Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Do you know what year the first nationally declared Thanksgiving was held?

Any guesses?


This one might be a little bit easier, what was happening in the United States in 1864?

The Civil War

How long had the Civil War being going on, and how many people died during the Civil War?

Over three and a half years and over 600000s Americans died.

November 1864 was towards the end of the Civil War, it ended the following spring. Most the big battles had occurred by then, estimating over 500000 causalities by the time of the first Thanksgiving holiday.

As I have read and reread books about Thanksgiving to Caleb this year I am always struck by the same thought-what on earth did people in the United States to have to be grateful for in 1864? That had to be one of the darkest times in our nations history, but people gathered around and gave thanks for what they did have, even with all they didn't have. The pilgrims were the same way. More people died than lived that first year in Plymouth. But people offered thanks and praise to God for His goodness. 

This year I wanted to cancel Thanksgiving, I wasn't feeling very cheerful. This year has been stressful and emotional. In fact the last three and a half years have been long and emotionally draining. 

And then I thought of what it would be like if we were in 1864 and asked to celebrate and give thanks.

That would be much much harder.

And I find myself grateful that Thanksgiving is a holiday that came about during a horrible war that affected so many Americans. 

We all have good times and we all have bad times, but we can all be grateful whatever the season of our life.

So I made a goal, instead of expressing gratitude for one blessing a day this month I was going to write down ten things a day.

After a couple of days I decided to challenge myself and have a theme a day. I started off easy: what am I grateful about being married to John, being Caleb's mom, living in Montana, my calling. Those were a little too easy so I thought I would challenge myself. Why I am grateful for our time in Texas? What about infertility? Or having had a stillborn son? Those ones stretched me. But I realized there truly are significant but subtle blessing in every aspect of my life. 

President John F Kennedy sums up the other critical and often overlooked aspect of gratitude: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter word, but to live them."

I have found it is pretty easy to write down one or even ten things a day that I am grateful for. However, to actually live a life of gratitude can be very difficult. 

Even with all that we have been through the last four years, and knowing we are a week away from another move with more changes and challenges. I am trying to not only list the things I am grateful for, but have a grateful heart and life. To take time to express my gratitude to those I love, and have optimism in the future because I can see so many blessings.

I am trying to follow this advice each and every day. 

"I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that we go through life we 'accentuate the positive." I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we are more generously compliment virtue and effort."-Gordon B Hinckley

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas is coming...

I love Christmas.

I also love the word intent.

A couple years ago John and I had a lot of talks about how to make our life and traditions more intentional. Instead of just living, or go off of what every body else did we were going to be intentional in our actions.

And thus began how we do Christmas.

I belong to a Church rich in symbols, however I find a lot of people are very apprehensive about symbolism and how to interpret symbols. John and I decided to use Christmas as a time to teach our son about symbols. We have tried to make Christmas intentional, symbolic and lots of fun, and yes we feel we can have all three :)

The first thing we decided to attack was Santa. I am personally not a fan of lying to my child and Santa is a lie. I know that every family needs to do what is best for them. But we opted out of Santa. We don't go around telling him Santa isn't true, we tell him about the real Saint Nick and say the Santa in books is just like any other character in books-not real, but a symbol of a great man. 

Caleb is also extremely literal, he tells me he thinks it is ridiculous that people actually think reindeer can fly. I have a feeling that even if we did do Santa he would have figured it out by now. 

The next step was our presents. I spent hours researching what other families do and came up with what I felt worked for our family. John and I talked about it and we thought it was worth a shot. John especially hates consumerism. 

We do four gifts. One is completely fun and from "Santa." Then we go off the idea of the three wise men. I read a lot of scholarly articles about the gifts and what they really meant. I especially like this one because it is short and sweet, but there are some very long in depth ones out there that are fun to read if you are like me and like to read about history and religion. 

We do ours slightly different from what I have read, but I think the idea is to find whatever works for your family. 

I love that gold showed that the Wise Men knew who they were seeing, the King of Kings and Prince of Peace. Our family does one gift that shows we know who that individual is and what makes them unique. If you have spent much time with my son you know he is about the most imaginative little boy in the world. His gift has always been something that helps him create and use his imagination. John is huge into the outdoors and views that as a great way for our family to connect, so he often gets outdoors items. And I get baking stuff :) 

Frankincense was used to worship. So we get something that helps us worship. Caleb always gets church books, John gets white shirts or ties and I get a journal. We have done other things but the idea is something that helps us to get closer to God.

Myrrh is the hard one and people interpret it in a lot of different ways. The general consensus from Biblical scholars is that myrrh was given because the Wise Men knew Baby Jesus would one day die for them. The above mentioned article states that myrrh was used by the wealthy to make their home smell more pleasant. I read another article that mentioned it was used as a comforting sense (almost like lavender oil of today). So we do something that comforts. Caleb loves to read and it is very soothing to him, so sometimes he gets books. Last year he got a drum set because he loves to hit things and make noise :) John has gotten iTunes gift cards because he can't fall asleep unless he is listening to music. 

I just read my friend's blog that suggested having stockings being consumable items like gift cards, candy or membership to a children's museum. John and I just talked and we are going to try that this year.

We have also asked grandparents to support us in this and have limited them to three gifts. Anything we get beyond three from each parent we give to charity. I feel like a lot of times parents can control themselves but grandma's can't :)

The other thing we do is a Christ-centered advent calendar. I remember as a child my family trying to have a little bit of family time each night during December. I really love making and spending time with family during the holidays. We have used our traditions and found ways to tie them back to the Savior (gingerbread houses-the wise man built his house upon a rock, Christmas lights-light of Christ). 

Each year we pick a theme for the year and we try to focus our scriptures or stories around that aspect of Christ's life and ministry. One year we did faith, hope and charity, this year we are going to do peace. By reading scriptures and doing activities that relate to the idea of peace we hope to better remember Christ as the true source of peace (once I get it put together I will post it). I love traditions but I also love trying new things. I have found this to be a perfect way to keep some of our favorite traditions as well as try new things to help us celebrate our Savior's birth, life, death and resurrection. This allows for flexibility which we need because our life has never been 9-5 normal. This year we will most likely be spending the better half of December in hotels moving around the country. However, I plan to come up with activities that we can do wherever we are so that we can still enjoy the holiday season (we are thinking Christmas tree in the car and nativity scene on the dashboard). But every night we will make time to read a scriptures and think about Christ. 

We also do a family service project once a week in December. My greatest Christmas memories as a child were saving our coins throughout the year and then donating them to a charity. I hardly remember a single present I got but I remember driving to Salt Lake in our VW van and dropping off the jar and feeling so good that children in need could now have shoes. My friend made a list of service projects and I love my cousin's idea for a book drive for children's hospitals. Maybe it is simple or elaborate, I just want Caleb to know we serve. 

I am a HUGE believer in doing what is right for your family, you know your family better than anyone else. I am just sharing my ideas and traditions because they have helped us. I do encourage all to take a minute and really think about what they are doing for Christmas-is it intentional? Is it building your family or your faith? We all can accomplish the same goals in different ways. That is what I love about life! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Low-fat, low-sugar, whole wheat oat pumpkin bread

I love pumpkin bread, I love pumpkin anything honestly. I don't love a cup of sugar and two sticks of butter in a single loaf of bread. So after years of trying lots of different recipes I found the perfect pumpkin bread recipe! I makes a great snack is really rather healthy. 

I love the idea of eating fat free pumpkin bread, and this recipe could very easily be fat free. However, there is no getting around food with fat tastes better. I have started taking the time to calculate how much fat would be in each slice of bread based on how much fat I add to the bread. This recipe ended up with under 3 grams of fat a slice by having a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil. Coconut oil is one of the best sources for fat, and it adds a little nice texture to this bread. Bread with only applesauce always tastes just a little off to me. But if you really want low low low fat get rid of the coconut oil and use only applesauce and don't add nuts or chocolate chips.

I also always make two loafs when I make bread. It freezes so well and takes no extra work to double it. So this recipe makes two wonderful and delicious loafs.

Adapted from here
  • 2 cups oats (Process in blender or food processor to flour consistency
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 large banana (mashed) **about 1 1/2 cup
  • 3 T. melted coconut oil then add applesauce to make 1 cup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2-1 cup chocolate chips or walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips

Place batter in loaf pan sprayed with coconut oil/ olive oil spray. **Can top loaf with a sprinkle of oats before baking to make it pretty!!**

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Enjoy! Even John my pumpkin bread hating hubby loves this recipe

Monday, November 4, 2013

November Meal Plan

I can't believe we are down to only one full calendar month in this house! So this month I had to take an inventory of everything we have that needs to be used up and then use it up :)

Week 1:

Sunday-Pumpkin french toast

Monday-Honey Chipotle Tostadas

Tuesday- Coconut curry red lentils I plan on adding some red peppers for more veggies and color!


Thursday-Quinoa and Black Bean chili (we never got around to making this one last month, but I have all the stuff for it).

Friday-Balsamic glazed pizza. I made this last month and it was AMAZING!

Saturday- San Antonio!!

Week 2:

Sunday- Tuna Sushi

Monday- beans, rice and veggies.


Wednesday- Israeli couscous

Thursday-Pasta with fancy olive oil (we have been apart of an olive oil club for the last two years. Sadly, the movers won't move it so we have to to use it up in the next month)

Friday- Greek pizza. Another amazing pizza from last month. I still have all the fancy cheeses for this one too.

Saturday-Kate's Grilley cheese

Week 3:

Sunday- Shrimp


Tuesday-Barley salad

Wednesday- Roasted Veggie pesto phyllo

Thursday-Roasted squash salad


Saturday-BBQ pork

Week 4:

Sunday- My BIRTHDAY! I'm hoping to not have to cook :)

Monday- Black beans and sweet potato chimigangas

Tuesday- Fall veggie with Quinoa and poached egg I made this last month and it was amazing. I didn't use beets because they didn't have any at our supermarket. So I threw in zucchini and used my "power green" mix and welted it with the quinoa.

Wednesday-Wild rice salad

Thursday-Saturday-Austin! We are being super classy and going to a football game for Thanksgiving, and probably eating BBQ

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Black bean and sweet potato chimigangas

Ok, do me a favor and just commit to trying this recipe before you judge the ingredients.

It is an odd ingredient list.

But these are amazing!

I promise.

Black bean and sweet potato chimigangas

1 can black beans, or about two cups cooked black beans
1/2 sweet onion
1 clove garlic-minced
1 sweet potato-finely diced
1 zucchini-peeled and diced
1 red pepper-diced
1 c. chopped spinach
1-3 t. chili powder (depending on how hot you like it)
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. paprika
1 t. salt
1/4 c. grated cheddar
1/4 c. grated peper jack
Whole Wheat tortillas
Salsa or guacamole or avocado dressing

Heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add onion, garlic and sweet potato. Cook about 5 minutes until onions are tender and sweet potatoes start to soften. Add zucchini, red pepper and spices continue cooking until all veggies are soft. Stir in beans and spinach, stir until spinach welts.

Heat tortillas, fill with about 1/4 c. of filling, top with a little cheese. Fold in two sides, then the other two sides to make a little envelop.

Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

Top with salsa and enjoy

Friday, October 4, 2013

October Menu

It seems like menu planning/grocery shopping takes up a huge amount of my time each week (or every other week if I am on top of things :) So this month I thought I would experiment with a month of planning and shopping. That way each week I can just run in and get produce and not a week's worth of grocery. Then we have plenty of food on our hands if I can't make it to the store one week, or if the government closes the base grocery store (oh wait that happened).

I thought I would post my menu so next October I could do the same exact thing. We eat seasonally so it is hard to just rotate every month or two but we can at least rotate every month. We have a very simple outline for our meals: Fish Sunday, Mexican Monday and Pizza Friday. Then we usually do pasta once a week, beans once a week and then a salad or quinoa or something like that.

I have linked the recipes that have links-if they don't that means it is my recipe and I will post once I have cooked them just in case they don't turn out :). Enjoy!

Week 1:

Tuesday-roasted tomatoes and eggplant pasta-This sauce is so great! But to be honest it reminds me a lot of my favorite lazy day sauce: a jar of roasted red pepper and a can of fire roasted tomatoes with some garlic, salt and pepper. So if you don't want to roasted the tomatoes and peppers just do that. Oh and I used regular pasta-Texas isn't fancy enough for fancy noodles :)

Wednesday-out-this was unplanned, but John passed a very hard part of training!

Thursday-eggplant curry (I followed the recipe on the red curry paste for the sauce. Then stir-fried some eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and peanuts-yum!)

Friday-roasted red pepper and spinach pizza


Week 2:
Monday-sweet potato chimigangas

Tuesday-cocount lime pasta I always stir-fry my veggies and rice noodles. I then refrigerate for the afternoon and serve chilled. Very yummy!

Wednesday-Butternut squash salad

Thursday-Veggie chili

Friday-articoke and sun dried tomatoes pizza


Sunday-Salmon with sunshine rice

Week 3:
Monday-Veggie chili enchiladas

Tuesday-Pumpkin Mac and Cheese I'm not sure I will use this recipe. If you have a semi-healthy pumpkin mac and cheese recipe will you send it my way please? :)

Wednesday-Quino and squash

Thursday-Sweet potato and orzo

Friday-Butternut squash, grilled onion and balsamic pizza

Saturday-Breakfast for dinner


Week 4:


Tuesday-Stuffed peppers (this one is a must!)

Wednesday-Black bean, quinoa and pumpkin

Thursday-Pepper and cornbread salad

Friday-Greek pizza


Sunday-Fish cakes

Week 5:


Wednesday-Pumpkin Ravioli

Thursday-Halloween-I think it's a law to eat chili that night-right? So I will probably make egg rolls :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Autumn vegetables and red lentils

I found this recipe and made a couple of modifications. It was so good! John and I both loved it (Caleb's pickiness is at a new level so he eats nothing with any flavor). Very easy to make, and lots of flavor.

  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Sweet Potato, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 1½ cups dried Red Lentils
  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth/Stock
  • 1 cup Carrot pulp 
  • 1 cup Broccoli florets, sliced
  • 1 cup Baby Spinach leaves
  • 1 cup fresh Coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp grated fresh Ginger
  • 1 tsp Ground mustard seed 
  • 1 tsp ground Cayenne Pepper (less if you don’t like medium-level spiciness)
  • 1½ tsp ground Cumin
  • 1½ tsp Curry powder
  • ½ tsp ground Coriander
  • 1 clove fresh Garlic, chopped
  1. Assemble spices in a small bowl.
  2. Heat oil in large saucepan or frypan over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and sweet potato and sauté until onion is soft.
  4. Add spices and cook, stirring, until mustard seeds start to pop.
  5. Add lentils and stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add remaining vegetables and carrot pulp and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in spinach leaves until wilted.
  8. Serve topped with cilantro.

Israeli couscous with grilled squash and greek yogurt tandoori

I was on a quest to make a lot more dairy free recipes for my sister-in-law who is off dairy right now and I was feeling like a Middle Eastern meal-that was simple.

As I was making this I saw our greek yogurt and really wanted a tandoori sauce on this meal. But you could make it dairy free by using olive oil instead of yogurt. This was so simple and delicious!!

I used a Saigon Blend for this recipe. It is a blend of ginger, cumin, cinnamon, clove, salt, garlic, anise and pepper. I am not sure where you would get it, another option would be curry powder.

Israeli couscous with roasted squash and greek yogurt tandoori

1 c. Israeli couscous
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 T coconut oil
Curry powder or saigon blend
1/4 c. greek yogurt or olive oil
1/2 lemon-juiced
1 clove minced garlic

Cook couscous according to package direction. Sprinkle with salt.

Peel squash, cut into four long pieces. Brush with coconut oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Grill for 5 minutes per side, until nice and tender. Cut into chunks.

Combine greek yogurt, lemon and garlic.

Mix couscous, squash and dressing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Whole wheat spelt flax bagels with chia seed

I have a slightly illogical fear that John is going to die of cancer in his 40s. Not really illogical, that is when his father died, and almost every member of his family has died of cancer at some point. So I went crazy searching how to avoid cancer.

And now we put flaxseed in everything.

Probably won't cure cancer, but will possibly help some. Oh and chia seed. Those seeds my keep my hubby kicking it until he is 50!

But for real, I really wanted a healthy bagel recipe. I read that people should eat more spelt flour, so I use that. I added the seeds to add extra fiber to them. They are delicious but do take some time. Rolling out all those bagels takes some time. But it is worth it! A bagel and green smoothie is literally my favorite recipe.

 I adapted this from here. I triple the recipe because I make them to last us two weeks. They freeze wonderfully! Just cut them before you freeze them, then you just pull one out, pop it in the toaster and have a wonderful bagel every day.

6 t of yeast
4 1/2 T of sugar
3 3/4 c of warm water
4 1/2 c spelt flour
5 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
2 T chia seed
4 1/2 t. of salt

Pour the yeast and sugar into 1 1/2 c warm water. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture until it all dissolves in the water.

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.

Pour 1 1/2 c. warm water in the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed (I always need it all. Adding the flax and spelt flour will make it thick, sometimes I add a tablespoon more) You want a moist and firm dough.

Knead for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in oiled bowl. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until double in size (about one hour). Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into equally sized balls (my sizes vary between golf ball to tennis ball. It depends on how hungry I am! I so don't stress about the size, they will all turn out yummy in the end). Gently press a finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about 1/3 the diameter of the bagel and placed on greased cookie sheet. Repeat with all balls

Cover with damp cloth and allow to rest 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425

Bring a large pot of water with 1 T maple syrup to boil. Use a slotted spoon to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as fit in the pot (I usually do four at a time). Boil two minutes than flip and boil two more (you will want to boil them that long, this is a heavy dough, you want the bagels to be chewy).

After boiling brush each bagel with egg wash (1 egg white, 1 T water). Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Almond flour craisin chocolate chip cookies

I got this cookie recipe from my sister-in-law earlier this year. I love it! I consider this through and through a dessert but it is a healthier dessert so you don't feel guilty eating one or two. I only made two slight adjustments, the regular recipe is great but I do love agave and flaxseed. I also cut the chocolate chips and craisins in half because there is still plenty and they are a little healthier that way. I don't press mine flat like she does because I am just that lazy, and they are amazing still-but don't look anything like her picture. Also almond flour is super easy to make. Put some almonds in the blender, blend until flour consistency. 

Almond flour craisin chocolate chip cookies

1 3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
pinch salt
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
6 T all natural peanut butter
2 T honey
2 T agave nectar 
2 t vanilla
2 T water
1/4 cup dried no sugar added cranberries
1/4 cup chocolate chips 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease your cookie sheet lightly or use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a mixing bowl, stir together together the dry ingredients.

In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the peanut butter, honey, agave vanilla, and water until smooth. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and mix until well-combined (it may take a bit to come together).

Mix in the cranberries and chocolate chips.

Scoop dough in 1 T rounds onto your cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top is light brown. Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. They'll be pretty soft when they first come out, but they'll firm up after a few minutes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortilla with Coconut Oil!!

I love the idea of having everything in our life homemade. I also love the idea of having homemade items not full of shortening or butter or lard. So it took some looking and thinking and some trial and error but I found this recipe and it is amazing.

My reasoning behind this one is this: tortillas need lard, so any recipe with an oil is going to have a different texture than one with a solid fat source. So I had to do a lot of searching but I found one where you don't melt the coconut oil. It keeps the texture I would expect from a tortilla much better than the olive oil or canola oil recipes I have tried.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summertime Italian Pasta Salad

Yesterday while making my menu I had an insane craving for an old family favorite Italian marinated pasta. If you have ever been to a wedding or baby shower for anyone in my family you have probably had it. I pulled out the old ward cookbook and started writing ingredients I needed at the store. They I realized how awful the ingredients are in this salad. The dressing calls for 3/4 c. sugar-more sugar than oil or vinegar plus 2 T of salt. The other thing I didn't like was you added water to the dressing, I'm sorry but that is an insult to my fine olive oil to combine it with water.  So I changed it up a little, made it healthy, but still yummy and sweet.


7 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
1 cucumber diced
1 tomato diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1/4 c. sweet red onion (this might be a Texas thing, I have never seen sweet red onions expect at our farmers market-just the more reason to come and visit :)
1/2 jar artichoke hearts, diced
1/4 c. kalamata olives, diced
feta cheese

1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar 
1 T. sugar (I had to keep a little of the sweet)
1 t. salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t thyme
1/2 t basil

Cook pasta al dente. While pasta is cooking combine all dressing ingredients into a screw top jar-shake it. Combine pasta with veggies. Sprinkle with cheese. Slowly add and stir dressing. Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight. 

No bake quinoa and grains granola bars

I LOVE KIND Granola. It makes for the perfect on-the-go healthy snack (which has been me for the last little while). It has lots of different grains and no icky additives. The problem is it is expensive, and still processed to some extent. So I set out to make my own granola. I couldn't find a recipe that I just loved, plus almost everything requires baking or toasting. I am trying to only turn on my oven twice a week so baking is out of the question for me during this hot Texas summer. So I created this recipe. They are amazing. Extremely picky Caleb even eats them (really devours somedays he will eat five or six). They are also very easy. They only take about ten minutes to throw together, so I make them every couple of days and we have a great snack to turn to.

I would like to add that I really would like to add buckwheat and millet to this recipe, two things not found in the middle of no where Texas. If you are not in the middle of nowhere and have access to a health food store, pick some up and throw some in!

Granola bars

2 c oats
1/2 c craisins (I use all natural no sugar-they are amazing!) and dark chocolate chips
1/4 chai and flaxseed
1/3 c. pumpkin seed and sunflower seed.
1 c. quinoa (cook and cooled) and cereal (I use Kashi 7 grains)

1 t cinnamon
1/2 c coconut

4 T honey
2 T agave nectar
1 T maple syrup
1/2-3/4 c peanut butter
1/2 t vanilla

Stir together all dry ingredients. In a saucepan over low heat combine wet ingredients. Stir until combined, just melted and smooth. Pour over grains and mix (hands work best, wooden spoon is ok). Press into a 9X13 pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours until hard. Cut and enjoy.

All mix in are totally optional. Try different dried fruits, or nuts. You can get rid of the chocolate chips or add more. Every time I make them I do something different.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Put an egg on it:

Some weeks the meals just click. I plan around veggies and all veggies are used by the end of the week. I love that! This week is one I wouldn't mind repeating, and I hope that it is one you will try!

Sunday-Asain stir-fry quinoa salad (my creation)

Monday-Amazing BBQ (one day I will get around to posting my amazing potato salad recipe, and my broccoli salad recipe-today just isn't the day)

Tuesday-quinoa and beans burgers

Wednesday-mediterran sandwiches (my creation)

Thursday-stuffed peppers.

Friday- pasta with pesto. For the last little while I have been seeing recipes with a poached egg on top. I always thought that was really weird. Then I read an article by Fred Armisen about Portland that talked about how everywhere in Portland puts an egg on top. So I knew I had to try it. It is incredibly good! Instead of Swiss chard I used kale because I had that leftover from the peppers.

Saturday- DATE NIGHT!!! (seriously it has been over a month, and a very stressful month with the move. We all needed a break from each other!)

Sunday-Greek shrimp

quick and easy Mediterranean sandwiches with roasted red pepper and spinach hummus

With our little guy in afternoon swim this week we needed really easy dinners. This is so simple I can't even justify writing it out. I am always looking for a good sandwich combo and this hit the spot. Super simple-tomotos, spinach, cucumber, feta cheese. Throw it in a pita and top with homemade hummus. I used a can of chickpeas, a handful or two of spinach, half a jar of red peppers, lots of garlic, some salt and some cumin. I would just stop the blender, test it out and keep trying. We had this with organic sweet potato chips and it made for a great meal!

Vegetable Quinoa Bowl with sweet peanut sauce

Confession. I love eating dinner in front of the t.v. Always have and always will. Every week or so I ask John if we can eat once Caleb's down. It is my guilty pleasure and my favorite way to veg. I do try to at least make a good meal for these occasions so it isn't too white trash.

I was really excited to try this dinner. The recipe evolved because instead of sweet chili sauce I used hot chili sauce. In an effort to save my mouth I changed the recipe slightly. I also wanted to swap out of the chicken for something else. The other thing is I hate hate hate raw carrots. I am all around not a huge carrot person but I can only eat them cooked or in a smoothie. So that is how this came to be. Still very yummy, very healthy and in our case very very spicy.

1 c uncooked quinoa
3 chopped carrots
1 chopped red pepper
1/3 c. shelled edamame
1/4 c. chopped green onions
1/3 c. chopped peanuts
1/4 c. chopped cilantro

2 T hot chili sauce
1 1/2 T rice vinegar
2 T canned coconut milk (I used light)
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. natural peanut butter (I used homemade and as always it was amazing!)
2 T soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lime, juice
1/8 t ground ginger

Cook quinoa according to directions.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce.

Heat 1 T. grape seed oil in skillet or wok (olive oil isn't great for stir fry because it can't take the heat canola is the best alternative if you don't have grape seed). Stir fry onions and carrots about three minutes (again I hate crispy carrots-if you like them then go for less time). Add pepper, edamame and peanuts. Stir fry for another 3-5 minutes until desired crispiness (or not crispiness :) Add sauce for last minute of cooking. Coat vegetables with sauce as it thickens. Serve veggies on top of quinoa, top with cilantro.

Easy peasy, but seriously so yummy! This was pretty hot, so if you don't like hot cut back on the chili sauce. Remember you can always add more, but you can't take away.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Asian stir-fry quinoa salad

This dressing is one of my favorite dressings in the world. The salad it goes with is a delicious wonton chicken salad. The big problem is that my weakness is fried wontons wrappers. I was in the mood to be healthier than that. So I came up with this salad and it was wonderful!

Asian stir-fry quinoa salad

1 c quinoa
1 head broccoli
1 red pepper
2 carrots
Green onions
1/3 c. dry roasted cashews
1/2 c Mandarin oranges

1/3 c oil
3 T sugar
3 T red wine vinegar
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Dice veggies. Stir fry veggies in grapeseed oil. Add cashews for last minute or two. Remove from heat and mix with cooked quinoa. Allow to cool then add Mandarin oranges. While cooling whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (we had leftovers the next day and it was still amazing so I think this could easily be made in the morning or even the day before).

Like any good stir fry the veggies could be mixed up according to what your tastes are, or what you have in your fridge :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Black bean summer veggie salad

Today was one of those days where I didn't feel like cooking, but didn't feel like eating out. So I had to come up with something super quick and easy to throw together. The end result was very delicious! This is a great meal when it is hot and you don't want the oven on or slaving over the stove all day long. I have a feeling this will become a favorite during the hot Texas summer.

Black bean summer veggie salad

1 can black beans (I use vegetarian ones, very yummy!)
8 oz. sweet corn
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
1 avocado
1/2 T brown sugar
salt to taste
blue corn tortilla chips

Mix black beans and brown sugar, warm on stove. Mix corn with a little olive oil and roast in oven for 5-10 minutes (could be done in a skillet if you don't want the oven on-it's not even 80 today so the oven was fine today). Dice veggies. Mix beans, corn and veggies together-salt. Serve with salsa and crushed tortilla chips.
I am slightly without my camera charger here in the hotel, so all my pics are currently iPhone pictures :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

red beans and brown rice with cajun butter shrimp and peppers (lower fat version).

After our weekend in New Orleans we fell in love with Cajun food. We have been wanting red beans and rice for the last several weeks, so finally I decided to conquer this meal.

The problem with real red beans and rice is it is full of bacon, sausage and ham. That's just a little too much for me. So I cut the meat way back, but still ended up with a very flavorful dinner!

P.S. for real cajun black beans and rice add celery, I HATE celery and just can't have it in my food. Throw some in with the peppers and onion.

Black Beans and rice

adapted from Emeril Lagasse

3/4 lb red beans
6 slices bacon
1 green pepper-diced
1 onion-diced
1-2 t cajun seasoning
2 bay leaves
2 T fresh parsley (or 1 T dried)
2 t fresh thyme (or 1/2 t dried)
3 T garlic
5 cups water or broth (I think vegetable broth would be the best!)

Rinse and sort beans. Soak overnight and drain. Cook bacon in a large pot. Remove cooked bacon and cook onion and pepper in the bacon grease. Add cajun seasoning, bay leaves, parsley, thyme and garlic. Stir and cook until well mixed. Add beans and water and stir well. Bring to boil, the reduce heat and cook uncovered for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Cook brown rice according to package, add a bay leave while cooking.

Cajun butter shrimp and peppers

1/2 lb shrimp
2 T butter
1 red pepper-sliced
1 yellow pepper-sliced
cajun seasoning to taste

Sprinkle shrimp with cajun seasoning. Place in fridge for 30 minutes. Heat 2 T butter in skillet, add peppers. Sprinkle with cajun seasoning and cook about 3 minutes. Add shrimp, stir and cook 4-5 minutes more.

In New Orleans the rice is served in a lump, so I put the rice in the cup, backed it in and turned it over on the plate on top of the beans. Top with shrimp and peppers.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Honey Chipotle Pepper Tostadas

I love peppers and these peppers are my new obsession. I just cannot get enough of them. I made them twice in five days. They are good on just about anything, and I eat them plain. These tostadas were my first complete gluten-free meal and John's response was "I didn't think gluten-free could be so good."

Honey Chipotle Pepper Tostadas

1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 T. honey
1-3 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, diced
1 can pinto beans
1 c. brown rice-cooked
1/2 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. salt
1 avocados
1/4 c. plain greek yogurt
1 clove garlic
Corn Tortillas
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425

Combine rice with cumin, chili powder and salt and a couple drizzles of EVOO. Spread out on baking sheet and toast in the oven for about ten minutes-stirring occasionally. Rice should become crispy.

Heat a little EVOO over medium heat. Add peppers and cook for 5 minutes. Add honey and chipotle, stir and cook for a minute or two until the peppers are covered with sauce.

Warm beans on stove

Blend together garlic, avocado and yogurt until smooth.

Heat corn tortillas. Top with rice, beans, peppers, lettuce, salsa and avocado dressing. Enjoy!

Cajun Veggie Frittata

Last November we visited my uncle. He is a new bachelor and didn't have much in the kitchen, but he had the seasoning "Slap your mama." You can only buy it in Louisiana so he has it mailed to him in California. I figured this must be some good seasoning so we picked some up last month in New Orleans. It is now one of our only seasonings in our hotel for 8 weeks, so we have had everything seasoned with it over the last month.

One of my favorite was this frittata, easy to make, but amazing to eat.

Cajun Veggie Frittata

1/2 zucchini
1/2 yellow squash
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
5 eggs
1 T milk
1/3-1/2 cheddar cheese
1 t. cajun seasoning (more or less depending on how hot you like it!)

Roast peppers under broiler until skin is charred. Place in tubberware with lid on. Roast pealed and diced zucchini and squash at 425 for 10 minutes (sprinkle with a little olive oil first). 

Meanwhile peal and dice the peppers. Lightly beat the eggs, milk and seasoning.

Once the squash is cooked place all veggies in a strainer to drain liquids (I saved the juices because it made a great sauce for leftover veggies the next day).

Heat ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Pour egg mixture into pan, throw veggies then cheese on top. Allow to cook about five minutes or until almost set. Place pan in over at 425 for another 5-8 minutes until set.


*Since I was cooking veggies anyway I did a full one of each and then had veggies for lunch the next couple of days. Or make my phyllo dough sandwich the next day-kill two birds with one stone.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Roasted pesto vegetables wrapped in phyllo dough

After over two weeks on the road I just needed a delicious veggie packed dinner. I was having an insane craving for phyllo dough and pesto (I really don't know why those are not two foods I normal eat) so I came up with this little meal. John and I pretty much devoured it all in a matter of minutes after Caleb went down. So yummy!!

Roasted pesto vegetables wrapped in phyllo dough

1 zucchini-pealed and diced
1 yellow squash-pealed and diced
1 red pepper
4 handfuls spinach
1/2-3/4 c. pesto
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 of one pack of phyllo dough
Olive Oil spray

Roast red pepper under broiler until skin is charred. Place pepper in tubberware with lid on. Once it is cool enough to touch pull off the skin and cut into strips. Mix squash and zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 425 for about 10 minutes until cooked but not too squishy. Meanwhile place single sheet of dough on a cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil then repeat until you have about 8 sheets. Spread pesto over the dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Place peppers on one half of the dough and fold dough over. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mexican beans, rice, veggies with Avocado sauce

I know lots of people do "themes" for each night of the week, thus making menu planning easier. That just does not work with my personality. Not really sure why, it just doesn't.

The only exception is Mexican Monday's. This tradition goes back almost eight years now, before we were even dating. Aspen Grove, the camp we worked at together, always did Mexican Monday's and it was the best meal of the week. We have always done Mexican Monday's to remember the good ol' days.

This recipe is so easy it is laughable. However in the words of John "it is fantastic."

Mexican beans, rice and veggies with Avocado Sauce

Spanish brown rice
Refried beans without the refry
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 zucchini
1/2 c. corn
1 avocado
2 T. greek yogurt
1/2 T lime juice

Prepare rice and beans.

In a food processor combine avocado, yogurt and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Peel and dice zucchini, cut peppers into strips. Heat olive oil* in large skillet over medium heat. Add veggies, cook 4-5 minutes, then add corn. Salt to taste.

Place rice, then beans, then veggies on a plate. Top with avocado dressing. 

This would go great with a homemade wheat tortilla, I didn't think of that until too late so I served it with a flour tortilla. Very yummy!

*I used habanero olive oil, it adds a kick! I love it! If we didn't have that I would add a habanero pepper, or just a jalapeno pepper with the veggies.  
Iphone photo, I just don't have the patience to take a great picture of my dinner-I just wanna eat!

**I am not a lover of onions, but you could throw those in as well.

Spanish Brown Rice

I got this recipe years ago from my Dad. I have made it so many times I never even look at the recipe anymore. Now I have lost the recipe, but here is more or less how I make it.

Spanish Brown Rice

1 c brown rice (I use bastami)
1 clove garlic-minced
1/4 c. sweet onion (you can use any onion, sometimes I use shallots because I don't really care for onions)
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/2-3/4 c. salsa
1 T. olive oil

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Cook garlic and onions for about 2 minutes. Add seasonings and cook until hot but not steaming (you don't want to burn them). Add rice. Stir and cook about five minutes until rice starts to brown-don't burn it though!!

Add 1/2 c. salsa and 1 1/2 c. water. Bring to boil then simmer about 50 minutes. 

*if you want more of a kick add some hot sauce, or use more salsa and less water (3/4 c salsa and 1 1/4 c water)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Seared cod with fruit balsamic sauce

We have been waiting on military orders for about six months and we finally got them this week! This means we need to start preparing our freezers/fridge for moving. I had one serving of cod left in the freezer and wanted to use it up tonight. 

Of course I wanted something healthy, but I also wanted a yummy sauce to pour over it and my rice. I found this recipe and tweaked with a little. I didn't want a sauce that was too wine tasting, I wanted a sweet sauce. 

We also need to start using up some of our olive oils and balsamic vinegars. We belong to a club where we get amazing olive oils and vinegars quarterly. The problem is we have too much (if that is even possible) to move with us. We have an apricot balsamic vinegar that has a very sweet taste to it, I saw it sitting on my counter and knew it was perfect.

Seared cod with fruit balsamic sauce

2 cod fillets
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1 egg
sea salt and pepper
2 T. grapeseed oil
1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400

Place egg in a shallow dish, beat slightly. Pour bread crumbs into a shallow dish.

Heat oil in an ovenproof pan until very hot.

Rinse fish and then pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Dip the flat side of the fish in the egg then the bread crumbs. 

Sear fish in oil.

Place skillet in oven. Cook 3-4 minutes, flip fish and cook another 3-4 minutes. 

Rub fish with a little butter. Serve over rice covered in sauce with fresh lemon juice on top.

balsamic sauce
3/4 c. fruit balsamic vinegar
1/3 shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 T half and half (I used fat free)
1 T butter
1 dash thyme
Parsley leaves

In saucepan combine vinegar, thyme shallots and garlic. Cook over medium heat until reduced. Once sauce is reduced to a syrup slow add half and half while whisking. Bring to a slight simmer. Add butter and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and add parsley (I used two dashes of dried parsley-our fresh herbs section of the commissary is lacking a little right now). 

*olive oil cannot withstand the high temperate of this recipe. Grapeseed oil is a healthier alternative to canola or vegetable oil

Mediterranean stuffed tomatoes with quinoa and vegetables

The other day I was feeling in the mood for something light for dinner, with lots of flavor, veggies and not a salad. I kept craving this stuffed cherry tomatoes I made for John's promotion in May, but I knew that wasn't quite "meal" material. I took that idea and ran with it. I LOVED the end results. Light, flavorful and lots of yummy veggies plus super nutritious quinoa.

Mediterranean stuffed tomatoes with quinoa and veggies

3 large tomatoes
1/4 large onion
1 clove garlic
1 red pepper
1 zucchini
1/2 cup spinach
2 T. Greek kalamata olive roasted garlic spread (this could easily be made in the food processor by blending olives, roasted garlic, olive oil, and a little crushed red pepper).
Lemon juice
3/4 c. quinoa
Feta cheese
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400

Cook quinoa according to package directions

Finely dice veggies. Heat 1/2 T olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, pepper, and zucchini. Cook about five minutes or until veggies soften. Add spinach and cook 1-2 mins more.

Cut off tops of tomatoes and take the seeds out. Brush the outside with olive oil and place on cookie sheet.

Combine quinoa, veggie mixture, olive spread and feta cheese to taste. Stuff each tomato with 1/3 of the mixture. Top with more feta and drizzle with a little olive oil. 

Bake for 15-20 mins. Squeeze lemon juice on top before serving.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spinach Coconut Rice

Spinach Coconut Rice

1-2 T olive oil
1/4 chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 c. brown rice
Coconut milk
Two handfuls spinach

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until softened, stir in rice. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Following package directions replace coconut milk for water. Cook according to package directions. Once rice is cooked add spinach, cover and let sit 5-10 minutes.

I served this with salmon covered in pomegranate glaze-so so so yummy! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A little more than just a BLT

Our first summer in Montana my sisters came to visit. All of us headed up to Glacier National Park. We stayed in Whitefish and enjoyed a fun family dinner at a local restaurant. Both my little sisters orders a BLT without lettuce and tomato. They were both shocked to be served bread with bacon on it. 

A couple weeks ago I was talking with one of these sisters while doing my shopping. I passed the bacon and just had to have a BLT. I mentioned this to my sister and she makes some joke about the BLT incident. One she was trying to pin it all on my other sister and two it still wasn't clear if she knew what really is on a BLT.

When I got home I decided to make a BLT that would provide my sisters with more than just bacon. Super simple, but so much yummier! Plus I would like to think with the added veggies a little bit healthier :)

Whitefish BLT's

Center cut bacon
Tomato slices
Red, yellow and orange pepper slices
BBQ sauce (preferably homemade)

Toast two slices of bread, cover one with mayo one with BBQ sauce. Then pile everything else on. Enjoy!

p.s. dear sister, please make sure you cook the bacon first. I know I didn't write that, and it seems like you need a little extra help when it comes to BLT's :) lots of love!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Curry Broccoli Slaw Nann Bread Sandwiches

Our lives have been completely up in the air for about five months now. We know we are moving, we just don't know when or where or what John will be doing once we do. We were told (by a pretty high ranking officer) that we would find out John's next job by then end of the week, two weeks ago. Now they are saying another two weeks, maybe more maybe less. Most days our spirits are high as we wait the news we laugh and joke most nights that "tomorrow is the day" because we have been told that for about three months.
But about every three or four weeks I have one of those days where the uncertainty just weighs on me. Yesterday was one of those days. There was a couple of other things we were waiting on and it seemed like all we were getting was unclear answers or no's. John sweetly offered to take us out for dinner, I asked for a raincheck because probably by next Friday and still no news I will need that. Instead I wanted to create a meal, something new and fun to take my mind of things. Also something simple because I really didn't want to have to think. 
I had some leftover broccoli slaw from a recipe I had made earlier in the week that I wanted to use up, but curry was sounding good too. Then I remembered we have some Curry Mustard. That's when it all came together. It was so yummy and simple.

Curry Broccoli Slaw Nann Bread Sandwiches

3 T Plain Greek Yogurt
2 T Curry Mustard (we use "Global Gardens" for our fancy food items, you could just combine mustard and curry powder)
1 t Lemon Juice
1/2 T Rice Vinegar
1/4 C Toasted Slivered Almonds
1 Apple-Diced
1/2 Bag Broccoli Slaw
Nann Bread

Whisk together the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar-set aside. Combine broccoli slaw, apple, and almonds. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Refridgerator 30-60 minutes (this will allow the slaw to soften slightly). Cook nann bread according to package. Brush with olive oil and fill with slaw. Enjoy!