Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Make This...Or Not!

Since I have a giant bag of baby kale at home, I decided to make homemade kale chips today.
Only three ingredients needed: 2 handfuls of baby kale, sea salt & olive oil. I tossed the kale with about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Next I placed the kale on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkled it with a little sea salt.

Then I baked the kale in a 350* oven for ten minutes.

I really wanted to like the chips. But I didn't like them at all. They were crispy enough, but smelled & tasted awful. From now on, I will stick to kale salads and cubes for my smoothies.

I forced myself to eat half the pan (waste not, want not). Thankfully, Remy really liked the kale & ate the rest of it for me. ☺

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Try This!!

This dried coconut snack is my new favorite find from Costco. I know it's been in stores for a while, but I just got around to tasting it. It is super delicious!

While I love the scent of coconut in candles, lotions & shampoos but am not a huge fan of the shredded coconut in baked goods. I decided to try this snack, as it's full of fiber & makes a perfect snack for the Shred. It's so yummy & has a creamy-coconutty taste that I really like. Be warned: it's not inexpensive - but sells for $8.99 for a 18 oz. bag. Kind of pricy. It is, however, good enough that I purchased two more bags this morning (as the first bag didn't even last a week in our house). We are loving this treat!☺

More coconut news: I learned from a coworker that dogs can eat fresh coconut. I Googled the info just to make sure it was safe for Remy to eat. Turns out - it is!

I purchased a coconut today and wasn't quite sure how to open it. I watched several videos on YouTube & tried the technique here in my kitchen. Coconut fail! What the videos didn't show - but absolutely-positively happened in my kitchen: coconut husk & chunks flying everywhere (including my eye). After cleaning up the huge mess, I took the coconut outside & threw it on the ground. Success! It opened up into 4 pieces & Remy ran right to it.
Remy sampling his treat.☺
 Here is a cute Vine video of Remy & his snack.

Remy made short work of these coconut pieces!

Edible Thanks

Today is 'administrative professionals' day!
Since I'm on a budget, I baked my gifts this year. What did I make? Lemon mini scones for the lovely ladies in Special Services.
Annette & Tami:
Thank you for all that you do!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Make This!!

I am very late to the kale party, but I'm okay with that. I'll take 'better late than never.'☺ Before I began the Shred Diet, I only used kale to decorate a platter for salmon, turkey or other meat.

 Just last week, I made my own kale cubes to add to my smoothies.

They were super easy to make! I used baby kale (found at Costco). It's much easier to use (no de-veining required) & it doesn't taste old & leathery like the adult kale does.
I used about 2 cups of kale at a time & added a tablespoon of water. I blended the kale until it was liquefied & added 2 more cups along with another tablespoon of water. I repeated this step again & again until I had a blender that was 3/4 full of kale juice (about 1/2 of the Costco-sized bag). Then I poured the kale juice into ice cube trays & froze them overnight. The next morning, I popped the cubes out & placed them in a gallon size freezer bag. So easy & so good for me!

Try it!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Make This!!

Sweet & Spicy Candied Nuts!

I love a good candied nut on top of salads and pasta; or even by the handful. I'm not picky that way. I spied this recipe on Dorie Greenspan's blog this morning, and immediately ran to the kitchen & made a batch. 

These are very easy & oh-so-delicious. I toasted my nuts beforehand (350* for 6 minutes) even though Dorie didn't say to. Why did I toast my nuts? Suffice it to say that I have made enough candied nuts over the years that weren't toasted before hand and I ended up with nuts just didn't have that extra crunch that I crave.

I increased the cayenne pepper from one pinch to 1/2 a teaspoon as Omid & I like our nuts 'spicy.' ☺

Here's the link to the recipe. Make these nuts!!

Netflix This!!

We finally watched 'Life of Pi' last night. Oh my goodness! What a movie! The storyline alone is amazing ... and the computer animation isn't that bad either. ☺

If you liked 'Cast Away' with Tom Hanks, then you will like this movie. I laughed and cried. Omid didn't want to watch it and was captivated from the start. That fact right there should sell you on this movie.☺

Netflix this movie!! It's GREAT! I will tell you though - I did feel a little nauseous at times (from the rollicking boat) - but I get car sick easily too. :/

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Willamette Valley Wine Tasting

Omid & I spent yesterday on the Willamette Valley Wine Trail. I happened to win a weekend pass ($90!) to the event. Omid was gracious enough to give up a precious fishing day so we could go together. We had an absolute blast & met a lot of nice people.
Our first stop was at Kramer Vineyards to pick up our tasting glasses & bracelets for the event. We were both chewing gum - which in turn had us quoting the movie Sideways. We cracked up at ourselves for how funny we were (& we hadn't even had our first tasting yet). We are both huge merlot fans which of course led to more Sideways quotes. ☺ All I can say is that my hubs is a lot of fun & I am so thankful he finds humor in the same things I do!☺

Let's get this party started!!
 We didn't care for any of the wines at Kramer. We really like Muller-Thurgau, but the MT at Kramer was too acidic for our tastes.
Our next stop was at Quail Run Creamery. J. Albin Winery was pouring at this event. While we didn't care for the pinots here, Lynn Albin, brought out a bottle of something that wasn't on the Wine Trail tasting menu: a J. Albin cabernet. We liked it so much, we bought two bottles.  My favorite part about the stop at Quail Run: baby goats! I neglected to get photos, but they were so cute & loved being pet/talked to. Of course, that opened up the 'we need a pet goat' conversation.☺

After this stop, we drove to Carlton, Oregon (ten minutes away) to stop in at the Noble Pig tasting room. I was hoping to get a chance to meet Cathy Pollack. I love reading her Noble Pig blog. Unfortunately Cathy wasn't in when we popped by & the tasting room was busy (so we didn't get a chance to taste). Next time!

We visited Plum Hill Vineyards next. Omid & the winemaker had a fun & spirited conversation. Such a nice man! PHV had a tasty chardonnay (tastes like vanilla!). But...since I'm not really a chard fan, we visited the alpacas (who were deathly afraid of us) then moved on.

Our next winery was Montinore Estate. I liked everything about this winery. From the entrance (a gorgeous wrought iron gate) to the tasting room. At Montinore, we finally tasted pinot noirs that started to taste delicious! We also got great service here. Super nice staff + a bonus discount to boot.

Montinore Estate panoramic view.
We decided our last stop for the day would be at David Hill Vineyard & Winery. This was my absolute favorite place of the day. We actually stayed at this winery for almost an hour & a half. The tasting room manager, Michele Andrich, was the nicest person. We chatted with her for a long time. We also joined the wine club at David Hill. The wines were just amazing. If you visit the Willamette Valley for wine tasting - please put David Hill Vineyard & Winery on your list.
Omid sampling the David Hill 2009 Estate Pinot Noir: 'Black Jack"
When I look back on the day, we started out at a winery which didn't fit our tastes at all & ended at a winery that fit our tastes to a T.
A most successful 'date' day!♥

Purchases of the day.
Already looking forward to our next dinner party so we can share these
fabulous wine finds with our friends.☺

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Make This!!

Dark Chocolate 'No Bake' Bars
aka...really, really, really good fudge!

These are sinfully good. I am not a chocolate fan at all, but I liked these. A lot. The peanut butter/honey combination makes an almost chewy caramel & the dried cranberries compliment the chocolate nicely.

It's a really simple recipe & takes just minutes to assemble.
Yummy mix-ins
Make these! You will be so glad you did!

Note: This fudge needs to be refrigerated! Once it sits out longer than ten minutes, it softens to an icky mess. Trust me on this!☺

The Best No Bake Bars via I Hear Exercise Will Kill You
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c honey
1/2 c coconut oil
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 c shredded coconut
1 1/4 c dark chocolate chips
1/2 c dried cranberries
1 tsp vanilla

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add oats, coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is melted. Pour into a 9x13 pan and cool in the fridge. When it's set, cut into bars and enjoy.

Update! I made these again with a few adjustments. I increased the peanut butter to 1 cup and replaced the oatmeal with 2 cups of broken pretzels. WOW!  I also used an 8x8 pan instead of a 9x13 as I like the thicker pieces. ☺

Make This!!

Coconut Oil Granola!

I have been looking for homemade granola recipes these last few weeks. All the so-called healthy granola in the stores are full of processed ingredients & extra sugar. I found this recipe via the Hungry Girl Por Vida blog. I changed the nuts & dried fruit around to suit my own tastes. This granola is very good!

Coconut Oil Granola - adapted slightly from Hungry Girl Por Vida

3 cups old fashioned oats
pinch salt
2 cups toasted pecans *see note!
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg white
1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried cherries, halved

Mix oats, toasted pecans & spices together in a large bowl. Combine honey & coconut oil over low heat until coconut oil is melted. Add vanilla. Pour honey/coconut/vanilla mix over oatmeal. Mix well. Add egg white & mix again. Place granola on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Stir & check the granola after another 15 minutes. If it's still hasn't browned enough, continue to bake & check the mix at ten minute intervals. Mine took about 45 minutes.*Note: if you toast your pecans before you make this granola, they will be extra crunchy & taste oh so delicious!☺

When the granola is finished, remove from the oven. Now is the time to add your dried fruit. If you add it in the beginning & bake it along with the granola, it will turn rock hard. How do I know this? That's what happened the first time I made it.☺ Add the dried fruit on top of the warm granola & let it sit until the granola is cool.

Place granola in airtight container. It should keep for about two weeks (IF it lasts that long!). My favorite ways to enjoy this are over Fage Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of honey drizzled on top AND also in a bowl with almond milk. This is good stuff!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Make This!!

I 'Googled' creamy sesame salad dressing tonight. I found twelve + pages of recipes. The one I decided to make was from the Whole Living Gal blog. Oh my goodness, it was excellent! She made hers with lettuce wraps, while I just used mine as a salad dressing.

Make this dressing - it's super nummy!! I can't wait to try it with lettuce wraps!

Creamy Sesame Sauce - from Whole Living Gal

1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted dry on a skillet)  I did not use these.
2 T dijon mustard  I used honey mustard.
1 T honey
2 T sesame oil
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 T fresh, grated ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

In a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
Note: I just used a wire whisk & it turned out great!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Make This!!

Broccoli Soup with Lemon-Chive Cream

This is seriously good stuff! I have been eating copious amounts of broccoli for the past month. Like three Costco sized bags in the last three weeks alone. My son hates the smell of broccoli roasting in the oven (my preferred method of imbibing the veg) and asked me to stop. So I decided to make broccoli soup instead.
My normal recipe calls for roasting the broccoli, making a roux & adding either cheddar or Cougar Gold cheese (guess which cheese I add?).  This recipe is much better for you because there is no roux & only a tiny amount of parmesan cheese.

Make this soup! It's delicious & good for you!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Shred: Update!

I am supposed to start on the 'cleanse' week of the Shred diet on Monday. I stopped by the store today to purchase special ingredients needed for that week: hibiscus tea, flax seed oil & pure cranberry juice. I was shocked to discover that those three ingredients would set me back $50!

So....I have decided to skip the 'cleanse' phase of the Shred. I am doing just fine with the healthy eating/drinking. I love that up until now, I haven't had to purchase anything extra except for the whey protein.

I am still down 7 lbs and feeling great! The sugar cravings have all but stopped & I feel that I have moved on to healthier habits.☺

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Make This!!

Honey Bread!
This is an excellent bread. It might even be more of a cake than bread. It all depends if you want to serve it for breakfast or dessert. My favorite way to eat this bread is lightly toasted with a generous pat of butter.☺

There is a little bit of history that goes with this recipe. Whenever I see this blue card in my recipe box, I automatically think of the girl that introduced it to me. Her name is Patti and she was the first friend I made at WSU. I first tasted this bread when Patti's parents mailed her a care package & she shared some of this yummy treat with me.   Sadly, we have since lost touch, but she is always on my mind whenever I bake this bread.
Make this bread! It's delicious and oh so easy!
Honey Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup milk
Mix flour with soda, salt & cinnamon. Add brown sugar & mix well. Beat honey & milk in a separate bowl until well blended. Add gradually to dry ingredients until just free from lumps. Bake in a well greased loaf pan 2 1/4 hours in a 250* oven. Store two days before serving. Makes 1 large or two small loaves. Freezes well.
*NOTE: If you notice the bread is not rising fast enough, increase the oven to 300*. We have NEVER been able to wait the two days before serving!☺

Seattle Get-A-Way (+ a Shred update)

It's our spring break this week! Yay!
March is a loooong month when there are no 3 day weekends to be had.
First I  have to say...I was off the Shred Diet for three days! Yikes! I tried my best to eat good/healthy on Easter and for the 2.5 days we were in Seattle. I am repeating last week of the diet to see if that gets me back on track. It shouldn't be hard. ☺ I am happy to report that I am still down 7 lbs. I stayed hydrated with lots of water & tried to stick to mostly vegetarian options or fish when eating out.
We spent Easter with my family up in Olympia. It was a beautiful 74*. Sunny, warm, absolutely perfect. Cynce & fam got new chickens. Remy really enjoyed checking them out. Every time Mike opened the door to the hen house, Remy was right there - trying to get in. So funny.
Easter collage.
Later that evening, Matty, Omid & I headed up to Seattle for a few days.
Early morning coffee at the Pioneer Square Starbucks.
 This photo was taken with the free camera app, Dblcam. It takes a photo from both the front & back of your phone. So fun!  This was our first photo Monday morning.
 Next stop: Pike Place Market
The famous 'gum wall' in Post Alley. Gross & neat at the same time!☺

The weather in Seattle was COLD!

I knew I should have trusted my instincts & dressed for what I 'knew' the weather would be: cold/cloudy. But no, I checked out www.weather.com which said the entire week would be warm & sunny. Lesson learned: always pack for cold/rainy weather no matter what the weatherman says!

Inside the market.
 After walking all over downtown Seattle & the waterfront, we headed over to the beautiful Kerry Park. If you have never visited this park, it's a must! Gorgous views of the city & the sound.
Another  Dblcam shot. So happy the sun finally came out for...two whole hours!

Clowning around!☺

We spent about an hour at Kerry Park. I wish we had brought a picnic. It was my favorite part of our Seattle stay. The views & the company were perfect. All that was missing was Nas & Remy.

Our next stop was the Seattle Center. We wanted to visit the Space Needle, but after seeing how expensive it is now, decided not to ride up to the top after all.

Look! An old fashioned elevator! No digital numbers.☺

Matty & Ivar Haglund!
Fun fact:  No trip to Seattle is complete unless you stop at Ivar's for clams.☺

Watching the ferries from Ivar's Acres of Clams.

Fun fact: After this ferry left, we watched another ferry arrive, then had to dash for an appointment nearby. My friend Katie & her family were on the newly arrived ferry. We were so sad that we didn't have time to meet them & catch up for a few minutes. So sorry Katie! Can't wait to see you in May!!☺