Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not-your-Grandma's Deviled Eggs

My husband requested deviled eggs as part of our Thanksgiving meal. I always thought deviled eggs were more of an Easter thing, but they are easy to make, so I threw some together.

12 hard boiled eggs
4 oz of Neufchatel cheese
3 Tbsp mayo
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp paprika

1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks; place in medium bowl. Add cheese, mayo, mustard, vinegar and sugar. Mix until well blended (I whip in stand mixer).

2. Spoon mixture into large resealable plastic bag. Snip a small opening in one of the lower corners of the bag.

3. Use the bag to pipe the filling into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika.

Super yummy. The kids just can't get enough of these. I usually end up making two dozen at a time.

$100 Cranberry Apricot Pie

Okay, so this pie doesn't cost $100 to make. But I did make it for a fund raiser for the Christian School in Kodiak, Alaska, where it was sold on auction for a winning bid of $95. Yes indeed, it was one of the highest priced deserts that night. Funny thing is that I donated the same pie to another auction the following weekend, and the same family won the pie again, this time for around $70. It really is that good!

1 double pie crust
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
3 (16 oz) cans of apricots - drained, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 egg white
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1. Roll pie crust out in pie plate.

2. Combine sugar, corn starch, 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, salt in mixing bowl. Add apricots and cranberries, stir to combine. Pour into pie crusted pie plate.

3. Roll out top crust. Paint 1/2 crust with egg white mixed with milk, brush the other half of the crust with the remaining sugar mixed with pumpkin pie spice. Use mini-cookie cutters to cut shapes out of both sides of pie crust.

4. Brush edge of bottom pie crust with egg white mixture to act as a glue for dough shapes. Alternate egg white painted shapes with pumpkin pie spice/sugar sprinkled shapes around the pie crust. Decorate center of pie with any remaining shapes.

5. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes.

This is my husband's favorite pie. Ever.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Banana Nut Muffins

2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
6 large mashed bananas
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2/3 c. melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all wet ingredients. Mix all dry ingredients. Mix both mixtures together. Really, it's that easy.
3. Bake for 25 minutes.
Makes 48 mini muffins.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blackberry Coffee Cake

Grandpa got back in town on Sunday night bearing gifts of fruit. He brought back a big container of blackberries and tells me they were sent with love from Aunt Oida in Atlanta, Georgia. This morning for breakfast, I stirred the blackberries with strawberries in some vanilla yogurt and granola. The kids were thrilled. But I still had a small mountain of blackberries to use.


2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. chopped pecans
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. butter

1. Sift together first five ingredients, and put in large mixing bowl; cut in butter until mixture looks crumbly.

2. In another bowl, mix together eggs, milk and vanilla, pour over flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

3. Spread in greased baking dish (I used an 8x8 square dish), top with berries.

4. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour and 2 tsp butter, mix with fork until crumbly. Add nuts to mixture. Sprinkle on top of cake.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

*Important to note here, I accidentally used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. I still thought the cake came out fantastic and probably would use bread flour again in the future - it was nice and light, not a heavy/gluey cake, but more of a light cake.

30 Day Shred and other stuff

I'm hopping the bandwagon filled with fabulous women I know that are all doing the 30 day shred workout by Jillian Michaels. I purchased the DVD yesterday after my "woe is me" moment of being angry at the world. With the help of some great comments both here and a Coast Guard spouses message board, I realized a few things...

Most importantly, the blessing to see in my possibly husbandless Thanksgiving is that after all we've been through the past many months, I actually care enough to be upset that he's not going to be here. That might not make much sense to many other people that haven't been to that scary place that we once were at. Clarissa's comment really brought that to my attention, so thank you, Clarissa for clarifying that very important point.

Another issue is that I deserve to treat myself better. I really fell into some unhealthy habits when Keith got sick. I was eating hospital food for weeks at a time which meant things like spaghetti or grilled cheese and french fries. Mostly because by the time I would feel comfortable leaving Keith's bedside, he would be asleep and the healthier options in the hospital cafeteria would be already closed down for the night. I'm sure if the kids were with me at the hospital, I would have worked harder to find better meals, but when it's just me, I tend to be fine with a granola bar and coffee. And by eating very little all day, meant I was so ravenous by the evenings, that I ate really bad things and lots of them.

Anyway, while picking up a few Christmas presents at Target yesterday, I realized I had a some money left in the budget to buy the 30 Day Shred. Funny how I was thinking the same thing that Amber posted on her blog - there's about 30 days between now and Christmas, I'm going to start the workout now and my Christmas gift will be the results. Surprisingly, even though I am rather vain and would like to stop tucking my belly into my pants and watching my arms flapping in the breeze when I play basketball with my oldest. The real present is actually taking the time to do the work out. Will I actually be able to block out the crazy world that is my house every other day for 30 minutes to spend some time on myself? Gosh, I almost feel guilty, but then I remember how worth it I am.

And I did try the workout today. I think I maybe completed 2/3 of the first 20 minute workout, because I did have to stop to rest. A big thank you to everyone who recommended it. I really like the different style of this work out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Put down the Oreos

Let me start by saying that I don't ordinarily buy Oreo cookies. I purchased them to crush for the base of a dessert that I was making, and so I had some left over in the pantry. Usually such delectable things don't cross our thresh hold.

I'm just having one of those days that I could stand in front of the pantry and eat, eat, eat to try to feel better. Hubby was supposed to be on medical leave until December 1st. However, he got a call today from the base telling him that he's basically had enough time to heal and that he needs to report back to work on Wednesday. That would be the day before Thanksgiving. While I do agree that he's probably in okay shape to return to some working conditions, I think the timing of it pretty much sucks. I mean, really, if one of the base docs writes for him to be home until Dec 1st and that time includes a traditionally big family holiday, wouldn't you think we'd make plans as a family? So Wednesday the hubby has an appointment on base to get his "going back to work paperwork" squared away by a different doctor than that one that has been following him.

I guess I'm just bothered that we made plans actually following the rules. I actually allowed myself to get excited that we were going to spend Thanksgiving together as a family. This was/is important to me. We just bought our "forever" house, we are finally near extended family and we are finally functioning as a normal family unit after our dang-near divorce last winter. It's kindof like the first big holiday in our new not-falling-apart life. I let myself get excited about the holiday and I got let down big-time. Usually how the holidays work is that I don't get excited. I adapt a mindset of "if he's here, then he's here". But this year it was in the bag - he had the paperwork that said he was going to be here and we had made plans to cook together, do crafts with the kids together, go for a family guessed it...together.

I'm also bothered that there is now a new doctor in the mix of this medical mess. Really? Do we need one more person trying to get involved in this? I realize that his case is pretty cool and that there are a lot of higher ranking people going out of their way to help us probably because they, too, get a little recognition for their efforts. Not to sound too cynical, because we have gotten quite a bit of genuine help, too. But I can't help but wonder why someone who has not been a part of this medical case in the 5 months that it's been going on, is all of a sudden trying to take charge.

I applied for a job that I was pretty excited about. Except for the hubby, I didn't tell anyone about it. Today, a human resource person called me to let me know that she thinks the job is being filled but that she is passing my resume and cover letter along because I am a great fit for the job. Yeah, I know I'm a great fit for the job, but it doesn't do any good if the job is filled. *sigh* I'm feeling really grumpy.

I did stand in front of the pantry and eat 3 Oreos before I made dinner. I put them away because it's not worth undoing everything that I'm working so hard to do. Plus, I'd rather save my points for the wine I'm sure I'll be drinking tonight after the kids go to bed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sweet Potatoe Casserole

I didn't get a picture because I was running out the door! If I take pictures again on Thanksgiving you'll get a delicious peek at this yummy southern dish.

I calculated this dish at 5 points for 1/2 cup serving size. And that's when I decided that it really will be okay if I just forget about WW for one day. Since I mostly eat good anyway, it's more the exercise portion that I really need to emphasize and I plan to try to sneak more exercise in this week surrounding the food frenzy (er, I mean Thanksgiving holiday).

6 med sweet potatoes
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. melted butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp salt

1 c. packed dk brown sugar
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c. chopped pecans

1. Cover sweet potatoes with one inch water. Boil for 20 minutes, drain, allow to cool, remove skins.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 quart dish.

3. Place potatoes in mixer (I *heart* my mixer!), beat on low until potatoes begin to break up. Increase speed to medium high and mix until smooth.

4. Reduce speed to low, add sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, eggs and salt. Mix well.

5. Pour into casserole dish.

6. Prepare topping in a small bowl - I usually double the ingredients and make lots of topping. I also like to use the butter cold and chopped into cubes and cut into the flour mixture to make a crumbly topping that I can sprinkle over the sweet potatoes.

Bake for 40 minutes.

It is not Thanksgiving for my husband unless we serve this dish. I'm not sure how close to his mother's recipe this dish is, but it's definately delicious!

Spinach Balls

2 (10 oz) packages of frozen chopped spinach
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 eggs lightly beaten
salt/pepper to taste

1. Cook and squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach.

2. Mix all the ingredients together.

3. Shape into small balls. Bake 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

I brought these to HUGS - the mom and infant group I help facilitate with at our church on Thursdays. Everyone loved them. They are also great dipped in some ranch. I would probably serve them with a dip cup full of ranch and some other veggies on a veggie tray in the future for parties. I'll bet they'd look great with some nice cherry tomatoes for a red and green Christmas look.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weighing in for real

Well, my weight is exactly the same at 145.4 lbs. However, according to the gym measurements, my percentage of body fat has dropped 0.3 % in the past few weeks. I'm pleased with that.

Completely not relevant, but still makes me feel good....I bought some new jeans at Kohl's the other day. After trying on a million pairs of jeans, I picked two pairs that are both very flattering. Depending on the style, one is a 6 and the other is an 8. Yesterday on a school field trip, I caught one of the mom's checking out my butt. We both had a good laugh and she wanted to know who made my jeans.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weigh-in Wednesday

I forgot to weigh-in this morning with all the hustle and bustle to get out the door for a field trip. I'm afraid to weigh in now because it's the afternoon and I'm obsessive about weighing in at the same time of the day. I'll hop on the scale first thing in the morning.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

With all the cranberry sauce sales cropping up for Thanksgiving, this week presented the perfect time to make some sweet and sour turkey meatballs. This is often my pot luck go-to dish because it is so easy and so yummy!


1 pound ground turkey breast
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp minced onion
1 egg

1/3 c. Ketchup
1/4 c. chili sauce
1 - 16 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce

1. In a large bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, parsley, onion and egg. Mix well and shape mixture into 24 meatballs. Set aside.

2. In crockpot, combine cranberry sauce, ketchup and chili-sauce. Mix well. Gently stir in meatballs. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Great over brown rice with some steamed veggies. Everyone in my family loves these. Infact, I have to double the recipe because the kids love taking the leftovers to school the next day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shhhh....a confession!

I went to lunch at my mother-in-law's house as usual this Saturday. She is a great cook. However, for dessert she baked peach cobbler. I had never had peach cobbler before. Here's my confession....I hated it. I don't like canned peaches and I don't like doughy stuff - it was like not-quite cooked bread with syrupy peaches mixed in. Is that peach cobbler? If so, it's pretty yucky.

This ordinarily wouldn't be an issue, however, my husband was born and raised in Georgia and LOVES peach cobbler. It nearly killed him a few weeks ago when I was cheering for the Florida Gators instead of the Georgia Bulldogs (and the Gators won!). I'm afraid my peach cobbler confession would send us straight to marriage counseling without passing Go or collecting $200.

*sigh* Give me a fruit crisp any day. Maybe it's texture related - I'm a crunchy girl.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Roasting Pumpkins

Earlier this week, I roasted 3 small pumpkins and ended up with 5 cups of pumpkin for my freezer. I also roasted all of the pumpkin seeds - 1/2 of the seeds were dusted with cinnamon sugar and the other 1/2 of the seeds were dusted with kosher salt. I much preferred the salty seeds to the sweet ones.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-in

Drum roll, please.....

Down 1.2 pounds to 145.4

It was an okay week. I had pizza at my nephew's birthday party this weekend, and washed it down with a piece of cake followed by 16 oz of Coke.

We also ordered pizza one night this week, and I only had one slice with a big salad.

We went to Subway last night for Hubby and Grandpa's free subs in honor of Veteran's Day - I had a turkey 6 inch sub with real mayo and a ton of veggies, Doritos and a Dr. Pepper.

I just found out we are having a HUGE family reunion the last week of December/first week of January. I really want to be feeling better about my body by then.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick easy meal

I haven't really committed to a scheduled menu this week (or last week!). Tonight, I boiled up two boxes of Fettuccine Alfredo and added two bunches of broccoli during the last few minutes. Served with a salad made up of bagged organic baby greens, walnuts, chopped apples and a few stray blueberries.

Ideally, I would have the time to make my own alfredo sauce and cover whole wheat pasta with it. However, today I was busy playing an alphabet game with one of the kids and dinner just snuck up on me. Times like these make the convenience foods that I acquire on sale worth hanging onto to. I'd rather take something partially unhealthy and make it better, than drive through for fast food.

Everyone cleared their plates - including huge helpings of salad for everyone.

Orange Smoothies

I bought some oranges on Friday. However, today when I peeled into one, it just didn't have any flavor to it. I didn't want to just toss out the other 5 oranges, so I pulled out this Orange Ice Smoothie mix that had been in the pantry.

Overall, the dull oranges didn't improve once they were added to the mix. I ended up tossing the rest of the oranges into the garbage disposal. Bummer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Grocery Budget Thoughts

Tonight while I was blog-surfing, I came across Laura's post over at The Peanut Patch discussing her food budget. After reading Laura's post, I realized that she verbalized many of the same thoughts I've been having this past month. As times are tight for everyone I know and holidays are just around the corner, my family is looking for more ways to stretch our monthly budget. (I'll be blogging about our Christmas budget soon.)

When we only had one child, we were organic everything - meats, fruits, veggies, milk, you name it! We were also two working professionals bringing in a pretty healthy income. Fast forward to now - more kids, less income. Yikes! And these kids are getting older which means more activities which all seem to have hidden costs - other kids' birthday parties, play dates, etc. What it comes down to is that I need to feed my family of 5 in the most cost effective way possible, and perhaps that means exploring some different grocery techniques.

I followed this blog for a week or two before I developed the courage to dive into the coupon world. Sarah at Fiddledeedee really broke it down for me in a way that I could make the most of my couponing and in the process become a savvy CVS shopper. Even my CVS clerk is impressed.

There are many, many blogs about CVS savings. With more CVS stores carrying food items, I've been able to score great deals on different broths, soups, cereals and other staples.

I've also become very familiar with my grocery store of choice (Publix), I don't need to wander around willy-nilly looking for things, tempting myself with impulse purchases. I like to make the most of my time in the grocery store. Our Publix also takes competitive coupons. I get weekly competitive coupons from other grocery stores, and I bring them with me to my Publix store.
I use a baseball card organizer to hold my coupons. This allows me to flip through them quickly while reading the grocery flier, and pull out anything that I'll be using.

I only cut coupons for items that we'll actually use. No fruit roll-ups, or other things of that nature. We aren't really convenience foods type folks. We don't eat much meat. We do eat alot of beans and meat alternatives. I do pack lunches for both big kids 5 days a week for school. After I've made my grocery list (using the store flier), I use that list to guide my menu for the week. So if pasta is on sale, we'll have a spaghetti night. If beans are also on sale, I'll add a couple of cans of tomatoes to my list (or check my pantry to see if I got any extra during the last sale!) and add black bean soup to my menu.
Overall, I spend between $100 and $120 a week on our grocery budget. Add in about $10 a week on CVS deals.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Darn you PMS!!!

Today's weight is 146.6 lbs. Are you noticing a pattern? Did I mistakenly purchase a scale that only moves in the wrong direction? *Hanging my head in defeat*

However, I will say that I am due to start my period any second now. Seriously, my back is killing me and that's where all my cramps are, thanks to my weirdly positioned uterus. I know I am holding onto some water because my wedding band is wicked tight and usually I can wiggle it up and down my finger (I do this alot when I am nervous or pondering something).

On an upside, my muffin-top is looking smaller. And I'm having a great hair day. :) And hubby bought a Wi-fit yesterday so I'll add that into my routine. I'll post more on my exercise routine later. We've got to get out the door to another doctor's appointment for the hubby.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Crockpot Overnight Oatmeal

I'm trying to work more breakfast options into my routine. Up until recently, I had been in a bagel with cream cheese rut. Ummm, yeah, that's high on points and low on nutrition. In my search, I found a recipe for oatmeal that cooks while I'm sleeping.

1 c. steel cut oats
4 c. water
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Dump it all into the crockpot, stir together, turn on low. Let cook overnight. Wake up to yummy goodness. This is 4 points per cup. I had a 1/2 cup (2 points) and an apple for breakfast. Very, very filling.

The kids loved it with a tiny bit of half-and-half mixed in to cool it down.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's all about the numbers

I got an email asking me what the number in parenthesis in my label section of my posted recipe refers to. Well, folks, it's the certain value that my serving size is worth - for those of you fellow number-crunchers doing the Weight Watchers plan. These days I'm allowed to eat 22 points a day, and if stretched out enough, it ends up working out fine. As soon as I loose track of my good eating habits, my whole day can easily be shot. An example would be earlier this past week when my father-in-law returned from a business trip and invited me out to breakfast. It was spontaneous and I ordered what appeared to be a healthy fruit/organic yogurt/homemade granola meal - well after checking, I realized I had eaten 16 of my daily points in just one meal. I had the wiggle room with all the activity points I earn per day, as well as my weekly flex points, so it all worked out in the end.

Why am I doing WW? Well, for me it's a no-brainer. I thought I knew how to eat good. I thought I was making great choices. Turns out I wasn't. So for me, WW is giving me so much education and freedom to choose what I eat based on what my goals are. Today, I know I'm supporting my son's school fall festival by working the bouncy house. I could pack a healthy lunch - or I could purchase a hotdog/drink/fruit meal for $5. I'm going to purchase the meal and I've already calculated the points and I'm going to be sure to get a few activity points in before we leave for the day, not to mention the activity points I'll earn when I'm there (I love my pedometer!!). WW has helped me to learn the balance between exercise and food portions. Eventually, I'll go off the program and do it myself, but for now, I need "big brother" coaxing me along.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick-or-treat memories

My husband took the kids trick or treating a few streets over in his parent's neighborhood. Most of the people that live in that neighborhood have lived there for 30 years and saw my husband grow up. It brought them so much pleasure to see my husband bringing our kids around. There were quite a few neighbors that made up special goodie bags for our kids - some of them included healthier items like trail mix, and even a few dollar bills. One neighbor had a table set up with drinks set out in their driveway and was giving bottled water to the grown ups and juice boxes to the kids. When the kids arrived back home to our neighborhood they were thrilled with their experience. We did ring a few doorbells on our end of the neighborhood.

Even though there were countless "alternative to trick-or-treating" activities, I still like the magic of neighborhood trick-or-treating. I find it to be a little on the silly side for churchs to hold "trunk or treats" where kids walk around cars that have trunks open and pick up candy. I think it takes all the work out of it. My kids walked over 2 miles last night - laughing and shining their flashlights all the way. We also got to meet many of our neighbors.

I think next year, I might encourage some of the neighbors on my end of the street to hang out with me in the driveway with the firepit and some healthy snacks. I'd love to see Halloween for my kids be like it was for me and my sisters when we were growing up. I don't remember being out for hours collecting a ton of candy. I do remember all of our neighbors being outside and laughing our way from house to house coming home with a few trinkets, some candy and a full UNICEF box.