Saturday, June 30, 2007

Greek Pasta Salad

Makes four servings

2 cups (dry) fusilli pasta (or another twisty pasta)
1/2 English cucumber, sliced and then quartered
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (you could also use a small can of sliced black olives instead)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse until cool.

In a medium bowl, combine pasta, cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, and feta. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix well (I do this in a shaker jar). Pour dressing over salad, toss gently. Let stand at least one hour to allow the pasta to soak up some of the dressing. Stir before serving.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kielbasa and Cabbage

We don't actually use kielbasa for this recipe. We use Jennie-O turkey smoked sausage. Still in the ring like kielbasa, but I like the flavor much, much better.

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
3 medium potatoes - peeled, diced and boiled just until tender
1 pound kielbasa, sliced
1/4 cup real bacon bits (if you actually buy bacon, you could use 4 - 6 slices, cooked and crumbled)

In a large skillet or a wok, combine water, sugar, onion, and spices. Add cabbage, toss gently to coat. Cover and cook over medium heat until it just starts to wilt, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, toss to combine. Cover and cook an additional 10 - 15 minutes until cabbage is nicely wilted and begins to brown.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Salsa Chicken

One of the world's easiest recipes!

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Shredded cheese

Put chicken breasts in a baking dish. Top with salsa (I use about half a cup per breast). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until just cooked through.

Remove chicken from pan. Drain the excess liquid out of the pan, keeping as much of the solid bits (from the salsa) as you can.

Put the chicken back in the pan. Top with a bit more salsa and shredded cheese. Bake
for 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Car Salesmen - Ugh!!!

So now that hubby has signed the paperwork to become a permanent employee (GO HUBBY!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!!), he's decided it's time for a new car. This is fine with me - I told him we could get one as soon as he got a permanent position. He's been driving crap cars for about four years now, and it'll be nice to get him into something reliable.

So Monday night, after going out to dinner to celebrate, we stopped at the local Toyota dealer. We just wanted to sit in one of their SUVs to see if he would fit (we haul a lot of stuff and would like to go camping with the dogs and the 4-wheeler during the summer, so we're either getting a mid-size SUV or a truck with a back seat big enough for kids). Our plan is to try some various makes out, see what hubby fits in (he's 6'6) and then save up some money. Of course, the second we got out of the car they swooped down like vultures.

After explaining why we were there, and emphasizing that WE AREN'T BUYING ANYTHING, the guy immediately tried to sell us a $20,000 car. Um, hellooooooooooooooo! Not buying! Then, when we didn't take the bait, and were about to leave, he said "hang on, I'll go get my card." Came back out with the sales manager who not only tried to convince us to go for a drive to their other lot to see another car, but also tried to tell us that the only difference in gas mileage between a V6 and a V8 is one mile per gallon. Yeah. We'd like to see some concrete proof of that, please!

Anyway, it was 10 more minutes before we could make a graceful exit (next time I'll just grab my head and start screaming. That should get their attention). And now I have no desire to shop for cars.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon:

1 salmon fillet
cooking spray
1 teaspoon season salt
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced chives
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons olive oil

(note: I have something called Fox Point Seasoning that I get from - I used that instead of the shallots and chives).

Mix seasonings and oil in a small container. Spray the skin side of the salmon liberally with cooking spray, and place (skin-side down) on a hot grill. Baste with about 1/3 of the seasoning mixture. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook until fish flakes easily, about 20 minutes, basting two more times with the seasoning mixture. Remove from the grill and place skin side up on a plate. Pull skin off (should pull off pretty easily except right around the edges), slice and serve.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's Bath Day!

Well, the fleas are taking over our poor puppies, so it's baths all around when I get home from work tonight. Oh goody.

Can I just stay at work all night??? :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chicken and Black Beans

This is one of my absolute favorite quickie meals. Makes about five servings.

1 tablespoon oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can diced green chiles, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic, sauteeing until the onion is transluscent. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Let simmer five minutes. Add chicken back to pan, stir to combine, and let simmer five more minutes or until chicken is heated through.

Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced avocado. Would also make excellent burrito filling, I believe!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

I made up this recipe one day when I was craving something pumpkin-y. It's very filling and very good! You can skip the cardamom if you don't have it (I probably have the world's biggest spice cupboard, LOL!). It says two servings, but really I can eat the whole thing for breakfast myself and it keeps me going till lunch, which is rare for any breakfast food.

1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup nonfat milk
Pinch of ground cardamom
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp sugar

Mix all ingredients.
Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until thick.

Number of Servings: 2

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Yard and Garden Update

Things are moving right along in the garden!

Yesterday I picked all the peas that were ready in the garden. I shelled them, blanched them, and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer, so they wouldn't freeze in a giant clump. Today I put them in a ziploc and weighed them. Two pounds of peas! Woo hoo! We're at the point now where we'll need to pick them every few days so we don't lose any. Fortunately they'll keep in the fridge for a few days so I don't have to repeat this process so often!

My spinach is trying to go to seed and ready to be cut down, with a new row planted. I'm going to chop, steam, and freeze the leaves that aren't too thick and leathery. I use a whole lot of frozen chopped spinach in my spinach dip throughout the year. This will keep me from having to buy it. The thick leathery ones I'm going to blanch, dehydrate, and crush into powder. This can be put into soups, casseroles, spaghetti sauce, etc. for an extra burst of nutrition.

The radishes have been flowering. They're pretty, and I don't really like the radishes (too hot), so I'm leaving them. Next year I'll get good old grocery store variety red globes.

The artichokes are just about ready to go. 26 at last count. On one bush. Wow. We lost a couple to the aphids, but we've been spraying them down with organic aphid spray (which is basically dish soap, I think) and they've been staying away. We'll just have to wash them carefully before we eat them!

Peppers are flowering, tomatoes are flowering, beans are getting ready to flower. The onions are just about ready to start thinning (to use as green onions). The leeks are slow growers, to be sure, but it looks like they'll be ready right about the time we run out of onions. The squash and cucumber are coming right along. No flowers yet but they were the last thing to be planted. We got some nifty new tomato cages and we'll be training the squash and cucumber up that. Makes for a much neater garden!

In the front yard, we laid out the stones for the planter beds today. We still have a lot of work ahead of us with this project, but it'll be nice to get that piece done. I still have time to get some herbs in this summer and I'm looking forward to it! Right now I'm thinking I'll have the following themes in the beds - Italian (things like oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley), Mexican (cilantro, garlic, and I don't know what else at the moment), lemon (verbena, thyme, balm), mint (because it will take over wherever I put it so I might as well give it a space of its own), and miscellaneous (whatever else I find that looks good!).

How are your gardens growing?

Started another blog

I've started another blog, to journal my latest weight loss journey. If anyone wants to visit, it's here.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Some girls have all the luck

For some reason, allergy season hit me way harder than normal this year. Oddly enough, I haven't had the itchy, watery eyes that I normally get (I'm usually like a walking Visene commercial). Instead, this year I got something new. Total congestion and difficulty breathing. Whee.

Well, this evening I decided I'd had enough (right after I cussed hubby out for asking me why I was coughing after I'd already told him three times I couldn't breathe). So, I decided to pay a little visit to my friendly neighborhood urgent care clinic. They were friendly enough, but not exactly in my neighborhood (gee Kaiser, think you could take pity on us poor Washington County folks and not make us drive all the way to northeast Portland if we need to see someone after 5:00 on a Saturday???).

Well, the nurse practitioner took a listen and, sure enough, I was wheezing. So now, in addition to seasonal allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infertility, and PCOS, I get to have asthma, too. Wow. Can a girl get any luckier?

So, they gave me a breathing treatment and a dose of drugs while I was there. Then, $121 worth of prescriptions later (quite a feat with our prescription benefits, let me tell you), I am now the proud owner of two inhalers, two prescription allergy medicines, and a round of prednosone.

Oh well. At least I can breathe tonight!

Friday, June 08, 2007

You know you might be losing it...

...when you start yelling at cartoons on television.

Ok, I admit it, I watch cartoons while I'm getting ready for work in the morning. Channel 32 (used to be WB, can't remember what it is called now) has cartoons on at 7:00 a.m. Mondays it's Strawberry Shortcake, which I try to avoid, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays it's The Littles, and Thursdays and Fridays it's Liberty's Kids, which is my third favorite cartoon ever, right behind Star Blazers and Red Wall. But lately, I find myself yelling at the characters. what's up with that???

For instance, if you'd been eavesdropping at my house this week, you would have heard the following gems:

"Dinky Little! You dumbass! Do you know how much fun your family could be having if they didn't always have to save your butt?????"

"HENRY! You can't agree to babysit and then leave the baby with THE LITTLES! They're only three inches tall!!!"

To Benedict Arnold: "RUN TRAITOR RUN!!! Quit whining about your stupid commission and go back where you belong!!!"

Yup. Losing it. I'm sure!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Turkey Burgers

These are so good...

1 pound 99% fat free ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced dried onions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (could substitute regular paprika)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Mix all ingredients together with your hands until well blended. Shape into four patties. Grill, broil, or pan fry, as you prefer (if using a George Foreman grill, seven minutes ought to do it). Serve on buns with all your favorite hamburger toppings.

Getting back on track

When I was in the shower this morning I thought of a great way to start this post. Now that I'm staring at a blank screen, I can't remember what the heck I was going to say! Oh well...

Today we meet with our new financial adviser. The last guy, who I'd been with for probably 10 years, turned out to be creepy and unethical (and the weird thing is, I wasn't the only one to have a creepy and unethical experience with him - one of my dear friends had a similar experience at about the same time and has also fired him).

This new woman, well, I think I'm going to love working with her. She used to be a therapist, and claims to be able to help facilitate financial discussions between husbands and wives, so I'm hoping she'll be able to help me finally get hubby to understand the importance of compound interest and saving NOW (while we actually have some money) for our retirement LATER (when we'll want lots and lots of money). We'll see how it goes...anyway, I've spent the last two days pulling together all kinds of information for her. It's amazing to me how much paper our finances manage to accumulate!

My other big mission is to get myself back on track with healthy eating. I'm planning to go back on the Weight Watchers Core plan. I won't go to meetings (too expensive), but I have all the information from my last go-round and I'm willing to give it another shot. It's definitely the easiest eating plan I've ever encountered. No counting, little tracking. Think lean meats, whole grains, lots of fruit and veggies, and fat free dairy. Now, the fat free cheese I'm not so keen on (read: hate it), but you do get 35 points (all food has a point value, derived from a calculation based on fat, fiber, and calories) each week to eat whatever you want.

I did well on Core. You basically get to eat whatever you want (until you're satisfied, not stuffed), as long as it comes from the food list. There are only a few rules - ground beef once a day, cold cereal (sugar free, whole grains - like Fiber One and shredded wheat) once a day, and potatoes or brown rice or whole wheat pasta once a day. Gotta love a food plan that lets you eat pasta and potatoes! No baked goods, but, again, that's what the points are for.

I can't start until after Friday (waiting for payday so I can stock up on some food), but I'm getting my plans in order and should be ready to go this weekend!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dear Rainclouds,

I see you up there, hanging around, trying to decide what you're going to do. Don't tease me like that. Go ahead - do your thing. Please! Wash some of that pollen out of the air, so I can sleep again...

Then you can go away for a few more days so that all these weird people who think that sunshine is some fabulous thing will be happy.