Friday, October 22, 2010

Recipe: Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew

Did you know that sweet potatoes are actually healthier than white potatoes? They're lower in calories, higher in fiber and are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and calcium. They have less iron than white potatoes, but overall they're the healthier choice. Sweet potatoes also don't raise your blood sugar levels as much as white potatoes do. I know that's surprising, but it's true.

Even knowing they're healthier, however, I don't cook with them very often. Mainly because when I think "sweet potato" I think "sweet." The only way I've ever really eaten sweet potatoes is with ham - slathered in butter and brown sugar. They're tasty that way, but I have a feeling the butter and brown sugar sort of cancel out the extra benefits.

TG begged me to get some while I was at the store the other day (she loves sweet potatoes) so I decided to try out some new recipes. This is one I found in a slow cooker cook book. It turned out really good. I served it over rice and the combination was wonderful. It was really savory. Something perfect for a cold winter night.

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 6-8 hours

Makes 6 servings (large ones)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (or cut into bite-size pieces)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed (I omitted these because I didn't have any on hand)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 can (28oz) whole stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth (I buy mine at Trader Joes, but you can make your own if you want)
1 cup cold apple cider (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil
6 cups cooked white or brown rice

1. Combine chicken, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, celery seed, broth and cider in slow cooker. 
2. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or 3-4 hours on high. 
3. Sprinkle with basil just before serving. Serve over rice.

I'm trying something new and using to calculate the nutritional information in the recipes I use. Since I tend to modify them to suit my needs, I don't always know exactly what the nutritional value is. I've included the label here. Let me know if you'd like me to keep including them. 

Here's a link to the recipe:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekly Menu and Carboholics Anonymous Plug

Before we move on to our regularly scheduled programming I want to thank all of you for visiting over the last few days and offering so much support. Friday wasn't an easy day, but it wasn't terrible, either. And that's due, in large part, to many of you. So thanks.

Now, let's move on.

I'm still not done with my menu for this week. I mostly have it mapped out, but I need a good recipe for tomorrow. My grandparents are coming over for dinner and they're both doing Weight Watchers. Since I'm not very familiar with how the whole points thing works, I'm not sure how to adjust a regular recipe for them. Any help you can offer would be much appreciated.

Weekly Menu 10/18/10

Monday - Stuffed Peppers
Tuesday - Chicken Provencal served over brown rice
Wed - TBD
Thursday - Ham Steaks w/ Sweet Potatoes
Friday - Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew
Saturday - MM's choice, I'll be out of town
Sunday - Family Night, my choice

I'm being a quasi-vegetarian this month (Casee will be so proud) so I'm using meatless chicken and beef in the recipes above w/ the exception of the ham steaks. The kids don't really notice a difference, which is good. I was worried that the stuffed peppers wouldn't turn out as good since I was using a beef substitute, but they were great.

The chicken sub in the Provencal was a little on the soft side, but that was the least of my worries with that dish, so eh. I had a major SNAFU tonight. I wasn't paying attention and used 2 cups of bullion powder instead of 2 cubes of bullion. I bet you can imagine how that turned out. I was able to save the dish (ie it was edible) but I'll make sure to pay better attention next time.

Tonight I made apple butter for the first time. This past weekend MM and I took the kids, along with my baby sister, to the pumpkin patch. They also have U-Pick orchards, so we brought home a bushel of apples. I have plans for most of them. This my first time making apple butter and I'd say it turned out pretty well. It was a little on the sweet side, so I think next time I'll use honey instead of sugar to sweeten it. Otherwise I can't really complain. The kids adored it and MM said it was great, so I guess that's all that matters.

I would share pictures, but my internet is out and I'm using my cell phone as a hotspot. The connection is really slow right now due to some storms and they won't upload. I'll try tomorrow instead.

Also, yesterday was my day at Carboholics Anonymous. I blogged about letting go of the past and looking ot the future.

What are you cooking this week?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The M Word

This was not an easy post for me to write, and I imagine it won't be any easier to read. Please read on at your own risk.

It's been a year since we lost baby Peanut.  Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday, and sometimes like it was a lifetime ago.

We've healed for the most part. It doesn't hurt to look at newborns anymore. I might still feel a twinge when I see a woman snuggled with her brand new baby, but it's just a twinge, not a heart-wrenching pull. MM and I can talk about it without getting upset. We really do feel things happened the way they were supposed, if not exactly how we'd planned.

We even talk about trying again. Maybe this year, maybe next. Or maybe not at all. We haven't decided. But we've reached the point where we can talk about it seriously, without a twinge of guilt or breath-taking sear of pain. I'd say we're in a pretty good place, all-in-all.

But..there is something that still bothers me. Something I struggle with all the time. Something I'm not sure how to deal with.

It's the M word. Miscarriage. It just doesn't seem adequate to describe what we went through.

I went through 5 hours of hard labor and delivery. I screamed as my baby was born, partly because I knew she was already gone and partly from the pain. I held her in my arms and bawled while my husband lost his shit and cried like the world was ending. The word miscarriage just isn't strong enough to convey what I felt when I watched the nurse take her from me, knowing she'd never be coming back. Knowing she'd never really been there at all...that the baby I held was nothing more than an empty shell.

I didn't have a miscarriage. I gave birth to a dead baby. But no one wants to hear that.

Poor Little Man

Little Man has always had bad teeth. I'm not a dentist or anything, but I honestly think this is genetic. My entire family has problems with their teeth. I remember taking him to the dentist when he was about 5 or 6 and finding out he had 4 cavities.

I admit I probably wasn't making him brush properly at that time (he brushed, just not as well as he should have) but 4 cavities? He and The Girl ate the same foods and what-not and she still hasn't had a cavity. How was it possible that he'd have 4?

6 months later I brought him back for his next cleaning and he had 4 more cavities. Yes, my child had 8 cavities before he was 7. It totally boggles my mind. I remember having a major argument with one dentist because he swore I was giving my kid nothing but sugar. Soda, Kool-aid, candy, etc. Except..I never have. I'm like the sugar Nazi. I always have been. Yes, they have soda and candy occasionally (I've never given them Koolaid) but never in excess. Maybe 1 a month, if that. I especially have to be careful with LM because he tends to be hyperactive. Why would I give my hyperactive kid extra sugar?

Anyway, that dentist didn't believe me. Every time we switch (which we've done quite a bit bc of ins issues) it's the same thing - LM has more cavities and I get a lecture about not giving my kids sugar and making him brush regularly (like I don't? ugh!).

My original dentist, the one who saw LM that first time he had 4, finally realized it wasn't just bad brushing habits and lots of sugar. He told me I'd probably have to get all LM's permanent teeth sealed once they all came in. Then we had to switch dentists and we started all over again.

Today we saw yet another dentist for the first time. Unfortunately the news was worse this time. Not only does LM have a cavity, but it's a really deep one in his back molar. The dentist isn't sure he'll be able to save the tooth without doing a root canal (he's going to try, he just isn't sure he'll be able to). He said LM really should have a permanent crown put on it, but he's too young.

Of course LM was in the room while the dentist was telling me this, so he heard everything. After that first appointment when they had to fill 4 cavities at once, he's been terrified of getting dental work done. He burst into tears as soon as we left the office today. I felt so bad for him.

Of course there's nothing I can do. I really hope the dentist doesn't have to do a root canal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekly Menu, 10/11/10

I've been really bad about doing weekly menus lately. Over the summer our schedule was hectic and the kids were visiting their dad, so it was easy to forgo a menu. Once they got back and school started, we were busy getting settled back into a routine. Then I started going to the gym on a regular basis and..well, excuses aside, I just haven't done it.

I really need to get back on track. I'm back in the habit of running to the store for 1 or 2 things at the last minute and bringing home a cart full of stuff I don't need. Not only is it bad for my budget to do that,  but I've been throwing away a lot of produce that isn't getting used. Bad Holly.

Not only that, but I promised Becky I'd share my weekly menu every week to give her ideas for dinner. So here's my menu for the week:

Monday - Winter Veggie Soup w/ Turkey Meatballs (this was really good)
Tuesday - Pork and Veggie Stir-fry (I have leftover pork loin from last week that I need to use)
Wednesday - Feta, Herb and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken
Thursday - Beef Lettuce Wraps (made w/ meatless substitute because we aren't eating red meat right now)
Friday - Pasta (TBD - maybe something w/ sausage and pesto)
Saturday - Turkey Burgers
Sunday - Family Night, MM's choice

The Winter Veggie Soup I threw together using some leftover veggies I had sitting around; Cabbage, Parsnips, Carrots, Zuccini. I added the turkey meatballs as a kind of last minute thing. I had some ground turkey I needed to use, so I mixed it w/ breadcrumbs, taragon, basil, thyme and soy sauce, then rolled it into meatballs. I added it to the soup during the last 20 minutes of cooking. The soup was good overall, but a little bland because I used low-sodium chicken broth. I'll have to add extra seasoning next time.

I plan to make some kind of special sauce for the turkey burgers on Sat, but I haven't decided what kind yet. Maybe a honey mustard? We'll see. If you want me to share the recipes for any of the above, let me know.

What are your dinner plans this week?

Totally unrelated to this week's menu - Yesterday was my day at Carboholics Anonymous.

Weekly Weigh-In and Getting Back on Track

Friday, October 08, 2010

5 Years Later...I Still Remember

MM is the sappy one in our relationship. He remembers birthdays and anniversaries, buys gifts just because, gets all mushy and says I love you every single time we hang up the phone, watches chick-flicks. I never remember our anniversary and just barely remember my birthday, much less his or the kids.

Sometimes I feel really bad about that. Like, MM really puts more into this relationship than I do. He certainly gives more. It isn't that I don't love him as much as he loves me, or that I don't make an effort to let him know I care. It's just that I'm not really an openly demonstrative person. It doesn't occur to me to get all gushy and mushy and say things like, "you complete me". Honestly, it makes me slightly uncomfortable. I get embarrassed and think, "Wow, that was cheesy", even if it wasn't.

That's not to say I don't show my love in other ways. I'm a touchy-feely person, so I might brush his arm or cup his cheek, just because. I also have a million and one pet names for him. Things like babe, idiot, jerk munch, jerkyface, ree-ree, dummy head, sugar-britches, sweet pea and the like.

I also try really hard to show him in other ways that I care. I wash his dishes, do his laundry, make him muffins, cook him dinner and I encourage him to do things like lose weight, clean up his potty mouth and clean the shower.

Even so, I can't help but feel like the scales are tipped in his favor most of the time.  But this year, I'm totally going to make up for it. Starting with this blog post.

5 years ago today, MM and I went on our very first date (can you believe I remembered? Me either!). I still remember it like it was yesterday. We me att my office, went to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner, people watched at Starbucks and saw the movie Waiting, which was sooo not a first date movie. I remember the awkward little pause right after he asked if I had kids, the intimacy of offering him the rest of my soup and the feel of his lips against mine when we shared our first kiss at the end of the night.

I remember blabbing about our date to my friends afterward, and feeling kind of giddy excited when he called the next day, but also really, really comfortable, like I'd know him my whole life. I remember spending 4 hours on the phone and using the same phrases and falling like a rock.

So this post is for MM. I love you. I think I loved you right from the start - the second you turned red and asked for my number - it just took me a little while to realize it. And even though it's been 5 years, and I don't always show it, I love you just as much now. Maybe even more, if that's possible.

I know couples stop celebrating their "first date" anniversary when they get married, but since when have we ever cared about other couples?

Happy Anniversary, Babe.

Just because I don't talk about it all the time doesn't mean I don't remember.

See, I'm not a terrible wife.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Carboholics Anonymous

I've been whining complaining bitching talking about losing weight before our cruise in November quite a bit on Twitter. Because it was obvious I needed help she wanted to get in shape too, the lovely Amber asked if I, along with several other amazing women, wanted to start a support group blog where we could complain whine bitch moan motivate each other. At first I thought, NO WAY! I need another blog like I need another hole in the head. Then I thought, another place to bitch and moan get motivated? Call me crazy, but I said yes.

And so, Carboholics Anonymous was born!

I'll be blogging over there on Mondays. My first post is up:

Bikini Body in 6 Weeks or Less

If you have a minute, come over and say hi. Make sure you check out the other posts, too. I expect to fail miserably great things from all of us, but we need support.

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