Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My new favorite food

    Matt and I have been eating quite a bit of Weight Watcher's and Skinny Cow brand ice cream, but I have now discovered that it's possible to by half gallons of fat free sugar free high fiber ice cream. I recently got vanilla bean from Turkey Hill and strawberry from Kemp's. Both have 70 calories, 0 fat and 5 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup serving. So, 1/2 cup of ice cream for one point! Tonight for dessert I had a very satisfying 2 point sundae by weighing out 2 points worth of ice cream and then putting thawed blueberries and raspberries that I had bought frozen on it (I love that when you thaw out the berries they create their own liquid as a "sauce").

     I might try figuring out how to make my own frozen treats. First, I'm going to try freezing cups of regular yogurt to see how that works.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Miriam, Miriam close to delirium how does your garden grow? Part 3

These pictures are a few days old, but I wanted to share the wonderfulness that I have been finding in the garden. I have been getting a ton of cukes, as I mentioned. You can see the lovely zucchini. I have gotten to eat a few cherry tomatoes, wow, that's all I can say. The tomato I caught when it was just starting to turn is almost ready now. I can't wait to have my first personally grown tomato! I'm looking forward to the next growing season when I can do things a little more like the way they should be done.

Night time snack

     Behold the filling and tasty one point after dinner snack. It consists of half an orange pepper, one small cucumber from the garden, 1/4 of a tomato, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of grated parmesan. I tried putting it in a pita, but it fell apart so I turned the pita into chips instead by putting it into the toaster, made some yummy chips that went very well with the salad. I would definitely suggest making your own pita chips. Fresh from the toaster oven (or conventional oven) warm, crisp and seasoned to your liking. I just had it plain but you could certainly spice it up with some butter spray or cooking spray, or a mist of salad dressing, the choices go on and on. I think I'll try it with honey mustard spray dressing the next time. Okay, better stop before I go make another snack!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sweet Potato Pizza

I used to make potato pizza a lot, but I haven't in a while. Today I was trying to think of something quick, easy and filling to have along with my red pepper slices and cucumber chunks. Searching through the cupboards I found a sweet potato. I used half of the small sweet potato, microwaved it for three minutes, mashed it flat put a few tablespoons of salsa (though marinara would have been good too) and an ounce of italian cheeses. Then, I microwaved it for another minute to melt the cheese. Voila! Super yummy, fiberous, and healthy pizza! Much more filling than a slice of pizza for half a point less! (Sorry for all the exclamation points I'm just excited.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A new side of me

    I replaced my own brake pads today. It cost a bit to get the equipment I needed, but not that much more than having it done by someone else, and it was a lot more fun. Unfortunately, I stripped one of the bolts so I was only able to do one side, but I'll figure out how to get it off and do that side too. Once I figured out all the specifics it was pretty easy. Here is the website I found instructions at: http://autorepair.about.com/od/fixityourself/ss/brakepadreplace.htm. I found them straightforward and easy to follow. I ran into a bit of confusion over the piston, but I figured it out. Yeah! I also got everything to do my own oil changes so that will be my next project, most likely this weekend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quick and nutritious lunch

I just made my own salmon burger for lunch today and it was super yummy, healthy and quick.

Salmon Burger

POINTS® Value:   5
Servings:  2

Preparation Time:  5 min
Cooking Time:  10 min
Level of Difficulty:  Easy
Course: main meals


1 package Chicken of the Sea Salmon (2.6 oz.)   
1/4 cup Italian Bread Crumbs   
1 clove garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded carrots  

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard   
1 oz Crumbled feta, fat free plain   
2 Tbsp lemon juice   
2 sandwich thins   
1 Tbsp ketchup   
1 Tbsp fat-free mayonnaise   
1/2 medium tomato, sliced   
1/2 cup cooked spinach   


Combine salmon, bread crumbs, mustard, carrots, garlic, feta and lemon juice and mix until it all stays together. Form into two equal sized patties and cook on a low heat until cooked through.

Combine ketchup and mayo to make russian dressing.

Add all the ingredients to the sandwich and enjoy!

Update on the veggie quest

Maggie HATED the meatloaf. We got her to eat about half of her portion. Maxwell ate half without complaining too much if we drenched it in ketchup. Next time I will leave out the red pepper, that seemed to be the big area of contention. I think the next batch I will try 1 carrot instead of 2 and a bit of squash. That may be an easier taste to drown.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Miriam, Miriam close to delirium how does your garden grow? Part 2

Here is how my garden looks now. As you can see, things have definitely grown much bigger! I have one lone pepper growing on a plant that has a tomato plant on one side and a cucumber on the other. The other pepper plant has an eggplant on one side and zucchini on the other. I have had to give up on weeding since I can't really get in to pull them up. My poor beans have been overtaken by the plants behind them and are no longer growing beans. Of course, the four that still have sun have gotten brown leaves, it almost looks like the intense heat of the past few weeks have burned the plants. Also, a lot of the leaves have been eaten by bugs. I don't know if we will be able to eat the cabbage at all. I have been getting a ton of cucumbers, and so far one eggplant and two zucchini. I was getting a ton of beans until they got buried. Once the tomatoes start to turn red we will have a bunch of those as well. I will have to make pasta sauce and salsa galore!

Miriam, Miriam close to delirium how does your garden grow?

     Here is what my garden looked like just a few weeks ago. Things were starting to look like real vegetable plants. The plants were getting buds and just starting to grow the first signs of fruit. I felt that my plants have done very well for this being my first attempt at gardening. I definitely planted them too close together, and now the larger plants are blocking the sun from the smaller ones. Next year I will plant only one row of plants in the center of each bed. I think that will be much more successful.

More on how to hide veggies

Today I made meatloaf, it's in the oven right now, and I added a few things to the recipe. I used my regular recipe (half lean beef, half ground chicken with Italian bread crumbs and egg white) then I also put in a red pepper and a couple of carrots. We shall see how the family reacts. My guess is that they will have no idea, or they will just notice that the meatloaf has a slight sweet flavor to it. I am excited to try it. I really want to get the kids eating more veggies. I don't really see that it's all that different from putting ketchup in like many recipes call for, except that it is healthier this way.

These pictures are ones I took awhile ago, the last time I made veggie pizza. The one on the left is of just the veggies after they had been dejuiced. The one on the right is the batter after all the ingredients had been added. I meant to take a picture of the finished product but forgot to do that since it tasted so good!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicken and Veggies, yum!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Veggies 

POINTS® Value:    4
Servings:  4

Preparation Time:  600 min
Cooking Time:  360 min
Level of Difficulty:  Easy
Course: main meals


2 1/2 cup(s) zucchini   
1 1/3 pound(s) Chicken breast, skinless, boneless, raw   
1/4 cup(s) uncooked barley   
2 clove(s) garlic clove(s)   
1 Tbsp basil   
1 Tbsp parsley   
1 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth   
1 cup(s) water   
1 cup(s) carrot(s)   


Use any squash or various squashes for zucchini. Chop up all veggies to desired size. Put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. If desired, add spinach about 1/2 hour before done cooking. Serve with or without the liquid.

This is one of my new favorite meals. It is very easy to prepare. There is no need to chop the chicken up beforehand, it falls apart with no effort after it is done cooking. It is very yummy, very filling and very few points!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More about veggie pizza

Here is the mixture of yummy veggies that I put through the juicer to extract all the juice. I used zucchini, summer squash, broccoli stalks (leftover from cutting up the florets I bought for salads), a red pepper that was to wrinkly to eat raw, a few carrots, and two tablespoons of minced garlic. I meant to take a picture of the finished product, but it was too enticing and I forgot. With one cup of reduced fat cheese spread over the crust it was only 4 WW points for 1/6th of the pizza! Yummy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Watering "can"

Thanks so much mom for the inspiration. I asked my mother to bring me a watering can, figuring she had at least one she wasn't using, but alas she didn't. Well, they say that necessity is the "mother" of invention. She brought me an empty plastic container from mayo. I tried it and felt that it didn't spread the water as much as I would have liked it to... so I took an empty yogurt quart, poked holes in the top and voila! I now have a perfectly functional watering "can".

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Black raspberries!

     Here is the fruit of our labor. The back corner of our backyard is full of raspberry bushes that are producing like crazy this year. In case you can't see what the scale says we got over half a pound of super yummy raspberries that the kids would have devoured all of if I hadn't taken the bowl away before they finished it off. This fall I am planning on transplanting some of the vines to a more easily accessible location. I have a clothesline outside that I don't use, so I am going to place the vines between the two poles and on either side
of it. I am hoping the middle row will vine up it and the others I can hopefully extend as time goes on. If anyone has knowledge of the best way to get a maximum yield from the berries, let me know!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Snacks galore, eleven zero point snack ideas and more!

Here are a few of my favorite zero point snacks for WW (and remember 0 + 0 does not necessarily equal 0 in WW):

Any veggie with 1/4 cup of fat free salsa to dip it in (or vegetarian re-fried beans for half a point, or go crazy and mix ‘em!) Cucumber slices and thick pepper slices both work great instead of chips to dip and have a very satisfying crunch.

1 cup fat free chicken broth with 2 tablespoons each carrots, onion and celery.

Kosher dill pickles

1/2 cup of Fiber One cereal (to jazz it up for 1 point add two tablespoons of raisins)

Sugar free jello or Popsicle

1/2 cup of sliced strawberries (it’s more than you think it would be) or blackberries or raspberries (if they are tart add a packet of artificial sweetener) OR if you are willing to spend a point top it with 1/3 cup of fat free whipped cream, super yummy!

Baby carrots (about 10)

Small salad with lemon juice and vinegar or fat free Italian dressing

Spinach steamed with garlic, onion and lemon juice

1/2 cup to 1 cup of zucchini chopped into “fries” and coated with 1 egg white, add salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder to taste. Bake at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes. 

A cup of coffee with 1 tbs fat free half and half, 1 tablespoon fat free OR sugar free whipped topping allow to melt in and then add artificial sweetener to taste. Also, add cinnamon or other spices to make it more latte like.

There are too many one point snacks for me to list, but others have done it (remember 1+1 does not necessarily equal 2 in WW):

On this site there is a great list of one point snacks: http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/weight-watchers/61625-low-point-snacks.html

http://www.counselingseattle.com/ww/1.htm (Also has links to 2, 3 and 4 point snacks.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The best peanut butter cookies ever! (In my humble opinion.)

     So, Matt and I have been on Weight Watchers, but we are not depriving ourselves. We are just fitting the foods we like into the WW picture. I have been busy altering recipes and trying new things. I searched for a low fat peanut butter cookie recipe and found one I like, but altered it some. Here is my version:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
POINTS® Value:    1
Servings:  24

Preparation Time:  15 min
Cooking Time:  10 min
Level of Difficulty:  Easy
Course: desserts


1 cup white whole wheat flour   
1/2 tsp baking soda   
2 egg white(s)   
2/3 cup(s) unpacked light brown sugar   
1/2 cup(s) Better'n Peanut Butter Low-fat low-sodium peanut spread   
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup(s) quick cooking rolled oats   
1 large banana(s)   
1/3 cup(s) mini chocolate chips   


Preheat oven to 325. Cream banana and sugar together, add peanut butter. Stir in egg whites and vanilla. Slowly add flour and baking soda. Fold in oats. Cook 10-12 minutes.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Time to post again! Dinner 5-2-10

     We have recently started Weight Watchers, so we have been paying very close attention to what we eat. I have been using their etools to figure out how many points different meals I make are, and focusing on filling foods. Salad definitely gives you the most bang for your buck.
     Tonight we are having catfish with spinach, carrots and garlic on the side. At the supermarket they were nice enough to put a rub on the fish, and we have had one batch so far that everyone loved.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A project not perfected

     Well, here is a picture of my first attempt at making a custom lampshade. It did not really come out as nice as I had hoped it would. I guess just trying to freehand where to cut around the old cover and gluing it together doesn't work so well. I should probably try a little more accurate measuring.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What's for dinner (1-25-10)

     Here is Maxwell enjoying his dinner of Vege crust pizza and green beans. He ate everything! It's a breakthrough in his vegetable eating. I once again made the Summer Squash Crust found on allrecipes.com and added zucchini, carrot and garlic to it. This time, however, I used my juicer to get all the liquid out and was much more successful at having a realistic crust instead of a mushy one. I think next time I will put more oil underneath it so it won't stick to the pan so much. I put parmesan on the green beans this time. I wonder if that is what finally made Maxwell eat them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's for dinner? (12-13+14-10)

    Last night we had chicken drumsticks cooked in the crock pot all day long with salsa and corn. Yummy. Nine hours in the crock pot made for some extremely tender chicken. It was a super simple 5 minute prep dinner. It is definitely something I will do again.
    Tonight, finally success! I made a pizza with no sauce. The recipe for the crust was based on this one, which calls for either summer squash or zucchini. I used both summer squash and zucchini and also added a carrot and two cloves of garlic. My kids had no idea that they were eating vegetables. My son's radar was fooled! I would definitely suggest this to anyone who is trying to slip vegetables into the diet of their kids. It was the best pizza I had ever had, and my husband told me, "Make this whenever you want." I think this will become a weekly tradition at my house. I added pepperoni and shredded cheese to the top of the crust, and it was superb. I will experiment more each time I make it and let you know how it turns out.
   While I was making that I thought about the colors of the veggies, green,  yellow, and orange (almost a stoplight). Those would be fun veggies for kabobs!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's for dinner? (12-12-10)

    Tonight I made a pasta primarvera. I changed the recipe a bit, left out the onion, bell pepper and cayenne pepper since I didn't have them. I used two garlic cloves instead of one, I used chicken sausage, and added fresh green beans. I also used both zucchini and summer squash and added a little bit of cheese for some extra zip. It was super yummy. It took about a half hour to prepare. Since my family likes our veggies very soft I cut those up first and started them cooking before I put the water on to boil and cut up that sausage.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's for dinner? (12-10-10)

    I think that my son has a vegetable detector in his brain that makes it impossible for me to get anything past him. I made meatloaf tonight (1 lb. of beef, 3 slices of whole grain bread crushed up, and some leftover carrots from another dinner) and I thought for sure this would be the time Maxwell would finally be tricked into eating veggies. He has never refused to eat meatloaf before, in fact he usually has seconds. Alas, I was thwarted again. It took five minutes prep, one hour in the oven. I served it with potato chips. (I know, could have been healthier there, I went for quick and easy.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Free knitting pattern: Star of David

    I was looking at a site for Christmas ornaments to knit small gifts to bring in to my coworkers and I found a pattern for a six-pointed star. I tried it, but found it to be very confusing. So, I decided to come up with my own pattern.
   Here it goes - my first published knitting pattern. Please do not reproduce without my permission. Feel free, however, to knit as many as you like for any purpose you like.

CO 21 stitches
Rows 1-7 k1, k2tog, k to end - 14 stitches
Rows 8-14 k1, k1fb, k to end - 21 stitches
Row 15 BO first 6 stitches, k8, BO last 6 stitches
Cut off end of yarn leaving a tail to weave in
As you would with switching colors start where you left off the 8 stitches.
Row 16-21 k1, k2tog, k to end
Row 22 k2tog

Pick up 8 stitches in the center of the CO row and repeat rows 16-22.

Weave in ends.

I will add a picture once I get my camera working.

What's for dinner? (12-9-10)

    Tonight we went to a potluck dinner. We brought asparagus. I coated it in olive oil, sprinkled black pepper and garlic powder then topped each layer with parmesan cheese. Less than 5 minutes to prep, 20 minutes in the oven.
   I left the kids with the babysitter, a jar of pickles, oranges and nachos in the oven. 2 minutes to prep, 10 minutes in the oven.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's for dinner? (12-8-10)

    Once again experimented and got a not so warm reaction. I made a smoothie to go with dinner, and added vegetables (red leaf lettuce, carrot and a few green beans), along with the juice, yogurt and fruit blend that I normally use. But, I overdid it. I drank mine, but it wasn't very good. I think that I should have not used whole carrot. All the recipes for juicing that I have seen online call for taking the pulp out, but I thought, hey, fiber. I was very impressed with how well my cheap blender did at making it very smooth. My mistake was when I made it I smelled it and since it smelled so good I added the second half of the carrot of which I had put in half. I guess that just made it too much.
   Anywho, we had breakfast for dinner tonight. I made a souffle of sorts. It was supposed to be a large omelet to share, but it was too thick to fold, so I just flipped it and melted cheese on top. While looking online to find a substitute for milk I found a great list of substitutions on Allrecipes.com (you'd think that they paid me to advertise, but I just find a lot of good stuff on there). Then I made half a bagel and sausage for each of us.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting your kids to eat vegetables

I just found this great article on how to get your kids to eat vegetables.

Also, try this great recipe for pizza crust that is made with zucchini or summer squash. I found when I made it that halving the recipe and spreading it thinner made for a crisper crust, but it was good a bit thick as well.

What's for dinner? (12-7-10)

    Tonight we had honey mustard chicken, just honey and mustard in the frying pan with boneless skinless chicken thighs (we like dark meat). For a side I made spaghetti squash with Smart Balance, shredded cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, and cheddar), with a little bit of cream cheese for creaminess. I wanted to make an alfredo sauce to go over it that I saw on Allrecipes.com, but I'm out of milk. I cooked the spaghetti squash in the microwave first for 15 minutes and then the whole concoction in the oven for another 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I am the only one that liked it. Everyone else ate just the chicken and then snacked after dinner :(
    Start to finish it all took me about forty five minutes, but I did have time to do other things while stuff was cooking.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's for dinner? (12-6-10)

    Tonight we had tacos. I got previously frozen lean ground beef, I had never heard of that before, 93% lean for the price of 80%! I cooked the ground beef and added taco seasoning. You can buy the packets, or make your own. There are plenty of recipes online. Also, a great way to save money on the seasoning is to find a store like my mother's store that sells spices in bulk. This way you are not paying for the packaging and you can buy only what you need. Hint: bring in your empty jars to refill. This way you know what you wanted to get, you save the bags, just don't forget to have them weigh the jars first so they can take that weight off and you're not paying for the jars!
    On the "buffet" of toppings we had refried beans, tomatoes, and shredded cheese. If I had more time I would have added a few veggies, but most likely I would have been the only one eating them. Many times I have corn with this meal. However, the jury is still out on whether or not that is a veggie or a starch.
    Time from stovetop to tabletop - 15 minutes!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ten ways to save money and the environment

I am hoping to have lists of ten ways to save money and the environment become a regular thing on my blog.  Every time I think of one I'll jot it down. If you have an idea, pass it on to me (don't worry I'll give you the credit). Whenever I get a list of ten I will post them. I can't wait to see all the fun ideas that come out of this!

1. Use plastic grocery bags as trash bags for the car and in any small trash cans (like the bathroom. This saves money on trash bags, keeps your car clean and saves you the expense of reusable grocery bags without the guilt. You could also donate your plastic grocery bags to stores, food shelves, libraries or other organizations that put things in bags for people.

2. Have small animals that eat hay? Buy a bale at a local farm instead of a tiny package at a feed store. It’s much cheaper, fresher and better for the environment.

3. If you ever get take out chinese food save the soup containers, meal containers and small sauce containers (these are great for packing salad dressing for meals to go).

4. I buy the store brand precut meat slices. This is cheaper than the meat at the deli and you get free food storage containers, dishwasher safe and recyclable if they break.

5. Make your own dog (or other pet) treats and toys. Avoid the package, the hype, the expense and they are much better for your pet. Here is a great site for homemade dog treats: http://www.bullwrinkle.com/Assets/Recipes/Recipes.htm

6. If you knit, check out your local thrift stores for cheap scarves, sweaters and other knit items that you can “recycle” into yarn for your next project. Much cheaper than buying skeins, a bit more work, but many times very worth it. (Scarves are the easiest.) Here is a great website that shows you how to do it: http://www.neauveau.com/recycledyarn.html Be careful though, there are quite a few that I have run into that a knotted instead of knitted. If I get one of these I give up and use it as stuffing instead of trying to salvage the yarn. If it is only knotted on the end of the rows and not on each stitch, I have found that it isn’t too hard to get out. You just have to pull a little ahead of where you are at so you can slip your ball of yarn through.

7. Another way to get free plastic storage containers is to reuse cottage cheese containers, yogurt containers and such. At first I didn’t do this because I couldn’t see through them. Then, I had the brainstorm of writing on them with a dry erase marker so I know what is in them and keeping them in a specific place in the fridge so that I think to check.

8. Raise chickens. It’s inexpensive fun, and you get free eggs and free fertilizer. (I haven’t done this yet. I have to wait until my kids are old enough to help.)

9. Before buying anything, search online to see if you can find plans make it yourself, or brainstorm a way to do it. I was looking around for lampshades and then I thought... “I bet these wouldn’t be too hard to make.” I couldn’t find what I wanted for plans online, but I found a site that sells the metal parts. It isn’t too hard to cut fabric in an appropriate shape. (If you take apart a lampshade you already have you could even use it as a template.) Should be fun and easy!

10. Compost. If, like me, you pay by the pound to get rid of your trash this is a big money saver. If you garden this is a great way to get free fertilizer. I save my food scraps in an empty yogurt container until it’s full, then I bring them outside and dump them into a trash barrel that is buried in the ground with the bottom cut off and holes punched in it to let in air.

What's for dinner? (12-5-10)

    We did not go healthy for dinner tonight. We had Mac & Cheese (yummy) it was incredibly creamy. I found the recipe on Allrecipes.com. I did make them with whole grain pasta, that counts for something right? Next time I will throw in some shredded zucchini or yellow squash to add some nutrition.  Then, I made meatballs without a recipe. I used 1 lb of ground chicken, 1 cup of italian style bread crumbs, 1 egg and 1 can of cream of chicken soup (no water). They held together okay, but they were pretty soft, so I think next time I will add half the can of soup to the meat and half I will pour into my electric frying pan to simmer the meatballs in. Also, I may try beef and beef gravy instead of the chicken.