Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Perfect Gift

Need the perfect Christmas gift for someone? Here are a few great ideas ...
  1. A cute little apron ... and my cookbook! 
  2. A basket with muffin mix (homemade or store-bought), a muffin tin and decorative liners ... and my cookbook!
  3. Homemade drink mixes, coffee mugs, herbal tea ... and my cookbook!
  4. Jarred spaghetti sauce, spaghetti noodles, pretty dish towels, a batch of cookies ... and my cookbook!
Notice a theme? Click the "E-Mail Me!" button over to your right to order your copy today! At only $10 plus $2.95 for shipping, they're a great deal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weight Loss

Lately I've been trimming down a bit. I have never been concerned about my weight, and have always been comfortable with my size. After the birth of our third baby, though, I found that even though I wasn't gaining pounds, they were redistributing in odd ways. I had one pair of jeans that fit well, and I wore them ALL THE TIME. But when they finally wore out, I knew I had to do something to get into the clothes I had because I sure couldn't afford to buy new ones!

I'm going to share with you a few simple steps I took that have helped me trim up - not that I've lost significant weight (not that I want to) just that I'm definitely a bit slimmer than I was. Actually, I've only lost 10 pounds in about a year! But my clothes fit much better, thankfully.

1. Sweets: I have never had a sweet tooth, so it hasn't been difficult to cut those down to a minimum. I still eat a few cookies when I bake them, but otherwise, I avoid baked goods.

2. Exercise: I love these diets that suggest an hour of exercise a day! When you're a homeschooling mom that is just absolutely impossible! So, I exercise about 20 minutes. Add in the time it takes to get ready (clothes, water, kids settled) and shower after ... that's long enough.

3. Protein: I happen to like protein best out of the food groups, so that's what I eat the most of. I could take or leave bread, so that hasn't been difficult to cut back on. I eat low-fat cheese, peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, sliced ham, nuts, chicken, bacon, etc.

4. Apples and Bananas: I have eaten lots of apples lately! Both fruits really feel like a full snack when they're cut into slices. I especially like eating them with crunchy peanut butter or Nutella.

5. Eating Less: I have made a concerted effort to eat less often, and less at each meal. Mostly this is because we haven't had a very large grocery budget and I don't have much to snack on! But I eat breakfast (high protein), lunch, snack (about 2-3 in the afternoon) and dinner. I do my best not to eat after dinner, but if I do, it's light and just enough to take the hunger pangs away so I can sleep. I also drink unsweetened hot tea which helps fill my tummy and feels like a treat.

6. One Meal A Day: I have at least one meal a day that I love. I'm not cutting out pasta - I love it too much! And potatoes are not going anywhere - I couldn't live without them! But I do practice moderation. I have found that a completely spartan diet does not work for me. I love food and there's nothing wrong with enjoying it - in moderation.

I haven't been drinking lots of water, no more than usual, I'm not counting calories, and I know I could lose more weight if I would just ________________. But again, my goal isn't truly weight loss, just a slimmer build and not having to buy new clothes!

So, I hope this encourages you to make small changes if you'd like to see a bit of difference in yourself. Obviously, these steps won't help if you're looking for significant weight loss, but they've helped me reach my goal!

Friday, November 18, 2011


I don't usually have anything at all to cook for Thanksgiving, but this year our schedule has changed up a bit. We'll be spending the day with Handsome's family, celebrating not only Thanksgiving, but my father-in-law's 70th birthday! For that event, I'm bringing:

Easy Yeast Rolls - I use this recipe, but substitute honey in place of the sugar, and I usually use 1/2 whole wheat flour.

Buttery Corn Casserole - I'll be using my modified version of this recipe, and doubling it!

Green Bean Bundles - This is a new recipe but it looked so good I thought I'd take the chance. I'm doubling this one, too!

For our church's celebration of Thanksgiving on Sunday evening, I'll be making Cornbread Dressing. My plan is to bulk up the ingredients, stretching the recipe to make a small pan for our family to have another night with chicken and gravy. Yum!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday Night Review 11/13

Sunday night I made two new recipes - and one I'd made only once before. All three were crowd favorites!

Baked Spaghetti Casserole - Our Oldest Girl didn't like the addition of cream cheese, but overall it was very well liked.

Crusty Baguettes - Super simple French bread. So good I made it for Monday night's dinner, too! I found the amount of flour to be way off, and actually added 4-5 cups of flour. Definitely let the dough rise, and use a cake pan or something similar to hold the ice - do NOT put it directly on the oven floor!

Brown Sugar Cookies - The maple glaze pushes these cookies over the top! Simple and addictive.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Some time ago, I posted this recipe for Lemon Orzo Soup. Since then, I found two articles on the soup being referred to by its actual Greek name, Avgolemono, which literally means "egg lemon". Pretty descriptive name, don't you think? Anyway, I've been eating this soup a lot lately because it's so filling and easy to make, not to mention fairly cheap. I've not even had pasta to put in it, and it's still enough to tide me over for lunch. In my original post I mention several add-ins you can use to enhance the soup, and I've discovered a new one: Tabasco sauce! A few glugs of that really push the flavor to a whole new level!

As for the articles I read, I think this recipe is a bit heavy on the eggs, but in the comments section there's a recipe for someone's Yia Yia's (Greek: Grandmother) recipe that sounds perfect and gets rave reviews from commenters.

This recipe is actually inspired by the aforementioned Yia Yia's version. Authentically Greek, apparently, though more complicated than my version. I'll definitely be giving this method a try one day!

As I stated in my original post, this soup is perfect for when you're feeling under the weather with a stuffy nose and/or a sore throat. It's my favorite comfort food for cold, blue days!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Green Onions

Did you know you could grow green onions in a glass of water? I didn't either until I read it on the internet recently. And you know that if the internet said it, it must be true! Well, not really - I figured I'd try it out for myself. As it turns out, they grow beautifully!

I change the water every day or so, but other than that, there's no maintenance involved. When I placed the onions in the little glass, they were only root ends with a bit of the white end. This picture was taken about 2 weeks into the experiment. I've yet to taste them, but they look and smell fine. I'll let y'all know how they turn out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A New Twist on Sandwiches

If you're a mom, you know how tough it is to keep kids happy when it comes to lunch. Maybe you're blessed with little ones who love to make their own PB&Js for lunch every day ... but I'm not! Actually, I don't complain because our Oldest Girl really likes to fix lunch for herself and The Boy. I mostly let them eat what they like (though they only have fairly healthful choices.) The only thing they really get bored with is sandwiches. They love turkey and cheese or ham and cheese, and peanut butter with jelly or honey. After a long stretch of eating those, though, they start to revolt. As a result of seeing that pattern, I try to vary their lunches each week so they don't get tired of the same thing all the time. I fix hot lunches a couple of times a week and the other days they have sandwiches or something they can fix themselves.

One way I keep lunch interesting is to vary the style of sandwiches. They love fillings wrapped and baked in crescent rolls (meat and cheese or PB&J). Tortillas and pita bread are always welcome, too. Whenever we have leftover hotdog buns, hamburger buns, or dinner rolls, they love to have sandwiches made from those. Of course, I change sandwich fillings, too - peanut butter topped with banana or apple slices, raisins, sunflower seeds, honey, jam, or Goldfish is always a big hit. Even though both big kids claim they hate mustard, I often put Dijon on their hot sandwiches like grilled cheese or in meat/cheese crescents. It's a different flavor that they don't identify as mustard, but gives them some variety. They also like Ranch as opposed to plain mayo. When I have fresh herbs handy, it makes Oldest Girl feel like a chef to put those on her turkey sandwich. Shredded carrots, lettuce (or cabbage!), or celery make a nice crunch while adding a few more vitamins and fiber.

What do you do to keep lunch interesting?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spicy Thai Noodles

I found a delicious recipe for Spicy Thai Noodles via Pinterest a few weeks ago. I have loved this new addition to my lunch repertoire so much that I had to share it with y'all!

The first time I made it, I tweaked it just a bit by adding fresh chopped garlic and ginger in with the oil. Also, I  halved it, added shredded chicken and served it warm. That made enough for me to enjoy for two lunches!

I made the recipe again this week, only I was too lazy to pull up the actual instructions on the laptop. I had a couple of changes I wanted to make, anyway.  I kept my additions of garlic and ginger, and reduced the amount of sweetener. I actually used only a tablespoon of brown sugar (I'm low on honey) and it worked perfectly. I used a combination of soy sauce and a touch of apple cider vinegar (cuts the salty soy!). Also, this time I had cabbage in the fridge, so I shredded some of that to use along with the cilantro, green onion and carrots - no chicken this time. I had that for lunch one day with leftovers in the fridge for another day.

The only catch was that Day One was spicy. I love spice, but I wanted to tone it down a bit for Day Two. I decided to add in a dollop of crunchy peanut butter while heating up the noodles. Perfection.

I should note, too, that I did all the prep work on Day One. I chopped veggies for two servings, and made sauce and noodles for two servings. The veggie toppings went into a ramekin, and the noodles I tossed with the sauce and put into a container, and both went in the fridge. Day Two required only heating the container of noodles (with the dollop of PB) and topping it off with the bowl of veggies. Easy as ... Thai.


I am all about saving some money! On Halloween, a friend posted that he had just carved a pumpkin. Immediately my spidey-senses were tingling! He was planning to come for dinner the next day, so I asked him if I could have his leftover jack o' lantern. He readily agreed, and I was very excited about the prospect of fresh pumpkin! To prepare it, since I use it mainly for baked goods, I carved Jack up into smaller pieces and laid them skin side down onto two baking sheets. Then, I added some water to the pans - just enough to barely cover the bottom. I baked them at 400° until the house smelled really good and the pumpkin was tender. After cooling them for a bit, I used a spoon to scrape the meat out into my food processor. When I needed a touch of water to loosen up the mixture, I used what was left in the baking sheets. To freeze it, I divided the pumpkin into 1/2 cup containers since my favorite recipes call for 1/2 cup or whole cup amounts. All in all, I ended up with over 8 cups of pumpkin! After pricing canned pumpkin at the store, I saved about $12, depending on the brand/sales. My first project was to make a double batch of Jeni's Pumpkin Bread, which I baked into muffins plus one loaf.

It just goes to show that with a little ingenuity and a bit of hard work, you can save a lot of money!