Eat Your Veggies with Breakfast

We all know veggies are good for us to eat, but sometimes it’s hard to get all of our servings in at lunch and dinner.

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You can make all kinds of veggies for breakfast: spinach, kale, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini and more. Two of the easiest ones I find to chop cook and mix in with eggs are peppers and onions.

For breakfast today I chopped a 1/4 cup of Yukon Gold potatoes, a few slices each of red and green p stop peppers and sweet onions. Sauté veggies in a little butter or olive oil until slightly browned. Then either fry or scramble some eggs with them and serve.

Congratulations you just  got more veggies in your day!

Perfect Hot Chocolate (Not Cocoa)

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Get warm on a cold Florida night (temps in the 50s). Recipe courtesy of Savvy Eats:

Perfect Hot Chocolate

Yield: Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 oz semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces or shaved
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-3 T sugar (optional, to taste)

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, mix the chocolate, cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of the milk over low heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted.
  2. Add the rest of the milk and the salt. Stir, then allow to heat the rest of the way through.
  3. Stir in sugar to taste. Pour into a mug and top with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired.

Menu for the Week of Dec. 15

Sunday:

  • Grilled Fish. We were lucky enough to have some mahi-mahi that was caught just days ago and tasted oh so good off the grill from a friend!
  • Macaroni and Cheese. I’ve become a huge fan of this “Stop Top Macaroni and Cheese” from Alton Brown. if you can make the boxed stuff, you can make this. Here’s the best part, the cheese is real and powder that you add water to. Come on, you can do it.
  • Green Salad. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we’ve discovered that salad tastes better with goat, feta or parmesan cheese on top. Mix in some red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrot, olives and anything else you like.
  • Chopped Veggies for the kids.

Monday:

  • Grilled Bratwurst. Buy fresh brats if you can find them at your local store. I picked up some “made in store” ones from Whole Foods that I can’t wait to eat tomorrow.
  • Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash. Slice them lengthwise about a half-inch thick. Drizzle a little olive over them and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Grill them around 5 minutes per sound until browned to your liking.
  • German Potato Salad. This one from Whole Foods looks good, but make any kind you like.

Tuesday:

  • White Chicken Chili. Somehow we never seem to write down the ones that we like. This one from Food52 looks really good though. If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments area.
  • Homemade bread or some Tortilla Chips to Dip. This no-knead crusty bread recipe I found is amazing! I will be posting about it soon, but if you’ve read this far, make it. It’s easy (for real) and very good.

Wednesday:

  • Left-overs or Take-out Night

Thursday:

  • Taco Night! We’re going with good old ground beef tacos this week. Make your own taco seasoning. It’s easy to throw together with seasonings you likely already have.
  • Rice. My boys like rice. A lot. We have a rice cooker which makes life easy.
  • Beans. Make some black, pinto or refried beans to have on the side.

Friday:

  • Falafel with Yogurt Sauce. Going vegetarian one night this week. If you’ve never eaten a falafel, you must try it, and unlike others these are baked!

Menu for the Week of Dec. 1

After a couple weeks of Thanksgiving planning and then eating, I’m back to sharing my menus here with you all. Enjoy!

Sunday

  • Steak (grilled is my preferred cooking method for steak).
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Garlic bread

Monday

  • Tomato soup. This is a homemade soup that is so easy to make you will not ever want to eat it out of a can again. I recommend this one from Michael Chiarrello. My alterations are not roasting the tomatoes (unless you really want to) and doubling (or more) the tomatoes.
  • Bread. After getting a bread machine last year for Christmas, I haven’t looked back and love making homemade bread.

Tuesday

  • Turkey Tetrazzini with Butternut Squash Sauce. Check out this recipe to use any leftover turkey you might still have.The great thing about this “light” version is that you’re not using anything “low-fat.” I’ll save the reasons for why this is good for another post. Instead it’s lightened up with other real food ingredients.
  • Green Salad. Bored with your typical green salad? Throw some feta or goat cheese in it for something different.

Wednesday

  • Left-overs or take-out night! Instead of waiting till the end of the week, give yourself a break in the middle.

Thursday

  • Shrimp tacos. Yum! These tacos from the Pioneer Woman look delicious! Can’t wait to eat them. My family prefers flour over corn tortillas. That’s the biggest change I’d make.
  • Mexi-rice. There’s probably a recipe somewhere for this, but here’s all you have to do. Cook some white or brown rice. Then in a saute pan, melt 1 TB of butter over medium heat. Pour in 1/2 to 1 cup of corn kernels. Cook corn until it starts to brown. You can also add in onion, chopped tomatoes red pepper, etc. Whatever you like. Once corn is browned a bit, add the rice into the pan and cook with the corn for a few minutes and season with 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Mix well and serve.
  • Pineapple chunks. Serve some fruit with your dinner every now and then.

Friday

  • Chicken Broccoli Wreath. This is a recipe I picked up from Pampered Chef a while back. You can tweak it here and there, but overall it’s a great dish and kids seem to like it too. If you can find them, buy Immaculate Baking Company crescent rolls instead of “regular” brands. You can also make your own “dill mix.”
  • Green Salad.

Menu for the Week of Nov. 10

Enjoy!

naanSunday:

  • Naan bread pizzas – pepperoni on top for the boys and chicken / red onion / red pepper / mushroom / goat cheese / pesto for us! Do yourself a favor and make some homemade Naan bread. It was even easier than I thought. You only have to knead it for 3 minutes. It was the best I’ve ever had and made delicious flat-bread pizza. If you don’t have time, pick up a package at the store. The trick to homemade pizza is using just enough sauce and cheese. It takes less than you think it will. That will keep it from getting soggy. Back at 400 for 8 minutes or so.
  • Salad – bibb lettuce, roma tomato chopped, half an avocado chopped,  red onion, goat cheese, red wine vinegar and olive oil drizzled on top with any of your favorite seasonings.

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • Soup night! Oh my. This Provencal Vegetable Soup from Ina Garten is amazing. I made this on Friday and it was so good! Make it up Monday evening so it’s ready to eat Tuesday. The chopping takes the longest part. It doesn’t need much time to cook. If you don’t have the time to make the “Pistou” then you can sub it with some store bought pesto and then mix in a little tomato paste. It added a great complex flavor to it.
  • Serve with some fresh bread.

Wednesday:

  • Leftovers or Take-Out

Thursday:

  • Grilled Boneless Pork Loin Chops, Brined and Honey Glazed – Easy and juicy pork chops! Two things I always want in pork chops that I cook. Serve with some Chardonnay or Riesling.
  • Roasted broccoli – Chop broccoli, drizzle a little olive oil over it, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness.
  • French fries – Chop up a fresh potato or buy some Alexia brand frozen ones. Those are my go-to for quick fries.

Friday:

  • Sweet and Sour Shrimp – Yes you can make this take-out staple at home. It’s that easy! Make sure you buy Florida or Caribbean shrimp and nothing from Thailand please. You will be glad you did for both the flavor and knowing you supported good business practices.
  • White or Brown steamed rice – If you don’t have a rice cooker yet, you want one. Even people that cannot make rice can make it in one of these. In Japan, everyone uses them. You don’t have to spend much to get the job done.

Menu for the Week of Nov. 3

Every week it’s my goal to have our family’s dinner menu prepared on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes it happens as planned and sometimes it’s a work in progress. Here’s our menu for this week. You definitely need to try out the easy to make spaghetti sauce from Sunday another day this week.

Sunday:

  • Spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce from Giada De Laurentiis. This was great. My only recommendation to tweak the recipe is once you’ve sautéed the veggies, puree them with a stick blender if you have one or mash by hand (if you don’t have one, put this on your wish list. They come in super handy).
  • Roasted turkey breast. Make this or any other meat to have with your pasta or make it a vegetarian night and omit it.
  • Green beans. I used 16 oz. frozen cut green beans. Sautee them in a pan for a few minutes until thawed and warm. Add a tablespoon of butter and lightly brown. Dump in 1/4 cup or less of white wine, 1 small tomato chopped, dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Let cook on low until desired tenderness.
  • Olive oil, rosemary bread. Just like the bread from Macaroni Grill but better! Plus it has mostly whole wheat flour. I did the dough in my bread machine on the dough cycle, then let it rise on the counter before baking.

Monday:

  • Quick chicken tacos. Stop by the store and pick up a rotisserie chicken, a package of small tortillas (flour or corn), lettuce, salsa, greek yogurt (did you know you can replace this for sour cream and get 23 g of protein per serving?) and maybe some black beans. Pull the chicken off the bones and heat if needed. Fill up your tacos and enjoy!
  • Fresh Raspberries. While you’re at the grocery store, stop by the produce section. If your family doesn’t like berries, serve some sliced apples or some other fruit.

Tuesday:

  • Steak. You can go all out with your cut of beef and get a Ribeye or NY Strip, but some top sirloin will do just fine. Here’s the trick. Put your steak on a plate and season well with Montreal Steak Seasoning (or any other of your favorite blends). Rub it into both sides. Let sit in the fridge on the plate for at least an hour up to overnight. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to grill, let sit on the counter. Preheat your grill at Medium / Medium-High depending on your grill. If the steak is about 1.5 inches thick grill it for about 5 minutes per side max. Use the poke test (shown in this short video) to see if it’s done. Put onto a clean plate or cutting board and cover with foil. Let rest before slicing at least 5 minutes, but 8-10 is good. Slice against the grain and serve.
  • Braised Fennel with White Beans. My son picked out fennel one day while shopping at Whole Foods with me, so we found this recipe to try. If you’ve never had fennel before, you have to try this. If you don’t eat meat, this is perfect too.
  • Eggplant Chips with Basil Yogurt Dip. Who knew eggplant could be this good?! If you don’t have yogurt, use a little sour cream instead.

Wednesday:

  • Leftovers or Take-out

Thursday:

  • Shrimp and Grits. There are a lot of good recipes for this out there. You can find at least 10 on Food Network alone. My biggest recommendation is to use good quality grits. Never use instant (repeat to yourself) and look for whole grain grits that have at least a couple of grams of fiber. My favorite are from Bob’s Red Mill. Publix sells them. Variations on all of the recipes include using milk and / or chicken stock in place of some or all of the water, using peppers or tomatoes in with the shrimp, etc. Find a recipe you like and play around. Here’s one from Bobby Flay.
  • Roasted Okra. Slice them, drizzle, sprinkle and put in the oven – no more sliminess! Voila.

Friday

  • Roast Beef. I always wanted to make roast beef so that it sliced thin for sandwiches at home and was juicy. One day I found this recipe from a newspaper in Oregon. It works! Only ingredients are beef and salt. You need a couple of hours at home to cook it and plan to start it the night before by letting it rest in the fridge. Check out the recipe.
  • Salad. Bored with the same old thing. Try this. Chop up some romaine lettuce, onion, semi-ripe pear, goat cheese crumbled, tomatoes, cucumber and this balsamic vinaigrette that is my family’s go-to dressing.
  • Bread / French fries / Potato Chips. Enjoy something fun here. It’s Friday!

Cooler Weather Means It’s Chicken Pot Pie Time

Finished Pie!I’ve made some good chicken pot pies through the years, but the one I made yesterday was so tasty! I will be keeping this recipe to use again. Like other dishes, better quality ingredients mean a better finished product.

My recipe below is one I tweaked from Simply Scratch and it makes enough for two single-crust chicken pot pies. Don’t be afraid of the butter and milk in the recipe. Use low fat milk if you must but please use real butter.

INGREDIENTS:
1 whole chicken (organic preferred) – quick method is to buy a ready made rotisserie chicken.
1 stick of Butter, divided
2 whole Carrots, peeled and diced small
2 Celery Stalks, diced small
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 small Diced Yukon Potato
1 medium Sweet Onion, peeled and diced small
16 oz. bag of Frozen Peas
1/2 cup Frozen Corn
3 cups Chicken Broth, warmed – Use homemade from the Whole Chicken you just made if you can.
1-1/2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (use regular Whole Wheat or White if that’s what you’ve got on hand)
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoons Black Pepper, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 teaspoon Dried Sage
1 Package store-bought Crust. I used a box from the Immaculate Baking Company or a Homemade Pie Crust recipe.
2 9-inch pie pans or 6 (10-ounce) Ramekins

TO COOK THE CHICKEN: Place the chicken in a large pot and fill with water up high on the chicken. Throw in some salt, pepper and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Let cook for about 30 minutes until cooked through. Remove chicken to a cutting board and let cool for a few minutes, then remove all meat and put into a bowl. You may have some extra meat to use for another recipe also.

TO MAKE THE POT PIES: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease pie pans with a little butter or olive oil.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven.

Add in the diced carrots, onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the diced potato and season with a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the carrots are soft {but not too soft}.

Now add in the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and let that melt. Once melted add in the half cup of flour and stir often while it cooks for 2 minutes.

Pour in the 3 cups of hot chicken broth and the 1-1/2 cups of whole milk. Let that simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened 5-8 minutes.

Next add in the frozen peas, corn, cooked chicken, dried parsley,thyme and sage. Stir. Taste add season further with up to a teaspoon more of salt and a little more black pepper if desired.

Set your two pie plates next to each other and scoop the goo evenly into each pie plate.

Pies - ready for crust

Let them cool down a bit before placing the pie dough over top and crimping the edges. With a sharp knife make slits for ventilation.

Slide the pot pies into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden. I like to put foil or a crust guard over my crust so it doesn’t get too dark. That’s personal preference.

Remove and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

NOTES: *For a glossy top crust, try beating an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush over top before baking.

Menu for the Week of Oct. 27

Hi all – So this is a day late. Mix and match the days to fit your schedule.

Sunday:

  • Homemade tomato soup (vegetarian) – You can go all out and roast the tomatoes yourself (like in his recipe) or take my short cut and buy fire roasted tomatoes. Get the whole peeled ones in the can (28 oz.). If you like it with more tomato flavor, feel free to add another small can too (14 oz.). The only two things I do to my soup differently is add a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity and if you don’t roast the tomatoes, then cut the olive oil in half.
  • Fresh baked bread – If you have a bread machine, you have to try this bread recipe. It’s super easy and you’ll have homemade soft bread in 1 hour. Sub 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 of the cups bread flour called for.

Monday:

  • Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken and Yellow Rice) – This is a staple if you live in Tampa. I’ve tried other recipes and this one is good and easy! Serve some black beans and a salad on the side and you’ve got a great meal. Some red sangria would go nicely too.

Tuesday:

  • Flounder picatta – If you like fish like my family does you will want to keep finding new ways to serve it. This one looks great! Can’t wait to try it out.
  • Green beans – Start with fresh or frozen green beans. If fresh, snap them. Heat a large pan with a lid over medium heat. Drizzle some olive oil once around the pan. Toss the green beans in and saute for a few minutes until lightly browned. Season with some salt and pepper. Add 1 clove fresh minced garlic (or a few shakes of garlic powder). Pour 1/4 cup of water in the pan and cover for 8-10 minutes until the tenderness you like.
  • Have some bread left over from Sunday if you still have some around.

Wednesday:

  • Crockpot Pulled Pork – You can find all kinds of recipes to help you out here. The basic ingredients are one 2 lb. pork roast (tenderloin is usable, but not as good as top loin or boston butt for flavor), 1 onion, 1 bottle of your favorite bbq sauce, 1/2 cup of other liquid: chicken stock, pineapple juice, root beer, beer, etc. Season the meat with salt and pepper, slice the onion and layer it on the bottom of your crock pot, put the meat in, then pour the liquid and at least 1 cup of the bbq sauce in. Save the rest of the sauce for your sandwiches. Cook on low for 8 hours. Here’s a good example.
  • Buns. I like making own from this recipe, but if you get them at the store, I definitely recommend them from the bakery and not from the bread aisle.
  • Pickles
  • French fries (cut up a potato and roast in the oven, or pick up some frozen ones: Alexia or the “Simply” Ore Ida. The old school fries have much more than potatoes, oil and salt in them.)

Thursday:

  • It’s Halloween! Have some left overs, take-out or eat at a neighbor’s house.

Friday:

  • Herbed Turkey Breast – Who needs Thanksgiving to make some turkey? Whole Foods has it on sale this week.
  • Polenta – Lots of recipes out there. For those of us down South, it’s basically a slight variation on grits. Here’s the trick for polenta or grits, you must buy quality corn grits / polenta. Plus quality grits will have a few grams of fiber, so please stay away from the Quaker stuff. Bob’s Red Mill is available in many stores and is a favorite of mine. They even come in a gluten-free or organic variety.
  • Salad
  • Veggie sticks for the kids
  • Homemade balsamic dressing. Once you make your own dressing, you will not want to buy it from the store again. This is all you need (adapted from Emeril): 1/2 cup of good balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil (the light stuff is only for cooking fish and even then you don’t really need it), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 3 cloves of garlic pressed, 1 tsp. dijon mustard. You can add another dried herb if you’d like. Sometimes I do a couple dashes of basil. Put all ingredients in a shaker / cruet and shake until well blended.

Breakfast Cookies and Muffins!

Here are two recipes that you can make, eat and save some of for later! One is sweet and one savory.

“Oatmeal & Cherry Breakfast Cookies”
Made these today and they were so good! All four of us enjoyed them. The boys kept smiling saying “cookies for breakfast!”
Great served with coffee or milk.
I found the recipe in a book called “Clean Eating for Busy Families” and you can find it here at Edible Phoenix.
With oats, whole wheat flour, fruit, nuts, milk and a little oil, it provides a filling and lasting breakfast at home or on the go. I used raisins instead of cherries, because that’s what I had on hand. The only substitution I may do next time would be to cut the sugar down. It calls for 1 cup of brown sugar. I think you’d be fine with 1/2 or 3/4 cup.

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“Ham & Cheese Muffins”
These are great for breakfast with or without an egg on the side. I’ve got some in the freezer right now and they heat up real quick.
I found this recipe at Weelicious. It’s a great recipe site for families.

Coffee. It All Starts With The Beans

coffeebeans

Good coffee begins with good beans. The owner of Buddy Brew, a local coffee shop in Tampa, taught me the difference between Robusta and Arabica beans. You want to buy and use Arabica beans. Trust me. Guess who uses Robusta? Folgers, Maxwell House and other big, commercial and inexpensive coffee companies. Why? Because the beans are cheaper and they have a higher caffeine content. What’s the biggest downside? 1. It will make you more jittery  2. They’re more acidic, so you’re more prone to stomach aches and 3. You will have a bigger crash after the caffeine wears off. Read the label.

The next important thing is to buy whole beans and grind them yourself. It adds 30 seconds to your process and a lot more flavor. Most coffee websites recommend a burr grinder. You can find an inexpensive one that will last like this one. Blade grinders will work and cost less, but it’s best to grind your beans consistent (and only a burr grinder can do that).

Scoop the ground coffee into your french press. Yes, use a french press. If you’ve never used one before you will thank me. It will taste better than anything you’ve ever had from a drip coffee maker. You can spend a little or a lot. I’d start with one of these from Bodum. You can find them at Target. I have a coffee scoop, but go for about 1 TB spoon per cup of coffee you’re making (8 oz.).

Use filtered water if you can and heat it in a tea kettle. You want it to come to almost boiling, but not quite. Pour over your coffee grounds. Stir a few times around with a long spoon.

Leave cover off while it’s steeping.

Set a timer for 4-5 minutes. Test it it for your preference. Don’t go longer than that or it will get bitter.

Plunge your coffee. Pour into coffee mugs. Enjoy!

And just for fun… if you think this sounds expensive. Let’s pretend you stop by Starbucks at least 3 days a week for coffee. That’s roughly $8 / week x 52= $416. French press = $30. Grinder = $50. Good quality coffee beans = $12 / pound (good for about 14 cups) = $312 / year (you can find less expensive, quality beans too). Total would be $400 / year for more coffee and better tasting than stopping by Starbucks.