Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guilt-Free Baked Ziti


16 oz. box uncooked whole-wheat or high-fiber ziti or penne pasta
1 large thinly sliced onion
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
6 cups fresh spinach, or 1 box of frozen spinach, thawed & drained
2 and 1/4 cups low-fat/light ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, or 2 tbsp. of dried basil
1 32oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 & 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain well, place in a large bowl, and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring an extra-large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Add onion and, stirring occasionally, cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and raise temperature to medium high. Continue to cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

Add spinach to the skillet and, stirring often, cook until spinach has wilted and excess moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in ricotta cheese and basil.

Transfer contents of the skillet to the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add tomatoes and 1 & 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Toss gently to mix.

Spray an 16x9" baking pan with nonstick spray, and carefully fill with contents of the bowl. Evenly top with Parm-style topping and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Bake in the oven until entire dish is hot and cheese on top has melted, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, and then serve and enjoy! Makes 12 servings!!!! (bigger portion sizes are not guilt-free! )

Approximate Nutrition Stats:
Calories: 286
Fat: 7g
Sodium: 455mg
Carbs: 41g
Fiber: 5g
Sugars: 7g
Protein: 16.5g

POINTS® value 6*

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CHEAP vs. FRUGAL (borrowed from another blogger)

  • If you stuff your purse with sugar packets when you go out to eat, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you go to a fancy restaurant, order only a drink, and then eat only the yummy baked bread, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you buy bakery, produce and meat when it’s marked down at the store, you’re frugal, not cheap.

  • If you save your extra napkins from the drive through and stick them in your glove compartment for later use, you’re frugal, not cheap.

  • If you sneak a cheap McDonald’s hamburger into Fuddruckkers so that you can use all their yummy toppings for your burger, but don’t buy one, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you’ve ever eaten out and left a Bible tract saying, “Here’s your tip for the day,” with the ways I can get to know Christ , but then you barely leave a tip, you’re cheap.

  • If you use “Buy one, get one free” meal coupons, you’re frugal, not cheap.

  • If you use “Buy one, get one free” meal coupons, but then don’t tip on the price of the full meals, you’re cheap, not frugal and shouldn’t be eating out.

  • If you grab tons of plastic straws from the fast food restaurant, you’re cheap, but if you then use them and reuse them by washing them in the dishwasher, you’re really cheap. (Seriously, you can buy about 1,000 at the Dollar Store.)

  • If you buy an outfit at the store with the intent of only wearing it once for your fancy occasion, and then taking it back, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you purposely use up 90% of an item from a grocery store only to then take something back with a complaint for a full refund and free item, you are taking advantage of their wonderful return policy.

  • If you are always the one mooching off other people or always grabbing for the left over food to take home from functions, just don’t.

  • If you photocopy internet coupons, you are neither frugal nor cheap. You are a crook because that is illegal, and I know you don’t want to ruin it for the rest of us couponers.

  • If you break the coffee container that holds your precious Starbucks coffee beans, you sweep the top beans up off the ground, and you still grind them you’re…desperate. ;)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Surprise! Birthday Bed and Breakfast weekend

"Honey, we're going to your parents house for your birthday. You need to pack." Ok, admittedly this sounded fairly normal and so without much thought I threw some t-shirts and capris plus a dress for church into a small overnight bag and was ready to go. In fact, I spent more time and thought packing for the kids than myself. "Is that ALL you are bringing?" Why yes, it is. What's the big deal, I pack light!

2 and a half hours later, and we are at my dad's house. Tired and hungry I grab some food, visit with the fam for a bit, and head for bed. The next morning my normally sleep-in-if-at-all-possible husband literally leaps from the bed at 8am. "I need you to drive me into town to Walgreens. I need to get a prescription refilled that I left at home." OK, so I stumble out of bed and throw on a t-shirt and denim capris, run my fingers through my hair, and say Let's go. "You aren't going to take a shower?" Um, no I am not here to impress anyone at the Oxford Walgreen's. I grab a cup of coffee and wait for him to leave. We finally make our way to Walgreens to get the Rx. As we are leaving he says, "I know the way back so I'll drive." Fine with me, so I fall into the passenger seat realizing that I am officially hungry. Shane turns out of Walgreens and in the opposite direction of the way back to dad's. "I thought we would get Bojangles." Great! But after driving for 30 minutes, still no biscuit. I question where we are and why? "Oh I just thought we'd drive around and enjoy the morning a bit longer." Um, ok but we are now approaching Raleigh and a good hour away from the kids and my dad's house. "Really, this road goes to Raleigh?" Yes, yes it does and did I mention that I am HUNGRY? Road signs say Youngsville, then Rolesville, then Bunn, and next thing I know we are on 64/70 East. WHERE ARE WE GOING? "To Bojangles."
You are lying, where are we going? "You'll see..." When the signs turn to Smithfield, and then Kinston I understand that we are not going home today. Do the kids know you have kidnapped me? "They do now." Are you going to tell me where we are going now? "Nope."
Well might as well enjoy the ride...and a biscuit finally at 11am!

Soon roads look familiar as we enter Beaufort, NC. We ride down a few side streets of historic homes and turn into a driveway. "Surprise, we are here!"

Welcome to the Pecan Tree Inn of Beaufort! This is my first time at a BnB and I am so very excited. Here's our room:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE historical houses. I love the porches. I love the high ceilings. I love the glass knobs on the heavy wood doors. I love their charm.

The innkeeper shows us around, and then we settle into our room. After dropping our things off, we head for the waterfront for some shopping and to breathe in the warm, salty air. Holding hands we stroll in and out of shops and boutiques, antique stores and cafes- already thinking ahead to dinner later. Then we make our way back to the BnB because we were offered the use of two bicycles. As sunset approaches, we bike along the water and then around the historical homes area, even stopping to enjoy an ice cream cone along the way.

We finally return to our BnB and shower and change for dinner. The night is a perfect 70 degrees and the sky is full of stars, so we opt for outdoor seating at a waterfront restaurant. The food is WONDERFUL! After dinner we go to a nearby outdoor bar to listen to live music and enjoy more of this delightfully pleasant night. As the hour approaches midnight, and I threaten to turn into a pumpkin, we decide it's time to enjoy the bed aspect of our BnB.

Sunday morning, and the smell of coffee and fresh scones pull me from my bed and to the downstairs of the inn. We eat on the porch (love!) and read the paper over coffee. We take one last stroll along the waterfront, and then head to 30 minutes south of our little BnB to one of our favorite little beach dives for lunch.

If you ever find yourself near Salter Path, NC, you MUST go to the Big Oak Drive-In and order a shrimp burger. It is LEGENDARY!
Don't know what a shrimp burger is? Well here is a picture.

I like them "all the way." That means with slaw, ketchup, tartar sauce, and hot sauce. Shane likes them with just hot sauce. There's no wrong way to eat 'em, just eat!

After this little diversion we park the car for one last hand-holding-stroll, this time down the beach itself.

Totally relaxed and perfectly content, we finally say goodbye to the Crystal Coast and our first (but not last!) stay at a bed and breakfast.

In fact, I think it would be good to conclude this blog entry with the announcement that in approximately 15 years, when we are "empty nesters," I plan to own a BnB myself. I think we will call it "The Buttered Biscuit Inn." Maybe. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Low-fat Chili

We love chili at our house! I found this low-fat version that is a high on flavor but low on guilt

1 lb. raw lean ground turkey
One 29-oz. can tomato sauce
One 14.5-oz. can "mexican" diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
One 15-oz. can chili beans (pinto beans in chili sauce), undrained
One 15-oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup canned sweet corn, drained
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin

Bring a large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Add turkey and spread it around in the pan to break it up a bit. Cook and crumble until meat is brown and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Drain any fat or liquid, and then transfer turkey to the crock pot.

Add all other ingredients to the crock pot.
Mix well to combine.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, and then reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 3 hours. (OR cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours straight.)

Add salt to taste. If you like, top each serving with a little nonfat sour cream.

About Me

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This is our official family homepage. I hope to share pictures, thoughts, prayers, hopes, dreams, and maybe a few recipes too. I am married to my soulmate Shane, who is so good to me. We have two gorgeous, rambunctious, sweet, funny kiddos. Tyler is 8, and Sydney is 5. They keep us on our toes, and we are better in every way because of them! Life can be stressful and hectic at times, but we know that God has us exactly where He wants us to be- we are so blessed!