Peanut Butter Chicken

I used to love eating out. As my waistline grew, my pocketbook decreased. There did come a point where I learned the truths about the many hidden ingredients used. It was so hard for me to go out and enjoy food anymore. All I could see was carbs, carbs and more carbs. *lips quivering* But I missed all the yummy foods. Oh wait. *slaps forehead* I know how to cook!

This is one of the favorites in this family. If you ask my son, he will tell you everything I make is his favorite. Can't tell if he is sweet or smart... *wink*

2 Tablespoons  peanut butter (either creamy or crunchy)
1 tablespoon  soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon  garam masala (curry blend spice)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (personal favorite is Pampered Chef's blend)
1 can coconut milk

Mix above ingredients, set aside.

Main dish:
2 chicken breast cubed (and/or dark meat)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 onion sliced or cubed
garlic (I use a full head)
Small head of cauliflower sliced
1/2  pound  fresh spinach
1 bunch fresh basil (approx. 2 big handfuls)
salt (optional)

On medium high temp, cook chicken in a little olive oil. When no longer pink, add garam masala, salt, onions and garlic. Let cook in same temp heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower slices, cook for an additional 10 mins.

Turn heat down to medium, add peanut sauce. When it starts to bubble, turn down to simmer. Let simmer for 15 mins. Add spinach and basil, mix well. Let simmer for 5 more mins.

Serve over basmati rice. Or for those carb conscious, can eat without rice or serve over a fresh bed of sliced cabbage.

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.

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Mexican spaghetti

Wasn't sure what else to call this. It's like spaghetti but with mexican spices. The family gobbled this up and even licked the plates!

1 pound ground meat (I prefer ground turkey, but pork or beef work also)
Garlic - amount depends on your preference. We love garlic, I used a full head.
1 cup chopped onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 can olives, sliced (reserve 1/2 can of juice for sauce)
1 packet taco seasoning

1 cabbage, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil

chopped cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Cook ground meat over medium high heat, when almost brown, add garlic and onions. When onions are translucent, add can of tomato sauce and reserved olive juice. Mix well and simmer.

At medium high, heat large pan with olive oil, add sliced cabbage. Tossing frequently for 5 minutes.

Distribute cabbage onto plates, added sauce over cabbage. Feel free to add toppings such as cheese and/or sour cream. Enjoy!

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.

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Let's talk about exercise...

I loathe it. /end of blog

Ha! Just kidding. What is it that makes that task so daunting? Is it because it is a *task*? I know I viewed it as one. Who am I kidding, I still do.

Five years ago, if you told me I would be walking up to 20 miles a week, I would have split my side open from laughing so hard. Walking became an accident.

Three years ago, our Old Gal (Ford Explorer) gave up. She was tired. She was a good companion for the years we had her. We were left with the decision to pour a lot of money into her or let her go. We were in contract with selling our house and the last thing I wanted was another big bill every month.

After many deliberations (AKA arguing), the decision was to ride the bus. Eric has been riding the bus for years but the thought of ME riding was... unnerving! I laugh now of course, but at the time, I was near panic attack mode over this thought. My stubbornness persevered. Being adamant about NOT wanting a big car bill every month or wanting another used vehicle, I had to swallow my pride and walk.

The nearest stop was about a mile away. I spent the weekend crying quietly in the shower. I took many showers that weekend. How was I going to do it? I'm too fat! I can barely walk around a block. To top it off, this all occurred in the middle of winter here in Alaska. It was my responsibility to get my son to preschool at the time. He was my rock. That little boy encouraged me the whole way. My husband, bless his heart, even wrote out the schedule for me; exactly which bus to get on at what times. Within a month, I was able to do that walk and then some. Feeling very good and confident in walking. But still hated it...

Here we are, year three with no vehicle. There are times it would be convenient to have a car, but I'm much happier without it. Often times, we are left to feel like second class citizens because we do not have a vehicle. Surely we must have done something or too poor. It's frustrating at times. Not only do we save a LOT of money (no car payment, no insurance, no repairs, etc) but we are much more active.

Three months ago, I took a much more serious approach to walking. Gave up the bus pass and started walking to and from work. It's not that far away, but far enough to get a good workout. After a month of that, I wanted more. Craved more. Adding family walks has been enjoyable. Even when the weather is bad, I still go out. Determined. I want to do this!

I wouldn't say that I hate walking now, but not quite at the love-it stage. I guess you could say the jury is still out on that opinion. This I do know...it has been wonderful for my health. I've been med-free for nearly two years. I'd like to keep it that way. Would be interesting to see what my thoughts are about exercise five years from now...

When is the last time you walked around the block?


Cinnamon Rolls

Once a week, I try to make something sweet. Not just for myself, but for the family. Being a diabetic, I have to be vigilant about what goes into the dessert so I can partake in the weekly *dessert* festivities! This sounds much more dramatic than it really is. /sarcasm

I'm more of a cook than a baker. I love a good challenge so I set out to make a (semi) healthy version of cinnamon rolls. The results came out much better than I planned despite losing the first batch to the floor thanks to a tussle with the cooling rack. As much as I enjoy cooking, I don't like to have to spend the day in the kitchen making one single dish. I'm too impatient for that. Most of my recipes are easy and quick.

I have found what works best in baking desserts is to do small batches. I reserve half for the freezer for another week. So far, this has worked well.

*disclaimer: Remember, I do not have formal measuring cups/spoons so all measurements are approximate. I try hard to give as accurate number as possible.

2/3 cup    turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
1 teaspoon   cinnamon (I use pampered chef's blend)
1 teaspoon   pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup   chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans or no nuts is fine too)
1/3 stick  softened butter

Mix all ingredients together, set aside.

1 tablespoon    raw honey
1/2 teaspoon   salt
2/3 cup   warm water
2 teaspoons    yeast (I use Bob's Red Mill)

1 cup   whole wheat flour
2/3 cup   whole wheat pastry flour (can use whole wheat flour instead)
2/3 cup   hazelnut flour

Mix first 4 ingredients together, let sit for a few minutes. Enough to quickly check for any new statuses on facebook/twitter/etc. Serious, I know. *wink*

Add the remaining ingredients. You may need to add additional flour or water to get a nice firm dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. Just enough time to take a quick nap. This is hard work! (be sure to toss some flour onto your face so others think you are working in a strenuous manner!)

Have a good nap? Time to turn the oven on to 350 degrees. 

Get the dough out of the refrigerator. Give it a good punch and kneed for a couple of minutes making sure all the ingredients are well mixed. Cut dough in half. If you have a big fancy counter, you can leave it as one piece. I have a little cutting board to work with. Roll out dough into a rectangle, leaving it about a 1/4 inch thick. Take half the filling mixture and spread evenly over the dough. Carefully take one end and start rolling the dough over the mixture. Cut into 1 inch slices and lay onto a greased cookie sheet/baking dish. Let it sit for another 30 minutes before putting into the oven. Bake for approx. 30 minutes.

Should be golden brown. Perfect individual sizes so it is hard to over indulge, that is if you don't eat the entire batch yourself. Ha!

Remember, take chances, make mistakes, get messy. :o)

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The Scale.

It's a demonic device created to torture women (men, too).

I think they should be banned. They do not do anyone any good hanging out in the one room we cannot avoid...the bathroom. I petition for it to be thrown out. I've not weighed in a few months. I know I've lost weight. My droopy underwear is evidence.

Our focus should be in what we put inside out body. The scale does NOT tell us whether we are healthy or not. We need to channel our obsessive (dieting) nature into healthy eating habits, not how many pounds that was lost/gained.

I dare you to lock away that evil device. I double dare you not to touch it for 30 days. Who is up for the challenge?


Kale chips

Been working on a plot to convert the population onto kale chips. They are one of the greatest treasures in the world of food. Not only is it insanely healthy, it tastes terrible! I kid, I kid. My way of saying, it is out of this world.


You know those annoying pieces of tough lettuce things crowding on your plate when you eat at a restaurant? Yep, those you can find in the produce section of your local grocery store. You may feel weird buying them at first but that will quickly disappear upon your first batch of kale chips!

1 bunch kale (any variety, purple kale is my personal favorite)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash kale pieces well. Shake and pat dry. Pay attention, this is the important part. You need to trim off the main stem. It is rather bitter. Tear into bite size pieces (they shrink, so be sure to leave them large pieces).

Pour over the pieces your olive oil and sprinkle in the salt. With your hands, rub generously. Lay flat onto a  cookie sheet (some recipes call for parchment paper, I find it wasteful). Bake for approximately 10 mins., watch closely, can burn easily. Will turn a nice golden color. Not sure if they will even make it to the plate. I'm guilty for devouring half before serving it to the family (shhhh, don't tell!)

• Don't crowd the cookie sheet, will cause uneven baking (partial crisp, partial soggy)
• Add seasonings while tossing in olive oil
• Sprinkle parmesan cheese before baking
• Sprinkle nutritional yeast before baking/gives a bit of a Doritos taste to it. Yum! My favorite way to season kale chips
• Sprinkle apple cider vinegar or balsamic after baking

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Dreaming of a BIG kitchen

I don't have the standard cooking tools that most possess in their kitchen. Things like measuring cups/spoons, cheese grater, rolling pin, ice trays, not even a microwave. I know, the horror! No microwave. *laughs hard* I prefer not to have those tools, in my eyes, more crap to have to wash!

What I do dream of is a BIG kitchen. Giant gas stove with a minimum of 6 burners, even one with a bbq grill in the middle; double oven would be heavenly. The sound of clanging pots and pans above would bring music to my ears. Walls adorned with beautiful sharp knives. Shelves loaded with prep bowls of all shapes and sizes. Counter tops that is as long as the earth herself. Large refrigerator with extra produce bins. Not asking for much, am I? LOL

This kitchen is simply gorgeous! Very close to the style I covet, would love to add a bit of a modern touch to the design.