Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- January 29, 2017

Beans, beans and more beans.... goodness! I won a little contest recently on one of my Facebook garden groups - The Serious Seed Traders. This was a big package of all kinds of beans.  I have bush beans, snap beans, pole beans, semi-pole beans and even more beans. And did I mention peas - yes, several different kinds of peas.

And black-eyed peas, and lima beans, and on and on and on!
There were lot of interesting ones, and even some that I had a hard time identifying (yes, Google let me down!)

This is called a European Soldier Bean.  Can you see the little soldier there with his tall feathered cap?
 I know its a bush bean, but not much else about it.
 This turned out to be a Flora de Mayo bean. It took some bean experts online to help me with this one.
 Huh? Okay, but are you a bush bean or a pole bean?
 I can't find Grandma Nellie anywhere.
 No idea.
And another - oh well, I think I'll just grow them eventually and then I'll find out what kind they are.  I can't possibly plant all of these, so it will take some time.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Shrimp and Avocado Stacks and WW Update

A really good week on Weight Watchers - I lost 2 more pounds this week! Whoop!

Total so far with WW is 18 pounds, 14 pounds before WW, so 32 pounds so far.  Very happy with the progress, and I'm really liking the new Freestyle.
My method of keeping track - December was blue, January is yellow.

Last week I made an interesting meal that looks fancy, but is pretty darn easy.  I can hardily recommend anything from the Skinnytaste website - she's inspired!



  • 1 1/3 cups cooked short-grain brown rice (from 1/2 cup uncooked)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 8 ounces cooked shrimp, peeled and tails removed
  • 1 cup diced cucumber (about 1 small)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado (about 1 medium)
  • 4 teaspoons Furikake (such as Eden Shake or use sesame seeds)
  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free)
  • 4 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce


  1. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and oil.  When rice is done, add rice vinegar and stir.  Evenly spread rice on a sheet pan to cool.
  2. Cut shrimp into 1-inch cubes. In a small bowl, combine cucumber and chives. In another small bowl, combine mayonnaise and sriracha sauce.
  3. Using a 1 cup dry measuring cup, layer ¼ cup cucumber, then 2 tablespoon of avocado, then ¼ of the shrimp, and 1/3 cup rice.
  4.  Carefully turn the cup upside down to turn the stack out onto a plate, lightly tapping the bottom of the cup if necessary.  Sprinkle with Furikake and drizzle with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and sriracha mayonnaise.
  5.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.


Yield: 4 servings, Serving Size: 1 stack
  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Freestyle Points: 5
  • Points +: 6
  • Calories: 225 calories
  • Total Fat: 11g
  • Saturated Fat: g
  • Cholesterol: 73mg
  • Sodium: 662mg
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Protein: 10g

Read more at https://www.skinnytaste.com/spicy-california-shrimp-stack/#jYDGDBtSYS3m3B8x.99

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Zero Point Taco Soup and WW Update!

Today it's icy and cold and sleeting on and off, so we're basically taking a day off.  It sounds like most of San Antonio is also on "pause" because we south Texans just don't know how to drive in ice and snow. Also, we like unexpected days off! Bonus!

I'm busy making this Zero point Taco Soup - it's my third batch since starting Weight Watchers, and I love having a jar of this ready to heat up when I want it.  It's "zero" points to count (!!!!) and very filling!

Zero Point Taco Soup
Can of Black Beans
Can of Pinto Beans
Can of Northern Beans
Can of Corn
Can of Diced Tomatoes
1 lb. 99% Fat Free Ground Turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery
1/2 c. diced red &/or green pepper
1 jar salsa of your choice (mild or hot)
Pkt. of Taco Seasoning
Can of Refried Beans, Fat Free

  1. Drain and rinse cans of black beans, pinto beans, and northern beans. Drain can of corn. Set aside.
  2. Spray pan and brown onion, celery and peppers.  Put in your slow cooker.
  3. Spray pan and brown the ground turkey. Put it in the slow cooker.
  4. Pour in salsa, diced tomatoes, packet of taco seasoning and mix.
  5. Add beans and corn.  Add about 4 cups of water and mix thoroughly.  Turn slow cooker on high for about 4 hours, or low for about 6 hours.  Add refried beans and stir until they are incorporated into the soup.  Heat a while longer and then it's ready to eat! No other seasoning needed.

You can change out some of the beans if you prefer others, such as cannellini, kidney, navy, pink, or white beans.  Whatever you have, really.  So good!  Since it's zero points, treat yourself to a dollop of sour cream, or avocado on top.

By the way - I lost 3 pounds this past week! Happy as can be with the program so far.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- January 16, 2017

Today I started some of the tomatoes for the greenhouse, but ran out of little starter pods.  I have more coming, so I'll finish up when they arrive.

Today's starts are:

Banana Legs - a yellow paste type tomato. Got these seeds from the Heirloom Tomato and Vegetable (HT&V) FB group. This is the only determinate tomato I'm growing this year.

Zluta Kytice - a small yellow cherry tomato - multifloral. This one came from a fellow gardener, a member of the Serious Seed Trader (TSST) FB group.

Voyage Reisetomate - an explosion of a tomato that I'm so excited to try. The seeds came from the HT&V FB group.

Brad's Atomic Grape - another one I'm excited about.  If you've seen the cover of Baker Creek's catalog this year - that's the one. I received these from another member of the TSST FB group. A cherry grape tomato.

Flathead Monster Orange - large orange tomato, the seeds came from the HT&V FB group.

Hog Heart - a paste tomato, seeds from the HT&V FB group.

Large Barred Boar - these came from a fellow gardener in TSST group. Kind of excited to try this seed developed by the Wild Boar Farms - a red with green stripes.

Wisconsin 55 Gold - sent as an extra from the same sweet man, Martin, who sent me the Zluta Kytice seeds, a member of TSST FB group. 

There are a few more that I'm planning for this year, and I'll post about them when I get them in the greenhouse.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- January 15, 2017

I've been working on making seed mats for the Spring garden while the cedar pollen floats by the windows outside.  If I go out, or even open the doors, the sneezing begins....and never stops! ha! Actually, its getting a little better since the daily allergy pills have finally kicked in and they are helping minimally.  

I really do recommend these for those gardeners, who like me, are over 60 and bending down over and over again is getting impossible.  All I have to do is rake the soil back, lay my mats down, and cover with the correct depth of soil. So much easier, especially with those tiny seeds.

Seed mats packaged up and ready to plant in March

So far I've created: 

  1. Shin Kuroda
  2. NutriRed
  3. Ginff
  4. Rainbow F1
  5. Atomic Red
  1. Tronchuda
  2. Siber Frill
  3. Dazzling Blue
  4. Pentland Brig
  5. Scarlet
  6. Red Russian
  7. Blue Curled Scotch
  8. Lacinato
  9. Premier
  1. All-Year
  2. Salad Bowl Green
  3. Salad Bowl Red
  4. Winter Density
  5. Red Romaine
  6. Iceberg
  7. Merlot
  8. Freckles
  9. Matina Sweet
  1. Sweetheart
  2. Cylindra
  3. Golden
  4. Chiogga
Swiss Chard
  1. Orange
  2. Cardinal
  3. Erbette
  1. Bloomsdale
  2. Gigante d'Inverno
  3. Red Kitten
  4. Viroflay
  5. America
  6. Palco
  7. Regiment
  1. Golden
  2. Pink Plume
  3. Peppermint Stick
I will describe more about these varieties when I plant them out this spring.

Meanwhile, the little pepper seeds are nice and warm and under lights and on the heat mats in the greenhouse.  I'm using new grow lights this year - these are the ones with the red blue IR and white full spectrum lights. It will be interesting to see if there is any difference from my old florescent light fixture that I've used for years. It worked just fine, but it got dropped this year and broke.
Starting the tomatoes next!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- January 14, 2017

And so it starts! Today I started my pepper seeds for the Spring 2018 garden. So excited to finally get some things going.  

Our last frost date is somewhere mid-March, although last year we were blessed with a very mild winter. I think I was planting out there in the big garden by March 1st last year.  We're having a lot colder winter so far this year, but it won't hurt to keep these little plants going in the greenhouse should the weather not cooperate.

To start with, the sweet peppers:
1. Topepo Giallo - purchased seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. 

2. Stocky Golden Rooster - seeds I received from one of my Facebook garden groups.  *love*love*love* the Heirloom Tomatoes and Vegetable Lovers FB group!

3. Marconi Red - more from the FB group

4. Jimmy Nardello - I've been wanting to try this one for years and got these seeds from the FB group

5. Gypsy Hybrid - the last of my seeds from Totally Tomatoes. I have saved seeds but since these are a hybrid, no telling what I'd get.  I may try some of those, though, just for fun.

6. Violet Sparkle - Baker Creek seeds from last year's purchases.

7. Chocolate Mini Bell - a seed trade with a FB member from Rancho Cordova, California. He sent these as a little something "extra" with some green cotton seeds. Another reason to love fellow gardeners.

Then a few hot peppers:

1. Sugar Rush Peach - provided by a fellow gardener here in Texas I found through the FB Hot Pepper Club group. Most of the pepper people on this group are WAY into hot hot hot, but I think this one will be a mild heat. 

2. White Fantasy - seeds from the Heirloom Tomatoes and Vegetable Lovers FB group. A mild aji type pepper.

3. Hatch - seeds I saved from a pepper purchased at HEB last year. These are fairly mild, less heat than a jalapeno.
More planting tomorrow!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- January 6, 2017

Not much going on in the big garden right now, with sage and oregano the only two things still out there.  Both will overwinter just fine.

The greenhouse is where it's at right now.  There's a pot of lettuce that I'm cutting as I need it. I've forgotten which variety this is, but it's tasty!
 The four loquat trees have been planted in small pots for the winter and they look to be thriving. I'm looking forward to seeing how this tree will do in our orchard.  They'll most likely stay in pots for a year of more, depending on how fast they grow.
 Two of my aloe plants have bloomed.  They have a gorgeous peach colored bloom!

The Brown Turkey fig tree has lost it's leaves, and is starting to show some new growth along the main stem.  This is the first winter for this tree, so not quite sure what to expect.   
I'm trying to keep a tray of micro-greens going. This is the new one, and I'll start another this coming week.  Still loving these fresh, crunchy greens during this unusually cold winter we're having. 
Things are about to start picking up soon in the greenhouse, as I'm going to start the onions and some of the tomatoes and peppers for our 2018 garden!

I've been spending time making my seed mats while its been so cold outside.  So far I've made my carrot and kale mats.  

Looking forward to start getting our hands in the dirt soon!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Week 1 Meal Plan (Chicken Pesto Wonton Cupcakes) - Monday Night (1/1/18)

Tonight we had an interesting dinner using wonton wrappers! I found this on Emily's Bites website - she has some great ways to keep you out of your "regular, boring routine" and getting some variety into your menus.  Fairly easy to make (and I got to try our my new mini Instant Pot!) That thing works great!

I wish I had taken a picture of them before we ate, they were quite pretty, too. I entered them into the WW recipe builder and they are 7 points for two cupcakes.

Chicken Pesto Wonton Cupcakes

yield: 8 CUPCAKES


  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ¾ cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups diced or shredded cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 4 grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 16 wonton wrappers (typically found in the produce section)
  • 4 oz (1 cup) shredded 2% Mozzarella cheese


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375. Lightly mist 8 cups in a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Bring a small, dry skillet over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally until nuts are golden brown.
  3. Transfer the toasted pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, oil, water, lemon juice, garlic clove, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the bowl of your food processor and process until minced together into a pesto paste. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the chopped chicken with the pesto and the chopped tomatoes and mix together until well combined.
  4. Push a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each of the eight sprayed cups in the muffin tin. Using about half of the chicken mixture, spoon evenly into the wonton wrappers. Sprinkle about half the Mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of each cup. Press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat the layering steps with the remaining chicken mixture and Mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

Confession time....

I've joined Weight Watchers again. I'm wondering how many times I've done that through the years? I know I probably have about 3 of their old style scales ferreted away in my house, so that might be an indication of how long it's been.
This time I have so much more inspiration to lose what has been "weighing" me down:

  1. One year ago I was in the hospital with a diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure. Talk about a sign from God to get my act together.  I'm fine now, seeing a cardiologist and my regular doctor and they have me on the right path, but.... this weight....has to go.
  2. My daughter has spent a year getting her body in such a good place - she looks FANTASTIC and she has inspired me that if she can do it while raising two youngsters and keeping a professional job going, then what's my excuse?
  3. My grandchildren need their Mimi.  I have to get more energy and the ability to keep up with them - they're 7, 3 and 1-1/2 years old, so you see, they've got lots of go go go!

I joined WW online at the end of November, before Thanksgiving.  We even took a trip on Thanksgiving week and I stayed true to my plan.  I lost a total of 10 pounds from beginning to the end of December.  Today I weighed in again and another 2 pounds. So I'm on my way. They encourage us to take a "before" picture, and that's me there. Ugh. I hate cameras!

My goal for 2018:

  1. Down to a goal weight of 165.
  2. Maintain that weight when I get there.
  3. Learn new eating habits.
  4. Move more.

My goals for January:

  1. Lose a total of 10 more pounds.
  2. Track everything I eat.
  3. Stay within my WW points plan.
  4. Drink at least 8 cups of water a day.
  5. Find something WW approved at every "away from home" event. It can be done!

I'll be posting some of my menu recipes on the blog here and there, so that I can have them easily available if we really liked them.  John's eating the meals with me, although not sticking totally to the WW plan.
Here's hoping that being accountable to this blog and my WW plan will help me succeed!