Monday, June 29, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Today was such a Monday...Overslept for my workout with KT, plans changing up at the last minute and all. Just felt like my brain was on another planet most of the day. Tomorrow will be better. Work out & a kefir smoothie to start the day off right, then sweet potato burritos when I get home from work (I was going to make them, but my wonderful husband who is most certainly cuisinarily gifted said, "well, I have the day off. I'll make them." - yes, I did make up that word. And yes, I do love my husband).

Meal planning is always strange for us, with both of us working. I work until 7 on Thursdays and Fridays. Jeff works into the evening on the days he works, and some of those nights are nights that he and his consumers do dinner together. When I'm in the rotation for worship team, practice is the Thursday before the first and the third Sundays of the month (as well as on Sunday mornings), and that is at 7PM, right when I get off of of work. So on some nights of the week, priorities are what we can cook quickly or what is already prepared, and other nights (when it's just me for dinner) the priority is cooking something light and simple.

KEFIR SMOOTHIES - I am almost always doing kefir smoothies for breakfast. I feel so much more nourished, it is great fuel for my workouts in the morning. I'm not sure what the difference is, really. I mean a cup of kefir (give or take), one banana, and a handful of strawberries is not a lot of food, especially not by calories; but one smoothie in the morning and I snack so very much less during the work day. I try to get hard boiled eggs in when I can, too, because of the Omega 3s. Having ADD, they really help me as a part of my daily regimen to keep my focus on track (regular exercise, diet loaded w/omega 3s, caffeine when I need large amounts of focus, and sublingual B12).

OK, so the meal plan for this week.

Monday (already done, really, but this is what we had)
Breakfast: granola
Lunch: Chicken w/blueberry barbecue sauce
Dinner: Date night :) Dinner out at Gregory's at the Bus Stop

Tuesday -
Breakfast - Kefir smoothie & Hardboiled eggs
Lunch - Leftovers from Gregory's
Dinner - Sweet Potato Burritos

Wednesday -
Breakfast - Kefir Smoothies & Granola
Lunch - Chicken Salad Sandwiches on homemade bread (mmmm)
Dinner - Breakfast for Dinner (my fav) This time it's a quiche. Instead of the crescent rolls, I'll be making a whole wheat pie crust. And instead of the cheddar, I'll be using homemade mozzarella.

Thursday -
Breakfast - Granola and/or kefir smoothies and hardboiled eggs
Lunch - Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Dinner - Pizza (homemade mozz!)

Friday -
Breakfast - Kefir Smoothie / hardboiled egg
Lunch - Chicken Salad sandwiches
Dinner - Leftover sweet potato burritos

Saturday -
Breakfast - waffles & eggs
Lunch - Kefir smoothie Grilled Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
Dinner - @ Woodlands for the 4th of July :) Not sure what I can bring yet...

Sunday -
Breakfast - granola & Kefir smoothies
Lunch - Picnic out! (Portable version of California salad)
Dinner - Beef & Barley Burgers (we sub in ground turkey)

So, that's the week! I'm looking forward to it. I'm so looking forward to Friday off for Independence day. It will be good to have some time to relax, and some time to get more things done. Even though we now won't be moving for a little while, I'm hoping to try and get more things ready-to-move to make it easier when we do. Then an afternoon and evening out at a gorgeous old plantation house in Clarkesville with some friends, and a date with Jeff Sunday afternoon. To get some sun and some swim time somewhere close by. I just don't feel like it is summer without an occasional trip to the beach. Most of the "beaches" around here are sandy areas on a river that people declared to be a beach (like Rabun beach), but marks it as summer for me.

You can see more MPM ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Yum (with Pictures)

OK, yesterday I mentioned the Bailey's Irish Coffee Cheesecake. Here are some pictures of the goodness that it was :)

It tasted even better than it looks. We used the recipe from Not Just Cheesecake, and just replaced the whiskey with Baileys (because it tastes so much better that way, in my humble opinion). I described the sauce in the post below but basically I took confectioner's sugar (haven't found a good replacement for that, but I used sucanat in the cheesecake. I just let it sit in the mixture for a while to help it dissolve before mixing everything up), dark chocolate cocoa, espresso, real milk (I can't fathom calling milk raw anymore, as though it is something that is supposed to be cooked), and Baileys. I started by heating the milk, Baileys, and espresso so that the cocoa dissolved in it more easily. Once the cocoa was thoroughly dissolved and the milk mixture was hot, I turned off the heat, because I didn't want to add the sugar under increasing heat, which would make the sauce harder to thicken.

As a general rule when I'm going off the cuff, I didn't really measure anything, so you're welcome to try the ingredients and see what you come up with. The only problem with doing it that way is that I now have way more chocolate sauce than I will need even for the whole cheesecake, as I was adding a little of this and a little of that as I went for taste and consistency, so that means a whole lot of, "well, I guess I need more cocoa now, since I had to add so much confectioner's sugar to thicken it." Anyway, in the end you end up with a LOT of chocolate sauce. I guess I can always freeze it for the next cheesecake.

I had some leftover milk before this week's milk run, that was too plentiful for me to even think about making yogurt with, so I decided to make ricotta. Thanks to some help from several other blogs I've read (you can find them to the right), this is the ricotta straining method I've adopted:

Basically, I have two pillowcases set aside for only cheese and yogurt straining purposes. I line a colander (over my large stock pot so as not to lose all the whey) with a pillowcase and let the better part of the whey drain off. When the amount is more manageable, I tie up the pillowcase with several rubber bands (I do not delight in the idea of coming home to find ricotta all over my stove and counter) and attach those to the hinge on the cupboard above my stove. I let that drain for 1-several hourse (depending on the batch size. This was a sizeable batch so it has been draining for several hours). Then store the whey in a leftover (and thoroughly washed out and sanitized) milk jug marked with the date, and store the ricotta in an airtight container. Jeff thinks the whole process is gross, but he loves the lasagna and cheesecake that come from the ricotta and yogurt cheese strained by this method.

The first time I strained yogurt to get yogurt cheese, I set the whole thing up and went to hang out with a friend. While I was with my friend, I received a call from Jeff saying, "Um...there is a bag hanging from the cabinet....with yucky green juice [whey] dripping from it!" The process can look rather unappealing, but the results are more than palatable! This ricotta (made from whole milk) makes a very creamy lasagna filling!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


It was soooo very hot today (102 F) that I was sure I did not want to do have a piping hot meal for dinner tonight. So, I thought we'd try something new. I had a California Salad a while back while we were out to eat. It was delicious, but to make my husband happy I figured I should add some chicken as well. So I did. I picked up some salad greens and fresh spinach, as well. I sliced some strawberries (about 10 large strawberries) and 2 medium oranges, and mixed them with about a Tablespoon of sucanat, to sweeten and help draw out the juices. I also sliced up 2 avocados...for the two of us 1 1/2 was actually quite sufficient. And then I sauteed a few chicken breasts and chopped them up. I also candied some pecans and mixed up a dressing. The salad was assembled as follows:

In a salad bowl I placed equal amounts of salad greens and spinach. Then I added the strawberies, oranges (and the juice) and tossed the salad. Portioning them out in each bowl, I added the chicken, candied pecans, and avocados. Then I added the dressing.

The dressing was a recipe I found here, basically a red wine vinegar and oil infused with several herbs, with sugar (I use Sucanat) too, which I thought rather odd, but it was great!

So after a yummy California salad for dinner, I got to work on tomorrow night's dessert. I had some extra ricotta lying around that was very fine curd, and some extra yogurt cheese. Between the two I had enough for a cheesecake, so we decided on an irish creme cheesecake. I took the recipe for the irish coffee cheesecake from the "Not Just Cheesecake" book, and replaced the irish whiskey with Bailey's instead (left in the espresso). I'll use some of the rest of the Bailey's (very small bottle purchased solely for this cheesecake, as it would happen) to make an irish creme mocha sauce to top the cheesecake with. I am making up the recipe as I go along, but that usually turns out best. Dark chocolate cocoa, confectioner's sugar, milk, espresso, and baileys. I think it will turn out quite well!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Starter Culture giveaway at Cheeseslave

Hey there! I just wanted to post really quick about a giveaway on a blog I started to read recently. you can head on over to to enter a giveaway for starter cultures.

The one of the three that interests me most is the I haven't tried it yet at all. I have been reading, recently, on some of the health benefits of it, but I don't know anyone locally who makes it (which, of course, makes it hard to try).

Yogurt making has been great, and has definitely increased the amount of calcium I have in my diet. Recently I've been "experimenting" with "Raw" yogurt, since my typical yogurt making method gets the milk up to a temperature of 190 first. Having raw milk on a regular basis has made small amounts of pasteurized dairy more doable for Jeff, but still I'm trying to decrease the pasteurized dairy, since you get more calcium out of the raw. I have to strain the raw yogurt to get it to the right thickness, but since the whey is so useful I don't really mind that so much. Basically, I do everything the same as when I'm making pasteurized yogurt, except that I only heat the milk to 110 degrees. It's a huge time-saver, too, because then I'm not heating it to 190 just to cool it down to 110 to add the culture and put it in the yogurt maker.

And while I have been learning about soaking my bread dough (basically fermenting it), I haven't experimented with sourdough at all, so that would definitely be interesting.

Anyway, head on over and enter, too. What would you do with these starter cultures??

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Putting the Pieces Back Together

Just when I had started to get in a good rhythm, last week pretty much disrupted all of that. I had finally gotten things cleaned to a point of easy maintenance, and gotten into a schedule of meal planning and food preparation. Last week, though, with traveling all the way down to Atlanta (for AI auditions) 2 days last week made everything here difficult. 2 days does not seem like much, but when you break it down, particularly with the hours, it really changed things. Tuesday we had to wake up at 2 AM in order to leave the house by 3 and get down to the Georgia Dome by 5:30. Then, after our trip back, I was heat exhausted (as well as just exhausted in general). After getting PLENTY to drink, I slept from 6 PM until 6:30 the next morning when I had to get up for work! Then, to make up for some of my time, I worked until 7 PM and then went straight to home group, then came home and packed a bag, and headed to my friend Tiffany's for the night. Tiffany lives much closer to ATL than I, so I knew I would get more sleep going to bed at 11 and waking at 3 than I would waking at 2 to leave here. Then, after another long hot day in ATL and then getting lost twice (I am typically very good with directions, but it seems no one was in a good mood on Thursday, and I got squeezed off of the interstate twice in a row because I couldn't get over in time), by the time I got home I was worn out again, and slept from 6-9, and then from 11 till the next morning. So, really, the three days I use the most to get stuff done (tues-thurs) were taken up, and by the time Friday rolled around I was so very out of rhythm.

So last night and tonight I had a pretty laid back evening, but also tried to get back into the swing of things some. Last night I made our latest batch of laundry detergent, and got some oats soaking for soaked oatmeal breakfast this morning. Tonight I made granola for the next few breakfasts, put away dishes (that Jeff so lovingly did!), started some sour cream straining (from some over-fermented kefir), and did some more dishes. Tomorrow I have my early day, so I'll have the afternoon to get more things cleaned up and get a few other things accomplished.

We're trying to move (although that seems to be more complicated than we had hoped), so I am wary of doing any of the processes that take much longer, such as soaking my grains pre-milling. I can do any of the soaking I usually do with freshly milled flour to make things, but I'm not able to do much in the way of having pre-soaked dry flour around. That's a little frustrating. Hopefully in a few weeks we'll know exactly where we'll be living and when, and I can get those things taken care of.

With three weeks left until our tradeshow trip to Vegas, I am left wondering how deep into our typical rhythm it is worth it to get, but knowing we won't get a lot of nourishing foods in Vegas (the way we're used to eating), it is definitely worthwhile to get the full benefit of the resources we have at our disposal now. I wonder how much granola I can pack away in my carry-on bag (haha)? I certainly know I can't bring any kefir...but maybe I can get ahold of some raw milk out there to keep in our hotel room. That's half a joke, but now I'm thinking I should take a look.

Well, that's today. I'm glad to be picking up a little bit and getting back into things, even if it does seem semi-futile. Life tastes better that way.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Such a long time between posts!'s been over a month since my last post! Terribly sorry!

There has been a lot going on these days, in every realm, it seems. First of all, Jeff and I are very excited that we may be moving into a house (from our little apartment!). There are still a few details that need to be worked out, but we hope to be moving by July 1! NOTHING IS FINAL YET, but....we hope it will be soon. It's a beautiful home, small but with incredible use of space, and it is on 3 acres of land! I'm very excited about that last part because it means (drum roll).....I can finally have my garden! We'll hopefully be getting settled in enough to do a fall garden as a start this year. What I am particularly excited about, in addition to the garden, is to finally have the room to have people over. That will be wonderful. And to finally have ROOM to do everything we have with making our laundry detergent, getting my Bee Beautiful stuff up and running for real, making cheese and yogurt, and milling and soaking flour - I am beyond ecstatic. We have definitely been trying to do "house things" in an apartment, and I am so glad for the opportunity to be able to do them in a house, finally!

Additionally, we are gearing up for a busy summer. I have a trip with work this July that's nearly a week, and Jeff is coming along for that. The trip is to Vegas and we were joking around about having Elvis renew our vows for our first anniversary (July 25...we won't be in Vegas then, but it's the week before so we figured, close enough); but it turns out that will have to remain as only a joke. Because for us already being married and for it not really being Elvis, an Elvis wedding costs WAY too much! Hopefully I'll get to see some of my extended family while I'm out there.

Also, my brother's CD, "From the Depths of the Earth, is due to be released soon, so be checking their blog for updates. You can pre-order the CD now, and the Paypal link to do so is on their blog!

Lastly, auditions for American Idol have hit Atlanta (this Tuesday-Thursday), and Jeff was really insistent that I go. In thinking about it more and more, I'm inclined to agree. Even if nothing comes of it at all, it is an opportunity that I do not want to miss simply for lack of trying. Now I just need to see if I can get the time off to do it.

Anyway, that is the current update. Please be praying for us in all that we have going on! We are very excited about the new season that we are entering.