Monday, May 31, 2010


Last Wednesday was the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony, which is always concluded with a hat-toss flyover and then an air show. It's one of the most unique parts of living in Colorado Springs. And my office building is pretty much directly east of the Academy stadium, so we have prime real estate for viewing the show. Here are some shots I got this year:

All Photos © Me


Friday, May 28, 2010

Easy Slow Cooker Chili

We have been getting sick of salads recently. (Literally. I must have an aversion to slimey lettuce or something. I have had a couple of days when I made a salad for lunch and was so grossed out by it that I couldn't eat it.) So last weekend I made chili to have on-hand for easy lunches.

Chili is a fantastic high protein, high fiber, lo-glycemic meal, and is especially wonderful when cooked in large batches in a slow cooker (crock pot, whatever you want to call it...). This recipe makes a gigantic amount, so I freeze half of it. I like to use ground turkey instead of beef in my chili—all the other flavors are so great, even the heartiest beef eater won't really notice, and it cuts the fat content way down.

Simple Chili
adapted from Les DuLunch on

Servings: 6–10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1–4 hours

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (or turkey)**
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 Green Pepper, Diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 cans (14 Oz. Can) Beans (red, black, kidney, chili, pinto, etc. I like variety, so I mix it up)
  • 4 cans (14 Oz. Can) Diced No-salt-added Tomatoes‚—you can always add salt later
  • 4 Tablespoons Chili Powder, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin, to taste
  • Optional toppings: Tabasco, salsa, sliced jalapeƱos, non-fat sour cream, shredded white cheddar (white cheeses have less fat than yellow cheese, FYI)

Brown the ground meat with the onions, green peppers, and garlic together till the ground beef is no longer pink; drain (and rinse if you’re worried about fat).

Turn the slow cooker to "high" setting. Drain and rinse the beans well. (This is supposed to help diminish the flatulence factor. Apparently the juices in canned beans causes most of the problem.) Add beans and tomatoes to slow cooker. I don't drain the tomatoes, as some of the liquid cooks off in the process.

Once the meat is cooked and drained, throw it in the slow cooker. Add the chili powder and cumin, and give it a good stir. Set your timer for anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. Pretty much once it's hot, it's ready to eat, but the longer it cooks, the better the flavors, in my opinion.

This chili tolerates variations well. Try adding unsweetened cocoa powder, brown sugar, star anise (remove before serving), cayenne, ground chipotles, beer, or red wine for some unique flavoring.  I haven't tried any of these, but the original author of the recipe suggests them. Adding cocoa, brown sugar, beer, or wine will make this higher glycemic, so add at your own discretion.

Serve with Tabasco, salsa, sliced jalapeƱos, non-fat sour cream, shredded white cheddar, etc.

All Photos © Me

**For a vegetarian version, cut three or four carrots into about a half-inch dice and brown them with the onions, green peppers, and garlic. The carrots make for a sweeter chili, but give the mouth-feel of meat. Maybe try some celery too.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dragging My Feet

I read this post over at Sarah Markley's blog.

I'm totally in the "walking slower and slower and whining" stage of life. It's good to be reminded that someday soon God's going to say "Okay, I'll carry you now."


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fish Tacos

We had some friends over for dinner on Monday, and gave some new recipes a try.

We had fish tacos with lettuce wraps instead of taco shells. So good! Check this out:

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
adapted from Our Best Bites

  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)
  • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed
In the jar of your blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are completely combined. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but still maintains some of its texture. Chill a few hours or overnight. Serve with greens, on any type of Mexican salad, or use as a marinade.

Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing (Green Sauce)
adapted from Our Best Bites

  • 1 pack (1oz) Ranch Dressing Mix*
  • 1C mayonnaise (I don't like mayo to begin with, but I especially don't like low-fat. So I just use canola mayonnaise, which is more heart-healthy than veggie-oil mayo)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 lime (about 2T)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 C green salsa
  • hot sauce
Place milk, mayo, and ranch mix in a blender. Juice the lime in there too. Toss in the garlic, cilantro and green salsa. Blend. Sample it and add hot sauce to taste. Make it several hours ahead of time to allow it to thicken.

Some green salsas are super-hot, so be sure you find one you like before mixing up a whole of this stuff.

To make the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, and 1 tablespoon of mix. Blend well and serve over your favorite salad. Chill a few hours or overnight to allow thickening.

Grilled Fish Tacos
adapted from Our Best Bites 

  • Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette above
  • 2 fillets mild white fish (we used tilapia)
  • Iceberg (or other large-leaf) lettuce for wraps, in place of tortillas
  • Toppings: Green Sauce above, Salsa, Pico de gallo, guacamole, cabbage (cole slaw mix), cotija cheese (this is a soft, crumbly Mexican cheese, like feta, but tastes more like a mild mozzarella), lime wedges for drizzling and salt for seasoning.
Marinate fish in Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette for at least 20 minutes (ours marinated for about an hour & were delicious!), then grill. We made a packet out of foil, which we left open on top to make clean-up easier but still allow us to get some of that good grill flavor.

Serve the fish flaked or in whole pieces, and top as you wish!


*For an MSG-free option (MSG = monosodium glutamate), I used this recipe for homemade ranch dressing mix:

  • 7 saltine crackers (use gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3/4 cup dry minced parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cup dry minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dry dillweed
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Blend crackers in an electric blender on high speed until powdered. Now add the parsley, the minced onion, and the dill weed. Blend again until it is powdered. Then, pour the mixture into a bowl. Next, stir in the garlic salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Store this dry mix in a container with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature for up to 1 year.

The Verdict: Thumbs up all around! We ate ourselves silly on this one. The only thing to watch out for is the amount of Green Sauce you use, since it has the full-fat mayo. We're excited to try this again with corn tortillas once we add grains back into our diet. (The link to the vinaigrette has some tips for lightly cooking the tortillas to make them flexible enough for all the fillings.) 

Definitely give it a try!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

A New Hobbie

Recently R and I have embarked on a new adventure. In eating. We decided that we want to take better care of ourselves, from the inside out. So, we're transitioning into eating a (mainly) low-glycemic diet.

The premise behind the Glycemic Index (GI) is that different foods affect a person's blood sugar differently. Foods with a high GI cause blood sugar to spike, which then leads to a crash. Low GI foods cause a more gradual increase in blood sugar, which means a gradual decrease instead of a crash. The gradual increase/decrease is preferable because it causes the metabolism to rev up and continue working longer, which helps control appetite and delays hunger.

That's a very rough explanation, since we're still learning. See for more information.

Anyway, we are making this change with the aid of a program called Transitions Lifestyle. We have a coach and a few other folks who are going through it with us, and boy is it ever worth the cost of admission (which isn't something to sneeze at, but still totally worth it...). We're getting an education about what different foods do to us, and knowing is half the battle, right? Plus we have encouragement and accountability from people who are struggling with the same things we are. I don't think we would have made it through the first week without them. (Hello fruits-and-veggies-only-detox-for-seven-days.)

The point of all this is to say that we're eating differently. And it's not always easy to figure out what we can eat. Especially when all I want is a gigantic plate of pasta and ice cream for dessert. How do you eat Asian food without rice (super-hi-glycemic) or tacos without...well, without the taco? We're currently not supposed to be eating grains at all (just one more week of that!), and even when we're allowed to, we shouldn't be eating nearly as much as we were before the transition. Sounds like fun, huh?

Bottom line—I want to start keeping track of this adventure—what we eat, new recipes we try, whether we like it or not, how we feel as we change our lifestyle, etc. So, when recipes show up here randomly, that's why. We'll be able go back and see what fun new things we've discovered (or icky things we want to avoid), and maybe along the way we can inspire others to join us in believing that we don't have to eat all those complex carbohydrates and over-processed foods our American diets are full of.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Finished Product—Happy Crawler Quilt

This was finished months ago... Luckily the recipients love it!

All Photos © Me

Peace, friends.