Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mexican Chicken

The following recipe is one of my favorite "meal jumpstarters." It's good on it's own, but it makes lots! The extras freeze fabulously and can be made into so many things, your family won't feel like they are eating the same meal, over and over.

Mexican Chicken

2.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders
1 c salsa (preferably homemade)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained
1.5 c frozen or fresh corn
1-2 jalapeƱos, chopped (optional)

Dump all ingredients into crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred chicken when ready to eat.

So, how do we eat it? The first night, I make salad and Mexican rice and serve it over the rice. Then I bag the rest in 1/2 lb increments for the freezer. Pull it out and defrost to make nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas, top a salad with it cold, make Mexican chicken salad sandwiches, etc.

Tomatillo Salsa

In our most recent Bountiful Basket, I added on a Mexican vegetable pack. In that pack came tomatillos. Having never cooked with tomatillos before, I turned to good ole Google for a way to cook them and came up with this.

Tomatillo Salsa (aka Salsa Verde)
*Adapted from*

1 lb tomatillos, husked and halved
1/2 c chopped onion
1 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tbls fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 c water

Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer on med-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until tomatillos are soft.

Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Stay tuned for recipes using Tomatillo Salsa!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blueberry Pancakes

Remember those blueberries I spent time getting in the freezer? They didn't stay in there for long! The next day, Lydia and I enjoyed a breakfast of homemade, healthy, blueberry pancakes before church. Let me be clear that while I am a lover of the blueberry, Lydia is not. She's not a picky kid, but it's generally a bit of work to get her to eat them. This recipe did not suddenly change that, but she did eat half a pancake without much whining.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
(Recipe adapted from In the Little Red House)

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/8 cup quick oats
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups milk + 2 scant tablespoons vinegar (or 1 3/4 c buttermilk)
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled, plus more for griddle
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (1 pint) blueberries
Pure maple syrup, for serving
In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together all wet ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just enough until the batter is combined.
Fold in blueberries or sprinkle on each pancake separately as they are cooking.
Add approximately 1/3 cup batter to a hot griddle for each pancake.
Sprinkle blueberries immediately on top if you did not add them to the batter. *Enlist your little ones for this job!*
Turn pancakes after 3-4 minutes or when edges appear set and bubbles are surfacing throughout the pancake.
Cook on the other side 2-3 minutes or until done.
Transfer to oven set to 200* to keep warm when cooked through.
Serve with butter and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bountiful Baskets

Not long before I decided to hop on the real food train, I came across Bountiful Baskets. It's a volunteer run, food co-op that provides fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, tortillas, and even granola at a fraction of the price. I'm constantly amazed at how much I spend at the grocery store. I'm not the only one who occasionally walks away with two measely bags of groceries for $50, right?!

Well look what my $50 bought me today:

5 loaves organic, whole wheat bread
13 6-oz clamshells of blueberries
4 limes
9 tomatillos
3 avacado
4 jalepeno
5 anaheim peppers
3 yellow onion
1 head garlic
2 grey squash
2 bunches green onion
1 bunch cilantro
4 tomatos
5 mangoes
1 lb cherries
7 nectarines
1 catelope
1 bunch celery
1 head romaine lettuce
5 lb potatoes
9 bananas

Wow! It's so exciting to see all this healthy produce in my fridge and fruit bowl just waiting to be devoured. I spent some time preparing some of it, and I've got lots of recipes to share coming soon!

I love blueberry muffins, pancakes, desserts, you name it, but they are generally so expensive! These worked out to about $1.20 per package - SCORE! We'll have plenty for all the blueberry dishes my little heart could dream of. The first order of business was to get most of the blueberries in the freezer.

First, wash all your berries and let them dry thouroughly. I dumped them into a colander in batches and rinsed them well, then laid them on a towel to dry.
Leave the berries to dry for 30-60 minutes, then roll around and leave for another 30 minutes to make sure they are dry all around. Transfer dry berries to a cookie sheet and spread out in one layer.
(Don't stress if they aren't pefectly in one layer either. You can see here I had a few too many on this sheet. It's not a big deal as long as the berries are dry.)
Pop the cookie sheet into the freezer until the berries are solid, about 60-90 minutes. Then pour into a ziplock bag and enjoy! They make a great treat frozen plain, are ready for a smoothie, and perfect for any baking! I don't mind them thawed in cereal or oatmeal either.

Stay tuned for recipes using those blueberries. First up - Blueberry Pancakes!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why I Care - Part I

I remember quite specifically the day I started caring about food and cooking. My mom had bought a random magazine (something she never does) which just so happened to be Cooking Light. I was 17-years-old, had a job, a car, and some money, and decided I was going to get ingredients and make my family dinner. I mean, Mom had only cooked for us for seventeen plus years without a break. It was the least I could do.

I made Grilled Herb Chicken with Brushetta and a Fruit Salad. And it was a-maz-ing! I remember it took me close to an hour to shop for the ingredients. They were relatively simple things - balsamic vinegar, parsley, grape tomatoes. But I'd never really grocery shopped before and it was such a challenge! Then the cooking. I was in the kitchen most of the day. I even measured the fruit with a ruler to make sure I was cutting it into proper 1-inch cubes!

I was getting anxious by the time dinner rolled around. Would they like it? Had I just wasted $50 worth of groceries? Thankfully, everyone loved it! It was much "fancier" fare than my family had generally, but it went over well.

Mom even asked for the recipe. I hope she still has it - I lost it somwhere in one of my moves.

Since then, Mom and I have traded many recipes. I've bought many issues of Cooking Light (and Clean Eating and Food Network and Real Simple and the list goes on). I've wandered around many grocery stores - sometimes a woman-on-a-list-getting-mission, sometimes just meandering. I mean, I did ask to just walk around Whole Foods for my mother's day gift.

I just love food. The preparation, the planning, the anticipation, the research, the smell, the sight, the taste. And I'm learning how to use that food to my body's advatage.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Simple Roasted Cauliflower

Growing up, cauliflower was not a vegetable we ate often. On the rare occasion we had it, it was drowned in a cheese sauce, probably Velveeta. Since I didn't really like it, once I had my own household, I never purchased it. It just wasn't a vegetable I ate.
Then I started getting Bountiful Baskets. Of course when I opened my first basket, there was a head of cauliflower staring back at me. Ugh! As much as I didn't like cauliflower, I like wasting money even less! So, I determined to find a healthy way to fix it that I could tolerate.
And I did!

Simple Roasted Cauliflower

1 head Cauliflower
1 tbsp Oil (Olive or Grapeseed are my preference)
1-2 tbsp Herbs de Provence
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400*.
2. Cut cauliflower florets off of stem. Toss with oil and Herb Mix.
3. Spread cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 20-30 minutes, turning 1-2 times. Cauliflower is ready when fork tender and browning on the edges.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - May 28 - June 2

On last week's menu plan, I said I would let you know how well we followed the plan. I had great intentions. I really did. But then, my dad was readmitted to the hospital. I feel like that's a pretty good excuse for straying from the plan.

What We Ate
From the Menu Plan
Grilled Chicken, Carrot Risotto, Broccolette, and a Whole Wheat Cheddar Biscuit

Ham, Onion, Spinach, Tomato Quiche - I liked this, Lydia ate it with a little prodding, Jake was NOT a fan.

In the Hospital
Bacon, Eggs, Biscuits, Gravy, French Toast in many different combinations
Panera Muffins
Lots of Soy White Chocolate Mochas from Starbucks
Hospital Sushi
Hospital Mongolian Grill - this was actually really tasty!
Panera Salad/Sandwich
Chipotle - and I ate the whole thing and thought I might explode!
Chick-fil-a - at least twice
Salad Bar
Monster Sized Macadamia Nut Cookie

And probably other stuff that now escapes my memory. Needless to say, I did not eat real. Or even remotely healthfully. But I refuse to feel bad about it - I did what I had to do. Next week will be a better week!

Singapore Noodles (from Clean Eating June 2012)
Sesame Soy Cucumber - using this sauce.

Hamburgers topped with Pineapple and Bacon
Rutabaga and Sweet Potato Fries

Flank Steak with Orange Rice

Pasta w/ Smoked Bacon, Butternut Squash, and Spinach

Grilled Chicken
Amazing Kohlrabi
Steamed Broccoli
Here's to hoping for an only mildly crazy week!