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!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Food and other thoughts....

Last night, I got a message about a family we are acquainted with. The mother of the family, who was right around 40 years old, died of ALS early Tuesday morning. ALS is such a terrible disease, trapping someone inside of a body that quits working. Her children are 16 and 7. The 16 year old rides with us to school every day and she went to school today. She got in the car and was talking about her mom. We all cried while she talked about her mom and how empty she feels right now. I asked if we could bring some food and she told us about how much food they have at their house, which is what got me thinking about how food symbolizes so much. I think that prayers are important for this family and for this woman whose soul is free of the confines of her body. I was also so filled with love watching my children react with compassion and understanding to someone who was obviously in so much pain.

Food is often synonymous with comfort. We make food for people who are sick, we feed a cold, we feed those we love, we go out to eat to celebrate, we have food when we are sad, we have food when we are happy.

Last night I had the occasion to make food for a very special person and friend who has been sick and had surgery. I put chicken and veggies in the crockpot and let it cook all night. My container was just a bit too small, so we had chicken soup for breakfast! I think that's a pretty healthy breakfast, actually. My point though, is that we took food to someone who needs our help and our love. It makes me feel good to be able to bring something to someone who needs the help and who I think so highly of.

Before leaving for work this morning, I put the fixings for Chicken Posole in the crock-pot. Actually, I had prepared it last night, so all I had to do was to dump it out of the bag and put it in the crock-pot this morning. It was wonderful to come home to good smells and the posole was warm and filling. We had it with some avocado, lime juice squeezed on top of the soup and some tortilla chips. Delicious.

Crock Pot Posole: 3 points per 1 cup serving (this is somewhat of an estimate - was 27 points for the entire crock pot. I estimated at 10 cups, it might have more room than that)

2 pounds chicken breast, diced into small pieces
1 cup dried posole (hominy)
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cups fat free chicken stock
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 frozen, roasted green chili's with seeds (especially if you like it hot)
oregano to taste
minced garlic to taste
green chili powder to taste

Put all items in the crockpot in the morning and cook on low all day long. Before eating, garnish with some diced avocado, squeeze some lime juice over it and enjoy it with tortilla chips. I added salt to my bowl, but don't cook with much salt.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break Adventures

Do you every have a time when your plans don't necessarily work out the way you thought they would but you have a joyous time anyways? Well, that was what happened to us over Spring Break!

My dear friend Cathy from Alaska came down to visit. We have known each other for probably 10 years and used to live near one another. Now we don't, but when we get together, it's like we just left off the day before! Cathy is an accomplished fiber artist. She spins, weaves and knits and has been working at corrupting me for years! I came home one day last year and found a big box on my front porch. This is what was in it:

So I was very excited about a spinning wheel and went to my favorite store - Green Valley Weavers and took a short lesson on how to spin. I learned to put the wheel together and how to operate it and I came home and created some very thick yarn! It was very hard. Then my dog chewed up the yarn, and I put the wheel in the closet. So once Cathy got here for spring break, we pulled the wheel out and I had some private lessons! I spun some great yarn for a first try, posted earlier on the blog and we proceeded to spend some time visiting several fiber stores and I got a lot of great fiber! Here are a few of the samples and yarn that I spun

One of the other things that we enjoy doing is going to antique stores, flea markets and places where great bargains can be found! In Fort Collins, Cathy found a great basket for her spinning supplies and in Colorado Springs I found an awesome shelf which is now displaying some great fiber!

So one of our traditions is that we love to go to Pagosa Springs to soak in the hot springs there. We decided that instead of doing that, we would explore some other hot springs. So we made reservations for Cottonwood Hot Springs in Buena Vista. We saw online photos of the accommodations and while they didn't look like Pagosa Springs, they looked clean and like it would be a nice substitute. The bonus is that they allow dogs, so we were able to take the dogs with us We made reservations and on Wednesday drove to Buena Vista. We arrived at Cottonwood about 4 p.m. and checked in. We walked into our cabin and were assailed by the smell of stale cigarettes, cat urine and musty odor. None of the windows would open and the place was less than clean. We went back to the office and asked to change accommodations. We were told that another one was available (the last) but that the housekeepers needed to get it ready for us. We unloaded the food, and went for a soak. When we returned to the cabin, it had been cleaned and while musty, did not smell like the other one. We cooked dinner and Jake soaked in the outdoor hot springs. While we were cooking, I kept hearing the toilet bubbling and remarked that I didn't think that was a good sign. We were all sort of icked out and jumpy and silly and wishing we had not been there. After dinner, I used the restroom and when I flushed the toilet, the water began rising. I tried to open the bathroom door and couldn't get the knob to turn and banged on the door and yelled for help. We all started laughing hysterically and when we finally got the door open, I went to the office to inform them that the plumbing wasn't working. Before going to the office, we decided that we were going to ask for our money back and leave. The lady from the office came over and spent about 30 minutes trying to unstick the toilet, asking "Did you flush any sanitary products down the toilet?" We explained multiple times that the only stuff that had gone into the toilet was TP and liquid. At that point, we were given a refund and went back into town where we found some very nice rooms at a very nice rate. While we did not get to relax in the springs for long, we have a story that will remain in our family lore forever!

All was not a total loss though, as the next day we had a nice breakfast and the boys climbed on some rocks down by the river in a rock park:

Then we found a lovely yarn shop in Buena Vista called Serendipity. Wow! I can't say enough things about it. They are getting ready to open their online store, so if you are a knitter or spinner, I recommend you check them out online if you can't get there in person. Hands down, it's the best LYS (Little Yarn Shop) I have ever been to. The women working there were wonderful, friendly and helpful. They welcomed the boys into their store and even gave the dogs some water. I'll go back to Buena Vista just for that store! Check them out on facebook:

So while we did a lot of other things and didn't quite do what we planned, spring break was really awesome. Good friends, good food, good fiber and good fun! You just can't beat that!


I don't make lasagne very often, but we had some extra chicken sausage and I had all of the ingredients in the house.

This works out to 3 points per serving - I calculated 27 servings in the two pans I made, 15 pieces in the larger pan, 12 pieces in the smaller pan.

1 pound chicken sausage - I added caraway seeds to the chicken
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 bell peppers, chopped
Any other veggies you like - I added shredded zucchini and yellow squash
1 - 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
oregano to taste
basil to taste
4 cans of diced tomatoes
3 cups mozzarella cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
14 oz of lasagne noodles - I used mostly whole wheat

Chop the onion and saute in pan with garlic and bell peppers. Add sausage to pan and cook until browned and cooked through. Add seasonings and simmer until sauce thickens.

In a separate bowl mix the cottage cheese, eggs and Parmesan cheese.

When sauce is cooked, layer the sauce, noodles, cheese mixture and mozzarella cheese in pan. It is not necessary to precook the noodles as they will cook as the lasagne cooks. You can either refrigerate at this point or you can cook it at this point in a 400 degree oven for 45 - 60 minutes.

This was really good!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gettin' My Daily Allotment of Fiber

First, start with this:

Then to this:

To this:

To this:

Resulting in this:

And this:

What to make, what to make?

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Just Write Shit and Post Photos

This is the sort of title you get when you are chatting with your girlfriend and she says, "I don't know how to blog." My reply to her became the title to this post! We are having a great time being creative and making food! So, for the food parts - Roasted Chickpeas and Spiced Lentil Fritters.

Roasted Chickpeas - 1 cup = 9 WW points plus (7 points for the beans, 2 for the olive oil)

1 Can chickpeas - aka Garbanzo Beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
Seasonings to taste - I used dried rosemary, minced garlic, salt and pepper

Drain chickpeas. Rinse with water and remove any errant skins (you don't have to remove skins, I just removed the ones that came off. Pour onto cookie sheet on top of paper towels, let sit and dry. Once dry, drizzle with olive oil, add the seasonings and cook in 400 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes, stirring at least once. If your chickpeas aren't all in one layer, it will take longer.

Let cool and enjoy!

Spiced Lentil Fritters - This was adapted from a recipe in the book, "Promises to Keep", written by Jane Green. She has interspersed this wonderful book with family recipes, quite a few of which I plan to try. The first was for dinner tonight. Lentil are 2 WW Points Plus for 1/2 cup; this recipe should make 8 patties, each should be 2 points.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 sm onion, finely minced
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
Dried red chili (I used green chili powder)
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup lentils
2 handfuls fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
3 - 4 4 tbsp yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup water

Heat the oil , add onion, pepper and chili powder to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes until soft, then add the coriander, cumin and turmeric and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

Put the lentils and cilantro into food processor and process until finely chopped. Combine beans, onions, lemon zest and yogurt. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the flax seed and water in small container and add to lentil mixture. Add flour to
mixture as well, form into patties, about 1/2 an inch thick and coat with some flour. Heat the sesame oil in skillet or on grill, cook until browned on each side, 1 - 2 minutes. Serve with toppings or dips of your choice - mustard was great tonight.

We also had this with fresh asparagus, sauteed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over asparagus when h
ot. Yum!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's not food!

So what do you do for the kid who loses his lunchbox (more than once)? You make one! This one has insulating line sewen into it and is fully washable. I will likely never purchase another lunchbox again!


It's blueberry time! Great prices in all the stores. Consequently, I have a lot of blueberries in my refrigerator. This morning I was looking for a recipe for whole wheat blueberry muffins and I found this one:

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

This recipe made 24 regular-sized muffins when doubled

1/2 cup 1% milk
1 cup oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flax seeds
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare muffin tins with muffin cup liners.

2. Prepare the "flax eggs" by first grinding the flax seeds. Add the water to the ground flax seeds and blend together until it starts to thicken up a bit.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the "flax eggs", milk, applesauce, vanilla and sugar. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and gently fold together. Gently stir in the blueberries and nuts. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Another breakfast item that I made last week was this Breakfast Casserole. We had enough for breakfast during the school week. I've made this a lot, and it always receives rave reviews.

Hashbrown Casserole

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
3 cartons (4 oz. each) cholesterol-free egg product or 6 large eggs, well beaten
1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Fat Free Milk
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pkg. (30 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
10 slices turkey bacon, cooked and chopped, or 1 cup diced ham

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

COMBINE cheese, egg product, evaporated milk, salt and black pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes, onion, bell pepper and bacon, mix well. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

BAKE for 60 to 65 minutes or until set.

Thai Peanut Chicken

I love Thai food and I love recipes that are fast and easy. This is one that we tried a week or so ago. It was simple, easy and enjoyed by all!

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken WW points plus - add 1 point to each serving of chicken for the sauce

  • 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.

I added green peppers, green onions, bean sprouts and some leftover veggies that were in the refrigerator. It was delicious and we made it last week with shrimp and fish and Tofu Shirataki "Noodles" which have 20 calories and 3 grams of carbs per serving. Even the kids liked it!