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January 28, 2014

Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie

Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie

I am a 30 something feminist with a master's degree. I also chose to stay-at-home with my kids. Right now my teenage self is cringing, so are some of the people probably reading this post. Before explaining my main point, a little background info is in order.

I grew up with a mother who was a giant feminist. I'm pretty sure she actually did burn her bras and was very vocal about her opinions. It didn't help that I grew up in Seattle and learned very young that strong outspoken women were awesome and should be appreciated. By the time I was a teenager I had decided that I would go to college, find a great job and excel in my field. This also entailed not getting married or having kids. The thought of being married, much less being a stay-at-home mom was something I thought was the opposite of being a feminist, my mother had raised me to achieve all the things that she hadn't (college, a great job etc). My father thought that I should do whatever I wanted, that no boundaries should stand in my way. I pretty much did exactly what I set out to do. I started a job at 17. It was supposed to be a summer internship, it turned into a 7 year job that helped to pay for school. I went into a field of geography that was dominated by men, I was the only girl in many of my classes. I excelled and was content.

Then I moved to West Virginia and met my husband. He challenged everything. Not only was he smart, but he called me on the things that everyone else was to afraid to. And I started to change. I realized that my life was about choice, my choices not someone else's. Two years after getting married I decided to be a stay-at-home mom when I got pregnant with my oldest. I no longer saw staying at home as something to be settled for, but rather something that I could excel at.  And I'm good at it. I still get people asking me why I stay-at-home with so much work experience and a degree. Don't I feel like I'm missing out on something? Honestly, I don't. I have experienced both sides and decided on the choices that are best for me. And I'm still a proud, smart and overly educated feminist.
Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie
Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie



I am a big smoothie fan, I drink one most days for breakfast. They are a nice way to get protein in the morning and I can drink them on the go to drop my oldest off at the bus. For the last couple of weeks I have been making a new smoothie recipe for  Banana-Cocoa Soy Smoothies from Eating Well magazine.

Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie
Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie

This recipe has 5 ingredients. It takes 1 hour of total time (including freezing), 5 minutes of which is active and makes 1 serving. I did make a few changes to original recipe. First, instead of soy milk I used almond milk. I prefer almond milk and it's the normal milk that I drink. Second, instead of honey I used Stevia. If you find that the smoothie is too thick you can add additional almond milk to make a thinner consistency.
Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie
Chocolate, Banana and Tofu Smoothie

I really love this smoothie recipe. The flavor of the chocolate and banana together is delicious. If you aren't a big chocolate fan you can reduce the total amount down to 1 tablespoon. I prefer the recipe as is since I love the taste of chocolate. It's a nice way to start the day with 17 grams of protein per serving!

For the recipe go to Banana-Cocoa Soy Smoothie. 

January 24, 2014

#Sponsored Skinny Limits 3-Day Juice Cleanse Review #momsmeet


Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetsSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product. 
Skinny Limits 3 Day Cleanse (One Days Worth)
Skinny Limits 3 Day Cleanse (One Days Worth)



I grew up in Seattle during the beginnings of the juice craze. There were juice bars on as many corners as coffee shops in the neighborhood I lived in. Granted I lived in a young urban neighborhood that prided itself on being healthy and full of natural food stores and farmer's markets. I had my first taste of wheat grass juice (which I'm still not a huge fan of) before I was a teenager. In high-school my mom bought a juicer and I made fresh juice most mornings before school and the various sports activities I was involved in (swimming and dance and later marathons). I normally would also have a small amount of almonds butter or eggs and would feel great until lunch. Then I moved and went to through school and left my juicer behind. I went through a couple of years where my eating habits weren't as great as I would have liked until I got pneumonia a couple of years back. It was a quick wake up call that my potassium was low and I needed to start thinking of my health first not as a last priority (as moms I think a lot of us do this all the time-the kids come first and our needs are often an after thought). So I transformed my eating habits, more vegetables, less sugar and after finding out I have Celiac disease I gave up gluten. The changes were drastic. I felt better, more energy, less crabbiness and an overall sense of better well being. However, it's still a 95 percent of the time deal. I do my best to eat healthy, but I'm human and have the days where I forget to eat until noon or eat a gluten free brownie for breakfast.

Since I grow up around juicing, but haven't done much of it (with the exception of smoothies) for a long time I was intrigued when I was given the opportunity by Skinny Limits and  Moms Meet to try a 3 Day Juice Cleanse.

So what exactly is a 3 Day Juice Cleanse? For 3 days you drink six 16oz juices. The juices are cold-pressed and contain fresh produce (nearly 50 pounds worth). The standard 3-day juice cleanse kit includes 18 bottles of juices total, in varying flavors and fruit/vegetable combinations. Skinny Limits juices are completely natural and raw, made without pasteurization or processing. Plus they are vegan and gluten-free. The retail price of a 3-day Skinny Limits juice cleanse (18, 16oz bottles) is $147.

The four juices that I tried as part of my cleanse were: Pure and Simple, Balance, Scorpion Lemonade, and Crescent Moon. You drink three Pure and Simple juices a day, one Balance, one Scorpion Lemonade and end the day with one Crescent Moon. Here is a break down and pictures of each of the juices:

Skinny Limits Pure and Simple Raw Juice
Skinny Limits Pure and Simple Raw Juice

The Pure and Simple juice contains the following: kale, spinach, parsley, cucumber, apple, and lemon. This is the juice that you drink the most during the cleanse, three times a day.

Skinny Limits Balance Raw Juice
Skinny Limits Balance Raw Juice

The Balance juice has the following ingredients: kale, spinach, parsley, cucumber, apple, lemon, and ginger. This juice is drank once a day in the morning.

Skinny Limits Scorpion Lemonade
Skinny Limits Scorpion Lemonade 

The Scorpion Lemonade juice contains the following ingredients: lemonade: Lemons, agave nectar, cayenne, and filtered water. It is drank once a day.

Skinny Limits Crescent Moon
Skinny Limits Crescent Moon 

The Crescent Moon juice has the following ingredients: raw cashews, vanilla bean, cinnamon, agave nectar, coconut oil, himalayan sea salt, and filtered water. This juice is the last juice consumed in the evening.

So I know you are all wondering what my results were, here is my breakdown:

Pros:

  • I loved the Scorpion Lemonade juice. The combination of tart and spicy was perfect for me. I am a huge fan of spicy foods and adding lemon into the equation was delicious. This is something that I would purchase at the store (wish it was available here). It was so me! 
  • The Crescent Moon juice was a nice way to end the day. Since it was the highest juice in terms of fats and protein it made it easier to go to sleep with a full feeling stomach. 
  • If you drink the juices on a schedule of every 2-3 hours they are satisfying and each serves it's purpose at the time of the day you drink it. 
  • You think a lot about food during the cleanse. If you are trying to jump start a healthier eating plan or going vegan this might be a way to transition in. You definitely think a lot about your eating habits when you are only drinking juice for three days. 
Cons: 
  • I was hungry! I know that people claim that when they are on a juice cleanse they are never hungry. They must live on another planet than me. I was starving. I normally eat a lot of calories everyday. I exercise a lot during the week and snack throughout the day. Not eating made me hungry, not a little bit, but a lot. 
  • I had a horrible migraine the entire second day. It was bad, I was sick to my stomach and sensitive to light. 
  • I think I am the only person that has ever done a juice cleanse that gained weight. That's right I gained a pound and a half. Not sure how that works. I did lose it again within a week, but I was not one of those people that lost 10 pounds. I don't necessarily see this as a con, but just something to be aware of. 
Overall, I thought the juices were great. My favorite was the Scorpion Lemonade. If the juice was available locally I would buy it occasionally. I have to be honest, I stopped the juice cleanse half of the way into the third day. My blood pressure dropped and my sugar crashed (I checked both at home-I have kits for both). I decided that I needed to eat in order to have both of them come back to normal levels. For the majority of people this would never be a problem, I just am always sensitive to changes in diet. 

I did think a lot about food on the cleanse. Since I was thinking about food so often I was able to notice a few habits that I could work on. I have a tendency to not eat vegetables at breakfast. After the cleanse I started adding spinach to my smoothies in the morning. I feel better and I am glad that I made the change. 

For more information go to the following links: 



Have you ever tried a juice cleanse? Did it work for you? 

January 23, 2014

Sponsored Review: Quilted Northern Bath Tissue

Disclamier: I received this product for free from Smiley360 in exchange for my honest review. You can join Smiley360 here!
Quilted Northern Bath Tissue
Quilted Northern Bath Tissue 





As most of you know I live with three males (my husband and two sons). Since I mostly blog about food I will make this as discreet as possible. With three males in the house the bathroom often becomes a topic of conversation, mostly due to something being wrong. The toilet seat being left up, the rug around the toilet being wet (need I say more) or general bathroom mess. I like my bathroom to be clean and have products that work. Some might say that I can be a little obsessive. In my ideal bathroom everything is arranged where I can find them and every product works perfectly. Obviously that would be a fantasy world. I have tried just about every toilet paper product under the sun. Some are too strong (and clog our toilet), some rip to shreds when my boys use them and some just don't seem to actually work. Due to all the bathroom trial and tribulations I have endured I was intrigued when I was given the opportunity by Smiley360 to try Quilted Northern bath tissue in my household.

Quilted Northern Pack
Quilted Northern Pack


I was sent the following items to review:
  • a 12 pack of Quilted Northern bath tissue
  • a bath sponge
  • body butter
  • shower gel


My youngest stole the sponge as soon as I opened the box. He has been using it ever since when he showers, he has fallen in love with the thing and won't let anyone else touch it. So his review for the sponge is a thumbs up. 

The scent on the body butter and shower gel are light. They don't have a lot of scent which is something I like. The shower gel goes on smoothly and washes off completely. The body butter is thick, which is nice for the winter. It might be a little strong for summer, but it's perfect for this time of the year. 

Given the ups and downs I have with toilet paper I was worried that the toilet paper might clog my toilet or just plain not work for my family. Happily the toilet paper worked well, it didn't clog my toilet, and my kids had no problems using it. It held up with no fingers poking through, or being torn when used by aggressive kid hands. 

For more information go to the following links: 

  • Like Quilted Northern on Facebook http://on.fb.me/166bgyK
  • Explore Emily's World, get a coupon and learn more about the strength, flexibility and softness of Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong here: http://bit.ly/1aduylj

January 22, 2014

Homemade Smoked Almonds

Homemade Smoked Almonds
Homemade Smoked Almonds



My oldest made his own sandwich today. While that might not seem like a big deal, it is in my household. I live with three males. Most days there are dirty socks, dishes and messes all around my house. I have been working with my kids to make them more responsible. When I am in the middle of ten different tasks it can be hard to drop everything to make my kids a glass of milk, a sandwich you name it. When my son came into the living room with a perfectly cut and made sandwich I was happy, but assumed I would walk into a mess in the kitchen. After walking into the kitchen I was more than a little surprised. The counters were wiped down, the bread and sandwich ingredients put away and the kitchen looked cleaner than I had left it. There are many moments during the day that I feel like I try teaching my kids and nothing sinks in. Then there are days like today where I know that I am at least doing something right.

I am a big snack eater. My kids have inherited this trait and we go through a ton of snacks every week. I try to keep the snacks I make healthy and with protein so my kids stay fuller and don't have sugar crashes. This week I tried a new recipe for Homemade Smoked Almonds from the Taste of Home website.

This recipe has six ingredients. It takes 45 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 9 servings. I followed this recipe pretty close to the original. The only changes I made were to add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke instead of a 1/2 teaspoon. My liquid smoke was a little old and had lost some of its flavor so I figured adding a larger amount would be a good idea. Make sure to stir the nuts every 10 minutes so they get evenly browned and salted.

While this recipe states the almonds are smoked, they are more flavored than smoked. The main flavor that comes through is garlic. They are still delicious and my boys and I ate the whole batch. If you want a stronger smoke flavor you might want to adjust the amount of liquid smoke and garlic powder. However, I liked the almonds as written, the garlic flavor was delicious and made for a nice salty afternoon snack.

For the recipe go to Homemade Smoked Almonds.

January 20, 2014

Pickle Brined Chicken

Pickle Brined Chicken
Pickle Brined Chicken



When most people think of cooking from scratch they think of breads, soups etc. However, there many kitchen ingredients that can be made from scratch, saving not only time, but money. Spice mixes can be expensive at the store, but easy and inexpensive to make at home. Plus the taste of homemade spice mixes is fresher and can be the difference between a good and great dish. Later in the week I will share a recipe for homemade chili powder. The amount of heat can be adjusted for families with kids or increased if you like things with a little kick. I also make homemade Greek seasoning and various Indian spice mixes (since it can be hard to find some of them in my area). Homemade spices can last up to 6 months when stored in an airtight container and make throwing together a great meal that much easier. Plus since there are so many recipes available on the internet now making spices from scratch is beyond simple.

On to the recipe! My family is obsessed with pickles. The males in my house could eat pickles three times a day if they had their way. Last week I tried a new recipe for Pickle Brined Chicken from the January 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. 

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 8 hours and 40 minutes of total time (including brining), 25 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I only made a few changes to the original recipe. First, I used two jars of 32 ounce pickles. My store does not stock 64 ounce jars of pickles so I bought two smaller jar instead. I found that the thighs took longer than the suggest oven time to fully cook. The thighs that I bought were on the larger side and took closer to 25 minutes to fully cook. Most of the time I make my recipes gluten free (so that I can enjoy them). However, I did not eat this meal so I used regular all-purpose flour to dredge the chicken. I chose to pour the pan sauce over each serving instead of pouring it over the entire dish as suggest by the original recipe. I prefer serving sauces at the table so each person can chose the amount of sauce they want to eat and it helps to keep the meat tender on the plate. 

Everyone in my house loved this recipe. My oldest son said this was the best chicken recipe I had ever made and eat four pieces of chicken in two days. The leftovers didn't last very long at all since my kids kept going back for more servings over and over again. My husband thought the chicken tasted like a popular chicken restaurant's chicken sandwiches (which is a compliment coming from him). All-in-all a great recipe. 

For the recipe go to Pickle Brined Chicken. 

January 18, 2014

Cabbage, White Bean, and Potato Soup

Cabbage, White Bean, and Potato Soup
Cabbage, White Bean, and Potato Soup



Somehow my two kids just ate six bananas. I don't even understand how it's possible for two boys to eat six bananas in ten minutes. When I went to the grocery store today I bought myself a bunch of fruit for smoothies. Apparently that was not a great idea. I bought two big banana bunches and my kids have already eaten an entire bunch. Now I get to go back to the store tomorrow to buy more. They also ate the entire can of smoked almonds I bought myself for snacks. My husband and I joke that we need to get our own cupboard and put a lock on it, I'm beginning to think it's not such a bad idea. I dread the thought of having two teenage boys, I think I throw in the towel already.

With it being the middle of winter I have been making a lot of soups and stews. I love having a hot meal when the weather is cold outside. Last week I tried a new recipe for Cabbage, White Bean, and Potato Soup from the January 2014 issue of Southern Living magazine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 10 cups. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First, I used small red potatoes cut into fourths instead of fingerling potatoes. Fingerling potatoes were overpriced at my local grocery store and would have cost 2 1/2 times as much as the red potatoes I bought. For the chicken broth, I used homemade. I have discussed many times about the benefits of homemade stock, it's cheaper, tastes better, and you can control the amount of sodium. I chose not to add Parmesan cheese as a topping for my serving, but my husband and two boys did.

If you are serving this soup for dinner it needs a sandwich served with it in order to be filling. Alone it doesn't have enough protein or fat to be filling for most adults. It would be great with grilled cheese or a grilled (or not) turkey sandwich. The flavors are great and with a sandwich it would be a quick evening meal.

For the recipe go to Cabbage, White Bean, and Potato Soup.

January 15, 2014

Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup

Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup
Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup



I have a ton of cookbooks. The bad thing is I never really use them. That's right I am horrible about using my vast supply of cookbooks. Most of them were either gifts or belonged to my mother. I love looking through them and finding ideas, but I really if ever actually follow a recipe from one. A great deal of it has to do with the fact that I find so many recipes on the Internet. Finding a recipe in a cookbook can involve looking through an index and flipping through multiple books. Most of the time I just want to find something quickly. That's where online recipes are great, I can type in the ingredients or recipe I am thinking of and thousands of recipes appear instantly. There are a few things that I prefer with cookbooks. My mother's handwritten notes and modifications being the biggest. Both my mother and grandmother loved their cookbooks and wrote in the margins with the changes that they made. There is such a sense of history and connection to these notes that they are a big part of the reason I love my cookbook collection. An online recipe can have reviews, but it has far less tangible history linking it to the past. Plus I still love the feel and smell of books. There is something so romantic about standing in the middle of a very old library, it feels perfect to me.

During the winter I make a large number of soups and stews. I am always cold in the winter and soups does a great job of warming me up. Last week I tried a new recipe for Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup from the January 2014 issue of Southern Living magazine.
Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup
Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 45 minutes of total time, 25 minutes of which is active and makes 10 cups. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First, I make my own chicken broth. As I have stated numerous times before I prefer homemade stock since its inexpensive, lower in sodium and tastes better than store bought. Plus it is so easy to make! For the toppings I did not add chicken or tortilla chips. Instead I used cheese and served corn tortillas on the side.

The only thing I would change in this recipe would be to use a sweet or yellow onion instead of a red one. The red onion was a little strong, a sweet onion would be perfect. That aside my family liked this recipe. My husband thought it would be better with black beans instead of the squash, he isn't a fan of the current food trend of putting butternut squash in every soup recipe. The soup reheated very well the next day and made enough servings for two meals, which is always nice when following a food budget.

For the recipe go to Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup. 

January 12, 2014

Tofu and Veggies with Peanut Sauce

Tofu and Veggies with Peanut Sauce
Tofu and Veggies with Peanut Sauce



As I have discussed numerous times before I live with three males (my two boys and my husband). My boys are both very tall and thin (like my dad) and eat all the time. I think by the time they are teenagers I will just go to the butcher and purchase the whole cow cut-up (you can do this and it's awesome for big families!).  All three of the males in my house are big meat eaters, especially pork. However, I am the odd one out. I was a vegetarian for over 10 years and eat two out three meals everyday without meat. I am attempting to convince the rest of my family that vegetarian food can be just as delicious and filling as meat. It has been an uphill battle, but I'm still trying. I'm particularly adamant with my husband since his father had triple bypass just a few years back. Adding more plant based proteins is always a good idea for heart health.  This week I tried a new recipe for Tofu and Veggies with Peanut Sauce from Redbook magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 45 minutes of total time, 30 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. Make sure to fully squeeze all the water out of the tofu. It really has to be pressed firmly or the tofu will not crisp up in the oven. Even with all the squeezing I found that my tofu needed 30 minutes in order for the vegetables and the tofu to fully brown. Additionally, I used the whole eggplant instead of half. My family loves eggplant and I didn't want to waste the other half. Finally, I chose not to add the chopped peanuts on top. Honestly, I forgot and it was fine without them. 

I was so happy with how well this recipe went over with my family. My husband and kids loved the tofu and eat their entire servings. The only change my family would make was to add another vegetable besides the green beans. My oldest loves green beans, but my husband would have preferred another vegetable or just additional eggplant. Overall, this was a great vegetarian meal option and something I would make again. 

For the recipe go to Tofu and Veggies with Peanut Sauce. 

January 10, 2014

Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Strawberry Syrup

Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes
Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes



For the longest amount of time I loved flavored coffee. I would buy it whole bean and grind it every morning. Then I got tired of the extra work and started buying ground. This week I realized I now hate flavored coffee. I sat down with my morning cup and thought yuck, I really just wanted a cup of dark roast. It's funny how as we get older foods and drinks that we used to love just don't hold the same appeal. I hated beets growing up. However, a couple of years back I discovered roasted beets and I absolutely love them. I have converted pretty much everyone who has tried them, even the massive skeptics. Beets are also delicious hidden in baked goods, you can make a beet cake that is simply delicious. The flip side is also true. The foods that I loved in my 20's I really don't enjoy in my 30's. I used to love breakfast pastries, now I either can't have them or simply don't like sweets that early in the morning. There are still a few foods that have held on for the long haul, mostly peanut butter and popcorn. They are still the comfort foods that I turn to. However, this weekend I will be buying dark roast coffee, the flavored coffee is just not going to be a part of my late 30's. Apparently my food tastes have outgrown the need for sweet coffee in the morning.

My youngest is in a massive growth spurt. He has been eating everything in sight, especially strawberries and blueberries. When we where at the store this last weekend he wanted me to buy a pancake syrup with corn syrup and fake berries. Instead I agreed to make homemade berry sauce for breakfast. So this week I tried a new recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes from Allrecipes.com and made a homemade Strawberry Syrup.
Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes
Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 25 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 12 pancakes . I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First, I used coconut flour to replace the all-purpose flour used in the original recipe. I also replaced the butter with coconut oil. I bought a huge container of coconut oil and I have been trying to use it in recipes since I already have it in the cupboard. I found that the pancakes browned a little quickly on my griddle, so you might want to set the heat on a lower setting. Finally, I added 1 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract before adding the waffle iron. I love adding vanilla or almond extract to pancakes and waffles, they provide a great taste.

These pancakes turned out really well. They were sweet, without being overly so and rose nicely for gluten free pancakes. My youngest was a huge fan of the homemade strawberry syrup I made. It was easy, just 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of frozen strawberries and 1 cup of water. I allowed the mixture to cook until thickened and then added a small amount of cornstarch to make it a little thicker. It was great on the waffles and would also be delicious in Greek yogurt for breakfast. If you aren't a fan of traditional sugar coconut or date sugar or sugar substitute should also work.

For the recipe go to Buttermilk Pancakes.

January 7, 2014

Caramel Chicken

Caramel Chicken
Caramel Chicken



Recently social media and I aren't getting along. This week has been especially bad, I think I need to just stay off-line. It seems that all anyone wants to do is argue. Someone will post that they like dogs and 5 different people will argue that cats are better. Everything seems to be a contest or argument.
My favorite this week has been all the arguing about whether is was a good idea for schools to close in negative zero degree days. It's great that you walked 50 miles to school in a snow storm growing-up, but honestly I don't really care. I know that sounds harsh, but reading rant after rant on one opinion or the other just makes me tired. My day is tiring enough, I don't want to debate every little thing online, it's tiring. I miss the days when people posted photos of their kids or a great recipe they found. Now everything seems to be about creating controversy in order to have a larger number of likes or page views. I miss when content was king, with social media out to make money now everything revolves around being seen and with that comes way too much drama for my tastes. Then again maybe I'm the only one that thinks it's a bad thing....

With the weather being cold I have been making soup left and right the this week. Unfortunately the light has been horrible to take photos and I just haven't been motivated. Thus, many of the great soup recipes that I have tried won't be on my blog (sorry!). I did make a great chicken recipe this week and that is what I'm sharing today. I tried a new recipe for Caramel Chicken from the October 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 1 hour 45 minutes of total time, 1 hour and 15 minutes of which is active. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First, I only used chicken thighs instead of a mix of thighs and legs. My kids are on a chicken thigh kick and it's the only chicken piece they currently will eat. Finally, I used homemade chicken broth. I use homemade broth almost exclusively, the taste is much better and I can control the amount of sodium in my recipes.

My family absolutely loved this recipe. The caramel sauce turned out fantastic. I let my sauce cook down until it was nice and thick and then poured it over the chicken. The result was as good as the best Asian restaurant in our state (according to my husband who has loved the same restaurant in Beckley forever). This is a recipe I plan on making over and over again in the future. (Sorry that the photos is so horrible, the light has not been on my side in the last couple of weeks, hopefully it will be better the rest of the week!).

For the recipe go to Caramel Chicken. 

January 2, 2014

Sausage and Grits Quiche

Sausage and Grits Quiche
Sausage and Grits Quiche 



My youngest starts kindergarten next year. Registration is next month and I can't believe how fast my babies are growing. For that matter I can't believe how much closer to 40 I am becoming. It seems that when you are in your 20's time moves slowly. You think of all the things that you have ahead of you. Then you have kids and by the time your in your late 30's time starts to move a lot more quickly. It seems that the last 8 years have moved in fast forward. It will be nice to have more free time when my youngest goes back to school. However, I also have to decide if I am going back to work, and the bigger question will there be a job to go back to when I do. I have a master's degree, but the field that I went to school for is no longer employable. Got to love how that works. So I have a lot of decisions to make in the next 8 months, but my youngest is just excited. He can't wait to join his older brother at the same grade school. I'm just nervous all around, but I know it will all work out in the end.

On Christmas day I made two breakfast recipes. One that we could all enjoy that was gluten free and one that everyone except me could eat. For the gluten free recipe I decided to try a recipe with grits. The recipe I tried was for Sausage and Grits Quiche from the November 2013 issue of Southern Living magazine.
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 2 hours and 10 minutes of total time, 35 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I only made a few changes to the original recipe. I left out the plain cornmeal on the bottom of the pie pan. Honestly, I forgot it at the store and greasing the pan worked out fine. I found that I had to tent the quiche the last 15 minutes of baking time and increase the total baking time by approximately 10 minutes. At 55 minutes the middle of the quiche was not fully set.
McClelland Park Huntington, WV
McClelland Park Huntington, WV 

I really liked the flavor of the sausage and cheese together. Using grits in a quiche was a nice change of pace and I loved that it was an easy gluten free recipe. This is a rich recipe so you can slice the pieces small in order to have a larger number of servings. It also freezes well, I froze half of the quiche in pieces and have taken out individual servings for breakfast over the last week.

For the recipe go to Sausage and Grits Quiche. 

January 1, 2014

Nutty Grain and Oat Granola

Nutty Grain and Oat Granola
Nutty Grain and Oat Granola



It's January in West Virginia. December was warmer than usual, we had a few days that were in the upper 70's. However, now it's January and the weather is going back to normal. When I first moved here I had experienced very few winter days that got below 20 degrees. Seattle gets snow and cooler weather, but not cold weather. The first winter I was here and it hit 5 degree with wind I froze. It only got worse when my oldest started school. Standing at the bus in 5 degree weather with two kids is horrible. There is no way to stay warm in that weather, even in layers. So for at least the next 2 1/2 months my heat will be blasting and I will be in sweaters and wool socks. I don't do winter, I can do 100 degree days in the summer much easier. Plus I cringe when I see my gas bills, heating a house in cold weather can be brutal on the checkbook. Maybe it would be easier if I was a bear and just went to bed for the entire winter. I would wake up warm and refreshed with no cold weather in sight.

I have been trying to keep healthier snacks around the house for my boys. If given the option they will grab a bowl of sugary cereal before anything else. While cereal is okay occasionally, my husband's idea of an entire box a day doesn't work for my mindset. This week I tried a new recipe for Nutty Grain and Oat Bars from the January 2014 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.
Marshall Plane Crash Memorial Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Marshall Plane Crash Memorial Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 60 minutes of total time, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 16 servings. I did make a number of changes to the original recipe. First instead of amaranth I substituted sesame seeds. For the nuts I used almonds and increased the dates to 8 since mine were small. After making the bars and letting them cool they feel apart. I made sure to follow the recipe exactly and pack down the bars, but they still feel apart when cut. I decided to crumble the bars and add a small amount of honey and put them back in the oven for 15 minutes in order to make granola. After cooling I broke the pieces into granola size pieces.
Huntington, WV from Spring Hill Cemetery 

As bars this recipe didn't work out very well. When made into granola this recipe was perfect. My husband and I really liked the sweetness and taste from the dates and the granola made for a great afternoon snack. With the changes that I made to the original recipe this granola turned out well. A nice afternoon snack or breakfast served over Greek yogurt.

For the recipe go to Nutty Grain and Oat Bars.
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