hamming it up

I don’t know what I’m doing here anymore. I pretty much just do bullet posts and photo posts and I’m boring myself. I can’t even imagine how bored you must be. Anyway! Today is Friday so that means bullets. You’re so welcome.

I’m curious, what do you do for Christmas dinner? Do you go all out like Thanksgiving or do you go the simple route with take-out? We have lasagna because it’s one of the few meals Damon likes to make so I get to do absolutely nothing!

kid-friendly pasta salad

You guys, I just discovered I haven’t posted a recipe here since 2010. You know why? Not because I don’t cook every single freaking day. Because, ugh, I really do. No, it’s because I mostly cook really boring things, like brown rice. And soup. Soup and rice don’t photograph particularly well!

When I do make something that’s actually pretty I always forget to photograph the ingredients, the process, and sometimes even the finished product. We eat it and then I think, “crap, I should have taken a picture!” I would make a terrible food blogger.

Anyway! We all know that since school has started again we all have potlucks looming. I made a pasta salad this weekend that is perfect for a potluck or picnic because it doesn’t have mayonnaise in it. My kid doesn’t like mayo! It’s like I don’t even know who he is. Of course, I’m not really eating mayo these days either – I love it, but it doesn’t particularly like me. So! This is my new go to salad.

I’ve made this a lot recently, and it’s just perfect; easy, light, and kid-friendly.

Mix it all up and finish seasoning to taste. You might need a little more olive oil or vinegar. I don’t measure mine so I guessed at the amount!

We love this salad exactly like this but you can use the recipe as just a base for the raw veggies your family likes – onions, chives, olives, shredded carrots, diced cucumber, celery (gag) or whatever.

If you want to make it a complete one dish meal add in some cold diced chicken and hard boiled eggs. I’ve also made a similar one using cold pesto as the dressing instead of the olive oil vinegar and seasonings. So good!

and then there was cake

Josh’s party was completely awesome. We had gorgeous weather, and fabulous guests. 🙂 We didn’t run out of goodie bags, but it was darn close! I have never had that many people in my house, but it was so much fun!

I spent all day Friday baking and prepping. All day.

I hope I never have to make a Lego cake again. But it was worth it just this once:

The knobs are half a marshmallow! Pretty stinking cute if I do say so myself!

Then I added the shortbread minifig cookies:

It looked a little like an army – guarding the cake with their lives!!

I had lots of shortbread dough leftover, so I cut rectangles and then added dots to look like Lego bricks.

Damon said they looked like Legos only in a Picasso kind of way, and someone else called them dominos. ~ahem~ I called them delicious. Phhhtttttt.

apple picking

When I was growing up my family had a mini apple orchard in our backyard. I was spoiled with homemade apple crisp and applesauce throughout every fall. I’m not so lucky to have apple trees in my own yard now, or even enough sunlight to support them if I tried, but we do have lots of orchards in our area.

We went apple picking this morning, and it was a perfect day for it, cool, but sunny. When we got there, we decided to go check out one of the fields a little further away, assuming the close by trees would be fairly well picked over. It was a great decision! I’ve never in my life seen such huge gorgeous apples, nor trees so full of them.

Seriously, every single branch looked just like this one.

The woman working there said it was a bumper crop. Not only did the apples love the rainy weather we had in July, but the owners had brought in extra bees to help pollinate and boy did they ever pollinate! (Did you know there’s been a bee shortage in New England for the last few years?)

Btw, they taste as good as they look too. Those apples were truly glorious.

The scent of fresh cinnamon applesauce is permeating everything in my house right now. I bet if you scratch your screen you can sniff it. 😉 I’m definitely making apple crisp later this week. Who’s coming over with the vanilla ice cream?

week 4 challenge

Water. Water. Everywhere. And I drank it all.

I did the Diet Challenge at Hot by BlogHer this week – to up my water consumption and limit non-water drinks to only 2 per day.

We all know the best thing you can do when you’re trying to lose weight is to drink lots and lots of water. And I did that at the beginning but I’d been slacking lately. This challenge was great because it reminded me that I need to keep doing this – every single day. Forever!

I’d gotten into a habit of drinking flavored waters (the 0 calorie packets that you add to a water bottle) instead of plain water and I think I’m getting too much splenda in my diet. I don’t really like using a lot of artificial stuff but I was starting to rely on it to get something sweet. I definitely cut back on flavored waters – only 1 per day this week. My other non-water drink was one cup of coffee each morning.

I certainly didn’t suffer by limiting non-water drinks so I am going to keep going with it. Thanks for a great challenge Christina. I needed the reminder!


On a side note, I’ve decided I’m going to experiment going wheat free for awhile. Although I don’t have Celiac or a wheat allergy, I do think it’s possible I have an intolerance or low-tolerance for it digestively.

That said, I’m not going to start this week. I’d like to get past my birthday next week first – dang if I’m not going to have cake on my own birthday. But I am going to start cutting back significantly while I research the best way to go about totally eliminating wheat. I don’t eat a lot of bread now, however, I do like tortillas and pastas. I’m going to pick up some brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta but I need to find some kind of substitute for wraps.

Any wheat-free suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. I know there is wheat in lots of unexpected foods so I’m going to do some more careful label reading, again.

How are you all doing?

eerily alike

I had such a great weekend! Josh got to play with his cousins like crazy and I had a chance to visit and catch up with two of my oldest friends. There is nothing like talking to people who’ve known you forever. It’s always like no time has passed since you were together last.

Funniest part of the weekend: both of my good friends have chickens (this is in Maine people – it’s like normal to have chickens roaming your yard there!) and neither are people I would have expected when we were growing up to ever own chickens and yet they do and both of them gave me fresh eggs! God I love these women. (Growing up they were as opposite as can be – little do they realize how much they now have in common!)

Wouldn’t it be great to have fresh eggs everyday?! I told DH I want CHICKENS!!! aaaand he nipped that idea right in the bud. (I don’t think I would ever actually get any eggs out of it anyway because of George the Mighty Hunter who can kill a bird even with a bell on his collar.) DH may have told me it was white trash to have chickens in the suburbs but he was mostly kidding. (Meaning where WE live of course, NOT where they live!) You don’t think my neighbors would mind a hen wandering over for a visit do you?

Anyway, I made the best crustless quiche ever with some of those eggs, maybe I’ll give you the recipe, maybe I’ll just keep it my little secret! It was so good I may have eaten three quarters of it by myself on Saturday. Just. Maybe. But crustless means fewer calories right?

So here is a photo of me and one of my friends, who came to visit me at my parent’s house. When she comments here she calls herself Cluckers. After her favorite chicken. For real. She pets her chickens like cats. They really are very very soft!

If I wasn’t wearing my glasses and had pulled my hair back (and you haven’t also known me forever) you probably wouldn’t know which one was me. (Hint: I’m always the one wearing black.) Seriously, I look more like her than I do my actual sisters. We’ve been freaking people out for a good 20 years.

I love you girls. And you’ll both always look sixteen in my head. I just can’t help it. xoxo

simple egg drop soup

Some days I crave Chinese food in the worst way, especially the soups. Oh, how do I love hot and sour soup and egg drop soup. This is one of those days!

Instead of ordering out I make a simple, quick, and low calorie egg drop soup that is just as satisfying, and better for me, than the restaurant version.

Simple Egg Drop Soup

One cup of water.

One bouillon cube (Preferably low sodium because holy cow do you know one regular bouillon cube is almost half of your daily sodium allowance??!)

1/2 cup to 1 cup fresh bite size spinach – I use baby spinach so I can throw in the stems and all and I don’t have to tear it up.

1 large egg

Microwave the water and bouillon in a large mug 1-2 minutes until it’s boiling and bouillon has dissolved.

Beat one egg with a fork in a separate bowl.

Slowly slide the egg into the water (or equivalent broth) and stir gently. Add in the spinach.

The hot water will cook the egg and wilt the spinach perfectly!

Now enjoy your 84 calorie lunch!

By the way, you can replace the spinach with anything you prefer: diced scallions, julienned Chinese peapods, bean sprouts, cooked carrots, water chestnuts, kale, etc. I just happen to like spinach in my soups and generally have it on hand.

boring stuff

My first PT was good today, but of course my back didn’t spasm at all while I was there so she didn’t get to see it. Typical. She does think I bruised at least one rib as well as the muscle strain. There’s only one good stretching exercise for this but she did use the ultrasound on the area and it felt good at least for a little while. I’ll be going back twice a week for the next 4 weeks. Oh, what fun.

I am going out this evening for my second of four nutrition classes. I found the first one pretty interesting and I’m looking forward to this one – on cooking green vegetables to make them more palatable – I hope that’s true! She’s supposed to bring a bunch of recipes, we’ll just see if any are good enough to share!

By the way – have any of you been reading mothergoosemouse’s series Cheap calories and couch potatoes? All four posts so far have been very good. It’s just the sort of thing that’s been on my mind lately.

To help me with my goals I’ve been using a site that converts any recipe into calories. Since I make so much of my food from scratch it’s often hard to count calories. This makes it so much easier! I’m sure there’s a bunch of them out there but this one is the easiest that I’ve found so far.

Sorry to bore you with all of this! I’m boring myself silly. Hopefully my life will get interesting again soon. 😉


Let’s take a poll, sort of. I would do a real poll but I seem to be technologically challenged in that area. Meaning – I need to install the polldaddy plugin and sadly my husband has neither done it for me, nor taught me how. ahem.

Anyway, I’d like to know how many of you pay attention to high fructose corn syrup in the foods you buy?

Do you avoid it at all costs?

Do you allow some but not a lot?

Do you forget to check on the label and only discover it after you get home? (or is that just me??)

Do you not believe that it’s any worse than any other sugar so you don’t worry about it?

Has the recent news about possible mercury contamination in HFCS made any difference in your thinking?

soup obsessed

I think I spent the whole day in the kitchen today. I bought some great pork ribs cheap yesterday along with a 4 lb chicken for 3 bucks!

I had the ribs in the oven by 9 this morning (3 hours on 250 =  perfect ribs no matter what sauce you like on them) so we had our “big” meal of the day for lunch. I like to do that as much as possible, although it’s hard to do on weekdays. I just think we all feel better if we have our smaller meal at night.

I also roasted the chicken to make soup with. I used my new Pampered Chef dish that my friend Nicole gave me for Christmas – I seriously love it. An hour and a quarter on 400, (covered) and the chicken comes out gorgeous.

We’ve been on a soup kick around here lately. Partly because it’s been so cold and snowy (another 7 inches last night!!) that it’s nice to have a soup cooking all the time, and partly because we’re (always) trying to eat healthier. We seem to eat a lot more veggies, and much less meat when we have soup. I’ve been skipping the pastas more now and going for brown rice, barley, black beans, and quinoa in our soups. It’s a good way to get more whole grains and fiber in our diet without really noticing it.

I have a hard time digesting whole grains when they aren’t cooked well so I can’t really have most of the whole grain breads on the market. If you can see the seeds I can’t eat it. Same goes for pasta. The whole grain versions are really hard on me. The only one I can eat is Ronzoni’s Smart Taste, which is basically a white pasta with added fiber (6 grams per serving). I just wish they would make a frozen ravioli or tortellini out of it! We love cheese filled pastas but they are all seem to be made out of white flour so we don’t have them very often.

I find myself obsessively reading ingredient labels for fiber, protein and sugar content lately and I’ve noticed some interesting things. Since we cut white rice out of our diet I just bought whatever brown rice was on the shelf. Last weekend I had three different brown rice brands to choose from. A well-known brand that was the highest price, a never-heard-of-before brand that was the lowest price, and an organic brand that was mid range.

Automatically I chose that lowest price, because, of course, rice is rice is rice. Right? Wrong. The no-name was only 1 gram of fiber per serving. I just happened to glance at it and that really surprised me – I thought it would be more! So I looked at the top name brand – same serving size but it was 2 grams of fiber. Huh? Okay, so what was the organic? 3 grams! Weird isn’t it? I suppose that means the organic is less processed so more of the rice germ remains?

Apparently I need to learn more about buying organic, and I need to pay even more attention than I am. If that’s really possible.

Btw, I bought barley on the same trip and wouldn’t you know, it has 5 grams per serving! It’s slightly more expensive than rice but I guess it’s worth it.

Bored yet? I know I’m analyzing my food way too much. Hopefully I’m not the only one!

Anyway, I have my rice, barley, and veggies cooking right now, just waiting for me to throw in the chicken. That means I have to go tear apart that darn carcass. That’s the only bad thing about making soup!

So what are you having for dinner?

ps. Got a good soup recipe for me? Make sure you leave me a link in comments, I’m always looking for new soup recipes to try out. (As long as it’s not beef!)

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