Monday, May 26, 2008

A new Twist on Lasagna- Needs help with a name?

So I made a new creation for my family this evening.  Once again inspired by my sweet boy Riley.  We are having a hard time naming it though.  So maybe you can help me out....

My family really likes pasta dishes, and especially Lasagna.  Typically Lasagna is known for the rich cheeses it incorporates.  Since Riley can't have dairy and we are not all that impressed with soy and imitation cheeses, I am always trying to come up with variations to make for all the family to enjoy at dinner.  It started with Humsagna and now we have a Lasagna that is made with Winter Squash in place of cheese.  We all agreed that we like this even better than the one with Hummus.  It was a squash, mushroom (morels this time made it extra special) and spinach lasagna.  We were trying to be creative but came up with nothing yet.  All we know is it will be made again, especially since Riley had two servings!  The coolest part for me is that I did not rely on any recipe, which made me feel very cool that it actually turned out!  When we have a name for it, then I will add the recipe to my blog, hopefully soon.  

We also were able to plant our veggie garden this weekend.  It was so much fun planting all the seedlings and seeds.  The kids took turns digging the holes and placing the seedings or seeds in the ground.  I would show them where to dig and take the seedlings out of their containers.  The sun was shining and the weather was beautiful.  It ended up being a wonderful weekend all in all.  We accomplished so much- I even ran my butt off in the Bayshore 10K!  Oh and I have to give a shout out to my girl Rachael for finishing her first marathon with a strong finish!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Ingredients for a Happy Life

Two silly gals having fun!

*Just a little side note to acknowledge that the idea for this little tidbit of thinking came from the early morning refreshing conversation between myself and a very dear friend of mine, Rachael.  We have found our conversations to cover quite a bit of ground- sometimes deep, sometimes silly, sometimes reminiscent, always leaving us feeling thankful for the ability to share and learn about each other as we grow in our friendship.  She is a special blessing in my life!

I have come to enjoy many new aspects of my most recent days and months I have lived.  Most of the enjoyment has been the product of realizing my ability to be very much in control of the decisions I make, the attitudes I display and the words that I choose to express myself.  One of the most important realizations though is that I am a product of the ingredients I choose to incorporate into my daily recipe called life.  There are so many delicious ingredients I can mix in every day and the best ones seem to create the most wonderful memories and really affect the people around me in a positive way too.  There are other ingredients that I can choose that can be very detrimental to the overall taste of my day.  Sometimes just one lousy ingredient can ruin the entire batch, making me either grumpy or once again affecting those around me in a  very bitter way.  

Adding alcohol?  Well sometimes that can be fun, but if too much gets dumped in, well it is a guarantee that I will feel sick and depressed later on, and you would  think I would be more careful the next time.  That is one of my newest realizations though and even though I have never been one to overindulge with alcohol too much- I have learned that this ingredient more times than not really is one I could do without.  Watch out for gossiping, judging, assuming, interrupting, and lying too- these can really mess up a recipe in a hurry!

Now adding prayer, love, friendship, smiles, encouragements, hugs, kisses, good manners and sometimes just listening instead of talking have all been wonderful ingredients to add each day.  My favorite ingredient most of all is smiling.  It is hard for people who look at me smiling, not to smile back and that small gift can be worth more than anything else in a day.  A smile is something to savor, and enjoy, its flavor can last for quite a long time.  

So what ingredients do you use for your recipe of daily life?  Think about it and then be creative.  Don't be afraid to try new things, and if something  you put together in a day doesn't quite taste right, then please make sure you figure out which ingredient it was and if you plan to try it again, use it sparingly if at all.  Now when you find an ingredient that works, well by all means use it everyday!  Enjoy! xoxo

Friday, May 16, 2008

Random Thoughts about Restaurant Dining

Have you ever been one of those people who went to a restaurant for dinner and when looking at the menu to decide what to order, you looked for the biggest entree for the cheapest price?  Maybe you have no idea what I am talking about, but if you relate I am so sorry for you.  I used to be one of these people who had it all completely backwards when it came to eating.  Truthfully I have always enjoyed food and eating, but not until recently have I learned to really enjoy the food choices I make and embrace the idea that "Quality" not "Quantity" is the better criteria for eating.  I used to go to a restaurant and approach it the same as I would going on a bargain shopping spree.  Sick I know.  I would think "what can I order that won't cost me an arm and a leg and that will leave me so stuffed, they will have to roll me out the door."  Again, sick I know.  It was not until more recent years (which seem to coincide with me learning more about cooking for myself and my family and nutrition) that I have begun to approach my eating out at a restaurant experience much differently.  I have also been enlightened to the fact that restaurants do not necessarily have our best interests in mind all the time, so we have to be a little more careful about the choices we make.  First, portions are usually out of this world gigantic and usually plates are heaped with enough food for two to share, or leftovers enough for a whole extra meal.  Keeping that in mind is extremely important for me now, because it is very easy to mindlessly eat everything on my plate.  This practice is a habit that was generated from the "Clear your plate days growing up, or you eat what you take and don't waste!"  I appreciate restaurants that offer Tapas (small plates) or a wide range of appetizers and ala carte, so much more than I ever used to.  Secondly, the quality of food and its preparation is extremely important if you are going to believe in the saying "You are what you eat."  I have found it is good to question food sources, or what they are cooking my food in.  If I am not preparing it myself, then I am trusting that the people who are making my meal are doing what they say they are doing.  I haven't seen too many restaurant kitchens and I don't think I want to, since from what I understand I will not be too impressed. (With that said I know of a lot of restaurants that have very reputably clean and safe kitchen practices.)  Lastly, I am a believer that one must choose their battles.  If I am going to make the decision to go out for a meal I have to also realize that they most likely are not going to prepare my food exactly the way I would myself.  The choices I make, I am responsible for, which means it is my responsibility to ask my server for special orders or to ask where my food is coming from if that matters.  If I am sharing a meal with other people I think it is important to not draw too much attention to myself or any thought I am having if I am unsatisfied with my choices.  Especially if I am a guest, it would be very rude of me to voice any complaint or displeasure.  Planning ahead, doing my homework, knowing what to expect are all ways I can go out and have a good dining experience, and hopefully a tasteful one without feeling to overly full when I have finished.  I don't stuff my face at home so why would I do it anywhere else.  (Now every so often I may indulge, but I will not feel guilty for that if I make a conscious decision to do so.)   So cheers to everyone- enjoy the life giving energy of your meals and try not to overdo it, and if it cost a little extra to get the good stuff, I think it is worth every penny!