Taco Challenge. 

My #3 is so into YouTube kids that I have to demand she take breaks from the iPad or her TV. She knows, watches and sees literally every kid like YouTube challenge that exists. Thus the birth of a new idea for our family. Winter meals are so hard around here for a few reasons. 

I get so bored cooking in the winter because we get into a rut of eating the same things every day. I know what they like and they aren’t fans when I change it up without their permission. The second reason is I work normal business hours. My school practices the later hours so we go from 9-4:30. Then I work about a half an hour from work. Or add in a drama production. Dinner requires quite a bit of advanced planning. 

  Well with the challenges I was thinking I could add a food challenge for us to spice it up. My family loves tacos of many varieties. We have kinda perfected our own beef taco, but I get bored with it. We sometimes will throw chicken tacos in there. On Christmas night I challenged my family to eating tacos twice a week through March. 

And we begin pinning recipes like crazy.  I am hoping it gives us something to look forward to weekly. Tacos are very easy to accommodates to my healthy eating. It is easy to plan or make ahead and throw together. The girls get excited by the possibilities of something different. 

We went ahead and started this week….with one new taco recipe and one I make when we need to eat it for a day or so. We started with fried tacos and I threw in fried tortilla chips. The recipe was amazing and I just kept our usual taco recipe. To make the healthy alternative I ate mine out of a sturdy lettuce leaf. You can use any type of green leaf veggie. We loaded ours up with tomatoes, lettuce and salsa. Honestly, in my opinion salsa is the key ingredient to most tacos. I prefer to make my own, but when there isn’t time I will purchase from our local Mexican restaurant. But at the store I will buy the cleanest variety I can get my hands on. 

My guy and I have a tradition every New Year’s Eve to have spicy Mexican cheese dip. This year I made it, but didn’t eat much because it isn’t really my thing anymore. But to go with with it I decided to make our tried and true carnitas (aka park tacos). This is a family favorite, but when you make it you gotta plan on feeding either a lot of people or eating it for a few days.

We take a whole pork roast and put it in the crock pot with 1-2 cups of water. Add taco seasoning and one jar of salsa. If you like it hot I suggest adding sriracha sauce. Then let that baby cool in its juices till it shreds with a fork. Then remove it and 

  keep the liquid. Shred the pork. Throw into a sauce pot, add back the juices and cook till the liquid evaporates. This is the secret because it intensifies the flavor. Skipping this step will make a milder boring flavor in my opinion. If time allows you could add shredded pork back to the crockpot for an hour or so. I have done both. Serve however you would serve a taco. It is amazing. 

So we had that last night with our dip. My girls will eat it and we have food leftovers for today. It is pretty much the only way I will eat pork. I am not a fan of pork like at all. I have tried to like it but NOPE. For my family any taco must have Mexican cheese….the only place I can find it is Kroger and it their store brand. It is called Queso Blanco Quesadilla Cheese. If you can find a block of Monterey Jack shred it and it works similarly.  

I can also tell you my family is incredibly picky about shells. They don’t usually like a hard shell. They love Mission extra fluffy soft shells. To make it healthier use the trick above serving taco fixings in a leafy green, but if you don’t like that or prefer a carb here you can opt for a corn tortilla. I opt for the cleanest version I can find. If lay them over your oven rack hanging over at 350 they will crisp up in about five minutes. You could also make a flat version on a cookie sheet. Sometimes I will add a tablespoon of coconut oil to a pan and crisp them that way. That is usually when I am not in a program. That is because coconut oil is good for you. If I want to brown something this is usually my preferred oil because of these facts.

So happy taco challenge to my family. I am sure we will fail, but it will be so fun trying to master this challenge and yummy.

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Best Carbs I ever ate.

Since the 21 day fix I am really careful about my carb consumption. More than anything I find that keeping my calorie count for the day helps and when I am doubtful of portion size I resort back to 21 Day Fix. I also try and do the counts of all the food categories on 21 Day Fix! Pasta irritates me so badly because one round of it in a day and screws with my calorie intake all day long. So I just decided unless I really need it, I ain’t having pasta.

Well today I had a shakeology so my calorie count is down for the day. I also have limited supply of food at this point because it is grocery day. So I knew the time had arrived to make Dragon Noodles. A recipe I had been eyeballing before 21. I had heard and seen so many raving reviews about it I almost felt left out since I had not tried it.

Well enter the perfect storm today of all of the above and it came time. I still was missing a few of the ingredients but not anything I felt would leave me not liking it. I also had to clean it up. I am very purposeful with everything I eat now, so if I am consuming it then it has to have a purpose that is good for me.

YUM!

The original recipe is from budgetbytes, a site solely dedicated to eating good and not spending a lot of money to do it. The original ingredient list is as follows:

Ingredients
  • 4 oz. lo mein noodles $1.13
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1 large egg $0.25
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha (rooster sauce) $0.08
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro $0.22
  • 1 sliced green onion $0.06

Here is mine:

  • Whole wheat pasta (I made one cup that I intend to use in portions)
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • Omitted crushed red pepper (didn’t have any)
  • Organic Egg (I believe an egg is an egg…I just buy organic)
  • 1 tbsp of raw honey (you could also use agave)
  • 1 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sriracha
  • No cilantro or green onion (but they would be amazing and add an awesome freshness to pasta)

Follow the rest of the recipe and I used the coconut oil for the scrambled egg. I should say I don’t stray from butter. Butter is much healthier for you than margarine. However, I prefer my eggs with coconut oil.

I did measure it out with my yellow container because on my carbs I need to. This is probably my hardest weakness. I mean pasta in general. I love pasta and I realized just how much I was eating and it was alarming. So it is something that rarely happens. It was definitely worth it this go around and if I want the leftovers I am gonna have to do the work.

It was amazingly yummy and I will be making again!

Out of the comfort zone but completely comfortable.

Something very unique has been happening for me the last three months. I have found out things about myself I never really knew. Things like I love blackberries and raspberries and that I don’t like mangoes. I don’t like them mostly because they are too similar in texture to pineapples. Still hate pineapples.

But I have also found out I can do things I never thought possible. Things like lifting weights and enjoying how it makes me feel when I do. Or enjoying the crazy sweat after a nutty crazy workout. And yes if you are a longtime reader you know I have been down this weight loss road before. And I am not sure what happened.

But I know how it makes me feel that I am here again. That is something that I could beat myself up over, but what is unique about this time and different for me is my resistance and reluctance to teaching myself how to eat for my body. I very much have always lived believing that working out was the only thing necessary for a healthy body.

That was naive and foolish and probably where I messed up most because I was not fueling my body for the work and health I wanted. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t successful. It was because I lost a lot of weight. But I couldn’t sustain it. Now I feel like I can. I also have figured out what works for me and my body when it comes to food.

And the food I have been making is amazing and sustains me. For example, I read this great article from Rachel Ray’s magazine about mashing which is where you take toast and mash a healthy veg into. Seems okay right? Well can I just tell you it took my plain old turkey sammie to new levels tonight?

fix39I smashed half an avocado into toasted bread and loaded it full of lettuce and tomato and added my go-to zero calorie condiment grey poupon and doused it with fresh ground pepper. I had four small slices of sara lee honey roasted turkey. It was amazing. The best sandwich I have ever had in my life and no I am not just saying that. It had about 220 calories and I had it with a side low fat cottage cheese for an additional 56 calories. I am still full and it was amazing.

Or we could talk about the banana muffins I made. I used this recipe and they taste exactly the same as my usual recipe. I added in my 2 tbsp peanut butter made of of PB2 which is my favorite treat diet or no diet. AMAZING!!! I didn’t even tell my family they were a “healthy” version of banana bread. I just said I made them smaller for me. They loved them.

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Heck I even tried a meatless fish. How does this happen you ask? I have been very intrigued by meatless options and they did look super yummy in their packaging and I am a huge packaging person. So I was immediately in love. At first it bugged me a little thinking I was going to have a reaction to them. But they tasted like a complete cheat and they weren’t. YEA! Fish allergies have me afraid and the kind I am not allergic to is super pricey. So this Gardein variety worked.

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But I cannot bring myself to eat a meatless hot dog. For some reason that is a ridiculous craving I have been having. A hot dog is not something I usually eat anyway, but for some odd reason I am wanting one. I am not giving in, but I have meandered a bit by the meatless options. Kpuff keeps saying, “No, don’t do it. They aren’t good.” So I will listen.

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The most important thing I can do to help myself is keeping food to snack on with me. I keep clementines on me at all times. Popcorn is another go-to that I carry. They both are low cal and good grab and go options. I feel like more and more cleaning eating is my new way of life.

And finally I made the most amazing clean meal of pot roast, carrots, half a sweet potato and wild rice with quinoa. It was so amazing! NOMS!
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Using good for fuel, not comfort. FINALLY I have figured out my own equation.

21 Day Fix French Toast….

On Friday at work somehow our lunch convo turned into french toast and after said conversation there was a prominent image in my head. FRENCH TOAST, not only a favorite of my own but my family. This was the very first thing I ever learned to cook when I was teenager and it was the first thing I made for my guy. Need to say it is staple around my house. In my house we like it thick with powder sugar or peanut butter and lots of yummy warm syrup.

Well clearly that wouldn’t work so I set out on a quest to find a 21 day fix with pancakes. I knew I had seen several of those recipes. Some were simple and some were more complicated. So I woke up Saturday and tried to make one. I am not gonna share it, not because it was horrible but because I didn’t eat it.

I attempted to make it but couldn’t get enough browning on the bottom to flip it. I assume I messed up the recipe somehow. They smelled amazing but just couldn’t get them fully cooked. Here in enters my brain child….why can’t I have french toast? I can control what I put it in.

Now born: 21 Day Fix French Toast. A recipe I am guessing for most will feel like a cheat or too good to be a diet food. I just call it clean french toast.

frenchtoast

Ingredients:

  • Aunt Millies 35 calorie whole grain bread (1 slice = 1 yellow)
  • 1 egg (1/2 red)
  • Cinnamon to taste (this one is a freebie so go crazy!!!)
  • 1 splash of unsweetened almond milk – I have no idea how to even measure this but it was a dab so I guess I would say 1 tsp. Almond milk is technically a yellow but what I used would have barely covered the bottom of a yellow so I just did not count it and truthfully you could easily sub out water for it or even nothing at all. I feel like the good fat” gives your french toast the umphf you are looking for

Scramble the egg mixture with a whisk and then submerge your bread in it. The longer you let it soak the more souffle like your bread will be.  I dabbed olive oil on a paper towel and rubbed it on the surface of a non-stick pan and let it warm and threw in my bread. I browned it to my preferred consistency. Just make sure your egg is cooked thoroughly.

I topped mine with a 1 tsp of crunchy cashew butter and 1 tsp of warm 100% maple syrup. However, it would be just as yummy with some berries or apples topped with cinnamon.

21 Day Fix – Week 2 Complete (Almost!)

Well this post will appear a little more differently than my previous fix posts. I haven’t had as many pictures of my food because I keep eating the same things. I started off the week wonderfully and did amazing. In fact, I finished the week the same way. But my attitude got progressively worse as the week went on.

A few things happened this week that tried to derail me. And let me just say that derailment came from my own brain. I find as a teacher in the K-12 system that the weeks leading up to Spring are some of the worst. The students are overly stressed and emotional and my home is the same with three kids and being married to a teacher. Add in all the other factors like musical practice, golf ramping up, a musical program for #3, a chronic illness for a spouse and just all the stuff that makes up life. There is massive amounts of stress at home and work. It gets better every single year, but it will never leave.

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The most important take away here is that I stuck to it and did not give in. Instead in indulging in sugar filled or high fat foods I opted for the other way. I starved myself. I didn’t eat enough of anything. I tried to live in tiny bits of protein, fruit and greens that I could steam. It got me through till Friday.

I did repeat of meat muffins, chicken…lots and lots of baked chicken. Salad. Lots of salad. Clementines, turkey bacon and hard boiled eggs. I am consistently finding that lack of planning kills my diet. I also am finding that my family eats very clean and my cooking is very clean, but with one minor issue we are carb heavy. I actually already knew this, but I was under the impression that since I don’t get into rolls and biscuits and breads like my family is that I somehow I was missing all the extra carbs that my baby birds and guy consume. Wrong. I find them in other places like sandwiches, pancakes, tacos and so on on. I needed to clean up that part.

I was not feeling any of this and was so close after a particularly bad day at work on Friday to saying I am done. I told my guy, “I am hungry and I can’t do this.” I brewed a cup of coffee and sat down and drank it in silence. My work out partner text ready for a workout and  I was so close to not going. But I decided all this work and that she was counting on me being there so I put on my running shoes and left. Eventually what happened was the workout reminded me I am doing all this for a reason. We remembered we only have one more week left of the T25 program and somewhere in me a fire began to burn again.

In fact, the exercise I don’t believe is the problem. It is changing how I cook for my family and myself. I love to cook and consider myself a really good cook. Some of those things are going to have to change because of my own faulty thinking. I also know I cannot be bored with cooking or I just throw in the towel. With sweat on my brow and a workout under my belt I felt some renewal finally and I made my way to grocery and decided I needed something different.

fix1I love fish, but have some late onset fish allergies. When I eat tilapia my throat swells up and it scares the crap out of me. Some other white fish do this to me as well. I am just not sure which ones. But I love fish. So I grabbed some Mahi-Mahi and knew I could use my oven roasted fish like I always have. I went down the rice aisle knowing that I could hopefully find a healthy carb that would help satisfy me and got into the produce aisle and my favorite asparagus was there alongside a new kind I had never seen…White asparagus. I knew this would be my renewal dinner. And I cooked away. I even added an over easy egg over my roasted asparagus because I love that. Something about it seems so sinful and lush and I needed to finish a protein for the day. The meal was marinated fish in aminos (similar to soy sauce but better for you), whole wheat wild rice with quinoa (1 yellow), roasted green and white asparagus (1 green) topped with a drizzle of olive oil and garlic powder and then an over easy egg (1/2 red) topping that.

The meal was amazing!  I followed it up with a long and hard pinterest search to get me through the last week of this. I don’t mean to sound like it is suffering because it isn’t. This is the easiest diet I have ever done. It doesn’t feel diet. I just get overwhelmed by the planning because of just the natural chaos that is my life. I used it as an excuse. But I will post my caloric intake for each day. Just know my meals were repeats because I did what I knew would work. I also found happy to be able to cut a piece of whole wheat bread into half and have turkey sammies. That saved me this week.

  • Wednesday – 1155 (clementines, turkey bacon, toast with almond butter, meat muffins, salads, baked chicken, corn and pea mix
  • Thursday – 1420 (pasta day) (same breakfast, meat muffin lunch, salad, fruit, sammy)
  • Friday – 1116 (clementines and scrambled egg, sammy and fruit, gigantic dinner pictured)

I am going to make some pancakes this AM. I am very excited for that. I need to just dive in and finish strong. I will let you know where I stand soon.

13 Down/8 to go!

The Fix…

The one and only thing that bugs me about the 21 Day Fix (well minus the copious amounts of salad I have consumed) is that it has the word fix in it. This is something that I have fretted with since the beginning. Fix suggests that something is broken of which I am not. I cannot tell you how many times I have hushed myself and said I think WAY TOO MUCH about words. But I can’t help it because I am not broken. I am merely flawed and it took me all of two days to see the things that I needed to change.

fix23Sometimes it is natural and easy and sometimes not. Mondays are kicking my butt. The time change didn’t help that. What I did notice for the 2nd week in a row is that when I am overly tired that I am overly reaching for the sugar. I haven’t given in, but that is when the urge is the strongest. Then I remind myself of the success and it isn’t that hard.

I have noticed my grocery bill went up quite a bit too. Mostly on greens and then trying new veggies. I imagine once you get yourself into a routine and know what you like you are good. I know I spent way too much last week and ended up tossing a lot. This week I did better and limited myself to two new fruits and two new veggies and I think it will work out well.

I still cannot quite master dinner either, for example, Monday we did repeat tacos. Tonight the safe chicken. That is why this post will not have a beautifully bright pictures of all of my fix meals. They are on repeat. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is one particular part I have truly enjoyed about this diet and that is my ability to swerve around dairy. Dairy and I have had a long standing poor relationship and most diets want you to use dairy as a protein or healthier fat supplement. I cannot. It just kills me. In fact, I haven’t had any minus my minuscule fat free feta cheese. I had it the other day and my body had a worse than normal reaction to it. I won’t be doing that again.

Day 7 * Is my number off, I feel like it is and I am losing days but I go by instagram pics:)? (Red-3/Purple-2/Yellow-0/Green-3/Blue-.5/ Orange-0/1 tsp)

  • Breakfast – Two over easy eggs (1 red), 4 slices of turkey bacon (1 red) and 2 clementines (1 purple)
  • Lunch – Green salad (1 green), 1 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Dinner – This was the night I went to dinner with my guy for his birthday and we went to Wings Etc. For this I ordered a chicken Cesar and deconstructed it. I ordered everything on the side and found out I love black olives in a salad. Romaine Salad (1.5 greens), mozzarella cheese (1/2 blue), grilled chicken (1 red), black olives (.5 green) and then ranch. They brought me two small cups and I tried to eyeball 1 tsp and I came home and ate some watermelon (1 purple).
  • Water – 85 oz

Day 8 (Red-3/Purple-2/Green-1.5/Yellow-3/Blue-1/tsp-2)

  • Breakfast – 1 hard boiled egg (.5 red), whole wheat toast (1 yellow) with 1 tsp of cashew butter (1 tsp)
  • Lunch – Salad (1 green) topped with baked chicken (1 red) and water melon (1 purple) and 1 tsp of olive oil (1 tsp) and lemon juice alongside whole wheat pasta (1 yellow) and spaghetti sauce (.5 red/.5 green)
  • Dinner – ham (1 red), sweet potatoes (1 yellow), strawberries (.5 purple), watermelon (.5 purple) and cottage cheese (1 blue)
  • Water – 100 oz

I really needed to get to grocery this day and didn’t like anything I had really. But I hate and you can see it wasn’t my best day. My containers were short, my calories were short and it all just made me feel blah. It was because it was yellow heavy (even though didn’t go over my allowance) instead of my normal green heavy.

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Found out I like spaghetti squash. I haven’t eaten any yet, just a taste but I was looking for a pasta alternative. You can tell when I have pasta it racks up the calories. I wanted an alternative and I think it would totally work. I did try it Monday as a plain pasta sub and ick!

Day 9 (Red-2/Purple-3/Green-3.5/Yellow-1.5/Blue-1.5/Orange-0/tsp-1)

  • Breakfast – Clementines (1 purple) and 1 tsp of almond butter with whole wheat toast (1 yellow/1 tsp)
  • Lunch – Salad (1 green)  topped with chicken (1 red) and fat free feta cheese (.5 blue) and 1 tsp olive oil with 2 clementines (1 purple) – Tired of dressing so none
  • Afternoon snack – 10 Natural Almonds (1 blue)
  • Dinner – Corn tortilla baked in oven (.5 yellow) topped with beans (.5), taco meat (1 red), salad greens (1 green) and tomatoes (.5 green) and cheddar cheese (.5 blue) with a side salad (.5 green) and 2 kiwi (1 purple) all topped with salsa (.5 green)
  • Water 65 oz.

I went over on my blues today (healthy fats) but as I said Mondays sleigh me. I am hungry, cranky and struggle to get with it. Add in being at work early for a presentation, and a long meeting after work at my kiddos school. I didn’t care. I also missed my protein by far.

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Day 10 (Red-2.5/Orange-.5/Yellow-3/Green-3/Purple-2.5/Blue-1/tsp-0)

  • Breakfast – 2 slices of turkey bacon (.5 red), 2 clementines (1 purple)
  • Lunch – 2 pieces of whole wheat toast (2 yellows), topped with 1 small yellow tomato (.5 green) and two pieces of green lettuce (.5 green) and two slices of turkey bacon (.5 red); 2 clementines (1 purple)
  • Afternoon snack – 1 emerald all natural pecans (1 blue)
  • Dinner – Roasted Chicken (1.5), broccoli and carrots (1.5 greens), salad (.5 green) topped with low cal/low fat dressing (.5 orange) and 1 natural unsweetened applesauce (.5 purple)
  • PM Snack – air popped popcorn (.5 yellow)
  • Water 75 oz

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Found out this day just because a salad is pretty doesn’t make it good. This salad was a special kind of horrible today! Ewww! I ate half and tossed the rest. I think the popcorn score made it all better!!!!

Calorie Intake 

  • 459 (low because I went to dinner and have no idea on calories but I know I kept it clean and I did well so I am confident I was in my range)
  • 1098
  • 1363
  • 879

Okay water is clearly an issue when at work but that is the lack of ability to pee. 🙂 Just being honest here! I also tried a 21 Day Fix workout and wow was it tough, but I loved it. I feel like it is way more targeted toward females and their problem areas.

As well, I am 1 pound away from my first goal and waiting anxiously for it to fall off. Then I will announce. I am completely proud and shocked by the number. But I get it. It does seem daunting when I think about how much I want to lose. But I know it didn’t get there over night so I work.

And because I can…I loved this tomato I cut earlier in the week. It was in the shape of a heart! It reminded me love always wins.

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Mommy Rhetoric is cooking again!

Here is the bad side of break…GOOD GRIEF, I always feel full. My kids are always hungry and I am always anxious to cook complicated meals that I know they will love and I didn’t have the time to try. Therefore, I feel like we eat all the time and we are eating good.  But today we have family coming in from out of town and I enjoy making food to help out with feeding a large crowd. Therefore, today (or this AM I should say) we have been cooking at the a la maison de Eichenauer. We are making the turkey which is something we normally do. Those of you that follow me on instagram know that we got a butterball turkey fryer.

There is a story with that. Well usually there is always a story with everything. However, I feel like about ten years ago fried turkeys became all the rage and my Dad tried one. Since then my family has been addicted to the deliciousness. I love how moist and flavorful fried turkeys are. People always think they are going to be fattening and like fried chicken and they just aren’t. The skin if you choose to eat it is the most fattening part and the greasiest. It tastes a lot like bacon if that is your thing. I run hot and cold with the skin. Anyway, my dad offered to come up here earlier this fall and make us a fried turkey. After that my # 2 decided she was addicted to it. Later that day we watched a butterball infomercial for their indoor deep fryer. It seemed so amazing and it was less dangerous than the version my dad does. A task I would never ever be brave enough to do, he is a master though.

I promised her if I ever saw it for sale I would buy it. I never expected too. Two weeks later it was on sale at Walmart. We purchased it and by golly it saved Thanksgiving for us. We were all sick and not interested in spreading our germs so we opted to stay home from our planned travels. We made our first ever fried turkey and it was amazing. We are giving it another whirl today for my guys family. So….if you like fried turkey but don’t like the hassle of the deep pot and an open flame this is a great alternative. Our holds up to a 14lb turkey (I think there is an XL version) and the clean up is super easy as it has a spout for emptying. It also is super quick! 4 minutes per pound.

But alas, the turkey really isn’t my department. I won’t lie our gender roles when it comes to protein in this house are pretty newyears3traditional. He handles the meat and I cook the other stuff. I am okay with that too. I hate raw meat. Ick! That isn’t to say I don’t do it, I just usually refer to him, the grill or this fryer. However, today I offered to make my apple pie. I call it that because it is probably the best thing I make by far. After many, many years of making it and countless pies it is my coveted recipe that I developed. I took a recipe found on food.com and made it my own. I usually make my own crust, but for today I went pillsbury for lazy reasons. It is a wonderful alternative. But if you want to make it isn’t that hard. Here is my recipe:

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups of flour (possibly a little more to add moisture or for rolling)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of crisco (I prefer the sticks already packaged but that is for ease of use…Just don’t use butter crisco)
  • 1/2 cup of ice water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and then add in water as needed to make it till it almost feels dry and is pea like. I like a pastry mixer for this. I can’t think of the specific name. You want it somewhat sticky, but not sticking to everything. Should make enough for two crusts for a top and bottom.

newyears4The apple recipe is as follows:

The apple pie filling

  • 5 cups of sliced apples (I use granny smith and two other baking varieties but mostly granny smith)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • squeeze a whole lemon on the apples once they are cut
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of flour (possibly more if you have juicy apples…add by the tsp after the first three tablespoons)
  • several pats of butter (not margarine)

Cut apples all uniform in size to insure they all cook evenly. Add in the dry ingredients. The sugars will create more liquid coming from your apples so you want to make sure you have enough flour so your pie is not runny. The apples should look dryish and not runny in syrup. Place your crust in the bottom of pie plate. Pour in the apples and push down so they are evenly packed. Add your top crust. Vent your pie. Bake on 350 covered for 45 minutes. Take off cover and bake 15 minutes. Stick a fork or knife in to make sure apples are done and add time in 10 minute increments if not done. Watch that your crust doesn’t get over done.

Today I taught # 2 how to make this apple pie to help her with the apple pie kit she got for Christmas. She made the three most newyears2adorable apple pies to go along side my own gigantic apple pie. She loved it and made beautiful pies.

The next thing on the oven line up was sweet potato souffle. I love sweet potatoes and most of my family does too. However, they didn’t like the traditional sweet potato casserole with marsh mellows. We had been eating that for years and then scraping off the marsh mellows. I realized I was not a huge fan of them either so during thanksgiving I went searching for an alternative. I found a souffle that looks intriguing but there were nuts in it and I knew that would never happen with my picky crew. Then I decided to just yank the pecans out. Sure I love pecans, but the point for the change was to make it something my family would be more eagerly interested in. I found this amazing recipe here. We have had it twice since then. I also tweaked some things to make it a little less desserty. I removed quite a bit of butter and adjusted the sugar and added eggs. I’d give you measurements, but that isn’t really something I do till I have tweaked a recipe to exactly where I like it.

Last night was the first new years eve that I have stayed up till midnight. I started watching a new show I had seen commercials for and I got addicted. I started at 11 and watched them till 2:30 am and then started again this AM. I am now on episode 7 of the first season of The Americans. I am really loving this show and know I will absolutely fly through the two seasons, but I am also super happy their third season starts January 28th. Then again I love Keri Russell. She is amazing in this.

Well Happy New Years to all my readers from my family till yours. My guy is behind the camera.

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I adore #3’s very skeptical face here, # 2 who just wants to cuddle with her puppy, myself who just wants it done because I can tell # 3 is gonna melt down (thanks to a late night), but hey # 1 is pretty happy.

Pinning Away. And sharing.

So we tried quite a few new pin recipes last week. Some were amazing. Some were meh. But most of all my kiddos enjoyed being a part of the process in choosing dinner and trying something new. So this week it was a few different things. And why not lump it together with Saturday sharing on Monday, right?

Pin41) by far this was the absolute best pin. It was cheese tortellini chili. What a thought. Being from the Midwest (or maybe it was doing a stint inIMG_0220 Ohio)  pasta in chili is a natural thing. We always add it. So adding in a cheesy version of it was mind blowing. It was amazing. I did tweak the recipe just a bit because we were in the 80’s with high humidity so adding two tablespoons of cumin seemed like more heat than I wanted. We did just one. But everything else was the same. It was so good. My girls loved it, and my guy loved it. We will definitely be making it again.

Pin42) I also made this ham salad recipe from the Country Cook. And in the recipes defense it was really good. But I probably won’t make it again. I got a really upset stomach around the time I ate it and I know it wasn’t the ham salad. I just don’t think the amount of onions agreed with me. I kinda do really do onions too much. But I didn’t want to sway from the recipe for fear it would mess with flavor. But the sandwich I had was really good and maybe if I made it again I would use a little less onion. But unfortunately whatever I ate that day just didn’t sit well, so now I don’t know if I will do it again. I couldn’t end up eating the rest of it. But it was NOT the recipes fault. I have sensitive stomach already.

Pin43) And next up on the list was probably a family favorite and will probably be a many times over repeat. The girls have asked for it again multiple times since we had it. That is great. That was the point of this challenge and the point of trying to get some new recipes. It was two timing pasta bake. This recipe was super simple and we had dinner on table in about a half an hour with a salad and garlic bread. It took pasta up a notch. I cannot recommend this recipe enough if you feed a big family or if you want quite a bit left. We ate for two nights and really probably could have done three. So yummy!!!!!

Pin44) And finally we had peanut butter bars. Oh my these were so rich and so yummy. I may have done these before, but I don’t think so. But this recipe was super simple and the family loved. We had them gone in days. I really want to make again, but then I don’t because well then I will be forced to eat them and I do not need them LIKE AT ALL! My girls will most certainly demand these again. #3 declared them her fav.

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IMG_0254This weekend was softball tourney weekend. Luckily this tournament was 10 minutes from our house which made travel to and from much easier. #1 had horrible asthma and allergy day on Saturday and I almost kept her home. But she really wanted to go, so she willed herself through her first game and then came home and slept and did a similar thing on the second game. Thankfully, she seemed to mostly recover by Sunday. Her team got runner up for the second year in a row at this tournament. I am so proud of the whole team. They did an amazing job and it was so fun to watch them play. We have one tournament and a handful of games left. And then we go into off season. I am amazed at just how fast this season went. This was her third year with this travel team and the last few years the season seemed so long. Not this year. I am going to be horribly sad when the season is over.

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And finally, I am getting really sick and tired and even angry at quotes like this. The idea that if we suffer in silence our pains are so much more 98267515d8e3081fe985399b5d332f18noble and true. And no I am not talking about the boy who cried wolf. I am talking our society valuing this idea that if we keep our pains locked up inside and don’t wear them that that makes us so much stronger and our pains more valid. It is not true. When pains are at their worst it takes the most strength to share. After this year I will never look at pain the same. My husband spent the better part of our marriage quieting his pain for my benefit. For his own wish at being strong through the pain. But it wasn’t until he reached out and said, “This is not right” that we sought out help for the pain.

We could apply this same concept to mental illness. Poverty. School. This idea that we all should be martyrs and be quiet about our pain is hurting those who need us most. How is one to get help if we value silence over speaking out. I won’t be silent. I won’t value silence in my home, my classroom or my life. We do not have to suffer alone. Alright tirade over.

Sausage Rolls

I do believe Sausage Rolls are a Northern Indiana thing. They love their sausage rolls up here. I have lived in Indiana for most of my life minus about 18 months of my life and I never had one or heard of one till I met my guy.

Then when you come up here everyone says of various restaurants, “Oh they have  the best sausage rolls.” And usually they do. I admittedly don’t love sausage. I actually hated it till pregnant with # 3 then I kind of craved it like A LOT and then after she was born I eat it more than I did.

My family loves it. There is one problem with sausage rolls. They are boring. They are just a pizza type dough with pizza sauce and sausage wrapped in a ball of dough. And because I can never leave any recipe along I tinker with my recipes till they are less boring to me.

I made them tonight because they are fairly easy to throw together and I was quite proud of the finished product. And I realized that I basically made a pizza ball. But whatever….they were good. So want me to share the recipe?

Buy the Pillsbury thin crust dough (or whatever you prefer…sometimes I will go all out and do from scratch). Then buy breakfast sausage and squeeze out of casing or break up the patties. I do that because it doesn’t have heat that regular tube (that sounds so gross) of sausage has. Breakfast sausage is usually seasoned with just salt and pepper.

Get one can of Chef Boyardee but mostly because that is a preference of ours. Spoon cooked sausage into dough. Pour preferred amount of pizza sauce on the sausage. Now in a typical sausage roll you would seal that puppy up. In mine, I add whatever we like. Tonight it was just cheese but sometimes we will do mushrooms or pepperoni.

Then seal them and then I butter and sprinkle them with garlic salt and lightly tap Parmesan cheese or pizza cheese on them. Then bake on 375 for 25-30 minutes and eat. I like a little of the warmed sauce on the side. So yummy.

sausagerolls

And if you are as lucky as I am….You have helpers….

IMAG0198IMAG0199Sorry for the blurry shots, they are on my phone.

MR Cooked Something Yummy!

Last night I went to the first high school dance and I never realized just how awkward those things are when you are the kid. As an adult it was so much fun. I had my butt out there dancing. They loved laughing at me, but it got them out there. As well, I believe I have already established myself as a bad dancer. I do it a lot in class. Or attempt anyway!

But to ease the fact that I would be at dance and getting ready for it I made a crock pot meal as promised in yesterday’s Saturday Sharing. I made ‘Chile Colorado Burritos‘ and it had to be one of the easiest meals I have made.

IMAG0192PIN37) You buy stew meat or cube up your preferred cut of meat. Throw all of it into the crock pot and throw in a large can of enchilada sauce. We went with mild for this time and think we could have all handled a little more heat. I would maybe add some chipolte or adobo sauce next time to give some depth. But since this was the first time I was not messing. Then add two beef bouillon cubes. Put the lid on, turn it on low and go for 6-7 hours. I did about 2lbs of meat and just salt and peppered it a little.

Let that baby slow cook all day. It smelled so nice and yummy. You don’t need to do anything with it. But you can go to the store and get what else you need. Buy burrito shells and another large can of enchilada sauce and a can of re-fried beans. I bought soft taco shells for my little peeps and my guy and I just doubled up and had two instead of one large one. You need a bag of cheddar cheese or whatever cheese you prefer.

Once the meat is done shred it and this was super easy as compared to shredding a roast. Then set up an assembly line. Get a shell and schmere re-fried beans on them. Then toss some of your shredded beef on top of the beans. You can be creative here and add whatever it is your like. Peppers, cheese and maybe more enchilada sauce. We went plain first round. Beans and meat. Then roll it up and place it into a oven safe pan.

I warmed up the other can of enchilada sauce and mixed in the leftover sauce that was in crock pot. I didn’t go full tilt with it because the meat made a lot of liquid and it needed tightened and I didn’t want to take time. I let it just reduce in the pan and the heat did the work for me. Then I took a ladle of sauce and put it all over the burritos. Then top with preferred amount of cheese. Then I placed it under the broiler on low for about 10 minutes to melt cheese and have it all come together.

The final product was super yummy! It was so good. My guy raved and was excited for theIMAG0197 leftovers today. #1 came to tell me how good it was. #3 hates burritos or so she says. And #2 was meh about it. In my defense and hers she is ‘meh’ about all food unless it is junk. We just served with chips and re-fried beans topped with cheese on the side.

This recipe is definitely worth making again. It was really cheap and super easy.

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Want to see as I find my way to 100 pins? Read here.