Monday, January 31, 2011

Ham & Cheez (Grandma's Brag Book)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Whine (just say no to nicotine)



If you've never been addicted to something, what you're about to read will most likely not click with you but hopefully if you're a compassionate person, you'll be able to learn about addiction and feel compassion for those who become addicted to whatever it is they're addicted to. I know from my own personal experience that until recently, I was not truly compassionate toward those who are addicted to hard drugs... cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. Certainly my cigarette addiction wasn't nearly as dark or deadly or all-encompassing as those "real" drugs. I hadn't lost my job, home or family because of my Salem Slim 100's, therefore I wasn't even paddling in the same boat as the rest of those losers. What I've learned in the past seven weeks is that the addictive substance matters not, it's the process and control of addiction itself that holds all the cards, and that we are indeed all in the same boat.... we just have different captains.

Before I go any further, I will address those of you who will immediately say, "Well, if you'd never tried that drug in the first place, you wouldn't be facing this addiction." To you I say, (first... NO DUH!) but mostly I recommend that you kneel nightly and thank God that you were either strong enough to resist the temptation or led such a happy life that you never felt the need to find an easy escape for an hour or two. I agree that the most effective prevention of addiction is to never start, just as the most affective prevention of pregnancy is celibacy. It all looks good on paper, doesn't it? It all looks peachy and pleasant in a world where strong minds leave no room from those who are weakened or who've been less blessed. In fact, when my husband reads this, he's going to be the first one to call this post a bunch of BS because he is strong-minded and strong-willed. I keep reminding him that these are not traits that he's worked for or earned, but was however granted from God's mighty hand and he ought to be happy for that instead of judging those of us who haven't been quite as blessed in the department. Over 32 years, I've made a significant dent in his armor, although his biggest brag to this day remains "I just don't let things get to me. I let all that shit roll off my back." I roll my eyes and he knows immediately that it wasn't his back that the shit rolled off of, but God's. Good for him.

If you're still reading this, you're either extremely bored or you just want to find out if I've become a mass-murderer and where I've hidden the bodies. Go get a snack and I'll save your place.... swears. (just check your seat when you get back.)

THE HISTORY OF SMOKING FROM 1974-2011 (by Mags, recovering smoker and blogger who loves to hear herself type)

1974: I was 16 when I tried my first cigarette. Yes, I threw up. (See... this is where all of you smart people are shaking your head and wondering why I'd ever try it again! I'm stubborn and stupid and have no other excuse.)

1975: I was a Junior in high school and was smoking a few cigarettes on the weekends when the girls would go out partying. Remember.... cigarettes were still cool back then.

1976: My senior year. I can say that I was officially addicted at this point. I was hanging out my bedroom window at midnight smoking my last cig for the day. I was also smoking in the shower, thinking that the steam would get rid of the smoke. AND... let's not forget that incense was THE THING at that time and whenever Mom asked if I was smoking in my room, I lied through my Hell-headed teeth and said "No, that's my sandalwood incense becoming one with the smiley face stickers on my ceiling."

1976-1978: My college years. An associate's degree in Dental Hygiene (I KNOW... the IRONY!!) at a college where smoking was still allowed on campus in the cafeteria, gathering rooms, etc....and every bar, restaurant, and mall in town

1978-present: Married at 20. Confirmed daily smoker. And here's where I share my deepest and most shameful secret of all..... I smoked through all three pregnancies. I have no defense (I am a worthless, spineless piece of shit.) (or when I'm feeling more generous I merely call myself a selfish bitch.) Three healthy children later, I'm thankful.... although still ashamed.

Present day: Smokers are shunned lepers. What used to be a social activity has become a nicotine fix. Step outside 30 feet from the door in the freezing cold to get your fix. You want to know why I quit? It might surprise you that it had nothing to do with health reasons or money. It's because I couldn't handle "that" look from someone who walked by me while I was hiding in the shadows of some restaurant patio. I didn't like missing half the party while I was outside getting my nicotine fix. I'm still young enough to change my social behavior and I refuse to miss out on life because I have to remove myself from the party or worry myself sick at the airport or hide behind the bushes anymore because of a nicotine fix. The monkey will be off my back forever. I AM DONE.
I almost published this post without apologizing to my Indiana readers. Since I have quit smoking, you can expect your third grade class next year to not have new text books due to the lack of taxes from my unbought cigarettes. That's cruel, I know..... but I still have a bit of a chip on my shoulder.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whole Grain Butternut-Cinnamon Chip Muffins

I happen to have an affinity for watching what my hubby terms "freak shows." The Biggest Loser, Intervention, Hoarders, The Half Ton Man, The Half Ton Woman, The Half Ton Teen, The Half Ton Dog (just kidding on that one,) are just a few of my favorites. I'm not really certain why I'm drawn to these programs, other than the obvious fact that they point out to me that there is always someone out there who has it worse than I do.

Last week's season finale of Hoarders. Did y'all see it? It was about a man who hoarded rats. I had myself tucked up so tight in a blanket when I was watching it that you'd have thought there was a serial killer knocking down my door. Just ewe..eeeeeek....and uck. uck. uck.

What does this have to do with muffins? Well... I have a little bit of a hoarding problem myself when it comes to food ingredients, especially seasonal ones. Fresh cranberries are bought by the bagfuls in November then frozen to get me through until the following year. Diet cranberry Sierra Mist is stockpiled in the garage also during those months because the powers that be seem to think that we don't like cranberry beverages the rest of the year. And cinnamon chips, found in this recipe, are scooped up during the holiday baking season so I can make these muffins anytime I want to! I have found however, that even though Hershey's doesn't keep them in the stores year round, they are always available at King Arthur Flour.

Also... hugs to all of you who have been emailing me and asking how I'm doing. Thanks so much for caring. As of today I'm 6 weeks smoke free! Blogging remains stressful for me for some reason however, and I'm sure you've become aware that I've been posting less frequently. Hopefully that will change soon. I love you guys.

Whole Grain Butternut Cinnamon Chip Muffins (makes one dozen muffins)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup plain yogurt
2 TBSP canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup butternut squash puree
1 1/3 cup Splenda (or sugar)
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg..

In another bowl whisk together the egg, egg white, yogurt, oil, vanilla, squash and sweetener.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until all is incorporated. Do not over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Distribute batter between muffins cups. Bake for 23-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for a few minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on cooling rack.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chicken, Red Grape and Pesto Pizza

Did you ever look at the list of ingredients for a recipe and think, "There is no possible way that those flavors would go well together?" I mean grapes on a pizza? What crazy mind out there thought that one up, you're wondering. Well rest assured, though I do indeed have a crazy mind, I did not put this combination together.

However, since I love to try recipes that seem a little out there, I decided to give this one a go. And you're only reading about it here because it was a success.... a HUGE success. (And remember, you always have my promise that if some wacko recipe is a failure, I do sink deep into despair, but I don't post about it. The recipe, I mean... HEE!)

Anyway, this recipe for chicken, red grape and pesto pizza is from Cooking Light and is available online so I won't reprint it here. I will however, tell you of the changes I made. First and foremost, I made my own crust. I have nothing against refrigerated wack-a-dough crust in a can and since that is what is used in the recipe, go for it. I also used shredded mozzarella cheese instead of fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese instead of Romano. The only other change I made was to pre-bake the crust for about 5 minutes before adding the pesto and the toppings.

You just might want to keep this little beauty in mind for your Super Bowl party!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Give Him An Inch....

...and he'll turn himself into a snow monster.


(Thank you June, for the inspiration and for getting me out of my rocking chair. Sloopy and I had a ball!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes

I'm usually a high-protein breakfast kinda gal. I normally have an egg white omelet or cottage cheese after I've been up for an hour or so. Lately however, I've been craving sweets in the morning, which is so unusual for me and this has led to my peanut M&M munching at 6:00 a.m. with my morning coffee! It doesn't take a genius to see that I'm subbing the M&M's for my morning cigarette, but I can't have this go on! So this morning I decided to make pancakes to see if that would be enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. It worked. I didn't have a single M&M until well after 11:00! (Baby steps folks, baby steps.)

These whole grain pancakes were delightfully fluffy yet moist and when served with sugar free syrup, fruit or jam, they make an excellent choice for a lower glycemic and fiber filled breakfast. Add a hard boiled egg for some protein and you won't be hungry for hours.

Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes (makes about 7-8 (4 inch) pancakes

3/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 TBSP sugar (I used Splenda)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup low fat buttermilk
2 TBSP canola oil
1 large egg

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium size mixing bowl. In another small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, canola oil and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Do not over mix. Let batter sit for 10 minutes.

Heat griddle or grill pan over medium heat. Lightly grease pan with butter. Spoon two heaping tablespoons of batter per pancake onto pan. When tops are covered with bubbles, flip pancakes over and cook until bottoms are lightly browned.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Smoked turkey soup with yellow split peas and black lentils

The other day hubby asked me if I'd noticed that our grocery bill had gone down significantly since I was no longer buying cigarettes. I told him that when I got my peanut M&M's down under three packs a day, I'd let him know.

Aside from the M&M's (and that's a huge aside, I know) we've been trying to eat healthier since the beginning of the new year. If heavy cream and/or cheese are not in the list of ingredients, soup is almost always a great choice for a lower fat and calorie meal. Plus, I find that making soup is a very soothing and creative activity. From choosing the ingredients and cutting the vegetables to the final spice selection, making soup is a bit like conducting a symphony. Only there are no musicians or musical instruments or music. Lord, I'm turning into a loon.

Smoked turkey soup with yellow split peas and black lentils

I used stock made from the carcass of a smoked turkey for the base of this soup but if you can't get your hands on some smoked turkey or ham stock, feel free to use regular chicken stock. You'll most likely need to add salt at some point however. I didn't add any to this soup recipe because the stock was salty enough.

8 cups smoked turkey stock
8 oz. yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch of cayenne pepper
black pepper
2 jarred roasted red peppers, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and 1/2" diced
8 oz cooked black lentils
2 cups cooked and diced smoked turkey

In a large soup pot heat the stock to boiling. Add the peas, onion, celery, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne and regular black pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until peas are just starting to fall apart. Add the red peppers and sweet potatoes and continue simmering another 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in the cooked lentils and turkey and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Halftime Sugar Bowl...Hang on Sloopy!

Sending Kong Back To Where He Belongs

Call it therapy. Call it misery loves company. Call it whatever whiny-worded excuse you want to, but I've decided to chronicle my smoking cessation journey on my blog. If this offends you or bores you, I apologize, but I believe that in doing this, I'll be able to keep my blogging passion alive while I get rid of the monkey that's been on my back for 35 years. I've named him Kong because he's one big mofonkey and I fully intend to send him back to his cage, where he belongs.

This will not be a permanent blog fixture, nor will it be a daily thing, as I have every intention of starting to cook again, and hopefully sometime soon. If you'd see my fridge you'd know that we're in an emergency food situation here and I'd really hate hubby to leave me after all these years for some hussy with a home-cooked meal hiding under her apron.

Anyway, as of today I am 4 weeks smoke free and I actually do have a very healthy soup recipe to share with you and promise to post it tomorrow. Thank you all for your well wishes and comments. I'm sorry that I have been lax about reading all of my friends' blogs and my lack of comments as well. The computer and my cigarettes went hand in hand for a very long time and it's taking me awhile to adjust without them, so I've basically just been staying away from the keyboard. It'll be fun catching up though!

until tomorrow,
Mags