Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't turn your back on this delicious dish!

This is the spinach dish my 2 year old son would steal off my plate if I looked the other way. Seems like a crazy thing for a kid to like, but who's gonna stop them?

Spinach Maria

2 pk frozen chopped spinach
2 pk 8 oz cream cheese
1 onion
3/4 cup Parmesan
cheese or more
1 teaspoon butter

3/4 teaspoon cayenne

Cook spinach according to directions, drain very well. Saute onion in butter until tender. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add spinach, parmesan cheese, and pepper. Cook several minutes more. Stir until well blended. Place in greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Lynne's note: The only real change I made was to add one more cream cheese. It just wasn't creamy enough for me. I use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese. As for the cayenne pepper... I don't like things that burn my mouth I'm a whimp that way, so I add half as much of the cayenne pepper. This dish is also really good served cold and taken to a picnic.

Don't be afraid... it's delicious

My children don't like it when I refer to this as "Mom"ba Juice, my play on word for the popular Juice chain. They say, "Motherrrrrr.... don't you know it is the largest venomous snake in Africa and the second longest venomous snake in the world?" When I was a kid the most exotic thing my brother and I knew about was the "Tsetse fly." Not nearly as exciting as the Black Mamba. I think they watch too much Animal Planet.

“Mom”ba Juice
1 cup Tropical Frozen Fruit (140g)
½ cup Orange Sherbet (86g)
1 cup V8 Fusion (Mango Peach, Tropical Orange, A├žai Mixed Berry) (250g)

Add ingredients to a blender (Magic Bullet works great!) in order listed. Whirl until all frozen fruit is pureed and drink. The grams are provided, because I put my blender container on a food scale. I then weigh in the frozen fruit. Push button to clear weight. Weigh in the sherbet. Push button to clear and then weigh in the V8 Fusion. Saves having to dirty measuring cups. Makes 1 serving.

Any kind of fruit can be used. Any flavor of sherbet and V8 Fusion can be used. The above is our favorite. Experiment and find your favorite.

Lynne’s Note: I originally started making this smoothie as something my kids could drink before soccer practice. It seems like soccer practice is always right around dinner time. If they eat before practice they get a stomachache. If they don’t eat they are uncomfortably hungry when they get home. This is light, delicious and has 1 serving of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

5 vegetable servings a day... are you trying to kill me?!

Yes, this is how I feel about vegetables. I try and eat healthy for myself. I have kids and I need to eat healthy and make them eat healthy. In the world of fruits and vegetables I feel like I just don't like many of them. Although once I start to name them off... the ones I like... I do like quite a few. My kids, my son in particular is pretty picky about the ones he likes. I read many years ago to start kids off eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and they'll like them all their lives. BIG FAT LIE! If anything my son's love of fruits and vegetables gets less and less each year. He's the kid that loved carrot juice. He's the kid that stole creamed spinach off my plate when I stepped away from the table to get napkins one night. It became a game after that. When it was Spinach Maria night I'd say, "Now don't you touch my spinach!" I'd come back and he'd have eaten it. Not a bad game get your kid to willingly eat spinach. My daughter started in the opposite direction. She didn't care for many things when young and has embraced fruits and vegetables more and more the older she's got. In middle school she asked if she could make her own lunches, because the hot lunches at school just weren't healthy. As a mother I remained calm and showed no emotion (wanted to jump for joy!) and said sure. Just write on the grocery list the things you want for lunches. She's been packing ever since.

I know where my son gets it as the older I get the less fruit and vegetables I want to eat too. So, when I do I want to get as many into a meal as I can. This is where my friend Julia showed me a book she bought by Jessica Seinfeld called "Deceptively Delicious ." This gal has written a book where she's hidden vegetables in recipes. Again something I've been doing for years and why the heck didn't I write a book. Anyhow she's got it down to a science (sort of) in that she REALLY hides the vegetables by making purees. I thought this would work to get more vegetables in my day as well as my kids.
I went to my friend Julia's house and we spent an evening cooking and pureeing vegetables to be prepared for the recipes. I knew that like Ms. Seinfeld I would not be making purees every week. So, I decided to freeze mine in portions suitable for the recipes. That created a problem as some recipes ask for 1/2 cup, some 1/4 cup and some 2 tablespoons of pureed vegetables. I thought that is a either a lot of baggies or plastic containers. That seemed cumbersome and wasteful. So, I decided to freeze my purees in 2 tablespoon size portions in ice cube trays. At first I used a 1 tablespoon sized cookie scoop to fill the trays. This worked out really well. Then I realized that each cube held 2 tablespoons and therefore measuring was no longer necessary. I then just snipped the corner off my baggies and filled the trays. This worked out GREAT! After frozen I then popped out the cubes into containers to store in the freezer.

This has worked out SO great. I keep planning on trying one of Ms. Seinfeld's recipes, but popping these veggies into my own recipes has worked out great. Funny thing is I have teenagers and my son actually read the book so he'd be prepared for any hidden vegetables coming his way. He quizzes me daily thinking he'll find out I'm making one of her recipes, but I haven't. One evening I was making my spaghetti and meatballs and he thought it was the "Deceptively Delicious" recipes. I asked, "Are there spaghetti and meatball recipes in the book?" He said sheepishly, "Yes." I asked, "Have you read the book?" Then he laughed and said, "Here I thought I was calling you out and ended up calling myself out." We had a good laugh.

I've really enjoy adding a bit more nutrition to my day (and my kids'). When I actually use one of her recipes I'll review it here. Her idea on ready made purees is genius though. Having them on hand means you can defrost in the microwave if need be and use them at a moments notice. I've slipped carrot puree into my "Mom"ba Juice. I've slipped sweet potato puree into my spaghetti sauce. Neither time could I taste the addition. Life is getting healthier.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Ramblings of a TV Addict

My dad always had the latest and greatest newfangled inventions when I was a kid. So, we always had a nice TV; hence, my TV addiction. I love to watch TV and yes it gets in the way of things like sleep, housecleaning and even crafting. YIKES! Although since the invention of the DVR, digital video recorder, I have it more under control. My husband hooked me up with a DVR with our cable company for Christmas a couple years ago. I just love it. I basically only watch what I want to now. No channel surging for me. I set it up to record all my favorite shows. Now this has created another kind of bad habit. When the DVR starts to get full... I delete other people's shows. I'm not completely mean... I do ask... sometimes... and it was MY Christmas present... I do have trouble sharing DVR space sometimes.

I really like recording shows that the kids and I can watch together. Being teenagers they are able to watch shows I would actually enjoy rather than pretend to enjoy when they were little. We really like "Last Comic Standing" right now. There are some jokes SO funny that the kids and I will say just the lead in to the joke and we all roll with laughter. We also like "The Big Bang Theory." This is an overlooked show that we find funny and sort of identify with at times. It's about a group of Genius Nerds, who are trying to fit in with the world. I sure hope it gets picked up for another season, but I suspect the humor might just go over some people's heads. Not to say that any of us are Genius Nerds, but all our brains together might make up one genius nerd brain. OK it's fun to pretend.

I really like reality shows that show how everyday life is for a person or persons in a particular situation. Take "Ice Road Truckers" for instance... I really find that whole idea fascinating. That once the water is frozen up in the Arctic trucks start hauling in supplies the one wouldn't normally haul in or could haul in cost effectively. It's very dangerous as they could fall through the ice at any time and then there are things like freezing to death or being eaten by a polar bear. I also like the "Biggest Catch"... a show about crab fishermen fishing for crab off of the coast of Alaska. Again very dangerous, but very lucrative. These guys work SO hard for a few months, but it sounds like they make a good enough salary to live on it for the whole year. Another cold strenuous job. Then the captain of one of the ships was describing the ships as being on the verge of sinking at all times. I guess the salt water they pipe in to keep the crabs alive eats away at all the pipes from the inside out. So, a pipe that looks great on the outside could be on the verge of bursting from the inside. So, the dangers are one could fall off the ship, get crushed by a crab trap, or the ship could just sink. These shows never bore me!

I also like watching shows that have families with unusual circumstances. We have the Gosslin's with 2 sets of multiples. The Duggars, who are expecting their 18th child soon. The Roloffs, who are married dwarfs with 4 children one being a dwarf. We have the Miami Ink and LA Ink "families", who are making the world a better place one tattoo at a time. I just can't get enough of this kind of TV.

I hate shows like American Idol, Big Brother, The Bachelor or Bachelortte. The really odd thing is those are the shows a lot of my friends like watching and I just can't get into them. I don't like watching people get humiliated for no good reason. Is there a good reason to be humiliated... how about the burglar, who falls through the ceiling of a store while trying to steal and then can't figure out how to get out of the store. All of this being caught on tape. Don't mind that so much.

My first love though is old movies! I used to watch the AMC (American Movie Classics) channel. All movies no commericals... just loved it. They changed formats and have commericals now. I don't watch them anymore and have moved to TCM (Turner Classic Movies). Still no commericals. The latest old movie I watched was "Son of Fury" with Errol Flynn. Really enjoyed it and Errol Flynn is such a great actor. What a love about black and white films is the richness of the pictures. Don't get me wrong I love color, but the B&W distracts less from the story and in a way it makes the pictures more deeper in detail. I also like the ability to leave a lot to one's imagination in the creation of a story. Now a days they show you everything... blood, guts, sex when really we don't have to see it all to know what's going on in a story. Again it can be distracting from what's really great the acting. I also love catching great actors in their first bit parts. You see them all young and acting their hearts out for a split second they not knowing they'd go on to be rich celebrated actors later down the line.

So, am I entering a TV 12 step program... not any where in the near future. Like most addicts I don't think I have a problem.