Monday, February 28, 2011

Tips for around the kitchen

Today's guest blogger is Danika over at "Is it Lupus" her awesome blog shares lots of details, tips, wisdom, and recipes that she has discovered along her path of searching out health and wholeness while living with Lupus. It has tons of helpful information- whether you have Lupus or not- on how to seek out healthy living, physically and spiritually. I encourage you to stop on by.

For now she shares with us her top 10 tips in the kitchen:

1. To keep strawberries fresh for a long time keep them in a sealed container in the frig with a paper towel in it.
2. To keep leafy greens fresh, store a paper towel in the bag they are kept in to absorbs the moisture and only wash them right before using them.
3. Keep onions in the frig and you won’t have much of a problem with tearing or burning eyes while chopping them.
4. Store mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the frig and they stay fresh much longer.
5. When using fresh ginger root, if you have some left, freeze it. When you need if for later use, it’s actually easier to use frozen because it grates really easy (just don’t forget to peel it as you use it).
6. Freeze liquids or soups flat in the freezer, once they are frozen, you can stand them upright so that stack nicely and it saves tons of room.
7. Anytime you’re roasting vegetables, potatoes, ect. lay parchment paper down on the baking sheet and it makes clean up a breeze with no sticking.
8. When making cookies, use a 1 inch scooper and scoop all the cookies onto a plate and freeze (I’m talking the raw dough). Once hardened, about an hour, transfer to a zip lock or container and you always have cookies available. Just take out however many you need and bake, just add an additional 2-3 min because they are frozen. This is my favorite tip because it allows us to only cook what we should eat, not what we want to eat which is the entire batch!
Leave a small bowl of distilled vinegar on the counter to get rid of bad odors
10. Put a penny in the bottom of a vase of tulips and they stand right up!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Alright everybody... here we go! This upcoming week I have some guest bloggers and we are going to share with you some tips that we use- around the kitchen, the house and in our everyday life! They are all things I have wanted to share about, so we decided to do a whole week on "Tons'O'Tips" just for you. Please feel free to leave any comments, questions or tips of your own!

Here's what you can look forward to this week:
Monday: Tips for the Kitchen
Tuesday: Tips on Essential Oils
Wednesday: Tips on the Top 10 Kitchen "Tools"
Thursday: Tips on Vinegar
Friday: Tips on Hosting a Party

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mini Pita Bites

Here's a quick, nutritious, and MAJORLY tasty lunch option- it is SO SO SO great it you have kids (little fingers love little sandwiches!) but just as great for big kids too! They are perfect for a luncheon, shower, or any ol' get together where you are bringing along something to munch on! Bring them as an appetizer, for a pot luck, or serve them any day of the week for snacks or lunch- I introduce to you, Miss Mini Pita Bite. Ain't she cute??

Pita Breads (I get whole wheat ones at Trader Joe's)
Your favorite flavor hummus
Lots of fresh veggies and herbs like:
  • carrots
  • bell peppers
  • cucumbers
  • bean sprouts
  • sprouts
  • spinach
  • avocado
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh dill*So, recently I clued into the "mini" pitas available at Trader Joe's (verses the ones that are the size of a salad plate) and my daughter loved them because they were so "tiny!" They also leave a "star" shaped piece in the bag once you remove the 4 mini circles that are connected- so that is extra fun to dip!
Simply slice your pitas in half, open them up and stuff them full of your favorites! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spanish Potato Omelet EXTREME!

(Notice the pesky little fingers trying to sneak a bite!)
So, I did it, I ventured to change an old and passed down family recipe of my Grandma's. She used to make it with her mom in Spain, then when she started her own family here, she made them a staple in her house, making them multiple times a week. She would always bring them to family gatherings and we would sneak piece after piece until it was gone. I have found this to be such a great dish now that I have my own family. My little one loves them- as does my husband, it's great for breakfast lunch or dinner, it's hardy and easy to serve, and easy to make. Need I say more??

The original recipe is simple, and I like it that way. It has Canadian bacon/ham, green onions, parsley, eggs, and potatoes. This time, I thought I would throw some more ingredients in to see how it fared- it was still tasty and delicious! I don't think you can go wrong adding whatever ingredients you are in the mood for!

4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
12 eggs, beaten together
2 TBSP expeller pressed coconut oil
1 TBSP butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/ onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 pieces turkey bacon, diced
4 mushrooms, diced
2 green onions, diced

Preheat your oven to 425. Wash and peel your potatoes. Slice them thinly and set aside. Dice your onion, bell pepper, turkey and green onion. Add a drizzle of oil and your butter in your largest skillet, saute your diced vegetables, then add your potatoes and let them brown for about 3- 5 minutes. Next, beat your eggs with your s & P, and pour over the top of your sauteing vegetables. Let it cook for about 3-4 minutes, pulling the sides away from the pan with a spatula so that the egg continues to run down the edges of the pan and continues cooking. Then put it in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes until it's golden brown on top. Remove with a pot holder and LEAVE THE POT HOLDER ON YOUR HANDLE OF YOUR SKILLET SO THAT YOU DON'T BURN YOUR HAND!!! Let it cool, then run a spatula around the outside and slide it out onto a dish. Serve warm or cold, slice like a pizza (if you serve it as a meal) or cut it into cubes if you serve it as an appetizer or finger food.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tostada Bowls and Nacho Feasts!

So the other day I threw some chicken breasts in the crock pot with a splash of Chicken broth, s & p, and some garlic powder to cook up while I was gone. All day I contemplated what I was going to do with it, I knew I was in the mood for something crunchy... so here's what I came up with.... Tostadas, Tostada Bowls, and Nachos!

Just for fun, I tried to turn my brown rice tortilla into a tostada bowl without frying it... and to my surprise, my attempt was successful! I put an oven safe bowl face down on a cookie sheet, then I laid a tortilla over the bowl, and laid another bowl face down on top- so the bowls sandwiched the tortilla in between. Then I baked it for about 5 minutes on 400, took the top bowl off and baked it another 5 minutes or so until it was golden and crunchy! Then I loaded it up with black beans, shredded chicken, salsa, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, avocado and a little cilantro. It was delicious!

My hubby didn't want to wait for my crazy tostada bowl experiment so he just popped his brown rice tortilla in the oven (on a cookie sheet) for a few minutes until it brown up. Then he added the same toppings for the same delicious results! (His was a little harder to eat though.... maybe next time he'll be up for my experiment!)
And the following day, we had left over yumminess, so I grabbed some tortilla chips and made myself some Nachos! There are so many good options for chips out there- my favorite chips at Trader Joe's are their "Blue Corn" Tortilla chips but I also love a "Black bean and Garlic" chip that I found at our local health food store, Lassen's. There are lots of alternatives to corn chips, so take some time to look around and "test taste" some different options!
Crunch on my friends!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Powder Concoction for Helping a Lingering Cough

I know what you are thinking right now, "What is this crazy girl trying now?!".... do you know how I know you are thinking that... because my family thinks the same thing! HA! That is until they try it.... and then have to zip their lips because it really does work!

I was searching online for something to try to get rid of my pesky cough. I am willing to try just about any crazy concoction that's natural, especially if it means forgoing an antibiotic. And well, I found this little mixture and I gave it a whirl and in less than 2 days my cough was 90% better- I can live with that! If you are desperate (or crazy too!) and you are sick of coughing- try it, what can it hurt!

*** Disclaimer: I AM NOT A MEDICAL DOCTOR, this is just a home remedy that has worked for me so I am passing it on, try it at your own risk!***

1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dried ginger
1/4 tsp. dried cloves

Mix all 3 dry ingredients in a small bowl. Then get a cereal spoon, squeeze a glob of honey the size of a quarter onto the spoon and shake about 1/8 tsp. of your powder mixture onto the honey on the spoon and lick it off. Do this 3 times a day until your cough subsides.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Soothing & Healing Warm Ginger Beverage

This is an oldie (AND goodie!) from my growing up years that my mom would make for us when we were feeling a little under the weather- suffering from a sore throat or worse yet- a hacking cough that wouldn't leave. I also returned to it when I had morning sickness during my pregnancies because ginger is so great at relieving nausea. This is simple to make, only takes a quick minute and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. I sip on it throughout the day and just continue to refill my cup as needed. I enjoy the taste and sometime just make myself a cup on a chilly day if I am short on tea.

hot water
a slice of lemon
1/2 slice of fresh ginger root, peeled
a drizzle of honey.

Add all the ingredients together in a mug, poor in your hot water and let steep for 5 minutes. Sip on it continually as your sore throat or cough persists.

**Ginger has great anti-inflammatory & anti-viral qualities that are great in fighting the flu or colds.

TIPS ON FRESH GINGER ROOT: You can store fresh in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks, or you can store it in the freezer in an air tight container for up to 6 months (in both circumstances, the ginger should be left unpeeled).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spinach, Mushroom, and Turkey Bacon Scramblers

I know I have posted before about Saturday Morning Scramblers that we enjoy on the weekend- but I thought I would also post this second recipe, because it has been very popular in our house (for breakfast OR lunch!) lately, and is a great change up to regular (and sometimes boring!) scrambled eggs and get some powerful greens at the start of the day.

4-6 eggs, scrambled
2-3 mushrooms, chopped
2 slices turkey bacon, chopped
1 chive, chopped
1 large handful of spinach, chopped
jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
I like to saute my green onion, mushrooms, turkey, and spinach for a few minutes with a sliver of butter, then I set it aside on a plate. I add my scrambled eggs to the pan with a spot of Coconut Oil, then when they are almost finished, I quickly add everything else back, finish cooking them and to them off with a little shredded cheese. I like this dish because it's high in protein (with eggs, cheese, and turkey bacon) and it adds some great greens right off the bat in the beginning of the day. I love that it all melts together and my toddler eats it by the "shovel full" without picking anything out! Great way to start the day or a great "last minute" lunch when there isn't anything else in the fridge! Enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last Minute Valentines Dessert...

So I was debating whether or not to post this because it was a last minute jester over here for our Valentines Day dinner tonight, but I just talked to my sister who inquired about what I was doing... and when I answered, she responded with "Great idea... I am going to whip some up too!" You most likely have the ingredients on hand, if not you could improvise--- or run to the store... or better yet- super surprise them tomorrow, they'll never see it comin'!

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries & Blueberries

You favorite Chocolate
White Chocolate*** optional
Wax Paper

NOTE: If you are without a favorite chocolate, I will let you borrow mine: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Pounder Plus.... umm, I could become a "Pounder Plus" if I let my obsession get the best of me- it's that good! :)

Super Simple:
Wash and pat dry your berries, melt your dark chocolate in a glass bowl for 30 second increments in the microwave or use a double boiler on the stove. Dip your strawberries or swirl your blueberries around the bowl with the help of a spatula (remove the blueberries with a toothpick) and place them on a plate lined in Wax Paper. Then melt your white chocolate, spoon it into a small ziplock, cut off the corner and use it as a pastry bag, making swirls on your berries. Pop them in the fridge to harden!

"Sweet Search"- For added fun, package up your sweets and make a scavenger hunt to find them! Make it a tradition, for you and your honey or the kids! Have fun and have a Happy- lovey-dovey-Valentines Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's French Toast

For the Little ones you love...
and the big ones too!

So, here's just something fun you might want to surprise your Valentines with this year... a little love-shaped breakfast! So simple and fast, and something different than all the other days of the week!

3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla
4 slices of dense bread

Fresh berries
Real Maple Syrup
In a large flat dish (I use my Pyrex dish) whisk together your eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Then soak your dense bread (or day old french bread) in your mixture until it softens- not until the point that it's soggy, but until it softens. Then heat a sliver of butter in your pan on medium heat until it melts, spread it around, and lay your toast in your pan, allowing it to brown on one side before you flip it to the other. Once it's done, lay it on a plate and use a cookie cutter to get your heart shape. Serve both pieces of the toast, sprinkled with fresh berries and real maple syrup! YUM! Happy Valentines Day to your taste buds!

Note: I use Ezekiel bread for this and it works great because it is such a thick bread... but day old french bread works wonderfully too! This recipe will make approximately 4 slices.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chicken, Basil, & Bell Pepper Quinoa

So for those of you lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe's you can take a peek at the back of their Quinoa Box for this recipe that I have slightly modified... for the rest of you- here is a scrumptious meal, quick to make, and great for leftovers! Thanks Lisa for reminding me of this simple and scrumptious meal that takes only 15-20 minutes to prepare!

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup Quinoa
2 chicken breasts, washed and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely diced or minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/4 cup parmesan
s & p to taste

Get your chicken broth boiling, then add your Quinoa and cook per instructions. In a large skillet, add a drizzle of grape seed oil, then your chopped chicken breasts- season those with your s & p. Once they are browned on one side, flip them and let them begin to brown on the other, in the mean time, add your onion and bell peppers and let them cook for 2 minutes. Add your garlic and give that a good stir and let it cook for another minute. Once your quinoa is done, add that to the pan, toss well, and at the last minute add your parmesan and your basil. Serve this as the main dish and enjoy!

** This is a gluten free meal!

NOTE: If you want to stretch this meal even farther or if you prefer more quinoa to the mix, add an extra cup of broth, and another half a cup of Quinoa when cooking. I think I will make it that way next time- it could definitely be stretched in that way for larger families or to get more leftovers out of it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Personal Tortilla Pizzas...

Here's a QUICK fix for dinner, kid friendly, and great when there's not a lot left in the fridge. Super perfect for lunches, it makes a great personal pizza, and its fabulous if you have a leftover chicken breast from the day before... here we go!

** There are no measurements because it is a matter of personal preference (as to how "loaded" you like your pizzas--- as well as how many you are making!***
Brown Rice Tortillas (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
BBQ sauce
grated cheese
cilantro, chopped
red pepper, chopped
red onion, chopped
cooked chicken, chopped

Warm up your oven to about 400. Lay your tortillas on a cookie sheet, spread some BBQ sauce on top. Then add your toppings, I used red onion, red pepper, some cilantro, a left over chicken breast, and topped it off with some cheese I had on hand- Monterey Jack, but you could also use Mozerella or your favorite. Then cook them for about 10-12 minutes until the edges of your tortilla are crispy and the tops of your pizzas are golden brown. If you have two cookie sheets in the oven at the same time, switch their placement half way through the cooking time. Cool them for a minute, cut, and serve! I made these for dinner one night and the adults ate between 1 to 1 and a half tortilla pizzas per person- just to give you an idea! You could really get creative with your toppings, I think I am going to try a mushroom, zucchini, chicken pizza next! Stay tuned!

Gluten Free: These pizzas are gluten free because of the tortilla choice, the brown rice tortillas crisp up really well and are sturdy enough to hold the toppings. I haven't tried these with any other kind of tortilla, but if YOU do, let us know how they turn out! Thanks!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Superbowl Snack

Bean Tacos (or Burritos or Nachos)
Don't forget about this tasty option for the Superbowl this weekend! It is so, so good and only takes about 15 minutes to make!!! I am going to serve it in a bowl along with corn chips and let people snack on it like a dip- it's healthy and filling and will be the newest addition to my Superbowl cravings!

Here's another great recipe, super easy, passed on to my from my sister. Honestly, this meal has such little prep and comes together so quickly it's a great last minute choice. You can prepare your own beans from scratch (by soaking them over night and boiling them the next morning) or you can used canned.

2 cups cooked pinto or black beans
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup salsa (I used Trader Joe's chunky jarred salsa)
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
corn tortillas

Directions: Chop and dice your onion and green pepper, throw them in a pan with a little grape seed oil and saute them for about 3-4 minutes. Then add in your beans, salsa, cumin, and corn. Stir and cook for about 3 more minutes. Remove your pan from the heat, add your chopped cilantro, give it a final stir and scoop a portion into a warmed tortilla! Easy as can be and as tasty as all get out!

*** Make sure you use a salsa that you like, jarred works better than fresh, but use your favorite because it will make or break the recipe. Also, this makes great left overs "nacho style"- scoop it up with a crunchy tortilla chip for your lunch or a quick snack!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sweet Balsamic Dressing

OK, so the other night I went to find my recipe for sweet balsamic and I realized I never posted it individually, just with the Pomegranate Salad. But, truth be told, I use this dressing when ever I make a "sweeter" salad- like one that involves apples, pears, crans, or candied nuts. It doesn't have as much "zip" as my other favorite balsamic dressing (I tend to use that one with more veggie oriented salads), so it brings a different flavor and milder element to any great salad. It also works well on spinach salads.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup honey
1/2 tsp soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos (for gluten free friends)
1/2 tsp yellow mustard

Two choices, either whisk it together or put it all in a jar and shake, shake, shake! Store in an air tight container if there is left overs.