Loose Ends and a Recipe Review

I kind of spent 3 hours torturing myself yesterday.  I planned the menu for the 4th of July BBQ, drafted invitations, and then spent the rest of the time eating cereal and quietly sobbing as I scrolled through cute outfit after cute outfit on ModCloth.  There are a lot of events coming up, and not enough outfits, and definitely not enough money for new outfits.  Then, by some miracle, a box arrived in the mail with clothes from my sister’s neighbor.  And she happens to be my size.  And she is a shopaholic.  And the clothes are barely used.  And there are two shiny bathing suits and summer skirts.  So, again, while I may lust towards new clothes, I can’t complain.  I just wish this lady had my shoe size.  Sigh, I’ll never have enough shoes and dresses.

Colorado is still rainy and dreary.  The sun came out for a little bit yesterday, but it wasn’t enough, in my opinion.  Not to mention, everyone is freaking out for fear of another flood.

Which means, unfortunately, we still cannot make more progress (read: finish) the garden bed.  It’s so close to being done, but the weather will not cooperate for us to finish and plant the rest of our seeds.  I’m glad that I was able to plant the flower seeds before all the weather, because they are all starting to sprout up now.  Yay!

Since our garden bed is so large, I didn’t just want to put chicken wire up around it to keep animals out.  It would have been a really tough feat to even do simple gardening.  So we decided to create removeable panels all around the bed, that way I can easily remove sections to get to the garden.  We used this guy’s tutorial on it HERE.  Ours are a little taller, but we did everything else the same way.  Since our garden is shaped like a “U,” we are building a short gate for the front, so we don’t have to create panels for the inside of the “U” (less panels to create).

And since the weather is kind of dreary, I’m going to share my favorite stew recipe.  It is from the Frugal Foodie Mama blog, and it’s the Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Stew.  I adapted it at home to be gluten free (gluten free flour/sauces), I added considerably more carrots (the stew is a little meat heavy) and I omitted the celery because my husband hates celery – and it went over really well.  It’s simple, but has a “higher end” taste than normal stews.  That’s definitely the balsamic vinegar reduction.  Holy crap.

I will say, since I’m linking to another blog that’s highly promoting Sam’s Club, I do not endorse that place.  I have many reasons, but the biggest is how they treat their employees.  There are plenty of other places you can get ethical, high quality meat that doesn’t cost a fortune (and they don’t have really fucked up, backwards attitudes on how people who work their asses off for their company should be treated and paid).  If you have a local butcher, they also have a lot of bulk deals, and frozen stuff is usually discounted quite a bit.  So, get a freezer and stock up!  Also, for families looking to save some money, don’t make meat every night.  I know it’s usually an easy food to work with when you’re busy, but meat is expensive, and really isn’t all that great for you all the time.  Sorry about the awkward rant, but even though I might be almost done with this blog, I will never endorse places I don’t like, and I am NEVER paid for my endorsements.  So yeah… love this recipe, but not the love affair with Sam’s Club.

Well, folks, it’s almost the end.  Tomorrow, I have a great movie that I’m reviewing, and I’ll be parting ways with this blog.

Until next time.

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Las Cruces Casserole and Pinterest Challenges

So, my online music classes started.  They are a lot of fun.  I must admit, I was a little intimidated by them, but I’ve found they fit me like an old glove.  Is that a weird analogy?  Anyway, I was a little angry at myself, because I realized, I should have been doing music all along.  At least I’m doing it now, I suppose.

I’ve also been spending some time on Pinterest.  God, that site can be addicting.  I mainly look at nerd stuff on it, which is fun, but at the same time, even less productive.  I found some fun fitness ideas, and I decided to do a couple 30 Day Fitness Challenges.  Yes, I actually do things I find on Pinterest.  I don’t just pin.  Unless it’s Doctor Who stuff, in which case, if there was a way I could DO Who, I would.  I just have to creepily browse for now.  So for the next 30 days, I’ll be doing the plank challenge and the beach body challenge, in addition to my normal exercise regiment.  I’ll let you know in a month if I’m super buff/making every jealous of my pale bikini body while at the beach (and by beach, I mean some reservoir, because I don’t have beaches).

My favorite thing though, is making the recipes I find on Pinterest.  I know there are a lot of blogs and whatnot of people trying to make Pinterest recipes and they are complete failures, but I have not found this to be a problem for me.  They’ve very rarely failed.  Actually, I think only one failed, and I’m not sure which it was.  So, I’m not sure if it’s just the places these people find their recipes, or what, but I even will adapt gluten-filled recipes to gluten free for my allergy-ridden body, and they still turn out well.  Even bread-based recipes.

But today, I’m not sharing a Pinterest recipe I found.  No, this one is my own, though I will say, it’s inspired from a Mexican cooking show on PBS.  I’ve changed it to be my own.  It’s a great dish if you want to make a lot of food, have it not be terrible for you, taste great, and get rid of those veggies in your fridge you’re letting go bad.

Zach calls it the Las Cruces casserole.  So that’s what we will call it.

Yummy?  Yummy.
Yummy? Yummy.

Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups white rice
2-3 bell peppers
1/4 red onion
Salsa
2-4 lbs ground beef
Taco seasoning (I prefer Bearitos)
12 oz cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
12 oz can of black beans
Olive oil (for sauteing the peppers)
Crushed red pepper, dried basil and oregano, to taste

***Notes: You can use any rice you want, but white rice is stickier, and you’ll be smashing it down as a base for the casserole.  You can also use any veggies you want, I just like the bell peppers for taste and texture.  And as for the ground beef, feel free to use any other meat you have – chicken, pork, whatever.  Just make sure it’s shredded or diced, and season it well.

How to make it:
First, cook the rice.  Then lightly grease a large casserole dish (I used a 9 1/2″ X 8″ glass pan) and spread the rice on the bottom, pressing down firmly so it sticks together.

White rice smushes and stickies the best.
White rice smushes and stickies the best.

Add a layer of salsa over it.  Cook the ground beef with the taco seasoning and add it to the dish, spreading it evenly over the salsa.

The Bearitos is my favorite, but use whatever makes your seasoned heart sing.
The Bearitos is my favorite, but use whatever makes your seasoned heart sing.
Ground bison would also be lovely in this dish.  What it vegetarian?  I think chopping up tempe would be delicious.
Ground bison would also be lovely in this dish. Want it vegetarian? I think chopping up tempe would be delicious.

Sautee the peppers and onions in olive oil until they are lightly cooked (but still firm).

Don't forget the oil!
Don’t forget the oil!

Add them to the dish.  Rinse the beans, and sprinkle over the dish.

As you may notice, these aren't black beans.  I didn't have black beans, so I used cannellini beans.  They were just OK.
As you may notice, these aren’t black beans. I didn’t have black beans, so I used cannellini beans. They were just OK.

Add cheese and top with seasonings.

Mmmm... cheese.
Mmmm… cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Gobble up, eat for lunch the next day, etc.

Add your favorite hot sauce or some more salsa, or enjoy as is.
Add your favorite hot sauce or some more salsa, or enjoy as is.

 

Until next time.

Procrastination and a New Recipe

Once again, I find myself putting off everything I need to do today (and it’s a lot).  I have a feeling I’ll be running around frantically as soon as I’m done writing to attempt to finish everything before noon.  That’s less than 2 hours from now.  Oh boy…

We’re doing a 5K tomorrow, and honestly, I’m not ready.  I have a feeling I’ll be walking a lot.  The BolderBoulder took it out of me and my ankles and knees are still in a little pain.  I’ll be wrapping everything so much I’ll look like Forrest Gump tomorrow.  On the bright side, we’ll be ending at the Taste of Louisville, which means food.  Mmm, delicious food.  Speaking of which…

Here’s a recipe you should try (sorry I don’t have pictures, I may update later with some).  This was inspired by The Gluten Free Goddess.  I just made a few adjustments, and doubled it because it never made enough.

Sweet Potato “Tortilla” Soup (double batch)

Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic
2 TBSP olive oil
Red Curry Paste
Cumin
2 cans tomatoes
2 cans pureed sweet potato
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup salsa
2 cups frozen corn
4 cups water or broth
Lime juice
Agave Nectar
Salt+Pepper
Tortilla chips
Quinoa (optional)

Directions:

Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until they are brown.  Add spices.  Slowly add in all ingredients (except tortilla chips) and stir well.  Bring to a boil and then lower to medium low heat for about 15 minutes.  Serve hot in a bowl and break tortilla chips to add to your bowl.  Enjoy.

The chips will soften and add a nice hearty flavor to your soup.  I also like cooking up quinoa and adding that to my soup as well.  It adds extra protein, as well as makes it more filling.  This is a huge batch that can serve lots of people, or make for leftovers (can freeze to keep longer).