Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't Face your Fears Alone...Face them with Friends!

This weekend I had the opportunity to do something that I normally wouldn't do.  I took a chance and faced my fears and climbed a rock wall!  

Although I have wanted to try this for many years, I wasn't sure if I could do it!  Would the fear of heights overcome my body and leave me shaken with fear, or would I cry half way up and need someone to physically pull me down?  I didn't know the outcome when I walked up to that wall for the first time.  I knew I had the physical strength to do it, but mentally could I?

It was very easy for me to cheer on my girlfriends, and give them step by step instruction of where to place their foot when they didn't know where to go next, or the encouragement they needed to take one step higher to ring the bell at the top of the wall.

But when it came to my turn, all I could say to myself was, "You can do this!" I took a deep breath, wiped my sweat-filled hands on my pants and started to climb.  I felt confident that I had the strength to make it to the top, then about half way up, I stopped .  Ummm...yes, it was high, yes the grips were getting harder to reach and my hands were sweating more than before.  Once I stopped, I started thinking, maybe this is as far as I can make it, maybe it is time for me to come down, maybe I am not ready to conquer my fear!  But before I knew it, I heard this voice, "You can do it Jen, take a deep breath and think...Spiderman!"  Then another, "You got it Jen, you are more than half way!" Then with a deep breath and the encouragement of my friends, I took another step closer to ringing that bell, until I did!

OMG!!! What a feeling of accomplishment!  I was still sweating and now shaking, but I DID IT!!!  (and it is on video!)

I climbed 2 more times, each on a different wall progressively more difficult.  I was proud of myself, of my strength both physically and mentally, but even more of my friends.  Without them I would have quit!  I needed them, because they believed in me, and with their encouragement I faced one of my greatest fears!

With friends anything is possible!  

Oh yeah, and when I replay the video my hands still sweat!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Galumpki and Fried Rice, an unlikely couple!

I am the type of person that needs everything to turn out perfectly....the first time, so finding recipes to make the dinners I wanted MY WAY was found to be a difficult task.  So much that my Cabbage Roll dinner ended up being Pasta with meat sauce just so I could give myself another day to find a "perfect" recipe. However, I have learned over my past 2 dinners that, sometimes you have to adapt, compromise and just let go.  It all turns out pretty tasty in the end.

Last week I promised my Cabbage Roll Recipe (Galumpkis), another favorite thanks to Mom.  You really can't make these wrong.  I have done it in the crockpot, in the pressure cooker and in the oven.  My favorite recipe is in the oven, its the only place I can make them where they don't burn! LOL!

(Yes, this recipe is one of my tasty compromises.)

1-2 cans of condensed tomato soup
1 head of green cabbage
2 lbs of extra lean ground beef (sirloin)
1 medium onion (I like to use onion powder)
3/4 cup of instant cooked rice
1 TBS Worcestershire
1 egg
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Boil cabbage for a few minutes to help loosen leaves.
In a large bowl, combine by hand, ground beef, onion, salt, pepper, rice, Worcestershire and egg.
You can also add 2 TBS of the tomato soup.
Make large meat balls with the mixture and place on top of a cabbage leaf.  Roll by tucking sides and place in baking dish with a cover.  Continue until all meat mixture has been rolled in cabbage.  Cover.  Place in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Serve alone or with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Enjoy!

Next, tonight's simple dinner was part home made and part frozen.  That would be Egg Fried Rice.

2 cups of uncooked rice (cooked and cooled) approximately 4 cups cooked.
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional) and 1 TBS vegetable oil
1 medium carrot shredded
2-3 green onions (tip: use kitchen scissors to cut these quickly)
1 clove of garlic pressed (use more for more flavor)
Frozen green beans (1-2 handfuls)
1 egg
3 TBS Soy Sauce

Heat oils in wok or heavy frying pan, add green onion, carrots, garlic and green beans.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium high heat, add cooked rice, stir, add soy sauce, stir constantly while cooking for 3-4 minutes until rice starts to brown and soak in the soy sauce.  Scramble egg in a small bowl.  Push all rice to the sides of the pan, leaving an open space in the middle of the pan, drizzle a little vegetable oil.  Add egg and cook while scrambling.  Once egg is cooked mix into the rice.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve with Market Day Mini Egg Rolls and chopsticks.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Rules?

I am sure there are many parents who have the power struggle of dinner time.  For years I have let my kids dictate what we will eat for dinner.  And it generally it revolves around Pizza, McDonald's, cereal, boiled chicken or buttered noodles. 

Yes, eating out has taken a toll on our pocket book, not including our waistline, but it seems so easy to just let everyone order what they like. 

For a while, I have just chosen not to cook, just because all of my effforts are discarded once the dinner reaches the table.  When you take the time to make a warm healthy meal and place it on the table for the kids to say, "I'm not eating THAT!" is hurtful, and it bothers me how much food is wasted.

Well, a part of my New Year's Resolution of Cooking More and Eating Out Less, I have also included, "This is all you are getting, so eat it or be hungry!"  Mind you I am not making anything that is disgusting or inedible.  I am also placing alternate options on the table, such as raw veggies (since my kids don't like them cooked), and usually some sort of bread.

Although, I am only 2 days into my eat it or be hungry, I am going to stick with it and see if I can broaden my children's sense of Food Adventure.

I will keep everyone posted as I continue on this Cooking Journey, and will share recipes that I think others will enjoy, tomorrow Cabbage Rolls!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Learning to Cook from my Mom!

There are always those meals that you remember your mom cooking more than once when you were young.  These are the meals that you want to make for your family too!  So as a part of my 2012 Goal of Cooking More and Eating Out Less, I am resorting to family favorites to start out my year right!

I am also happy to share what I can here, so maybe you can find your family a favorite too!

My first Home Cooked Meal of 2012 was Chicken Soup and Kluski (Polish Dumplings):

The Soup was as simple as putting a whole chicken, water and vegetables and spices into a pot and letting it simmer for a couple hours, which left the chicken falling off of the bone!  (To which I am using for Chicken a la King for tonight's dinner.)

How to make Kluski:

 1 /2 bag Flour (approx. 5 1/2-6 cups)
1 teaspon Salt (can add additional salt afterwards to taste)
1 TBS Baking Powder
 2 Eggs
Milk (enough to make dough tacky/sticky)


Boil water in a Large Pot.

Combine all ingredients and stir in enough milk, to make mixture tacky/sticky. 
I use a fork to stir the ingredients together, but a wooden spoon will work too.

Once all ingredients are combined to a sticky texture and your pot of water is boiling, you can start dropping the mixture into the boiling water by tablespoons or teaspoons if you would like smaller dumplings.

You may have to stir the dumplings inbetween dropping them into the water.  They will begin to float, but keep dropping your mixture until you have used all of it. 

Continue boiling, give your dumplings a stir and start timing for 10-15 minutes or so based on the size of dumplings you are making.  Continue frequently stiring your dumplings or they will boil over.

Strain and rinse.  Put in your favorite soup!
(I love to munch on these with just a little salt to taste on top!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!!!

Happy New Year!  I am really looking forward to great things happening in 2012!

I have already started making mental lists of what I want to accomplish.  Would I call them resolutions?  Not so sure!  But for now, I am going to make the biggest committment to enjoy time with my family!

I think a goal of growing closer to each one of my kids and my husband would be the greatest resolution of all!  I purchased, The "I LIKE BOOK" (http://theilikebook.com/) for each one of my kids and I am going to start each one tonight at bedtime.  I hope the kids find it a memorable book to show them how much each one of them mean to me and my husband.  I so wish I picked up the couples book too!

I am also challenging myself to COOK!  Something I don't dislike doing, but it is so easy to eat out, and when you eat out, everyone gets what they like!  I started my challenge yesterday at the grocery store, by picking out healthy meal options and I even started my meal planning and made Chicken Soup from scratch today!  I have the leftover chicken cut up and ready to turn into Chicken a la king and we will have Cabbage Rolls later in the week. 

I encourage you to join me as I start posting recipes, organizing tips and how to get through your day like a Supermom!  What do you want to learn? do? or accomplish in 2012?