Because life is better when you are happy!

Category Archives: Life

Time to make me some dinner! The kids are happily playing in blue sand (because it’s more fun when it’s blue) and this is on my kitchen counter, saying, “We’re ready for whatever you have in mind.”

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What I have in mind is…Roasted Beet Risotto with Walnuts & Swiss Cheese*!

I know the title of this is going to turn you off. I mean, roasted beets??? Who eats beets? I know I never had before this recipe. I’m a little embarrassed to say, I wasn’t entirely sure what they looked like. Turnips, radishes, beets…they all run together for me – probably because I never really eat any of them. All root vegetable connoisseurs feel free to mock me.

After a quick google search and some deep breaths, I took the dive and tried this sucker out.

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OMG. This is delish. Like…just stop squirming about the idea and TRY it. You won’t regret it. Even my husband, who is bit more of a reluctant pescatarianism than myself, has asked that this recipe stay on the regular rotation.

First of all, get that oven preheating to 450° F and peel and chop those beets into wedges. You can buy a bunch of beets (about 4 small ones) for around $1.75 – depending on the time of year you buy them. This recipe calls for about 7 beets, so this is a $3.50 investment in beets. I know, it’s a little intimidating to put that kind of stock in something like beets.

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They have the consistency of a sweet potato, so it’s a good thing they’re small or I would be struggling with the chopping part. I know…chopping food is not my strong point. Word of warning: beets excrete (yeah, probably shouldn’t use that term for food, but…) they EXCRETE purplish red juice everywhere when you cut into them. If you aren’t careful, it will look like a massacre happened in your kitchen so don’t make this shit in your wedding dress or anything! Toss them with a couple teaspoons of olive oil and salt and pepper, then pop them in the oven and forget about them for about 26 minutes.

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Now for the risotto.

You will need 1 1/4 c. Arborio rice for this. Arborio rice is a short-grain rice and is super yummy. Seriously, don’t use some basic white rice. It will not come out right. You can find this at any grocery store.

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Sauté the rice in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat for about two minutes. You just want to toast it a bit. You will start smelling toasted rice deliciousness and this is a good indication you can move onto the next step. 

Add 32-oz vegetable broth, 1 1/4 c. water and 1/4 t. salt. It will look super watery, just keep stirring it every once in a while and soon it will turn into delicious creaminess, about 20 minutes.

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Once the rice is nice and creamy, add about 2 ounces of the cheese. You can use whatever the heck you want, but I recommend the Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Garlic and Herb. There’s a reason this cow is so happy.

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Go ahead and add about 1/4 teaspoon pepper and mix everything together. You just made risotto! Congrats! Now it’s time to make this dish pretty!

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Put about a cup of the risotto into a bowl. Top with the roasted beets. Did you forget about them? Pull them out of the oven! Sprinkle some toasted walnuts on top and decorate with some fresh parsley if you want. You are done! My mouth is just watering thinking of eating this. Yum!

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If this doesn’t make you want to try it…well…maybe beets aren’t for you.

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Before you get all excited, no – I have not learned to dance.  But I am starting to learn!  For a person who is terrible with names (people, places, names to describe dance moves, etc.) this is probably going to be a HUGE challenge for me…that, and the fact that I am not athletic…at all.  I hear my dance instructor say, “This is a…” and it is suddenly like I am Charlie Brown on Peanuts listening to his teacher.  “Wah, wah, wah…”  It is not that I find it boring, I am just a really, really bad listener when it comes to names.  It is like I trained my brain to turn off when someone says, “Hi, I’m…wah, wah, wah.”  I really do want to know their name.  I do care!  My brain just needs some serious retraining.

That being said, I have found an AMAZING dance studio here is Stilly that is a perfect fit for me!  They don’t care that I’m an old lady…in the sense that I am only just beginning to learn at 28.  In fact, they just love dancing, and they love that other people love dancing too.  Whether or not they are rolling their eyes behind my back because I am currently, and hopefully not eternally, uncoordinated and awkward, the students and teachers are so incredibly helpful and encouraging.  They don’t seem to care that I am completely uneducated in the department of dance.  They genuinely seem to be happy that I want to learn, regardless of my blank slate.

Being a perfectionist, I am not entirely sure how long it will take me before I am remotely near ready to do turns, but I can hardly sleep at night, I am so excited that I finally worked up the courage to learn.  So if any of you out there are looking for a place to learn how to dance and are in the Stillwater area, here’s a shout out for Art of Dance!  Click on the image below to check them out!

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I spent a lot of my married life dreaming and wishing for my little one to come.  After seven years of marriage and four years of disappointment, we were finally surprised with the best thing I have ever made.  After my sweet E was born, I realized that I had spent so much of my time holding out for the one dream of motherhood, that I had forgotten that I had other dreams too.  Thankfully, with the encouragement of my sweet hubby and the inspiration my daughter gave me, I am finally sitting down and thinking again about the other dreams I have for my life.  It is time for me to stop sitting around waiting for life to happen to me and instead, grab a hold of life and make things I can control happen.  So here I am sitting down and putting my bucket list online for the world to see.  Hopefully that will keep me motivated…

(I’m putting a year on my bucket list, but that doesn’t mean I intend to accomplish all of these things this year.  I just want to know when it was that I created this bucket list, so I can see how far I’ve come as time goes by.)  Without further ado, and in no particular order, my bucket list:

1.  Learn to dance

2.  Become a published author

3.  Visit every continent…and then visit them again

4.  Learn French

5.  Recycle

6.  Plant a vegetable garden

7.  Renovate my kitchen (this seems to be becoming more of a “to do” list…)

8.  Visit all 50 states

9.  Learn Japanese

10.  Learn to tread water (I know, I know, it’s crazy that with two years of swim class as a child, I never figured it out.  I suppose it could have had something to do with the fact that my swimming instructor made me terrified of water.)

11.  Maintain a successful blog (haha!  I had to include that one.)

There’s much more, but I’m done for now.  I don’t want to overwhelm myself!  I will post progress as I make it.  Hopefully this encourages you to sit down and think about the things that you want to do.  I don’t want to come to the end of my life and think of all the things I let pass me by because I was too scared to make them happen.  I hope to look back on my life and feel satisfied with my accomplishments and experiences.  I wish the same for you.

I am a pretty health conscious eater.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t crave and even give in to those less than healthy choices at times; however, I have found that on a tight budget, planning meals ahead that are healthy, yet also delicious, helps remove the temptation to eat the bad stuff while also keeping more money in my pocket.  This 2 week meal plan is focused on healthy eating.  That being said, there are things about these recipes that I tweak to make them even more healthy (like lessening the salt for instance).  The download at the bottom of this post is a printer friendly version of all the recipes in their…mostly original state, followed by a grocery list and a list of things you should make sure are in your pantry.  Warning: most of these recipes do not contain meat unless it is of the fish variety.

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I put an asterisk in front of the meals that are quick and pretty easy in case you want to rearrange the order into something that works better with your weekly schedule.

Sunday:  Great Grain Burgers w/ sweet potatoes and steamed cauliflower

Monday:  Spaghetti with Vegetarian Meatballs, green beans, and whole wheat rolls

Tuesday:  “Kidney” Pie

Wednesday:  *Teriyaki Shiitaki Mushrooms w/ Brown Rice and Sesame Broccoli

Thursday:  *Spicy Shrimp Wraps

Friday:  Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Saturday:  Veggie Pizza

Sunday:  *Cashew Chicken becomes Cashew Mixed Veggies

Monday:  Satay Prawns w/ Brown Rice

Tuesday:  Potato and Bean Casserole

Wednesday:  Frozen crockpot meal prepared ahead (Sorry, you’re on your own for tonight!)

Thursday:  Fettuccini w/ Argula and Corn

Friday:  *1-2-3 Hash Brown Pie

Saturday:  All-in-One Spaghetti Frittata

Here is the download for the recipes and grocery list!

2 Week Planner Fish & Vegetarian Complete

Tidbits and other remarks:

For the Vegetarian Meatballs:  The vegetarian meatballs are a bit of a time commitment, but they make a lot of meatballs.  I usually freeze half of the batch and cook the rest that night.  That way, it’s less work and it also means I’m only buying spaghetti noodles, sauce, and sides next time we eat this.

For the “Kidney Pie”:  The filling for this pie should be made the day before.  I usually make the filling at the beginning of the first week, freeze it, and then save it for the second week so that it’s less work later.

My grocery list estimates what it costs me at my local grocery store as well as my local taxes.  You can alter this to fit your area.  As you can see, it costs me a little over $50/week for food!  However, I allow myself an additional $25 to cover refilling my pantry and other miscellaneous items that I need.  Because there’s only three mouths to feed (one of them a very little mouth), we are able to eat the leftovers the next day to save the additional expense of buying lunch.

Health benefits of the Shiitaki Mushroom:  it is thought that shiitaki mushrooms are beneficial in fighting the development and progression of cancer as well as lowering cholesterol to name a few good things.  Here is a link if you want to know more about this delicious food!

One of the awesome gifts I got for Christmas was from my very thoughtful mother-in-law.  Knowing my…arguably healthy addiction to tea, she found the perfect gift for me online.  A Teaposy!  The cool thing about it is that the tea comes in different flavor-combination buds that bloom into different “flowers” when seeped in hot water.  The tea that they use as a base for all of their teas is called Silver Needle Tea.  I’d never had it before, but I have to say, it’s a very tasty new find!  It’s more flowery tasting than say black or green tea.  Hehe.  Get it?  “Flowery”.  Anyway, I think it’s a fun, new-to-me thing to try to all of you tea lovers out there!

Below is a link to their website if you want to check it out!

This is a recipe that goes along with my first “2 Week Meal Plan”.  You should feel privileged.  This recipe has been handed down through my family and it is oh so good!


1 lb hamburger (I use turkey to make it a little healthier)

1 egg

1/2 c. chopped onion (chop a whole onion, freeze the rest for another day!)

1/4 c. flour

1/2 t. baking powder

1/4-1/2 c. milk (enough to make it thin)

1 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

Thoroughly mix all ingredients.  Drop by small spoonfuls onto hot skillet and fry, turning once.

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

Serves 4

3/4 lb. chicken, cooked & cut into strips

1 1/2 c. broccoli

1 1/2 c. cauliflower

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 c. mayonnaise

1/2 c. cheddar cheese

1 t. lemon juice

1/2-1 t. curry powder

1/8-1/4 t. cayenne pepper

1/2 c. slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375.

Place chicken in 8 inch square pan.  Top with cauliflower and broccoli.  Combine soup, mayonnaise, cheese, lemon juice, curry, and cayenne; spoon over vegetables.  Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Stir before serving.  Serve over rice.