Yummy Food.

Pretty much on a weekly basis, I make sure I have turkey kielbasa in my fridge. It makes for an easy, quick meal, so I just keep it on hand. I almost always have canned tomatoes, too, since they don’t spoil and supplement meals nicely. On my almost-daily Pinterest sweep of recipes, I found one that looked really good – filled with kielbasa, tomatoes, and cheese.

Last night, I decided I would give it a shot. Only to open my fridge and THEN remember I had opted to buy bacon instead of kielbasa and had somewhere along the way used my one can of tomatoes AND the tomatoes I had in the fridge were a lovely shade of green. shoot.

My husband’s advice? “Improvise! If it turns out bad, we’ll order pizza.”

Here is what I did – and oh my was it amazing. Feel free to tweak as needed… obviously, I did! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Bacon (I used close to 10 slices)
  • One small onion, diced
  • One can of (rinsed) white beans
  • One cup of shredded zucchini (this would be optional; I had it on hand and thought it was a good way to add veggies – it basically melted; you couldn’t even tell it was in there)
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • One can tomato (bisque) soup
  • One-two cups of chicken broth
  • One package of cheese filled tortellini pasta
  • Two tablespoons cream cheese
  • Handful of parmesan/mozzerella cheese
  • Scallions (garnish)

Fry up the bacon in a deep skillet. Pour off the grease from the pan; crumble up and reserve the bacon.

In the same pan, add the onions. If needed use a little bit of chicken broth to lift the bacon bits from the bottom of the pan. Try not to add extra oil; the grease from the bacon should be plenty of oil. Once the onion is fragrant and just about cooked, add in the zucchini, salt, pepper, and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, then add the beans, tomato soup, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; add in the pasta. Stir frequently and add chicken broth as needed to cook the pasta, but avoid adding so much that you make soup. Bring it to the consistency you like. Stir in the cheeses and sprinkle the scallions on top.

Kielbasa Recipe.

In Peru, we were a long ways away from the nearest fast food joint. We did have a hamburger stand and a chicken restaurant up the street, but we didn’t eat there often. So, basically, even when I didn’t feel like cooking and just wanted take-out, that wasn’t an option. I have learned the art of fast meals and normally, they’re pretty healthy as well since we also didn’t have tons of unhealthy options either. Frozen, canned, and precooked didn’t really exist.

Now we’re back in the States and our schedules are just as crazy, if not more so, and our budgets are just as limited – again, if not more so! Take Out is a wonderful commodity reserved for Sunday after church only. So even if I’m dead tired, I have to cook.

Our “go-to” quick meal each week is something I’ve kind of made up from scratch. We eat this once a week and Brian will actually ask for it if he knows we’ve had busy days. So, here ya go:

  • 1lb turkey keilbasa (one package)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 bag of frozen corn (about 2 cups)
  • 2-8oz cans of no-salt added tomato sauce
  • S&P
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • smoked paprika
  • Italian seasoning
  • 2Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • brown rice and/or tortillas
  • shredded cheddar

Saute the kielbasa and onion together. Season to taste with the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and Italian seasoning. Once the kielbasa is beginning to get browned, add in the black beans, garlic, and corn, with more seasoning (especially salt). Once they are basically warmed through, add in the tomato sauce cans with additional seasoning, this time including the smoked paprika and the sugar. Smoked paprika is my new favorite thing, but a little goes a long ways, so don’t over-season. This can be used as a sauce over brown rice, or you can put it in tortillas like a wrap filling.

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If you want to use it on the rice, start the rice before you begin the sauteeing; instant brown rice will take about the same length of time as the entire meal while regular brown rice will take longer.

When the rice is about done, whisk two eggs in a separate bowl and then add them in. Stir continuously until the eggs are cooked completely.

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The eggs will not make the dish taste “eggy” nor should they turn out looking scrambled. They really should almost melt right into the dish and simply make it creamier and thicker.

Melt the cheese on top. Also good with sour cream and salsa.

30 minutes, feeds a family of 4 easily – with leftovers. Enjoy!

The non-diet.

I would have to say it’s been about 10 years since I have been at what I consider a good weight. It was about that time that I started having serious issues with my thyroid. When I say “serious” I do mean that. I was incredibly sick for about a year as they figured out what was happening and how to fix it. Then, thanks to a young doctor who didn’t know what she was doing with a thyroid, I gained about 40 pounds in a school year. According to every single doctor I’ve seen since then, that was completely avoidable. But whatever. Eight years ago, I saw a doctor who told me in no uncertain terms that I would “never lose that weight again” and should “just deal with it.”

I determined in my mind that he was wrong and decided to do something about it. I read up on how to eat with an underactive thyroid and lose weight and the biggest thing was to build up your metabolism by building up muscle. I joined Curves and eventually became an employee. We offered the “weight management” program during the winter one year and all of us staff decided to do it as well. I followed that plan to the letter and in six weeks, I lost 17 pounds. I had been at my absolute heaviest and was finally down to something more manageable.

However, I hated dieting. OH my word I HATED it. I remember counting grapes, eating 1/4 cup of raw onion, and being almost constantly at least slightly hungry. Brian remembers having to cook for himself and being grossed out by my “diet food.” He also remembers that our food budget was exceeded as I bought expensive vegetables and hard-to-find ingredients. I swore I would (probably) never do it again.

Lately, though, I have detested how I look. I delete pictures, refuse to look at pictures of myself, hate the mirror, hate my clothes… yuck yuck yuck. The scale has been my worst enemy as I’ve watched the numbers creep up since arriving back in the States in December. So, I decided about five weeks ago to do something about it. I read an article about how you need to have your picture taken, especially with your children, or you will eventually regret not having documented stuff with YOU in it, regardless of how you look. I realized then that I have very few pictures with my children over the past couple of years (which is… their entire lives…) because I hate how I look. That’s selfish of me. I want my children to have record of their mom should something ever happen to me and right now, they really don’t. Selfish.

I wanted to do something about it, but my dilemma is: I love food. I hate dieting. I am poor. How can I diet?? 

Here is what I have done lately:

  • I have taken the concepts of the Curves manual I have and tailored them to our financial budget and the rest of my family’s needs.
  • I informed my husband what would be happening so he would understand if I didn’t eat the exact same meal as them or if food looked a little different than usual. Of course, he was on board.
  • The first week, I really tried to stick to the plan in order to jump-start my metabolism. This meant cooking very different for me than for the rest of the family, but I had planned it out ahead of time and it worked out fine. One evening I tailored their meal to more fit my meal plan and they didn’t even notice that it was a “diet meal.”
  • Each week, I look at the meal plan for the week and adapt it to something the whole family can eat that will still fit in our budget. This means that I’m not following it exactly, but fairly close.
  • I am not doing two separate meals. We don’t have the budget for it nor do I have the time to do it. So, I adapt. For example, last night I thought we’d do a family favorite: spaghetti. Instead of regular spaghetti, I did the following:

I sauteed up onion, as usual, and then added in the ground beef, as usual. To that, I shredded in about 8 baby carrots and when the meat was just about done, I added in half a can of rinsed-off black beans. The sauce was two cans of just plain, no salt added, tomato sauce that I added salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and a bit of sugar to. The pasta was “veggie pasta” – the kind that’s made out of like tomatoes and spinach. At the end of their cook time, I added frozen broccoli and blanched it. My family ate the whole meal; I ate mostly sauce with just a handful of pasta. 

  • I have tried to cut out lots of carbs and sugar and am drinking mostly water.
  • I exercise every day, as much as possible, and I do things like park really far away from the mall instead of close and walking to all the homes here on the property instead of using the 4-wheeler.
  • I weigh myself every Monday and at least once or twice during the week and I write down my weight every Monday.
  • Brian, one other friend, and now blog world are the only ones who know about this. The last thing I want or need is my mom going, “Aren’t you supposed to be dieting?” if she sees me eat a cookie or to hear people ask, “So, when should you start seeing results from this diet you’re on?”
  • The goal is to change my lifestyle, not “diet indefinitely.” I do enjoy my iced coffees once or twice a week, but I try to make sure they’re sugar-free if possible. If I eat out, it’s normally a fancy salad and I try to only eat half of what’s put in front of me.

So far, I’m down 8 pounds in 5 weeks. To me, that’s a miracle. I’m into numbers I haven’t seen for more than ten years! Lower than the last time I finished a diet. I doubt anybody but myself notices yet, but frankly, I don’t really care. I thought I would be super happy if I lost 10lbs; now I’m thinking I could lose 15 or even 20 at this rate, which would be even better.

I guess what I’m basically saying is that it’s true what “they” say: you don’t need to “diet” to lose weight. You need to change your lifestyle. Eat less junk, move around more, slim down your portions, add in more fresh fruits and vegetables. For me, it’s just about a pound per week, but I figure, you know, at least it’s a pound DOWN instead of a pound UP. I don’t feel deprived – I had one and a half sugar cookies yesterday and a handful of Brian’s french fries. I feel miles better about myself, though. It’s nice to see clothes fit and not feel like all you see when you look at me is my leftover baby pooch.

I’ll try to post here some of my updates on this weight-loss journey and adapted recipes as I do this. Maybe you can join me on this journey so I won’t feel so alone!

Zucchini.

We just finished dinner and I have to say, it was quite the success! We have been given loads of zucchini lately, which is awesome, but also something we’ve never really eaten! We never ate zucchini in Peru, so that’s a solid 4 years without it, and then it wasn’t something I used earlier in our marriage. However, I’m always up for new veggies, so I’ve been figuring out all the different things to do with it. I made zucchini bread with a few raisins the other day and one loaf is gone, the other is in the freezer – SO good Brian couldn’t stop eating it! I made zucchini chips in the oven last night, but I had to make my own bread crumbs and they just weren’t all that great. This evening, I looked for about five minutes online for a dinner recipe that would be vegetarian and after looking and thinking, I came up with this:

::1 onion, diced

::3 cloves of garlic (or 1 good Tbsp of minced garlic)

::1 celery stalk, diced

::2 large zucchini, sliced thin, then diced

::2 grated carrots

::1 can diced tomatoes, with the juice

::1 8oz can of tomato sauce

::1/4c cream cheese

::handful of grated parmesan cheese

::1lb whole wheat pasta

Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant, then add in the rest of the veggies. Saute for about 10 minutes, until getting fork tender. Salt liberally; it will help draw out the moisture from the zucchini. Add pepper, oregano, basil, and chili powder (however much you’d like). When the veggies are getting soft, add in the diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce. Add more salt, basil, and a Tablespoon of sugar. Plop in the cream cheese, then pour the sauce into an 8×8 pan. Sprinkle the parm on top and put into a 350 degree oven while you cook the pasta. Start the pasta water when you put the sauce in the oven; cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and add a pad of butter and some garlic powder. Serve the pasta with the zucchini sauce over top and extra parm to add as desired.

I convinced my preschooler this was spaghetti and my husband ate it and then asked afterwards what he’d eaten. We all really liked it! I was concerned about the texture of the zucchini, which is not my favorite. But, sauteing it and then having a good sauce really helped. We have leftovers and it was REALLY good. Enjoy!

Food.

One of the things I wanted to blog more about is food. I have become a closet foodie… not a very good one, but I like to pretend I’m good at it. I certainly enjoy cooking and trying new things! I’d sure weigh a lot less if food wasn’t so darn good! 🙂

This weekend I made granola. In fact when I’m done on here, I’m going to go make more. I found the recipe on Pinterest back in Peru and tried making it then. But, I didn’t have honey and the oats must’ve been different because it just plain didn’t work. It was very sugary and didn’t have the “granola” consistency I was looking for. I made it last night again with different oats and honey and it worked! It’s so good and I don’t feel bad eating it because it’s full of protein. It’s very simple:

2Tbsp creamy peanut butter

2Tbsp honey

Melt them together in the microwave

Add in some cinnamon and vanilla extract (like 1/4tsp each)

Mix in 1c of quick-cooking oats

Back at 350F for about 10min or until it begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before eating. It gets nice and crunchy.

So good!!

In Peru, we went out to lunch every Sunday after church. It was convenient, yummy, and cheap to get Chinese as we zipped home. Here, going out for lunch on Sundays might be convenient and yummy, but it’s definitely not cheap. So, I’ve been trying to come up with quick lunches for when we get home that’s not just sandwiches. Last week I used a crockpot – something I haven’t done in like six years. I put in

a big bone-in chicken breast, some cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, potatoes, and broccoli, with lots of seasonings. Got home, turned the broth into a gravy on the stove, and baked up some canned biscuits to go underneath of it all –

and voila – wonderful lunch that even Brian said, “I’d rather have this than Subway!” (that’s huge!)

This week, we did a taco dip. I put the rest of a can of refried beans (something we seriously missed in Peru!!) on the bottom of an 8×8 and topped it with ground turkey that I browned up last night. I mixed up some taco seasoning and put it in an empty oregano shaker, so the meat tasted like taco meat without the need of a seasoning packet (so much more convenient!). I refrigerated that overnight. When we got home, I put salsa and cheese on top and threw it under the broiler while I cooked Elena’s hot dogs and shredded cabbage. Funny story about the cabbage: Brian was sent to buy a head of lettuce and came home with cabbage. When I asked him why he bought cabbage instead of lettuce, he said it looked like a really pretty head of lettuce and was way cheaper – he had no idea it was cabbage! But, it has a very mild flavor and has lasted us about two weeks and it cost us just pennies! So it worked out just fine!

Anyway – after broiling the cheese (the whole thing didn’t get hot, but we were okay with that), I topped it with sour cream, tomatoes, and shredded cabbage, and we ate it with tortilla chips. Not a new recipe; just something cheap, fast, and convenient for lunch today.

This week, two things I’m going to try are broccoli cheese soup (which I’ve done before and love, but this is a new recipe which doesn’t call for Velveeta) and “bubble up pizza” (basically giant flaky biscuits with pizza toppings) as well as little crescent rolls apple pies. Wednesday I’m taking a meal to a friend who just had twins and I’m going to double it so we have the same thing – spaghetti and snickerdoodle brownies.

What’s on your menu for the week? 

An Obsession.

Winter is [slowly] settling in here in Peru and with that knowledge means I can finally start making soups again! I already posted my recipe for fool-proof tomato soup. Our other obsession takes a little longer to make, but the result is worth the effort. Here you are, my version of

Roasted Red Pepper Soup 

  • You will need a minimum of 4 large red bell peppers. The bigger the better. If they’re rather small, you might want up to 6.
  • To roast the red peppers, you have 2 options. The first is to put them on a cookie sheet (line it with aluminum foil for a faster clean-up; they tend to “sprout leaks” while they’re roasting) and set them directly under the broiler. This can take awhile. Be prepared to wait… and flip… and wait some more. The other option is to roast them over your burners (if you have a gas stove). This takes a little more finesse (I make my husband do it). Use your tongs and very carefully set them over the open flame and flip accordingly. The end result should be charred black skin all around the pepper. The more thoroughly charred, the easier to peel the skin off. 
  • Immediately after roasting, put them into a ziploc bag and seal shut. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes.They will steam in the bag and then literally the skin just peels right off. 
  • Peel the peppers, take out the seeds, and chop into chunks.They do not need to be uniform. 
  • Peel and dice 2 medium sized potatoes (or more depending on how much you want to supplement the peppers).
  • Dice up half a red onion and a few cloves of garlic.
  • In a large pot, melt a few Tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender. 
  • Add the potatoes and sauté for a few minutes, mixing them in with the butter, garlic, and onions. You do not need to cook them all the way through. 
  • Add the diced red peppers and then cover it all with water. 
  • Here in Peru, our chicken broth comes in these tablets – one is good for about 2 cups of water. I add just one chicken broth cube to the entire pot of soup even though I use more than 2 cups of water. I feel it adds some depth without making it over-powering or super salty.
  • Cover the pot and let simmer until potatoes are cooked through and tender. 
  • Transfer in batches to your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Return it all to the pot and add about half a cup of milk (I use evaporated – it’s creamier).
  • Turn the heat on low. Add your spices.We like salt, pepper, cayenne, and a touch of oregano. If you feel like being adventurous, add a splash of cinnamon. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. This soup is good with some heat, so be generous with the cayenne if that’s your thing.
  • Make sure it’s heated all the way through and give it a few minutes for the spices to ruminate. 
  • Enjoy ~ especially with garlic toast!

Tomato Soup

Winter is settling in here (though yesterday it was up over 80 and I got sunburnt!). With the cooler weather, that leaves us craving one  of our mutually favorite meals: tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Simple, yes. Canned tomato soup? Completely unavailable. So last year, I found a tomato soup recipe online. This year, a friend sent me the one she uses. And now, I’ve combined them both and this is what I do now [this isn’t rocket science, so don’t think I’m going to divulge some amazing secret!]:

  • I use 8-10 small tomatoes (not the vine tomatoes – the ones that are more oblong. Isn’t it nice and helpful that I know the names of all the products I use and I use just specific measurements?? You’re welcome.) for a batch that gives us a solid 4 bowls.
  • Dice the tomatoes – don’t worry about them being too uniform. Dice, as well, half a red onion. Mince a couple cloves of garlic (though garlic powder works, too).
  • Here, our chicken broth comes in cubes. So, I boil water while I’m dicing tomatoes and then add a cube of broth to 1/2 liter of hot water and let it dissolve. The idea here is not what kind of broth you use, but that you have a good cup and a half of chicken broth ready to go. 
  • Melt a Tablespoon (or so) of butter with a dash of oil in the bottom of a large pot, then sautee the onions and garlic in it until the onions are transparent and fragrant.
  • Add the diced tomatoes. Let them warm through and mix with the onions and garlic. You know me, I don’t measure a thing, so I add some basil, salt, and pepper at this point. Everything in this soup is “to taste”; add a little now to get the flavoring started and then finish adding spices later as needed.
  • After a few minutes of warming through the tomatoes, add the chicken broth. You do not need to cover all the tomatoes in broth; they’ll make their own juice. Add at least a cup; I normally add about a cup and a half. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. As soon as I add the broth, I set the timer for 15 minutes and just leave it alone, stirring it occasionally.
  • After 15 minutes, it’s wise to let the soup sit for a few minutes with the heat off before pureeing it all since it’s incredibly hot. Then, puree in batches and return to the pot.
  • Add about a half cup of milk (I use canned evaporated milk – it’s creamier) and bring to a slow simmer. You will need to taste frequently to test the seasonings. I normally add more of everything as well as a touch of cayenne pepper. I don’t add the cayenne earlier because it gets progressively hotter the longer it cooks. Also be sure to add a couple teaspoons of sugar to balance the acidity of all the tomatoes.
  • Simmer for a few minutes to let the seasonings penetrate [this gives you plenty of time to make your grilled cheese!].

ENJOY!

Valentine’s Day Food.

Valentine’s Day was nice and quiet here – just the perfect way to celebrate in my book. Brian is not into getting gifts for Valentine’s Day; he tells me every year that it’s for me, not for him. That’s fine with me! Any holiday that gets me presents is good in my book! So, I knew he had come up with something amazing for me (he always does). What I normally do is make him the meal of his choice with a special cheesecake. We have a friend back in PA who puts together the best dinner parties ever and she always says, “I hate going out to eat because I always come away going, ‘I could’ve made that better.'” Over the last three years, I’ve come to see what she means. Since take-out (besides chicken or Chinese) is not an option and restaurants are expensive and far away, I’ve had to really experiment and come up with our favorite meals from scratch – no boxes, cans, or frozen stuff here. Especially for Valentine’s Day, I’d rather be at home with Brian – he helps me cook, we can control the baby in her environment, it’s cheaper than eating out, and we don’t have to worry about someone else messing up our order.

So, without further ado, here’s my gift to my husband on Valentine’s Day:

Sausage Stuffing
  • About 8 rolls from the bakery (I used ones called “pan de leche” – milk bread – that had a little bit of sweetness to it); cut in half and dice into cubes. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Brown up 1 (or 2, depending on how much you want) sausages in a skillet. Once browned, add to the bread cubes but reserve some of the fat in the skillet.
  • Add a few tablespoons of butter and half a red onion to the skillet you sauteed the sausage in and cook the onion til tender. I add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oregano (no sage here) to the onions. Pour the butter/onion mixture over the bread and toss.
  • Add to the bread about 1 cup of chicken broth – enough to basically soak the bread through without being soppy.
  • Whisk one egg in a separate bowl and add to the bread mixture.
  • Spread evenly in an 8×8 and cover tightly with foil. Bake at about 220C for 30minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15.
Baked Pork Chops
  • In a hot (HOT!) skillet with a touch of oil, brown up 3 boneless pork chops.
  • Once they start cooking, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • Do not cook all the way through. Once they are slightly browned on the outside and you can see they aren’t bright pink on the inside, pull them out.
  • To bake with the stuffing above — pull the stuffing at the half hour point. It won’t be completely done. Put a touch of oil in the bottom of a 9×13 (enough so the chops won’t stick to the bottom) and set the pork chops in the bottom. Take the stuffing out of its pan and put on top of the pork chops (in and around, on top, whatever). Cover the whole thing with foil and bake for a good 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and put under the broiler until the stuffing toasts up on top.

Serve with mashed potatoes, broccoli, and gravy. 

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake (adapted from allrecipes.com)
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • additional 4oz of softened cream cheese
  • about 1 cup of powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Remove one cup of the batter and spread evenly on the bottom of a well-greased springform pan. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until blended. Carefully spread over the batter already in the pan. Bake in a preheated 165C oven for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Let cool at least 3 hours or overnight. Once cool, mix together remaining cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and spread gently over the top of the cheesecake as “frosting.” Chill.

-I found it was hard to get the cheesecake to cook! I don’t know if it was my oven or all the pumpkin, but I had to keep upping the temperature and it baked for a good 20min past time. But other than that, it turned out wonderful. The original recipe calls for a crust and cloves, but I hardly ever make a cheesecake crust anymore (cheaper for us) and I don’t have cloves. They also covered the cheesecake in whipped cream (something else I don’t have).- 

I felt like I’d done so good at making Brian a delicious meal and he couldn’t possibly top it with my gift. Oh I was so wrong.

My gift to Brian: a fancy meal at home.

Brian’s gift to me: A Kindle Fire coming in March with a visitor. Complete with a cover he picked out personally for me and an 8mg pin drive (also picked out specially for me so it’s nice and girly) to store my books. 

I love Valentine’s Day. =)

Super Bowl Food.

Today was the Super Bowl and even though the Packers weren’t in it (boo), we still wanted to watch. Two weeks ago at our sending church they had a rally with a retired Giants player (David Tyree) who is a believer. So, we were rooting for the Giants tonight. Anybody other than the Patriots really. 😉

Around 5:45, my husband said, “Honey, can you make me Super Bowl snacks?” I really had no clue what to make my dear husband, so I improvised! I’m so proud of myself, I just had to share.

French Fried Onions:

~Large red onion(s) sliced fairly thick. Divide the slices into individual rings.
~Soak in milk, just enough to cover them, for at least 5 minutes. 
~Transfer to a flour, salt, and pepper mixture and dredge well. 
~Heat up oil in a frying pan until bubbles appear around the base of a wooden utensil.
~Drop in the onions and fry until golden brown, turning occasionally.
~Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and let cool before eating.
 

Lisa’s Version of “Taquitos”

~Homemade Tortillas
1. Mix together with a fork 4 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp baking powder. 
2. Add in 2 Tbsp of lard (I use either butter or shortening, they both work)
3. Add in up to 1 1/2 cups of water – just enough so it comes together into a nice dough. 
4. Knead on a floured surface for a few minutes
5. Divide into about 12 balls (depends on how big you want them) and roll out each individually until quite thin
6. Fry up on a heated griddle (I don’t use any oil, just a little bit of cooking spray on my griddle)
~Tonight, I made up half a batch of tortillas, then used a leftover porkchop and about a cup and a half of leftover rice to make the filling. I browned up some onions and then added in the chopped up porkchop and the rice, added extra ground ginger, garlic powder, and pepper, and heated it all through. 
~I then took each tortilla and put some cheese on them, mostly around the edges. Then, I took a little bit of the rice/pork mixture and spread it out from one side of the tortilla to almost the other, leaving a small space on the other side. I rolled them up, starting with the side that has the filling on it. 
~And then…I fried them! In just enough oil to cover the bottom half, flipping them once. The cheese sealed them closed. 
 

And then our new favorite: no bake cookies. 🙂

All in all, a nice evening [gave me something to do since I can’t for the life of me sit still during an entire Super Bowl] that cost us nothing more than our usual groceries. And it was good. So was the game.

Perspective, Plans, y Prospero Año Nuevo.

A word on Perspective:

Yesterday, we were in a poorer area outside of Lima doing some shopping for Brian’s maintenance projects. We needed to pick up some groceries, so we stopped in at a new one of these:

We were almost done shopping when Brian leaned over and said, “I don’t want to shop here anymore.” I couldn’t figure out why until he explained: we were the only ones in the entire store with a shopping cart full of items. Everyone else had one or two essentials. We had… a cartful. And we’re white. Ah shoot. We were almost done, so we thought we’d just hurry up and get out of there and never return when, naturally, we saw someone we know. Not just someone we know. Someone we work with. And all of a sudden, our full cart stood out like a sore thumb next to their shopping cart that had maybe four items in it. I wanted to crawl into a corner and hide. We knew the items in our cart would cost more than they probably earn in a month. We hadn’t shopped for anything unusual or unneeded, either. And then I looked at their cart… and I looked at mine… and I thought… “What is really needed?” We checked out and were given little gifts from the store because we’d purchased so much stuff. The sad part? We hadn’t even spent our grocery budget. Oy vey. Humbling. And you know what? Our monthly salary is not something we could even live on in the States it’s so low. And yet… we’re RICH here. You want perspective? Go overseas to a third world country just once. It’ll change how you view every single thing you do – down to your weekly grocery shopping. 

A word on Plans

I’m not on Pinterest (nor do I desire to be!), but I saw this posted on someone’s blog and I love it. Love it! Love this idea. [have I mentioned I love this?]

Postcard Calendar Journal

I’m going to invest in 3×5 cards and other cute little papers and have Brian help me make a box and I’m going to do this starting in January (or…thereabouts). The idea: write down one thing that happened each day of the year, but keep the cards for the following years, so you can have a fun, little, simple family journal at your fingertips. I found this the day after I found myself thinking, “I need to journal more!” Cha-ching. I can so do this.

Thoughts on el Prospero Año Nuevo:

Christmas has come and gone… far too quickly, as usual. We had a lovely Christmas – we dragged it out all day long and ended really celebrating Monday evening. I found myself thinking, “Oh, Christmas in the future with a house full of children is going to be a blast!”

This weekend, we’re going to celebrate the New Year Biegert style. This is the one tradition that has remained steadfast for 7 full years and we’re not about to break it this year. We love (love, love, love) spending New Year’s Eve at home. I know, it’s a party night, but in the States (where this tradition originated – in Brian’s family), there are lots of drunk drivers out and it’s freezing (note: *freeeeezing*) cold. So, Brian’s family came up with the idea of each member of the family picking out a movie they’d like to see and getting junk food they don’t normally eat and staying up as late as possible. I think it’s a great tradition so we have kept it in our family, too. This year, Brian has found 5 new movies. I am making homemade salsa (my version) and eggplant pizzas. We bought chips and I’m going to make a pumpkin roll (Brian’s new favorite dessert). Should be fun! What are your plans for the new year?

¡Feliz Navidad (atrasado) y Prospero Año Nuevo!

For those interested, here’s my version of quick salsa:

5 small tomatoes (chopped – keep the juice). 1 aji (hot) pepper (ribbed and diced very small). 1/4 red onion (diced very small). Mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Either grate in a fresh clove of garlic or use a splash of garlic powder. Dash of oregano. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, covered. The longer it sits, the more juice you get and the more the flavors blend together. Enjoy!

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