For the past few days I’ve been enjoying a lazy visit with my Dad in North Carolina, Raleigh area. This however will be saved for another post, as it deserves more of a focus than I can give right now. I can say though, working overnights has a great potential for ruining vacations for you, I tend to pass out around 7 and wake up at 1 in the morning, when my boyfriend and dad are already asleep, and then I spend the next 5 hours or so puttering around the house, doing quiet chores that my dad might not think to do – dust, clean the shower, run the dishwasher and self clean the oven. But more on all that later!
Before my vacation I wanted a little bit of a change for my lunches – no turkey muffins or burgers, I wanted to focus on salads since Blueberries and Strawberries are local and in season, and see about having a soup or chili. So, quite fittingly I went to LiveFit recipes and found Jamie Eason’s 3-Bean Turkey Chili – this is protein and fiber packed and Sooooo sosososososo delicious.
The only thing you might not have in your normal clean pantry is the brown sugar blend of Ideal which, I have yet to get, so I used a very very small amount of regular brown sugar. I was able to find organic versions of all the canned vegetables in the recipe between shopping at Wegmans and Wal-mart. Pro-tip: Walmart is starting to go Organic and Green, mine started carrying Organic Bananas recently, but their canned goods are pretty numerous now too. Muir Glen tomato products also come with No Salt Added which is perfect for me. The only thing I didn’t find organic versions of these at Walmart was the Chilies and the TriBean Blend which I couldn’t exactly find at Wegmans either. I found Chili beans and that had 3 different types of beans in it so I assume it’s just as good. This for me made about 10 cups, or 10 servings, but I added Tomato Sauce because I accidentally bought that instead of diced tomatoes and ended up adding a can of Non-organic No Salt Added diced tomatoes that I had on hand anyway. From the comments I read it normally cooks down to around 8-9 cups.
No pictures from me for this, I might have one to add later when I get home, but my phone broke last week and I haven’t been home to resync the new one to my computer. Here’s the picture from the LiveFit site though, for your yummy, mouth watering viewing pleasure.
One of the perks of being the daughter of a librarian who helps with collection materials for the library is that my mother is constantly getting uncorrected proofs. Whenever I visit my mom at work I race into her office just to see if she’s had a shipment – not always books I’m interested – but you’d be surprised. I’m currently reading a new Amy Tan book, as well as a book based on the TV show Homeland that my mother had gotten. It has unfortunately created an unnatural need within me to own the Trade Paperback version of any book rather than the Hardcover. I’m waiting on The Kite Runner to be returned so I can read that and the books that follow – I know, I know, I’m super late to that party. I’m also looking forward to reading the Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms, once my library gets it in and processed. Sarah Addison Allen is probably my favorite author lately, her magical realism really hits the sweet spot in my literature cravings…is that even a phrase – it is now! Primarily writing about North Carolina, it’s instilled this magical vision of the South in my mind.
So in my research in keeping and maintaining my clean eating lifestyle I’ve discovered that any kind of store bought protein bar, while packed with protein is also packed with sugar – this is not as healthy as you’d assume after buying something from the health section. So here are Jamie Eason’s homemade Chocolate ones. They resemble a Brownie. Which is amazing for easing cravings for something sweet! 2 Bars is one serving so you kind of feel like you’re indulging yourself.
Finally! I have a Friday Morning free to type up a post. It seems as thought Spring has finally come to Central New York! I think farther upstate there is still some light snow, but it seems like the flowers can finally peek out from their hiding spots under the dead leaves. I’ve seen quite a few robins over the past week, even with all the rain we’ve had over the past week.
Just before I went on vacation I was given a recipe for a delicious soup called Chicken Taco Soup – super healthy and full of protein! After coming home from vacation I remade the soup and left out of the chicken to see what the difference would be – I actually prefer it that way!
I’m a bit of an tea lover. An addict. I could easily drink it constantly throughout the day. I know I’ve discussed my addiction to Chai. Be Proud readers! I’ve weaned myself to only ordering a small when I go to First Cup now! My other love is Green Tea, especially the SuperFruit one from Good Earth. My favorite tea however is usually from Loose Leaf tea. I adore Teavana for their tea. It’s been a while since I’ve ventured in so I was beyond ready to stock up today. Peachberry Jasmine Green Tea, Superfruit Unity Green Tea, Pomegranate Cranberry Herbal Tea and I even got a free Jade Dragon Mao Feng blend because I’d bought so much. Qualified for 10% off and had my lovely little $10 coupon and I got at least a years worth of tea for just under $45.
On to the recipe, I forgot to snap a picture of this. But trust me, it’s better that way. You might end up with your face plastered to the screen and hunger pangs in your tummy. Taco Soup for the Crock Pot!
There aren’t many things in life that I can really just zen out an enjoy. Reading is one of them, gaming is yet another of them. Cooking however is the main one. I could cook all day – and I have! Two years ago I tackled Thanksgiving Dinner, no turkey – but I did make a giant beast of a ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, honeyed carrots, dinner rolls, sweet potatoes, and that’s all my now hungry brain can remember. It was an entire days worth of work, but it was one of the best cooking memories I have!
This past week it was ridiculously hot in New York, especially at my house where we live in the dark ages of no Air Conditioning and no Central Air. I have a small tower fan and two windows, and a very energy usage conscious mother. Turning on a TV in my room makes it feel like a Sauna, so I can tell you it was not a fun place to be at 90 degrees. This did give me the opportunity to spend lots of time downstairs however to cook! Currently my oven is out of commission due to a Natural Gas Leak as well as a since fixed rodent issue with the insulation between the range and the oven. As in, they took it all away. Nice little pests we have. it would make sense I’ve never wanted to make cookies as much as I have since pretty much the second they shut the gas to my oven off.
But let’s talk of happier things! And Peppers! This recipe is good Hot or Cold in my opinion, uses a lot of salt though so prepare your taste buds and your body for a little water retention. Or you can experiment with different spices to add flavor boosts as you will. I found this recipe over at the Pioneer Woman and had to adjust it to fit what I had in my pantry and fridge. The substitutes I used worked perfectly though! It is important to know I doubled this recipe so I’d have lunch this week at work!
Whether it’s snuggling in a comforter, wearing your favorite sweater and worn in pair of jeans, or just eating a bowl of warm homemade food everybody at some point craves comfort. Lately here in Upstate New York, the weather has been cold, damp and miserable. Don’t get me wrong, for a couple hours every other day there’s been some sun but since the beginning of May it’s been grey and rainy just about every day.
Now, I’m pretty lucky – I have a giant beast of a dog who loves nothing more than curling up next to me on my bed and creating a nice heating pad. However some days, even my Sydney is not enough to keep the chill out of my bones. This past week I’ve experimented with a couple recipes that are perfect for those days when you just want to feel warm and cozy.
First Up: Chicken and Dumplings from the Pioneer Woman who adapted this amazing recipe from Gourmet Magazine. I altered two things with this recipe. I didn’t use a whole chopped chicken – though if doubling the recipe I might just to save money – I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of tarragon – it gives it a new depth of flavor. I adore tarragon and chicken. My dumplings didn’t come out so much like big round dumplings but little bits here and there – which I actually prefer. I also added a whole cup of Heavy Cream so my outcome was much thicker. This dish served over mashed potatoes or even just by itself is delicious and I cannot recommend it enough!
Second Dish: Chicken Pot Pie Biscuits These are amazing little pockets of deliciousness. I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out but I can’t wait to make these again! I eyeballed the amount of pearl onions and again added tarragon. The biscuits I used were the flakey kind, I might try buttermilk biscuits next time and see if there’s any big difference. I ended up with way more filling after only using one package of 8 biscuits so I might suggest trying two for a total of 16 and just going a little easy on the filling.
Today I’ll be making two batches of Wookiee Cookies for an upcoming trip to Boston, MA next week. I’m trying one batch using Crisco Baking sticks – butter flavor and one batch using unsalted butter. Hopefully I don’t eat too many of those after they come out of the oven! I found the recipe in a Star Wars Cookbook but it can be found online here. They are almost like a combination of a snickerdoodle and a chocolate chip cookie with two different types of chips.
Last week we had almost 5 straight days of constant rain, so it’s amazing out now that we finally get some sun. All the trees and fields are this deep shade of green and the air smells fresh and crisp. While it’s a little annoying to have to deal with the April Showers as late as May it’s nice to finally wash away the stale air of winter.