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There’s a reason I haven’t been sharing many new recipes or foods on the blog lately. Truth be told, I have lost interest in most foods the last few months. As my doctor said, “there’s definitely a baby in there!” We’re having a baby (!) and… I’ve pretty much quit cooking. Turns out, as exciting as pregnancy is, the first trimester food aversions have turned my food life upside down.

So now that the thought of preparing any food is enough to make me gag, what have we been eating? Here’s a list of my top (or should I say only?) first trimester survival foods:

  • Raw almonds
  • Almond butter and all natural strawberry fruit jam on whole wheat bread
  • Egg salad with finely chopped celery and tomato folded in, on whole wheat bread
  • Mango smoothies made with fresh mango, frozen pineapple juice concentrate, and plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Tillamook brand smoked cheddar cheese (or any Tillamook cheese, really) with Dr. Kracker brand seeded spelt flatbread crackers
  • Whole wheat bread toasted, spread with Nutella and topped with fresh, sliced kiwi
  • Frozen battered fish fillets served alongside whole wheat macaroni & cheese (seriously, this has been on our weekly dinner rotation for a few weeks now)
  • Beef, particularly:
    • bacon-wrapped filet mignon prepared at home
    • Texadelphia Founder’s Favorite (without jalapenos) – a Philly sandwich made with beef, grilled 0nions, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and smothered in the most addictive mustard sauce around (a one-time splurge, but I crave it about once a week)
    • Freddy’s steakburger with cheese and onions only, no condiments (my meal directly after our first doctor’s appointment, and it couldn’t have been yummier, though I doubt I’ll get another anytime soon)
  • Anything potato: baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, hashed brown potatoes, french fries, sweet potato tater tots
  • Total brand bran cereal
  • Hot ginger tea with honey
  • (LOTS of) nonfat organic milk
  • (LOTS of) water with lemon

Thankfully the food aversions are starting to go away with the close of my first trimester, because I’m still dreaming about the barbacoa taco I had at Torchy’s Tacos last week, and the better-than-grandma’s food at The Goodnight Diner in Wimberley, where we split pierogies filled with pork and topped with a paprika mayonnaise, followed by the most delicious dinner of chicken fried steak, bacon-braised turnip greens, and mashed potatoes. If you are ever in Central Texas, go to The Goodnight Diner in Wimberley. It is comfort food amped to a whole new level of delicious.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Stylin'

There is no recipe today, except that of love and support for a great little guy named Caden Hope. My baby great nephew, at less than 1 1/2 years old, is undergoing open heart surgery today in Missouri.

This video slideshow is full of sweet pictures of him and his mom, an amazing young woman who deserves national mom-of-the-year award for her dedication and hard work, working two jobs to support them both while raising a happy, loving little boy and taking online classes.

And here’s a brief news clip explaining he was born with holes in his heart, and discussing the fundraisers in Missouri, a kickball tournament that was in October and a benefit account set up at Southwest Missouri Bank to accept donations.  The bank confirmed with me that mail-in donations can be accepted at the following address:

‎”Attention: Benefit of Caden Hope”
Southwest Missouri Bank
300 W. Third
Carthage, MO 64836

Blue Eyes
Caden, 2011

Newborn Caden and his wonderful mom
newborn Caden and his mom, 2010

All my love and my heart is in a hospital in Missouri today with the most inspiring mom I’ve ever met, the sweetest little boy I wish I could visit more often, and all of their family.

Supporting a Heart for Hope, one virtual hug and prayer at a time.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Pumpkin Pancakes

I wanted to make a special breakfast for my stepkiddos this morning to celebrate Halloween a bit early, as well as simply celebrate the coming of fall weather (we finally had a cold front with mornings in the 40’s!).

I had just a bit of canned pumpkin left over from the last batch of pumpkin scones. My youngest stepdaughter loves pancakes, so making pumpkin pancakes seemed to be the most logical option for something yummy and special.

I pulled out my standard pancake recipe, brown sugar whole wheat oatmeal pancakes, and modified it the tiniest bit. The resulting pumpkin oatmeal pancakes were so good! The girls enthusiastically had seconds and I will definitely be putting them on my regular cold-weather breakfast rotation.

PUMPKIN OATMEAL PANCAKES
Makes 12 5-6 inch pancakes
Downloadable PDF of Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes

  • Set a griddle to medium-low and allow to heat while you prepare the batter
    • I don’t own a griddle, so heat 2 nonstick skillets over 2 burners set to medium-low heat
  • In a large enough liquid measuring cup, mix the following:
    • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk with 1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar)
  • Let oats soak while you prepare the rest of the batter
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the following:
    • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • To the dry ingredients, add:
    • 1 egg
    • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
    • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • The oatmeal/milk mixture
  • Mix batter well
  • Using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup of the batter at a time onto heated griddle or skillets
  • Allow to cook until edges start to firm and a few bubbles appear on the top
  • Gently flip pancake over and cook other side until cooked through, about 1 – 2 minutes
  • Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve (I keep mine in a styrofoam tortilla warmer that keeps them very warm until everyone in the house gets out of bed)
  • Top with your favorite toppings – we topped ours with a bit of maple syrup, whipped cream, and chopped pecans

Pumpkin oatmeal pancakes

The oatmeal and the whole wheat pastry flour make these more filling than standard pancakes, and the pumpkin and extra cinnamon make them extra tasty. Topping with whipped cream and chopped pecans make them extra special for a pre-Halloween breakfast. I have just enough left over to warm up for the girls’ breakfast tomorrow morning.

These would also make a wonderful fall breakfast-for-dinner meal, served with some breakfast sausage on the side; hot, filling, and hearty.

Downloadable PDF of Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Saturday night was soup and pie night at our house. My dad, stepmom, and father-in-law came over for dinner and a little World Series watching. I can’t wait to repeat this meal next month with my hubby’s brother and his family. It’s definitely a meal worth sharing.

Soup Night
Bowls are ready and soup is simmering

Getting ready to boil the chicken
Ready to boil the chicken

Chicken and Noodle soup
Chicken and Noodle Soup

Fresh Vegetable Tray
Sugar snap peas and carrot sticks with buttermilk ranch

Covered Pecan Pie
Dessert

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie Slice
Slice of the best pecan pie

I had been looking forward to making this soup for a while. It’s one my mom’s family makes every Thanksgiving. I can’t remember a Thanksgiving in Missouri without chicken and noodles. I don’t know who started making it, but it was my favorite dish at Thanksgiving when I was a kid. I don’t have the recipe, so I made my own version and it turned out excellent. Followed by the best pecan pie, and my hankering for my Thanksgiving favorites was satisfied. For now, anyway. The soup is really easy, and perfect to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you have time to let the chicken simmer for a long time. It makes your house smell amazing. Paired with a pecan pie baking in the oven, and you’ll be in aromatic heaven.

OLD FASHIONED CHICKEN AND NOODLES
Serves 8
Downloadable PDF of Old Fashioned Chicken and Noodles

  • Place in a 6-quart stock pot:
    • 2 bone-in split chicken breasts
    • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 30 cranks black pepper from a mill
    • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
    • 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
    • 2 extra-large (or 4 medium-large) garlic cloves, peeled and halved
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 handful fresh oregano, still on stem
    • 1 8-ounce container chicken stock
    • Water to cover everything by 2-3 inches, nearly filling the pot
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours
  • Turn off heat and remove chicken breasts and thighs (carefully so the pieces stay in tact), place on a cutting board and set aside
  • Place a large strainer in a bowl large enough to hold all the cooking liquid
  • Pour cooking liquid through strainer into bowl to strain out all the vegetables and herbs
  • Discard the vegetables and herbs
  • Return cooking liquid to the pot
  • To the cooking liquid, add 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste, and another 8-ounce container chicken stock
  • Bring liquid to a rapid boil
  • Add 1 12-ounce package Reames brand frozen egg noodles
  • Boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to separate noodles
  • While noodles are boiling, carefully remove and discard skin and bones from chicken pieces (the meat should simply fall from the bone after simmering for so long, but will be very hot to the touch near the bone)
  • Shred the chicken meat either with two forks or your hands (it’s so tender, it falls apart in my hands and takes only a few minutes to shred)
  • Set shredded meat aside
  • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together:
    • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup water
  • Once the noodles have boiled 20 minutes, add the cornstarch slurry and continue to boil, stirring until soup thickens slightly
  • Add the shredded chicken, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer to heat through
  • Serve immediately, or continue to simmer covered until ready to serve.

This soup is SOOO good. We served it with fresh sugar snap peas and carrot sticks on the side with buttermilk ranch for dipping, rosemary bread, and Hawaiian sweet rolls. I went for seconds of the soup and found an empty pot in the sink!

FOR THE PECAN PIE, I used this recipe by Eddy Van Damme that doesn’t use any corn syrup. And it is the best pecan pie recipe. Optional is adding brandy or rum. I don’t keep much alcohol in the house, so add 1/4 teaspoon rum extract instead. It adds the perfect depth of flavor to enhance the pecans. I ran out of brown sugar, so used 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 1/4 cups regular sugar with 2 Tablespoons molasses, which turned the custard portion a luscious, deep, dark brown. Baked in a fresh whole wheat pastry crust, and it was absolutely divine.

WHOLE WHEAT PASTRY CRUST
Downloadable PDF of Whole Wheat Pastry Crust

  • In a food processor, or large bowl, add:
    • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cut 1 stick cold butter into small pieces, and to the flour mixture
  • Pulse processor until the butter creates coarse, peas-sized crumbs (if not using a food processor, use a pastry cutter, two forks, or your hands to cut the butter into the flour)
  • Add ice cold water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and pulse/mix just until dough comes together
  • Flatten dough into a disc shape and place on plastic wrap
  • Dust with flour and roll out to a circle 2 inches larger than your pie dish
  • Lift plastic wrap from countertop, and turn over to gently position pastry in pie dish, gently pressing crust to the sides of the dish
  • Pull plastic from the sides only and gently cut away excess pastry from the top edge of the pie dish
  • Gently flute the top of the remaining crust, then gently return plastic wrap against sides of pastry and over the edge and refrigerate until ready to fill
  • If desired, roll out excess pastry remnants and free-hand cut 5 leaves and set on a plate, cover with wrap, and refrigerate to place in the center of the pie before baking. I use a toothpick to carve the veins of the leaves.

Pecan Pie Slice

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes?

Does your family have a special Thanksgiving dish?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Shredded Chicken Tacos

School is back in session! My stepdaughters started back to school today. And what a whirlwind of a day!

What I want to share is my favorite dinner for back-to-school. It’s a go-to favorite of mine from when I was commuting long distance to work and seemingly always away from home. I’d make this in the slow cooker on a Sunday and have dinner for the next few week nights.

This dinner has all the qualities of the perfect back-to-school-hectic-life meal:

  • It’s easy (hello, slow cooker!)
  • It’s versatile (make it into enchiladas, stuff it into quesadillas, or pile it into tacos)
  • It’s freezer-friendly (my favorite part!)
  • It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients (read as, “it’s cheaper than take-out”)
  • Kids love it

SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS & MEXICAN RICE
Downloadable PDF of Shredded Chicken Tacos

  • In a large slow cooker, add:
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 6 chicken breasts
    • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
    • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
    • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • Cook on low for 4.5 hours, or until chicken is just cooked through and tender, stirring halfway through cooking to distribute liquid and seasoning
  • Remove chicken from slow cooker to a large cutting board
  • Remove 2 cups of the liquid from the slow cooker and set aside to use as the liquid for making Mexican rice
  • Leave remaining liquid in the slow cooker
  • Shred the chicken breasts
  • Place shredded chicken back in the slow cooker
  • Stir to coat with the liquid
  • Cover and cook on low one hour
  • TO MAKE THE MEXICAN RICE:
    • In a medium pot, add:
      • 1 1/2 cups rice (I use brown rice)
      • The 2 cups liquid reserved from the slow cooker
      • 1 additional cup water
      • 1 Tablespoon butter (this keeps my rice from bubbling over as it simmers)
    • Bring to a boil, stir, then cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender
    • Add 1/2 cup frozen peas or peas/carrot mix in the last 5 minutes of cooking, if desired
    • Season with salt and pepper as needed
  • Spoon the shredded chicken with a slotted spoon onto tortillas with a variety of toppings and alongside the rice

STORAGE TIPS

  • When storing the leftovers in the refrigerator or the freezer, include the remaining liquid from the slow cooker. It helps keep the chicken moist and delicious.
  • When freezing, divide into the appropriate size for your family. Since we don’t have the kids during the week, I often freeze some to serve 2 (Hubby and me) and some to feed 4 (when the girls are with us).
  • Place in the refrigerator the night before a day when you know you need a quick meal. It will thaw in the refrigerator and be ready to reheat in the microwave when you get home.
  • If you freeze the servings in oven-proof containers (such as foil containers), you can pop it straight from the freezer to the oven to reheat. I use plastic containers, so I don’t use this method, but it would work well. Keep the container covered and the liquid that was packed with the chicken will keep the chicken moist while reheating in the oven. I would suggest 350 degrees. The time will depend on the amount you’re reheating. I would allow for 30-45 minutes.
  • TORTILLAS can be stored in the freezer as well! I buy both corn and flour tortillas in bulk, then divide into freezer bags. Because of the size of my family and our usual serving size per meal, I divide the tortillas into groups of 10, leaving us a few extra per package for a quick breakfast taco or quesadilla for lunch. Tortillas thaw quickly either in the refrigerator, on the counter, or in the microwave. If using the microwave, be sure to only thaw for the least amount of time possible and not until they’re hot. Pull them out and wrap in a damp paper towel and then microwave to complete heating them. The damp towel helps keep them moist instead of dry and chewy. I have a gas stove, so I just turn a burner on medium-low and plop each tortilla on top of the burner for a few seconds, then turn to warm the other side for a few seconds, and serve.
  • CHEESE can be stored in the freezer too! I buy 8-cup packages of shredded cheddar, Mozzarella, and Monterrey Jack cheeses. I divide them by 1-cup per freezer bag, then freeze. Whenever I need 1 or 2 cups for a recipe, I just pull out what I need from the freezer. For casseroles, the cheese can be added straight from the freezer before baking. For something like tacos, it can be pulled out only 15 or 20 minutes early and it’ll be thawed enough to sprinkle on top of a hot taco.

Shredded Chicken

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken Taco with Mexican Rice

To make this into enchiladas, roll the chicken with a bit of cheese into tortillas, top with your favorite enchilada sauce and cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. You can assemble the enchiladas in freezer-safe and oven-safe containers, pour sauce over them, then freeze for a meal to bake at a later date. I always make double the amount of enchiladas so I can make one batch that night and freeze the second for a later meal when I’m too busy to be bothered with dinner prep.

If we have small amounts of leftover shredded chicken, it usually gets cooked into hot, cheesy quesadillas, or thrown on top of some crumbled tortilla chips and topped with a mound of lettuce for a taco salad.

My stepdaughters’ first day of school was awesome, as I hope all kids’ first days went. Here’s to another busy school year, full of nights too busy to cook, where a homemade meal straight from the freezer fills bellies and warms hearts and souls.

Downloadable PDF of Shredded Chicken Tacos

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Some of my summer favorites:

Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

1. Easy, but tasty breakfasts like poblano and sweet corn chilaquiles or a soft egg over pan-fried sliced turkey and a corn tortilla. After so many years of rushed mornings of smoothie breakfasts in the car while driving an hour to work, now that I have time to make breakfast every day and enjoy it, I take advantage. I’ve taken to eating breakfast on the front porch while the Pup hangs out, playing with his tennis ball and watching the neighborhood – one of his favorite past times. While the afternoons have been dangerously hot, the summer mornings have had a slight breeze and a comfortable temperature. I nice cup of hot Earl Gray spiked with a touch of lavender enjoyed on the front porch is a perfect start to my summer day.

Lunch

2. Easy no-cook lunches. From an easy smoked salmon spread on crackers or crusty bread to the simple summer sausage, sharp cheese, and seeded flat bread above, these lunches let me feed the family lunch without taking much time from my day so I can stay on task with my daily to-do lists. I have a habit of making to-do lists longer than I have hours in the day to finish them. With a side of fruit and cut-up veggies, lunch is done and I’m back to work.

Tofu with Walnuts

3. Tofu crisped perfectly and tossed in a brown sauce with various mix-ins over brown rice. This one has chopped walnuts served over brown rice with peas. I’ve played with the seasonings for the cornstarch mixture the tofu is tossed in as well as the sauce to make different versions so we don’t feel like we’re always eating the same thing. I’ve used snap peas and carrots, the walnuts above, and just a couple nights ago used steamed broccoli. This meal is easy, versatile, light but filling – a great option the night after splurges such as pizza or burgers or steak fajitas, and tofu is super cheap (my grocer sells 16 ounces for $1.67!), making it way more affordable than Chinese delivery and much healthier (and tastier) made at home.

Halved Cherries

Peach halves

4. Desserts made from fresh summer fruits like peaches and cherries. My hubby, however, prefers something with chocolate! Can’t blame him, but I can’t let the fruits of summer go by without some desserts that remind me of the fresh produce and home-cooked dishes from my childhood at my grandparents’ house in Missouri. They had a wonderful garden!

Fried Green Tomatoes

5. Fried green tomatoes. Dipped in a vibrant sauce or stacked on a sandwich, I don’t care. Summer to me isn’t complete without fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomato BLT at Kerbey Lane Cafe is my favorite summer lunch. Ever. My homemade fried green tomatoes are dipped in a whisked egg then into a 1:1 mixture of flour and cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper, then fried in canola oil in my iron skillet. It really only takes minutes for a small batch. Add ground cayenne or smoked paprika or oregano and other herbs to the cornmeal mixture to change up the flavor.

I could add coconut frozen yogurt, anything with mangos, cool smoothies on hot days, orange glazed beets, fried chicken, and summer veggies. Probably my favorite part of this summer has been the opportunity to change careers and spend more of my time at home with my family, something I haven’t had while working long distance from home since I married.

What are your summer favorites?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Farmer's Market Kids' Feast

Sometimes my kids just want chicken nuggets with macaroni and cheese. It’s a kid classic comfort food dinner that my kids occasionally crave after some of the more adventurous dinners they love.

They gave me the request for this meal when they came for their weekend visit on Friday. With that in mind, I headed to my local farmer’s market early Saturday morning to buy the week’s necessities. While I was still in recovery from Thursday’s trip to urgent care, I managed to get everything I needed for the week, including a pound of chicken from Smith & Smith Farms, 1/2 pound of aged cheddar from Full Quiver Farms, and zucchini and onion from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

Chicken

Cheddar

Zucchini

It makes me happy to show my stepdaughters that we can make homemade chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese from items found at our local farmers market. It lets them know there are a variety of places their food can come from, and how much fresher it tastes than the stuff out of a box in the frozen section of the grocery store, with a much smaller ingredients list (not to mention they can pronounce the ingredients). I’m not militant about everything that goes in their mouths, but I do like to ensure the majority of what I feed them is prepared at home with fresh, quality ingredients.

FARMERS MARKET CHICKEN NUGGETS
Downloadable PDF of Farmers Market Chicken Nuggets

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut 1 pound chicken breast into bite-sized pieces (about 2-inches)
  • In a medium bowl, mix together:
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
    • 1/2 Tablespoon Original Mrs. Dash Seasoning, or to taste (or use your own mix of seasonings)
  • Toss chicken nuggets in bread crumb mixture until well-coated
  • Place on lightly greased baking sheet
  • Spray lightly with olive oil
  • Bake for 12 minutes
  • Turn nuggets and bake another 10 minutes or until cooked through
  • Serve with favorite dipping sauce

~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~         ~ ~ ~

FARMERS MARKET CHEESE SAUCE FOR PASTA
Adapted from this recipe at Every Day Health

  • In a medium saucepan, heat until simmering:
    • 1 1/2 cups milk (I use unsweetened plain soy milk)
  • In a medium liquid measuring cup, whisk together:
    • 1/4 cup milk (again, I use unsweetened plain soy milk)
    • 3 Tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic (or 1 large clove fresh minced garlic)
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • When milk is simmering, add flour mixture and whisk until smooth and milk has thickened
  • Add:
    • 1/4 pound shredded aged cheddar
  • Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth
  • Pour over 1 pound whole wheat pasta (I prefer corkscrew pasta so the ridges get filled with the sauce), and toss to coat

~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~         ~ ~ ~

FARMERS MARKET ZUCCHINI WITH ONION SAUTE

  • Thinly slice 4-5 small zucchini
  • Place zucchini in a colander, salt with kosher salt, and let sit over a bowl until it releases some liquid
  • Once some liquid has been released, rinse zucchini and pat dry
  • Chop 1/2 yellow onion
  • In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Cook chopped onion until soft, a few minutes
  • Add zucchini slices and cook until heated through
  • Add:
    • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh sage
    • 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram
  • Cook a couple minutes longer, stirring to mix the seasonings well with the zucchini

Farmer's Market Kids' Feast

Younger B exclaimed happily when she tasted the zucchini, immediately asking what was in it that made it so good. She was thrilled to hear it was the sage and marjoram (thank you GG for the starter plant!) from our front porch – my only two potted herbs thriving in the intense heat. Everyone in the family loves this comfort-food meal. It’s delicious and filling without all the junk food fillers.

What’s your family’s favorite comfort food dinner?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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