I made my sweet Basil some homemade doggy treats. We picked up a mix at the King Arthur baking company when we were in Vermont last month. This is a doggy biscuit mix and it came with a cute little doggy bone cookie cutter. Check out King Arthur baking company for this mix you can order online. Kingarthurbaking
The B loved her Biscuits
The B loved her biscuits, she even came in the kitchen to help out as sous chef. These are vegetarian biscuits and very easy to make. According to the package no artificial colors or flavors and non GMO. This package made so many cookies that I froze most of them and they did beautifully. When I am ready to set some out for the week I just pull them out of the freezer and set them on the counter and the are thawed in a few hours. Before anyone has a fit about the possibility that this sweet baby is over fed, she gets small bites of the cookies. She does not eat a whole cookie at one time, it usually takes about a week to eat a whole cookie.
Have you ever heard the term GWL?
Have you ever heard the term GWL? GWL stands for gifted word learner. Yes, Basil is a GWL, she knows many words and phrases of the English language. Cookie is by far her favorite word of the English language along with chicken, daddy, and let’s go out. She also knows that if I shout an expletive in the kitchen food is on the floor and she better hurry or it will be cleaned up. Basil also recognizes when the music on TV gets intense and she looks to see what is happening, prepared to defend us from what might be coming.
The hubbs has already started our garden and we have spinach and asparagus galore. I am loving the asparagus, he is of course being a little stingy with it so I do not cut it all. My favorite way to fix asparagus is to sautéed it in olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar with fresh garlic and onion.
Spinach is very versatile. . .
Spinach is very versatile, I use it in salads, sautéed as a side, and I even add it to my smoothies in the morning. Yes, I add fresh and even some spinach that I froze to my smoothies in the morning. Spinach freezes beautifully and it is easy to add to smoothies this way. To freeze your fresh spinach; wash and spin it dry and then put it in a freezer safe baggie and pop in your freezer. My favorite spinach smoothie is: frozen or fresh pineapple, cherries, coconut water, fresh ginger, spinach, coconut flakes (unsweet), and protein powder. Blend well and enjoy.
Hubby Likes to Cook. . .
My hubby likes to cook as well as garden. Usually he sticks to the grill but sometimes he likes to get out the crockpot. He made an amazing roast the other day with dry ranch seasoning and dill pickles. I love pickles so this sounded great to me. We added some pickled jalapenos too for a little more zing. This cooked for about 6 hours on low and was delish. This roast is so tender it just falls off the fork.
Driving fourteen hours in one day is not easy. It would most definitely be bad if you did not like the person you were trapped in the car with. Luckily I was trapped, I mean ridding with my hubby. He drives all the time for work so, he is a pretty good driver and does not tire of it quickly. I did pitch in for the last little bit of the drive home.
The Verve. . .
The Verve was the name of the hotel we stayed in this time. It was 80’s themed and it had some very cool 80’s memorabilia scattered throughout the hotel. There were old arcade games, an old phone booth, motorcycle, art, and 80’s music playing over the PA system in the hotel. There were a set of TV’s mounted to the wall playing 80’s commercials, these were hilarious. The Flintstones advertising Winston cigarettes, if you can believe that.
Riding the T/ subway system in Boston is easy. . .
The hubbs and I rode the T into Boston one day while the boys were in class. Parking was easy but trying to buy that Charlie pass was a bear, especially if you do not know what your are doing. We were grateful to a very kind young man that helped us out. We were the country bumpkins come to the big city. Very proud of both the boys for mastering this mode of transportation, I am pretty sure I would not have been able to do it at their age. Once downtown Boston there was much to see. The architecture of the old buildings were beautiful. We walked down to the Aquarium and checked out the harbor.
Now on to lacrosse. . .
We got to see two good games of lacrosse. They lost the first one but it was still a good game and they won the second game in high fashion. It was great watching this young team come together. I have high hopes that Big T will be off the injured list soon and hopefully get in the game. There are a few on the injured list and I hope they will be back and game ready soon also.
Wrap up. . .
We had a wonderful time getting to meet the boys’ friends, teammates, and families. So thankful for the local parents taking care of the team. Heading back up for two more games and we hope to see Big T on that field. It would be fabulous to see brother D poles on that field.
Homemade meatballs, I am not talking about those tiny little ping pong balls you get in the freezer section of your grocery store. I am talking about lacrosse ball size meatballs. Homemade sauce with these great big beauties that I mix and roll by hand. To make your sandwich you have to cut these gorgeous things in half to put them on the bread.
How about some sauce for those meatballs. .
Only homemade tomato sauce will do for these beautiful gems. I love when our garden over produces tomatoes, because I can make sauce and freeze it for later. This past season we had an abundance of tomatoes and peppers and the hubbs decided to roast them and blend them for sauce. Great idea and very tasty. Saute some fresh garlic, very important to use fresh garlic, it has much more flavor than the powdered stuff. The essential oils are very beneficial too. I saute in olive oil and a little white wine, once your garlic is smelling your house up add your sauce. If you do not have homemade sauce add a couple cans of your favorite brand of sauce, it does not hurt to add some tomato paste too.
I like to season my sauce with: cumin, thyme, oregano, cilantro, onion powder, dry mustard, and a little rosemary. If you need a little liquid you can add: water, vegetable broth or beef broth. I used vegetable broth for my most recent batch and they were wonderful. Let this simmer for a bit while you mix up your seasoning for the meatballs.
The Balls. . .
I used 2 lbs ground beef, I like to use a more lean beef. 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 egg beaten, splash of milk, 2 tbs parsley, 2 tsp garlic powder (yes I use powder in the meat), 2 tsp onion powder and mix well by hand. Form into Lacrosse/ tennis ball size meatballs.
The cook. . . Slowly on the Traegar. . .
Heat your Traegar up to 150 degrees once heated place your pan ( I use an aluminum foil pan) on your grill uncovered for an hour. I do baste a little bit of sauce so the balls do not dry out. By leaving them uncovered you allow the smoke flavor to really permeate the meat. After the initial hour of cooking I pour my sauce over the meat balls and cover my pan with foil. Turn up your heat on the grill to 225 and cook for 6-8 hours.
How Do you Serve your Meatballs?
I like to serve my meatballs on french bread toasted. I put my oven on broil and toast my bread for a bit to dry it out. Once the bread is starting to get some color I pull it out of the oven and rub the bread with a piece of peeled garlic. This is better than garlic butter. Place a piece of your favorite cheese on your bread. The hubbs likes swiss and I like fresh mozzarella. Cut your meatball in half and place them on top of your cheese then pop your sandwich open faced back in the oven on broil for a bit longer. This last bit in the oven is to finish the browning of your bread and to melt your cheese.
What we put into our bodies has everything to do with our health. I have been on this good health journey for several years. Trying different foods and adding supplements here and there. I was telling my husband one day about the Mediterranean people and what they eat and how they are so much more healthy because of what they eat. This is how the Mediterranean diet came in to fashion, it is not a “diet” like weight watchers but is a healthy way of eating a lifestyle. His response was; “they also walk and ride bikes everywhere they go, they are more active than people in the US.” This is very true, you have to not only change your eating but increase your activity in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s talk inflammation. . .
Inflammation is the body’s way of fighting off infection and healing injuries, this is good inflammation. There is inflammation that happens without infection and injury and that is not good. This is the kind of inflammation that contributes to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even Alzheimer’s. This inflammation is the one I am fighting every day through diet and exercise.
My Health Scare. . .
I had a little bit of a scare several years ago when my vision suddenly went “wonky” and I went to the doctor because they thought I was having a stroke or something. Very thankful and fortunate that was not the case but my blood work came back showing inflammation. I had noticed some joint swelling, tightness and soreness in the months prior to my little scare so I decided to do my research into how to eat and exercise my way out of this pickle.
I love to eat. . .
Let’s face it we all love to eat, I am no different. I also enjoy cooking and trying new recipes so I have been reading a lot on the Mediterranean and anti-inflammatory diets. My protein smoothie is my go to breakfast and in my research I found that pineapple and cherries are top anti-inflammatory fruits. This is where I began making my smoothie with frozen fruit instead of juice. The most fabulous protein smoothie recipe: frozen pineapple, cherries, blueberries, fresh ginger, coconut water, shredded coconut (unsweet), and my vegetarian protein powder and blend. When our garden is in season I add fresh beets to my smoothie. I can tell a difference in my joints when I do not have my pineapple smoothie. Since I have been following this diet and adding exercise I have not had another episode with my vision.
I had much rather eat good food and take vitamins than take medicine. Growing up we did not eat out hardly at all and we rarely ate fried food. Mom always had a garden and we ate what she grew. I firmly believe that is the key to health and longevity. All of the anti-inflammatory diet information I have read is basically eat like your grandparents. Fast food is the devil!
Recipe. . .
This is a new recipe I tried, Sweet Potato frittata, I found this in; The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners by Dorothy Calimeris and Lullu Cook. I have changed the recipe around a little.
large sweet potato peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1T extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion chopped
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
8 large eggs beaten
pre heat oven 375 and recipe says use cast iron skillet I used a stone baking dish and brushed with oil added sweet potatoes and onion and drizzled olive oil and baked. Recipe says bake 10-15 mins mine actually took about 40 mins in the oven before my potatoes were fork tender. Add your thyme and top with your beaten eggs and cook for about 15 minutes. Eggs should be firm with a slight jiggle. Let cool 5 mins then serve.
Stay tuned for more Mediterranean and anti-inflammatory recipes. . .
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I do not, I resolve to be better than I was last year. Excited to say I have lost 20 lbs since I started my taking care of me routine last year. There is still a lot to work on but I have added some new routines to my day that I think are good. Want to share some recipes and some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.
Recipes I enjoy. . .
Here recipes is a recipe I have enjoyed these last few months. Should preface this part by saying I am not vegetarian or vegan but I do prefer the vegetarian recipes. I found this one by accident one day when I wanted a taco type meal but I had no ground beef. This is vegetarian quinoa tacos: 1 cup quinoa cooked, 1 can black beans rinsed and drained, 1 can corn rinsed and drain, onion chopped, 3 cloves garlic pressed, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp cilantro, and small can tomato paste. Sauté garlic and onion in a little white wine and olive oil. Once smelling the garlic and onion is clear add corn and black beans and stir. Add tomato paste and add 2 cups water or beef broth and stir then add your cooked quinoa. Toss in your other seasonings be sure to rub your Cilantro between your fingers to release the essential oils before tossing. This can simmer over med low heat for about 25 mins and you are ready for some veggie tacos.
How are you exercising in the cold?
The hubbs bought me a stationary bike a year or so ago after my foot started hurting and I put my walking on hold. The bike has come in handy for my exercise these last couple of months. It is hard to go out and walk in 30 degree weather I did, however, walk in 44 degree weather. Adding the bike meant adding some weight training too. Years and years ago I used to lift weights and I have recently started back slowly. Seeing a definite benefit from the added weight lifting. Starting yoga also has been a big benefit, I am getting back my flexibility. There are so many apps and youtube videos of routines you can try. The challenge is to find your groove, I am working now to find my groove.
It is not all about exercise. . .
It is not all about what you do but about what you eat and vitamins you take. I am a huge advocate for vitamins, mom used to sell vitamins when I was little and she and dad always took vitamins. Mom turned 90 last year and Dad will be 90 this year. Mom does not take any medication for anything, Dad has one prescription. They have always taken vitamins and worked out. There is no better reason or basis for advocating exercise, vitamins, and eating healthy.
Do you take time to take care of you? Are you getting enough sleep and eating a well balanced diet? I know that sounds like some kind of health guru or Public Service announcement. Those are big questions that need to be answered when thinking about your health. Moms all around the world just answered those questions with; I do not have time to take care of myself I am taking care of everyone else. Said those very words myself too many times to count. You must take care of yourself or there will not be a “you” to take care of everyone else.
Suggestions for taking time for you. . .
Start walking, get up a little earlier and go for a walk before the rest of your house gets up and moving. I started this way and it really did help me both mentally and physically. Now, I am no Jillian Michaels or Denise Austin but I do know what I did to help myself. It is very hard some days to find that motivation to get up early when you know you have not slept or that you will get no rest during the day. Always remember how good you felt the last time you walked or exercised and remember those benefits when trying to find that motivation. Some days you may just need to take a long relaxing bath, I highly recommend this one. Try a milk bath, it makes the best bubbles and is all natural no chemical additives. Use 1/2 cup powdered whole milk, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup Epsom salt and add your favorite essential oils (lavender, rosemary, patchouli. . .) and soak for thirty minutes. This will make your skin so very soft and it is very relaxing.
Please remember that taking care of your self is not being selfish, self care is very important for those around you too. Mom’s take on the weight of the world whether it is in your family life or even your work life. The instinct of nurturing and helping is very strong and we want to help everyone. We must remember that we cannot help everyone and that we should not try to help at the detriment of ourselves. That is a hard one to swallow and definitely out of character of most.
My reason for changing and being selfish
One of my best friends through high school and college died suddenly of massive cardiac arrest. It has been a year this month that she went on to live with our heavenly father, I am still in disbelief that she is gone. I wish I had made that extra trip to see her and my other best friend from high school one last time instead of putting it off. Do not put off taking care of yourself, you should be your top priority. Last year I took stock of myself and decided, I am going to take better care of me. I want to see my boys graduate college and maybe get married one day and have children. In order for me to be there to see those great things I have to be in better health. My hubby will be retiring sometime in the next few years and I want to travel with him and see the world.
Stay tuned as I make changes to meet my goals, I will share recipes that are yummy and good for you. I do not eat anything that does not taste good, I am just trying to find the balance in taste and good for me. There will be updates on the boys too. Those 0600 practices have started and they are looking forward to a full lacrosse season.
New found time to focus on me, with the boys temporarily out of the house. The work schedule is still a little crazy but I am able to fit in some exercise and eating better. This empty nesting is kinda nice but, do not tell Sprat and Big T. Would not want to hurt their feelings. Do not get me wrong, I do miss those two goofballs every day. We text or talk by phone a couple times a week so I can stay up to date on things College.
Loving my exercise routine. . .
Loving my new exercise routine. On days I do not work I start out at the park at 0600 walking 3 miles. I started this before the pandemic but, decided to get serious about it after the lock down. Work became mentally exhausting and my early morning walks were my saving grace. I looked forward to the brisk mornings all by myself and the beautiful park. After my walk I do some Yoga to stretch and keep everything flexible, recently I have added some weight lifting. We have the equipment so why not put it to good use for me. Days that the sunrise is just breath taking, I take pictures to remember.
Working on my diet too. . .
I am working on my diet while the boys are out of the house too. Sprat inspired this change, he has really been watching his diet over the last year and I decided I would too. After my walks I fix a fabulous smoothie; pineapple, cherries, coconut water, coconut flakes (unsweetened), fresh ginger, beets if I have any from the garden, and Vega protein powder. This is the best smoothie ever, no added sugar and all natural. I use fresh pineapple when I can find a good one and I add blue berries some days. The smoothie is breakfast, I eat small meals when I get hungry which is usually every three hours or so, I try not to eat after six in the evening. Cutting out sugary soda was a big effort and I am very proud to say I did it! Along with sugary soda went the daily caffeine, I do drink diet ginger ale and I will have a Dr Pepper every now and then but not like I was drinking them before the pandemic/lock down. The only other time I have gone without sodas (sugary caffeinated) was when I was pregnant with the boys. Something about being pregnant changed my taste buds and I could not drink soda at all.
A few recipes. . .
The hubbs has really out done himself with the garden this year. He managed to grow beets which I use in my smoothies, edamame that I eat by the handfuls, and a number of other tasty treats. He and I could eat out of the garden and only go to the grocery store for things like cheese and yogurt. We had zucchini coming out of our ears so I froze a good bit of it to use later and I froze multiple loaves of zucchini bread and casseroles too. One of my favorite salads is couscous, black bean, fresh mozzarella, chick peas, onion and balsamic vinegar. Made an edamame salad the other day that was really good. 1 1/2 cups edamame cooked, 1 can corn rinsed, 1 can black beans rinsed, small onion chopped, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chipolte, 1 tsp ancho chili, juice of 1 lime and toss. Served this cold as meal for me could use as a side dish.
Trying to stay positive in all the drama. We planted the cut flower bed a few weeks ago and now it is so hot and dry that my flowers just look pitiful. My hope is that later everything will be established and be able to weather the Sahara of Arcadia. It could be pouring rain all over the County and in our neighborhood it will dry as the desert. Hence my comment on the Sahara.
Updates on everything. . .
Updates on everything: the hubbs and I are still working from home, the garden is feeding us very well, and the boys are doing their thing too. I am so proud of myself, I have made and frozen three pots of cabbage enchilada soup and two loaves of chocolate chip zucchini bread and a pot of potato soup and I do not want to forget the mountain stew. Last night I made a lemon zucchini pasta that was to die for. I will share that recipe later in the post. If it were just the hubbs and I we could live out of our garden, sadly the boys want meat and I cannot grow that in our garden. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan or anything like that I just do not have to eat meat. In fact, I prefer not to eat meat just because I do not like the texture.
I am dazzled. . .
I am dazzled by my hubby’s green thumb. Our garden is going like gangbusters this year and I know it is because we are blessed. Our peas did not do as well as we expected but I did enjoy those fresh little pearls of sweetness. I have high hopes for cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon this season. Our cucumbers and zucchini are just starting to mature. My goal, is a full freezer by Winter.
Recipe for lemon Zucchini pasta:
2 medium Zucchini thinly sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic pressed
2 peppers sliced (jalapeno, banana, green, red what ever you like)
fresh basil leaves
fresh oregano leaves
fresh lemon thyme
1 lemon juiced
whole wheat pasta
Saute onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil then add Zucchini and a splash of white wine. While that is cooking, cook your pasta. I like the whole wheat angel hair pasta personally. After your Zucchini is soft add your fresh herb leaves and your lemon juice and cover and let simmer, if it seems dry add a little more white wine. Once your pasta is done top with your Zucchini mixture and a little fresh Parmesan.
Stay tuned I will share my enchilada cabbage soup recipe next time.
I love trying new recipes, they do not always work out they way they should but I always learn a lesson. The other day I learned coconut oil does not always fry up the way you want. I love falafel but I have never made it and wanted to try my hand at making it. I found a good recipe on Pinterest https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/the-best-falafel/
My Mistake. . .
My mistakes usually start with leaving parts of the recipe out. This was no different, I used can chick peas instead of dry and I did not add near enough fresh herbs(I used dry herbs) or flour. The flour was really my biggest problem. I had everything mixed up, my balls formed and oil heated to 350. I dropped 3 balls in the oil and with in seconds they disintegrated. The oil bubbled up and almost out of my pan and I almost set the house on fire. I tried to bake my falafel in the oven and they also flattened out and some fell completely apart.
Looking Back. . .
Looking back, I should have added all of the flour but I thought it had enough. The flour was the real problem and the coconut oil. The ones that did well baked were very tasty. You bake at 375 for 30 minutes and flip them half way through. The recipe itself was very good, they had a great taste, I need to work on my baking. I will try these again, I do love falafel!