Category: kitchen

making them count

It’s no news to any mother that moments with our babies (they’re gonna have to get a lot older for me to stop calling them that) always seem limited. Even when we mamas are blessed enough not to work outside the home for a season, there is always Stuff to do, which means whatever task(s) we are focused on at any given moment is only given enough attention to carry us to the next task.

Moments are limited, so a goal that so many of us work on is being intentional, being in the moment instead of just working toward the next one. It is hard. It’s hard not to check your work email (or let’s face it, your FB notifications while Baby Girl is counting to 20 and coming to find you. It’s hard not to throw another load in the machine on the way out the door to church/work/the pool or whatever we’re already running late to. It’s hard to get through a whole storybook without pausing to answer the phone, or a whole Disney Jr. show without popping up to stir the soup or take something out to thaw or write down that blog idea before its brilliance is lost to the world.

But we have to figure it out, and make it a priority, and accept that we will still fail a lot of the time.

Meanwhile, I’ve been setting some new limits for myself, again. I’ve learned all the ‘secrets’ to weight loss. I don’t call these periods of my life diets. But the hard fact is that after losing all but 4 of my ‘KK pounds,’ I gained about 12 more on top of them, and on top of the 10 I had left to lose from my Randa pregnancy. I am 34, and I am out of shape. I am unhappy with the way I look, but perhaps more so, unhappy with my physical limits.

And, here is the rub…I am unhappy with a lot of the things our family eats out of habit, tradition, and in some cases, ignorance. The culture of ‘weight loss’ I’ve existed in for the past 8 years or so had me only focused on counts of calories and fat grams and occasionally fiber. What I’m learning is that there is more that counts. I might be able to eat a fairly tasty ‘8 point pizza’ for dinner, but if it is full of chemicals and preservatives, is it really a healthy choice?

So.. I am attempting, slowly, to limit the processed things we eat in our house. This isn’t to say we won’t still have ‘frozen pizza week’ when life gets crazy, but I am weeding out the unnecessary staples that I can. Pure maple syrup over the corn syrupy stuff. Natural peanut butter over the kind with 30 ingredients. And God help me… A LITTLE BIT of milk or cream and sugar instead of the heaping portions of flavored creamer that make turn my coffee into bliss. Real butter, always. I’d rather cut back on portions than eat any of that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Served In a Test Tube stuff that passes for buttery-like-substances.

I love to cook and bake, and even as a Work Outside The Home Mom now, there are ways to plan so that we’re not eating junk out of necessity or convenience. I don’t care if my kids eat a cookie in between school and dinner, but I’d much rather have it be a cookie with ingredients I have knowledge of, and a dinner with ingredients i can pronounce.

Today I made us the ‘Panera Bread Version’ of Broccoli Cheese Soup.

I substituted fat fee half and half and chicken broth, but the rest followed the recipe below, so it weighed in at just over 300 calories a serving. The girls painted at the kitchen table while I made it, and we all enjoyed the results…not just counting moments or calories, but making them count.

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From CD Kitchen

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned (yeah, I save time but sticking these suckers in the blender)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

PREPARATION:
Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Oh yes, and I highly recommend serving everything with a side of this, which, if we choose, need not have any limit:

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Almost Wordless Wednesday : Cookie Edition

You know how baking supplies, likes bags of flour, always have a recipe printed on the back?

We followed one today.

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It was for sugar cookies, which everyone knows are the messiest.
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And we are not afraid to mess it up.
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We have a few special people out there who are overdue for a package in the mail, so this is one way we send our love. (Another way is sending them some of the 6 bazillion beautiful papers Randa & KK bring home from school).

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FYI: Cookies in Ziploc bags or plastic containers stay mostly fresh when sent via 2 day mail.
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And the messiest cookies, of course, taste the best.

Want to share? If you aren’t one of the luckies who gets a few in the mail, you can make them yourself. We recommend real butter, lotsa sprinkles, and a few chocolate chips…

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We also recommend eating them with milk, whilst smooshed together on the couch.

Dinner from the garden*

*Or if you, too, are a fan of the TV show Little House on the Prairie, we can call this one ‘A Harvest of Friends.’

I should have pictures, but there is a phone saga that I won’t get into right now!

I hate gardening. Hate. It. I tried to grow tomatoes once or twice. Not so much with the growth. I do not like planting flowers or watering them or weeding. At all.

But I really like eating stuff fresh from the garden, and happily, blessedly, I have friends who enjoy gardening and enjoy sharing their bounty. Twice this week I have made meals (spaghetti & meatballs and pizza) with basil from my friend Maureen. And last night, with an abundance of potatoes from ‘Gramma’ Lynne plus cerrano & jalapeno peppers and tomatoes from my friend Cindy, I decided to try something new. Here is a recipe I found on Family Oven (by doing a search for ‘potato enchiladas,’ which I’ve seen on menus before but never tried). I made tweaks based on my freshly-harvested ingredients. Good news: Rod, Kaity, & I loved it! (Paige wasn’t here, and Miranda is in the traditional toddler chicken-fries-and-ranch mode). Also, it made a LOT. There was enough for our dinner, leftovers for lunch today, and about 2 servings that went home to my dad.

Bean and Potato Enchiladas

* 2 tablespoons fresh coriander or fresh parsley  (I had both; opted for parsley)
*   8-12 tortillas  (I used corn)
*   2 teaspoons cornstarch
*   1/4 cup olive oil
*   1 cup tomato juice (I didn’t have this, so I used some salsa)
*   2 cups black beans
*   1 cup stock (I used beef)
*   1 onion, chopped
*   1 teaspoon ground cumin
*   1 red cayenne (this is where I substituted 2 cerrano peppers, one jalapeno – delicious!)
*   1 tomato
*   4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
*   2 garlic cloves, minced
*   1 cup shredded cheese (I used a ‘Mexican blend’)

Instructions

My extra step**Place the potatoes on an oiled pan and bake at 350 until softened.

1. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion, garlic, pepper, and cumin for 2 minutes.Add the stock and tomato juice,and let simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Mix the cornstarch with a bit of cold water and add to the sauce while stirring.Remove from heat and set aside.

3. In a bowl, mix the tomato, beans, potatoes, coriander or parsley, and cheese.Divide this mixture among the tortillas, cover with a large tablespoon of the sauce and roll up* .Place the enchiladas in a lightly oiled rectangular ovenproof dish. (*I am pretty clumsy with the rolling up – my corn tortillas always break. So I placed a layer of tortillas on the bottom of the dish, placed the filling, then covered with another layer, casserole-style).

4. Cover the enchiladas with the remainder of the sauce and cook in the oven at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.

Serve immediately accompanied with your favorite garnish or dip. (We had sour cream & salsa on the side).