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Friday, January 25, 2013

Freeze Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast is challenging for me.  I don't care for most traditional breakfast foods, at least, not the quick and easy ones (cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, etc.).  Many are unhealthy (donuts, muffins, bagels/toast w/ butter & jam, toaster waffles, pop tarts, etc.) or take too long to prepare (omelets, fruit salad, etc).  I'd be happy with a sandwich or leftover Mexican food, but that's not practical or necessarily healthy either.  I often resort to fast food because it's cheap, quick and tasty--though very, very bad for me.  I particularly like breakfast sandwiches with bacon, but upon occasion I've been known to enjoy McDonald's sausage breakfast burritos.  These little burritos or small, cheesy and include eggs, peppers and sausage.  They're also only a dollar a piece (you'd probably want two, easily) and are approximately 300 calories apiece with 16 g of fat and 790 mg of sodium (so maybe you don't want two...).

I happen to know that all of the ingredients in these little burritos are easy to prepare, assemble and freeze beautifully (that means they reheat well, too).  So, I decided to make a batch of my own and freeze them for quick breakfasts.  I knew they would have fewer calories than McDonald's but I had no idea they would come out so good, be considerably lower in calories (and I'm sure fat & sodium, too but I didn't do the math on those elements) and be a larger, more satisfying portion (just one does it for me!).  

So here's how I did it and they came out to be, approximately 280 calories** (remember, they're bigger than McDonald's version, so the calories really are a lot less than theirs).  If you leave out the potatoes, which McDonald's version doesn't have and use non-fat cheese, which I always have on-hand for Cainan, then the calories go down to 220**, which means it's a breakfast even Cainan can partake in, upon occasion.

6 whole eggs
10 egg whites (Wondering what to do with 10 egg yolks?  This site gives you some great ideas)
3 medium red potatoes, cooked* (optional)
1 cup of cooked sausage crumbles*
1/3 cup diced bell peppers*
16 slices of American cheese
16 10" flour tortillas

  • Combine the whole eggs and egg whites.  Beat until frothy.  Add beaten eggs to large skillet and scramble over medium heat until soft set.
  • Add sausage, bell peppers and cooked diced potatoes.*  Continue to cook until eggs are done and remaining ingredients are warmed through.  Remove from heat.

  • To assemble the burritos, warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds until they are pliable.  On each tortilla, place a slice of American cheese and a 1/16th of the egg mixture.  Fold the tortilla into a burrito.  Wrap for the freezer.

After I cooked the eggs until soft, I added the sausage, potatoes and peppers. I continued cooking until the eggs were done and everything was warmed through.


I assembled my burritos individually.  So I used a small pan to warm a tortilla and place a slice of cheese on it. I tore the cheese slice in half to make it fit better in the burrito. 

Next I piled on the filling.

I rolled up the filled tortilla into a burrito.

I prepared a sheet of wax paper and foil to wrap the burritos.

Once the burritos were wrapped, I labeled them so they don't disappear into the freezer void.

I placed the completed burritos in the freezer.

To reheat, I remove the foil and unroll the wax paper.  I place it on top of the wax paper in the microwave and heat for about a minute and 20 seconds.  The America cheese gets melty, like a cheese sauce; the tortilla is soft and pliable; and the fillings is warm and satisfying!

*For potatoes, sausage and peppers:

  • I used Jimmy Dean fully cooked frozen "Hearty Sausage Crumbles".  I used half the bag, which ends up being 4.8 oz or about a cup.  My calorie calculations are based on using this sausage.  

  • When bell peppers go on sale, I buy a bunch, dice them and stick them in the freezer.  They're great to add to eggs, pizzas and other recipes that call for diced peppers. 

**All calorie calculations are approximate.  I calculate calories by adding the total calories for each ingredient together and dividing by the number of servings the recipe makes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Greenhouses and Dog Bunk Beds

Tuesday the boys had an extra day off school and, not thinking, I accepted a meeting request that morning.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law was available to spend some time with the rascals while I did boring Mommy work.  My MIL had just purchased a mini-greenhouse kit that needed to be built.  So, while I was discussing support groups and IEP trainings, Asher was in jumbo tinker-toy heaven as he, almost single handedly put together the greenhouse for Yaya.  I was pretty impressed.  That boy has an engineer’s mind and he LOVES to follow diagram instructions to build lego sets or any other type of buildable set.  He will often create his own diagram instructions before embarking on a unique creation.

Anyway…I arrived to pick him up and he was in the middle of building the thing.  I quickly saw there was no way I could tear him away from the task, plus it was a big help to Laura.  He got it all put together and we ported it outside to the right spot where he put on the finishing touches.

That afternoon at home, I mentioned that I wanted to build a raised dog bed for the…dogs (of course!).  I have a portable kennel for Bagel which Ozzy has decided is fun to chew on.  I also noticed he kept knocking it over on its side, making it impossible to get inside.  I finally figured out why—he likes to lay on top of it.  I had been noticing that Ozzy really likes height—he wants to be up on anything raised.  So I figured some doggy bunk beds would replace the destroyed kennel for Bagel and gift Ozzy the lift he was looking for.  Of course, Asher was ecstatic for another opportunity to BUILD!

I had a few pallets I collected last summer with grand hopes to build something out of them.  Two were smaller sized and I thought they were the perfect size to frame the bed, so we went to work breaking one down for lumber.  We used the other one, minus a few support boards, as the base of the top bunk.  The hardest part was breaking down the pallets but once we had all our materials together, it didn’t take too long to assemble.  Thankfully, my grandpa has a scrap wood pile where a found a small section of 2x4 (I only had three from the pallet) so I could have four legs on the bunk and some great slats the help enclose the sides.

 The finished product came out much better than I expected.  It weighed a metric ton! But, I wanted it heavy so Ozzy won’t push it around and use it to get on stuff he shouldn’t.  After strong-arming the thing into the backyard and porch where the dogs sleep, I introduced the new bed.  Ozzy was immediately on top.  

 As it turns out…both the dogs like the top bunk and Bagel is on it more often than Ozzy.  Sometimes I find Ozzy sleeping below while Bagel’s stretched out above.  Oh well…I’m still very stoked that we built it, that it came out so good and that the dogs like it.  Asher was a super helper and it was great bonding time for us.  He desperately loves learning how things work, are built and function.  PLUS, he needs the heavy work for his proprioceptive sensory issues. 

It was a good day.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Am I the Only Lonely?

“Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”
C.S. Lewis           

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on friendship and relationship.  We live in a very busy world.  I know many, many women and I would call many of them friends—in that we are on friendly terms.  I connect with most of the people I know via Facebook.  I keep up with what’s happening in their lives (if they post) and I certainly post a lot about what’s going on in mine, as a way to keep in touch with friends and family all over the country.  I see how busy and active my local “friends” are; there’s lots of posts about going out with the girls, meeting up for play dates, bible studies, workouts and errands with each other.  On the rare occasions when I get together with some of these women, I hear them talking about their previous time spent together.

And then there’s me…why am I so lonely?  

My husband recently came to me in concern and told me he felt I was bored.  He’s noticed the change in my demeanor and my lack of activity outside the home.  He was worried that I don’t feel fulfilled because I’m not working anymore.  He noticed how I've begun to spend more time on Facebook.  I told him, without hesitation, I’m not bored—I’m lonely.  I am very fulfilled in my role as a homemaker.  I LOVE being able to take care of him and the boys; working at the boys’ school; volunteering when needed at church or in the community; and my new part-time job.  But I’m really, really lonely.  Facebook is my only connection to people outside our home--some of my best friends live very far away.  I have no real relationships with anyone outside of our family.  And it’s not for lack of trying.

In the last two years I attended a morning women’s Bible study every Thursday for a year a half—never made a connection with anyone there.  I became very active in serving in our church, through a Wednesday night dinner ministry, serving in a huge community outreach program called I Heart Ashland and then I Heart Rogue Valley.  I attended an AMAZING six month training program and bonded with three fabulous women who live locally but I rarely see them now.  I facilitate a parent support group once a month.  There’s more—I could keep going.  My point is, I’m trying to make friends.  There are even women I call friend and I believe they would do the same but I don’t have much of a relationship with them.  I don’t know why.

Are women my age just satisfied with the relationships they have in their life and don’t have time to add more?  Am I confused about what friendship is?  I would love to have someone--besides my husband--to talk to occasionally, to go out for coffee with and chat, to see a chick flick, to get together for play dates with the kids, to go workout with, to study the bible and pray with—not every day, not all those things at once and not with just one person.  I would love to have a small group of close friends that I get together with individually or as a group a couple times a week.  I would like real relationship with some Christian women.  

I’ve prayed about this a lot.  I’ve second-guessed the reasons for my isolation.  Is it me?  I know I have always been painfully shy but in the last 15 years I have come leaps and bounds.  Though it’s still my natural tendency to be an introvert, I CAN meet people; I CAN make connections.  I just can’t seem to hang on to any of them.  I’ve wondered if my expectations are too high.  I’ve wondered if I’m the only one who is feeling this lonely.  Are there others out there who experience this?  Is there any way to know?  Not without just coming out and asking, which is the reason for this post.

I’ve agonized for months about writing a blog entry about loneliness.  I didn’t know how to do it without sounding pitiful.  This is not a cry for help.  Woe is me—I’m so lonely—please be my friend.  Absolutely not!  This is a cry for understanding.  What am I missing?  How can I be better at being a friend?  How can I maintain a relationship?  I really want to know.  I don’t want pity—who does?  I want meaningful friendships.  I want fulfilling relationships.  Am I the only one who isn’t getting it?  Is there anyone else who struggles with this or is this my own personal struggle?  I’d really like to know.

It is extremely scary to finally put this post out there.  These are private fears and struggles that delve to the very heart of my insecurities.  I don’t have it in me to go to individuals and ask why I’m not included or why I don’t fit in—it could be as simple as people not remembering to include me in their established groups of friends, maybe it seems like I’m too busy/not interested or it could be as terrifying as finding out I’m really not well liked.  In any case, I’d like to know how to fix it. 

Feel free to comment below on general responses to relationship, loneliness and friends.  If you have something you’d like to say to me privately, you can send me an e-mail or PM on Facebook.  Again, let me reiterate, this is absolutely not a cry for pity or a way to solicit invitations—I want to understand what I’m missing and if I’m the only one who feels lonely like this.  Any ideas on how to get out there and make friends would be helpful.  Anyone who is struggling with the same feelings, I’d love to know it’s not just me and maybe do some brainstorming.  

God created us to be social beings.  Even though I’m an introvert, I still love being with and around people.  I still feel the need to fit in and be accepted.  I still crave relationship with others even though I have very fulfilling relationships with my husband, kids and family.  And I’m absolutely not opposed to changing and improving so that I can achieve those relationships.  I just need to know how.