Sunday, December 26, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

Here's another wonderful winter soup, not a ton of ingredients, but ones that are in season and should be taken advantage of then they are here! A great combination of Acorn Squash with Butternut Squash and a hint of sweetness from the Orange Sweet Potatoes- a perfect combination!

1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBSP grape seed oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1 small-med. butternut squash
1 large acorn squash
4 cups of chicken broth
1/8 tsp curry powder
4 TBSP sour cream
s & p
This is what it looks like after simmering, before you puree it...
Bake your squash on a roasting pan or cookie sheet on 375 for about 45 minutes- 1 hour (you can leave them whole, you just need to slice them in half and scoop out the seeds when they are done cooking and throw them away). Pierce them with a fork, when they are tender, remove them and let them cool until you can touch them. In a large soup pot, add your garlic, onion, and oil and saute for a few minutes. Add your sweet potatoes, carrots, curry and chicken broth and bring them to a boil. Let them cook for about 10 minutes, then add the flesh from your squash. Cover it and let it simmer for another 3o minutes. Puree your soup with a hand wand or a blender. Add s & p to taste and a dollop of sour cream to each bowl before you serve it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Molasses Crinkles...

OKAY- there are a million things left to do, but I couldn't help posting this new recipe that I tried today for Molasses Crinkles. I was searching for one that didn't have any shortening in it, and I stumbled upon these. I made a few changes and thought they turned out pretty darn delicious. I was later affirmed in that "darn delicious thought" when my husband came home and ate 5 of them.... did I mention he doesn't like sweets???? SLOW DOWN Buddy- those are Santa's cookies!!!

Here's the recipe, they have a wonderful combination of spices, they are dark golden in color and they are topped with sparkly sugar and cute little crinkles... you will love them too!

2 TBSP butter, melted
2 TBSP coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 TBSP cinnamon
1.5 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
white sugar to top the cookies with

(please excuse the random placement all over the cookie sheet- my 2 year was helping make these for Santa!!)

Preheat your oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl add your melted butter and coconut oil, your molasses, brown sugar, egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl combine your flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt and sift until it's evenly blended. Then mix your dry ingredients into your wet. Mix well. Spoon out your dough and roll into 1 inch balls, then dip the tops of them into your white sugar. (I pour a little white sugar onto a salad plate and use that for dipping). Then place on your ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove and let them cool on a wire rack. They come out crinkled and chewy- yum!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ideas for Christmas Morning...

I usually like to have something pre-made for breakfast on Christmas morning, something I can heat in the oven or something simple that doesn't take a lot of time so I can focus on my family and not cooking. I usually make one of the following dishes:
  • My Grandma's Spanish Potato Omelet- I make this the night before and then just warm it up in the oven the morning of. It's super filling and easy to serve in "pie pieces" or cut into cubes to snack on.
  • This yummy Breakfast Strata- you make this the night before, again, really simple, it takes about 10 minutes to put it together, then you refrigerate it over night and heat it in the oven the next morning.
  • And if you have guests coming over, you might enjoy something simple like these Banana Muffins or Blueberry ones... or you could even slice up some banana bread and have it out if you are having guests or want a treat for your family.
  • I am trying a new recipe this year for Pumpkin Nut Muffins with Raisins. I don't usually post a recipe before trying it, but I won't be trying it until Christmas Eve, so if anyone else wants to try something new, give this recipe a go- from the looks of it I think it should be very festive and tasty... we shall see!
Pumpkin Nut Muffins with Raisins:
2 eggs beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 TBSP honey
1 can pumpkin
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup raisins

In a large mixing bowl, beat your eggs and add your sugar, honey, pumpkin, coconut oil and water. Then in a separate bowl, sift your flours, spices, baking soda & powder and salt. Then pour your dry ingredients into your wet and stir well. Add your nuts and raisins and mix well. Scoop into lined muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. You can add a sprinkle of cinnamon & sugar mixture to the top if you desire.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joe's Special

Looking for something simple and fast??? Here's an easy & quick recipe that's packed with protein and fresh greens- you can serve it anytime a day... breakfast, lunch or dinner... and it's easy to embellish if you want to add your favorites to it!

1.5 lbs of ground turkey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 cups fresh spinach
4-5 crimini mushrooms, chopped
4-6 eggs, scrambled
s & p
drizzle of grape seed oil or olive oil

Drizzle some oil in your large skillet, add your onion, mushrooms and garlic and let it saute for a moment, then add your ground turkey and break it up and season it with s & p. Let it brown on one side, then turn it over and let it cook another 3 minutes. Then add your spinach and let it cook for 3-4 minutes until it starts to wilt. Next, scramble your eggs in a separate bowl and pour it over the mixture, stirring it well until the egg cooks thoroughly (like a scrambled egg). You're done! Serve it as a breakfast dish, or reheat it for lunch, or choose it for dinner with some sliced french bread. Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Favorite Holiday Treats...

Here's a recap on some Holiday Favorites I have posted in the past... the first 3 recipes are super simple, just take a few minutes to make and are great if you have little helpers that want to join you! The later two recipes take a little more time, but are well worth the effort- they are both delicious! Try your hand at these if you are looking for a sweet treat to bring along to friends, neighbors, or holiday gatherings this Christmas Season...

5 Minute Fudge

Peanut Clusters

Chocolate and Carmel Turtles

Hazelnut & Dried Cherry Biscotti

Peppermint Cookies

Molasses Crinkles

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Turkey Minestrone Soup

Here's another great recipe passed on from my mom. She's a great cook, always trying new things and passing on the good ones to me :) Perfect for a chilly day... enjoy!

1 lb. ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes or 1 cup fresh chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup orzo
1 can white beans
2 handfuls fresh spinach
s & p
** optional: handful of parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Take out your large stock pot for making soup, add a drizzle of oil, your garlic, onion, carrots, celery and ground turkey and let it saute until your meat looses its pink color. Next add your seasoning, then your chicken broth, canned or fresh tomatoes, beans and orzo and let it cook for another 8 minutes. Lastly, add your spinach and let it simmer for about another 5 minutes or so then serve!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Throat Coat Tea...

Here's one of my favorite things to help with a sore throat if you are fighting one... it's called "Organic Throat Coat" tea and you can find it at your local grocery or health food store. It's made by Traditional Medicinals. I use it when my throat is sore, scratchy, or just when I want some yummy tea because it has great flavor and is really soothing. It is caffeine free so you can sip on it day or night. Give it a go this winter, see what you think!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

SO. SIMPLE. It practically makes itself :) And need I mention it's WAY better than any canned soup you've EVER HAD!?!

I throw 2 chicken breasts in a crock pot and make shredded chicken to add to this soup. If you have leftover chicken, a rotisserie chicken, or even if you want to bake some and chop it- any of those options would work fine.

2 quarts chicken broth
1.5 cups chicken (I prefer shredded)
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
8 oz noodles (I use brown rice noodles)
1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
** a handful of fresh spinach for some extra greens :)

So, in your large soup pot, drizzle some Grape Seed Oil, garlic, and your celery, carrots, onion, thyme and S & P and let it saute for 5 minutes. Then add your chicken broth and uncooked noodles and let them cook for 5 minutes. Lastly, add your cooked chicken and parsley (and spinach if you want) and let it simmer for another 5- 10, by then your noodles should be fully cooked (use them as your guide to when the soup is done!) Then, it's ready to serve and it's umm, umm, UMM GOOD!

Friday, December 10, 2010

BOOST your Immune System!

Ok.... so this past 2 weeks, we have been FIGHTING the nasty cold virus that has been going around... and it made me think, "Gosh, I should really add some things to my blog about amping up your immune system to help you fight off these nasty bugs because chances are, you have them in your households too or you are being exposed to them as we speak!" So, here are some of the natural remedies I do (and that I do to my children!) during the winter season... take it or leave it, you choose- but I just know that I will try just about anything to fore go getting sick--- or worse, having sick (and miserable!) kids!!!! DO you have any favorite home remedies??? Share them with us!!!!

Garlic is the BOMB. Lots of uses for it. For starters, if I am not breastfeeding or going on a hot date- I will chop up a clove of garlic as finely as I can, put it on a spoon and swallow it all at the first sign of a cold. I usually have to have a big glass of water to swallow it down with, then I chase it with some juice.... I am not going to lie- it's gross, but the garlic kills just about anything that's starting to wreak havoc on you... try it. I usually do it before bed and make sure you have food in your tummy.

Garlic Drops:
I just tried these for the first time, but my sister uses them all the time on her son who gets ear infections frequently. I got my first ear infection this past week and wanted to fore go the antibiotic, so I tried this remedy, and low and behold- it worked! Does it work every time with every infection?? No. But, if the infection isn't horrible (with puss and ooz) and hasn't been around too long, I think it's worth a shot. You just drop a few drops of warm garlic oil (you can make your own or purchase it at a health food store) in your ear, lay down for 15 minutes so it has time to settle in your ear and repeat that 3 times a day. Mine cleared up in a day... glad I tried it.

Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar:
We used this growing up, I have been a fan of it for a long time. There are different theories to it- some people just gargle it, other gargle and swallow, others just swallow. Look it up, read about it, choose what you prefer, but USE IT! I do this at the first tingle of a sore throat and it works like a charm. Add sleep to the concoction and you just might have a fighting chance to rid yourself of the sickies!

Honestly people, don't underestimate this "home remedy", it's the most important for a tired immune system!

Supplements to Take, especially during the winter months:

Vitamin D for adults and Children

Carlson Vitamin D Drops

Did you know most of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, the vitamin from the sun?? Did you know that it is a key component in your immune system and the strength it has to fight off illness?? Did you know you can have your Vitamin D level tested (via blood work the next time you have lab work done) and then you can begin deciding how much you should supplement with. I personally use Carlson's Vitamin D drops and I give my daughter the Kids Version. We take them everyday, they have no flavor and no odor and you only need a drop or two per day. Read more about Vitamin D here- it is SO important to your long term HEALTH!

We have been a big fan of this for a long time, I really believe in it, I think it's a great immune booster perfect for the winter months. Look into adding it to your supplement list if it's not already there. Also, you can purchase Echinacea and Elderberry together- that's a winning combination for fighting viruses!

See my previous post, this stuff rocks.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, a herbalist, a pharmacist, a doctor, or an authorized person at all.... I am just a mom who tries a bunch of things, some work all the time, some don't- it just depends on what you've got... I am just passing on what I've tried and learned in hopes that it spurs you on to at least look into some different options. If we beef up our immune systems, it just might help us fight off the next gross thing that comes our way, or maybe it will just shorten the duration that it stays. Take it or leave it, just don't blame it on me :)

***Stay tuned for some homemade, hardy, healthy soups, great for a sick day or a repairing immune system!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar...

A Homemade Advent Calendar...
So this doesn't have much to do with food, but I am gonna be a rebel and put it on my food blog anyways because I love the idea and it's super simple to make- granted, I am posting it a little late, but you could hurry and put one together and just miss the first few days of the season.... but look on the bright side, it will be ready for next year!
So, this Pottery Barn Advent Calendar (above) inspired me to make my own (mostly because I didn't want to pay $300 bucks! and because I didn't have a place to hang their contraption), but I liked the simplicity of it and thought I would make a quick, easy version of it.

I made 25 cones from craft paper by googling "paper cone templates"
Then I numbered them and punched holes in the back and strung them on a piece of twine.

So that's my version. And in each "party hat" as my daughter calls it, is a different activity or way to love and serve each other and friends, things I can do with a 2 year old to help being "others focused" during a season that can easily become "us focused". Here are some examples of what's in our days ahead:
  • Bake cookies and deliver them to our neighbors.
  • Buy a fun new toy and drop it off at a Local Toy Drive.
  • Make play dough and deliver it to a friend. (Stay TUNED for the recipe!!!)
  • Mail 2 Christmas Letters to friends.
  • Make Christmas Cards for our Grammies and Papa's with construction paper & glitter.
Then there are some fun family activities and crafts as well:
  • Make a Christmas ornament and hang it on the tree.
  • Rent a Christmas Cartoon and pop popcorn and watch it as a family.
  • Drive around a look at Christmas Lights with a special treat of your choice.
  • Read Christmas Books by the fire with Daddy.
... you get the idea.... make it personal to your family and age appropriate for your kids! Just wanted to share the Christmas love.... after all it is MY favorite time of the year!!

And I just found this blog that has some other great ideas as well as a darling homemade version of a similar advent calendar.