Getting back in shape

Blogworld friends, this is my official declaration that I am getting back in shape.  I am a person who desperately needs accountability in this arena so I am determined that if I say it here, for all to read, I will have to actually do it.  So along with my couch to 5 K running plan, I will be blogging about the food I am actually eating.  Now, disclaimer time.  If you would like to go along with me on this journey, you must know a few things.  I adamantly refuse to diet.  I love food and any full-blown restrictions on my diet cause me to just want whatever that I cannot have even more.  So, I am just making a conscious effort to make wise choices.  Hopefully posting here for all to see what I eat each day will motivate me to not down an entire sleeve of Oreos or make a quick run through the McDonald’s drive through.  Disclaimer number 2… Thanksgiving is next week.  I LOVE Thanksgiving and all of the food I will consume on that day.  I will definitely be posting about it, if you want to be über healthy on Thanksgiving, do not read.  I will not be.  But, I will run that morning so I won’t feel the least bit bad about what all I eat.  Disclaimer number 3… I still have to bake.  So, basically, I am going to make better day-to-day meal choices so that when I have an unquenchable desire to make muffins or cookies, or whatever, I will do it.  I will have one or 2, and I will know that I am still way better off than I was when I was not exercising and not making better food choices.

So, that being said, we are off.  Yesterday was day 1.  I downloaded the Couch 2 5 K running plan here and we had a great whole family jog to get started.  I had a bowl of multi-grain Cheerios for breakfast and for lunch we went out to the Buena Vista Grille for my grandfather’s birthday.  Luckily they had my favorite, lettuce wedge salad and I ordered a bowl of crab soup.  I am positive it was not low-fat or low cal soup but it was delicious.  To top it off we had birthday cake.  But, the only saving grace for my choices was that by the time we got home, I felt terrible from the cold I have and I didn’t feel like eating dinner.  I had a cup of blackberry hot tea instead and went to bed with Maddie May.

Day 2

Still feeling a little coldish but I still got up and ran this morning.  I am not following the plan exactly because I want to do more than 3 days per week.  I’m going to try to do Mon-Wed-Fri-Sun with the plan, and walk Tuesday and Thursday.  We will see what happens on Saturdays!  Here is what I fed my body with today:

Wake up – 16 oz water

6:45 am BreakfastQuaker Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal with 1% milk

9:00am Morning Treat – Coffee with a little sugar & Nestle CoffeeMate Natural Bliss vanilla flavor

10:15 am 2nd Breakfast – Whole Wheat Toast Topped with Eggs & Fresh Veggies

2 eggs

2 tbsp sliced onion

2 tsp diced jalapeno

2 tbsp diced tomato

2 tbsp diced mushroom

1 tbsp shredded cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1 slice whole wheat bread

*scramble eggs in a small bowl.  Saute veggies in non-stick pan (use spray or a very small amt of oil) until soft.

Add eggs and cook to desired doneness.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Top with cheese and stir to melt.

Serve on top of one slice of toasted whole wheat bread.

 

1:00pm Snack – handful of roasted cashews

2:00pm Lunch – Chicken Salad with Triscuits

12.5 oz can of Swanson 98% fat-free chicken

1 celery stalk finely diced

2 green onions finely chopped

10 purple grapes quartered

4 almonds sliced

2 tbsp low-fat mayo

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp sugar

dash of mustard powder

dash of garlic powder

Break up chicken with a fork and combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Serve with reduced fat triscuits.  About 1/3 of the chicken salad & 7 triscuits is approx 200 calories and about 5.5 g fat.  It is very filling!

5:30pm – dinner

This does not in any way fit into a healthier eating plan but it was planned long before I decided to do this, so, we had pizza and cake.  I did stick to just one and a half slices of delicious Vincenzo’s pizza (which I highly recommend) and a VERY tiny slice of cake.  So offensively small in fact that my 2-year-old would not eat it because it “looks like a slide”.  You see, it was the big reveal party to find out if I am going to have a new niece or a new nephew & I was thrilled to find out I am having another nephew.  My sister is expecting her first baby in March and I could not be more excited to meet him.  That is why I had no choice but to eat the delicious pizza and cake from Mrs. Pumpkins – it was to celebrate!  This should just serve as further proof that this will not in any way be a journey through a perfect eating plan that any dietician in his or her right mind would recommend.  But, it is better than what I have been doing and might serve as inspiration for someone else to do better as well.  I’m not looking to win any awards for healthiest woman alive, just trying to be a better me.

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A Huge Thank You and Ugly Cookies

I cannot believe the number of people who have stopped me lately to tell me they are reading my blog.  Clearly, not strangers, they are all people I know, but people who I had no idea even knew I had a blog!  It is absolutely one of the best compliments when someone asks what I will be cooking tonight and I just smile ear to ear when a new person tells me they love it or asks for my blog address because someone else told them about it.  Every time I get a notification that someone else either “liked” a post or is subscribing or following me I do a little dance – I think my kids believe I am going crazy.

So, please let me say thank you so much for making this little venture worthwhile, even if it is on a detour at the moment.  I have a couple of leads I am waiting to hear from regarding cooking space, and I am just not ready to give up yet.  I just need someone out there to want to give a chance to a new business.  Someone with some money to burn should look at opening a culinary incubator in the Piedmont Triad area.  Currently, we have nothing I can find.  There are spaces in Cornelius, Durham, even Hillsborough, but nothing here.  Investors… I would even run it for you!  Imagine, a space with a few kitchens in it all that can be rented hourly for business start-ups.  There is a market for it – I am proof!  I would love to know where all of the caterers and other food based businesses in Winston-Salem got started.  Anyone with ideas, I am all ears.  A church kitchen is not an option and it has to be a space I can have inspected in my name.  So, if you know anyone with a commercial kitchen they are not using (like if they have a business that has a commercial kitchen in the building that they do not use) or anyone who owned a restaurant that is now closed that they might want to rent inexpensively, let me know!

 

Now, for the good part of my post.  Last night’s dinner was quick and delicious – hope you will try it!

PARMESAN CRUSTED TILAPIA with wild rice and steamed veggies

6 Tilapia Filets

2 eggs

1 Tbsp milk

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded parmesan

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups broccoli florettes

1 cup cauliflower florettes

1 1/2 cups wild rice

2 1/2 cups water

salt & pepper to taste

 

Start your rice first.  If you have a rice cooker, use that.  I have this one, by Cuisinart and I use it all the time.  Mine has a steam basket on top making meals like this even easier.  Put the rice and water into the cooker with salt and pepper to taste.  Set it to on.

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine bread crumbs, parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper.  In a separate bowl, wisk together eggs and milk.  Dip the fish in egg mixture and then dredge in the bread crumb mix.  Place on non-stick foil lined pan.  Bake for 10 min, flip, and bake 5 min more.

About 7 min before fish is ready, put broccoli and cauliflower in steam basket (place on top of rice cooker if using) and cook 5-7 min or until just tender.  The ones pictured were a little over done because they sat in the basket too long waiting for dinner to be served.  Be sure to take them away from the heat and steam as soon as they are ready.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serve with a mixed green side salad and crusty bread.  The bread shown here is one of my favorites that I need to learn to make.  It is roasted garlic bread from Food Lion, so good!

UGLY COOKIES!!!

Seriously, these are not pretty cookies but they taste so good.  I was playing with cookie dough recipes yesterday and this is what I created.  It is a chewy, crispy twist on a chocolate chip cookie.  Is your mouth watering yet?  I can’t share my cookie recipes, but I will share the pictures!

 

Another Failed Biscuit Attempt and Spicy Soba Pork (not in the same day of course)

I have given you nothing to cook in days and I am so sorry for that.  I have been cooking though and I have a lot to show for it!  Tonight I give you a failure and a success.

I (ALMOST) made a delicious biscuit on Sunday night.  Jeff literally laughed out loud at me for attempting to make biscuits for company – luckily they are good friends and will let me cook for them again.  I tried something new, a sourdough biscuit from my starter I use to make sourdough loaves.  I honestly thought it kind of tasted like a pillsbury biscuit out of a can and that is not the taste I was going for so I was a bit disappointed.  Here are the pics…

BEFORE - waiting in the oven to be cooked to golden

AFTER - They look heavenly. But....

Wait for it… (You know I can’t cook a biscuit!)

Burned the dang bottom!

Honestly people, I am hopeless in the world of biscuits.  They looked so good until I turned one over.  I am going to have to stick to the frozen bags of Pillsbury Grands biscuits.  I love them, they always come out perfectly.  I just want to be able to make a biscuit.  Everyone at dinner kept saying they were good, but I was not feeling it.

To make up for my failure last weekend, I had a delicious success tonight!  I made a trip to one of my favorite places to shop, Asia Grocery on Peters Creek Pkwy.  I will admit, the first time my friend Patti sent me there on a food buying mission I was a little intimidated.  But, now I know and love the place and get such incredible deals there I hate that I don’t go more often.  This 5 lb bag of Jasmine rice was only $5.49.  At Lowes and HT you would pay at least $2 more.

Gallon jug of Soy Sauce for only $7.99.  You pay twice that even on sale at the grocery store.  And the stuff lasts for ages & is good on so many different things.  I find that I use it a lot.  They do have the low sodium version as well, I think it was about $1 more, still a killer deal!

The best deal by far though, is on the Soba Noodles.  $4.39 per 9oz pack at the grocery store, but at Asia Grocery, you get 54 oz for $7.99 – It is a 70% savings!  My kids loved them – they add a little variety to your basic noodles and are made of buckwheat.  You should definitely give them a try.  If you don’t want to make a trip to Asia Grocery but want to give them a try, get a small pack at HT, you won’t be sorry!

Last little tid bit about Asia Grocery, buy your bean sprouts there!  I got a gigantic bag (not even sure how much or how much they are per lb because there is not a whole lot of english speaking going on.  All I know is this huge bag was only 2.33.

I knew I wanted to make something with some spice tonight and I had 2 large thick cut pork chops left in the fridge (thanks Dale & Terry).  I wasn’t sure what to call it so I decided on Spicy Soba Pork.  It is basically a pork stir fry with a fun, spicy sauce I concocted tonight.  Not too spicy for the kids but enough heat to make me happy.  They definitely drank more milk than usual though so I know you might want to go a little milder if you have sensitive taste buds.  It takes a little while to prep – you can do all the chopping and slicing ahead of time.
SPICY SOBA PORK:
3 cups broccoli florets
3/4 cup sliced carrot
1 cup green onion in 1/3 in slices
1 lb pork sliced thin
2 cups bean sprouts
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste (I use coarse salt)
3, 3 oz bundles of soba noodles
Sauce – wisk all together in a small bowl:
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp spicy thai chili sauce (Thai Kitchen Brand)
*If you do not like spice, use less thai sauce or eliminate it altogether.
Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil while getting everything else prepped.  Boil noodles for 6 min when pork is almost ready.  Drain.
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large wok over high heat. Quickly stir fry broccoli & carrots until bright in color, about 2 min.  Remove from wok.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil.  Add pork to the wok and season with salt & pepper.  Slowly pour in half of the sauce mixture and cook thoroughly until no longer pink.  Return broccoli and carrots to the pork, add green onions and remaining sauce.  Cook for 1 min more.
Serve over hot soba noodles, ladle sauce over pork mixture.
This entire dinner – with 4-6 servings was only $7.63 total to make!  The sale stuff at Harris Teeter is on until next Tuesday so go check it out!  Even if you get the bean sprouts and soba noodles at HT it is still an inexpensive and delicious meal.  I’ll have more ideas for you to use those bean sprouts and soy sauce though!  I love asian flavors.
per serving for whole meal
Soba Noodles $0.22 $1.33 $.44 per 3 oz bundle at Asia Grocery
Bean Sprouts $0.06 $0.29 Lots for a little at Asia Grocery!
Green Onions $0.03 $0.15 $.59 per bunch at Asia Grocery
Broccoli $0.36 $1.79 on sale for $1.79 / lb at Harris Teeter
Carrot $0.05 $0.25 $.99 / lb at Harris Teeter
Pork $0.60 $2.99 on sale for $2.99 / lb at Harris Teeter
Dijon $0.03 $0.14 HT brand on sale for $1.27 at Harris Teeter
Soy Sauce $0.02 $0.09
Spicy Thai Chili Sauce 0.12 0.6 $3.59 at Harris Teeter
$1.48 $7.63
Hope you enjoy!

A Healthy Dinner That Made Everyone Happy (and a not so healthy Chocolate Chip Pound Cake For Dessert)

Rarely am I able to accomplish this great feat, but tonight, it worked out splendidly!  Normally, I am completely opposed to making “special meals” for the kids.  “You eat what everyone else is eating or you are welcome to have yogurt and a banana” is my typical rule.  But tonight I made a slight concession and it worked!  I was making stuffed green peppers for a friend and because I know my kids just do not like green peppers and would end up complaining about it, I modified theirs as little pizzas on multigrain Arnold Sandwich Thins.  They have no fat and 11 whole grains per serving AND… they are on sale right now at Lowes Foods for only $1.85 so buy some and stock up.  They freeze well and are great for kids lunches.  Plus, Lowes Foods has green bell peppers right now for $.99 each and they have Shadybrook Farms 99% fat free ground turkey on sale as well for only $4.99 per lb (normally $6.99) so this is a really inexpensive meal as well as healthy.   My recipe is as I prepared it and if I calculated correctly (I am certainly no nutritionist!) it should have only 3-4 grams of fat per serving.  If you want to make all stuffed peppers without the kiddie “pizzas” just steam a few more.

Low Fat Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers

The finished product - halved. I saved half for lunch tomorrow!

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked brown rice

3 large green bell peppers sliced in half lengthwise (with the stem gently cut out and all seeds removed) – You will be able to lay it on it’s side to be filled.

1 small green bell pepper seeded and finely chopped

1 lb 99% fat free ground turkey

1 large portabella mushroom

1 medium yellow onion

2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped

8oz tomato sauce

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tbsp worstershire sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Texas Pete hot sauce to taste

3/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese

For The Stuffing:

Throw onion, and portabella in a food processor and chop well or chop finely by hand.  Combine turkey, onions, portabellas, & chopped pepper using your hands.  Mix well.  In a large non-stick skillet over med high heat, brown the turkey mixture until it is cooked through.  Add tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, worstershire, salt, and pepper.  Stir in cooked rice.  Add a bit of Texas Pete to taste.

And The Peppers:

While your turkey is browning, Place a steam basket in a large pot (or a metal colander if that is all you have handy) and a few inches of water.  Gently place peppers in steamer and cover for 5 min.  Remove and set aside.

Portion stuffing mixture generously into green peppers and place on a foil lined baking sheet (be sure to save stuffing for pizzas if you are making those). Top peppers with cheese evenly divided.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min or until the cheese is slightly browned on top.

This is what they look like just before going into the oven - cheese is already melting on the filling.

While your peppers are in the oven, you can make the pizzas for the kids.

 

Ingredients:

5 halves of Multigrain Sandwich Thins

Stuffing Mixture from above

3/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese

Take 1/2 of a sandwich thin and top it with stuffing mixture and mozzarella cheese.  Repeat with other 4 sandwich thins. Place on the same pan as peppers (who wants to wash 2 pans?) and cook until cheese is slightly browned.  These are filled with good stuff (green peppers, onions, garlic, and tomato sauce) and the kids will gobble them up!

 

TOTAL COST FOR THIS YUMMY MEAL?  Only $16.90 or $1.54 per person.  It will feed 6 adults & 5 kids.  The peppers don’t look like a lot of food when you first put them on the plate, but once you cut into it and it falls apart you realize how much it is.  Here is the breakdown of cost – I used Lowes Foods because that is where I shopped today.  Your costs may be a little more if you have to buy the dried herbs.  I recommend stocking up on those though and don’t calculate those in when I figure a meal price.  I buy the huge bottles at Sam’s Club. You can get a huge canister for what you pay for a tiny little jar in the grocery store.  There are 2 columns.  The recipe is the actual cost to make this meal, the total is what you would spend if you went out and bought all of the ingredients and don’t take into account just want you used (example, you will have 5 1/2 sandwich thins and 3/4 of a bag of rice left!)  These sales prices are good my my Lowes Foods in Clemmons, NC until next Wed, Sept 7.

RECIPE TOTAL
4 bell peppers @ .99 each $3.96 $3.96
8 oz hunts tom sauce $0.50 $0.50
1 lb Shadybrook Farms 99% Fat Free Ground Turkey $4.99 $4.99
5 halves Arnold Multigrain Sandwich Thins @ $1.85 per package $0.60 1.85
Comet Brown Rice @ $2.65 per bag $0.60 2.65
Portabella $2.99 $2.99
Sargento Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese @ $3.49 per 8 oz bag $2.64 3.49
Medium Onion @ $2.99 for a 3 lb bag $0.50 2.99
Garlic @ $.50 per bulb $0.12 0.5
$16.90 $23.92

 

 

 

And, to finish it off, gratuitous pictures of the not-so-healthy-but-completely-delicious Chocolate Chip Pound Cake.  How cute are they packaged to deliver?  Let me know if you make the peppers, I would love to hear your feedback!

 

 

 

Visit with a friend, Vegetarian Meals, and a Missing Dog

Ever have one of those days when you have it all mapped out but things just seem to fall apart?  That was my day today.  I was ahead of myself with the cooking that needed to be delivered this morning and my friend even asked if I could wait a little later to come so I didn’t have to be out of the house as early as I planned.  So I got dressed to work out – thinking I would squeeze that in before I really got going.  Then… life happened, as it always seems to do.  Between a little girl who is not-quite-there potty trained and what can happen with that and getting beds made, laundry done, and reading 3 or 4 dozen books, alas, I didn’t work out.  But, I was still in the game and planned to do it later.  I got to have a great little visit with my dear friend Amanda (who by the way is one of my heroes these days!)  She looked great and just made my day to be able to see her smile this morning.  I made the ever important trip to Edward McKay  because Jake was certain he did not have a single book left in the house that he wanted to read.  I was feeling ever efficient as I chose new books for him while waiting for our trade in credit.  I was reading to Maddie May when I got the call that would turn my productiveness upside down…

“The dog is out, he is at our neighbors house but they are going to take him back and put him in the yard.”

Seems like good news, but still I rushed out of there as soon as I was able and still had to run into the grocery store for things I needed to cook for tonight, but I was still right on track to get food on, MM down for a nap, and get on the elliptical to work out.  And that’s when it all went wrong.  I got home, laid MM down for her nap because she was seriously needing one.  I went to check the yard and once again he was gone.  Apparently the gate on the opposite side was not latched so when our neighbor brought him back, once Tae was alone he just slipped right back out!  I dragged Maddie May back out of bed and looked for that dog for 2 hours!  All the while needing to get back because I had meals to make for my friend.  And one of those meals was red beans and rice that needed to be started early in order to be ready.  Long story shortened, the same neighbor found him and lovingly brought him back to me.  I thought I would cry from relief.  I was terrified he had gotten out to the main road, but my silly little (big) dust mop looking puppy was home and I was relieved.  But I still had to cook 4 meals plus dinner for us, get Maddie May down for a nap (never happened fyi), bake sourdough bread, deliver it to church, help kids with homework, and get Jake to Tae Kwon Do. All before 4:45.  It was 2:30 at this point by the way.

It all worked out, we are all still alive and well and my puppy is back where he belongs and VERY TIRED from his big adventure.  And it is 10:40 and I am still in my workout clothes and never broke a sweat today.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

So what all was I cooking you ask?  I made fat-free potato breakfast casserole (I will post the recipe after I get a report on how it tastes!), 3 different vegetarian pasta dishes, and vegetarian red beans and rice that was a million times better than the recipe I posted before.  I found it at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen , I made some changes though so I will post my version below.  The picture won’t load right now for some reason.  I will edit once I get it loaded.

Fat Free Vegetarian Red Beans & Rice (see original recipe inspiration here) – My version is spicy.  If you prefer a milder dish you can add less cayenne, black pepper, and chipotle.

1 lb dried red kidney beans (soaked over night)

4 large cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 large onion finely chopped

4 celery ribs finely chopped

1 green bell pepper finely chopped

2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano chopped

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp black pepper ground

2 tbsp chipotle pepper in adobo finely chopped (find it in the canned items in the mexican food aisle)

2 tbsp Texas Pete hot sauce

Salt Generously to taste (make sure you check.  I felt like I needed to add a lot)

Cooked Brown Rice

How to make it:

Rinse and drain beans after soaking over night.  Place beans in a large pot and cover with water to about 2 inches over the beans.  Begin cooking over high heat while you prepare the other ingredients to be added.

Add chopped veggies (make sure they are all finely chopped) and next 5 ingredients.  Bring it all to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Stir occasionally.  After about 30 min, taste and begin to add salt to your taste preference.  Cook for 2-3 hours.  At this point, remove about 2 cups of the bean mixture and puree in a food processor or blender and return to the pot.  Cook for 30 more min.

Serve hot over rice – it is delicious!  Thanks Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for the great recipe!

 

Now for my real post… White Bean Chili, Crab Cakes, Veggie Pasta Bake, Apple, Banana, Cranberry Bread (Not all together!)

I know it has been days since I last blogged, but with the start of school and all the cooking I have been doing, I just have not had time.  Here are a few recipes I have been promising & my dinner tonight.

SNEAKY VEGGIE MAC N CHEESE

I make lots and lots of mac n cheese.  My grandmother makes the absolute best so I am always inspired to find new ways to do it.  This one sneaks in zucchini & squash!  Maddie May had 3 huge servings tonight!

 

3 cups cooked penne pasta

1 egg slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups 1 % milk

1 slice reduced fat cheddar cheese slice

4 slices reduced fat swiss slices

1 1/2 cups shredded or Julienne zucchini and squash (peel the zucchini if your kids are afraid of green things!)

1/2 cups shredded

colby jack cheese

salt to taste


In a casserole dish, combine pasta, veggies, salt, and cheese slices torn into bite size pieces. Just mix it all together.  Combine the egg and milk.  Pour egg/milk mixture over pasta mixture.  Top with colby jack.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 min until top is browned and bubbly.  If you peel the zucchini first they will never know it is there !

 

CRAB CAKES WITH LEMON DILL SAUCE

The boys loved these so much they asked if they could take them for lunch tomorrow.  Actually, Will asked if he could take them for SNACK tomorrow but I was afraid his teachers would laugh at me if he pulled out a crab cake for “snack”.  They seem so rich but have very little added fat.

 

1 green onion finely chopped

1 large clove of garlic finely chopped

3 tablespoons red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tbsp 1 % milk

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 egg beaten

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs

1 lb fresh lump crab meat

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in just a little olive oil until tender, about 2 min.  Add cayenne, milk, and dijon.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Combine egg, parsley, basil, bread crumbs, and 1 cup bread crumbs.  Add onion mixture to crab mixture.  Mash together gently with your hands.  Form 6 large patties for entree portions or 12 small patties for side or appetizer portions.  Combine remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs with parmesan.  Roll patties in mixture and pat to keep intact.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 min turning halfway through.  Serve with lemon dill sauce

 

LEMON DILL SAUCE

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup 1 % milk

1 tbsp dried dill

1/2 tsp dried parsley

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine and chill.  Serve over crab cakes.

 

WHITE BEAN CHILI WITH CHICKEN

I have been cooking an almost completely fat free diet (other than the little bit in very lean chicken) for a friend the past week and I am finding all sorts of new ways to prepare things without the fat.  I was so excited with how great this chili turned out.  This would be great as a vegetarian meal as well, just leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

1 lb dried great northern beans (put in a pot covered by 2 in and soak over night)

2 med onions chopped

fat free chicken broth (1/4 – 1 1/2 cups)

1 jalapeno finely chopped (with seeds if you like a little heat)

4 cloves of garlic minced

4 tsp ground cumin

3 tsp ground oregano

6 cups fat free chicken broth

5 cups chopped, cooked chicken (I boiled mine in salted water)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Drain beans after soaking the night before and set aside.

Saute onion and jalapeno in chicken broth, adding a little more as needed to keep moist.  Add garlic, cumin, and oregano.  Cook 2 min stirring constantly.  Add chicken broth and soaked beans.  Bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 hours, until beans are beginning to get tender.  Add chicken salt, and pepper and simmer 1 hour more.  Stir in cilantro just before serving.  Makes 13 cups.

*If you are not worried about keeping it low fat, it is great with a little monterey jack cheese stirred in and a dollop of sour cream on top!

Sorry I don’t have a picture of this one.  I will take one next time I make it.

 

APPLE – BANANA – CRANBERRY FAT FREE BREAD

Another creation for the low fat diet!

 

1 3/4 cups AP flour

2 t/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg, slightly beaten

2 mashed ripe bananas (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup skim milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Combine 1st four ingredients in a large bowl making a well in the center.  Combine egg, mashed banana, milk, vanilla, and applesauce and add all to the dry ingredients.  Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened, add cranberries.  Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 min. or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 min.  Then complete cooling on a rack.

 

Hope you enjoy these!

 

 

 

Biscuit Confessions

I have a confession to make.  I. Can. Not. Make. Biscuits.

I swear, I can make practically anything else you ask me to make, but for the life of me I cannot make a good, flaky, delicious buttermilk biscuit.  It is a sad, sad truth that I just have to finally admit to someone other than Jeff.  Trust me, he knows.  He has known and has had to deal with this shortcoming for years.  Not only that, he has had to deal with me trying to make them over and over and over.  And I fail, over and over and over!

I can make sweet potato biscuits and really good ones at that.  I can make a flaky, delicious pie crust, and a 6 tier quilted fondant covered wedding cake, but I can’t perfect the biscuit.  What on earth is so hard about it?  I seriously don’t know.  I use all the appropriate heart clogging ingredients.  I follow the recipe (all 1.5 million I have tried).  And still they are flat, sometimes hard, and taste a bit like cardboard at times.  I just can’t figure it out.

Tonight, I decided to try again.  I had thrown together a delicious Guinness Pot Roast (recipe below) and decided it was time to try my nemesis once more and I dragged out a cookbook to try yet another biscuit recipe.  I have tried this one before so I decided to make some of my own alterations to see what would happen.  It couldn’t be much worse than it has been.

And…

It was my best effort yet.  Even Jeff said so!  Still a little flat but they tasted good and were very much edible.  I am going to keep trying, and trying, and eventually I will proudly post the recipe here to celebrate.

 

GUINNESS POT ROAST

Small Pot Roast (rubbed all over with salt, pepper, cayenne, chili powder, and cumin seed – use seasonings to your taste)

3 small russet potatoes cut into 1 in or smaller pieces

1 shallot sliced

5 green onions cut into 1 in pieces (discard green ends)

2 cups baby carrots cut in half diagonally

2 portabella mushroom caps sliced in strips

1 Guinness Beer

1/4 cup Worcestershire

Olive Oil

Coarse Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper

Place seasoned roast in a roasting pan.  Place veggies around and on top of roast.  Pour in 1/2 to 3/4 of the Guinness (drink the rest!) and the Worcestershire.  Drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt & fresh ground pepper.  Place in a 275 degree oven covered with foil.  Use a meat thermometer to watch the temp and to cook meat to your desired doneness.  I like mine medium so I take it out when it reaches medium rare because it will continue to cook a bit while it sits.  Allow it to sit 10 min before slicing.  Slice the whole roast and stir in with the veggies and the juices.

I served it with the “good effort” biscuits and sugar snap peas.  Great well-balanced dinner everyone enjoyed, sad biscuits and all.  It helped to soak up the juices from the roast in the biscuit!

Enjoy!

Granola?

It is a long running joke with some of my friends that I am a hippie at heart or as we called them in Boone, a “granola”.  While I admit, I use cotton dish cloths instead of paper towels (I am a recovering paper towel addict), breast feed and cloth diaper my babies, buy local whenever I can, and recycle everything.  I also love designer jeans, Coach bags, and I drive a Yukon XL.  So, I am far from a true hippie or granola but the way I look at it, I might not be saving the world but I am not killing it either.  It all balances out in the end, right?  I’m not confused, just a pleasant contradiction.  I think you should be well rounded, that’s all.

In the spirit of one of my favorite towns, Boone, NC, where there is literally a place known as “hippie hill”, I am making GRANOLA tonight as I get ready to go camping tomorrow.   All I have for you now is the before picture because it is still roasting slowly in my oven.  It truly smells heavenly and is making me hungry.  I will add the dried cranberries when it is out of the oven and will post a picture of the finished product tomorrow.

If you need an easy week night meal that will make the kids smile, here is what I did tonight.  ZingZang Chicken on the grill, Shells & Cheese, and Field Peas mixed with green beans.  The field peas were just frozen so I popped them in a pot, added a slice of bacon for flavor, covered and simmered while everything else was cooking.  Jeff wasn’t going to be home for dinner and I was busy getting packed so I just needed to make the kiddos happy.  I made the shells & cheese and marinated the chicken early in the day then threw the chicken on the grill and mac n cheese in the oven.   Simple & made for happy kids and a happy mom (plus a happy Jeff when he got home and it was still warm for him!)  You will notice in the picture of the shells & cheese that the dish is half empty.  That is because Maddie May was literally in tears begging for her “roni cheese”. The fact that it was in the oven still cooking was not an acceptable reason for it to not be on her plate.  She absolutely would not have stood for me standing there taking a picture of it before giving her any.  Yes, we all know who rules my house right now.  Anyone who has ever had a 2 year old understands.

ZingZang Chicken

Slice 3 large chicken breasts into strips (like chicken fingers)

Put chicken in a large ziploc bag and pour in 1 cup of Zing Zang (it is bloody mary mix!)

Marinate for a few hours in the fridge

Grill chicken strips until done

 

Easy Shells & Cheese

Cook 3 cups shell pasta until just done (make sure you salt the water)

Drain pasta and place it in a baking dish or casserole dish

Beat 2 eggs into about 1 1/2 cups milk and pour over pasta.  Milk should just cover the pasta

Put about 4 oz mini mozz balls (the same ones from the pizza on Monday) down into the pasta and milk

Top with about 1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice.  I used colby jack tonight.

Bake on 375 for 45 min until bubbly and browned on top.

 

Try it one night!  Sometimes we do stuff like this, get the kids in bed early, then have a grown-up dinner.  You know, one of those rare evenings when you get to have a conversation!?!  It is healthy, well balanced, and easy.  What more could you ask for?

 

Enjoy!

What a Great Day!

Today started with a bang with an order for 4 dozen cookies and some mini cinnamon rolls.  Needless to say, my kitchen smelled delightful by 6:30 this morning.  Maddie May woke up asking, “What you baking Mommy?”  I love that my 2-year-old knows that smell means something is baking.  Check out some of the eye candy…

After being so productive first thing, I got the dog dropped at the groomers and had the kids at the park before 10am.  The weather was just so beautiful I couldn’t resist.  There is nothing like spending the morning at Tanglewood, catching up with an old friend, and seeing my kids wiped out by the time we get home.

Other than the damper on my sunshine that came with the information about needing a commercial kitchen it was wonderful.  I spent the afternoon working on ideas for finding My Preppy Kitchen a home.  This is an incredible opportunity for me and I won’t let it drop this easy.  Pray for me guys, I need your support for sure!

Tonight’s dinner was delightful, easy, and made everyone happy.  I did a very easy fresh, light stir fry.  My kids absolutely love stir fry and so do Jeff and I so it is one of those meals I know I will not have any resistance from serving.  Plus, I knew I had leftover cookies from this morning waiting for dessert!

Try the stir fry on a night that you have time to chop a little.  Or, do the prep in the morning and just toss it all together when you are ready for dinner.  I used chicken but it would be equally good with beef, shrimp, pork, or all veggies.

FRESH STIR FRY with ZUCCHINI AND ONIONS

2 large boneless skinless chicken halves cut into bite size pieces

1/2 t grated ginger

4 minced garlic cloves

salt & pepper

red pepper flakes

2 broccoli crowns cut apart (florets only)

1 red bell pepper thinly sliced

5 green onions cut into 1 inch slices

1/4-1/2 cup soy sauce and or ponzu

1 medium zucchini

1 small yellow onion

1 T toasted sesame seeds (toast in a med hot skillet until light brown and aromatic)

2T Olive oil

Heat 1T Olive Oil in a wok or large skillet and stir fry chicken.  Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste, grated ginger, and minced garlic.  Add soy or ponzu and stir fry until chicken is almost cooked through.  Add broccoli, red pepper slices, and green onions and continue to stir fry until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender but still crisp.     Remove to a warm dish and keep warm in an oven while you cook zucchini and onion.

Heat 1T olive oil and add zucchini and onion.  Salt & pepper to taste and add a few dashes of soy sauce.  Top with sesame seeds and continue to stir fry until cooked through and onions are tender.

Serve all with hot steamed rice.  Heat it up with a little Rooster Hot Sauce!

It makes a lot so you will have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  We have plenty to serve all 5 of us and lunch for Jeff tomorrow.

I have been up way past midnight since Friday & I am going to bed.

ENJOY!

Soy Garlic and Honey Glazed Chicken Pizza

As promised.. Soy Garlic and Honey Glazed Chicken Pizza. It is in the oven as I am typing and it smells incredible! This recipe is what My Preppy Kitchen is all about! It took a lot of prep time but now that it is in the oven I am thinking it will be worth it. (I’m editing now that I have eaten this slice of heaven. Oh My Gosh, so good!) This will definitely be on the menu in the future.

Here is the recipe if you want to try it on your own!

2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces

2 T Olive Oil

1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 cloves garlic coarsely chopped

2 t dried red pepper flakes

1/2 cup soy sauce

5 T honey

2 t sugar

1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

4 oz mozzarella ciliegine (small mozzarella balls) halved

1 1/2 cups colby jack cheese

1/4 c shredded parmesan

1/3 c thinly sliced red onion

2 green onions sliced

Pizza Dough (see recipe below)

 

Toast the sesame seeds by placing them in a small skillet over moderate heat. Shake the pan occasionally until they are golden brown. Should take 3-5 min. Cool and set aside

 

 

Combine garlic, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, honey, sugar, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

 

Heat olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Cook chicken completely, about 4 min. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour soy sauce mixture into the same skillet and cook over med-high heat stirring occasionally until sauce reduces and thickens, about 20-25 min. Return the chicken to the pan and cook, stirring constantly until chicken is glazed with sauce. Remove from heat.

 

 

Preheat oven to 425. Spread dough into pan and brush lightly with oil. Place mozzarella evenly around crust. Pour chicken mixture onto crust leaving about a 1/2 inch border around. Top with red onions, green onions, colby jack, and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds. Bake 16 min.

 

 BEFORE

AFTER

PIZZA DOUGH

1 pkg active dry yeast

2 cups warm water

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 t salt

2 T extra virgin olive oil

 

In a small, non-metallic bowl dissolve yeast in warm water for 4 min. Add salt to flour. Stir flour into water and yeast about 1/2 cup at a time until you have used all but about 1/2 cups of flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Use the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from becoming sticky. Grease the inside of a large non-metallic bowl with olive oil. Form dough into a ball and roll it in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover the entire bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in size. After it rises, punch down dough and knead again for 1 min. Divide into 2 equal parts and either use immediately or freeze until ready to use. (If you freeze a ball of dough, simply bring it back to room temp and make into a pizza crust when you are ready to use it.)

 

Because I am completely incapable of forming a round pizza crust, I tend to make it in a large rectangle. For some reason that is easier for me. It all tastes the same!

 

This really was one of those meals that takes a while but when you are eating it you don’t mind at all.  Let me get the steps broken down and make it easy to do at home and it will definitely be one of the 1st Preppy Kitchen weeknight meals!