Sunday, January 30, 2011

Recipe Review & Menu 1/31-2/5

First, I have to say that I made White Bean & Chard Gnocchi last night and it was delicious!!!  Not only so, it was super easy.  The only thing you really have to prepare is the onion and washing your greens (I used spinach instead of chard.)  If you're looking for a one-dish meal that's super tasty, this is it.  I particularly love it because it's comfort food without the bizillions of calories.  Huge plus:  vegetarian meal that my husband enjoyed thoroughly!!  Hooray!  I would definitely be willing to add a bit of chicken breast for more protein or in lieu of the beans.  Anyway, try it. 

Here are a few shopping tips:
*Fresh garlic is great.  However, I love getting the pre-diced stuff.  It's sooo nice.  I also like to get the peeled garlic cloves in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe's.
*Trader Joe's also sells shelf-stable gnocchi next to the pasta.  They have regular & whole wheat.

Here's a few photos I took while making it.  My camera isn't super fantastic, but hopefully you get the picture.  (Ha!  "Get the picture."  Pun totally unintended.)

 Onions and garlic sauteed with the spinach
 Dish is mostly put together with gnocchi, beans, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, and onion.  
Only thing missing:  delicious cheesy goodness.  The cheese makes this dish super fantastic.
Sauteed asparagus in a little olive oil and garlic. 

Menu for the week:
Monday:  Chicken Stir fry with rice and veggies
Tuesday:  Taco night!
Wednesday:  Salmon on the grill with veggies
Thursday:  Shrimp, pasta & veggies
Friday:  Date night?!  (that would be cool!)
Saturday:  Roasted Chicken & salad
Sunday:  Pizza

What's on your menu?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sun in Eugene

When the Oregon clouds part and the sun has the opportunity to warm our little place on the planet, we all delight in playing outdoors!

Four days in a row, I took the girls out on a bicycle ride/car ride!  The other day, Justin got to join us for some fun in the park.  We were glad we took the opportunity, since the flu bug caught Bee later that night. 

Here are a few shots of our fun times together!
 Daddy likes to slide too!

 Bug rockin' on the park motorcycle.

 Sand angels.  Take a guess how I felt about that idea.
(pretty sure it was a secret plan to ensure a warm bath)

 Aren't we lucky?  We still have a merry-go-round!

Bug & I sliding.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Play Dough


Bee & I decided that we should make play dough while Bug was sleeping this morning. Bug loves play dough but she tends drag it around the house, leave it out, or eat it.  I just threw out old play dough last week.

In June, I posted making no-cook play dough.  It was okay, but honestly, it was a little grainy.  I wanted better texture.  I looked up another play dough recipe--one that worked perfectly.   I found this on  It's the second time I've made this dough and it's positively terrific.

All you need:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp oil
1 cup salt (I used Kosher, but it probably doesn't matter.)
1 Tbsp cream of tarter

1.  Dump in your ingredients and start stirring over low-medium heat (emphasis on low for those of you--like me--who tend to cook everything a little higher because you want it to cook faster.)

Maybe I'm a bad mom for letting my 3 year old help at the stove, but she had a great time!

2.  When it starts to thicken, but is still sticky, let it rest for a few seconds, then stir it.  It's at this point you'll start to notice that the heat is changing the texture into a soft dough.  Cook it until the all stickiness is gone!  

3.  Put your dough out on the counter--I used my silicone mat--and knead the dough a few times.

3.  Separate dough into 4 (more or less, depending on the number of colors you want to make).  Use food dye to color the dough.  Warning:  your finger will turn colors, unless you use gloves!  :)

4.  Play!!!  I store my play dough in zip closure storage baggies.  Dough I have made like this before lasts for a very long time, as long as you remember to put it away after each use!

Monday, January 24, 2011

She who has the will to win . . .

(an update from my "lightening the load" competition)
I got my butt kicked last night during our first group workout.

Even as the personal trainer was explaining the exercises, I thought that it was going to be a piece of cake.  After all, each station was only 45 seconds.  How hard could that be?  Not to mention I'm an athlete; I'm used to pushing myself.  My competitive edge was definitely creeping in.  Not only would I do this, I was going to conquer all! 

Who was I kidding?  Sure, each station was only 45 seconds, but there were 20 stations and we did each twice.  Not only so, but my group scored the plyo box in our last round of stations.   I rock plyo boxes--or I used to rock plyo boxes.  This is when I thought that tossing my cookies (or lettuce, more accurately) might be on the agenda.  Playing college volleyball, while we worked out hard, wasn't going to help my current state of physical being a the moment (a mere 12-15 years later).  Not all was lost, however; once a competitor, always a competitor.  Mentally, I was checked in, which was good.  My body came through for me even though I asked a lot of it.  It's screaming at me today, but I'll survive. 

On the eating front, I was committed last week.  I think I did very well; my journal is well-loved, marked up with calorie amounts and exchange points.  Here is my current favorite quick fix meal:

It's Trader Joe's "ready to eat" Spring Herb Mix greens, chicken breast, and apples.  I spray a little Balsamic Breeze on top, and viola!  Tasty salad.

Sure, I could liven it up with some cranberries, almonds, etc., but that's not helping the calorie count!

Today was weigh in day.  Bleh.  After all my hard work--working out daily, eating well, and getting my butt kicked, I weighed 2 lbs more than when I started.  I'm very determined, but my determination is fueled by the results I expect to see.  I realize it's more that what the scale says--it's about getting and being healthier.  But seriously?  (sigh)

As much as a Dickie Joe's Burger was calling my name, I went home and had a chicken & apple green salad.  The shirt I wore to the group workout was from our volleyball team I coached a few years ago, which said on the back, "She who has the will to win will not be beat."

I will not be beaten.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Menu 1/24-1/30

Not really in the mood for food right now, as my youngest daughter is sick.  However, to keep up my posts, here's the menu for the week:

Mon:  Green Salad w/Chicken & other good stuff
Tues:  White Bean Gnocchi (I didn't get to this last week; I had extra leftovers, then J made salmon!)
Wed:  Chicken & veggie stir fry
Thurs:  Tortilla Soup (maybe?  Chris said the PW soup is delicious!)
Fri-Sun:  J cooks!  I'm off to hang out with girl friends. 

What are you having?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not that you care . . .


In case you do:

I mentioned that I am "Lightening the Load!" through my gym.  I'm day 4 into an 8 week journey of healthy eating and more focused exercising.  Frankly, I already exercise.  I didn't really need a kick in the butt for that; however, I also already eat.  A lot.  I eat a lot of yummy food, generally rich in delicious fat and calories.  Half of my brain thinks, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."  The other half thinks, "I sure wish my belly wouldn't hang over the top of my jeans."  (gross.)  This has led me to the place that I decided I needed a little accountability to lose my nasty rolls and move into a place of moderation.

(Here's an awesome picture of me last month before the Turkey Trot, a 4 mile run,
a good indicator of where I'm starting from.) 
 (And here I am with my running partner & great friend, Danielle)

So, thanks to Oakway Fitness, my picture, along with my weight and fat percentage, is displayed ON THE WALL for all to see.  Lovely.  They did measurements on my thighs, calves, waist, and other places, but I guess they kept them in my file.  I will have to use the skills I've learned watching Psych (and other sneaky shows) to find my file and copy the information.

Here's what I know:  I weighed 138.9 on Sunday.  Granted, on Tuesday, I weighed like 142!  What?!  I'm going with 138.9.

I have been a really good girl, eating very healthily. 

Here are how 2 of my meals this week have turned out:

Here's the Beef & Bean Verde Chili (although I used ground turkey): 
307 calories (plus the RF sour cream) & herb salad w/ orange
 Here's a leftover salmon cake on a lean pita with tomato, lettuce, and a dill sauce:  
275 calories

I have found that I am actually not starving to death.  I can eat less, eat healthier, and be energetic.  I should know that's how it works, but cookies make me so happy that I wasn't sure I could do this.  I won't lie:  I'm looking forward to making cookies again, but I'm taking a little break until I can bring my body back into balance again. That's not to say that I'm depriving myself of all sweets, but rather, I'm enjoying them in very, very low quantities. 

Okay, I'll try to make my next post more exciting.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blog Look

Oh, btw, I'm in the middle of changing my blog look.  I realize my picture frame is empty.  It's okay.  You'll get over it.  And I will too.  It will soon have a new photo.  Do not worry.

Menu 1/17-1/23

Well, I'll have to post longer later, but here's my menu & recipes for the week.  I just started an 8 week program (Lighten the Load) through my gym.  It's basically a "Biggest Loser" contest.  I know I don't have tens of pounds to lose, but I'm hoping to shave off that 15-20 lbs this year.  So, realistically, and healthfully, and I can lose 8-16 lbs in the next 8 weeks.  That would be awesome!

My next post will fill you in with the gritty details of my current measurements and I will update weekly on my progress.  Most of you know how much I LOVE FOOD, so this is going to be quite the journey.  However, I took the time to look up some recipes that sounded good to me (for health food!) and I'm trying them this week.  I'll let you know how it goes.  The hard part for me now:  what to eat for breakfast & lunch!  Ahhh!

Monday:  Salmon cakes (click here for recipe I'm using), salad, sauted green beans w/garlic
Tuesday:  Ground Turkey & Bean Chili Verde (click here for recipe I'm using), salad, steamed broccoli
Wednesday:  Skillet Gnocchi w/ Spinach & White Beans (click here for recipe I'm using), salad, sauted zucchini w/garlic
Thursday:  Pot Roast (Pioneer Woman style!), salad
Friday:  Leftovers
Saturday:  Sauteed Chicken Breasts w/Creamy Chive Sauce (click here for recipe I'm using)
Sunday:  Take out!

Oh, and my friend Chris, posted her menu this week as this:
M: pot roast (yeah, didn't get to it last week)
T: Spaghetti
W: PW tortilla soup (I can give it a review, if you're interested)
Th: date night steak
F: penne bake
Sa: breakfast for dinner (yes, I'm actually planning this)
Su: pigs in a blanket or pizza...still deciding. part of it depends on if i remember to buy hot dogs at Costco.

Chris:  Everyone should have breakfast for dinner planned, I think.  I had breakfast for dinner last night!  Also, I definitely want a review on the soup!  Have you already made it?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Short Menu Post

The menu for the week is kind of non-existent.  Justin and I are going to Canon Beach for a retreat Tuesday-Thursday, which means no grocery shopping before then.  So . . .

Monday:  Garrett & Marie bringing Thai!!
Tuesday:  Retreat
Wednesday:  Retreat
Thursday:  The Vintage  (Who wants to cook when they just return from a retreat?  Burger & 2 Brews:  $8)
Friday:  Pot Roast (didn't get to it this week)
Saturday:  Leftovers
Sunday:  $5 Little Caesars  :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rocky Road

Welp, several of you have asked for the Rocky Road recipe I mentioned on Facebook, so I'll give it to you, just as my mom gave it to me.  What this means:  there is no exact recipe.  Regardless, if I figured it out, I'm sure you can.  I mean, after all, there's only 4 ingredients.  (Thanks, mom!) 

Rocky Road

Ingredients (sort-of)
1 package chocolate chips
1/2 c. (maybe a little more!) peanut butter
1 c. (or so) miniature marshmallows
1 c. (more or less) dry-roasted peanuts

Directions (sort-of)
Melt chocolate chips in medium microwave-safe bowl 1 minute. 
Stir, then heat for another 20 seconds.  Repeat in 20 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. 
Stir peanut butter into chocolate until completely integrated (you can add more p.b. according to your taste!)
Add marshmallows and peanuts.  (You kinda have to eye this and add these in according to how marshmallow-y and peanut-y you want it!) 

Pour into a lightly greased (I would use Pam) 8 x8 square pan.

You can keep it in the refrigerator, but I like it best at room temp.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Menu 1/3-1/10

So . . .

Have you noticed that I often start off with "so . . ."??? 

I better start off on a good foot with all my goals I wrote yesterday.  After this post, I will have partially succeeded in 3 areas:

1.  Worked out this morning + ate fairly healthfully (hopefully on my way to dropping 15) .
2.  Blogged (helps in my goal to "blog regularly")
3.  Plan my first week of meals.

Aweseome.  Two-Zero-Eleven is going to be amazing.

On a separate note, that has everything to do with meal planning, check out this awesome blog where tons of people comment with their weekly meal plans.  

Here's my meal plan:
Mon:  Ground Beef fajitas
Tues:  Leftovers
Wed:  Fettucinini Alfredo w/shrimp
Thurs: Curry
Fri:  Pot Roast
Sat:  Leftovers
Sun:  Our weekly $5 Caesar's Hot 'N Ready :)

What's yours?!?  And a new recipe wouldn't hurt either.  :)

By the way, here's a couple of the recipes I use:

Pioneer Women's Perfect Pot Roast.
(She's so good I can hardly stand it.  I thought my pot roast was good until I did it "her way."  Darn it.)
Find it here:

Alfredo Sauce (this one from


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream  (I used 1/2 & 1/2)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I ran out and had to use a little mozzarella)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Stir in parsley and serve. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hello 2011!

Okay, so twenty-eleven doesn't sound nearly as catchy as twenty-ten.  Maybe we can say twenty-double one?  Yeah, not so much.

 Although I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, I have so many goals this year, it's insane.  I was going to sit down and make a "to-do" list on paper, but thought I would blog my "to-do" list instead, hoping to create the illusion of accountability.

Here goes.

1.  Lose 15 lbs.  At least.  20 is ideal, but hey!  What do they say about goals?  Make them realistic.  Maybe I should aim for 5.  Hmmmm.  I feel a little like Bridget Jones here.  I do LOVE food--a lot.  Mostly cheese, chocolate and wine.  [sigh] I will do it.  15 pounds and Weight Watchers will help me.

2.  Start Yoga outreach in Eugene.  Our minds and bodies are connected.  God made them that way--not the creator of yoga--the Creator of everything.  Worshiping Creator God with mind and body?  Uh, yeah.  Duh.  More on this later.  Can't wait!!

3.  Read the New Testament and discuss with my husband.  I'm really, really excited about this.  I become so distracted by everyday life that it is impossible to keep my focus on God's Kingdom, both here on earth and eternity.  I look forward to renewal day by day through the Word of God.
  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

4.  Blog regularly.

5.  Sew more.  My sewing room is overfilled with fabric.  I need to use it!  Plus, I'm taking my 3rd Fashion Design class this term and I need to actually DO my homework.

6.  By the end of the year, I want to run at least 2 more 5k races and run a 10k.  This will be hard without my running partner (who is pregnant!  Hooray!), but I need to press on.

7.  Plan a menu weekly.  It needs to be flexible, but I need to be a little better with how I grocery shop.  Plus, it makes it so much easier to know what I'm making ahead of time instead of the 3pm rampage through my pantry and freezer.

8.  Update Etsy regularly.  Good news!  I actually listed some of my stuff on Etsy.  I've sold a couple of things too, which is encouraging.  I need to (sooner than later) list the rest of my ready-made items and then list them as I make them (see goal #5).   If you want to check out my Etsy page it is here:

9.  Since I'm pretty sure mostly women are reading this, I'm going to add this one:  replace old undies with new.  It needs to happen.  I know there are others of you who should do this too.  Please tell me I am not alone.  

So this list does not contain things like love my family because those are things that I don't need to write down to do!  I love them with a passion and actually have to balance the things I love and want to do with my family with the things I actually NEED to do!

Any inspiring goals you have?

Happy New Year!