Simple Icing for Cookies

November 19, 2015 by  
Filed under Recipes

A simple recipe for icing your favorite cookies!
Yields about 12 cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk
2 tsp light corn syrup
Food coloring

Instructions:
Mix sugar and milk into a smooth paste. Add the corn syrup and vanilla extract and beat until creamy. Add the food coloring, or if you want to make different colored icing, place the icing into various small bowls and add the food coloring. Brush the icing onto the cookies and allow to dry.

The Best Ever Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry Chia Jam

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Recipes

cranberry sauce

 

I used to love the canned cranberry sauces to serve with my turkey until one year I decided to try and make my own. I’ll never go back to the canned again! It’s so easy and pretty healthy.

I kind of mish-mash these ingredients so feel free to embellish to your own taste and add in other things as you see fit! But here are the basics:

 

 

 

1 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries
1/4 cup port wine (if you’re not a wine drinker, use orange juice)
1/2 can crushed pineapple
zest of a small/medium orange (fresh is preferred)
1/4 (or more) freshly grated ginger root
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)

Put all the ingredients except for the chia seeds into a large saucepan and boil gently until the cranberries start to burst. Continue to simmer until the sauce is the consistency you like. You can use an immersion blender to make it really smooth too if you want or just use the back of a fork to smash up the cranberries if you like it less chunky.

Take it off the stove and let it cool completely. Add the chia seeds if you want more of a jelly like consistency and stir well. The chia seeds will swell – about 10 minutes should do it. Then give it another good stir and store in glass mason jars or in the freezer. Should store for about a week.

Enjoy!

Easy Honey Chicken Dinner

September 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Recipes

chicken-and-vegetable-rice-1-1526605Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
½ cup chicken broth (ideally low-sodium)
¼ cup liquid honey
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 chickens (about 3 1/2pounds each), cut into pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups pitted olives (black, green or a mix)
Fresh thyme if available, otherwise dried
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Heat the oven to 450º F.

Rub all the chicken pieces with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Then place the chicken pieces skin-side down in one layer into a large roasting tin. Mix the lemon juice, honey and broth in a small jug and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with thyme and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, turn over the chicken pieces and continue baking for a further 20 minutes or until the chicken pieces are no longer pink inside. If you want to crisp the skin, place it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Serve with veggie rice and a tossed salad.

Family-Favorite Taco Salad

July 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Recipes

This is my go to lunch and dinner meal because I usually have all the ingredients laying around the house at any time.  There’s so much flexibility with these Ingredients too – you can change it up and make it into taco soup, for instance, or a taco bar.  Healthy too!  So let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1lb lean ground beef (I like 80/20)
1 medium onion, minced (try vidalia or sweet yellow onions)
3 cloves garlic, minced (I use this garlic press)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
19oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups tortilla chips
1 cup lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup mozzarella or cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Salsa
Avocado slices

Instructions:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir-fry the onion until tender. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the beef, chili powder, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is done, then drain off the fat if necessary. Stir in the kidney beans and cook until heated through.

To assemble, arrange the tortilla chips on dinner plates and top with the meat. Add the shredded lettuce, tomatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Serve with sour cream and more cheese on top.  Top with a dollop of salsa and a few avocado slices.

Fast Family Meal Ideas

July 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Recipes

Dinner time is family time. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get everyone together and it’s often even more difficult to find time to prepare meals. Home prepared meals are generally healthier than take out options. With a little meal planning and some advanced preparation you can get a meal on the table in mere minutes. Here are some fast family meal ideas to help you get started.

Southern Style Crock Pot Chicken

If you have five minutes in the morning, you have time to pull this meal together. Layer the following items into your crock pot:

* 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 8 oz. can green chilies
* 15 oz. can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, not drained
* 15 oz. can of corn, drained
* 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
* 15 oz. can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
* 15 oz. can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Sprinkle a packet of taco seasoning or chili powder on the mixture. Cook for 6-8 hours on low. When you get home at night, shred chicken with a fork. It should be nice and tender. Serve with tortillas and your choice of sides/toppings. Consider shredded cheese, avocado, salsa, and shredded lettuce.

The crock pot is an ideal kitchen tool for busy families. You can make soups, stews, roasts, and casseroles in your crock pot and it only takes a few minutes of your time.

Pasta Primavera

Choose your favorite pasta shape and cook according to package directions. Slice your favorite vegetables; consider zucchini slices, broccoli, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Toss all the vegetables with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the oven for twenty minutes at 350 degrees F.

Toss the pasta with the vegetables and serve with parmesan  cheese. It’s a healthy meal with grains and vegetables. Use whole grain pasta for added nutrition.

Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Soup

In a large stock pot, put five cups of chicken broth. Slice a pound of Andouille sausage and add to the pot. Add a can of white beans and one pound of coarsely chopped kale. Cook to let kale soften, then serve. It’s great with crusty white bread on the side. This recipe literally takes about ten to fifteen minutes –  just long enough for the broth and ingredients to get hot.

When looking for fast family meal ideas, look to your resources. A crock pot and make-ahead recipes are a busy family’s best friend. Plan ahead, prepare what you can in advance and enjoy meal time with your family.

Delicious Springtime Cookies

March 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Recipes

tea-cookies-836118-mYields about 24 cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups margarine or butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extra
¼ tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

Instructions:
With an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and salt until creamy. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly add the sifted flour and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended.

Half the dough, flatten each half and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. On a floured surface, roll one half of the dough to about ¼” thickness and cut out your favorite spring shapes – flowers, bunnies and more. Arrange the shapes on an ungreased baking sheet and chill about for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, roll out the remaining dough and repeat procedure.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack.

Decorate the cookies with pastel color icing and allow to stand until the icing is firm and dry.

BBQ Lamb Chops with Rosemary

March 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Recipes

bbq-lamb-1101566-mIngredients:
12x 1″ thick loin lamb chops, trimmed
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced (or 3 tsp dried)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Arrange lamb chops in a single layer in a glass dish. Mix vinegar, oil, lemon juice, rosemary and garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the lamb chops, cover and refrigerate. Allow to marinade for at least 4 hours. Turn the chops occasionally.

Place the lamb chops on the BBQ, season with salt and pepper and cook to your preferred doneness. Use the marinade to baste the chops for extra flavor and moisture.

Serve immediately with potatoes and vegetables.

How to Make a Strawberry Spinach Salad Your Family Will Love

April 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Recipes

Spinach salad is one of my very favorite salads to eat in the summer … well really almost any time of the year.  It’s healthy, looks fabulous on the plate with almost any other main dish and most people love it!

Avocado & Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar -...

Avocado & Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar – Yummo! (Photo credit: SweetOnVeg)

With a tasty dressing and summer strawberries, you can make a strawberry and spinach salad that everyone in your family will love. If you are introducing this salad to children, chop the spinach into small pieces and mix them well into the other salad ingredients.

For 4 servings of Strawberry Spinach Salad you will need:
-One 10-ounce bag or bunch of fresh spinach
-2 cups sliced, fresh strawberries, washed and tops removed
-1 cup thinly sliced red onion
-1 cup pralines or candied pecans

Optional: chopped cooked chicken or sliced hard boiled egg

Place all ingredients except pecans in large salad bowl. Pour strawberry vinaigrette (recipe below) over salad to taste and toss to combine. Refrigerate any leftover vinaigrette. Sprinkle the whole salad or individual servings with pecans and serve.

Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup whole strawberries, washed and tops removed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar, but balsamic vinegar does especially well with strawberries)
1/4 teaspoon salt – adjust to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sugar – adjust to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend or process until it becomes liquid.

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Superfoods – Summer Berries

March 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Recipes

English: Alaska wild berries from the Innoko N...

English: Alaska wild berries from the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Berries are some of the most healthful foods, and summer is the season of the berry. From strawberries to blueberries to cherries, summer brings these healthful fruits to our tables. They are more affordable in summer, being in season. Here are some of the more commonly available berries and their health benefits.

1. Strawberries

These popular fruits are the base for desserts and snacks that range from simple to decadent. Like most berries, though, their health benefits are best obtained by eating them raw.

These tasty fruits have high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants and phenols. They also contain notable amounts of manganese. Their red color indicates their high concentration of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins. These and other nutrients, such as potassium, combine to make strawberries helpful in preventing cancer, decreasing inflammation, and protecting the heart. They are even implicated in promoting joint health.

Harvard Medical School recently found new evidence that strawberries are good for cardiovascular health. The berries lowered participants’ blood levels of a kind of protein known as C-reactive protein. The presence of this protein indicates blood vessel inflammation, so lower blood levels indicated that the strawberries decreased blood vessel inflammation.

2. Blueberries

Blueberries get their dark color from anthocyanins as well (they actually have more red than blue coloration). Generally speaking, the more colorful the berry, the healthier it is, and blueberries are richly pigmented. They are excellent sources of antioxidants, and are indicated in heart and eye health. Due to their high lutein content, blueberries are said to help prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

Blueberries are also said to help reduce the risk of age-related mental illness, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

While blueberries’ antioxidant content puts them in the anti-cancer category, they are said to reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer specifically by almost half. This is due to the presence of a flavonoid called kaempferol.

Like cranberries, blueberries also help fight urinary tract infections.

3. Cherries

Related to plums, cherries contain iron in addition to vitamin A, phosphorous, calcium, and potassium. Like strawberries but even more so, cherries are good for the joints due to their anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in antioxidants – do you notice a common antioxidant thread that connects all berries?

Cherries contain melatonin, which helps induce a healthy sleep and preserve mental clarity. Cherries support heart health by helping to reduce belly fat, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol.

4. Blackberries

These big, dark berries have many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, E, K and folate, and calcium and manganese. They are astringent in action, making them useful in treating diarrhea. Their antioxidants fight cancer-causing free radicals more so than their red counterparts, raspberries.

5. Raspberries

Once again, pretty color makes for healthful eating. They have lots of manganese and vitamin C. Raspberries contain high amounts of ellagic acid, a polyphenol that is useful in preventing cancer and enhancing the immune system.

Berries share many of the same benefits in varying proportions. Overall, they are good for eye and heart health, useful in maintaining a healthy weight, and in helping to prevent cancer.

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Fun Special Family Breakfast – Oatmeal “bar”

March 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Recipes

Breakfast of rasperries, blueberries and oatmeal.

Breakfast of rasperries, blueberries and oatmeal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back we offered to care for our friends’ 7 kids while the parents went on a short trip out of state.  For this mom of two, this was quite an undertaking.  I’ve never had more than 2 kids and really had no idea what it would be like to have a large family for a few days.

We not only survived it, we had a great time. The kids were good sports, behaved beautifully and pitched in to help all the time. It was wonderful.

One of the challenges, of course, was meal time and in particular, breakfast.  We could have done the standard cereal every morning, but at least once we wanted to have something special.

Enter the Oatmeal “Bar”.  Talk about a hit.  I made a big (no… HUGE) pot of oatmeal and while it was cooking I put a bunch of toppings and mix ins into small containers to set on the table.

Here’s what I put out:

Sweeteners:

Brown sugar

Maple Syrup

Agave

Mix ins and toppings

Chopped Pecans

Raisins

Dried Cranberries

Chia Seeds

Fresh Blueberries

Chocolate Chips

The kids loved it.  Seriously.  They asked for it the next morning too and after they were home when their oldest sister dared to put oatmeal out one Sunday morning for breakfast WITHOUT the mix ins … well, let’s just say there was a little oatmeal deprogramming that had to be done.

So, in light of that, pull this one out for special occasions only.  Make the most of it by setting a pretty table and putting the mix ins in fancy bowls with spoons, etc. Or serve the kids like a waiter with all the mix ins on a tray and you walking from child to child and spooning in their favorites at their request (this will also help when a few too many chocolate chips are getting poured into the bowls).

Oh, and by the way, this makes a fabulous “Dad’s out for the night so we don’t have to make a “real” dinner” dinner, too.

 

 

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