"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, September 27, 2011

Healthier Make Ahead Baked Mac and Cheese

I love casseroles. I like to make them early in the day when I have extra time, and then when it's dinner time, I can just throw them in the oven and not have to worry about dinner prep! I LOVE Eating Well's magazine, and I got this recipe off the website- they have some great recipes! 

What you need:
  • 3 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs, (just make your own, the store bought are a rip off)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (I think paprika is gross, hence, I left this out)
  • 1 16-ounce or 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat elbow macaroni, or penne (I used white pasta) (don't judge me)

    Use your blender or Magic Bullet (LOVE the Magic Bullet) to pulse a few slices of bread and make breadcrumbs. I used whole wheat bread, since I used white pasta. See??! It all works out. 

    Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Cheddar until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Try not to get a bag of tortilla chips and use this mixture as a dip. It would probably be gross anyhow (it isn't) so just don't do it.

    Yum. Just sayin'.

    Cook the macaroni for 4 minutes. It will still be a bit undercooked, which is fine since it will cook fully in the oven.

    I used large elbow macaroni, so I HAD to take this photo. Sometimes I get a little loopy while I'm in the kitchen fixing dinner. I apologize. Carry on.

    Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce mixture and stir it up...

    Then grease a casserole dish and put half the macaroni mixture in, then sprinkle the spinach over that layer, then spread the rest of the macaroni over the top of the spinach. 

    Mix together the breadcrumbs and olive oil (and <gag> paprika, if you're using it) and top the casserole with the breadcrumb mixture. 

    Bake at 450 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. I prepared it up to the "put it in the oven" stage, then threw it in the fridge until dinner time. I increased the cooking time to 40 minutes. It was a hit. I thought it needed more salt, but I like things salty. So I just added some at the table.

    I got this recipe from www.eatingwell.com

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Iced Tea Obsession, Tucson Training, and Goals....

    I know I've talked a bunch about training for Tucson. That's because it is REALLY important to me, and because I am working so hard at it! Sometimes I get this glimpse of myself, a housewife in my 30's, out on the track doing speed training, and think, "Shari, what are you doing?!"

    But you know what?? I LOVE having goals. And, to be brutally honest, I LOVE having goals that are about me. I thoroughly enjoy serving my family. I am totally blessed to home-school my boys. I am happy to take care of Wade and support his career. All of those things are my life. Every day. So is training, racing, setting goals, and working hard to achieve them. That's part of my life too. A good part. I used to be somewhat timid and embarrassed about that. I guess, if I'm honest, I still am- sometimes. I don't want people to think I'm not a good wife, or a good mom, because I have something for myself. To tell the truth, I think having that little piece of my day set aside for running...... it helps me to be a good wife and a good mom.

    Enough on that. Sheesh, I can go on, can't I?!

    One thing I've done, in conjunction with my training, is to really clean up my diet.

    I love candy. I love Coke. I do. I like McDonald's. I like cheesecake and creme brulee. Ok, ok, you get the idea.......... That is never going to change. I am still having those things, just not very often. I still have baked goods, but generally I limit the amount and save it for a treat. (IN GENERAL. I still have my days.)

    In the effort to make my drink life more interesting (so I have a drink life, do I??!), I started experimenting with iced tea. Herbal tea mostly, but also some other, decaf tea. I currently have two favorites!

    I make my iced tea by putting a gallon of cold water and 8 tea bags into a pot. Bring the water to almost boiling, then shut the heat off and let it steep for 10 or 15 minutes. Take the tea bags out and pour the tea into a pitcher.

    How cute is my cup?? I love that thing! I use a few Splenda packets in my tea. (Please do not bother to email me about the evils of Splenda. I will be ok, I promise.) ;)

    One of my favorites is this Good Earth Green Tea (The decaf Lemongrass flavor). I use 8 bags for a gallon of water.

    My other favorite is a combo of two kinds of tea. I use 4 bags of the Tazo Passion tea, and 4 bags of the Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion tea. Oh, this one is gooooooood. Again, for a gallon of water.

    Drink tea. Find your passion. Do all the things you are supposed to do, then make time for something you want to do. It's fun. It's good for you. Really.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Oven- Roasted Greek Potatoes

    Have you ever tried to do one of those low-carb diets?

    Wade and I did Atkins one time. For a week. ..well, actually, I SAID I was doing it for a week, but I started eating carbs again on the second day. I made some pudding from a recipe in the Atkins diet book. It had a whole bunch of artificial sweetener in it, so the first part that hit your tongue tasted so good....

    ....but then something went horribly wrong. It was AWFUL!!!!!

    I immediately decided that this diet wasn't for me. But Wade was liking it, and wanting to continue. So I would sneak candy, and bread, and fruit when he wasn't looking.

    Then Wade discovered my deception. I was shoving two pieces of See's candy into my mouth and he walked up behind me, and yelled, "I KNEW IT!!"

    ....seriously, he should have known me better. There's no way I could ever live without carbs. Not that I would even try now that I train for endurance races. I can't imagine how that would feel, but I am thinking it would be terrible. I'll never know, because I have no plans to EVER give up carbs.

    In celebration of the glorious carb.... here's a GREAT and EASY potato recipe!

    Here's what you need:
    8 potatoes, peeled and cut into large wedges (about 6-7 per potato)
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 cup water
    1 Tb dried oregano
    1 lemon
    sea salt

    Put the potato wedges into a 9x13 pan that's been coated with Pam. Squeeze the lemon over the top. Then pour in the olive oil, water, and garlic.

    Sprinkle the oregano over the top:

    Then give the potatoes a generous sprinkling of sea salt. Bake at 425 for 40 minutes, then flip the potatoes. Bake for another 30-40 minutes, until nice and golden brown. Your house will smell AMAZING!

    I served these with rosemary roasted chicken. Perfect combo! If you have any leftovers, they are GREAT with eggs for breakfast!

    I got this recipe from www.food.com 

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Fresh Raspberry Muffins

    Life has been CRAZY!

    Are you there too??

    School started. Work has been insane for Wade. All of the kids' activities are in full swing. My training for Tucson is going strong.

    I have photos waiting patiently.... waiting to be turned into blog posts.

    I'll start with these:

    Here's what you need:
    2 eggs
    1 cups sugar
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 tsp. vanilla
    8 oz. sour cream- that's 1 cup (I use light)
    1 cup raspberries
    2 cups flour
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. baking powder

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and sour cream.

    Eat a few raspberries. Then Nicholas will come in with filthy dirty hands. After being told to wash said hands, he will wipe his still dirty hands on a clean white towel. Then he will eat a few berries.

    ...boys. I love them. Which is a good thing, since I am outnumbered. 

    Whisk in the dry ingredients.

    Carefully fold in the berries. Don't squish them!

    Fill paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

    Seriously YUM. These would be good with some coarse sugar sprinkled on top before baking, or maybe some slivered almonds on top. Or just like the recipe says.

    Happy baking!

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    AWESOME Crock Pot Lasagna!!

    Here's the deal.

    Wade doesn't love food nearly as much as I do.

    He likes food, don't get me wrong. But he isn't enamored with eating and cooking like I am.

    That said, when I make a new recipe, he doesn't tend to be overly excited, in general.

    When I served this lasagna, he said, "Wow!! This is a home run!!"

    ........'nuff said.

    It was really tasty! Plus I love having more crock pot recipes in my arsenal, especially now that our home school has started up. It is really nice at the end of the day to have most of the dinner prepared. This recipe makes enough for leftovers, which is super nice for me, I love to have leftovers for lunch!

    Here's what you need:
    • Ingredients

      • 1 pound (16 ounces) ground beef (I used ground turkey)
      • 1/2 cup diced white onion
      • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
      • 1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
      • 1/2 cup water (I used a full cup, didn't want the lasagna to be dry)
      • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
      • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
      • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      • 1 whole egg
      • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley (I used basil and oregano instead)
      • 6 uncooked lasagna noodles (I used 8- I like lots of noodles)

    In a mixing bowl, mix up the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tb Parmesan, the egg, and the parsley. (If I were making this again, I would add a tsp of salt. But I like things salty.... so decide for yourself)

    The remaining cheese is going to be sprinkled over the top at the end, so I went ahead and grated it and put it in the fridge in a Ziploc so it was ready to go.

    What is up with the wrinkles on my hand??!! I have avoided toe thumb photos quite well lately.... now I have to worry about hand wrinkles??!! Sheesh!

    Brown the meat and onion until cooked, adding the garlic the last minute or so of cooking. Then add the sauce and water, and mix well.

    Now you're going to put 1 cup of the sauce mix in the bottom of the Pam-sprayed crock. Then layer 3 noodles on top. I broke mine up quite a bit to fit, and it turned out great! Then you're going to spread half of the ricotta mixture over the top of the noodles:

    Then top with 2 cups of sauce, 3 more noodles, the other half of the ricotta mixture, then the remaining sauce. I pressed 2 additional noodles on top of the sauce, so that they were pretty well covered with the sauce. Then cook on low for 4 hours.

    If you work in the morning, or wouldn't have time to do the prep in the morning, you could totally make it to this point the night before and just stick the crock in the fridge and plop it on the crock pot the next day.

    Then, about 10 minutes or so before serving, sprinkle the Ziploc bag of cheese over the top. It will get all melty and delicious.

    Oh yeah.

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

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Better-Than-Lofthouse Sugar Cookies!! (SOOOOO EASY!!!)

    So, you know how every once in a while you see a recipe, or something delicious at the store, and you think to yourself, "This is a bad idea. Flee!"

    ...these cookies are like that.

    Make them at your own risk. Just sayin'....

    The ingredient list is ridiculously small:

    You need:
    • One box Funfetti cake mix
    • 1/3 cup oil
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 tub Funfetti frosting
    The Funfetti mix is the one with sprinkles inside, Pillsbury makes it:

    Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the cake mix, oil, and eggs together. Roll 1" balls of the dough and place on cookie sheets sprayed with Pam. Flatten the dough balls down with a glass coated in flour (or, if you're lazy like me, the heel of your hand) and bake for 8 minutes, or until set and VERY lightly browned. Cool on a rack.

    Frost with the frosting and sprinkle the sprinkles on top.

    Then, eat them. All of them.

    Don't say I didn't warn you!!

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