Tuesday, January 29, 2013


My husband made burgers and fries. I made my popular avocado dip. We've eaten out often lately and while I've intended to make a variety of things, not much has happened.

Saturday night my husband took me to CJT where I had general tso's scallops. Very yummy.

Last night we took the daughter to Pizza Hut where we ate the chocolate breadsticks. Those were, um, interesting. Very greasy and soft but also hot and chocolatey.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ravioli with bacon sauce

My husband had to work late unexpectedly and child has her dance lessons tonight so I whipped up this ravioli (spinach-portabello mushroom-cheese) with bacon sauce and broccoli.

I dropped the ravioli into boiling water, started a big bag of premium broccoli in the steam in bag and started the sauce in a small pot.

The sauce was two tablespoons butter, melted on low, with three strips bacon broken into bits. I added about a teaspoon of garlic pepper and a teaspoon of Italian herb seasoning.

When the ravioli finished, I placed them in a big bowl and poured the bacon sauce on them and stirred to mix. Next I topped with the broccoli and drizzled the broccoli with extra virgin olive oil.

I stirred everything heartily together and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese. I added sliced calamata olives and served.

Delightful. Really delightful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today's salad

- arugula
- spring mix
- Annie's organic cowgirl ranch dressing
- Bulgarian feta
- calamata olives
- dried cherries
- sesame sticks

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roaster chicken

My daughter gutted a roaster chicken for me this morning. I was too squeamish to do it. This chicken was on sale for $5.

We prepared it with a rub of garlic powder, oregano, parsley, paprika, salt and four color pepper and dropped it into the crock pot with about a cup of water.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January fancy dinner

I went to two stores with a plan. First stop, Forks Mediterranean Deli. I wanted medjool dates to make more fruit protein snacks. Child wanted calamata olives.

I left with those, about a pound of Bulgarian feta, 2 packages of homemade zaatar bread, halawa, chocolate halawa, a block of homemade dark chocolate and 53 fluid ounces of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from Lebanon.

Then I stopped at Giant, for bread and something for dinner. Spent $40. Purchased:
- arugula
- spring mix
- personal watermelon
- fresh pineapple
- 4 avocados
- 2 baguettes
- salmon (for 3)
- a roaster chicken
- 3 croissants
- Pirate Booty veggie snack

So we came home at 4:45 and had a snack of zaatar bread, feta and olives.

Dinner became a four course affair.

Salmon with spinach-garlic cheddar sauce and a side salad of spring mix, arugula and carrot ribbons.

Brie and baguette.

Fresh pineapple oat crumble.

Dark chocolate and decaf coffee.

Happy bellies tonight.

Salmon with garlic cheddar spinach sauce

I took some butter, half and half, four color pepper and unsweetened soy milk. I added spinach, cooked slowly until bubbly hot and added about one-quarter pound garlic cheddar from Klein Farm.

Delightful sauce for our salmon filets.

Food so far...

Breakfast was bâtard with butter and local raw honey.

Lunch was a big bowl of Brussel sprouts sautéed in coconut oil with pumpkin seeds, almonds, bacon and cranberries.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Modified lemon poppyseed muffins

I don't even know what to call this crazy batter:

- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, in liquid form
- about 1/2 cup flax meal mixed with warm water
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup local raw honey
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 cup organic white flour
- 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup poppyseeds
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 pinches salt

Scooped into muffin tins.

Baking at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

Very delightful.

We tried them plain and with a smear of local raw honey, both were awesome but the honey overshadowed the lemon flavor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nut butter party

So after dinner we had a nut butter party. I found it odd that we have five different types of nut butters in the house right now:
- crunchy almond butter
- peanut butter
- extra crunchy peanut butter
- mocha cappuccino hazelnut spread
- white chocolate peanut butter

We passed them around with spoons and crackers. It was fun.

School snack

Today's school lunch is Chef Boyardee ravioli, which I'm not thrilled about, but rather than say anything (because my daughter wants to buy), I'm focusing my efforts on balancing the lunch with healthy other meals.

Her school snack is plain raw carrots, raisins, unsalted cashews and a handful of of sesame sticks.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lunch today

Lunch choices at our local public school:
- pork BBQ rib patty on a bun
- peanut butter and jelly
- ham and cheese sub

My daughter asked me to pack her lunch.

- chicken salad (in a dish, she didn't want any wrap or bread product)
- the last fruit-nut ball
- a cup of tropical fruit salad
- home canned pickles and pickled carrots
- an orange
- juice box (100% juice)
- a tiny Hershey bar

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chicken salad on baguette

Today's lunch:

Chicken salad on baguette with organic baby lettuce with sides of watermelon and large curd cottage cheese with home-canned apple butter.

The chicken salad includes...
(In addition to the chicken)
- mayo
- garlic pepper
- one carrot peeled into ribbons
- 1/2 cup blueberries and raspberries
- 1 strip bacon torn into tiny pieces

Friday, January 11, 2013

Make your own salad

Asian flavored salads tonight.

Mine consisted of:
- organic baby leaf lettuce
- unsalted cashews
- dried peas
- sesame sticks
- mandarin oranges
- Archer Farm lemon ginger sesame dressing

Most irritating shopping trip ever

My daughter requested cottage cheese this morning to go with the jar of home-canned apple butter we made from apples that originated in local orchards.

Target does not carry the cottage cheese I like. Few stores do. My favorite is Lite and Lively large curd cottage cheese and I cannot tolerate the small curd stuff.

I had a coupon for free eggs and $3/0ff a $30 purchase at Giant. I brought my daughter to the doctor for her ear check up (where the little dear requested a flu shot!) and then drove her to school late. By that point, I had to go to the bathroom. But, being a mom, I opted to neglect my own needs because the school is half way to Giant. After all, I was buying $30 worth of stuff. The whole trip should take 20 minutes.


My mother-in-law calls as I finish parking the car. Nine minutes later, I head in...

First off, understand that I have a love-hate relationship with grocery stores. I adore them. I relish the possibility inherent in each food I pass, but I hate budgets, crowds and time constraints. My stepmother hates grocery shopping, but she has the luxury of going in, buying whatever she wants to eat or whatever she needs and leaving. She doesn't tally the cost in her head, or compare prices to other stores. She just buys.

One of my dreams in life is to walk into a grocery store, buy whatever I want and walk out (without worrying about how to pay the mortgage).

But today is not that today. Today I have to spend $30, and to do that I must use my Visa. And I can't buy frozen food because the freezer is full.

I start in produce:
- organic carrots, the real kind not baby, 1 pound, 99 cents.
- personal watermelon, $3
- bananas (5) at 59 cents a pound, $1.11

Okay, so that watermelon is probably grown in some third world country, bathed in pesticides and carried to the truck by some starving 15-year-old with no shoes... buy hey, I'm an American with a kid who loves watermelon.

And here's my beef with the bananas. At Target, we sell bananas for 24 cents each. Sometimes they go on sale for 17-19 cents. But 24 cents is normal. And my oh my how the customers, the "guests," complain. Now, the same bananas at Target would have cost 14 cents more. For 5. Yet making them pay by the banana freaks them out...

Next, I head to the natural foods department. All I buy is
- Spinach nuggets, $3.99

Next the bakery. Many items are still warm. They claim they have "crusty bâtards" so briefly I get really excited. I almost wet myself I was so excited, but then again, remember my original statement that I already had to use the restroom? Well, the bâtards were not crusty. The baguettes were almost crusty enough to meet my standards.
- one baguette, $2.29

I walk by a clearance rack of baked goods that includes peanut butter brownies.
-brownies, $2.49

To the dairy... I have almost forgotten why I'm in this store when I remember. I grab my free eggs and notice they don't carry my cottage cheese. I go over every container and find ONE with large curds. Sixteen different levels of non-fat and low-fat but no variety on the curds. Cottage cheese with fruit, cottage cheese in small containers, but only one large curd.
- large curd cottage cheese $2.69

Okay, now the milk. They recently remodeled the store so of course nothing is where I remember it being. I find the milk and quickly discover they keep half and half, cream and creamer separate from the milk. I recently opted to switch from half and half to farm fresh raw milk, figuring it's healthier. But I can't do it. I vacillate between half and half, organic half and half and light cream.
- 2 pints light cream, $1.49 each

But this is not $30. So somehow I end up in the freezer aisle, trying to cut toward the registers, and I notice: spinach artichoke dip. Now it's a cold rainy winter day and I have this baguette in the cart.
- spinarch artichoke dip, two boxes, on sale two for $5

Now I'm still not at $30, so I pick up four two-pound boxes of baking soda.
- two pound boxes of baking soda, four at 89 cents each

And now it's close, but to be sure, I head into the spice row to get a new garlic pepper spice grinder. McCormick grinders are on sale! Two for $4! I get four: two garlic pepper (product of France!), one four color peppercorn, and one italian herb seasoning.
- herb grinders, four at two for $4

I get in this short line, and it turns out to be the cashier who is slower than molasses. I wait.And wait. And wait. FINALLY I get there. I hand her my coupons, my bonus card, and as she scans my card I swipe my visa.

She can't get my card to scan. And I want my bonus buys. This is why I'm so glad Target doesn't have cards. The RedCard gives a discount and allows them to track consumer habits, but it's a form of payment no a before-your-transaction thing. Love it.

Someone has to help her, but it takes her ten minutes to give up. Then she asks for help.

She can't ring up the brownies.

She cancels my credit card.

She forgets my coupons.

I'm ready to pee my pants.

FINALLY,  we get a total $33.10.

And the bagger double bagged my little round watermelon. That struck me as a tad odd.

And for the record, some of their prices were ridiculously high. Target is cheaper. And Giant doesn't carry Noosa.


Ever since I had gestational diabetes 9 years ago, it's changed how I view commercial yogurt.

Most (creamy, good tasting) yogurt has 45 grams of carbohydrates per serving, which is how many servings of carbs I was allowed to have with dinner. OR they are packed full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners.

I made the switch to Stonyfield yogurts, primarily the YoBaby yogurts because I liked the small portions and the real ingredients.

But again, the nutrition and protein in a yogurt never seemed to balance out the sugar and daughter started her ear problems so we ended the regular yogurt.

Now I get most of my yogurt from the farm, but when I broke my teeth my husband started buying me Greek yogurt (specifically Chobani). High in protein and easy for me to eat.

At work the other day, we were in the breakroom with a colleague who works Market (Target's grocery section) and she recommended Noosa, Australian style yogurt supposedly made from Happy Cows with no growth hormones.

These things are incredibly delicious. They taste like dessert. The strawberry rhubarb tastes like cheesecake. The honey reminds me of sweet cottage cheese without the lumps. The mango seems a cross of the two.

They retail at Target for $2.39 for a two-serving container. Each serving has 15 grams of carbs, around 10 grams of protein, at least 10% of a day's calcium even vitamin A.

I'm hooked.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Peaceful morning

I'm drinking my hibiscus tea, hoping for a quiet morning. I had a job interview a few days ago that brews some excitement in the back of my mind. Who doesn't love that hopeful feeling that new adventures await? Regardless of whether any individual opportunity works out, it's always uplifting to talk to new people and learn about the diversity inherent in various communities.

Sorry, 2013 has got me feeling very philosophical. Maybe it's because I'm well-fed. Last week I baptized my Target gift card, my prize from my employer for "winning" the attendance contest. That $250 Target gift card rolled around when our cupboards were bare and our checkbook was empty. Last week I bought a few odds and ends. A bag of cookies for my husband. Lettuce. A BIG jar of unsalted cashews for my daughter and a GIANT bag of frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Oh, and bananas!

I spent about $30 last week and I want to make this gift card last. It just feels so special. So last night I thought I'd grab a few things on my way out again. But I found deals. Keep in mind, we're avoiding dairy. I prefer to limit processed foods to once or twice a week. And Target has some limits on what it carries.

But I got a cart full of groceries for $96. My freezer is full, as is my fridge and most of my pantry.

The take:
- Market Pantry 100% grape juice, no sugar added, 2 bottles at $3.29 each
- Juicy Juice 100% juice no sugar added juice boxes, 2 packs at $2.54 each
- bratwurst, 8 links for $2.69
- organic spring mix, the big square container, $3.99 (for the tortoise and the family)
- a head of cauliflower, $3.04
- Annie's Organic boxed white cheddar and shells, 4 boxes at $1.25 each
- Market pantry spirals and cheese boxed dinner, 2 boxes at 74 cents each
- Campbell's Naturals soups, 2 cans each of Chicken Tuscany, Chicken with Egg Noodle and Italian Wedding, $1.25 each
- four tiny cans of Market Pantry tomato sauce, 34 cents each
- white vinegar, $1.32
- steak, on clearance for $4.45 (normally $7.45)
- Archer Farms Caramel Sea Salt Hot Chocolate, $4.49
- various canned peaches, pineapple, and pears in juice or light syrup, no artificial sweeteners (for child and tortoise) ranging from 79 cents a can to $1.37 (eight cans)
- Dole Fruit cups, two individual serving multi-packs of mandarin oranges and one tropical fruit in juice, $1.99 each, plus an additional $1 off manufacturer's coupon
- 4 large cans of tuna in water, $2.34 each
- 3 steam in bags of Birds Eye premium broccoli cuts, $4.98 for all three
- 4 bags of steam-in-bag spiced sweet potatoes, 98 cents each
- frozen chopped spinach, 3 bags on clearance for 81 cents each
-frozen brussel sprouts, $1.67
- frozen snap peas, $1.57
- Buitoni ravioli, roasted tomato and another bag of spinach mushroom. They were both on clearance for $2.98 but now I see one rang up for the full price of $4.18.
- Old Orchard frozen 100% juice concentrate, one apple raspberry and two apples, $1.17 each
- Noosa strawberry rhubarb yogurt, $2.39
- Morningstar products: one box sausage, one box vegetable patty, one box chik patties, and one box spicy black bean burger, $3 each

subtotal: $107.21
minus team member discount -10.87
new total: 96.34

Hot breakfast

We took some coconut flour corn muffins from earlier this week out of the freezer. We served them with homemade apple butter, vegetarian sausage and sweet potatoes.

A lot of color to start today!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lasagne soup

The title is a joke.

I made lasagne in a bread loaf pan because I only had 8 no boil lasagne noodles.

So I layered plain sauce, noodles, ricotta from Klein Farm, heaps of spinach, some garlic powder and some Italian seasoning.

I didn't do the egg and multiple cheese thing. Wanted to keep the dairy to a minimum and keep the recipe quick.

It was tasty even if it was soupy.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Berry frozen yogurt

Took two bottles of smoogurt from Klein farm (one maple vanilla and one blueberry), added a splash of triple sec, and 1 cup of chopped berries to make this lovely frozen yogurt.

I let the kids (mine and her friend) smash and cut the berries with a potato masher and pastry blender.

Squash and couscous

Today was a use-up-leftovers and play with the children kind of day.

So I heated up some Archer Farm Steam-in-bag sweet potatoes in maple-butter sauce that I got on clearance for $1.38 (before my discount). In the skillet, I mixed this, cubes of butternut squash and shredded vegetarian sausage (Morningstar breakfast patties-- 2 for the three of us).

Put everything over couscous and serve.

Culinary experiment of the day

I have a favorite corn muffin recipe from a local vegan cooking teacher Eileen Bresslin.

Today, I swapped out a ridiculous combo of ingredients.

- 1/4 cup flax meal
- about 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1.5 cups white corn meal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- hearty pinch salt

- 1 tablespoon flax meal that has rested in 4 tablespoons warm water
- about 1/8 cup coconut oil, in liquid form
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1/4 cup local raw honey
- 1 cup vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine dry and wet ingredients in separate batches, then combine.

Stir vigorously to quickly get the lumps out of the coconut flour and get in the oven while still bubbling.

Bake 20 minutes.

I have no idea what will happen with this.

Update: a tad dry but yummy

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bacon stuffed green veg potatoes

My husband is making baked potatoes with butter, asparagus, Brussel sprouts and farm fresh bacon.

I'm so hungry!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mini fruit and almond balls

In my house, this recipe may be colloquially known as "baby balls."

It's based on a recipe I found on a gluten-free paleo blog, which I mentioned in my first adaptation of this recipe: http://bit.ly/XCh5On


- 1 cup (and a few more) raw almonds, soaked in water a few hours and then well drained
- 8 fresh medjool dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup dried blueberries
- 5 dried pineapple rings

Grind the nuts in a food processor.

Place them to the side.

Grind fruit.

Add nuts.

Process until combined.

Shape as desired.

Refrigerate until cold. Store in fridge.

Farm visit

Spent $41.25 (thank you, Mr. Visa) at Klein Farm today.

Smoogurt (their yogurt smoothies) were buy one, get one free so I bought 2 blueberry, one egg nog and one vanilla maple.

I got a pound of bacon.

The medium jar of unprocessed local raw honey, a quart.

A pint of raw milk.

Garlic pepper cheddar.


And a dozen jumbo eggs.


This morning my husband started his famous scrambled eggs and diced fried potatoes.

Meanwhile, child started a triple batch of my avocado dip.

And I started soaking raw almonds and measuring fresh medjool dates for gluten free fruit bars.

Yeah, it's a family in the kitchen kind of day.

Attendance contest

I haven't exactly made a secret of the fact that December was a lean month for us. With unexpected medical bills and the new-ish car payment and the quarterly bills, we didn't have much left for groceries.

We ate more beans than usual, gave up meat and ate most of our summer canning stock.

Plus we made the most of some of those holiday party leftovers...

And as the retail season gets busier, Target offers employees food in the break room and we always have peanut butter and jelly available. So that helped.

Speaking of Target, to get back to the point of this post, every year we have an attendance contest that extends between Black Friday and January. It's a nice little motivator to keep working during a hectic time.

First, you make a snowflake and write your name on it. It goes on the wall. If you call out sick, show up late (more than 5 minutes later than your scheduled shift-- I love that they give you some wiggle room), or screw up one of your punched at the time clocks, your snowflake comes down.

At the end of the contest, all of the remaining names come off the wall and they get entered into a drawing for a $250 gift card.

I won. This was my third year in the contest and I won!!!

Now, while Target is far from a Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or farmers' market, they sell food. And in this economy, when you're a family that isn't making ends meet, and you're underemployed and looking for a job... The choices often come between paying the doctor, keeping the house warm, or buying food, well it's hard.

I mention this only because I know other families face the same choices.

So while in an ideal world, I'd love to get meat and dairy from the farm, organic vegetables and spent lots of money at Wegmans, the reality is that I can't.

That means we will get our produce and non-perishable goods from Aldi and Target.

We will continue to run mostly a dairy-free household for the ear infection prone child. Any dairy products we buy I would prefer to come from the farm (transitioning from commercial half-and-half to farm fresh raw milk for coffee, as one example).

So here's to the New Year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Zippy Egg Wrap

In a tortilla shell:
- one egg fried in coconut oil
- half a spicy black bean burger from Morningstar
- home canned salsa

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My daughter makes pork with apples

This is a family favorite, 30 minutes to the table even with an 8-and-half year old doing the cooking.

Adapted from Recipe Zaar. Submitted by Lorac.

Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in large cast iron skillet.

Brown pork chops. I used 5 thin boneless.

- 2 cups apple juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- about 1/3 cup brown mustard
- 4 small apples chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

Today we added 1 cup diced butternut squash.

Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.