How Do You Find the Time?

"How do you find the time?"

I get asked that question a lot and I really don't know the answer. I know that I just do the thing that I get enjoyment from and the things that need to be done.

A single parent, a working professional, someone who loves to read, knit, craft and create, someone who is working really hard to create a good life for herself and her kids. I know I'm not the only one out there, and I enjoy reading the blogs of others, so I thought, "well, why not?" So here we go!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another Food Post

So it seems that all of my posts are about food. Cooking is not all that I do. I actually have a number of things in the works. I've got the makings for about 10 bags put together downstairs and got an idea for another one last night while I was out to dinner with my friend. I'm also working on getting started knitting socks. I'm inspired to try it and as soon as I find the right needles, I'll start on the socks. I knitted a pair of slippers to felt with some yarn I had taken from a sweater I purchased and took apart. Unfortunately, one of the yarns felted nicely, one did not, so I've got two huge misshapen slippers downstairs!

I'm also itching to try some hand piecing with hexagons and I want to get back to making some purses with sweaters. I've got a couple of great patterns to use, and I'm quite excited.

Today however, my post is about food. I made this delightful lemon cornmeal breakfast cake this morning. It's not low points, but it's very delicious and worth the points value.

This recipe came from this blog:

Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast Cake - 7 WW Points plus per slice - 12 slices per cake

makes one 9-inch cake

recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2009

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoons lemon zest

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus one tablespoons unsalted butter, melted until browned then cooled slightly

Lemon Glaze:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

In a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat until browned and fragrant. Use a potholder to grab onto the cast iron and carefully tilt back and forth so the melted butter greases the sides of the pan. Remove browned butter from the cast iron to cool, and set the buttery cast iron aside. That’s what we’re going to bake the cake in!

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, simply butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside. Brown the butter in a skillet over the stove top and incorporate into the recipe just the same.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, carefully whisk together eggs, buttermilk, lemon zest and butter. Add the wet ingredients, all at once, to the dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula. Fold until very few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared buttered pan and place in the oven.

While the cake bakes, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice for the glaze. Set aside.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Use a skewer or the tines of a fork to poke holes in the bake. Sporadic holes here and there will do. Pour over the glaze, spread evenly and let rest for about 30 minutes before serving. This cake will last for up to 4 days, well wrapped, at room temperature

Finished Cake - minus a slice

We are having this for dinner. I've got the chicken marinating and it smells delightful! I'll add some veggies to it and likely some noodles. It should be more point friendly! I'll post photos later on!

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken

  • 1 pound Chicken, In Chunks
  • ¼ cups Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic (approximately 1 Large Clove)
  • 1 Tablespoon Natural Peanut Butter (heaping Tablespoon Even Better)
  • ½ teaspoons Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (optional)

Mix ingredients and marinate chicken for 2-3 hours.

Cook chicken in the sauce over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes or until chicken is done. Reduce heat to medium-low and add precooked veggies if desired. Serve topped with sesame seeds.

To thicken sauce if needed: reduce heat to medium-low and add a cornstarch slurry (1 teaspoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water).

Substitutions: replace chicken with tofu; replace peanut butter with tahini or another nut butter; if using regular peanut butter (i.e. Skippy) instead of natural peanut butter, reduce honey by 1 tablespoon.

Notes: I used two pounds of chicken and I added a little (1 tsp) sesame oil, because I love the smell and flavor that it adds.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Long Weekends

So today was the first day of a nice three-day weekend! After a meeting this morning, we went to our friend Kathy's house and had a nice brunch. It was fun to see what they have done with their house and spend some time with some very nice people!

When I came home, I decided to try a couple of new recipes. The first was a new banana bread recipe. I had planned to do some sort of banana bread and had pulled frozen bananas out of the freezer last night. For dinner, I had to find something as my original plans had been to go out with my friend, but she had something come up. So I chose a recipe from my new Weight Watchers cookbook and made Chicken and Barley Stew. So good!

Hearty Chicken and Barley Stew - Adapted from the Weight Watchers Points-Plus Just Five cookbook 5 points plus per 1 cup serving

1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped leek
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 32 oz. carton chicken broth
1/2 cup pearl barley - rinsed
1 Tbsp tarragon - dried
1 Tbsp basil - dried

Spray dutch oven with pan spray and brown chicken cubes with salt and pepper. Add chopped leek and cook until leek softens. Add onions, celery and carrot and cook 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, barley and herbs. Cook 30 to 40 minutes or until barley is cooked.

This was absolutely delicious!

Buttermilk-Banana Bread with Toasted Nuts

1 Cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
5 Tbsp softened butter
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup nuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 5 X 9 -inch loaf pan with nonstick spray

Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

With electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and applesauce until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Bean in eggs, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, beat flour mixture into banana mixture until just combined. Stir in all but 2 tbsp of the nuts.

Pour batter into pan, top with remaining pegans, and bake until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, 50 - 55 minutes. cool in pan 10 minutes. REmove bread from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Cut into 18 slices. As written, this recipe is 4 points

I made some adjustments: I tripled the recipe. I used 8 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. My recipe made four loaves, and with each loaf cut into 12 slices, it was 3 points per slice.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day Number 2

Wow! Another day off due not to snow, but to cold weather. It was -16 when I got up this morning. Today it was warmer in Alaska than it was here! I think I should be thankful that we aren't getting the kind of weather they are getting to the east of us! I'm sure that tomorrow we will be back at school.

So today we did venture out of the house. We went to the local thrift store, Hangars. While I didn't buy anything there, I thought that they do a nice job of displaying and marketing there. I'll definitely head back again. We went to the library so that kids could pick up their books that were on hold and then we went to my favorite Goodwill store in Colorado Springs. We found some black pants and shirts for Dan, a garment bag for my mom and a really cool blue pyrex dish for me. Alas though, the pyrex made it home, but shattered on the laundry room floor. Sad day.

Tonight my dad will be here for dinner. I wanted to make something that everyone would enjoy. The result is this:

Smoked Sausage-and-Vegetable Pile-Up

PointsPlus value: 8

Cooking spray
7 ounces smoked turkey sausage, diagonally sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup sliced zucchini
20 oz garlic mashed potatoes (purchased or made)
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup green chili relish or canned green chili, chopped

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

2. Return pan to heat, recoat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, bell pepper, and zucchini. Coat vegetables with cooking spray; sauté 5 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown.

3. While vegetables cook, heat potatoes according to package directions.

4. Add corn and cooked sausage to onion mixture. Saute 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve sausage mixture over mashed potatoes. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup sausage and vegetables and ½ cup mashed potatoes.

I have some leftover mashed potatoes that I made on Monday night with this recipe in mind. We've also made a nice salad and while we were at the store, I snagged some foccacia rolls on the reduced bread shelf. I decided that I would make some nice croutons to have on the salad, and when I make more soup, in the soup. Yum!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shouldn't Snow Days Have Snow?

Usually that's the way it is, but today was a no-school day because of the extreme cold. When I got up this morning, the thermometer read - 13. It got to -17 before it started warming up, if that's what you can call it. Now, at 12:20, it's a balmy -7!

So what does one do on a day off from school?

  • let teenagers sleep
  • drink coffee
  • get dressed in warm clothes
  • make blondies
  • make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Work on making bags
  • mop kitchen floor
  • play some games on Facebook

My first cooking task today was to make Blondies. If you have never had these, you are missing out! Not PointsPlus Friendly, but really good! I found this recipe and the next one on this blog. She's got some great recipes here!


Basic Blondies
12 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

-Preheat oven to 350.
-Line a 9 X 16 pan with foil and lightly spray wit
h PAM.
-In a large microwave safe mixing bowl melt the butter.
-Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
-Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and beat until smooth.
-Beat in egg and then vanilla.
-Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder (if using).
-Mix in any chocolate chips

-Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. (Mine took a good 40 minutes)
-Cool on rack before cutting.

-Cut into 28 pieces - 5 WW PointsPlus each

Next up, "Creamless" Tomato Soup

I love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It takes me right back to my childhood. This recipe sounded great and points friendly, with a little modification as to the amount of olive oil. So for lunch, we had Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 slices light sandwich bread torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using) and bay leaf. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes and their juices. Mash tomatoes using a potato masher, until tomato pieces are all smaller than 2 inches. Add sugar and bread. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and beginning to disintegrate, about 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf, add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Stir in broth. Alternately, transfer half of soup to a blender. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to pot and stir in broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and return to a boil.

This made 10 cups of soup, 1 cup of soup = 2 WW PointsPlus

We really enjoyed this soup. With the grilled cheese sandwich, made with 2% milk American cheese and 2 tsp of butter, the total point count for the meal was 8 points. The soup had a little bit of a kick to it from the red pepper flakes. I think I'd also try Siracha to give it a pop. There is enough to share with my neighbor! Yum! Now I'm off to craft!