The 17 Day Diet-Day One

Here I go again.  It’s time to make the weight loss stick.  Well, okay, I’ve made about 8 lbs of the weight loss stick.  But I still have a long way to go.

Today I weighed myself.  I am starting this diet at 203lbs.  I need to lose 63-68 lbs in order to bring myself down to a healthy weight for my height of 5’5″.

Today I ate:


2 scrambled eggs with diced yellow bell pepper & red onion.

Morning snack:

1 nectarine

6 oz plain greek yogurt with 1 packet of Truvia


1-5 oz can tuna tossed with 1 Tbsp olive oil & 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 cucumber, peeled & cut into sticks

1/2 cup grape tomatoes


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast seasoned with Montreal Chicken seasoning

1/2 cup steamed green & yellow beans

1 tomato, sliced

Evening Snack:

6oz greek yogurt with 1 packet Truvia

Today I drank:

1-8oz hot water with lemon

2-8oz cups green tea

3-8oz glasses of water

My “exercise” consisted of getting up & down a step stool while taping & painting my son’s new bedroom.  Not what I wanted to do, but tomorrow will be better.


Happy Feast of the Assumption

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and that means . . .


Okay, it also means Mass.  And since it’s Wednesday, my weekly Adoration hour as well.

But, thanks to Family in Feast & Feria (look them up, they’re on WordPress.  I just don’t have the blog address handy), it will now & forever after mean cookies as well.  Jennifer posted in August of 2008 about how her grandmother always made Moravian Spice cookies for this feast day.  Somehow, I received an email that she had reblogged that post but when I went to find the post, it wasn’t there.


So I did a search, and still had a hard time finding the original post.  Went back to the email and tried again.  Success.

Very interesting that just about a month or so ago, I was asked to participate in a survey by some website or other.  As a thank you gift, I received an ebook with about 200+ cookie recipes.  Just cookie recipes.  Those of you who know me personally know that I despise baking, especially cookies.  It goes back to long, hot summer days spent in an un-air conditioned kitchen with my mother baking double & triple batches of cookies to keep our freezer stocked with sweets for drop in guests and my dad’s lunches.  Yes, we kids got to have cookies too.  Mom never skimped there, but the baking was not fun.

So, why did I participate in a survey when the “gift” wasn’t even something I would enjoy?  I don’t know.  All I do know is that I completed the survey, downloaded the ebook and printed only one of the 200+ recipes promising myself that at “sometime in the future” I would bake those cookies.

Which recipe did I print?  Why the one for Moravian Spice cookies of course.  Why that one?  Because the recipe said it would yield about 9 dozen cookies from one batch.  I figured even if I made my cookies bigger than they did, I should still be able to get about 6 dozen from a single, one batch baking.  After all, if I’m going to be miserable, I might as well get good mileage out of it.

I mixed the dough last night and asked Ditty to please bake them today, since I have to be at work.  We’ll get to try them at suppertime and if they’ve turned out well, we can bring them along to her youth group meeting after Mass tonight.

Wish us luck!

Plan well

“Luck is the residue of design.”  Branch Rickey

My days have been passing by in a blur lately, mainly due to not having a proper plan for them.

The paying job that I accepted is seasonal and varied.  There is no way to change that, it simply is.  I need to create time to plan the parts of my days that I can control, the early mornings and the evenings.  I need to take time on the weekend to make a thorough inventory of what is in my freezers and cupboards.  I need to then get my meal plans made and create some easy, go-to meals for those evenings when we don’t have time to make a meal from scratch.

I also need to create chore charts for my kids and see to it that they really use them so that they learn to contribute to our family’s efficiency.  Two are still in school and the eldest has accepted more hours at her job.  That doesn’t excuse them from chores.  We will all need to do our parts so that we can all enjoy some down time.

Off to create a plan.  Have a great week.


It has been an interesting week at our house.  Ditty was gone for a week long educational field trip to a camp up north.  They learned about the environment and team building.  She wasn’t too impressed with the way some kids reacted to the experience.  Ditty loves to camp.  She has no problems with bugs, animals, being dirty, or being outdoors.  Oh, she still can whine with the best of them if she’s uncomfortable, but tell the girl that she’s camping and she can change her attitude when needed.

I asked if they had Mass on Wednesday while they were up at camp.  That’s there usual school Mass day.  She said no, but they did have chapel every day.  Okay, whew!  That works for me.  Since they were at camp with three other Catholic schools, I hoped they would be doing something religious to build their faith at some point.

BooBoo missed having Ditty around.  He tried his little tricks to get attention.  Yes, some of them still work.  I reassured him that even if she says she didn’t miss him, that she actually did miss him.  And I know this is true even if she won’t admit it because of the amount of time spent discussing what “the boys” were doing the weekend that DH & BooBoo went Cub Scout camping.  That helped BooBoo a bit.

Then, on Thursday, my bursitis decided to act up again.  Think tennis elbow in the shoulder.  Very painful.  So, to avoid another midnight trip to the emergency room in agonizing pain, and another $900 medical bill for a painful shoulder, I asked DH to bring me to Urgent Care instead.  He and BooBoo went back home to make pizza for their supper while I sat and waited to be seen by a doctor for the shoulder and prayed that this one would go easier on me than the one in Florida where I had my first diagnosis of bursitis.

The appointment did go much better and so I left with prescriptions for pain management and something to reduce the inflammation of the bursa.  Amazingly, it took longer for these meds to reduce the pain and swelling than the last did.  Sunday was the first day I actually felt good and could move my arm with little to no pain.  I still can’t bring myself to try to raise my arm over my head, but I’ll keep trying slowly because I know that I need to work back into a proper range of motion in that arm.

DH & I also took the family up to our niece & nephew’s Steubenville fundraiser breakfast Sunday morning.  It was a nice breakfast and afterwards we watched our niece play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.  Made me wish I was young and agile again.  It certainly looked like a lot of fun, in spite of the wind and cooler than normal temperature.  If you’re wondering what Ultimate Frisbee looks like, go to .  For those who don’t want to click the link, think Frisbee played by seven player teams on what looks like a soccer pitch.  No refs and only players, not coaches, can call fouls, etc.  It is a fast scoring game.

Some Days

You know that some days aren’t going as well as they should when you find yourself with no time to post even a small update.

That’s how yesterday went.

I had asked the kids on Tuesday night what they wanted to eat for Thanksgiving.  This my friend is a highly charged question.  On the one hand, they could have gone with an I don’t care option making the meal very easy for me.  On the other hand, they could say that nothing but turkey will do for Thanksgiving meaning that I either have to figure out how to defrost a Turkey in 24 hours or find a store that carries fresh turkeys and buy one.

Of course they were of the opinion that nothing but turkey will do.  I went in search of a fresh bird, since the idea of thawing our frozen bird in a sinkfull of cold water was not appealing to me in the least.  Good thing I did!

Last night, after supper, DH decided to change over the water tank on our well.  The job got finished this morning around 7:30.

Just further proof that God protects fools and children.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Bread

Just made two loaves of cider pumpkin bread.  Waiting for them to cool down before slicing into one.  Photo to be added later.

Don’t worry.  I took the photo while the loaves were still in the pan so you would get to see them.

Edited on 12-7-10 to add photo.

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

I think we have a new favorite brunch dish here!

On Saturday, I found this in my grocery store:

So, I purchased two tubs thinking that a new french toast casserole is in our future.  I was right.  On Sunday, I assembled my ingredients and got to work.  First, the bread.

You need a 16 oz loaf of bread for this recipe.  Any bread will do, really.  I happened to get a good deal on a 16 oz baguette at Walmart ($1.50) so that’s what I used this time.  Divide the loaf in half and cube each half.  As you can see by my pic, I didn’t get the loaf in perfect halves.  That’s okay, use the larger half for the bottom layer.

Layer one half of the bread cubes in a 9×13 baking pan that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray.  *(this is why I had you divide the loaf earlier, the hard part about figuring out just how many bread cubes make up half a loaf is already done.)

Then put 1-8oz tub of the pumpkin spice cream cheese into a microwavable bowl along with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Microwave this for about 1- 1 1/2 minutes on High (based on an 1100 watt microwave).  Stir until completely combined and the cream cheese has melted.

Drizzle this onto the bread cubes in the pan and then spread it out as evenly as possible.  This may take a little doing, but it’s great to get a bite of the cream cheese filling in every bite of casserole.

Then top with the other half of the bread cubes.  Now, beat 4 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade) and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together.  Add 2 cups milk and mix well.  It will look something like this:

Now spread this evenly over the top of the bread cubes.  I find that ladling it over the top works best for me.  Push down on the bread to help it absorb the liquid mixture.

Now, bake at 350 degrees farenheit for 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Mine took 40 minutes to bake completely.  The finished product:

The family pronounced it delicious.  This could be served with bacon or sausage or scrambled eggs and drizzled with maple syrup.  A salad and a side of fruit wouldn’t be amiss either.  You can prep this ahead and freeze it unbaked.  You could also put this in two 8×8 pans which is what I would have done if this hadn’t been my first time making it (Four foil loaf pans would also work for couples-adjust the baking time as needed).  Now, where’s my coffee?

A quick bite

Just wanted to let you know about another blog that I found interesting.  I’ve added her to the My Favorite Things tab, but I’ll post it here as well.

Jenna’s Everything Blog is a well written blog by a young woman living in the Midwest.  She has some great recipes as well as some fresh insights and a delightful writing style.  Her post Prayer In Times Of Cleaning was especially helpful to me.

It’s no secret that I despise housecleaning.  I know that I shouldn’t.  It’s necessary both to keep the house and our things looking nice and also to keep my family healthy.  Friends have long told me to “just give your cleaning up to God”.  Okay, whatever that means!  Jenna, however, has put down steps in her post to actually show me (and others) how to do exactly that-give our cleaning up to God.  And these steps would work with other chores we dislike as well I’m sure.

So I’d just like to say “Thank you!  This has really helped me.”  I also hope that it will help you, my readers.  Check out Jenna’s blog when you get the chance.

Success is a delicious meal

As I drove home from work last night, all I could think about was how we didn’t have time for dinner.  I was seriously thinking about making that call to Domino’s and ordering pizza so that I could have the 25-30 minutes of sanity time before they delivered and I needed to rush everyone to the table to eat.

Then I walked in the door and smelled a most delicious smell-beef roast.  No, DH didn’t get a wild hair and start cooking a meal.  I had totally forgotten in the chaos of the day’s schedule that I had put a roast in the crockpot that morning to cook while the kids were at school and I was working.  Don’t worry, if I had called the kids to meet me in the driveway to go out to eat, one of them would have reminded me about the crockpot.  I’m sure they would have.

The results of that crockpot endeavor yielded a very moist, tender, delicious and surprisingly simple beef roast.  Yes, I’m going to share that recipe with you. 

Yesterday morning, I took a beef roast out of the freezer.  Popped it in the crockpot frozen.  Added the obligatory 1 cup of water (the crockpot’s directions say that you must add water to protect the stoneware from sudden changes in temperature if cooking meats from a frozen state).

Then I wondered how to season the roast.  I like to do things up a little differently from time to time just to keep us out of a rut.  Well, my usual method would have been to toss in a packet of dry Italian dressing mix, cover the crockpot and cook it on Low that way.  It’s very good.  So is a packet of dry Ranch dressing instead of the Italian.  See, two new recipes already.

But yesterday, the Italian and the Ranch would have involved opening a fresh box of dressing mix.  Yes, this does speak to the epitome of laziness, but I didn’t feel like opening a box.  There, I’ve said it.  So I looked at the other seasoning packets sitting in the little container in my cupboard and realized that I have an awful lot of brown gravy mixes in there.  Well, it’s beef roast, I thought.  Beef roast is certainly good with brown gravy.  So I opened a packet after reading how much water to add to the mix (1 cup, how fortuitous).  Then I went to my spice shelf and grabbed the dried rosemary.  I crumbled about 1 1/2 teaspoons of rosemary on top of the gravy mix and beef roast.  Popped the cover on and told the 24 year old to turn the crockpot on Low at 9am.

When I got home at 4:45pm, the smell was heavenly.  I didn’t have time for potatoes, so I made buttered noodles as a side along with a peas & carrots blend for the vegetable.  All three kids pronounced it delicious.  So this will also go into the archives as a “recipe” we’ll serve again.

To recap:

1 two and a half to three pound beef chuck roast, frozen

1 cup water

1 packet dry brown gravy mix

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crumbled

Cook on Low for 6-8 hours in a crockpot.

Serve with whatever you have the time to cook 🙂   Sit back and enjoy the compliments.

Freezer Cooking, part 4

This is the final segment of freezer cooking for this month.  I can’t say that I won’t return to this topic again sometime, I just feel like I’m becoming a cooking blog and that wasn’t my intent.  I certainly will always welcome your comments and questions about freezer cooking.  And don’t worry about thread-jacking, I’m not a comment purist-post the questions where ever you like.

I’ve already covered some of the dishes for summer and fall, so let’s look at winter and spring.  And breakfast, I love a good, quick, homemade breakfast.


Casseroles-oh you knew that was coming didn’t you?  Most casseroles freeze very well.  About the only thing that doesn’t freeze well in a casserole is fresh vegetables and chunks of potatoes, they get watery when thawed.  I’ve learned to substitute frozen chunked hashbrowns for the regular potatoes in any recipe calling for potatoes that I would like to freeze.

Side dishes-I freeze rice pilaf, creamy noodles, mashed potatoes and mac & cheese to use as side dishes with roasts, chicken, pork, burgers, hotdogs and fish.  I like being able to put everything in the oven so that pre-dinner time can be used to help with homework or to just have time to knit or crochet.

Meatloaf-I’ve done meatloaves with ground beef or ground turkey and both types freeze very well.  I don’t pre-bake them, but I will give you a little tip:  Freeze the meat mixture in gallon size zip bags (not the slider zip ones-they can leak).  Press the mixture flat inside the bag once you’ve pressed the air out and sealed the bag.  This will make a thin layer that thaws much faster than a thick preformed meatloaf.  If you need to bake the meatloaf quickly, pat the thawed meat mixture into a pie pan rather than a loaf pan.  Bake at the temp you usually use, the meatloaf should be done in 25-30 minutes rather than the usual 50-60 minutes.


For this season, I usually make and freeze many of the items I’ve made in Fall and I begin to get the Summer grilling items ready.

Ham & Potato Casserole-this is a good way to get rid of Easter leftovers.  Ham balls are another good way to use up cooked ham, although personally I have not gotten around to making them yet I have heard that they freeze well.

Meatballs-we usually begin the rounds of potluck dinners in the spring and meatballs, either in barbeque sauce or white sauce, make a tasty addition to a potluck.  I have also served the barbeque sauced meatballs over cooked rice for supper, or the white sauced ones over noodles.


French Toast-either whole french toast, french toast sticks or as french toast casserole, this freezes well and makes for a nice, quick breakfast.  I use regular bread to make the casserole (9×13 pan) and put the bread down in two layers.  In the middle, I put flavored cream cheese (8oz) mixed with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.  I also put 1/4 cup sugar into the milk/egg mixture and pour it over the casserole once it’s layered.  Cover and freeze.  Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes, thaw prior to baking.  For the french toast and/or french toast sticks, I use Texas Toast bread.  Cut the slices into thirds for sticks.  Use your favorite french toast recipe and bake the toast/toast sticks on cookie sheets to save having to stand over a hot griddle for hours.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes each pan, turn the toast/sticks about halfway through the baking time to brown the other side.

Oatmeal:  Baked oatmeal is wonderfully easy if made ahead and frozen.  Reheat in the microwave or in the oven.

Quiches, stratas and egg bakes:  These can be prepped and frozen.  For quiches, prep and bag the egg mixture.  Freeze the pie crusts separately.  You can freeze pre-baked quiche if you prefer.  I find my pre-baked quiches ended up with tough eggs so I no longer do it that way.  Any strata or egg bake mixture will also freeze well.  You can use foil pans to freeze them or the Gladware plastic pans.

Pancakes:  These also freeze well precooked and can be heated up in the toaster for a quick breakfast.  I have not tried to freeze pancake batter yet.

Well, that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.  Again, if you have any questions or comments, let me know.

Happy cooking.

Freezer Cooking, part 3

Some blog friends have wanted new ideas for make ahead dishes.  Sometimes, people don’t realize meals they already make can be made ahead and frozen.  I’ve decided to post a list of our favorites here.


Buy or mix up your favorite marinade.  Place meat in a zip top plastic bag in proportion to your family size and/or the number of servings you need.  Add the marinade, press out the air, seal, label and freeze.  When you thaw the package in the fridge prior to grilling, the meat marinades a second time (the first was as the meat was freezing) giving it more flavor than if you marinated just that day.  I added the number of servings part because personally I like to grill up extra marinated chicken to add on top of a salad for lunch a day or two later.

Chicken Chow Mein & Beef Chow Mein-I could eat this any time of year.  My own recipes for these are under the recipes tab at the top of the page.

Muffins, quick breads, bars and cookies-Again, any time of year but especially nice not heating up the kitchen more than once a month to have baked goods all month long.


Soups-Some of the soups I’ve made and frozen with success:  Potato Cheese (puree the mixture and it freezes well), Broccoli Cheese, Tomato, Chicken or Turkey Vegetable (I add noodles or rice or dumplings on serving day), Beef Vegetable (same thing-add the barley or noodles on serving day), Ham & Rice, Chili, Vegetarian Vegetable.

Precooked beef stew meat in gravy-this is especially versatile.  It can be used for stroganoff, beef pot pie, beef & gravy over noodles, thin the gravy and make soup, as well as just using it for stew.

Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy-love this served over biscuits or as pot pie.  Can also make white sauce instead of gravy and serve the mixture over noodles.

Shepherd’s Pie-I also freeze the mashed potatoes in a separate bag placed with the meat mixture so that I don’t have to do anything extra on serving day.  Make the mashed potatoes with sour cream instead of milk to keep them a bit thicker and they will freeze well.

Goulash-I personally enjoy goulash, but skip it if you don’t.


Precooked ground beef or ground turkey-this makes tacos or spaghetti go even faster.

Extra portions of mashed potatoes-I reheat the frozen mashed potatoes in an 8×8 pan in my oven while the roast or chicken bakes.

Parmesan Chive Chicken-chicken marinated in italian dressing then on serving day breaded with a mixture of dry bread crumbs, a bit of grated parmesan cheese and 2 Tbsp chives.  Really good!  I freeze the marinating chicken in one bag, the crumb mixture in another and then place both bags into a larger bag, seal & label that bag.  This way the crumbs are right there with the chicken when I’m ready to bake this dish.  No searching for crumbs, etc in the cupboard.

Well, that should get you started thinking about what dishes your family enjoys that you might be able to make ahead and freeze.  If you have any questions about whether or not a dish would freeze well, you can post them in the comments section and I will try to answer them for you.

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