Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ellie's Kitchen: Watermelon, Tuna and Feta Salad

     I made something both odd and amazing for dinner last night. Due to incoming thunderstorms, last night was hot, muggy, wet, sticky, one of those nights where ice cream sounds like a fabulous dinner. Being lactose intolerant and trying to lose some extra pounds, ice cream wasn't an option. (Well, not for me, anyway. The boys gladly would have partaken, I'm sure.) Perusing those handy magazines that Stop & Shop hands out, I came across a salad that looked good on paper, anyway. The fridge had enough leftovers where a disaster could be circumvented (and I live around the corner from a pizza joint.) The result? The two little boys made barfing sounds as soon as I put it on the table; my oldest son that hates tuna had 2 helpings and took the remaining leftovers to work for dinner, and the husband, that said it smelled great but looked weird also had 2 helpings. Verdict? Watermelon, Tuna, and Feta Salad is a hit. (Oldest boy also asked that the recipe be copied into his cookbook for future dinners.)


Watermelon, Tuna, and Feta Salad


 Ingredients:
1 lg. cucumber
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 (5 oz) cans water-packed tuna (I bought a 12 oz. can)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 (10 oz) pkg watermelon chunks
1 (.75 oz) pkg basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and cut into slices. In a bowl, toss the cucumber with the vinegar. Season with salt (in moderation) and pepper to taste. Let marinade for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the tuna and flake it with a fork. Drizzle it with1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with pepper. Cut the watermelon chunks into smaller cubes. Remove stems from the basil and add it to the cucumbers. Next add the tuna, watermelon, olives, and feta. Drizzle the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil on the salad, and add the juice from the lemon. Toss and season to taste. Enjoy!
Watermelon, Tuna, and Feta Salad
serves 4
269 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1 cucumber
1 red onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 (5 oz) cans water-packed tuna
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 (10 oz) pkg watermelon chunks
1 (.75 oz) pkg basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and cut into slices. Halve and slice the onion. In a bowl, mix the cucumber and onion with the vinegar. Season with salt (in moderation) and pepper to taste. Let marinade for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the tuna and flake it with a fork. Drizzle it with1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with pepper. Cut the watermelon chunks into smaller cubes. Remove stems from the basil and add it to the cucumbers and onions. Next add the tuna, watermelon, olives, and feta. Drizzle the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil on the salad, and add the juice from the lemon. Toss and season to taste. Enjoy!
Image result for watermelon and feta salad with tuna


This article is sponsored by Giant Food.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Carrying On

     Hello and Happy Tuesday! I've been long away: computer issues and then wireless issues have kept me blocked (and increasingly frustrated.) The wireless issues haven't been resolved; I'm pirating a signal (in the most appreciative way possible, I assure you.)


     Much has changed in the last two months here in Ellie's Home. I received a promotion at work, and am working to learn the ins and outs of management and how to best meet the needs of the people I work for. My hours are different, and that has led to changes in home routines, and for my seven year old some of those changes have been rather difficult. Some days Momma didn't get home until after dinner, and there's just enough time to read a book, then he's getting ready for bed. He's used to seeing me for far longer. Usually I pick him up from the sitter's, then we go home, and while he's playing he's in and out of the kitchen checking up on me as I make dinner. His father is home with him when I'm not, and the two of them are best buds, so Little Bit certainly has the attention he needs and wants. But as my husband says, there's nothing quite like having Momma home, and our boy agrees with a giant bear hug.
     More and more I find myself trying to balance everything, and have come to accept that some things just have to fall by the wayside, and maybe not getting into college for this coming fall isn't such a bad thing after all. (There's always next year!) I used to think success was measured by how much I could get done in an allotted amount of time, and while that might be a contributing factor, I now believe that success is truly measured by how well I am taking care of my family amid all of our lifestyle changes.
    Yesterday I left work an hour early so I could take my oldest son to get his new car insured; next up is registration. (My god, I can't believe he's old enough to drive.) This weekend I'm taking my daughter shopping for a graduation dress. (My god, I can't believe she's old enough to graduate.) Somewhere in between my regular work hours, the 40-minute drives to and from work, and these few extra trips I also need to schedule doctors' and dentists' appointments, haircuts, figure out what Little Bit is doing this summer (new work hours mean Momma can't bring him to day camp, and Big Brother is working full-time...), get a garden planted, and try to get back on my housekeeping schedule, because my entire house, not just the living room, looks like a bomb went off. It's scary, not to mention disheartening.
     I need to remind myself of the words of the mystic Julian of Norwich, and continue to carry on as best I can. I share her words here, so if you too are struggling to be, oh, everything, you can read them, take a breath, and realize you really are on the right track after all.


'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.'


~ Many blessings ~

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Seeded With Potential from Living the Wheel, a SageWoman Blog

Seeded With Potential: My seed catalogs have started to arrive in the mail. The glossy summer-bright photos are inspiring and awe-inducing (Moon and Stars Melons! Nebraska Wedding Tomatoes!), and also humbling. Each packet of seeds contains worlds of potential What in this universe holds more promise than a seed? Each tiny package is a life in stasis. Every seed on this ...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ah, Tuesdays....

     I love my Tuesdays off. I like my job very much, don't get me wrong. I work with some great people who are doing great things for others. But Tuesday is all mine to do (or not do) whatever I wish. Or it would be, if I actually used some of the tips and trick I read about in other blogs and share with all of you. Case in point: I have a college application to finish, an article for SageWoman due (It's Imbolc eve, and guess how much I have done for this festival?) and a refrigerator that is beginning to resemble the Ross Ice Shelf. (Empty frozen waste...) Oh, wait, it's not quite empty. Leftover chicken, and leftover pasta. Mmm. How the heck does Ellie turn this into a meal? Hello Google!

Dinner at the zoo.com (http://www.dinneratthezoo.com) suggests Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken. And I just happen to have a butternut squash looking at me from a shelf across the way. (And yes, it is looking at me. Bubbah and I did a re-enactment of one of our favorite books, Sophie's Squash, so this particular squash has a face. Sorry Mr. Squash. You're dinner.)

So here you are, Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken, courtesy of Dinner at the Zoo. (Why don't I ever come up with yummy-looking stuff like this??)  I will be heating the chicken I have in my fridge, and making up a box of pasta to add to what I already have (which is good, as I need some starchy water for the sauce). And as Mr. Squash is whole, I'm going to cut mine in half (I sound like I'm plotting a murder) and roast it before pureeing. Wish me luck!
This recipe for butternut squash pasta is linguine in a creamy butternut squash sauce, topped with chicken, bacon and herbs. An easy and delicious dinner that's perfect for fall! #FamilyPastaTime #ad

 Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken

This recipe for butternut squash pasta is linguine in a creamy butternut squash sauce, topped with sliced chicken and bacon. An easy and delicious dinner that's perfect for fall!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 598 kcal
Author Dinner at the Zoo

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dry linguine pasta
  • 1 pound of cooked chicken breasts (grilled, roasted, rotisserie, etc), sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree (fresh frozen or canned). If using frozen puree, thaw before use.
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; prepare the pasta according to package instructions, cooked to al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and return it to its cooking pot.
  3. Place the pot over medium heat and add the butternut squash puree, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese. Stir to coat the pasta evenly; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is heated through and is starting to thicken.
  5. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add the cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Arrange the chicken and bacon over the top of the pasta and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

To make fresh butternut squash puree, steam 2 cups cubed peeled squash until tender then puree in a food processor with 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt to taste.
Nutrition Facts
Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 598 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 26%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 45mg 15%
Sodium 422mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 58g 19%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 2g
Protein 48g 96%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
 
 http://www.dinneratthezoo.com/butternut-squash-pasta/

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Library Loot: Bookshelf Must-Have: Geek Mom from Brightly.com

A couple years ago I bought 'Geek Dad' for my husband for Father's Day, and he loved it. It is full of ideas and activities for him to do with our boys, and all have a blast. Now the editors of 'Geek Dad' have come out with 'Geek Mom,' and this Mom can't wait to check it out. I have it on order from my library. I'll fill you in with an update as soon as it arrives!

Bookshelf Must-Have:
Geek Mom

by the Brightly Editors

Get your geek on! Our latest Bookshelf Must-Have pick, Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families, is packed with great projects and ideas for families to learn, create, and play together.
  • Why You Need: Geek Mom

  • Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families

    by Natania Barron, Kathy Ceceri, Corrina Lawson, and Jenny Williams
    Whether you love geology or space, gardening or crafting, "Star Wars" or Superheroes, Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families is a fantastic guide to developing or sharing your nerdier passions with the kids in your life and having a whole lot of fun at the same time. A highly illustrated handbook created by the editors of the beloved GeekMom blog, it’s packed with ideas and inspirations to fuel wonder and imagination — things you can make, experiments you can do at home, games you can play. Each one has a handy key to help decide if it’s the right age or stage for your child. Importantly, alongside the activities, there are helpful tips for parents about raising kids in the digital age and encouraging both girls and boys to embrace their burgeoning curiosity and inner scientist. This is one book of ideas you’ll keep referring back to throughout your child’s development for family night fun, rainy day crafts, STEM projects, and even homework help. There’s something here for every budget, age, and kind of parent — mathlete, word-nerd, or maker faire-y — and when we see a book that includes a piece on “How to Get Your Kids to Make Supper,” we are IN!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Myddfai Reiki: How to Lower Cortisol Naturally, tips from Care2.com

How to Lower Cortisol Naturally

                                
Cortisol is typically known as “the stress hormone.” In our modern day culture where busy is the new norm, stress definitely seems to be something we’re all trying to avoid, and therefore cortisol is usually seen as an enemy.


Cortisol, however, isn’t all bad. In fact, it plays an important role in fat loss too. Dr. Jade Teta and author of the Metabolic Effect more accurately describes cortisol as the Jekyll and Hyde of hormones for how it impacts fat storage (by interacting with insulin) and how it also impacts fat release (by interacting with human growth hormone, catecholamines and lower levels of insulin.)


Most people want to avoid fat storage and many who want to lose weight want to encourage fat release. For people who are physically and mentally stressed out, this may require working to lower higher than normal cortisol levels to help restore balance.


Lowering cortisol naturally means taking a step back to identify unhealthy lifestyle habits that may be leaving you feeling overworked, drained, fatigued and just plain stressed out. These habits will need to be restructured or replaced so that your lifestyle habits work to nourish and rejuvenate your body rather than do the opposite.
                   
Low-calorie diets have been shown to increase cortisol production, making it seem almost impossible to keep the weight off over the long run. Other research even suggests that stress reduction is actually more important than trying to eat healthy all the time. Rather than restricting calories in a way that becomes stressful on the body (and the mind, too), you’d be much better off eating healthy foods that you actually like to eat, remaining aware of your eating patterns and maintaining good portion control.


Go for Leisurely Nature Walks
Leisurely walking is a low-intensity form of physical activity that can have an enhanced stress-relieving effect on the mind when done in an outdoor nature setting. In a study on forest bathing (a.k.a. the Japanese therapy practice of taking in the forest atmosphere) where saliva samples were taken from subjects to measure cortisol levels, researchers found that the forest environment promoted lower cortisol levels compared to a city environment. It also resulted in lower pulse rates, lower blood pressure, increased parasympathetic nerve activity and lower sympathetic nerve activity.


Practice Yoga
Yoga isn’t just exercise performed on a mat for greater balance and flexibility — it’s a complete mind-body therapy that offers both physical and psychological stress relief. Research has shown that yoga can help reduce cortisol by acting at the level of the hypothalamus in a way that has anti-stress effects. Hatha, Iyengar and Kripalu are styles of yoga that are gentle to practice and ideal for beating stress.


Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is typically a sitting practice that can be done with eyes open or closed. It involves bringing awareness to the body, breath, and thoughts. In one study, 30 subjects had blood samples taken before and after a four-day mindfulness meditation programme. The blood samples revealed significant lower cortisol levels after mindfulness meditation compared to before, suggesting that a few minutes a day of mindfulness meditation may be an effective natural aid in restoring balance to stress hormones.


Enjoy Live Music
Almost everyone can attest to the mood-boosting effects of music, but now there’s evidence of an anti-stress effect that comes from watching and listening to live music. Subjects who had their stress hormone levels monitored by saliva samples before attending a concert and then again one hour later during intermission showed that cortisol levels had been reduced right across the board. So whether you love going to loud rock concerts or enjoying classical pieces played by a live orchestra, going to a live music event should help you feel a little less stressed by the end.


Do What Relaxes You
Researchers can have their say in what works to lower cortisol for most people, but only you are the expert on what calms your own mind and soothes your own body best. Whether it’s reading a good book in your favorite chair, taking a long bubble bath, playing with your pet or indulging in a creative hobby, doing more of what you know relaxes you as often as you can should be a priority. Combining stress-reducing activities backed by science with personalized activities known to help you relax will offer you a much more complete solution to balancing cortisol naturally.
Remember that a little stress can be good, but a lot of it can be pretty bad. The trick is to maintain good balance by making stress management a serious part of your lifestyle.


Related Articles7 New Year’s Rituals to Refresh Your Spirit7 Tips for Keeping Up Your Walking Regimen in Cold Weather


http://www.care2.com/greenliving/how-to-lower-cortisol-naturally.html






Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Making it Work

Making it Work: Yule this year passed in a blur of work and school. We sent the little boys off to school Tuesday, giving ourselves one final day to finish holiday preparations: breads and cookies baked, packages wrapped and decorated, the sunfire collected by my husband and the Hestia candle on the stove top lit, ready for the rush of children and the Mystery of ...