Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eat This, Not That

Hey folks! Thanks so much for your interest and comments! It's funny how when we feel connected to others it directly impacts our positivity throughout the day. I suppose I could wax philosophic on how "No Man is an Island" here but that sounds waaaaay boring. I would so much rather share an awesome, free resource with you!

Just want to make everyone aware of a simply FANTASTIC website and email subscriber list. This is actually the ONLY mass email that I open and read (sorry airlines and spammers).
site has oodles and oodles of lists that tell you the calorie count, nutritional value and better alternates of many edible (and drinkable) items. It also categorizes its lists into helpful categories like vending machines, kids' drinks, alcoholic beverages, chain restaurant meals and (my personal favorite) bathing-suit-ready-foods. For instance, did you know that even though broccoli and cauliflower are two of the best foods for you out there, you shouldn't eat them right before you're about to bare it all? Apparently, these little guys have something in them called raffinose (a complex suger) that causes your belly to bloat while digesting your meal. GOOD TO KNOW, right?!?! Yay, now you have a totally legitimate excuse for not eating the broccoli and cauliflower on the crudite platter at that faulous beach shindig......
Don't forget to subscribe to their list for email updates if you want them.

Have a fabulous few days! My next posting will be another Go-To item, this time one that made me wonder how my "unmentionables" wardrobe seemed complete without it.....a little more intimate than the soft-sided cooler...... until then!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ode to the cooler

Hullo hullo everyone! First of all, thanks so much for the comments on my first posting!! What a testimony to my sister that so many of you came over from her blog to say hello. I'm blessed to have her and am so happy to share her!

So I've been thinking about this blog and wondering what the next posting should be about....stories, tips, tricks, useful things, inspiring quotes, etc. etc. etc. and I KEEP coming back to my darned cooler. Really? YEP! Apparently I'm in a relationship with my soft-sided cooler and want to introduce you to each other (please don't tell my Person of Importance about this relationship...not sure if he can take the competetion).
When you think about it, how can one NOT be drawn to a cooler. I've grown to think of him as my little buddy and best friend. Always there when I need him, soft and malleable so he's flexible in tight situations, cleans up very well, waits patiently as I try to stuff him full of nonsense that we probably won't use......but he doesn't mind. Aaah, I'm in love!

If you don't have a collapsible cooler yet I most adamantly suggest that you invest in one. Ours is from Lands End and has an insert that you can remove and wipe down, flipping it inside out to get to those hard to reach creases. You know what I'm talking about, those creases on the inside of fabric coolers that end up with streaks of mildew? Not so, this one! We've even taken it to the beach and it still looks brand new. The removable liner has mesh pockets on three sides so you can store your different heavier items (cans of coke equals lots of needed caffeine, if you please) and not worry about your sandwiches getting mushy from the jostling. It also has a shoulder strap - this is KEY, especially since it's soft-sided.

I do suggest that you also invest in some really good cooling elements. Our is igloo and the perfect size to slip in one of the pockets or nestle on the bottom. I also grab a few bottles of water from our stash and throw them into the freezer the night before. They do double-duty as a cooling element that also keeps you hydrated. There's also a great flex cooling element called Cryopak, made by a company of the same name. Super cool little buggers that you can cut down to your preferred size.

Some tips on foodstuff that transport nicely:
carrots and cherry tomatoes
sandwiches (just wrap in paper towel and then a plastic baggy, it stays a bit fresher this way)
cans of soda (also do double duty to keep the rest of the food cool if you put them in cold)
string cheese
peant butter (I use almond butter or cashew butter in the tiny Glad tuperware-type containers, available in any grocery store)
all kinds of cookies (very important sustenance)
- really, anything that you normally give your kiddos to munch on during the day will keep great in a cooler. Bananas are ok but tend to get a little brown from the cold and close-quarters. If it's not too hot, just bring the bananas out solo. If it is hot....leave 'em behind.

I've taken this little guy everywhere. It really works for the kiddos because there's always something to munch on and share with others. It's also a great way to meet people! There will always be a few kids around who are hungry and hoping for a munchy. I've met so many other moms this way, especially at places like a lacrosse game (watching my Person of Importance play). The moms loved it! Addy ended up sitting next to a new "friend", watching the portable DVD player with both of them going to town on some carrots and a nectarine. Good times.

The key though is remembering to remove the insert and washing it thoroughly as soon as you get home. I know it's a pain but if you do it, it will last for a while.
Lands End Item #34614-9AL9
It's the larger size that has the removable innards.

Hope I didn't bore you all to tears with this seemingly mundane post. I just wanted to share something that I've found to be a "go-to" item of life!
Keep sending me your blog links, I love to check them all out!
PS. pics coming soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie Cheater

Hullo there folks!
A quick introduction to The Single Mommy Diaries may be in order:
This blog isn't only for single moms though I know they will relate to the daily adventures that stem from being such. This blog is for anyone who is time-crunched and looking for some fun shortcuts and humor to help move from "surviving" into "living" (without moving directly into the local insane asylum).
So whether you are young and single, married and mature, childless or childful (?) these posts are for you and your life.

Although there is a caveat....if you are a single mom and your child is under the age of three then you're just gonna have to suck it up. That's pretty much your identity for the next few years but have no fear, you will re-emerge onto the scene of life with a new-found sense of humor, a classy and experienced attitude and an unfortunate apprehension of white pants. I raise my glass to you my friend, you can do it!

My first post is a recipe. Enjoy!

The working mom’s best friend: the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
This is God’s gift to you my friend, utilize it.
Don’t go overboard as the succulent little guys are loaded with sodium but if you can find the time to get one during your lunch hour, you’ll have the base for your dinners over the next few days. This is my favorite recipe and the one I pull out when I invite folks over for dinner last minute on a work night. Super fast and super easy, everything we’re looking for in a recipe (notice I left that joke wide open…fill in your punch line at will). Just make sure that you have a bag of frozen mixed veggies in the fridge and that you remember to grab some frozen pie shells at the store. Also grab a head of broccoli or brussels sprouts to steam for a veggie side dish. If you start your kid early enough, he or she will most likely eat brussels sprouts. They are so sweet and have a fairly decent texture. The trick is to NOT OVER STEAM THEM! If your kiddos refuse to eat veggies then we’ll talk about that at a later time. The frozen veggies in this recipe will solve the food pyramid puzzle of the day.

The Chicken Pot Pie Cheater:
First things first. Grab your large skillet and make a white sauce. HA! Yes, it sounds complicated and I totally used that cooking term for my own self-serving, pseudo-culinary-intellectual purposes. But I digress…..
Make a white sauce, which is as easy as melting 2 tablespoons of butter (or a not so tasty but healthier substitute) over low heat, stirring in 2 tablespoons of flour or cornstarch. Then stir in 1 cup of milk to make your “white sauce”. You can actually use any combination of veggie or meat broth, depending on your mood and pantry. Cook and stir until smooth, thickened and gently simmering. You want enough of the sauce to use as a base for your pot pie innards…not soupy but definitely the consistency of your favorite pot pie from childhood. You can always add more of the liquid or more of the flour to get it to the consistency that you’re after. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to taste. That’s crucial or your pot pie will taste a tad bland.
Take your rotisserie chicken and shred/cut pieces out of the breast. You’ll probably use at least half of the bird for this dish. Don’t worry; you’ll still have enough left over for tomorrow’s dinner (shredded chicken and cheese quesadillas or shredded chicken over pasta and sauce). Put the chicken pieces straight into the pan with a few handfuls of frozen veggies (again, this is up to you and your definition of what’s yummy). Keep it on low heat and stir around for a few minutes, place into a pie dish and unroll a pie sheet over the top, crimping the sides down. Pop it into a 375 oven for about 10 minutes, just enough to make sure it’s sufficiently hot and that the crust is a golden brown. You’re all set! The beauty of this dish is that the chicken is already cooked and warm from the sauce and if your veggies were frozen when they went in, they’ll retain their shape without going mushy in your final product. Boil some water on the stove and steam whatever veggies you have around and you’ve got a full meal in 20 minutes tops. And not just any meal, we’re talking a homemade-ish type meal. It’s so unbelievable yummy too. If you’re not a natural chef (and if you are, please send me your shortcuts!) be careful about cooking this when Persons of Importance are around. It’s total false advertising regarding your culinary prowess! :-)