Easy Fish Tacos

It’s diet time for me.  I decided to mix up a few things I got at Costco and came up with this super easy winning combination.  I’ve eaten this for lunch every day this week and I haven’t felt hungry by dinner.  It’s filling, healthy, and low calorie.  Winner all around.

Easy Fish Tacos

7 Wild Alaska Salmon Bites

1 cup Stir-Fry Vegetable Blend

1 Tortilla

Stir fry the veggies with a very small amount of oil, microwave the salmon bites, wrap it all up in a tortilla.  Done.  Delicious.  Filling. 360 calories.

Crescent Wrapped Asparagus

I’m really not a healthy eater, but I wish I were.  I go through spurts where I try and do better.  I think I would eat healthy all the time and love it if someone else would cook it for me.  I guess I just don’t want to spend the time it takes to cook healthy when I’m pretty certain that I’ll be the only one who eats it.  I guess for now I will attempt to make healthy things unhealthy enough to still be yummy for the rest of the family.  Here’s my attempt at yummy asparagus:

Crescent Wrapped Asparagus

8 asparagus

1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls dough

1/3 cup butter (melted)

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup bacon bits

1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut off the ends of the asparagus.  Stir the garlic into the melted butter in a small bowl, set aside.  Combine cheese, bacon bits, italian seasoning, and salt on a plate, set aside.

Unwrap the crescent rolls and cut each triangle in half, lengthwise.  Take one piece of the dough, dip into butter mixture, lay both sides into the crumb mixture, wrap around the asparagus from the bottom, till half way up.  Grab another half piece of dough dip, lay, and wrap around the other half of the asparagus.  Repeat with each asparagus.  Lay on baking sheet.  Bake for apx. 15 minutes, until the dough is golden brown on top.

 

 

Curry in a Hurry

Today I was visiting with a friend of mine.  It was 4 o’clock and our kids were busy playing.   She asked what I was making for dinner tonight and I had no idea.  This is a frequent occurrence, and I’m sure I’m not alone.  She gave me her box of Golden Curry Sauce Mix and told me I should try it out.  I was very pleasantly pleased with the easy goodness it provided.  I really love all my curry recipes but I know that most good curry’s require a lot of ingredients and some devoted time.  Today I stepped into my kitchen at 5PM with a baby hanging out at my feet and occasionally in my arms and miraculously a nice curry dinner was ready to eat at 5:40.  Voila!  I now have a new product that I will be keeping in my cupboard for last minute meals.  So, here’s what I did:

Curry in a Hurry

2-3 lbs. Chicken Cubed

3 potatoes peeled and cubed

3 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup onions chopped

14 oz. can of coconut milk

1/2 empty coconut can of water

1/2 red pepper sliced

1/2 green pepper sliced

chopped carrots or other veggies (optional)

3.5 oz Golden Curry Sauce Mix

Put chopped onions, butter, chicken, and potato into a large skillet and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes.  Add other vegetables, coconut milk, and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken and potatoes are tender.  Break the Curry Sauce Mix into pieces, put into the skillet, and stir until it has melted into the mixture.  Now let it simmer again for five minutes and serve it hot over rice or noodles.  Yumm!

Canning Pears

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It’s that time of year and all of us canning lovers are busy!  Canning isn’t always the most cost effective thing to do, especially with all of the case lot sales going on, but once you’ve canned your own fruit it’s hard to go back.  Store bought canned food just has very little flavor compared to ‘real’ canned fruit.  Another thing I love about canning is that I know exactly what I’m putting into it.  Not to mention, canning is a wonderful opportunity to make good friends great friends when you enlist help and do it with others.  This last week a friend and I got to get slimy with some pears.  We followed a canning recipe from the Blue Book guide to preserving (which is pictured above).  It was very good, but having a whole cinnamon stick in the jar was a bit too strong.  So, we improvised a new version that ended up being amazing.  So, here you have it:

 

Apple Cider Pears

1-1 1/2 pounds pears per pint

one stick cinnamon

whole cloves

unsweetened apple juice

Fruit fresh produce protector

 

Wash pears, drain.  Cut into halves, core and peel.  Treat with Fruit-Fresh to prevent darkening.  Drain and rinse. While you’re prepping the pears put the apple juice, cinnamon stick(s), and cloves in a large pot just to a slow boil.  Pack the pears, into hot jars (just out of the dishwasher), leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Ladle the hot cider over the pears, straining out the sticks and cloves, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Place on two piece caps.  Process pints 20-30 minutes (depends on your altitude check HERE to find out your time) in a boiling water canner.

Happy canning!

Carrot, Apple, Ginger Soup

I found this recipe on THIS website and I was salivating just thinking about it.  One of my favorite healthy smoothies has a carrot and apple base to it and it is delicious, so the thought of eating it in soup form made me get excited.  (Warning: if you are not a fan or carrot juice then you will not like this soup!)  I tried it and LOVED the first few bites, but then it bothered me and I couldn’t figure out why.  After having some friends test it out their first response was that they loved it . . . except for the texture.  So, when the recipe says to puree, do it for a long time.  I pureed mine to a consistency slightly runnier then baby food.  It’s soup, so let it be soupy.  I ended up using mine to dip grilled cheese sandwiches in and that was awesome!!!!  It is sweet, healthy, and low calorie.  You will love it with grilled cheese, on a cold day, or for a summer fresh soup with watermelon on the side.  This is the exact copied recipe from the original blog.  When I made it I put in two apples.

Carrot, Apple, Ginger Soup

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for garnish
  • 1 small onion, diced (1 cup diced onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 large apple
  • 1.5 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped (~5 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used full sodium)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot, add 1 tbsp olive oil over low-medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for another couple minutes on low. Add chopped apple and carrots and cook for a few minutes more.

2. Add the vegetable broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender.

3. Carefully transfer this mixture into a blender (or you can use an immersion blender probably), add a pinch of nutmeg, and blend until smooth. You might need to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your blender. You don’t want the soup more than halfway full or it might explode through the top. Make sure to allow steam to escape through the top of the blender lid too.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also thin the soup out a bit with more broth. Serve and garnish with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. It goes lovely with fresh bread andEarth Balance. Makes 5 delicious cups!

Back to School Power Bars

My oldest is going into school this year.  I really don’t feel old enough (or mature enough)  to have a child in school.  I want him to be successful.  I want him to make friends and be confident.  I want him to remember to say please and thank you, shut the toilet lid, share, and be respectful to his teacher (not necessarily in that order).  I also want to be sure that he has the energy he needs and a healthy body to keep him going.  When I grew up my favorite after school snack was a bowl of ice cream or a piece of toast with peanut butter and chocolate chips on top.  I had those almost everyday and I loved it!  There is definitely a time for junk food in my mind, but I also want to be sure to implement healthy snacks disguised and yummy treats.  So, I came up with this concoction that I’m very happy with.  You could substitute a few things to make it even more healthy, but I made it sweet enough that the boys wouldn’t know they were healthy.  It worked!  They love them.  I cut and wrapped half of the batch as regular granola bars so they would be easy to pop in a backpack or my purse.  The other half I cut into squares and had them easily accessible in a cookie jar.  The cookie jar squares were completely gone in two days  after sharing with some friends.  Just know that this recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to alter it to meet your wants.   Enjoy!

Back to School Power Bars 

2 cups flour

1 cup oat bran

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

3 cups oats

1+ cup cooked quinoa

2 cups dried fruit ( I used a tropical fruit mix)

1 cup honey

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup applesauce

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp almond extract (I love the almond flavor, so use less if you want)

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium/large bowl stir together the flour, oat bran, brown sugar, oats, quinoa, and dried fruit.  Make a little bowl within the flour mixture and put the remaining ingredients inside it.  Stir it a little bit and then incorporate the wet into the dry.  I make the flour bowl to save dishes, but you can mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl if you want and then just combine them.  The dough will be the consistency of a sticky cookie dough.  Spray 1-2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray and then scoop big blobs of the dough onto the baking sheets and spread out with the back of a large spoon or spatula.  You want it to be about 1/2-3/4 inches thick.  It doesn’t spread or rise much so don’t worry about it cooking strange if one of your baking sheets isn’t completely full of dough.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Mmmm, I love it when food is colorful and full of flavors. . . especially when the flavors are contradictory, like Sweet AND Sour!   Just add pork to the mix and sweet and sour becomes scandalous to the taste buds and pleasing to the appetite.  This recipe is one of my  favorites and you’ll love it too! It’s a bit of work and more dishes than I usually dirty for one meal, but well worth it.  Just look at this stack of veggies and wipe the saliva off your chin.

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Sweet and Sour Pork 

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Step ONE (the pork):

1 pound pork

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. flour

1 egg white

pinch of salt

 oil (for frying)

Cut up the pork into manageable pieces. (I used pieces roughly 1/2 inch thick and 2-3 inches long.)  Heat enough  oil in a pan or Wok so that it’s about 1 inch high for frying.  In another bowl combine the pork and all other ingredients listed above. Once the pork is coated fairly well place the pieces into the oil and fry until pork is cooked through (slightly browned). Once this is done I place the pork in a colander in the sink so it’s out of the way and dripping off excess oils.

Step TWO (the sauce):

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstartch

1/3 cup vinegar

2/3 cup water

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, pour in the water and vinegar and whisk in the sugar and cornstarch.  Continue to whisk constantly until the sauce is thickened and then remove from heat and set aside.

Step THREE (the produce):

3 Tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil)

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 carrots cut into long pieces (apx 6 carrot wedges per carrot)

1/2 green pepper AND 1/2 a red pepper cut into long strips

1/2 cucumber cubed bite-sized pieces

Clean out the frying pan or Wok that your cooked your pork in (It makes dishes a little less daunting when your recycle:)  Heat the oil and then saute the veggies for approximately 3-5 minutes depending on how hot you have it.  You want the veggies to be slightly fried, but NOT mushy, crispy is good.  Do not overcook!

The Finale! (Voila and Mmmm)

1 cup pineapple

4 Tbsp. ketchup

In a large bowl combine the pork, produce, pineapple, and ketchup.  Be sure the ketchup is thoroughly mixed in and then serve hot over rice!

P.S.  I hate it when recipes only use 1/2 of produce, because I never know what to do with the rest, and often veggies go to waste.  SO, I’ve solved that problem with airtight freezer bags.   Woohoo.  I now have a tightly sealed bag in the freezer labeled “Sweet and Sour Pork veggies”, pre-cut and ready to go the next time I want some of this goodness.

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7-Grain Bread

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A while ago we decided to switch to whole wheat.  I grind my own wheat once a month and very rarely purchase white flour.  I do love wheat breads, but I seem to miss the squishy-ness of white bread. I know there are a million bread recipes out there, and this is now in my top five.  It’s healthy, squishy, hearty, and freezes well.  One of my favorite recipe blogs is OurBestBites.com  because almost everything they make appeals to my tastes.  For the most part their recipes are simple and family friendly.  I was so happy to find this recipe and I’m copying it here directly from their site so I can save it in my ‘files’.  Make it, love it, double the recipe to save some for later, and enjoy!

Multi-Grain Bread

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) seven-grain hot cereal mix
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 oz) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
Optional (I omitted): 3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats

*If you’re using salted butter, just decrease the additional salt by just a bit.

Instructions
Place cereal mix in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour.  Whisk flours together in separate bowl.

Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, butter, and yeast and mix on low speed until combined.  Add flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until cohesive mass starts to form (*note: some at high altitudes have noted they have not needed all of the flour, go by look and feel and stop adding flour if you need to!) 1 1/2-2 minutes; cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 20 minutes.  Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3-4 minutes (if it does not clear sides, add 2-3 tablespoons additional all-purpose flour and knead until it does.  Don’t add more!) continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes.  Add seeds (if using) and knead for another 15 seconds.  Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, round ball.  Place dough in large, lightly greased bowl; cover tightly with plastic and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.  Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and divide in half.  Press 1 piece of dough into 9×6 inch rectangle, with short side facing you.  Roll dough toward you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go.  Turn loaf seam side up and pinch it closed.  Repeat with second piece of dough.  Spray loaves lightly with water or vegetable il spray.  Roll each loaf in oats to coat evenly and place seam side down in prepared pans, pressing gently into corners.  Cover loaves loosely with greased plastic and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size 30-40 minutes.  Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.

Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake until loaves register 200 degrees, 35-40 minutes.  Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Remove loaves from pans, return to rack, and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving.

Storage: Bread can be wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Wrapped with additional layer of foil, bread can be frozen for up to a month.

For those without a stand mixer, Cook’s Illustrated recommends:  “Stir wet and dry ingredients together with a stiff rubber spatula until the dough comes together and looks shaggy.  Transfer the dough to a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, roughd ball, 15-25 minutes, adding additional flour, if necessary, to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter.  Proceed with recipe as directed.”

Acorn Squash

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Doesn’t this just make your mouth water?  This is a perfect healthy sweet snack that you’re going to love.  In the fall I always think I should eat more squash because they’re good for you, sweet, and they seem to be easy to grow, BUT I never knew what to do with them once I bought one.  This year I finally figured out how to fix them and they’re delicious and SO easy!

How to Cook Acorn Squash:

1. Step One: Get an acorn squash

2. Step Two: Stab the squash several times and then microwave for 3 minutes

3. Step Three:  Cut the squash in half and place open side down on a baking sheet

4. Step Four: Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes

5. Step Five: Top with butter and cinnamon or brown sugar

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato, Coconut Muffins

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I found this recipe and knew that it would be a new favorite of mine.  I made some alterations but the original recipe is found HERE.  These muffins are great because they feed my need for sweet without over doing it.  They’re filled with healthy goodness, but taste moist and delicious. 

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato & Coconut Muffins

4 cups whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup oat bran

1 cup sugar, +extra for sprinkling on top

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup melted unsalted butter

2 cup mashed or pureed sweet potato**

1/2 cup milk

½ cup dried coconut flakes, + extra for sprinkling on top

2 egg, beaten

1 cup vanilla yogurt

1 cup dried fruit pieces (I used pineapple)

**I was being lazy and decided to just used canned sweet potato (I know it’s not as healthy).  If you are doing the same then use a 29 oz can of diced sweet potatoes. Drain about 75% of the water out and pour the remaining water and potatos in a blender and puree and it will total to 2 cups.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients: flour, oat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sweet potato, milk, coconut, egg, and yogurt. Combine the wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined and then fold in dried fruit pieces. The dough will look a lot like cookie dough.  Don’t over mix! Spray 24 muffin tins with cooking spray and spoon in the dough so that each is about 2/3 full. Sprinkle a little bit of sugar and coconut flakes on top of each muffin.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until muffins are golden on top.