Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter!

Enjoy everyone!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fitness Friday -- My Favorite Recipes From Cooking Light

My goal this year is to simply stay in my size 8 jeans through exercise and eating well.  My exercise of choice is walking.  I also love to swim when I have access to a pool (or a lake, or an ocean.)  I love to eat healthy foods, but don't always devote the time I should to preparing them.

This week for Fitness Friday I wanted to share a few of my favorites from Cooking Light magazine with you.

Creamy Four-Cheese Macaroni -- This is for when you really want to splash out -- it's not cheap if you buy all of the cheeses. It's been our "holiday" mac n cheese for years.

Herbed Chicken Piccata -- This one's great if you want to make every day dinner a little fancy. Note -- you must love lemons.

All-American Chili -- This is a great, basic chili recipe.

Superfast Salisbury Steak -- This is superfast but I make it even superfaster by pre-making the meat patties and freezing them.

Berry French Toast -- I discovered this when I was on maternity leave and had no food in the house except some stale bread and some berries that I had frozen. This recipe is very forgiving in terms of types of berries used.

Breakfast Tortilla Strata -- Despite the name, we eat this more for dinner than breakfast. It also freezes well, unbaked. just defrost and skip the it sit for 8 hours step before baking.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

This is probably my most favorite examples of transforming leftovers.  First I made yogurt in my crockpot using milk that was about to go bad.  I strained a what was left of my yogurt after the kids had gotten their fill to make my own Greek yogurt.  The liquid that came off is called the whey, and I saved that in a jar in my fridge for no apparent reason other than it seemed like a good idea and I had a clean jar.  That night I was reading Make the Bread, Buy the Butter and I came across a bagel recipe that suggested using that very same whey I had in my fridge.  Kismet!  The result was the best bagels I have ever made.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

3 1/2 C all purpose flour
4 t vital wheat gluten
1 T cinnamon
4 1/2 t yeast (2 packets)
5 T sugar
1 t salt
1 1/2 C whey, warmed to 110-120 degrees
1 C raisins
2 T brown sugar
Cornmeal for dusting the pan

In the bowl of a mixer combine flour, gluten, cinnamon, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Add the whey and beat for a few minutes.  Use the mixer to knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding the raisins towards the end.  If the mixture seems too wet, add some more flour, just a bit at a time.

Place the dough in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and bring a large pot of water to boil.  Grease one cooking sheet and sprinkle another with corn meal.  When the water comes to a rolling boil add the brown sugar.

Deflate the dough and separate it into 8 pieces.  Form each piece into a bagel shape by making a ball then making a whole in the center.  Let the bagels rest on the oiled sheet for 10 minutes.

Boil each bagel, one minute on each side.  You can do about three at a time depending on the size of your pot.  Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let them dry for a minute on the oiled sheet.

Move the bagels to the pan with the cornmeal on it.  Bake for 35-30 minutes or until golden brown.

To freeze, let cool, wrap individually. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Treat Ideas

We're going out this year, but here are a few things I've made in the past for Easter treats that you might enjoy.

Italian Easter Bread

Fresh Fruit Tart With Gingersnap Crust

Pretzel Bread

Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Bean Taco Soup

One of my favorite things to do when freezer cooking is make the base to a soup, knowing I'll have some odd bit of leftover protein during the month to add to it.  That was my intention with this soup, although it's substantial enough for lunch, or even dinner if I paired it with some quesadillas.

Two Bean Taco Soup

2 t olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 C prepared salsa
3 C broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 t chili powder
2 C cooked black beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
2 C cooked navy beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)

Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion and garlic until just soft.

Stir in the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Great Birthday Party Idea

When I got the call that my son had won a prize at the PTA raffle and could I please pick it up by 4 o'clock I was a little nervous.  He had put his tickets in for a drum set and a cooking set.  Thank goodness he didn't win the drums.

The cooking set has been a ton of fun, and will be an idea I'll use at birthday parties in the future.

It came with an apron, some kid sized cooking utensils, and a Bella Cakesicle Maker -- not something I'd ever buy for our family, but it has been fun to fool around with.

We've done similar theme type gifts in the past with art kits, and movies and they've always been well received.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Fitness Friday

My goal this year is to simply stay in my size 8 jeans through exercise and eating well.  My exercise of choice is walking.  I also love to swim when I have access to a pool (or a lake, or an ocean.)  I love to eat healthy foods, but don't always devote the time I should to preparing them.

Badwater Basin In Death Valley -- A Lot of Salt
I spent some time this week tracking my calories through fitbit.  My food consumption hasn't been great lately, and tracking my food for a day or two usually does the trick to set me back on the path of good eating.  I was surprised by the amount of sodium I've been eating.  I don't even eat much processed food, but what little I do eat is setting me very close to the daily limit.  I even went over a few days just by eating a few simple things like bottled salad dressing.  So, I've got to keep an eye on that.

This was my first time using the fitbit calorie tracker.  I liked how it tied the calories I should consume to how many calories I had burned that day, but I didn't like the food library.  I had to manually input way too many things for my liking.  I much prefer sparkpeople for the food tracking aspect of things.  I've also heard good things about the livestrong app.  Has anyone used that or any other food trackers they'd care to rave about in the comments?