Monday, October 25, 2010

A Good Day for a Chili Cook-off

In my part of the world, I woke up to snow. A nice bowl of chili is great for dinner on a blustery day like today. Most people combine big chunks of ground chuck and some kidney beans to make chili. That would all be good if today hadn’t been declared Meatless Monday by Paul McCartney. I have a chili recipe that would make Paul sing. I am not even sure where I got this recipe. I am not very environmentally friendly when it comes to recipes. If I see one I like, I print it off. I have a rather large stack of recipes to be tested. At least when I try one if I don’t like it I will recycle the paper. No recycling bin for this recipe. It is a keeper.

Healthy Black Bean Chili

          2 tablespoons olive oil
          1 large yellow onion, chopped
          1 large bell pepper, chopped ( the recipe called for a yellow pepper, I had a red one and used it)
          5 cloves garlic, minced
          2 teaspoons chili powder
          1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
          1 teaspoon dried oregano
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
          4 cups cooked black beans
          2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
          2 cups mild salsa
          2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
          2 cups cooked wheat berries
          Juice of one lime
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, salsa, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through.
Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice. Garnish with your choice of sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and tortilla chips.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Have my taste buds been altered?

You know how people who give up sugar say that after a few weeks of no treats fruit tastes so much sweeter. Well, I have been wondering if eating whole grains has caused my taste buds to just expect the wholesome taste in my goodies. Last week, I made some Multigrain Snickerdoodles from a recipe in the King Arthur’s Whole Grain Cooking. I actually made them the previous week also, but I didn’t leave them in the fridge long enough and while baking spread too thin. My family ate and loved them anyhow, but they were not presentable to share with friends. Last week, I followed the instructions to leave them in the fridge overnight and they turned out perfect. They looked so good that I shared them with a couple neighbors. When my neighbor thanked me for them the next day, I told her that they were made with whole grains. She said, “Oh, I knew that.” Now I am perplexed. Did she know that because they obviously tasted that way, or did she know that because I have a reputation of whole grain baking? Either way, these cookies will definitely be in my cookie jar again!

Multigrain Snickerdoodles

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 large eggs
1 cup whole barley flour
3/4 cup hard white wheat flour
1 1/3 cup oat flour

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the orange juice and eggs. Add the flours and beat until well combined. Refrigerate the dough, covered, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Drop the dough by tablespoons, 6 pieces at a time, into the bag. Zip the bag closed trapping some air inside. Shake gently to coat the balls with the sugar mixture. Place them on prepared baking sheets and flatten to about 1/2 inch thick, using the flat bottom of a drinking glass.

Bake the cookies, reversing the pans midway through (top to bottom, bottom to top), until they are beginning to brown around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Place them in an airtight container once they are cool. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Two Sense

1. If you haven’t seen the GQ Glee pictures, you must have been in a coma the past couple of days. So much talk about if they crossed the line. I just want to know why the girls are scantily clad sex kittens and the boy gets to be fully clothed and playing the drums? When are women going to unite and say enough is enough! We say we want equal rights, but then allow our value to be determined by our looks and sex appeal.

2. It was so exciting to see all the miners reunited with their families last week. Well, one wife decided to stay home when she realized her hubby not only had one but two mistresses. Now it is reported that this "gentleman" is going to receive $100,000 to work for one of the how-to-cheat websites. When are we going to stop rewarding bad behavior?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Take that Oprah!

Oprah devotes a whole show to it. Hoda and Kathie Lee talk about it every Monday. And so I thought I would join in the craze. I can’t guarantee that I will actually do it weekly like the Today Show, but you never know I might just have Favorite Things Fridays. I don’t enjoy celebrity status, but I am a real housewife from Utah with a list of my own favorite things. You won’t find me promoting a $50 t-shirt or a $200 bag that is designed to carry your coat when not in use because frankly I don't have the money for those things.

Being environmentally conscience, one of my favorite things is my reusable produce bags. Millions and millions of the plastic produce bags are used daily in the United States and most are probably just thrown in the trash. I purchased my bags from for $3.45 each, and they make a great companion to my canvas shopping bags. The web site actually offers a variety of reusable items. So Go Green!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Suggestion for a Meatless Monday for Al Gore

I haven’t heard if Mr. Gore has joined the Meatless Monday campaign. I have been thinking about a meal that might be tempting for him to join. I make a Spinach Lasagna that my husband loves. In order to post this recipe for A.G., I actually had to figure out the exact quantities in this recipe. My daughter gets a little annoyed with me when she asks for a recipe, and I am not sure of the exact instructions. Sometimes I just cook, and the process is in my head. The other problem with that method is sometimes a dish turns out better than usual, and I don’t know what I did different. But enough about my life, I need to convince my planet saving friend to give up meat for a day, and I hope this recipe will do it. I spent extra time measuring and jotting down the amounts when I made this, and so I hope Al will give it a try!

Spinach Lasagna

Saute the following:
small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Then add and simmer for about 15 minutes:
1 quart tomatoes, chopped
3 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried basil

Cheese Mixture
Combine the following:
24 ounces cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

9 uncooked lasagna noodles (whole wheat works great)*
8 cups loosely packed chopped spinach
4 cups grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheese

In a 9x13 casserole dish, layer the following:
a little bit of sauce to cover the bottom of the pan, 3 noodles, 1/2 the cheese mixture, 1/2 the spinach, 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the cheese, 3 noodles, 1/2 cheese mixture, 1/2 spinach, 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the cheese, 3 noodles, cover noodles with remaining sauce and cheese.
Bake covered for 1 hour at 375 degrees.
It is best if you let it sit for at least 1 hour before cutting.

* I have used these whole wheat noodles in this recipe and my family didn't detect a difference in the taste from the regular noodles. One of the things I have hated about making lasagna is cooking the noodles before layering all the ingredients. This recipe works great to let the noodles cook during baking, and they actually absorb the taste of the sauce.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The View from Here

That is the view of part of my 6 mile run yesterday. Running this hill is always a challenge. It is only 1.6 miles to the end of the street, but every inch of the way it feels like my quads and calves are on fire. I have to tell myself to keep going because once I start walking part of the way, it is easy to stop and walk again. I have this little trick I do in my head as I am running a hard stretch. I pick a tree, light pole, or traffic sign up ahead and picture myself tied to that tree by a bungee cord. This seems weird, but as I do it, I can almost feel myself being pulled toward the tree. If I look at the entire street and focus on all I must climb to get to the end, I could easily give up.

Life is similar to jogging. Sometimes we are on an easy down hill path that feels like we could go forever. Sometimes we are just plugging along and doing the day to day mundane things like the flat trail without much of a view. And then there are the times in our lives when every step feels hard, and we have to convince ourselves not to give up and if we just keep moving that we can make it to the end. Sometimes we have to get through each day dealing with just one small step and not allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the big picture, and then pray that somehow we can feel someone pulling us along.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

For Those Who Don’t Have Time to Read

Are you someone who loves to read, but doesn’t have the time? Do you wish that you liked to read, but find yourself just waiting for the movie to come out? Do you think all books should have cliff notes? Or do you hate to read an entire book when it’s just a small percentage of the book you end up enjoying? Well if you said yes to any of these questions, then this post is for you. Often times when I am reading a book, I will keep track of the lines in the book that caused an aha moment. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand had several.

     “The world is full of small ignorances. We must all do our best to ignore them and thereby keep them small.”

     “It was never a good idea to confide in people. They always remembered, and when they came up to you in the street, years later, you could see the information was still firmly attached to your face and present in the way they said your name and the pressure of their hand clasping yours.”

     “Don’t worry about it. I don’t have space in my head to put up with harmless old gits trying to make me feel bad. I’ve learned to tell the difference between the people who can really hurt you and those who just want to look down their noses.”

      "'Oh, it’s simple Pragmatism, Dad. It’s called the real world. If we refused to do business with the morally questionable, the deal volume would drop in half and the good guys like us would end up poor. Then where would we all be?'
     'On a nice dry spit of land known as the moral high ground?' suggested the Major.”

     “I think we wake up every day with high intentions and by dusk we have routinely fallen short. Sometimes I think God created the darkness just so he didn’t have to look at us all the time.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Dessert Dilemma

Sometimes it seems just impossible to please everyone in my family with one dessert. We have some who love nuts in their brownies and others who won’t eat them with nuts. My one daughter loves whip cream as a cake topping, and my son wants frosting. Hot fudge is a favorite with some while others just like a cold chocolate sauce. Pumpkin pie pleases three of my children, and the other two want chocolate. Even a simple chocolate cake brings the struggle between white or chocolate frosting. I love to make desserts, but I hate the look of disappointment on my child’s face when they ask what I am making, and it’s not what they like. It is hard to please everyone, and yet they all think that is my job!

Last week, I decided to make a dessert pizza. I knew four of my children would be excited, and one would be very disappointed. I had this great idea to make extra cookie dough and make sugar cookies for the non-fruit dessert lover. I also had been eyeing this cookie recipe in my King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking Book. And now I have created more dessert dilemmas. My husband and one daughter loved the flavor of this recipe as the crust, and another preferred the simple sugar cookie dough I made before. I am definitely in a cookie quandary!

Soft Barley-Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large eggs
3 cups barley flour
1 cup spelt flour*
2/3 cup sour cream
Coarse white or granulated sugar for topping

Cream the butter, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, nutmeg, vanilla, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and beat until smooth.
Whisk together the flours in a separate bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating to combine. Beat in the sour cream, then the remaining flour. Refrigerate the dough overnight.
Scoop out dough and form into a ball and roll in sugar. Bake on a greased baking sheet in a 450 degree preheated oven for 8 minutes.

I rolled out about 2/3 of this dough and placed on a greased cookie sheet for my dessert pizza crust.

* Original recipe called for unbleached all-purpose flour, but I used spelt flour instead.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I have a confession

I love pies. Apple pie, pumpkin, fresh strawberry pie, chocolate cream pie, and Marie Callendar’s sour cream lemon pie are among my favorites, but my absolute favorite would have to be a pecan pie. The confession isn’t that I love pies, but that I like my pies minus any whole grain. I have tried a whole wheat crust and to be honest it just ruins the whole pie for me. So, even though it is out of character for my normal baking habits, and it kills me to admit it, I choose to use white flour in my pie crusts. I think I can blame this issue on my upbringing. Every year for Thanksgiving, our home would be inundated with pies. My mother and aunts would make the best pies with the most incredibly flaky crusts. I wasn’t really fond of the pie filling back then; I was really just interested in eating the crust. In fact, if I am confessing, I remember sitting by the pies and hoping that a piece of the fluted edge would just happen to fall off if the pie accidentally got bumped. I think my mom was on to me because she repeatedly had to tell me to get away from the pies.

I tried a new pie recipe last week. I had quite a few peaches and wanted to try something a little different. I found a recipe for a Peach-a-Berry Pie on This pie was gone in less than 24 hours. I was craving it the following day and decided to make another one. It lasted a couple days.

Peach-a-Berry Pie
4 cups fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pie crusts
2 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into pieces

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Place peaches and berries in a colander for about 15 minutes to drain any excess fluid, then transfer to a large bowl. Gently toss with sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Transfer to a pie crust. Dot with butter, and top with remaining crust. Cut vents in top crust.
    3. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven until crust is golden brown.

I can't wait for Thanksgiving!
And thanks mom for all the great pies through the years!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Meat Free Monday

I was wondering the other day if Paul McCartney and Al Gore get together for a little meeting to determine what green advice should be shared with the world to help us little people be better stewards of our environment. And do they invite Robert Redford? Paul McCartney has launched a new campaign on his Help the Planet website. It is called “Meat Free Mondays”. Now I know Sir Paul is a vegetarian, but I just don’t see Mr. Gore going along with this campaign. He seems like a meat and potatoes guy to me. Usually most vegetarians are on the thin side, and well, Al Gore is not exactly slender. I think that we Americans eat way too much meat, and so I am giving Paul McCartney my full support and cooperation on his new campaign. Actually, we usually have meat free Mondays at our house. We also have meat free Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Typically we have meat twice a week. Now when I tell people this little interesting tidbit about our family, the first question is “What do you eat?” It takes a little more creativity to make meatless dishes that your family will like and give them the protein their bodies need, but it can be done. One of my all time favorite meat free meals is Baked Vegetarian Chimichangas. I found this recipe on a vegan website. It called for soy cheese and a non-dairy sour cream. I like the real stuff, and so that is how I make it.


            1/2 cup chopped onions
            6 cloves garlic, minced
            1 tablespoon olive oil
            1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chilies
            1 (16 ounce) vegetarian refried beans
            1 1/2 cups of your favorite salsa
            2 cups cooked brown rice
            1 (16 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            2 teaspoons chili powder
            2 teaspoons powdered cumin
            3 tablespoons sour cream
            1 1/2 cups grated colby jack cheese

            8-10 large burrito size tortillas or 12-14 medium size flour tortillas (I like the uncooked flour tortillas the best)
            olive oil
            cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado for garnish, as desired

1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is soft.  Add green chilies, flatten mixture in bottom of pan and saute without stirring until onions begin to caramelize a little, remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Add onion mixture.
3. Depending on size of tortilla, place 1/2 to 1 cup filling on each tortilla. Fold the bottom over the filling, fold the sides in, then carefully fold it over to close. Brush each chimichanga with olive oil.
4. Place chimichangas on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
5. Add cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and tomatoes, and enjoy!

Beans and whole grain combined make a complete protein. These make excellent leftovers. Just place in the oven for about 15 minutes to reheat and enjoy for lunch the next day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Every 20 Minutes Makes a Difference

So yesterday at my local fitness center they began their annual Fall Fitness Challenge. Each time you go in to work out, they give you a sticker to put up next to your name, and when you have collected seven stickers, you get a prize. Somehow a little acknowledgement of our effort motivates many of us to work out more. I know when I have a goal, I am more motivated to put my running shoes on. I have read that for every mile a person walks they add 20 minutes to their life. So after a 3 mile run, I will add an additional hour to my life. I would need to go 72 miles to add a full day, 504 miles for a week, and 2160 miles to add a full month. I have often wondered how many miles do I actually run, walk, bike, and swim in a year. If I averaged 15 miles per week, after one year, I would have added 11 days to my 79.5 year life expectancy. I think I would like to add 15 days to my life during the next year. That would mean that I need to average 20.76 miles per week. I am sure that I exceed that amount during the summer, but the winter is much harder for me to stay motivated. So my goal is set, and a year from now my life expectancy will be up .041. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when life is short, every second counts!