Tag Archives: recipe

Hydrate Plus

18 Jun

It is not officially summer, but it is hot outside! Staying hydrated is really important any time of year, but dehydration can happen more quickly in the heat. Drinking plain water can be BOOOOOORRRING, and we are oh so stylish! Simple water just won’t do. How do we transition from boring old water to something exciting?

For starters, I invested in a pretty beverage dispenser. Seriously, this thing was less than twenty bucks, and I use it more than I thought I would. It’s glass, and so pretty whether it’s filled with Sangria for a Spanish dinner party or Spa Water (my cool version) for a summer evening cookout.

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Today I made a my delicious and irresistible Spa Water. I got creative with water and added some other goodies like cucumbers, lemons, melon, and strawberries to really please the palate. My Spa Water is more than refreshing,  it can help detoxify the body. And who doesn’t need that every now and again?

This is what i started with-

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I peeled the cucumber before slicing it. The skin can be bitter so I prefer to remove it for my Spa Water. Cucumbers aid in brain health and reduce inflammation, so what the heck-why not help out our gray matter! I always wash and dry the cucumber before slicing it. I save extra slices for later to have with hummus as a snack.

Next I cut up fresh cantaloupe to add to the water. The health benefits of cantaloupe include being rich in beta carotene which your body can convert to Vitamin A. This is important to eye health (and as an “over 40” woman that sort of uses readers I need that!). Vitamin A also contributes to a healthy immune system and healthy red blood cells. Cantaloupe is also rich in potassium and Vitamin C. Since I have some leftover cantaloupe, I will toss it with a bit of rich bleu cheese for a decadent side dish or snack. Yum!

I didn’t bother to do much to the lemons other than slice them. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C. The lovely oil in the lemon rind aids in digestion, is detoxifying in nature, and nourishes the skin so I left it on and added it to the water.

I didn’t have fresh strawberries, but had some in the freezer. I keep frozen berries on hand for my smoothies, but today frozen strawberries were getting thrown into the Spa Water. Strawberries have high levels of heart-healthy antioxidants so load up on ’em. They add just the right touch of sweetness to the water, and add a lovely rose’ color as well.

Put all that goodness together and this is what you get-elegant, healthy, and packed with flavor.

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Serve it in a wine glass, pour it in a glass over ice, or carry it with you to the gym. Any way you decide to use this water, it is a winner! This is THE way to stay hydrated this summer!

 

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Breakfast Bliss

28 May

Breakfast does not have to be boring. It is time for your breakfast to explode! Are you an oatmeal fan? Well get ready-here we go! How about Chocolate Steel Cut Oats? YUM!

Here is what you need to create some breakfast greatness.

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Start by melting your butter is a heavy bottomed saucepan.

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Then sprinkle in pure delicious unsweetened Cocoa

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Give that mixture a whisk to incorporate

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Let that get all bubbly while amazing scents start wafting through the kitchen. Next, add your steel cut oats.

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Keep stirring until your grains are all coated with the succulent cocoa and butter mixture.

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Next, add your water or milk-I use some of each. I also add a teaspoon of vanilla.

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Let the mixture slowly come to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

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This is when you need to unpack your patience. Steel cut oats are loaded with excellent nutrition, but this grain takes a while to cook. Best to give this about a half hour to simmer. I make enough for leftovers, so this can also be a quick breakfast later in the week.

You’ll know its ready when it is really creamy.

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I usually have leftover quinoa in my fridge so any recipe can be quickly pumped up with protein and fiber. This is no exception. I mixed in some quinoa while the oats were hot

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And this is my finished breakfast. I drizzled a bit of agave over it to sweeten it a tiny bit

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Don’t be fooled by the addition of the cocoa, as it is loaded with beneficial nutrients. A few words about the health benefits of cocoa. It can offer include relief from high blood pressure, can help control cholesterol levels and stabilize insulin levels. Cocoa also contains elements that can improve mood, making it a great way to start your day. It has potassium, magnesium, and iron as well. Add cocoa to your diet and leave the guilt behind.

This recipe is great as is or you can customize it. Add in some maple syrup, shake on some cinnamon, stir in other cooked grains, or sprinkle in some toasted almonds. Its up to you-but anyway you make it, you will have winning breakfast every time!

RECIPE:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. pure unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups water or milk
  • Agave or sweetener of choice

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. When it is hot and bubbly, sprinkle the cocoa in and whisk. Let that get good and hot, and add the oats. Stir until your grains are covered in the butter cocoa mixture. Add the liquid, the vanilla, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering. Watch this carefully-it can boil over quickly so it is important to get it down to a simmer and hold it there for the duration of the cook time. Stir every 5-10 minutes. Cook for 25-30 minutes, finish with your sweetener, and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Summer Salsa

16 Aug

Summer fruits are bursting with flavors and colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, berries bursting with sweet juice, and gorgeous succulent ripe peaches. But we are rounding the corner to the summers end and need a new way to enjoy summer fruit. How about a yummy salsa?

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This fruit salsa is delicious with meat and seafood. Or try serving it along side a grilled pork tenderloin for a nice pop of flavor and color. Spoon it onto flavorful chicken thighs. Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips.  Or maybe try it alongside some brie cheese and crackers. The possibilities are endless!

As you will see there is so much flexibility with one simple recipe. It has bold flavor and is packed with nutrients.   It is a snap to make and easily customizable to suit your own personal preferences.  I make this fruit salsa with cilantro for a little kick, but I would use basil in place of cilantro it if my mom was going to eat it.  She doesn’t like cilantro.

That is the beauty of a recipe like this.  It is packed with flavor, has good nutrients, and is very colso easy to alter to please your crowd!  Here it is.  But remember…I consider recipes a “jumping off point” if you will.  Recipes that I develop, like this one, can be changed to suit changing taste, available ingredients,  or budgets as often as your like!

Fresh Summer Salsa:

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cantaloupe
  • 1 cup chopped honey dew melon
  • 2 freestone peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepperIMG_3399

Mix everything except the lime together. Stir. Squeeze the fresh lime over the top and drizzle with olive oil.  Give the salsa another good stir and there you have it.  This is best if it sits for a few hours in the fridge before serving.  Go for it!  Grab up some fresh summer fruits and make a delicious salsa of your own!

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A cake flop and kale fail tale…

11 Jan

Failure. It is a scary word with negative implications. Failure can be defined as: “An event that does not accomplish its intended purpose”. Well now that does not seem too awful, does it? Progress can certainly be made even when not accomplishing an intended purpose. Sometimes a new purpose can emerge. The word failure is more daunting than its definition.

I have failed. Many times. We all have. But failing does not make you a failure. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t taken any risks. So take risks, because if you are taking risks, you are succeeding. Failure appears  in big ways and small ways in life. Get over it, move on, and try again, and again, and again to succeed.

I recently tried roasting some kale. My technique just didn’t work. My son said I had a “kale fail”.  And he was right. My family will continue to enjoy kale…but I will prepare it in other ways.  Then there was the time I became a bit impatient, and tried to frost a cake with frosting that was too thin, and tried to put it on a cake that was still too warm.  Typically, for most frostings or icings, it’s just not a good idea to put it on a warm or hot cake. It melts off.  And I proved that right with my impatience.  Trust me…I know what I am talking about.

If a recipe flops, it should only happen once. The next time I try that recipe, or another recipe, the lessons I learned by having that recipe flop will help me succeed the next time. So how is that a failure? Learning something is always a success. The experience of making a recipe well as well as having one go wrong both make me a better cook and increase my understanding of the culinary arts. Either way victory is mine!

Failure, whether real or perceived, can produce many reactions. Fear, doubt, and depression to name a few. We need to shake free of that, because failing can lead to success. In other words, failure can, and should, drive us toward feeling empowerment, a step forward. It may not be immediate though. Sometimes success takes time to grow out of a mistake or failure. So failure can also produce the opportunity to learn patience. Wow! Fantastic things can come from “failure”! So lets not fear it. Take it for what it is. It is an opportunity. Success. Confidence. So go take the risk! You can’t fail!

The little cake that flopped! hahahahahaha

This cake wass a flop. It is ugly, but it tasted good. But since I strive for beautiful food, it was a flop.

Grilled Salsa. Yum.

3 Sep

I stopped at a farm stand to take advantage of the (boohoo!) ending peach season.  Luckily they still had some yummy peaches left, but they had to be eaten quickly.  They were ripe and ready!  There were more peaches than we could eat, and I was not able to can the peaches and put them up.  I had to get creative. Time to dig thru the pantry and the fridge for more inspiration.

Ah yes, onions.  Sweet summer Vidalia onions were in a basket in my pantry.  And chicken was in the fridge ready to grill.  What could be better. Luckily, there was also leftover pesto pasta in the fridge too.  So here we go.

I fired up the grill.  But the chicken would go on second.  What to grill first?  Why, the peaches and the onions, of course!  I sliced the 2 onions about 1/4 inch thick.  I sliced the peaches in half and removed the pit.  Next, I laid them on a cutting board and sprayed them with a bit of vegetable oil.

 

Sliced onions and peaches getting ready to grill.

Sliced onions and peaches getting ready to grill.

Onto the grill they went.  The heat was good and high to get a quick char and that desired carmelization that only the grill can provide.  I wanted those sugars in the peaches to get to work!  And they did not disappoint!

The onion slices and peaches went onto that hot grill.

The onion slices and peaches went onto that hot grill.  The beginning of some great grill marks!

The scent that wafted from the grill was absolutely mouth watering!  It certainly produced one of those culinary “moanable moments”.  When that happens, your eyes close, your head falls back a bit, and a deep breath in is amazingly delightful.  Those sizzled on the grill for about 3 minutes per side, then they came off the heat.

The peaches and onions grilled up beautifully!

The peaches and onions grilled up beautifully!

Next, I let the onions and peaches sit.  While the peaches and onions were cooling, I grilled the chicken.  I went light on the seasoning because I wanted the flavor of the salsa to stand out.

When they were cool to the touch, I coarsely chopped the onions.  They were soft and sweetly  fragrant.  On to the peaches.  The fuzzy outside jacket of the peaches slipped right off.  I chopped up that sweet peachy flesh and mixed the two together in a bowl.  I added about a 1/2 of a chopped jalapeño (I should have grilled that too…Rats!).  I also stirred in a little bit of cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and just a dash of vinegar.  A little salt and pepper completed the fresh salsa.  The resulting salsa was fantastic! It was not my “prettiest” salsa ever, but it was really tasty!

This was fantastic piled on top of grilled chicken.  It was a healthy low fat option packed with nutrients and flavor!

This was fantastic piled on top of grilled chicken. It was a healthy low fat option packed with nutrients and flavor!

Dinner consisted of a crisp salad, leftover pesto pasta, and flavor packed grilled chicken slathered in peach onion salsa.  It was a hit.  So delicious and a fun way to use fresh ripe reaches.  Cleanup was a breeze because I grilled most of dinner.  Gotta love that!

I am certainly going to try some more grilled salsa recipes.  Tomatoes are at the end of the season, but there is surely enough time to get creative  and grill those up next!  Grilled tomatoes with perhaps some creamy diced avocados.  Maybe roasted garlic too.  Oh yeah, can’t wait for that one!

 

Blast into Super foods!

26 May

Super foods are in the news constantly these days.  The question is do you find good health in whole foods or in other ways?  While touting super foods, the media also barrages us with cheater methods, like “supplements are a must”, “take those vitamins”.  To that I say pish posh to that.  Bullroar.  Nonsense.  Put that protein powder aside and get into super foods.

Super foods are all the rage…to talk about.  But are you ready to dig in and add them to your diet?  I hope so because nutrient dense foods are cool!  So is having variety in your diet and trying new things.  Expand your palate!  Try new foods and enjoy crazy good health benefits.  Take the leap and delve into super foods.  What to try first…hhhmmmm.  Put cabbage on the menu.  Why?  Glad you asked.  Didn’t like it as a kid?  Well it’s time to try it again,   Overlook its nonglamourous reputation and appreciate the cabbage contribution to good health!  It is loaded with micronutrients.

Micronutrients in food provide the nutrition your cells need to run your body.   These are important for cell function, simply put, by eliminating some bad molecules in our bodies.  Antioxidants are prize fighters in this arena and are essential in a healthy diet.  Where are these elusive antioxidants found?  In many foods, including cabbage.  What else does cabbage do for good health?

In addition to being loaded with antioxidants, cabbage has significant amounts of vitamin C and vitamin K, making it great brain food.  It is also a good source of folate in the diet, which is essential for red blood cell development.

Want to leave the medications at the drugstore?  Me too.  So consider that cabbage has long been used as a natural remedy for relieving constipation, curing headaches, and easing joint inflammation. For a new mother that has breast pain, cabbage is a natural way to eliminate it.  If you aren’t a nursing mother but went out last night and indulged in adult beverages, cabbage has been used for centuries as a hangover remedy.  Hey, I’m just sayin’…

Moving on….it is a vegetable that is often overlooked in its flexibility.  Cabbage goes in soup, can be piled on a sandwich, is a great side dish, and can even make a fantastic appetizer.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  Also, fresh cabbage is budget friendly so it fits into any lifestyle.

Need a quick healthy vegetable to go along side your baked chicken or grilled steak?  Cabbage can simply be sautéed with butter, salt and pepper for an easy side dish.  Simply core a 2 pound head of cabbage and slice thinly.  Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan.  Add the cabbage, stir occasionally, and voila!  In 15 minutes you have a super side dish.

Let’s review.  Cabbage is a really healthy flavorful flexible super food.  It packs a nutritional punch with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease fighting properties.  If that isn’t enough, let me give you one more reason to try cabbage.  Cabbage contains beta-carotene, and that contributes to the growth and repair of the body’s tissues, and that may help protect your skin against sun damage.  All great stuff!  Its time to try cabbage again, so pick a recipe, cook it up, and enjoy a good contribution toward wellness!

Disclaimer: You have to take the good with the bad. Not only does it create a unique and somewhat lingering  scent when you cook it, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable.  That is a fancy way of saying that it is a gas producing veggie.  Yup, you’re gonna fart.  Do not let that stop you from enjoying this delicious vegetable, but eat it with folks you know really well!

 

 

Passionate for Pesto

30 Apr

Our winter was cold, snowy, and the weather was, well, dreary.  Spring has sprung, and it was a bit of a whimper, not a big bold leaping launch.  Rats.  I love spring, but our spring this year has limped in. Not with tulips and daffodils, but with gray skies and cold rain.  I am not complaining, mind you, just missing the beauty and newness of spring this year.  But darn glad that it is finally here.

With gray skies above, imagine my excitement when I zipped down to the back yard for something and realized that my parsley was absolutely bursting out of the garden!  I instantly forgot my purpose for having gone to the back yard and leaned over my garden.  I blinked and blinked again.  Yes!  Not only was the parsley happily standing up to greet me, but so was the mint, the rosemary, and rocket arugula!  Yum!  I could not resist bending over, pinching off some leaves even though there was no imminent culinary purpose, and putting the herbs up to me face.  I breathed in, my head went back, and it was a moanable moment.

I try to have pots of herbs growing in my kitchen all year long (once in a while one of my foodie friends may sneak one out of my kitchen, so I have to keep more than one plant around!). My favorite thing to make with herbs is fresh pesto. It takes moments to prepare and can be used in many different ways.  Flexible foods are my favorite, and pesto is super flexible.  How flexible?

Pesto can be liberally poured over pasta making a delicious side dish. It can be brushed onto fish, adding beautiful color and flavor to either delicate or hearty fish. I have doused chicken with pesto, adding flair to an otherwise bland weeknight dinner. Pesto can also be spread onto a sandwich as a savory condiment. I love the freedom to use my flavor packed pesto in or on most everything! It is simple and makes me look like a rock star in the kitchen at times. Who wouldn’t love that?

Pesto is very forgiving too. I have adjusted or substituted ingredients without having to sacrifice flavor. I will pass along my pesto recipe and let you have some fun with it too! It is a crowd pleaser, so make plenty. Bon appetite!

Basic Pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup parsley leaves

1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves fresh garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

FYI- I have tried using toasted pine nuts as well as roasted garlic and it did not make a notable difference in taste. I have also substituted walnuts for pine nuts, and the flavor was great. I have used both the parmesan cheese in the green can as well as fresh parmesan cheese, and fresh makes a difference. Use it if you can, but if you only have the green can on hand, go for it! I usually add a little more olive oil if I am putting this on pasta. If you are using dried herbs in a pinch, you also may want to increase the olive oil. Go ahead! Play with this recipe! Have fun and enjoy the amazing flavors!  And don’t forget to make a big batch and freeze some for another night when time is short.