Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today, I am the birthday girl! I feel blessed to have had a wonderful year, even though it was hectic with the move. Little Chief was so excited to give me gifts this morning! He and Chief gave me a waffle maker and a digital key chain. I love them both. What sweet guys I live with. My friends and family have loaded up my inbox with text messages, too. Sweet, sweet, sweet. Thanks, everyone!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tasteful Thursday: Rich Toffee Cheesecake

Ok, how could this NOT be good? It was so delicious!

Vanilla Wafer Crust
3 pkgs Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 8 oz sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (8 oz pkg) Heath Toffee Bits, divided

***Preheat over to 350 degrees***
For Vanilla Wafer crust combine 1 3/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 55 wafers) and 2 Tablespoons sugar.

Stir in 1/3 cup melted butter.

Press onto bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, I sprayed mine with cooking spray first.

Refridgerate crust for about 30 minutes.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl on medium speed of mixer until well blended.

Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla, beat on low speed until blended.

****See that cook book there, The Joy of Cooking, that is THE cookbook you need to own. It is a cook's Bible. If you have a question about cooking, it will be answered within those hallowed pages****

I am baking my cheesecake in a water bath because that is the way to prevent pesky cracks. I have never had a single crack when baked in water bath, knock wood. So wrap the bottom of you cake pan in some foil to keep the water from seeping in!

Measure out 1/4 cup of toffee bits for the top of the cheesecake. I love my pampered chef adjustable measuring cups and spoons, they rock!

Pour half of cheese mixture into prepared pan.

Sprinkle with the bulk of the toffee bits.

Spoon remaining cheese mixture.

Put whole pan inside a rimmed baking dish.

Boil some water in your kettle.

Pour boiling water around the pan, about halfway up. Bake 1 hour or until set.

Cool 15 minutes.
Sprinkled reserved toffee bits over top. loosen cake from side of pan with a sharp knife. Cool completely (at least an hour)

Remove sides of pan. Cover, refridgerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Toilet Training for Cats?

So this weekend at a baby shower I attended, the mother-to-be got a Diaper Champ; you know the thing you can deposit soiled diapers into and it seals them for removal later. Well, someone at the shower said they make the same thing for cats, you scoop the litter, turn the wheel and it is sealed in a bag for later removal. Sounded interesting so I started doing some research on the subject. During my web search I ran across this:

Now I am intrigued. Could this possibly work? There are a lot of testimonials on the website with photos of kittys using the toilet. I mean, no more litter to buy and it is a way to contribute to a greener planet, sounds good, right? Do you think it would really work? Does anyone out there have this system or a toliet trained cat? I sure hope so and look forward to hearing the pros and cons before I make a decision.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tasteful Thursday: Layered Mac & Cheese

The recipe is an old stand by. My family loves it and it is easy on a busy weeknight.

Prepare Kraft Macaroni & Cheese according to package directions. I recently started using the whole wheat version:

Brown 1 lb of ground beef or turkey, drain. Mix in 1 can of Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup and 1/2 cup of milk, water or even sour cream:

In an 8 x 8 dish begin layering meat mixture followed by a layer of macaroni, repeat layers. Top with shredded cheddar if you want, or not if you are trying to cut down on calories, like me! Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. I serve with a green veggie and crescent rolls. Yummo! Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

MUFA Anyone?

No it is not an ugly word, honey, you know my Mama raised me better than that. MUFA stands for monounsaturated fatty acid. These are healthy kinds of fat. I am loosely following a health plan that includes a MUFA with every meal. Apprently this is a diet world "Buzz" word. But so far things are going well on my plan. The MUFAs help you stay fuller longer and you are able to last between meals without getting hungry, plus there are lots of other healthy MUFA benefits. Ok - enough with the MUFA, but here are some examples: Avacado, Olive Oil, Olives, Nuts and Seeds and my favorite MUFA (opps, I said it again) dark chocolate. I have been eating four small 400 calorie meals a day and so far I have not felt hungry like on other programs I have been on, and child, let me tell you, I have been on them ALL.

This is where I am getting some really good menu ideas and recipes for my mini meals.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Healthy Lifestyle = Less Blogging

It feels like a really long time since I've had a moment to sit and blog. With my goals for the New Year set, I have been daily and diligently working to meet those goals and let me tell you it is time consuming. I have to get up a little earlier to prepare nutritious food for lunches and prep some healthy dinner options, then off to work, then rush to get Little Chief from after school care, then rush to the recreational center for the work out class, rush to prepare a healthy, but quick dinner (try pulling that off), then fall into bed exhausted.

The weekend wasn't any better with planning meals, grocery shopping (why is healthy way more expensive?), rinsing and cleaning veggies galore, thinking about ways to incorporate some time for weight training (an apparent must), trying to spend quality time with kids and husband......geesh. I see why I am overweight. It is so much easier to come home, leisurely prepare a meal while sipping wine and then collapse on the couch for some mindless TV viewing, read to kiddos and self and then go to sleep. BUT - I am not going for the easiest route, no, not me, not anymore. This week I hope to share some healthy meals and tips that I am trying to incorporate into my life.

How about you, do you find time for a healthy lifestyle? Do you have any tips for a beginner like me? How about healthy, quick meal ideas? Please pass along any wisdom you might be able to share, I need it (and others may appreciate it too).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Finding Friends

Why,oh, Why did I do it? I was warned. I did put it off for a long time. I was repeatedly invited but I ignored it. Until now:

What was I thinking? I can't stop checking in and looking at it. I had oodles of friends from high school on there immediately upon signing up; endearing, fun, memorable people that I spent my "in"formative years with a click away, with life stories that are so interesting and varied. I want to know what everyone is up to. I don't have time for another addiction, the blogosphere is already making me think I need a 12-step program.

Are you on Facebook? Have you been invited to join? If you decide to sign up, don't say I didn't warn you!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2008 Books

Since this blog is a journal for future generations, I thought I would post here the books I read this year for posterity. I did not read as much as I usually do this year, partly because of this lovely blog and partly because of our military move to Virginia Beach this past summer. Here it is:

The Namesake
Five People You Meet in Heaven
Snow Falling on Cedars
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
On Chisel Beach
The Magician's Assistant
The Other Boylen Girl
Bel Canto
Nineteen Minutes
Traveling Mercies
Ask Again Later
A Thousand Splendid Suns
New Moon
Breaking Dawn

I was disappointed with On Chisel Beach and Snow Falling On Cedars was REALLY slow! Other than that, I enjoyed each of the other reads - I really couldn't pick an absolute favorite. I think every single book, good, bad or medicore offers something we can learn from.

What about you, did you read as much as you wanted to this year? What was your favorite book? How about your least favorite? Have you read any of the books from my list?

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Goals for 2009

I have read so many posts about resolutions. Should you make them? Are they a waste of time? After much pondering, I decided that it is important to have goals in my life. Without goals, how do we know what to aim for? So for me, setting a goal, whether I make it or just make a good attempt is necessary:

I would like to live a healthier lifestyle including nutritious eating and becoming more physically active, clear out the clutter in my home and in my mind, save some money, spend more quality time with my kids, create a date night with my husband and do at least one thing a day, no matter how small, for myself.

Ok, I feel better now! Did you set goals for yourself or not? Let me know!

Thursday, January 1, 2009