Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Random Busyness of Summer

At first i had written the title b u s i n e s s .  Then i looked at it and said that is not busyness it is business.  Oh so business is busyness.  Imagine that! :)

It has been a very busy summer.  I surely haven’t kept up on the blog here. I apologize to those who have stopped by looking for a cute new project like: the Portable Office or my Pinterest Inspired Projects.  Maybe you were looking one of the Yummy Recipes .  I've gotten myself somewhat organized…  It is quite the process when you have been unorganized for awhile.  ;)
Now you will have to be patient with me while I get my blog in order over the next few weeks.  I am going to be doing some rearranging on here too.  I am really excited to try some new things here and on Pinterest too.  So if you haven’t started following me on Pinterest, you might want to.  I will also be giving away several selections of e-books, covering quite a few different subjects.  I also see also see a Facebook Page in my future. ;)

But for now here is a random collection of Summer Busyness.

Wild Blueberry Picking

The wild blueberry bushes in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan are quite low.  So if you are envisioning domestic blueberries where large jumbo blueberries grow on high bushes.  Think again, it took 2 ½ hours to pick this large bowl of blueberries.  

The picking bucket that I used was a 4 quart ice cream bucket.  I told myself that I couldn't stop until I filled it!  And I didn't stop until I did.  It involves a lot of crawling around on the ground, or a whole lot of stooping and bending.  I’m a crawler.  My grandson had so much fun on our little excursion.  His Mom packed us a nice little lunch of fruit, yogurt, and sandwiches, and drove us of on our adventure in the RZR!  He really loves that!  Off to pick blueberries with his Mom & Mimi.  Blueberries are his favorite; he ditched his bucket right away and just started grazing.  

The Chickens Started Laying Eggs!

The chicken coop has had it's share of troubles this summer.  We lost 12 hens when they were only about 8 weeks old.  We still aren't sure what was getting our young hens, but we think that it was probably a couple of Ravens.  My hubby had a 22 bullet with their name on it!  We still haven't figured out what kind of hen our tiny little hen is.  But she is such a pet.  She follows my husband around like a dog would.  And even though we have repaired the fence and covered the top of the run she still finds a way to get out into the big world every day.  My husband calls her Whodini!  The two hens that we have left are laying eggs and we are planning on adding 4 hens and a rooster to the flock for the winter.

Grandsons' Garden Harvest

Remember those cute little plant starters that we did for Mother's Day Project.  Well things finally grew here in the U.P. once the weather warmed up.  But it really wasn't a good year for gardening here.  Some is better than none though.  And we are still getting stuff too, so it definitely wasn't a total loss.  Just to see his happy little face picking peas was worth any and all efforts.  Here are a couple pictures of him with his little harvest.
Zucchini Cucumbers and Peas

He Loves Peas!!

Cucumbers Are Pretty Good Too!

Mimi's Tomatoes

A couple years ago we found some Black Cherry Cherry Tomatoes.  They are so sweet and delicious .  We couldn't find them anywhere last year.  But we did find some this spring at the feed mill in Pickford.  They usually have a nice little greenhouse set up and they always have great deals on bulk seeds.   Check out the size of the Black Cherry variety as opposed to the regular ones.
Black Cherry Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Largest of Each!

Help with the Fruit Flies...

If you ever get fruit flies while you are ripening fruit or veggies...  they love tomatoes.  I used a recycled Chobani yogurt container with a clear plastic lid.  Poke holes in the top of the lid, add a quarter cups of apple cider vinegar to the container, put the perforated top on and there you have it a Fruit Fly Trap!  Just discard the whole thing when you have caught all the little critters. 
Fruit Fly Trap

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Favorites

Get Grilling

It’s the end of July; summer is in full swing in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.  I've been grilling for weeks now.  It helps to cut down on the heat in the kitchen.  I use a Weber grill, occasionally I purchase charcoal, however most of the time I use small chunks of wood from branches that have been trimmed.  My husband uses spruce sap as a starter, it works really well.  You also don’t get the chemical taste from starter fluid.  Cooking over wood is just the best.  Even when I use charcoal my husband puts some pieces of green wood atop it so as to get the nice smoked flavor.

Potatoes and Chive Side-Dish for the Grill

Since I am picking a bunch of chives today, it seems only right to have some for dinner.  I don’t have potatoes yet but they had a pretty good deal on them at the co-op today.  This recipe is quick and easy, it has taken me longer to type this then it will take to prepare. 
You will love this side-dish for the grill; cube 5-6 medium potatoes, sprinkle with zesty country seasoning, salt and pepper, then top with lots of chopped fresh chives and dot with 3 tablespoons butter (unsalted). Wrap up the foil you are ready for the grill. Takes about 20-25 minutes, turn after 10-12 minutes.  Yummy!

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I make my own BBQ sauce.  I've been using this recipe for over 20 years.  I originally found this recipe in an old cook.  At first it just appeared to be an old newspaper clipping.  Then it turned into our family BBQ sauce recipe.  I have made a few adjustments over the years to the original newspaper clipping.  One side of the clipping has a date, 1957, my birth year.  The original recipe is for making “Beef in Barbecue Sauce”.  And it is very good like that… pulled beef.  If you want to make the pulled beef just add 1 cup stock to the recipe, and your beef of course. 

In a skillet heat 4-6 tablespoons of grape-seed oil (I like this oil because it has a very light flavor and you can turn the heat up without burning), add 1 heaping cup of chopped celery, 2-3 large diced onions.  Simmer until celery is tender and onions are translucent. 

Add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (this will de-glaze the pan), now add 4-6 tablespoons of brown sugar (depends how sweet you like your BBQ) and 2-3 cloves of garlic, simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. 

Then add 1 ½ cups of ketchup, 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and a teaspoon of salt.  Simmer for about 20 minutes to combine all the flavors.  This sauce is quite zippy, the vinegar zippy that brings a sweat on, but not spicy.  Like your sauce spicy?  Add a dash of cayenne pepper.

I made it ahead of time and put it into the fridge.  Today I am putting it on grilled chicken. It is awesome on Burgers with an onion ring (we call it a cowboy burger).  This sauce makes a great dipping sauce for chicken tenders and onion rings too.  

I would love to be able to can some of this up for the pantry.  I will have to experiment with the recipe and quantities.  Surely all that you would need is a boiling water bath.  I have pinned some recipes for ketchup.  So I think that that would be a good place to start.  If I am going to be making enough to can I surely will need quite a bit of ketchup.

The Rock Quarry

About 25 minutes from our house, nestled in a wooded area, on private property, that everyone enjoys. I am pretty sure that it adjoins a large area of state land.  And for the most part it is taken care of by its’ patrons.  Most people don’t leave trash behind.  I know that every time we go there we leave with more than we arrived with.   We make it a point to look for litter. 

The swimming is great!  Not much fishing to speak of, it has been over fished; you might find some catfish in the deep water.  We have caught and released 3” blue gill.  Kids love catching those little fish.  There are some crayfish too.  The kids catch them on willow branches.  Silly crayfish to greedy to let go… so the kids capture and carry them in buckets all afternoon, only to be set free before departure.  I wonder how many crayfish have been brought home to fish tanks.  I know my kids took a few home, only to find that they will snatch up a gold fish.  Poor Fishy!  

So peaceful!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Great Pies

Great Pies Start with Great Pastry

I make an awesome Blueberry pie! I really like my apple pie too. You might say I have those recipes down. I have never made a cherry pie, can’t keep a peck of cherries long enough to make a pie. But I would love to try it some time. I always seem to have a little trouble with all of the juice in a rhubarb pie. I have never tried using tapioca in a pie for thickener. It just always seemed weird to me. It certainly doesn't bother me that it is tapioca because tapioca is one of my favorite puddings, but why the aversion to it as a pie thickener? I know that I have made a few pies in my time that had just way to much flour for thickener. They were good, nice and sweet and nothing was running all over the plate. But the site and texture of too much flour isn't very appealing. I have never used cornstarch either. Cornstarch to me has always been a tricky thing. You have to reach the ideal temperature and not go over or hold it too long or everything goes back to soup. 

Surely a great crust will make any pie! Maybe no one will notice a little extra juice if the crust is perfect. I have been using the same recipe for years and have shared it with many along the way. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have! 

Pie Crust Recipe 

2 cups flour, 2/3 cup shortening, 1 tsp salt and 7 tablespoons cold water. Combine flour, shortening and salt until crumbly. Drizzle with cold water, stir only until dough follows fork around the bowl. It will be a little sticky. Divide dough. Flour pastry towel, flatten dough, turn flatten slightly more then roll. Repeat for top crust. After I have applied the top crust I cut a few vent holes then brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. This makes for a beautiful lightly brown yet sparkly crust. Even if I am making a cream pie, I use this recipe, and make a sparkly crust to be filled with pudding. 

Blueberry Pie Filling 

Keep in mind I use a 10’ large glass pie pan, adjust accordingly. In a large bowl; 5-6 cups of blueberries (if using frozen thaw and lightly drain), 1 ½ cups sugar, ½ cup flour, a dash of salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Lightly fold the sugar and flour into the blueberries. Do not mash the berries! Make sure all of the berries are covered with a coating of the mixture. Put blueberry mixture into uncooked pie crust, sprinkle blueberries with any leftover flower/sugar mixture, dot with butter, about 2 tablespoons. Now you are ready for the top crust. Make a cute smiley face or a message pie. I once wrote “Eat Me” on an apple pie. *Wink* Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar, bake at 400 for about 40-50 minutes. 

It is getting close to blueberry season here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My daughter-in-law and I are planning on picking, tons. LOL Well, not a real ton but I hope to pick a lot. My grandson loves blueberries. Fresh or frozen, he eats them as if they were candy. Fruit, nature’s candy; I would say it is probably one of the best fruits to eat. I try to eat it on a regular basis, even if it is not in season. I freeze as much as I can whenever I can. I sure hope that there will be a substantial amount for freezing this year. It is looking good for the apples this year too. I promised my daughter that I would share applesauce recipes this fall. There are more apples this year than I've ever had. It is usually a race to get to the apples before the deer. Somehow the deer know when the apples are perfect for picking. 

I don’t think that that will be a problem this year, even if the deer get all the low ones there will still be plenty. Somehow my apples trees got quite large when I wasn't paying attention. Or so it seems. I have gone through fazes with my apple trees. It seems as though for a few years we will prune and shape, then we will let them go wild for awhile. They have been going wild for a couple years now, recovering from over pruning. We over did it for a couple years, thinking we knew what we were doing. Since then I have found some great sources on pruning apples and other trees and shrubs. Next pruning I will use one of the guides that I found on Pinterest. You can check out a few sources on my Pinterest boards; "On the Farm" or "Gardens".

Bake a pie on the next rainy day!  It will take the dampness out of the air!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Preschool Mother's Day Project

Little Garden Starters

This is looking like a pictorial and I haven't uploaded all the pictures.  My grandson was so excited when I told him that we were going to make something for mommy.  Not only am I the Mimi, I am also the daycare provider.  I try to keep him busy with stimulating projects.  

He is so smart and has such an extraordinary vocabulary.  I try to keep him busy with stimulating projects.  (That could be another blog topic.)  I don't want him to miss out on any of the types of projects that he would be doing in a nursery school.  This time of year they always have such cute projects that involve growing things.

We started by gathering up all of our supplies.  I cut colored paper into strips, got out the markers, some stickers and glue sticks.  He was so happy to accommodate all of my requests... color this... pick stickers... peel stickers... put glue on this... Although he had gotten plenty of glue on the strips of colored paper, he needed help from me to get them all aligned.  Working on this project I discovered that he really loves to using the glue sticks, so I have since come up with a few other projects that allow him to use them.

The little window containers are nothing fancy or spectacular, but to him they are grand!  He checks on them every morning, See, Mimi, more flowers!  I suppose with a little creativity and some cute materials like; buttons and bows, some hot glue, and a few other crafting items they could really be gorgeous.  

At this point they needed to sit and dry for awhile.  I think we had lunch, a story, and a nap.  He awoke just before daddy (my son) got home from work.  He knew we had to wait until daddy got here to put the dirt in.  They were dry and ready to go.

We went to the garage to fill them with potting soil.  You can imagine how exciting that was for a two year old.  Potting soil and a toy shovel...  Oh, Boy!!  It was great!  Then we got to put the seeds into our crafty little containers.  Of course he thought that we needed the whole packet of seeds. 

Next....  Just wait for them to grow...  And they are definitely growing!  There is enough little kale sprouts in that little cup to plant a whole row in his little garden.  I tried to pick things that would germinate fast.  I thought that the beans would be the first thing to sprout, no luck though.  The kale came up real fast, maybe three days.  The Swiss chard took a little longer, but they are up for Mother's Day.



Friday, May 3, 2013

My Portable Office

Gets a make-over...

The Old Office/
Lunch Box
The old ReBag had gotten to be a bit tattered....  Although it looks pretty good in this picture... LOL (Trust me, it will be of better use carrying groceries.) Needless to say I was really pleased when my daughter-in-law gave me a new reusable bag.  I have been using reusable bags for quite awhile now, several years for sure.  My children have on occasion joked about the "Bag Lady".  That is quite alright with me.  I am really proud to say that my children, as different as they all may be, each in their own way have learned an environmentally friendly habit from me.  I have five children, so the impact goes on.   You can learn some innovative ways to recycle and repurpose at Recyclebank,  it is website designed to inform, you can earn rewards and discounts on green products too.

Contents of Office

I carry quite a bit of stuff with me every day.  Breakfast, lunch, snacks, a project or two, or ingredients for a baking project.  I am the daycare provider for my youngest grandson.  I like to bring new and intriguing  things for him to do or experience.  Sensory projects, new books to read, crayons, markers and paper, and the list goes on.  He is a very smart little boy, he just turned two a month ago.  His vocabulary is extraordinary and so is his memory.   As you can see I need a large bag for all of my projects on the go.  

Gathering Materials
I started my project by gathering up all of the materials that I might need.  The glue gun, because I wanted to make this a simple no-sew project.  A dress I haven't worn in about seven years.  I don't think I will be wearing my dresses that short any time soon.  Besides I don't think that one of my boobs would fit in it now let alone two.  I have a whole box of print dresses that I saved for sewing projects and quilting squares. 

At first I thought that one box would be all that I needed.  My main concern was keeping all of my paperwork separate, neat and easily accessible.  However, once I got into the project I soon decided to add another.  This time when I went to my little box collection I was in need of one that was just the right size.  Bingo, one of my husbands' pop tart boxes was a perfect fit. 

For some reason I haven't been able to get rid of this old lace tablecloth, now it has come in handy.  I think that the only part of it that is usable is a few feet of the edge.  Of course, I did not need it all for this project so it went back into the lace box.

I didn't include step-by-step directions as it is such a simple project.  First, I covered the boxes with the fabric as if I were wrapping a package, using hot glue instead of tape.  On the open end of the box I just folded it in and tacked it down with the hot glue.  I still had a nice swatch of material left so I made a pocket for the front.  It covered the printed advertising quite well.  I love how all the colors seem to match and touch of lacey fun too.  The finished project even holds my laptop and cords.  :)

The New Portable Office 



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Pinterest Inspired Projects

I Really Do Love Pinterest...

I have found some amazing projects while searching Pinterest.  Oh, no, did I lose you already.  If everything went well when you clicked on that link you went right to my Pinterest Boards (in a separate window of course).  While you are there follow all the boards that interest you, or you can simply "Follow All". 
I am having a super time with my Pinterest account. When you start pinning, don't make the mistake that I did.  I don't even remember at this point how many boards are pre-loaded for you to pin to, however, you will want more or you will never find the items you have pinned.  For example:  Don't pin all recipes on a board called recipes, or you will have to sort them out later when you find that you 300 recipes and you have to go through all of them to find the one you just know you pinned two weeks ago.  Recipes are definitely a hot item,  you will find that DIY Projects are too.  So, if you have a passion for cooking or recipes, you will want to have a board for chicken, fish, soups, snacks, crockpot cooking, etc.  You may want to do the same with other areas too.  On DIY you will find projects from crochet to refinishing furniture to up cycling a pallet.  Below are a couple of my Pinterest inspired projects.

Lemon Tree Sprouts
I have never been able to get a lemon seed to sprout.  Now I have ten, so far.  I tried using the same method with orange seeds.  But no luck yet.  I certainly won't have room for ten lemon trees, guess they will have to go to the "Famer's Market".  I have several containers of spouting mint that was inspired from another pin.  They are headed to the farmers market too.  Gardening is a "True Love" of mine.  I can't wait to get my bare toes in the dirt.  Yes, indeed!!  I tend not to wear garden gloves either.  I just can't get right in there with gloves on.  Needless to say my nails are always in need of a good manicure. 
Mint propagates quite easily.  You won't need to root before planting.  Just put cutting in moist rich soil, keep moist.  You will be able to tell when they take root.  They will begin to grow quite rapidly.   You can see in the picture here that I have placed a couple of pebbles on the stem.  This will cause them to take root at each segment that is touching the soil.  You will have a nice healthy plant.  Mint is a very invasive plant, you can plant it wherever you need ground cover.  Don't plant near your garden... it may take over in fresh turned dirt.  I have seen a few gardening websites that suggest that you plant the whole pot in the ground to keep it contained.  I would still keep an eye on it.  The plant that I have in my kitchen window sends suckers right out of the pot.  Yes, right up and out of the pot, searching for fresh ground to cover.  I will soon be cleaning up my Pinterest board; gardens.  Just like my board for recipes, I should have considered how many different aspects of gardening there is.  A rainy day project.
                                                         Another of my pinning passions is ways to save money.   Homemade laundry soap, homemade dish soap, homemade plant food, etc.  Earlier this spring I started using 2 Tablespoons of Epson Salt to a gallon of water when watering the houseplants.  There are buds all over.  It works!! Just look at how big the leaves are on this plant with the flowers.  I believe that they are a type of Sedum.  I have had this plant for years.  I think in twenty years I have gotten it to flower twice.  I can hardly wait to use it in the garden this summer.  I want to grow more on less ground this year.  If this is any indication of how well it works, then I'm sure to succeed.  Farmer's Market here I come.  :)

Most of the Pinterest projects that I have experimented with have been recipes.  My husband loves all the new foods that we have been trying.  I have expanded our horizons, we are eating a much healthier diet then before.  We had gotten into a routine (I should say rut) that included a lot of unhealthy snacking.  My husband isn't one to eat much fruit.  But he does love a good smoothie.  I can even sneak in some veggies and other ingredients, such as oatmeal.   There are hundreds of recipes for smoothies.  Pick a combination that you like, then try to hide something that you don't especially like inside it.  Soon you will be consuming things that you never thought that you would.  This smoothie is: 1 banana, 1 small apple, 1 cup diced mango, 2 large handfuls of spinach, 4 ounces Chobani Greek yogurt and 4 ounces of water.  Try something new every day!  And Smile!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chobani Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Just for Rebecca...

When I first posted my recipe for Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies, Rebecca had commented on the post asking how much was in a can of applesauce.  I didn't give the ounces of the can that I had used.  And since Rebecca had only a large jar of applesauce, she had decided to substitute pumpkin instead.  I had also been thinking about making the recipe with pumpkin.  Great minds think alike you know.  

By the time I had gathered all the ingredients and started to work out a formula for the pumpkin recipe.  I realized that I didn't have any milk and only a 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  Hmmmm...  I didn't want to run to the store, so the brainstorming began.  It was looking like a totally new creature.  This is what I came up with.  And if I may say so myself.... Yummy!    These are very moist I would suggest refrigeration.  This one is for you Rebecca! 

This recipe made 18 small to medium muffins.  They are packed full of protein.  A sure way to get your morning started.  Two of these is all that you will need with your morning coffee.  It will fill you up and keep you going.  I started with combining all of the wet ingredients. 

1 small can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
1 1/2 cups of plain Chobani Greek Yogurt
2 eggs
Then I added the sugar. 1/4 cup of each white and brown sugar. (I think next time I will use 1/2 honey instead)  Combine in a separate bowl all of the dry ingredients so that you can add them all at once.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups quick oats
1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt

The batter is quite moist.  Spray muffin tins with non-stick oil. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Before baking, make a mixture of 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, sprinkle a little on the top of each muffin.  Bake until golden brown, about 22-25 minutes.  Immediately remove from pan.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eating Healthier To Get Fit

We Are What We Eat

Or so the old saying goes. I haven't always been so aware of what I was eating.  As I look back, I can see periods of my life where I was quite in tune with my body, or so I thought.  I've always been careful to eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. And to stay away from the sugary drinks like soda pop and the cool-aid type drinks.  My children always drank; 2% milk, 100% juice and water.  I always felt that my children had the best nutrition possible on the budget that I had to work with.  Corners where cut here and there, but never on the food budget.

Today as I write my blog I am sipping on infused water.  I have come up with a recipe that I love.  You can experiment with your favorite fruit and vegetable flavors or find some suggestions here.   Give mine a try it is quite refreshing and filled with metabolism boosting ingredients.  The infused water at the right has:  1 lemon cut into wedges, 1/2 cucumber (sliced), 1 1/2 inch of fresh ginger root (sliced thin) and several sprigs of fresh mint.  I can usually use the same fruit for 4-5 days.  In the morning I top it off with ice and water, stir with a wooden spoon enough to bruise the fruits/veggies to cause a release of flavor.  Enjoy!  I try to drink a whole gallon everyday.  We all need to drink more water.  First step to getting fit, get hydrated and stay that way.  People who drink more water lose more weight.

Second step is... Never skip breakfast, or any meal.  If you choose to count calories, or points like they do with Weight Watchers, then you will really want to take my advise on this one.  Make your points or calories count.  This is the meal that sets the mood for the whole day.  Don't start the day hungry!  All of the sources that I have read on the subject say to eat within an hour of rising.  When you skip breakfast it tells your body that there is a famine and to store fat.  I haven't always followed this rule, it may be the reason that I am needing to lose over 60 lbs.  I am sure that it is not the only reason.... but I do know it is one of them.  I have been eating oatmeal with cinnamon and honey topped with mango or blueberries.  Excellent way to start your day, and it will stick with you for the entire morning.

Step three... Snack.... Yup you heard it!  Snacking tells your body that there is plenty to  eat.  Don't store fat!   Now, come on.... be reasonable, not ice cream, not chips, not donuts.  Nuts are good snacks though, so are raw fruits and veggies.  You can use this link to find some healthy high protein snacks that will keep you full longer.

I shouldn't have to say it, but don't skip lunch either.  I really like to enjoy a large salad for lunch.  Yes, I do like my salad huge.  Lots of greens, does a body good.  This is the salad that I had for lunch today.  It was so yummy.  This salad has romaine, spring mix and baby spinach, some shaved carrots, sliced cucumber and a small tomato.   Then I topped it with blue cheese crumbles, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.  Get creative with your salads.  I usually add some type of fruit in my salads as well.  Grapes, oranges and apples are wonderful in salads.  Dried cranberries, black beans, raisins, red or green onions and olives as toppers are excellent too.  Comment below with some of your favorite salad toppers. 

Don't forget to have an afternoon snack, remember to grab healthy snacks.  Snacks that will help power you through until dinner.  If I don't have my afternoon snack, then I will snack the whole time that I am cooking dinner.  (You know girls... munch on this carrot, some of that cheese, test the sauce, test the sauce, test the sauce again.  You can almost get a whole meal in just testing. Or at least I can.)

Over the last three months I have introduced more fish and chicken into our diet and totally eliminated pork and all the bad oils (corn oil, canola, vegetable oil and margarine).  I use olive oil, grape seed oil and butter.  The only beef that we have been eating is very lean.  I would like to find a local source for lamb.  Maybe next year my husband will get a deer so that we will have venison too.  Protein doesn't always have to be meat.  Try making a meat free dinner sometime soon.   One of our favorites  is restaurant style tortilla chips with black beans and cheddar cheese topped with black or green olives, jalapenos, and fresh salsa, pico-de-gio or guacamole.   Try one of these recipes for salsa, pico and or guacamole, I'm sure that your family will love them.  They are quick and easy too.   So, step four.... No testing (eating) while cooking.

+Bob Harper's skinny rules have really helped me to get my perspective.  That is why I am going to say that step five is... Go to bed hungry.  Never eat less than 3 hours before going to bed.  Night snackers?  Stop it!!  Yup that's right, get some self-control, you can do it!  You know there is a skinny girl stuck in there! 

Step six... Get up and move!  This is the hardest one for me.  I was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) a year ago in April.  Really, I believe the diagnosis came two years earlier in 2009 when I had a severe case of pneumonia and pleurisy, but I just wasn't hearing it.  Exercising with COPD can be very difficult.  I can't speak for everyone with the disease, but when I try to exercise anything that raises the heart rate also raises the difficulty breathing.   As I lose weight it is becoming easier to get up and move. 

I have a set of 3 lb. weights that I use for my arms and shoulders.  I also use them for stretching the waist area.  Stretching is very important.  You want to have long lean muscles.  I stretch my legs and waist with all sorts of leg lifts and stretches.  I find it impossible at this point to do a push-up, however, I can do them against the kitchen counter.  Running is out of the question, but walking at a pace that is comfortable for me without getting out of breath is what I am doing.  I have pinned some inspirational quotes on my Pinterest boards, the one that really keeps me going is:  Just do it...  no matter how slow you go... you are still lapping those on the couch!!

Oh, yea, forgot to tell you I have lost 16 lbs. in less than 3 months just eating healthier.   To sum it all up...  Drink lots of water, always eat breakfast, healthy snacks, only eat dinner when it is ready, get up and move, and go to bed hungry.  Enjoy life!!  Smile!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Baking Day - Chocolate Chip Cookies & Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins


Yesterday I promised the cookie and muffin recipes.  Everyone really loved everything. My grandson had an exhausting day of baking.  We spend a lot of time together.  I'm not just the Mimi, I'm daycare too. Yesterday we were working the clean as you go method.  Teach'em young.  I think that he had more fun playing in the sink then baking.  Although he really loved the tasting.  :)


Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies 

These cookies turned out chewy and delicious, I was pleasantly surprised. The last few times I made whole wheat cookies they where quite dry.  But I think that I have figured out the trick.  See what you think!

Cream together:

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs

Then add the dry ingredients.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package semisweet chocolate chips

At this point it was quite dry the dough was not sticking to the chocolate chips.  So I drizzled some water on the mixture very little... just enough to make the dough sticky.  I would say that in all I probably used a tablespoon.  This is the trick and I think that the amount may vary... so a little at a time until the dough is sticky, the chocolate chips will begin to stay in the dough. 

Drop by spoonful (I used a tablespoon, I like my cookies bigger than a quarter) about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in preheated 350 oven for 8-10 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.  Makes about 5 dozen 3 inch cookies.

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins 

I wanted to make something with a little less butter and sugar so I re-created a muffin recipe.  I have reduced my intake of sugar, so just making cookies at all was a treat.  As much as I loved the cookies, I think I liked these muffins even more.  I substituted applesauce for the oil and eggs, and a little extra for good measure.  Not all the recipes I have created turn out so good. But I would say that these are one of my success stories.  The muffins turned out so moist and rich.  Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 400,  Spray muffin tins, I used olive oil spray.  This batch made 18 muffins.


1 small can (@15-16ounces) unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
2/3 cup brown sugar

Stir in the dry ingredients all at once, just until flour is moistened.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups quick oats
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Before baking, make a mixture of 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, sprinkle a little on the top of each muffin.  Bake until golden brown, about 22 minutes.  Immediately remove from pan.

I am not sure how healthy the recipe is but it has to be better than a cup of vegetable oil, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of whole milk.  :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Making Homemade Wheat Bread

Making an old favorite, I have had this recipe for wheat bread for years.  I substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil and honey for the brown sugar.  Yea!  Healthy substitutions and we’re just getting started.   This time whole-wheat flour, next time I think I will try rye flour.  I've had a craving for rye bread.

Here is the recipe as I made it today:

2 cups warm water (@85-100 degrees F)
1 package fast acting yeast
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 teaspoons salt (I use iodized)
4 cups unbleached bread flour (I did not sift)

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast on the warm water, wait, add the sugar, then the salt. Stirring after each, now start adding the white flour one cup at a time.  Keep the dough in a warm place in a large bowl, cover, (I use my pastry towel).  Let stand until light and bubbly, about an hour. It may take longer if the room is too cool. (Ideal is 82 degrees F)

Next combine:

½ cup hot water
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons coconut oil 
Stir; cool to lukewarm, add to the yeast flour mixture, then add the whole wheat flour.
4 cups whole wheat flour

Knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.  Place in greased bowl, grease top of dough, cover, and let rise in a warm location.  Let rise, about an hour, maybe more, depends on temperature.   When the dough has doubled in size, punch down then knead dough to get most of the air out.  Cut dough in half; turn out onto floured pastry towel.  I use corn meal instead of flour it adds a bit of another grain to the bread and makes for a nice crust.  Knead each half; form into two balls then let rest for 15 minutes or until dough starts rising again. 
Now use rolling pin to roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thickness.   This gets all the air out of the dough. You will hear the air bubbles snapping.  Then roll up as if you are making cinnamon rolls.  Now roll out each end… (Looks like a beaver tail) fold them under and place loaves into greased bread pans.  Let rise for about 1 hour.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
Whenever I make bread I try to plan a few things to bake while it is rising.  Then you are sure to have a nice warm kitchen and the bread rises fast and well.  So we are going to make chocolate chip cookies and some muffins while the bread is rising.  Recipes to follow.  :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chicks are Peeping

Last night I didn't wake until 4:15 a.m.  "Oh, my!" was my reaction as became aware of my surroundings.  The chicks hadn't awakened me all night.  Hope everything was going well and no one was starving or dying thirst.  That instant of panic.... all you moms know the feeling... you know, when the baby sleeps thru the night for the first time.  I rushed to the chick nursery... Everyone was fast asleep. 

Water needed to be freshened and the feed needed to be topped off.  Of course, I sent everyone into a tizzy as I pulled out all the containers and started to fill and return them. I try to always have fresh cool water for them to drink.  The lights that keep the chicks warm also tend to warm the water.  I like to change it at least 3 times a day, sometimes more. 

If you give them to much food they just seem to waist it.  So, my rule tends to be a little, more often.  This evening I am planning to make a bigger area for them.  All of the chicks will then be together.  I have the bantams separated at this time but they seem to be doing really well.  I think the time has come to introduce them to the other chicks.  I want to have them together and acclimated to each other before I introduce them to the coop.  That will be a little while.... remember it was snowing here yesterday.