Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meal plans and the week(s) ahead

I'm going to post for the next two weeks today since we'll be leaving for vacation in Arizona this week. I am beyond excited! I get to see my best friend whom I feel like I haven't seen in forever, even though its only been a few months! And we get to get out of this frigid weather! We'll be going to Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona, Tucson, Tombstone, Bisbee, and several smaller towns while we're out there. The forecast for much of the time we're there ranges from 74-76, the exception being Sedona at 60. Considering there were -15 degree wind chills these last couple of days, that sounds pretty fabulous right now!

We leave on Tuesday in the late afternoon and return just after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning next week. We'll be going in to work mid-morning on Wednesday. We have Carson's first soccer class that evening. It actually starts this week, but we'll miss it. He is really looking forward to it! Thursday I'll be in Detroit all day for meetings. Friday is supposed to be my flex day, but I'll be working it since we're gone earlier in the week. No plans Saturday other than doing laundry and adjusting to our life back home again. :)

So this week we're cleaning out the fridge. I'll be stocking some things in the fridge for my brother-in-law while we're gone, too. And I'm planning to make some dairy kefir today so that its here when we get back next week... I'm guessing we'll really be missing our probiotics by then. :) So it'll be nice to have it ready to go when we get home. Anyway, here's the plan at this point....

Sunday - church
(finish laundry; pack; print out lists of ideas for things to do; make butter and freeze; make kefir)
B: yogurt; fruit
L: hot dogs; lettuce salad; mac 'n cheese
D: quiche with ham, broccoli, carrots, cheddar

Monday -
B: yogurt; fruit
D: grilled cheese sandwiches; tomato soup; raw carrots with ranch dressing; applesauce

Tuesday - leave for Arizona
(finish last-minute packing; do one last vacuuming of the house)
B: scrambled eggs with veggies
L: crackers with cheese; raw carrots with ranch dressing; kefir smoothies

Wednesday through Tuesday - Arizona

Wednesday - soccer
B: kefir smoothies
D: lasagna from the freezer

Thursday - Detroit
B: kefir smoothies
D: sloppy lentils from freezer; cornbread from freezer; broccoli

Friday - milk pickup
(soak grains; soak almonds)
B: apple slices with peanut butter
D: TBD soup in the crockpot

Saturday -
(dry almonds; make yogurt; make cottage cheese)
B: pancakes
L: leftover soup
D: pork roast in the crockpot with potatoes, carrots, and parsnips

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

I'm posting this a little early this week... so I can sleep in as late as possible tomorrow.  I've been battling a cold and really just need to sleep, I think.  So I figure I'll post now while I have a few minutes.  This is going to be a crazy week full of fun stuff!  Unfortunately, Kevin is traveling again, but hopefully the week passes by quickly.  We've got a lot of stuff to do to get ready for our trip to Arizona next week, plus lots of fun things. 

Tomorrow, we'll hopefully be heading to church.  We'll see how I feel in the morning.  We've got lots of cleaning to do tomorrow, too... last week ended up being a crazy week at work (the earliest I got home from work all week was 7:00pm... with it being 8:00/8:30 a couple of nights... it was a long week), so I didn't get nearly half of anything done that I wanted to accomplish.  Kevin leaves very early Monday morning for Virginia and Tennessee.  I'm off on Monday for MLK Jr. Day.  Carson and I have a lot of errands to run and I want to get the rest of the deeper cleaning done.  Tuesday through Thursday will hopefully be fairly low key... and I really hope I don't have to work too late.  Wednesday is the Governor's State of the State address, so I do expect longer days again, but I'm hoping I can at least leave on time and then plug in at home in the evening.  Friday is my flex day.  We have to pick up the milk and CSA order, then Carson and I are headed to Lowell to meet Auntie Sara for lunch. Then we'll probably go back to Saranac to hang out for a bit.  I'd also like to get to Adrian on Friday night so we can see my cousin, Allison, play hockey.  She plays for Finlandia University and this is her only game down state.  Hopefully we'll make it, as long as we're not in Saranac too long.  Kevin comes home late Friday night.  Saturday morning I am finally getting my hair done.  Its been soooo long since I got it done (November!!!) and it is driving me crazy!  I won't get too much of a change since I'm growing it out, but it will be nice to get it shaped up and the ends trimmed, plus some new color.  Then we're packing up and heading to Grand Rapids for another basketball game and dinner at my SIL's.  I also want to start packing some where in there... :) 

So here's the plan...

Sunday ~ church; cleaning
B: scrambled eggs; bacon
L: leftover chicken divan
D: chicken noodle soup

Monday ~ MLK Jr. Day; Kevin leaves for VA/TN; errands; cleaning
B: yogurt and granola
D: leftover chicken divan

Tuesday ~
B: muffins from freezer
D: leftover chicken noodle soup

Wednesday ~ Governor's State of the State Address at 7:00 PM
B: pumpkin scones from freezer
D: eating at my parents' house

Thursday ~
B: smoothies
D: tacos from freezer

Friday ~ flex day; milk/CSA pickup; Lowell/Saranac; hockey game in Adrian
(soak grains for pancakes)
B: scrambled eggs; bacon
L: Flat River Grill in Lowell
D: TBD

Saturday ~ hair appt.; Calvin basketball game
(slice pineapple; wash grapes; cut/soak apples?; make ranch dressing; start packing for AZ)
B: pancakes
L: crackers; sliced cheese; raw carrots and cucumber slices with ranch dressing
D: at SIL's... I'm bringing fruit; salad dressings; dessert

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

French Dressing

This past weekend, we met some of our family at a basketball game in Grand Rapids and then we all went over to my SIL's house for dinner afterwards.  We had a delicious real food taco dinner.  I brought along some homemade french dressing to make taco salads.  Its another Heavenly Homemakers recipe.  I love Laura's recipes because they're so simple, yet taste so great.  This was no exception.  It tasted really good, as written below.  I will definitely be making this often, since french dressing is Kevin's favorite (though he tolerates my favorite, ranch, happily, too).  This dressing should keep really well, though... longer than my ranch dressing... so I'm guessing I'll be making this dressing quite regularly. 

Anyway, like I said, this tastes great the way it is, but I think I will do a little playing around with it.  I just used organic store-bought ketchup this time since I need to make a new batch of lacto-fermented ketchup.  It'll be awesome to make this with lacto-fermented ketchup so that we can gain the benefit of the probiotics.  I also want to play around with the seasonings.  I think we'd probably prefer a little less celery seed and I want to add some smoked paprika and a little onion powder.  I think I'd also like to try this with different vinegars.  All in due time, though.  I'll be sure to post any updates if we find something we like even better.  For now, we are really enjoying this version!

Homemade French Dressing

3/4 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 Tablespoon ground celery seed

Put all ingredients directly into a pint sized jar. Put the lid on and shake it well. Refrigerate. Its best to make this dressing at least a couple hours before you need it.  Even better would be the day before.  That's what I did.  You need to give it time to meld together and really develop a great flavor.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

We have a pretty low-key week this week. We're headed to church this morning and we're planning to do some cleaning and throwing out of junk this afternoon... I also have some work to do. We're headed to Sears tonight to buy an elliptical (they have a special friends and family sale from 6-9 tonight). I also need to make something to take in to work tomorrow to celebrate a colleague's marriage. Tuesday afternoon is my WAPF chapter meeting and I'll be going out to dinner with some friends from high school. Friday we'll go pick up the elliptical. Saturday morning we're planning to go see my niece and nephew play basketball.

I am hoping to get a lot of planning and cleaning done this week. We'll be leaving for Arizona before we know it and I feel like we have so much to do before then. I want to get the packing list done this week and finish up some shopping for a few things we may need. I also need to make some more progress on Carson's new bedroom. Not sure what else, but I hope its a productive week!

Here's the plan...

Sunday - church; clean/de-junkify; Sears
(make something for Therese's celebration; make grain-free granola; make yogurt; boil eggs; make egg salad for lunches; clean out refrigerator)
B: muffins from freezer with soft cheese
L: zucchini parmesan; side salads with homemade dressing
D: beef roast in the crockpot salsa meatloaf; peas; salad; pickles

Monday -
(make steel cut oats; make start packing list)
B: yogurt with granola
D: peanut turkey burgers (mine will be wrapped in lettuce); green beans sauteed with garlic and butter; corn on the cob from freezer leftover meatloaf; baked potatoes

Tuesday - WAPF; dinner with the girls
B: steel cut oats banana; milk
D: K&C - leftovers organic mac & cheese, ham from freezer; S - Mongolian BBQ

Wednesday -
(clean bathroom thoroughly; work on Carson's new room)
B: yogurt with granola
D: mahi mahi with roasted corn; broccoli; side salads

Thursday -
(clean kitchen and dining room thoroughly - scrub floors, wipe down walls, clean windows, etc.)
B: chocolate peanut butter banana smoothies
D: shredded bbq beef (from leftover roast) sandwiches; asparagus; corn

Friday - milk/CSA pick up; pick up elliptical
(dust entire house; assemble elliptical)
B: steel cut oats
D: baked potato soup; side salads

Saturday - niece's and nephew's basketball games
(make soft cheese; make butter/buttermilk; work on Carson's bedroom; clean living room and play room thoroughly - clean windows, wash walls, etc.; make yogurt; clean out refrigerator)
B: yogurt with granola and fruit
L: pesto pea salad with tuna
D: chicken divan

Monday, January 3, 2011

Crockpot Split Pea Soup

I have discovered that I love split pea soup.  So does Kevin.  Carson tolerates it.  I wouldn't say he loves it, but he does eat it without too many complaints.  :)  I've tried a few different recipes for split pea soup.  One of which I posted a while back.  Since then, I've tried a couple others, one of which I found on A Year of Slow Cooking, which seems to be our favorite.  I don't make it exactly the same way each time, it just depends what I have on hand, but its generally the same.  It doesn't look too appetizing, which is why I always thought I wouldn't like it, but it is seriously delicious!  And its a great, easy meal to throw in the crockpot and let it cook all day.  I usually make this when I have leftover ham.  I have never tried it with bacon, but I'm guessing it'd be pretty good with bacon, too.  We like a more veggies in ours, so I usually double the amount of veggies that Stephanie recommends when I make it... I've posted it the way I make it below. 

Crockpot Split Pea Soup

16oz package of dried split peas
1 yellow onion, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups diced carrot
1 cup leftover ham or bacon, diced
ham hock or ham bone if you have them
4 cups broth/stock
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

I soak split peas the way I do lentils.  Cover them with water and add about 2 Tablespoons of whey.  Let them soak for about 7 or 8 hours, rinse them, and they're ready to go. 

Dump the peas, diced vegetables, ham/bacon, broth, and water into the crockpot.  Add the salt and pepper.  If you are using a ham hock or bone, add that now.

Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high for 4-6. Mine almost always cooks 12-13 hours on low.

If you used a ham hock or bone, scrape off any remaining meat and discard the bone.  Use an immersible hand blender to make your soup a bit more creamy and to have an even consistency.  I usually only do a few pulses of the blender so we still have a good bit of chunk with our veggies and ham in the soup.

Whole Wheat Noodles

I have been wanting to try making some homemade pasta for quite some time now.  I have been debating about trying a sourdough recipe, or this whole wheat recipe from Heavenly Homemakers.  My SIL, Mary, made the whole wheat noodles a few weeks ago and loved them.  I decided I was going to give the sourdough noodles a try.  Then my husband asked me what I was doing and I told him I was going to make sourdough pasta.  While he's been a trooper through all of my sourdough trials... and generally likes most of the sourdough things I've made... he asked if I could make something "normal" for once.  So I changed it up and made the soaked whole wheat noodles.  We were all very happy with the result, too! 

These noodles are very easy to make and don't take much time at all.  I really like that they are soaked, therefore increasing the nutrition and digestibility of the grains.  I made some lasagna noodles and made a pan of lasagna for dinner last night.  This was seriously the first time I've ever eaten lasagna where I didn't get an upset stomach afterwards.  It was great!  I'll definitely be making these again and again.  Although, I will be making the sourdough noodles this week so that we can compare. 

Whole Wheat Noodles

2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup water (or an acid medium (buttermilk, kefir, yogurt, whey) for soaking)
1 teaspoon olive oil

To soak grains:

Use the same ingredients, substituting the water with an acid medium like buttermilk, plain yogurt, kefir, or whey. Mix ingredients as described below in a bowl.  I started out with a spoon and then just used my hands.  If your dough is really sticky (mine was), add in a tablespoon or so of flour at a time and mix in.  You don't want the dough to stick to your hands or the bowl... once you get to that point, you'll know the dough is ready.  You also should keep in mind that whole grains will take a bit of time to absorb the liquid/moisture.  If you're not sure about your dough, let it sit for about 15 minutes or so and then go back and check it.  If its still sticky, add a little bit of flour.  If it seems too dry, add a splash of buttermilk/acid medium and knead it in.  Knead for a minute or two, then cover with a towel and let it sit for 12-24 hours. You'll pick back up with the rolling step below.


To make without soaking grains:

First mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and make a little”pit” in the middle. Beat your eggs in a separate bowl, then pour them into the flour mixture. Add the water (or acid medium) and olive oil. Stir well until the ingredients are mostly combined.  Dump the noodle dough out onto a floured surface and knead it a little bit to get the ingredients combined well.

(If soaking grains start here after dough has soaked.)

Make sure your surface has a LOT of flour all over it so that your noodles won’t stick when you roll out the dough. Sticky noodles are not fun.

Use a well floured rolling pin and roll and roll and roll until your noodle dough is very thin, about 1/16" in thickness. You may need to keep tossing some flour under the dough as you roll to keep it from sticking.

Use a pizza cutter to cut long strips in the noodle dough. Cut your noodles any length you want... short, fat, skinny, wide, etc. 


Once you’ve cut your noodles you can either use them right away, or you can let them dry so that you can store them and have them ready for when you need them.

You can use a dehydrator to dry the noodles, or you can just leave them on the countertop to dry if you want. It will take a while…like several hours or even an entire day. You may also need to turn the noodles over after a few hours so that the under side can dry.  I used my dehydrator and they were dry within a couple of hours. 



This post is shared as part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist and the Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLINS.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sauerkraut

I made several batches of sauerkraut this summer and never got around to posting about them, but I figure better late than never, right?  :)  I'll start by saying I've never liked sauerkraut.  I've tried it many times in my life and never cared for it one bit.  I'd never tried homemade kraut, though.  It was always the stuff that you find in jars at the grocery store.  Yuck.  While I really got into lacto-fermentation this summer, I was skeptical to try sauerkraut because I just did not think I would like it.  I made a small batch - about 3/4 of a quart - using the method detailed in Wild Fermentation and on The Nourishing Gourmet. It turned out ok, but it was a lot of work and required a lot of maintenance.  The flavor was pretty good, I actually liked it, but I decided that it was too much work to be worth it.  So I decided kraut wasn't for me. 

Then I went to the Growing Connections conference and had the chance to sample some lacto-fermented sauerkraut and kim chi at one of the booths at the huge real food farmers' market.  And guess what?  This time I loved it! 

The vendor that made the kraut turned out to be Marjie, the owner of Marjie's Gluten & Dairy Free Pantry in Fenton, Michigan.  I chatted with her a bit and was intrigued by the way she made her kraut, so I attended a demonstration at which she explained her process.  She uses a Picklemeister to make her krauts.  This thing is virtually fool-proof and in all the years (I forget how many, but for many years) that Marjie has been making pickles in her Picklemeister, she only has had one failed batch.  I also loved the idea that once you put the lid on the jar, you don't touch it for 10 days.  No changing out plates or other things used to weight down the kraut.  Very little chance of contamination.  Very little effort... after the initial pounding.  I didn't buy a Picklemeister that day, but I did make a trip out to Marjie's store in Fenton to pick one up about a week later.  So then I began my adventures in making kraut.  Here's how I made mine... I love that its so simple.  Two ingredients.  And it tastes awesome! 

Sauerkraut

7 pounds of washed, shredded cabbage (about 18 cups)
4 Tablespoons sea salt

I use my food processor to shred the cabbage.  Place about 1/4 of the shredded cabbage into the jar.  Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon of the sea salt.  Using a wooden pounder, pound the cabbage until the juice from it begins to be released.  Be careful not to break the jar.  This step can be done in a separate bowl and then transferred to the Picklemeister if you'd prefer.  Repeat these steps until all of the cabbage and salt have been used and your jar is filled. 

I thought pounding the cabbage would take forever.  I was surprised at how quickly the cabbage started to release its juices. 

Place the spacer cap upside down on top of the cabbage and press down.  If there is not enough juice to cover the spacer cap, add some purified water. 

Screw on the main lid, fill the air lock with water up to the marks on the sides, and insert the air lock into the rubber stopper on top of the main lid. 

Set the jar on a plate or shallow pan to catch any overflow that may happen during fermentation (don't worry, this does not mean you have a bad batch, its quite normal). 

Allow to set on the counter out of direct sunlight for 10 days.  Do not open the jar beforehand - you'll contaminate it. 

After 10 days, transfer the sauerkraut, including the juice, to clean glass jars.  It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a year. 

Remember, this is a living food... only use a clean fork to serve the kraut.

Note:  You can add 2 teaspoons caraway seed and/or 2 crushed garlic cloves if you'd like.  I don't, but Marjie said they're good with them, so I believe her... just not enough to change what I know I like since I was so skeptical of kraut in the first place.  :)

Crispy Pecans

I've been soaking and dehydrating all of the nuts that we eat for quite a while now.  I've posted crispy almonds, crispy pine nuts, and crispy cashews, but realized I've never posted crispy pecans, walnuts, or peanuts when I've made them all.  I guess maybe because they are pretty much the same recipe as for the almonds and pine nuts.  I made a batch of crispy pecans the week before Christmas to use with my smoked salmon spread, so I figured I'd snap a quick picture and post them.  These are great to snack on and use in recipes.  Pecans are my favorite nut, I could eat them every day.  Carson loves them, too.  And I feel much better about eating them after they've been soaked and dehydrated. 

Crispy Pecans

4 cups (1 pound) pecan halves
2 teaspoons sea salt
water

Mix pecans with salt and water and cover the bowl with a plate.  Leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight.  I usually soak them for at least 12 hours, but usually closer to 18-24 hours.  Drain in a colander.  Spread the pecans on a baking pan or dehydrator tray.  If you are using the oven, put them in on the lowest setting (150 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours, stirring once in a while, until completely dry and crisp.  I always use my dehdyrator for about the same amount of time.  Although I've found that pecans usually seem to dry more quickly.  Store in an airtight container.

Meal plans and the week ahead

Back to work this week - BOO!!  I'm not ready to go back yet.  It was so nice having a 4-day weekend!  At least I'm off this Friday, so the week won't feel quite as long.  We don't have a ton of things to do this week, but it's busy enough.  Today we're headed to church and then we'll be enjoying our last day of family time.  Tomorrow is my 30th birthday, so we might go out to dinner... or we might go out tonight and save the lasagna for tomorrow, we'll see.  Thursday I am headed to Windsor for some meetings. Friday is my flex day and our last day of Kindermusik this semester.  The last class is actually next week, but since we only go every other week, this will be our last class.  We'll also be doing the normal CSA and milk pickups.  We might go paint shopping, too.  I need to pick out a color to paint the furniture for Carson's new room.  Saturday afternoon, we're headed to Grand Rapids for a Calvin basketball game followed by dinner and playtime at my BIL's and SIL's house.  We are debating on whether we want to head out early to check out the Princess Diana exhibit at the GR Art Museum.  We'll have to get our tickets ahead of time if we do.

I made homemade noodles last week, both shorter skinny noodles and wider noodles.  I'm anxious to try the wider noodles in some lasagna.  The shorter noodles we had last week were awesome.  Assuming the lasagna turns out well, I think I'll make a new batch of noodles later this week to have on hand.  I'm going to make some sourdough pizza for dinner on Friday.  I'll be making a double batch of the dough so that I can experiment with freezing the dough.  I am planning to freeze some dough for future pizza crusts and breadsticks.  I'm trying to figure out the menu for Carson's birthday party(ies)... right now its a toss up between pizza/breadsticks/salad, taco bar, lasagna with homemade noodles, or soups/salads.  It'll depend on whether I do one or two parties, too.  But I'm hoping to make a decision in the next week so I can get planning... I'm feeling a little pressed for time for party prep with our trip to Arizona coming up.  But I'm sure I'll get it all done. 

We also have to make some serious progress on Carson's new bedroom.  I want it completely done before his birthday and we still have sooo much more to do.  It has become a collecting place for lots of miscellaneous stuff... rather junk.  So I want to find new homes for things and throw out some stuff.  I also need to clean out the closet.  We cleaned the basement thoroughly last week, so now I can focus on Carson's new room.  I also need to work on a little sewing this week. 

Anyway, here's my plan...

Sunday ~ church
(cook burger meat and prep sauce; boil eggs; make homemade mayonnaise)
B: yogurt smoothies
L: leftovers
D: lasagna with homemade noodles... or out?

Monday ~
(make steel cut oats)
B: sliced hard boiled eggs on buttered toast (hold the toast for me)
D: lasagna with homemade noodles... or out?

Tuesday ~
(prep noodle dough; remove junk in Carson's new room)
B: steel cut oats with fruit from freezer
D: crockpot corn and spinach enchiladas from freezer

Wednesday ~
(roll out and dry noodles; continue cleaning out Carson's new room)
B: yogurt and fruit from freezer
D: leftover lasagna; side salads with homemade ranch dressing

Thursday ~ Windsor for work
(thaw sausage; saute mushrooms, green peppers, onions; cook sausage; prep pizza dough)
B: steel cut oats with maple syrup and crispy pecans
D: chicken and quinoa from freezer

Friday ~ Kindermusik; CSA & milk pickup; paint shopping? 
(shred cheeses; make cottage cheese; make butter/buttermilk; sewing project)
B: scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese
D: sourdough pizza with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and sausage; sourdough breadsticks

Saturday ~ Grand Rapids; Princess Diana exhibit?; Calvin basketball game; dinner/playtime at SIL's
B: pancakes for the boys (fried egg over easy for me) and sausage patties
L: leftover pizza, unless we're already out in GR
D: at SIL's in Grand Rapids... we're having a taco/nacho/salad bar.  I'll be bringing something, just not sure what yet shredded raw cheese, chopped lettuce for toppings or salad, homemade french dressing, and ranch dressing

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I have been debating about posting any goals this year.  But I figured I might as well post them.  I always set goals for myself.  I don't always achieve my goals, but I generally do fairly well.  I did fairly well with my 2010 goals, I think.  I never came close to some of them (especially the running the races goal) since I developed a severe case of plantar fasciitis in both of my feet.  But that's ok.  Thankfully, my left foot is healed as a result of the cortisone injections.  But unfortunately, my right foot is far from healed.  It is still very painful as I continue to work on rehabilitation.  I might have to give in and do physical therapy this year if I don't feel any further improvements soon.  We'll just have to see how it goes. 

So anyway, here are some goals for myself this year... in no particular order.  I have others, too, but figure this will be a long enough post with just posting about these goals.  :)   

Cheesemaking.  I've made a few different types of soft cheeses with our raw milk already, but I want to make more.  Kevin is making me a cheese press, so that will allow me to make some hard cheeses.  I can't wait!  I got the book 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes for Christmas and I'm very much looking forward to getting started with some new recipes!  I'm starting this week by making some homemade cottage cheese.  Yum!  I've also checked out The Complete Guide to Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt at Home from the library and plan to buy it at some point.  Its another great resource with some good recipes.  I'd like to make at least one new cheese each month for awhile.  Until I get into the groove and figure out which cheeses will be staples in our house. 

Fermented Cod Liver/Butter Oil.  I've been taking this for quite awhile now, but in capsule form.  I recently got some of the gel since its more economical.  It costs about the same as a jar of capsules, but you don't go through it as quickly.  Or at least I don't think you do.  I still need to figure out how much to take.  My goal is to stick with the gel form... I'm afraid it's going to be difficult, but am really hoping it's easier than I think it will be.  I'm also going to have Carson start taking the gel.  He's been taking the gummy fish periodically for awhile now, but they're pretty silly, in my opinion since he'd have to eat quite a few of them to get an adequate daily dose.  Plus, it was hard to get him to eat just one of them every day... he would usually only eat them 2 or 3 times a week... since they have pretty fermented fishy taste to them.  So we're done with the gummy fish. 

Language Learning and Development - both for myself and for Carson.  I have been wanting to refresh my French language for quite awhile now.  While its not really necessary for my job, it would definitely come in handy since I work with so many french-speaking Canadians.  I also want to teach some basics to Carson this year.  We have some flashcards, a book, and music to start up our learning.  We had been starting to learn some Spanish words a few months ago using a book of spanish words that I got for free through the diaper rewards program, but I decided to start up again with French since it'll be easier (and more beneficial) for me.  I'd also like to learn some Spanish, German, or Japanese at some point.  We'll see how quickly and how far I get with French before I start with another language.  Kevin really wants to learn Spanish and German, so hopefully we can do that together at some point, too. 

Run a 5k.  This will be the most difficult (and most rewarding, in my opinion) goal for me to achieve this year.  With the pain in my foot, even walking a 5k would be quite painful and I'd pay for it for many days after.  But I'm going to try.  I have been making a point to walk on the treadmill at least 4 nights a week and have been doing some kettlebell and DVD exercises for a little over a month now.  It's a start again.  I just need to get back into the groove.  Walking on the treadmill is quite painful, though.  Each step impacts my right heel.  Its good to work through the pain, but there comes a point where I'm just causing permanent damage to my foot... and I'm afraid I'm there, or close to it, since its not getting any better.  We are thinking about buying an elliptical machine if we can find a good deal in the next few weeks.  There isn't any impact on my heels on an elliptical, so I figure it'd be a great way to get some exercise and conditioning in.  While we don't really want to spend the money, we feel like it'd be a good investment in my health and well-being.  Its difficult to get any good cardio in without impacting my foot, but an elliptical provides the perfect opportunity.  If I can just shed some serious pounds, I know it'll help my foot.  Less weight means less harsh of an impact, which means less pain for me and hopefully will allow me to eventually run a 5k! 

Buy a grain mill.  I have wanted a grain mill for several years now.  I have my heart set on the Nutrimill Grain Mill.  I would really like to buy it this year.  Although, it may completely contradict my next goal... :) 

Eat fewer grains.  I love grains and carbs.  Even though I often feel crummy after I eat them.  Which is one reason I want to limit them.  But I mostly want to limit them to help shed some pounds.  I need to lose weight.  Seriously.  I have been struggling with this for years now.  And I want 2011 to be the year that I finally get this under control!  I'm looking forward to reading and participating in the 2011 Weight Loss and Wellness Adventure over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop. 

P90X.  Kevin bought P90X last year and did part of a cycle.  He wants to start it up again this year and he wants me to do it with him.  I'll admit... I'm scared of it.  And I'm not sure I'll be able to make it through... because the guy that does the DVDs annoys the crapola out of me.  But I think I want to give it a go... though I'm not sure when.  Kevin wants to start this month, but I'd rather wait until after our trip to Arizona since I know we won't be doing it while we're there.  We'll see. 

Lose weight.  This seems to be a common theme with several of my goals listed here and several more that I haven't listed.  Like I said, I really want 2011 to be the year I get this under control.  I need to give a little more thought to how I exactly plan to do this, but I have some ideas to get me started.

Catch up on posts.  I have so many posts that I'm behind on and I'd really like to get caught up.  I doubt I'll post everything, but there are many that I definitely want to do.  Hopefully I'll make a dent in them this month. 

So anyway, there are some goals for the year.  I'll post periodically to let you know how I'm doing.  You'll probably see more posts about some things than others.

Chicken and Rice in the Crockpot

I've been wanting make chicken and rice in the crockpot for ages now, but never have gotten around to it.  Mostly because I didn't want to leave it cooking for 12 hours on a work day.  I had seen a recipe on A Year of Slow Cooking that looked good.  I used Stephanie's recipe as a base and adapted it to our liking and what I had on hand.  I changed it quite a bit, so I'll post the recipe below as I made it... which I believe is a much simpler way of doing it that the way Stephanie made hers. 

This was very good and went over well with all three of us.  Carson even had seconds.  And Kevin had no complaints about chicken cooked in the crockpot, for once!  He normally thinks chicken that is cooked in the crockpot tastes grainy and has a weird texture.  I have to admit, he is right sometimes, usually when smaller pieces are cooked for a long time.  That's why I haven't really made any chicken crockpot recipes for quite a while.  Unless its a soup.  Anyway, I am getting off topic here.  Back to the recipe...  :)

I did use a pint of my homemade cream of mushroom soup in this, but I honestly don't think it's necessary.  If I didn't have my own homemade, I would not have added it.  Maybe add a little milk in place of it.  I bet it'd help make it creamy. 

Chicken and Rice in the Crockpot

1 1/2 cups of brown rice (I used a brown rice medley from Trader Joes)
1 quart chicken broth/stock
2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 Tablespoons butter
1 pint cream of mushroom soup
2 cups frozen broccoli
2 cups frozen peas
4 frozen chicken breasts
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper

Soak rice for 12-24 hours for optimal nutrition.  Cover rice with water by a couple of inches and place a plate over your bowl.  Drain before adding to the crockpot. 

Pour rice into crockpot, as well as chicken broth/stock, arrowroot powder, butter, soup, broccoli, and spices.  Reserve the peas to add later.  Mix together.  Place chicken breasts on top.  Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours (probably on low for about 6-8 hours).  If you have some liquid leftover and your rice is cooked, just off-set the lid for the last 15 minutes or so.  Add your peas during the last half hour of cooking.  Remove the chicken breasts and fluff the rice and veggies.  Enjoy!