"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eat More Salads!! Cheaper, Longer- Lasting Pre-Washed Lettuce...

We eat salad in our house.

A lot of salad. We have a big salad almost every night with dinner. It's one way I stretch my budget- I generally serve salad and whatever fruit is on sale alongside the main dish.

Fortunately, where we live, there are Farmer's Markets almost year round. In addition, there are produce stands nearby. One way to make salads (which are budget-friendly anyhow) even less expensive is to buy large heads of different lettuce from a Farmer's Market of produce stand, where you can often get them for about $1 and prep them yourself.

I fill up one side of my sink with cold water, and add the lettuce. I usually swirl it around then drain and refill the water. Then rinse it as I put it in the bag:

I use this lingerie bag for the washer. You can get them at most WalMart, Target stores.

So I stick all of the soaking wet, but clean, lettuce in the bag- zip it shut...

And put it in my empty washing machine. (Now don't get the heebeejeebees. It's clean in there. I have been spinning my lettuce like this for years)

Run the spin cycle for a minute or two, in order to get the lettuce really dry....

Now you have a bag of washed and dry lettuce!

Stick it into a large bowl,

Then put a few paper towels on top. You're going to store it upside down in the fridge, and that way you can change the paper towels every few days when they are saturated with water. Keeping the lettuce dry keeps if fresh longer. I can often use lettuce for up to two weeks using this method. You can store the lettuce in whole leaves, or rip it up for even easier salad prep. (I don't suggest cutting it with a knife, as that can sometimes cause the edges to turn brown after a few days)

Flip it and store it!!

Here are two recipes to use your lettuce!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I don't know how the weather has been where you live, but it's been very unpredictable here. Hot one day, cold and windy the next, and raining on the next day. So one day I'm making sandwiches and salad, and the next I'm making soup! This soup is creamy, filling, and tastes just like a loaded potato.

You need:
  • 4 large potatoes (I had smaller ones so I used more)
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 6 cups milk (I have also substituted mostly chicken broth for the milk)
  • 1 cup sour cream (I use light sour cream or fat free Greek yogurt)
  • for garnish: green onions, shredded cheese, bacon (we used bacos even though they are nasty- the boys like them) and sour cream

First, bake the potatoes. I do mine at 375 for about an hour. For an explanation on why my cookie sheets look the way they do, see this post.

After the potatoes have cooled, peel them. Then chop them up. Also, then dip some in the sour cream and eat them.

Eating baked potatoes plain reminds me of a race I did where they served boiled potatoes alongside a plate of salt to dip them in. That was good. Especially later in the run when nothing else sounded good.

Next, melt the butter, then add the flour, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for a minute or two, then start whisking in the milk:

Keep pouring and whisking until all the milk is added. Then bring the milk just to a simmer and whisk it occasionally, until it begins to thicken.

Then add the potatoes

Then the sour cream. Keep it on the heat just until heated through, then turn the burner off and it's ready to go!!

I like to serve this soup with either yeast rolls, quick and easy corn bread,   , or french bread .

Friday, May 27, 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Have I got your attention?? Ha ha!!

 This ice cream is DELISH!! And easy too!! Here's what you need:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar (unless you're using sweetened frozen berries, then don't add sugar)
  • 1 Tb lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh strawberry puree (EASY to make!!)
  • 1 cup half and half

To make the strawberry puree, put some halved fresh strawberries in the blender (or magic bullet) with a little bit of water (I just added a few tablespoons of water, and put a bit more in if the blender would get "stuck")

This is the resulting deliciousness!! I made extra, and had some to mix with lemonade..... SOOO good!!

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is one "name brand" item that I think tastes better than the generic cream cheese.....

Fresh Meyer Lemons.... LOVE them!!!

Put all the ingredients into your blender, and process until smooth:
I had to exert extreme self control at this point. The stuff in the blender is so super yummy and tasty that I could have just put a big straw in the blender and sucked it up!

Then, refrigerate for about an hour or two. Then, process the ice cream in an ice cream maker (I have the kind that you put the canister in the freezer overnight, I LOVE it!!)

If I ever get another one, I would want the one that attaches to my Kitchen Aid, like this one: KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment 

I added some chopped fresh strawberries toward the end of the ice cream maker's cycle, it was yummy!!

This might make a nice Memorial Day BBQ dessert! You could also make a batch of the strawberry puree and make a pitcher of strawberry lemonade for your family!

Have a great holiday weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick and Easy Cornbread (Like Marie Callender's... YUM!)

Do you even have nights that you heat up soup from a can or carton?

I do.

Or nights when you make "big salads" for dinner? (Does anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where they went to a new diner and Elaine wanted a "big salad" and was told, "we don't do big salads here. We can give you two small salads if you want." Seinfeld is hilarious.) But I digress.....

I love to make a batch of these cornbread muffins to go with dinner on nights when I make a quick soup or salad. They take maybe all of 5 minutes to make, and about 20 to bake and are GREAT!!!! Especially with soup or salad!

Plus, they're cheap to make, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand!

  • 1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
  • 1/2 of a Yellow Cake mix (just eyeball half, I don't even measure or anything like that) (save the other half for the next time you make cornbread!!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water

Dump all the ingredients into a medium bowl

Give it all a whisk (it's ok if the batter is a little lumpy, it will all work out) then you can either make a dozen or so muffins, or one 8 x 8 pan. Either way, you want to bake the cornbread at 400 for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Then you want to smother it in butter and eat about 6 muffins. Then you want to fit into your skinny jeans, but HELLO that is not going to happen... you just ate 6 muffins and a ton of butter!! Sheesh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cherry Almond Granola (Healthy, No-Oil Recipe) and Life Stuff

This weekend was a good one.

My husband didn't get called in to work. My younger son learned how to whistle, and to use chopsticks! I had an AWESOME trail run on Sunday! We spent time with good friends.

Don't you love weekends like that?

To be honest, a little while back, for a few months, I had a string of not-so-good weekends. Wade was both out of town, and called in a lot for work, and we don't function so well like that. We are a team, and we operate best that way. His job can be stressful, and sometimes it is difficult to have a good attitude. For him and for me. Hence, a few less-than-stellar months.

...but the bright side of that is the way God has prepared us to walk through these types of situations by giving us the ability to communicate really well with one another. (We have LEARNED that over the years, after doing things the wrong way many times and learning from our numerous mistakes) Another amazing gift is that we both feel quite unable to exist for very long when we're not connected with the other person. Not in a yucky, smothery kind of way, in a good, healthy, you-make-me-a-better-person kind of way.

In short, I was struggling to be happy/joyful for a little while. I was acting the right way, but not spilling over with joy. Does that make sense? I don't believe in acting the wrong way just because you feel like it. But acting the right way when it's against your feelings is exhausting.

... I am happy to say, this episode of  "Working Through Life Stuff" is complete. Happiness- restored. Joy- spilling over. I am thankful. And also mindful that another episode will be in the works soon. Because that's just how it works.

Ok, ok, enough about that. Sheesh. Let's talk about this granola:

I started looking for a lower in fat granola recipe last week. I LOVE this granola recipe but wanted to experiment with a recipe without oil.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 5 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup applesauce (I used cinnamon applesauce because that's what I had)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup almonds (I used toasted since you don't actually bake them)
  • 1/2- 1 1/2 cup roughly chopped dried cherries or any dried fruit (I only had 1/2 cup but you could use whatever dried fruit you like/have and use up to 1 1/2 cups- I just don't like a ton of dried fruit in my granola) (I put a bag of cranberries in the above photo, but then changed my mind.)

Put the oatmeal, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a large bowl and stir. I used my hand:

Wanted: a hand model

Then, whisk the brown sugar, applesauce, and honey in a medium bowl,

And mix the wet stuff into the dry stuff. Then spread it out in a large cookie sheet (one with sides, or use a cake pan) I sprayed my pan with Pam first.

Bake at 325 for 30 minutes, then turn the granola over with a spatula, then bake for another 15 minutes or so, until golden and crunchy. (Except don't try to take a hunk out of the oven and eat it. You will burn your tongue. Ask me how I know.)

While it's baking, you can give your dried fruit a quick, rough chop if you want to. I am not one to boss you around about how you handle your dried fruit. But since I don't like to use a lot of dried fruit, I prefer mine chopped a bit to distribute it more.

When the granola comes out of the oven, throw the nuts and fruit on top and let it cool. Then mix it all together!

Yum. I had a bowl for dessert- it was delicious!!
It has approx. 165 calories in a half cup.

I got this recipe from http://www.browneyedbaker.com/