Category Archives: Recipes

A Pleasant Night In

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So things have been pretty crazy hectic around here for a while with both of us working full time and trying to juggle that with the catastrophic disaster that comes with having a 2 year old and a 4 month old who has decided that scooting about is top notch.

Occasionally, there are breaks in the chaos, though they’re often the eye of the storm. Here’s to good food and a little bit of recharging to prep for the next thing!

Garden Tortellini Soup

  • 1 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • 20 oz vegetable stock (I used a no added salt brand)
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, cut thick
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 packs of Michelina’s Tortellini Alfredo with Broccoli (the individual serving sizes)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1.5oz packet of Alfredo sauce mix
  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

In a large pot on low heat, mix water, sauce mix and vegetable broth slowly so that the sauce mix doesn’t clump. Then add the garlic, onion, and spices, stir well and add the Michelina’s. I didn’t even thaw these, just dropped them in frozen solid and let the sauce thaw gradually and mix with the rest of the broth. Cover and keep on low heat for about 20 minutes. I used this time to wash the spinach and cut mushrooms. Add the mushrooms, spinach, and evaporated milk, and cover and simmer for another 20. Serve with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.

This makes about 4-6 servings, and is both light and surprisingly filling for a vegetarian dish.

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The Cycle

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I talk a lot about “breaking the cycle”. I realize that this probably makes me one of those really annoying people who make the people around them uncomfortable by talking about things that no one really wants to talk about, or even acknowledge occurs beyond the simple sympathetic nod in the direction of the newspaper before resuming their normal lives. This is because they have normal lives, and while humanity has been gifted with the extraordinary thing that is empathy, few who have not been in a dysfunctional situation can really wrap their minds around what dysfunction means, just as people who have lived in dysfunction have no idea about what they should have been taught as children.

For those of us who grew up in a home that was, for whatever reason, not healthy or functional, there is hope. I read a great book around this time last year, and by “great” I mean “read in little bitty sections with days in between reading so you can process and try to keep your brain from splitting open”. Please, do not skip this book if one of your parents was not specifically an alcoholic. While Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) is geared toward the effect of alcohol or drugs on a home and the ramifications of that as an adult, any kind of dysfunction, even problems your parents may have had as a result of their parents. The book covers a list of behaviors that are common in ACOA’s, see if any of these could apply to you:

  1. ACOA’s guess at what normal behavior is.
  2. They have difficulty following a project from beginning to end.
  3. They lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  4. They judge themselves without mercy.
  5. They have difficulty having fun.
  6. They take themselves very seriously.
  7. They have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  8. They over-react to changes over which they have no control.
  9. They constantly seek approval and affirmation.
  10. They usually feel that they are different from other people.
  11. They are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
  12. They are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
  13. They are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.

 

I’ve been working through the list over the course of the last year, trying to identify the problem areas that I have and focus on the ones that are effecting my life the most. Because these behaviors are learned from our parents, it is ridiculously easy to pass them on. Even staring down an unhealthy behavior and knowing that it is unhealthy does not make it any easier to un-program that thought process from my brain.

I have a serious problem with procrastination. I take procrastination to a level that is frankly ridiculous. This entire blog post is actually probably me procrastinating on something else I should be doing (like the dishes that are sky-high in my kitchen, or the laundry that has taken over my living room, or organizing the kids’ bedroom that is still a random mess even after 4 weeks maternity leave).

The idea that ACoA presents is that in dysfunctional families, the children grow up being horrible procrastinators because they simply do not have the indirect teaching of breaking a large project down into smaller pieces and allotting a reasonable amount of time for each section. In school I struggled with not giving myself enough time to complete projects. This was only exacerbated by the fact that I was a bright student and got away with pulling all-nighters and slapped-together research papers and projects for a long time. However, that doesn’t work with trying to manage housework regularly. All I can do is try to get organized and rein myself in when I start tackling something in huge chunks that can’t possibly be handled in the amount of time I have to spend on them, otherwise the rest of the things I need to accomplish don’t get the attention that they need and it only gets backed up to the point where I have the uncontrollable urge to hide out and watch television and facebook and write blog posts and not do anything because I frankly have no idea where to start and I get overwhelmed. Even being aware that this is something I struggle with doesn’t make changing my behavior any easier. I’m trying to learn a process I should have learned gradually throughout my childhood and teen years all at once, while functioning in the adult world of work and money and all that stuff I have to pay for.

With that, I leave you with an oatmeal cookie recipe that I made and return to staring at all of the other things I should be doing, wondering what I can actually make a dent in today:

White Chocolate Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup diced dried apricots
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup almond slivers (optional)

Cream sugars, shortening, vanilla extract, and eggs. Add dry ingredients and add to shortening mixture. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

These cookies are very filling and can also be spread onto a cookie sheet with raised edges to make homemade nutrigrain-like snack bars. If you do this, use two cookie sheets and bake for an additional 5 minutes or so. Allow to cool halfway before slicing.

Let’s get it started!

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I’ve been pondering making a mommy/cooking/writing/whatever-else blog for a while now, and have finally taken the time to do so! A friend of mine has recently fully introduced me to the amazing network of mommy, review, and giveaway blogs that is on the net and I’ve become hooked. After taking baby steps – joining some survey sites, reviewing more products online, and joining Influenster – I’ve decided to take the plunge!

Please be aware that this is a free-for-all blog. I love cooking, saving money, and I lean toward the crunchy side of things more often than not. With that said, let’s get it started!

I talk about Bountiful Baskets a lot. I can’t say enough good things about this great non-profit food co-op. It provides a basket full of fresh fruits and veggies, bought as locally as possible and usually worth about $50, for a contribution of $15. It’s run completely by volunteers, and has pick-up sites all over the US. Many sites also offer extras like organic baskets, homemade bread, granola, and extra themed veggie or fruit packs. This week, my area’s site has Tropical Granola (with macadamia nuts, coconut, papaya, and pineapple), an Asian-themed Veggie Lovers’ pack, organic 9 grain bread, organic blueberries, small brown lentils, organic multigrain bread with Omega-3, and white corn. The extras cost more and come in bulk (the bread provides 5 1lb loaves, and the lentils are 25lbs, for example) but boy is it worth it! The sourdough bread tastes like the loaves I got from the farmer’s market in San Francisco, and the bread is unsliced, so we made lots of cheesy garlic toast with it.

I recommend this organization to everyone – I absolutely can’t get over the value. The produce you get in the standard basket each week is always a surprise, but I like it that way. It encourages us to go outside of our routine and find or think of new recipes to try, and I love getting surprised with the occasional pineapple or bundle of asparagus. Who doesn’t like surprise asparagus? Here I have a recipe for you that we came up with to get rid of our extra yellow squash and zucchini, toddler-approved as always!:

Southwestern Garden Chicken

• 1 package of skinless boneless chicken tenders

• 1 can of Rotel

• 1 1/2 cups of cheese or Velveeta

• 2 medium sized squash, we use 1 yellow and 1 zucchini

Put thawed chicken in a casserole dish, a 11×9 works fine with room to spare. Slice squash thinly and add with Rotel to the chicken. Add a pinch of salt and pepper or Tony’s Creole (we swear by Tony’s) and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Grate cheese and sprinkle generously over the chicken before returning it to the oven for 15 minutes. Goes great with brown rice.