Friday, October 27, 2006

Recipes - Some of my favorites!!

The recipes in this section are NOT plan friendly!!!
They are a few of my favorite NON PLAN ones from the past!!

Here is the recipe for my 'Killer' Peanut Butter Cookies! These are my favorite non plan cookies!!

‘Killer’ Peanut Butter Cookies
(For best results, use exact ingredients as listed)

1 C. Reese’s smooth peanut butter
1 C. Parkay margarine, softened (or unsalted butter works OK too!)
1 C. granulated sugar
1 C. Domino Light Brown Sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2½ C. all-purpose flour
1½ t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
dash of salt (optional - I don't use it!)

In large mixing bowl, mix together peanut butter, margarine, sugars, and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Set aside. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir with fork until blended. Slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture. Stir until thoroughly blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (If you are in a hurry, chill in the freezer for 1 – 2 hours before baking).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375oF. (I bake with a convection oven.) Cover baking sheets with aluminum foil and DO NOT SPRAY. Roll dough into 1” balls and place about 3” – 4” apart on cookie sheet. Criss Cross each ball with a fork dipped in flour. Bake for 7 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 1 – 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack. Keep in sealed container. I keep them in the freezer.

Makes approximately 6 dozen cookies.

Apple Crisp

11 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I use Red Delicious or McIntosh apples – Granny Smith are too firm)
½ cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cup flour
½ cup margarine or butter (1 stick)

Preheat oven to 350oF.

Peel and slice apples. Put in 9 x 13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with water. Mix dry ingredients together in small mixing bowl. Cut in butter until all ingredients are well combined. (I mix this with my hands so there are no large chunks of butter.) Sprinkle evenly over top of apples.
Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

This is even better if eaten the next day and warmed in the microwave!

Apple Dumplings

6 medium baking apples peeled, cored and sliced (I use McIntosh apples)
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For dough:
2 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup butter or margarine
½ cup milk

For sauce:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 375oF.

Sift the flour and baking powder together in medium mixing bowl, then cut in butter until the mixture is fine and crumbly (I mix this with my hands so there are no large chunks of butter.) Sprinkle the milk over this and press lightly, working the dough only enough to hold it together. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts. Roll out each ball into a 6 inch square. Place a peeled and cored apple on each square. In separate bowl, mix the 1 cup white sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Fill the cored center of each apple with this mixture, Bring dough up around apple and cover it completely. Moisten top edges with water and fasten securely to top of apple.
Place dumplings 1 inch apart in greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Set aside.
Combine the brown sugar, 2 cups water, and rest of spices in medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter until it melts completely. Pour this mixture over the dumplings.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, basting occasionally. Serve hot with milk or vanilla ice cream!

A Pennsylvania Dutch treat!

Ham Balls
This recipe can be made for dinner or as appetizers – Thanks Lucy!

3 lbs. ground ham loaf mix (have your butcher grind together 1½ lbs. smoked boneless ham and 1½ lbs. boneless pork roast if ‘ham loaf mix’ is not available)
1½ C. honey graham crackers, crushed to crumbs (I use 1 pack in the box)
1 C. milk
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350oF. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, combine ham loaf mix and graham crackers together until blended. Add milk and eggs and mix thoroughly. (You may need to use your hands for this!)
For dinner size portions: Form into about 12, 3” diameter balls and place in baking dish.
For appetizer size portions: Form into about 30 – 40, 1-1½” diameter balls and place in baking dish.

Topping: Stir together the following ingredients in order given:

¾ C. brown sugar
3/8 C. vinegar
1 t. dry mustard
1 10¾ oz. can condensed tomato soup (generic brand works fine)

Cover ham balls with topping and bake for 1 hour. (Appetizer size may not take quite 1 hour – check after 45 minutes)
Spread topping over each ham ball when serving.

For appetizers: Remove from baking dish and arrange on platter. Pour topping over all and serve with toothpicks.

This recipe can be doubled if making for a crowd. You will probably need several baking dishes to bake them in, especially when making appetizer size.

Pizza Dip

1 8 oz. package light cream cheese, softened
1 16 oz. container light sour cream
oregano to taste ( 1/2 t.)
dried crushed hot pepper to taste
1 regular size jar Prego Chunky Garden w/ mushrooms spaghetti sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, chopped into small pieces
1 12 oz. bag shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large bag Bite Size Tostitos and/or other ‘dippers’

Preheat oven to 425oF.
Spray a large shallow baking dish with non-stick spray. (I use a 12” diameter spaghetti dish). Beat together cream cheese, sour cream, and spices until smooth. Spread evenly in prepared baking dish. Spread jar of Prego over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle diced onion and green pepper over sauce. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with Bite Size Tostitos and/or other ‘dippers’.

Monday, October 02, 2006

About my baskets.....

Amish Arrows Round Basket

- all baskets are designed and woven by me
wooden handles are either oak, ash, or hickory
wrapped handles are wrapped with common cane
all rims are double lashed with common cane
rectangular shaped baskets have filled bases (no holes) using a unique filling technique (I adapted one I learned from Grace Kabel)
round baskets have twined round reed bases
painting strips are made from ash
colored reeds are dyed using Rit dye
all baskets are overstained with black walnut hull stain made from real black walnuts and water
painted baskets are stained after they are painted
all baskets are signed and dated by the artist
Limited Edition baskets are signed, dated, and numbered by the artist and include a special “Limited Edition” seal on the tag

About the artist...ME!

- self-taught basketmaker since 1984
studied basketry techniques with Grace Kabel and John McGuire, nationally known basketmakers
- juried member of the Cumberland Valley Craftsmen since 1988
state juried member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen since 1990
- demonstrated basketweaving techniques for various civic groups, elementary schools and Vacation Bible School groups
participated in the WITF (PBS) Gallery 33 auction
- hosted “Baskets at the Studio” in 1995 with several basketmaking friends
participated in Pennsylvania Designer Craftsmen shows and other juried craft shows throughout Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Maryland

Friday, September 22, 2006

My Body Makeover

My 'Before' Picture

Did Someone Say ‘Half Price Sale?’

I had been fat my whole life, In grade school I was plump, but athletic and when puberty hit, my activity level went down and my weight went up! All through middle school, junior high school, and high school I tried many different types of diets, but I couldn’t stick with them for more than a few weeks. I usually didn’t lose much and when I stopped, I ended up heavier than when I started. When I was in high school, my dad even offered to buy me a new car if I could get my weight down to 150 pounds (from about 240 at the time) and even that wasn’t incentive enough. I had resigned myself to always being ‘heavy or large, whatever meant big!

Fast forward through 23 years of being fat and not doing much about it. When I tried to eat less (in number of meals and quantity), the weight still was there or increased. I had about given up any hope and surgery was not an option.

Then in 2004, I saw the 6WBM infomercial and thought that this plan looks interesting. Eat more, exercise less, sounds good to me! But at about $150, I just couldn’t justify the cost for a probable failure even with the money back guarantee. But my interest in this ‘diet’ was still there because every time I would catch the infomercial I would watch and listen.

Rock bottom hit in December 2004. I had become very bored with food. Nothing sounded good, tasted good, and I was tired of trying to think of something to make to eat. I just ate to because I had to. Easy and fast, nutritious? Not really. I needed someone or something to tell me what to eat!

Then in January 2005, I was channel surfing and I saw Michael Thurmond on HSN selling his program and discussing the benefits. I listened. The price from HSN was about $50 less that the infomercial and had free shipping! I decided that I was never going to see it for less, so I called and ordered the plan. I had finally taken the plunge! I figured that if this eating plan worked as advertised, not only would it tell me what to eat, but I would also lose weight at the same time. Perfect!

My box arrived on January 17th. I put the binder together that night, typed my body and did my blueprint. I was a type A with over 100 lbs. to lose. I made a grocery list and went shopping the next day. I started on Wednesday January 19, 2005 and I haven’t looked back since! I didn’t have a scale to get a start weight, but from reading my book, body measurements are more important anyway, so I got my trusty tape measure out and recorded my measurements. I used the full 60 inches to reach around my ‘gut’. That was an eye opening experience. I couldn’t believe I was that big, but the tape didn’t lie! My highest recorded weight at last check was 311 lbs. so I used that as my start weight. My current clothes were size 26/28. I set my original goal size to be size 12. The actual weight number at that size would take care of itself. I figured that might be about 160 lbs. I don’t remember ever being that weight, even in junior high school. If I made it to a size 12, I would be thrilled.

Since I had so much weight to lose, I knew I wouldn’t be done after 6 weeks, so I decided to simplify my life. I concentrated on the food part during the first six weeks. I collected and developed some recipes that I liked and were tasty. The online forums and recipes were a godsend! I got most of my recipes from there. I wouldn’t have made it without these resources. In March, I bought the cookbook for more recipes and ideas. And my clothes were getting looser!

I started my actual cardio workouts during my second 6-weeks. I started at 2 – 3 times per week of about 45 – 60 minutes. (I did get some cardio in every day from the beginning because I walk to work, but that was only about 20 minutes total per day.) My clothes were getting really big now, but I kept wearing them. I did buy a new smaller belt to help keep my pants up! That worked for a while, but I eventually had to buy a few new clothing items to wear to work. In May, I finally couldn’t keep my pants on any longer, even with the smaller belt, so I retired my 26/28 jeans and bought some size 20’s! I had never owned a pair of size 20 jeans! I had also bought a pair of size 18’s at the same time and when I tried them on to see how close I was to that size, I was stunned! These 18’s almost fit me now! So I upped my cardio to 4 days a week for 60 minutes each day and within 4 weeks, I was in those 18’s, comfortably. I figured at the rate I was losing, I might make my size 12 goal by Christmas!

But as my body changed, so did my goal size and rewards. In July, I decided that maybe a size 10 would be my ultimate goal size and maybe I could reach that by my 42nd birthday in February 2006. So I upped my cardio to 60 minutes, 5 – 6 days a week and added some toning. The weight really started to drop fast! I was losing about one size every six weeks.

In August, I was a size 16 and by the end of September, I was a size 14! This is when I reevaluated again. When I looked at my ‘new’ body, I didn’t think I was an ‘A’ anymore. I was still losing but I had no muscles! So I retyped my body and now it came out as an ‘E’. I couldn’t believe it! I took the online test 5 times, the kit test 3 times and even call the Provida help line twice just to make sure. I figured I would try the ‘E’ plan for a few weeks to see if it made a difference. (I also got a scale at this point to keep track.) As an ‘E’ I was now eating even more food than before and I was still losing weight! I dropped about 3 pounds each week! I even had strangers stop me on my way to work and tell me that I looked great!

I made my size 12 goal before Thanksgiving! When I visited friends and family in Pennsylvania, there were a lot of dropped jaws and puzzled looks! I had relatives and close friends not even recognize me! What a feeling!

In early December 2005, I was wearing some of my size 10 clothes and by Christmas I was in all of them! In 11 months, I had gone from a size 26/28 to a size 10! I had lost 128” from my body and my ‘gut’ measurement was now 37”! My waist was now smaller than my thighs when I started. Unbelievable!

When I started back in January, I had a bag of Mint Hershey Kisses in my clear glass cookie jar on my kitchen counter. And guess what…. It is still there! I did eat one when I reached my size 10 goal and then I was going to throw them away. But instead, I kept them there as a reminder that I control what I eat!

I like my new lifestyle now. I really enjoy my 60 minute cardio walk each day and the toning exercises aren’t bad either! I like my food and I only miss some off plan foods occasionally. Added salt is a real problem for me. A little is OK, but too much and I blow up like a balloon. Not a good feeling at all! And the clothes…..all of my ‘fat’ clothes are gone except for a few ‘fun ones’ I kept to share with my niece. She and I can wear them – both of us at the same time! I am having fun buying all new size 10’s. I even have a few size 8 pants and when I flatten my tummy and thighs a bit more, those 8’s will fit perfectly! Most of my new clothes have been purchased on half price racks, which is fitting because when people ask me how much weight I have lost, I say I am half price because I have lost over half of my body weight!

2005 was about losing the weight. 2006 (and beyond) is about toning it up and keeping it off! My next goal is to maintain this size 10 body. When I have maintained for one year, I am treating myself to the Jeff Gordon Racing School. And my biggest thrill there won’t be going 150 MPH, it will be sliding in the car thru the window! (They don’t have doors!) I couldn’t do this when I weighed over 300 lbs.!

I started out bored with food, but not anymore! When people ask me how I lost all the weight, their first thought is surgery. Nope, I tell them it’s Michael Thurmond’s Six Week Body Makeover, now in its fabulous 88th week!

Thank you Michael! Your plan rocks! (Are they a carb or a protein?) ;-)

For more info about this plan, check out this website:

If you look up the Success Stories, I was the Chat Forums Success Story of the month for June 2006! Here is the link - My Success Story

My Goal Picture! Size 10!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

First day!!

Welcome to my blog!!

I will be adding lots of stuff over the next few days, so keep checking back! I have lots of great recipes both healthy and some that are not as healthy, but just plain good! My baskets and handknits will also be featured!
I am new at this! Learning as I go!

Have a great day!