Pasta Pot

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I find that cooking is all an exploration of what works and what doesn’t. I am all about finding efficiencies to prepare good meals that are cost effective and saves me time on cleanup. Since I spent time making granola and bread this weekend, I turned to my crockpot for an easy meal. I’ve always wondered if you could cook meat fully in the crockpot without browning it first and whether it would cook pasta for an easy all in one dish; yes you can. I was thrilled with how well it came out and I grated a little Parmesan on top for that final touch of flavor. Check out the easy recipe below and put your crockpot to good use.

1 lb lean ground beef

1 cup sliced mushrooms

8oz frozen spinach

1 25 oz jar of vodka sauce

8oz of dry corkscrew pasta 

1 1/2 cup of diced onion

2 cups water 

2 tbsp fresh rosemary

2 tbsp fresh basil 

Directions:

  1. Defrost lean ground meat at least two hours before starting.
  2. Add meat to a crockpot and breakup thoroughly.
  3. Dice and slice veggies and mince herbs; add them to the crockpot including spinach.
  4. Add pasta then sauce and water.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  6. Enjoy 

Wonderful Legumes

 

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I always keep a can or two of beans on hand for a quick lunch or dinner. Most can be jazzed up in multiple ways and this bean dish certainly packs a lot of flavor. Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are a staple in hummus and other Mediterranean and Indian dishes. It is a good source of plant based protein that is also a good source of fiber. Not only is it a great option for a meatless lunch or dinner, but one that can literally be prepared virtually any way.

I decided to make it the star of a salad on a bed of arugula with tomato and cucumber from the farmers market and an egg. The chickpea salad below can be added to a salad or eaten on its own. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts. 

Ingredients

1 14oz can of chickpeas

1 tsp grated turmeric

1 tsp grated garlic 

1/4 cup chopped parsley 

1/8 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 of a juiced lemon

Pinch of salt and pepper 

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

2 gloves (for turmeric handling)

Directions:

  1. Open the can of chickpeas, strain and rinse them. Add to a bowl 
  2. Peel and dice the onion and add to the bowl.
  3. Rinse and mince parsley and add to the bowl.
  4. Glove hands (to prevent staining) then peel turmeric and garlic. Grate into bowl.
  5. Add seasoning and juice the lemon directly into the bowl and mix well.
  6. Serve over salad greens with diced cucumber, tomato and boiled egg or other protein.

Satisfaction and Comfort

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I’ve gotten on a kick making bread at home, really just to see if I could. I’ve been surprised that it something that can be done in an hour and even better, that I can  add things like flaxseeds, oats and chia seeds mostly to my hearts content. While baking it was a fun experience, making an open-faced turkey, avocado and tomato sandwich sealed the deal. This was a quick and easy meal that was both filling and satisfying. And there is just something to be said about fresh baked bread. 🙂

Using a teeny tiny avocado, I reserved half for an easy guacamole later in the week and cut slices out of the other half. I mashed a slice for more of an avocado butter to spread on the bread, added the tomato and turkey and the remaining slices on top. This takes all of 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

3oz of Turkey

1/2 small avocado

1/2 medium tomato

 1 slice of bread

Salt and pepper to taste 

  1. Warm a slice of bread. 
  2. Cut an avocado in half while it warms and remove the pit. Store one half and cut the other half into slices.
  3. Mash one to two slices on the bread and smear like butter. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Slice 2 to 3 slices of a tomato and add to bread. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Add smoked turkey and top with remaining avocado and red pepper flakes.

Summer Hydration

 

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Water is essential to the health of your body. Just like gas in a car, we cannot function without it. But who says water has to be boring? While I love the stuff as is, sometimes water with a boost of flavor makes it easier to drink. I love to play around with different infusion combinations. It’s an easy way to boost your consumption of nutritious herbs, fruits and veggies and support the health of your body through something you have to have. The best part is you can create any combination that works for you.

This mix that I made is really to support good digestion. Now while juniper berries are not your average stocked item, spice companies like Red Stick Spice carries it for about two bucks a bag. With stores like Red Stick, I love that you can buy just how much you need to try out something new, rather than investing in large quantities of something you will use sparingly. Since I made my own blend, I purchased reusable muslin tea bags to make removing the ingredients from the water easy. You can also always strain it with a mesh strainer. If you do, I would steep one kettle of water and let it steep for 30 mins to and hour, strain it into a bowl then add the water back into the pitcher and fill the rest of the pitcher with room temp water. This will last all week in the fridge. Check out the recipe below and enjoy!

Ingredients

1/8 cup dried juniper berries 

2 1 inch pieces of ginger

1 tbsp. Tarragon (dried or fresh)

1 lemon sliced

1 orange sliced

2/8 cup of orange mint or basil

Directions:

  1. Bring a kettle or pot of water to boil. 
  2. Rinse and slice citrus. Add to a large pitcher. 
  3. Rinse and peel ginger. Add ginger and other ingredients to a muslin tea bag. Add to pitcher.
  4. Add water, top and steep for 30 mins to an 1 hour.
  5. Remove citrus and satchel. Refrigerate and enjoy. 

Simply Granola

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Breakfast is the most important meal of my day. I tend to eat like a queen for breakfast and smaller meals through the rest of the day. To keep things interesting I like to try new things like homemade granola for my cereal or yogurt bowls. It’s an easy way to add in extra nutrients from foods like chia seeds, hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds which are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer and wonderful omega 3’s for heart health and other health benefits. 

I was pleasantly surprised that this only took about 30 minutes to make and was enough for 6 servings. You can always bake it a little longer if you’d like more crunch or color. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Breakfast granola

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 tbsp. chia seeds

2 tbsp. flax seeds 

2 tbsp. hemp seeds

1/8 cup honey

1/8 cup molasses 

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 tbsp. sugar *optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl add oats and seeds. In a small bowl mix honey molasses and coconut oil well.
  3. Add content to oats and seeds and mix well.
  4. Add in an even flat layer to baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir with a spoon or fork to brown evenly and bake for 10 additional minutes.
  6. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy.
  7. Store in an airtight container in pantry or on the counter for easy use during the week.

 

 

Watermelon Cooler

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Seasonal fruit like watermelon are wonderful however I often struggle on how to use the whole fruit. There is no such thing as  a small watermelon when your a household of 2 or less. I got a sweet melon from @FrankFeketeFarm, a great local farmer and wanted to try using the melon in different ways. So to get the most out of my melon I cut up what would fit into a large container and decided to transform the rest into a refreshing beverage. This is something refreshing for kids and doesn’t have any added sugar. You can always add lemon or lime for lemonade or limeade for a more kid friendly drink. You can also add other fruits like pineapple or other melons and call it fruit punch. For adult beverages, a splash of tequila or vodka with a twist or lime is all your need.

Watermelon Basil Cooler

Ingredients:

6 cups of watermelon chunks (or as much as you have)

1/2 cup of basil

4 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop watermelon into chunks. Add to a bowl to blend with a hand mixer or add to a blender. 
  2. Strain with a large mesh strainer into a pitcher by filling the strainer and pushing the liquid through with the back of a spoon to get as much liquid as possible. If it is a seedless watermelon, you can save the watermelon sauce and eat just like applesauce.
  3. Add basil and water and stir well. Let steep for 30-45 minutes and remove basil.
  4. Serve over ice and enjoy. Refrigerate and drink within 1 week.

Pico and Salsa

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As a big taco and bean bowl fan, both frequently find their way onto my menu since it can be prepared with practically any protein and veggies of choice. For my wild rice and black bean bowls this go round, I wanted some fresh mango pico de gallo. Since I made a large quantity, I knew I could also blend leftovers with a couple additional ingredients for salsa. The salsa of course is great with chips, but  is an easy way to get in extra servings of vegetables by dipping carrots, jicama sticks or broccoli for some added crunch packed with nutrients. Check out the recipes for both below.

Mango Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:

2 large mango

3 medium tomato

2 jalepeno diced

1 cup diced onion

1 juiced lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse all fruit and peppers well.
  2. Peel mango by cutting off each end and standing it up to cut away skin. Cut off mango around pitted center. (Think of cutting peach slices from around the core.) Dice mango small.
  3. Peel and dice onion. Slice jalepeno in half longwise and remove seeds if preferred before dicing.
  4. Add to a medium bowl. Dice tomato and add to bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over mixture. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy. 

Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

1/2 large mango

2 large tomato

1 jalepeno diced

1/2 cup diced onion

3 tbsp. tomato paste

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:

  1. Rinse all fruit, herbs and peppers well.
  2. Peel mango by cutting off each end and standing it up to cut away skin. Cut off mango around pitted center. (Think of cutting peach slices from around the core.) 
  3. Peel and dice onion. Slice jalepeno in half longwise and remove seeds if preferred.
  4. Cut tomato into fourths and add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth or fine.
  5. Enjoy.