Happy Pinning!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Sitting here passing out candy with my trusty sidekick

Whilst my adorable munchkins troll for candy

I sure hope we get more action soon because as of 7:05 we had one person and this is my bucket

Everyone gets two right now and it may be handfuls by the end of the night! I don't need extras laying around that is for sure! We usually have tons so I don't understand it!? Maybe because it's Monday.  Anyways I was being a good doobie and went running tonight! 1.5 miles.  I have slacked off for far too long and there is no time like the present!

Thanks to my accountability girls for giving me the nudge! Helps that I have a halloween colored running shirt! And I selected a VERY easy dinner for my husband to prepare while I ran! How many Seinfeld fans are there out there??? Question: What was Elaine's favorite thing to order at the little diner they all went to? While you think about that watch this (I love Jerry!):

Oh my word I could listen to that a thousand times, so funny! My brother in law (who is the hugest Seinfeld fan) is also the hugest candy fan! So perfect.

Anyways anyone get the trivia question yet....

It's the BIG Salad!

I don't know about you all but I was always getting the Salad Bar at restaurants as a kid.  I love it.  I think it's the make your own aspect of it all.  All the choices.  Plus they always had chocolate pudding.  How can you go wrong? My absolutely favorite part about working at the hospital on weekends is that I get to do "Big Salad".  I do that junk up right!
I can make a hugnormous salad for 10-12 pts.  And my kids LOVE big salad night.  I believe that they like building there own dinner as well.  I make all the cobb ingredients but add additional!

Big Salad

Ingredient Possibilities
Lettuce (did I need to say this?)
Hardboiled Egg
Grilled Chicken
Bacon Crumbles
Avocado Chunks
Dried Cherries
Cheeses (Feta, Blue, or Shredded Colby)
Green Onion
Garbanzo Beans
Your favorite dressing (I always ration all my points carefully so I can have the worlds most naughty salad dressing - Blue Cheese!)
Perfect after running dinner!  My kids love this idea!

Try your own salad bar and let me know what special ingredients your family enjoys! Happy Halloween everyone!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's a good day

I am having a good day today, nothing special or out of the ordinary, just simple and good.  I was able to keep my house clean all day, some days that feels like quite the feat as the kids seem to follow behind me like mini-tornadoes.  And I managed a  home cooked meal that had my husband humming, I love it when I can make something so simple and his heart brims with love for me! One thing I really appreciate about my husband is how much he always notices and appreciates the little things.  I think that is important for us moms that feel like we spent the day "in the trenches" of dirty diapers and dirty dishes.  Sometimes I get to the end of my day and I think "what did I do today?" so when he walks in and says "Honey the house looks so beautiful" or "This is the best soup I have ever had" it makes the simple life feel rich after all. 
Ok, sorry about all the mushiness.  Maybe I should just share my recipes and quit with the emotional fluff?

Still on a fall kick I have been gathering all my favorite fall recipes and of course new ones always make the mix and am excited about all the fall inspired stuff I can bring between now and Thanksgiving.

So tonight's menu was very simple; Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup, Applesauce.  No big deal right? Well when all those items are homemade, use items from your garden and take regular no-brainer items, keep the simplicity but kick up the elegance it's worth a closer look. 

Now if you haven't already seen this...

then maybe you don't know about Pinterest. I LOVE Pinterest.  I totally blame my sister for introducing us.  Here are some good descriptions:

HAHA that's so true, or to sum up...

Yes, I love it.  And I have actually starting using it! I have taken 5 pictures this week based on ideas from my photography board.  And I have 5 crafts planned and like 8 recipes planned from other boards so hey I am at least applying it!   So anyways enter with caution, it's addicting...

All that to say that found this soup recipe on Pinterest! (Feel free to pin my blog anytime you want too because that is like an early Christmas present to me!)

Grilled Ham and Cheese and Tomato Basil Soup
Ok grilled cheese doesn't require much instruction I would hope! I didn't fancy it up in any way but I did do dual-cheese with a slice of Provolone and a slice of Colby Jack and because my carnivorous husband is dead-against meat free meals we made them honey ham and cheese! Yum.  Perfect for dunking in the soup!

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 28 oz. cans of Meijers Organic Basil and Garlic Crushed Tomatoes
1 28 oz. can of Basil and Garlic Whole Tomatoes
2 cups of stock (chicken - I used organic, low sodium)
2 colored peppers coarsely chopped
A couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes (the last of our garden, hand crushed)
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of sugar
1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of heavy cream
3 tablespoons of fresh basil, julienned (I actually added some to the soup and then some as a garnish too)
Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute - being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the crushed tomatoes.  Add the whole tomatoes one at a time, squeezing them into the pan to break them up. (also threw in some of our tomatoes - the more the merrier right?)  Add peppers. Add the juice from the whole tomatoes, as well.  Add chicken stock, salt, pepper and sugar.  Cook the soup on medium at a simmer for 10 minutes.  

To finish, reduce the heat to low and stir in heavy cream and basil.  Serve topped with Parmesan cheese
Warm yummy goodness!
Still recovering from when I went peach crazy last month I have been avoiding a similar obsession with apples although I know they will be popping up in my food like crazy this month.  I wanted to try making homemade applesauce.  Even simpler I wanted to make it in the crockpot.  Almost all recipes I found online were the same.  So Monday night before bed I started the applesauce at like 11 pm set for 8 hrs I woke up to apple-cinnamon goodness.  I was a little surprised by the look.   It's.....brownish red! (Kind of like apple butter!) As near as I can tell the color may be related to the ripeness of the apples or the type of apples so I can offer you no guarantees of what color your applesauce will be if you attempt this! One kid already doesn't like applesauce so I knew it was a long shot but thought maybe a smidgen of whipped topping would sweeten the deal...not so much! Incidentally the other kid hates tomatoes and refused to eat the soup and was apprehensive about the color of the applesauce so she wouldn't eat that either so the dinner was kind of a bust with the kids.  Oh well. Hubby and I enjoyed ourselves!)
Crockpot Applesauce
Told you it was dark!
Easy and yummy though.  While watching the Sing Off on Monday night I peeled and cored and cut my apples into wedges.  I got two different "good for baking" types from Robinette's Apple Orchard, I think Gala and Spies.  Originally the recipe said 10 apples but it said your crock pot should be 3/4 full so I ended up closer to 15 apples.  Then I added 1 cup of apple cider, 1 tsp of cinnamon and that was it! Slow cook on low 8-10 hrs.  Made about 8 cups of applesauce.  You could do a cup of water and 1/2 cup to a cup of sugar instead of cider but my friend told me to try cider, kill 2 birds with one stone! The color issue is funny to me but I don't mind it.  The kitchen is an unpredictable world.  I kind of like when things don't turn out exactly how you wanted but still taste great, teaches you to be more flexible and easy going about your cooking I think.  My mom and I were having a heart to heart about balance and time management last week and she passed on her sage Motherly wisdom "Honey, in all honesty, you just need to remember, things don't always need to be perfect." You're right Mom (as always!) and sometimes you just need to let yourself off the hook.   I have gotten pretty good about this when it comes to my cooking.  Now I need to work on that with my photography.  And my house-keeping.  And my, sigh, the list goes on and on...
But! Today was a good day.  I hope you are having a good day too! I hope you are warm and cozy as the nights grow colder.  I hope you have some delicious soup on your menu for the week.  I hope you love yourself enough to let things go as good enough, I am learning this day by day.  I hope you also are blessed with wonderful people in your life to affirm your efforts as I am blessed to have.  Have a wonderful night everyone!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

Wow, really? I haven't blogged since September! Hmmm...this explains A LOT.  I apparently stink at handling stress.  And I have had a lot.  In the last week and a half I have cooked once.  Yup once.  I have been eating though, don't get me wrong.  I have definitely been eating.  I shudder to think what I will find next time I weigh in.  Now that the worst of the stress is behind me I need to dig deep down within myself and find the gumption to get back on track.  As a first step to getting back on track I thought I would blog. After all the meal we had Sat night was worth blogging and I have already had multiple requests for the recipe so without further ado....

Fabulous Fall Slow Cooker Pot Roast
3-4 lb chuck roast
2-3 bay leaves
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 cups water
1 lb carrots
5-6 peeled potatoes or 8-10 red potatoes
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Sweet onion coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic salt
1 cup ketchup

Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on low 8 hrs, than 30 min before finished add 2 cups frozen peas.  That's it, it's perfect.  (I should know I ate the leftovers for lunch a little while ago!)

And I paired it with my absolute favorite fall dish. 

Brown Sugar Acorn Squash Casserole

1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 small can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
... 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 acorn squash (mashed)

1/2 cup crisp rice cereal
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans (I swap out almonds, my preference!)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Poke a bunch of holes in squash and bake at 350 on cookie sheet about 45 min to an hour until knife goes easily in all over squash with no resistance
Half squash remove seeds, scoop out squash and set aside
Mix butter and sugar
Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla
Stir in squash
Pour in greased 9 x 13
Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 min
add topping crust and bake for additional 5 min

Enjoy, it will soon be one of your favorites too
The perfect fall meal and it makes for really good lunch leftovers on this cold rainy day that happens to be my birthday!
Have some cake in honor of me tonight and I will drag myself from this slump and resume my health transformation! Cheers!