What a man, what a man…


Remember that song by envogue?  It popped into my head this evening when I came home from shopping at Trader Joe’s.  Sean made dinner for us and it was scrumptious.  The weather is too cool for my liking, plus add the windchill and the rain, and you have the perfect equation for feet that can’t get warmed.  He made a curry lentil dish that not only filled me up, but heated me up.  So for those blustery West Coast days, cheers to the wind in more ways than one, and try out this snazzy dish taken from Oh She Glows. I also added leftover chicken  that had been marinated in Trader Joe’s salad dressing called Goddess Dressing with my lentils.  I just love my leftovers!  This will make for a good lunch, too.  Now to convince my kids how great lentils are, right?

Curried Lentil Soup

From Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1.5 cups chopped onion (approx 1 medium onion)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped (optional)
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons curry powder 
  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils, rinsed and picked over(we used red lentils)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste 
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

 How To Play:

1. Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, optional celery, and carrot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or so.

2. Add finely chopped garlic and stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 5 minutes longer. Reduce heat if necessary to avoid burning.

3. Add curry powder.  Add the rinsed uncooked lentils and 4 cups water. Season with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, add in lemon juice, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

4. When lentils are tender, poured about half of the soup into the blender and blend the soup for a minute.  This will create a very thick texture. After blending, stir the soup back into the skillet/pot and you will have a very thick soup with some chunky pieces left from the soup you did not process.

5. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.

Makes about 4-5 cups.

Enjoy.

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Panacakes (Pancakes)


It is a family tradition, perhaps a prediction, that when the kids wake up and realize it’s Saturday, they scream PANCAKES!  Though Sean and I are still sleeping and asking one another what time it is, as I’m trying to read the red numbers on the digital clock with blurred eyes and messed hair in my face. It is not surprising to see that it is 6:15am, because it is tradition.  I used to make the pancakes faithfully for the kids, but when my pregnancy with 3 reached the point of super exhaustion, Sean took over.  I actually think the kids like his pancakes better, because I would often lose track of time or day dream and then burn them.  Not cool, I know.  Today was a special Saturday.  Not a typical one at all, because we celebrated 1’s fifth birthday today.  As 2 says, “I want Panacakes daddy.”  They love them and hopefully others will find them easy, tasty, and quick to make…just no daydreaming!  Our kids love them with frozen strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.  In the summer months we use fresh fruit from the local berry farms.

Panacakes

Inspired by Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, aluminum free
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted, plus more for serving
  • Butter or vegetable oil, for the griddle
  • Pure maple syrup, warmed, for serving

How to Play:

  1. Place a heat-proof platter into a warm oven (at 200 degrees).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add in the egg, milk, and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Whisk from the center, slowly incorporating the flour. Rest the batter for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a large well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or favorite griddle over medium-high heat. Swirl the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet (or use oil to coat the griddle) and immediately pour in 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. When bubbles rise to the surface, flip the pancakes, slightly reduce the heat, and cook until the bottoms are golden and the centers are cooked, about 1 minute. (Rarely does the first pancake work because it takes a bit of time to get in the groove with the heat, fat, and batter.)
  4. As the pancakes come out of the skillet, place them on the warm platter in the oven until ready to serve. Serve a stack of 3 pancakes, topped with more butter and the maple syrup.

Big Daddy’s Hot Beef On A Bun


So here is the way it is, when I was 11 I got sick.  Really sick.  I was not allowed to eat any wheat, sugar, meats, and had to be given about 5 German tinctures a day with a random chalky shake my mom would make faithfully every morning for me before school.  We were new to the country and had no idea what those tinctures were made up of, other than natural ingredients in hopes to correct my troubled digestion and rid my intestines of the “mushrooms” that were growing in it.  This was the beginning of my journey.  My journey of eating differently than the other 11 year old kids in my class as well as my family.  My mom would make two different dinners every night.  One for me and one for the rest of the family.  This has continued on into my married life.  No, mom is not still making me dinners, but I now make two meals.  One for me and one for the family, unless it is a meal we all enjoy eating, that is…Last night, I made a roast beef, well, I put everything out to prepare it, but Sean actually made it.  He grew up eating roast beef.  The kids and him love it.  I had leftover red quinoa salad.  Tonight, with the roast beef leftovers, we call it “The Big Daddy’s Hot Beef On A Bun.”  I remember my sister always ordering Beef dip when we were younger.  I actually don’t know if I have ever had it, but this is my version of it.  Sean and the kids get excited about it and perhaps it might be helpful to someone in need of an idea for roast beef leftovers.  I kind of feel like the leftover fairy.  I don’t like to throw food out and Sean doesn’t like leftovers, so I have to disguise these leftovers with the touch of a magic wand, more like the touch of a skillet and a few dashes of salt, but either way, I have to make it work.  As my Papa would always say, “Waste not want not.” What am I going to eat?  Hummus with raw veggies, such as carrots and peppers, then have my favourite snack afterwards, popcorn.

Big Daddy’s Hot Beef On A Bun

Ingredients:

3 cups of cooked roast beef, pulled apart in pieces

1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly

salt and pepper

1/2 cup gravy from the roast beef dinner

2 cups arugula

4 whole wheat buns

How To Play:

Heat a skillet with about 1/4 cup of water and begin to sauté the sliced onion.  Once the onion has softened, add the roast beef and shake some salt and pepper on it.  Add 1/2 cup gravy and let simmer with the lid on until it’s nicely heated through and HOT.  Prepare bun by placing arugula in it.  Add the hot beef straight from the skillet.  Serve with raw vegetables.

Enjoy.

Black is back…

 So, my 30 pound weight challenge continues.  Since it is Friday, my weigh in day, I currently weigh 189.5.  I am relieved that I am no longer in the 190’s, but still have more to go, 23.5 pounds more to go. I was speaking with a friend last night and shared with her that I am not eating differently from what I’m used to, it was just when I was pregnant, I was eating 3 bowls of President Choices Chocolate Crackle ice-cream every night.  I haven’t had ice-cream since July.  When 3 came out, I was done with not only pregnancy, but ice-cream, too.  So, the consequences to my pregnant eating has now left me with a closet full of clothes that still don’t fit me the way they used to. This is ok.  Spin class here I come, and no, I learned my lesson last time, I am not going to wear light color clothing again, black it is.

Mexican Wednesdays

Life is busy.  I get it.  For us, the busiest day in the week is Wednesday.  It is a whirlwind.  No matter how organized I try to be, I can’t keep up with the time.  With meal planning, budgeting, and trying to be on top of things, Wednesdays means Mexican Food.  I think since September, we have been successful in doing this, however, Sean had a work event last night, so the kids and I ate leftovers and tonight, it is Mexican.  It’s a family favorite.  We like to use seasoned chicken, salsa, sour cream, guacamole,  cut up peppers, and eat it with red quinoa salad, from Oh She Glows.  It is super colorful, super tastey, and super easy for those busy, busy, very busy days…

Chicken Fajitas with Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

2-3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

Taco Seasoning (Trader Joe’s has an excellent one)

Whole wheat Tortillas (I like Ezekiel, but any brand will do)

1/2 cup of red onion, cut up

1 red, orange, or yellow pepper, cut into strips

sour cream

guacamole

salsa

2-3 cups of cheese, Old Cheddar and Monterey Jack (or your favorites)

Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad (inspired by Oh She Glows)

How To Play:

Cook chicken breasts until no longer pink and add seasoning.  Once the chicken is cooked, take 2 forks and pull the chicken apart, until it is shredded.  Fajitas are best served buffet style, with all the prepared ingredients in separate bowls at the center of the table within everybody’s reach.  It is fun to build your own tortilla, you may have to help the kids, if kids are involved, but either way, it is still fun.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad:(inspired by Oh She Glows)

  • 1 cup uncooked Red quinoa
  • 1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped
  • 1 small avocado, chopped into 1 inch pieces

For the dressing:

  • 4-5 tbsp of fresh lime juice (Juice from 2 small limes)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste

How To Play:

1. Cook 1 cup Red Quinoa according to package directions.

2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the chopped vegetables and whisk together the dressing.

3. Allow quinoa to cool after cooking for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the beans and vegetables and toss well.

4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

I also like to eat the salad on its own with the seasoned chicken. It is quite filling.

Enjoy.

Banana Muffins


Today the kids and I baked banana nut with chocolate chips and chia seed muffins.  It is kind of a mouthful, but they turned out pretty good.  I personally like banana loaf a great deal more, but what matters to me most is that the kids had fun and coconut oil makes everything taste super.  The muffins aren’t very healthy for they have white flour and white sugar, but they make for a nice quick snack on those days when you have no idea what to feed the ever starving children. Chia seeds are high in protein, lipids, fiber, and antioxidants.  It is high in Omega-3, as well as gluten free.  It is kind of superstar.  It was my first time adding it to the banana loaf recipe, and the kids are wolfing it down and don’t seem to notice a taste difference.  Thanks superstar chia seeds!

Banana Bread

(adapted from Rebar)

Ingredients:

2 1/2  cups unbleached flour

2 tsp baking soda, aluminum free

2 tsp baking powder, aluminum free

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup wheat germ, toasted (I used wheat bran)

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

4 free range eggs

3 ripe bananas

1/4 cup sour cream (I add another tablespoon)

3/4  cup walnuts, roasted and chopped

1/4 cup flax-seed

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

How To Play:

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.  ( I typically use two loaf pans, however in this case, I used one, to make a small loaf, and made a dozen muffins with the extra batter).  Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.  Blend in the eggs one at a time until well incorporated.  Mash together the bananas and sour cream.  Add one-third of the flour mix into the creamed sugar/butter mix.  Next, stir in the banana mash and mix thoroughly.  Add the remainder of the flour and mix on low until well combined, taking care not to overmix.  Gently fold in the walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top, and sprinkling with white sugar, bake for 30-35 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  For the muffins, put in muffin tray and sprinkle with sugar and bake for roughly 28-30 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  When making solely a loaf, I would give it about an hour to cook all the way through.  I tend to under-bake as opposed to over bake, for I like baked goods to not be too dry in texture.
Let loaf and muffins cool for about 10 minutes before taking them out of the pans and serve with coconut oil…the ultimate best spread with healthy benefits  such as: hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, cancer,  dental care, and bone strength, just to name a few.

Enjoy.

Oh She Glows Hummus

I just got back from the Dermatologist and it was reassuring to some small degree that the spots on my face, which were not there when I was in my twenties, is a completely normal thing for people who are blue eyed, fare skinned, and in their thirties…They gist of his message was this… I am aging.  Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my mom.  Especially during the days when I was young, did she feel the way I feel now?  I used to think she knew all the answers and was untouchable by people who were mean.  She came across, to me, as fearless, well, fearless regarding people, the thing I was most fearful of when I was young.  Now, I look at myself in the mirror, with my lines and spots and my favorite lipstick, and in my head I am the same me.  I feel as though I haven’t aged.  I am 11, I am 15, I am 20, but I am really in my thirties.  I don’t know all the answers.  I am not untouchable, and yes, I still have a slight fear of people, so hide under the label of shy, however, my mom paved a way for me to be a mother to my kids.  She exhibited a confidence that made me safe.  I pray that I will do the same for my own children.

After seeing Dr. Dermatologist, I made Hummus, from Oh She Glows.  It is a great snack and I ended up just eating it as my lunch.  I added a wee bit more of lemon juice and one spoonful more of Tahini with a dash more of salt.  Costco has these amazing cracker tortilla chips made by Food Should Taste Good.  They work really well with the spread, as well as peppers and carrots.

Oh She Glows Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved and set aside
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 Cup tahini
  • 7-8 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp reserved chickpea liquid (or water)
  • 4-8 drops of Tabasco or hot sauce, to taste
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Paprika, for garnish

How To Play:

Place all ingredients into a food processor (except the salt) and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Now add in salt gradually, stopping to taste as you go. Scoop into a bowl and drizzle with a good quality olive oil and garnish with paprika. Makes about 2 cups and lasts for about 4-5 days in the fridge in a sealed container.

Enjoy.

Homemade GraNola

Every morning I must have my favorite cereal. I have had it almost every morning for the last 6 years, which shocks me as I write this. Six years?! That is a long time, and sure there were days when I wasn’t in the comforts of my home, or in my typical routine, due to travelling, holidays, or having babies, but what surprises me most is that I am not tired of it, yet. Will I ever be? Who knows? As for now, I will just continue being content with Nature’s Path Flax Plus Flakes and my homemade granola, inspired by Rebar’s cranberry and hazelnut granola. The super fun thing about granola is you can mix it up with whatever you like and add your must have’s, as well. My must have’s are walnuts. I love walnuts in this and pretty much in everything.

Homemade GraNola

Ingredients:

3 cups large organic flake oats

1.5 cups barley flakes (I sometimes use Kamut flakes)

1/2 cup oat bran

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup grapseed oil

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup honey

1.5 tsp pure vanilla

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dried blueberries

How To Play:

In a large bowl, combine the first 9 ingredients.  In a smaller bowl, combine the oil, water, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla and whisk together, until well combined.  Add the wet and dry mixes together and stir thoroughly.

Spread the mixture out onto two baking sheets (or do it in two batches).  Bake at 250 for 20-30 minutes.  Stir the mixture every 10 minutes to ensure even baking and remove from oven when golden brown.  Cool and stir in the dried fruit.  Seal and store for up to 1 month.  I like to keep mine in the freezer.

Enjoy.

My Favorite Snack


It is typically not a good thing when your almost 3 year old is in the bathroom saying, “I’m sorry mommy, I’m sorry…”  2 has been toilet trained for 5 months now, but today he had a bit of an accident.  I am not sure exactly how it happened, but I am guessing he was trying to wipe himself but some fell on the floor?  It was a messy situation.  Let’s just say brown little barefoot prints on the tile floor and a long strand of toilet paper caked into a brown substance with a heel mark in it.  At least the majority of it was in the toilet.  Today I have been mostly working on my message for tomorrow.  I have not spoken at church since the end of October of 2010.  I couldn’t believe how frazzled I felt.  Perhaps it was feeling distracted.  When this little bit happened, it just kind of made me realize that I am a mom, these sorts of things happen and it is ok.  Speaking of bare feet, tomorrow I am going to be making granola.  It is my staple breakfast with fiber flakes.  Unfortunately, it is 2’s as well…eeeks.  Since it is Saturday, not really a cheat day, but a treat day, I am having my staple snack…organic popcorn.   I don’t have a microwave, so I cook it with a popcorn popper.  I sprinkle it with a bit of grapeseed oil and sea salt.  Sometimes I will use parmesan cheese to kick it up a notch.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with White Lie Frosting.

I haven’t really been too consistent with my weigh ins.  I weigh myself on Fridays, but this morning I decided to do it today instead.  I was down 3 pounds last Friday and today I am 192. I have 26 more pounds to go! Today was a playdate birthday bash for child 1.  It was chaotic fun.  I was talking to my mom last night, while making the chocolate zucchini cake,  about the time she had told me on my 16th birthday she had made my favorite cake, Chocolate zucchini cake.  I remember thinking then at that moment, “This is my favorite cake? I don’t remember ever eating this before.”  She laughed and told me she thought the recipe sounded good so had just told me that.  Well, now I know.  It wasn’t a childhood favorite of mine after all, just a little white lie to get me to eat it.  Now I am making it and telling 1 it is her favorite cake. Yikes.  Either way, the cake is yum, but I have to be disciplined.  I want to keep this weight-a-going down-a going down!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with White Lie Frosting…

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

3/4 cup grapeseed oil

3 free range eggs

1tsp pure vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk (I use 2%milk with 1/2tsp vinegar)

2.5 cups grated zucchini

1.5 cups chocolate chips

2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup cocoa, sifted

1/2tsp salt

2tsp aluminum free baking soda

1tsp allspice (I use Masala)

1 1/2tsp cinnamon

WHITE LIE FROSTING:

1 Package Philadelphia Cream cheese

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white chocolate

1tsp pure vanilla

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

How to Play:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan.  In a medium bowl mix together the sugar, butter, and oil.  Beat in eggs, one at a time until well incorporated.  Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini and chocolate chips.  In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.  Add the liquid ingredients and mix until well combined.  Spoon batter into greased pan.  Bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

For the icing, beat the cream cheese on high until smooth and fluffy.  Lightly blend in vanilla and butter.  Melt white chocolate over a double boiler and add warm melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture.  Scrape down sides of the bowl to incorporate all.  Mix on high again until smooth and fluffy.  Slowly add icing sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Now, these make for really nice cupcakes, which are great for a homegroup setting or birthday party.  Also, sometimes sprinkled with crushed espresso beans is a nice touch.

Enjoy.