Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Kitchen's Secret Weapon

I have mentioned in many of my basil recipes that I use basil in a tube that I find in the fresh herb section with the produce. This is an ingredient that I keep on hand and it brings freshness that you just can't get throughout these colder months. Today I spread it very thinly on bread, topped it with thinly sliced and seasoned tomatoes and muenster cheese. A quick but gourmet lunch for the hubby hard at work. I just appreciate this ingredient so much that I wanted to share it with you and now it can be a secret weapon in your kitchen too! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls

If there is anything that would make your homemade pizza night be a little bit more yummy, it's using the leftover pizza dough to make these warm and fragrant cinnamon rolls. When I make my pizza dough recipe, it makes enough dough for two very large pizzas. Being that I only need one pizza to feed my little family, I sometimes stear away from baking up the other crust for future pizza and bless my family with some delicious cinnamon rolls for dessert and breakfast the next morning. Have a fun family game night with pizza and cinnamon rolls!

Prepare the pizza crust from my homemade pizza blog post.

Ingredients for the rolls:
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg

Ingredients for the icing:
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Roll the dough out into a thin square. Spread with half a stick of softened butter. Spread the brown sugar evenly over the dough, going clear to the very edge. Sprinkle very heavily with cinnamon. Sprinkle the nutmeg. Roll the dough towards you keeping it very tight and even down the edges. Cut the log into thirds. Cut those 3 into thirds to get 9 rolls. Place into a greased 9x9 pan. Cover with a clean towel and raise for an hour. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Don't let them get too brown.

Whisk the icing ingredients together until it's a thick syrup consistency. If yours ends up too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too pastey, add another splash of milk. Easy! Pour icing over them while they're still warm... Devour! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lemon Basil Pasta with Lemon Parmesan Chicken

A light and flavor packed meal that tastes like you're eating at a gourmet restaurant but is so easy it could practically cook itself! My kids loved it and it filled their bellies with great nutrition. What more could a busy cook ask for?!

Ingredients for the marinade:
1/4 cup olive oi
1 tsp each of salt and pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 lemon, zested and juiced (catch the seeds)
1 tsp basil paste (a tube in the produce dept. with the fresh herbs)
4 chicken breasts sliced thin

Ingredients for the pasta:
1 box of whole grain pasta- boiled
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons
3 TBSP basil paste
1 tsp garlic powder

Begin the marinade around lunchtime. Add all the ingredients into a gallon zip lock bag. Massage and shake the bag around. Refigerate. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and begin baking 20 minutes before you start the pasta.

Prepare pasta and set aside. Heat oil on low in the pasta pan. Whisk in the seasonings. Toss the pasta in the oil. Done. You can dice the chicken and toss or serve it on top of the pasts. Whichever you and your family prefer. A great springtime addition would be asparagus!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Morning Smoothie

This past August, I began to make changes in my "diet". I had always been under the impression that I was a healthy eater. Lots of organics and homemade options to substitute  the store bought items. But it's not until I really began to look into it that I realized just how much I was eating. Little bites of the kids' snacks, an extra cookie or bowl of cereal while watching evening t.v. and just how often that $5 pizza was ending up on the dinner table. I chose a 17 day "diet" because it was part diet and part cleanse. After the first couple of difficult days, I was on my way. Now almost 25 pounds lighter, I'm happy to have created new habits that I will be practicing for many years to come. I decided to add this smoothie to my blog after being questioned by people, I run into, about what I had done to lose the weight. It's encouraging, of course, to hear that others are noticing, but just as encouraging to get them on their way down the path of healthier living.

1 cup of water
2/3 cup of frozen berry blend
5 frozen strawberries
1 tsp of Stevia blend
1/2 cup of  1% or 2% cottage cheese 
1 scoop of Swanson's protein powder
hand full of fresh spinach (I buy the organic in the plastic container and store it directly in the freezer)

Here is the link for the protein powder I use

Here is a link for the Stevia that I use 

Some of my health tips:
~I stuck to protein and fruits in the morning and then protein and vegies from 2pm on
~ No eating after dinner. Decaf is a good way to have something in the evening
~ Buy the small squares of good dark chocolate and enjoy one in the afternoon
~ Slowly try to get to where you enjoy your coffee with just a bit of cream or even black. If you're hooked to a flavored creamer, this may be very difficult... but surely worth the reward.

Lunch and snack ideas:
~ Celery or Apples with natural PB
~ Cucumber slices and cheese stick
~ Vegetable and feta frittata
~ Good quality deli meat wrapped with cheese

The good news is that when you've lost the weight you wanted, then whole grains and other good carbs can be added back in small amounts.

Be encouraged. Any change towards a healthier body is a good thing. One meal at a time.