#6: Recipe of the Week

This week’s recipe is for Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Mayonnaise.   They turned out delicious!  The panko instead of regular breadcrumbs provided a nice crunch, and even my husband who normally hates mayonnaise really liked the red pepper version.  The house also smelled delicious after roasting the red pepper.  We really enjoyed these, and it made enough for leftovers for lunch.  It’s wonderful when such a good meal lasts for more than one!

Click here for the recipe.

#32: Create a Budget

This past weekend we finally got around to creating a budget in Quicken.  We’ve had Quicken for quite some time now, but had never really taken the time to set everything up correctly and actually track our finances.  Here are some easy steps we used to get a budget set up:

1. Load all of our accounts into Quicken (savings, checking, credit cards, 401(k), 403(b), and the 4 CD’s we currently have).  You can also use any of the free online budgeting tools like Mint instead of a for-pay service like Quicken or Microsoft Money.
2. Spend some time crunching numbers on our current spending
3. Decide what the priorities are for spending and saving for the future
4. Set up categories that we wanted our money to be separated into (we have categories like mortgage, utilities, education, car loan, and also some discretionary spending accounts like “Jess’s Fun Money.”).  We felt it was important to have some money to do what we like with, that we don’t have to account to the other person for.  This keeps us on track, but also allows some flexibility

We set ours up as monthly tracking, because this makes the most sense for the way we get paid.  You can also do this daily, weekly, or quarterly as well.  I will probably continue to update the budget weekly, but the categories are set up as virtual “envelopes” with money for the month.

This is hopefully the start of a successful budgeting system for us.  What works for you?

Thoughts on Curiosity

One of my favorite blogs is written by Seth Godin.  Today, there is a really interesting short video on curiosity.  I really connected with this video, and I think it fits in well with all of our 101 goals projects.  The point of the 101 goals in 1001 days project is to be curious and to get what we want out of life.  I think this video effectively makes us think about why it’s important to be curious and the consequences of what happens if we choose to not be curious.

I read a second blog article yesterday from Zen Habits on defeating resistance.  I think this ties in well with Seth Godin’s video.  Both have made me question WHY I haven’t moved forward on some of my goals.  Today, I’m doing my best to keep these in mind, and just do things.  I followed Leo’s advice from Zen Habits, and printed out a paper for my desk that says “Defeat Resistance.”  I hope this provides the constant reminder I need to move forward with a few things I have been afraid to move forward with.  I think I’ve realized that a few of my goals I haven’t completed yet because I’m afraid of what will happen if I do.  I might actually be successful, I might have more things to do, and I might have more responsibilities.  I need to move ahead and discover in myself how to defeat these resistances in order to fulfill things I want in my own life.

#6: Recipe of the Week

This week’s recipe is an Apricot-Onion Porkloin.  This turned out really delicious.  The recipe called for a one pound pork loin, but I bought a two pound, and split it in half.  This allowed me to make my own serving of the apricot-onion sauce, and my husband grossed his up with General Tso’s sauce (since he doesn’t enjoy apricots OR onions).  The pork turned out really tender.  I used a Hatfield pork loin, without any flavoring.  Click through for recipe!

Continue reading

Making Exercise a Habit

I’ve officially finished one month of my new exercise regime. I’ve been wrestling with attempting to make exercise a solid habit for well over a year now. It generally goes well for me for a week or so, and then it falls away. After a month, I hope I can now officially say it’s a habit. Here’s what I’ve found works for me to make it a habit:

1. Never skip more than 1 day. Everyone needs a break, and it’s important to take breaks to allow your body to heal. However, if you skip more than one day, it becomes too easy to make excuses to skip more.
2. Find a fun exercise. My current addiction? The Biggest Loser Cardio Max DVD. It’s fun, difficulty, and just interesting enough that it makes me want to continue trying it. I mix this DVD in with alternating days of running.
3. Go with your body’s schedule. I’m not a morning person. I know that. For some reason though, I thought I wanted to be a morning exerciser. When I was getting up at the crack of dawn to hop on the treadmill or go to yoga class, it was nice to be done before work, but I was miserable. I realized it works much better to just do what your body wants. I now exercise immediately after work and I still get my morning sleep.
4. Weigh yourself everyday. This is a point of contention with some, but it works well for me. If I start to not pay attention to my weight, I start allowing too much “slipping” in my diet. If I see the scale stay where it should be, it reminds me I am doing things right. Don’t let it become an addiction. Weigh yourself once per day at the same time everyday, and put the scale in the closet the rest of the time.
5. Reward yourself with something other than food. If I’m doing well, I enjoy rewarding myself with something. It’s not food, and it’s not exercise either. Sometimes I might buy a new CD or a new exercise top. These things keep me motivated, not feeling deprived, and allow for some fun.

These are the things that have helped me make exercise a habit, and hopefully one for life!

#6: Recipe of the Week

I know I’ve been posting a lot of sweets lately, despite my resolution to not eat so many sweets…but I had leftover refrigerated pie crust that needed used (and heaven forbid we let a perfectly delicious pie crust go to waste!), so again we have sweets this week. I tried the Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie from this month’s issue of Cooking Light. It was really delicious, and had a moist custard filling that was an excellent alternative to the traditional gooey insides of an apple pie. I also really liked the struesel topping, rather than a plain 2-crust pie. Click through for recipe! Continue reading

#6: Recipe of the Week

Cinnamon Apple CakeThis week’s recipe is from the most recent issue of Cooking Light. It is a delicious Cinnamon Apple Cake. It was very moist and fluffy, and even my husband enjoyed it (he’s not a big cake person). I followed the recipe as-written, with the exception of the apples. The recipe calls for Rome apples, but I had some leftover Granny Smith’s from another recipe, so I used those instead. Granny Smith’s are always good baking apples, so this still turned out wonderful, and I would use the Granny Smith’s again.

So without further ado, here is the recipe!


1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup stick margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened (about 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups chopped peeled Rome apple (about 2 large)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, margarine, vanilla, and cream cheese at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating at low speed until blended.Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl, and stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.Note: You can also make this cake in a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan; just reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes.

Yield: 12 servings

#6: Recipe of the Week

This week’s new recipe was from the Follow Your Heart Cookbook – Bean Burritos in 20 Minutes. It turned out great, was a great quick weeknight recipe, was very healthy, and very hearty. We will definitely keep this in the rotation for the future.

2.5 cups white rice (Basmati if you have it)
3 cups water
1 Tbsp. butter
Pinch of sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 15 oz. cans of organic black beans
2 Tbsp. Tamari
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1/2 bunch of cilantro
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
12 white tortillas

1. Mix rice, water, butter, and salt. Heat in medium saucepan until boiling, then reduce heat and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes more until rice is fluffy and water is absorbed.
2. While rice is cooking, heat olive oil in large skillet. Add beans (including liquids), Tamari, and cumin. Gently simmer until most of the liquid is gone. Turn of heat or turn down to low to keep beans warm.
3. Prepare all vegetables
4. Preheat oven to 300. Warm tortillas
5. Add rice, bean mixture, and vegetable choices to tortillas, wrap, and enjoy!

New Year: Make Goals, Not Resolutions

I ran across the idea recently that for the new year, we should make goals, not resolutions.  This hit home with me, and reminded me of my 101 goals project.  My resolutions tend to be over-zealous – Never drink soda again! Get my body fat percentage down to 15%!  These don’t work.  I’m not setting any resolutions this year, just goals.  I’m using my 101 goals project to guide me through this.  Mondays will include a posting outlining my goals for the week.  These are my mini-goals to accomplish my larger goals within my 101 project.  I’ll continue updating my progress throughout the week on any completed mini-goals and completed 101 goals.  I hope you’ll stick with me throughout 2008, and even start a 101 goals project of your own!  (And I realize today is already Wednesday, but due to the holiday, I’ve been away from a computer for a time…so this week we’re starting on Wednesday ;))

My goals for the week 01/01:

1. Start a budget for 2008 in Quicken
2. Run on Wednesday/Friday/Sunday, and do yoga on Thursday/Saturday.
3. Work on my quilt
4. Set up my new sewing area

#6: Recipe of the Week

I made an AWESOME new recipe this week for my office Christmas party potluck.  I was in charge of dessert, and I chose to make a recipe from Emeril – Buttermilk Spice Cake with Fresh Apple Puree and and Roasted Walnut Cream Cheese.   This recipe is a little labor intensive, but I actually appreciated it this time as it gave me a break from finishing up my finals for class.  The cake was extremely moist and fluffy and the apple puree gave a good contrast from the spice as the filling.  It would also work to frost in between the layers if the apple puree is unwanted.  I love cream cheese icing, and this was a basic recipe that I will keep for other types of cakes as well.  One note on the frosting: I had to double the recipe to have enough, but I frosted the cake and also decorated the top, which added additional icing.  Overall, this recipe was excellent and I will keep it for the future.  I may even make it for a family Christmas party this Saturday, it was such a big hit with my office.