Monday, December 19, 2011

There's a shot glass in my salad



I have a super thrifty lunch packing idea for you today!
So, we all know how if you put your dressing on your salad and pack it for lunch later how soggy your greens will get, right?  They make wonderful little containers with special compartments for salad dressing, but I have to admit - it's a little more than I want to spend and often they don't fit well in the dishwasher.

So the other day, I thought - why not use a shot glass to hold the dressing?  It was easy peasy and I knew exactly how many ounces of dressing I had.  As you can see, I basically just put it in my container then put the salad in around it, slapped on the top and it kept until lunch time.  So good!  The shot glass is also dishwasher safe so easy clean up to boot!

I also have to share about my darling friend at work who brings in goodies every holiday.  Her thing is really baking - she is a mad cake decorator.  But, being gluten free of course I can't have cakes.
  

But, the sweetheart she is, she started bringing me peanut brittle! And it is magical!  She also made me fudge a couple years ago, which was even better.  I'm hoping for more of that one day :)

She did share something with me though - a friend of hers has kids who are gluten, nut and dairy free yet she feeds them Oreo cookies.  Now,I'm not here to judge but I had to say that I hate it when people do that! Dawn thought Oreos are gluten/nut/dairy free - assuming that this woman who grills everyone on what is being fed to her kids wouldn't stray from those restrictions. Obviously, I told her that if she ever brought me Oreos as a treat, I'd promptly freak out and she should be sure to slap some sense into her friend who was either lying to the world or unwittingly poisoning her kids on a regular basis.

*jumping off the soap box* 

Back to the point - what kind of lunch box tips do you have?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't forget to take a vitamin with your pie for breakfast


The best thing about Thanksgiving leftovers is having pie for breakfast, just be sure to take a vitamin to alleviate any guilt.  Plus, it's sweet potato pie, which is really good for a person.
I got my recipe here and made a couple changes for my tastes, of course: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/old-fashioned-sweet-potato-pie-recipe/index.html
I figured Paula Deen wouldn't steer a girl wrong when it came to pie, would she? No she didn't!
I skipped meringue, obvs and whipped some coconut cream up instead. Also, instead of regular milk, I used coconut milk so that it would be gluten free and dairy free for me :)  Turned out perfect and delicious!
I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free biscuit and baking mix for the crust. 
Tastes just like every pie crust I ever remember.  I never did like pie crust.
Here's my leftover sampler. Mashed potatoes (made with vegetable broth instead of water for some extra kick, yes, they were instant.), the curried cornbread stuffing I always make, Kentucky Legend brand pre-cooked turkey breast and green beans with shallots and toasted almonds. Of course there were 5 kinds of wine and Irish whiskey for the Irish Coffee.

I'm already planning for next year. I think I'll do a different stuffing and no pie. Any suggestions for desserts other than pie?
BTW, the pre-made turkey isn't out of lazy (although it is super convenient) it's because I don't really care for turkey and suspect I'm allergic to it like chicken so I opt out of the stress trying to cook one.  I ask my dad to make one like he used to every year, and he always declines, so the Kentucky Legend must be good enough.
I guess when Celiac took over my life and now everything has to be gluten free, he has passed the torch of cooking holiday dinners to me.  Or maybe I ripped it out of his hand and ran with it.  We'll never tell ;)
Rather than try to re-create what we loved before with gluten free substitutions, we've just decided to do things differently.  Mom loves the change, dad is just happy as long as there is plenty of wine and I've never been one to hold on to tradition.
So there's your little nap time story about a Bean Thanksgiving.  I hope you all had nice ones!

This was the official turkey time wine, in addition to the chillable red always on tap at Chez Cocoa, an organic Riesling, a Kosher dessert wine and a bottle of bubbly...I always need a bottle of cheer :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New floors, Part 4 - the bedroom

 The floor is finally done! I kept the bedroom for last because it was the smallest and what I thought would be easiest area.  But it wasn't.  Not only was there a long triangular corner in the closet but there were the same angles coming in the door as everywhere else.
 Barfycat wanted to give you the tour...

tah daaaah!!
It was a lot of work and I have exactly 1 piece leftover, in case something needs replaced later.  I ordered enough so that I had an entire spare box but one of them was so damaged that I purposefully saved it for last and thankfully, I didn't need to try and salvage any of those broken pieces and was able to return it for a refund.
Now, I have a bunch of scraps and I'm trying to decide which to keep, just in case.
Why, you ask? Because something in my head makes me think that I'm going to get up one morning and look down and see a spot I missed.  Impossible, I know.  
I also think it wouldn't hurt to have a couple scraps around in case something needs replaced.

Phase 4, Bedroom Complete!!



Friday, November 18, 2011

New floors, Part 3 - the master suite

 It took 2 days for me to pull up all the carpet, staples, nails and scrape up the lumpy mess of putty that lived under the carpet.  You can see the stain spilled all over too from when this room was first finished!
That little red machine is the "Floor Boar".  It is basically a saw designed to use with Pergo flooring that works with a rachet mechanism to both feed and cut the boards by hand.  I loved it!  I wasn't afraid of the saw getting away without me - it used no power but my (now toned) arms and it did a really nice cut, even on angled pieces.
For $50, I'd definitely recommend it!  It didn't create a big mess of saw dust either - you end up with nice little chunks of board that clean up super easy.
Since I was connecting from the already finished hallway, I started this room in a fairly unconventional way. The instructions are to start in a corner and lay the boards out but I had to come in the door and go in 2 directions - one way into the bathroom and the other way into the bedroom!  
So, I basically laid a foundation row inside the door and out both directions to build off of horizontally.  This required nailing some boards to one side for stability while I connected the other rows out horizontally but once I had a wall on one side it was easy sailing from there!

 Did a little mopping to clean up any foot prints and dust... 
 See what I mean about the angles in my house? Cute but a DIY nightmare!
 And my room is done!
Phase 3, Master Suite Complete!

Friday, November 11, 2011

New floors, Part 2 - the hall

When my pergo arrived, I answered the door and the driver told me he had 900 pounds of flooring on 2 pallets, I have to admit, I panicked.  Where was I going to put it?
He couldn't get it up on the sidewalk and to my front porch, nor was he allowed to break it down and help me carry it into my house. So, I pulled a car out of the garage so he could bring the pallets in.  They were low and I managed to bring all 25 boxes @ 35 pounds a piece in my house and up the stairs...You're always stronger than you think you can be.

 Working in the hall I learned several things about my house.  Although the dramatic angles, lines and vaulted ceilings are impressive looking, they can be a pain for a DIY project.  I decided to use Pergo flooring to match the downstairs floors (that came with the house) but sadly, the same color is no longer sold so I decided to go with Whitehall Pine since it goes nicely with the cream and white color scheme I already have in the main areas, not to mention looking pretty snazzy on the stair landings where I couldn't just paint white!
 Since pergo is a floating floor you have to cut it to accommodate the tongue and groove space needed to interlock the boards and slide them together.  In a nice rectangular area, this is no problem at all.  If you have any funky angles, like I do - then you have to get creative.
 This is how I'm learning to use a jigsaw like a professional!
once the hall was finally finished I also discovered that the walls are slightly wavy, needless to say this made trimming that last row tricky.

Phase 2, Hall Complete!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New floors, Part 1 - the stairs

 You may remember this from before...
 When I decided to de-carpet my second floor, it all started with the stairs.  I stripped them, scraped them, pulled staples out of them for hours, sanded them and finally... Painted them!
The second half were about the same.  I basically had to dedicate a 3 day weekend to each flight because of staple pulling hours and paint drying time.
A word to the wise, if you paint any floor white, be prepared to clean it regularly!  I used Glidden floor and porch paint with no tint and I'm pretty pleased with the overall look and it certainly does resist scuffing and chipping or wear.
If you have a choice, they gray might be a better option if you're looking for low-upkeep cleaning.
Phase 1, Stairs Complete!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I woke up today and thought, how long has it been since I blogged? I’ll give you a little TMI…I’ve been absolutely flustered since August.  My grandpa turning 100, my grandma passing away, crazy men torturing me on a regular basis and working on a floor that was supposed to be easy peasy and turned out to be the most difficult project I could imagine…Well, I’ll admit it – something had to give and it was usually my health, then my blog.  So sad because I actually enjoy this blog a lot.
So back to it baby!
 This week I ran my bread maker.  That and my crock pot make me so happy. I mean, what is nicer than coming home to the smell of hot food?
This kind of bread mix is probably my favorite so far.
 One thing I miss from the days of gluten ignorance was dipping Macaroni Grill’s bread in EVOO and Balsamic.  This bread was a really close second to my memory of that crunchy outside, soft inside loaf.
Do you like my Halloween nails? They are supposed to look like spattered blood…any way…

I dipped it in marinara sauce with a pinch heap of parmesan in it too which makes me think this would make some nice bread sticks if one was so ambitious to roll the dough into sticks and bake them without burning them! This is probably not me…



Barfycat chased me around, as usual, to get some gluten free baked goods.  The stuff drives her nutty! I had to stand up to eat or she’d jump right up on the counter to try and steal it away from me. I gave her my plate with crumbs and she licked it clean.  Goofy cat!
She likes gluten free baked stuff better than meat or fish or anything else in the world. Weird right?

I did some fun juice too with some stripey beets. They made stripey juice!



  I roasted some too - there's nothing like roasted beets and squash on a cold evening. Comfort food :)
 I’ll post pictures of my floor in a couple days.  It’s still not done L  There’s one more room which will have to wait until the weekend of the 19th – but rest assured I’ll get this baby done!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lundberg Risotto


First, my most beautiful and tasty salad. Yes, that is a raw organic beet on top. I luv beets :) This one was so rich in color it stained my fingers! Underneath is a simple tuna salad made with mayo and seasoned salt. No dressing needed after that!
Then...


I came upon this little box while shopping with my mom and thought, "Why not"? It's Gluten Free, Organic and Vegan. I was really surprised when it came out looking just like the picture on the box. I made it in the microwave, of course! I bet it would have been better on the stove top though. It was creamy and filling and just like most box mixes a little salty. Would have gone great with something bland like tofu.





Sunday, October 16, 2011

I learned a little something

Leeks and fava beans...2 foods I've never actually seen in the raw before.  Want to know what I learned?
1. Leeks are full of dirt and must be sliced open and washed thoroughly!
 2. They are really pretty and when you slice them up they have this wonderful blend of colors:
 3. They make a great soup when you mix them with instant potatoes and about 2x the water called for + a little S&P, of course!

Then there are the fava beans.  They are ugly on the outside...


but cute on the inside.  


And they are kind of yummy too.
I only ate them plain, after I blanched them but I imagine they would be good in any kind of bean recipe you'd like to try them in.  Except maybe stews, I think if you cooked them a long time they'd just disintegrate.
 Did I pique your interest with the soup comment?  I'll share a little shortcut I have learned.
You can make any kind of potato soup with instant mashed potatoes.  Basically, just use twice the amount of liquid they call for and add whatever else you want!
I've done this with the sliced leeks (above) and it was the most elegant soup you could make.  
I've also made baked potato soup by adding cheese, chopped green onions, bacon and some sour cream (I know, dairy bomb but it was so good!).
Try it some time when you come home too pooped to cook...you could use chopped up ham (like lunch meat!) and any kind of cheese you have and have a really nice meal in about 5 minutes if you use hot water from the tap and nuke it.
Let me know how it goes.
Finally, I just had this picture of my freshly washed produce bowl and thought I'd share it.  Lovely, yes?
Have a great week!






Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sexy green juice, part 2


This is what you get when you juice a large cucumber, 2 apples, 2 cups of spinach and 4 carrots

That was the first pass, then I shoved all the pulp back through...
And I got all this!

 So, I shoved it through again...
And got this...

 What was left was a bunch of really dry pulp that Didn't even make my paper towel wet

   Then I poured it into cute little jars and drank one every day for a week.  Brilliant!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Roasted corn salsa

 I've been getting the best organic sweet corn all summer and pretty much just grilling it all up because it brings out the sweetness and seriously, doesn't need a dab of butter or salt - you can eat it plain!  But tonight I was in the mood for something different and had a corn left over so I decided to make the lazy man's roasted corn salsa and it was great!
 I just took the corn off the cob and stirred it in some salsa until it seemed about right.  Then I topped a grilled steak with it and, I swear it was like eating at a 4 star restaurant ;0)
I also had a little coleslaw leftover. I made it with Napa cabbage and it was really a nice variation.  Napa cabbage isn't as strong tasting as others so it lent to a smoother taste.  My recipe for it was a dab here and a dash there, as usual.
I guess I used about 1/2 cup of mayo, 3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, pinches of salt and pepper, 1/2 cup raisins, 4 green onions chopped and 4-6 cups of cabbage - adding it and stirring until it was nicely coated and there was no more sauce puddling in the bottom of the bowl.
I always say cooking is easy - maybe because I make it that way...
I think that strict measurements are for baking everything else is toss and play!
I also think baking is best left to mixes...easy!  Pamela and Betty Crocker never fail me.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Taco Tuesday

I'm kind of psyched to find a taco seasoning so I can make tacos once in a while - I seem to crave them pretty often.  So, I tried a packet of Ortega Taco seasoning and it was great!  Look at those beauties :)

I actually made them to go with my guac.  I had some fresh cilantro to use up and thought I'd try to make it Chipotle style with some onion, garlic, cilantro and a dash of lime juice.

I also found out that Santitas are gluten free - you can find a list of Lay's brand products that are gluten free here: http://www.fritolay.com/your-health/us-products-not-containing-gluten-ingredients.html  Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!
So, I think I'm instituting a taco Tuesday in my menu rotation.  Probably not every week - but every time I have a little spinach to shred up for them.  Yes...that's spinach on those tacos.  Try it - you'll like it! :)


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Green Juice!

 I bought a juicer!  I'm such a hippie now :)  Let's just say my personal trainer talked me in to it and I went to the store really thirsty so I picked it up for $30 along with 2 cases of pop, 8 boxes of drink mix, 3 bottles of seltzer, 2 bottles of cranberry juice and...
So, who do you turn to when you need a juice recipe?  I turned to Kris Carr (http://crazysexylife.com/because I figure if you're going to make a green juice it might as well be Crazy Sexy.  So, I used a little cucumber, pear and spinach...
 So, the spinach didn't produce much juice but the pear and cucumber definitely did.  This is what I got out of half a cucumber, a whole pear (including the core!) and about a cup of packed spinach leaves. 


The pulp was all over the inside of the machine - which wasn't really that hard to clean out and repack in the chute to re-juice since it was still pretty wet and there were slices of veggies left even.
 pushed it through....
and this is what was left:


 for reference it was about a heaped up tablespoonful
Of course, some ended up on the floor - but that was my repacking and flinging skills! LOL


Clean up was pretty easy, I just rinsed everything off in the sink after I scooped out the pulp.  Now, what do you do with the pulp? I've heard you can bake it in muffins or cake but I'm not really in the mood to bake - shame to throw it all away though.  Know anyone fiber-lacking?

So...I know you're wondering, how did it taste?  Really good!  How did it smell?  Like cut grass, actually.
I'd recommend drinking it with a straw :p

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The last weekend of summer



I knew it was coming but somehow I just didn't believe it until this morning when I went out to the patio to drink my Almond Chai in the warm summer morning and it was only about 60 degrees! Chilly!
It was ok though and I thought I'd share the Chai concentrate I found the other day that goes great with Almond milk. I don't know about you but the milk has enough sweetness in it that when I mix it with the full sweet chai it gets to be a little too syrupy for me. But, this is actually just right!

So, as I was sitting there I noticed how I'd neglected my "garden", if you can call it that, all summer. It was really overgrown and I was suddenly inspired to clean it up.
Even the door mat was looking a little hairy...Yes, that's a bite mark, not just a random hole in the mat ;)

So, I fueled up with some Italian scrambled eggs and Udi's gf toast so that I wouldn't pass out doing what looked to be many hours of hard labor.
They were really easy to make. First, I took a non-stick skillet and dropped the bread in (frozen) and put a bowl on top to make sure it would toast evenly. Flipped them to toast the other sides and then go to the eggs.
I basically chopped up some onion and tomato, minced a clove of garlic and threw them in the pan after a light spray of Pam. After they were looking a little cooked I dropped 2 organic, cage free eggs in and scrambled them up with a dash of basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
I'll admit - I get the cage free eggs because it makes me sad to hear about the chickens being abused and cramped in those horrible factory farms but, I get the organic, vegetarian because they don't make me ill. I used to have serious health issues if I ate more than 2 eggs per week but with the organics I can eat eggs everyday and just be fine fine fine.
 So...how's the patio look now?
I know it's not perfect and that little dirt patch is pretty pathetic, no? At least I know that when spring comes next year and I get the inspiration to build my raised garden bed, I won't have to hack down a bunch of wandering bushes and weeds or dig through a bunch of muck, leftover from the snow and decomposing plants.
Yes, I'm planning to build myself a nice little garden right there so I can grow some of my own little organic delicacies :) remind me come spring, will ya?
I managed to work around the house well until dinner time and George decided to grill up a nice steak and I sauteed some crazy Italian veggies (I was in the mood for Italian, what can I say?)
You can probably tell what's in it but, it was basically a splash of EVOO in a pan, one thinly sliced zucchini, tomato, leek, and some leftover grilled corn. Oh yeah and a couple sliced up radishes.
Please don't judge me on the BBQ sauce - the bottle dumped out really fast!
You know how that happens, right? Shake...shake...dribble dribble...shake...Woooosh!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gluten Free Wraps

Have you ever tried your sandwich salad in Napa cabbage leaves? This was new for me and I loved it! I made canned salmon into salad about the same way you'd do with tuna or chicken and dabbed it into the soft outer leaves of a napa cabbage - no leaks :) Plus, Napa cabbage is very mild tasting - not as musky as green or red cabbage so it makes a lovely wrap.
You know how I'm all about eating gluten free in a really logical, natural way? You don't have to go spend a lot of money on gluten free prepared wraps and breads. Nor do you have to spend your life mixing flours and baking to get the right consistency. Just grab a cheap head of cabbage or leaf lettuce and wrap your sandwich innards up!
I do it with roast beef and mustard in collard greens or red leaf lettuce. You can make little hummus wraps like below, which are super cute and you could stick toothpicks in them and serve them at a party even!
It's totally simple. Just run a sharp knife down the spine of the collard leaf to remove the stem - it will slide along easy! Then drop a dab of hummus on whichever side is the least pretty.
Roll it up and you have a vegan, gluten free treat that anyone would like :)
Cute, right? See why I love collard greens? I get some every time Door to Door has them because they are so versatile and make a nice packable lunch for me too.
Well, darlings I have been up since the crack of dawn thanks to Alarmcat who thinks it is her job to get me out of bed and off to work every morning, Saturdays included. It's just too bad that she doesn't realize that my wake up call was set for 7:00 AM not 6:00 AM :( Every day, I tell ya...every day.
I'm going to go get some stuff done. I'm working on a little more of my remodel and taking down my fairy lights. Then, I'll need to start shopping for new lighting options in my office to replace them. It's amazing how much I get done on weekends now that I'm in a FLYLady cleaning routine.
Tah tah for now!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Embarassingly clean!

I had a cleaning spree yesterday, totally inspired by FLY Lady that culminated in the sparkling clean shower curtain you see above. Before shot below...Yes, that's a picture of the World - who says you can't learn something in the bathroom?
I almost feel embarrassed to admit that I spent a couple hours cleaning my house yesterday just because of a FLYlady digest full of testimonials and a purple rag. When people come over, I plan to tell them I got a new maid ;)
It all started when checking my email and just skimming the usual email I get from her everyday and it occurred to me that I needed to clean my bathroom mirror and wouldn't it be fun to see if I could do it with the damp purple rag, like other people claim to do, instead of windex and a handful of paper towels?
And I did. But I couldn't stop. I used it to wipe the dust out of the mouldings on my doors. Then I took it to the kitchen and wiped down my cabinet doors (um, now they are shiny!)
Then I took it to my nemesis...the microwave. Many years ago I had a huge boiling oil/deep frying incident that sprayed hot soybean oil all over the kitchen and I still have spots on the ceiling to remember it by! As you may or may not know, once soybean oil dries up it's nearly impossible to clean off of certain surfaces because it bonds to plastic. Did you know that they actually make some plastics out of soy?
Anywhoo, there were splatters on my microwave that lives above the stove that I'd tried to scrub off with everything but steel wool. I had tried vinegar, scratchless scotch pads and many types of caustic cleansers. None got it off so I figured I'd probably just have to live with it.
God bless the inventor of the purple rag! I just started wiping and the surface got shinier and shinier. It's hilarious to see the spots of smooth plastic surrounded by the permanently etched surfaces that I scrubbed to death! I wish I had my purple rag 4 years ago :(
After that, I pretty much carried my rag from room to room and wiped and dusted and rinsed it off and did some more and I'm proud to say things are kinda sparkly around here this morning!
People are going to think all I do with my time is scrub the house, but the truth is it was all done in about 90 minutes.
My sink was so shiny I had to take a picture of these giant collard greens bathing in it even :) They are destined for wraps, for sure! Lunch was already Hormel Roast beef rolled up simply with some mayo and mustard - great lunch!
So, not to be too much like an infomercial but, I heart FLYlady and I'm mad at her a little too because now I know how good things can look and the stuff I didn't clean looks kind of shabby today :(
I'm going to get back to her daily assignments and I'm sure I'll be lying about my maid all the time!
LOL kidding!

Love to you all!

Friday, August 19, 2011

On the road!!

The last 2 weeks have been a little stressful for me. 2 weeks ago my Grandpa turned 100 years old!
Of course this meant that I had to plan a trip - packing, food and flights. I haven't traveled farther than downtown in about 2 years, so I was a little overwhelmed.
Luckily, there was a Walmart Supercenter right across the street from my hotel so all I had to do was ensure I had a microwave and refrigerator. Easy, right? Not so much.
I booked the hotel on Expedia because their website stated that all rooms had a fridge and there was a micro in the breakfast area in the lobby. I called ahead to try and get rooms together with my family and mentioned the fridge and they corrected me stating that only the suites had fridges. "Can I get a suite?" I asked and she sweetly replied there was nothing she could do until I checked in, at that time I could request an upgrade. Ahhhkkkk! I freaked out a little. Honestly!
So I got on the phone to Expedia for some help...after being on hold for what seemed like forever I decided to email through their website and got an auto response that they would respond properly in 24-48 hours - we were leaving in 2 days!
Well, hello twitter! Guess what, if you tweet - they will come. I had a customer service response in about 2 hours. Brilliant!
Longer story shorter, they upgraded me to a suite for free and all was well. Super customer service from Expedia!! Lessons learned?
1. Call the hotel before you book to make sure of essential equipment.
2. Tweet Expedia to get help faster
The rest of the trip was fantastic! I had so much fun seeing all my relatives and hugged rampantly :) Grandpa is such an amazing man - sharp, strong and such an inspiration to us all.
It was super easy for me to run over to Walmart for groceries. I got a package of Oscar Meyer Ham, a package of Black pepper beef, a veggie tray with ranch dip, an Amy's Frozen enchilada dinner, a package of Organic greens, a bag of plain Lay's potato chips and some Pamela's Chocolate chocolate chip cookies! Coupled with the Larabars and organic bananas I'd packed for the trip, I was easily set for 3 days and I even fed my parents one night!
The evening of the program, I simply packed what was left of my greens topped with meat, dip and veggies and took it along to eat with every one else. It was a casual served dinner so not a problem at all.
The day after we got back, I got a call that Grandma (on the other side of my family) was really sick and it was just a matter of days. I scrambled to look at flights to see if we could get out there ASAP and she said that she probably wouldn't still be alive by the time we got there. And she wasn't - the next day I was searching for flights to the funeral :(
Stress, stress and double stress! Not only was I still wiped out from the weekend, I had to come up with a new traveling plan - last minute and completely on-the-road!
We were going to have to fly in, drive 5 hours, sleep, get up early for the funeral, drive 5 hours and fly home.
I still reserved hotels with fridges and microwaves, but there was not a lot of hope of using them since the schedule was so tight.
I literally fed the 3 of us out of the trunk of our rental car.
It went a little like this:
Land, get car - drive a ways and stop at a Coborn's grocery store. Thank God they had Udi's gluten free bread and Pamela's GF cookies!
So, I picked up a loaf of gf bread, package of hormel natural roast beef, lay's chips, both peanut butter and chocochocochip cookies, a veggie tray w/dip and snagged a few packets of mayo and mustard from their deli section.
Picture me in the parking lot making sandwiches in the trunk of the car. But, oooh honey, they were the best roast beef sandwiches I had ever had! I was starved from the full day of flying and I won't even go into what a foul mood I was in from low blood sugar :(
We got to the hotel and I was able to snack on some of the veggies and store the rest in the fridge for the night. Did I mention that I also packed a Minute Rice ready-to eat bowl and some more organic bananas and Lara bars. They saved me!
Since we were their early enough we drove out to see my Godfamily :) poor me - had to pass up the ice cream, but it was so nice to be able to sit and feel at home for a while. There were tears, of course...and hugs. And then a rough night's sleep.
Dad helped me put ice in bags and pack up the veggies to keep until the luncheon after the funeral and we went. I don't know anyone who would have felt like eating before their grandma's funeral. Nonetheless I knew I had to have something so I didn't pass out and was truly thankful for my little bowl of ready rice and that microwave. I couldn't finish it but it got me through until after the service when I finally relaxed enough and had cried it out enough to eat my banana and a couple cookies.
We got to spend the afternoon with the family and I wouldn't have done anything different. Except drink more water so I wouldn't have almost died of dehydration!
We left that night to drive to a hotel at the airport - still toting along the leftover veggies and dip. Stopped at Walmart for more lunch meat and once again - made sandwiches for all of us out of the trunk of the car! lol
I'm so glad to be home where I can eat off a plate and truly appreciate my counters today. Hot food is at the top of my thankful list too. Tonight's taco salad (hot, fresh and not microwaved :p)

Friday, July 29, 2011

It was my first time with Bok Choy


This picture is actually my second try, so glad I got 2 bunches of bok choy! The first bunch, I just tossed in the pan with some evoo and it turned out tasty but hard to cut and bite. Brilliantly, I chopped the second bunch and tossed them in oil and sesame seeds. I loved it!
Bok choy is known as the Chinese cabbage but it had such a mild flavor compared to green and red cabbage that it really needed some sesame flavor. Lots of recipes said to use soy sauce - but soy hates me, so I improvised.
It greened up so nice after the sautee and actually paired nicely with my good friend, Hormel Beef and au jus.
I can't wait for the next time bok choy wanders across my plate :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Undies!!!


I have been on a shopping binge lately. I've been wanting wanting wanting stuff stuff stuff!!!
Partly because I am the perfect consumer. If I see something often enough and are encouraged to buy it, eventually I'll feel like I can't live without it. Luckily, I'm wise enough and frugal enough that I always make myself wait a couple days before I make any significant purchase. and by significant, I mean over $20 - yeah that cheap!
Not only do I not want to squander my cash but I don't want to end up with a cluttered house full of things that don't really make me happy in a significant way.
June was my birthday month so you can imagine how many retailers sent me my "Birthday Present" of anywhere from $5-25 off various order amounts from their stores plus free shipping, of course !
So, I browsed site after site looking for that perfect thing that I could get my fantastic discount on and was really disappointed to not find much that I could "treat" myself with.
I did buy several pairs of undies from Victoria's Secret though. Are they not the cutest things? I know when I wear them that I'll have a little bit more bounce in my step. btw, they were 5 for $25 minus my $10 birthday certificate and free shipping so I'm pretty pleased with my splurge, considering I typically go for the $6 Hanes multi-pack. Hey, they work and don't wedge!
I also bought myself the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis method. I actually debated over it a while and checked out some of her vids on youtube and kind of love her method! It's fun and dancy and she doesn't give much instruction or encouragement, which is surprisingly comforting to me (some days I still need Denise Austin's peppy voice telling me she's proud of me though!). I really dug the no nonsense, count out your reps attitude so I've splurged the $104 for the 90 days of workouts which, as promised, should give me the body I've always dreamed of *if I do the work*.
I'm still debating a juicer and a dehydrator or a giant crock pot and a mini fridge to keep batches of home made cat food in (another story for another day).
Fundamentally, I cannot bring myself to buy a juicer and a dehydrator. It just seems wrong, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cooking is easy - Parsley Pesto

Whenever I heard "Pesto" I always thought it was some magical concoction that only Italian chefs knew how to make. I found out - it's really easy! Especially with some pre-cooked shrimp to make it into a meal.
I started out with a bunch of clean parsley, a couple cloves of garlic and a bloop of evoo in the food processor...

Then I tossed it in a saucepan with the shrimp and viola! Shrimp pesto for dinner.
I proceeded to drop a bowl of it on the carpet as well - what a mess! The green and the oil - I may have to replace the carpet now since I'm not so good at scrubbing floors!
In other news, my crock pot died :( well, just the insert cracked so word to the wise: don't bake potatoes in it for 18 hours- be sure and get them out after the 6 hours!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weekend Breakfasts

I love weekends, partly because I get to sleep in and then make yummy eggs for breakfast. My toast might look funny to you, that's because I don't have a toaster so I toast it in the frying pan before I do the eggs. Dry pan - heated on high for a minute or 2, then add dry bread and watch it for the steam to let up, flip it until the steam stops - done!
Since I had a bunch of mushrooms to eat up, I just sauteed them with onions for this spectacular dish. Actually, it was pretty plain - but satisfying!
It seems like weekends always start with a huge list of chores and end with only a slightly shorter list. Where does the time go?
I know...afternoon naps, reading in the sun and all those little distractions that come up.
I'm easily distracted. Just this morning I managed to get lost in flower arranging, recycling and some random infomercial (they make that stuff sound so good! Anyone ever use a "No!No!"? or that "set it and forget it" machine?) Lesson learned - never turn on the TV until it's time for your show. The European Grand Prix is on today - there is something too fun about it! Plus, races are pretty easy to watch while you do other things - on my list today: hang a shelf in the closet and pack another box of donations to send to charity.
How's your weekend been?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I steamed an artichoke!

And it wasn't as fabulous as I thought it would be. Oh well. At least I gave it a shot, right?
Long story short, I steamed it and the heart was really the only edible part. I also made my own dipping sauce out of mayo and hot sauce, which was pretty yummy.
Yep, you guessed it, there's a hunk of Hormel Roast Au Jus behind the bowl.
In other news, I just had my birthday again...I can't decide if I like birthdays or not. Frankly, they depress me.
I did get a ton of well wishes and I totally appreciate all my loving friends and family that don't remind me how old I really am so I can be eternally 25. Everyone else who won't leave me alone for the real number...well they might have to pump up their tires in the morning... mwaa ha ha.
Since my crock pot cracked (after the baked potatoes on fire episode - yes you can start things on fire in a crock pot) I got a new one from my sweet mommy. Apparently, I'm not mature enough to have a grown up sized pot though since she got me the cutest little child sized one. I love it though - very cute and I'll have many less leftovers.
I also got a hot air popcorn machine, super industrial baking pan and some other fun stuff including a car. Yay!
Like I said, I can't decide if the gifts completely outweigh the depression of knowing my life is whizzing by - but I'm leaning that way!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

6/20 Weekly Menu

I'm starting my weekly menu plan with my Door to Door box:
1 ea. Avocado
1 ea Local Rhubarb 0.5LB
1 ea. Cucumber
2 ea. Zucchini Squash
1 ea. Local Spinach bunch
1 ea. Local Leaf Lettuce
1 ea. Local Tomatoes 1LB
1 ea. Local Green Kale bunch
1 ea. Local Radishes bunch
1 ea. Local Oyster Mushrooms 0.25LB
2 ea. Local Bok Choy

I'm thinking lots of salads, maybe some kale chips. Got the eggs, shrimp and steaks to couple up. Also picked up a carton of Almond Milk and a box of chex. Sound good?
But what do you make with Rhubarb besides pie? I'm not so crazy about the sugar factor... suggestions?

Friday, June 17, 2011

My favorite black bean chili ala Suzanne


Messy looking, right? But I promise, it is the best and easiest chili in the world.
It is actually just a little different from the recipe I got out of a Suzanne Somers cook book. Maybe the white one...I can't remember.
Anyway, it's super easy:
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes and chilies
1/2 medium onion diced
a clove or 2 of garlic, minced
glug of EVOO

Basically, sautee the onion & garlic in evoo for a minute or so then dump in the cans of beans and tomatoes, get it hot and serve with warm corn tortillas.
This is about enough for 3-4 people, depending on your bean tolerance ;p

It is seriously one of my favorite go-to meals any time of year. It takes about 5 minutes, costs about $1.50 and is super comfort food without the guilt.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

6/13 weekly menu

Hey y'all! I'm trying out a new routine - creating a weekly menu!!
This week's menu for one:

Monday:
Lunch: Hormel Beef au jus, mashed potatoes, simple spinach salad
Dinner: Green salad with tuna salad, carrots, tomato, walnuts, craisins etc.
Tuesday:
Lunch -Leftover beef from Monday
Dinner - Peppered Beef sandwich with pickles and carrot sticks
Wednesday:
Lunch- Leftover Tuna Salad on greens
Dinner- Scrambled eggs with spinach, onions, ham and cheese
Thursday:
Lunch- Peppered beef sandwich with pickles and carrot sticks
Dinner - Curried shrimp and veggies
Friday:
Lunch- Chipotle carnitas burrito bowl, guac
Dinner - snacks as needed after huge bowl from chipotle
Weekend:
Grilled steak, sweet corn and baked beans - snacks as needed :)Egg scrambles if I'm up for breakfast

Almost every morning I have a Larabar and a piece of fruit for breakfast. It's my super portable -take to work breakfast- that saves me time and gives me quick energy from the fruit and long lasting hunger control from the nuts.

Shopping list:
eggs
lunch meat
tuna
steak
corn

Getting my organics delivered really helps with the meal planning, part of the reason I don't do it regularly! I usually just wash everything up and it's pretty easy to match them up with some protein.

Cheers!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: Barilla pasta sauce - Mushroom & Garlic


Can you see that entire mushroom just sitting there? There were a ton of big mushroom slices and a couple little buttons even. Loved this sauce!! I give it a big fat 10 out of 10...


I, of course, started my adventure by slicing up a couple nice zucchini and sauteed them until soft-ish. Then I dumped the jar of sauce over them and simmered about as long as it takes to boil some Tinkyada rice pasta shells.



I cheated a little on my no dairy lifestyle with some parmesean cheese. I craved it!
And I'm glad I did, so there! This was a great dinner, and great leftovers 2 days later.
Also, TMI coming...I get to re-taste most prepared sauces like all night...and sometimes the next day. No burpage here so you know it was made with good natural ingredients and nothing possibly scary. I heart it.


That's all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Possibly the best soup ever - Curried Butternut

I absolutely have to share this recipe because it is the best thing I've had in ages!
It was a totally simple recipe too - are you surprised?
Here goes:
Splash of EVOO
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1-2 tsp curry powder
2 cups chopped butternut squash
2-3 cups broth or water
S&P to taste
1/2 - 1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbl maple syrup

So you sautee the onion, celery and curry in the EVOO, then you add the broth (I used veg) and squash and simmer about 30 minutes until it's tender.
Then, you take it off the heat and spoon it slowly into the blender so it cools off enough not to explode. Then puree it and serve warm.
I absolutely loved it! And this recipe makes enough for 3-4 people, depending on how much you fill the bowls so no week's worth of leftovers. Yay!

It will be on my fall cooking list for sure.

Stewed Okra - WOW!

Nummy? Check! Vegan? Check! Almost instant? Check!
Ok, Okra is not one of my staples. In fact, I think I had it once - battered and deep fried, smothered with ranch dressing (ala Oklahoma). I didn't like it.

So, don't ask me why but I was at the store looking at the frozen veggies and decided to grab a bag of okra. That was a good 9 months ago and tonight I finally decided to cook it, as recommended by a true okie! The recipe is so simple, so fast and yes - delicious!
1 bag frozen Okra (about 14 ounces)
1-2 cups of pearl onions
1.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp pepper
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 Tbl EVOO

I sauteed the onions in the olive oil a little then added all the rest and simmered it on low for about 15 minutes.

I'm seriously surprised at how good it is and the okra is so plump and juicy and tender - nothing like the last time I had it. I might have liked a little more tomato in this - but I still recommend it with 2 thumbs up ;)

Odd pairings: greens and meat style



Cooking is easy! Dontcha love how I make a salad now days? Tired of ripping up lettuce, I decided to just throw on some tomatoes, sesame seeds, cheese shreds and ham - topped with a little Catalina dressing. Looks weird- tasted great, no mess, no fuss!
Remember those Hormel main dishes I love so much? One night I paired them with...chard chips! It is now officially my favorite meal in the entire world! Luv luv luv.


So, all my food looks weird right? but it was super easy and healthy and that's what I'm all about!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Do you use Probiotics?

I have to admit, I've been miserable and finding very little help to figure it out. I finally got a new diagnosis (I know, how many diseases can one person accumulate?)...and I started doing my research. A friend with a similar disease told me that probiotics saved her and I should try them...
Well, let me say this: I was terrified to try anything new for fear that it would make me worse. Then I realized that the life I was living was the worst. Excruciating stomach pain every single day is the worst. So, I got brave and went to the store.

Side note, I gave up dairy so yogurt - not really an option. I scanned the supplement aisle. There were a million brands to choose from and they all had soy or milk in them. Then I spotted the cheapest one, Kroger Generic Digestion Support. It had 7 kinds of probiotics compared to the others that had 1 or 2 and it listed milk as an allergen, but not an actual ingredient. For $6 I was willing to gamble.
2 days later, I felt much better. 2 weeks later, I feel normal again!
I was able to spend 3 full days of my weekend hanging out with friends and family, working on projects and relaxing without the usual fatigue, pain and other symptoms that I don't want to go in to.

So, what do you think? Did probiotics save me too? Or is it a placebo effect? Either way, I'm happy to have days back and if you're like me and afraid to try them, I'm here to say you have nothing to lose!

I'd also love to hear if you use probiotics and have any advice or favorite brands because I know I'll continue my treatment and need some info!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Greek Slaw!


Once upon a time, I used to get Greek slaw from King Soopers with my rotisserie chicken. Since I gave up the bird so went the deli prepared salads. I forgot what I was missing until the other day I was scanning the fridge and that half head of cabbage winked at me and nodded toward the leftover feta cheese.
I put "grocery store" on my list and stopped on the way home to grab some black olives. Dinner was the best Greek Slaw ever!
Here's the recipe (sorry the picture is so dark):
Take a bowl and thinly slice enough cabbage to fill it about 1/2 full.
Thinly slice some red onion to taste and toss it in.
Then, chop up some cucumber and tomatoes and throw them in. Is the bowl almost full? Good!
Now dump in some feta - how ever much appeals to you. I go for a couple tablespoons per serving.
Add 8 or less black olives per serving
A splash or two of red wine vinegar and EVOO (just enough to coat the slaw nicely)
A shake and shimmy of salt and pepper

Toss, toss, toss till it's all mixed up.

You'll love it and if you want to make a double batch to have leftovers, it gets better over night, I promise!
See how quick and easy cooking can be? you don't have to make enough for 8 either. I made enough for 1 and all I had to wash was a bowl, fork and knife! No week of leftovers either.

Side note, you can also use apple cider vinegar. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Betty Crocker Cookies



See my cookies? I finally found Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip cookie mix and decided to try it. They were surprisingly good! Let me say, I love Pamela's brand baking mix for making cookies - they come out crispy and candyish. Betty's came out soft and warm and chewy. I love them too.
I will definitely stock this mix - it was simple to make, quick and I got 2 pans of big cookies out of it for $5.00. Cheaper than packaged cookies and I like the ingredient list better (nothing scary).

Then...I was totally craving breakfast tacos but didn't have any soft corn tortillas
:(
so I used hard ones! ;0)
As you can see I also lazied out and didn't shred the cheese either - just cut it into little chunks. It works! No grater holes to scrub! So, you're wondering...did the crunchy shells work? Yes! It was different but still really good. Try it sometime when you have a couple shells leftover, before they get stale.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: Yoplait Greek Yogurt and CLOSED GIVEAWAY Free Stuff from Yoplait and MyBlogSpark!

Happy Friday kids!

First, go get a coupon to try the new Yoplait greek yogurt: visit http://bit.ly/greekcoupon to download a printable coupon for $.35 off.

Yoplait and MyBlogSpark have given me a fun opportunity to try the new yogurt for free, do a review and play with a bunch of fun stuff in a free prize pack that they sent to me. They would also like to give one of you a free prize pack - totally fun, right?

So, please leave me a comment on this blog as your entry to win the free prizes which include: a coupon organizer, a magnetic customized meal planner board (I luv this), a mini pocket fold-up tote (perfect to stash in my glove box), an electronics case, retractable ear buds (awesome!), and a magnetic shopping cart note holder and a pen. If you're so inspired, please share healthy snacks that you take along during the day in your comment. I will use the random number generator and that # commentor will get the prize directly from MyBlogSpark. So, have a friend or more leave a comment too - then you can share the prize pack! Don't forget to include an email address, twitter handle, sign up to receive follow up comments or some type of contact information so I can let you know you won!

Ok, for my review!

So, I actually couldn't find this at my usual grocery stores for a long time, finally...I found 2 flavors - Blueberry and Honey Vanilla at the store.

Since I'm all organic produce girl now, I went with the honey vanilla.
Pros:
Clearly labeled "Gluten Free" on the top and side of the package *woo hoo!*
Fat free, if you're into that sort of thing
Fortified with vitamins, I know I'm always a little short on Viti D - nice add :)
Satisfying, creamy mouth feel
No HFCS - I'm a sugar girl all the way, baby!
So here are the ingredients off the label:
I'm concerned that there is no vanilla nor is there honey listed as an ingredient. Perhaps there is some in the "natural flavors", but I'd really expect to see them as ingredients if that is the "flavor".

I'm a purist that way.

Cons:
Kind of pricey IMHO! $1.19 for this 6 oz cup - can you tell me how that compares to other brands?
A little on the sour side for me as well - I could totally taste the lemon
Locust bean gum, gelatin, pectin, and I'm really leery of "natural flavor" in anything - it doesn't tell you anything about what you're eating.
No vanilla or honey listed as ingredients

Would I buy it? Sure, it did curb my hunger long enough for me to write this between work and dinner! lol

I'd also like to try one of the fruit flavors! I avoid fruit on the bottom yogurts for fear of gluten contamination but the blueberry one was also labeled gf, so I'm tempted...

My reservation about it is that I really want to know what I'm eating and I stick to whole, natural foods for the most part. I'm an ingredient list sleuth so when there are fillers, texturizers and mystery ingredients I tend to put it back unless I'm desperate.

Some more stats off the label:
150 calories. % Daily values: 5% sodium, 18 g sugars (7% carb), 27% protein (14g)
My verdict? I give it a 7 out of 10.
I'd recommend trying it! and let me know what you think when you do, ok?

And if you want to have more fun, below are some links to check out for more free stuff and don't forget to leave me a comment to win your own prize pack!!

Visit the Yoplait Greek tab at Facebook.com/Yoplait now through May 31st, 2011 and enter to win a Yoplait Greek snack pack and other cool prizes. Winners will be chosen daily. You can also visit Yoplait.com/Greek for more information and yummy recipes to make it easy, free, and delicious to eat a better snack :).

Yoplait on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/yoplaitonfbook
Yoplait on Twitter: http://bit.ly/yoplaitontwitter
Yoplait Greek on Yoplait.com:http://my.yoplait.com/yoplaitgreek
Yoplait Greek coupon: http://bit.ly/greekcoupon

Product, prize pack, information, and giveaway have all been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.
Giveaway entries accepted until Noon MDT, April 29, when a winner will be chosen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My superpower is planning!


I'm so psyched to share how super easy my life has gotten now that I've put a few things on "auto-pilot".
So, I've always been a real planner/organizer. It's my top resume and life skill - no doubt! I have all my bills auto-paid so I don't even look at them each month except to check my statements and see nothing went awry. I have my veggies delivered every week (D2D) so I don't have to shop around for decent grub. I have automatic withdrawals for health, savings and 401(k) set up and an automatic "pay down the mortgage faster" plan instituted.
So what was missing? As you know, my home life overwhelmed me. My biggest fear in life is of the vacuum. My eyes are blind to dust. Fixing food was an adventure and a really scary one sometimes! Every morning I do battle with my totally awesome closet and end up wearing one of the same 10 outfits I keep on rotation because all the mix and match/accessory decisions are too much before noon.
Not any more!! I've fully instituted, with the help of my handy dandy timer, a smooth sailing plan at home.
Every weekend I take an inventory of my D2D box (veggie delivery) that's coming and decide what meals I can pair up and what ingredients I'll need to finish off some simple meals. The shopping list and the coupons go in my bag and the list of meals on the fridge. (See, I already have a meal planner on the fridge, some day I'll institute that process better. For now, it's a good sticky note holder...because I don't have to be perfect)

While I do laundry on the weekend, I figure out 5 outfits for the next week and put that list in my planner. Then I know they are clean and ready to wear.
Ahhhmazing!
I have to give a lot of credit to FLY lady for inspiring me to make it a habit and giving me tons of brilliant tools. Now, I have a house maintenance schedule and a workout plan, in simple 15 minute or less increments a day. Emailed reminders every day so I don't forget or get distracted! LUV! Not to mention, permission to only vacuum in the middle of the floor most of the time and only move the furniture once in a while :0)
I feel like I've finally discovered my secret super power now. I don't freak out or procrastinate about routine stuff, I even have time to pumice my feet and read the ever-growing stack of books that I pick out to expand my mind.
I wish I could share this with other people and help them get control of their lives in the same way. Could you imagine a world where no one pays their bills late or feels embarrassed to let people in their home? I bet there would be less road rage too!
I'm going to make it one of my purposes in life to help others find some sanity, like I have. Any volunteers?