Sunday, August 31, 2008

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Hurricane Gustav is looming in the gulf, we have already begun experiencing some of his outer bands. I am NOT looking forward to losing power and water in the days ahead, and am still praying that we will be spared.

Right now, though, I am choosing to ignore the looming disaster, and instead have decided to share with you one of my new favorite recipes. It makes a great lunch, or side dish for supper. I got the recipe from someone who posts on the MOPS forums with me, Cheryl, you should really check out her blog, she's got some great recipes (vegan). Doesn't it just look delish? And the best part, It is completely low GI diet friendly!
Black-Eyed Pea Salad:
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1-2 jalapeno pepper, diced small (I can't take too much heat, so I use 1 jalapeno pepper, and scape the seed out of 1/2 of it. It still has spice, but not too much to handle.)
1 small red onion, diced
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar (I use splenda to make it low GI friendly)
salt and pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of pepper sauce or tabasco
Toss the vegetables and beans together in a large bowl. Pour Dressing over top, stir to combine, and allow to marinate in refrigerator for several hours before serving. Serve over a bed of baby spinach.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Waiting for Gustav. . .

While sitting here, contemplating hurricane Gustav (which seems to be bound and determined to make his mark somewhere on the gulf coast) I was looking through old pics on my camera card and came across this one that I took last week, of Fay before she really started pouring on us.

I actually went to walmart today, less than a week before the hurricane. BIG MISTAKE! On a Friday morning, the place was PACKED. People were pushing their buggies through the store like madmen, grabbing the last of the bottled water, canned tuna, and peanut butter off the shelves. Okay, not really. It was busy, there were more than usual people there, but not quite what I just described. (Although I'm sure that by late Sunday, or Monday it will be that hectic there.)

In all actuality, they were out of individually bottled water, only had the gallon jugs left, so we bought 3. They still had plenty of tuna, but their ramen noodles section was running less than half full. Well, I bought a few cans of soup, some ramen noodles, an extra loaf of bread, and a few flashlights. Thankfully, we already have pretty much everything we need. There's just something about a hurricane looming in the gulf, though that makes me want to go to Walmart and stock up on stuff.

And, just because they are so adorable, I'm going to post another pic of my boys. "Return to Neverland" is playing on TV now, so Skywalker dressed up in his Peter Pan costume to watch the movie. Isn't he adorable!
Not to be outdone, Stonewall had to go put on his Black Spiderman costume. Hs is pretty upset, though, because he can't find is mask. He seems to be hiding it well in this pic, doesn't he?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, here is it once again, Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. You really need to check out her website if you haven't seen it before.
Last week, we strayed from our menu plan twice, Monday and Sunday. My goal for this week is to not stray at all! I hope we can do it. For those of you who haven't read my blog before, I am following the low GI diet. Basically, I am eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. I have given up cokes, sugar, and starchy foods for this healthful way of eating(though I must admit that I have cheated several times over the past 5 weeks). I am happy to report that I've lost 9.5 pounds in 5 weeks! I am so excited over that! I would encourage everyone to check out this book!
Here's our Menu Plan (for suppers):
Monday ~ Crockpot Stuffed Bell Peppers , salad (yes, we were supposed to eat this last Monday, but as I said before, we we offered free supper, so we put this off until this week)
Tuesday ~ 15 bean soup, I would LOVE to make these cheesy muffins to go with the soup, but I will resist this temptation for two reasons: 1. I am working, and cannot bake these fresh cheesy muffins while at work; 2. These are NOT low GI diet friendly. TOO BAD, because they look delishious! So instead, we'll have a nice, green salad on the side, and if I'm feeling really generous,some low carb bread toasted with garlic and smart balance light buttery spread.
Wednesday ~ Spinach & Squash Chicken Bake, Boiled New Potatoes
Thursday ~ Leftovers
Friday ~ Spinach Walnut Pesto Salmon with Whole Wheat Penne, Spinach Salad (I made this Spinach Walnut Pesto 2 weeks ago, and need to use it up, so I thought I'd try it on Salmon, Sounds yummy, doesn't it!)
Saturday ~ Dijon Parmesan Chicken (a new use for Fiber One cereal, I can't wait to try it), Zucchini & Tomatoes

Sunday ~ Church's Homecoming, we will be having a HUGE potluch fellowship lunch after church. I am planning on bringing Crockpot Sweet & Sour Pork, Baked Mac & Cheese, and Something Fabulous for dessert (I just haven't decided what yet.) And no, none of this is on my diet, but I have decided that I just have to cheat this day, and I think that God approves, since it's a church function, and all.

I Stand Corrected

Fay decided to prove me wrong last night. About 18 hours later than expected, the rain came down. My yard once again is a lake, no, wait. Everyone's yard is a lake right now. Go back a few posts to the Redneck Waterpark post, and you'll get the idea, just multiply that amount of water by 10. To top it all off, Stonewall is sick and I had to work today. So, Rev is taking Stonewall to the doctors office and he's supposed to call me after they see her. I hate sitting here at work while my boys are sick. I totally would have called in today and taken him myself, but I had a couple of "unexpected" days off recently (due to low hospital census) and really need to work. I know that Rev is perfectly capable of taking my son to the doctor, but still, a Momma should be with her baby when he doesn't feel good, right? Anyway, I've got to go to work now, but I'll post Menu Plan Monday later today.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Random Thoughts

It has been a dreary day. The sky has been cloudy. The wind has been blowing. The rain has been falling. All in all, a dreary day. Fay has been roaring all over the Florida this past week, and she finally made her way here. Stonewall and Skywalker were excited for the storm, they want to play in the puddles. Unfortunately, though, there wasn't even enough rain for that. To top it all off: because the boys were stuck inside all weekend, my house now looks like a hurricane blew through the inside, instead of outside. I guess this means I'll be cleaning all week long.
To change the subject and move on to happier thoughts, tomorrow is Menu Plan Monday. Last week, we did really good following our menu, except for Monday (we were unexpectedly invited to a family friend's house for supper) and today. We were supposed to have taco salad, but instead, were invited out to lunch after church. Then, we were given a huge pot of delishious homemade chicken noodle soup, so we ate that for supper tonight. I put the meat in the freezer, and we will revisit taco salad in the weeks to come. I already have this weeks meal plan ready, but will wait to post until tomorrow.
We had an awesome church service today. I totally wish I could post Rev's sermons here, because they are sooooo good, but I guess you'll just have to take my word for it instead. He is currently preaching a series about Lorship Salvation. His main point being, that there is No Such Thing as a "carnal christian". There can be no separation between Jesus as Savior and Jesus as Lord. He is BOTH, not just one. Anyway, I just wish you could have heard it! I hope that each of you are involved in a Church that preaches the Word of God and not just self-help fluff. Until tomorrow, Mandy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Low GI Apple Oatbran Mini Muffins

I have been experimenting with different muffin and breakfast bread recipes that fit into the low GI diet that I'm following, and so far, everything has been pretty bad. So I decided to create my own recipe. I perused the internet and combined 3 different oatbran muffin recipes, and added my own twist to them too. The final result was fabulous! Rev and the boys liked them. We plan on eating these for breakfasts and snacks. I will attempt to freeze some, too. Here's the recipe I came up with:

1 cup oat bran
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 TBSP Splenda Brown Sugar blend
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 4-oz container of nonfat, sugar free or low sugar vanilla flavored yogurt (I used Walmart's GV brand Benefit vanilla yogurt)
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup egg beaters original
1 small apple, chopped
1 Tbsp canola oil
Combine all ingredients. preheat oven to 375 degrees. grease mini-muffin pan or use mini muffin papers. fill 3/4 with batter, and bake for 16-18 minutes.

Variations: substitute blueberries or strawberries for the apple; substitute semi sweet chocolate chips and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and leave out cinnamon.
Hope you enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I have been perusing a webside each week for a little over a month, and decided to join in on the fun this week. I have only been menu planning for a few months, and it gets easier every time. I really don't know how I cooked before! I mean, I would just buy some meat that looked good, a few veggies, and wing it. I was always going back for 1 or 2 more items at the store because I didn't have what I needed to prepare the meal that I decided to cook at the last minute. If you aren't menu planning, you MUST start!
My husband and I have also recently started the low GI diet. If you aren't familiar with it, check out the book by Rick Gallop, Living the GI diet, you can purchase it here: . The reason I'm telling you this, is that the meals and recipes that I'm posting are all GI friendly. I am only posting dinners this week. Hope you enjoy.

Monday~ Crockpot stuffed bell peppers and green salad

Tuesday~ Grilled chicken with whole wheat cous cous and steamed green beans

Wednesday ~ Cornmeal crusted tilapia with tangy coleslaw and zucchini and tomatoes

Thursday~ Crockpot spicy black beans with brown rice and spinach salad

Friday~ Free for all (This means, Momma's working, so Daddy takes care of himself and the boys, usually happy meals, and Momma eats cereal when she gets home)

Saturday~ Quesadillas with left over black beans and grilled chicken

Sunday~ Taco Salad

Crockpot Stuffed Bell Peppers:
4-5 bell peppers, tops cut off (and reserved) and seeds scraped out
1 lb 97% lean ground turkey
1 small red onion, diced
1 small zucchini, grated
2 cups cooked brown rice
tony's seasoning to taste
black pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce ( I use bertoli olive oil & garlic or tomato and garlic~if you can find a low sugar or sugar free sauce, use that)
shredded parmesan cheese
Chop off any remaining bell pepper that's usable from the tops. In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey with the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini until no pink is left. stir in cooked brown rice and about 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce (until it loose, but not runny) season to taste with black pepper and tony's. (I prepare to this point the night before). Pour 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce in bottom of crock pot. Stuff each bell pepper shell with equal parts of turkey mixture, and place side by side on top of tomato sauce in crock pot. pour remaining spaghetti sauce over and around the peppers. Top each with a sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese. Cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. serve with green salad or sauted zucchini.
Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia
4 tilapia fillets
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp dry dill
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup eggbeaters
2 tbsp canola oil
combine cornmeal, dill, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne in pie plat and set aside. pat each tilapia fillet dry with a towl, brush with eggbeather, then dip in to cornmeal mixture, turning to coat both sides.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes, turn using a spatula, and cook for another 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. remove from heat.
Tangy coleslaw:
1/2 bag coleslaw mix (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, shredded)
small handfull of chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp splenda
1 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper
Make the dressing: whisk together vinegar, oil, splenda, celery seeds, salt and pepper. Pour over coleslaw mix, too to coat. place, covered in fridge for 2+ hours to allow flavors to mix.
Zucchini and tomatoes:
1 pound zucchini
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 small chopped onion
1 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated part skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375° F. Wash zucchini and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add zucchini and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes longer.
Turn into greased 9x12-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over top and bake 20 minutes, until zucchini is just cooked through and cheese is melted.
Makes 4 servings.
Crockpot Spicy Black Beans:
1 pound black beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 diced jalapeno pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
I can diced tomatoes with garlic & onion
Drain black beans, and rinse.
Combine beans, jalapenos, and chicken broth in a slow cooker. Season with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, pepper, and hot pepper sauce.
Cook on High for 4 hours. Reduce heat to Low, and continue cooking for 2 hours, or until you are ready to eat.
Serve over brown rice, with fresh spinach salad on the side.
(I will probably cook up some smoked sausage on the side for REV, since he doesn't believe in meatless meals!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Redneck Waterpark

It had been storming for almost 3 days now, and we are finally getting a respit. Around 10:30 or 11 this morning the bad storms stopped, and it has just been sprinkling since then, so after lunch, Stonewall and Skywalker (who have BAD cabin fever) talked me into putting their swimsuits on and playing outside.
Here's Skywalker about to splash in the puddle.

Then, they decided to bring over the slide. . . .This is what I call a Redneck waterslide (we are in Mississippi, after all)

They had a great time playing in the swamp that is our yard. That is, until the storms came back. my camera battery died, so I didn't capture the picture, but you should have seen these boys, when it started raining hard again, clutch their hands over their heads and run to the carport so they wouldn't get "wet" !

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Grilled Turkey Medallions with Spinach-Walnut Pesto

We're changing up the week's menu a little bit already. I got an "HR" at work today, so I've been home with the boys and can cook tonight. (An HR stands for hospital request off, which simply means that our census is down, they had extra people on the schedule that they didn't want to pay, so they "let" me stay home. Of course, I have had to sit by the phone today, just in case they got busy and needed me after all.) Anyway, I decided to postpone the lentil haystacks for another day, and tonight we're having what was planned for wednesday: grilled turkey medallions with spinach walnut pesto over whole wheat spaghetti and a fresh green salad. My plan is to grill the turkey on the George Foreman Grill, which is one of the greatest inventions ever! I just whipped up the pesto, and it smells divine. Here's the recipe:

Spinach-Walnut Pesto
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoon grated Parmesean cheese
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Yields: About a cup

Place walnuts, spinach, basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until it forms a paste. Drizzle in oil slowly until the mixture is all combined and makes loose paste.

Yummy! I can't wait for supper!

Dauphin Island with Mimi and Poppy

That's right, my parents, Mimi and Poppy came to visit all the way from Kingwood, TX this past weekend, and Stonewall and Skywalker were THRILLED to see them! Mimi and Poppy always do lots of fun stuff with the kiddos! On Friday, we drove down to Dauphin Island, AL and visited the Sea Lab and Estuary, and Fort Gaines. We all had a blast, but it was Hot, and the boys were exhausted when we were through. We arrived at Dauphin Island just in time for lunch. I planned very poorly, and had not packed lunch for us, so we had to discover what the island had to offer. We ended up at a Dive called (I kid you not) the Crusty Crab. The service was aweful, the food was decent, but almost everything was fried. I ended up eating a grilled shrimp salad, which had grilled baby shrimp over salad greens and a vinigrette dressing, no too bad. Then, we were off to the Sea Lab: They had this big aquarium area to walk through with all sorts of indiginous species, as well as some imports from other areas. There were tough tanks for the kids, with shells, horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, and snails. We really had a great time!

Here's Stonewall with a turtle.

Here's a pic of Skywalker on the left and Stonewall on the right trying on a diving helmet.

Since it was just across the street, we then visited Ft. Gaines. The boys really enjoyed it, they were lots of cannons lying around, and a real blacksmith was there giving demonstrations of
his craft. He was really amazing. He even made each of my boys a handmade square nail with a face on the head. We walked all around that Fort, looked at every nook and cranny, and pretended to fire every cannon. All in all, we had a great day! Stonewall and Skywalker were really sad to see Mimi and Poppy go back to Texas Sunday! But, I only had to remind them, that Rev's parents Bubbles and Big Daddy are going to be here next week!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

OK, I have been doing this new thing, the low GI diet, based off the book by Rick Gallop, "Living the GI Diet". So far, I've been on it for 3 weeks, and have cheated numerous times, including an anniversary dinner at the Melting Pot in Birmingham, AL, which is my new favorite restraunt! Anyway, I am going to start posting my weekly menu, and as I can, the recipes that go with it! So, for the week of August 11-17:
Monday~Rev took Stonewall and Skywalker to Pizza Hut, so I'll make up a quick breakfast burrito when I get home, with egg beaters, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, green onion, tomato, and canadian bacon on a whole wheat tortilla, with a plum on the side.
Tuesday~Lentil Haystacks. This lady on a forum that I frequent has posted about this several times, and we are now trying it. We're having smoked turkey sausage on the side, and serving the lentils over brown rice, then piling on salad toppings to our desire.
Wednesday~Grilled Turkey Medallions with fresh green salad and spinach-walnut pesto (homemade) over whole wheat spaghetti.
Thursday~ Raspberry Chicken with whole wheat couscous and steamed green beans
Friday~ left overs
Saturday~Grilled tilapia, tangy coleslaw (not the creamy kind), and grilled asparagus
Sunday~ Crockpot stuffed bell peppers (made with ground turkey, brown rice, and zucchini) with green salad.

It all sounds great, hopefully, it will all taste as good!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

8 Wonderful Years

Today is Rev and my 8th anniversary. Yes, that's right, 8 years ago, when we were mere babes (22 years old), we married at Kingwood First Baptist Church, Kingwood, Tx.

Rev and I met our junior year at Kingwood High School, we were both in the honors Physics class with Mr. Doolittle (truely his name), but in different sections. Mr. Doolittle had study sessions the night before a test, though, and everyone who wanted to could come and study together. At one of these sessions, Rev leaned back from a row over, and offered me a Thin Mint. That's right, the Girl Scouts brought this couple together. We still didn't know eachother well, and I had kinda forgotten about him, until finals week. You see, my dad was the director of his Sunday School class at church, and he needed a substitute teacher for the upcoming Sunday. Rev's mom was finishing up her Masters in Divinity at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth (HBU extension campus) in Comparative Religion, so dad asked her to teach. Anyway, my mom conned me into coming with her to drop off the teaching book in exchange for a study break and a chocolate shake from Sonic. We were sitting in their living room chatting, when Rev walked in. He and his best friend had just given each other buzz cuts, and he was pretty embarrassed about it, but I like it. he had been attending youth group at another church with some friends, so I hadn't ever seen before at church, and I invited him to youth VBS the following week. We hung out all the next week, and by the end, he asked me out on a "real date". We went to see the movie Congo, which was probably one of the worst movies made that year, then we stopped at Baskin Robbins on the way home! Anyway, 5 years later, after senior prom, graduation, college at Baylor University, a 14 month breakup, my going off to nursing school in Dallas while he was still in Waco, and we finally made it to our wedding! That's a little bit about our beginnings, some other day, I'll share more. Praise the Lord, we have had a blessed 8 years of marriage. Looking forward to 100 more!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Soccer Camp

So, Stonewall is growing up sooo fast, he just attended soccer camp for the first time, and we are totally looking forward to playing with the city league this fall. The camp he attended was called the "Challenger British Soccer Camp". A group of 3 brits came all the way to our little Mississippi town to teach our kids about soccer (apparently, they were doing it all over the country all summer long)! Anyway, the coach for the 3-6 year olds was Chris from Scotland, and he was really great with the little ones. The only problem: no one could understand what he was saying, and he called things funny names. The boys and girls would just stand there looking at him until he actually demonstrated what he wanted. It was pretty comical, but by the end, the kiddos were understanding a little better.

This pic is of the kids in Stonewalls group, Stonewall (with his new buzz haircut) is in the middle in the green shirt sitting on the soccer ball: (doesn't he look sooooo excited)

Just to be fair, I have to through in a pic of Skywalker too. he was too young for soccer camp this year, but he did watch with me from the sidelines!