Friday, February 26, 2016

Pinterest Experiments - March 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins - Breakfast on the go

I don’t know about you, but for me life never seems to slow down.  This is why I am constantly looking for ways to make life simpler.  I work full time, about 45-minutes away from my son’s school and sometimes don’t get home until 6:45.  Furthermore, Mr. P (my 4 year old) goes to bed at 8:30 and The Doctor (I’m a little bit of a Doctor Who nerd/fan, sorry) doesn’t get home until 7:30, that doesn’t give us a lot of family time together during the week.  What little time we do have together I don’t want to spend in front of a steamy stove.   So, I’m a huge fan of the fast and easy healthy meals. 

Here is a recipe that is bound to make your life easier.  You can make these ahead on the weekend and enjoy them all week long.  This recipe makes a TON of muffins but you could easily freeze these and serve them later by defrosting them over night and re-heating for 10-15 seconds in the microwave.  I love them to just grab and go—a super easy solution to my busy life.  Plus, the family gives them two thumps up.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

·        6 Tbsp. Warm Water
·        2 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
·        4 tsp. Baking Powder
·        2 Bananas–ripe & mashed
·        2 15 oz. can Pureed Pumpkin
·        1 Cup Coconut Milk–canned full fat
·        2 Cup Almond Milk (or Flax)
·        2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
·        6 Cup Rolled Oats
·        1/2 cup Flaxseed Meal
·        8 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
·        1 tsp. Salt
·        1.5 cups raw brown sugar
·        Optional Toppings—Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Chocolate Chips, Chopped Walnuts, Raisins (whatever you like)

1.      Preheat oven to 350°
2.      Mix Warm Water, Chia Seeds and Baking Powder in a small bowl or ramekin and set aside
3.      Mix Banana, Pumpkin, Coconut Milk and Almond Milk in separate bowl
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray cupcake liners with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients except the optional toppings. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way and add optional toppings if desired. Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick in center comes out clean. Let cool for about 15 minutes before removing from liners. Enjoy or keep refrigerated for up to a week.
To Freeze, store in an airtight container. Defrost overnight in refrigerator. Warm in microwave 45-60 seconds.
Nutrition Info {without toppings}
Servings: 18* Calories per serving: 94* Fat: 3g* Cholesterol: 13mg* Sodium: 18mg* Carbs: 15g* Fiber: 3g* Sugars: 2g* Protein: 4g* Points+:3*

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vegetable Kale Stew

This recipe is excellent for multiple reasons; it’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s delicious.  Plus, it’s packed full of one of my favorite vegetables—kale!  Hope you enjoy this completely Vegan (Lenten) treat!

Vegetable Kale Stew
Cook time 25 minutes
Serves 6-8

·       1 Tbsp Sunflower oil (or your preference)
·       4 carrots-sliced
·       2 stalks celery-sliced
·       2 onions, sliced
·       3 garlic cloves, minced
·       4  tsp. Better Than Bouillon-Vegetable Bouillon (this is the brand I prefer)
·       2 15oz cans Great Northern or Cannellini Beans-drained
·       2 15oz cans Italian Diced Tomatoes
·       5 ½ cups Water
·       Large handful Kale-chopped
·       Broccoli Sprouts for garnish-or some other sprouts
·       Salt & Pepper to taste

1.     In large cooking pot sauté Oil, Carrots, Celery, Onions and Garlic for 3-4 minutes. 
2.     Add Bouillon and cook for another 1 minute. 
3.     Add Beans, Tomatoes and Water to vegetables and bring to a boil. 
4.     Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
5.     Add Kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes. 
6.     Add Salt and Pepper to taste and garnish with sprouts of your choice.

I served this with fresh corn-on-the-cob, strawberries and melon.  One of the strawberries was so ginormous that we nicknamed it Frankenberrie. 

I saved so much time cooking this that I was able to enjoy some much-needed family-fun time.  We used it wisely by jogging around the block with my son’s electric mustang (great workout to do WITH your kiddos!).  We were able to eat outside and watch the sunset and after sunset we jumped in the freshly cleaned hot tub.  This is also the same hot tub we have had at our house (since 2009) and never learned how to use until last week!  Now that's just dumb!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Wash/Rinse Absolutely Everything (to eat)

It is essential that we not only provide our families with healthy, delicious meals but clean ones as well.  Unless you are an Agrarian, you really don’t know where your food has been or how clean it is.   If you are like most people, you buy your food at a supermarket.  If you buy from a supermarket your food has likely been touched by several sets of hands—hands that may or may not have been washed… 

A little note about buying organic produce:  If you don’t/can’t/won’t buy organic, your food could contain potentially harmful pesticides and herbicides.  If you are interested, here is EWG’s Dirty Dozen (baker’s dozen really) list of foods you should consider buying organic along with their Clean-15 list of foods that should be safe to eat that aren’t organic: Clean-15 and Dirty Dozen

A few things you may need before you get started:
  • Strainers of different sizes
    • One mesh—great for grains and lentil
    • One large strainer—I prefer metal
  • Two cutting boards (if you cook and prepare meet at your house)
    • One for raw meat and one for everything else
  • Ingredients for one (or both) of the two fruit/veggie soak/rinse recipes
    • Spray recipe ingredients—Spray bottle, Lemon and Baking Soda
    • Soak recipe ingredients—Vinegar and Salt (my preference)
I hope I haven’t over promised when I said, “absolutely everything”…   If I did forget something, I will update this list later. 

How to Wash Grains—Rice, Quinoa, Barley, Farro, Etc.:
1.      Fill bowl with cold water
2.      Add rice and use fingers to mix, rubbing grains gently between palms
3.      Discard dirty water
4.      Repeat until water is clear
NOTE: Mesh strainer comes in handy here but it is not essential.  Also, this step could take several (10+) before the water is clear.  Enriched rice may never truly produce “clear” water.  Rinsing grains, specifically rice removes excess dirt and surface starch. 

How to Wash Dry Beans, Legumes and Lentils:
1.      Sort beans
a.      Spread beans on a table
b.      Examine each bean careful for:
                                                    i.     Discoloration
                                                   ii.     Abnormalities (small shriveled, excessively dirty or anything that doesn’t look normal/appetizing)
                                                  iii.     Rocks or clumps of dirt
                                                  iv.     Discard any misfits above
2.      Fill bowl with cold water
3.      Add beans and use fingers to mix, rubbing gently between your palms
4.      Discard dirty water
5.      Repeat until water is clear
NOTE:  Mesh strainer comes in handy for small beans or lentils.  If you are using a slow cooker (crock pot) the sorting process is made easier using the glass lid. 
How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables:
1.      Clean the inside of your sink and fill with warm water (cool if green leafy vegetables, sprouts, grapes or berries)
2.      Add ¼ cup Vinegar
3.      Add 2 Tbsp Salt
4.      Let Fruits/Vegetables soak for 30 minutes
5.      Use scrubber to remove excess dirt
6.      Drain and Rinse under cool tap water
NOTE: I usually wash everything as soon as I come home from the store, so I don’t have to worry about it later.  Also, did you know those little stickers on fruit are made of edible paper?  Although they probably don’t taste great, it shouldn’t harm you to eat it.  If you are interested in using the spray cleaner, please use the recipe below.

Fruit/Vegetable Spray Cleaner
·        1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
·        1 Tbsp Baking Soda
·        1 Cup Water
Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle and gently shake.  Beware—this mixture has a tendency to foam up so don’t shake too hard.  Spray fruit/vegetables and let sit for 2-5 minutes.  Rinse under cold water. 

How to Wash Meat:
1.      Note from the USDA - Washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.

Some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe. However, some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed. But there are other types of bacteria that can be easily washed off and splashed on the surfaces of your kitchen. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to food borne illness. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, and grilling) to the right temperature kills the bacteria, so washing food is not necessary.

Using a food thermometer is the only sure way of knowing if your food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy food borne bacteria. Cook all raw beef and veal steaks, roasts, and chops to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

African Sweet Potato Stew

Here is another recipe to help warm those cool evenings and bring friends and family closer to the table.  Bear with me; before you turn your nose up and run away, this recipe calls for peanut butter.  Yes, you read me correctly—I said peanut butter!  PB makes a refreshingly unique flavor that everybody will love. Unless of course you have a peanut allergy.  In that case, you will hate it.  And it may actually kill you…  Barring any life-threatening aversions to peanuts, I think you will find this hearty, vibrant stew is worthy of any occasion—special or casual.  This palate-pleasing dish can be served as the main (for all my Vegan/Vegetarian/Fasting friends out there) or as a side.  Carnivores need only marinate a few chicken breasts and throw them on the grill to compliment the earthy flavors of this delectable meal.     

African Sweet Potato Stew

**NOTE** Remember to cook your Red Beans the night before unless you are fortunate enough to find them canned! 

·        2 teaspoons sunflower oil – olive oil will substitute
·        1 1/2 cups chopped onion
·        1 garlic clove, minced
·        4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
·        2 cups cooked small red beans
·        2 cups vegetable broth – I use Better than Bouillon 
·        1 cup chopped red bell pepper
·        1/2 cup water
·        1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
·        1/2 teaspoon salt
·        1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
·        1/4 teaspoon black pepper
·        1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
·        1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
·        3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
·        3 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
·        6 lime wedges

·         Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
·         Add onion and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender.
·         Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Add sweet potato and next 10 ingredients (through chilies—do not add peanut butter yet!).
·         Cover and cook on low 5 hours or until vegetables are tender.  NOTE: You can refrigerate to cook later – I put out in the morning and use my outlet timer so that the meal is finished cooking about the time that I return home from work.
·         Spoon 1 cup cooking liquid into a small bowl. Add peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Stir peanut butter mixture into stew. Top with peanuts; serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups stew, 1 1/2 teaspoons peanuts, and 1 lime wedge)

9 = Taste (5 from me and 4 from my husband)
5 = Ingredient Availability – available anywhere!
5 = Prep Time (easy to make and very little time)
5 = Cost – all very inexpensive items

24 out of 25 – Pretty darn good if you ask me!

5 = Family Bonus – Everyone in the house enjoyed this recipe.  There were no leftovers, so if you have a large family, you may want to double the recipe. 

Here is what we did with all the time we saved:  We took our kids trick-or-treating under the pretense that we were just good parents, with nothing to gain.  Our reasons weren’t completely altruistic—perhaps we have stolen a chocolate bar or two (or 5) when no one was looking.  I was able to organize my closet and purge it of shoes I haven’t worn in 7 years.  Now, I have only the handful that I do ware and two that I couldn’t bring myself to part with, including one sexy, non-mom pair of high heal sandals my husband insisted I keep (last worn on my honeymoon).  Now, I need to work on re-claiming my office, which seems to have become a giant toy box...

Hope you enjoy the recipe!  Feel free to drop me a comment and let me know if you liked it or share any time saving ideas of your own.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Easy Noodle Chicken Soup

It’s my favorite time of year! The shadows grow long, sooner in the day, as the sun departs earlier and its visits grow shorter still.  Along with the leaves, the atmosphere is changing and people are beginning to prepare for the holidays and cool weather ahead.  We are breaking out our coats, long pants, and sweaters.  We are looking for lost gloves (in pairs and singles), and getting ready to adorn our necks with scarves, homemade and store bought.  Many of us also have a craving for something warm in our bellies—some sustenance to get us through these long shadowy days and premature nights.  It’s time to break out the soups!  

Honestly, I eat soup all year round, but I feel more justified doing so in the cooler months, like fall and winter—for obvious, practical reasons.  This recipe is a relatively simple recipe you can either eat fresh or make in advance and serve later.  It stores great in the refrigerator and undoubtedly tastes better after it has had an entire night to marinate in its own juices!

This recipe is compliments of a Romanian friend of ours, Florentina.  Apparently, in Romania they have an aversion to using measuring spoons...  It took a little bit of painful effort to figure out this recipe because she uses, what I like to call, the eyeball method.  So for her, it isn't an exact science.  

Easy Noodle Chicken Soup

·       15 Cups Water
·       4 Chicken Breasts – cubed
·       1 large Onion – chopped
·       3 Carrots – sliced
·       2 Celery Stalks – slice
·       2 large Tomatoes – cubed
·       1 large Potato – small cubes
·       ½ Green Pepper – chopped
·       Handful of Parsley – half for before and half for after
·       1 Cup Whole Grain Spaghetti – broken into 2 inch size noodles (In half apx. 2x)
·       1–4oz. can Tomato Sauce
·       Salt and Pepper to taste

·       Bring Water, Chicken, and Onion to a boil
·       Reduce heat and simmer at a low boil for 10-15 minutes.
·       Add Carrots, Celery, Tomatoes, Potato, Green Pepper, and half the Parsley and simmer for 10 minutes.
·       Add Spaghetti noodles and simmer for another 5 minutes
·       Add Tomato Sauce and simmer for a remaining 5 minutes
·       Salt and Pepper to taste
·       Garnish with remaining Parsley 

You can use whatever noodles you like.  Homemade are obviously best.  However, I have given up on making my own noodles after several failed attempts…. It was quite a debacle actually.  Also, I served this with a whole grain baguette.

9.5 = Taste (5 from me and 4.5 from my husband)
5 = Ingredient Availability – available anywhere!
5 = Prep Time (easy to make and very little time)
5 = Cost – all very inexpensive items

24.5 out of 25 – Knock your socks off!

5 = Family Bonus – My entire family loved this recipe.  The clean their plates kind of loved it (even Jarris, my 14 year old)!

I haven't figured out if I like it so much because of the flavor or if I am in love with the simplicity of it... Perhaps a little of both.  Either way, I had so much extra time on my hands that I was able to referee half a dozen household arguments, help Parker with his homework AND write this blog post...  Hope you enjoy it!