Friday, August 24, 2012

Berry-Oat Breakfast Smoothie

Oh my goodness, I know I have been MIA for the past two weeks. Things have been crazy around here with school starting. My oldest is starting kindergarten and I'm kind of freaking out about it-ahhh! Plus, my computer is being worked on so I have to steal my husband's mac when he's not looking for only tidbits of time here and there. Hopefully I'll get it back soon and I can start kicking out regular posts again! But for now, enjoy this breakfast smoothie, perfect for the start of school.

We have been rockin' these smoothies lately and my girls especially love them. The first one that I made was just strawberry though, so they probably loved it FIRST because it was pink and only SECOND because it tasted good. Regardless of why they like it, I'm glad they do and happy they drink it. At least I know they're getting good nutrition at least ONE meal a day.

This would be a perfect meal to tuck away in your breakfast arsenal for those crazy school mornings. Quick. Easy. Delicious! It only take a few minutes to throw together and is loaded with healthful ingredients that are sure to send everyone off to a great start for the day!

Berry-Oat Breakfast Smoothie
1 cup ice
1/2 cup frozen berries (single berries or a mix)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 banana
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp. honey
1 cup water (or other liquid such as almond milk, coconut water, low-sugar juice)

Put everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth.

SOURCE: Martha Stewart

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chicken Bruschetta

I love seasonal food for all different reasons and summer food is no different. I love that it is fresh, bursting with flavor, you don't have to cook it most of the time and it is usually quick to prepare.

Some of my favorite hallmark flavors of summer include anything grilled, fresh herbs (mostly basil), garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and fresh picked peaches and raspberries. I got to play farm girl for a couple of years a while back while we rented a house and it ruined me forever! Now all I want to be when I grow up is a farmer.

So, anyway, back to the topic of this delicious chicken. As you can tell from the list above, this has many of my favorite summertime flavors all wrapped up in one. My mom made something similar for me a while back when we were at her house for dinner and I couldn't wait to recreate something at home, just as delicious. I got to share this chicken with some friends a few weeks back and got thumbs up all around, even two from the chicken-haters club. So I'd say it's pretty tasty!

Chicken Bruschetta
For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied to make two thin halves
olive oil
Garlic butter seasoning (Like Johnny's)

For the bruschetta topping:
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
5 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp. balsamic binegar
handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
salt and pepper, to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Prepare chicken breasts by slicing them thin. Place them in a large baking dish. Generously drizzle them with olive oil and give them a good sprinkle of the garlic butter seasoning. Using your hands, make sure all the chicken is evenly coated with the mixture. Cover and chill several hours. (Make sure you take chicken out of fridge about a half hour before you are ready to grill them.)

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon og olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about 30 seconds. Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Add tomatoes, balsamic, basil, and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil if needed, and more salt if needed, making sure not to over-salt. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two, if possible.

Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan, then grill until done in the middle; about 4 minutes per side.

To serve, give the tomato mixture a final stir. Arrange chicken breasts on a plate then spoon a generous amount of bruschetta topping over the top. Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Use extra topping on slices of grilled baguette!

SOURCE: Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cool Cucumber-Melon Minty Smoothie

Wow, there have been several times over the past few days that I thought I was just going to melt! Don't get me wrong, I like summertime, but when we have day after day of near 100 degree weather, I just want to put on the least amount of clothes that I can get away with and sit under a fan. I get cranky, my kids get cranky and we need something to cool us off!

Did you know that peppermint essential oil is used as a cooling agent, like in reducing fevers? So, how genius is it to put mint leaves in a smoothie and cool your body from the inside out? Pair that with a cool cuke and honeydew melon and you'll be shivering in no time!

I know the combination of ingredients may seem a little odd, but I liked them a lot more than I thought I would, especially feeling that cool mint tingle down my throat and stomach, making me feel cool inside, and minty fresh.

Cool Cucumber-Melon Minty Smoothie
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup honeydew melon, cut into chunks and frozen (preferably)
1/4 cup fresh mint, rinsed
juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 cup pear juice (or water and sweetener, if desired)
handful of ice

Put everything in a blender and process until smooth.

SOURCE: Whole Living

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa

I know it's not fall and sweet potatoes are kind of a fall thing, right along with butternut squash, but burgers and things that come in patties are kind of a summer thing and I'm always on the lookout for meatless meals that pack a nutritional punch and are full of flavor.

Enter sweet potatoes and quinoa. Sweet potatoes, besides being slightly sweet and absolutely delicious are high in fiber, vitamins A, C and B6 and quinoa is high in protein, iron and calcium (nutrients found often in animal products). So, I can feel good about having a meatless meal and not having to worry about my kids not getting the right nutrients.

My husband and I both really enjoyed these "griddle cakes," if you will. I even fed some to my 8 month old and she couldn't get it in her mouth fast enough! I didn't venture to give them to my other two because that would have been all out war, but I'm ok with that for now. Baby steps. The salsa is a great accompaniment and makes for a great combination of flavors.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes
1 medium sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil, plus more for frying cakes
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil. Add in sweet potato, onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, stir, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until potato is soft. Remove lid and add garlic, cooking for 30 seconds.

Transfer potato mixture to a large bowl (slightly mashing potato with a fork) and add quinoa, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, remaining salt and pepper and mix well. Once combined, add in egg, then mix until moistened. Using your hands to bring it together, form four equally-sized patties. Heat the same skillet over medium heat and add coconut oil. Add cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Serve with blackberry salsa.

Blackberry Salsa
1 pint fresh blackberries, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
the juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix.

SOURCE: How Sweet It Is

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sweet and Salty Popcorn

It is absolutely ridiculous the amounts of this popcorn I have been making and consuming lately and haven't even bothered to share it with you until now. It's been my little secret. Well, actually not, it's just that I typically make it an night for a movie or game night and by morning (when the light is good), it's mysteriously gone!

I don't have much self control when it comes to popcorn, except microwave popcorn (ewwww), so if there's some left in the bottom of the bowl, it won't be there much longer.

I don't feel too bad about eating a WHOLE bowl, ok, half a bowl, of this popcorn though because it's actually not too bad of a snack, although it tastes pretty indulgent. Since it's cooked in coconut oil, you get all those health benefits and there's just a bit of sugar and salt. SO, no, I really don't feel bad eating it.

And you shouldn't either. This should be your new favorite snack too. It takes about 93 seconds to prepare. And you can get it ready while everyone else is getting the movie set up.

Bring paper lunch sacks. And fold them down to hold the popcorn. My girls thought that was the best trick ever!

Sweet and Salty Popcorn (AKA Kettle Corn)
4 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2/3 cup popcorn kernels
salt, to taste

Put everything in a tall pot and begin cooking over medium-high heat. Once it starts to bubble, place the lid on it and swirl it around as the kernels begin to pop. You kind of want this part to go fast so the last kernels to pop don't get burned. Quickly pour the popcorn out into a very large mixing bowl and immediately sprinkle with salt and stir until evenly coated.

SOURCE:My friend Melanie

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vegan Oatmeal Banana Pancakes with (not so vegan) Chocolate Chips

I think my pancake addiction keeps getting worse and worse! I NEVER tire of eating them. They are just so versatile. You could make a different recipe every week for a year and never repeat.

So the other day I was thinking about making these pancakes that I LOVE, one of my favorites, but decided to try to make them healthier, by omitting the dairy, egg and added sugar, and using whole wheat flour.

Well, all the little tweaks paid off, because I think the pancakes are just as fabulous. I used a super ripe banana so it would add all that natural sweetness instead of adding white sugar. I replaced the chicken egg with a flax egg, definitely multiplying the health factor and supplying the fatty acids that my growing girls need. The whole wheat flour is pretty much a no-brainer for me any more, it's the norm, as well as the almond milk.

Vegan Oatmeal Banana Pancakes with Chocolate Chips
1 very ripe large banana, mashed
1 cup almond milk
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flax + 3 Tbsp. water)
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
pinch salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. chocolate chips (vegan-friendly if you choose)

Preheat skillet.

In a small bowl, stir together the ground flax and water. Let sit about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, add mashed banana, milk, flax egg, oil and vanilla. Whisk until well-incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, stirring to combine, tossing in chocolate chips in last.

Pour batter by 1/4 cup onto preheated skillet. Cook until bubbles start to form and edges look a bit dry. Flip and continue cooking another minute or so.

SOURCE: Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Coconut Lime Ice Cream

I came up with this recipe out of necessity, 'cause ice cream is a necessity, didn't you know? I LOVE anything coconut but coconut and lime are so delicious and refreshing. I had an abundance of each and they were just begging me to throw them together to make ice cream. You just can't have enough during the summer.

I came across a few recipes using a custard base and no coconut milk and I just thought that was ridiculous. Coconut ice cream NEEDS coconut milk and NO eggy aftertaste. Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate a good custard base but they are not fit for every kind of ice cream.

This is a no-cook base, gotta love that, and it comes together super fast so you can get it freezing in no time at all. I hope you enjoy this cool and refreshing treat.

Coconut Lime Ice Cream
1 14-oz can coconut milk (full fat)
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
1 lime, zested
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Whisk everything together in a bowl and refrigerate it until chilled.

Pour ice cream base into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Scrape out into a freezer safe container with a tight-fitting lid. Freeze 4 hours or until firm before serving.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Melon Mozzarella Salad

This is another salad that epitomizes summer for me. Fresh cool crisp melons and grapes, heloooooo juicy slurpy peaches, scrumptious strawberries and I told you already I swoon over fresh basil. Kind of an unexpected little burst of flavor, but oh so delish! What's also fun about this salad is the little bites of salty, soft fresh mozzarella, also a little unexpected here, but I'm loving the contrast. All of this is paired with the delicious lemon poppy-seed dressing from this salad and you've got yourself a perfect little dessert for a hot summer night. Sweet and filling and won't weigh you down. You'll be luvin' it too

Melon and Mozzarella salad
3 cups peeled, coarsely chopped fresh peaches (about 1 1/2 lb.)
1 (8-oz.) tub fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing
4 cups seeded and cubed watermelon
4 cups cubed honeydew melon
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 cups seedless green grapes, cut in half
Garnishes: mint leaves

Toss first 3 ingredients with 1/4 cup Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing

Add all salad ingredients into a large glass trifle dish or tall glass bowl. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours. Toss with remaining 1/2 cup dressing just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

SOURCE:Southern Living
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