Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In

Today I am 145. That's up from last week.

I also followed up with my doctor today and he tells me every one of my labs came back fine, except for my B12 - which explains why I'm feeling low in the energy department. So now I have a honking huge mulitivitamin to take that will hopefully give me superpowers.


1 cup onion
1 tsp olive oil
2 bags Morning Star Farms crumbles
1 Jar pasta sauce
3 cans Bush's chili beans
2 cans light kidney beans
1 large can diced tomatoes (could use fresh, but I got overzealous and used them all in the salad!)

Carol Shelby spice packet

1. Brown onion in olive oil.

2. Add crumbles - warm/brown.

3. Add sauce, use jar to add 1/2 jar of water to pot, add all beans and tomatoes.

4. Mix in Carol Shelby spices - cover and simmer 30 minutes stirring occaisionally.

Serve with shredded cheese, tostito scoops, and sour cream.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mashed Potato Soup

I didn't take a picture of the soup, but here is a picture of the soup-lover. The temperature was 42 degrees this morning at 4:50am during my 5 minute drive to the gym. The high in our area was about 65 today which felt sooooo cold. Joshua asked me to make some Mashed Potato Soup tonight for dinner, so that he could bring the leftovers to school tomorrow for his lunch.

2 med baked potatoes
3 tsp butter
1 c. chopped onion
2 tsp flour
4 c. chicken stock
2 c. water
1/4 c. corn starch
1 1/2 c. instant mashed potatoe flakes
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1 c. half and half

1. Melt butter in large saucepan, saute onion until lightly brown.

2. Add the flour to make a roux.

3. Add stock, water, corn starch, instant mashed potato flakes and spices to the pot. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Cut already baked potatoes in half, scoop out flesh. Add potato flesh and half/half to saucepan, bringing soup to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with bacon bits, chopped broccoli, shredded cheddar cheese and anything else that sounds good!!

Makes about 6-8 servings.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rotini with Chicken Chunk Tomato Sauce

I love organic tomato products. I have some extended family members that think I'm crazy and that there is no difference between the $.99 store brand marinara sauce and a good organic pasta sauce. (Which is actually a big reason why my recipes, weight loss journey and other thoughts are posted over here separately from our regular family blog.) When I saw that our Publix had an unadvertised sale on Muir Glen tomato products and I had a handful of coupons for them, I stocked up yesterday at the store.

We had a spontaneous game-playing afternoon yesterday and while I did manage to get the groceries put away, the never-ending game of Disney Monopoly intruded on my menu planning time. So I threw together a pasta dish for dinner last night.

We only eat chicken maybe once a week because the Publix Greenwise chicken is pretty pricey. But for me it's worth the price to feed my family the best food possible. So I grabbed my newly purchased boneless, skinless chicken breasts, added them to a baking dish, covered them in the above can of tomatoes, covered that with aluminum foil loosely and baked it all for 45 minutes at 375 F. Towards the last few minutes, I boiled some water and added whole wheat rotini to the lightly salted water.

When the rotini was done, I drained it and plated it. Then I took two forks and shredded the chicken making the tomato sauce very thick. I added the sauce to the rotini and it was so delicious. Add a quick bag of steamed veggies and a couple of glasses of soy milk and voila...dinner is served!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Soda Fast

Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

I often times feel as though I'm quick to listen to other people's difficulties and to offer a hug and an "I'll keep you in my prayers". While I do with a genuine heart intend to keep most people in my prayers, often times I pray at that very moment and then seem to forget about it. I want very much to follow up with people and ask them about their situation or let them know that I'm still thinking of them. Even more so, I feel as though there are people that are too shy or too proud to ask for prayers for their situation.

Add in my current addiction to soda. I got on a coffee kick while living in Alaska, and now that I am in Florida, it is just too hot for coffee. Iced coffee just isn't yummy. But, oh man, that combination of carbonated water, artificial caramel coloring, high fructose corn syrup and caffeine in my favorite soda has become quite an addiction. I've been depending on the caffeine to give me a little boost in the afternoon when I am feeling my sleepiest.

I read last week in my devotion book, The Official Soccer Mom Devotional by Lynne Thompson, about a mocha fast. Lynne talks about her addiction to coffee and that by giving up coffee, every time she would drive past a coffee drive-thru, she'd pray for her friend in need. I'm about 3 days into my soda fast. Everytime I start to get a hankerin' for a soda (and I'm usually a 2-a-day-er), I take a moment to clear my mind and say a few words of prayer for someone that I know is in need. Amazingly, as I walk to the fridge, I find myself thinking of people that might not have even asked me to pray for them, just other moms with young kids that I know could use a little boost.

Since I'm on day 3, the headaches have passed and I'm feeling better than I felt yesterday. At the job fair, they had a huge table of drinks set up. I was so proud of myself for grabbing a water instead of a soda. It was a small victory, but a good one.

I'm off to do my Sabbath cleaning and refill my Camelback BPA-free water bottle.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Candied Sweet Potatoes


4 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup mini-marshmallows

1. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks. Boil for about 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Put sweet potatoes in baking dish, toss with butter and brown sugar.

3. Bake at 375 F for about 30 minutes.

4. Add marshmallows on top, bake for 5 more minutes.

Yummy! Everyone loved this. I actually used yams instead of sweet potatoes because I like the richer color. But aren't they practically the same?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins


3 eggs
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 c. grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c. flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in muffin cups.

2. In stand mixer - combine eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla.

3. In medium bowl - combine everything else.

4. Add dry mix to zucchini mixture. Combining just until thoroughly mixed.

5. Put in muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes.

We have a 24 muffin cup tin. I filled that, and made a batch of mini-muffins from the same mix.

I popped about 4 of the mini muffins while standing in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher. They are so good.

My Wardrobe Malfunction

I put away my scale for an entire month, and then forgot about it. I started this blog last month on the 11th and I weighed 147 lbs. This morning I woke up and decided to reweigh myself to really buckle down and set some goals. Today I am 143.4 lbs. That's nearly a 4 pound weight loss in about 6 weeks (roughly rounding). I think I can do better. I need to do better.

Tomorrow I am going to a big job fair for a new tower of a local hospital. The hospital is basically doubling in size and is in dire need for staff. Here is where my wardrobe malfunction comes in...I can't seem to get any of my blouses to button and stay buttoned over my chest. I've come to realize that it's not an issue with my chest, but that my shoulders have somehow broadened. I'm sure it's my big arms. Uggghhhh...I'm just so disappointed that in May I bought quite a bit of new business casual clothes that all looked great on me, and now nothing fits. After trying on everything in my closet, I did find something to wear tomorrow, and if I think about it, I'll have the hubby snap a picture.

So with my wardrobe issue - here is my plan. When I hit 140 lbs - I'm going to get some caramel colored highlights for my hair. I love having brown hair, and it seems like every time I get highlights, I come back as a blonde. But I've been talking to my new hairdresser and he completely understands that I like being a brunette. When I hit the 135 mark - I'm going to splurge on a hour long deep tissue massage. When I hit 130 mark I'm going to go all out and really learn how to take care of my skin. When I return to 125 (my goal weight, remember I'm barely 5 ft 4in), I'm going to spend a certain amount of money on updating my wardrobe with some casual clothes. I'm good in the business casual, church, and scrubs section. But regular old talk the kids to the park/grocery shop/casual lunch out with friends type stuff, I need help in that department.

Which brings me to my current wardrobe. I noticed that I have a lot of Juniors clothes. I recently learned that ODD numbered clothing sizes are from the juniors department. Which is probably why not only are things a bit tight, but tight in all the wrong spots. Juniors don't have birthing hips. So on my birthday - January 23rd - I plan to try on every single article of clothing that I own and if it doesn't look fantastic and make me feel fantastic, it is out of here. Seriously, you should see some of the things in my possession right now. We just celebrated my youngest's 3 year old birthday and I still have saggy, baggy maternity underwear in my underwear drawer. I think they are hidden in the back near the sexy size 2 silky things. On a busy morning - which do you think I'm reaching for? So needless to say, my husband is 100% behind me (probably so he can start seeing more of the sexy silky numbers).

A quite note about my health. I know my symptoms add up to something being not right. I'm loosing a huge amount of hair, my weight isn't budging, and I'm exhausted. I called my doctor last week and left him a message that I think I needed a thyroid work-up. When he had me come into the office, I had a sweatshirt on in the 76 degree weather, and I still had goosebumps. I tell him that the cold in the grocery store (not even the freezer aisle, just the plain store) is so painful for me. So the doctor sent me in for quite a bit of bloodwork, and all of those results are pending. In the meantime, I'm still working harder at taking better care of myself.

Wish me luck at the job fair.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Raspberry Pie

We used to make this dessert when we lived in Kodiak (Alaska). We'd use the salmonberries that grew in the bushes beside our house. Now we settle for store-bought raspberries, but eventually we'll grow some of our own berries again. Ingredients:
1 c. sugar
1 c. cold water
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 c. raspberry jello powder

8 oz. cream cheese
1 container cool whip

1. Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil until thickens - let cool.

2. Mix together cream cheese and cool whip in stand mixer. Spread on top of graham cracker crust.

3. Place berries on top of cool whip mixture, then pour the sugar mixture over berries.

4. Refrigerate for a few hours.

I accidently made this with fat free cream cheese. It was still delicious, but didn't have that creamy cheesecake-y smoothness to it. It was great as is, but I might add more fruit next time - maybe add some strawberries, kiwi, blueberries or blackberries.

Non-Cheeseburger Pie

1/2 onion
1 bag Morning Star Farms crumbles
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. Bisquick
1 c. 1% milk
2 eggs

1. Brown onion in frying pan. Add MSF crumbles to warm up. The crumbles pick up the onion flavor and get crispy in some areas.

2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Pour MSF crumbles/onion into pie plate. Top with cheese.

3. Mix last 3 ingredients. Pour over top of cheese.

4. Bake for about 30 minutes.

We cut this pie into 8 servings. Everyone loved it. Joshua had seconds.

Served with steamed mixed veggies.

Menu plan Monday (err, Tuesday!)

Yipes, what a busy week!

Vegan Tenderbits
Chicken/broccoli/rice side
Steamed greenbeans
Pinapple chunks

Non-hamburger cheeseburger pie
Raspberry pie
Steamed mixed veggies

Wednesday - BFD!! (breakfast for dinner!!)
French toast sticks

Broiled chicken
Sweet potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Steamed broccoli

Spinach and cheese quesadillas
Black beans/rice

Mummy-veggie dogs (we didn't do this last week)
Baked sweet potato fries
Fried okra
Pudding dessert

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pear Apple Crisp

Last week, I caught a little bit of the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. She was making a pear apple crisp and I thought it looked fantastic. Here is my own spin on the recipe - I left a few things out, and added a few other things according to our family's preferences.

4 pears - peeled and chopped
6 apples - peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
2 sticks cold butter, diced
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In large bowl, combine fruit, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into 9 x 12 by 2 inch deep baking dish.
3. Make topping - combine all topping ingredients in stand mixer - mix until mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over fruit.
4. Place a baking dish on top of a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
This was fantastic!! The house smelled so good. The kids loved it. The leftovers were great on top of waffles covered with vanilla yogurt for breakfast the next day. Yum!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Eeek, spiders!!

Joshua's kindergarten class is in need of snacks. They are also studying spiders this week. Put the two together, and we have spider snacks. Ingredients:
1 box round crackers
1 bag of small straight pretzels
1 tub of peanut butter
1 box of raisins

1. Spread crackers with peanut butter, put 8 pretzels (legs) coming out of cracker, top with another cracker.

2. Use more peanut butter to "glue" raisin eyes on spider.

3. Enjoy!!

We hope the kids love these as much as we do!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


That's the number of steps I took today all before I even sat down at the dinner table. The average woman in this country takes about 5,200 steps per day. Often times higher body weights yield lower daily step counts. My goal is to try to walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day every day this week.

Today started as an ordinary day - I decided to go for a walk with Daniel in the stroller after dropping the kids off at school. I walk a few hundred steps just getting the kids out the door in the morning! Daniel and I walked almost 2 miles. When we got home, Keith was feeling bored and wanted to go to Target for a few things we've been needing to get, so off we went. He felt so good walking around, that we walked for nearly 45 minutes, mostly just lapping the store.

Then after picking up the kids from school and doing basic housecleaning activities, I noticed the lawn needed some trimming. It really hurt hubby's pride to see me mow the lawn (he's still not cleared for that type of activity).

After mowing the lawn and other basic lawn work, I needed to adjust the pool chemicals.

Then it was time to make dinner, and toss in a load of laundry.

Yikes - how on Earth do other mom's do all this? Seriously? How do moms do the whole "take care of the house and family" thing, and juggle extracurricular activities? Seriously? I don't feel any ill-will toward these super-moms, I just want an ounce of their time management and energy!

I'm blessed that Keith is home with us more than usual right now while he is recovering from his surgery. However, for the next 9 months, it will most likely be just me and the kids. Because we knew that we wouldn't be living in the same house while he completes his time in the Coast Guard a few hours away, we began to jokingly call this year, "survival year". Meaning we are not taking on any extra activities, we are just going to work on keeping our family afloat while we financially manage two house holds and I act as a single parent.

I'm so blessed to have flexible kids that are loving the fact that we are spending time together as a family doing things together for ourselves and our home and occasionally for our church, instead of racing to individual activities. And today as I walked 9.03 miles between 6am and 6pm today, I realized that sometimes it's about the individual sacrifices we make for our family, that will hopefully leave a lasting impression on the kids teaching them to appreciate what we have and not long for more. Perhaps the exhaustion from being too active today has made me a bit philosophical.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

When I have more time, I'll figure out how to use that fancy Mr. Linky to hook up with Organizing Junkie's Menu Planning Monday list. Those ladies have such amazing ideas - it really helps inspire me to see what other busy moms are making for dinner. It also helps me to realize that it isn't really feasible at this stage in mine (or my children's) lives to be making a menu full of unusually unique, time-consuming recipes.

So here is our busy week -

Monday - honey mustard marinated chicken breasts - baked
corn on the cob from this weekend's farmers' market
butternut squash/chopped apple mash - in crockpot right now - yummy!!
butter mashed potatoes

Tuesday - eggplant parm - by request from Joshua
whole wheat rotini pasta
crock-pot pasta sauce

Wednesday - Dinner out!! We are going to our favorite Mom and Pop pizza joint and then heading to the pumpkin patch to pick out some pumpkins.

Thursday - grilled Muenster cheese sandwiches on fresh sourdough bread
pickles, tomato slices
dinner salad
vegetarian chili
** free circus tonight at the park at 7:30pm - eat fast!

Friday - BFD!!!! (Breakfast for dinner!)
hashbrowned potatoes with onions and peppers
egg white spinach omlets
chopped fruit (whatever is left in the fruit basket)

Saturday - crescent roll mummied vegetarian hotdogs
dinner salad
pasta salad
desert night: peanutty perfection
** Veggietales program at church 6pm - eat fast!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday is shopping day!!

Our first trip was to the farmer's market where we scored all of the above for $9.50.

When we got home from the farmer's market, Keith suggested I leave the kids with him so I could enjoy the rest of the grocery shopping by myself. Let me make two points here - I love grocery shopping by myself so much that it is a recreational activity - and, yes, my husband was greatly rewarded. :)

My first kid-free stop was to CVS - I had $10 in ECB (extra care bucks) and a bunch of coupons. It's almost euphoric saving this much money!

My CVS score -

Garnier Fructis (1) shampoo (1) mousse (1) hairspray - 3/$9.99 (sale) - $3 in coupons for $1 off each Garnier product = 3/$6.99 or $2.33 each.

Lysol 35 count wipes (2) - 2/$5 (sale) - $1 off 2 coupon = 2/$4 or $2 each (and fights flu!)

Sobe Life (5) - 5/$5 Earned 3 ECB

Curel lotion - $6.99 (sale) - $1 coupon = $5.99

Palmolive dishwasher detergent - $.99 (sale) - $.25 coupon = $.75

Jergens lotion - $5.99 (sale) - $1.00 coupon = $4.99

Colgate Total Advanced Whitening toothpaste $3.49 - $.75 coupon = $2.75 Earned 2 ECB

Tampax mulit pack 40 count with free razor $5.99 (sale) Earned 3 ECB

Total paid - $28.42 (used $10 in ECB)
Today saved $31.21 (coupons/sales/ECB)

Earned $10 in ECB

Next stop was Publix where I managed a few good deals there as well!

Aside from CVS and the farmer's market, I've managed to get our weekly grocery shopping bill to hover just around $100 - which is amazing for a family of 5. I pack lunches/snacks for two kids in school and we entertain for dinner at least once a week. We try to eat mostly organic.

Total grocery bill at Publix this week was $104.42 with a savings of $31.76.

Classico pasta sauce B1G1 and a coupon for $1/2 = $1.77 for 2 or about $.90 each

Publix probiotic yogurts on sale for 3/$5 - $1 coupon = 3/$4 or about $1.33 each

Wishbone salad dressing on sale B1G1 and a coupon for$1.25/2 = $2.87-$1.25=$1.62 or about $.80 each.

Lawry's marinade B1G1 and a coupon for $1/2 = $1.81 for 2 or about $.90 each

I can't really link to where the coupons come from, since I cut and organize coupons weekly from different sources - just about everything is from the Sunday paper and Publix flyers.

Happy Shopping!

Peanut Butter Jammies

I'm learning to love cooking with the kids. This weekend, Megan and I made Peanut Butter Jammies.


1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
6 Tbsp strawberry jam

1. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with knife. Place peanut butter, sugar and egg in mixer at medium speed. Add flour, stir well. Shape dough into 24 balls, place 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Press thumb into center of each cookie leaving a dent.

2. Cover and chill for 3 hours.

3. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes, cool, add jam into indention.

Very fun to make and very fun to eat. I liked that I could actually taste the peanut butter. I'll definitely be making these again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cucumber-Avocado Soup

I can't remember who gave me the original recipe, but here is our tweaked version of it. While I am aware that it is October and I should be making fall-related foods, the hubby is still recovering from his colon surgery and is only eating soups. This nice cool soup is one of his favorites.


1 large ripe avocado
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 large english cucumber
5 tbsp fresh tomato salsa
1/2 c. sour cream
garlic salt to taste

1. In food processor, combine avocado and cucumber and process until smooth.

3. Add broth, 3 tbsp salsa, lemon juice and sour cream, process until all combined.

3. Chill 2 hours. Add garlic salt to taste. I add a tbsp of salsa to the top as a garnish.

Eggs in a Nest

A very easy breakfast idea that my 6 year old loved helping with this past weekend was the making of some eggs in a nest.

1 slice bread
1 egg
salt/pepper to taste

1. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut shape out of bread.

2. Spray non-stick skillet.

3. Place bread in pan and break egg into hole.

4. Cook on both sides. Serve with toasted shape.

We added cinnamon sugar to our toasted shape for a treat.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Awesome crockpot blog

I thought I'd spread the word - this fantastic blog will encourage me to use my crockpot more!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette


1 1/2 cup quarted strawberries
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 c. thin sliced peeled peaches or nectarines
1 can mandarin oranges (rinsed)
2 tbsp slivered almonds toasted
10 oz. packaged fresh spinach, torn (or packages Spring Mix, depending on what's available)

1. Place 1 cup strawberries, vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper in blender, process until smooth. This is the salad dressing.

2. In large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. This is the salad.

This was my go-to recipe for summer time pot-luck parties when I was working at the doctor's office. This is one of my favorite salads, and my kids love it!!

4-Layer Chocolate Pie

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a healthy family blog. In our family we allow desserts for special occasions. Last night some friends of ours came over for dinner, so I figured it was a great time to pull out an old dessert recipe. These friends were our neighbors when we lived in Alaska and we've shared many meals between their house and ours. It was so good to sit around our table again and chat over a good meal. On the menu was tequila-lime marinated organic boneless-skinless chicken breasts covered in aluminum foil and baked for 35 minutes until they were perfectly cooked and very moist. Served with a pasta salad and a spinach salad with strawberry vinaigrette (recipe to come). For dessert we indulged in the 4-Layer Chocolate Pie. The food was good, the company was great and the children were so well-behaved I had to keep checking to make sure they were actually mine.

4-Layer Chocolate Pie (adapted from a recipe given to me by another Alaskan neighbor, Olla)

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (I was out so I used almonds)
8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool-whip
2 4 1/2 oz packages chocolate instant pudding
3 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
Cool whip

1. Combine pudding packages, milk and vanilla - put in fridge to set.
2. Combine butter, flour and pecans. Press into 9x13x2 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool.
3. In stand mixer (I love my Kitchenaid), combine cream cheese, sugar and cool whip (1 cup). Spread over crust.
4. Spread pudding mix over crust.
5. Top with Cool whip.

Chill before serving. Tastes best if it has been able to chill for a few hours, can prepare the night before and add final Cool whip layer just before serving.