At Last, I Shall Say Fair Well

Its no secret that my posts have become null and void in the last year or more. I’ve thought often of writing, but have realized in recent months that the life of this blog has well served its purpose and therefore reached its max potential right now.

I do love to post the fun stuff going on in our crazy country life, but like to keep it short and sweet. Instagram has become my favorite way to share. If you’d still like to see what we’re up to come join me on Instagram @alishagibb. I’ve decided to leave the site active since I’ve shared so many recipes over the years and would hate to take those down. …and who knows, maybe someday down the road, I’ll decide to write again.

Until then… Thank you for being such wonderful readers. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you and hope to continue in a condensed version.

Peace, love and sweet good-byes!!

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Not Sure I’m Cut Out For This

When Grady and I decided that we would go great guns and accept this job opportunity  I knew there would be BIG changes in store for me.  We knew we were moving to a REALLY rural and REALLY small community, even more so than the already small hometown we were leaving.

When crunching numbers, in the beginning, we were trying to decide if a job outside of the home would be feasible for me or not.  We were faced with a greater commute and finding daycare for Ella.  After more talks with the ranch management, I was given the option to work on the ranch, as well.  This was PERFECT!  We wouldn’t need to find daycare for Monkey.  She could go with us!  I wouldn’t have to commute!  I could work part-time as needed and still take care of things at home.

So, how does someone who has ALWAYS held a full-time job and a busy schedule transition to being a stay at home mom/ranch hand?  I could lie to you and tell you that it was easy and wonderful, but that just isn’t the case.  I was so accustomed to a set schedule, and a really FULL one, at that.  Get up, get kids ready and delivered to their destinations (school or daycare), go to work 8 to 5, come home, fix dinner and take care of the usual home stuff, cleaning, laundry, homework, bathes and on and on and on.

When we moved I wasn’t really sure what my daily schedule would look like.  I was now in charge of all the mowing/weed eating upkeep on the ranch along with other maintenance type jobs, i.e. fence painting.  …and there’s a TON of both!!!!  I would also be needed for any gathering/working of cattle.  I was SO excited for this!  I love outdoor work.

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ranch work.  So, what was I going to do with the rest of my time?

Tucker goes to school Monday through Thursday and Ella doesn’t have the preschool opportunity right now.  I love my children beyond any amount of measure imaginable.  My family is my EVERYTHING, but I have always known felt that being a stay at home mom (SAHM) was not something I was cut out to do.  I’ve always enjoyed working outside of the home.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever really known.  So, how was I going to successfully transition to this new role?  How were we (Monkey and I) going to fill our time together without boredom, frustration and disaster?  I was, honestly, worried.

The truth is that the first month and a half weren’t easy.  Monkey DID get bored.  She was SO used to playing with her friends at daycare.  Now it was just us and this wide open space.  I felt frustrated with what I thought was all this “extra” time on my hands.  I felt guilty.  Guilty that she didn’t have friends close to play with.  She would ask daily when we were going back to our old house.  I felt guilty for not having something to fill 100% of my time while my husband was working all day, every day.

As the days, weeks and eventually, months passed I realized that the house and Monkey were my new job.  I was able to figure out that keeping my house in order, maintaining the kids on a regular schedule, helping Grady with new ranch record keeping, staying up on our own personal books and maintaining my responsibilities at the ranch were enough to fill my days.

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Some days certainly wear her out!!!

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So, what made me realize these things?  I finally figured out that I didn’t need to have that constant chaotic stressed out feeling to know that my day had been productive or full.  I CAN feel relaxed, calm and at ease AND be highly productive.  Actually…. I’m MORE productive in this new environment.  My home is the way I like it.  I’m able to stay on top of things that I was struggling with before.  I look forward to my time working each day.  Monkey is content and HAPPY with her new lifestyle.  Tucker is excelling at school.  …and my marriage has benefited greatly!!!  All because I’ve figured out balance.

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We definitely have tough days.  There are certainly days that I just want to throw in the towel.  But on average, MOST days are full of laughter, adventure and goodness.

Life is good.

And I’ve realized that I AM cut out for this stay at home mom thing.  It’s a pretty alright job.

Peace, love and HAPPINESS!!!!!

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

Yesterday, another foodie friend/co-worker, aka Amy, shared with me a recipe she found for a skinny fettuccine alfredo.  She sent me a text message the night before raving over it and promising to share in the goodness.  I’ve always been a skeptic of skinny alfredo sauces because they’re either not really skinny or they don’t taste anything like alfredo sauce.  But… she and I have VERY similar tastes so I trusted her gut (literally, LOL!).

She gave me the recipe and a few pointers on things she would have changed.  I followed her advise and made it for supper last night. fettuccineAre you ready?

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

8 oz. whole wheat pasta (use any shape you desire)
8-10 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 tsp. olive oil
3 tsp. corn starch
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped

In a large sauce pan cook pasta to al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Cook chicken and 1 clove garlic until almost done. Before chicken is fully finished add mushrooms and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are softened. Remove from pan and set aside.

While chicken is cooking stir together cornstarch and broth to make a slurry.

After removing the chicken and mushrooms, return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil. Saute remaining garlic for about 30-40 seconds in the oil until it becomes fragrant. Add the slurry to the pan and bring to a bubbling simmer. Whisk occasionally while it thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from heat and add the yogurt. Stir to combine completely until smooth. Add spinach and and chicken and mushroom mixture. Stir until the spinach wilts. Add pasta and toss until completely coated.

Serve!!

This stuff was OFF THE HOOK!

I loved it.  Grady tried it and he even thought it was pretty amazing.

I really like that you can EASILY make this a vegetarian meal by switching to vegetable broth and subbing in other fun veggies instead of the chicken.  …and if you’re on a low/no carb diet use a spaghetti squash instead of the pasta.

Want to know something funny?  I messed up a few measurements, adding 2 TBSP of oil and cornstarch each rather than 2 tsp like the original recipe called for.  I had to thin the sauce out with a little extra broth, but in the end the calorie count was still at 439 with the extra fat.  TOTALLY reasonable.

Here’s the skinny on the CORRECT measurements.  The recipe yields 4 (LARGE) servings, each serving is as follows: 389 calories, 9g fat, 43g carbs, (5g fiber), 39g protein and 871mg sodium.

I absolutely LOVE how protein packed this dish is!!!  The combination of the yogurt and chicken give this meal its power punch!  It will keep you satisfied and full.  The best part… no butter, no heavy cream and ALL the flavor!!!

Give it a try.  You won’t regret it.  …and get crazy and creative with your veggies. (I’m adding steamed broccoli next time!!!)

 

Peace, love and alfredo heaven!!!

Chipotle Honey Chicken and Lime Quinoa Bowl

Pinterest was good to me again last week!

I may need an intervention.  I know I’ve admitted this before.  I just can’t get enough of it. It truly is an amazing source for… ANYTHING!  It’s my main source for new and creative recipes.

I have a little confession.  Maybe you have the same problem I have.  I find things at the store, things that aren’t “regular” ingredients and I think to myself, “Self, you will USE this sometime soon!!!  You better get it!”  Then I get home, put it in the pantry and it stays there for months.  I look at it every now and again thinking, “Self, you DIDN’T use that like you said you would.”  Then I grab the “usual” thing I was looking for and close the pantry door.  Do you do that too?  Hopefully, I’m not alone in this.

I’ve had two cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce waiting very patiently on the back shelf for quite some time.  Thank goodness for a long shelf life!  I finally got to open up a can of them for the Neely chili, but I had quite a few left…  waiting.  Again.

Last week a friend pinned a recipe for Chipotle Honey Chicken with Lime Quinoa.

YES!!!!

A.) It was a use for the rest of those chipotle peppers.

B.) Something DIFFERENT to do with chicken.

and…

C.) QUINOA!!!!  I. LOVE. QUINOA!!!!!!

The recipe looked great, HEALTHY and simple.  I only modified a few things from the original version and it was fantastic!

If you missed the link above, here it is again.

Chicken bowl

So, here’s how I modified it…

For the chicken marinade I cut the oil in half and could have probably cut THAT in half as well.  I’m not sure why folks think we need so much oil to marinade our meat in.  It’s just unnecessary calories and mine turned out incredibly moist and didn’t stick.  I also added some lime juice because I’m crazy like that.  Honey and chipotles need a lime to make them happy.  Yes, I know I have lime in the quinoa, but who can have too much?  Right?  Then, I grilled my chicken instead of pan searing, because again, I’m crazy like that.

..and the quinoa…of course I left out the oil in it.  It doesn’t need it.  Period.

I didn’t have the fancy spring mix greens for my version.  My little grocery store was out.  DARN IT!  I LOVE spring mix greens.  …I settled for the less interesting iceberg lettuce.

…and then there’s the dressing.  I couldn’t just settle for honey and lime juice spritzed on my food.  I don’t do “spritzing”.  I. Like. Dressing.  I can’t give up a creamy dressing.  I just can’t.  If you can imagine, I looked through Pinterest a little further and found a LIGHT creamy chipotle dressing.

BINGO!!!  I could use the REST of my chipotles.  My day was getting so much better!

Creamy Chipotle Dressing

The ONLY thing I changed in this recipe was adding a touch of honey to balance the tartness of the yogurt.  PERFECTION!

I served mine with tomatoes, avocado, green onion and a little cheese.  Next time I think I’ll add a few black beans to the mix.

I would give you the skinny on this salad, but it’s kind of complicated.  I don’t feel like doing a calorie count on the actual ingredient list is accurate because MOST of the marinade is discarded…

In celebration of Spring’s arrival tomorrow I think you should plan this for supper tomorrow!!!  You won’t be sorry.  If you’re new to the world of quinoa this would be the PERFECT introduction!!!

Peace, love and happy pantries!!!

The Liebster Award

Over the weekend I was blown away when I got an email from a new follower awarding me the Liebster Award!!! Thank you SO MUCH Ravenously Disappearing Woman.  I’m SO excited!!!

I’ve never been given a blog award.  So bear with me as I fumble through this.

Like all blogging awards, it comes with a few rules, and here they are:

The Rules:

(1) Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog

(2) You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.

(3) Nominate 10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination. (I’ll be honest and tell you I’m breaking the rules!  I don’t have 10…  I’m sorry.  Do I have to go to blogger jail?)

(4) Come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

Here are the wonderful questions that RDW asked me:

1. What’s something about yourself that you’re most proud of?

Well, there are many things that I’m really proud of.  I’m proud of the babies that God gave me.  They are truly my pride and joy.

But… if this is personal and just about ME…  Well, I’m most proud of the 45 pound that I’ve lost in the past two years and KEEPING it off.  I’m proud of the person, INSIDE and OUT, that I worked hard to transform myself into.  It was a long, sometimes challenging road, but I DID IT!!

2. If you had to spend a year in one place, where would that place be and why?

I think I’d love to go spend a year traveling in Europe.  I’ve never been and would love the chance to just go and roam all over the country without an agenda or time constraint.

3. What’s your most embarrassing moment?

So, I’ve given this one lots of thought and I, honestly, can’t come up with a good one.  I have lots of really personal moments that I can’t share that are/were embarrassing.  I’m certain there’s a really good story floating out there somewhere that I’m blocked from my memory.  I apologize, but I’ll have to let you down on this one.

4. My guilty pleasure is watching trash TV, what’s yours?

Oh, I LOVE some of the trash TV.  I try really hard not to watch too much of it because it really is TRASH, but….  I can’t go without watching my Real Housewives of New Jersey, Orange County, and Beverly Hills.  The B.H. gals are, by far, my favorite.  I always say that watching these insanely wealthy women go through as much drama and nonsense as they do makes me feel pretty good about my “simple” life.

5. What teacher had the most impact on you in school and why?

My high school Anatomy/Physiology teacher, Miss Robinson or Miss “R”, had to be one of the greatest teachers.  There was no doubt that her class was TOUGH, but she was always encouraging us to learn more and be better.  Her catch phrase every Friday was “Be Safe.  Be Legal and come back to me on Monday!”

6. What was your favorite vacation ever?

When I was about 13 we took an extended family vacation to the remote mountains of Colorado with my dad’s family.  It was spectacular!  We stayed in a rustic cabin owned my mother’s step-mother’s family (get that connection? LOL!)  There was no electricity so all the light came from kerosene lamps hung from the walls.  No television, no phone and no music for a week.  Even for a 13-year-old it was heaven.  We hiked, fished, cooked fabulous food and enjoyed each others company.

7. What book or movie is your life most like?

I don’t know that there’s a book or movie that my life is most like, but I can definitely relate to a few television shows.  I love the crazy relationships in Modern Family and Parenthood.  I think that both of those shows put a fun twist of the reality of life and all the insanity that the daily grind brings.

8. Who or what is the main inspiration for your blog posts?

My “crazy” life.  I started this blog because I wanted to share my country style life with the world and those who don’t get to experience the world of cowboys, horses and cattle.  After a while, I realized that my blog became more about the funny stories of my children, my love of photography and passion for good food, and more recently, my passion for good HEALTHY food.

9. Have you ever made a prank phone call?  Tell me about it!

Oh, mercy.  I’m certain I made my fair share of prank calls in my youth at various slumber parties, but I don’t remember any specific one.  I was the kid who was scared to death to get in trouble, but LOVED to watch everyone else do it.

10. What’s the funniest You Tube clip you’ve ever watched?  Can you share it?

I know I watched it for the first time on YouTube, but it was an actual commercial.  Several years ago K-Mart made a commercial called “Ship My Pants”.  I have NEVER laughed so hard at a commercial as I did that one.  I actually watched it at work with co-workers and we were all rolling.  I saved the link for my “bad days” when I needed a good laugh. If you haven’t seen it here you go.  Ship My Pants

Here are the questions for my winners:

  1. When you die what’s the ONE thing you hope you’re remembered for?
  2. Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing 15 years ago?
  3. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
  4. What’s the most interesting place you have ever lived?
  5. What’s your favorite book and why?
  6. Are you a “relax on the beach bum” or “big, crazy adventurer”?
  7. What inspires you?
  8. When you’re having a bad day what do you do to get out of the funk?
  9. I can’t leave the house without….
  10. Do you watch the Olympics or not?

…and here are my winners:

frugalfeeding

Main St. Cuisine

Scout Smith Scoop

The Mommy Stylist

The Rusted Chain

Thank you again, to The Ravenously Disappearing Woman!  I think you rock and your story is INSPRING!!!

Peace, love and honors!

Is There a Full Moon?????

Last night my house was full of “crazy” behavior.

Okay, so it’s always a little crazy inside these four walls, but this was just above and beyond.

I’m going to blame it on the unseasonably warm weather AND the approaching full moon.  I like to blame the moon.  It’s ALWAYS the moon’s fault.

It started with this.

EllaSomeone found Daddy’s razor in the bathroom and thought it’d be fun to try to shave like Daddy.  It didn’t turn out so well for her.  The band-aid was actually a must.  The darn thing wouldn’t stop bleeding.  …and it made her feel better.

Shortly thereafter, this was the scene.

GradyAs I explained to my Instagram and Facebook friends…  See the light switch on the wall?  See the man in the chair trying to THROW the tissue box at it?  Yes, that really happened.  He wanted to read the local rural directory and needed more light, but didn’t want to get the dog off his lap or get UP to do it.  In all fairness, he DID ask me to turn the light on for him after a few failed attempts using other methods of madness to achieve his goal.  I told him it was more entertaining to watch his shenanigans and remained on the couch folding the laundry.  It was quite humorous.  And for clarification… the tissue box didn’t work.  He still had to get up to turn it on.

Then the noise level escalated to squeals, screams and laughter as this happened.

Tuck 1Tuck 2Playing airplane with a 2-year-old is one thing, but airplane with a 7-year-old borders on ridiculous.  Tuck has a huge fear of heights and falling so his father holding him hostage in the air for a prolonged period of time was sending him over the edge.  He couldn’t decide if he was having fun or if he was scared to death which resulted in screams followed by lots of nervous laughter.

Thankfully, bedtime was only 10 minutes after the airplane rides ceased.  This momma was worn out from all the CRAZY behavior.

I’m kind of nervous to see what happens tomorrow.

Yikes!

Peace, love and insanity!!!!

Cilantro Lentils

Happy Monday my friends!!!

How was your weekend?  Mine was fast paced but delightful.  I took a quick trip south to my sister’s neck of the woods for a baby shower for a sweet friend/family member.  I have to laugh because the “momma-to-be” is my sister’s SIL and no relation to me at all, but I feel very much like she’s a big part of my family.  What would I call her?  She’s not just a friend….  Hmmmm…. and H-SIL, honorary sister-in-law…????

Either way, it was a beautiful shower and there were so many lovely ladies there.  I loved being a part of it.

The whole trip was less than 24-hours so, it goes without saying, I was pretty wiped out by the time I got home.

Yesterday was quiet.  We enjoyed our church family and then came home for a light lunch and naps for the littles and a personal mission to CLEAN the house.

In the back of my mind I had this blog post on my agenda.  It had actually been on the agenda since Friday, but I just didn’t get the time.  I tried a new recipe Thursday night and was SO excited about it that I didn’t want to wait too long before I shared it.

Over the Christmas holiday I got a soup mix kit that had lentils in it.  I had never cooked with them before.  I knew they were a legume and really good for you, but just wasn’t sure how to prepare them other than as an addition to soups.  Since my family loved the soup mix so much I had an abundance of all the ingredients, lentils being one of those.

I set out on a web trek to find alternative uses for lentils.  I came across several recipes that were quite similar.  I chose the one I had the most ingredients for and got busy.  I’ll admit I also chose this one because it appealed to my love affair with cilantro.  Cilantro can make anything taste good.  Right?

LentilsAs these were cooking I was a little concerned that they would be really flavorless and bland as the “broth” of the cooking liquid didn’t amount to much, but to my surprise, after it all came together it was fantastic!  I wasn’t sure if they were meant to be eaten as a meatless main dish or as a side.  I opted to serve them with a grilled chicken breast that I had leftover in the fridge.

(Cue that heavenly music.)  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!  They were FAN-TAS-TIC!!!

Creamy.

Hearty.

Lemony and delicious!!

I was so excited!  Then I entered them into my nutritional calculator and was even more excited!!  A 2/3 cup serving was only about 100 calories!!  (2/3 cup is a LOT of lentils!!!)

Cilantro Lentils
(recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine)

1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed (I think mine were green, so I doubt it really matters…)

1 large tomato, chopped

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

3/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or more if you desire a little more heat

Kosher salt

1 TBSP butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Juice of one lemon

Combine the lentils, 6 cups of water, chopped tomato, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are broken up and the mixture thickens, about 45 minutes.  Whisk vigorously, occasionally, throughout the cooking process to help break up the lentils.

When the lentils are almost done melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.  Stir garlic, cilantro and lemon juice into the cooked lentils.  Season additionally with salt and pepper if desired and serve.

***Note: My little grocery store didn’t have any fresh ginger so I just used about a teaspoon of the dried spice and I think it turned out okay.  Next time I’ll try to find the fresh version and see if it makes a huge flavor difference.

The Skinny: 1 serving is 2/3 cup (yields approximately 6 servings)

Calories: 104/serving; Carbs: 22g; Fat: 2g; Protein: 10g; Sodium: 14g; Sugars: 2g

So…. you can see that these things are SOOO good for you.  Winner!  Winner!!!!

If you haven’t tried these delightful little things yet, go for it.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Peace, love and new food ventures!!!!!