Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crazy Mode

I didn't forget you all!  Really, I didn't.  Things have been crazy here.  Allspice is getting ready to graduate!  I can hardly believe it.  I have been working diligently on preparing for his graduation:  making graduation announcements, taking senior pictures, completing notebooks and transcripts.  The list sometimes seems endless.  It is a crazy, but wonderful time. 

One thing I am so glad I did, looking back now, is to keep good records all along the journey.  I tried to keep up on lists of books read, curriculum used, field trips, test scores etc.  I am so glad I put that work in back then, otherwise I would be scrambling now! 

I find myself amazed that we are at this pivotal point and at the same time, I can't believe we are here already.  It seems too soon.  Next year Cinnamon and Paprika will graduate and my homeschooling days will be done.  There is a kind of emptiness inside.  One I am sure God will fill with new callings, but for now there is a definite sadness.  I can't help but become a bit misty-eyed when the curriculum catalogues reach my mailbox.  I peruse the catalog and think, "Oh, that would have been cool!"

 I have to be careful because I easily fall into that trap of "I should have done more of that!"  I am notorious for beating myself up for not homeschooling perfectly.  There are always lists of books that went unread, maps unfinished,  goals not quite met.  If you dwell on what you didn't accomplish, you diminish your successes.  So I am working hard at changing the conversation in my head.  I look back and realize just how much we have accomplished.  I look through their notebooks with great satisfaction and think, "What a blessing homeschooling has been in our lives."

So, that is where I have been.  I am hoping to post some yummy recipes soon and get back to blogging on a more regular basis.  But, just remember, having a graduate is kind of like having a baby:  it's a lot of hard work trying to get em out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Salmon Scramble

I am really trying to eat healthier these days.  I am even trying to start the day off right with a good breakfast.  That can be hard to do when you are not overly fond of the usual breakfast fare.  I have been experimenting with other options.  Today I made a salmon scramble which I thoroughly enjoyed.  It was so easy and it left me feeling satisfied and ready to start my day!

Salmon Scramble
serves 2

1 tsp coconut oil
1 clove of garlic minced
1 can of salmon drained (I use Bear and Wolf Pink Salmon and get it at Costco)
4 mushrooms sliced
4 green onions chopped
4 eggs beaten
handfull of grape tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Place the coconut oil in a skillet.  Add minced garlic and green onions and heat until fragrant.  Add mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add salmon and mix together.  Add eggs and cook until done.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with grape tomatoes.

This could also be served for a quick and wholesome dinner or lunch.  It is definitely quick and easy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Caribbean Citrus Salmon and Cauliflower Rice

I love baked salmon.  It is so easy, not to mention delicious and good for you.  I usually make it with a brown sugar glaze, but I am trying to cut out sugar.  I decided to try something new and it turned out wonderfully!  I thought I would share it with you.

Caribbean Citrus Salmon

Olive Oil
1 lemon
Mrs. Dash Caribbean Citrus Blend
8-10 Cloves of garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place the fish on top (this makes for an easy clean up).  Drizzle the fish with olive oil.  Rub the fish with the oil, so the entire fish is covered.  Squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over the fish.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Generously cover the fish with the Mrs. Dash seasoning.  Add minced garlic to cover the fish.  Cover fish with a tent of foil making sure it is secure to the baking sheet, but not touching the fish.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Cut up the remaining lemon to serve with the fish for added flavor.

I served this with cauliflower rice.  If you have never tried "ricing" your cauliflower, you should.  It was great.  I had never tried it before, but decided to give it a try.  I used the cauliflower rice recipe from the Make It Paleo cookbook by Bill Staley and Haley Mason.  There are some great recipes in that cookbook!  I borrowed it from the library, but it is on my wish list to own!  I added basil and oregano to the recipe and was more liberal with the garlic.  I will definitely make it again and look forward to using this recipe when I need rice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cabbage Salad With a Mediterranean Style Dressing

The end of the month always poses a bit of a problem for my menu calendar.  What my menu reads and what makes it to the table are often two different things!  Tonight was no exception!  My menu read, “Fried Polenta with Gravy and Roast, Asparagus, and Salad.”   Complications.  First, we had asparagus last night, so that was out.  Second, salad would be a bit tough since I didn’t have any more lettuce.  I decided to forget the asparagus and focus on just a good salad, without lettuce. 

I went to my fridge to see what I could make into some sort of salad.  Carrots.  Jicama.  A half a head of purple cabbage.  Celery.  I could mix that into something, maybe coleslaw?  I started to shred the cabbage, but purple was flying everywhere so I abandoned that idea and finished the head by thinly slicing it.  Cinnamon shredded the carrots while I dealt with the Jicama.  EW!!!  We skipped that thought after I opened the bag.  Celery would have to do.

The colors were pretty and I thought a vinaigrette would work better.  I wanted to try using lemon juice instead of vinegar, so I juiced a lemon into a small bowl and added olive oil.  I will be honest.  I am horrible at measuring.  I just add this and that and then later think, how much was that?  Cinnamon and I guessed that we used about ¼ cup of olive oil or less.  I then threw in some salt and pepper and some basil.  Minced some garlic and tossed it all together. 

It is something I will definitely make again.  Everyone enjoyed it and loved the dressing.  I think lemon will be a new staple in my fridge.  I hope you enjoy!

Cabbage Salad with a Mediterranean Style Dressing

1/2 of a cabbage shredded or thinly sliced
3 carrots shredded
4 stalks of celery thinly sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
The juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil (or less if preferred)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp Basil

Mix cabbage, carrots and celery together.  In a small bowl mix the juice of one lemon, minced garlic, and olive oil together.  Add seasonings to taste.  Mix together until well blended.  Pour over vegetables and toss.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Means One Thing: A Bunny!

Cinnamon has been bugging her dad for the past two years to get a bunny.  We had a bunny, actually two, but they met with an early and tragic demise about two years ago.  Sometimes that happens in the country.  Ever since then she has wanted another bunny.  Dan finally gave in last fall, but managed to convince her to wait until spring.  Well, spring is here and so is our latest addition: Snoopy.

He is a mini rex.  He has got to be the calmest bunny we have ever had.  He loves to be held and there are plenty of people around her lined up for the job!

What can I say.  I have even been caught snuggling the little furball.  It must be contagious.

I think he likes me too!  Either that or I smell like food.  Let's stick with the first one.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Coconut Aminos and Fried Rice

A few months ago I discovered that I could not eat beans.  I am not talking about green beans, but the legume variety: kidney, black, pinto, lima beans.  I cut them out of my diet completely.  Well, almost.  I forgot to include soybeans in my little list.  Maybe that was why I was still having stomach issues: soy milk in smoothies, soy milk in baked goods, Earth Balance made with soy, soy creamer in my coffee.  You get the picture.  So I cut out soy.  Much better, that is until I went to grab that bottle of GF soy sauce….SOY sauce!  Bummer.  I did some research and found a substitute that sounded interesting: Coconut Aminos.

Interesting, maybe.  Weird, for sure!  It is actually made out of organic aged coconut sap and blended with sea salt.  Sounds yummy!  I bought a bottle from a local grocery store (it was cheaper than Amazon) to try. 

First, let me say it does not taste like coconut.  It tastes like soy sauce, acts like soy sauce, cooks like soy sauce, without the soy.  I tried it out on my family to see if they could tell.  I made a Vegetable Fried Rice using the Coconut Aminos.  Delicious.  No one would have guessed that I didn’t use soy sauce.  In fact, Dan repeatedly told me how much he enjoyed the rice.  Seriously!  Multiple times!  About the fourth time he told me how good it was and how much he liked the taste, I began thinking that he was angling for a new power tool, but no, he just really like it that much.

I am sure we will be having this dish again soon.  It is perfect when you have leftover rice and need something quick.  You could easily add other favorite vegetables or even a protein like shrimp or pork.  I am also excited to try the Coconut Aminos in other recipes too.  I will keep you posted.

Vegetable Fried Rice

4 stalks of celery minced
5 cloves of garlic minced
3 small carrots finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
6 cups cooked rice
½ cup Coconut Aminos or GF Soy Sauce
Olive Oil

Add a small amount of olive oil (you could use butter if you prefer) to a large frying pan.  When the oil has heated, add your eggs.  Fry the eggs until cooked through.  Chop into small pieces.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add about 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan.  Add the celery, garlic, carrots, and onion.  Cook until the onion is translucent.  Add the rice and mix together.  Pour the Coconut Aminos or soy sauce over the rice and stir until the color of the rice is uniform.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes (longer if you like your rice crispier.)

Hope you enjoy it as much as Dan :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Peppers, Peppers, and More Peppers

I have always liked the taste of bell peppers.  I also like the color they bring to a dish.  Well, this week seemed like pepper week at our house.  We made pepper steak one night, had egg salad topped peppers for lunch another day, and another night we had stuffed peppers. 

The egg salad topped peppers were a last minute inspiration based on what I had in the fridge and the fact I hadn’t made rolls and someone had eaten the last one.  It was absolutely yummy!  I made a simple egg salad, added celery, and seasonings and topped mini peppers with the mix.  Delicious.  Who needs bread when peppers are available?

Egg Salad Topped Peppers

2 hard boiled eggs smashed
1 stalk of celery finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp mayo
Dash of mustard
Mini sweet peppers halved
Salt and pepper to taste
Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb blend

Mix the eggs, celery, mayo and mustard together.  Top the mini peppers.  Add seasonings to taste.

The second recipe has been begged for by Cinnamon for several months now.  She had never had stuffed peppers before and thought they sounded good.  Well finally this week, she got her wish.  She was excited, until she tasted them.  Then she was enamored, asking for them again and making plans for peppers in the future.  She has a plan brewing for stuffing mini peppers for an appetizer dish for Christmas.  Yes, that is how much that girl loved these peppers.  Everyone enjoyed them actually.  I guess they will be on the menu again! 

Stuffed Peppers

1 lb ground beef or venison
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 celery stalks chopped
4 mushrooms chopped
½ cup parsley minced
1 cup uncooked rice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1 large can of tomato sauce
6 bell peppers

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut tops off the bell peppers and clean out the center.  Set “lids” aside. 

Brown ground beef, garlic, and onion in a skillet.  Add mushrooms and celery and cook for a few minutes.   Add parsley, rice, oil, salt and pepper, and tomato sauce.  Mix together.  Fill hollowed out peppers.  Top with the “lids.”  Place the peppers in the baking dish.  Add water to the bottom of the dish (about ¼ inch).  Bake for 90 minutes at 325 degrees.

They are also easy to make and inexpensive if you buy the peppers when they are on sale. You can make them for less than $1.30 a serving. I simply added a spinach salad to round out the meal.

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