Tag Archives: food

strawberry spinach salad

22 Jun

We’ve been home a lot these past couple of weeks. I’ve been saying over and over, ‘I love June.” and THAT’S because we’ve actually had a BREAK. I’ve put my kids to bed every night. I’ve cooked dinner every night. We’ve gone swimming as a family after naps. And I’m catching up on home projects, cleaning my house and office work that only gets done if you can be HOME. We love what we do. We love being as busy as we are. But there are a couple of months a year that are slower than all the others, and they are a welcome break! You can love what you do tremendously and still need a break from it to recharge, refresh and restore yourself. So it’s been absolutely refreshing. That was a lot of ‘R’ words.

I made this salad last week AND the dressing and it was SO good. I actually baked a couple of chicken breasts to put on the side. I try to eat vegan as often as I can. But a couple of times a week, I eat some meat. This was the perfect salad to pair some chicken with. It was a great meal. And yes, I made garlic bread with it out of hot dog buns. Does anyone else do this??? No? Just me? My mom used to do it ALL the time. She was a single mamma trying to make ends meet so she used EVERY bit of food for ANY purpose that we needed. So it’s nostalgic for me. You should try it. It’s sorta like breadsticks, but not. And it’s on hot dog buns. YUM.

Anyways. I digress. Back to the salad.

Ingredients

9 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 pint (2 cups) fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cups sliced almonds, toasted

Dressing:

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon finely chopped red or white onion
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (a couple shakes of the bottle)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Toast almonds in a small skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes to brown and bring out the flavor.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries. and almonds. Place dressing ingredients in a blender; cover and process until combined. You can make the dressing ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Pour over salad right before serving and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Makes 6-8 servings.

* Image taken on my iPhone.

*Recipe found on Pinterest. But you can also find the recipe here.

new approach

28 Apr

I have REALLY been beating myself up lately over some habits I’ve formed that I’m not SUPER proud of. Meaning, we eat out too much, I’m eating too much processed food, and not cooking or preparing for me week the way I’d like.

Well my friends. THAT IS ALL ABOUT TO CHANGE.

Tomorrow I’m starting a NEW weekly habit. And I’m nervous about it because I’m NOTORIOUS for starting something of this nature and not following through. It takes a lot of discipline. And while I have quite a bit of discipline in my life, the area of anything domestic or if it involves working out is super hard for me. I’m not ashamed to admit it, BUT it is slightly embarrassing. It IS embarrassing to say that I’d rather get take out than cook. It’s not my favorite thing to do.

But alas. It IS better for my family. And it will save us a ton of money. And while I’m not one to clip coupons or only shop at the grocery stores that have the bargains this week, I DO think I need to be a better steward of what God’s given me in this area. Plus, it will be healthier for us. The food industry is pretty gross these days and I constantly feel convicted about not taking the time to prepare my week in such a way, so that I don’t need to eat out. But I’m exhausted and don’t take time to do it. Well, tomorrow starts a new day for me.

I have already done ALL the grocery shopping for next week. I have cleaned/organized our pantry. And I have a plan for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I am basically going to get most of what I need ready and in the fridge so we can quickly grab snacks and prepare meals within our busy schedules. Sundays is usually a down day for me anyways. My family usually comes over. I should be able to stand in the kitchen and prepare for the week while I’m visiting with all of them. And my sister even offered to help! Now I really have ZERO excuses.

So tomorrow I am going to be cutting fruits and vegetables and getting them organized into tupperware. If they’re all ready to go, it’ll make snacking and cooking with them much faster. I’m going to be baking two loaves of bread (yes, homemade bread!), banana bread, Amish friendship bread, homemade coffee creamer, no bake energy bites, breakfast cookies, quinoa, brown and white rice, and cooking enough shredded chicken to have on hand in my fridge to last me for the week. Are you tired? I AM TOO. But I really think this new approach to my kitchen is going to help me. I’m not trying to be super mom. I just DON’T have time every single day to cook. We are super, super busy people. But I DO have time on Sundays to prep for the meals we’ll need during the week. And I’m really convicted about what we put into our bodies and trying to avoid all the chemicals that are on the shelves these days. If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be eating it. It’s SO hard. So I’m going to try it. I’ll definitely post my success and/or failures that may ensue tomorrow. HA. Hopefully I have more successes than not. And I’m really praying and asking God to bless my time doing it so that it will make for a fruitful week. I’ll post my favorite recipes once I figure out what I’d like to share.

Wish me luck!

 

macaroni + cheese

12 Jan

I’m making this for dinner tonight and I just had to share it. I found it on Pinterest, which is where I’ve been finding a LOT of new recipes lately. And each one has been a HIT. I know I already have a recipe on this blog for macaroni and cheese, but you could always use more than one, right? Well, I’m a fan. And it’s my blog. So here it is. In all honesty, it’s a GREAT recipe and I was able to make it really quickly. Which is a plus in my crazy insane life. So give it a whirl. I steam some broccoli and actually mix the two together.

Wow I cant wait to have this for dinner to tonight!

Ingredients

– 8oz macaroni, or any smallish tube shaped pasta
– 1 tablespoon butter
– 6 oz evaporated milk
– 6 oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
– 1 egg, beaten
– 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
– 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
– Hot sauce, to taste
– Salt and pepper

Directions

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, but reduce the cooking time by one minute.  Drain and pour back into the cooking pot.

2. Over medium-low heat, add the butter and stir until melted.

3. Mix the egg, milk, and spices and pour over the pasta.  Stir until it begins to thicken, about three to five minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat then add the cheese in four installments, making sure the first is melted completely before adding the next.

5. Serve immediately.

Mmmmmmmm…….

breakfast burritos

17 Oct

Wow. What a freaking week. I’ve been busy with my little man on the couch looking like this:

It’s been a super hard week, for more than one reason. I plan to blog my thoughts, as I’ve come to some new revelations about myself sort of. And not all of them good, at all. But I need to wrap my brain around the whole week because it’s seriously mush right now. Jay and I have slept 3 hours MAX in a row for the past week because he’s been so sick. AND difficult. AND moody. AND grumpy. AND temper-tantrum throwing.

Rough, is an understatement.

But we’ve made it, obviously! And I’m hoping that his fever GOES AWAY.

Anyways.

Through this week I’ve been struggling to be mom, wife, house cleaner, cook, working mom, photographer etc and it’s been a challenge to balance it all. It’s ALWAYS a challenge to balance it all. But when you have one of your kiddos demanding EVERYTHING YOU HAVE because they are sick, that on top of everything else makes for a stressful week. I obviously let most of it fly out the window to care for him. And I was happy to and I’d do it ALL over again, for sure. BUT, here I am at the end of the week, preparing to start ANOTHER one with this weeks AND last weeks to-do list staring me in the face. So I started with grocery shopping.

I should start by saying that I’m taking my cues here from my best friend, Alex Evjen of AVE STYLES. She is the bomb and an inspiration in my life. She recently did a blog post about finding all your recipes from Pinterest. Check out that blog post HERE. I’m totally addicted to Pinterest. So I was fascinated by her post, for sure! And she inspired me to not only pin meals that I WANT to make, but to actually DO it.

I’ve actually started doing this a lot with Pinterest. Why pin stuff if you aren’t actually going to try it at some point?

So, with that in mind, I made my grocery list and included ingredients from meals I saw on Pinterest that I’ve really been wanting to try! SO FUN.

I started with these breakfast burritos. And I’ve already tried one and YUM. You can make them ahead of time and freeze them in your freezer! So breakfast is easy AND it’s not processed ingredients. If you’re like me, you don’t have time to cook in the mornings either. Nor do you want to. BUT, what I DO want is for my family to eat well. So I’ve had to get creative with how I do this and make it work for my family.

I’ve been trying to be vegan (more on THAT later too) and so I’m really conscious about the ingredients I use. In these burritos I DID use eggs, which are NOT vegan, I am aware. BUT I used Soy Chorizo (called Soy-rizo), almond cheese, and red potatoes. And eggs.

These are SO good. With this recipe, I managed to make 15 burritos to freeze in the freezer. The recipe says it can make 24 burritos. SO….. I guess I like big fatty burritos or something. HA. But 15 is actually probably all I have room for in my freezer, so I’m totally happy with that!

And after all that, here’s the recipe! You’ll love it. It’s a great idea to cook meals ahead for breakfast too! If mornings at your house are anything like mine, this is all you might have time for. And having burritos filled with wholesome, organic ingredients all ready to heat up is EXACTLY what I need right now.

Well, I actually need a personal chef. Don’t we all? For real.

Ingredients 

1 lb breakfast sausage
1 lb bacon
1 cup chopped ham (I didn’t use any of the meats, but I used over a pound of the Soy-rizo, which you can find at Sprouts or Whole Foods)
2 pound of red potatoes, cubed into bite size pieces
16 oz cheese (any kind you like, but I used cheddar almond cheese and jalapeno almond cheese)
24 soft taco tortillas (I used flour)
12 eggs, extra large
1/2 c milk
1/3 c olive oil
1 tsp Seasoning Salt or any seasoning you prefer
salt and pepper

Directions

1. Cook the meat(s) that you’ve decided to use, however they cook.

2. Roast the red potatoes. I tossed the potatoes with 1/3 c olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.  Use additional seasoning if desired. Roast for 30 minutes until golden brown. Start checking at 20 minutes.

3. Wisk one dozen eggs and 1/2 c milk in a bowl until well combined. Heat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray (or melt 1 Tbls butter) over medium heat. Spray skillet and add egg mixture. Cook eggs over medium heat stirring occasionally until eggs are set. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Place 5-10 tortillas on a plate and cover with a wet paper towel. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power. This should be your last step. Heat the tortillas in batches.

5.  Set up an assembly line with all the ingredients. Place the tortillas on a large baking sheet or cutting board. Build your burritos including all the ingredients that you desire into each burrito. Fold in the sides of the tortilla. Roll burrito up. Pat firmly on top of the burrito making sure the seam is on the bottom. Make sure the burrito is tightly rolled.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place burritos on the sheet, seam side down. Press down on the burritos again lightly making sure that the edges are tucked in. Place baking sheet in the freezer for an hour to flash freeze the burritos. Remove from freezer and wrap burritos in plastic wrap individually. Place in a gallon size ziploc bag. I ended up with 15 burritos that all fit into two separate gallon size bags.

7. TO HEAT THE BURRITOS: Remove plastic wrap. Wrap burrito in wet paper towel. Heat for 3 minutes on 50% power. Serve with fresh salsa! YUM.

Great for busy moms with busy families.

* I found this recipe through Pinterest, but it links to this blog where you can see the recipe as I read it.

mac un-cheese

13 Jun

Most of you probably don’t know that I have been toying with the idea of being vegan for about a month now. Yes, vegan. I’m aware that there is a stereotype that is associated with being vegan. And most people raise their eyebrows at the mere THOUGHT of it when I say that I am in fact, mostly vegan. But I’ve really come across some life changing information, people and conversations that have led me to not only cut A LOT of different things out of my diet, but to completely change the way I think and approach food.

And I’ve never felt better in my entire life.

I’ve pretty much cut out all cheese, eggs, milk, and meat. I don’t even cook with these ingredients hardly anymore. And I could totally fill you in on all the reasons why I am doing this and I’m sure we could have a lengthy conversation about all the different controversies about the food industry or ethical reasons why we should or shouldn’t eat meat or we could probably even bring the government into the conversation too. There’s a LOT to talk about on the topic.

At the end of the day, how we all choose to eat is a personal decision, isn’t it?

So aside from gaining a wealth of knowledge that frankly, has scared the crap out of me, I also am just choosing to eat consciously. Whenever I approach a meal now, I really have to think about and decide what I’m going to put into my body. Have I gone exactly an entire month without eating ANY dairy or ANY meat? No. There is room for flex in my diet and in the way I’m choosing to eat. But I am mostly vegan these days and it really, really agrees with me.

So I feel awesome.

If you want more information about why I’m eating this way, let’s go to coffee. Call me. It’s too long to type. Even though I’m sure I’ll write about pieces of it from time to time. But this is almost it for now so let’s go grab something at Starbucks and I’ll chat your face off about all that I’ve learned.

SO. Since we are eating different, I’m constantly looking for new recipes that are similar to what we used to eat. And by similar I mean recipes that are super easy, don’t take a TON of time and that taste good. I still don’t have hours and hours and hours to cook in my kitchen. And even if I did have time, lets be honest, I still wouldn’t be a gourmet chef.

My sister and brother-in-law have joined us in eating vegan and she found this awesome recipe. We LOVED this meal so I had to share it here. And the last time I shared a recipe was these French Dip Sandwiches in February and while, these are very, very yummy, kind of activate my gag reflex now at the thought of them.

This is macaroni and cheese with no cheese or dairy at all. Hence the name ‘Mac Un-Cheese’. Ha. I was a little hesitant at the thought of what this might taste like, but it was SO good. And it was 100% vegan. We served it with meatless ‘chicken tenders’ on the side and the biggest salad ever full of vegetables like brocolli, snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatos etc. YUM.

If you are vegan, vegetarian or even just incorporating ‘Meatless Mondays’ into your household, you gotta try this recipe. It was SO easy and SO good.

Ingredients 

– 1 lb (16 oz) pasta of your choice. I used elbow macaroni.

– 2 cups vanilla soy/rice milk

– 2 Tbsp soy margarine

– 2 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise or Nayonaise)*

– 1 cup nutritional yeast

– 1 tsp turmeric

– 1/4 tsp ground sage

– 1 tsp salt

– 3/4 tsp ground pepper

– 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions

1. Cook pasta and drain

2. In a large bowl, combine pasta and all other ingredients.

3. Mix thoroughly and enjoy!

*Optional, but recommended for creamier meal

Mix in steamed veggies too for a variety if you want! This meal had so much flavor!

getting it better

11 Feb

I had a great weigh-in yesterday! This is my second week back at doing Weight Watcher’s the right way (meaning, I’m not just tracking my points SOME of the time, but ALL of the time) and it’s really making a difference. I wish I wouldn’t have been so lazy about it earlier and maybe I actually could have lost the weight before 2011. But no regrets, only looking forward right? I weighed in yesterday and I lost five pounds this week! FIVE! I was on cloud nine when I stepped off the scale and it was really the motivation boost I needed to get me started on week 3. I stayed for the meeting again and it was PACKED this time. I’m not sure why, but it was nice for it to be full. I’m really loving this program this time around. I love the changes they’ve made to it. And I love that it actually really works. And that it works while I definitely ate a Big Mac last week. I didn’t have fries with it, but I for sure ate a Big Mac. Ha. It’s awesome that I don’t have to cut anything out of my diet. Because this isn’t a diet. It’s a life change and a different frame of mind. But I can still eat some of my favorite foods, whenever I want. You know what I call this?

FREEDOM.

I’m not tied to cutting out carbs or dairy or sweets or anything like that. And if you really work the program, it’ll really work for you. Do I sound like a commercial? Yes, I do tend to sound that way when talking about Weight Watchers because I love it that much, believe in it that much and it’s works like crazy.

During the meeting yesterday, my team leader talked a lot about emotional eating. When he first brought it up I thought, ‘Oh I’m definitely not an emotional eater,’ and I think to SOME extent this is true. But according to his definition of emotional eating, I think WE ALL have fallen victim to it. And it doesn’t mean that you’re a hot mess too, just because you’re an ’emotional eater’.

Emotional eating is eating anytime you are not hungry.

Whoops. Yep, I’ve definitely done that. Do you know what it feels like to feel actually hungry? To eat something not just because it’s lunchtime but because you’re actually hungry? What a concept, huh? That is after all, how God created us but I do it all the time. Eat with kids when I’m not really starving. Or skip breakfast because I think it will help me. Why am I not listening to my body?? So I started thinking about what I’m feeling when I’m eating when I’m not hungry. And I concluded to two different things: Boredom and Anxiety. Weird huh? I don’t really eat when I’m sad or mad or happy. If I had a bad day, I don’t usually think to go eat an entire pie. I like celebrating with food, sure. But EVERY time I’m happy I’m not reaching for the ice-cream. But I did realize that a lot of the time that I’m eating when I’m not hungry, it’s because I’m bored or need a pick me up. Or I’m eating because I feel anxious and it does temporarily get my mind off of whatever is making me feel insecure or anxious.

Emotional eating is a learned inadequate response to life.

So I’m learning to break some bad habits I developed and actually listen to my body again. And when I’m not hungry and reaching for something salty or sweet, I’m trying to stop myself and think about what the real issue is. Last night, I wasn’t super hungry but I wanted something sweet for dessert. I stopped myself and concluded that I was just bored. I had been sitting in front of the computer for too long and needed a ‘break’. But eating when you’re not hungry shouldn’t be the break you’re looking for. I’m trying to replace those feelings with other activities- going for a walk, reading a book, cleaning something. Anything is better than snacking when I’m not hungry.

I’m also learning not to reward with food. I’m learning not to do this with Cruz, actually. I don’t want him to learn, early on, that food is a reward. It’s not. Food is something that we need every day and I don’t want to evoke emotional thoughts in him in regards to eating. When my team leader started talking about this, again I thought, “Oh that’s totally not me. I would never do that.” But then I caught myself DOING IT yesterday! Cruz fell down and was crying and really upset. He had hurt himself in the midst of his play and wouldn’t stop crying. So the words came out of my mouth so quickly, and as they were coming out I was trying to retract them, but it was too late.

“Do you want a snack??”

Appalled that I even asked that, I realized that I must do this often. He wasn’t hungry. He wasn’t asking for a snack. It wasn’t close to dinnertime. He had fallen down, hurt himself, was seeking comfort in me and I was asking him if he wanted to feel better with a snack. WHAT?! He immediately said yes, of course. So I did get him the snack. But I was mortified that I subconsciously had tried to treat the issue with food. That I was teaching him that when you’re sad or hurt, a snack will make it all better. I realize I don’t do this EVERY time he falls down. But I did realize that I do and have done this before. And now I am VERY aware of it and trying to reward and comfort him with different things. Not food. I definitely don’t want my kids to be emotional eaters, if I can help it. And I would love it if they had a very healthy response to food.

I’ve set a couple goals for myself too. I’ve decided that MY reward for losing all the baby weight is going to be two things. One, I want updated family pictures in October. It’s right in-between both boys’ birthdays and before Christmas. So it feels like a great time to schedule something like that. And two, I REALLY want to become a Team Leader for Weight Watchers. I’m not much of a public speaker, but I’d really love to help encourage other people to lose weight and to keep balance in their lives. Even if it’s just one meeting a week that I lead, I’d really love to be apart of that. So we’ll see. I don’t have a set date that I want the weight gone by. The sooner the better, in my opinion. So I’m attacking it like never before.

And it’s working.

Encouragement to focus on this week? It’s not about getting it right, you guys. It’s about getting it better.

french dip sandwiches

9 Feb

I’ve sort of started making it a habit to cook most nights of the week. I’ve FINALLY gotten this area of our lives under control enough to be able to do this for my family. What a relief too, because it stressed me out to eat out as much as we did. Now, I’m no Martha Stewart and we don’t eat the fanciest of foods, but it’s gotta be better than take out, right?

I hope so.

I’m always looking for very easy recipes that are affordable. Like I said, we don’t eat fancy foods, I don’t like to cook with weird ingredients, and to top it off I’m still learning how to cook well! I’m not one of those people that can pull three items out of my pantry and turn it into an amazing feast. I envy people like that, in the best way possible. So I’m always looking for easy things to cook but that are really scrumptious too! We don’t eat fancy, but we DO like GOOD food.

I have quickly become OBSESSED (understatement) with the website called Our Best Bites. Oh gosh. Do they have amazing food and recipes there! And they are coming out with a cookbook shortly here and I CAN NOT WAIT to get my hands on it! Everything I’ve made from this site has been simple and has turned out well. Even Jason asks for some of these meals each week, which is a new experience for me! All of our marriage he hasn’t ever really ASKED for certain things that I cook. So that’s been fun and exciting for me!

I made these French Dip Sandwiches for the first time a couple weeks ago and they were a total hit. Jason was even talking about them the next day! So it’s safe to say that I’ve made them again and that they are on our regular ‘menu’ rotation. This is a crockpot recipe and takes virtually no time at all to throw it in and let it cook all day. And it’s definitely worth the wait for dinner time to roll around. So, make sure you invite some company over when you make these yummy sandwiches because you’ll definitely want to share them! I served them with these homemade french fries which are even EASIER to make.

Now I’m hungry.

Ingredients

– 1 2.5-3 lb. beef roast (you can use a frozen roast if you want)
– 2 Tbsp. olive oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 1-ounce packages dry onion soup mix
– 2 c. water
– 2 cans beef broth
– 6-8 large buns (or more…6 would be VERY generous servings!)
– Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and rub roast with salt and pepper.

2. When very hot, carefully place roast in pan and sear on all sides. You’re not cooking the meat, you’re just browning it quickly on all sides to add flavor and seal in the juices.

3. Place in crockpot and sprinkle with onions soup mix. Pour water and beef broth over roast.

4. Cook 8-10 hours on low or cook 4-5 hours on high and another 3-4 hours on low. It’s hard to screw this part up; basically, the longer it cooks, the more tender it will be. But you know it’s done when you pop a fork in it and the meat just falls apart. When meat is ready, shred with a fork.

5. Place meat in crusty rolls. Top with cheese and broil open-faced in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melty. And don’t even think about walking away–things can go from lightly-toasted to on fire within a matter of seconds when you’re using your broiler.

6. Ladle juices into small cups for dipping and enjoy!

** I got this recipe directly of OurBestBites.com.