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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, Dec 28: Strength training and stretching/yoga

My husband has learned that when I don't feel well, I eat ramen or order Papa John's breadsticks. Last night, it was a Papa John’s breadsticks sort of night. (We are out of ramen.) I don’t know what it is about these breadsticks, but they are comfort encased in a pillowy layer of dough. But I digress.

Yesterday, I called in sick to work. This is the third day this month that I’ve had to call in. I’m very lucky because the partners at the firm that I work for are extremely kind and understanding. Even so, I don’t want to be the sickly employee. I want them to know they can rely on me, not question if I’ll be too sick or weak to come in. It’s quite irritating when my body and my mind want two different things—my body wants to rest, while I want to be active. Yesterday, I had to listen to my body. My glands were so swollen and my body so achy—I pretty much stayed in bed all day.

Needless to say, I didn’t do the strength training that I had planned. This isn’t to say I didn’t try. I tried. I got through two sets of lateral and forward raises with two pound weights and was exhausted. I tried to push past the exhaustion and did ten tricep raises before throwing in the towel. I was spent. Pathetic. Sometimes this body really frustrates me. I see my husband--he can stay up late, get up early, and has plenty of energy--I’m jealous. I want to have that energy level, too!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday, Dec 27: 5 mile run

I knew it was snowing well before my husband woke up, looked out the window, and exclaimed, like an excited child, “It’s snowing again!” I could feel it in my fingers, and in my hip joints. I was very reluctant to leave the warmth of the electric mattress pad. I wanted to stay toasty all day.

But, like every Sunday, we had a long run to accomplish. We needed to get in a good 5 mile run today. So, I wrapped myself up in layers of clothing, and around 3:00 p.m., Steven and I headed out for our run. First, we ran to Schnucks so I could drop off some prescriptions—including a refill for my plaquenil for lupus. Then we ran back to the entrance of the park, and ran in the park for about 3.6 miles. (The roundtrip Schnucks run was 1.43 miles).

Today, Steven reminded me of a Runner’s World article that I read last night. In his article, “A Few Rules to Run By,” Mark Remy states, “…Done properly, running is fun. Even when you do it improperly, running is still inherently, liberatingly fun. If you doubt this, just spend a few minutes watching a child or a dog in any wide open space. Their glee is instinctual and undeniable.” I could just see Steven’s delight as he sped past me, not worrying one bit about the slippery ice underfoot. Today, Steven was what I wanted to be. Today, his running was liberating.

I was too busy aching, and too conscious of the slick surface under me, to fully enjoy my run. In fact, I kept thinking about how relieved I was that I forgot my watch. I couldn’t focus on the time, but instead had to focus on the run itself. Had I brought my watch, I’m sure I would be sorely disappointed in myself.

It’s disappointing to see myself change from a runner to more of a walker. I know in the spring, after it warms up a bit, I will be running stronger. But right now, I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed. On the other hand, it’s so exhilarating seeing Steven transform into a distance runner. I’m so excited and feel so blessed to be a part of his training for his first half marathon!

Saturday, Dec 26: Cross training

Does shopping the day-after-Christmas sales count as cross training? If so, I got in 5 to 6 hours. If not, then I didn't do anything for cross training.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, Dec 25: rest day

It was a lovely white Christmas--but not too much white! I needed to drop off some library books, so Steven and I walked through the park to the library drop off and back. It was 25 degrees, so I was wearing insulated pants, snow boots, my parka, and two pairs of gloves. I stayed pretty toasty, even in the biting wind.

Going straight to and from the library is a three mile trip. By walking around the park, we added at least an extra mile. It was a fun and flurry-filled four mile hike.

At about 7 p.m., Steven and I decided to go ice skating in the park. Nothing says winter quite like an outdoor skating rink in the snow! We skated for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, with a couple of breaks. It was really cold, but we had a blast! I hope everyone else had as wonderful of a Christmas as we did!

Thursday, Dec 24: 3 mile run

For the second day in a row, I decided not to run. I was just too physically exhausted. Instead of running, I went to bed early and slept for almost 18 hours. I think I might have a nasty little cold virus giving me some grief!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, Dec 23: 2 mile run

I did not do my two mile run. I wasn't feeling well, and decided to take a quick nap before running. Well, that quick nap turned into an eleven hour deep sleep. I'm a little disappointed in myself. But I realize I need to focus on what comes next--and not what did or did not happen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, Dec 22: Strength training

Since we ran last night, I decided to switch up my schedule a bit. A three mile run was on the schedule for tonight, but I didn't get to do any strength training last night. Therefore, I switched my Monday and Tuesday workout. Tomorrow my schedule will be back on track.

Lupus: sores and shirts

I’ve been really stressed lately, which is not good for my lupus. And with the cold weather, I’ve been getting more sores on my face—mostly in, under, and around my nose and mouth. I’m a little embarrassed about how I look in the photos, but I wanted to honestly share my full experience while training for these races. Therefore, I’m posting these photos. The first one shows the sores that are currently under my nose and around my mouth. The second one is from a year and a half ago—I just stumbled upon it and was shocked at the sore under my right nostril. I look like I’ve been punched in the nose!

On a more positive note, Steven bought me a singlet for Christmas. I’ve used freezer paper and paint to make it my “running for a cure” shirt. Because of the thin, wicking fabric of the singlet, the paint bled a little. But I still like it. And if anyone is close enough to notice the bleeding, then they are standing way too close :-)




Monday, Dec 21: Big River Running Store run

The Big River Running Store hosted a run tonight to view Christmas lights. It wasn’t a race—just a running gathering. There were two run choices: a 5.1 mile run or a 2.9 mile run. Since Monday is supposed to be a run-free day for me (it’s strength training and stretching day), and since I’m not sure how I would have handled the 5.1 mile run, we decided to run the 2.9 mile route. It was an easy route with a really easy pace. And it took us down a road that the residents’ have dubbed “Candy Cane Lane.” It’s one of those streets where the residents take pride in their over-the-top Christmas decorations. Unfortunately, I do not have steady hands, so I am horrible at night photography. I did not get any good shots of Candy Cane Lane. In fact, most of my pictures from the night are blurry.

When we made it back to the store, there were trays of cookies, thermoses of coffee and cocoa, Gatorade, eggnog, pumpkin spice milk, and chocolate mint milk waiting for us. As I am whenever there are free sweets, I was in absolute Heaven. One lady even laughed as I took a photo of the cookie trays. But then she followed my lead and did the same thing!

Tonight, I was warm enough that I didn’t really hurt much more than usual. However, when we got home, I crashed for four hours. I just started to feel horrible all over, and climbed into bed. I was only planning on resting a bit, but my resting turned into a very long nap. Now I’m catching up on what I was supposed to do when we got home.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, Dec 20: 4 mile run

At about 3:00 p.m., when it was still only 29 degrees, my husband and I hit the park for a four mile run. I have had a very difficult weekend, emotionally and physically. Therefore, I did not do as well as I would have liked. I kept coughing during our run, and my lungs felt like they were on fire. I had to stop periodically to catch my breath.

Timewise, we had an okay run. We averaged 9:04 for the first three miles. The fourth mile took us 11:12 because I kept having to stop to cough and breathe.

On a more positive note, with our layering, we both stayed nice and toasty warm--even when it started to snow a little! I think we'll be wearing similar layers tomorrow when we go for a 2.9 mile Christmas light viewing run with a local running group. There's cocoa and coffee after the run tomorrow, so it should be wonderful! Let's hope I can get rid of this cough and congestion before then.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I wasn't feeling 100% on Saturday, so I did not do the 30 minutes of cross-training that was on my schedule. I feel kind of bad about not doing it, but it was a rough weekend for me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, Dec 18: Rest day

Today, I rested. And after a very emotional and draining Thursday night, I needed the rest.

Despite how diligently I have been about taking my medicine, and despite my excessive slathering of Aquaphor on my face, I am still getting sores on my face. That's one of the less attractive sides of lupus--all of the disgusting sores around the mouth and nose. (The lupus foundation has a pretty good page about how lupus can affect the skin.)

I took some photos of my face, and will share and post them once I get up the nerve to do so. I'm still really bothered by how these lupus sores make me look, so I will feel very vulnerable posting the pictures.

Thursday, Dec 17: 3 mile run

I was supposed to do some strength training today, but did not do so because we were very busy. But I did get to do my three mile run. And, much to my surprise, Steven decided to run with me. He hasn’t been taking very good care of himself lately—he was stressed about finals and ICE week—so it did not surprise me that he needed to walk more often than I did. Even so, I was still so excited to have him by my side. It had been so long since we’d had time to do something together where it was just the two of us—so I loved it! But it’s funny to see how different we are when we run.

Running makes me happy. It makes me feel like I am conquering something—like I’m strong, lean, and powerful. Also, it gives me a chance to enjoy the sights around me. So I often smile and laugh when I run. The longer I am able to run, the more I smile. Steven, on the other hand, seems to get more serious as he run. You can tell when he’s frustrated with his speed—the disappointment furrows itself in his brow. He looks so serious and stern with his lips pressed hard together and fists clenched tight and he struggles to keep his pace. It amuses me because the amount of pride I feel for him when he runs with me far outweighs the amount of disappointment he feels. I love how he doesn’t want to hinder my workout. I love how he fights to keep going, even when his legs feel like lead. I’m just amazed by his discipline and will, and wish he were just as amazed and proud of himself as I am.

It was a lovely 3.22 mile run, and we ran it in a less than 31 minutes—we barely ran a sub 10 minute mile. But we did it! And it was amazing. And I didn’t need to stop and walk—I just did so to support Steven. I could have gone a bit longer and a bit faster, but I think that was because I felt fueled by his support. I think that without Steven there to share this run with me, I would have struggled.*

*I am posting this a bit late because I didn’t have time to type my handwritten notes on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday: 2 mile run

I really didn't want to run today. Not because I was feeling any more pain than normal, but because I had a rough and hectic day at work. All I really wanted to do when I got home was curl up in a ball on the sofa and drown the stress of my day in some ice cream.

But I made a promise to do 50 races in 50 places, and I truly mean to keep my promise. And since my scheduled run for today was a nice and short one, I managed to convince myself to put on my running gear and go.

I'm still not thrilled with my time, but I am a little bit happier with tonight's time than I was on Sunday or yesterday. Tonight I ran a 9:31 minute mile. Not great, but not too horrible. That makes me hopeful that I will soon feel well enough to run a 7 or 8 minute mile :-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday: 3 mile run in the cold

I worked all day, so I had to run when I got home from work. By the time I got home, let Lady out, and mapped my 3 mile route, it was dark and 23 degrees outside. Twenty-three degrees! I don’t think I have ever run outside in such cold! So, before I left for my run, I dressed even more warmly than I had on Sunday. I wore an extra pair of pants over my running tights, an extra jacket over my fleece jacket, and a pair of hiking socks over my powersox running socks. Even so, I was freezing. Even with two pairs of gloves on, my fingers were so cold that I could feel the tightness overtaking my joints. Every step was painful. But my time tonight was better than Sunday’s time. For my 3.22 mile run, I averaged 11:31 minute miles. This would be an incredibly slow pace for someone whose joints don’t seize up in the cold, but I’m proud that I was faster tonight despite the lower outside temperatures. Tonight, I’m feeling optimistic—lupus can’t stand in the way of my goals!

I didn’t realize this until after I completed my run, but despite the pain, I never once considered quitting. I think this is partly because I was pumped about receiving my volunteer packet from the local chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America! I’ve signed up to be an advocate and a speaker, and I’m very excited about this.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday: Strength training and stretching

My long runs are generally on Sundays, because that is usually the day that races occur. Granted, right now my Sunday runs aren’t exactly “long.” Even so, my training schedule during the week is fairly light. My schedule for this week isn’t too strenuous:

Monday: Strength training and stretching/yoga

Tuesday: 3 mile easy run

Wednesday: 2 mile run with hills

Thursday: 3 mile easy run and strength training

Friday: Rest!

Saturday: 30 minutes of cross-training

Sunday: 4 mile run

I haven’t worked out with weights in a while, so today’s strength-training has been a little hit-or-miss. I’m trying a large number of exercises to see which ones hurt my joints the most. The ones that work my muscles well without putting too much pressure on my already stiff and sore joints will be the ones that I work on. After it gets warmer this spring, I will retry some of the exercises that hurt my joints to see if there is any improvement.

As far as strength-training is concerned, I’ve really let myself go. Just a few months ago, I was much stronger than I am now. But now that I do not work at a gym, I don’t have access to the weights that I did back in Dallas and I’ve slacked off a lot. Getting strong again will take a lot of effort, but will be worth it. I only own 8 lb, 5 lb, and 3 lb weights, which are perfect right now. But soon I might have an excuse to go buy a new set of heavier weights :-)

Today’s workout:

Upper body: Not necessarily in this order
Tricep dips – 3 sets of 12 reps
French press - 10 lb – 3 sets of 15 reps
Tricep kick-back – 5 lbs – 3 sets of 15 reps
Tricep lifts – 8 lbs – 3 sets of 15 reps
Preacher’s curls – 8 lbs each – 3 sets by 15 reps
Concentrated Curls – 8 lbs each – 3 sets by 15 reps
Crazy 8s – 10 lbs total – 2 sets of 36
Shoulder presses – 5 lbs each – 3 sets 15 reps
Referees – 3 lbs – 3 sets 15 reps
Lateral raises – 3 lbs – 3 sets 15 reps
Front raises – 3 lbs – 3 sets 15 reps
Chest presses – 16 lbs – 3 sets 15 reps
Chest flyes – 10 lbs – 3 sets 15 reps
Bench presses – 16 lbs – 3 sets 15 reps
Girly Push-ups - 20 (I'm so weak!)
One arm rows – 8 lbs – 3 sets of 15 reps
Resistance band rows – blue band – 3 sets of 15 reps

Lower body:
Calf raises – 3 sets of 25 reps
Wall sits – 1 minute holds, 3 times
Plie squats – 3 sets of 25 reps
Leg curls – 14 lbs – 3 sets of 15 reps
Hip adduction – 3 sets of 25 reps
Hip abduction – 3 sets of 25 reps
Genie sits – 2 sets of 12 reps (these put a lot of pressure on my knees and really started to hurt)

Core: A mix of supermans, bird-dogs, crunches, bicycles, planks, bridges, and sit-ups

Stretching/yoga: 30 minutes

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13: 4 mile run

In my cold-weater gear, minus my hat and gloves.

I was absent from work on both Thursday and Friday because I’ve been sick. I was running a fever and lost my voice. Therefore, it was probably not my smartest idea to go running today. But I sometimes feel out of control with my lupus, and I needed to show my body that I am, in fact, in control. Sometimes a little bit of a mind-over-matter attitude is important.

Even so, I found it really difficult to get motivated. The cold weather disagrees with my lupus, and makes my joints ache. And the warm electric mattress pad kept beckoning me to come back to bed and rest my stiff joints. I managed to crawl out from under my toasty covers, and change into running gear.

It’s kind of amusing that getting ready for a cold-weather run takes 5 times as long as gearing up for a warm-weather run. By the time I was ready to leave the house, I was wearing my running tights and four different tops. All of my exposed skin had a thick and greasy layer of Aquaphor to prevent chapping. I know I look a bit ridiculous when I run in the cold, but I want to keep my joints as warm as possible, and I don’t want any of those lovely lupus-induced facial ulcers that I tend to get. So, a little preventative maintenance goes a long way.

To warm my body up a bit, I ran very small laps around the basement for four minutes before heading outside to brave the elements. At 42 degrees, it was very cold to this former Texan. And, as I said earlier, the colder I am, the more pain I’m in. Therefore, I ran very slowly—so frustratingly and painfully slow! I used Jeff Galloway’s 4:1 split method (four minutes running then one minute walking), which is what he recommends for a 9 minute mile pace. Well, the 4:1 did not give my cold and slow body a 9 minute mile—it was more like a 14 minute mile. When my mother goes walking, she has a faster pace than I did today. Before I got sick and started hurting so much, I was a lot faster. Days like today can be a bit discouraging. I have to remind myself to look at the glass as half-full. I have to remind myself that I was only scheduled for a 4 mile workout, but I went 4.29 miles! And, as my rheumatologist told me, sticking with my running plans will help me feel better physically and psychologically!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Thanks to those who have read this blog. But I'm ending it now--well, I'm ending the domestic goddess part. All of my recipes are going on my examiner page. And all of my sewing projects are going to get posted on and facebook.

I'm switching gears and using this to keep myself motivated about running 50 races in 50 places to raise lupus awareness. I will keep the old posts, but all of my new posts will be about how lupus is treating me, and how training is going :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Melt down

I haven't updated this in a while because we have been eating leftovers thanks to our refrigerator going out. We got a new refrigerator on Wednesday, but some of our frozen meals had partially defrosted. So, we had tacos Wednesday night (from Del Taco because I was incredibly frustrated with the kitchen situation), frozen leftover turkey chili last night, and frozen leftover broccoli chowder tonight (see my examiner page for the recipe).

I'll start posting again as soon as I get our kitchen back into order. And given that I have a lot of pears from my grandparents' house, I will be posting several pear recipes!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New webpage

In addition to this blog, I now have a new webpage. I'm now working for as the St. Louis Budget Meals writer. This blog and that page will have some overlap, but there will be many articles and recipes on that page that aren't on this blog. So be sure to check it out often! Thanks!

Thai ice tea cupcakes

I'm far behind on dinner blogs, but life kind of got in the way last week. I really should update tonight with a dinner, but I just made some Thai iced tea cupcakes for Vivian's birthday (yesterday) and Aaron's birthday (tomorrow). And anyone who knows me, knows I love to eat and to talk about cupcakes. So the dinner post will have to wait.

Cupcakes are one of my absolute favorite things. When my husband and I first started dating, he took me to Sprinkles for their Christmas cupcakes. While we were still living in Dallas, he'd often surprise me with Sprinkles cupcakes. I think I like baking cupcakes almost as much as I like eating them. I've made some rich and sinful green tea cupcakes before, but I've never tried Thai ice tea cupcakes. I was inspired when I saw Thai ice tea cupcakes on Chockylit's blog. (I really wish she'd reopen it! I was so sad when she closed the blog.) I looked at both of her recipes for her cupcakes, and adapted them. The frosting I took straight from her blog with no adaptations.

(Slight tangent: If you have a chance to browse Chockylit's recipes, I really recommend you do so! Chockylit is my cupcake inspiration! She has some creative recipes, and is always available to email back and forth about cupcake ideas. She once helped me in my search for the perfect fondant to fill Cadbury cream egg inspired cupcakes.)

Thai ice tea cupcakes


1 stick butter, to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 packets instant thai ice tea with creamer and sugar in the mix
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites


Step 1: Beat butter with a mixer on high speed.

Step 2: Add sugar and thai ice tea mix. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 3: Add egg, and mix for another minute.

Step 4: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Step 5: In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla.

Step 6: Slowly add flour mixture and milk mixture to the mixing bowl with the butter and sugar. Alternate between adding the flour mix and the milk mix.

Step 7: In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold egg whites into the cake batter, until incorporated.

Step 8: Scoop batter into cupcake pans.

Step 9: Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool. Then ice with sweetened condensed milk frosting.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Buttercream Frosting
recipe by chockylit


1 stick butter
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar


Step 1: soften butter in the mixer on high speed

Step 2: sift confectioner’s sugar

Step 3: add sweetened condensed milk and about a half of the sugar to the butter and beat until combined

Step 4: add remaining confectioner’s sugar in stages until desired consistency is achieved

The cupcakes have only a slight Thai ice tea flavor, but are still very delicious. They have a really nice moist crumb, and aren't too sweet. The frosting is sinfully sweet. A little goes a long way. Although my frosting is very thin, I decided to only add 1-1/4 cups of powdered sugar. I thought the frosting would be too sweet with more sugar. After tasting the frosting with the cupcakes, I'm really glad I decided to stop adding sugar. They are very, very sweet and rich. Delicious!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dinners for 9/21-9/22: Chicken and mango quesadillas; curry chicken salad wraps

I was very busy the past few days, and am now playing catch-up. Since this post will be long (sorry), I will try to keep my comments to a minimum.

Back in high school home economics class, I was partnered with Jess, Betsy, Marie, Nancy, and Jennifer. During the cooking portion of one of the classes, we decided to make chicken quesadillas. Somehow, Jess and Bets talked the rest of us into putting mango on the quesadillas. I was skeptical, but blown away when I tried them. The tangy, sweet mango really complemented the sharp and salty cheese and chicken. And I now marinade the chicken first in an acidic marinade that matches the acidity of the mango. I loved the combination of chicken and mangos, and still continue to use it. And not just in quesadillas!

Dinner for Monday 9/21

Chicken and mango quesadillas (inspired by Jess and Bets many, many years ago) this makes 4 servings

2 TBSP olive oil
1 ½ TBSP lime juice
¼ tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 TBSP white vinegar
2 TBSP chopped dried onion
¼ tsp oregano
½ tsp pepper
¼ TBSP paprika
1/4 cup water
1 chicken breast, in bite sized pieces
Half of a mango
1/2 cup shredded or grated reduced fat sharp cheddar
8 tortillas
Oil for the pan


Step 1: Mix first twelve ingredients. Whisk to combine.

Step 2: Add chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Remove chicken from marinade and cook in lightly oiled sauté pan until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan and let rest.

Step 4: Dice the mango. (I love dicing mangos!)

Step 5: Lightly oil a griddle or saute pan. Heat over medium heat.
Step 6: Place one tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle 1/4 of the grated cheese on the tortilla. Top with 1/4 of the chicken and 1/4 of the mango.

Step 7: Top with a second tortilla. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cheese melts and bottom tortilla becomes crispy. Flip the quesadilla over to crisp the other tortilla.

Step 8: Remove quesadilla from pan. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa (homemade is preferable, but we used Newman's Own)

Dinner for Tuesday 9/22

Curried chicken salad wraps: For this dinner, I used some of the tortillas I made Monday and also the other 1/2 of the mango. This makes 4 servings
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, no more than 3/4-inch thick
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
Half of a mango, diced
1 cup halved red grapes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces romaine lettuce (about 5 cups lightly packed))
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tortillas
Step 1: Bring the broth and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add chicken to broth and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes. Turn the heat off and let chicken stand in the cooking liquid, covered, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Step 2: Remove the chicken from the broth and cool completely in the refrigerator. Cut into 1/4-inch dice.
Step 3: In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, and curry powder.

Step 4: Fold in the chicken, mango pieces, grapes and cilantro and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Step 5: In a large bowl, toss the greens with the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste.
Step 6: Place a tortillas on four plates. Arrange the greens on top of the tortillas. Then top with a scoop of the chicken salad. Roll it into a wrap sandwich and enjoy!

recipe adapted from Elie Krieger

Monday, September 21, 2009

This week's dinners and healthy tortillas

This week’s meals:

Monday: Chicken and mango quesadillas

Tuesday: Curried chicken salad wraps

Wednesday: Broccoli chowder

Thursday: Baked falafel sandwiches

Friday: Homemade pizza – toppings to be decided

Saturday: Lentil tacos (frozen leftovers from four weeks ago)

Sunday: ???

I love tortillas. Tortillas are very flexible—they can be used in many different ways. But the yummy store bought tortillas have more saturated fat than I like since they are made with lard. Even the healthier wheat tortillas contain hard to pronounce unnatural ingredients. Therefore, I like to make my own tortillas. One of my mother’s patients gave me her recipe for tortillas, and I tweaked it to reduce the fat content and add whole wheat flour. They are tasty and healthy. I can make a large batch, and they last for at least a week.

So, today I made a bunch of tortillas. I used several in tonight’s dinner: chicken and mango quesadillas. I put the rest in a large freezer bag—they will be used throughout the week. In fact, they will be part of dinner on Tuesday and Saturday. And if I don’t have time to make pitas, they will be used in Thursday’s dinner as well. Any tortillas that are left over at the end off the week will be cut into wedges and baked as tortilla chips.

Healthier Tortillas – makes about 18 to 20 tortillas


1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour
½ salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup milk

¼ cup water


Step 1: Mix dry ingredients.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.

Step 3: Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients while stirring.

Step 4: Knead dough and work until smooth.

Step 5: Using a cookie scoop, form dough into balls. Let dough balls rest, covered for 5 minutes. (I like to mix the ingredients in a lidded bowl—it makes keeping the dough covered very easy.)

Step 6: Flatten with a tortilla press or roll out each dough ball with rolling pin to desired round shape.

Step 6a: Although not the most environmentally friendly way to roll out tortillas, using two sheets of plastic wrap helps a lot. Place one sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface, and sprinkle it with flour.

Step 6b: Place a ball of dough in the center of the plastic wrap. Sprinkle top of the dough with flour.

Step 6c: Place second sheet of plastic wrap on top of dough.

Step 6d: Keeping dough sandwiched between the plastic wrap, roll dough out with rolling pin.

Step 6e: Once the tortilla is the desired shape, carefully remove the plastic wrap and use the same plastic wrap sheets for the next tortilla.

Step 7: Cook on hot griddle or hot skillet. Cook for approximately 2 mintues (until lightly brown), flipping tortilla every 20 seconds. (If you cook the tortilla with out frequently flipping, the tortilla gets hard and dries out.)

Step 8: Cover cooked tortillas with a clean kitchen towel while cooking remaining tortillas.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dinner for Sunday, Sept 20 -- Salmon patties and spaghetti squash

Today, autumn announced its arrival with a chilly, soggy morning. It was one of those mornings where you stay in bed, huddled under the toasty blankets. (In retrospect, I should have made hot tea or cocoa today.) These cold fall days bring out my lazy side since I don’t enjoy going outside in colder weather. So, in lieu of shopping for the groceries for the week, I stayed inside the warm house and vegetated. Sometimes you need a day to relax and take it easy. And that’s part of the reason for our dinner tonight. I decided to make a very easy dinner of salmon patties and spaghetti squash with herbs.

Salmon patties are new to me. My husband used to eat them when he was growing up, and he and his ex used to make them often for dinner. When I was growing up, we ate salmon with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, but never in patties. So this is a new-to-me recipe that my husband gave to me. I admit that I’ve tweaked the recipe a little by adding fresh minced garlic and doubling the dill. I think both flavors complement the rich flavor of salmon. And after tasting the cooked patties, I was very glad for the garlic addition. I have to admit that, although I liked these enough to cook them again, salmon patties are not my favorite. I definitely prefer salmon marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil. But these were nice and savory.

Salmon Patties:


1 can (6 or 7 oz) salmon

1 cup soft bread crumbs

3 TBSP finely minced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 TBSP milk

1 egg

½ tsp dried parsley

¼ tsp dried dill

½ TBSP lemon juice

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste


Step 1: Drain salmon.

Step 2: Combine all ingredients.

Step 3: Shape into 4 patties that are approximately 1 inch thick

Step 4: Heat a lightly oiled pan over medium heat. Place patties in pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve warm.

Spaghetti squash with herbs: I love the sweet and nutty flavor of spaghetti squash. And I really don’t have a set recipe for spaghetti squash. I kind of throw in whatever spices I feel like. But I will try my best to explain how I make it.


1 spaghetti squash

Canola oil—for lightly oiling pan

Olive oil, to taste

Garlic, to taste

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Any other desired spices, to taste


Step 1: Thoroughly wash and then halve squash. Carefully scrape out seeds (I going to try saving and drying the seeds to plant next year).

Step 2: Place squash halves, with the cut side facing down, onto a lightly oiled pan. Using a knife or fork, pierce the skin of the squash in several places.

Step 3: Bake squash in 350 degree oven for one hour. Remove and let squash cool until it can easily be handled.

Step 4: Using a kitchen fork, gently scrape around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands.

Step 5: Scoop spaghetti squash strands into a lidded bowl. Add olive oil, herbs, and spices.

Step 6: Place lid on bowl, and shake bowl to mix contents. Once it is mixed, it is ready to serve.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dinner for Saturday, Sept 19 -- White bean, basil, and sun-dried tomato pizza

We had quite a night last night, consisting of the balloon glow and a pub with live music. It was a lot of fun, but exhausting for me. So, tonight we're staying in. We're watching a movie (free from the library) and having pizza. While I worked on dinner, S worked on homework. But he did take a quick break from studying to roll out the pizza dough. I actually made the dough last week, and froze it after making it. This morning, I put it in the refrigerator to defrost. Pizza is a quick and easy meal that can be healthier and more affordable if you make it yourself.

Whole-wheat pizza dough

1 packet of active, quick rise yeast
1 TBSP sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
2 ¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
2 ½ TBSP olive oil

Step 1: Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it starts to foam.

Step 2: In food processor, mix flours, salt, and olive oil until combined.

Step 3: While processor is on, stream in the yeast mixture.

Step 4: Process until the dough forms a ball on the blade and pulls away from the wall of the bowl.

Step 5: Remove dough to large oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise in a warm area for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough has doubled.

Step 6: Punch down dough. Place dough on a floured surface and knead dough. Divide dough into equal pieces and roll into balls.

Step 7a: Cover any dough that is going to be used the same day that the dough is mixed. Place in the refrigerator for one to two hours.

Step 7b: Individually wrap with plastic wrap dough that is not going to be used soon. Place wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze until ready to use.

Step 8: Bring the dough to room temperature.

Step 9: On a floured surface, roll or stretch dough into about a 10 inch circle.

Step 10: Use dough with your favorite pizza recipe.

I've used this dough recipe for a long time, and I'm honestly not sure where I got it from. But I noticed that Jessica at Johnstone's Vin Blanc has a similar recipe.

White bean, basil, and sun-dried tomato pizza

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 (15 oz) can great northern or navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 ball of pizza dough
¾ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
½ cup shredded, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Step 2: Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl or measuring cup and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain well, and chop into thin strips.

Step 3: Place beans, garlic, and oregano in food processor.

Step 4: Process until smooth.

Step 5: Roll out pizza dough. Place rolled out dough onto ungreased cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal, or onto a pizza pan.

Step 6: Spread bean paste over surface of pizza crust.

Step 7: Sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and cheese.

Step 8: Bake in oven for 10 to 13 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted.

Recipe adapted from a recipe at

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dinner for Friday, Sept 18 -- Keema with couscous

Since we're going to the balloon glow at the park tonight, I want us to have a filling dinner before we leave. That will make the festival fare less tempting. I’ve switched around the dinners that I had planned, and tonight we’re having a turkey-based Keema. Keema is a Pakistani ground beef casserole. But I don’t particularly care for beef. And we bought lean ground turkey meat in bulk at Costco for a really good price, so I’m substituting ground turkey for the ground beef. This recipe has been altered to make only 3 servings (one for me, one for S., and one to freeze).


¾ lbs lean ground turkey
½ cup chopped onions
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup diced potatoes
¼ tsp of cinnamon (I omit this since I’m allergic)
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ginger
½ TBSP curry powder
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste


Step 1: Brown ground turkey in a pan with the onions.

Step 2: Add the tomatoes, peas, potatoes, and spices (including salt and pepper).

Step 3: Bring to simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Add water if it becomes too thick—it should have the consistency of chili.

Step 4: Serve over brown rice or whole wheat couscous.

Recipe courtesy of and submitted by QuiltBugJ

It's not the most beautiful meal, but it's very hearty and delicious!

Update for last night

Starting Wednesday night, I was feeling really bad. I didn't eat the tilapia or noodles, although S. assured me that they were delicious. And he ate seconds. I wound up running a fever, and I was quite sick to my stomach. So we splurged and got S. some PJ's pizza for dinner. After a lot of gatorade and some black licorice, I'm feeling 98% better! Now onto my projects for today.

Project 1: New-to-me sewing machine
Last weekend, I met a very sweet couple outside in line at Cotton Babies. (They were having a large sale on reusable fabric diaper covers, bumGenius diapers, and people were practically camped out in line for these diapers! It was crazy!) Anyway, long story short, I quickly came to adore this couple. And when I mentioned that I like to sew, but no longer have a working sewing machine, the husband offered me his grandmother's old dressmaker machine. She rarely used it. And after she died, it accumulated dust in him mother's garage. They tried to sell it at a garage sale, but no one bought it. And so he offered it to me...for FREE! How awesome is that?! I admit, it's very dirty and needs to be oiled, but it works. I only see one minor repair need, and I can work around it for the time being. Today, I'm scrubbing the case and trying to remove all of the dust and dirt from the machine itself. It will be quite a task. Here's a before pic of the side. All that dark stuff is dust and dirt! Ew!

Project 2: Give the kitchen a good scrub.
Having been ill, I let the kitchen mess get away from me. Both sides of the sink are filled with dirty dishes, and there's flour all over the table. Ugh! But I want the place sparkling before I start tonight's dinner.

Project 3: Laundry
Need I say anymore?

Project 4: Go to the balloon race.
Okay, so this isn't really a project, but is something fun. I haven't been to a balloon festival since we lived in Albuquerque, and I really miss seeing the brightly colored giants! The balloon glow is tonight, and it sounds fabulous: "The Balloon Glow offers spectators a breathtaking view of inflated balloons lighted by their burners. Get up close and walk around the balloons... The event will conclude with a fireworks display beginning at approximately 9pm."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spiced Chickpeas

While checking my email this morning, I noticed a link to Naturally, I had to take a few minutes and browse the recipes. One recipe caught my eye: Spiced Chickpea "Nuts." These would be a great school snack for S. And it doesn't seem too difficult or too expensive--bonus! I love the description for them: "When roasted in a hot oven, chickpeas become super-crunchy. They're a great low-fat substitute for nuts when salty cravings hit." I can't wait to try this recipe!

Spiced Chickpea "Nuts"

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt

Step 1: Position oven rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 450 degree.

Step 2: Blot chickpeas dry.

Step 3: Toss chickpeas in a bowl with oil, cumin, marjoram, allspice, and salt.

Step 4: Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake, stirring once or twice, until browned and crunchy (approximately 25 to 30 minutes).

Step 5: Let cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes.

Sounds so easy! And it sounds like a recipe that S will love!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Halloween costume

It took me a while to decide what/who to go as for Halloween, but I've now decided. I'm going as Karai, leader of the Foot Clan. I found the above picture of her at Freaky Gaming. I think the base of the costume should be easy: black leggings, black long sleeve shirt, and hood. I'll sew the hood myself, as soon as I get a new (to me), working sewing machine. The body armor, on the other hand, may be a bit tricky. I don't know what to use to make it. Cardboard and tape? Paper mache? I'll have to think about this...

As for S.'s costume: it's a secret. I'll post pics of it after I'm done with it!

This week's dinners, revised

Last night, S. got home pretty late--too late for me to start dinner. So, we ate leftovers and sandwiches. Tonight, we at at Bobos, a noodle shop, on our way to see the free Dr. Zhivegas concert in Forest Park at the History Museum. Steven had the spicy salmon and noodles, while I had a veggie dumpling soup. Both were delicious. The tilapia is now defrosted, so we have to eat it tomorrow night. The plan is to now push Monday's dinner to Wednesday, Wednesday's dinner to Thursday, and Thursday's dinner to Friday. (Wow, that's confusing!) Tuesday's dinner will be made on Saturday. Sunday we'll have salmon patties and baked potatoes, because they're both very easy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, Sept 14's dinner -- Parmesan crusted tilapia with zucchini pasta

My husband, S., and I are trying to eat more fish. But fish is expensive. And we are on a pretty tight budget now that he's back in school for his MBA and I am not working. So, when we found tilapia on sale at the local grocer, we had to pick some up and freeze it. I put it in the refrigerator last night to defrost. Tonight, we’re having a healthier version of a parmesan crusted tilapia and some zucchini pasta using yellow squash instead of zucchini—we got a good deal on it at the farmers’ market last weekend!

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia -- Serves 2

2 tilapia fillets
2 TBSP breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)
2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
½ TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP skim milk
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Step 1: Defrost tilapia. Rinse fillets, then pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.

Step 2: In a shallow dish, mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and oregano.

Step 3: In another shallow dish, quickly mix milk and lemon juice.

Step 4: Working quickly, so milk doesn’t separate, place fillets in the dish with the liquids. Be sure to get both sides coated in the liquid mixture. Season the fillets with salt and pepper as desired.

Step 5: Dredge the fillets in the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture. Coat well.

Step 6: Heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan. Add fillets and cook on both sides until they flake easily with a fork. Remove from heat and let rest a few minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Zucchini ribbon pasta – since I’m serving this as a side dish, I quartered the original recipe:

¼ pound fettuccini (see recipe below)
1 medium zucchini (I’m using a yellow squash)
2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 TBSP parmesan cheese, plus ½ TBSP
1 TBSP finely minced parsley leaves (unfortunately, I have to use dried here)
¼ cup thinly sliced basil leaves
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp black pepper
Salt, to taste


Step 1: In a large pasta pot, cook pasta "al dente", 1 or 2 minutes less than the package instructions call for. Drain.

Step 2: Slice off ends of zucchini and discard. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, or carefully with a sharp knife, slice zucchini into very thin (about 1/8-inch) slices, trying to keep some skin on each piece for color. Stack slices and cut in half lengthwise. Reserve zucchini ribbons in a large bowl.

Step 3: In the pasta pot, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft and translucent but not browned, about 1 minute.

Step 4: Add zucchini ribbons and 1 TBSP chicken broth, raise heat to medium-high and cook until zucchini is still somewhat firm but just cooked, about 3 minutes.

Step 5: Return pasta to pot and add remaining chicken stock; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until liquid has mostly absorbed into the pasta.

Step 6: Add 1 TBSP of the Parmesan, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and toss to combine. Season with salt, to taste.

Step 7: Serve garnished with basil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese

Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger

Fresh pasta

¾ cups whole-wheat flour
¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
2 TBSP water
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large egg

Step 1: Combine flours and salt in food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk together water, oil, and egg.

Step 3: With food processor on, pour the liquids into the dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream.

Step 4: Stop processing when dough starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor.

Step 5: Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap, and let rest in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

Step 6: Roll out dough according to pasta roller’s directions.

**Note: This makes quite a bit of pasta, so I usually roll out the extra and let it dry, or roll it out, cook it, and freeze it for soups or casseroles.