Thursday, January 6, 2011

Inspiration and Turkey Meatballs

Inspired: aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if by supernatural or divine influence.

The above is Webster Dictionary's definition for being inspired, and lately I am feeling such. Now normally, my inspiration will last long enough to give me some amazing ideas that never take form or shape. I certainly have the "spirit to do something," but the "doing" is usually the problem for me. But within the last year I have become much better about following those ideas through to conclusion... case in point: my kitchen. Last year at this time, it looked right out of the 70's: dark, basic, all of those fab yellow/orange/olive green tones, you get the idea. Now it's crisp, white, stainless-clad, and looking fresh (thanks to about 7 billion man-hours and $300).

(insert randomness here....) Isn't it strange to all you DIYers out there, that the above relation is inversely proportional? If you spend less money, you have to put waaaaaaay more time into a project, but if you ca drop a few thousand, it could be done in 2 days. Stinky, but true. My kitchen remodel cost just about $300 and took me 2 months!!! The average cost of a kitchen remodel in AZ (just changing the facades, appliances, and paint, i.e. everything I did) is around $4000, but can be done in a week - max. But really, what compares to the lost time, back spasms, chunks of hair lost b/c paint dripped into it, and sore muscles you gain when you do it all yourself? Money. That's right, money compares. We saved $3,700 and used it to go to buy a new AC unit so we can possibly (hopefully!!!) keep the house below 83 degrees in the daytime this August. Whew! But I digress....

I have lately been inspired to re-vamp our bedroom, backyard, laundry room, and guest bath. As much as I would LOVE to do this all right away, one at a time, April, one at a time!! We're focusing on replenishing our saving this year (we're not down by much, but we'd like it to be back to normal), so our budget for these projects comes to roughly $0. Hence why I've started with the backyard. For those of you who have never seen our back yard, thank your lucky stars. I have worked tirelessly on the inside of our home - painting, re-finishing, re-upholstering, and decorating it on almost no budget, to give us a gorgeous space. But when people come over and see our home, I almost NEVER acknowledge that we live on a large plot of land (which is saying something for a college town!). In fact, when Eric bought the home, his realtor informed him that he wasn't paying for a house, but rather the land on which it was built. Our backyard boasts, but is not limited to, the following things: a giant sinkhole where an olive tree died, random chunks of cinderblock and concrete lying just below the surface of the dirt, dirt, sand, an industrial sized bike rack, a crumbling shed, an unattached fire hydrant (to which my husband is horribly emotionally attached), the remnants of a sandstone patio (done poorly), all supplies leftover from ~30 year-old sandstone patio, a pool that has been filled to just below the tile with dirt, and a pair of 8 foot palm trees growing from said pool. Yep. Got that image? Bet you don't, but I do... every day.

Growing up, we ate, played, and practically lived in our backyard when the weather permitted. I want our backyard to be a place where we feel comfortable living. First things first, we are using a mini-jackhammer (Eric is in heaven!!) to pull out the top 3 feet of the pool, and the remnants of the sandstone. We are almost done, and with a few more free Saturdays, we should be all ready to start phase 2: grass. I'll be roto-tilling most of the yard (ridding us of those random chucks of cinderblock and concrete), and laying a brick enclosure for the grass, like this:

I'm hoping to find the bricks and the cement needed on Craigslist under the "free" section. I won't need much, and people are constantly trying to get rid of their excess from their projects (for which they inevitably payed too much). Then, I will be filling that enclosure with better soil (another Craigslist hopeful find), and eventually laying my favorite type of grass, St. Augustine:

I love it's thick blades and close-set roots. It makes it feel like a carpet, and it's ability to survive in high temps makes it perfect for the surface of the sun, where I live. After the grass (which Ted will LOVE), I'll repaint the wooden shed red and white (as it's styled like a mini-barn, albeit that it's previous owner decided to paint it a scintillating beige color... blech!), and fill the space around the grass/brick enclosure with rock (another Craigslist hopeful find). Eventually a new cement patio and a garden will follow, but for now, grass is the goal. I'm hopeful the project will cost next to nothing, since I'm doing the work myself, borrowing all the tools from friends and family, and asking for $ to complete the projects in lieu of birthday and anniversary gifts (I'm sick, I know). Maybe by the end of the school year my back yard will be able to parade around in front of the other backyards in its new duds, but we'll see.

And since this blog was created to be a place for recipes, I figure I should post one! I give you..... Chinese Turkey Meatballs and Brown Rice! (<--- sounds weird but tastes amazing and has a ridiculously low amount of calories and fat, yay!)

1 lb ground turkey breast, thawed
8 water chestnuts, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
5 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
cooking spray
1 package pre-cooked edamame, frozen

Step 1 - cook brown rice according to directions on package (should take about 45 minutes)
Step 2 - combine turkey, water chestnuts, garlic, green onions, applesauce, and 4 tsp soy sauce. Mix well with hands and divide into 4 parts (each part is one serving - you can freeze the turkey mixture for later, or make 4 servings with all of it)
Step 3 - shape turkey mix into 4 balls (1 serving = 4 meatballs. 2 servings = 8 meatballs, etc.)
Step 4 - Cook edamame according to directions on package (should be about 10 mins)
Step 5 - Spray a pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Place the balls in the pan and cook until done (no longer pink in center!), probably about 7 minutes.
Step 6 - toss cooked rice with leftover soy sauce (1 teaspoon), sesame oil, and rice vinegar.
Step 7 - serve meatballs over rice with edamame on the side

Ta Da!!

With just under 500 calories per serving, and tons of fiber, this meal is yummy, guilt-free, and easy to make! And since you can upgrade it to 4 servings, it's perfect for families! Oh hooray for cheap, easy, and guilt-free! If you have a bit of time (the rice takes about 45 mins, the rest takes about 10), and only a little money, then this will be perfect. You can bet that this is what will be on our kitchen table for two tonight!


  1. What an ambitious lady... you go girl!

    Those meatballs sound yummy... although I don't think I can call them Chinese, Quinn will probably tell me "just because there is rice, soy sauce, and sesame oil does not make it an Asian dish!"

    Haha =)

  2. So true! I should say "american-asian inspired" ;)