Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tami's Granola

I come from a family of good cooks but I also married into a family of good cooks. This recipe happens to be from my husband's cousin, Tami. I love Tami. She is such an amazing person and I was so excited when she shared this recipe with me because it was honestly the best granola I have ever had. Plus it is easy to switch things up to your liking. Don't like sesame seeds? Don't add them. Want it to be sweeter? Add a little more honey. Easy peasy. This also makes A LOT. It would be great to freeze a bag of it to keep it fresh and use later. My favorite way to eat it is with a little bit of milk and lots of strawberries. Mmmmm....

Tami's Granola
12 cups oats
1 Cup wheat germ or oat bran 
2 cups coconut 
2 cups raw sunflower seeds 
1 cup sesame seeds 
3 cups nuts (almonds roasted unsalted peanuts cashews walnuts pecans)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 cup water 
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey 
1/2 cup molasses 
1 1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoon cinnamon 
3 teaspoon vanilla 

I mix this together in 2 batches (just halve the recipe) because it is easier to mix and it fits in a big bowl. Preheat oven to 300 and line 2 baking sheets with tinfoil. Place both batches of granola on baking sheets. Bake for at least an hour, stirring and rotating about every 20 minutes. Bake it until the granola is to the consistency you like. 

PLG Fritatta

I have mentioned her before, but I LOVE Alanna from Planks, Love, and Guacamole. This girl is a food genius and all of her recipes are excellent. One of my favs from her is her frittata. It can be changed to whatever you have on hand and is great as leftovers. I can't seem to find her recipe online but she did post it on the @Whole30recipes instagram page. I posted her recipe HERE during my whole30. This time I used Aidell's chicken-apple sausage, red peppers, spinach, sundried tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. You can add anything really to this just make sure you saute up veggies that are uncooked (like the peppers, spinach, etc) before mixing them in. 

Pesto Chicken

One of my favorite quick and easy dinners is pesto chicken. I like to make pesto myself (that is a post for another day) but it is easy to just buy pre-made pesto from the store (I like Costco's Kirkland brand). 

Pesto Chicken
-Chicken Breasts cut in half lengthwise (or chicken tenderloins but I usually only have chicken breasts on hand)
-Pre-made pesto (check your ingredients to make sure it doesn't have anything funky added)
-Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (optional)

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken on baking sheet, coat the top of the chicken with pesto. bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so (check after 15). Once the chicken is cooked through, turn your broiler on high, put cheese on top of the chicken (I like a mix of mozz and parm) and let the cheese melt. I like to serve mine over zucchini noodles (zoodles).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash

I woke up this morning wanting sweet potato hash. I love the stuff. It is filling and keeps me energized and full until lunch. I decided to go with a spicy dish this time around because I LOVE spicy food. Like for reals. Love it. Way more than anyone else in my little family. When I was pregnant with MJ I could only keep down baked potatoes. And then one month all I wanted was nachos with LOTS of jalapenos. I ate some almost every day for a month straight. Let's not even talk about the heartburn issues or the amount of Tums I went through that month. It was worth it. Maybe. Probably not. But man those pregnancy cravings are strong!

Okay, moving on.

Spicy sweet potato hash. Here ya go.

Dice 1/2 of a large white sweet potato (could use orange, I prefer white). Mince half a jalapeno.

Melt 2 big spoonfuls of ghee or heat your oil of choice in a pan. Toss in the potatoes and jalapeno. Season this as well and mix it all up to coat everything in your ghee/oil. I used chipotle chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Saute it up until the potatoes are cooked through. I like to burn mine just a little because it gives it a caramelized taste and is super yummy. Top with an egg (I prefer runny yolk on hash). Breakfast is served.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash

-1/2 large white sweet potato, diced
-1/2 of a jalapeno, diced
-2 large spoonfuls of ghee or oil of choice
- 1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
-onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper (add to your liking and taste)

Melt the ghee or heat the oil in your pan. Toss all the ingredients in and saute it up. Cook until the potatoes are cooked through. I like mine just a bit burnt because it caramelizes the potatoes. Top with an egg, preferably one with a runny yolk. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wrapped and Stuffed Medjool Dates

I found some Medjool Dates at Costco (duh, one of my favorite places). I wanted some for when I did Whole30 but was unable to find any at any store near me. So glad my Costco decided to step it up (found by the plums outside of the cold produce room).

Tonight USA soccer is playing in the World Cup. I am going to be real here...I don't care. And actually their team is currently playing. But Hubs wants to watch it (this is the only time he is ever interested in soccer) after he gets home from work. It is currently recording on the DVR as I type.

I have no interest in soccer. So I might as well make the meal we eat delightful so that I can enjoy something, right?

So, besides a side of veggies and possibly an arugula salad (haven't thought that far ahead yet), I am making some good stuff. First up is Lemon Pepper Buffalo Wings from Planks, Love, and Guacamole. I have mentioned this girl before. She is one of my very favorite to follow in Instagram (@planksloveandguacamole) and her food is ALWAYS delicious. Best part? Pretty much all her recipes are Whole30 approved. I followed her recipe exactly except I used drummies. I bought a huge pack of drumsticks at the grocery store today for $3. I LOVE drumsticks because they are so cheap and delicious! I am sure this would go well with any dark, bone-in chicken cut. You could do it for chicken breasts too. Such a good recipe and marinade! Go make some!! I would love to cook these up on the grill once we get one!

Now, for a creation of my own (full recipe at bottom of post). These involve the Medjool Dates I picked up at Costco. I mixed some minced jalapeno with softened cream cheese (PLEASE use full-fat cream cheese and full-fat dairy products as MUCH as you can! Fat-free or less-fat products always mean one thing: MORE CHEMICALS, better yet, use organic if you can find it and afford it!)

I sliced open the dates, took out the pit,

and stuffed them full of my cream cheese mixture. 

I then wrapped them with bacon and secured with toothpicks. My bacon was cut funny and was seriously falling apart on me. If your bacon is not falling apart on you, then I say cut it in half before you wrap. 

I then placed the wrapped dates on a rack over a lined (tinfoil) baking sheet. Place in a 425 oven for 20 minutes or until the bacon is cooked through. The great thing about these 2 recipes? They both back at 425, just different times. So you can cook at the same time, just put the dates in a little bit later.

Guys. These are sweet, spicy, and savory. They are so delicious! A great party food appetizer or fun weeknight side-dish!

Wrapped and Stuffed Medjool Dates
-6-8 medjool dates
-1/2 a block of cream cheese (4 oz), softened
-1/2 a jalapeno, minced (seeds and ribs removed)
-3-4 sliced of bacon, cut in half

Preheat oven to 425. Mix cream cheese and jalapeno. Slice open one side of a Medjool Date (hotdog bun style) and carefully remove the pit. Then fill the date with cream cheese mixture. Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Place on a rack over a lined (with tinfoil or parchment paper) baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bacon is cooked through. Enjoy!!

Chia Pudding

I just got back from a fun weekend in Idaho with family. I ate like crap and am ready to get back on track with clean eating. So excited to be back in my own kitchen again! I am a big chia seed fan. They are great little seeds packed with nutritional goodness. I like to add some to my green smoothies to up the nutritional value. Never heard of chia seeds (besides maybe a chia pet)?

Chia seeds are good for you because:

-They are an awesome source for omega-3 fatty acid
-Great source of fiber (10 grams in about 2 tablespoons)
-Contain protein
-Contain minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium

I love these little guys! I have wanted to make chia pudding for awhile now and whipped this together last night before I headed to bed. This is a great recipe to make the night before because it is ready when you wake up.

Chia Pudding
-1 cup of milk (almond, coconut, whole, your choice)
-1/2 cup milk of choice and 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
-1/4 cup chia seeds (organic if possible)
-2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
-1 tsp. vanilla
-a pinch of kosher salt
-fresh fruit of your choice
-non sweetened coconut (optional)

Mix milk (or milk and yogurt), syrup, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge. Stir after an hour or so (if you have time). Keep in fridge for at least 4 hours, but is great to just keep overnight. Remove from fridge, mix to make sure there are no clumps. Add the pudding to a bowl with fresh fruit and other toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bob Beard's (Peperoncini Beef)

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Also, I have a recipes page at the top and it has links to all my recipes. Okay! Now moving on...

We make this all the time in my family. One of my older sisters started making this for us and we all quickly put it into our meal rotations because it is good. It is great for a big family meal because it makes a lot of meat for pretty dang cheap. We call it Bob Beard's. The reasoning behind this is because my sister made this for her husband (I am not even sure if he is a huge fan of this dish or not). His name is Bob Beard. It stuck. Well that isn't really his name (or the name he goes by), but that is what this dish morphed in to. Now, whenever we have family dinners and someone says we are having Bob Beard's, well, we all know exactly what we are having. This is a great Sunday dish because you throw it in the slow cooker. I love slow cooker meals for Sunday because after we have gone to church we can come home to a delicious meal with minimal effort.

Get a beef chuck roast, season it with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning on both sides. Heat up some olive oil in a pan and brown both sides of the roast (you aren't cooking it through, just giving it some extra flavor and color). 

Toss the roast into a slow cooker and pour a jar of peperoncinis on top (juice included). I used the entire 16 oz jar and MJ said it was too spicy for her. Next time I will use half of the jar for her (but I prefer to use the whole thing). I like deli sliced for this recipe because when you shred the meat the peperoncinis mix in really well.

Cook on low for 8 hours. When it is done, shred the meat (it should just fall apart when touched) and place back into the slow cooker to soak up the juices. Serve. 

I served mine with this gorgeous wheat French bread I made. Recipe found HERE. I used just regular minced garlic instead of roasted because that is what I had on hand and didn't feel like roasting. It still tasted great but I would love to try it with the roasted garlic. 

I toasted the bread (no one likes soggy bread and this meat is juicy) and broiled mozzarella on top. 

The next day I had it as leftovers and made a sweet potato bun (use my sweet potato toast recipe but slice it so it is circular) so this version shown here is Whole30 approved. This meat freezes well, is great on salads, sandwiches, or on its own, not to mention full of flavor! Full recipe below.

Peperoncini Beef
2 or more lbs chuck roast (just make sure it fits in your slow cooker)
Italian Seasoning
16 oz. jar deli-sliced peperoncinis

Season roast with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning on both sides. Heat olive oil in pan and brown roast (only take 3-4 minutes per side or so). Put roast in your slow cooker. Pour peperoncinis over roast (use half if sensitive to heat). Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred when done and place meat back into slow cooker to soak up the juices. Serve. :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Crockpot Refried Beans

I really like Mexican/Tex-Mex food. I could eat it everyday. I LOVE beans and rice. Cheese smothered enchiladas and pork tacos from a legit taco truck are like heaven to me. Where Handsome and I grew up there were a lot of pretty good Mexican food joints around and they were actually owned and operated by people who knew how to cook authentic food. Oh man were they delicious! My favorite was the Taco Wagon. My friends and I would go there all.the.time. in highschool for lunch or for a midnight snack before heading home on the weekends. Their tacos were the best. And there was always the good taco wagon and the bad one. You had to make sure you went to the one that had a picture of Jesus in the window because it tasted way better than the other one. Oh I am drooling right now thinking about how awesome they are!! I love Cafe Rio and Costa Vida, but they are not real or authentic to me. They are delicious, don't get me wrong, but there truly isn't a good Mexican restaurant here in Utah. It is sad. Idaho has you on that one, Utah. Don't tell me Los Hermanos is a contender...because it isn't. Trust me.

I usually have a Mexican inspired meal on my menu every week or so. The ingredients are usually fairly healthy and cheap if you opt to make it yourself. One of my very favorite things to make is crockpot refried beans. Mmmm! These are WAY better than the canned version and they are so cheap. You can make a pot and freeze the rest for later. I like to serve mine on tostadas, tacos, burritos, as a chip or veggie dip, or on nachos. You can serve them with meat or make it a vegetarian meal (which is usually what I do, they are so yummy they deserve to be the star of the meal). Also, because this is a crockpot recipe, it makes life so easy! Set it and forget it until dinner time!

My recipe has one secret ingredient to it. I got this tip from Mel's Kitchen Cafe (great site and awesome recipes). I add a tablespoon of liquid from a jar of banana peppers to the mix. It gives a great little kick and awesome flavor!

Crockpot Refried Beans
Recipe by Darci Gardner

-2 cups dry pinto beans, washed and picked over
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. cumin
-1/2 tsp. pepper
-1/2 jalapeno (use the whole jalapeno if you like, I have little kids that don't like the extra spice), seeded and ribs removed, diced
-1 onion, cut in large chunks so you can easily remove them (I just cut mine in half usually)
-1 Tablespoon juice from a jar of banana peppers
-7 cups of water

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker. Turn on high for 8 hours. When time is up, remove onion from the crockpot. Remove extra liquid and mash everything with a potato masher or place in a blender and blend until the consistency you like. My blender is really powerful and so I usually mash these by hand. I like my beans to not be completely smooth. I am sure you could also use an immersion blender but I don't have one and have never tried it. You can reserve some of the cooking liquid and add it back in as needed to get to your desired consistency.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Almond Milk

Big announcement: The girl who thinks almond milk is disgusting MADE it herself and actually liked it.

This recipe is not mine (because I clearly have never made it before and had no idea what I was doing). I got it from the Blender Babes. It was excellent and easy. Well, I should rephrase that. It is easy if you are not a complete klutz. I was doing too much at once (helpings kids get lunch, making almond milk, doing the dishes, etc. etc.) and well...spilled mine EVERYWHERE. That is a case where crying over spilled milk is acceptable. That and pumped breast milk. Oh my gosh let's not even talk about the number of times I have spilled that liquid of gold.

Anyway, HERE is where the recipe is found. You can make it without any sweeteners or they give you options for that as well. I added honey and vanilla to mine because I mostly use mine for making smoothies and wanted a little bit of sweetness to it.

I plan on making this a lot because the store bought kind actually has a lot of extra crap in it. This one
only has almonds, water, honey, vanilla. Worth it. You can make it with only water and almonds if you prefer. It is really easy and not time consuming, but I use raw almonds and they need to be soaked for 12 hours before being blended. So really it just takes some extra planning, no real extra effort. 

So here we go!

Equipment Needed:
A good blender (I use a Blendtec)
Nut milk bag

Blender Babes Almond Milk Recipe

I would recommend using raw almonds instead of dry roasted. I feel like you get more nutrients from them that way but it is up to you!

I added 3 Tablespoons honey and 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Don't do this:

Do this:

Now, I am a self-proclaimed milk snob. I will not drink anything but whole milk if I can help it. I do not like store-bought almond milk. I think it is disgusting. This homemade version though...is growing on me. I am not going to go have a glass-full (not there yet), but I can see myself using this a lot in cooking and of course in our daily green smoothies. Give it a try!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Turkey and Black Rice Stuffed Peppers

I LOVE stuffed peppers. They remind me of home. It was always one of my favorite things that my mom would make growing up. I requested them often. So, in my quest to healthify my cooking, I wanted to conquer stuffed peppers. They are usually fairly healthy but I made a few tweaks to really up the nutritional value.

First of all, have you heard of Black Rice or its also called "Forbidden Rice" (apparently it was reserved for only Chinese Royalty back in the day, hence the name)? This superfood has more antioxidants in it than blueberries without all the sugar. HERE is an interesting article on it if you want to find out more about it. I picked it up at my local grocery store right next to the wild rice. That is saying something because my grocery store is horrible. Like seriously. So I am proud of it for actually carrying something I want!!

I cooked up a big batch of rice and stored it in my fridge earlier this week. The rice takes awhile to cook (45 minutes) so I would do this while you are cooking something else or have time to be in the kitchen for a bit. It stores well so no need to worry. Also, this rice is actually really deep purple and turns your water purple while you are cooking it. MJ thought that was awesome.

Handsome Hubs really likes this rice too. That is saying something because he is reluctantly joining me on this quest. He is a good sport and will eat anything I put in front of him but I know he is super tired of having brown rice all the time. He isn't the biggest fan. I was nervous for him to try it even! But he loved it and said he likes it way more than brown rice. It has a nice nutty flavor and doesn't get mushy as easily as brown rice. Okay, so moving on...here is the recipe! (full recipe with measurements at bottom of post)

Brown your turkey and throw your spices in with it. When your turkey is cooked through, drain if you need to (I didn't), and then throw in your rice and marinara sauce.

(Kirkland is my favorite brand of marinara sauce. It has no added sugar, all clean ingredients, its delicious and it is cheap. Thank you Costco.)

Cut your peppers lengthwise, clean them out, place in a glass pan with a bit of marinara sauce on the bottom (not much, maybe a couple tablespoons).

Fill your peppers with the filling (I pack mine in pretty full, its fine if they are heaping over a bit). Top with the marinara sauce (I used all that was left in my jar and you can then pour the rest around the peppers too).

Top with Parmesan cheese. Then cover with foil and place in your oven at 350 for an hour. 

Take the foil off for 5 minutes and let the cheese get bubbly. 

YUM! Bubbs kept saying "Mmm, mmm" every time he took a bite. And the hubs said: "These are bomb." So they must be good, right??

Turkey and Black Rice Stuffed Peppers
Recipe by Darci Gardner

1-1.5 lbs. ground turkey
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 cup cooked black rice
1 ½ cup Kirkland Marinara Sauce

2 Bell Peppers (I used red and yellow, you could use any color you like)
Kirkland Marinara
Parmesan cheese (optional)

For the filling, brown the turkey with the basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. When the turkey is cooked through, stir in the cooked black rice and marinara sauce. This just coats the filling with sauce, not drenching it. You will be putting more sauce on top so don’t worry, it won’t be dry.

Slice open 2 Bell Peppers (could do more, this filling could easily fill 4 bell peppers (8 halves), possibly more depending on size of peppers, I froze what I didn’t use). I slice my peppers from top to bottom. This allows them to cook faster and also they lay easier in the dish when cooking. I keep the stems on because well...they look pretty and it is less work for me. Clean out the seeds and ribs from the peppers. Place in a glass baking dish with a bit of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish (keeps food from sticking). Fill each pepper with filling. I really pack it in. Then dollop a bit of marinara sauce over the tops of each and, if you have any leftover, you can pour the remaining sauce around the peppers. Top the peppers with a bit of parmesan cheese if you like. Cover with tinfoil.

Bake in an oven at 350 for 60 minutes, covered with tinfoil. When peppers seem cooked through and tender, take off tinfoil and cook for another 5 minutes. Enjoy!