Wednesday, April 27, 2011

a delicious and healthy turkey enchilada casserole

mexican night is always my favorite night. david can make an amazing salsa, and i found this recipe that i had to try.... it was really easy to make and after tasting... it has been added to our regular dinner rotation. yep, its that good! the RECIPE was found at try it out for yourself and see how great it is!

*makes ten servings
*prep time - 30 minutes
*bake time - 25 minutes
30 mam 25 Ingredients
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Mexican stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon each onion powder, garlic powder and ground cumin
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inches)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided


  • In a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray, cook the turkey, green pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in the beans, salsa, tomato sauce, tomatoes, onion powder, garlic powder and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • Spread 1 cup meat sauce into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with six tortillas. Spread with half of the remaining meat sauce; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Layer with remaining tortillas and meat sauce.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Yield: 10 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 piece equals 318 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 52 mg cholesterol, 936 mg sodium, 37 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 21 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 starch, 2 vegetable.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

drinks from the garden!

remember this -
yes, a little tiny mint plant that grew out of it's cute pot within the first week of being planted.... and then there was this -
after moving to a new, and much larger pot, the mint has already completely filled out and has just been cut for the first time. and what else would i ever cut up a mint plant for... a mojito, of course!
i wanted to make a simple syrup that was infused with mint, so i heated one cup of water and one cup of sugar until the sugar was completely dissolved, and the liquid was clear. then i added a handful of mint leaves and let it steep for about 30 minutes. strain the mint leaves out and store in a container... and you have yourself a homemade mint infused simple syrup.
mix your syrup with a handful of crushed mint leaves, add your rum, half the juice of a lime, and some ice.... and you have a mojito that tastes unbelievable!
Monday, April 25, 2011

straw bale garden - week 3

so we are going into the third week of our garden extravaganza... and everything (almost everything) is doing so great. all the seeds that i planted are shooting up to the sky and have already been transplanted into the raised garden bed. the carrot seeds are sprouting through the soil. strawberries are being picked and devoured before we can get them inside. peppers are starting to form on the stalks. all amazing.... except for one thing - the upside down tomato plant with cilantro on top. i am assuming the cilantro was choking the tomato and taking all the nutrients considering it tripled its size, but the tomato plant has shrunk and the leaves are yellow. total failure, and very sad about it. so today i pulled the cilantro (which was not easy considering it had all become one rooted mess) - divided it into three separate plants and planted them elsewhere. i re-potted the tomato, yellow leaves and all, and added new soil. lets hope it works... if not, off to shop for another cherry tomato plant!
here are some pics of week three! (no pictures of the upside down tomato... too depressing)
two of the three cilantro plants were potted here surrounding the chives and parsley.
the other was planted here -
these are sugar snap peas and garden beans that i started from seed. they quickly grew and now have a new home in the raised bed garden.
the squash, zucchini, and cucumbers are getting massive.
tomatoes are thriving! this is the better boy, and the roma behind it is also doing great.
broccoli, red lettuce, and romaine lettuce.
the beginning of a red pepper!
all the pots.
 more garden beans in a pot.
carrot seeds are sprouting all of the pot... i'm really hoping these work!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

three years old...

sweet oliver is three.
i really can't believe he has been with us that long... granted, the first year was quite the nightmare. he was one stubborn and rotten little boy... nothing passed by him without his approval, and anything he wanted.... well, it was his. 
through all that bad behavior and after two obedience training courses, each 6 weeks in length... the trainer told us it was time for another dog. i mean, seriously?!?!?!? but when we decided to adopt emmylou, that's when everything changed. all that energy and aggression was taken out on eachother in a super playful mood. they became inseparable, and still are. they truly are the best of friends. 
three years later and oliver has turned out to be the best dog i could have ever imagined. yes, he is still 120 pounds of pure hyper love... but he is super sensitive, and has a love for mommy and daddy that couldn't be described. he has the best personality, loves giving kisses, and just loves to do his own thing... stretch out on the couch!
so in honor of his special day, we wanted to make him a special treat. i used the same recipe for the peanut butter dog biscuits i make, just made a very large bone for him to gobble up! 
he absolutely loved it! we made emme one too, and she also loved it!
happy birthday to my sweet boy!!!!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

watch my garden grow

seriously, i think my whole hand is turning green. i literally go to sleep thinking about waking up to see what's new outside! its not been long at all and everything is thriving. literally ALL of the seeds i planted have sprouted. the carrots are slowly but surely popping up, and my precious husband even built me a raised garden bed to transplant the extra seeds in... plus an eggplant and another pepper. the peaches are the size of a golf ball. strawberries are ripening every day. I. LOVE. GARDENING.
so this is our mint plant that was just re-potted less than 2 weeks ago. it has already filled the new pot and im not re-potting again! so basically, the larger the pot, the larger the mint = the more mojitos you will be graciously blessed with!!!
our potted rosemary is ginormous... even with cutting it atleast twice a week. we planted this last summer and it has been thriving ever since. 
hibiscus blooms are forming by the dozens.
knock out roses that stand about 5 feet tall and have hundreds of bright and beautiful blooms! 
many beautiful iris bulbs are popping up along the fence.
growth of two pots of green bean seeds.
 pea seeds are growing fast! 
zucchini plant is the size of a basketball.
romaine lettuce! 
 tomatoes are doing great and ready for a cage.
the raised bed my sweetie built for me... perfect! 
tomato blooms on the upside down tomato plant
the straw bale garden and the raised bed garden... all looking super! 
hope everyone's garden is as happy as mine :)
Thursday, April 14, 2011

gina's low fat chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

i know that anyone who reads this blog has heard my many mentions of Gina from Skinny Taste. she is the queen of remastering recipes and making them much lighter... she recently posted a recipe for a lightened up oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and while i was out doing some retail therapy - my husband jumped on the opportunity to make them. OH. MY. GAWD. these are beyond words. they lasted no time at all because one is never enough... two either. the applesauce makes them extremely moist and the oatmeal and chocolate in every bite is just enough to leave you longing for more.
the fact that they are a healthy cookie is brilliant... and if you have enough will power to restrain yourself, then eating just one would be the perfect chocolate indulgence while watching your calorie intake. HERE is where you can find Gina at Skinny Taste and see all her amazing recipes.
Low Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 15 • Serving Size: 2 cookies • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 190 • Fat: 6.3 g • Protein: 2.6 g • Carb: 34.2 g • Fiber: 2.0 g Sugar: 19.3 g

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed.  

Add the egg, followed by the applesauce and vanilla extract.

Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls (approx 3 tbsp each) of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, flattening each cookie slightly (I forgot to do this). Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.

Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container so you don't eat them all in one sitting!

Makes about 30 cookies roughly 3 tbsp each.

Splenda Lovers: Substitute all the brown sugar with 1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend, and all the white sugar for 1/4 cup Splenda sugar blend. Points remain the same.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

homemade garden markers

we have all seen the cute garden markers people are using to tag their plants with... im especially in love with all the stamped spoons! (you can find a billion of these handmade and sold on
i wanted to try my hand at making my own... currently we are using clothespins that i wrote the name of the plant on, and those are working just fine, i would just like to look at something cuter!
so here is what i did... 
took polymer clay in different colors, my letter stamps and an exacto knife. i kneaded the clay just like dough until it softened up a bit then ran it through my pasta machine to flatten it out. i cut and formed it into the shapes that i wanted, then stamped the name of my plants directly into the clay. i then stuck a small wooden stick in the back and baked it for about 25 minutes on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. when it was cool enough to handle, i used acrylic paint to paint over my stamped letters. let that dry for about 15 minutes, then wipe it clean with a wet cloth to remove the excess paint. simple!
here is how my garden markers turned out...
and here are some that are looking adorable in my garden.
super cute, super cheap, and super easy to make!
i love gardening more than anything else in the world. it makes me so unbelievably happy to see something that i planted take life and GROW! its always a fresh start to my day to walk outside and admire the new growth that formed just over night. it also makes me appreciate all the greatness in my life. yes, all that from a garden. it is just meditative. yesterday my dad started his last round of chemo. 6 months ago i prayed day and night for this outcome, and now it is here. he will have a continued schedule of checkups and scans for years to come, but he is cancer free. cancer free. cancer free. i could say it a million times and it keeps sounding better.
im just so proud of him and completely grateful.
on another note, david and i are working our way through jillian michaels 30 day shred... today is day five and also the first day that i can walk up/down stairs without feeling like my legs are going to give away. but we can both already feel a difference in our bodies, and our endurance in just 5 short days is unbelievable. if you haven't heard of 30 day shred, its a 3 circuit training cycle, and only 20 minutes in length. you do 3 minutes of strength, followed by 2 minutes of cardio and ending with 1 minute of abs. and believe me, its no joke. the first workout was a hot mess... but we did it. then collapsed. and seriously, five days later its so much easier. there are 3 levels, each one done for 10 days. im already dreading the next level, but also excited at the same time. beach bods.... here we come!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011

straw bale garden - freshly planted

the straw bale garden is planted and doing wonderful!
we fertilized and soaked our straw for daaaaayyyyyysssss... then finally got to enjoy putting our veggies in. we are finding it near impossible to water enough, so we are installing a soaker hose and a possible drip irrigation system to keep everything good and moist. 
i plan to take weekly photos of everything so we can all track the progress.
here is some photos from planting day.
updates to come soon! 
Saturday, April 9, 2011

planting, thriving, and straw bale gardening...

it's only the first week of april and my yard is already booming! we have strawberries ready to be picked, a tomato plant that is thriving, cilantro that we have already cut and used twice, a mint plant that is screaming to be made into a fresh and delicious mojito, and a peach tree that has literally hundreds of beautiful green fuzzy fruits ALL over her! the wooden pergula is crawling with wysteria vines that are smelling so sweet and looking amazing. and we have azaleas in about every color imaginable. i love spring so much for this very reason... life is blossoming everywhere you look! 
 what started out so cute and small are now growing and turning red and ready to be picked!
our rosemary that is potted in an enormous pot has been growing strong for a year now. i can't imagine cooking without rosemary. it just makes everything so much better.
 the wysteria vine that is climbing all over our pergula... and smells fantastic!
the mint plant that is already in need of a bigger pot.
knock out roses are opening up every day.
azaleas in every shade of pink.
my peach tree that i admire every single day... just waiting to pick that first one and taste the freshness! if you look closely at the photo, you will find about 15 peaches... and this is barely three limbs of the tree... we will have more than we know what to do with.
ground cover is seriously covering... and hydrangea should be blooming any day.
and now for my favorite part... vegetable gardening.
we have been planning on what kind of garden we want to do, and dreaded the idea of digging up our yard to find the best soil and places to plant. instead, we found a genius way of vegetable gardening: straw bale gardening. if you google this, you will find many sites that describe how this is done. for a quick overview... you buy your straw, and it cannot be hay because that carries seed, and you fertilize and compost the straw for about 10 days. i have read posts where people started the straw in winter, and i have read about fertilizing in as short as 7 days. you have to keep it soaked with water, and gradually decrease your fertilizer. when it's ready, you just dig out a little hole and plant your veggies and herbs! ours is coming along amazing and we will be putting our plants in tomorrow! let's pray this works!!! so far we have two tomato plants, big boy and roma, broccoli, red lettuce, romaine lettuce, squash, zucchini, red pepper, green pepper, cucumbers, oregano, parsley, chives, basil, and thyme. those will be going in the bales of straw. then in pots we are starting seeds of carrots, string beans, and snap peas. i also have a pot with sweet banana peppers and jalapeno peppers. i am more than excited and will blog weekly progress of the garden! 
here is all our plants sitting in the sunshine just waiting to be planted.
those were the beginning of the seeds - minus the carrot seeds, those just looked like dust they were so tiny. i read that you should soak your seeds for about 30 min before planting them. then when they are buried in the soil, mist them with water, cover with plastic wrap and poke holes in the top. that allows the germination to begin (hopefully). 
these are our planted carrot, snap pea and bean seeds... just patiently waiting to see some little green sprouts. and the mint also got a new pot... a larger one!
 the banana and jalapeno pepper plants are looking good so far.
and this is our amazing straw bale garden... being fertilized and watered about twice a day! 
happy spring and happy gardening to all!

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