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Thursday, June 30, 2011

She's Home!

My sister finally made it home tonight!  And we had a wonderful dinner in the works to celebrate her birthday and gather with friends.  My sister and I are five years apart, but if you saw us you would totally think she is older!  


On the menu:
My Undone Caprese Salad (this turned out way better then last time!)  I omitted the Balsamic Vinegar this time!
1 Tomato, Fresh Basil, 1 Small Onion, 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil, 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Recipe to Come)
Mashed Cauliflower
Steak, and Fish

And for Dessert the Famous Strawberry Dumplings complete with homemade ice cream. I am going to leave you with a photo montage of the evening.  As it is very late and I am meeting Katie for an early AM run!  Think 6:15!

 The Pie Crust for Strawberry Dumplings
 Yum Strawberries
 You can tell we make Strawberry Dumplings A LOT!
Fresh From the Oven
The beginning of Bruchetta
Way better then the last undone Caprese Salad
Crispy Olive Oil Bread for Bruchetta! Easy to do cut a baguette brush each side with garlic and olive oil.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until crispy and golden!
My little sister growing up!  She got a cook book and is actually cooking!
Goodnight Everyone, and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

Be Resourceful

Be Resourceful
"Almost everything comes from almost nothing."
- Henri-Frederic Amiel

Remember that! You can't just start at the top, you have to work your way from the bottom up!  Something I frequently forget.  I sometimes get impatient (or all the time) and want everything to happen at once, but alas that is not how life is!

I am sorry that i was not back last night to post!  We ended up staying out with Melinda till well after 9!  We had a wonderful day though out in the country.  We baked yummy scones (I have pictures and a Link to the recipe) and I learned to do this.
Yes that is me sitting still for more then 5 minutes!  I know me not moving is a miracle!  The thing i loved about being out in the country yesterday was the peacefulness of it all.  I told both my mom and Melinda that I felt so relaxed!  Being out in the country reminded me of being at my grandparents in Southern Illinois.  Where you wake up at the crack of dawn to sun streaming in, and the days are long and relaxing.  Yesterday was definitely a much needed stress relief.
I do not know why but I just love the way windmills look!  I had to snap two more pictures of them yesterday!  One against the bright blue sky of the day, while the other was on the drive home with the sun setting!

Yesterdays Scone Menu consisted of these flavors:
Cranberry Orange (Oh So Good)
Double Strawberry Basil (interesting combination)
Oatmeal Raison!

We used this recipe for the amazing Cranberry Orange scones!  These scones were by far my favorite.  The cranberries combined with the flavors of fresh orange were bright and vibrant, and complimented each other nicely.  The cranberries added a bit of a tart flavor while the orange offered up a subtle sweetness.  We glazed the cranberry orange scones with a orange glaze, and then served them up with a orange marmalade butter!  I was in heaven, just sitting relaxing with a cup of tea and a fresh hot scone!  Not a care in the world!  Here are a few pictures from our creative afternoon of scone making lessons!
 Cranberry Orange Scones Ready To Bake!
 Getting Glazed!
 Double Strawberry Basil Scones
 One Large Pile of Scones
 Toasted Oats for our Oatmeal and Raison Scones
Cut and Ready to Bake!

As soon as I get my hands on the other two recipes I will be sure to share them with you!
Well I am off to get a long to do list done!  However I have been up since 5 and already got my workout for the day done!  Thats one thing to check off the list!  I went to a boot camp type class with Katie and my mom this morning at 5:45 followed by my 5 mile 10k training run!  I am going to be sore tomorrow. But we have lots of prep work and cleaning to be done because my little sister comes home today!  

We are celebrating her 20th Birthday that was on Tuesday!  I cannot wait to see her!  We are preparing a special dinner for her, lots of grilling and fresh veggies.  I am sure I will be in charge of the Veggies!  Till tonight!  And remember as always to live Happily Ever Healthy!

PS 24 Days till I see Mark!  Wish him luck on his interview today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Surf and Turf goes Italian

Hello Everyone!  My mom finally made it home and my dad and I had a wonderful birthday celebration waiting for her!  We had toyed with the idea of going out to eat.  However with the rain my parents and I decided to cook at home and stay dry!  However with the grill being outside I am not sure how dry my dad stayed!  Tonights birthday menu featured Steak, Maui Maui, and Shrimp!  With Parmesan Edamame Risotto, and an Undone Caprese Salad for sides! Yes some very Italian inspired side dishes!   My dad was in charge of grilling while I was in charge of the salad and the Risotto!  I have mentioned before that I just love cooking for people, and I enjoyed collaborating a meal with my dad for my moms birthday!

I am going to share these recipes quickly because there is cake to be eaten,
and presents to unwrap!
Lets start first with the bigger of the two dishes the Parmesan Edamame Risotto:
Inspired and mainly made from this Eating Well Recipe.  The original recipe was for Shrimp and Pea Risotto.  Being as my dad is allergic to shellfish, and we already had a main entree I just used the recipe as a guide for flavor.  And yes I did sub in Edamame for regular peas, the peas my parents had in the freezer looked a bit dried up!
Here is what I used:
1/2 Cup Aborio Rice (Risotto Rice)
2 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Medium Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Cup Edamame
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1/2 Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Lets get started.  I have made Risotto before but always feel overwhelmed when I make Risotto for some reason.  I think because Risotto is such a time consuming process, oh well here it goes!
First start by getting your Chicken stock boiling.  The recipe called for hot stock!
While the chicken stock was heating up I began heating my oil to saute my onions in.
Saute your onion till translucent and soft, add your garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  At this point you add your Risotto Rice and stir to combine.
You want your Risotto Rice to be nice and covered in your onions and olive oil!

Now it is time for you to add your chicken broth and your white wine.  You add a splash of wine, and 1/2 cup chicken stock at a time.  I had to add stock and wine five times before both liquids were done!
My dad was kind enough to grate my parmesan cheese for me!
Do not be alarmed that your risotto looks a little soupy!  The risotto rice will absorb everything I promise!
As your adding your last amounts of chicken stock and wine stir in your edamame.
Top with your cheese.
Stir to combine and put in a pretty serving platter!
And side dish one is done!
Just look at these Heirloom Tomatoes,
Aren't the colors just beautiful.

Those Heirloom Tomatoes are the basis for this delicious undone Caprese Salad.  This salad is really very simple to assemble!
What you will need:
1/2 Quart of Heirloom Tomatoes (sliced in half)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Basil Cubes
A dash of pepper
As Much Fresh Mozzarella as you like
and a drizzle of balsamic Vinegar

What you will do:
Slice your Tomatoes in Half and sprinkle with salt.
For the olive oil basil dressing simply combine, Olive Oil, Basil, And Pepper.
Drizzle olive oil over your tomatoes and stir to combine.
 I let the tomatoes sit at room temperature to allow all the flavors to combine.
Top your salad with fresh mozzarella and serve!
My dad was busy at the grill making these, 
into a fantastic entree!  He grilled a steak for himself!  On the Shrimp I sprinkled Chili Powder, Garlic and Black Pepper.  The Maui Maui was Garlic Powder, and Lemon Pepper.

Yum, fresh caprese salad, risotto and fresh grilled seafood!  Oh Yum!  Accompanied by Great Harvest garden vegetable bread.

Yum Oh Yum!
And cupcakes made it home from Omaha!

Boy oh Boy!
We are off to celebrate!  See you tomorrow, and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

Healthy Baking, and Cooking Substitutions

Hello Everyone!  We are officially at the middle of the week, can you believe it?  And while my days are all pretty much monotone I still enjoy knowing that the weekend is a few short days away.  I mentioned this yesterday but today is my mom's birthday, she is still in Omaha with my sister but is returning to Minnesota this afternoon.  We will definetly be celebrating tonight!  And right about now Mark is in his interview, I cannot wait to hear how it goes!

Since I had the same typical oatmeal breakfast (you know the massive amounts of peanut butter, banana, and oats) I decided to blog a bit about healthy baking/cooking!  I have not done a lot of baking for the blog but what little I have done I always try to make healthy substitutions.  Same goes for normal cooking, I try to make a recipe as healthy as possible with out sacrificing taste!  Check out these recipes where I use healthy Substitutions! My  Sugar Top Muffins
Tuna Salad with Pasta,
and my Tzatziki CousCous Salad!
Here is a great resource I found.  This substitution guide comes to you from Anna of fANNEtastic Food!
Click Here!
What I love about this substitution guide is that the guide is easy to read.  Plus she gives you a few substitution suggestions for each item.  Take butter for example, she gives you three different substitution options to follow!  Go check it out when you have some free time!
Here is a list of substitutions and ideas I regularly use in cooking/baking!
1-When I am baking I almost always substitute oil for unsweetened apple sauce.
I also find when I bake with applesauce that I can reduce the amount of sugar, since applesauce lends some sweetness in a natural form!  (Try to use organic if you can!)
2-When making a salad that is usually loaded with Mayo I always sub in greek yogurt!  Partly because I do not like the smell of Mayo (I never have).  But greek yogurt is lower in fat and calories, and you won't lose out on that tang or creaminess that Mayo provides!
3-When making a pasta dish that is loaded with toppings I usually cut the pasta portion in half.  I will make less pasta and make up for the difference in added veggies.  I add more veggies for many reasons, not only are you adding vitamins/minerals to your dish but your getting an array of texture, color and flavor (and I am obsessed with veggies)!
4-Use fresh herbs whenever possible!  Fresh herbs and spices are one of my favorite things to add to a dish.  You can add a punch of flavor without harming the nutrition of your dish!  Some of my favorite fresh herbs and spices to use are Cilantro, Basil, Sage, Garlic, and Cayenne Pepper.  I am like my mother and often do not cook with salt, I let my guest add the salt to their individual plates if they so desire.
5- And finally don't be scared to experiment with flavors!  I do this all the time in the kitchen, I enjoy seeing what flavor combinations work and which ones I cannot stand!  Don't be scared to try new things!  You will never know if a substitution will work in a recipe till you try it!  And if you mess up its ok, you learn from your mistakes and try again!!
I hope you find these little tips helpful!  Now go start experimenting in your kitchen!  Have a wonderful day, I will see you this afternoon but until then remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

PS is anyone else on Blogger having trouble uploading pictures this morning?  I promise to add pictures as soon as I can upload them!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chana Masala for One

Good Evening!  I feel like I have had a whirlwind of a day!  I got back from my workout and 6 mile run and was ready for dinner!  I first made sure all the dogs went out and got fed before I started, I means dogs have to eat too!  I know I said I was going to make something with beets tonight, but I could not figure out what to make, and all the recipes I found did not sound good!  I knew I could put the beets on top of an elaborate salad but I just was not in the mood to eat just a salad for dinner.  And besides I knew after a 2.5 hour workout my body would need a little more then a plate full of veggies to make me satisfied!

While I was trying to figure out the dinner dilemma I came across a simple recipe for Chana Masala.  For those of you who do not know what Chana Masala is I will explain it.  Here is what wikipedia says Chana Masala is, 

Chana masala or chole masala is a popular vegetable dish in Pakistani cuisine & Indian cuisine.[1] The main ingredient is chickpeas. It is fairly dry and spicy with a sour citrus note. The dish is found throughoutSouth Asia, and is particularly popular in northern India and Pakistan.

Thank you Wikipedia!  I just love that site, whenever I don't know what something is I head straight for Google and Wikipedia.  Ok I am off on a tangent!  lets get back to talking about my amazing dinner that looked something like this when I was finished! 
Chana Masala with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce Served over Barley!
I followed this, recipe to a tee since I have never attempted to make Chana Masala before.  The only thing I did was cut the recipe in half.  Since I was only feeding me myself and I there was no point in making an entire batch (the original recipe serves 8)!  And lets be real I was hungry but there was no way I could have eaten what 8 people normally would!  

Lets get started talking about this dish
Here is what you will need:
Chana Masala (Half Recipe Serves 4-1/2 Cup Servings)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 
1/2 Medium Onion 
1 Garlic Clove
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin Seed
1/4 Teaspoon Coriander
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala (I used a bit more) * See Note
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
2 Tablespoons Water
1-15 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes Undrained 
1 Tablespoon Cilantro
1.4 Teaspoon Cayenne (more if you like things spicy)
1- 15 Ounce Can Chickpeas drained and rinsed

*Note:  I could not find Garam Masala in my grocery store!  If you can't find the seasoning either do not leave it out!  Garam Masala is simply a blend of particular spices.  I did a quick google search and found away to make a homemade Garam Masal!  
Here is what you will need:
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin 
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Crumbled Bay Leaves (I left this out!)
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
Simply Combine all the spices together, stir to combine and use as much as the recipe calls for!
Now lets talk about how to prepare this Chana Masala shall we?
Ready, Set, Lets Cook!
Start by heating your oil and sauteing your onions.
You want your onions to cook until they start to turn a bit brown.  Almost like that perfect browned color of of a perfect S'More(which actually sounds good right about now!).  They should look something like this, 
Then turn your heat down to to medium and add your spices and garlic!  (Note have all your spices pre- measured and combined in a little bowl)  that way you can dump them all in at once!  
Stir everything to combine, and let the spices toast for 30 seconds.  Once you have done this add the water and stir to get everything off the bottom of the pan.
Once the water has cooked away slowly pour in your tomato juice, and then add your tomatoes, 
Let the mixture come to a boil, when your sauce/mixture starts to get thick thats when you will add your chickpeas.  
Stir everything together you want the chickpeas to be nice and covered in the sauce! 
Heat for 5 minutes, add your cilantro and simmer an additional 5 minutes!  And just like that dinner is done!

Here is the recipe for the Cilantro Yogurt Sauce I mentioned above!
For Cilantro Yogurt Sauce:
2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (I used Fage, my favorite!)
1 Cilantro Cube
A dash of Cumin

Simply Stir everything together and enjoy!  
I cannot wait to try this Chana Masala tomorrow once all the flavors have had time to combine.  I bet it will be amazing!  See you all tomorrow, and remember to live Happily Ever Healthy!

PS I have a question for you all!  Do you refer spicy food, or do you like your food more on the mild side?  Clearly based on all my recipes you know I like my food spicy!  Night!