containers perfectly costs $7.95.
  • They're just the right size for lunch. There are three compartments of varying size. The cooler comfortably holds the container, a thermos, a piece of fruit, a napkin, utensils, and an ice pack.
  • They are free of BPA, PVC, lead, phthalates, and vinyl.
  • They're dishwasher safe.
  • The lids are colorful, which my girls loved. They enjoyed choosing which color to take to school with them the past two days.
  • The lids are easy for tiny hands to open and close easily.
  • the containers are NOT flimsy at all. I was expecting the tray those Lunchables by Oscar Meyer come in, but they are harder plastic and feel much more substantial and durable.
  • This is a big one for me: The containers are manufactured in China. I really am trying to buy USA-made as much as possible.
  • The lids don't fit completely securely. I would not suggest this as a lunch kit for a rough and tumble child who is likely to flip his lunchbox upside-down. If they're kept in the cooler, straight in like intended, they won't spill. But kids don't always follow those rules, do they?
  • The container is not leak-proof. See last point. Today, I sent the girls with pudding, but I put a small piece of waxed paper over the pudding to secure it. It's advised that you use a small piece of plastic wrap over any semi-liquid foods and you're not supposed to put liquids in the compartments.
In all, I'm pleased with my winnings! I've had fun creating waste-free lunches for my girls the last two days. I wish school wasn't ending tomorrow so I could play some more! Next school year, I'll keep using this lunch system, as well as keep my plans to buy a couple different ones. Maybe early next fall I'll compare the ones I choose.

Here are a couple of the lunches I made this week:

Main compartment: Egg Salad on lettuce with homemade Wheat Crackers. Side compartments: homemade Granola and cucumber rounds. A thermos of milk, some grapefruit, and a cloth napkin added to cooler.

Main compartment: Salad consisting of lettuce, cucumbers, carrot shreds, corn, wheat germ, dried cranberries, and cheese; homemade flat bread. Sides: Homemade vanilla pudding with jimmies; grapefruit. Thermos of milk and a cloth napkin added to cooler.

*Although I won this lunch system at a giveaway, I was not compensated for my review. My opinions are strictly my own.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's Tuesday Tag-Along Time!

Tuesday Tag-Along

Here's how it works:

Create a new Tuesday Tag-Along blog post. Include the Tuesday Tag-Along button by copying and pasting the code above. (You are also welcome to copy and paste these instructions in their entirety, or any portion of this Tuesday Tag-Along blog post!)

Add your blog name and the URL of your TTA post to the MckLinky below.

Follow Twee Poppets, the hostess blog listed in the first slot. Twee Poppets will follow you back! (Note: If you want Twee Poppets to follow you back, you MUST leave her a comment saying that you are a new follower and leave a link to your blog!)

If you can, please follow the blogs in the three slots before you (e.g., if you're number 20, follow numbers 19, 18, and 17). This is not mandatory, but it will help ensure that everyone who signs up gets a few new followers!

Follow as many other blogs as you want. The more you follow, the more that will follow you back! Be sure to tell them that you're following from Tuesday Tag-Along! You may also want to leave a link to your blog so they can return your follow more easily.

When you get a new follower through Tuesday Tag-Along, be sure to follow them back! It's just common courtesy. :)

Won't you join me in my quest for new blogger friends?

Am I a Hippie?

Day 145.

Sometimes, making something from scratch is not the most economical choice. Sometimes, making something from scratch takes so long, so many ingredients, and so much money that it's not technically worth pursuing.

Except that when I duplicate something previously thought impossible, regardless of time and money input, it feels really good to "stick it to The Man." I love being able to say, "No, we don't buy ___. I make my own," not because it makes me feel superior to those who buy instead of make, but because I love how freeing it is to stop relying on the major food companies for my needs.

I love one of Michael Pollan's food rules, which says something to the effect of: Don't eat things advertised on television. He also lists a rule about eating all the junk you long as you make it yourself and only eat it while hungry.

So today I present you with my own homemade junk. Only, when I made it, and ate it, it didn't feel junky. I made Wheat Thin knock-offs. I love Wheat Thins, but I hate the layer of grease that forms on my hand while I eat them. They claim that they're never fried, so where does the grease come from?

Homemade wheat crackers may not be the wisest use of my time, but the taste can't be beat (and it's very, very similar to Wheat Thins, minus the grease), and it feels so good to not need to buy them anymore.

Wheat Crackers
from Yankee Magazine

What You Need:
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ (I used raw)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup oil (I used coconut)
  • 1 cup water
  • coarse sea salt for topping (optional)
How it's Done:
  1. Mix all ingredients except for the coarse sea salt. Let the dough rest five minutes. Divide it in half.
  2. Roll each half of the dough out onto a flat cookie sheet to under 1/8" thickness. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares. You don't have to separate them. They will shrink up a bit and separate themselves in the oven.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Flip the crackers over and bake for five minute intervals, checking the crackers and removing the crisp ones as they are ready.
  4. The crackers will be toasted and hard when they're ready.

For more tempting recipes, visit Temp My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with Grace.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Eating a (Primarily) Plant-Based Diet

Day 144.

It's a natural tendency for me. I don't eat meat on bones. Fat on meat disgusts me. I don't like any seafood -- anything at all that lives in water, for that matter. I don't care for the taste of chicken or pork. I do love a juicy Porterhouse steak (after my darling husband has removed the bone for me), and I love me a good burger. I love crispy bacon, but only if it doesn't have that bit of mushy fat at the end that doesn't crisp up.

Gee, I wonder where Picky Eater gets her tendencies?

But really, it's natural for me to want to move toward a plant-based diet. The catch is that my husband loves all meats and sea foods and always will. So, in order for me to be able to eat what I want, I am looking at duplicate cooking most nights. (I cook in the house. It's how it works here. Please don't see me as the Little Wife in the kitchen -- I'm not. ;) It's just my contribution. He works, I cook.)

My husband isn't the type to refuse food if it's not meat and potatoes. He loves casseroles, beans, even lentils! But right now he's low carbin' it so it'll be tricky. While our dinner cooked tonight I pan-fried him a  steak and a couple eggs and served some broccoli for greenery.

Batch cooking is going to work well for us during this diet. A big batch of low-carb meatballs should last him a week or so. Meanwhile, I can cook more meatless meals for the rest of us.

Here's what we had tonight:

Vegetarian Stuffed Shells
serves 8

What You Need:
  • 1 package jumbo shells, cooked al dente, drained, and rinsed in cold water
  • 4 cups of cooked, drained beans (2 cans will work) -- I used half pinto, half Great Northern for color
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 16 oz cottage cheese (or ricotta, or tofu)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Saute the onion in the melted butter for a few minutes, until the onion is see-through. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach, beans, garlic, 2 tsp of the Italian seasoning, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar, and the egg.
  3. Stir together the tomato sauce with the remaining 1 tsp Italian seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  4. Fill each shell with the bean mixture and set them, sides touching, in a 9x11" baking dish with high sides.
  5. Pour tomato sauce evenly over the shells. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar.
  6. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until heated through and bubbling.

Menu Plan Monday 5/24 - 5/30 AND Garden Update

Weeks ago, I shared with you my letter to Carrino's Restaurant. I hadn't heard back from them, so I wrote to them again, telling them that I'd shared my disappointment with you, my readers, and had received comments that others had experienced similar treatment. I finger-wagged them in my second letter, pretty harshly, but calmly. Almost instantly, the manager of my local Carrino's was on the phone with me.

She apologized over and over again, and told me she wanted to make this right. She said she was putting a "Be Our Guest" card in the mail worth $60 for us to come enjoy a meal on the house. I haven't received it yet, but I will let you know when I do, and how my visit goes.

On to menu planning: Last week went well, but I have one complaint: I'm sick of cooking hunks of meat for my husband who's following Atkins as a means to lose weight. Hunks of meat are boring. Hunks of meat hold little appeal for me. So I talked it over with him and he doesn't mind eating things several days in a row. Therefore, I'm going to start batch cooking for his meals. I'm making him strips of steak he can add to salads, meatballs, and more, all in one big cooking batch. Then, his meals are ready and I can focus on creating meals for us girls, heavy on the plants and light on the meat.

Here are some of the things we enjoyed this week:

Chocolate Cake (in a parfait with peanut butter frosting)

And here is a garden update for this week!

This is one of my bell pepper plants. Can anyone tell me why it drops all its leaves but the very top ones and drops baby peppers every time they pop up? What can I do?

My Serrano peppers are doing well. We just don't know when to pick them. They don't seem to be growing much anymore so I assume they're ready. I'm going to give them until tomorrow to see if they do anymore growing. If not, I'll pick them.

That's Picky Eater picking one of our first ripe cherry tomatoes. It could have done with a couple more days on the vine, but it was ready enough.

She was very excited...and nervous...about trying her first vine-fresh cherry tomato. But she was set on trying the second tomato (her sister got the first one). She's never liked tomatoes, but I encouraged her to try it because backyard fresh is so much different than supermarket purchased.

So, she tried it. And didn't like it. But at least she tried. :)

Here's my menu plan for the week. Please stop back by throughout the week for tasty recipes and photos. And for more menu plan inspiration, hop on over to orgjunkie. Happy cooking!

  • Cranberry-Orange Granola with Homemade Yogurt and Honey
  • Vanilla Scones & grapefruit halves
  • Garlic Cheddar Biscuits with Scrambled Egg
  • Breakfast Enchiladas
  • Blueberry Pancakes
  • Rice pudding & grapefruit halves
  • leftover breakfast items
  • eggs all week for husband

Lunches at home and school:
  • egg salad with wheat crackers (on lettuce for husband); carrots with ranch to dip; butterscotch pudding
  • oat burgers on buns with cheese and onion (leftovers for husband)
  • popcorn soup (leftovers for husband)
  • pasta salad with tuna and beans (tuna and beans on lettuce for husband); carrots; a cookie
  • leftovers other days

  • bean & cheese stuffed shells (husband: steak and cabbage); cabbage, and corn
  • taco potatoes (taco salad for husband); oven-roasted broccoli; creamed corn (for kids and me)
  • low-carb meatloaf; lemon pepper green beans; mashed potatoes (for kids & me)
  • meatballs (low-carb); dipping sauce; green beans; rice
  • black-eyed peas, veggies, and bread
  • steak & potato burritos (no potato and no tortilla for husband) with lettuce and vine-ripened tomatoes
  • clean out the fridge night

Snacks and Baking:
  • baked potato wedges
  • homemade toaster pastries
  • focaccia rounds
  • blondies
  • pinwheels
  • wheat crackers
  • flax crackers

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bites Around the Blogosphere...But First, Some Breakfast.

Breakfast. It's important. Filling up your tank after a long night's fast is important for your bodily functions. Breakfast helps you think clearer, be in a better mood, and work more efficiently. Find something you like and eat it this morning. It doesn't have to be a breakfast food. If grilled cheese and tomato soup call to you, have some. Try not to be called to the candy bars...but do eat something. Here's a little something to get you started:

Vanilla Scones

What You Need:
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups cups all-purpose (or use whole wheat, or half white, half wheat)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chilled butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 vanilla bean (just the scrapings)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
for the icing:
  • powdered sugar
  • enough milk to make a pourable icing
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour (start with 2 1/2 cups), sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add cubes of butter. Cut them in until they're tiny bits smaller than peas. I like to pinch it in with my fingers so that I can properly judge how big they are.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg. Add milk, vanilla scrapings, and vanilla extract. Pour into dry mixture and stir to combine.
  5. The dough should begin to form a ball. If it's too wet still, add additional flour.
  6. Knead a few times...maybe ten times total. Divide dough in half.
  7. Pat each half into a circle 1" thick on the greased cookie sheet. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut into wedges just like pizza. Don't separate them.
  8. Bake 20 minutes or until just lightly golden on top.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool five minutes before icing.
  10. For the icing, combine powdered sugar with milk until the desired consistency is met. Pour onto scones. You can add some vanilla extract to the icing for even more vanilla flavor if you'd like.

And now, for some delicious bites around the blogosphere. These are some delectable tidbits I found this week:

Happy Cooking! See you throughout the week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Come Check it Out

Keli at Feeding Four asked me to guest post on her blog. Won't you head on over and check it out? Keli uses coupons, sales matching, and rebates to feed her family of four on $25 a week! I was honored when she asked me to write an article for her blog.
So head on over there for an excellent recipe and money-saving tips on buying in the meat department.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

When Just a Bit Will Do

Day 140.

Picky Eater is in a musical today with her gifted class at school. She's worked so hard since January on this and my husband and I are so proud of her. She's been belting out tunes from the production all year, practicing enunciating her line and all of the songs, doing her choreographed moves throughout the house. I can't wait to see it all come together tonight. She plays a Celtic woman. :)

To celebrate, her daddy is picking up flowers and I am making a special dessert: individual trifles. It's just the four of us, and one of us can't eat cake. Not wanting a bunch of leftovers sitting around begging to be eaten, I made this recipe. It makes a small loaf cake (or you could use it to make cupcakes or a single 8" round cake). Perfect for my purposes. Perfect for a small family celebration.

Small Recipe Chocolate Cake

What You Need:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water
How it's Done:
  1. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add all at once to dry ingredients and whisk briskly for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour hot water into batter and stir to combine.
  4. Pour into a greased 9x5" loaf pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
I used this recipe to make peanut butter cup trifles. Layers of peanut butter frosting, chocolate cake, and whipped cream. Decadent. :o)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My First Tuesday Tag-Along

Tuesday Tag-Along

Tuesday Tag-Along is a blog carnival designed to meet new bloggers, find great new blogs, and get more followers. I've never done this before, but I'm looking for new reading material, and always welcome new readers, so here goes!

Wanna join in? Just click on the image and head on over to Twee Poppets!

How to Feed a Meat-a-Tarian

Day 138.

Were you around when I talked about my husband's decision to do Atkins to lose some weight? It's been a challenge to get him properly fed while also properly feeding the kids and me, but I've done okay so far. Many times, this means making two meals. Thankfully, my husband isn't terribly fussy, and some fried eggs and bacon have passed his lips on numerous occasions. Sometimes, I get lucky and make something that I don't mind eating, too. Yesterday, for lunch, was one such occasion.

The cheese crackers are simple to make and satisfy the need to crunch without adding many carbs. They taste a lot like CheezIts.

Chicken Spread with Cheese Crackers

What You Need:

for the spread:
  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast (bones and skin removed)
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • a handful of fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheese (I had cheddar out, so I used it)
  • 1/2 a large onion, cut into chunks
for the crackers:
  • cheese
  • that's it
How it's Done:
  1. In your food processor, combine all ingredients for chicken spread. Process two minutes, or until smooth. Scoop into serving dishes and top with a sprig of dill.
  2. For the crackers: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour a tablespoon of shredded cheese onto the hot skillet. Cook until the bottom is browned and the top is all bubbles. Carefully scrape the "cracker" off the skillet and flip it over. Cook it another 30 seconds or so. Move to plate and continue with the cheese, until you've made enough crackers.
  3. Serve the crackers with the spread.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Silly Warning Labels

Day 137.

Have you ever paid attention to some of the warning labels on merchandise? Here's a few I can remember:

  • On a fishing lure: Caution! Harmful if swallowed.
  • On a stroller: Remove child before folding.
  • On a hair dryer: Do not use while bathing.
  • An iron: never iron clothing while it is being worn.
  • On a wheelbarrow: Not intended for highway use.
  • On a Dremmel tool: Not for use as a dental drill.
  • Christmas Lights: WARNING! For indoor or outdoor use ONLY!
  • Car window sunscreen: Do not operate car with screen in place.
Pretty funny, right? But you know that there's always a reason for those weird labels. Someone had to be dumb enough to do that stuff and sue the company over it before the company had to put those warnings in place.

Here's another warning:

This warning it on the back of my can of sweetened condensed milk.

Call me a rule breaker, or a label maker. I heated it in the can and it was wonderful. Note: I do not advise you to heat your sweetened condensed milk in its can. No, I would never advise you to use your slow cooker and a can of sweetened condensed milk to make luscious dulce de leche that's so tasty you can scarcely let it cool enough so as not to burn your tongue before diving into it.

Because the can says you should never do that.


...But if you were interested, for purely scientific reasons, about how mine turned out, it would only be fair for me to show you, right?

So first, you'll want to peel off the label. That way, the pesky warning isn't staring your defiance in the face the whole time. Set it on an old rag in your slow cooker. If you don't, you'll end up with a weird ring where the metal of the can meets the crock. Fill the crock with water. Cover it and heat it on low for 8 to 10 hours or so.
Take it out with tongs. It's hot. Open it up. Mine squirted hot caramel at me when I punctured the can, so be careful.
Try not to eat the whole thing at once, and maybe you can use it to make these delicious brownies:

Dulce de Leche Brownies
What You Need:
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square 8" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Beat butter, eggs, and sugar together. Add vanilla.
  3. Stir in cocoa powder, sea salt, and flour.
  4. Spread batter in prepared pan. Dot with dulce de leche. Use a knife to create some swirls with it, but leave some of it in clumps, too.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Allow the brownies to cool before cutting. If you can.

*NEW!* Stay current on what's cooking!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Related Posts with Thumbnails