Friday, August 12, 2011
Side Note: Lately, I have complained on Facebook about getting produce at the store, only to find mold inside the pepper, or fruit going bad within a few days. I am tired of it! So, today we took a family outing to the Farmer's Market here in town where we got lots of good stuff for only $9! Take a look at our loot:
Yes, I was pretty impressed. But anyways, this was my motivation to start the deception process. Basically, what Jessica tells you to do is to steam or roast veggies, puree them, bag them up, freeze them or put them in the fridge, and then use them in your recipes. The cookbook has lots of different recipes, but you can also go online for more (www.deceptivelydelicious.com), OR just add it to stuff you already make. SO, my magic bullet and I got to work. And it was fun. And now I want to puree things. A lot of things. I even made a smoothie after this was over...and it was good. Okay, so if you're interested and don't want to run out and get her cookbook (which is awesome), here are her basic steps.
1. Well, first you wash the veggies (or get a cute little someone to do it for you).
2. Prepare the vegetables to be cooked, or fruit to be puree'd. How you do this depends on the veggie/fruit you're using, of course.
3. Cook the vegetables. (The book tells you how to steam, roast, or even microwave specific veggies in a way that maintains their nutrients.) You can use a rice steamer, collapsible steamer, or pasta pot with a drainer basket for this.
4. Puree! This is where you need a food processor, magic bullet or blender. She recommends blending most things for about 2 minutes.
5. Portion and package the purees. (Jessica recommends 1/2 cup or even 1/4 cup portions to put in ziploc baggies.) You refrigerate the ones you plan to use in the following few days, and freeze the rest.
6. Cook using your purees in the recipes! (She even has desserts with purees.) After the squash, I pureed some strawberries we picked a while back that have been in my freezer. :)
So there are tons of great things I could say about this cookbook....it has a list of necessities, step-by-step instructions, and even tells the benefits of each kind of fruit and veggie. I highly recommend it.
We will see how this goes! I'll let you know how well I hide the nutrition. ;o)
A super simple recipe for an after-I-puree-everything yummy fruit smoothie (from the Magic Bullet book):
~a cup of ice
~a handful of strawberries
~a banana (I used a half of a banana)
~a splash of orange juice
~and this is not in the recipe, but of course, I added about a scoop of orange sherbet which made it SO much better! :)
Monday, July 25, 2011
Chicken (and Portobello) Fajitas
The reason I put "(and portobello)" is because if you're like me, and don't like eating fungus, you don't have to put those in and it's just as delicious...probably more so. ;o)
Cook: 15 min.
Tip: "Tossing the chicken with the chili powder and garlic before it hits the skillet lets the flavors sink into this simple summer dish."
~1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
~1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
~4 cloves of garlic, minced
~1 package (12 oz.) flour tortillas
~3 tbsp. EVOO
~Salt and Pepper
~2 large italian frying peppers, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide strips - (I do not use Italian frying peppers! I can't ever find them, but since I am not a huge fan of spicy, and neither is my child, I use one green bell pepper and one red bell pepper and I think it tastes great!)
~1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges
~4 portobello mushroom caps (about 4 inch), sliced 1/4 inch thick - (Like I said, I don't even use these but I know some people love these things so I am letting you have the whole recipe.)
~1 container (7oz.) whole-milk greek yogurt, for serving - (I get the Dannon Greek personal yogurts for $1 each. I either get one or two, dependant on how many people I am serving. One is enough for Joshua and myself. I put this right on the fajita, and it is a healthy, yummy topping!)
1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the chili powder and half the garlic.
2. Wrap the tortillas in a sheet of foil, place in the oven and turn to 350 degrees. Let them warm while you cook the chicken and the vegetables.
3. Heat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 1/2 tbsp. of EVOO and the chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl.
4. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. EVOO and garlic, the frying peppers (or bell peppers) and onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until beginning to char, about 3 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
5. Return the chicken to the pan and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is hot, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the chicken-vegetable mixture with the warmed tortillas and yogurt.
Hope you like this recipe! I would say the part that takes me the longest is getting fat off of the chicken thighs before I begin cooking. Chicken thighs are YUMMY, full of flavor, and cost less than chicken breast so they are an essential to this recipe (in my opinion) but you will find fat on there that you can cut off first. Serve these up with some chips and salsa (and maybe some margaritas) and enjoy! :o)
And just in case you were wondering, I bet these are the same fajitas Ross cooked up in "Friends." I just want to snap my fingers and jump when I make these. ;o)
Monday, May 23, 2011
Now, I must say I have never been a huge fan of sweet and sour chicken at restaurants. I have never enjoyed the sauce. Well, I thought I would give this recipe a try and it was mmm hmm good if I do say so myself. Here is the recipe:
Salt & Pepper
1 cup white rice
1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks, drained, 1/2 cup juice reserved
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. finely grated ginger (OR 1 tsp. dry ginger)
1 and 1/4 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (I added 1 green bell pepper too on accident but it tasted good with it, too)
1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 and 3/4 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil; stir in the rice. Cover, lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, 2 tsp. of cornstarch, the ketchup, and ginger. In a bowl, toss the chicken with the remaining 2 tsp. of cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. of pepper.
3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pineapple chunks and reserved chicken.
4. Whisk the pineapple juice mixture into the chicken mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve over the rice.
Here is a picture of everything but the rice, if you want to get your tastebuds ready!
Monday, May 2, 2011
I found a freezer jam recipe that does not need pectin. I haven't tried it yet but here it is if you're interested:
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
- 4 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.
- To test for jelling
- Place three plates in a freezer... after about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the liquid of the jam onto the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate... if it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready to be canned!
ANYWAYS, if you don't want mush or jam and you just want to eat them, here are the instructions I followed from ehow online. We'll see how they turn out....
During strawberry season go to the nearest you pick farm and pick your own strawberries. The best time is in the morning while the strawberries are still cool. Choose the strawberries that are fully ripened with no green or white tips. Be careful not to crush the strawberries and keep them out of the sun.
Place strawberries on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer until hard. When strawberries are frozen place them into clean freezer bags or containers. Now you can enjoy fresh whole strawberries anytime.
Friday, April 1, 2011
It's time again, for another birth.
Said the Angels, to the Lord above,
This special child will need much love.
His progress may be very slow,
Accomplishments he may not show.
And he'll require extra care
From the folks he meets down there.
He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem, quite far away,
In many ways he won't adapt,
And he'll be known as handicapped.
So let's be careful where he's sent,
We want his life to be content.
Please Lord, find the parents who
Will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play,
But with this child sent from above
Comes stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they'll know the privilege given
In caring for their gift from Heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild,
Is HEAVEN'S VERY SPECIAL CHILD.
by Edna Massionilla
Sunday, March 6, 2011
As you know from my previous "Cry Me a River" post, I have been somewhat gloomy as of late. I don't know if it's the weather (going from nice and breezy 70 degrees to yucky 45), or the usual tighter than tight budget, or the stress of my "part-time" job, or my child getting a runny nose...AGAIN...or other issues. Needless to say, it could be a combination of the usual, but nothing that should really make me extremely gloomy. There are others I know going through actual hard times....loss of family members, or health issues. Not me. So, why I am I so blue again?
What fascinates me even more about this is that the Lord is constantly trying to cheer me up! What is He blessing me for right now?? I am not being grateful, nor am I being extremely worshipful in my gloomy state. So, why are friends encouraging me with their amazing blog posts, or sending me incredible e-mails full of truths and songs that make my eyes well up with tears? Why does He love me so much?!?! It is just crazy for me to think that even though I doubt the Lord at times, and even though I have not had a quiet time in a long time (gasp!) - He still wants to bless me. The love He has for me is overwhelmingly wonderful, and does in NO WAY depend on ME or my puny little actions.
So, as I am hoping this is a short season in Gloom-ville for me, I just want to encourage you as so many others have encouraged me. If you are in a desert or a cave right now, I hope the Lord will show you just how much He loves you today. He is pretty awesome like that.
Here are two songs a sweet friend sent me in an e-mail (and by the way...she didn't even know I had been gloomy...she just had a rough day herself and wanted to encourage others). The first song included an awesome story with it. So, here is both....
Nothing seemed to be going right on the day this song was written. I was newly pregnant with my third child, and not feeling very lively. I looked around my tiny home. Not one thing was in its proper place. It was a disaster area, and my two children matched the mess. Grubby from head to foot, they seemed to make more mess with every passing second.
Feelings of self-pity welled within me. Surely I deserved better than this! I deserved a bigger house. I deserved to be able to afford to hire someone to come and clean up for me. I was certain of that. Where was the new baby going to fit? I had no clue. As I dwelt on my situation, I started to feel so sorry for myself that I actually started crying for poor me. That is, until my little ten-month-old boy, crawled over to me, gave me the biggest hug with his grubby arms, and smiled dotingly up at me.
At that moment, it occurred to me that I was the most blessed woman in the world. I had two beautiful children, a loving husband, and now God had rewarded me with another life growing within me. Thinking about all the blessings in my life, filled me with great joy. The words to this song flowed out.
I’ll add that I’m now expecting my fourth child and we are still living in that same small house. God has taught me to be grateful for it. The three children have managed to fit in perfectly and I know I’ll be able to find a corner somewhere for the next one.
MY HEART IS FULL
Little arms reaching for me,
Grubby fingers touch my face
And love is what I feel.
Little eyes looking at me,
Chubby cheeks burst with smiles
And joy is what I know,
Peeking in while they sleep at night,
I thank God for the gift of life,
I thank God for more than I deserve.
My heart is full, my heart is full,
Why would I want for more
When my cup overflows?
My heart is full, my heart is full,
This much I know.
Strong arms reaching for me
Circle my waist for the millionth time
And love is what I feel.
Strong voice talking to me,
Whispering dreams and sharing hopes
And joy is what I know.
Sometimes I watch him sleep at night,
I thank God that I am his wife,
I thank God for more than I deserve.
Sometimes when discontent creeps into my soul
A still small voice reminds me of the ones my
arms can hold.
I don’t want to fear any more,
I don’t have to fear any more,
I don’t need to fear any more,
For I am in the grip of your hand
I’m so overwhelmed,
Desperation clinging to my bones
And You’re the only one
Who sees the pain I uncover when I’m alone.
I don’t need to let these shadows lurk,
Open my eyes, let your light flood in,
All the anguish of my soul is worth
Nothing when I remember you are King.
I don’t want to fear any more,
I don’t have to fear any more,
I don’t need to fear any more,
For I am in the grip of your hand
You were with them in a pillar of fire
And a cloud by night,
And you are with me, the Holy Ghost,
A still, small voice at night
Saying. . .
I’ll stay with you forever,
I’ll be there when you laugh or grieve,
I’ll trace your steps across the earth,
When you fall you can lean on Me.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
But seriously, March....you have begun on a bad note. The minute school started today I was annoyed. Don't get me wrong, I love my students but there are days when I would rather be in Hawaii, sipping my blue drink with an umbrella in it rather than trying to cram grammar rules down their throats. I won't go into all the details of why today has been annoying, so let's just say it has not been my day by any means.
When I picked up Alina up from school today, my day did brighten up. Of course, getting her at noon puts a smile on my face anyway...but then as I put her in the car, who shows up? Joshua. He decided to come home for lunch, and swing by first to see if we were still at her school and we were. It was a much needed, happy surprise. Then he came home to eat lunch with us, and watch some Madagascar 2 for the zillionth time.
Compared to many, I have no right to even breathe the words "bad day." So, whenever I am down in the dumps, and feel the urge to eat all the Oreos in the cupboard, I have to remind myself that God is SO good to me. He brings me blessings when I don't ask for them, and loves me even when I am a grouch. Why is this so hard to remember sometimes?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I have heard from many a wise parent not to push your child into potty training, but to let it come when they are ready and interested (to avoid potty hatred). We have had a little pink princess potty (that plays music when you go) since Alina first showed some interest-when she was 18 months old. Then the glory of using the potty faded, and we didn't do much with the singing potty for a while.
Well, Alina is one of the youngest kiddos in her class at school, so many of her friends are using the potty now. So, she decided to go at school, and then wanted to go at home! So, I thought....if we are doing this, we are doing this for real this time. In the first few days, she was peeing every time we put her on the potty, and on the first or second day we got some number 2 in there, too! I was THRILLED! I was thinking....oh my word, this is the easiest and best thing ever!
Two weeks later we have a child who poops on the floor. Oh yes. This is a process. All my joy about this taking no time at all has vanished, and reality has set in. Unless you are home 24/7 for days on end, there is no way to do this quickly. So, I have to just be okay with it taking a while I guess. She is still peeing in the potty about every time she sits on it, though....and going in her diaper, too...but we are getting results so now we must power through! More mini M&M's (or "baby M&M's" as Alina calls them), more dancing and clapping when we see a drop of pee in the potty. Ugh. Wishing children came out potty trained. Maybe my next child....
I can hear you laughing. *flush*
Thursday, February 10, 2011
All of this has really made me start to think about what I eat. I know that my husband enjoys meat (okay, so do I). So, when I cook dinner, it is rare that there is no meat involved in the meal. Whether it be chicken, ground beef, or pork....there is usually MEAT. But now this lady comes on TV and tells me all these health benefits of taking out this yumminess. But, instead of just taking this vegan lady's word on how healthy being vegan is, I googled some "benefits of being vegetarian"...no, not vegan...because seriously...taking out meat in itself would be a miracle for me, much less eggs and dairy, too. (Let me make a side note of saying that I know googling isn't true research. It is more like "research on the fly." And I definitely have learned not to believe everything you read online.) Anyways, as you may know, there really are some good benefits. So, then to be fair, I googled "benefits of eating meat" and found some interesting information there as well. I'm not going to list it out for you, but you can see that there is a dilemma here...mainly the issue with the protein differences.
Then there is the issue of "food costs." To be honest with you, I would love to shop for organic foods, getting lovely items from the "Fresh Market" all the time, and enjoying my crunchy granola on my organic soy yogurt. But the truth of the matter is, we can't afford that right now. (I can say this because pre-child, and during the 2 full time jobs part of life, we did try eating mostly organic, and it was expensive.) So, if I cut out meat and want to purchase the "fake meat", won't that cost me some serious cash? I don't know. I am really asking. :o)
All that to say, I want to eat healthier, and cut out some meat in our weekly menu. This should actually save me money, and be healthier...right? Heart disease and cancer run in both of our family lines, and that concerns me.
Are any of my blog readers vegetarian or vegan? I would LOVE to hear from you. And all my fellow meat-eating friends....fill me in on your thoughts, too. Just lots on my mind today, so I thought I would blog about it. Now, go eat your tofu burger! :o)
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
One of our friends in Greenville sweetly gave us a tutu she made before moving back up to Canada, and we love it! Recently, my mother-in-love gave Alina another cute pink tutu for dress-up. So, last night as we had music playing in the living room, we thought it might be fun to dress up together and dance. So we did.
Man, I love having a girl.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Here is a larger chart with more items on it. Yay! Enjoy the name of the site. (Sorry to whom it may offend) :
You can also go to wiki.answers.com and ask.
Happy Spice and Herb Substituting!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
My mom gave me the book "Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean" by Linda Cobb a long time ago. Okay, maybe I stole it from her...I can't remember. But nevertheless I have the book, and use it from time to time for some really helpful cleaning tips.
One GREAT tip that I use over and over again is for the plastic shower curtain liners. You know...the fabulous things that grow stuff in the shower that you see whenever you take a shower, but you ignore it because the thought of cleaning it makes your stomach turn. Okay, so WHITE VINEGAR is the answer here. Here is what you do...
"To remove soap scum and mildew from plastic shower curtains and liners, fill the washing machine with warm water, 1 cup of white vinegar and your regular laundry detergent. Add the curtains, along with several old, light-colored towels. Run through complete cycle and rehang immediately." Oh yes. No more scrubbing your shower curtains with a sponge or buying a new one. I have been doing this for several years, and it works! When we had the top loader washer, I did this...and now that we are borrowing my parents' front loaders, I still put some vinegar in with the detergent, just with about a half a cup of vinegar since that's all that would fit.
Well, this is one tip I have used...and I haven't even dug through the entire book (all 162 pages of cleaning tips) but if you want to check it out, she has a lot of natural ingredients for cleaning, along with some essential non-natural ones.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Two days before Christmas this year, Alina turned the big T-W-O and we couldn't believe it. We, or should I say I (who are we kidding...men do NOT plan for birthday parties) decided to go with Sesame Street theme....because Alina loves Elmo and because...let's face it, Sesame Street is awesome. So, I waited until the last minute to plan and decorate (as usual), and it didn't turn out professionally, but it turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.
Of course, Alina was tired and overwhelmed at her own party, but she did have a good time with family, and friends...and so did we! Thank you to all who were a part of her special day...in person or in spirit! Alina has been SO blessed by each and every one of you...and so have WE!
Wonder what shinanigans she will want for her party next year. Maybe I should start planning now! :o)
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Anyways, once every few months, my body decides to shut down in the sleep department. I will never forget one year while I was working full time, (this was pre-child)...I couldn't sleep hardly at all for about 2 weeks. It was the worst 2 weeks EVER! I remember moving from room to room in the house at night since moving locations is supposed to help...I set up a bedtime routine...also supposed to help...I drank Sleepytime tea...all those things...but still cried every night, wishing I could sleep. I finally went to the doc and she put me on something to help me get back in the sleep mode. Sleep is habitual...so if you are NOT sleeping, this can form a new ugly habit. It worked and I quit taking the medicine (thankfully it was not habit-forming).
Well, like I said...every few months or so this problem creeps up on me. It is weird, because sometimes Simply Sleep tablets work, sometimes they don't....sometimes vitamins work, sometimes they don't. Well, since Christmas break ended, I am back on the "difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep" train. It is probably due to the change in schedule. Haha. Anyways, the other night, or should I say MORNING since it was 2am, I was desperate and took Nyquil since that was all I had left (note to self...do not take Nyquil at 2am if you have to teach children the next day). I was still "asleep" at noon. So, yesterday I went back to the Vitamin Shoppe. A guy there told me to use this "Advanced Sleep Formula." It's got Melatonin, Hops, Passion flower, Valerian root, and some other vitamins in it. I know Valerian Root works pretty well, so we shall see how this works. The nice thing about the Vitamin Shoppe, is that if it doesn't work, you can take it back and exchange it for something else within 30 days. :o)
Anyone else have a love-hate relationship with sleep? Have any tips? Sorry for rambling...but really...I am just tired....and non-sleepers are NOT supposed to nap during the day! So, I blogged instead.