Monthly Archives: September 2010

Biggest Loser Tips and Fresh Smoothie Dinner!

I’m sitting here watching The Biggest Loser and crying. It’s so sad to see people that are risking death with the way they live, whether it’s eating too much, being lazy, smoking, or abusing alcohol or drugs. We have to make healthful choices, day in and day out. It’s so important!

They gave some really good tips tonight: eat organic whole, lean foods – lots of fruits and veggies – avoid processed, food-like substances – be conscious of your calorie input – workout, creating a calorie deficit – do it together, not alone. We’ve all got to start sometime; why not today?! I also loved the tip about rolling up veggies like red and yellow peppers and fresh spinach inside lean turkey slices.

Smoothie Meal

I have been craving fruits and veggies recently. So tonight, I made a smoothie for dinner. It’s a strange combination, but really tastes quite good. I just threw in lots of leftovers into the blender and liquefied. Here we go: I had about 1/2 c. steamed broccoli leftover from last night, 1/2 an avocado, and 1 1/2 c. of fresh, frozen spinach (not the steamed box kind, but a bag of fresh, unpacked spinach that I threw in the freezer a week or two ago), 8 frozen strawberries, 2/3 c. frozen cranberries, 2/3 c. frozen raspberries, 1/2 c. frozen pineapple chunks, 1 frozen banana, 2 c. skim organic milk, 2 Tbsp. flaxseeds, 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds. Then I poured it into two large cups and topped tonight’s with 1/2 c. oats and 1 Tbsp. agave nectar. The leftovers will be enjoyed for breakfast on my way to work in the morning.

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Whole Wheat Mushroom Apple Smoked Gouda Pierogies from Simply Life Blog

Simply Life's Whole Wheat Pierogies

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs: Simply Life. My first experience with pierogies was actually in Poland! After college graduation, I packed my bags and went on a two month Baltic Musical Missions Team to Poland and Latvia with a group of friends. Living out of a duffle for two months and sleeping on the floor is quite the experience – one everyone should have at some point in their lives, in my opinion. We did concerts two or three nights a week, played music on street corners while passing out tracts and concert invitations, and did sports clubs and children’s Bible clubs too. It was a blast! I think I need to pull out my European scrapbook and reminisce tonight.

Anyway, back to pierogies! Pierogies is one of my favorite dishes. It’s basically a dough pocket filled with your favorite things: meat, cheese, fruit, whatever. One of my favorites is blueberry filling. Another is filled with mashed potatoes, spinach, and feta. I came across this recipe today and can’t wait to try it. For the full picture illustrations on how to make these, check out Simply Life’s blog. Okay, here it is:

Whole Wheat Mushroom Apple Smoked Gouda Pierogies

Ingredients:

For the Pierogi Dough:

  • 1/4 cup smooth applesauce, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 tbs. olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • Salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

For the Filling:

  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • About 6 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Thyme, fresh or dried, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste
  • 1 cup smooth or chunky applesauce
  • About 1/3 cup smoked gouda, shredded or chopped into small pieces

Directions:

1. Make the pierogi dough by whisking the applesauce, 1 tbs. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 egg and 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl. Place the flour in another bowl and slowly stir in the applesauce mixture.

2. Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth, dusting with flour as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside about 30 minutes.

3. Make the filling by heating 1 tbs. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and cook until browned, about 4-6 minutes. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

4. Roll out 1/2 the dough to less than 1/8 inch thick, keeping the other 1/2 covered with plastic wrap. Cut the dough into rounds using a drinking glass or cookie cutter. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and set aside.

5. Stir in the thyme, paprika, 1 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup water. Bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Then uncover and cook until thickened, about 4-8 minutes.

6. Top each round with 1 tbs. of the mushroom filling (it may not seem like a lot but if you put too much it won’t seal up properly). Sprinkle with a touch of smoked gouda cheese. Brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg and fold in half. Seal by gently pushing down with a fork along the edges. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

7. Heat about 2 tbs. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Boil the pierogies in batches (I did about 5 at a time), for about 5 minutes each, then transfer to the heated skillet. Cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Serve with applesauce, if desired, and enjoy!

Veggies and Venison!

Snack: I had a few cucumbers with some light ranch dip before my personal trainer session tonight.

Dinner: Venison Cubed Steaks, dipped in Italian Panko and pan-seared with mushrooms and garlic, steamed broccoli and carrots, and fresh radishes with mint and feta. Yum! I never thought I’d be a fan of radishes. My grandfather always put them on his salads and I thought they were bitter and yucky, but try the with some sharp feta and fresh mint and it really is amazing! The feta also complimented the venison nicely.

Veggies + Venison = Victory

Happy Rainy Monday!

The rain has finally returned! Thank goodness because our grass was dying. Yesterday was a wonderful rainy Sunday! We had a really good service and Sunday school in the a.m., then came home to havarti grilled cheese and tomato soup. I also had some coleslaw and whole berry cranberry sauce and some hot tea. Nothing like a cup of hot tea and a long nap to celebrate a rainy Sunday!

Later on, we went over and had dinner with Bryan’s mom and saw our nephews and niece. Then we went grocery shopping and stopped by Blockbuster to check out their previewed DVD sales. We ended up watching a movie and going to bed early. Bryan’s been working really long hours recently, so it was nice to finally spend some time together.

Breakfast was an organic peach and a package of oatmeal. Would you believe the organic peaches were 30 cents cheaper per lb. than the conventional peaches?! Organic, please! Lunch will be rotisserie chicken and sourdough bread. We’ll stock up on veggies for dinner! I’m thinking cauliflower sandwiches, steamed broccoli and carrots, and maybe some venison cubed steaks.

Happy Rainy Monday, y’all! By the way, check out new items and picture slideshow on the For Sale page of this blog.

A Young Couple Finds Freedom in Simple Living

Check out this interview of a couple (Logan Smith and Tammy Strobel) who sold their house, cars, and TV to live a simple, debt-free life. Follow Tammy on her blog at www.rowdykittens.com. I’m not saying we’ll go this far (I’d have to research the Peak Oil thing), but I admire them and their journey.

Quick & Simple Fashion Statement

Check this video out for a quick way to spice up your wardrobe with simple items you might just have lying around the house.

A Fresh Twist on Classic Lasagna

A fresh take on a classic Italian dish. Instead of lasagna noodles, we’re using whole wheat spiral pasta. We’re also using a very lean ground beef (or try ground turkey to reduce the fat some) and add in your favorite veggies. 40 Minutes to Prepare and Cook.

Ingredients

1 box (13.25 oz) Healthy Harvest Pasta, Rotini
1 can (26.5 oz) Hunt’s Spaghetti Sauce, Traditional
1 container (15 oz) Ricotta Cheese, Park Skim Milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Fat-free Mozzarella
1 large egg, beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pound very lean ground beef or turkey
1 cup Summer Squash, sliced
1 cup Broccoli, chopped

Instructions
Prep:
Preheat over to 375F. 
Brown 1 lb. ground beef in 1 T. olive oil.
Meanwhile, boil pasta for 10 min. and drain.
Steam vegetables (about 10 minutes) and set aside.
Beat 1 egg, add 3 cheeses and garlic and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Assemble: Layer all ingredients in lightly greased lasagna pan or 9×13 pan. Begin with a light layer of sauce, followed by half the noodles, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/2 of the vegetables, 1/2 of the beef.
Repeat process, using half of the remaining sauce. Add final layer of sauce and cheese. 

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

Number of Servings: 12

Mediterranean Dinner Group

This is a meal from a dinner group we did a while back. I found it in my notes and thought I’d share. Maybe I’ll even try recreating it this weekend. All ingredients are estimates, of course, because cooking is an art (baking is the science). 

We started with an Antipasto Tray: cubes of mozzarella and sharp cheddar cheeses, garlic stuffed green olives, black olives, and kalamata olives, salami slices, baby carrots, and ranch and bleu cheese dressings.

Meanwhile, Heather brought a salad that was mixed greens, tomatoes, cheese, and croutons.

And Erin brought French bread with this amazing Parmesan dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce (sorry, I don’t have amounts, just ingredients):
Mix dry ingredients first:
Minced garlic cloves
Salt & pepper
Parmesan Cheese
Italian seasoning
Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I think equal parts).
Then give each couple a bowl of the oil mixture. Spoon in as much or as little of the dry cheese mixture as desired, and dip slices of French bread into it.

Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin:
Marinated 3# pork tenderloin in the following combination:
1 small bottle of white wine (Chardonnay, about 1 c.)
1/2 jar of pitted Kalamata olives (with juice)
1/4 c. worchestershire
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. each of salt, pepper, thyme
1/4 tsp. celery seed
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, finely sliced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced

The longer you can marinate, the better. I let it set for about 6 hours.

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, until no pink remains but still moist.

Serve with Mediterranean mushrooms over rice.

Mediterranean Mushrooms:
Saute 8 oz. mushrooms in 2 Tbsp. butter. 
Add garlic salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and paprika to taste.

We concluded the evening with apple pie and coffee, accompanied with a healthy dose of laughter in finding out that we are all very much alike. Go Northern girls marrying Southern guys! 🙂

Living Simply

I’ve recently been seeing a theme in some of the blog posts I’ve been reading.

The Zen Habits Blog is one I’ve been following a lot. One of the author’s sold all their possessions, including cars, and moved to an apartment in SanFrancisco, where they ride bikes or walk everywhere. Here’s a bit from a recent post:

“I’ve been finding that simplifying things means I can savor life more fully.

“Savoring life starts with a mindset. It’s a mindset that believes that excess, that rushing, that busy-ness, that distractedness, isn’t ideal. It’s a mindset that tries instead to:

    • simplify
    • do & consume less
    • slow down
    • be mindful & present
    • savor things fully

“It’s the little things that make life enjoyable: a walk with a loved one, a delicious book, a chilled plum, a newly blooming tree.

“And by simplifying, we can savor life to the fullest.”

Another blog I found through the Zen Habits blog is the Smaller Living Blog. Check out her Beginner’s Guide to Decluttering here for some great tips.

I also ran across an article about what The American Dream really means (hint: it’s not about huge houses and fancy cars – it’s about owning a small piece of the world that’s paid for and enjoying life to its fullest). It’s an interesting little PDF that doesn’t take long to peruse.

All this combined with my regular Scripture reading has added up to us deciding to sell a bunch of our stuff and live more simply. Our goal is to be able to pick up and move wherever and whenever God would have us to. So, I’ve posted a new page on this blog: the “For Sale!” page. Post a comment on the “For Sale!” page if you’re interested in anything. If you live near Taylors, SC, just pay and come pick it up, or I can meet you. If you live further away, I am willing to ship items at the purchaser’s expense.

Thanks for helping us on the journey to a simpler life!

Recipe: Vegetarian Black Bean and Quinoa Fiesta

Talk about a Vegetarian Delight!

Get ready for a nutritious and delicious explosion of flavor in your mouth. This is a new recipe I created last night that was so yummy I had to share! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch today! And it’s ready in less than 30 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. dry quinoa
  • 3/4 c. 2% organic milk
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 2 tsp. organic butter
  • 1 tsp. garlic infused oil (you could use 1 tsp. olive oil and 1 minced garlic clove)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 organic leek (white and light green portion only)
  • 1 can organic black beans (about 10 oz.)
  • 3 oz. feta cheese crumbles (1 good size handful)
  • 2 organic roma tomatoes, chopped
  • sour cream and paprika to top
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Prepare quinoa: combine water, milk, and quinoa in a medium pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cover, simmering for 15 minutes (until moisture is absorbed).
  2. Heat large saute pan with butter and garlic oil. Slice leeks into strips or rounds and add to pan. Sautee with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain black beans and add to cooked leeks.
  4. Add feta cheese and stir till beans are warm and feta is melted into mixture.
  5. Add diced tomatoes and warm through.
  6. Serve black bean mixture over the quinoa; top with a dollup of organic sour cream and avocado slices; sprinkle with paprika. Goes well with all natural tortilla strips and Publix Greenwise Organic Salsa.

Servings: 2 good source dinner portions or 4 side dish portions (in case you want to serve tacos, grilled chicken or steak strips on the side).