Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Volcanos: Part I

I mentioned last week the special project that Stonewall, Skywalker, and I have been working on. Well, here it is. Stonewall was asking about Volcanoes one day. We looked some information up on the Internet, saw video of eruptions, saw diagrams of the volcanic layers, and talked about lava and magma. Then, being a super-cool mom, I suggested that we MAKE a volcano. (I know, I know, what was I thinking!) Of course, once I'd said it, there was no going back. Stonewall and Skywalker were soooooooooooo excited.
We went to the corner gas station and bought about 10 old newspapers and went to work. Here's our materials list:
1 empty 2-Liter bottle
Old newspaper torn into long strips
old newspaper and old walmart bags balled up
4 cups flour
8 cups water
craft paint
Mod Podge or Spray Clear Gloss Sealant
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tbsp dish soap
red food coloring
1 cup vinegar

To start, I had an old 2 Liter bottle of Coke in the fridge. I gave up cokes about 2 1/2 months ago, but bought one when we were expecting visitors evacuating from hurricane Gustav. Our visitors never came, and I have been having great will power NOT to open it. (You have NO IDEA how hard it's been!) Anyway, pour out the coke, or wait until you'be finished it. Rinse it out, keep the cap on it, and place it int he center of a large piece of cardboard or plywood. Tape the bottle down so it won't move. (As you can see, I did not have any cardboard or plywood, so I used the lid of an old plastic storage bin that we weren't using anymore)
Tape balled up bags and newspaper around the bottle, resembling a cone shape. (You can also use metal screening or chicken wire for the form, but who has that kind of stuff just lying around?) Once you have a general shap, it's time to make the paper mache!
Mix flour and water, stirring until there are no lumps. Then, (this is best to do outside) dip the strips of paper into the flour paste, lift out, and using your fingers, remove excess paste from the paper strips, apply, overlapping onto structure, forming craggy rock shapes as you apply the strips around the volcano. Once you have the stucture fully covered, sit in sun and allow to dry (may require overnight drying). Apply a second and third layer, drying fully in between.
Now you are ready to paint! Give the kids paintbrushes, a couple of shades of brown paint, and let them have at it. You may need to fill in the gaps they leave. Once it's fully painted, allow to dry again. Then, give it a clear coat of glossy sealant spray paint, or a coat of Mod Podge to fully seal it. Allow clear coat to dry. (In case you are wondering about the blue, I asked Rev to go buy us the clear coat enamel spray paint for the volcano Monday while I was at work. When I went to spray the volcano, it came out blue ?! So, we gave the volcano a "stream" going down the side, and went to Walmart to get the right paint.)

Now, you're ready to erupt! Mix the baking soda, red food coloring, and dish soap into a paste, you may need to thin with a little water. Pour/spoon the paste into the empty bottle/volcano. Then, pour the vinegar in and stand back!

Now, I have to admit, we were a little disappointed with the eruption. I think it was because the bottle was so big. . .maybe if we had used a 20 oz bottle instead of a 2 Liter, it would have been more powerful. We really only saw alot of red bubbles coming out.
Later this week, we're going to retry with a different lava, so stay tuned, and I'll post those results when I can.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm doing great this week. Once again, posting my menu plan on Sunday for the week! We have been so busy this week. Stonewall had an "idea" yesterday for a project, but we're not finished yet, so I'll blog on it when we're finished. . .a couple more days.

This morning, we had a wonderful time at Church. We are having so many visitors lately, and it is just wonderful to see new faces all the time. Rev. just finished this morning a sermon series on giving. He doesn't really like preaching about Money, but felt called to do it, so he did. It was actually a really good series. Hopefully, the church will see an increase in tithing because of it!

As for last week's verdict: Everything was wonderful! The only change was Tuesday, we did not have the 15 bean soup, we had leftover Shredded Beef Sandwiches, since there was so much, and they were so delicious! I absolutely adored the Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas, too. If you like mexican food at all, you've got to try them. They weren't too hard to prepare, and they were yummy. I halved the recipe, and it filled a 9x13" dish, so keep that in mind. This week, we're trying a couple of new recipes, so hopefully I've chosen well.

If you've stopped by here before, you may remember that I am currently doing the Low GI diet. Basically, a healthy eating plan encouraging lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. I have been avoiding the "red light" foods per the book Living the GI diet, by Rick Gallop. I have to admit that, starting Friday with the Chicken Spinach Enchiladas, I cheated on my diet pretty badly this weekend. Rev and I went on an actual date this weekend, and at the movie theater, we shared a Frozen Coke and Raisinettes. (Then we stopped at Sonic on the way home for a Shake.) So, the rest of the weekend was only a little bit better. So, as of right now, I am oficially back on my diet. I actually really love this diet, I feel full and satisfied, and don't even really miss the bad foods I had been eating most of the time. I still have 4 pounds to lose before I reach my goal, so I'm almost there. (Though, I am considering taping a "4 pounds to go" signs all over the house!) Anyway, here is our menu for the week, and as always, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for other great menu plans!

Breakfasts: cereal, milk and fruit for Skywalker and Stonewall most days, I have All-Bran cereal with berries and skim milk or a yogurt smoothie, or an egg beaters breakfast burrito with canadian bacon on whole wheat tortilla.

Lunches: PB &J sandwiches, fish sticks, Hot dogs with fruit and cheese cubes, or homemade "lunchables" for the boys; I will have either Black Eyed Pea Salad over Spinach, an Open-Faced Turkey sandwich with light mayo, spinach, and tomato, or a Tuna salad wrap (whole wheat tortilla, tuna mixed with little bit of light mayo and relish, spinach, tomato, red wine vinegrette).

Snacks: For me: Lots of fresh fruit; light, fat free added fiber yogurt (Benefit brand from Walmart), whole grain crackers with Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese, Balance Bar; For the kids: fruit, yogurt, fat free sugar free pudding, ritz crackers with PB, popcorn, pretzles, cheese cubes.

Monday ~Crockpot Unstuffed Cabbage

Tuesday ~ 15 bean soup (with leftover shredded spicy beef from last week mixed in), green salad, Whole grain crackers

Wednesday ~ Roasted beer can chicken with new potatoes and fennel, green salad

Thursday ~ Sweet-spicy glazed salmon, whole wheat cous cous, snow peas

Friday ~ chicken squash bake, boiled new potatos, salad

Saturday ~ Mustard & Chive crusted pork tenderloin, left over whole wheat cous cous, steamed green beans

Sunday ~Crockpot Garlic Swiss steak , steamed green beans

Roasted Beer Can Chicken with new potatoes and fennel:

1 whole roasting chicken

1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced

6 new potatoes, quartered (skin on)

olive oil

2 cloves garlic (1 crushed, 1 minced)

2 tbsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp cayenne pepper

fresh ground black pepper

1 can beer (We do not drink alcohol, but each year I buy a 6 pack and put it away. I have several recipes that use beer, and would not be as good without it! ~ Just don't tell my congregation :) )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and set oven rack to lowest position. Remove any innards from the whole chicken, and rinse inside and outside with cool water, rub inside cavity with salt, set aside. Take beer can and pour out 1/2. Insert the crushed garlic clove into can, and sprinkle some poultry seasoning and cayenne pepper inside. Set beer can in center of 9x13" pyrex dish. "Impale" chicken with beer can, arranging legs, so chicken sits upright in baking dish. Drizzle chicken generously with olive oil. Using your hands, rub generously with poultry seasoning, being sure to get in between skin and meat if you can. Sprinkle lightly with cayenne. Arrange new potatoes and fennel slices arround chicken in dish, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and some of the fennel fronds. Place on bottom rack of oven, and bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. (Use a meat thermometer for safety!)

Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then carefully remove beer can from chicken (using tongs) remembering that beer can will be very hot! Carve, and serve with veggies (they will be flavored with the chicken drippings.)

Note: Fennel is sometimes call Anise. It is a white colored bult (kind of onion-like) with green stalks coming off of it (kind of celery-like) with wisypy fronds at the top (like dill). It has a licorise flavor, and is great if fall and winter dishes. I have trouble finding it around me, but found some at a whole-foods type store in mobile recently, so I pulled out this old recipe. I urge you look for it, you'll really like it!

Mustard and Chive Crusted Pork Tenderloin:

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of silvery membrane

1/4 cup grainy dijon mustard (I use Grey Poupon Country Dijon)

3-4 scallions, white and green parts chopped (original recipe calls for chives)

1 clove garlic

1 tsp canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix mustard, scallions, garlic, and oil, then smear all over tenderloin. Place on baking sheet, and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until just a hint of pink remains inside. Then, place under broiler for 1 minute to brown, turn, and repeat with the other side. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. (I do not like mustard, but I love this recipe!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Scavenger Hunt

First of all, I spoke with my mom yesterday, and I am happy to report that their power is back on (it was knocked out by IKE)! She was thrilled, it was the second day back at work (she teaches 9th grade World Geography), and when she got home, she noticed the generator was off, so Yeah for Mimi and Poppy!

Today, I really needed to clean my house. My kids ( and husband) have really made a mess out of it this past week. This morning I came up with a new game. Stonewall was whining about a snack, and I was whining about cleaning house. So, I told him that I would fix a snack after the timer dinged. I set the timer for 5 minutes, and told him that when the timer dinged, I was throwing away all the toys on the floor. I handed them the empty toy bin, and they got to work. They were running around the house picking up their toys, and I was cheering them on. They finished with like 2 minutes to spare, and I secretly upped the timer by 3 more minutes and told them to pick up all the dirty clothes off the floor and put them in the laundry basket. They finished this with 3 minutes left, and I handed them an empty trash bag, and told them to pick all the trash up off the floor (like I said, it was Messy!). They ran around, picking up, while I cheered them on, "Go,go, go, Hurry, Hurry" They had a great time, and they picked up! They beat the timer, and in 8 minutes, accomplished what would have taken me over an hour working around and against them. I fixed their snack, and sent them outside in the backyard to play while Rev and I swept and mopped! (Yes, Rev helped, it was so sweet! I just LOVE it when he pitches in and cleans without me even asking!)

Stonewall and Skywalker played on their power wheel until the battery ran out (I forgot to charge it, oops.) Then they were coming back inside, whining about watching TV. I did NOT want them to spend a beautiful day inside watching TV, so I came up with a scavenger hunt for them. I wrote out a list of things for them to find outside, and drew pictures next to the words, since they can't read yet.
Flower, Stick, Stick shaped like a "Y", Rock, Worm, Leaf, bird,berries. Stonewall didn't know what my rock picture was (as if I am notthe best artist, or something), so I asked him to sound out the word "ROCK" and he did it! I'm so proud of him, he is really doing good with sounding out short words! Anyway, after they found everything in their scavanger hunt except for a worm, they were back inside asking for help. The last thing I wanted to do was go hunt worms, so I came up with a new idea. I made them each a bracelet out of duck tape, a simple loop of tape, the sticky side out. Then, sent them out to make nature bracelets. They found leaves, flowers, bugs, grass, and small sticks, and decorated their bracelets. I was so proud of them!

Now, of course, they are sitting inside, watching TV. Oh well, they wanted to play with the slip and slide, but I really didn't want to get it out this afternoon, maybe tomorrow.

And the best part of this day? Rev informed me that he called a babysitter, and we're going to a movie tonight!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, Sunday, I guess.

First of all, the verdict on last weeks menu. Monday, we tried Crockpot BBQ chicken and cornbread from Crockpot365's blog. She loved it, but we hated it. It was just weird, and yucky too. Tuesday, we tried the Asian Port Tenderloin, and it also was not a hit. I have 2 much better port tenderloin recipes that we love, and we will stick to those. The rest of the week was MUCH better, we loved it all. (Oh, the apple cheddar meatballs were also from Crockpot365, and they were really good!)
This week, we are only trying 2 new things. The "theme" for Menu Plan Monday, is Family Favorites, so we are having several tried and true recipes. Oh, and go on over to OrgJunkies site to check out other great menu plans! Here's my plan:
Monday ~ Crockpot Shredded Beef Sandwiches, steamed green beans
Tuesday ~ Crockpot 15 bean soup (with some of the leftover shredded beef), green salad
Wednesday~ Church Fellowship Meal: We're having a special WMU supper of Taco Soup, cornbread, and green salad to benefit the Margaret Lackey Special Offering for state missions
Thursday ~ Crockpot oregano marinara chicken over whole wheat spaghetti, green salad
Friday ~ Picky Palate Spinach/Chicken Enchiladas, Southwestern Rice (Brown Rice with Black beans, corn, and salsa mixed in)
Saturday ~ Low Carb burgers stuffed with pepper jack cheese, green salad, sweet potato fries
Sunday ~ Crockpot Porkchops with gravy, brown rice, black eyed peas, green salad
Crockpot Shredded Beef Sandwiches:
1 3-4 pound roast ( I usually buy rump, but a tender chuck roast is fine, too)
2 16-oz jars pepperocini peppers, NOT drained, sliced
2 large yellow onions, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 cup water
1 TSP fresh ground black pepper
Cut roast into chunks (approx. 4"x4") Put meat into crockpot, along with sliced onions and bell peppers. Season with fresh ground black pepper. Pour Pepperocini peppers (with juice) and water over meat and vegetables. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. Remove meat from crockpot, and shred using 2 forks, then return to crockpot.
To serve, Split open whole wheat hoagie rolls, scooping out some of the bread from the center, to form a "bread shell". Place some of the shredded beef, along with onion and peppers into the "bread shell" Top with Sliced cheese (Provolone or swiss are equally delicious). Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese melts and bread toasts.
The leftovers freeze well.
Crockpot Oregano Marinara Chicken:
1 package chicken breast tenders
1 jar marinara sauce (I'll use my leftover homemade veggie packed tomato sauce found here)
1-2 TBSP dried Oregano
Place chicken breast tenders into crockpot, and pour the jar of marinara sauce over top. Sprinkle the top with dried oregano, and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. Serve over whole wheat spaghetti, with a large green salad on the side.
Low Carb Burgers:
1 lb 93/7 ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1/2 zucchini, shredded
1-2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp grill seasoning
2 tbsp flax meal
Pepper Jack Cheese cubes
In bowl, mix ground beef, and all other ingredients (except cheese) with your hands. Divide into 4 portions. Form each pattie by inserting 1-2 cheese cubes into the portion of meat mixture, forming a pattie around the cheese, making sure the cheese is sealed inside. Grill outside on grill, on indoor grill pan, or George Foreman Grill until desired doneness. To serve, Wrap each pattie in a large bibb lettuce leaf, with sliced tomato, onion, spinach, and condiments of your choosing.
Crockpot Porkchops with gravy:
4-6 bone-in pork chops (neither "thin" nor "thick" cut, just regular pork chops)
1 package brown gravy mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or the equivalent of homemade cream of mushroom soup)
1/2 cup water
Place the pork chops in the crockpot, mix the gravy mix, soup, and water, and pour over pork chops. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. These are so tender and delishious. Serve over brown rice, with black eyed peas and green salad.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Deep Thoughts by Skywalker

Last night, I was cuddling on the couch with Skywalker, and he was being silly, and just plain cute. So, I asked him, "How did you get to be so cute and adorable?" His response? (Keep in mind, Skywalker is 2 (Well, actually, he will be 3 next month, but I'm not ready for him to grow up, so I still see him as "only 2") Anyway, he looked at me pensively, put a finger up to his sweet rosey cheek as if in deep thought, and said, "well, I brushed my teeth."
I busted out laughing. Of course, he didn't understand what was so funny, but it was just too precious!

So remember, people, always brush your teeth if you want to be cute!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tasty Tuesdays

A friend from an online forum that I frequent is hosting something called "Tasty Tuesdays" on her blog, Cheaper by the (Half) Dozen, so I though I would join in.

Ok, so I made the Asian Pork Tenderloin tonight for supper, and it was NOT a hit. I really didn't like the flavor of the sesame oil, and it didn't really taste "Asian" to me at all. So, since it was a flop for us, I've decided to share my no-fail pork tenderloin recipe. (We also LOVE the Grainy Mustard and Chive crusted Pork Tenderloin recipe, but I'll blog on that on another time.)

Marinated Pork Tenderloin:
1/3 cup canola oil
1 packet dry onion soup mix
5 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 pork tenderloin

Mix oil, soup mix, and worchestershire sauce in a gallon-sized ziplock bag, and shake to combine. Then add pork tenderloin to the bag and seal. Place in the fridge and marinate for 2-4 hours.
When time to cook, Preheat oven to 375. Place large sheet of foil onto cookie sheet. Remove Bag from fridge, and place pork in center of foil, pouring remainder of marinade over tenderloin. Bring up long sides of foil, folding over twice at top, then fold in ends, forming a foil packet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on size of tenderloin, until no pink is left in center.
Remove from oven, and open foil packet to vent. Allow to sit about 5 min, then remove to cutting board. Allow to sit for additional 5 min, then slice and serve.

I have NEVER had a pork tenderloin cooked this way turn out badly. . .it is just so good! I hope you enjoy this!

Also, we absolutely hated the barbequed chicken and cornbread crockpot dish that I tried last night. . .It was just weird. So, For next week, we'll probably have some tried and true recipes instead of all the new ones I've been trying out lately.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I will do better blogging this week. I will do better blogging this week. I will do better blogging this week. . . . .

I feel like I need to write sentences for slacking off this week and not blogging at all. I was sick with this horrible sinusy stuff. I was busy, very busy with work and home. I even worked overtime this week. I was worrying about my family in the path of Hurricane Ike. -- These are my excuses for neglecting my blog all week. But, as I always say to my boys, NO EXCUSES!

So, I am back once again with my Menu Plan Monday, and a fresh resolve to add to this blog.

That being said, I'll give you the verdict on last week menu. We did really well sticking to it (Until yesterday, that is) The Roast was good, but I forgot to sear the roast before cooking it, and it really makes a difference if you've never done it that way before. The black beans were quick and easy to prepare; however, I really preferred the spice from the other black bean recipe that I made a couple of weeks ago, the Rotel in this was too mild after slowcooking all day. The tilapia was excellent, and the black beans &brown rice from Tuesday were reinvented into the southwestern rice dish, which really turned out well. My favorite of the week, though, was Thursday's Balsalmic Bruschetta Grilled Chicken. It was amazingly simple and delishious! You MUST try it. Saturday's meal will be featured again this week. I didn't get off work until 4pm Saturday, and it was just too late once I got home to get started cooking for our usualy 5pm supper time. So, we had fast food. (I know, I know, really bad. I did, though, eat a grilled chicken salad with lite dressing, so not too bad.) The meatloaf was alright. Rev really liked it, but I'm just not a big meatloaf fan, so I can't get too excited about it. . . On to this week:
When you're done here, head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie's website for more great menu plan ideas!

Tuesday~ grilled Asian Pork Tenderloin, crash hot potatoes, grilled zucchini/squash/tomato medly

Wednesday ~ Cormeal Crusted Tilapia, leftover grilled veggies, salad (scroll down for recipe)

Thursday~ Crockpot Black Eyed Peas, Turkey sausage, salad

Friday~ Leftovers

Saturday~ Apple Cheedar Turkey Meatballs, green beans, Sweet potato Latkes (recipe below)

Sunday~ Taco Bowls

Sweet Potato Latkes:

1 sweet potato, peeled, then grated

4 green onions, sliced white and green parts

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup eggbeaters

Salt and pepper

Mix all, drop in by 1/4 cup fulls (or smaller) onto hot skillet with about 2 tbsp canola oil on it. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Another week, another Menu Plan Monday. I am beginning to love the freedom that comes from planning my meals this way. I don't get anxious, going back and forth between the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, trying to figure out what to cook each afternoon. We are not going out for fast food or pizza several times per week because we don't have anything to eat. And, we are spending much less at the grocery store! Please, check out Org Junkies Mr. Linky for more great menu planning ideas!

The verdict from last week: We did not have our southwestern tilapia last week, as I blogged about creating a pizza pocket recipe instead. Also, Sunday, I was sick, so I didn't cook the roast. Both of these will be on this weeks plan instead. We totally loved the Pioneer Woman's Crispy Yogurt Chicken, but I made it with homemade whole wheat bread crumbs and boneless skinless chicken breasts isntead. They were great!

In case you haven't read my blog before, I am following the low GI diet plan for healthy eating and weight loss. All of the meals I make, if they do not fit into this way of eating, I modify them so they do. I'll try to either post recipes below, or links to where you can find them. Enjoy.

Monday~ Crockpot low GI Pot Roast with Sour Cream Gravy, wild rice, steamed green beans
Tuesday~Crockpot Rotel Black Beans with Brats, brown rice, salad
Wednesday~ Southwestern Tilapia, Southwestern rice with black beans and corn
Thursday ~ Balsalmic Bruschetta Grilled Chicken, asparagus, salad
Friday ~ Fend for yourself
Saturday ~ Grilled Asian Pork Tenderloin, grilled zucchini/squash/tomato medly
Sunday~ Crockpot Italian Stuffed Meatloaf (low GI ~ recipe below), salad, leftover zucchini/squash, tomato medly

Crockpot Italian Stuffed Meatloaf ~ low GI recipe

1 1/2 lb 93% lean ground beef
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, grated
1/3 cup eggbeaters
1/8 cup old-fashioned oats
1/8 cup flax meal
3/4 cup tomato sauce (I will use my homemade veggie-packed sauce)
1 tbsp fresh parsley or basil, chopped
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded, reduced fat mozzarella cheese

Mix all ingredients, except for cheese, in large bowl with hands until well mixed. If it is too wet, may add more oats until the correct meatloaf texture is reached. Form into an 8x8ish square shape on a large sheet of saran-wrap. Visually divide in half. Spread shredded cheese over one half of the meat square, leaving a 1 inch border around that half. Fold other half over top of cheese half, sealing edges and forming a loaf shape, using the saran wrap.
Place inside the crockpot, cover, and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8. Use 2 spatulas to lift the meatloaf out of the crockpot,and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Get Well Soon. . .

Beautiful, isn't it.

Yesterday, my throat started getting scratchy, by last night, I had a pounding sinus headache. I took some medicine and went to bed. I tossed and turned all night long, and this morning when I woke up, my chest and head were full of congestion, and I felt so aweful I could barely move. So, I got the boys ready for church, shipped them off with Rev, took a shower, and went back to bed.

After Church was over, the boys all came home, and very sweetly gave me hugs and told me to feel better, they were so sorry I was sick. Then, Stonewall set off to make me a "Get Well Soon" card. (Which, as I'm sure you've guessed, is pictured above.) Let me interpret it to you. The person on the right is, of course, me. The rainbow above my head is my hair, aren't I pretty? The figure to the top left is our Church. The writing at the bottom is translated (per Stonewall) as "I Love You, Mommy". He also said that the card says he wants me to feel better so I can go to Church with them. So sweet, isn't it! Also, pretty impressive writing for a 4 year old boy with no help (he can spell MOM, can't he!)

I really don't feel good enough to be witty and long-winded, but I needed a quick shameless brag for Stonewall.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pizza Pockets

I was inspired by reading some of the blogs this week posted on Org Junkies Menu Plan Monday to try to make homemade, healthy pizza rolls (mine actually ended up being more like pizza pockets, but that's merely semantics, really. My boys, Stonewall and Skywalker, love pizza rolls, you know the ones, they come frozen, you bake them up, little rectangles of pizza-ey goodness (Now I'm making up words). The problem, they are full of fat, calories, preservatives, you name it. When I told my boys I was making homemade pizza rolls, Skywalker said, "Well, I like those at school, but I don't think I like them at home." Meaning, he knew inately that I was trying to make them healthy, and he wasn't having any of it. So, I changed the name to pizza pockets, I mean, why compete with something so loved. No, this is NOT what I'd planned for supper tonight, we'll have to have that tilapia another time.

First, I needed pizza sauce. I've always wanted to try making a tomato sauce, but never have. I didn't want to spend any extra money on this meal, since I've already done my grocery shopping for the week, so I kinda just grabbed things from my pantry and fridge. I decided I wanted a veggie-packed sauce so the boys would get all sorts of vitamins and good stuff. Here's what I did:
Veggie-Packed Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato puree
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (may substitute basil)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp splenda
1 tsp dried oregano (if you've got fresh, use it!)

Here's how I put it together:

Heat EVOO in skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Throw in zucchini and bell pepper, and continue cooking about 8 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.
Add Spinach, and cook until wilted.

Add diced tomatoes and tomato puree, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to med-low. Add parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano, stirring to combine. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. At this point your sauce is done, but I knew that my boys wouldn't eat it in this state, it's too chuncky.
So, I removed it from heat, allowed it cool for about 10 minutes, than put my new immersion blender to work, and pureed it smooth. Isn't it pretty!
This recipe yielded 4 cups of sauce. I froze 2 cups for another meal. I think it will be great on spaghetti, or stuffed bell peppers! The remaining 2 cups, I used for this recipe (and yes, we probably only used 1/2 of that. I may still freeze the remaining cup sitting in the fridge right now.
Then, it was time to make some dough. I finally found a recipe that I liked the ingredients in, but when I make it and allowed it to rise, it was way too sticky, and I would never have been able to roll it out, so I added some other things, and it worked. Here's the recipe I ended up with. (My hands were too sticky to take pics at this point, so bear with me.)

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat bran
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water
I just mixed the dry ingredients together, then added the wet and stirred/kneaded until well combined. Then, let sit, covered by a damp cloth for about 10-15 min to rise. Punch down, and roll out. (I greased my counters with olive oil because it was still a little sticky) I used a 4 inch round cookie cutter, and my dough made about 18-20 circles.
Then, to put to all together:
Pizza Pockets:
1 recipe veggie-packed tomato sauce
1 recipe whole wheat pizza dough
1/2 package turkey pepperoni
1 cup 2% Mozzarella cheese, shredded
(Any other pizza toppings you want, finely chopped)

Lay out your dough rounds on a greased cookie sheet, spread a small amount of sauce over each one, leaving 1/2 inch border. Then, top with tsp of chopped up pepperoni and 1 tbsp cheese. Fold in half and seal edges, crimping with fork.

Aren't they pretty! This was before baking. I baked them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and they were perfect. I served them with warmed sauce on the side to dip.
Stonewall ate them and liked them. Skywalker ate about 1/2 of one, then said he didn't like it. Oh well, you can't win them all!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Aftermath of Gustav

Well, yesterday, we sat inside watching hurricane Gustav blow through, waiting to see if we would lose power and phones or not. Thankfully, We lost power only for a couple of hours overnight, and it was back on by 6am, so we didn't even miss it. We escaped any major damage except for some downed branches in our yard (many thanks to Rev and his Friend Jim who dilligently hammered down new shingles on our roof Sunday)!
Needless to say, though, we all had a bit of cabin fever by the end of yesterday. My creative boys played "tranpoline" in the living room on the couch cushions, then moved on to practice for their future architecture degree by building forts on the living room floor. They also practiced their engineering by building train tracks. They watched more Ducktails episodes than I thought existed. By the end of the day, they we BEGGING me to take them to Pump It Up. Of course, Pump It Up was not open during the hurricane, so they took it upon themselves to make their own home version. They put the guest room mattress off the bed and onto the floor, then "decorated" for their party with streamers (t-shirts hung over doorknobs) and we ate pretend cake. They jumped for a good 30-45 minutes straight and had a great time. (And I did promise to take them to the real Pump It Up soon).
Anyway, Today, we just HAD to get out of the house. I needed to do some grocery shopping, so we decided to drive into Mobile, go grocery shopping and go to Blue Rabbit (kinda like Chuck E Cheese, but better food, less arcade games, and a bigger indoor playground) I decided to try a new place for my groceries, Jimmy Lowes Fruit Stand. A local favorite in mobile, with great fresh produce for great prices. I was So pleased! I ended up spending $19.05 (Including tax) for my produce, and this is what I got:
1 bunch parsley
5 gala apples
3 bartlett pears
1 2-pint package strawberries
2 large zucchini
4 roma tomatoes
1 package baby spinach
1 package salad mix
1 lb green beans
1 lb pink eyed peas (I'm assuming these are like black eyed peas, but we'll see)
1 bunch asparagus
1 lemon
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
(I think that's everything, and I will definately be going back to Jimy Lowes Fruit Stand)
Of course, I had to go to super walmart for everything else.
Now, we're home, supper is finished, and after I get the boys to bed, I've got to clean up from our Hurrican adventures yesterday!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time again, Menu Plan Monday! I made my tentative menu plan last Friday, but it is subject to change at any moment due to the Hurrican blowing over my house at this moment. We are still following the low gi diet plan, and it is going well, despite majorly cheating yesterday at our Church's Homecoming Fellowship Lunch. So, without further ado, here it is:

M~ LABOR DAY ~ Low carb burgers, black-eyed pea salad
T~ Lentil haystacks
W~Southwestern Tilapia, steamed green beans
T~Crockpot Turkey Black Bean Chili (recipe below)
F~Free For All
S~ Crispy Yogurt Chicken, roasted veggies (with low GI variations)
S~ Crockpot low GI roast with sour cream gravy, steamed green beans, wild rice (recipe below)

Low Carb burgers:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, diced finely
1/2 zucchini, grated
2 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp grill seasoning
Pepper Jack Cheese, cut into cubes
Large Leaf Bibb lettuce
Baby Spinach
2 Roma tomatos, sliced
Condiments per your taste

Mix the ground beef through grill seasoning well, divide into 4 equal parts. Take 1-2 cubes of pepper jack cheese (depening on your taste) and form one of the parts of the hamburger mixture around the cheese to form a burger pattie, repeat for all patties. Grill the burgers until cooked through.
To serve, take a large bibb lettuce leaf, spread with some mayo (or condiment of your choice), them place one burger on top. Top with tomato slices, spinach, and more mayo (Ranch dressing is awesome here, too) Then, wrap bibb lettuce leaf up around burger to become the "Bun". Enjoy!

Crockpot Turkey & Black Bean Chili :
1 lb ground white turkey
1 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalepeno, diced
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp each salt, black pepper, and cumin
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can (14 oz)chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn (optional)

Brown Turkey in nonstick skillet. When browned, pour into Crock Pot, add all other ingredients, and mix well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve topped with light sour cream and reduced fat cheddar cheese.

Crockpot Low GI Roast with Sour Cream Gravy:
Pot Roast with Sour Cream Gravy G.I. rating is VERY LOW
2-1/2 pounds eye round roast
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 packet lipton's onion soup mix
1 can beef consumme
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
Gravy:1/2 cup nonfat or light sour cream
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1. Trim the meat of visible fat, rinse with cool water, and pat it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle all sides of the roast with some of the black pepper.
2. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil in skillet, Brown meat in skillet over med-high heat, then place the meat in Crock pot. Deglaze the skillet with the coffee, then add in the soup mix, beef consumme, and spices, stir and scrape off all brown pieces stuck in skillet, then pour over roast.
3. Set crock pot to low, and cook 8 hours, or until roast is fork tender.
4. To make the gravy, combine the sour cream and 1/2 cup of the pan juices in a blender (I just used a whisk) and blend until smooth. Add flour, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
5. Pour the remaining pan juices into a measuring cup. Add water if necessary to bring the volume up to 1 cup. (If there is more than 1 cup of liquid, return it to the pot and cook uncovered over medium-high heat for a few minutes to reduce the volume to 1 cup.) Return the pan juices to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes. Slowly add the flour mixture while stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Cook and stir for a minute or two, or until the gravy is thickened and bubbly.
6. Slice the roast thinly across the grain, and serve accompanied by the gravy