Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spinach Tortillas

I've seen a few recipes online for spinach tortillas and combined them using what I had on hand since we needed to use up a bag of spinach. They turned out well and I was glad the kids enjoyed's always nice when kids will eat their veggies, in one form or another.

Zesty Spinach Tortillas
9 oz. bag fresh spinach
1/4 of an orange bell pepper (or red, yellow or green)
2 T. water
1/4 C. oil
1 T. fresh minced garlic
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. black pepper, more or less
2 1/2 C. flour (at least)

- In large covered skillet over medium heat wilt spinach in water, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. When spinach is almost fully wilted, add chunks of bell pepper.
- Transfer contents of skillet to blender and pulse for up to 30 seconds, until no large chunks of spinach or pepper remain.
- To blender add oil, garlic, sea salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
- Transfer to mixing bowl and add flour, adding more flour as needed to form a ball.
- Turn onto floured surface and knead for 3 minutes until soft and smooth.
- Divide into 10 relatively even balls.
- Roll out each ball into a 9-10 inch round.
- Cook each tortilla in skillet on medium heat for 3-4 minutes for first side and 2-3 minutes on second side, so a few brown spots appear. You may need some oil, depending on the pan you use.

Enjoy fresh and warm! Makes 10 medium tortillas.

We had these last night as part of deli wraps we made and also enjoyed them in the form of quesadillas today for lunch. Making these was a first for me so I've learned a few things. Next time here are some changes I'll make.
- I'll use a two burner griddle to cook them instead of dirtying 2 skillets.
- I'll roll them as thin a possible. Even though I thought they were pretty thin, when they cooked they got quite a bit thicker.
- I'll double the recipe so we have more leftovers.
- I'll use half whole wheat flour and half white flour.
- I may make some larger rounds to use as crispy pizza crusts.

Here's a cost breakdown.
spinach - $1
bell pepper - $.25
oil - $.10 - (I'm guessing on costs from here on out)
garlic - $.10
sea salt and black pepper - negligible
flour - $.25

So, for under $2.00 you have some healthy, tasty tortillas without preservatives to eat plain or with your favorite fillings.

Monday, March 26, 2007

To Y or Not to Y?

Every couple of months this debate comes back to me. Should we continue going to the YMCA or should we quit the membership? The pros and cons pretty much stay the same every time.

The Cons:
- The facility we go to is far from our home so every time we go it is sort of a big chunk of time taken out of the day.
- Often when we go Smiley misses a morning nap.
- Cost of membership could be used in other areas of our budget.
- Kids may or may not get sick more often because they are in a childcare situation for an hour and a half a few times a week.

The Pros:
- Mom gets exercise which helps her feel better and helps keep her immunities up.
- Kids see Mom and Dad modeling an active lifestyle.
- Childcare is provided and my kids are comfortable with these familiar caregivers.
- Kids are able to interact with their peers and take a break from non-stop sibling interaction. And they enjoy going.
- Mom is able to interact with other moms and have some downtime.
- Kids are able to burn off some of the boundless energy they have.

Given those pros and cons, the jury is still out. But for now we'll keep going because it seems that going to the Y is the only way this mother is going to get regular excercise. For now, I'll let the guilt of leaving my kids in childcare go and just enjoy this opportunity to be refreshed, physically and mentally.

Friday, March 23, 2007

9 Months

Here is a picture of Smiley at about 9 months. He now sits well, rolls all over, pulls books and toys off the shelf, chews on everything, tries to imitate words, eats baby food and some baby snacks and is rocking on hands and knees. And in the last 2 days he has popped out 2 new teeth, thus explaining the red cheeks. Gotta love the hair!

Going Bananas

Today while at the grocery store I came upon a deal for not-so-pretty bananas for $.25/lb. I couldn't resist the price, so I swooped up about six bunches. Obviously there is no way we could use them all before they go entirely bad so I decided to try a new method of saving them for other uses. I could have even let them ripen a bit more, but decided against starting a fruit fly colony in the kitchen. I peeled and sliced them and put them in freezer bags for making banana bread or smoothies later. I thought the little pieces would be easier to break off and thaw than freezing them whole. I know some people freeze them with peels on, but for some reason I just don't like dealing with black bananas when it is time to use them. Now I'm looking forward to lots of banana bread. Somehow since we've had kids there really aren't any bananas that get too ripe since the monkeys around here eat them up so quickly.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Resourcefulness vs. Being Consumed by Thoughts of Money

Lately I've being thinking a lot about how much time and energy I spend on money-saving endeavors. I wonder if getting the best deal on everything and pouring over flyers to plan shopping has been consuming me a little too much. While I do find satisfaction in saving money, I do not want this to define me or become a pride or worry issue. It seems to be a fine line between being a wise steward of the resources God has entrusted us with and making that an idol in my life. I know that the time I spend doing these money-saving activities does save our family money, but I don't want this necessary part of life to become a focus of my life, especially in these early years of our children's lives. These years go so quickly so I want to use my time wisely. With that said, it is important to live within one's means and be careful with our finances. Finding the balance is the hard part.

Drawstring Bag

We've been working at improving some of our window coverings so in the process we've had some discards, including a curtain used for our entry window. Since it had a top and bottom casing I thought it would be great to turn it into a simple drawstring bag. I sewed up the sides, threaded a piece of twill tape through the casing, and sewed the ends of the tape together. Excuse the wrinkles, ironing is not my priority. I love to reuse good items otherwise destined for the garbage. I think I'll use this as a dirty laundry bag when we are traveling.

Total project time: 10 minutes.

Total cost: $0.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What To Do With All That Turkey

A couple weeks ago I roasted a big turkey and since it was not for an actual holiday, most of the meat went right into the freezer for later uses. Now I'm trying to get creative in using it up. Here are a few things I think we'll try, if we haven't already.
- Turkey Biscuit Bake
- Hawaiian Turkey & Rice
- Turkey Wild Rice Soup
- Cordon Bleu Casserole
- Classy Turkey with Broccoli
- Turkey & Stuffing Bake
- Turkey Black Bean Quesadillas
- Turkey Tetrazzini
Steam some veggies with any of these and dinner is done!