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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sweet Pineapple Salmon

At the request of a special friend, I'm posting one of my favorite salmon recipes.  This is a great salmon recipe for those who are not great salmon lovers.  The sweetness and acidity of the pineapple eliminates much of the "fishy" flavor, leaving a mild, delicious, heart-healthy recipe.

2 8oz salmon fillets
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp bourbon (optional)
1/3 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup olive oil

  • Combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, bourbon, pepper and garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  Add the oil.
  • Place the salmon fillets in a shallow dish or zipper bag and pour marinade over, saving a little for basting later on.
  • Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least an hour, longer is better.
  • Preheat barbecue or stovetop grill to medium-high heat.
  • Cook the fish for 5-7 minutes per side or until each fillet is cooked all the way through.  Regularly brush fish with the reserved marinade.

Super Easy Chicken Dinners!

Okay, I don’t usually post twice in one day (I have a hard time getting one post out a day!) but I just had to share. Last night at our girl’s night, I was chatting with the girls about frozen chicken (I know…lame!) and how ecstatic I was to discover this easy dinner solution.  I’m not sure I’ve specifically shared it on the blog before.

You know that frustration you feel when it’s about ½ hour before dinner time and your staring into your cabinet wondering what you can make in 30 minutes or less, especially when you didn't thaw any meat out and you don’t have time to go to the store and get something fresh?  I HATE that feeling.  It would happen to me a lot.

Then one day, because I had a great coupon, I bought some frozen chicken breast tenders figuring I could do something tasty with them.  When I got them home and read the direction, I was a little surprised to find that all you had to do was taken the frozen tenders out of the bag, place them in the pan and cook them for 30 minutes.  That’s it--frozen to dinner ready in 30 minutes.  And it’s white meat, tender, chicken breast!

What’s even greater is that I’ve found the possibilities for this chicken is only limited to your tastes and imagination.  The first time I made it, I had also grabbed some Buffalo Chicken Wing sauce from the store on a whim.  The tanginess appealed to me and I was excited to find this particular sauce had ZERO calories.  Can’t get better than that!

I dumped the sauce on the chicken, baked it as directed for 30 minutes and voila! Yummy, yummy, easy, tasty chicken! 

Anyway, I was enthusiastically explaining all of this to the girls and explained how I ALWAYS stock up on these chicken tenders whenever they go on sale (most stores carry some brand of these), because usually, I think they’re over-priced (anywhere from $11.99 - $14.99 for a 40oz bag depending on the store/brand).  But I love to have them on hand for those moments when I just don’t know what I’m going to make and the dinner countdown has begun.

Then today, as I was going through my Sunday ads, I saw that Fred Meyer has the Tyson Chicken Breast Tenderloins on sale for $5.99 a bag with a coupon from the ad.  There’s a limit of three per coupon.  Of course, I ran got my three bags and just decided I need to share this great little time and money saving dinner tip with everyone.  So, if you have a Fred Meyer near you, get down there this week and try a bag for $5.99.  You won’t be sorry.  And just to give you a little more incentive, here are a few easy ideas I’ve done with the chicken and they’ve all turned out great!

  • Ashanti Chicken Wing Sauce (It has ZERO CALORIES!!!!), serve with Blue Cheese and celery
  • Spinach Artichoke dip spooned over the chicken
  • Favorite bottled Barbecue Sauce
  • Cut them up for easy Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups (see my recipe on the blog)
  • I’m sure they’d be yummy with some Cream of Mushroom soup, especially with the addition of some frozen carrots & peas.
 I hope this gives you some great, inexpensive ideas and inspiration for those tough dinner days.  Good luck! 

What Does That Boy Eat? - Part VII (The Final Post!)

Ah, the last day of the week.  This has been a fairly typical week for us so now you have an idea of what Cainan eats pretty regularly.  Thankfully, he has a pretty sophisticated palate and likes things like, tzatziki, humus, vegetable pancakes, tuna, etc…

It’s been a challenge to keep his calories low but give him plenty of yummy things to eat and not make him feel excluded from meals.  Believe it or not, I rarely prepare separate meals for him.  Well, I should say separate dinners.  I do make him breakfast and lunch but we have family dinners all together.  Usually the entrée is pretty low calorie for a decent serving, plus there are lots of low calorie sides.  His proportions are different from ours, but we eat the same things.  He just gets more of the sides, whereas we have a larger portion of the entrée, usually.

I can’t say how pleased I am that he rarely asks for food and doesn’t exhibit any signs of food seeking behavior.  He’s pretty happy most of the time and though, it’s obvious he spends a lot of time thinking about food, it’s not anxious thoughts or worry (he just likes to tell you every detail of each meal he’s eaten and what his favorite parts are and why).  Living with Prader-Willi Syndrome is a huge challenge, but we are grateful to have found some smooth sailing in the diet department (which often isn’t the case). 

2 Servings Fiber One Honey Squares w/ Almond Milk = 190
Small Banana = 70

Fruit by the foot = 80

Tuna Sandwich = 175
Serving of Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup = 90
8 oz Crystal Light = 8

6 oz Light Yogurt = 80

Smart Choice Chicken Santa Fe frozen dinner = 140
Carrot Sticks =  50
Humus = 50
Apple slices = 60

Bag of Low Calorie Kettle Corn = 35
Smarties = 25

Total for Today = 1053

What Does That Boy Eat? - Part VI

Today was a lazy day.  We went to have breakfast with my mom for her birthday and Cainan insisted on having his FiberOne cereal instead of the biscuits, gravy, eggs and bacon we were all having (which saved me from trying to creatively limit his calories but give him enough food).  However, I forgot to bring our low-cal milk and all she had was 2% (which has 130 cal per cup compared to the 60 in almond milk or 80 in skim).  Then we decided to go to a movie and I let the boys pick a candy from their trick-or-treat bag and, of course, indulge in some movie popcorn. 

I was careful with lunch because I knew I was going out for a much needed girls’ night tonight and Joe planned on having a “guys’ night” with the boys.  This was going to include pizza and probably some kind of indulgent evening snack too.  So, I gave Cainan a HUGE salad (always low calorie) with a light sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles and a serving of tuna.  Even with dressing it was only 100 calories—that gave him lots of room for the evening to have some yummy food.

I gave him a choice between having a tiny slice of whatever Joe orders or having me make him a whole pizza that he can eat all of.  He chose the homemade pizza (I made it on a pita, but usually make it on a low calorie wrap). 
2 servings Fiber One Honey Squares w/ 2% milk= 220
Small Banana = 70

Snack size Buttefinger = 100
1 cup Movie Popcorn = 90

Large green salad w/ tuna, blue cheese, Tzatziki & tomatoes = 100
6 oz Light Cranberry Juice = 5

6 oz Light Yogurt = 80

Homemade Pita Pizza = 350
Grapes = 50

Gummie Mummy = 75

Total for the day = 1140

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Does That Boy Eat? - Part V

Well, I did it again…I didn’t get my post done last night.  After rushing to finish the boys costumes, I insisted on a quick dinner out (thank you, Red Robin!).  We rushed home after and suited the boys up, then threw them in the car to get to Asher’s Trunk or Treat at his school.  The boys collected candy and compliments, then we came home, let them choose a candy, hurried them through the bedtime routine and collapsed in bed in time to watch Extreme Makeover.  It was AWESOME!!  By the time that finished I drifted off without even a thought about the blog, so here’s yesterday’s meals. 

Just a quick note about drinks when eating out…I always order water with lemon for the boys.  I squeeze every bit of lemon I can into the water and add a packet of sweetener.  Voila! Instant, fresh, sugar-free lemonade.  I know artificial sweeteners aren’t perfect but am I glad there are so many alternatives to calorie-laden sugar out there? Sure!  Did you know the surgeon general removed the warning on saccharine (that’s my personal favorite out of the commercially available ones found at most restaurants)?  Am I totally sold on the safety of artificial sweeteners? No.  But does it beat the health problems associated with having 200 lb 10 year old?  Absolutely.

 I am grateful for the outcome of the “obesity epidemic” in America, in that there are an innumerable amount of sugar-free, fat-free, low-calorie, carb-smart product in almost any food imaginable and it allows my son to eat a diet that does not consist solely of salad and water (which he will not drink on its own—it’s a PWS thing).  Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox, even though I have a lot more I could say about it.  But I’m kind of being preemptively defensive here and I realize that’s not necessary unless someone actually says something about the artificial sweetener thing…

2 Servings Southwest Egg Beaters = 60
Toast w/ light butter and sugar free jelly = 70
6 oz Carbsmart Yogurt = 60

Graham Cracker Sheet = 70

Lunch =
Tuna Melt = 185
Grapes = 60
Vitamin Water Zero = 0

Pumpkin Seeds = 90
Grapes = 80

Red Robin Chicken on a Stick w/ BBQ Sauce, 2 Melon Wedges, 3 French Fries = 295
Sugar Free Lemonade = 0

Reese’s Peanut butter Cup = 105

Total For the Day = 1075

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sculpting Yoda

So, I have a habit of getting myself into jams of my own accord.  This year for Halloween, Cainan insisted that he wanted to be Yoda.  He’s been saying so for several months.  I thought he might change his mind but it’s been made up for a long time now. 

At some point I decided it would be easy to make his costume, including a mask made of paper mache.  I think this assumption came from our little paper mache piñata project from this summer.  I’m not really sure why I thought it would be no big deal.

Anyway, I’ve been acting under this assumption and purchased the paper mache clay and green paint as I had good coupons and could get them for cheap.  However, I kept putting off actually making the mask--mostly because I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t really know where to begin.

Here we are the week of Halloween and I kept telling myself, “I’ve got to get this done.”  Today, I realized the boys’ first Halloween event is tomorrow evening and I had absolutely no more time left to dilly-dally with this.  I had looked up some how-tos on mask making and paper mache earlier in the week and this afternoon, I launched into it whole-heartedly.  

I started with creating a newspaper ball bigger than Cainan’s head as the basic mold.  I guess the idea is after the paper mache is molded around it and dries, you can tear out the paper center and have a hallow mask. 
Using the paper and some masking tape I made and attached ears.  I then used the same method to start molding a face with the paper and tape.  Eventually, I was pretty satisfied with the basic shape of his head and facial features.  Once I got the paper mold to a place I thought was acceptable, I mixed up the paper mache and started slathering it on the paper mold.  At the same time, I was also trying to sculpt the features of Yoda’s face.  I’m no sculptor so this was pretty challenging.  But, at least once that was done, the hardest part was over.

I started adding more mache to the rest of the head and soon found myself out of material even though I hadn’t finished the ears or the back of the head.  I had to run back to Michael’s and thankfully, I still had another 40% off coupon, so the damage wasn’t too bad.  In fact, I should come in under $15.00 for the whole costume, which sure beats the $35 - $65 the costumes go for in the store (and they’re super chintzy!)

I came back home and finished up the head.  Now it’s got to dry overnight without cracking, even though it should, technically, have two to three days to dry and cure for painting.  A fan and heat can help it dry more quickly, but cracking is a risk.  Then I have to paint it to look like Yoda and cross my fingers that the thing will sit on his head correctly and that he’ll wear it for more than 30 seconds (he does not have a great history with masks).

Of course, I’m undertaking this little project during one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in months!  What am I thinking?  Oh yeah—that I’d do everything within my limited power to put a smile on my little boy’s face, even if that means taking up sculpting and mask design on short notice (ok, I understand the short notice was completely due to my own procrastination).

I probably should have just saved up the money and bought him a store costume—it would have been a lot easier and by the time this thing is all done, the store costume probably will look a lot better too, chintzy or not (I am aware that Yoda's ears are more like Dumbo's in my rendition, but there's not much I can do about it at this point).

Oh well.  I will post final photos when I get it all pulled together.  Wish me luck!

What Does That Boy Eat? - Part IIII

This was a pretty straightforward day.  I was out of Egg Beaters so he had cereal, which is usually something he only has on the weekends--mostly because he cannot consume it quickly (there was a lot of prompting this morning so we didn’t miss the bus).  I was also out of lunchmeat so I made him his favorite for lunch: tuna melt.  He was apparently, ecstatic when he opened his lunchbox and saw the surprise.  

Cainan also really enjoyed dinner tonight.  He likes pasta but has trouble with eating it.  He decided to try a fork and a spoon tonight.  I couldn't help snapping a picture of him using both utensils and sucking up a noodle.  

I was feeling indulgent myself this evening so we had Sundays for dessert!

2 servings FiberOne Honey Squares w/ Almond Milk = 195
Banana = 70

1 graham cracker sheet = 70

Tuna Melt = 185
Grapes = 60
6 oz Vitamin Water Zero = 0

6 oz Light Yogurt = 80
8 oz Light Cranberry Juice = 10

2 servings Spaghetti w/ 3 meatballs = 185
Breadstick = 100
6 oz Vitamin Water Zero = 0

¾ cup Choc Extreme light ice cream = 135
Whip cream = 25
Cherry = 5

Total for Today = 1120

What Does That Boy Eat? - Part III

Yesterday was so busy, when we got home from church last night, I bee-lined it for my bed and I don’t remember much after that—except waking up at three this morning thinking about all the things I still need to accomplish, one of which was posting to the blog for yesterday.  Oh well.

Here are Cainan’s meals and calories for yesterday.

2 servings Egg Beaters = 60
1 slice toast w/ low cal butter and jam = 70
6 oz low carb yogurt = 60
4 oz Trop50 = 25

Animal Cookies = 44

Veggie Pancake = 140
1 Tbs Tzatziki = 12
Low Fat Cheese Stick = 60
Grapes = 60
6 oz Vitamin Water Zero = 0

¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds = 80
Grapes = 60

Sloppy Joe = 175
5 Tater Tots = 90
Pear half = 40
8 oz Vitamin Water Zero =0

Celery w/ Peanut butter = 125
Pear Half = 40

Total for the Day = 1141

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Does That Boy Eat? Part II

Tonight was Top Soccer for the boys so I knew Cainan was going to be expending a lot of energy.  I packed him a pretty good lunch but as it turned out he didn’t have time to eat it all.  He ended up having the rest of his lunch plus some pumpkin seeds for a snack and a pretty large dinner.  After Top Soccer he got a Capri Sun with the rest of his team and I let him have a donut hole and a banana before he rushed off to bed.  He ended the day a little short again, mostly because of the rush we were in and his propensity for slow eating.  Tomorrow's another busy day but we also have a high calorie dinner tomorrow night, so I know he'll be getting plenty.

2 servings Egg Beaters = 60
1 slice toast w/ low cal butter & sugar free jam = 70
1 small banana = 60
4 oz Trop50 OJ = 25

3 Animal Cookies = 33
Small Apple = 95

2 Seasoned hardboiled egg whites = 50
Watermelon = 30
Carrot sticks = 25
6 oz Light Yogurt = 80
6 oz Vitamin Water Zero = 0

Pumpkin Seeds = 115

Spinach & Artichoke chicken tenders = 145
Steamed Carrots = 25
½ breadstick = 65
2/3 cup peas = 70
4 oz Vitamin Water Zero = 0

Capri Sun Raging Waters = 30
1 chocolate covered donut hole = 50
1 Banana = 70

Total For Today = 1098

Super Low-Cal & Tasty Chili Mac

Here’s the recipe for the super low cal Chili Mac I made for Cainan—it’s a lot of food!

1 package of Shirataki Noodles (any variety) – 40 cal for entire package
¾ cup of your favorite chili – calories vary
1 slice non-fat cheese – 25 - 30 calories per slice

Follow directions for rinsing the noodles.  Add chili.  Stir to combine.  Heat thoroughly, either by microwaving or baking in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Add cheese slice to top and serve.

This recipe is one large serving or two small ones and, depending on the chili you choose, is amazingly low in calories.  Even with a popular full calorie brand of chili (Hormel Chili with Beans), one serving is only 132 calories.  It’s  even less if you use a lower calorie chili.  I choose a low cal chili and let Cainan eat both servings; it makes a huge meal for him, especially with some fruit and veggies on the side.

If you've never heard of the Shirataki Noodles, don't be surprised.  They can be a little difficult to find.  I usually find them in the produce section where they keep other Asian noodles, wonton wrappers and vegetarian items.  

They come packaged in liquid and like most soybean based products, have a pungent odor (to say it nicely) when you open them and drain the liquid.  They should be rinsed to get rid of the odor and I promise they won't taste like they smell.  They take on on the taste of whatever you add to them and their consistency is similar to a firm noodle.  

Personally, I don't mind eating them at all, as long as some time passes between when I open them and when I consume them, because I have a really hard time getting past the smell.  Even though I know they don't taste like they smell, that odor lingers with me and has a psychological effect.  But I often have the same problem with anything smelly that I prepare (especially seafood!!).  If you're used to consuming tofu and other soybean products, it may not bother you at all.

What's particularly nice about them is their extremely low calorie count--40 calories for the entire two serving package.  And they come in various types: spaghetti, fettuccine, etc.  Use them in any recipe that calls for pasta and you'll be cutting your pasta calories by at least 90% (based on a 200 calories serving of traditional dried pasta).  

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Does That Boy Eat? - Part I

Once people get to know about Cainan’s disorder and realize how restricted his diet is, I get a lot of questions about how I do it.  This week, I’ve decided to show those who are interested, first hand.  Each day I’m going to post what Cainan ate for each meal and his calorie count.  Right now, he’s getting around 1200 calories a day—that’s just recently up from the 900 calories he’s gotten almost his whole life.

We raised his calories in May after our semi-annual visit with his endocrinologist.  We observed that he’s continuing to grow well but would still benefit from an increase in dosage of his daily HGH injections.  However, we also noted that even though his height was climbing steadily along the 50 percentile curve, his weight had plateaued—he wasn’t gaining and had actually dropped lower than the 40 percentile.  We also found his thyroid level was a little low so he started on Thyroid medicine.

With his weight behind the curve, an increase in HGH and medication to speed up his thyroid, we were all ecstatic (especially him) to increase his calories.  We didn’t want a sudden weight gain or to get him used to eating foods that he would have to later cut out if his weight increased too much, so we started out gradually.  We hoped to increase to about 1000-1100 calories a day.  Just that little bit of calories made a big difference in each meal. 

As it turned out, we had several opportunities over the summer for Cainan to be weighed and measured.  Each time, he showed an increase in height and weight, but only by a pound at a time over about 6 weeks.  The weight gain was working and it was staying slow and steady.

Also over the summer, I was able to keep Cainan VERY active and realized I could give him more food when I knew he had actually expended some real calories during the day.  One of our greatest feats was climbing Table Rock, a 2.8 mile round trip hike with an ascent of 720 feet.  Though it was painfully slow and it took a lot of positive, upbeat motivation to keep him going (I had to carry him 2/3 of the way the last time we did this hike) he did the whole thing on his own two feet (I was heart-breakingly proud of him!!!!). 

I used an app on my phone that’s supposed to keep track of the distance we hiked, elevation change, steps taken, pace, etc…and includes calories burned.  It’s based on my height, weight and age but it said I supposedly burned 1700 calories on that little jaunt.  Our first stop after getting back in the car was Dairy Queen and Cainan had his first ever Butterscotch dipped cone.

We recently saw the endocrinologist again and Cainan’s height is staying right on track in the 50th percentile even with the increase in the HGH (so that was the right move).  His weight is also back on a climbing curve and just above the 40th percentile.  The doctor’s happy and we’re right at about 1200 calories a day now—that’s where I finally felt comfortable adjusting his calories.  He’s pretty happy with the amounts he gets to eat now and some of the new foods he gets to try.

We are extremely fortunate that Cainan is seven years old and does not have any signs of food-seeking behavior.  Though he asks for food between meals and snacks, we can usually redirect him or accommodate him but other than a handful of times that wouldn’t be that different from a typically developing child, he has never taken food he shouldn’t have.  He’s pretty satisfied with the diet he’s on (Praise God!).

Below is a list of what he ate today.  Mondays are typically our swim day so I normally give him extra calories but we skipped it today since I’m still a bit sick.  And though the count is a bit low today, he still got some pretty big meals--they just happened to be some of my lower calorie recipes.  

If you’re confused by any of this, you can get lots of information about Prader-Willi syndrome (the condition Cainan has) by visiting

Two servings of Egg Beaters =  60
½ a low cal bagel w/ light butter = 60
4 oz of Trop50 OJ = 25
Small Banana = 60

Graham Cracker (1 sheet) = 70

1 veggie pancake = 140
Carrot sticks = 25
Grapes = 60
2 TBS Tzatziki = 25
8 oz Vitamin Water Zero = 0

¼ cup carmalized pumpkin seeds = 110
Fruit Leather = 35

2 servings of chili mac (homemade low cal recipe) = 160
Watermelon = 20
Tomatoes = 15
Non-fat Ranch dressing = 15
8 oz Vitamin Water Zero = 0

Slice of Banana Nut Bread = 200

Grand Total = 1080

Monday, October 17, 2011

Caramelized Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Ok, in my last post I mentioned that I was trying a new recipe for pumpkin seeds besides the standard roasted/salted variety that I love.  Well, I tried them and they came out FANTASTIC!!  Here's the recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (according to your taste)
  • 2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds, washed and dried
  • cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons of sugar, the cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, and set aside.
  3. Place the pumpkin seeds on the prepared baking sheet, spray them with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake the seeds in the preheated oven until lightly golden--20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds along with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook and stir the seeds until the sugar forms a coating on the seeds, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  5. Stir the caramelized seeds into the bowl of sugar-spice mixture, toss to coat, and let cool.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Where Have I Been?!

I’m just sitting down after a tremendously long day and realizing I haven’t posted an entry in just over two weeks.  That’s probably because these last few weeks have been insanely busy for us!  Shall I backtrack through some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the last few weeks and catch you up on our lives?

After church and a quick trip to Urgent Care (I’ll explain why a little later), I made lunch for the guys, went through my Sunday paper and various other coupon sources and went on an epic shopping trip this afternoon.  I spent $132.00 at five stores but saved $53.56 in coupons and managed to finish Christmas shopping for Asher, get the supplies to make Cainan’s Halloween costume, stock up on several months worth of beverages for the boys, Joe and I, as well as, score some cheap make-up and hair products for myself and a blue-ray edition of Alien (ok, that’s all the bragging I’m going to do about my couponing)!

After unloading my stockpile at home, I made a super yummy Italian dinner and we set about carving pumpkins.  Asher carved his own pumpkin this year and decided on a pirate.  He did great!  Cainan chose a ghost design.  He helped pull all the pulp out, then I had him dig seeds out of the pulp while I carved the pumpkin for him.  We both LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds and this time I’m trying an amazing sounding recipe for caramelized spiced pumpkin seeds (I’ll let you know how it comes out, but I’m really excited).

Yesterday we went to Pheasant Farms pumpkin patch for a birthday party of one of 
 Asher’s friends.  Baily Jean turned five and before we set out I had both the boys make cards for their friends who were celebrating birthdays while I packed our lunches.
You see, after the party at the pumpkin patch that started at 11:00, we headed to a party for Cainan’s friend, Gavin, at 1:00 on the other side of town.  
We stayed there a short time so we could make it to Asher’s soccer game at 2:00.  I got the boys home in time to take a short nap before they headed over to my mom’s house to spend the night.  That meant Joe and I got to have a date night! We had a wonderful time at Porter’s and met up with our good friend Dan and his mom.  It was a nice surprise for Joe who didn’t know I had a Porter’s gift card—which was a surprise thank you gift from my dentist, whom I did a commercial for (did I mention I was in a commercial a few weeks ago?).

Friday was mostly a wasted day for me.  I woke up at three in the morning with excruciating ear pain and realized I had developed an ear infection.  After making an appointment to see my doctor, first thing, I locked myself out of my house and missed that appointment.  Thankfully, I was still able to get in and get started on antibiotics and ear drops.  My in-laws had the boys for the day since there was no school and I pretty much just sat and felt sorry for myself all day because the entire left side of my head hurt sooooo badly.  Today, when I still wasn’t sleeping well and still had excruciating pain, I decided to go to Urgent Care to see what was going on.  I got a different kind of ear drop and some pain meds, which helped take the edge off and hopefully I can get this infection whipped!  I'm bummed I lost the whole day of Friday but it was probably something I needed to do for myself.  I still got the opportunity to make dinner for the guys and the in-laws when they brought the boys home.  I made those scrumptious Thai lettuce cups.

Speaking of dinner…we had our second dinner before Awanas on Wednesday night.  Things went really well but we had fewer people this time around.  I think, mostly, because it wasn’t announced on the Sunday prior and people tend to forget stuff like that.  But overall, we got really good feedback and I made sure it made it into the announcements today.

Speaking of the previous Sunday…my whole side of the family got together from Friday through Sunday at a friend’s cabin up in the mountains near 
 our home.  We had a spectacular time together 
celebrating my grandpa’s 80th birthday.  I made 80 cupcakes 
and a small cake for the occasion.  It was so fulfilling to see my boys get to have such a
great time with their three cousins.  The boys were fantastically cute together and had an incredible time playing their little hearts out.  One of the greatest outcomes from that weekend is that we are now taking our cousin, Dakota, with us to Awana’s on Wednesday nights.  He’s in Asher’s class and the two are so excited about spending time together in Sparks.

Well, this brings me to the first week of October.  We had our first Wednesday night dinner before Awanas.  We served 52 people and had exactly the right amount of food to do so.  God is so good!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this ministry and I look forward to preparing dinner each Wednesday night.  This week, I’ll be making scratch chili and cornbread in honor of the Western Night theme.  I’m not sure how I’m dressing the boys up, yet.

Let’s see, anything else?  My Thursday day morning Community Bible Study started up again this week and I’m glad for the structured time to spend in God’s word.  Oh, and Top Soccer started up again Tuesday evenings for Cainan (Asher participates, too).  It’s such a great program to let kids of all abilities get to have a time of learning some athletic skills and team work. 

AND, I almost forgot--I've decided to start selling Avon, so I got signed up to do that on Thursday.  You can check out my website and order directly through there at  Right now, shipping is free for orders over $30.00. 

What else can I say? I think that pretty much catches you all up on our last two weeks.  We are extremely blessed.  I’m not sure I’ve mentioned just how much I am absolutely crazy about being a stay-at-home wife and mother.  It’s so amazing to get to spend this time seeing to my home, my husband, our boys, serving in their schools and our church, being able to help out friends and family.  My heart is full!

Bless you all and I hope you are having a fulfilling autumn so far!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another Week in the Books

This week has been full and exciting.  On Thursday I got to volunteer in Asher’s Kindergarten class for the first time.  I think he was more excited than I was and I was pretty excited.  In the class room he kept winking at me and blowing me kisses.  I had to keep pointing to the teacher and making sure he was paying attention to her.  

This last week his class was doing a section on apples.  I got to teach the kids about Johnny Appleseed and help them put together the story, then color it.  As it turns out, Asher told me he was surprised to find out that Johnny Appleseed was not actually an appleseed but a real person.  I’m looking forward to Thursday mornings with Asher’s class.

Cainan happens to love apples—about better than anything else.  Tonight when Ron came over with a “surprise” for Cainan and revealed that it was a bag of one of his favorite types of apples (Gala), Cainan started jumping up and down and exclaimed in his highest voice, “Mommy! Mommy! Great news! Papa brought APPLES!! Can I have an apple for bedtime snack?”  You’d think it was chocolate cake or pizza.  I’m a lucky mom to have a son who loves fresh fruit so much.

Our little caterpillar that we found last week has turned to a chrysalis and we’re excited to see the swallowtail butterfly soon.  I found out from Joe that as a child he would always catch monarch caterpillars and had desperately searched for a swallowtail, but never found one.  I told him he would finally get to fulfill a childhood dream when our little guy emerges.  

Well, today I was walking out front again and saw another swallowtail caterpillar! I called Asher and mentioned it to Joe, who jumped up like a giddy little boy and rushed outside.  He helped Asher pluck the caterpillar from our brick planter and we put him in the basket with the other one.  Joe’s pretty excited.

We also visited the pumpkin patch today.  We’ve gone to Seven Oaks several years in a row.  It’s a nice place but I was pretty disappointed in their maze this year.  The last few years, they’ve had a big maze constructed of hay bales covered in black plastic.  It smells of fall, it’s dark and the boys love running through it.  This year when we pulled up, we saw that the maze is inside a big green canopy tent.  The boys went right for it.  When we got inside, we found that it’s all constructed of plywood that’s only about five feet high.   It was also not dark at all.  Kind of a let down…

The boys still had a good time and they got to ride ponies, so that made up for the maze.  We walked through the pumpkin patch but decided it was too early to buy pumpkins.  I think we’ll try out Pheasant Farms at some point before Halloween.  I like their corn maze, hay ride and other fun activities that they have on their farm.
I’m really looking forward to a quiet family Sunday.  I gave the boys haircuts this weekend.  I’m getting ready to clear out the rest of our garage sale stuff and take it down to the consignment shop on Wednesday.  And next weekend is my grandfather’s 80th birthday—our whole family is going to spend the weekend at cabin in the woods and I want to make a spectacular cake.  So, yeah, I really need tomorrow to be a relaxing family Sunday.  We ‘ve got a lot of ahead of us! 

Deep-Dish, Calorie-Laden Little Slice of Heaven

This one’s for Mama Laura and Aunt Betty.  I made a “Lou Malnati” style pizza the other night that came out super yummy and at their request, I’m posting the recipe.  CALORIE WARNING!!!  This is a rare occasion, don’t eat very often kind of recipe.  It has so many calories, I won’t even let Cainan smell it…yeah, it’s that bad.

To do it right, you’re going to need a deep dish pizza pan, preferably a stoneware one.  It’s also easiest to have a sturdy mixer with a dough hook, but I’m sure you can do it by hand too.  The dough recipe follows:

·    2 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast or a tablespoon of instant yeast
·    1 teaspoon white sugar or honey (I use honey)
·    1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
·    2 1/2 cups bread flour or AP flour
·    1 tablespoons olive oil
·    1 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the sugar or honey in the warm water and add yeast.  Mix in yeast and allow to develop, between five and ten minutes.  

Add flour, salt and olive oil to mixing bowl.  Add yeast mixture and mix with dough hook until dough pulls away from sides and forms ball.  If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.  Remove the hook and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes until double in size.

Add a good tablespoon of olive oil (and if you like a buttery taste, some melted butter) to the bottom of the deep dish pan.  Smear around the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Press dough into the pan.  Here’s where the magic of Lou Malnati’s comes into play.  Their pizzas are really pizza pies.  As you press the dough into the pan, allow the sides of the dough to push up the sides of the deep dish pan.  Press the dough against the sides making a thin high wall of pizza dough all the way around the edge with a nice deep flat bottom.

Now it’s time to build your pie—again, different than the pizzas you’re probably used to.  I start by putting a small amount of olive oil all over the crust and smearing crushed garlic on the base of the dough.  Now add your cheese—that’s right, on the bottom!  Add your various vegetables and meats (except pepperoni if you like it crispy).  Once you have your toppings added, pour on your favorite sauce—I like a fairly sweet sauce on this type of pizza.  Don’t get too heavy handed with the sauce as this is a thick pie and the middle will have a tough time baking all the way through.  Now, if you like crispy pepperoni, add this to the top with a VERY light sprinkling of cheese.

Set the pie in a 400 degree oven and bake for at least 30 minutes.  This is kind of an art and it depends on how thick you packed your pie and how much sauce you poured on.  Keep an eye on the edge of the crust and if it gets golden brown, take the pie out and give it a try.  If you find it’s still a little doughy in the middle, you can always throw it back in the oven.

VARIATIONS: I like to use the butter and oil mix because I like the buttery taste in the crust.  I also sprinkle a garlic parmesan mix on the edge of the crust once it’s brushed with the oil/butter mixture for a garlicy crust.  This last time, I just added the garlic parmesan right into the dough and it turned out great.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Just remember to only eat this about once or twice a year!