Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Where the hell have I been? Well, all over I guess. Lately I have just had other projects going on which prevented me from posting. I have some pictures to post and need to grab a moment to pull them off the camera. I'll get to it.

Here's a pic of my lunch today @ work. I love this dish! It's called Lentils with Pasta and Kale. I did make one change to it and I used Swiss chard instead of the kale. My local grocer said she could run out and cut me some kale (she grows it hydroponically) but I though I would try it with the Swiss chard that was already cut. I had never had it before and thought it was time to try another leafy green. Well.....I love this vegetable! It tastes like spinach but has a nutty-buttery taste. This dish is easy and healthy. Lentils cook in no time, I caramelized two onions, blanched the Swiss chard and tossed in the al dente pasta. Presto!

I had planned on using my own pasta but didn't get a chance to make a batch this weekend. I overbook myself and end up getting less accomplished. Maybe I can get a batch in this Sunday. I just won't plan on it and maybe it will get done.

Friday, April 24, 2009

School pictures

Here is my little man. This is his second school photo (he's in the 1 year old room @ daycare). I am holding to my little tradition of keeping one picture frame and just putting new picture on top of last year's. Every time I do that I love to look at all the pictures from years past. Originals will be going out in mail for all grandparents!

I also ordered Bella's school pictures and I should be getting those back soon.

Week ending May 1st

Dinner Menu for the week:

Saturday - Homemade Pizzas
Sunday - Chicken Parmesan with brown rice (I bake them layered with feta cheese, served over the rice)
Monday - Pasta with Lentils and Kale
Tuesday - Black Beans over brown rice (from dried beans, hope to simmer the sauce Sunday)
Wednesday - Pea and Bacon Risotto (I've had some aborio rice in the pantry for years I think. I have some frozen saved pieces of bacon and frozen peas)
Thursday - Pasta with Lentil Bolognese (Made this before and it's a keeper. This time I'll add some fennel a friend grew and gave me)
Friday - Vegetable stew with home made bread (for dipping!)

Let's see. My goal here is to create a menu using as much of what I already have in my pantry and what things I can make myself like the pasta, bread and pizza dough. I already have dried, lentils, dried black beans, aborio rice and brown rice.

There's a recipe I am dying to try and I'll call it Val's Red Curry with Braised Greens. I have to make sure I can find the red curry sauce before I can make it. I'm not sure if my local grocery stores will carry it and I have to wait until my husband is able to go to Whole Foods to look there. I'll be looking for it this weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

It's Earth day! Hope everyone is doing something special today to help. Even if it's something small, it's something. I started off my morning noticing once again that we are the only recyclers in the hood. Next year I think I'll get extra blue bags and hang one on every mailbox Earth day eve and see what happens. It's worth a try.

Monday, April 20, 2009

First visit to the beach for 09

Grandpa and grandma are in town this weekend and yesterday we decided to take a quick trip over to the beach. It's about an hour from the house. The funny thing is we usually only go to the beach when family comes to visit or if I plan ahead and "book" a Saturday or Sunday. Seems there is always so much catching up to do at home on the weekends we never take the time to get out and enjoy the outdoors and other places.

It was very therapeutic for me. I love the ocean air, smells and sounds. I need to make a point to get in more beach time this summer. It's free (unless you fall victim to the place I mention below) except for gas and parking. Bring your cooler with drinks and lunch then enjoy a couple of hours.

Her normal cautionary standing was no more this trip. She went straight for the water and straight towards any kid her age to play with. She always makes many friends.

This was Kristjan's first visit. At first he didn't know what to think about the beach. It's a huge bathtub! I am sure it was a bit overwhelming at first. He was a bit scared by the waves.

He settled in nicely with a couple of buckets with water and the sand. He even let the waves wet him a bit. As soon as they were getting comfortable, it was time to go. I promise I'll take you again soon.

After the beach we tried to go to this seafood place we like but could not find a place to park so we headed home and figured we may find another place. We then found a Joe's Crab Shack where they have the most amazing seafood menu I have seen in a very long time. They also offer buckets of seafood! I got the "Joe's Steampot" which was a large bucket with Dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes. It was lip smackin! They made me wear this cool bib and gave me this great tool for getting in to those crab legs. I took that baby home! I plan on going back there to collect another!

I'm assuming I'm not the only one that HAD to take the tool home after using it. On it, it reads: "Stolen from Joe's Crab Shack".

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gooey and good

Ok, I gotta sandwich for you. It's the grilled vegetable & mozzarella panini recipe I got from Epicurious. It was so easy and so delish! We did change a couple of things though. Chris grilled the veggies for me instead of broiling them and then I made the bread and sliced it verses buying the chiabatta bread. Chris thought this sandwich was as fresh as it gets. Fresh baked bread, basil from the backyard and veggies right off the grill. Gordon Ramsey would be proud.

My only change for the next time around would possibly be the cheese. I may go for Fontina, Chevre or even Brie for more flavor. Mozzarella is so gooey and to be honest, I can't find any flavor in it. I think I might try all three cheeses and mix up the veggies too. It's all about having fun with it!

Melted madness! Chris said is was a messy sandwich. All my sandwiches are. I always over stuff them. If it's messy, it has to be good!

Here's Chris's American Wheat beer chugging along in the carboy (fermenting in the frig). The American Wheat beer has developed it's own style different from the German Weizen. The American wheats are similar to flavor but are brewed with an American ale yeast rather than the Weizen yeast used by the Germans. There is more hop flavor and aroma and more base malts. He will be bottling it in two weeks. Should turn out to be a great summer brew.

We had a good rain the other day finally. At sunset the whole sky was bright red. Had to enjoy the moment.

After the brief sunset, look at who I saw waiting for me at the glass door. He's trying to lick his way out. How could I have gone outdoors without him? You just had a bath buddy, no rolling in the grass for you.

My two teasers. They both like to tease each other. I am an only child so all of this sibling stuff is new to me. I'm finding it fascinating to watch how they react and grow with each other.

I wonder if I'll still find it fascinating when they're teens.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This is where I am in my mind today...

I seem to be going through a motivational slump these past few days. Just tired and low in energy. I mean, I can feel my gas gauge on low and I can't seem to find any gusto.

There are multiple factors to this. I have fallen off my diet at times to indulge in cheese and pasta as well as just nibbling too much. It's been really slow at work. Scary slow. When boredom sets in, I grab a snack. I bring my nuts in, but eating nuts all day isn't good either. My new cholesterol pills are playing with my digestive system. This same prescription caused my dad and Chris to discontinue use. I am a new patient on these meds and so far all okay except the bloating factor (TMI I know). My love of barley water either be it home brew or German pilsner tacks on empty calories. Then there's the lack of exercise. My usual excuses to myself go along with that one. No time, too much to do, too tired etc.

Ironically, to boost my energy I need to get up and moving. I think all would be fine if I just got off my ass without letting that voice in my head suggest otherwise. When I was overseas I ate like a horse, drank like a fish and still lost 30 or more pounds. All because I walked daily from here to there, swam almost daily and danced all night in clubs. Wow! Forgot how fun that was...

The exercise then though was enjoyable. Enjoyable to the point that you didn't even realize you were exercising. I was just doing and being. Getting on that treadmill seems like a daily duty that you force yourself upon. At least in my case it is. Man, there's that voice again.

I should have plenty of motivation. I mean, my health depends on it and my family depends on me. I have to get out of my own head and just do it.





Friday, April 10, 2009

Week ending April 17th

Dinner Menu for the week:

We have a freezer full of salmon and halibut we order direct from Alaska. It's line caught, not farm raised. Believe it or not, it's a better deal than getting it form the store each week. We can never find halibut here in the store either. I love that fish! One order can last us up to 3 months or so.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Living in a box town

I'm a little past due on a quality vent. So here it goes. I did not have any lunch for work this morning and we are short staffed at work so I knew I better get something on my way in. My healthiest option in my town that's open in the morning (hell, I think it's the healthiest option all day) is Subway. Sad, I know.

I got in line and then started looking around. Thought a veggie salad or veggie salad with tuna might work. Upon looking at the ingredients, I noticed the tuna had dried dark brown bits on the top, the lunch meat was discolored and gross, the cheese looked dried up and the veggies looked picked through and wilted. In disgust, I leave and just head to work, knowing my only other options are fast food or country kitchen greasy buffets.

That's all there is here. Fast food, big buffets and a couple of chain restaurants like Chilis and Ruby Tuesday's which we all know are actually worse for you than McDonalds. There are no family run cafes, no cool pubs or brew houses, no coffee shops or Starbucks, no Barnes & Noble to read (or small bookstore) and have a tea or coffee and no restaurants that serve any organics or even quality whole food.

Here it's just about quantity, not quality. What's also sad is that I don't believe the healthier or unique places would survive here. The people here like their Walmart, their all you can eat fried foods and their Nascar. It's a Folgers town, not a Starbucks town. Maybe there's nothing wrong with that and that's fine. I just don't think I belong here. This is not the place for me. Chris completely agrees. We stand out like water on chocolate here.

It's the same at work; which is in the city, but I work in the not-so-good part of town. People call me "difficult" at lunch because I refuse to give in and simply go to McDonald's. When I explain why, I get even more ridicule. It's silly to these people to worry about GMO's in your food, high fat, factory farming, pollution, processed foods etc. I am made out to be the moron. Excuse me for wanting to eat whole foods from the earth. You know, like vegetables or grains? It all makes me refocus on my inner soul wanting so much to flee this place.

I want to live in a town where real food is just as prevalent as the processed crap. I want to live in a town with a local park free of garbage and that is well kept. I want to live in a town where I can go outside and actually say "It's beautiful here" or feel some sort of pride and belonging. Think most of the people that live in Positano Italy or near the mountains in North Carolina hate where they live? Doubt it. I want to be able live in a town where you don't have to worry about locking your doors and cars - even when you are home. I want to live somewhere that has great places in nature to visit and let the kids learn and explore. Most of all, I want to be able to say "I love it here."

There is a bright side here though. Bright side is my parents are here, I met Chris here and I did have a good childhood here. But places change and I have changed. I know there are plenty of other places to try and explore. Places where being different is ok and trying eat whole foods is not a joke around the office.

Patience grasshopper. That's all I can think of right now. That's all I can do. Live with it and put a smile on my face. It will be a few years and then someday I hope to be able to finally say, "I love it here."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Outdoor play

The perfect times of the year to me in Florida is Fall and Spring. There are more days in the 60's at night and the 70's during the day. Time to get outside!

I can't count how many times Chris had to fetch that ball from over the fence!
Someone hears a puppy dog from next door. Better get to the back fence and take a peak.

Bella likes to swing.
Another afternoon. This time we got out the water hose and turned on the sprinkler.

Should I make a run for it?

Tonight I am going to attempt at another pizza dough ball for Thursday's Pizzas. The one I made Sunday is still a small rock in the frig. Either I killed the yeast with my water being too hot (thought it was fine) or I kneaded it too much. I have a lot to learn.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pucker up

That was the facial expression we all had in common with Saturday's Moroccan Chicken dish. It was way too sour! We all were puckering! Too many lemons and then adding the green olives only made it worse. I loved the spice combination, just not all those lemons. I will not make that again with lemons, perhaps oranges.

I did save the chicken that was left and picked out the olives. I used the chicken for Sunday's dinner by shredding it and adding with the beans for my burritos. I'll save the olives for my pizza.
This is the orchid we got for Chris. He loves it. Bella was to excited for him to come home and see it.

This is his baby. She finally opened for him. I'll have to get a better lit picture up. The details are truly beautiful.

Look at my Grocery shopping day! I saved $91.21 in stuff! I used buy one get one free offers (BOGO) along with coupons. Some items I got free and others I maybe paid a few cents for two! Then I utilized coupons with store sales. I picked up more foods than normal this time but I am getting my "stockpile" built up. Once I have my stockpile ready I will be able to have enough food and supplies at home to only need "bare essentials" instead of the whole load of things each time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Week Ending April 10th

Dinner Menu for the week:

  • Saturday - Moroccan Chicken w/ Green Olives & Lemon (page 44 in May 2009 Bon Appetit mag) **or** Mussels in white wine sauce with my baked bread & salad (they are buy one get one free this week at my local store, will have to see if they are any good & at a good price first).
  • Sunday - Black Bean & Chicken Burritos (using dried beans in pantry this time)
  • Monday - Amy's California Burgers w/ Salsa & Mashed Rutabaga
  • Tuesday - Hearty Country Fritatta (minus the ham)
  • Wednesday - Pasta with Lentil Bolognese (using my pasta and lentils I have in pantry)
  • Thursday - Roasted Garlic, Feta & Veggie Pizzas (going to make my own dough this time)
  • Friday - Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree (very good recipe) & Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

All of these meals provide leftovers for Chris and I to take to work for lunch. Well; not the fish of course, that's why it's normally a Friday or Saturday meal.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Coupons, coupons and more coupons

I have developed a large coupon binder. It's filled and organized. I have multiples of the same coupons (thanks to my co-worker that also works for the paper and gives me extra Sunday papers!). The idea came from a friend of mine as well as other ladies online. I am a member of where I get reports on CVS and Walgreens. Using this tool I can take advantage of crazy deals on things like toiletries and such.

I am still learning the technique. My friend can basically spend $3.50 and walk out of those places with $30.00 worth of stuff!

I use a blog called to help with my Publix savings. I just found out about as well. That site I can print tons of online coupons. I utilize BOGO's with coupons really. I have save as much as I can. Why pay full price if you don't have to? I am trying to use my bulk dried goods and the local produce grocer, but for baby needs, toiletries and such I have to go to the big box stores. That's when coupons come to play.

My problem is creating a menu for the week, sticking with it and keeping from going during the week to get anything I forgot. I can create a list, but with my cooking passion, I tend to pick up ingredients not on the list that I think would "go great" with this or that dish. Like mushrooms, herbs, pancetta etc. Those things add up. Can you tell I have poor self discipline? I'd be a svelte, ultra healthy, ultimately organized being if I had any.

Chris's orchids. He's out of town this week so I am keeping an eye on them for him. His large white Phalaenopsis is opening and I will get a picture of it on here really soon. The kid's daycare is selling large purple ones for a fund raiser. Bella is insisting I get dad one to surprise him. I think I'll do that a for him so he sees it when he arrives home tomorrow.

It's been a quiet week so far. My parents have been picking up the kids from school for me and they both have been so good for me. I took a cooking break too. I have not used my stove all week! It's amazing how clean and tidy my kitchen is with me not creating all these dishes to clean and put away each day. I have more time hang with the kids, pick up the house and ready for the next day. I have been eating sandwiches, salads or tuna salad while Bella eats at my parents and Kristjan gobbles his fruit. I think I'll make it a point to make quick things like that a couple times a week to save money and give my stove (me) a break!