Saturday, March 30, 2013

Baked Banana Nut Oatmeal

This is a variation of my Baked Blueberry Banana Oatmeal ... sometimes you just want something a little different ... both are delicious for breakfast or as a dessert though not at all overly sweet!!!  I made one and took it to my daughter, who is stationed at Keesler AFB, last weekend when I went for a visit and her and her roommates loved it and wanted to know how to make it for themselves!!!

Before Baking ~ should look soupy

Banana Nut Baked Oatmeal

1 cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
¼ cup Pecans, chopped (divided)
½ tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt
¼ cup Maple Syrup
1 cup Silk Very Vanilla (or 1 cup Milk and 1 tsp Vanilla)
1 tsp Vanilla (additional to above)
1 Frozen Overripe Banana, mashed*
2 Tblsp Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled slightly (totally optional)
3 Fresh Bananas, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  Place Oats, half of the Pecans, Baking Powder, Cinnamon, and Salt in a mixing bowl.  Stir to combine.  Combine the Syrup, Silk, Vanilla, Butter and the Mashed Banana in a liquid measuring cup.

Spread the sliced Fresh Bananas in a single layer over bottom of baking dish.  Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the Bananas in an even layer.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the oats.  Sprinkle remaining Pecans and Banana slices over top. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is browned and oats have set.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

*2 Frozen Overripe Bananas would make it even yummier!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Traditional Corned Beef Cabbage and Potatoes

It's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow and we will be having our traditional Corned Beef, Cabbage and Potatoes.  Easy to fix ... just follow the directions on the Corned Beef (making sure to add the seasoning packet that comes with it) and about 20-30 minutes before your Corned Beef is done, add potatoes (washed, of course), either cut up or whole, peeled or unpeeled, doesn't really matter but the seasonings from the meat make them awesome and no need to season with anything else.  I like to peel mine afterwards as the vitamins from the skin are cooked up inside them!  When I mash mine, I leave a tad of the water in them and dish out any large seasonings, add a bit of butter or half-n-half and yummm.  For the Cabbage, I cook it as I do my Southern Braised Cabbage except that I use some of the broth off the meat as the seasoning ... just enough to cover bottom of pan and I prefer to cook it in my Cast Iron Skillet.

So .... 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baby Spinach Chicken Avocado Salad

Baby Spinach Chicken Avocado Salad

Got the idea for this salad from Pinterest but since there was no recipe there is no one to give credit to.  There was only a picture and list of ingredients (I added the Chicken) which looked scrumptious by the way ~ even if it was served in a restaurant plastic take out container.  Here’s how I made it ~ for one!

½ Baked Chicken Breast, diced*
1 sm Avocado, cubed
Lrg Handful Baby Spinach
2 Campari Tomatoes, sliced
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Fresh Lemon Juice, to taste

*Chicken baked in a tiny bit of water with Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper.  I actually baked 2 whole Chicken Breasts split in half so that I can have 4 days worth of chicken.  Baked uncovered for 40 minutes (turning halfway through cooking time).  My picture looks like a whole Chicken Breast but I promise you … it is only a half!!!

I love salads and this one is definitely a keeper or I wouldn’t be blogging about it.  Yummmmmm

Quick and Easy Chicken Rice Soup

Not the greatest pic but I wasn't feeling good!

When you’re sick you sure as heck do not feel like cookin’ but a good ole pot of homemade Chicken Rice Soup sure does make ya feel better.  Works for me every time BUT unfortunately its not a cure LOL.  Normally if I’m up to it I cook a chicken breast or two instead of using canned Chicken but canned works in a pinch.  I also will use Fresh Thyme and Chives when I’m feeling up to it.  I like mine brothy but you can adjust broth to your liking.

Quick and Easy Chicken Rice Soup

1 can (12.5 oz) Chicken Breast
2 Celery Stalks, finely sliced
4-5 Green Onions (White and Green Portions), finely chopped
3 cans Chicken Broth (I use Low Sodium)
1 tsp Thyme
¼ cup uncooked Basmati Rice
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste
Dry Chives for garnish (Optional but do add flavor)

*Important: when using Canned Chicken Breast, do not add salt, until you have tasted finished soup.

Cook the Celery in a little bit of EVOO until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except for the Chives.  Cook for 20 minutes on simmer until Rice is fully cooked.  Garnish with Chives.

Feta, Spinach and Oregano Omelet

I’m not really a big egg eater … I maybe eat them a couple times a month but when I do I do love a good omelet.

I got this recipe from our friend (Scott’s lifelong friend) Paul who is always cookin us up something delicious!  He used Herbed Feta but since we only have regular Crumbled Feta I added the Oregano (I’m not sure what herbs are in the Herbed Feta but I know there is Oregano).  Here’s how I made it.

Feta, Spinach and Oregano Omelet
Splash or two of EVOO
2 Eggs, beaten for about 2 minutes
Crumbled Feta
Fresh Spinach
Oregano (Fresh would probably be best but I used Dry for this one)
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

I always beat my eggs with a whisk for about 2 minutes, literally, and I do not add milk as some do.  I add the Salt, Pepper and Oregano while whisking.

Add EVOO to a non-stick pan and heat up on medium heat.  Once heated add Eggs and cook until it just about ready to flip over.  Add desired amount of Feta and Spinach.  Flip over and let finish cooking.  If you love Feta then you will love this Omelet!  

Window Cleaning

I have lots of windows in my house … lots of ‘em … from windows with sidelights to doors with full panes of glass also with sidelights to picture windows to transoms so needless to say, I have a lot of windows to keep clean.  Recently I started using plain White Vinegar (Full Strength) in an empty prior glass cleaner bottle and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it years ago … many dollars spent on glass cleaner ago!!!  My glass cleaner, which I must say is a very big brand name, just hasn’t been getting them sparkling ~ no streak free clean for quite some time (probably years but I continued to use it because hey it’s a glass cleaner, right?) … even cleaning over and over again sometimes even 3 times during same cleaning … leaves streaks big time and also leaves paper towel fuzzies.  So frustrating!!!  Oh I’ve tried using newspaper with the glass cleaner as supposedly it gets windows and mirrors streak free but even using that didn’t help.

This is just 'some' of my transoms!
And just ONE of my picture windows
So one day recently out of major frustration because certain windows/doors must be cleaned frequently since my doggies love to stick their wet noses to them … I thought hmmmm I’m gonna try White Vinegar, which was already in a spray bottle because I use it for other things as well.  Well low and behold … first wipe down left NO streaks and NO paper towel fuzzies … so sparkling clean it seemed as if there was no glass!!!  Seriously!!!

I’ve since even started using it on all our mirrors because same problem … clean and clean again and still would have streaks, fogginess and paper towel fuzzies with the glass cleaner. 

Last spring I even used the ‘new’ outdoor window cleaner made by the same brand glass cleaner to no avail … looked like I hadn’t even touched them.  I was sooooo very disappointed!  And it’s hard work climbing up and down those ladders!!!  This year I’m going to use the White Vinegar on the outside windows as well!  Just waiting for the weather to warm up! 

And best thing about using White Vinegar?  Well two best things ~ (1) You only have to wipe down ONCE and (2) Its a heck of a lot cheaper!!!

P.S. White Vinegar as with most vinegar is non-toxic and a natural deodorizer so no need to worry about smell as it dissipates pretty quickly.

Juicin’ (Includes a Recipe)

I’ve been asked ‘why’ I started juicing so here’s why.  First off the documentary (available on Netflix) “Hungry for Change” made me realize I’m probably, no scratch that, I’m not taking in enough fruits and veggies on a daily basis … none of us are if you look at the recommended guidelines and there is no other way to get all of your servings in in a day, at least not for me.  And most importantly, what I learned from that documentary as well as a few others (see my recommended list below) is that “we are what we eat” just like we were taught in school and we should view our food as our medicine.  Now these documentaries do advocate becoming Vegans or Vegetarians, which those two are entirely different as well (look it up) but I shall remain a carnivore at heart … that’s not to say I couldn’t be a PART-TIME Vegetarian because I could eat mostly vegetarian meals and cut out meat to a few times a week.  But you’re either or … a Vegan or a Vegetarian … there is no part-time truly.

Now I started slowly watching what goes in my mouth about 15 years ago with the change back to using butter INSTEAD of margarine, then it evolved to Olive Oil INSTEAD of vegetable oil (course now its only EVOO and only if it comes in a dark glass bottle, preferably imported from Italy) and about 6 years ago now on the advice of my youngest son (who had become very conscious of his eating habits and a vegetarian ~ due to his modeling at the time), to eat ONLY natural peanut butter.  Yea … I thought all peanut butter was just that PEANUTS but its not and boy is the taste so much better … the Natural kind BUT be careful, some claim to be all natural but they have molasses in them for coloring.  The one I use has just 4 ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Palm Oil and Salt.  So lesson here is to READ your ingredient labels … ALL of them!  My kids have all become healthy eaters, conscious of what goes into their mouths … one being a Vegan, which I don’t see that ever happening with me since I am a carnivore … the other two eat mostly veggies but they won’t totally give up meat either and of course, everything in moderation.  Anyway, over the last 3-4 years I’ve really kicked it up a notch and read EVERY label on everything I buy, including stuff from the health food section!!!  I’ve recently given up processed foods (again moderation).  And I’m sure ya’ll heard all the hype about High Fructose Corn Syrup … well from what I understand it isn’t necessarily bad for you … its just that it is in EVERYTHING … literally … and oftentimes the very first or second ingredient!!!  Then of course there is Canola Oil … no way no how I’m ever knowingly putting that in my body again … you do your own research on that and any of the other things I’ve mentioned.  Lastly, there’s Organic, versus Traditionally Grown versus GMO (fruits, veggies and meat).  Like most of this I’ve just touched on … there is lots of research you can do to learn for yourself.  Oh and let’s not forget Ketchup!  Yep, Ketchup is not the same as the kind we grew up eating (not sure when they changed that) but as I recall it was mostly smushed up tomatoes, vinegar and salt but NO somewhere over the years it had changed and I found that Heinz now makes ‘Simply Heinz Ketchup’ … again read the label difference … they still make the one full of all kinds of ingredients but the Simply is just that … simply the best … taste wise and ingredient wise.

Back to my JUICING … sorry, I just had to give a little background info…

NOW Juicing is not to be confused with Smoothies, granted BOTH are very good for you but Smoothies are dairy based and usually have added ice (water) and even peanut butter (ALL healthy).  Juicing is nothing but veggies and fruit … period.  Smoothies are made in a Blender and Juicing is done in a Juicer.  Also, there are some fruits and veggies (like carrots, celery, apples, etc.) that just won’t get smooth in a blender (not raw anyway, which is the best way to eat our fruits and veggies, for maximum vitamin and mineral absorption).  And then on the other hand, there are some fruits and veggies that will not juice in a Juicer (such as bananas, avocados and the like).  There’s more of a difference but that’s another thing you’ll just have to research yourself as I could go on and on and on.

I’ve been juicing since mid-January of this year … I started out doing it twice a day for first ten days to detox and now I just juice once a day … hey I do love to eat REAL food LOL.  I actually CRAVE a juice every day!  It’s definitely healthy for you even though I did still manage to get the flu but I have an auto-immune disease so unfortunately I don’t have the strongest or best working immune system.

Here are the food documentaries I have seen (there are others as well but some of those REALLY push becoming a Vegan or Vegetarian):

Hungry for Change
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Food Matters

Okay and here’s what my Juice today consisted of … I have basically stayed with the same ingredients but you can change them up according to your tastes and sometimes it breaks the monotony to just have a different juice each day.  Oh and I must confess ~ I DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT like raw carrots or celery … and when cooked they must be diced very small or better yet slivered but no problem with them in my Juice.

Debbie’s Green Juice
Makes 16 ounces

Large Handful Baby Spinach
5-6 Stalks Cilantro (Love Flavor)
2 Stalks Celery
2 Full Carrots
2 Apples (or 1 Apple and 1 Pear)
3 Mini-Cucumbers (or 1 Normal Sized)
Splash of Pom Juice*

*Pomegranate Juice is so very healthy for you but I don’t care for the tartness so this is one way to get it into my diet every day.

Another thing about Juicing I have just got to mention.  I decided when I started this that I would HAVE to leave the Juicer (oh and it is big and bulky) on the counter or I would have an excuse NOT to juice so it stays out on my counter … always!  I also keep a weeks supply of celery and carrots cleaned and ready for use … no excuses!  And cleaning the Juicer?  Easy!  It can all be put in the dishwasher!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rosemary Chicken, Spinach, Sundried Tomatoes and Feta

Just a little something I threw together one night when my hubby was out of town so there isn't really a recipe as such and my portions were for one.  Simple, easy and oh so very delicious.  This could easily be made from a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken breasts.  Just adjust my approximate measurements accordingly.  Took about 5 minutes to cook!  Easy peasy 'gourmet' meal!

Rosemary Chicken, Spinach, Sundried Tomatoes and Feta

1 Tblsp EVOO
1 Leftover Grilled Chicken Breast, chopped
Fresh Rosemary, chopped
Handful of Fresh Spinach
3-4 Tblsps Sun Dried Tomatoes
2 Tblsps Feta Cheese

I heated the EVOO in a pan on medium heat, added the Chicken Pieces with some Fresh Rosemary and cooked just a minute or two to warm it up.  Added the Sun Dried Tomatoes  and cooked a minute more.  Then added the Fresh Spinach and cooked until wilted.  Then I finished up by stirring in the Feta Cheese.  Served over warm Angel Hair Pasta.