Wednesday, December 12, 2012

featured recipe

Hey Tasty Idea readers and followers - I have a special announcement for you :)

Today, my Super Tasty Cookie recipe is featured over at Recipes for Rhonda's Collection which is a super cute blog for authors and writers to share recipes on.  Wednesday is her "healthy" post day and I thought - why not share my cookie recipe with her?

Do me (and Rhonda) a favor and stop by [HERE] to check out the recipe and her blog!  If you'd like, send a shout out to me there as well - I'd love to see you there!


Friday, November 30, 2012

single lady apple crisp

This one's for "all the single ladies" (hehe - couldn't help myself there).

Ok...ok you can all stop dancing now and get back to making this amazing, simple, and don't forget tasty treat!! I don't know about you, but often times I find myself craving something sweet for dessert but I know how dangerous it is to have sweets in the house all the time so I hate to make something full-sized and have it go to waste.  Because of that very problem, I've started making a lot of desserts and meals "single lady" - sized.  In fact, these sizes would probably work for two as well, I just keep the left overs and eat them the next day.

Anyway, back to the yummy.  I'm telling you ladies (or you single guys out there) this crisp is SO good.  I made it for myself just last night and enjoyed it and a cup of mulled cider.  Apple overload maybe, but it was all around delicious so make sure you give it a try.

What you need...
1 Cute little mini-loaf pan
     (I'd suggest checking out Michaels which is where I got mine last Christmas season.  They were $1 and I have never regretted getting two!!  They are also great for baking & gifting.)

1 Granny Smith Apple
1 Tbsp Raw Sugar (I use Zulka)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon & Nutmeg

1/4 cup oats
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like things)
1 Tbsp chopped pecans
1 Tbsp butter (cut into small pieces)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon & Nutmeg

Turn your oven on to 375°  
Peel & cut up the apple (I like to cut mine in half then peel it - I find it's easier to peel that way but...?).  Toss the apple chunks in a bowl with the raw sugar and cinnamon & nutmeg and set aside. 
Put the oats, brown sugar, pecans, spices, and cut up butter into another small bowl.  Use a pastry cutter to cut-in the butter and mix this all up. 

Put half of the apples in the loaf pan and sprinkle with half of the crumble mixture.  Then put the rest of the apples in and top with the rest of the crumble mixture.  

It's so cute :)
Bake in oven for about 18-20 minutes.  I'd suggest checking after 15 and adding foil to the top if it's starting to get brown.  It's done when the apples are soft and the top is golden brown. 

I hope you enjoy this super tasty treat for one (or two, but I'd hate to share it!). 


Saturday, November 17, 2012

mini-pumpkin bread

It's fall!!  I'm currently enjoying the rainy weather and am excited to post one of my favorite seasonal treats - pumpkin bread!  I created this recipe (adapted from a larger recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook) to fit my needs.  I don't know about you, but when there's just one of you (or maybe just two) it's hard to know what to do with two HUGE loaves of pumpkin bread unless you're baking for a small army.  I decided to adapt it and this is what I did. 


What you need...

2 small loaf ramekins/pans

1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar (I actually used Zulka -raw cane sugar - and it worked out quite well, but you can also cut back to 1/2 cup sugar if you don't want your bread to be too sweet)
1 egg

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves

3 tbsp water

1/2 cup pumpkin 

**Note: You can also use butternut squash if you don't have enough pumpkin - I steam my pumpkins or squash, scoop them out and then blend them in a food processor [shown to the right].  I find it's not too difficult of a process.

Turn the oven to 350°. 
Put the sugar and oil in a mixer and mix until combined (I used a hand mixer but feel free to use a Kitchen Aid or other mixer).  Then add egg and mix again.

Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (or use 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie spice) in a separate bowl.

Alternate between adding part of the flour mixture and part of the water until all ingredients are combined (if mixture is not moist enough add an extra tbsp of water).  Once all ingredients are mixed add in pumpkin and combine.

Divide into two mini loaf pans and bake between 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick (or thin knife) comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

**You can add in chocolate chips to the badder or to the loaf pan individually to make one with and one without chocolate.  But lets be honest - chocolate makes everything better!

And that's that - it's such an easy recipe and perfect for those of us living in small households who just want a taste of pumpkin bread and not two full-sized loaves! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

super simple and tasty chili

Ok, so I just made chili from whatever I happened to have on hand tonight - it's cloudy and a bit cooler out so it felt appropriate to make something warm and tasty!  A friend of mine asked me to send her the recipe and, once I'd typed it up for her I realized I might as well add it to the blog - right?  So here it is - a super simple recipe for tasty chili!  Hope you enjoy ;)

What you need...
3 hamburger sized patties of ground beef, about 3/4 to 1 lb (which I happened to have in the freezer)
1/4 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 green bell pepper
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 15oz can of tomatoes, Italian seasoned (I actually had made my own chunky tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes and it was frozen and already seasoned with Italian seasonings so that's what I used, but I'd say it was equivalent to a can)
1 can garbanzo beans (drained)
1 can pinto beans (not drained)
1 can kidney beans (drained)  *I'd bought these accidentally and never thought I'd use them...

2 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
a sprinkle of chili powder
1/2 tsp or so of paprika
To thicken, I used some corn flower (masa harina) diluted in water, about 2 tsp - you could use cornstarch or regular flour

I cooked the beef until it was cooked through on medium heat then tossed in onions, peppers & garlic and let them cook a bit. 

Once the onions and bell pepper have begun to soften, add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Once it's fully mixed, add the seasonings and stir it up some more.  Feel free to taste at this point to adjust the seasoning.

Reduced the heat a little and let it simmer for a bit (10 to 15 min, stirring intermittently).  You can add the thickening agent at this point and then let it bubble on medium low heat to help some of the liquid evaporate.  Once it's to a desired consistency, just turn it down to low until you're ready to eat/serve it.

*Notes: The seasonings can be adjusted to suit your tastes easily.  If you are not a fan of spice, omit the chili powder or if you like it hot, add more and/or add 1 to 2 cup up chili's when the green pepper is added.  Also, feel free to mix and match bean wise.  If you've got a can of black beans or navy beans, throw them in.  If you don't have kidney or garbanzo beans that's ok too.  Pintos are always a great staple bean though and can be substituted for any of these beans (proportionally speaking).

To serve, top with cheese, sour cream, Frito or corn chips, pour over cornbread, or eat it plain!

I know you'll enjoy this super simple and really tasty chili :)  Let me know if you make it - I'd love to hear you take on it!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

hearty apple & fig muffins

This is my (slight) adaptation to Abundant Harvest Organics recipe for Apple & Fig Muffins - just want to make it's all clear that I was not the genius who made these up (unfortunately ha!).  They are super tasty and the perfect recipe to use fresh figs for when you have no idea what to do with them me and my roommate ;)

What you need...
1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used 3/4 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt - it was all I had- and added 1/4 cup milk)
1/3 cup butter [melted]
1 egg beaten

2 cups flour (I prefer white whole-wheat flour for this)
1 cup brown sugar (feel free to substitute 1/2 cup dried & food-processed dates with 1-3 tablespoons water - as shown in THIS recipe - and 1/4 cup sugar of choice or no extra sugar if you don't want added sweetener)
1 tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups finely chopped apples
1 1/2 cups chopped figs 
1/4 cup chopped pecans**
1 tbsp flax seed**
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 - 2 tbsp butter melted

Turn your oven to 375°.  
Now, most recipes tell you to combine your dry ingredients and set them aside.  Maybe this is just a testament to how lazy I am, but I never do that (*gasp*).  Instead, I start with the wet ingredients and mix them togehter.  In this case, the yogurt (I'd suggest starting with the Greek Yogurt and milk if you are taking that route),  the 1/3 cup butter, and the egg.  This would also be the place to add the dates if you have decided to sweeten it naturally. 
I now turn my attention to the dry ingredients.  Unless the dry has specific instructions (like with some cakes that advise adding dry, then wet, then dry etc.) I will start with the flour and add it in (at about 1/2 cup intervals) stirring well in between, then I'll add in the rest - the sugar, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  
Add in the apples, figs, and nuts and combine completely.
*NOTE* When I made this, I found that my dry ingredients vastly outweighed my wet... To offset that, I slowly added milk until it reached a moist consistency yet was not runny. 
Mix together the ingredients for the topping and set aside.
Spoon into greased muffin tins (unless you're using liners) and top with the dry topping. 
Bake these little beauties between 12 to 18 minutes or until a tooth pick stuck in the center comes out clean.  Let them cool a bit and serve!  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

the super tasty cookie

This recipe is a special request for one of my best friends mothers.  If you were looking for a cookie with an incredibly long list of things it is and is not- you must search no further!  These "No-Sugar-Added, Gluten-free, Vegan Cookies" may sound like all the fun's been taken out of them but that is definitely not the case.  They are super moist and will help you satisfy your sweet tooth without ruining your healthy eating habits.

What you need...
1 cup rolled oats (blended until fine)

10 dates (blended with 2 tbsp water)

2 tbsp coconut oil (melted if it isn't already)
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp light coconut milk

2 tbsp dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 or less tsp nutmeg (I use a few scrapes of a nutmeg nut across a grater) 
2 tbsp dried cranberries

Add ins...
You can add any or all of these to the recipe but you may need to adjust the liquid (the coconut milk) to account for extra dryness - up to 1 tbsp or more if needed.  
*1 tbsp chopped pecans
*1 tbsp flaxseed 
*1-2 tsp wheat germ
*Vegan chocolate chips (thought this takes away the "no-sugar-added" part)
*1 to 2 tbsp cane sugar (again, takes away the "no-sugar-added" part but some people like sweeter cookies so I thought I'd have a suggestion for it here)

Turn on the oven to 375°.  
Blend the oats first and set aside. 
Then blend the dates and, after they are chopped, add in the 2 tbsp water.  The dates will congeal to look like the picture to the right.  Add more water if it's still not moist enough. 

Add dates, dried coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  Use a fork or spoon and mix it all togehter.  Once it is all moist, add in the cranberries. 

Using your hands (because the mixture will still be a bit crumbly and sticky) shape out the cookies onto a small cookie sheet.  This batch will make about 12 medium sized cookies.  Bake the cookies for about 8 - 10 minutes. 

Enjoy these amazing and tasty little cookies!!   

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

loaded oat bran

I don't know about you, but I am extremely against bland things.  That goes for oatmeal and oat bran!  In order to spice it up a bit, I decided to create what I fondly call "loaded oat bran".  Believe me, if you dress up your oat bran like this, you and your kids will be looking forward to breakfast!

What you need...
1/3 cup oat bran
1 cup water

1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 scant tsp nutmeg
2 tsp Zulka (or cane sugar or brown sugar)
1 to 2 tbsp pecans chopped
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1 tsp shredded unsweetened coconut

What to do...
After making the oat bran (oat bran & water), add in the rest of the ingredients and mix.  It's so simple and super tasty!  I guarantee you will never go back to boring oat bran again!

Note: You can use oatmeal in place of the oat bran if you prefer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

soul food

Being a photographer and a food blogger (and, let's be honest, having way to many blogs for any one person...hehe) I thought I'd share something with you all that doesn't have anything to do with food.  I know, you're probably thinking, where's the recipe?  Where's the food! But let me just say, this may not be about tangible food, but it is about soul food

A photographer friend of mine was featured on a blog called "Let the Kids Dress Themselves" and I was checking out her post on there when I noticed that they were asking for submissions for the Thursday Technique post focused on "giving back". 

I decided to submit and I was chosen to be featured along with several other great photographers explaining how they "give back".  I'm not going to say much more than that about the blog post because I highly encourage you to check it out.  Read through the stories of these photographers and how they "give back" to their community - it will seriously touch your heart! 

What about you?  Do you use the talents and gifts that you have to give back?  Do you bake for others?  Invite others over for a meal to try out the latest recipes you've found online?  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

vegan dark chocolate chip cookies

Looking for a tasty, naturally sweetened dessert that's low calorie too?  Well, you are in luck!  This cookie tastes delicious and, due to the inclusion of dates, is exceptionally moist!  Oh, and did I mention that they are also gluten free? It only takes a few minutes to whip up these babies and you're set with dessert for the week.

What you need...
10 dates
2 tbsp water

1 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp light coconut milk

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips (I'd suggest making your own so they will be truly vegan - no dairy.  Check out this awesome blog on how to make your own chocolate!)

Turn on the oven to 375°
Take the dates and blend them in a food processor for about 30 seconds.  Add the water at this point and mix again, it will make a type of thick "date paste".  Scrap this out and keep to the side (it'll be about 1/3 cup). 

After cleaning out the food processor (and drying it) process the oats and baking soda until they resemble fine crumbs.  Then add in the oil, coconut milk, and dates.  At this point, if you like sweeter cookies feel free to add in 1 to 2 tbsp of Agave or Zulka (cane sugar). 

Process all this (you may want to use the "pulse" button).  It will become dough like pretty quickly.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips or other desired add-ins (listed below).

Shape the cookies and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes.

There are a lot of options for add-ins to these cookies, these are just a few:

*2 tbsp White chocolate chips & 1 tbsp Macadamia Nuts
*2 tbsp Dried Cherries or Cranberries
*2 tbsp Almonds or Pecans

These additions will slightly change the nutrition info.

Friday, May 4, 2012

pecan spice cake

My parents have pretty much demanded that I put up this recipe (adapted from Betty Crocker) for my spice cake, so here it is - by popular demand of my parents ;)

What you need...
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ginger

1 1/4 cups butter milk (or 1 cup milk & 1 tbsp lemon juice)

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (hardened in fridge)
2 eggs
1 cup Zulka (or cane sugar or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Bundt pan

Turn on the oven to 350°
Spray with canola or grease (with butter) the bundt pan and then lightly dust with flour.  Shift the flower around and dump the extra.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  If you need to "make" buttermilk do so at this time by combining the milk and lemon juice together and let it sit.

Take the butter, coconut oil, and sugar and beat in a mixer (or with a hand mixer) until combined.  Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla.  

Alternately add the dry mixture and then the milk, beating well after each addition until all the ingredients are mixed in.  Now add in the pecans and stir.  Then, pour into the floured bundt pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  You can tell that the cake is done when the sides and top start to brown and when you stick either a thin knife or toothpick into the center and it comes out clean.

Once the cake is completely cooled, turn upside down onto a plate and top with your icing of choice.  I'd suggest my Lemon Pulp Icing - tangy, but a perfect compliment to the cake!

Well, Mom & Dad, here it is - hope you enjoy it!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

lemon pops

Last in the line of luscious lemon treats: lemon pops!  This is the easiest way to 'deal with' your extra lemon juice.  They are also a tasty treat when the weather turns hot. 

 What you need...
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups water
1 to 2 tablespoons Zulka (or other cane sugar)*

Popsicle forms

*Feel free to use Agave syrup in place of a crystallized sugar.

Combine ingredients in a bowl, stir until sugar is dissolved (it will be faster with Agave).  Taste test to make sure it's sweet enough. 

Pour into Popsicle forms, place in freezer, and enjoy once they are frozen.

This is a great, super-low calorie dessert!  The calorie amount will only vary based on the amount of sweetener you use! 

Enjoy this tart and tasty treat!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

lemon pulp icing

I know, I know... I said it was going to be lemon "week" but I've actually turned it into two weeks because I had such a massive amount of lemon juice to deal with (along with a pretty hectic work schedule last week).   I have two more recipes to tickle your taste buds with - but watch out, these are not for the faint of heart when it comes to taste!  Pucker up, because these lemon treats will leave you speechless!

Tart, sweet, but oh so yummy.  This Lemon Pulp Icing is one of my new favorites!  You don't have to have the pulp to make it, but the mellow taste of it really works well for the icing.  

What you need...
1/4 cup Lemon Pulp*

3 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla

*Substitute lemon juice for the pulp if you don't have it.  Adjust the amount of juice per your taste for tartness.

Put the powdered sugar in a bowl large enough to hold it.  Create a well in the middle of the powdered sugar and add the lemon pulp and then vanilla.

Slowly add in water, small bits at a time (a few teaspoons at a time) and stir with a spoon.  Keep adding the water until all of the powdered sugar is moist.  When it is all mixed in, there will probably still be clumps of powdered sugar.  I used a whisk at this point to mix up the remaining powdered sugar until the entire mixture was smooth.

Use the icing over lots of baked goods! It tastes delicious and will be a great addition to almost anything.  Take a look at my suggestions below.

*Sugar cookies coated in Lemon Pulp Icing
*Pecan Spice Cake drizzled with Lemon Pulp Icing (pictured below)
*Use on pancakes or my Whole Wheat, Bran, and Pecan Waffles

Thursday, April 26, 2012

luscious lemon bars

I'd like to submit and argument that this is one of the best desserts ever!  Notice how politically correct I was?  "one of"?  Well, I couldn't help myself because when I was thinking of writing "the best" I was brought to a halt because there is no chocolate involved in lemon bars... and I think, for me, the best dessert must have chocolate involved.

Either way, I'd love to share with you my recipe (adapted and modified from this recipe) for Lemon Bars that are slightly tangy, sweet, and definitely tasty!

What you need...

For the crust...
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
     (feel free to use white, but I find that whole wheat gives the bars a great taste!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
     (you could do 1/4 cup butter and 3 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil - I think it would work ok, but I have not tried this so I wont vouch for how the consistency will turn out...)
1 tbsp wheat germ*
1 tsp cinnamon*

For the filling...
1 cup white sugar
     (or you could substitute Zulka)
3 tbsp whole wheat flour
     (or white - I used whole wheat and it just makes the filling a little darker)
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1/4 cup + 2 or 3 tbsp lemon juice
1 to 2 tbsp lemon zest

2 to 3 tbsp powdered sugar for decoration
9x13inch glass pan

The lemon section of this recipe is really up to you (that's why I give so many options).  If you love lemon then use more!!

Marked with * is optional

Turn your oven on to 350°
Melt the butter in the micro while mixing the flour and powdered sugar (along with the wheat germ and cinnamon if you choose to add it).  Once the butter is melted, add it to the flour mix (with oil if you are substituting) and mix together to form a semi-moist crumbly mixture. 

Take this mixture and press it into the bottom of the 9x13in pan.  You can go up a little on the sides if you want to create a type of 'edged' crust or just keep it to the bottom.  Then stick it in the over for 15 to 20 minutes (I ended up keeping it in for the full 20). 


It's time to make the filling. 
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and baking soda.  Then, in a slightly larger bowl beat the eggs for about 30 seconds or until they are combined (a lovely yellow color).  Add the dry contents as well as the lemon juice to the egg mixture and beat for another 30 seconds. 

When the rust is done, take it out of the oven, pour the filling mixture over the top, and put it back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  It doesn't take as long as you would think for the filling to cook so make sure and check it after 10 minutes just to be safe.  It's done when edges are slightly brown and the center is not 'jiggly' (technical term). 

Let it sit for a few minutes and then you can top with the extra powdered sugar - I used my fine mesh strainer and tapped the side creating a fine misting of powdery goodness.

I'd suggest letting it cool for a 10 minutes or so and then I'd highly advise you eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

chocolate caramel pie

I have to share this amazing recipe originally taken from "Lulu the Baker" - seriously, you have to go check out her blog...right now!  Her recipe is called "Carmelitas" but I've adapted it and call it Chocolate Caramel Pie.  Don't worry, I asked permission from Lulu the Baker to use my version of it here.

What you need...
32 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

2 to 3 quart saucepan
9" pie pan

Turn the oven on to 350°
Unwrap the caramels (without eating too many...) and toss them in the saucepan along with the half and half.  Turn on the burner to medium low heat.  Stir the caramels and half and half until the caramel melts and it becomes a smooth sauce.  Takes about 15 min or so, depending. 

In the mean time...
Combine the next six ingredients into a bowl (after melting the butter in the micro).  It will form a crumbly mixture.

Once it's combined, take half of the mixture and press it into your pie pan. Place the bottom crust in the oven and bake for 15 min.

Check out my awesome, bright orange pie pan! -->

Once the 15 minute's are up, take the crust out and top with the chocolate chips.  Then, take the now-melted caramel mixture and pour over the chocolate chips.  Take the left over oat mixture and crumble it over the top of the caramel.

Bake the "pie" for another 15 to 20 minutes (I let it go for 20 to get it nice and golden brown).  Once it's done, pull it out and let it cool on a wrack.   Since I was taking the "pie" to a group meeting, I ended up putting it in the fridge for about 45 minutes or so in order to cool it down enough to be able to eat.

Unfortunately, I don't have a finished picture of this wonderful Chocolate Caramel Pie...All I will say is it went so fast there was no time ;) Remember to check out Lulu the Baker's site - it's fantastic and you'll find more wonderful recipes like this!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lemon-Thyme Chicken

This tangy but delicious marinaded chicken is awesome over brown rice or bulgur wheat (a new favorite addition to meals for me).  It only takes a few minutes to whip up the marinade and about a half an hour for it to sit and soak in the juices.  It's a dinner must in a hectic schedule! 

What you need...
4 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts

For the Marinade...
1/8 to 1/4  cup lemon juice (depending on how much lemon flavor you like - it can be pretty intense!)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp thyme 
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 minced garlic (or dried minced garlic)

2 tbsp half and half
1 tbsp milk (feel free to use 3 tbsp milk - I just had half and half on hand)
1 tsp flour
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a Tupperware container, add the chicken, and (after firmly closing the lid) shake it up!  After it's combined, stick the container in the fridge for about half an hour, turning it over (or shaking it up again) about half way through.

 *Right about now, while your chicken is marinading, you can start your brown rice (or bulgur wheat if you prefer) since it usually takes about 45 minutes.
After the chicken has marinaded, cook it in a frying pan (I sprayed the bottom with some canola oil first) until its mostly done.  Then, add in the marinade into the frying pan and cover with a lid.  This will help the chicken finish cooking while adding more flavor to it and keeping it moist!

Once your chicken is cooked thoroughly, take it out and place it somewhere to "rest".  I just used a plate and covered it with foil.

Now it's time to make the sauce!

With the liquid that's remaining in the pan, add the half and half, milk, and flour to a small cup and stir it up well.  Then add it to the mixture in the frying pan along with the cheese, and stir well.

I let my sauce simmer for about five minutes before I called it "done".  You may also want to taste-test it to see if you need more seasoning or more liquid to thin it out (water can work for that or more milk).

Once your sauce is done and your rice is cooked, you are ready to eat!  I spooned my sauce over the rice and then added the chicken on top.  Feel free to garnish with a little bit more Parmesan cheese.

And that's that!  Simple, and yet super tasty!  As I cautioned before, the lemon is a really powerful flavor so make sure you don't over do it.  If you have a larger family, increase the recipe proportionally and it will work out great!  I served this with salad but a green veggie like asparagus or green beans would also compliment this well.  

Dessert idea...
If you're like me, you'll want something sweet after dinner.  I've recently been stalking this amazing blog called Chocolate-Covered Katie.  Her tag line is: "The healthy dessert blog" but I think it could be called: "The tasty dessert blog"!  Everything she has is vegan, healthy, and it tastes good!  As I make her recipe's, I'll try and share them with you because, seriously, this girl is a genius!

Tonight, I gave her "Cookie Dough Dip" a try and it was amazing!  You may be a tad surprised at the ingredients of the recipe but I promise you that it tastes great.  Personally, I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar for the sweetener (there were a few suggestions and I liked that the best) and it was definitely sweet enough (too sweet according to my roommie!).  Either way, if you like eating cookie dough,  you'll love this alternative recipe!  Go check it out :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

lemons, lemons, lemons

This post begins Lemon Week!  I'll be posting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this coming week all on one theme - (you guessed it) Lemons!

You've heard it said, "When life gives you lemons - make lemonade."  Well, as much as I like lemonade, I think there are a few other things you can do with those lemons!  Recently, I was blessed with 5lbs of lemons (locally grown) and at a loss of what to do with them. I didn't want them to go bad so I decided today is the day!

After a few stinging cuts and lots of chopping... I've come away with over 5 cups of lemon juice!!

I'll share with you two methods of extracting that wonderful juice - the hard way and the easy way.  Yes, I've done both.  I put the hard way in here because I know not all of you have a juicer but, because of my promise to you, I've included the easy way too - it just takes a bit more equipment!

The hard way...
Don't get me wrong.  I love a challenge - but this was a little overwhelming.  I mean... 5lbs of lemons juiced by hand?? That is not quick and it's also not easy but I wanted to let you know it is an option.

The best way to do this by hand is to cut the lemons in half, using the juicer (pictured above - it's the wooden thing) and then to squeeze it into a cup or small bowl.  I used the measuring cup but pretty much anything will work.

After you've got a good amount, you will then filter it through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl.  This will take out any small seeds, large seeds, and a lot of the pulp.

*Helpful hint:  do it a few lemons at a time each day so as to not completely overwhelm yourself.

Or you can choose -

The easy way...
I'll admit this is definitely this best (and fastest) way to do this, though it does require a juicer.

Take your lemons and cut them into chunks (as pictured above.  Then, using your juicer, toss them in and let the juicer do the work!  It's really that simple!

After I juiced them though, I found that the juice (because it also contains the peel) is pretty pulpy.  To combat this, I poured the juice through the fine mesh strainer and let it sit to filter (though I occasionally had to stir it up with a spoon).

When it would no longer filter, I was left with a lovely bowl of pulp.  Reserve this to the side because it can be used many ways.  {*psst!* Keep a look out for my recipe on lemon pulp icing coming soon!} 

After all my lemons were juiced and filtered adequately, I was left with about 5 cups of lemon juice.  Talk about lemon overload!

One quick way I found to keep the lemon juice for future needs was to pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze.  Then once the trays were frozen I tossed the lemon cubes in a clearly marked bag (wouldn't want to mix up my lemon cubes with turkey broth, eh?) and put them back in the freezer.

I'll be experimenting with lemons off and on this week and I'll share more recipes soon.  You'd be surprised at the creative ways you can use lemon juice when you have an overabundance of it.  If you're in a rush to figure out something quick, check this list of 20 Lemon Dessert Recipes!

Check back soon for the recipe to one of my favorites desserts: lemon bars! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

bean and chicken tacos

I had a fantastic run after work last night and came home to the big decision we all face... what to make for dinner?  I usually go through my routine refrigerator, then freezer, then pantry check.  Yesterday, after completing at least two cycles of this check I decided on bean and chicken tacos.  I had everything on hand plus a ripe avocado to give me inspiration so I thought I'd share.

This is a quick, healthy, and super tasty meal!

What you need...
Frying pan (I prefer one with deep sides and a lid)

1 can pinto beans
2 to 4 oz chicken  
1/2 tsp green garlic* or regular garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Seasoning Salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash (or comparable garlic seasoning)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Whole wheat flour tortillas

*The green garlic was something I had on hand and isn't necessary to the recipe.

Spray the bottom of your pan with cooking spray
Turn on the burner to medium low heat

Cut up the chicken into cubes
Toss into the warm pan
Cook until slightly brown and the chicken is no longer pink inside

Add in the beans with the cooked chicken and increase the heat just a bit.

Also add in your seasonings, stir it up, and add a lid (if your pan comes with one).

Let the beans heat up and allow it to simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Heat up your tortillas (either on the stove in a slightly oiled frying pan) or in the micro for about 30 seconds.  Top with your favorite toppings and you're ready to go!

Ideas for toppings...
*Sour cream
*Cooked onions and green peppers

I love this recipe especially because it is so quick and easy but also its healthy!  It's low in sugar, cholesterol, saturated fat, but it's also high in fiber!
This is a great way to save money and make your meat last longer.  I only ate 1 oz of chicken (half of what was in my pan) but the beans really helped to make the meal full and satisfying!

*Note:  These nutrition facts are based on 1oz of chicken per serving and excludes any toppings you may add.  But, just so you know, salsa is only 15 calories for 2 tbsp!!  Yum!

Here are some flowers for your table :)