Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Menu....just a lonely menu

I am keeping my menu post short today.  Usually I like to write a few paragraphs of a certain topic that I want to write about but not today.  I am planning on blogging everyday this week because starting the first week of the New Year, I will begin my path towards a professional blog.  So I want to cover a few things this week before that happens.  I have big dreams and goals and I have EVERY intention on achieving them!  So stay tuned for lots of musings from your Peaceful Mamma!

Here is our menu for the week:

MON:  Out to dinner with a girlfriend.

TUES:  My wonderful sister's birthday dinner.  My hubby and son will join my family while I work.  I will join them all for dessert after my work shift!

WED:  Cheese Ravioli with homemade tomato sauce, steamed broccoli,  and homemade bread

THURS:  Tofu vegetable stirfry over brown rice

FRI:  Staying at cabin on the mountain for New Years with some great friends.  Our night to make dinner:  Artichoke-Spinach Dip (recipe to follow), Spaghetti feast, garden salad, and garlic bread.

SAT:  2nd night at cabin.  Big Taco Feast

SUN:  Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)  French Toast and Egg Scramble

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.
Happy meal planning & cooking,

Alyson

"Live simply so that others may simply live."  -Ghandi  (My favorite quote of all time)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Menus and One Small Change

At the beginning of this year I joined a campaign that is designed to motivate people to reduce their carbon footprint on this planet.  If you know me, you know how passionate I have always been on this topic.  Honestly, I was born that way.  My mother has always been "green", even before it was popular.  In fact, in elementary school I was made fun of for recycling and not having Oreo's in my lunch.  I am sure the same people who made fun of me, have now joined the "green" bandwagon.  Which is good...the more people who do more green things, the less impact we will have on the planet.  I would like to thank my mom for teaching me such a big lesson at such a young age.  I am glad that I can continue my love for this planet and saving the planet into my adulthood and into my children lives.

The One Small Challenge is designed for everyone who joins to make one environmentally friendly change each month.  The change can be big or small.  The point is to take these small steps, which in turn will make big steps.  When I started this challenge at the beginning of this year, we had already been doing some pretty major things to reduce our carbon footprint but there is always more we can do and room for improvement.  Even though I only blogged about my One Small Change once, we continued to make changes throughout this year.  Now that I am moving my blog in a faster direction, I will be blogging about our changes every month.  My December One Small Change will be posted this evening.

Here are just a few of the changes we have made before this year and during this year:
  • Composting ( I grew up doing this and continue with my growing family)
  • Doing our best to eat locally, organically, and seasonally
  • Growing our own food
  • Preserve and freeze the food we grow for the winter months
  • Use our own reusable grocery bags...no more plastic grocery bags.  (This we have been doing for a long time now)
  • No longer buy or use zip-lock plastic bags.
  • No longer use paper towels/napkins.  We only use reusable fabric napkins. 
  • We try to carpool or limit our driving.  (This is a HUGE challenge, but we are working on it.)
  • We reduce buying & bringing in plastic into our home.  (This is also a HUGE challenge.  It is so hard to avoid plastic.)
  • When purchasing something, we choose the purchase with less packaging.  
  • We recycle EVERYTHING we can.  I am pretty sure our recycling bin is always fuller than our garbage can.  
  • Hang dry our clothes.    
  • Many many more changes in our home.
I am excited to continue this challenge and hopefully motivate others to do the same.  Check back later this evening for our December change.

Now...on to our menu for this week:

MON: Roasted Cod w/ Warm Tomato-Olive-Caper Tapernade served over angel hair pasta and steamed broccoli

TUES:  Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

WED:  Homemade Veggie Pizza and a fresh salad

THURS:  My husband's company holiday party

FRI:  Garlic-Dill Salmon, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, and Crunchy Pear and Celery Salad

SAT:  Potluck Party with some friends.  I am bringing my famous Artichoke Spinach Dip.  (I promise I will post it this week.)

SUN:  Vegetable Dumpling Soup.   (My grandma made me this before.  It was delicious.  This is not her recipe but I am going to try it.  I can bet you my grandma's is better!) 

Extra Cooking & Baking: (Most of these are for gifts)

Puppy Chow
Spiced Almonds (My wonderful friend, Jess, gave me this recipe.  It will be posted this week.)
Cranberry-Almond Granola
Homemade fudge
Christmas Sugar Cookies (My aunt's delicious recipe.  We are having a big cookie making day with my aunt and Ayden)

It is a busy week!  :)

Happy Cooking and Baking,

Alyson

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Menus and Storytime

I love to read!  I love to pick up a good novel or a book about something that I am passionate about.  Right now it is mostly Dr.Seuss and The Very Hungry Caterpillar that I read, but that is okay with me.  Later on, I will be able to sit an enjoy one of my books that is waiting for me to open.  As for now, I am enjoying sharing the love for reading with my son.  I am so excited to see him already picking up on how wonderful books are.  We read tons of books together daily.  He loves it, he literally sits and reads books for over an hour sometimes.  I love my lil reader!

I decided that it is about time we start attending our local library's story time weekly.  Our first time going was two weeks ago and I was SO impressed with all games, songs, and stories.  The lady who runs the program is awesome and very energetic!  Watching Ayden dance, sing, and intently listening to the stories is amazing to watch.  Ayden loved it and I am pretty sure I loved it just as much as he did.  We are now going every week!  Being a mom is kind of like being a kid all over again.

For all you parents out there...if you don't already go to your local library's story time, I highly recommend it.

On to my weekly menu.  I am posting this really late week but sometimes that is how it goes.  As I am reading my new book on blogging, I am learning on how to write more with less computer time.  I will get there soon!  I have some fun, new things happening soon that I want to blog about, so I need to make sure I am consistent with this blog.  I am enjoying the seasonal cooking this month and the baking bug has gotten me!  A lot of my holiday gifts to others this year will be food items, baked treats, and canned goodies.  I am having a lot of fun being creative with it.  Don't you worry....I have some posts coming all about it.

MENU:

MON: Bronzed Sea Bass w/ Lemon Shallot Butter, Garlicky Green Beans, and seasoned brown rice.  (This was supposed to be our Sunday dinner but we went out to dinner with some friends instead.  And I replaced the Sea Bass with lean cod to save money.)

TUES:  Mushroom Stroganoff

WED:  Vegetarian Taco Salad.  (We subsitute the meat for Yves Meatless Taco Meat.)

THURS:  Spaghetti with homemade tomato and veggie sauce and a fresh garden salad.

FRI:  Fish Veronique with Garlic Broccoli & Mushrooms w/ Rosemary

SAT:  Mushroom Swiss Quiche and a fresh garden salad.  (Quiche recipe will be posted tomorrow!)

SUN:  Broccoli-Cheddar Chowder with leftover quiche.

Extras cooking and baking:
Thumbprint Cookies
Apple Muffins

Happy cooking and baking,

Alyson

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall." - Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Imagine

I will be starting my Song of the Week back up soon but for this week...I am posting a song in remembrance and in hopefulness.

30 years ago today, John Lennon was shot to death in the name of hate and ignorance.  John Lennon was a beautiful human with a message of peace, hope, and truthfulness.  He touched this world with his music and beautiful words of peace.  I was born the same year John left this world, but I am glad that my parents played his music for me throughout my childhood.  Listening to his music as a child, helped me open my eyes to music and peace.  I will continue to dream of peace and do everything I can to spread peace.  Spend a few minutes today remembering him and refreshing your mind on why peace is important. 

Think peace.  Act peace.  Spread peace.  Imagine peace.






Peace, love, and understanding,
Alyson

"I see the world through different eyes now. (But) I still believe in love, peace, and understanding." -John Lennon

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Menu Plans and Dreams

Sometimes I just have to take a break from blogging when life gets busy.  Traveling, work, holidays, and being a mom/wife had to be put first the past two weeks.  I am back in the game and ready to start working on some dreams I have made for myself.  I love blogging....every since I started in 2008!  I love being able to express myself in my own way and to sort out all my crazy thoughts through writing.  After lots of thought and talking to others I have decided to try and do it "professionally".  Yes....people have made this into a profession.  Since my husband's photography business is really started to grow rapidly, I will be at home helping him more with that business.  I couldn't think of a better way to do my own style of business and step this blog up a bit.  It will be a lot of work and it won't happen overnight but I am ready to make this dream come true.

My mother-in-law recently gave me a copy of book that teaches people how to blog professionally and spend less time in front of the computer.  I just started reading it and I will let you all know how it was in a small review when I am done.  Spending too much time in front of the computer is what has kept me from trying to blog professionally and everyday.  My family and being a mom is #1 in my life and I don't want anything taking my precious time away from that.  My hope is that this book will give me some tips and the knowledge to be able to be successful with my blog while keeping my family and kids #1!  So, keep a look out on some new changes but be patient...it won't happen overnight!  I am excited!

Here is my menu for this week.  I love being back in my kitchen again after some traveling!  We continue to be a part of the food revolution and eat as local, organic, and healthy as we can.  I hope that you are too!

MON:  Driving home from my in-laws.  We found a cute little local Thai place in Boise, Idaho

TUES:  Vegetable Fajitas

WED:  Vegan Tofu Pot Pie

THURS:  Vegetable StirFry

FRI:  Salmon with Red Wine-Morel Sauce, Vegetarian Stuffing, and Steamed Broccoli

SAT:  Civil War Game!!!!  We will be snacking all day at a friends house.  I am bringing my famous spinach artichoke dip.  Recipe will be posted on Saturday.

SUN:  Bronzed Sea Bass with Lemon Shallot Butter, Garlicky Green Beans, and seasoned brown rice

My Extra Cooking:

Homemade Applesauce and Canning
Dulce de Leche Apple Pie


What are you cooking this week?

Happy thoughts,
Alyson

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."-Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Menu Plans and Breathing

Frustration.....this is something I felt the past two mornings.  It is a common emotion that occurs in daily life that we as humans have to learn how to deal with in a healthy way.  The frustration that I have felt the past couple days wasn't from my husband leaving a dirty dish on the desk, my toddler not wanting to take a nap, the guy who cut me off on the freeway, or when that persistent sore throat just won't go away.  Those are such small issues that I refuse to spend any energy being frustrated or angry when they occur.  This frustration that I am talking about has been swirling inside of me for awhile now, to the point that I feel annoyed that it is even there.  I want to let go.  I want to put this frustration in a little box, lock it up, and send it off to sea.  I especially want to release this frustration because at this time in my life I need to be my healthiest...mentally and physically (I will write more about this special time in a special blog tomorrow).  I need all toxins out of my body right now and I believe that frustration to a point can be toxic.  How do I let this go?  How do I cleanse my mind and soul of something that has been bugging me so much?

I decided to read...I read an article and some passages written by Thich Nhat Hanh whom is a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.  He is an extraordinary person with many amazing teachings to share with the world.  After reading some writings from Thich Nhat Hanh, I realized that my frustration is my own.  I need to take responsibility for it, embrace it, breathe, and release it.  Sounds easy....it really isn't.  So I am learning...I'm learning to meditate, breathe deeply, and let it all go.  I am going to bring some things back in my life that I have pushed away..... yoga and meditation.  Which all really ties together quite well.  I have decided to make a small comfy space in my home that I will use in the early hours of the morning when I will get up before my family does for some thinking, reading, breathing, and meditation.  And my first yoga class in several months will be tomorrow evening.  I am making a better routine for myself and my family.  This is all to better myself as a person, mother, wife, and woman.  Don't get me wrong...I'm not this big ball of walking frustration.  I am an extremely happy mama for I am so blessed with many amazing things and people in my life and I am so grateful for all of them.  I just have a couple things that keep arising when I think I have let them go and every time they arise, I realized I haven't.  So I feel it is time for me to conquer these couple things and move forward with a clean slate and a soul that is ready to start a new beginning. 

Now for some organic sustainable food talk!  And what a great way to nourish your body and soul but with some healthy delicious food.  I think I might have become a foodie.  I am okay with that!  We have another great menu planned this week with some new and old recipes.  Last week we had a couple fun things come up and so our menu plan got a little scrambled.  That just means...we can move a couple recipes into this week, which makes it a little easier for me.  Anyone found any yummy new recipes lately?  Feel free to share some of them on here!  I hope your love for organic healthy food is still growing!

MENU

MON-  Breakfast for Dinner-  Mexican Breakfast Casserole and vegetarian sausages

TUES-  Alpine Mushroom Pasta

WED-  Homemade Pizza with homemade dough and Garden Salad

THURS-  Fish Tacos and homemade Spanish Rice (I will post my recipe this week)

FRI-  Dinner at our wonderful friend's new home.

SAT-  Pad Thai Noodles and Miso Soup  (I will substitute the chicken for tofu.)

SUN-  Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup


Peace, love, and understanding,
Alyson


"Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion." — Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To Write with Light

The word photography comes from two individual words.  Photo meaning "Light" and Graph meaning "To Write."  Literally it means: "To Write with light."  A photographer is a "Light Writer" and a photograph is an image written with light.  That is the perfect way to describe photography!

Most of you know that my husband has his own photography business.  He grew up with a camera in his hand and started taking his photography skills seriously in high school.  It has been his passion and love since.  When we first met he took photos all the time and helped run the local community college's darkroom.  We would meet there and work on photos together.  His work always amazed me and I constantly told him to start doing it in a professional manner.  Finally about 3 years ago he decided to take that big step. 

I also had a love of photography in high school when my mom gave me her old Pentax K1000 film camera.  I loved it.  I loved seeing the world through the camera lens and showing people how I perceived that moment in time.  I stopped using the camera in my early 20's because being a social butterfly was way more important to me than doing things I was passionate about.  After meeting my husband, he influenced me to pick up the camera again and start shooting.  I again started taking more photography classes in college.  Short story long........I have recently become a part of my husband's photography business as his partner in crime!  I have a lot more to learn and he is a great teacher but one thing I have decided to do on my own, it to take at least one photo a day.  This is my way to get better acquainted with the digital world of photography which is a lot different then when I was doing film!  So most of the photos you will see on my personal blog will be taken by me!  I will still occasionally use some of my husband's photos but I will of course give him the credit.  There will be more pictures to be seen on my blog and that is my way of "practicing" this digital photo world! 

Happy photo taking,
Alyson


“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” -Aaron Siskind







Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Menu Plans and Elections

Happy Election Day!  I am glad this day is here for many reasons!  I like voting...it makes me feel like my opinion matters even just for one day.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to voice my opinion, especially knowing that a lot of people in the world don't have this right.  I am quite interested to see the results in this election.  I am glad that all the wasteful paper will stop filling my mailbox and doorstep.  I am happy to stop hearing all the bashing and hate towards both parties.  Why do we segregate ourselves in this country especially during election time.  I mean...I get it....we all have different opinions and concerns but why so much hate?  I would think that we would all want the same goal......for freedom, kindness, better education, and to help those in need.  I have the feeling that this isn't the goal for many politicians or the general public.  It makes me sad but it also makes me realize how much I need to get out there and be the change.

Thanks for listening to my election rant!  Maybe it will make you think....or make you vote!  We are starting a new week with with a new menu!  I started going to a mom's cooking/playgroup with some ladies that I work with.  We get together once a month and let our kids play.  While they play we cook a meal to bring home for our families.  It is so much fun.  Girl chat and cooking......what more could we ask for.  Our first one was this Monday.  The kids played so well together and we made a delicious meal!   Hope everyone is working towards that healthy organic eating.

MENU:

MON-  Mashed Potato and Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas.  (This is what we made at the mom's playgroup.  We made some substitutions....we used real mashed potatoes and homemade enchilada sauce.)

TUES-  Spinach Ravioli with homemade pesto sauce.

WED-  Hungarian Mushroom Soup and garden salad.  (Recipe will be posted on Thurs.)

THURS-  Veggie Fajitas

FRI-  Leftover Hungarian Mushroom Soup and Vegetarian Cobb Salad

SAT-  Baked Lemon-Pepper Salmon, Roasted Potatoes, and Thyme Braised Brussel Sprouts.

SUN-  Breakfast for Dinner!  Slow Cooker Mexican Casserole and Vegetarian Sausages.

EXTRA GOODIES:
Pumpkin Cheesecake (Made this at the Moms/PlayGroup!  YUM!)
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
More Zucchini Bread and Muffins (Using the Food Saver and Freezing these)

Happy Cooking,

Alyson

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday and New Beginnings

Long time, no blog!!!!  I know my last blog was all about me catching up in the blogging world but life happens!  That is exactly what happened the past two months.....life, busy life!  We have been on the go with some new changes and beginnings!  I will slowly be sharing some of these exciting new changes in the next month or so.

I am loving the fall season!  We have been harvesting our produce from the farm, canning & freezing, baking, went to a couple pumpkin patches, and making a sweet robot costume!!!!  I have still been menu planning weekly and sticking to it.  Since I started menu planning over 2 years ago, it has seriously saved me so much time and kept us so much more organized.  It has even challenged me to try new recipes. I recommend it to anyone out there who doesn't already do it. 

Last night for dinner I made pumpkin ravioli with homemade pesto sauce.  It was delicious and great for a fall rainy evening!  My menu for this week is below with a few recipes links.  Starting this week, I will also add a list of any extra cooking & baking I do for that week (bread, preserving & canning, sauces, special breakfasts, etc).  Some of the recipes I find and post here call for canned or frozen items.  When ever it is possible I use all fresh produce instead of the canned or frozen.  It isn't possible all the time but I will try my hardest! 

MENU:

MON- Vegetable Stir Fry and Brown Rice

TUES-  Homemade Pizza and Garden Salad

WED- Black Bean & Salmon Tostados with Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

THUR- Low Fat Baked Ziti with Spinach

FRI-  Harvest Family Dinner @ my Aunt & Uncle's home.  I am baking cornbread to go along with my Aunt's Chili.

SAT- Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and CousCous.

SUN- HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!  Cauliflower Cheddar Soup and Vegetarian Cobb Salad  (Serving the soup in a carved out pumpkin.  Check back for pictures.)

EXTRA COOKING:
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (made from tomatillos and peppers from our garden.)
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread (made from zucchini from our farm)
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread
Halloween Cookies (with my Aunt)

 For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

Happy Cooking & Eating,
Alyson

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."   - Stanley Horowitz

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Season....New Routines....New Goals....New Menus

I am back!  After a very long break, I am back in the blogging game.  We were very busy this summer and choose to put blogging on the back burner for awhile.  With a new month, a new season, and some new routines beginning I have chosen to start back up.  I have some new ideas for this blog and my hope is to have a new blog up 2-3 times a week.  Hopefully I can actually keep up with that.

We are starting to see lots of produce coming in from the farm, our backyard garden, and my dad's garden.  We plan to start canning soon and drying some goods, so that we can enjoy our hard work all year long.  We are learning a lot about farming/gardening and we will be pros next year!  I have some pictures that I will share this week!

Here is our menu for this week with some links to some great recipes.  Remember to try your hardest to eat sustainable, local, and/or organic food.

MONDAY-  Tuna Pasta Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes with a Remoulade sauce.  (I used only the recipe for the sauce on this link)

TUESDAY-  Spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce and a green salad (I will post the recipe for the sauce this week.)

WEDNESDAY-   Vegetarian Taco Salad

THURSDAY- Honey-Soy Salmon, Brown Rice, Braised Green Beans & Summer Vegetables

FRIDAY-  Tomato and Basil Flatbread Pizzas

SATURDAY-  Going out to eat at Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)

SUNDAY-  Szechuan Tofu & Green Bean Stirfry

Other goodies I am cooking this week:
Zucchini Bread
Pesto Sauce (Lots to freeze)

Be well,
Alyson



"If taking vitamins doesn't keep you healthy enough, try more laughter: The most wasted of all days is that on which one has not laughed."  -Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Menu planning and summertime = crazy busy!

Whoa!  Where did the past 4 weeks go?  I had to put blogging on the back burner for the past few weeks.  We are staying very very busy, which is a good thing because the photo business is growing rapidly and we are having FUN!  Let's see.....we have worked tons on our farm, have celebrated lots of birthdays, I have been volunteering at the Tualatin Farmer's Market, a destination wedding shoot and fun vacation for my husband, took my son to see Broadway's Lion King, went to stay on the Metolius River with my family, berry picking, working tons for our day jobs and photography business, and trying to squeeze in some quiet family time.  It has been a blast!

During these busy weeks we have still been able to maintain a weekly menu, which I believe has saved us many times.  There has been a few times where our meals were changed at the last minute but being flexible is the only way to stay sane!  It has been fun finding and making recipes that have incorporated all the fresh food we have gotten from our garden and farmer's markets.  I love this time of year!  Teaching my son all about how to grow food and eat fresh, local food has been so fun and rewarding.  As a reminder...most of our food that we eat weekly is either organic, local, sustainable, or grown by us! 

Here is our menu for this week:

MONDAY-  BBQ Talipia, Corn on the Cob, and garden salad

TUESDAY-  Whole wheat spaghetti with homemade tomato and veggie sauce (My husband's night to cook, as I work late)

WEDNESDAY-  Vegetable and Tofu Stir fry with brown rice (My husband's night to cook, as I work late)

THURSDAY-   Hummus Veggie Wraps and fruit salad (Quick dinner right before a photo shoot)

FRIDAY-  BBQ fiesta- Salmon Burgers, Grilled Vegetables, Guacamole-Deviled Eggs, Caprese Salad (I add balsamic vinegar to the salad). 

SATURDAY-  Summer Vegetable Crepes (Wedding Shoot this evening...This will be prepared ahead of time)

SUNDAY-  Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon Over Wilted Spinach

Extra items I am cooking & baking this week:
Strawberry Jam (We went berry picking this week and going to make a huge batch of jam)
Raspberry Limeade (For our BBQ on Friday)
Soft Pretzel Bites (My husband LOVES these and I make them so he can take them to work). 

For more menu planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organized Junkie.

Happy Cooking & Eating,
Alyson

"Food, medicine, beauty, and love. When we talk about them in English, they seem so different from each other. But looking at them from another perspective, they are not so different. Good food is a part of good health. Good health leads to good looks. Love surrounds it all. When we feed or heal, we share love. When we love and are loved, we are beautiful."   -Alma Snell

Friday, June 11, 2010

Song of the Week- Southern Girl

Amos Lee......I discovered Amos Lee a couple years ago and was drawn to his music! His music is just beautiful! I think his music is my favorite to listen to while cleaning or driving or just having some alone time. His lyrical depth is outstanding for a young artist and I feel like I can relate to it all. His sound is kind of a mix of folk, soul, a little country, and acoustic. It is very unique and I love it! Check him out!
I picked his song Southern Girl as a dedication to most of the women in my family...my mom, aunts, grandma, and cousins. They are all from Memphis and really truly are all Southern Girls! I love them all dearly and they all mean the world to me. I hope they enjoy this song! I love you girls!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Menus and King Corn

Before I post my menu for the week, I want to discuss a film I watched and a subject I am passionate about......fighting the food industry and educating myself and others about what we are eating!

Last night my husband and I watched the documentary film, King Corn.  Go rent it, Netflix it, download it today!  This documentary follows two college friends Ian and Curtis as they decide to grow an acre of corn to find out where their food really comes from.  They find out, that with the help of government assistance, genetically modified seeds, and nitrogen fertilizers, our country's most subsidized crop is the cheapest and dangerous foods.  Ian and Curtis follow their corn into the food system and find out many different problems with how we eat and how we farm.

Corn is everywhere....candy bars, magazines, sodas, margarine, batteries, and even body lotion.  It is no longer farmed to eat from the cob, it is raised to be processed and turned into anything and everything.  One of the worst productions that come from corn is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is a sweetener that has been derived from corn and is used in many packaged and processed foods.  With more sweeteners available that have more high-calories, with little to none nutritional value, Americans are becoming overweight.  With this obesity epidemic, we are seeing more and more diet related diseases then ever before.  Our life span is shorter than it ever has been. 

Here are a few statistics I found interesting when I was watching the movie and researching this subject:
  • Over the past three decades, consumption of high fructose corn syrup has increased 1,000 percent.
  • The prevalence of obesity has quadrupled over the last 25 years among children between 6 and 11 years old.   It's doubled over the last 25 years in adolescences ages 12 to 19.5 years old.  
  • Between 1985 and 2000, the real price of fruits and vegetables increased by 40%, while prices  for soft drinks decreased by 24%.
  • At last count in 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that Americans eat 79 pounds of corn sweetener per year.
What can you do to nudge our food system in the right direction?
  • Buy local.  Start asking where your food comes from.  Buy at your local Farmers Markets.  Once the demand starts going up of fresher and more healthful food, it will be easier and cheaper to buy. 
  • Read your food labels and educate yourself on what is in your foods.
  • Educate yourself and your friends on what is going on in the food industries
  • If you eat meat....try grass-fed beef.  
  • Don't eat anything made from corn for a week.  Then try a month.  
My husband and I are really good at checking our labels and staying away from corn products but we are going to cut it out completely for a week and then try a month (then maybe longer).   I will keep you posted on how it goes for us.  Well....thanks for reading my lecture and go check out King Corn.

For all you Oregonians out there....come check out the new Tualatin Farmer's Market every Friday this summer starting June 25th (4-8pm) at the Tualatin Commons.  I am going to be volunteering my time to help with different areas of the market most of the Fridays.  See you there!

 Here is my menu for the week:

MONDAY-  Green Pizza made from homemade pizza dough with a fresh garden salad (I added olives to the pizza)

TUESDAY-  Veggie Fajitas and Spanish Rice (Husband's night to cook, while I work late.)

WEDNESDAY-  Tortellini Primavera

THURSDAY- Poached Salmon with a Piccata Sauce, Roasted Asparagus, and CousCous- Having friends over for a special dinner! 

FRIDAY-  Broccoli, zucchini, olives in a garlic wine sauce over whole wheat pasta

SATURDAY-  Photographing a wedding ceremony @ the coast.  We will eat in Manzanita or Cannon Beach

SUNDAY-  Farm Day/BBQ- Salmon burgers, veggie kabobs, and pasta salad

 My Green Pizza from Monday evening!

For more menu planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organized Junkie.

Happy cooking & eating,
Alyson

“For the first time in American history, our generation was at risk of having a shorter lifespan than our parents. And it was because of what we ate.” -Curtis Ellis

Friday, June 4, 2010

Song of the Week - Just Breathe

I am obsessed with music! I blame it fully on my father. Since I was a baby, he would play all kinds of awesome loud music for me and we would dance in the living room! My mom always tells me stories of him keeping me up late just to listen to music. Thanks, dad! I'm glad he did because I love music and the music knowledge I gained from it.

I have listened to Pearl Jam since I was in 8th grade....which was 17 years ago when I was 13. Wow....that made me feel old when I did the math! Since the first time a friend let me borrow Pearl Jam's TAPE (yes..I said tape), I have loved them. Pearl Jam really truly symbolizes the beginning of my teenage years and my love for alternative/punk music. I was starting to feel rebellious and not really going for what was mainstream. Although, Pearl Jam did become mainstream to a point, they strove not to be the typical grunge band. I appreciated that and the beautiful music and lyrics they make.

I picked the song Just Breathe by Pearl Jam to share with you all today. I researched this song to see if I could find out what Eddie Vedder's meaning was behind his lyrics. Although I couldn't find an actual meaning for this song, I did read what other people's interpretations were. I read it was about love, death, God, and finding yourself. Like any piece of great art, what matters is how you interpret it and how it makes you feel. My personal interpretations is that it is a simple beautiful love song. Whatever that love might be...a lover, a child, a friend, God, or life. And with that love, hold it close to you and let it help you just breathe.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Menus and Potties

Hi friends!  I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday weekend.  Our weekend was very nice, while we spent a lot of time together as a family and with some very good friends and did a little bit of work with photo shoots.  I love weekends like this last one....just surrounded with people you care for!

The best part of the week was the huge jump that Ayden made in his potty learning.  We have been introducing the potty to him since right before he turned two.  We didn't want to be too pushy with this or force anything on him.  I fully believe that a child should take his own path and as parents we are there to help and guide along the way, not force anything or be pushy.  As one of my past education teachers once said, "we need to be guides on the side."  And that is exactly what I want to be.  I want Ayden to take his own path and to be his own person.  So with that belief, we introduced the potty to him and let him discover it.  We took certain steps to allow him to discover what the potty was all about.  We bought a small potty chair and a potty seat (it sits on the big toilet).  We put the small potty chair in whatever room he is playing in and remind him that it is there.  We make sure that we put him in cloth diapers as much as possible so that he can actually experience his own body functions.  Disposable diapers are harmful to his body and dramatically slow down his natural interest in using the toilet.  We also started letting him wear "big boy" underwear.  This has been very messy but very helpful.  So all of these things combined has really helped him find his way through his potty learning.

I think this week it just clicked for Ayden.  He was ready to use the potty and was loving it.  He started actually taking off his diaper and telling me he had to go potty.  Then he walks straight to the potty chair and goes all by himself.  It is AWESOME!  I feel so proud of him!  Yes....we are still using diapers at night time....just in case!  And we still have accidents but we made it through a huge milestone.  My son learned how to use the potty and I couldn't be more happier! 

Well enough about potties, let's talk about food.  Ha!  Here is another weekly menu in our household, full of organic, local, and sustainable food!

MONDAY-  BBQ teriyaki shrimp and pineapple kebabs, grilled zucchini, and rice

TUESDAY-  Tuna Noodle Casserole (My husband's night to cook.  I will eat a salad at work.)

WEDNESDAY-  Vegetable & Polenta Bake

THURSDAY-  Vegan Chili and Cornbread...Celebrating my husband's best-friend's birthday. (I will add turnips from the Farmer's market and mustard green from our garden to the chili)  The recipe for the chili and the cornbread will be on my next post. 

FRIDAY-  Warm Salmon Salad with crispy potatoes (the recipe calls for canned salmon, I will use fresh baked salmon.)

SATURDAY-  Broccoli, olives, spinach in a olive oil garlic sauce served over whole wheat angel hair pasta.

SUNDAY-  Farm Day!  Veggie Sandwiches and Veggie Pasta Salad

For more meal planning inspirations, please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Happy cooking & eating,
Alyson

"When the student is ready, the master appears."  ~Buddhist Proverb

Friday, May 28, 2010

Song of the week.....

I am going to start sharing a song of the week with you all.  Music is a huge part of my life.  I listen to music all day and use music to get me through any happy or tough times in my life.  I strongly believe that music brings people together like no other art form and that peace can happen through music.  Since I believe this in a very strong sense I play music in the morning, while we play, while we color, drive, cook dinner, and get ready for bed.

There is so many different musicians and types of music that I love and I constantly research new and old music.  I want to share some of my favorite songs with you all.  So every week I will pick a song and post it. 

Since I just went to the John Butler Trio concert last night with my husband, then I feel it is appropriate to share one my favorite songs of his.  He is an amazing musician and I enjoy seeing him live (3 times now)!  His message of peace and unity really shows in his lyrics and songs.  His music inspires his audience to fight for the planet and to join the peaceful revolution.  I grew to love JBT for the heavily acoustic and politically charged songs that inspired me to take a good look at myself and the world we live in.   If you haven't already, check him and his band out! 

Here is his song Peaches & Cream....After I gave birth to Ayden, Drew and I listened to this song a million times finally realizing what his lyrics really meant.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Potato & Mustard-Greens Soup

I made this on Monday.  I had a ton of potatoes in my kitchen and I had mustard-greens in my garden just waiting to be picked.  So I wanted to find a soup recipe that had both of these ingredients.  I searched for hours trying to find the "right" recipe.  Everything I found was either extremely fattening or non-vegetarian.  I decided to look at a few different recipes and make up my own.  It turned out delicious.  I was very happy with the end result  and so were my boys.  Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, cut fine
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 water
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups potatoes, diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup mustard-greens, chopped
1/2 cup of milk, you can use non-fat, 1%, or 2%
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onions and celery.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Blend in flour.  Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add potatoes, water, vegetable broth, and salt.  Stir constantly until boiling.

Turn the heat down to low.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add mustard-greens, cook for 2 minutes.

Add milk, let it heat for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.  Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Enjoy,
Alyson

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Menus and watching the time fly by....

I can't believe May is almost over.  Where did the month go?  But it was an exciting month.....Mother's Day, turning 30, our first wedding shoot of the season, planting more seeds on the farm, camping with friends, and BBQ's.  I am excited for June but more excited for the sun to come back!

Out little backyard garden is doing well and we have already started picking our lettuce and greens to eat.  It is pretty awesome to go out to your backyard, pick some lettuce, and make a quick salad to eat.  I am excited for the peas to show up and the garlic to be ready.  When it stops raining...I will grab the camera and take some pics of our little backyard garden to share with you all.

Last week our menu went really well and everything was delicious.  I would highly recommend the Tortellini Primavera.  It was easy, quick, and delicious.  It would be perfect for a busy evening.... for the parents out there.  This week we are trying one new recipe but mostly just doing some family favorites.  I hope everyone is well and doing there part in the food revolution. 

MONDAY:  Potato and Mustard Green Soup.  (The mustard greens were fresh from our garden.  This was my own recipe that I made up because I couldn't find a recipe I like with these ingredients.  My next post will be the recipe for this soup.) 

TUESDAY:  Spaghetti with homemade sauce and roasted veggies.

WEDNESDAY:  Veggie tacos and homemade spanish rice

THURSDAY:  The husband and I are going to see one of our favorite musicians play, John Butler Trio at The Crystal Ballroom.  We have seen him play twice before but never in Portland and we are very excited to see him here.  We will have dinner at the Ringlers Pub which is the restaurant downstairs from The Crystal before the show.

FRIDAY-  Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter, brown rice, and roasted zucchini.

SATURDAY-  Green Pizza with homemade pizza sauce and dough.  (Late dinner because of a photo shoot that early evening, so I will have the pizza prepped and ready to pop in the oven when we get home.) 

SUNDAY-  BBQ at our farm.  Salmon burgers and grilled vegetables!

 Mustard Greens from our backyard garden

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

Happy gardening, cooking, and eating,

Alyson

"Households that have lost the soul of cooking from their routines may not know what they are missing: the song of a stir-fry sizzle, the small talk of clinking measuring spoons, the yeasty scent of rising dough, the painting of flavors onto a pizza before it slides into the oven."  -Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Menus and Farms

I'm here!  Blogging has definitely been on the back burner lately, which is kind of a good sign.  Our photo business has been booming and life has just been busy.  I'm trying to get back in the swing of things in this blog world.  I have some great ideas that I want to create here.  I hope to continue blogging about 3 to 4 times a week.  Let's see if this busy mama can do this!

Our farm has been on full force this past week.  We got peas growing and seeds planted!  This last weekend we planted corn, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.  I can't wait to start seeing the little sprouts pop out of the ground.  One of our partners of the farm is looking into getting a couple chickens this summer.  We have enough land where we can build a chicken coup and area for the chickens.  I will keep you posted on this project but I think it will be so amazing to enjoy our own fresh eggs. 

I am excited for this upcoming season of fresh growing food from our farm, my father's garden, farmer's markets, and local co-ops!  It is so prodigious to raise our son in an environment that supports healthy, organic, and local food.  That is where our change will happen, in our children.

Here is our menu for the week:

MONDAY-  Tortellini Primavera

TUESDAY-  Veggie Stir Fry (Drew's night to cook)

WEDNESDAY-  Auntie and Ayden dinner date with MJ and AC. (I work and my husband is in school late)

THURSDAY-  Polenta & Vegetable Bake and a garden salad

FRIDAY-  Camping in a yurt at Manzanita Beach with friends.  BBQing salmon and veggies.

SATURDAY-  Camping.....Salmon burgers and tuna pasta salad

SUNDAY- Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and a tomato caprese salad

Happy cooking & eating,
Alyson

"'Just living is not enough,' said the butterfly. 'One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.'"-Hans Christian Andersen

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Menus, Meditations, and Mama's Day!

I have been meditating a lot lately.  In the beginning of my journey of motherhood, I told myself I was going to practice peace and bring mindfulness to our lives.  My husband and I both knew that this was the type of environment we wanted to live in and bring our son into.  It has been a journey, with many different obstacles trying to get in the way of our goal of practicing peace.  We jumped right over those obstacles and continued on practicing and learning along the way.  It has been amazing.  Meditation is something that I have done from time to time but I want to start bringing it into our home more.  So now I add daily mediation to my journey.  I am learning to meditate within my daily activities;  waking up before my family and sitting on the back deck, sitting in the backyard under the sun, while gardening, on long walks, and while cooking.  It is so easy for me to meditate while cooking and I personally think it makes the meals better.  I hope to continue my journey towards daily meditation.

I am still learning.

I am continuing to menu plan every week and it has been going very well as usual.  This is an exciting week for us.   My husband's first art show during First Thursday at the Pearl District.  I am beyond proud of him and can't wait to for the show.  It has been so fun helping him prepare for this event.  We will also be spending lots of time at the farm.  And of course, celebrating my mama and being a mama on Mother's Day. 

Here is our menu for our week:

MONDAY-  Baked Salmon, whole wheat couscous, and steamed broccoli

TUESDAY-  Tuna melts and sauteed vegetables in a garlic sauce.  (My husbands night to cook, while I work.)

WEDNESDAY-  Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Chilaquiles Casserole, chips & homemade guacamole.

THURSDAY-  My husband's photo show.  Appetizers and finger foods at the show.

FRIDAY-  Breakfast for dinner-  Southwestern Tufo Scramble with whole wheat tortillas and black beans

SATURDAY-  Gemelli with bell peppers and tomatillo*

SUNDAY-  Mother's Day BBQ at my parents house.  I am baking carrot cake to bring.

*RECIPES:

Gemelli with Bell Peppers and Tomatillo (One of my best girlfriends from Turning Thirty gave this to me, while visiting her.)

Ingredients:
2 large red bell peppers
3 ears of corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups) OR frozen corn
1/2 pound of gemelli pasta
1/2 cup roasted tomatillo salsa or salsa verde
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon of salt

1. Preheat the broiler.  Line the broiler pan with foil; place the bell peppers on the broiler pan.  Broil 4 inches from the heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until evenly charred, 13-16 minutes.  Remove the pepper from the broiler, then wrap in the foil and let steam 20 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, peel, core, and seed the peppers and cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
2.  Heat a 12-inch nonsticl skillet over medium -high heat.  Add the corn and cook until lightly charred in spots, 2 minutes; transfer to a large serving bowl.
3.  Meanwhile, cook the gemelli, according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
4.  Toss, the gemelli, salsa, peppers, goat cheese, salt, and enough of the reserved liquid with the corn until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy .  Serve at once. 

Happy Mother's Day,

Alyson

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."  ~Washington Irving

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sneaking in a Menu Plan

WHOA.....life just got crazy busy!  I either need a few more hours in the day or 10 more arms.  We have had a lot going on the past couple of weeks.  It feels good to be busy and accomplishing a lot but I like simple and slow days too.  I have been trying to catch up on my blogging but haven't had a chance.  I have promised myself that I will do it AND I will!

Our week is pretty busy with work, school, and photo shoots!  We are headed to Bend for a photo shoot, going to see a showing of the movie Fresh, another photo shoot in Portland, Tulip Farms, Seed The Farm meetings, and sneak in some family/friends time!   We are very excited for the photo shoots so we can practice with our new equipment and editing tools!  The Tulip Farm is another family favorite of ours.  We have been going since Ayden was born.  It's fun to look at the pictures of him with the tulips when he was a baby till  now!  We plan to go every single year!  I hope everyone is taking steps to eat healthy, local, sustainable food!  We are doing so well with it and can tell our bodies are thankful for it.

Check back soon for a special Earth Day post.

MONDAY-  Nacho Mama's with my mama

TUESDAY-  Broccoli, spinach, capers, and olives in a white wine sauce over angel hair pasta.  (Drew's night to cook.)

WEDNESDAY-  Healthy homemade Mac and Cheese (I use non-fat cottage cheese and fresh spinach)

THURSDAY- In Bend

FRIDAY-  Fresh Egg Salad Sandwiches and whole wheat couscous

SATURDAY-  Quick dinner downtown after a photo shoot

SUNDAY-  BBQ Salmon, vegetable kebabs, and pineapple

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

Happy eating & cooking,
Alyson

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." -James Beard

Monday, April 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Bring on the sunshine!  I hear this week will be full of sun here in Portland and I already have a lot planned this week to enjoy the much needed sun.  Our farm is also longing for some sun in order for the soil to dry a little before we till the land.  I'm anxious to get the seeds in the ground.  We have planted 55 tomato plants in starter trays already and plan on starting more vegetables in trays in the next week.  I can't wait to get farming!

I have a lot to blog about this week.  So expect about a blog a day with lots of musings about our adventures, ideas, pictures, events, and our changes!  For now here is my menu plan for the week!  Cheers to yummy, delicious, organic food!

MONDAY-  Sauteed zucchini, broccoli, capers, and olives in a lemon garlic sauce over whole wheat pasta.

TUESDAY-  Poached Salmon with Piccata Sauce, whole wheat couscous, steamed broccoli (Drew's night to cook)

WEDNESDAY-  Penne Spinach Bake*

THURSDAY-  Hungarian Mushroom Soup* with homemade bread

FRIDAY-  Green Pizza with homemade pizza dough and a garden salad

SATURDAY- BBQ salmon, veggie kebabs, and BBQ pineapple

SUNDAY- leftovers

*RECIPES:

PENNE SPINACH BAKE- (from my mother's Wellspring Heart Program cookbook)

Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
1 28 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce or homemade sauce
1 (1 pd) package frozen cut leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed
1 to 1 1/2 cups fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 (19 ounce) can white kidney beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups fat-free mozzerella cheese
1 tbsp Italian seasonings

Directions:
Cook penne pasta  as directed on package. Drain.

Lightly spray an eight inch square (two quart) baking dish with non-stick spray.  In medium saucepan, heat spaghetti sauce over low heat.

In large bowl, combine cooked penne, spinach, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and spices, mix well.  Add beans; toss gently to mix.

Spoon mixture into sprayed dish.  Spread with one cup warm spaghetti sauce.  Top with remaining penne mixture and remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. 


HUNGARIAN MUSHROOM SOUP (from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)

Ingredients:   (yields 4 to 5 servings)
2 tablespoons of butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon mild paprika
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoon  flour
2 cups of water
1 cup of milk (I use non or low fat)
black pepper, to taste
1.2 cup sour cream (I use non fat)
finely minced fresh parsley, for the top

Directions:  (1 hour to prepare):
Melt the butter in a kettle or Dutch Oven.  Add onions, and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.   Add mushrooms, salt, dill, and paprika.  Stir well and cover.  Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally .  Stir in lemon juice.

Gradually sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir another 5 minutes or so over medium-low heat.  Add water, cover, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in milk; add black pepper to taste.  Check to see if it needs more salt.  Whisk in the sour cream, and heat very gently.  Don't boil or cook it after this point.  Serve hot, topped with freshly minced parsley.



For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

Happy Eating & Cooking,
Alyson

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."  -Irish Proverb

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (one day late)

As I am typing my blog today, my son is sitting next to me reading his books out loud.  As most of you know, my son is 2 years old, so he isn't reading the actual words from his books but instead he is using his amazing imagination.  He is reading his own version and I kind of like his version better.  One thing I have really enjoyed the past few months is watching Ayden use his imagination and his creative mind.  He can take any one of his toys and turn it into whatever his little mind creates.  It is so fascinating to watch and I, of course, join in on the fun!  Being a mother has proved to be more amazing then I could have ever imagined. 

Last week was full of amazing food!  The Salmon Salad with Crispy Potatoes was so delightful.  It is a perfect light dinner for warm days.  I will make this a lot during the summer months.  The souffle turned out amazing and was easier than I had expected.  I just had to make sure that I took it out of the oven and served it immediately to avoid any deflation.  Everyone enjoyed it.  I will definitely be making that again and will try adding some different ingredients as well. 

Cheers to another great week of delicious organic, sustainable foods!

MONDAY:  Vegetable Pizza @ a friend's house

TUESDAY-  Egg Salad Sandwiches and whole wheat couscous (Drew's night to cook, while I work)

WEDNESDAY-  Kelsey's Birthday Dinner Celebration.  I will be making her Shrimp Scampi.  I will post the recipe later this week.

THURSDAY-  Homemade Minestrone Soup

FRIDAY- In Bend for the weekend

SATURDAY-  In Bend for the weekend

SUNDAY-  Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon, steamed asparagus, and brown rice

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday. 
Happy Cooking & Eating,
Alyson

"Imagination is more important than knowledge"- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Menu Planning

Life got just a little crazy the beginning of this week, with school starting back up for the Spring term and some other life happenings.  Our routine was just a little out of whack.  I am ready to go to bed tonight and wake up feeling fresh and ready for the rest of the week.  One of my favorite motto's, "Be positive and positive things will happen to you."  I had to remind myself this a few times the past couple of days.  It helps when my husband and son are just absolutely amazing to me! I have found that my attitude towards life and this world is just getting better and better.

Last week I made a couple new recipes that were SO amazing.  The Stromboli was so very delicious.  I felt like my homemade marinara sauce was just a little bit to runny but that is the only thing I would change.  The other new recipe I made was the Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms and Basil.  I was a little nervous about making this, thinking that it would be too bland.  That was not the case at all.  All the different flavors mixed together were perfect.  I was amazed when I took the first bite.  I will definitely be repeating this recipe over and over again.  On Sunday we were invited to dinner at a good friend's house.  She made a delicious baked spaghetti.  Thanks, Jess & Mike!  So, I will be moving what I originally planned to cook on Sunday to this week.

This weekend we will be celebrating Easter with Easter Egg Hunts and lots of family time.  I am also trying my first shot at making souffle on Saturday.  I am excited to try something new!  

This week's menu:
MONDAY- Sushi with one of my best friends and our kiddos

TUESDAY-  Whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato sauce (Drew's night to cook.  I work late.)

WEDNESDAY-  Split Pea Soup (slow cooker) with a fresh salad.  (I will omit the ham and substitute the chicken broth for veggie broth.)

THURSDAY-  Salmon Salad with Crispy Potatoes  (I will poach fresh salmon instead of using canned salmon.)

FRIDAY-  Black Bean Soup and Vegetarian Taco Salad

SATURDAY-  Broccoli & Goat Cheese Souffle, Roasted Aspargus, and fresh salad (We are also decorating eggs and baking bread this night)

SUNDAY-  Easter BBQ @ my Aunt & Uncle's home.  We are bringing homemade bread and my famous Spinach Dip.  I will post the recipe later this week.

Happy cooking & eating,

Alyson

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."-Michael Pollan

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

What a great time we had in New Mexico.  It was a much needed vacation with some great friends.  We got to celebrate our friend's 30th birthday, spend some quality time with her beautiful family, and see the rich culture of New Mexico.  It's always so nice to be around good friends who share the same values as you.  The kids had a great time playing together as the parents caught up!  We also did a little bit of work while in New Mexico and met some future clients.  They booked us and we can't wait to come back to New Mexico in June to shoot their wedding!

Traveling always throws you off just a little when you return home.  I was able to do a menu plan last week with Jess in New Mexico but I never found time to sit down and blog about it.  So sorry for the lack of a menu plan blog last week.  I am finally caught up with things that needed to be done and this Monday has been a relaxing, productive one!  We are still having a great time with menu plans and continue to try new healthy meals.

Spring is here and that makes me so ecstatic for the variety of fresh food that is coming our way.  We were able to go to the Portland Farmer's Market opening day this Saturday (the first day of Spring).  It was so great to see so many people out on such a nice beautiful day supporting local farmers and businesses.  It gave me such a teaser for this growing season.  Our growing season this year is going to be bigger than we have ever done it.  We have our small little garden in our backyard and some pots that will be full of herbs.  Then we will be walking down to my father's house to help in his huge garden.  AND the biggest step we are taking this season is leasing a 1/2 acre of organic land for our little organic farm that we are starting with another family.  This is a huge commitment for us but we are so excited and ready to be a part of the food revolution.  This year is going to be our "testing" year and hopefully next year we will be selling to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Farmers Markets, or Co-ops.  For this season, if everything goes well, we will be putting together boxes/baskets of a mix of organic vegetable and fruits to sell (at a discounted rate) to people we know.  We are beyond excited for this opportunity!  Keep checking my blog for more details and musings about our farm! 

Here is our menu plan for this week:

MONDAY-  Broccoli, tomato, and mozzarella Stromboli with a fresh salad. (My friend, Jess, gave me this recipe.  It was delicious!  We used homemade pizza dough and homemade tomato sauce.  We also substituted mushrooms instead of salami and fresh broccoli instead of frozen broccoli.)

TUESDAY-  Spinach Enchiladas (Drew's night to cook, while I work)

WEDNESDAY-  Grilled halibut, grilled asparagus & zucchini, and whole wheat couscous.

THURSDAY-  A friend of ours is having an art show at Alberta Street's "Last Thursday".  We will have dinner at one of the many delicious restaurants on Alberta Street before attending the Art Show.  

FRIDAY- Salmon Chowder (I am making this in the slow cooker for my husband & son.  I will be having Happy Hour with some girl friends.  In this recipe, I will omit the bacon and add celery and carrot.)

SATURDAY-  Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms & Basil

SUNDAY-  Black Bean Soup and Vegetarian Taco Salad

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.  Enjoy some pictures my husband took at our future farm. 

Happy cooking & eating,
Alyson


"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity."  -Lindley Karstens

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This last weekend was a blast celebrating my son's 2nd birthday.  Our days did get a little crazy, so our menu plan got changed around.  One of my lovely best friends, Kelsey, made us homemade enchiladas on Thursday since we were busy preparing for Ayden's birthday.  It was so yummy and so sweet of her to help us out.  On Sunday I was going to make Stuffed Peppers but I came down with something very yucky.  I was pretty much bed ridden all day.  Thankfully, my wonderful husband took care of me and I got better quickly!  That evening we just decided to get take out from a local Thai Restaurant.  So I will just take the two dinners I missed last week and apply it to this week's menu.

This week's menu plan is short for us.  We are going on a vacation to see some of our best friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I am so excited to get out of town and spend some quality time with our good friends.  It is a much needed vacation!  I use to live in Albuquerque for a very short period of time a while back but Drew has never been.  I am so excited to show Drew and Ayden this awesome city and it's beautiful surroundings.  Our good friend is an amazing chef and him & his wife share the same values as us, especially when it comes to food.  Needless to say, we will be eating delicious, organic food while we are there!

Here is our short menu for the week:

Monday-  Baked Salmon and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (recipe is posted on my last blog)

Tuesday-  Vegetable Stir Fry with brown rice

Wednesday-  Potato Leek Soup (slow-cooker) and a green salad (soup recipe is posted on my last blog)

Thurs-Sun-  In New Mexico eating delicious food!

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

I have some new changes coming to my blog!  This is a temporary template while I am having a custom one made.  I made the header myself and it will permanently stay, though the pictures might change.  Keep your eye out for some exciting new changes!

Happy cooking & eating,
Alyson

"At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind." -Michael Pollan



Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last weekend we went on a last minute trip to Bend.  Drew got a photo job up at Mt. Bachelor for the weekend and my mom was staying at a cabin on the Metlious River.  So we went to enjoy the beautiful surroundings that Central Oregon has to offer! It was a relaxing and fun weekend!   I love it there and miss it so much!  As soon as I drive over the mountains and start seeing the Ponderosa Pines and smell the refreshing sage, I feel so at ease.  Drew and I really feel at peace there.  I hope we can find ourselves living there again! 

Since our trip to Bend was so last minute, our menu plan for the weekend got thrown out the window.  I'm totally okay with that because then I can just move those dinners to this week!   This week is a pretty BIG week!  My son is turning 2 on Friday!  I just can't fully believe my baby boy is 2 years old.  It feels like yesterday I was pregnant with him!  He has been more than amazing and has brought so much joy to our lives!  So we are planning a big celebration at our house on Saturday!  So, my menu plan this week is a little different but I love it!  I hope everyone has a great week and is enjoying yummy, delicious organic food!

MONDAY- Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce with tofu, served over basmati Indian rice.

TUESDAY-   Shrimp, artichoke hearts, & olive oil over whole wheat pasta and a loaded salad

WEDNESDAY-  Salmon Burgers, Oven Fries, and steamed broccoli

THURSDAY-  Potato Leek Soup* (slow-cooker)

FRIDAY-  Ayden's birthday!!!!!  Family dinner at Nacho Mama's

SATURDAY-  Ayden's birthday party!!!!!  Finger foods and appetizers at the party!

SUNDAY-  Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers* and baked Salmon

*Recipes from cookbooks or other sources:

POTATO LEEK SOUP-  from the book, 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large leeks, sliced white part only, washed
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced (I added another potato)
1 tbs. minced garlic, or to taste
6 cups of Vegetable Broth
1 tbs. salt
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp white pepper
1 pinch of nutmeg
3/4 lb. fresh spinach, stems removed
1/3 cup sour cream
chopped green onions for garnish

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and saute leeks for about 4 to 5 minutes, until soft.  Transfer to the slow cooker.  Add potatoes, garlic, vegetable broth, salt, lemon juice, white pepper, and nutmeg.  Cover and cook on low heat for about 9 hours on high, until potatoes are tender.  Add fresh spinach to soup.  Stir a little of the soup in with the sour cream to prevent curdling and then add sour cream to the soup.  Cook for 10 minutes and serve.  Garnish soup with a sprinkling of chopped green onions. 


QUINOA-STUFFED PEPPERS- my good friend, Kyle, sent this recipe to me

Ingredients:
1 med onion, finely chopped (1cup)
2 tbp olive oil
2 ribs celeery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 tbp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
1 10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup quinoa
3 large carrots, grated (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack Cheese, divided
4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

Directions:
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add cumin and garlic, and saute 1 minute.  Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes.  Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrits, and 2 cups of water.  Cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.  Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Preheat oven to 350.  pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish.  Cover with foil, and bake 1 hr.  Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 tbs remaining cheese.  Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving. 

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

Happy eating & cooking,
Alyson


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”- JRR Tolken

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I accomplished something last week that was a pretty awesome accomplishment.  Well, in my eyes it was an awesome accomplishment.  I made homemade whole wheat bread.  I wanted to bring something to my mother's birthday dinner and she LOVES homemade bread, so I thought I would try for this special occasion.  I got a pretty basic whole wheat recipe from my cookbook, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen.  I thought I would just try a basic bread recipe since it was my first time making bread.  The recipe called for mostly whole wheat flour and honey but I added some flax seed to the mix.  It went so well.  I had a few questions but my mom helped me with all of them.  She has always told me that there was something special about making homemade bread with your own two hands and she was so right.  It is such a therapeutic, amazing achievement.  My family loved it and seemed very impressed with the bread.  What a great feeling!  I think I will continue my journey of bread making!  I would love to be able to stop buying bread at the store and just make my own for our family. 

Menu planning continues to be successful and delicious!  Our journey of cooking with healthy, organic, and sustainable foods is getting better and better daily.  I'm excited for spring to join us, so we can start our garden and the farmer's markets start back up. 

MONDAY-  Dinner with my family at McMenamin's-John Barleycorns

TUESDAY-  Whole wheat spaghetti with homemade tomato/veggie sauce, a loaded salad, and homemade bread

WEDNESDAY-  Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna and a loaded salad.  I have made this Lasagna several times and I either leave out the sausage completely or substitute it with vegan sausage. 

THURSDAY-  Drew & I are attending an art/photo show this evening.  We will be eating finger foods at the show.  Our son will be eating dinner with his Aunt Katie!  Thanks Katie! 

FRIDAY-  Salmon Burgers, steamed broccoli, and oven fries

SATURDAY-  Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce with tofu, served over brown rice.  I found this Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce at Whole Foods and loved it.  I highly recommend it.

SUNDAY-  Mushroom and broccoli pasta in a white wine sauce with a spinach salad

For more meal planning inspirations, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

Happy eating & cooking,
Alyson


"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet" -Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Small Change


I have decided to join the Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change project.  The challenge is to make one small environmentally friendly change each month leading up to Earth Day.  It can be something small or something big, just something that we do as a family to make a positive green impact for ourselves and this beautiful earth we live on. 

We do a pretty good job practicing ways to be more environmentally friendly but there is always more steps to be taken.  We decided to do two small changes this month.  Our first One Small Change is to build and start our compost.  We had a great compost going when we lived in Bend but we moved and we haven't gotten back into it.  Just in time for spring we are starting it!  The compost will help with our little organic garden and it will reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in the landfill.  My father is a garden genius and any questions I have will be sent directly to him but there is tons of information online about creating a compost.  I would love to build our own compost bin but we are in a rental home and I don't want to make anything permanent.  I will be purchasing this compost bin instead, The Earth Machine.  We will also put something in the kitchen to hold scraps until they go into the compost bin.  I found this compost pail at Crate and Barrel and I have a gift card for there that I think I will use.  I am very excited to get going on this project of ours!

The other One Small Change is to get rid of our vinyl shower curtain liner.  These liners are more toxic for ourselves and the environment then we really know.  That "new shower curtain smell" is caused by very toxic chemicals called volatile organic compounds or VOC's.  These poisonous chemicals that off-gas into the air, can persist for the first 28 days while the curtain hangs in your home. There are many non-toxic options out there.  We have found a shower curtain made from PEVA, which is a PVC-free, non chlorinated, biodegradable lightweight plastic that does not emit off-gases.  Ikea has them for no more that $9.99.  YES!!!!  There are also tons of natural fiber options: organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, or linen that you can find on different online shops.  We are going to try out the Ikea shower curtain and see how we like it.

What small change can your family make?  If you are interested join Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change Challenge.  Check back on March 1st for an update on how our changes are going and what new changes we will make in March.

Be well, friends
-Alyson

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi