Saturday, May 31, 2014

Light yet filling

Hey Y'all,
So I've been eating very simple salads lately and just haven't had much to post. But this week I need a warm meal for lunch and came up with this quick little diddy. 
1 pint of sliced baby Bella mushrooms sautéed in 1-2 TBSP of olive oil. I don't season the mushrooms until after they have browned so that I don't draw out additional moisture. 

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of 1 small onion, diced
1/2 jalapeño, minced
These ingredients can be added to the mushrooms after browning has taken place. You don't want to add items that will increase moisture levels until after the mushrooms have gotten some good color on them or else it will take much long to achieve the desire brownness. 

Simple salt and pepper were used to season the mushrooms to your own taste. 

For my fish I used Garlic Powder, Korean crushed red pepper (it's more potetent than Italian crushed red pepper), and and herbed basting oil. 

A pre-cleaned, pre-cut bag of kale makes prep so much simpler. I tend to pay the extra $0.50 for organic because I believe in avoiding as many unnecessary pesticides and GMOs as possible. 

I've found the keeping the occasional bag of individually wrapped frozen meats makes for fast defrosting. When I can find a decent deal on quality fish I jump on it. This is the last piece of salmon that I had on hand. So it was perfect to use for my lunch. 

2 of the biggest handfuls of kale that I could muster ended up in the pan with the mushroom mixture and cooked down until all moisture was gone and the kale was wilted. 
Be sure to taste as you go to see how you seasoning is going. 

The salmon was seasoned on both sides with salt, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and the herbed oil. 
The important thing with salmon is to not overcook it. I tend to like all of my animal proteins hot all the way through the middle so medium well is what I lean most towards. Salmon is tricky though because there is a super thin line between overlooked and just right. In general 3-4 minutes on either side at medium high heat does the trick. 
When you touch the fish at the thickest part it should spring back just a little. 

I'm sure you noticed that I used a lot of garlic for this one little meal. Well, what can I say? I had a craving for garlic! Lol
Once everything was plated I gave a quick squeeze of lemon to brighten up the darkness of the greens and mushrooms. 
With as big glass of lemon water this dish made for a satisfying meal. Also a nice switch up from the salad monotony I was experiencing. 

Do you have any warm salad favorites? Let me know. 

Peace and Namaste Y'all 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sunshine in a Square

Hey Y'all!
I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. My Mother's Day had beautiful weather and a sky full of airplanes and paratroopers. It was a great day!!!! So great!
(Yes that is a person riding on TOP of the plane) 

But before my Sunday of basking in the wonders of my former military home life. I had the urge to bake. It doesn't happen often but when it happened Saturday I acted on it and made some of my quick and easy favorites....Lemon Squares! The only way this could be easier is if it didn't require baking.
The crust is essentially a butter cookie crust. 2 sticks of softened butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 2 cups of flour. That's it. Nothing fancy, although you could get a little fancy since it's such a simple recipe. 

Add sugar to the softened butter. 

And then add the flour. 

Be careful when mixing, start on low so that flour doesn't fly everywhere. 

Mix until blended together, a soft dough should form. It should press together easily but not be sticky. 

Press the dough out into a pan. I like the 8x11 inch pan because it creates a nice thick bar with excellent crust to filling ratio. I like my lemon squares to feel like bars, not iced cookies. 

The dough goes into the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes. 

While the crust bakes the filling can be set up. 
1/4 cup and 1TBSP of flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs and 2/3 cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice 

All ingredients go into the bowl. 
(Did I mention how easy this recipe is?)

Blend mixture well. 
I just used the same bowl and beaters from the crust mixing. 

A few additional stirs worked out the lumps. 

The crust comes out lightly brown. A nice little tip is an underbaked crust is worse than an overbaked crust in this case. 

Pour the lemon mixture right over the crust. Be careful not to pour too fast or you risk losing some of that delicious sweet tart goodness. 

The pan goes back into the oven at 350 for another 20-25 minutes. 
When it comes out the middle shouldn't jiggle, but it won't be completely firm either. The edges get that lovely brown color to them that just screams crusty chewiness. Mmmmmm

The most difficult part about this recipe is waiting the eternity it seems to take for these beautiful pockets of sunshine to cool down. Once they are no longer warm I like to cut them up and stash them in the fridge. A nice cold lemon square is like a little piece of joy in your mouth. (Did I mention that I love most things lemon?) 
These got a super thumbs up in the house. I think I might turn the crust into butter cookies sometime. I'm sure they would go perfectly with a big cup of tea. 
Do you have any quick fix baking favorites? 
Peace and Namaste Y'all 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Lazy lunches

Hey y'all,
Today was a bit rushed and I was beyond hungry when I got back to the house. So instead if cooking, I did what I often times do. I turned leftovers into something new. 
I try to keep a couple bags of salad kits in the fridge. They're usually really tasty and depending on which ones you pick up you can eat an entire bag for anywhere between 300 - 450 calories. 

I threw a few ounces of chicken breast into the mix to balance out the meal. This took all of 3 minutes to throw together. And it only took that long because I nuked the chicken for a minute in the microwave. 
Eating good food doesn't have to require a ton of prep or even much actual cooking. What are your go to quick fix meals? 
I'm ready to hit a heavy Netflix binge for the next couple of days. So I'll catch y'all on the otherside of my Army Wives season. 
Peace and Namaste Y'all 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Meatloaf Meatloaf Double Beetloaf...

Hey y'all,
I know I'm lagging but the ball is starting to really roll on transitioning my blog to its own site! I'm so excited I could do a happy dance. (Actually I did, you just can't see it) so for the next few weeks the posts are going to be a little skimpy. But once things are up and kinks all worked out I'm going to be unstoppable. Lol

Who knows what movie my title line is from? If you can finish that line then we might need to become friends in real life. ;-) Earlier this week my kiddo requested her favorite meal.....meatloaf! Yes my child LOVES meatloaf. When I say loves meatloaf, I mean she has been known to eat nearly an entire meatloaf by herself. Yes, and she does not care if everyone has their share. Lol
So of course I had to oblige her. I mean who says no to a kid asking for a meatloaf dinner?!?
These are my basic meatloaf ingredients. 
1lb ground turkey
1 whole egg
1 small onion
1/2 large green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves 
1 can tomato sauce (used only about half of this can total)
Italian seasoning
12 saltine crackers (give or take a cracker)
And yes I like to use crushed saltine crackers instead of breadcrumbs for a few reasons.  1) they add seasoning 2) I like the firmer texture that they impart (almost as if you toasted the breadcrumbs but without the extra work) 3) they're easy to come by in a pinch since I pretty much Always have saltines on had 

Small dice the onion and half of the bell pepper. Mince the garlic

Throw the ingredients together with the ground meat. That is about a quarter cup of tomato sauce. Your looking for the texture to be a bit looser than say a hamburger patty. This is going into the over for awhile and we don't want a dry loaf. 
I have made meatloaf so many times I can just smell it to see if it's seasoned well with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. But if you still need practice there's no reason you can take a small piece and cook it really quickly in a pan to taste for seasoning adjustments. I'm all about learning to understand your food so that you don't need a full on recipe to make simple favorites. What's the worst that can happen? You learn that next time it wouldn't hurt to add a little salt? No big deal. Lol 

After everything is mixed together well the meat mixture is spread down into a loaf pan. When you cook meatloaf in a loaf pan it takes awhile to cook all the way through. This one was at 375 covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes. 

Then I removed the foil and poured a bit more of the tomato sauce on top. A quick sprinkle of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Then back into the oven uncovered for another 10-15 minutes. Or until the sauce has thicken up on the meatloaf and the juices in the pan run clear. 

Of course the kiddo was ecstatic and ate two big servings of meatloaf, almost completely neglecting the sides dishes. Lol but that's okay it's not everyday and she was happy. 

What was your favorite meal as a kid? Hmm, I had too many favorites to name just one. Maybe my grandma's chicken and dressing. Mmm 
Peace and Namate Y'all 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shout out to one of my favorite blogs!

Hey Ya'll!
Today I wanted to share a post that I read on another blog. 100 Days of Real Food is a blog about a mother who wants her children to know what real food is and where real food comes from. At the beginning of April she wrote a post about fun ways to get picky eaters to try new things. I am so passionate about feeding children food that grows rather than food that is "created".. So naturally I found her suggestions really interesting. Fortunately I have never had a problem with getting my child to eat. She has pretty much always been eager to try just about anything, and she actually likes most everything she tries. As long as it's not spicy. Lol
But Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food set up this blog post that might prove to be really helpful for those of you who struggle to get your child(ren) to try new foods.  My personal favorite is the blindfolded taste recognition game. But I'm a fan of depriving one sense in order to enhance or better understand another sense.
So please be sure to stop by 100 Says of Real Food and check out this post.
Do you have picky eaters in the house? How do you get them to try new things?
Please share your experiences
Peace and Namaste Ya'll

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Information overload

Hey Y'all!!!
So last week, Friday, my birthday present from my mother arrived on the doorstep. And let me tell you... I am in Love!! I have received the holy grail of culinary information. An actual Culinary Institute of America textbook! What?!?! Yes! 
This book has literally almost everything a professional chef learns tucked right inside of it. Along with some really great photos. It's huge. When I say huge, think science major in graduate school textbook huge. There are literally more than 1200 pages in this book. So it's not really a carry around and do some light reading type of book. But goodness knows I am enjoying diving into it chunk by chunk. 
There are thorough explanations of what things are from tools to spices to meat. And how to use them. 
Even all of the cuts of vegetables and meats!!! 
I am so excited about this book I don't even know where to start with it. Ha!
Once I've skimmed my way through to the end I will gather my thoughts and figure out what my first project will be. Who knows, I just may surprise myself with some new skills mastered. 
What's the best gift you have received (or given) in recent years?
Peace and Namaste Y'all 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Regroup Reorganize Repeat

Hey Y'all,
I've been attempting to get better orgasmized this past week. BUT it does not seem to be happening. Lol. Go figure. 
I haven't made many original food dishes this past week. So I don't have much to post 
But I will share a little moment of my kiddo's favorite past time. 
Since she was two years old she has loved doing her nails and the nails of others. So we spent a couple of hours painting, polishing, and decorating. Just between you and I.... She is better than some licensed nail techs that I have encountered. 
What's your favorite way to spend time your little ones? I would love to hear about what other families call fun. 
Peace & Namaste Y'all 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me!!

Hey Y'all!
As you guessed from the title of this post today is my birthday! I didn't have anything other than church, food, and time with my immediate family planned this year. I've never been much of a partyer and living in my new environment has not brought any new friends to hang out with just yet. But that's okay, my old friends from back home made me feel loved even from halfway across the country. 
For Lent I chose to base my fast around land animals. So no meat for 45 days. It's not that big of a deal actually, when I'm aware of my diet I tend to eat more plant-based foods anyway. Though I did start to miss chicken after a few weeks. There are so many different types of seafood to be had, but nothing is as simple or as versatile as chicken. Because my kiddo and mother followed suit with my fasting choice we were all ready for an avalanche of meat today. Lol
The grill was fired up and so much food was had. My poppa loves me and knows how homesick I am, so he brought the big guns with a brisket. 
(He looks all professional with his home deli slicer.)
I am not really all that big on the regular vanilla or chocolate cakes with frosting. And that's what we've been having lately so I broke the birthday cake game up with a homemade pineapple upside down cake from the sweet tooth blog Averiecooks. It's a great recipe, I suggest you stop by her page and try it. I messed up by turning the pan over but leaving it on top of the cake over night. (Yea don't ask, I have no idea what made me do that) so of course the top got a little soggy. But not so much that it ruined the cake. A little air time helped it recover. 
The best parts about making my own cake this year: 
1) I got to team up with the flying panda 
2) I got exactly what I wanted
3) I was able to flex my baking skills. I mean it is my namesake after all. 
4) it's less expensive to make it yourself
It turned out lovely and tasting. Great job Averiecooks! This will be made again. 

I hope everyone had a lovely Resurrection Day if you celebrate. And if not it's still my birthday so have a slice of cake. What kind of cake will you have?
Peace and Namaste Y'all 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Justify it with some veggies

Hey y'all,
This week's break has definitely been much needed. It always takes a few days to register just how hard you work for everyone else and how occasionally you need some time for yourself. Don't forget to take a little break sometime soon and remember to enjoy what you work so hard for.
Yesterday I spent a little time with my mommy. It was one of the best days out and about that I've had all week. I love my mommy. Yes she is a Chatty Cathy and I'm much quieter than she is often times. But when it's just the two of us doing something togetherwe're like two peas in a pod. I'm sure the fact that it just being the two of us for the early parts of my childhood has a lot to do with our bond. But also the simple fact that my mother loves me sooo much and has always shown it keeps us going. 
We did a little shopping for Easter and then I reheated the leftover pizzas in the fridge after we got settled back in at the house. P.S. people eat so much pizza around here, even the kiddo is sick of pizza. Yes, you read that right. A 10 year old child is sick of pizza. Lol
The pizza is from this place called Bella's. It's....okay....I actually prefer the shop that's closer to our house called Tony's. They have a better sauce to cheese ratio and use a delicious olive oil. Which makes the pizzas nice and greasy Lol
So these slices being leftovers meant we ate pizzas earlier this week, right? So I had to justify eating it again with some veggies and I didn't feel like making a cold salad. The weather has cooled back down this week and the wind adds a good brrr effect. Lol but at least the sun has been shining. 
So I minced up 3 cloves of garlic and threw it on top of about 2 cups of broccoli in a bowl with a pinch of red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and popped it into the microwave for 1:00minute. 
I mixed everything together well so that the garlic would cover the broccoli. Then spooned the mixture on to each of the cold slices. 
I tossed the sheet pan of slices into the oven under the broiler until the cheese was bubbling. 

Extra virgin olive oil was drizzled across the top just like on a white pizza. Mostly because like I said, the sauce to cheese ratio on a Bella's slice isn't to my liking. 
The result, a garlicky hot slice of pizza with great added texture, fiber, and justification. Lol
I know not everyone would think to add broccoli to their pizza. But don't knock it until you try it. It's nothing like the over cooked mush that is so often served as broccoli, giving it a bad name. Plus there are three things that can make pretty much anything taste amazing: deep frying, cheese, and of course Bacon. 

Either way we enjoyed our renewed leftovers. How do you like to revamp leftover pizza? 

Peace & Namaste Y'all  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taking liberties with science

Hey y'all,
Today was the day of the kids. Lol 
It's spring break around here and the kiddo has an itinerary for nearly everyday this week. Today's agenda:
1. Have cousin spend the night 
2. Visit the Liberty Science Center
For a few hours we milled around the building interacting with exhibits and trying to not step on small children. 
The building has four floors of exhibits. Everything ranging from environmental resources, to communicable diseases, to native and exotic animals, and robotic surgery. 
It was slightly over priced, but most things here are, and at least the building is well maintained. So no real compaints this time on that. 
The liquid rises into the tubes from the warmth of your hands.... The kiddo's hands were too cold. 
We took the elevators up to the fourth floor then walked back down as we went through the exhibits. 
If you've gotten a feel for me at here I'm sure you know the fact that the renewable energy exhibit was so large really made my heart smile. I honestly believe in diversifying our energy sources and lessening our dependency on crude oil. 
Showing how tides can create energy
This was new information for me and I'm always glad to learn something new y'all. 
This little machine in the middle measures radiation emmissions by clicking faster and louder as more radiation is detected. Sort of like a metal detector 
I learned that the old school Fiesta ware was full of radiation. I set the detector off louder than the fragments of decaying uranium. 
For all of you countertop snobs out there. Granite outs out small constant amounts of radiation. I knew there was a reason I'm more drawn to butcher block. 
Fortunately Fiesta got their act together over the years and the dishes post late 1980's are safe and sound. No uranium, no lead, no melamine. It's good stuff now. Lol
I'm finding that I am quite happy to just watch animals of various kinds these days. 
Turtles of some sort....sorry I forget

This toad was almost the size of my mother's Yorkie. 

Poisonous Dart Frog they are so beautiful. The sign stated they lose their poison when in captivity because of their diets. I don't think I'll test fate. But thanks
THIS is how you watch your kiddo learn how to virtually operate a robotic surgeon arm 
She did really well too
The jacks have to be dropped into the Petri dish with the corresponding color. 
In the gift shop I found this book. I didn't buy it. But it did make me think....there aren't lines of Charming running around looking to save anyone. So why are we still teaching our daughters to prance around doing nothing but looking pretty? She can still be a princess and enjoy building her castle with her own hands. And I would be exceedingly proud if she did. Or if she didn't. As long as what she did was want she loved. 
Happy Spring!!!
Peace to you and Namaste y'all