Canning Day

I had some rare toddler free time thanks to the miracle that is a friends sleepover. I decided to put my butt in gear! I harvested fresh basil from the garden and made some yummy pesto! I froze this batch into little discs to pull out this winter.


And I picked five lbs of apples for making jelly. I was a little disappointed that after cooking I only got four cups of juice when the jelly recipe called for seven. Jam and jelly require precise measuring so I had to fudge a little and used some of apple sauce pulp mixed with some purified water to get to seven cups of liquid. The jelly is very cloudy as a result and set very very firm. I’m definitely going to taste this before sharing with anyone…

I had been cleaning out the freezer and found four gallon sized bags of last years tomatoes. I decided to cook them down into sauce. I managed to get eight whole pints!

The house was very warm all day and I ended up running the dishwasher three times but it was very nice to stock my pantry and feel like I accomplished something off my list!

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Battle of the Buldge

In preparing for the impending huge step in our lives by buying a house, we decided some life insurance might be necessary. We are young and it’s really rather affordable right now. So off we went! There was a small matter of routine physicals….

Holy moley, were the holidays hard on our waistlines. Both of us are overweight and the hubs has high cholesterol. I knew that both of our wardrobes had been getting tight but sheesh! So we’ve decided to do something about it.

1) The hubs has started a fish oil regimen and increased his fiber intake per doctors orders

2) I’m increasing my cardio workouts and dragging the husband with me

3) Dinner time is now a no starch zone. We try to fix lean protein, steamed or raw veggies, and a high fiber fruit.

4) Cut our soda/sugar intake by half

5) Cut out alcohol consumption unless attending social events

6) Packing sack lunches before we go to bed instead of when we are bleary eyed first thing in the am.

7) Having bottled water on hand and Brita pitcher always full. We need all the hydration we can get!

We suck at dieting. We like carbs. We like sweets. We don’t need to crash diet. We need to learn to live better! I’m hoping by still getting our whole grains and bread/rice during breakfast and lunch that we won’t feel deprived! And if we have a soda or donut here and there….it’s not going to kill us. We simply makes choices and find a balance.

Disclaimer: I’m by no means an expert on health or fitness! This is just what we are going to try make work for us. Common sense and moderation…

Baby steps and positive choices! Here goes nothing!

In Search Of Freshness

This time of year I am left craving fresh food. Especially with all the winter and snow we have received the last two weeks. The vegetables and most fruits in the grocery store are sad looking. I’m tiring of soup and rice and canned goods. So to break my funk I’m kicking up my canned goods with anything fresh I can lay my hands on!

For lunch I pulled out some Campbell’s soup from my pantry:

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Chicken Quinoa with Poblano Peppers!

I found a nice ripe avocado tucked away in my fridge so I diced it and threw into my soup:

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The rich creaminess of the avocado really offset the heat of the poblano. The freshness also hit the right spot for my craving. I paired the soup with crisp sweet apple to give my meal something “crunchy”.

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This meal was very very filling. It was spicy, warm, creamy, crunchy, and everything I was looking for. I got fruit, veggies, healthy grains, and healthy fats. And by rough estimates, around 500 to 550 calories. A little more than I like to eat at lunch, but trying to move around outside in almost two feet of snow should burn some calories!

Smothered Steak n Rice

The hubs and I have been on the road A LOT lately. This had led to eating a lot of junk and a poorly stocked kitchen at home. This week I have been absolutely craving vegetables and good home cooked food. But alas, when opening my pantry I didn’t have a lot to work with. I did manage to find:

– tenderized beef minute steak (frozen)
– cream of mushroom soup
– brown gravy mix
– half a bag of long grain white rice
– some beef stock
– frozen bag of green beans

And dinner was born! I mixed two cans of the cream of mushroom soup with the gravy mix powder and a little fresh ground black pepper and salt. I pulled out my thawed steaks and pounded them out extra thin and laid them in a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. I poured the soup combo over the meat and slid into a 350 degree oven to bake.

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I put the rice in my steamer and used the stock instead of water to infuse flavor. Kinda came out looking like brown rice!?

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The meat was done in about the same time as the rice (not sure exactly how long, sorry!) I served the meat and sauce over the rice and added steamed green beans for a complete dinner. All in all this cook/prep time took less than 40 minutes!

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It was hearty and satisfying and according to my rough calculations, under 400 calories for the whole meal! I even got a thumbs up from my hubby! Not mention I made dinner without going to the store or drive through lane! The dogs were disappointed I didn’t spill…and they keep really good watch!

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Eating Better (or at least trying to)

Between my full time job and the husband working full time AND going back to school, we aren’t home much at night. But our waistlines shouldn’t suffer. So I have a plan!

Cook ahead Sundays! I spend a few hours in the kitchen on Sunday and fill the fridge for the week. This week we have Baked Beef N Macaroni and Spicy Salsa Chicken.

First the beef! I browned 2 lbs of lean ground beef with one large white onion. Drained and put in large bowl. Cook 1/2 of large box of macaroni noodles to al dente and drain. Add to beef. I then mixed in an extra large container of spaghetti sauce and 1 cup mozzerella. Stir to combine and pour into 9×13 pan. I then topped with 2 more cups of shredded mozzerella. Threw in the oven at 350 to bake for 15 minutes (or until cheese is baked and the whole thing bubbles)!

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Now the Spicy Salsa Chicken! I steamed 1 1/2 cups white rice with 3 cups water. After the rice was done and tender I transferred to a large mixing bowl. I added one can of green beans, one can of sliced carrots, large can of chicken breast pieces, and finally 2-3 cups of homemade salsa. Stir to combine and pour into 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is melted)!

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This way we have home cooked meals to pack into our lunches AND ready to heat meals when we finally get home. Nice big pans of yumminess that keep us out of the drive thru lanes. Our favorite this week was definitely the salsa chicken! (I mixed in a little sliced fresh avocado to mine and it was to die for!)

It’s takes some time and I dirty a lot of dishes, but it’s totally worth it. Here’s hoping to win the battle of the bulge!

WIP Wednesday: crock pot honey chicken

One of my favorite foods to eat is Chinese take out. My husband and I lived off of Chinese take out on the weekends in college. Honey chicken has always been a personal fav for me. And thanks to Pinterest I stumbled across a recipe for honey chicken in the crock pot! My favorite dish made in my favorite cooking device….yes please!!

I love love love my crock pot. It cooks our dinner while we are at work. It makes the house smell heavenly. And most of the time it’s pretty healthy eating.

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken is absolutely delish!

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While this recipe is currently in my crock pot, I actually made this for the first time Sunday. I made a few small adjustments to the recipe for my household needs:
1) omitted the red pepper flakes and added paprika. The husband can’t tolerate cayenne or red pepper flake.
2) omitted the sesame seeds just because I didn’t have any on hand.
3) I stirred the pot several times just because I was worried about the honey burning to the sides.
4) the prescribed amount of cornstarch and water didn’t get it thick enough for me and I ran out of cornstarch…. So I made a quick roux (flour cooked into melted butter) It turned my sauce a little cloudy but at least it got to a sauce like consistency.

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Even with my changes this dish was heavenly over some steamed brown rice. It was very very sweet. I might hit the finished sauce with some sort of acidity like citrus this time to cut the sweetness a bit since I do not put the heat in it (omitting the pepper flake) as the recipe calls for. But this is definitely a recipe that will make a regular appearance in my kitchen!

Enjoy!!