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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And party we did.....

The party was really fun! The food turned out great. My friend Joia came over the night before and helped me prep/make a few things, which was so helpful. The day of was busy but all good busy. We delivered gifts in the morning for Angel Tree as planned, the Christmas at the Ranch was beautiful. Really inspiring and even made me cry! It was dance, our 250 person choir, some individual musicians, muti-media, and drama. It is the type of thing I always wished the church would put together - using our best talents for God.

Here are some pictures of the food.(Blogger will only let me put 5 pictures per post.) The last picture is of Rob and Joia leading the Christmas Carols. Rob and Joia both have beautiful voices, and it was wonderful to have them leading the songs. Joia's husband is a juggler and he also did an awesome impromptu juggling act for us! I wish I had a good picture of it, but I was too busy enjoying the show.

Isaac helping blanche the Honey-Spiced Almonds.

The finished almonds and the menu on the table.

Blue Cheese with Rosemary-infused honey on crackers

Chicken Kebabs with Lemon Pepper Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Rob and Joia sitting by the fireplace.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Party Party Party

This has been quite the week of parties. What a fun and tiring week all at the same time! (the picture is of Isaac helping me make Sugar Cookies for our MOPS cookie exchange) Currently we are getting ready for the 2nd Annual Colwill Christmas party, and I can't wait! It will be Saturday night, no kiddos - just adults, and it looks like there will be 7-8 couples joining us. Rob has been planning carols and tuning his guitar, we've got logs for the fire, and I finished getting groceries tonight. After I help out with the Food Bank at church in the AM, I plan to spend the rest of the day and evening getting ready. I'll need to get most the food done this year the day before, because we have a busy Saturday. We're delivering gifts in the AM for Angel Tree, and then we're going to the Christmas at the Ranch "Love Has Come" performance at our church at 2pm.

My only disappointment is that I won't be making any of the desserts this year. Last year I made all the appetizers and all the desserts. BUT last year I had nothing going on that week, and this week I've had seriously 2-3 things going on every single day! So I have to be realistic.

SO yes, I finally have a menu planned for Saturday! I am so behind this year. I think I have everything bought tonight except one thing, which I can pick up tomorrow. Of course, there's tons of stuff, of course I am over budget, but hey - it's once a year! My new fabulous friend Joia is coming over tomorrow night and we're going to open a bottle of wine and finish anything I didn't get done during the day. Yeah for Christmas! Yeah for new friends! :)


Greek Olives

Creamy Smoked Trout with Apple and Horseradish on Crisp Rye Bread (repeat of last year, but so good, we had to do it again)

Brie en Croute (a friend is bringing)

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Pita Chips, pea pods, carrots, and celery (a friend is bringing)


Assorted truffles and chocolates

Coconut Blackberry Tarts

Chocolate Coconut tarts

Turtle Brownies



Wine (A friend Christine generously offered to bring the wine...both red and white!)

Pear Brandy Cocktails (they were a hit last year, easy to make - don't need a shaker or anything)

Izze sodas (also being brought by same generous friend!)

Assorted Beers

Coffee Bar


I'm sure the next 24 hours will be a busy happy blur. I hope your weekend is wonderful!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

No To The World!!!

My daughter Analise, is so precious. She and I have a very special relationship, and I could never imagine life without her. She has been my sidekick these past 3 years (or more, if you count womb time:) and just a sweetheart in every way.
I have come to believe however, that some other little toddler whispered something to her at a park, or she overheard some adult conversation regarding the infamous "terrible two's". THEN apparently all this talk lately of her turning 3 on December 31 has put her into a panic. HOW is she suppose to cram a years worth of terrible two's into ONE MONTH! We'll apparently, she is leaving the second year of her life with a bang. Barely letting me finish a sentence before she says "no", and pointing her little finger at me and saying "That's enough, mama." in her sternest voice when she thinks I've gone too far. Ha!!
This was driving me crazy the other day at Whole Foods when I was trying to get groceries with her, and she was so contrary it was actually quite amusing. So, as we do in the Colwill house, I began to sign about it, and it made us both laugh the rest of the way through the store, and out to the car. I wish I could remember all the words, but basically I was making up new lyrics to the "Joy To The World" song.
NO to the world!!!
I don't want that!
No wait! I want that back!!!!
No No No No No Noooooo
No No No No No Noooooo
No No No No Nooo No
No No No No Nooo No
Nooooo No Noooo No
No No No NO!
and it went on to have other verses. :)
Have a great weekend!
We're off to Rob's company Christmas party tonight.....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tortellini Tuscan Stew

Okay Okay, I SAID we were just eating regular every day stuff this week. But what is that in this house anyway? :) It seems that not a week goes by where I don't get the itch to try something new. Today we had Tortellini Tuscan Stew. I was looking for something to put in the Slow Cooker because we wanted to try to go get a Christmas Tree before the kids bedtime tonight, and wanted it to be quick and done early. This only took 3 hours on high in the Slow Cooker (plus about 15-20 minutes at the end to add the last ingredients) We had it with a Whole Wheat Bagette with some Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to dip the bread in.

This is not a 4 star awesome slow cooker recipe, but it was simple, and the kids liked it. I actually omitted the Butternut Squash because they were out of it at the store (I was questioning it's inclusion in the ingredient list anyway) This was a bit bland for my taste, so I might try to jazz up the leftovers a bit. Everyone else loved it though.

Also, over the next few days, I'll be adding pictures to the Thanksgiving posts. Keep an eye out! :)

Serves 6
1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large zucchini, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 large yellow summer squash, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, cut in 1/2-inch dice
4 ounce(s) thin green beans, trimmed and cut in 2-inch lengths
1 can(s) (28-ounce ) crushed tomatoes
1 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoon(s) fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1 package(s) (9-ounce) fresh cheese tortellini
1 bag(s) (5-ounce) baby spinach
3 tablespoon(s) grated Parmesan cheese
1. Combine all ingredients, except tortellini, spinach, and Parmesan cheese, in a 5-quart or larger slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 3 hours or low 6 hours.
2. Uncover; turn slow cooker to high and stir in tortellini. Cover: continue to cook 15 minutes, or until pasta is almost tender.
3. Uncover; gently stir in spinach and Parmesan. Cover; cook 5 minutes until spinach is cooked down and tortellini is tender.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just checking in...

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving. The last of our company left this morning, and we were sad to see them go! I felt like every day was so much fun. We had so much wonderful food, both at home and out, and did a great mix of sightseeing and relaxing. We made it to the Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, Boulder and the Dushanbe Tea House, Denver and the Cru Wine Bar, and so many other places in between. We also ended up with a good mix of babysitting and trips with the kiddos. They were awesome on all the car rides, and with helping with food. It makes such a difference to have them a couple of years older.

So the previously posted Thanksgiving meal was wonderful. I have no idea how I actually got it on the table ready AT 5:30pm like I planned. Must have been all that wonderful help I had, mixed together with trying to make as much of it ahead as possible. There were leftovers for two more meals - except pie, so of course I made two more pies! :)

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

We aren't doing anything that new in the kitchen this week. I roasted brussel sprouts today instead of my usual blanching/sauteeing and they were delicious. But mostly we're doing some just every day cooking. I'm hosting a cookie exchange here at my house Monday AM for my MOPS table. Saturday night we have a babysitter, and we are going to the Microsoft Christmas Party in Denver. (thanks to Liz for helping me pull together my outfit!xo)

Have a wonderful week! I'm planning to finish up my Christmas shopping and get those Christmas cards in the mail!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am up already (was up at 445am) because I couldn't sleep. I decided to get up and work out to burn off some of my energy, so I feel good. Won't feel so guilty eating dinner I guess!

Then the kids and I are headed off shortly to cheer on Rob, and our friends Mike and Liz in the Turkey Day 5K. Then it's home for brunch (Storebought Quiche - I only have so much time!, salad, fruit and bagels, and it sounds like Liz is making Mimosas). Then I'll start the serious cooking.

Right now I've got to get the turkey in the brine (it needs to be in there 6-8 hours). Then I'll probably dice the potatoes. When we get back from the 5K and have eaten brunch, I'll get the Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes done and in the crockpot, I'll get the turkey in the oven by 2, and then work on the stuffing and Mushroom Strudel. Liz is making Shallot and Toasted Hazelnut Green Beans, and Maple Glazed Carrots (curtesy of Williams-Sonoma recipes). We pick up Jessy and John from the airport shuttle drop off at 4pm, and then we'll aim to eat dinner at 5:30pm.

I've got appetizers too! At about 3 I figure I'll set them out. I have smoked salmon spread and crackers, olives, and Italian Cashews. We have Syrah and Riesling for the wines.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I wish you a day filled with those you love, and a healthy, hearty meal. Let's take time today to thank God for all the things he has provided for us, and to pray for those who have less than we do today. There are so many people, here and especially in India today who are grieving instead of celebrating, and I am praying that God will wrap His arms around them, and that above all else they will know His love.

God's blessings on you today and always.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting ready for the big day

Today Rob has off work, and the boys have off of school, and we're going to be getting ready mostly for tomorrow. I am still helping with the Food Outreach that I help with on Wednesdays this AM, and I have a haircut this afternoon. We're also going to go to the Thanksgiving service at church tonight.

Today I'm getting groceries and picking up the Turkey. I'm going to dice potatoes for the mashed potatoes, make the pumpkin and pecan pies, make the filling for the strudel, and make the bread mixture, and the sausage mixture for the stuffing. Or I should say, I'm going to try! I figure whatever I get done will be helpful tomorrow. Tomorrow our friends and Rob are going to run the Turkey Day 5K, and then come home for brunch and to help with food. Rob and the kiddos will go pick up our other friends that are flying here in the afternoon.

On Friday the guys are going to go out mountain biking or something in the morning, and then come home between 2-3pm and let all the ladies get out. I was thinking of taking them to Boulder (never been) and then to the Indulge Wine Bar here in Highlands Ranch at night.

Saturday we are taking all our guests (and the kiddos of course!) to Breckenridge as they have never been there before. Then we have babysitting at night and we're going to go up to Denver for dinner.

I am so thankful for good friends, a healthy beautiful family, and this beautiful state that we live in. Happy Thanksgiving! and may you find many things to be thankful for in your life as well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cranberry Chutney

Today began the process of getting that Thanksgiving meal onto the table Thursday night.
There wasn't too much I can do today. Not only because I am babysitting two other kiddos in addition to my own, but just because that's about all I can do. Today I made the Double Cranberry Chutney from the recent Vegetarian Times magazine. I've never been a Cranberry Sauce fan, but I've never had it made from scratch either, so I thought I'd give it a try. It certainly smelled wonderful, and looks good too. I'm even contemplating leftover Cranberry Chutney over Ice Cream already......

Also the other thing I am doing today is making my grocery list for tomorrow. I wasn't able to get groceries today or yesterday as I've been babysitting, but that's okay. I can't pick up my turkey until tomorrow anyway. I ordered my turkey from The Vitamin Cottage. It's a Free Range Organic Turkey making it's way here from CA. Not frozen, so it should be yummy!
(Also of note: Vitamin Cottage now also has Healthy Eating on a Budget - Family of 4 under $20 for healthy meals)

pictures to come! We got a new camera! I just need to have Rob show me how to upload the pics.

Double Cranberry Chutney
Vegetarian Times November/December 2008
Serves 16

"The simple flavors of this sauce will satisfy the traditionalists at the table, while the chunky, chewy consistency will win over any foodies in the group"

My notes: This was easy to make with my new handheld juicer from Pampered Chef. It was however way more expensive to make for the little bit of chutney that came out of it. It says it serves 16, which maybe because you just use a little, but I maybe have 2 1/2 cups of chutney, and it cost $18 in ingredients. I wasn't budgeting out that much for chutney let me say! I think it's because I had to buy a whole bottle of Port ($5.99 for the cheapest) and it called for 4 cups of cranberries, and those Ocean Spray bags have about 3 1/2 cups, so I had to buy two). It better be as good as it looks! I used organic oranges, lemons, and sugar.

2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries ( 2 - 12 oz packages)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup ruby port
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbs finely diced crystallized ginger
2 Tbs. grated orange zest
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1. Whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, cornstarch and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Combine cranberries, sugar, port, dried cranberries, ginger, orange zest, lemon zest, cloves and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

3. Stir cornstarch mixture into saucepan. Reduce heat to meduim-low, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce is thick and berries have burst. Cool, and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Note: This recipe can be done a few days ahead; the extra chilling time with help the flavors marry.

Per 1/4 cup serving:
90 calories
0 g protein
0 g fat
23 g carbs
0 mg chol
11 mg soduim
2 g fiber
19 g sugars
Just a look at my fride at this point. Can you spy how many DRINKS we have in here. Seriously I am a heavy drinker. :) Almond Milk, Cow's Milk, Synergy Kombucha Tea, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Iced Tea, a leftover bottle of wine, and Port for the Cranberry Sauce. And you know I start the day with either a smoothie, or Green Lemonade. It just made me chuckle. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


We are so blessed to have good friends coming to stay with us for Thanksgiving this year. Two couples from CA are coming, and I am about to burst I am so excited to see them! I have been busy planning food for while they are here, and I think I have a menu finalized for the big day.

We don't usually eat much meat and dairy, but hey, it's Thanksgiving! We're going all out :)

Honey and Rosemary Brined Turkey with Herb Riesling Gravy
(click on the link below the picture that says "play now" to see the video. I'm all about the video. I don't think I've made a turkey before on my own. The video makes it seem do-able!)

For the vegetarian main dish:
Mushroom, Cheese and Vegetable Strudel
It's from my Vegetarian Times mag, but they don't have the recipe on their website. HOWEVER, I found this awesome blog post where someone has the recipe, and step by step pictures on how to make it
Also, this has less than 300 calories per serving!

Artichoke, Sausage, and Parmesan Cheese Stuffing
A recipe from my beloved :) (read the reviews for extra tips) I might break the recipe in half, and use imitation italian sausage in half of it to keep it vegetarian.

Let me know if anyone wants any of these recipes.....
My Mom's Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Double Cranberry Chutney
(from the newest issue of Vegetarian Times)

Pecan Pie with Whole Wheat Pastry Crust
Pumpkin Pie with Whole Wheat Pastry Crust
I'm going to TRY, if I have time, to make some homemade Vanilla Ice Cream in
my ice cream maker.

I was going to make a healthy Green Bean side dish, but it got vetoed in favor of that
Green Bean Casserole that everyone has had at least once in their life. Rob's plan is to ask our friend Mike (who is famous for making it) to make it while they are here, and he wants to record a video of Mike calling to ask his mom for the recipe. It's a guy thing. ;)

I'm also going to do something fresh and crisp to go along with all of this, like a salad, or some nice crisp Asparagus.

You'll notice that I went for a really traditional menu this year! I think as my kids get's older, I am starting to appreciate tradition more. And all of these things are things we love, and really we look forward to that pie each year, and those mashed potatoes, and we are sad when they are not there. So it's once a year, but if will build fond memories, and make my kid's want to come home for Thanksgiving when they get older, then hey - who am I to argue with tradition? :)

Plus I get to use our Christmas party to do all the interesting appetizers etc that I want to do this season. So now on to plan the menu for that.....yum!! Bring on the holidays!!

Culinary School visit

I've had a busy week! Isaac has had a bad cough that he can't seem to shake. Analise woke up with a mild one this AM. I've had to pray for extra patience with two cranky sick kiddos. I'm also sooo ready to get out of the house. I was really sad to miss my beloved MOPS group this morning.

I did however still get to go observe the Culinary School of the Rockies Chef Track class on Tuesday night! (Thank you hubby) Wow, that was an adventure! It was fun, interesting, busy, intense, and eye-opening. I really felt like I was in a Chef's kitchen for the night. There were two Chef's teaching the class, and I didn't count, but I think about 16 students. The class is 15 weeks long and meets Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays from 5-10pm (really more like 11pm). There was maybe 45-60 minutes of teaching in the classroom and in the kitchen. Then they are broken up into two teams, given the menu for the night and a time to have it done by. It felt a little bit like Iron Chef America (is that the right show? I saw it in on a hotel TV once....two teams competing to get a menu done at a certain time) At first it was awkward because I wanted to ask questions, or ask them about the process, but everyone was racing and juggling so many things, I also didn't want to get in their way. Eventually people starting to grab me to help with things, and I had a blast. I was able to talk with people about why they chose the class, and what they hoped to do with their knowledge when they get out. I opened about 10 West Coast Oysters (I think my hand still hurts:) chopped, peeled, helped with presentation. Then about 10pm we sat down and ate!

I had NO idea Lobster bisque was so labor intensive. My guess is you'd want about 5 hours to do this right. We had about 3 1/2. Neither teams bisque was perfect, but nobody was complaining much when we ate it either :). Here is the menu for the evening.....

Lobster Bisque
Pan Seared Striped Bass with Lemon Beurre Blanc
Sauteed Spinich
Rice Pilaf
Chocolate Mousse
Poach and pears and make Pate Sucree for next nights class
Make Fish Stock for next nights class
I am so glad I went. I think it's hard on paper to really know what something is going to be like. I think if I did decide to enroll in the Chef Track program I would go into it with my eyes open, knowing what to both expect within the class, and how tired I would be outside of the class, and how that will affect me as a mom. It did make me realize that though I am passionate about food in general, I'm not just only passionate about getting a meal on the table. I am very interested in where the food came from, how it was grown, and how healthy it is for the people I am serving it to. That makes me think it's worth me at least checking out the Colorado Farm to Table school next Fall when it starts up again, to see if that might be a better fit. When I start thinking about Farm to Table stuff, I get crazy passionate about the food, the farmers, and people I am serving it to. So maybe my heart lies there....we shall see. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spaghetti Squash...and a busy week ahead

I still haven't replaced my camera :(. We've been taking our time since it has been a few years, so hopefully I'll be able to post more original pictures soon. This week Rob has a busy week at work, I get to go to the Culinary School of the Rockies one night for the class I mentioned earlier, and we have company flying in this weekend. Two couples that are dear friends from CA are coming for Thanksgiving week, and I can hardly wait! I have my table piled with Vegetarian Times, and Bon Appetit magazines, and recipes boomarked on Epicurious and Whole Foods websites, and I'm having fun narrowing down meals and menus for the coming weeks.

This week will be a lot of quick dinners because I'll be gone one night, and I'm not sure how many nights Rob has to work late, but I do have a Spaghetti Squash I need to use this week. Though I usually go for something maybe considered more interesting, my favorite recipe for Spaghetti Squash is actually out of Betty Crocker's New Cookbook. It yummy in the way that a good spaghetti and marinara is comforting and filling. I just think it's wonderful. Kid approved also. I'd like to try to make it sometime with fresh herbs.
Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes

from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook
picture from

PREP: 15 minutes
BAKE: 1 hour
COOK: 10 minutes
Makes 6 servings, about 2/3 cup each

"Spaghetti squash can be served in the spaghetti shell. If you cut it crosswise, you'll get the longest squash strandsm but cutting the squash lengthwise is the easiest way to serve from the shell. The choice is yours."

1 spaghetti squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 small green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Prepare and cook squash. (Cut lengthwise and remove seeds and fibers. Place squash in a 13x9x9 2 pan cut sides down in 1/4 inch water, making sure to check that water doesn't evaporate while cooking. Bake 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.)

2. Cook onion, green pepper and garlic in oil in 3 quart saucepan over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, salt, oregano, basil, fennel and pepper. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

3. Remove squash strands with two forks; toss with butter and cheese. Spoon tomato mixture over squash.

1 serving:
145 calories
10 g fat
2 mg cholesterol
290 mg sodium
15 g carbohydrate
3 g protein

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa

The whole reason I came across the previous post's recipe is that I was digging out this oldie but a goodie. When looking for some comforting (it's getting COLD out!) and quick weeknight recipes I thought of this awesome Vegetarian (and so easily made Vegan) chili recipe. It's hearty and flavourful, the kids love it, and it's quick. What more can a gal ask for? Oh, and it's lite! Bring on the chili.....

(credit to for the recipe and picture.)

Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa

My notes: To make this vegan, simply leave out the sour cream. It's still delicious without.
The jalapeno in the salsa is the only thing you need to leave out if cooking for toddlers. I recommend making two batches, one with the jalapeno and one without.
I also added a little more veggie broth as it was cooking, as it seemed to get too thick to me.

6 servings (serving size: 1 cup chili, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 lime wedge, 3 chips, and and about 2 1/2 tablespoons avocado salsa)

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1/4 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
6 lime wedges
18 baked tortilla chips
Avocado Salsa (see below)

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Add chili powder and next 4 ingredients (chili powder through green chiles); cook 1 minute. Stir in barley and next 4 ingredients (barley through broth); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in cilantro. Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, chips, and Avocado Salsa.

Note: Store chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

(Totals include Avocado Salsa)
Nutritional Information
Calories: 313 (29% from fat)
Fat: 10.1g (sat 2.2g,mono 4.8g,poly 1.6g)
Protein: 9.6g
Carbohydrate: 50.4g
Fiber: 9.5g
Cholesterol: 6mg
Iron: 3.4mg
Sodium: 814mg
Calcium: 100mg
Patsy Jamieson, Cooking Light, MARCH 2002

Avocado Salsa
1 cup (serving size: about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup finely chopped peeled avocado
1/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients; toss mixture gently. Serve salsa immediately.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 59 (79% from fat)
Fat: 5.2g (sat 0.8g,mono 3.2g,poly 0.7g)
Protein: 0.8g
Carbohydrate: 3.7g
Fiber: 1.9g
Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Iron: 0.5mg
Sodium: 54mg
Calcium: 6mg
Patsy Jamieson, Cooking Light, MARCH 2002

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Asparagus Melt with Pesto Spread

I am definitely on an Asparagus kick this Fall. I just can't get enough of it! I had this recipe tucked away for years now! Yes, I can admit that to you. I remember tearing out of the magazine and thinking it looked good, and every once in awhile it resurfaced in my cookbook cupboard. It has been moved to new living quarters with me no less than 6 times, and still it remained. I knew it would headline at our dinner table someday.
Tonight was the night. I have been craving something gooey and warm and satifying like all the paninis I see advertised at sandwhich shops. However, I know they are high in fat and had been thinking about making a healthy version of a melt at home, when I came across this again.
This recipe is from the May 2001 issue of cooking light. I think it's going to get into the Fall rotation of recipes at the Colwill house. It's melty, and satifying, but doesn't leave you with that gut bomb feeling, because it's light and healthy somehow at the same time. This is definitely more dairy than I usually serve at a meal, but for a treat it was good.
You could easily make this on a busy weeknight folks. It was just a quick 2 minute steam of the asparagus, some slicing, and three minutes under the broiler. viola! dinner is served. And if you or someone in your house didn't like asparagus before, trust me, they will now!
The recipe and picture are from
My notes: I doubled this recipe for my family of 5, (and served it with a couscous salad on the side) except for the asparagus, I didn't double that. I put about 5 stalks on each sandwich, and used really big oversized oval slices of a whole wheat bread I got at Panera Bread. It seemed like the right amount of asparagus. I think that 8 pieces of asparagus on each sandwich would have been a bit much, unless you are able to get really slender stalks, which I wasn't able to find.

2 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)
16 asparagus spears
3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon commercial pesto
2 (2-ounce) slices sourdough bread, toasted
2 (1-ounce) thin slices ham
4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
2 (1-ounce) slices part-skim mozzarella cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Steam, covered, 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Preheat broiler.

Combine mayonnaise and pesto in a bowl, and stir with a whisk. Spread 2 tablespoons pesto mixture onto 1 side of each bread slice. Layer each slice with 8 asparagus spears, 1 ham slice, 2 tomato slices, and 1 cheese slice. Place on a baking sheet; broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with pepper.
Nutritional Information
343 (30% from fat)
11.5g (sat 4.3g,mono 4.7g,poly 1.1g)
Cooking Light, MAY 2001

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Crunchy Pear and Celery Salad

I've still been keeping an eye out for yummy, healthy looking salads thats main ingredient isn't lettuce....just to change things up because I get sick of munching on lettuce every day at lunchtime.
I came across these recipes on the Kashi website where they had this tool called The Naturalizer. You could pick a favorite recipe and they would give you a healthy alternative. I tried to look it up again to leave a link, but it looks like they took the tool off their website. They give credit, however, to for the recipe.
This recipe was really yummy, and easy. Some recipes that have you make your own dressing, the dressing has as many ingredients as they salad does, and it time consuming. I didn't mind that so much before the days of kiddos, but when I'm making a salad these days, there is usually something else to go with it, and I can't spend another 15 minutes on the salad dressing. So this dressing has three ingredients, and is a snap, but tastes amazing. Two thumbs up from all 5 of us. :)
(I used Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, and Colorado Ambrosia Honey Co. raw and unfiltered honey, and sea salt in the dressing. ) I recommend using Butter lettuce if you can, it went really well with this.
Bartlett or Anjou pears are used in this salad for their crisp texture. The nut and cheese combination sets the tone of the dish—white Cheddar and pecans is decidedly American. For an Italian twist, try a good Parmesan with some toasted walnuts.

Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each
ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes
4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe pears, preferably red Bartlett or Anjou, diced
1 cup finely diced white Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see Tip)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 large leaves butterhead or other lettuce
1. Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears; gently stir to coat. Add the celery, cheese and pecans; stir to combine. Season with pepper. Divide the lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 221 calories; 14 g fat (5 g sat, 4 g mono); 20 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 244 mg sodium; 234 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Calcium (15% daily value). 1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 1 fruit, 1 high-fat meat, 1 fat
TIP: Tips: To toast chopped nuts & seeds: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
MAKE AHEAD TIP: Prepare salad without pecans up to 2 hours ahead. Stir in pecans just before serving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dinner in/Field Trip for Mommy

I realize I almost always post about the more interesting dinners we have here in the Colwill house. But what about a typical weeknight? I don't write about them often, but I thought I might tonight. We all have our list I'm sure of quick meals for the busy weeknights. My kids favorite is Whole Wheat Spaghetti with vegan Savory Mushroom meatballs (freezer section of Whole Foods) and my quick marinara sauce (saute some onions, mushrooms, peppers, add a jar of sauce and then sometimes add black olives, or stir in some fresh spinich) with some freshly grated parmesan - yum!

Last night we tried these Sprouted Corn tortillas (wheat free) and they were yummy. I used a veggie crumble (think garden burgers, but in a ground beef form) that was already seasoned with taco seasonings. I then shredded lettuce, grated some raw cheddar cheese, halved some cherry tomatoes for the kiddos, and got out some spicy peach salsa for mom and dad. It was yummy - but definitely for us the salsa made it. Otherwise it would have been bland.

Tonight I have leftover veggie crumbles so I'm making taco salad: romaine lettuce, corn, black olives, raw cheddar cheese, veggie crumbles, and whatever else I throw on there at the last minute. I'm serving it with Guiltless Gourmet baked Chili Lime chips, Evan's fresh raw salsa, and some guacamole. I can't wait until Rob gets here! :)

While we were in the midwest the Culinary School of the Rockies called twice, and offered for me to come in and observe a class. I called them back and I'm going in on the 18th to one of their classes that is apart of the Chef Track. It's focus will be on Fish and Seafood, and then finish the night off with a multi-course dinner and wine pairing (every night they do! can you imagine!!).
I get to listen to the lecture and participate as much as I want making the meal. I hope to get my hands in there as much as possible. I hope it's everything I hope it will be, and maybe I'll get to be a student there when little Analise makes her way to Kidnergarden!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Up and Go!

Just a friendly reminder to get out and vote today! It's a privledge to be able to vote, and also your responsibility if you feel strongly about any of the issues. This race is so close, that definitely YOUR vote counts. There are also so many other things on the ballot this year that will affect your local community, and will effect you directly, whether through your taxes or how your community is run. Don't be afraid to have an opinion, it doesn't mean to have to stand on the corner with a sign, or talk about it to everyone you know. Just HAVE an opinion. There are still people in the world who don't have such a privledge as this, don't waste it! Get up and go!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Crostata

Last night we had the Crostata I mentioned in yesterdays was SO good!!! I got the recipe from a Midwest Home magazine that my mom sent home with me. The recipe was submitted by Bret Bannon of Bret's Table. He is a chef in Minnesota that has culinary classes and also leads culinary tours to regions of France if I understand correctly.

I was really happy with this recipe, and so was my husband and three kids. I think it combined the satisfying feeling of having eaten some midwestern comfort food, with the feeling of eating something new and adventurous at the same time. You could serve this as a vegetarian main dish, or my husband said he would also enjoy it over the holidays in lieu of mashed potatoes. All I know is I want to eat it again really soon! :)

I only wish I had my camera so I could have taken a picture of it!! We've got to get a new one soon. so sad. It was beautiful and rustic and I wish I could have shared it with you.
Here is a pic from someone else's blog, which I came across when I was searching for images to share. It's a before would then wrap the sides up.
When the sides are wrapped around it, it will look more like this:
and now that I saw that fruit one, I'm going to need to make one of those too!! :)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Crostata
NOTE: This recipe forgets to tell you what to do with those chives they mention. I would assume to add them in with the potatoes.


For crostata:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4–5 Tbsp. ice water

For egg wash:
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. water

For filling:
6 small new potatoes (about 8 oz.), washed and thinly sliced
¾ c. heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. tender spring asparagus
2–3 oz. goat cheese

Put flour and salt in food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add egg and pulse to combine. Add 4 Tbsp. of water and run machine until dough comes together in moist clumps. Add another Tbsp. of water and pulse again if too dry. Dump onto plastic wrap, shape into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be kept in the refrigerator overnight.)

Egg wash: Whisk together egg and water. Set aside.

Preparation: Slice potatoes less than 1⁄8 of an inch. In saucepan, add potatoes, cream, lemon zest, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and cream has reduced to almost a glaze. Set aside to cool.

Blanch asparagus for about 1–2 minutes. Remove from skillet and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove asparagus and dry on a clean towel. Cut into 2-inch pieces and set aside.

Roll out dough, ¼-inch-thick by at least 12 inches in diameter. Layer the potato mixture in center of crostata, place asparagus on top, and finish with crumbled goat cheese. Fold dough border over filling, letting it drape gently over potato mixture.

The crostata will have a rustic, freeform appearance. Brush egg wash over folded dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Persimmons, and Pomegranites, Oh My!

We had a WONDERFUL trip back to Minnesota and South Dakota the end of October. We enjoyed lots of laughs, and fun fall activities with both sides of our families. From the Pumpkin Patch with the Traxlers to the Go Cart with my Mom and Stepdad, from a jump in the leaves at the Kettners to a big ol' fun potluck with my Dad's side of the family, we just felt like we smiled ear to ear the whole trip. God is so good, and has blessed us with so many friends and family that we look forward to seeing when we get back there. We got to spend 2 days catching up with our dear friends the Bennetts and the Grays also, and it was so much fun to see how everyone's kids have grown, and how we are all changing and growing ourselves as adults.

(The only bummer is that I am pretty sure we lost our camera on the trip!!!! I am still hoping that it will turn up somewhere, at one of the last places we stayed, or in one of the dark scary corners of the van, so we'll see. I HOPE to have pictures soon to share. )

I am finally feeling a bit more back in the swing of things, after a whole week of trying to catch up. I still have a few phone calls to catch up on, and letters and packages to get in the mail, but overall I can tell I'm starting to get back into our life here. First of all, I actually feel like going to the gym tomorrow. :)

Also, another way I can tell, is that I have made my way back into the kitchen. After the typical couple of scattered unorganized trips to the grocery store the first week we were home, I finaly went this AM with an actual list, and we finally had a put together lunch and dinner. Speaking of...I've got to run and finish dinner (Asparagus and Goat Cheese Costata) and then I'll post recipes later. Enjoy the last few hours of the weekend!!!
Side note: I just realized I posted this yesterday and then never even wrote about the title!! hehe! The reason for the title was that when I got home from being out of town, it was so much fun to see how the in season produce had changed while we were gone. They had persimmons (eat them hard like an apple, and my favorite way is chopped up on a lettuce salad with maybe walnuts and goat cheese - yum!). They also had Pomegranites, which are SO yummy. The first time I opened one a couple of years ago I was shocked by what they looked like on the inside. Now pomegranites are more popular and so maybe you have opened one yourself. The kids think it's so funny to have a fruit where you ONLY eat the seeds, and I have to agree. But oh, those seeds are so yummy! They are also great sprinkled over salad. Or you can throw some in a Martini for some extra flair. An easy trick to help the mundane process along of getting the seeds out is to submerge the piece you are working on in a bowl of water. And thank you to my mom for showing me that you can also freeze them! So if you don't want to open more then one a season (and it makes a lot of seeds, about 1 1/2 cups) just freeze a bag, and take a few out every once in awhile when you are getting bored with salads. yumm!

Monday, October 13, 2008

On the road again.....

I haven't had much to write about this last week. I caught a cold that has put me out for a couple of days....well, slowed me down at least. You never really get to check out completely when you are a mom.

Also we are SO excited to leave this Wednesday AM for our annual trip back to where my husband and I grew up - Minnesota, and South Dakota. I am so excited to see all of our family and friends, and enjoy catching up and relaxing a bit.

Since this is sort of a food blog, and I don't have anything to add right now (we are at that "clean out the fridge" stage where we are eating very odd meals, such as bean burritoes, squash, and grapes or something like that, that in other circumstance would seem disgusting, but somehow is okay when you are on your way out of town) I can only think to add links to places we will be at when there.

Morgan Creek Vineyards
My wonderful SIL and BIL are getting a sitter while we are with them and taking us to a Vineyard, complete with wood fire pizzas, and live jazz music. Who knew there was a fabulous vineyard in the middle of Minnesota? This would have been inconceivable when I was growing up there, but times change (in this case for the better!) and I can't wait to check it out. I'm mostly excited about the company, and the atmosphere is such an added bonus. Should be fun.

Richard's Restaurant and Pub
Secondly, there is a new restaurant in St. Peter, MN that I first found out about from a neighbor of a friend I grew up with (small town, made smaller when you get back in touch people on Facebook), and wrote my friends there about it, and they went and checked it out. They gave it two thumbs up and said I would love it. So my friend Julie and I are hoping to steal away for lunch to this new place that is getting some buzz.

Enjoy the rest of your October!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This next week...

This next week is going to be busy - the FUN kind of busy, mixed in with the hard kind of busy. We have a couple days of fun things (date night, dinner and fall party with friends, play dates, i'm doing some more secret shopping) and then hubby heads out of town for three nights for work. :( I think this time is going to be especially hard on me, as the days he is gone are the days I watch these other 2 girls out of my home. So it might be tiring. For one of the nights he's gone, at least I found a sitter so I can go to a MOPS meeting. So I'll get some fellowship with other mamas, which is always wonderful. I even have a phone date I'm setting up with a friend, so I'll have some things to look forward to.

I thought I'd post our meals for the next week, in case I don't have time to write! Well not really meals, but rather dinners, since I don't cook during the day. I'm doing pretty good eating raw until dinner, about 75% of the time. Real life happens, and somedays it's not perfect, but I keep aiming for it, and I figure that's what counts.

SO here are some of the dinners for the next week. Tonight however we are doing something special. Elijah checked out this cute 50's style cookbook for kids at the library. I had to chuckle that he has been having me read him recipes at night in place of bedtime stories!! ha! just like mama. So we've been talking about what it means when it says "bring to a boil", and what a "dozen" versus a "baker's dozen" is, and other fun things. He has also decided he wants to write his own recipe book with his favorite recipes on it, so I can't wait to see that. We've made Split Pea soup out of it (2 thumbs down, then again I have never liked it on the stove, unless my MIL makes it, I only like it in the crockpot otherwise). So it's mostly all homestyle comfort food in this book of course. The other thing we made was cinnamon sugar toast ( that took me back to my childhood for sure!! my kids had never had it!). So I told him to pick two more recipes before we have to return it, and he picked Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and Brownies. :)
SO I bought WW noodles today and the other ingredients, and we're going to make it tonight with a garden salad and some steamed green and wax beans. It's our date night tonight and we are eating out anyway, so they'll have a fun special kid's dinner. :)

For the rest of the week, here are three things I'm making from scratch at home.......I'll probably take the kids to eat out once while Rob is gone, and I always plan a night or two to finish up leftovers.

Polenta-Sausage Bowl
my kids LOVE polenta, and usually I serve it on the side with a mushroom sauce over it. But they said this looked good, so it will be a rare time I actually purchase meat! Unless they can recommend a suitable meat-substitute, which I'm hoping. Plus the "Under 20 minutes" appealed to me since Rob will be gone :)

Farro with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Swiss Chard
doesn't this just SOUND like it will taste like Fall? yum! Another recipe from the Whoel Foods Budget Recipe Challenge. Because, hey, who isn't on a budget these days?

Smoky Penne with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
I got this in a free E-recipe Book from Vegetarian Times, but I found the recipe somewhere else on line so I don't need to type it. We got a jar of yummy looking Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce and have been trying to find something to do with them. This looks great!!

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's cookin' tonight

I stumbled upon the Budget Recipe Challenge at The Whole Foods website, and decided to try one of the recipes tonight. My husband's response when I had him look at the recipe was, "Hmmmm...I'm not sure. But I do like sweet potatoes, so maybe?" It IS a really unique recipe.

The recipe is Vegetarian, to make vegan, simply omit the sprinkle of cheese, or substitute with a Soy Cheese. I am not making the Quick Green Chili sauce, simply because I have a fabulous vegetarian green chili sauce I bought at the Farmer's Market from a guy who knows his green chilis. I trust him. :)

I'm all for vegan recipes that remind me of comfort food. I'm hoping it's good. Pity the poor guy at the wine shop when I brought this recipe in and asked him to pair it with a wine for me under $15. :) He did decide on a Spanish red: Codice 2006, Vino De La Tierra De Castilla. I can't wait to try it out! It'd be nice to have a good red to know of for these vegetarian green chili recipes I plan on

I'll let you know how it is!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
This recipe was submitted by Karina Allrich of Karina's Kitchen: Recipes from a Gluten-free Goddess. Here's what Karina has to say about one of her most popular vegetarian, gluten-free recipes: "These wrapped little gems are soft and creamy and a little bit spicy. Serve with crisp greens. Photo shown is family style, rolled in a baking dish. For company, I prefer to nestle these babies into individual gratin dishes. It makes for a prettier presentation."

Quickie Green Chile Sauce
1 cup light vegetable broth
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch dissolved in a little cold water
1 generous cup chopped roasted green chiles, hot or mild
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin or chili powder, hot or mild, to taste
Enchilada Filling
1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, rinsed, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh lime juice from 1 big juicy lime
2 heaping cups cooked diced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup chopped roasted mild green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder mild or spicy
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, as needed
8 white or yellow corn tortillas
4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Serves 4. $2.59 per serving*

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Choose a baking dish that would hold 8 rolled enchiladas. Make your Quickie Green Chile Sauce by combining the broth, dissolved arrowroot, green chiles, garlic and spices in a sauce pan and heating over medium-high heat. Bring to a high simmer. Simmer until thickened. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the Enchilada Filling, using a mixing bowl, combine the drained black beans with minced garlic and lime juice. Toss to coat the beans and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the cooked sweet potatoes with the chopped green chiles; add the spices. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Pour about 1/4 cup of the Quickie Green Chile Sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.

To assemble the enchiladas, grab a skillet and heat a dash of oil. Lightly cook the corn tortillas to soften them, one at a time, as you stuff each one.

Lay the first hot tortilla in the sauced baking dish; wet it with the sauce. Spoon 1/8 of the sweet potato mixture down the center. Top with 1/8 of the black beans. Wrap and roll the tortilla to the end of the baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas. Top with the rest of the sauce. Top with a sprinkle of shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the enchiladas are piping hot and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

Per serving (about 14oz/405g-wt.): 500 calories (190 from fat), 21g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 980mg sodium, 64g total carbohydrate (11g dietary fiber, 11g sugar), 18g protein

* We make a good effort to estimate the cost of ingredients used in each recipe, but small regional and market variations may occur.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I finished!

I finished my 4 day journal! I was going to post it on here, but then I thought maybe I shouldn't? Maybe they wouldn't want me to? I'll wait and see if they use it or not. But I will post links to some of the recipes I used during those 4 days for dinners, since those are all over the web and no secret. From my previous post you know I've got Roasted Green Chilis coming out of my ears, so I did find an egg bake to use up some of those. We also grilled some Portobello Mushrooms, and made a Vegetarain Chili. One appetizer I made is from one of my previous posts.

Some things I noticed about myself is:

- I tend to take note of how I am feeling that day to decide what/how much I eat. I do work out 1-3 days a week, and those days I tend to be hungrier. If I know I am stationary a lot that day, or that I'm just craving something, I am able to let it pass and make good choices. I feel like that is something I am good at.

- If I am making cooked food for the rest of the family, I'm going to want to eat some. Some recipes are a lot of work, and well, they look good! So I'm not usually able to avoid sampling. However, if it is something from somewhere else - take out, pizza etc, that I didn't cook, I have no problem not eating it.

- Mornings and afternoons are when I crave something hydrating: fresh juice from my juicer, raw smoothie, or Kombucha Tea. If I'm away from these things and somewhere I can't get anything close I tend to get sparkling water, or black unsweetened ice tea.

- Almost all of our produce is from the local farmer's market right now (I know that will change in winter), and organic as much as I can get it. Except for the smoothie, which I used fruit that I froze myself, nothing I made was from frozen or canned.

Overall, this was really interesting for me. All three of my kids AND my husband were sick, so I was up a lot at night taking temperatures, giving medicine. I know that lack of sleep always makes me hungrier. Anyway, those are the conditions. :) It is what it is.

So here are some recipes, except the Vegetarian Chili recipe is a friend's recipe, so I'm not going to post that....enjoy!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Veggie Fajitas
I used this recipe for a quick marinade for some Portobellos, Onions, and Peppers I wanted to put on the grill. The family ate fajitas, I enjoyed mine over a salad. I didn't even need dressing, because the juices from the veggies were so yummy! I just topped with avocado and fresh salsa.

Goat Cheese Toasts with Spicy Olives

Spicy Baked Eggs with Green Chilis (if some measurements won't come up in your browser, they are "1/2")
recipe is from a B&B in CA, I have made their Blueberry Stuffed French Toast, and Eggs Florentine before for company and different brunches and always get recipe requests.
(and the Eggs Florentine is super easy if you are short on time, no sauteing, and not much prep work at all, it's my recipe I turn to if I need one quick, and scroll down for other recipes)

I hope you all are having a wonderful, healthy week! I'll let you know if anything comes of the journal!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 3

So I'm on my third day of this journal. They wanted two days to be weekend days, and two days to be week days. It has made me realize a few things about how we eat.

First of all, there is no normal. I tried to pick 4 days for them when we were not traveling, and didn't have company, because in our house that's as normal as it gets. It made me realize though that every day has it's challenges, and also brought to the surface the struggle I have had with eating local, and in-season, and eating raw and vegan. I know that it is easier in places that are warm year round, but even that does not always make it easy. I go to the Farmer's Market on Sundays, and try to buy what I think we will need for the week. The end of the week I'm trying to use things up, or things need to be frozen or cooked. I think this is going to get really challenging (to eat local and in season AND eat raw) during the winter. I also realized that with my husbad home over the weekend I do tend to make more cooked food, and we go out more. I went out for brunch with a friend for example. I made hubby an egg bake with some of the roasted Green Chilis I mentioned in a previous post. I realized that I do tend to eat vegan and a raw until dinner on the weekdays, and it's not a big problem. (Except for the occasional seafood, or goat cheese on a dinner during the week). The weekends are different. We are more likely to go on a road trip, which sometimes unexpectantly can put us in the situation of eating out, or we are more likely to be at, or hosting, a social function. Lastly, I am more likely to tackle some 4 hour long recipe that I've been eyeing because Rob is around to help with the kiddos. Just something I noticed. It made me wonder if I focus on the weekends, and doing better there, what kind of breakthrough I might have. How much even better than I do now would I feel? How much healthier, and energetic, and vibrant would I be, if I conquered the weekends?

At the same time, food for me is more then vitamins, filling an empty stomach, or taste. Food is fellowship with friends. There is a reason we "commune" together, and "break bread" together. It is a bonding, rewarding experience to dine with friends. It also is something creative to me. I've realized that since I don't have all the tools, and appliances (a fancy dehydrator that let's you heat below 118, food processor) when I feel like doing something creative in the kitchen, I turn to my cookbooks. I also have not (because I lack those two appliances) jumped into the world of raw desserts yet, and I think when I do that will help with these creative surges.

Someone from the Culinary School of the Rockies called today, and we talked for quite awhile about all the programs they have there. This has been something I have been toying with the idea of - going to culinary school when the kids are all in school. I am impressed with their programs, especially the CO Farm to Table program they have, and would love to go there. Actually I would love to take both of their tracks: the 6 month Colorado Farm to Table program, where your last month you spend a month on the road in CO visiting farms and local artisians, and the second track where you learn French Cooking, and spend the last month in France working with real chefs in their restuarants. *sigh* I can dream, right? I think the Farm to Table one would be more practical, and useful here. However, the French Cooking one would be such a life adventure.

This is another thing I have been mulling I need to go through a traditional culinary school to be a raw chef? Do I want to be a raw chef? It seems like if I did, I would have to go through the traditional ropes to get my foot in the door with any restaurant. I don't know the answer but at least I have 2 1/2 more years to figure it out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

4 days in the life of me

I was asked to keep a 4 day food journal for a major magazine, and today is the first day. I'm not going to say who it is, as I'm not sure if I should or not. When it's all over and they decide if they are going to use it then I will let you know. :) I guarantee you've heard of it, and I can also almost guarantee that you will be surprised by who it is. I was!

I was thinking of recording it also here too.....I'm going to TRY to not let the fact that the whole world could be reading what I eat not effect my choices, but I admit it's hard. I'm not going to cancel my brunch plans this AM, or try to redirect my family if we go up to the mountains and are picking somewhere to eat. I want to be real. I am not perfect, and not every situation lends itself to eating raw or vegan. I also just try to do the best I can, and avoiding real life does not appeal to me at home. I do not stay home within 10 feet of my juicer and blender, and I try to just roll with whatever is happening.

So today I started out with 22 oucnes of Green Lemonade from my juicer (2 apples, 1 lemon, 1/2 head of celery, 4 large pieces of Kale), and we'll see where we go from here......

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fall Harvest

I came home from the Farmer's Market today almost giddy, with bags overflowing. I just love the Fall and all of the vegetables and fruit that are overflowing from the tables there.

One thing I hadn't realized was how big of a deal Green Chilis are in Colorado. When I popped into Whole Foods this AM they had big displays of them, both fresh and roasted, and were handing out DVD's of demonstrations on how to cook them, and recipes. At the Farmer's Market they had someone there with a big contraption that looked like the big mesh things they roll balls around in for Bingo and he was throwing fresh green chilis into it and roasted them over a fire, and then selling them right there. I bought a bag labeling "Pueblo - Hot ! " and a fresh jar of Vegetarian (no pork added) Green Chili Sauce and Rob was thrilled when I came home. So we'll see what we end up doing with those this week.

I also came home with a bag of peaches to make a peach pie for my mom and stepdad's birthdays, which they requested, as they will be here Wednesday to see us for a couple of days.

I also got plums, apples, eggplant, red peppers, squash, green beens, wax beans, sweet potatoes, red and white potatoes, and some sort of Transylvanian (i'm serious) pastry that these two cute old ladies were selling and I couldn't resist. (See picture at right)

This week I am planning to make something we made last fall that was delicious, though time consuming to do all the roasted (tip: teach one of your children how to brush vegetables with olive oil, and you are set). It's an Eggplant, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Parmesan Torte. yum!!

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful temperate Fall weather. As you can see my kids were delighted to use our wood fireplace for the first time this year. :) Happy Harvest!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It has been awhile

It has been awhile since I have posted about food or otherwise, so I thought I would try to write today. My heart has been heavy the past few weeks, and then my kiddos and I caught a cold (which never happens, but I was traveling and run down and think that's what happened).

I had a great girls weekend away! My friends Iesha, Christina, Amy, and for one night Christine joined me in getting a break from the daily mom duties, and doing what we love - sleeping in, trying new restaurants, sitting in a hot tub, some shopping, and yes even hula-hooping. :) We stayed in the beautiful town of Breckenridge for one night. The end of the day Sunday we got pedicures at the Woodhouse Day Spa in Denver. It was such a fantastic weekend and I hope it is not too long before we get to do it again. :)
I realized I hadn't posted about my ice cream maker. About the same time I got the spiral slicer, I also decided to go on a hunt for an ice cream maker. I had checked out the book "Vice Cream" from the library, and was so excited to make some raw, dairy-free ice cream, and then realized you HAVE to have an ice cream maker to really do it. SO I started researching them, and had what I would really like in mind ($200 White Mountain 6 Quart machine) and then decided to hunt on craigslist. I have always had a good
experience using Craigslist for these things, and tried to be patient during the usual days of calls, and machines that were already sold, etc. Finally I came across *gasp* the actual machine I wanted, in an after-garage sale for $30. I called her and said I would take it, as long as it still works. She thought for a moment, and realized she hadn't plugged it in for two years, and wasn't sure. I said that I would still take it, as she lived nearby, and I'd just let her know if I had any problems. So when I showed up at her door, she insisted I take it for free! She said she would feel bad if it didn't work, and that way she could just not worry about it. She wouldn't give in, and I practically ran back out to my van. The kids were squealing with excitement when they saw what I came out with! :)

We went to Kinkos and copied off our favorite recipes (and I admit, all the ones that mostly didn't use coconut water, as I still have not been able to brave cutting open one on my own (I like my fingers too much)). We bought the stuff to make our first Vice Cream, AND...........

It was wonderful!!! We made Hazelnut Cherry Ice Cream, which was just Hazelnut milk, fresh chopped cherries, and dates. You put the milk, half the cherries, and the dates in the blender. Then you just set the blender pitcher in the freezer for a while. Then you stir in the rest of the chopped cherries, and let the ice cream maker handle the rest. 20 minutes later we had 4 quarts (I made a smaller batch) of healthy ice cream! Next on my list is to try Vanilla Bean, and I picked 2 beans up when I got groceries. yum!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Thinking of Steph

Tonight I'm just remembering my friend Stephanie Perry that passed away 2 years ago tomorrow, and saying some prayers for her family....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Remembering Rob

I'va had a hard time not being able to be at the funeral. I feel like I've been conditioned to wait for that service to really cry, because that's what you do. No amount of telling myself I'm not going has allowed me a good cry. "What am I waiting for?" I keep thinking. Tears streaming down your face never substitutes for a good weep, and I've been not wanting to freak out my kids. It's one of the curses I think of having self control, I wish I couldn't help it, and could just cry.

My husband encouraged me today to spend even an hour alone this morning, so I utilized the drop-off hourly childcare place (that costs an arm and a leg I might add) and then thought about what my friend Sara do something that we used to do together, or that he loved doing.

So I drove right back home, put a picture of him in my back pocket, and rode out the driveway on my bike.

I have the advantage of have a beautiful Open Space Preserve right in my backyard. I set out on the trail and immediately felt something begin. I don't know if it was that I had his picture with me, or that I was simply on my bike, but I felt nearer to him in that moment. I half expected to round a corner and have him be there, as he often used to be. I can't remember ever being the one to pick where we biked, but I do remember he often picked places that were more challenging for me than I would have picked on my own. He would eventually end up ahead of me, and at some point I would round a corner and he'd be waiting there for me, one foot on the ground, smiling. "You doing okay?" he'd say. "Yeah." I'd reply. "You wanna stop?"...."No, I'm good." (or sometimes truthfully, "Well, maybe, isn't this drop-off kind of steep? You know I'm afraid of heights..." He'd then laugh "Well this will help you get over it.") (By the way Rob, I'm still afraid of heights, and no it didn't help, so there).

Today I turned right up this part of the trail I have avoided, because I have deemed it too steep. I pushed myself and panted, and made myself go all the way to the top. When I got up to the flat part, I almost swiveled back around to head back, but something made me want to go all the way to the end, because I felt this urging to do so. Anyone looking around would tell you Rob was not up there waiting for me, but when I got to the top and put my foot down, I put my head down on my handlebars, and started balling. Because he was there. Because I have needed a place to physically put my foot down and grieve him, and for some reason I thought that would be in a stuffy funeral home. But of course it wasn't.

On the beautiful coast back down that hill, noticing all the trees I hadn't paid attention to on the way up, I thought about all this. It's easy in life to keep coasting and never put our feet down. But putting our feet down into the pain is what's important. It's what reminds us that we are alive. That other people were once alive. It's messy, and I probably looked like a slobbering mess to anyone that happened by, but it was real. The coast down would never have felt so good had I not put my foot down and had that cry.

I wish Rob could have had that coasting part of his life. I feel like those of us that were wounded as children face such a battle to really feel free as adults. Only God can break those chains that weigh us down, trying to convince us that we are still that child who felt confused, violated, and unlovable. It was something that unfortunately we shared, and I will never forget all the times we came together sometimes without even talking, just to be together, to get through some moment of pain.

Goodbye Rob. I wish we could throw our bikes in your pickup one last time for a ride.
I will miss you. I wish you peace.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I have a friend from H.S. and college who died this week in a motorcycle accident. I remember the first time we started talking, in the River Hills Mall in Mankato, realizing we had a mutual friend (Deb) and a mutual interest in mountain biking. ""Hey maybe we should ride sometime"....."Yeah, that sounds great actually" began a friendship. I have many memories of being called in the middle of the night... "Wake up sleepy head, you wanna ride?" and I'd rub my eyes and head out my door. Who knew the streets and trails in and around Mankato could be so exciting at 1:00am, but they were. I'd rather have been doing that on a Friday night then walking out of a bar anyday.

He was in our wedding, and when we moved to CA we lost touch, and I couldn't seem to track him down through any of the grapevines. Recently we got back in touch on Facebook, and sent each other little notes once in awhile. He was 30 years old, and had many years of life yet he should have seen. Today I am just sad. Today I just want to be hugged by someone who knew him. Or really, just by him. One of his great big bear hugs.

I won't be able to go back for the funeral, and I was talking to Deb last night about feeling like I will miss out on those physical motions of grieving.....walking through the receiving line, sitting in the service, standing out at the cemetary. There is something about walking those steps that helps. At least it did with Steph. I feel like I want to do something to make it feel real, so I can move out of this stage of shock. Maybe while they are having the service Friday, I'll hope on my bike and ride......

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The moments inbetween

I just got back from an amazing retreat for my MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) group. Our theme this year is Adventures in Mothering, and I just think it's going to be a really great year. They are using an amusement park as a theme which is really cute. At the retreat we played some funny games, got to know each other better, got some training (I'll be a group leader the next two years), sang some songs, and I was asked to share my testimony in the evening before we had a group prayer time. I was SO nervous, but already had it written up as I had shared it in a smaller setting earlier this year, and could think of no decent reason to say "no", so I did it. It was hard because I was going to the retreat to make some new friends, and get to know some aquantinces better, and it felt like putting myself out there in front of almost 50 women was quite the way to do that. Yet we had a great prayer time afterward. That evening and next morning so many people appraoched me to talk. They felt like they got to know me, and maybe made a new friend in me through my transparency, and through that I know friendships will blossom.

I was thinking while I was there at one point, why is it when my husband and his friends get a weekend away, they set out to climb the highest mountain they can find (14,000+ ft by the way)and when I go away we end up sitting in a circle searching the deepest parts of our hearts? These are very different things and yet I think they are the same things in more ways than I know. I think we are both hoping to feel more. Whatever is next, whatever is there to feel, we want to feel more of it.

From the hotel room I was staying in I had a beautiful view of some mountains. (see picture above) I saw a few houses on the top, and some on the bottom. I was thinking about the type of man that would build his house on the top of that mountain, searching for a view to look down on, and the satisfaction of planting his foot on that highest rock. He doesn't mind the threat of the mountain sliding down.

I looked down and thought of the type of man that has built his house in the foothills, happy to wade his feet in the bumbling creek, and to look up at an eagle flying overhead. He's not worried about the potential flood, because he has found his version of beauty and peace.

Have they really done something so different? It might depend on the journey that got them there, and you might need to know that story before you could answer. What were they hoping for? How hard did they have to work and fight to get there? We love saying that the most important parts of life are the journeys. I think that the journey is absolutely important, but what about the moments following?

I am living in the moments after a huge, tragic, and 30 year long journey, and I am in a quiet place. I am home. I meet so many people now who have only known the "me" in Colorado, and they think they know me. I've heard myself described as a peaceful person, with a rooted life, a supermom, and of having a grounded faith. You might wonder why I would ever want to shatter those assumptions. I don't seek to shatter them, so much as I myself am in such awe of what God can do with one single life.

I have lived both at the top of the mountain, and the bottom, and felt long-suffering in both places. It tests your integrity, your faith, and your optimism. But I tend to think there's something important and precious at the end. That story. So someone thinks I'm an amazing person? Nothing amazing ever happened without faith, hope, and love. And if those two men built identical houses, and then shut the doors when they were done, and never came out, who cares where they even are?

I'm saying though, what if they didn't. What if the next traveler came, and they shared their story, and told them the shortcuts, and helped them load their packs with everything they would need.

Without the story of those three things, how would the next person be inspired to put on their packs on and begin their travel? I think we know when it's time to pass these things on. To tell our story. To not shut the door, and thank God it's done, and hold on to the arms of the chair a little too tightly.

I'm trying to go one step further. I like to think about that man, instead of sending that traveler on his way, walked beside him until he got there. That's what I'm trying to do this year. Because I know this trail already. I've got a heart that's full. And I'm ready to share.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Squish Squash

I have had lots of squash to use up which has been wonderful. I love this season of veggies. I decided to take a break from feeding my family so much raw squash, and because it's a chilly rainy day (high of 60!) put the oven to some use. It's been a while since it has been fired up. :)
Here's what I found that I had almost all of the ingredients on hand for, and the kids and Rob were excited about. I just baked it, and the kids had some for lunch. We'll eat the rest for dinner.

I prepared it last night and left it in the fridge overnight to soak. I would recommend this as it gives the bread a chance to soak everything up. This is a low-fat version from Cooking Light, and don't omit the artichokes! They are wonderful and pull the whole thing together. If you use lots of different colors the top looks bright and cheerful, like confetti. For lunch you can see in the picture I served it with some Sauteed Sesame Kale, and half a banana (remember it's for the kiddos, so they always want a side of fruit:)

Also the kids and I made pinatas, sort of, yesterday. We were inspired by my neice Abby, who made a REAL pinata, but since I had my three kids and a 1 and 2 year old yesterday, I did the best I could. We filled paper bags, rolled the tops over and stapled them, and then glued tissue and streamers on them. The kids had fun! That's what the second picture is of. Have a great weekend! I'll be at a retreat for MOPS. I can't wait!

From Cooking Light Magazine, Nov 1996

Buy canned, quartered artichoke hearts because they're less expensive than whole artichoke hearts. Buy presliced mushrooms.

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 cups diced zucchini ( I used a mix of green and yellow)

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used portabellas)

1 cup diced red bell pepper (I used a mix I had of red, orange and yellow)

1 cup diced onion (I used red)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3/4 cup chopped drained canned artichoke hearts

8 cups (1-inch) cubed Italian bread (about 8 ounces) (I used 100% Whole Wheat Batard

Cooking spray

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I used white sharp)

1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups egg substitute (I used organic)

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated skim milk

Oregano sprigs (optional)


Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and garlic, and sauté vegetable mixture 6 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in artichokes, and set aside.

Arrange bread cubes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon zucchini mixture evenly over bread cubes, and sprinkle mixture with cheeses.

Combine egg substitute and remaining ingredients (except oregano sprigs) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over zucchini mixture. Cover mixture with foil; chill up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 325°. Bake strata, covered, 1 hour or until bubbly. Garnish with oregano sprigs, if desired.
Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 229(19% from fat); FAT 4.9g (sat 2.3g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.3g); IRON 2.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 14mg; CALCIUM 336mg; CARBOHYDRATE 29.1g; SODIUM 570mg; PROTEIN 17.5g; FIBER 1.9g