Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Introducing: The Hubby Cake

   Better late than never. That's the motto I'm going with for this post. 

Background: For the last few years, Hubby and I have been working on keeping to a healthier diet. 
   Partially for Hubby's health and partially just to treat our bodies better. 

   With that in mind, most of my Pinterest hours are spent on healthy alternatives for things we usually would splurge on. About a year ago, I found just a picture on Pinterest and it got me thinking. We don't usually do birthday cakes for the hubby, but this one seemed perfect. 
    Now, don't get me wrong. Part of the fun was watching the Hubby's face go curious and concerned every time I mentioned his "birthday cake." The fear of having to eat something unhealthy, or pretend to like it was evident. 

   Let's get down to the details. You'll need to go to the grocery store or your local produce market and have a hay day in the fruit section. The great thing about this idea is that it can be different every time you make it. No matter what, however, you'll need a watermelon. 

Begin by cutting your watermelon to the size and shape of the cake you'd like to create. Use your creativity! I started out with a circular cake, but it could be square, a hexagon, etc. 

   Now is when the fun begins. I found this cute little set of fruit/cookie/etc cutters at TJ Maxx and figured they'd work well. I cut up some cantaloupe in nice flat slices in order to use the cut outs best.

   From here, I cut out some fun shapes and began to figure out a pattern to create on my "cake."

      The other fruits that I chose had some great colors and went with my beautiful reds and oranges.

You've gotta love blues and greens

From here on out it's just a fun exploration in patterns and shapes that you can arrange on your "cake."
For my first try, I went relatively simple. But after this success, I have all kinds of new ideas floating around my head. In the mean time, here are the final images of my Healthiest Birthday Cake Ever!

   Needless to say, the hubby was delighted and there was NONE left by the time the two of us finished with it!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dinner: Quick and Easy

   Well, ladies and gentlemen, today has been productive to say the least. I am proud to say that, during this lovely, rainy, Harry Potter Marathon day, I got plenty done! I am about to show you a DELICIOUS dinner that is simple and easy. (And as usual, Pinterest finds...)

Today's meal: Crock Pot Pesto Ranch Chicken and Crash Hot Potatoes

   Now, I will start with the chicken. The original recipe for the Pesto Ranch Chicken is made with chicken thighs. However, I had a whole chicken to cook, and that is what I did! Let me tell you, this chicken is stupidly easy and tastes fantastic.

You Will Need:
*1 whole chicken
*1 packet of dry Ranch Mix
*1-2 tablespoons Pesto
*1 cup Chicken Broth (again- I make mine with bullion cubes)

   In your crock pot, put the chicken broth and whole chicken. Take your Pesto and spread it all over the chicken. Follow by sprinkling the Ranch mix on top of this. Guess what??? You're done. Seriously, done. Doesn't it feel wonderful??? I left mine in the Crock Pot on high for about 3 hours.
  Now, while the hubby may have commented on this lil dude's color. (I believe the words Swamp Chicken were used...haha) We both found it moist and flavorful!

   Next up are the potatoes, and let me tell you. They are WORTH IT. Again, a Pinterest find, however, my recipe is slightly altered. In the future (because this will happen frequently now) I will use smaller potatoes, probably new potatoes.

You Will Need:
*Potatoes (enough for each person to have 2 or 3)
*Olive Oil
*Salt (I used a my favorite go-to spice, a sea salt and garlic grinder)
*Freshly Ground Pepper

  Begin by boiling your potatoes in salted water until they can be punctured easily by a fork. (Also pre heat your oven to 450)
    Once the potatoes are done, place them on an oiled cookie sheet. I used Olive oil and a brush to make sure the whole sheet was coated. I also had to cut my larger potatoes in half due to their size. You may not need to.
   The next step is to take your potato masher and mash each potato so that it is relatively even and flat. After each potato is mashed, brush it with Olive Oil and season it with salt and pepper.
   Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake your potatoes for about 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees. They will be gloriously golden and crispy when they are done.
   Again, this recipe comes with a warning. They were dangerously fantastic. To the point, that both hubby and I are afraid, that no matter how many I make in the future- we will eat them ALL. So, fair warning, eat at your own risk!

   The beauty of this meal is that I was able to accomplish even more while my crock pot chicken was cooking! While dinner was cooking, I enjoyed way too much Harry Potter and did my nails. I had seen the idea of a "gradual" french manicure look using glittery nail polish. I experimented with this using what I had in my polish collection.    

   I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I may try different methods of applying the glitter in the future. However, if you'd like to try this exact look, I used two coats OPI "Passion" and then topped that with gradual layers of OPI "Happy Anniversary."

   Now, while you may be impressed by some of this. I feel as though you need to be even more impressed. And here is why. During this entire day of productivity, there have been 2 very adorable BABY BUNNIES hanging out in my backyard. That's right. I got ALL of this done, while spending far too much time gazing out my kitchen window. These two little dudes have been hanging around and munching in our backyard for days. I am very hopeful that these adorable ones will be residents for the near future. They are too sweet and cute, and I spend altogether waaaay too much time marveling in their adorableness.

   Well, that's it from me for now! As always, if you ever try any recipes, please let me know how they turn out! I'd love to hear what works or doesn't work for you. Good night and enjoy!


Monday, July 15, 2013

BBQ Dinner

     Well folks, after a wonderful week at the beach I am back and ready with recipes! 

     With summer heat coming on strong, here are some perfect recipes for a BBQ. They are part of the smorgasbord of foods that were served yesterday to about ten hungry friends! Both of these recipes have been recent repeats for me and the family. 

     The first recipe I'd like to introduce you to is a fantastic marinade that cost me less than $3. This is NO JOKE! As long as you have oil and water in your kitchen, you need only purchase 2 items. So, run to the grocery store and pick up one packet of Old El Paso Original Taco Seasoning and a lemon. I found this recipe thanks to my niece, who was only eating taco meat. I was looking to fix the sister-in-law a meal and thought this might be a nice change that my sweet pea would enjoy too! 

Now, to save on clean up, I prepare everything in the plastic bag that I marinade my chicken in.          

Step 1: Put the packet of seasoning in the bag. 

Step 2: Add to this 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of water. 
Step 3: Add in two tablespoons of lemon juice from your lemon. 

Step 4: Before adding in chicken breast, make sure the ingredients are mixed together.
Step 5: Add in approximately 4 chicken breasts to marinade. 

You can leave them in the fridge overnight, but I've had success with only a few hours in the fridge too. 

Step 6: Now, I've cooked my chicken two ways after this step. Both in a frying pan and on the grill. 

I am partial to grilling because I think it gives the marinade the chance to caramelize and form a nice crispy outside.

Recipe #2 was the perfect pairing for grilled chicken on a hot day! I give you, Summer Pasta Salad! 

This delicious dish is something I stumbled on when I was looking to use up some random foods left in the fridge! 

You will need the following ingredients:
* 1 Box uncooked pasta
*3 cups grape tomatoes cut in half
*2 cups zucchini sliced and quartered (I have also used cucumber to substitute and it's just as good!) 
*1/2 red onion, finely chopped
*7 tbsp light mayo
* 2 and 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
*2 tbsp fat free Greek yogurt
*2 tsp mustard (yellow or Dijon) 
*1/4 tsp oregano
*1/4 tsp garlic powder
*salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: First cook your pasta according to the side of the box. Rinse with cold water and put to the side. In a large bowl, combine the onion, mayo, vinegar, Greek yogurt, mustard, and spices and mix well. Add tomatoes, zucchini (or cucumber) and pasta and toss well. 

Lucky for me, there was some left over after last night's BBQ!! Let me tell you, it might be even better a day later! Pasta salad is one of those foods that tastes fantastic a day later because it gives the flavors added time to develop and meld together. 

Alright ladies and gents, that's it for today! Look forward to some crafting posts later thanks to a lovely trip to bead mecca! As always- I hope you enjoy and please let me know if you try any recipes out! I'd love to know how it goes for you! Stay cool! 


Monday, July 1, 2013

Breakfast is Served!

Hi all!
       It's been a week or so, and let me tell you, it was busy and fantastic. The last few days have included my golden birthday, giving the blog a facelift, and a brand new camera. (Which was used for today's post!) Speaking of which- it's time to get down to business! I've promised you breakfast, and I'll deliver. Not to mention, that breakfast is healthy, delicious and lasts me about a month!!! WHAT?!?! I bring you Baked Oatmeal Muffins-individual sized baked oatmeal:

     This recipe makes about 30 muffins.

*2 eggs
*1 t. vanilla
*2 c. apple sauce
*1 banana (mashed)
*1/2 c. honey
*5 c. rolled oats
*1/4 c. flaxseed meal
*1 T. ground cinnamon
*3 t. baking powder
*1 t. salt
*2 3/4 c. milk
optional toppings: chocolate chips, raisins, walnuts, etc.

     Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. After this, you're going to combine the eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and honey. Sometimes when I'm having trouble mashing my banana I'll microwave it for about 30 seconds. Seems to help the process quite well. Also- have you ever tried this trick?? When putting something sticky in a measuring cup, you'll have less trouble getting it out if you do this first. Fill your measuring cup with really hot water and dump it out. (no need to dry it) Immediately fill with your sticky substance (honey in this case). The honey will come out much more easily! 
This is what the initial mixture looks like! (eggs, vanilla, applesauce, etc.)
     Next you are going to add in the oats, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix this well. Your mixture at the end of this will almost look like wet granola. Observe: 
     After this, you are going to add your 2 and 3/4 cups of milk. It will seem like a lot- but once you mix it in you will have a more liquid-y texture. This is ready to be put in the muffin tin. You can fill the tins almost to the top. They don't rise much. 

     The last step is to add your toppings! Now- here is an additional note. You can also mix in fresh fruit with this. I have previously mixed in fresh blueberries and loved it! With the fresh fruit, you'll mix it in before separating into the tins. This time I did half chocolate chips (for me to indulge :) ) and half raisins. (Hubby loves raisins!) Bake for 30-35 minutes until tops are golden brown. Last additional note! I have successfully frozen these and thawed them out for later. During the school year I bake a whole batch and only thaw enough for each week of school. They stay well and taste delicious even weeks later! 

I hope this is something you find useful and helpful. Don't forget to comment below with ideas of projects for me to try over the summer! 

Enjoy the newest addition as well (thanks to the hubby!)- the ability to pin my blog to Pinterest! Hovering over any picture will lead you right to pinning a recipe to your boards! Use the function well!