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Monday, July 30, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Sometimes the thought of making dinner is daunting. What should we make, what is everyone hungry for, what food do I have in the house, are there ingredients I will need to pick up, etc. This does not necessarily come off as the most fun idea, but try for 1 week to make a plan. Look at what you have in the fridge and cupboards and make a dinner plan that fits for you. It can be as fancy as you want, and/or as easy as you would like. Working on your list the weekend prior gives you time to shop for any ingredients you may need and time to prep your ingredients, which is the best when you're just getting home from a day out with the kids, work, etc. I also like to make a list, which doesn't change often, of breakfast and lunch ideas. Having them written down in front of me makes me feel a little more at ease when the next meal is coming.

Here's a sample of my list for the week:

I live with an Excel Wizard, aka my husband DJ, so this can all be speedy and automated with pre-printed pages and room for you to fill in the blanks, or it can be as simple as a hand written note on scrap paper. A neat idea would be to add room at the bottom for necessary grocery items for the week. Grab it when you go to the store and you're set. By the way, for all of us fortunate enough to work weekends, the list can be tailored to incorporate all days of the week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Delving into Mayonnaise

Some people dislike the taste of mayonnaise, however, I am one that does like it in moderation. I do enjoy the occasional egg salad sandwich, and sometimes use it in making homemade vegetable dip. Like many of you, I have purchased Kraft's Mayo made with Olive Oil, and no doubt a Hellmann's variety as well. Did you see it's 1/2 the fat and just looks like it would be more healthy? To my disappointment, and I knew this would happen, the ingredient label is ridiculous. Laden with artificial / processed garbage, to make it shelf stable no doubt, it has absolutely no right entering one's body. So much of the food we think is healthy, or at least "healthier" is filled with junk. DJ recently told me that an oatmeal from McDonald's, which I've never thought to try, has as much sugar in it as a can of soda. All I can say is WHY? The person choosing the oatmeal at McDonald's is no doubt thinking they are going with the "healthier" option. Well anyways, this is about mayonnaise, I'll touch base on fake food later.

So now how do I make the egg salad that I was planning on for dinner? I know...I'll make homemade mayonnaise. Guessing I most likely added too much oil in at the beginning, a runny mess was all I was left with. Also, when they make it in the food processor on tv, it looks so simple...my mess kept leaking out of the cover. What was with that? I have a nice KitchenAid processor, so why did it leak when the cover was on? Seriously runny ruined mess. Not happening. Next idea...??

I'll use yogurt instead! We have plenty of that on hand, and only buy organic plain whole milk yogurt. Best idea ever! The egg salad turned out great, and was simple to make.

  • 6 Hard Boiled Eggs (Peeled and Diced)
  • 1-2 Stalks Celery (Finely Diced)
  • 2 Tbsps Onion (Finely Diced)
  • 3-4 Tbsps Whole Plain Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Mustard
  •  Garlic Powder (1/2 tsp or as much as you like)
  • Mural of Flavor (or other seasoning you like)
  • Salt and Pepper 
I mixed the sauce separate so I could make sure it tasted alright, but afterwards just combined it all. It tastes great, and I'm pretty sure Lily likes it...she licked the spoon clean, along with help from Barley the Dog. So don't fret if you are out of mayonnaise, don't want the garbage in your body, or maybe don't like the flavor. Yogurt can be a good substitute. Also, if you're going to purchase mayonnaise, try the Ojai Cook Lemonaise (not the Light version) or look for something that is in the refrigerated section. Best is to always check the food label. 

Frozen Summer Snack

If your kids are like mine, they seem to want to snack all day long. Breakfast done....let's have a snack. Frozen grapes are a fun summer snack. They will cool the kiddos down, make the ice eaters happy, and will satisfy them while being healthy. They're a great snack for the adults too! I simply put clean organic grapes in a Ziploc bag, throw in the freezer, wait a couple hours, and they're done. The more simple healthy snacks I can find, the better! If you haven't tried them before, or it has been a while since you did, give it a whirl! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shredded Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa

After receiving an organic mango from my Mom, I needed to figure out what I would do with it, before it would sit in my fridge and go bad. We had wanted to have some kind of taco dish...tada...shredded chicken tacos with mango salsa it is. Not hard to make, and to our surprise awesomely yummy!
  • 2 Chicken Breast Pieces (poached and shredded)
  • 1 Mango (diced)
  • 1/4 Red Onion (finely diced)
  • 1/2 Lime (zeted/juiced)
  • 1/2 Green Pepper (finely diced)
  • 1/4 Zucchini (diced)
  • 1 Large Clove Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 Cup Poaching Liquid
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable or Chicken Broth
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 tsps Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Beans (if you have them - we have fresh ones that are frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Cilantro (if you have it)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flake
  • Pinch of Cayenne
  • Taco Shells of your choice
  • Chopped Lettuce to garnish (home grown if you have it)
  • Whole Milk Yogurt / Sour Cream to top (just a small dab will do)
To start, thaw then poach your chicken breast. I poached in plain water. To poach bring chicken breast and water to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, turn off heat and let sit an additional 10-15 minutes. Then shred, add 1/2 cup of poaching liquid to shredded chicken and either use immediately or refrigerate for later use. To make salsa, start by removing flesh from mango and dicing. Add about 3 strips of green pepper and small piece of red onion that have been finely diced. I added the lime zest and juice, beans, olive oil, salt, pepper, and pinch of cayenne and put in refrigerator overnight for flavors to meld. To make the chicken taco meat, I started by sauteing the onion, garlic, remaining green pepper, and zucchini in the Tbsp of butter. Once cooked I added salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, then added the chicken and poaching liquid. Once the chicken had warmed up I added the flour, stirred the mixture and cooked for another minute or so...then added the broth. Bring to a bubble then simmer an additional 5 minutes or so until it starts to get a little more thick. To enjoy, put chicken in taco followed by lettuce and diced onion, mango salsa, and a tiny spot of yogurt. It fed our little family of 4 and gave us a bit of chicken to spare, yet we surprisingly finished all the salsa. If your family can tolerate more heat, by all means add more spice, or a jalapeno to the salsa. My little ladies are not big on spice...yet. What a great and fresh summer meal!