Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Little Time off .....

I am back from my wonderful vacation but still need a little time before I get inspired to blog again. I will be back after the 4th so come visit me then! Hope you are all having a great summer and are enjoying time with the little ones.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Little Vacation......

I am off for a much needed vacation on the white sandy beaches. Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Zucchini-Beef Italienne

Just in case your veggie drawer in your fridge looks something like the above picture, here is another recipe for all of those zucchini's. My zucchini plants are finally slowing down a bit so I am ready to move on to other veggies. I love this recipe and haven't made it in a while. The red wine in it is optional but it definitely gives it a better flavor. Don't cut it out unless you have to. I use the California red table wine.
Zucchini Beef Italienne
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed
3 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup red table wine
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp allspice
1 bay leaf, crumbled
seasoned salt and pepper to taste
1 4 oz can sliced mushrooms , drained or 1 heaping cup fresh mushrooms, simmered, covered in 1/4 cup 5 minutes and drained
2-3 small to medium zucchini
1/4 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese
Saute beef, onion and garlic until meat is browned. Drain. Add tomato sauce, wine and seasonings. Mix well , cover and simmer gently 1 hour, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms. (This makes a great sauce for lasagna) While meat sauce is cooking, wash zucchini , slice in 1 inch chunks and steam very lightly so they are still firm. You want enough zucchini to line the bottom of the 9X13 pan. Arrange in a single layer in sprayed pan. Sprinkle zucchini with mozzarella cheese, pour meat sauce over it, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
*****FYI......I am going to start little chef cooking classes in 4 week blocks beginning in August. I will start a new block every month and they will be on Monday's from 3:30 to 5:00. Each month will be something different so you may sign up for multiple months if you desire. I will keep the classes to 9 students. The cost for the month is $55 that includes all supplies. Ages 7-12 are welcome. $10 off to subsequent family members. I will email all recipes to you ahead of that weeks class so you can have the ingredients on hand for your little chef to come home and cook dinner for you or breakfast the next day! This will help them put their skills to work! Email me if you would like a spot. I love these classes!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Taking Time To Taste.....

I am a foodie. I go to bed thinking about food and wake up thinking about food. I hate the feeling of being full but love to eat. I love to read recipe books and love to look at menus. However, I am not a food- a- holic. You see, there is a difference. I love food. I respect food. I love the variety. I love the creative combinations. It excites me. Because of this, I savour it. I do not gobble it. Most people just eat their food without thinking about it, treating food as a noun not a verb. Food gives us life, it heals us, it nourishes us, it makes us feel better. With all that said, let me explain why I have been analyzing this lately. You see, of all my friends who are foodies, not one of them are overweight. They may dream and talk of food all the time, but you would never know it. There is a lesson in this. If you really think about the item you are eating, slowing down while you eat it and savoring the bites, your brain has time to process that you are eating. You eat most of the time to satisfy your cravings, not to fill you stomach. If we ate to only fill our stomachs, we would not eat so much. It is our brains that tell us we need chocolate or that delicious Krispy Kreme, not our stomachs. So then what happens when you give in and get that little piece of heaven? Most of the time we just gobble it up without really thinking about it. Then, the food is gone before you even really enjoyed it. Does the brain even realize that you ate it and thus satisfied the craving? I have been exercising this little thought of mine and it has made a huge difference in how I approach my cravings. You see, chocolate is a definite need for me but I have found that I really only need a little to satisfy this need. I get 8 Giradelli dark chocolate chips, the larger ones and eat them very slowly (only 40 calories), one by one, consciously tasting each bite. It takes a while, but in the end, I have had my fill. The craving would be gone. If I just grabbed a handful and popped them in my mouth all at once, I would still be tasting the same thing as I would taste with just one in my mouth and would have swallowed down all 40 calories in one swoop and of course would need more. Conversly, if I ignored the craving, it would build an build until I ate several candy bars at one sitting. My wonderful friend Miss Molly brought me a box of my favorite treats the other day. I love these and rarely buy them because they are so horrible and trashy but they are my weakness, Zebra cakes (I know, this is horribly wrong on so many levels to like these, I am not perfect!) . I quickly opened the package and started to eat one when the phone rang. As I listened to the person on the other line and hung up, I realized that I ate my treat and didn't even really taste it. I was so mad! I wasted 180 calories and didn't even enjoy it. I quickly ate another with vigor and later had to have my daughter hide them from me. How often do we just gobble it up? American's are famous for this. Other countries take hours to eat a meal. It is an event. A verb. We get it done easily in under 15 minutes! So, this is a bunch of rambling thoughts, but try it out. Take time to taste. Savour your food , it is meant to be enjoyed by your brain, not just your bellies! You may just find that one doughnut or one piece of chocolate is enough and that you really can control these cravings. Think about your food. We do not become overweight by eating one cookie. We become overweight by eating the whole plate!

Random thoughts by the self-proclaimed Enlightened Homemaker

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Delayed Vaccine Schedule....

This is in regards to the comment regarding a delayed vaccine schedule. I wish that posting a schedule was that simple. The problem is, vaccine's are a very personal thing. One person may be OK with one vaccine while another may oppose that vaccine. Some may be comfortable with 2 vaccine's administered at one time while another may want one. What you need to do is educate yourselves first on the vaccines; the side effects, what is in them, what they are for. You need to decide if you want all of them. For instance, do you even know what the Rotavirus vaccine is for? Check it out. If you do not want all of the vaccine's, which I do not, you need to check your state's guidelines for what you need to do to be exempt from the shots. Call the schools, they will give you a form. You need to then make up a schedule, deciding when you want to start, 6months, 12 months , etc. You can get one every month if you want to help spread them out allowing time if your child is sick. You can find out where the free shots are in your area so you are not going to the Dr. every month. Once you have your schedule, you can go to your Dr. to see if he has any input. Remember, you are the MOM and he doesn't have the final say. Just see if he/she has advice. If he opposes, get a new Dr. There is also a book out there called The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears. It will help you create a schedule. There is no right way. Each child is different. I don't have any more babies so I don't have to worry so much about it. My autistic child will not be receiving any more vaccines as he was fine until the vaccines started. I don't blame it all on vaccines but I do believe that it was part of the problem. 5 vaccines at one time is too much. Don't let that happen to you. Be educated. You are the one in control. As Becky commented, We are our childrens keepers!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Word on Vaccines......

Since my son has autism, I get asked many times what my stand is on Vaccines. No, I am not against them. However, I am very against how they are administered. You see, in years past, there were only a few vaccines given.Today, your little infant is given some straight out of the shoot and usually around 5 or more at any one visit. Here lies the problem. First of all, a newborn baby does not have an immune system that can fight off the antigen put in their body. Why would we then inject them with something that is so hard for their bodies to fight. That starts the problems right away. Then, a few months later when they still don't have the system in place to fight off diseases, lets give them 5-6 more! Crazy. By doing this, the body is under turmoil in so many cases, especially the stomach. If you add antibiotics to the mess, you can start the process for deterioration not to mention any mercury that the vaccine can contain. What am I advocating? Take control. Do not blindly do what the pediatrician tells you. I always tell moms to never, ever get the vaccine in the hospital. Always delay the vaccine schedule. I would wait to start the immunizations for at least 6 months, if not to a year. Also, give only 1 shot at a time. Never multiple and never when the child is sick or has recently been on antibiotics. If this is followed, the body is so much better equipped to fight off the disease you are injecting into their body. They will still have all the shots completed before they enter kindergarten. I am certainly not alone in my thinking. Most autism groups and naturopathic Dr.s will advocate the same thing. You, as parents need to be in charge, not the pediatrician. I do not believe that vaccines alone cause the problems of autism, however, I believe that it is the first culprit in what contributes to the deterioration of an otherwise normal, healthy little child. That is the true tragedy, it can be prevented.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oh What Do You Do In The Summer time.......

I don't know about you, but summer is going by too fast. I always have visions of the days spent in a pool, going on excursions to museums, parks and new sites, checking out library books and just plain slowing it down. Instead, I live in the car driving one or the other or all of them to every location in the valley. I emptied one tank of gas in two days! I didn't even sign my little ones up for much and somehow I still can't stay home. I am sure you know what I mean. Life is just too fast anymore. So, in my attempt to claim my summer...I am asking you all to share. What are some of your most fun summer activities; what do you like to do with your little summer time ninos at home, on vacations, on adventures? Any and all ideas are welcome; freebies, cheap ideas, expensive ideas. Then, we need to all take some of these ideas and make them happen. Find the time so that our children will have memories of what summer should be, not the summers where mom is exhausted, where all they do is get shuttled to classes and everyone is grumpy. Let us claim our summers because I can promise, it won't just happen. We need to demand that WE get time with our families, the kind of time that we always thought we would have when we first started having children. They will be off to college before we know it and they will be wondering where all their summers went. Start the comments. Let's take charge!

Monday, June 2, 2008

An afternoon with the little chefs.....

Today was the first little future homemakers cooking class and I had a great time! I hope the girls had as good of a time as I did and went home and made their pizza's for their family. I was really impressed how well they did and how well they listened. They were all so sweet and fun to be with! Our little girls are capable of so much more than we let them do in the kitchen. I am learning this with experience with my daughter. Once they learn how to read a recipe and learn some safety tips, they can make about anything. That is my goal with these classes and more importantly that they learn that cooking is fun! This is what all new brides to know. What a great thing to bring to a marriage! Thanks for letting me hang out with your girls! Here are a few of our pictures from our Pizza making day. Our only problem is that we needed more time, we didn't get the manners portion in; I don't think the girls minded much! The recipe for the dough is below that I stole from my pizza making brother, Kevin. Thanks.

Pizza Dough

4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 tsp yeast in 1/4 cup warm water

1 T. Olive oil

Mix yeast in measuring cup with 1/4 cups warm water. Let yeast get foamy. Put 3 cups of flour in bowl with salt. Mix and stir in 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil and yeast mixture. Mix with spoon until sticky. Add more flour until the dough is only slightly sticky. Let rest for 8 minutes. Knead again until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise for 4 hours. Bake on pizza pan on 425 until lightly golden or cook on grill.

The girls favorite was the BBQ chicken pizza. We just put BBQ sauce on the dough, grated Colby Jack and shredded chicken. It is also great with onions and cilantro.

I am thinking about having a weekly class in the fall for ages 7-12. I am not sure if my schedule will permit but let me know if any of you are interested. I loved teaching this class!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Little Miss Homemaker cooking classes....

For those of you who signed up for my childrens class tomorrow, feel free to bring an apron if you wish. I have a few for those who don't have one or who didn't get my memo. The theme tomorrow will be "Pizza Party'. We will be making our own dough and learning how to proof the yeast and what texture you want. We will also be learning proper chopping technics making our Lime Ginger Tropical fruit salad. The girls will come home with some dough for pizza at home. They will be eating pizza during the class so send them hungry.

Then next class will be a Breakfast class making 3 types of gourmet pancakes and toppings so next Mother's Day you will get a real treat!

The third class still has a couple openings for July 7th. Please let me know if you are interested. The ages are 8-12. We will be doing party foods that day. All classes will focus on table manners as well. I am looking forward to playing with your daughters!

Classes are $15 and are payable on the class day. If you need to cancel a class, please let me know asap so I can open a spot.


A Real Peachy Dinner.....

Saturday was my day dedicated to getting the rest of the peaches off my tree and processed. I have frozen 18 bags of peach filling and still have plenty to go. So, tonight I decided we would be having a "peach theme" for dinner to use up a few more. I googled "Peach Recipes" for the main course and have to say that it was super delicious. It was a Grilled Chicken with a Chipotle Peach Glaze, Garlic Mashed potatoes, Roasted Veggies and Peach Cobbler. After fasting all day, this couldn't have been a better meal. It was very fast and I can't wait to use the glaze in other recipes. It reminded me of a similar dish from Tia Rosas that I have often reminisced about. Try this out. You can make it as spicy as you want. My whole gang loved it and the cobbler is so fresh and tasty. I don't use whole wheat on this, it is not meant to be a health food. You have to go a little crazy now and then! Here you go, wish I had pictures, it looked as good as it tasted.

Grilled Chicken with Chipotle-Peach Glaze
1/2 cup peach preserves (I used homemade peach jam)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped (not the whole can, just 1 and you can freeze the rest of the chile's for later)
1 tsp adobo sauce from can of chilies
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
8 chicken breasts or 12-14 tenders (I prefer tenders)
garlic powder
In small sauce pan, mix preserves, lime juice, chile and heat over low heat until jam melts, stirring occasionally. Stir in chopped cilantro and set aside. Sprinkle chicken with garlic, salt, pepper and cumin and rub in. Grill chicken and baste with glaze the last few minutes. Save some glaze for the chicken when served. I served the chicken over the garlic mashed potatoes. I left the potatoes chunky, laid tenders over them and drizzled more sauce over that.

Fresh Peach Cobbler
1 1/2 cups fresh peaches, thinly sliced
1 C. Sugar, divided
1/4 C Water
1 egg
1 T. shortening
1 T. milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
Preheat oven to 375. Combine peaches, 1/2 cup sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. keep peaches hot. With a fork, combine egg, 1/2 cup sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add milk. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Spread batter in prepared 11X7 baking dish. This will be thin. If you want to use a 9X13 size, increase this recipe by another 1/2. Pour peach mixture over top. This will be runny. Bake for 25-30 minutes. You can serve with ice cream or whipped cream but I like it plain.