Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tip Tuesday

So I'm in a yoga class with my sister in-luv.  I'm borrowing her mat, because she's teaching.  I sweat on her mat.  I go to clean it with the cleaner provided by the studio and she says "Noooooo!  Don't use that stuff!"  Too late.  Now I'm thinking I damaged her mat.  Turns out, she just doesn't want the chemicals.  She hands me a pretty blue bottle which is full of a homemade mat cleaner one of her students made for her.  Not only did it look good it smelled amazing too.

Recently I decided I want a pretty blue bottle filled with pretty smelling mat cleaner.  So I made some.  Here's the recipe:

Distilled water
Witch Hazel
Tea Tree Oil
Any natural oil you like (basically to cover up the tea tree oil smell- blech!),
I used:
lemongrass, 4 drops
lavender, 6 drops
eucalyptus, 2 drops
(sweet orange is nice too)

Find a nice diffuser.  My local health food store happened to have the pretty blue ones!  Use equal parts distilled water and witch hazel.  5 drops of tea tree (for a small bottle) and then a minimum of 4-5 of your nice smelling oil.  Maybe more because you need to cover up the tea tree oil smell.  Which really should have been called "Tar Smell". 

Tea Tree Oil is naturally antimicrobial so it will get rid of germs without chemicals. When you're hot and sweaty you more easily absorb chemicals.  Let's avoid more chemicals, shall we?  Witch hazel is a natural disinfectant.  I chose the kind without any alcohol so as to not dry out the fibers of my mat.

After class spray on your mat and wipe off with a clean cloth or paper towel.  And then give everyone the recipe after they come over to ask what that lovely smell is.

Mushroom Burger

You're shocked right now aren't you?  Stephanie is preparing something that doesn't include meat?  It's true.  I did.

And while we're pondering...

Why is a hamburger even called a HAMburger?  There's no ham, there isn't even pork.  At least in my burgers anyway.  I want beef, beef, and more beef.  Mmmmm.  I love meat. 

But I love mushrooms too.  So when I saw these Mushroom Lovers Burgers, in the sad little non-meat section of the freezer, I thought I'd cheer them up.

And by cheer up I mean: add butter, grilled onions, and provolone.

This burger does not care one bit about a bun.  There is 8 carbs though so save this for phase two.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Be Present

I love the concept of Being Present in my life.  I'm just not real good at applying it. 

The thought behind it is to slow down, look around, and notice what is swirling all around you. 
Breathe in the smell of dinner.  Look, instead of just seeing, your children as they play on the floor while you cook.  Listen a little more closely.

Be aware, be present, be mindfully engaged.

Here are a few examples of what made me stop and savor this week.
A sunny room with a comfy little girl.  Comfort.

Popping popcorn with a clear lid brings all the girls in to watch.  Togetherness.

Catching Holland smashing down through the giant snowball she was about to pose on.  Laughter.

A three year old still be rocked by her Daddy.  Time Passing.
Slowin' it down over here.  Soaking it up.


Out my window
I will Look

Then turn my head back
to the Book

Always wandering
this Mind of mine

the Laundry, the Dishes,
a stray Treasure to find.

Focus is fleeting

but He is Leading

back to His Book

And so I Look
and listen
and sit
and soak

Five minutes turns to Twenty

And somehow

throughout my day

there is Time aplenty.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


And by Complex, I mean, I have one.

I am in the sweetest Bible study.  And by sweet, I mean, these ladies ARE.

And then you have me.  I talk too much.  I'm certain I interrupt.  I tell too many stories.  I listen too little.  I don't think enough.  I don't think before I speak enough.

And then I leave Bible study and worry the whole way home.

It'd be great if I could learn to listen. 

And then I come home and my closets look like this:

Yeah, I know that had absolutely nothing to do with anything in the post but it's real.  And so is my complex.

Maybe, people in my life, we should have you hold up signs to me when I'm being that person.  Signs like:

"No.  Nooooo.  No!"

"Danger mouth operates faster than brain."

"You're doing it... right now... stop.... sttttooooopppp."


That would be so helpful.

Alright.  I'm going to go find Anna.  Chat her head off for a while.  I've sat here quiet for too long.

Happy Humpday!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Okay. I know I say that I love a lot of food and I know it probably seems like an exaggeration but it's not. I really love a lot of food.

But this one I REALLY love.

I found it on Food Gawker, which is basically pinterest for food, and I was pulled in by the beautiful picture.

You can find it at Buns in my Oven.  That's cute, right?

Now, if you've looked at that recipe, you see that it doesn't fit the way we eat. Do you think that stopped me? Nooooooo. These are the situations that heavy whipping cream was made for.

Here's how I fixed it. Dump the potatoes. You don't need them and neither does this chowder. Skip the roux (white flour whisked into a fat) and cut down the amount of corn.

I add the heavy whipping cream at the same time I add the chicken stock. One cup milk, two cups heavy whipping cream to be exact. Then I do one can of corn (drained) plus half a can of creamed corn (not drained) If it does not seem up to the thickness you like you can add the whole can. Just look the other way as you pour it in.

I am not kidding you, this is one of the best things I make now- restaurant quality. Better even.

The toppers make it especially tasty: bacon, chopped green onion, cheese and I make homemade croutons to go on top. Here's how:

Any bread you like, I use a 100% whole wheat Italian bread
Equal parts butter, melted, and olive oil
Fresh pepper and salt
Cut up your bread. Drizzle it thoroughly with your butter olive oil mixture and then season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 400 until browned to your liking.

Lastly, don't ever buy croutons again.

Homemade croutons before they are baked.

Baked and all browned up!

Toppers: crisped up bacon, scallions, and croutons.


Tip Tuesday

Ha!  Here I am with yet another tip on Tuesday.  That makes TWO tips.  Totally on a roll here.

Today's tip is simple: sit.

I try and have Just Sit Wednesdays.  Profound, I know. 

I started this last school year when it sllloowwllyyy dawned on me that I was eating lunch standing up.  And then I realized I hadn't sat on my couch or my comfy chair in... in.... in.... uh, I couldn't remember. 

I hustle.  All the time I'm hustlin'. 

But all that hustle was leaving zero time for thoughts, Bible reading, book reading, even tv.  And so Just Sit Wednesdays were born.

Here's how it works: I hustle all morning because I cannot Just Sit in a disaster zone.  Anna is at school now but last year I'd get her down for a nap.  And then, are you ready for this?  I sit.  For 45 minutes.  I eat during that time if I feel like it.  I watch FoxNews.  I read the Bible or something else.  And when 45 minutes is up?  I get up.

And hustle.

I've had some simple me time and that is a good thing, for everyone.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hug the One You Hurt

Today has been a lovely Saturday morning.  John headed out early with Alyssa for a basketball tournament which forced me to be up early with the Little People.

The Little People are surprising well behaved this morning and this has made all the difference in our morning pleasantness.  The Little People normally argue and yell and hit (I'm just being real) but I've started making them state their apologies and then hug for a good long time.  This has
dramatically reduced the insanity.  I'm just as surprised as you are... and they are.  We're all in a state of shock.

While I sit with a lovely snowy view out of my window...
I can hear that it is time for another hug...

Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pizza Crust Ala Cauliflower

For about three years now I've been eating pizza tops.  Pizza tops, as in, no crust.  I love pizza but that crust is a no-no for me.  It tastes soooo good but it makes me feel soooo bad.  White carb overload.

Once again Pinterest is responsible for something wonderful in the land of cooking.  Cauliflower pizza crust!  Sounds weird, I know.  But it isn't!  It's good! 

There are a bunch of recipes out there but this is the one I used.  A little time consuming because you are ricing the cauliflower but totally worth it.  I've made whole wheat crusts in the past in an effort to have a more South Beach friendly pizza but they just weren't good.  They turn out really heavy and grainy.  Not so with the cauliflower, I liked it WAY better.  Even John ate it,  and he normally is not a fan of some of my unusual concoctions. 

He ate half my pizza.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust (adapted for drink-eat-smile)
1 large head cauliflower
1 egg, beaten
1 C shredded mozzarella
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic
cooking spray
olive oil, optional

Preheat oven to 450.  Prepare your pizza pan by spraying thoroughly with cooking spray. Remove the stem and leaves from your cauliflower and then chop it into pieces.  Pulse the pieces in a food processor until they are crumbly, don't overdo it or it will turn out pureed instead.  Microwave the riced cauliflower for 8 minutes, don't add water.  Take 1 cup (You will have about 3 cups of cauliflower.  You can make three pizzas right now or save it in the fridge for a week.) of the microwaved cauliflower and add it to your egg, 1 cup of mozzarella, and your seasonings.  Mix the ingredients until well blended.  Place on your pizza pan and form with your hands into a 9in circle.  Lightly brush with olive oil if desired, to help with browning.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Now the fun and creative part: toppings.  I did pizza sauce, thinly sliced onion, mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni.  Just make sure your toppings are all precooked because you'll only be melting the cheese now.
Place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes until browned and bubbly.  You could do a super high temp oven as well.
I'm thinking this would be awesome margharita style with fresh moz, tomato, and basil.  Or what about fig, Gorgonzola, and prosciutto (I hate prosciutto raw but adore it crisped up... but that's just me and my issues).  Or what about veggie style- green pepper, black olives, onion.  Ooooo, super six: ham, pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, green pepper, and onion.  Oh yes.  That is happening.
Let me know if you try it and what you think! 

This is what it looks like after it has been riced.

All the ingredients are added and the hot cauliflower is melting the cheese.


Go easy on the sauce to prevent it being too soggy.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Salsa Correction

For quite some time I had been on the hunt for really good salsa.  I found what I thought to be the best salsa over at PW's site.  I wrote about it.  I made it all the time.  I shared the recipe.  I ate a ton of it.  Then I had my friend Jen's salsa and everything changed.  Time actually stopped. 

Then it started again.  

And when it did I went down on my knees and begged that girl for her salsa recipe.  No, I didn't.  I actually emailed her a few days after her party and calmly asked her for her recipe.

Jen does not like lumps so she throws the whole thing in a blender or food processor.  I feel precisely the same way about my salsa.  We're salsa BFFs.

Jen's Salsa
1 package salsa seasoning mix (I know!  I never thought of this!), I use hot
1/2 a sweet onion, more if you like more
a handful of cilantro, that's what she said
1 can Mexican stewed tomatoes
1 can Rotel

This particular batch does not have fresh cilantro in it.  Mostly because I was in the canned tomato aisle before I realized I had not grabbed the cilantro in the produce department.  Sheer laziness ensued and I grabbed a can of Rotel with cilantro and lime instead.  You're thinking Trail Blazer, aren't you?

Be a salsa BFF with me... you know you want to.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Glitter IS my Favorite Color

Every girl in my house is rockin' glitter nails right now.  I'm proud to say my Glitter Love, which came from my Mother, has been passed down to each of my girls.  For $1.67 all four of us are very happy.

The polish is Pure Ice in Spit Fire, two coats (ignore how ugly my hands are and just focus on the sparkle, please)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tip Tuesday

The title leads you to believe that I have a lot of tips, doesn't it?  We're going to have to find out if it's true or not.  Some Tuesdays maybe the tip will be "Brush your teeth," because that's all I got.

Not today though!  Today I have a really good one.

One of the things I love is really clean, spot free, laundry.  Yes.  Laundry.  I go to great lengths (Granted, not as great as my Mom, who really knows her laundry.  Way to go, Mom!) to achieve this.  I put vinegar in with the laundry detergent so it never gets that nasty smell, I add Mrs. Stewart's bluing to my white loads, wash all stinky gym clothes separately, and I pretty much wash everything on delicate.

This, however, is THE best secret I have ever learned.  It comes from a friend's Mom, who learned it from her friend, who owns a Dry Cleaners.  That sounds urban legendy doesn't it?  It's not though, it's the real deal.

Take two parts ammonia to one part laundry detergent (and honestly, it will work if you don't get that right) and put it in a clearly marked spray bottle.  Just pretreat with it and toss it in the wash.  It gets out EVERYTHING.  You may have to repeat but not often.  Just check the stain when it comes out of the wash so that you don't accidentally dry it before it's totally gone, that will set the stain.

I'd like to mention that even if your ammonia says 'lemon fresh scent' do not believe it.  This is an outright lie.  Nothing you can do to ammonia will make it a fresh scent.  And why do you care if the fumes that are burning the nose hairs out of your nose are scented with lemon?  That's right.  You don't. 

Happy Stain-Treating!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Love in the Kitchen

Once upon a time a dear sister in-luv took her sister in-luv to a favorite restaurant. "You must try this pasta dish, dear sister in-luv, you will love it" she said.  The dish was tried, tears of joy fell, addiction followed, and then both sister in-luvs were sad. The latter because she did not have this delectable pasta anywhere near her kingdom and the former because now whenever her sister in-luv came to visit they would never eat anywhere but the place with the intoxicating pasta dish.
The End.

True Story.

Becky and the restaurant Kruse and Meur are responsible for this crazy pasta dish obsession I have.  The Dish is their Michigan Pasta.  The Goodness in it is linguine, dried Michigan cherries, green beans, mushrooms, walnuts, and chicken all in a plate-lickingly-good dijon cream sauce.  Isn't that brilliant? 

So, I'm on pinterest the other day and I see this Dijon Chicken Linguine with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Toasted Almonds and I almost cried- it looks like my beloved pasta!  It's from this guy and his Newfoundlandian (no, I don't think that is a real word) kitchen over at rockrecipes.blogspot.com and I am just so so grateful.

I made it tonight (along with chili for the rest of the fam, since they just don't appreciate foods like this the way I do) and it IS what I've been dreaming of. 
His recipe does not call for green beans or cherries and he uses almonds instead of walnuts but other than that it is spot on.

South Beach adjustment: I served the sauce over chicken instead of pasta and left out the cherries. 

Dijon Chicken Linguine with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Toasted Almonds
1 package linguine, cooked
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms (my store was out so I used regular old white mushrooms- still delicious!)
1 cup fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup dried cherries, if using
3 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to season
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds (I used walnuts)

Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan over medium low heat.  Add chicken breasts, garlic, season with salt and pepper and continue to fry the chicken until completely cooked. 
Remove chicken from pan and hold in a warm oven.

Add to pan:
Fresh green beans and mushrooms (and cherries)
4 oz white wine, I used chardonnay

Simmer until volume is reduced by half.
Then add:

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat a metal spoon.  Return chicken to the sauce.  Serve over noodles and top with nuts.

And they will all live happily ever after.

Garlic has been cooked in the oil and chicken juices and in go the veggies.

Wine is added and reduced.

Yay!  Cream!

Yes, there really is chicken in there, somewhere deep below all that delicious goodness!

Chicken Salad

Every other blogger out there is probably waxing eloquently on about Martin Luther King Jr and here I am talking about chicken salad. 

When you taste it you'll see why.

This is the same chicken salad I have always made it just turns out that it is totally South Beach approved all on its own. Normally the recipe calls for red grapes which are great by the time you hit phase two but they are easily left out for phase one.

Your cast of characters:

Slivered almonds, seedless red grapes, celery, and Peppercorn Ranch.  You need chicken too, but no one wants a picture of raw chicken.

Chicken Salad
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and cut up (I use kitchen scissors)
2 stalks of celery, sliced
a handful of red grapes, sliced in half
1 2oz package slivered almonds
1/4 bottle of Peppercorn Ranch
Toss all the ingredients together.  It's that simple.

Everything in the bowl!

Toss with the dressing.
It is delicious on a croissant, of course, but it is also fantastic on whole grain bread, a bed of lettuce, in a whole grain Flat Out, or stuffed in a tomato.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cauliflower. It's the new potato.

When we embraced the South Beach Diet as our lifestyle a few years ago it meant letting go of our love for potatoes.  This is pretty radical thinking for a Dutch girl.  We ate A LOT of potatoes in this house.  With every meal.  And in every form. 

Which is probably why I kind of looked like a potato- sort of round and shapeless. 

Huh.  Glad that's over. 

Shockingly I have given them up and lived to write the tale.  I really don't miss them but there are times that I get a hankerin' for a massive pile of scalloped potatoes.

Enter, cauliflower.  In the South Beach cookbook there is a recipe for 'Surprise Mashed Potatoes' where cauliflower is cooked, mashed, and has cream or milk added to it.  The texture isn't quite the same, but they are pretty good.  This made me think that I might be able to have my scalloped potatoes after all.  It turns out I was right.  I found a great recipe over at LowCarb Luxury.

Scalloped Cauliflower

2 bags frozen cauliflower
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese, low fat is fine
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2-4 Tbs butter, I don't judge- you can use more if you'd like
white pepper and salt to taste

(This is easily halved and baked in a pie plate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In your casserole dish layer 1 bag of cauliflower (I don't even bother thawing it), 1/2 the onion, sprinkle with white pepper and salt, dot with 1 Tbs butter, sprinkle 1 Cup shredded cheddar and then repeat.  Finally pour your pint of heavy whipping cream down over the entire thing and bake uncovered for about an hour or until the cheese browns up.

I love this so much that if there is any left I'll serve it on the side of an omelet the next morning.  True Story.

This picture is before it has baked because after it's baked it's pretty much gone so fast that I don't have time to get a picture.  You'll see.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Please, Don't Make Me Go Sledding

It is freezing outside and The Children want to go sledding.  I don't want to go sledding.  I mean, my gear is rockin', but it needs to be at least 32 for me to want to go out there.  My ears start to hurt.  My feet get cold.  The tip of my nose gets cold.  You know what I'm sayin'? 

Thank goodness for my honey who doesn't make me go sledding but instead takes all three of The Children by himself. 

Love him.

I really love seeing things like this.

This little girl was pumped.

Tea kettle steaming and hot chocolate waiting.

Rosy cheeks and steaming mugs.  Perfect.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Need Crunch

I'm currently on Phase One of South Beach, not because I need to drop a ton, but because I need to clean out a little- post holiday detox if you will.  I've done phase one several times by now (we've been on South Beach for going on three years) so I'm pretty good at.  There is one thing I super miss during this time and it's the something crunchy I use as a delivery vehicle for all my dips and salsa.

Enter in cheese crackers.  I found them on pinterest and have since seen many recipes online.  All they are is cheese- bonus!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you need to use parchment paper)
Place about a teaspoon of any cheese spaced generously apart on your parchment since they will spread
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or until they are no longer soft in the middle- you want them crisp like a cracker.
I leave them lightly covered with plastic wrap for a day or two.  Putting them in a container makes them chewy which is not good since we need crunch.

These are Parmesan which are my favorite.  Mexican cheese, cheddar, and mozzarella have all been tried and deemed fantastic as well!  You could mix some chili powder or dry ranch dressing mix into the cheese too.  Awesome.

They make great fake croutons too!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bar- Ba- Skew

I'm not sure why but when John says BBQ he actually says Bar-Ba-Skew. 

But that doesn't matter.

Let's talk BBQ.  Does anyone not love it?  I mean really.  How do you not love sauce?  And meat.  And meat and sauce? 

Actually, a yoga teacher friend of mine is a vegetarian and she doesn't quite feel about BBQ the way I do.  So there's that.

But aside from vegetarians, I'm pretty sure that everyone loves BBQ.  Me most especially.

With that being said when my nephew picked BBQ out of the four Triple D restaurants in Chicago, that I had researched and suggested, he pretty much sky rocked to Number One Nephew.  Close your eyes, other nephews.  Or send me BBQ and you can be number one too.

Smoque at 3800 N Dempster is pretty much the best BBQ I have ever had.  Not kidding.  I had the St Louis Ribs but there was plenty of baby backs and brisket for me to sample and each was delish.  We can talk bark (it was good) and smoke ring (I saw it!) and rub (they all get the same except the brisket gets an extra layer of pepper I think) but I don't really wanna, mostly I just want to tell you it was yummy.

Go there.  Now.  Order any meat, all three sauces, fries and their peach cobbler.  You will thank you.  And me.

This is my sister-in-luv's tray.  Looks good, right?  Chopped brisket bottom left and heading counterclockwise: corn bread, slaw, peach cobbler, mac and cheese, her sauce choice, and baked beans.

BBQ makes people happy.

And willing to sit very very close together.
Other Nephews: I was just kidding.  You are all number one, with or without ribs smothered in sauce.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I miss Elfie

I think I'm going to head in a new direction on this blog.  And the name of that direction is: Things I Love.  Like food.  Projects.  People. The South Beach Diet.  Yoga. Recipes.  Fun things I do with my three little people.  (That title doesn't actually fit anymore. They are actually more like: one who is almost taller than me, one medium size, and one little... people.)  Food.  Leg warmers and other fashion funs.  And... well let's face it, more food. 

So.  Here we go.

This Christmas saw us visited once again by our Elf on the Shelf, Elfie.  Last year was his first year with us and while he was well loved he was kind of a snooze fest.  He'd move around from one shelf to another shelf.  One table to another table. He did a short stint in the fruit bowl.  He sat on the tree once.  And sometimes he didn't move at all.  For a couple days. 

Not so this year.  This year Elfie became Passionate. Found his calling.  Really got into the spirit of things, you know? 

No?  You don't know? 

Allow me to show you (albeit, not overly clearly since all these were captured on my old iPhone)...

Here he is repelling in on his first day back.

He found my baking supplies and made an Elfie flour angel.

He had a snowball fight!

And brutally annihilated the entire Veggie Tales Nativity.

Had some hot chocolate.

Panty Raid!
Ate every single last donut.
Got trapped!
Needed some Double Bubble.
Shower Time!

Captured by the LPS Army, Gulliver style.  Their sign reads: "Go Away!  This is our house!"

Chillin' with some FoxNews.  He's politically savvy, our Elf.
Mischievous!  Upon seeing this Holland whispered "That's not Mom's Sharpie is it, Elfie?"  Turns out it was... but no worries, rubbing alcohol removes permanent marker.
Revenge on the LPS army- stole their ride!
TP'd the Christmas tree.
Nice Down Dog, Elfie!
An Elf-size campfire.
Caught the girls' cold.
"I'm watching you!  Only 9 more days!  Love, Elfie"
A midnight tea party with Rapunzel.  Or, Tangled, as Anna calls her.
Hanging from the chandelier.
Hog-tied Sheriff Woody!
Ate all the candy from the Advent Calendar!

 Roasted on a spit by the Toy Story gang.  Buzz's sign reads "No one messes with Woody, Elf!"

And on his last morning with us he had something special planned.

Quite a grand finale!
We found him holding Baby Jesus from the Veggie Tales Nativity.  Even Elfie knows what Christmas really means.
And to sum it up, in the words of Holland to Anna, "I don't know what's gotten into Elfie this year.  He's way better than last year.  Last year he was kind of lame."