Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this true Sabbath! A "forced" day off, when everything is shut down - nowhere to go, nothing to do but enjoy the beauty of the snow. Although it is Sunday, and we were fully prepared to get up and go to church (admittedly partially because we didn't want to contribute to the low attendance on the day after Christmas), we appreciate being able to have a leisurely morning, make a breakfast reserved for days like today (yummy Beignets and fresh fried farm eggs), and spend the day playing in and taking pictures of the snow. Thank you!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Corn Dog Muffins

I have been making these muffins for lunches lately. They are a huge hit! The recipe/concept came from my friend Monica (thanks!). I mentioned making these in an e-mail to my mom and sister and now my sister is making them as well. I hope they are a hit in your home. You can use any corn muffin mix/recipe. The following recipe uses Hodgson Mill Corn Meal Muffin recipe as the base.

Corn Dog Muffins

1 1/2 cups Yellow Corn Meal
1 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt

Blend together:
1 cup Buttermilk
1 beaten Egg
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

2 hotdogs, sliced length-wise into half-moons and then length-wise again. The slice across into 1/8" pieces (we use the Oscar Meyer Premium hotdogs, which are nitrate and nitrite free)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (we usually use cheddar)

Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare muffin tins by lining with muffin papers or spraying with no-stick cooking spray.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes. Fold hotdog pieces and cheese into batter.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops of muffins are golden brown. Remove from pans and serve immediately or cool on racks. Makes one dozen.


1. Monica makes these into mini-muffins.
2. I usually don't have buttermilk on hand, so I add a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of milk instead.
3. This is another recipe that I double and freeze to make packing lunches easier. They thaw over the course of the morning and are ready come lunchtime.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oatmeal Spice Muffins

As I mentioned before, muffins are a standard breakfast item around here. I have started making double batches of muffins and putting them in the freezer. This will get us through at least 2 weeks before I have to bake more, thus saving time. My go-to muffin recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It has a basic muffin recipe with several variations, but I combine a couple of those for my basic muffin. Here it is:

Oatmeal Spice Muffins

2/3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2/3 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 cups Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 - 1/2 cup Chopped Nuts

In a separate bowl, mix:
1 Beaten Egg
3/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Cooking Oil

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Lightly grease muffin cups or use paper baking cups. Fill 2/3 full and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans. Makes about a dozen.

Banana Muffins: Add 3/4 cup mashed banana to wet ingredients and reduce milk to 1/2 cup. Don't use paper liners.

Pumpkin Muffins: Add 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin to wet ingredients. Don't use paper liners.

Berry Muffins: Fold in 3/4 cup fresh or frozen berries after mixing wet and dry ingredients.

Note: These are old fashioned bread-like muffins, as opposed to the cake-like muffins usually found commercially.

Making Breakfast Easy

I have been working on streamlining breakfast for the past couple of months. Mornings are an early rush for us, so having things ready when we get up is essential for a smooth start to the day. It also makes weekly grocery shopping fairly easy. Favorite quick breakfast foods are smoothies (prepped the night before and blended in the morning), muffins, toast, hard boiled eggs, and oatmeal. Boxed cereal is pretty much an act of true desperation around here. I prep as much ahead of time as I can. Muffins are made in 2-week batches, then frozen. Smoothies, ideally, are measured out in individual cups the night before and then blended in the morning. Hard boiled eggs are cooked in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Here's our basic breakfast schedule:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday: Smoothies and muffins
Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday: Oatmeal/Toast, fruit (ideally) and hot chocolate

The hard boiled eggs are for those who are still hungry after the initial breakfast offering.

On Saturdays we do whatever time allows, but usually it's a bigger, hot breakfast such as pancakes and sausage or eggs, sausage, and potatoes, or (our new addition) kartoffelpuffers (potato pancakes) with applesauce. We're still experimenting with the kartoffelpuffers, but as soon as we get them to a point were I can post the recipe, I will. I say "we", but this is actually my husband's project. I'm just the buyer and taster. Regardless of who is cooking though, this is one of those times when I feel like I'm living in a test kitchen (smile).

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Links

I added two new links to the Food Links list on the left.  The first is jacksonholefoodie.  Annie writes about cooking and gardening in the high altitude environment of Jackson Hole, WY.  Many thanks to Karen for the link!  The second one is Large Family Recipes.  Laura is a mother of six (soon to be seven) and has many wonderful recipes to share.  They are great for feeding many or for power cooking (freezing multiple meals for later use).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween at Chipotle

I love this! Chipotle is celebrating Halloween with an unusual costume contest. If you go to Chipotle restaurant after 6pm on Halloween dressed as a Horrifying Processed Food Product, they will give you a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos for $2! Details can be found at Boorito 2010.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Food Link

The discussion boards are a great place to find food blogs about cooking simply, on a budget, and/or with whole foods. One of the board members posted a link to her husband's blog. They are both graduate students, have three boys in grade school, and are living on a tight budget. He is studying how to eat a mostly local diet on a tight budget and he is blogging about the experience. His blog is The Poor Locavore and I'm adding it to the food links on the left-hand menu. Coincidentally having everything on hand, we tried his fried apples with dumplings the other night and they were a hit. The only feedback I got was to add some flavor to the dumplings, for example, some cinnamon. I imagine this would be good with peaches as well. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall is Here!

Fall is finally here. It was a long, hot summer and many of us wondered when it would finally end. Now we have highs in the 70's and lows in the 50's. It's actually cold at night. I went out onto the deck, barefoot as usual, to bring our dog in a few nights ago and my feet got so cold! It's much better than highs in the 90's and lows in the 70's! However, with the talk of more extreme summers and winters, I wonder what winter will bring given the record breaking heat of this past summer and the lack of rain to go with it. But that's in the future. Now it's fall and it's wonderful!

We saw the first signs of fall in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. Suddenly we could select from several varieties of winter squash: acorn, delicata, pumpkin. The neighboring farm set-up at the pick-up lot had cabbage again, beets, and so many varieties of apples that I couldn't keep track. I love going to pick up our CSA box because not only do we pick up our share, but we visit the other farm stands for additional produce that our CSA doesn't grow. Yesterday we canned peach sauce, made with some of the last peaches of the season. I think we have enough peaches leftover for me to prep and freeze for making jam when I have some time. We really didn't want to do this in the heat of the summer. Our kitchen is in the hottest part of the house! Today we took advantage of the many apples we bought this week. We made a crumb-top apple pie for dessert tonight and apple spice muffins for breakfast tomorrow. The house smells rich with apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg! Yum!

Another sign that it's fall: college football! We've been to two local games so far this season and, as always, we're keeping up with our Buckeyes!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Packing Lunch

One way to eat healthier is to pack your own lunches.  We do this for work and when we travel (if traveling by car, we always pack a cooler for picnics along the way).  Whether you are packing a lunch for yourself or school lunches for your kids, here are a couple of websites with some great ideas.  These sites mainly focus on kids, but the food is nutritious for all.  The cute prep is optional, esp. for adults, but why not have some fun with it occassionally?
Laptop Lunches

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Food Link

The other day I was reading some of the discussions on the discussion boards and someone mentioned this site: Cook for Good. I have heard several stories of individuals trying to eat a healthy diet on a food stamp allowance. However, I was surprised to hear of a food stamp allowance of $1.99 per meal per person (for a family of four). I don't know how that varies across the country, but I am impressed to see her presentation of eating well on an even smaller budget.

The more we read and learn, the more our household has moved towards a more local and organic diet. Based on a presentation I saw by a financial manager, we have a grocery budget of $150 per person per 4 weeks. That's just $1.79/meal. (disclaimer: we do eat out occasionally, but I also end up throwing away more food than I care to admit.) I hear all the time how expensive it is to eat locally and organically. However, as we have made this adjustment, we have not altered our budget. Not only that, but our grocery budget includes cleaning supplies and any over the counter medications we use (ibuprofen, loratidine, etc.) What surprised me the most this summer was when we provided dinner for 12 at church one evening, we didn't go over budget at all that week.

What we have changed is that we eat more grains (barley, quinoa, brown rice, etc.) and we use a lot of dried beans. I also frequent the bulk foods section of our local Whole Foods. We've always eaten a lot of legumes, but we've switched to dried beans instead of canned. I usually make up a two pound batch of beans in the crockpot and freeze the leftovers in three-cup containers (it's the size we happen to have). We are also substituting ground beef for lentils in meals. A couple of favorite recipes are Taco Style Lentils and Rice and Cincinnati Chili with Lentils. We're also eating more in-season produce, which, pound for pound, is healthier and cheaper than meat. Through our CSA subscription, we have really enjoyed relearning when produce is "in season". At the grocery store, most produce appears to be "in season" all year because it is shipped from all over the world. When you get your produce locally, you find out when foods are naturally available in your area. For example, in the Spring we enjoyed a variety of lettuces and other greens. Now it is too hot for those, so we've moved on to corn, cream and purple hull peas (new items for us), and peppers. The zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers have been available most of the summer. This isn't produce, but I've also learned that, like us, the chickens aren't very fond of the heat either and they seem to have gone on strike when it comes to laying eggs.

We do still eat meat. We just stretch it. For example, we love what we call Mexican Chicken. I'll post the recipe later, but in essence, you put two chicken breasts, a chopped onion, two diced bell peppers (be colorful!), and a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes into a crockpot and let it cook on low 8-10 hrs. When it is done, shred the chicken and serve it with rice, pintos, salsa and shredded cheese in burritos, tacos, or as a burrito bowl (burrito without the tortilla). The leftovers from this last for days in our house. Add some Italian Seasoning, serve over pasta and you have Chicken Cacciatore. Today I boiled a couple of chicken breasts, chopped them up and added them to some orzo with pesto. Yummy! Last weekend, I grilled some fish and shrimp flavored with Southwest Seasoning and served it in tacos. Anyway, aside from our love of Southwestern foods, you should get the idea.

I hope you will find that you can eat locally and organic without breaking the bank. I have added the Cook for Good site to the Food Links list. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

Taco Style Lentils and Rice

This recipe is from my friend Laura. We tried it for the first time this week and it was a huge hit! I hope you enjoy it as well. Thanks Laura!

Taco Style Lentils and Rice

3/4 c. dry lentils
3/4 c. brown rice
4 broth
2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1 t. onion powder
1.4 t. garlic powder

Bring water to a boil and then add all. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer with lid on for 45-50 minutes. Fill tortillas with lentil rice mixture and top with sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, etc.

1. You can add a can of diced tomatoes
2. This would be good with a little "kick"--like a dash of cayenne. It's up to you! Without it, it is more kid-friendly.
3. I used homemade bison broth instead of water and bouillon cubes.
4. I used 1/4 of a large onion and a clove of garlic, chopped instead of the onion and garlic powders
5. We blended this with an immersion blender for a refried bean-like texture.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In The News

Nutritional Value of Fruits, Veggies is Dwindling

It's worth it to read the comments by other readers, especially those who travel abroad, for their experience with produce in other countries compared to here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

New Gardening Links

I have added the following gardening links to my side menu under "Nature". I hope they help you in your gardening endeavors.

National Gardening Association

Friday, June 25, 2010


I am so excited about dinner tonight. This week we ordered a whole chicken from our CSA. This morning I put it in my crock pot with some onions from my in-laws' garden, red potatoes and celery from our CSA, and baby carrots. I added some salt and pepper, put it on low and walked away. Okay, we really left to go to spend three hours at the pool (rough life, I know. I love my job!). Anyway, dinner smells SO good! I’m looking forward to opening the crock pot to see how it cooked. I’m looking for the differences between our relatively organic CSA chicken and conventional ones I’ve cooked from the store. I already noticed that this one seemed a bit leaner, esp. the skin. It reminds me of bison vs. conventional beef. We’ll see. I also just shucked a bunch of corn from our CSA and I’m debating what else (if anything) to prepare for dinner. I still have some tabbouleh in the fridge from the other day. I also thought of cooking some barley, but we already have a grain with the corn. I also thought of quinoa, but it’s high in protein and we already have protein with the chicken. I may just leave things as is with the crock pot meal and corn.

Speaking of quinoa, I added a link on the side bar to a website about quinoa. I have a friend who cooks it for her family, but I didn't pay much attention until my sister mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. It is now one of my favorite sides and has renewed our interest in other grains, such as barley and kasha. It's very quick and easy to prepare, takes on the flavor of whatever you pair it with, and is very healthy. I'd love to hear about your experiences with it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ohio State Spirit

I love the spirit at Ohio State!
When I was a senior in high school, there were times when I was excused for college visitations. Since attending Ohio State was pretty much a given, I used a couple of visitation days to research my papers at Ohio State. I would ride up with my dad, do my research, and then study at the Ohio (i.e. student) Union while I waited for him to get off work. I used to love sitting in the lounge studying and observing college life.
Since graduation Ohio State has completely redone Ohio Union and it has recently re-opened. In honor of this, a group of students, staff, and faculty have been secretly rehearsing (they even used code words to get into practice!) this dance since February and surprised everyone with it last week. As if the dance itself wasn't cool enough, they enlisted Brutus and Dr. Gee, OSU's President. Dr. Gee's first four years at OSU were the years I was a student. He is a great guy and well loved as the university's president.
I hope you all enjoy this video, although I'll understand if you don't love it as much as we do (it's played on repeat around here right now).
Go Bucks!
Flash Mob at the Ohio Union 5/3/2010 - The Ohio State University

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Food Link

I've added a new link to the right-hand food link list:  Meatless Monday.  It's a non-profit initiative associated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  The idea is to go meatless for one day a week for health and environmental reasons.  We generally go meatless at least one day each week just by the way we eat in general, but I like the theme.  I'll work at sharing some additional meatless meals, starting today.
Today's Meatless Monday meal:  Cincinnati Chili with Lentils

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day 2010!

Last year I posted a list of ways to celebrate Earth Day.  Rather than list them all again, here's a link to them.  In addition, I thought I'd share a letter the Bishops of the United Methodist Church have written.
God's Renewed Creation:  A Call to Hope and Action
We're also looking forward to seeing Disney Earth's new movie - Oceans! (I just hope we can make the time for it while it's still in theaters.)
Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fresh Produce

This year we finally bought a "share" in a local farm.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), some local, family-run farms sell shares of their crops.  You buy your share seasonally and each week you receive your share of the yield.  I was fortunate to find one that lets us choose what goes into our share - I'm not sure we're ready for the "mystery veggie of the week" yet!  The farm we subscribe to also offers eggs and meat, so we have a wide selection to choose from.  Today we were very excited to pick up our first share!  We selected a dozen eggs, green romaine lettuce, green buttercrunch lettuce, lettuce mix, green garlic, spinach, and a pound of mild country breakfast sausage.  Yum!  Needless to say, we had an excellent salad with our dinner tonight.
Our pick-up location is host to many CSAs (it's a healthy-living program provided by my husband's employer) and many of them offered products beyond their CSA shares, farmers market style.  I was hoping this would be the case, but since this is our first season with them, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Anyway, the fresh strawberries, that were sweet enough to smell a couple feet away, proved too tempting.  So we walked away with two quarts in addition to our share.  Now, to just find the space in the fridge!  I think I'll solve part of the problem by melting some chocolate chips to dip the strawberries into!  Oh, Happy Spring!
To find a farmers market and/or CSA near you, go to Local Harvest (link is to the right under "Food Links").

Monday, April 19, 2010


In Sunday School we are doing a five-week series using Adam Hamilton's Book/DVD titled "Enough:  Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity".  Over the past few years, I have been somewhat "studying" the topic and I greatly enjoyed Pastor Adam's sermon series on the topic when he first presented it.  I thought I'd share some of the books I've read, some articles suggested by one of the women in our class, and some other resources.  I welcome other suggestions as well.  Despite my reading, I am by no means an expert at this (as my house can attest), just a work-in-progress.
Enough:  Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity by Adam Hamilton
Breath:  Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life by Keri Wyatt Kent
Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre
Living Simply with Children by Marie Sherlock
Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach
'Tis a Gift to be Simple by Barbara DeGrote-Sorenson and David Allen Sorenson
Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin
The Simple Living Network (link added to "Other Links" list)
Enough is Enough by Walter Brueggemann
The Litugy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity by Walter Brueggemann
From Anxiety and Greed to Milk and Honey by Walter Brueggemann
It's the Economy, Stupid by Dr. Sam Wells
Simplicity, Generosity, and Joy by Adam Hamilton (sermon series)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mixed Berry Smoothie

I have a new favorite smoothie recipe. This one was inspired by my wonderful husband as well as Alton Brown. I recently saw the "Live and Let Diet" episode of Good Eats. Alton's point is to eat a healthy diet, as opposed to participating in the latest diet craze. Typical of Alton, he weighs his ingredients. So, I have weighed my ingredients here. I say that this was also inspired by my husband. He loves blueberries. I don't. As a result, he tends to point out how he is loading up on "antioxidant goodness" and I am not. However, with the berry mix, I get the berries (also with antioxidants in addition to fiber-filled seeds) that I like with blueberries hidden in the mix. These are so popular in our house right now that I am making them for breakfast three times a week - and I hear about it if I skip a day! I made these for my mom and Aunt Carole this week and they asked for the recipe - so here it is. We also discussed the nutritional information, which I have now calculated (out of curiosity). I must point out that as much as I talk about nutrition and antioxidants and such, if it doesn't taste good, it's off the menu. I just try to keep things good, healthy, and as natural as possible.

Mixed Berry Smoothie

2 oz fresh baby spinach (secret ingredient - shh!, esp. if it's hard to get greens into your family, the color is hidden by the purple of the fruit)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 banana
4 oz mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries - I use Trader Joe's frozen mixed berries or the large bag of mixed berries at Sam's Club)
4 oz plain low-fat yogurt
4 oz Trader Joe's Blackberry Crush

Layer the ingredients into large cup, immersion blender container, or blender in the order listed and blend until smooth. I usually prepare the cups the night before and then blend for breakfast in the morning. It's a great way to start the day.

Nutritional Information (approx 16 oz):
Calories - 240
Protein - 6g
Saturated Fat - 4%
Sugars - 37g
Fiber - 36%

Tonight we discussed adding wheat germ. I've done this with my smoothies before. It adds a great nutritional punch and is invisible, just like the spinach. If you do add a serving (2 tbsp) of wheat germ, you'll be adding 50 calories, 4g protein, 1g sugar, and 6% fiber.

For those of you watching your sugar, here's a comparison: a 6 oz serving of Yoplait yogurt has 27g and no fiber. Also, I'm a big fan of making things from scratch. This way you know exactly what is in your food.

On that note, I'll close with a recommendation of Michael Pollan's latest book: Food Rules. It's a short, easy read and can help guide you in eating a healthy diet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday and are able to celebrate with friends and/or family! God bless!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Nature Links

I added two new nature links on the right-hand menu.  I hope these encourage you to step out and enjoy the natural world around you.
Nature Rocks
Children & Nature Network

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Praise of Created Things"

Praise of Created Things
by Saint Francis of Assisi
Be thou praised, my Lord, with all Thy creatures,
Above all, Brother Sun, who gives the day and lightens us therewith.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
Of Thee, Most High, he bears similitude.
Be Thou praised, my Lord, of Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heaven hast Thou formed them,
Clear and precious and comely.
Be Thou praised, my Lord, of our Sister Mother Earth,
Which sustains and hath us in rule,
And produces divers fruits with colored flowers, and herbs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

An Old Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

found at island Ireland
St. Patrick's Day is a fun day at our house.  It starts with a breakfast of scrambled green eggs (add blue and green food coloring until you get the desired color) and ham with toast and ends with green Angel Food cake.  My grandmother was part Irish and she actually shared her birthday with St. Patrick's Day.  To celebrate her birthday, we always had Angel Food cake, with green food coloring added to the water before mixing.  So, now as a way to remember her and celebrate St. Patrick's Day, we have green Angel Food Cake for dessert each year.
Today we had rice and beans for dinner, so I made the rice green.  Also, since I made this morning's bread in my bread machine, I made it green as well.  It's such a fun and inexpensive way to celebrate.  There are so many different color options, you can use these ideas for many celebrations.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter Storms

Looks like Punxsutawney Phil was right.  I hope everyone almost literally buried in snow is able to enjoy some Snow Ice Cream and Hot Cocoa and/or Russian Tea.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snow Ice Cream

As the Plains recover from a snow storm and the Midwest and East Coast brace for another, it seems like a great time to share one of my favorite snowy day treats - Snow Ice Cream. My husband shared this recipe with me when we were dating and it's been a favorite since. I was excited to see an official recipe published in the More with Less Mennonite cookbook. We usually just "wing it."

We don't have the opportunity to enjoy it very often, partially because we're picky about the snow (making sure it's fresh, etc.). Just before our last snow storm, I grabbed my giant stainless steel mixing bowl and placed it outside (out of reach of our precious beagle) just before the snow started. By morning we had 8 quarts of beautiful snow! Since it had been a while, I used the recipe as a guide, but made some adjustments. The published recipe is below, but first I'll tell you what I did most recently. To the 8 quarts of snow, I added 2 cups of skim milk, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Then I stirred, and stirred, and stirred... until it became soft and creamy, much like soft-serve ice cream. Even better, I just happened to have made chocolate chip cookies the previous day - yum! Cookies and ice cream. It was quite the treat. I hope you have the opportunity to make some snow ice cream. It's easy and worth every bite!

Snow Ice Cream

Stir together lightly:
2 1/2 quarts clean snow
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar

Eat right away.