The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Turkey & Black Bean Tacos. September 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

We are big fans of  any kind of Mexican food in this house. Burritos, nachos, quesadillas, tacos. Especially tacos. We stuck with the standard ground beef version for years but have really branched out over the last year or so. These  tacos with lean ground turkey and black beans are a little healthier than the standard version but just as delicious- maybe even more so.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

 

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Turkey and Black Bean Tacos

serves 6 (2 tacos each)

 

1 lb of lean ground turkey (I used 93% lean)

1 medium red onion- diced

1.5 cups black beans (or 1 can- drained & rinsed)

2 cloves garlic- minced

3/4 cup water

1 Tbls chilli powder

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (this makes it a bit spicy, so omit if that is not your thing)

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp paprika

2 tsps ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

12 taco shells

toppings of choice- sharp cheddar cheese, diced avacadoe, sliced black olives, salsa, plain greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped tomatoes, lettuce, banana peppers etc

 

taco toppings

 

1. Cook ground turkey and diced onion in large skillet over medium heat until turkey is cooked (about 10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally.

2. Once turkey is cooked, add black beans and garlic and cook about 1 minute.

3. Add 3/4 cup water and seasonings. Cook until water has cooked in/evaporated (about 10 minutes).

4. Heat shells as instructed on box

5. Divide meat/bean mixture between shells (if eating all right away)

6. Top as desired

7. Enjoy!

 

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Giving Up Gluten. September 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

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Giving up gluten has become quite the trend these days. There have been many studies done and articles written claiming that unless you have Celiac disease, gluten intolerance isn’t real, but I assure you, I would not give it up unless I had to. About 2 years ago, I started feeling just generally sick. I had almost constant headaches, I was tired all the time, I had a lot of issues with gas and indigestion, repeated yeast infections and just general discomfort. I also had a really hard time focusing on things and staying on task, which is totally unlike me. I went to the Dr. 5 times in a year and a half and she kept giving me prescriptions to treat the symptoms instead of trying to figure out what the problem was. I finally decided I needed a new Dr. After describing my symptoms to my new Dr., the first thing she asked was if I had tried to give up gluten. Having done some reading on my own, I both expected and feared she might ask that. Once the Dr. suggested it, I knew I was going to have to give it a try.

 

Going gluten-free was pretty easy at first. Most of the foods I eat on a regular basis are naturally gluten free- vegetables, meat, fruit, nuts, dairy, many ancient grains.We don’t eat a lot of processed food in our household, so that was not an issue.  I felt so much better after just a couple of days that it was easy to keep the momentum going. I made it about a month without feeling deprived or bored with my  naturally gluten free food choices. It was actually after going grocery shopping and seeing the plethora of gluten free specialty foods and buying a few gluten free substitutes that the cravings came.  Gluten free substitutes are expensive and  the money in the grocery budget for them is limited. I tend to buy a loaf of bread, crackers, pasta and maybe a brownie or cornbread mix when we go shopping twice a month, but beyond that, I just have to do without. (I did spend a ton of money on gluten free flours at first too, but have not used them all that much yet). Gluten free alternatives are nice and I am really happy I can still enjoy things like avacadoe toast with eggs or a plate of pasta, but I definitely think it makes it harder to say no to regular bread and pasta when gluten free options are not available- but maybe that is just me.

 

I have found that I can have limited amounts of gluten without any major side effects but I also find it hard to know where that line is and very easy to just keep pushing it until I am sick again. It is best for me to just avoid it in my everyday home life and not stress too much about it if I am going to a friend’s house for dinner or eating at a restaurant. I still try to stick with generally gluten free options in those situations, but I don’t have to worry about every ingredient.

 

The hardest things to give up have been fresh from the bakery bread and beer. I really love both of those things. Luckily wine is gluten free and I have developed a real love for hard cider since giving up gluten. Now that the weather has cooled down a bit, I am looking forward to experimenting with some gluten free baking so I can still enjoy one of my favorite hobbies. Overall, giving up gluten is definitely worth it for me and I even enjoy having to branch out a little bit (more) in my cooking to find delicious alternatives that leave both my non gluten-free partner and I satisfied.

 

What is your favorite gluten-free meal?

 

Spicy Chicken Sausage & Kale Fritatta September 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

Surprise! Another egg recipe. This is one of my favorite quick and easy meals. It’s pretty healthy too. Leftovers are great for breakfast or lunch the next day!

 

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Spicy Chicken Sausage and Kale Fritatta

serves 4-6

 

Ingredients:

6 eggs (I added another after the photo was taken)

1 cup milk

2 spicy chicken sausage links (substitute your favorite flavor if you would like)

2 large handfuls kale (washed and torn)

small/medium red onion (diced)

olive oil, salt & pepper

 

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Heat about 2 Tbls of olive oil in large oven safe skillet (no plastic handles). Add diced onion. Cook 3-5 minutes until partially soft

2. Add sliced chicken sausage and cook 2-3 minutes. Add kale. Cover and let steam until bright green (about 5 mins)

3. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and milk together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Add egg mixture to pan. Cook on stove top 12-15 minutes until egg begins to set.

5.  Once egg mixture has started to set (get firm), put pan in oven and bake 10 minutes to finish.

6. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Slice like a pizza and enjoy!

 

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Since this dish already contains veggies and protein, I often keep the meal simple and serve it with some fresh seasonal fruit.

 

 

 

Welcome Fall. (Fall Cooking & Baking Wish List) September 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

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Fall is my favorite season- by far. I love the crispness in the air, the gorgeous colors of the changing leaves, boots and scarves, Halloween, big pots of soup, cozy afternoons reading on the couch under a blanket, roasted vegetables, apples, squash and of course, pumpkin spice. I love harvesting the garden and “putting up” food for the winter. Fall appeals to my naturally domestic inclinations.

I compile a list of new things I want to cook/bake/do at the beginning of every season, but I always get most excited about that list in the Fall. I make a lot of my personal favorites every season as well. Some of these recipes will have to be modified to be gluten free. Without further ado, here is my fall cooking/baking list for 2014-

(Just Click for the recipe)

 

Acorn Squash stuffed with Kale and Sausage

Penne with Butternut Squash, Kale and Goat Cheese

Pumpkin Granola

Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese

 Pumpkin Gingersnap Bark

Spicy Coconut Carrot Soup

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

Creamy White Bean and Bacon Soup

Loaded Sweet Potatoe Soup

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

 Pumpkin Scones

Honey Thyme Pork Chops

Small Batch Stovetop Apple Butter

Pumpkin Pound Cake

Apple Cider Pancakes with Cinnamon Sugar Topping

Pumpkin Chowder

Slow Cooker Coq Au Vin

Cheesy Sweet Potatoe Crisps

Honey Pecan Pork Chops

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter

Caramel Apple Sangria

Apple Cider Margaritas

Crockpot French Onion Soup

Crock Pot Sweet Potato Mash

Sausage and Egg Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes with Ricotta, Spinach and Bacon

Scalloped Root Vegetables with Ham and Crispy Fried Onions

Honey Mustard Rosemary Glazed Carrots

Fried Cabbage with Bacon, Onion and Garlic

 

From the looks of things, I may just have to quite my jobs and eat all Fall!

I know I will not get through all of these, but I like a list for a quick look  when I’m in the mood for something new or when I am trying to do our meal/grocery planning for the week.

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I’m Back! (For Real This Time) September 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:23 pm

 

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For anyone who has followed a link here from Pinterest (which seems to happen quite a bit despite my limited links) or for my friends and family who have read the blog in the past, you know I haven’t been around in awhile. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it has mostly been about poor time management. I am pretty busy during the school year, but I really do want to blog and I have decided I just need to make it a priority. I never knew how much time blogging actually takes.

 

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I have spent the last month stockpiling drafts of blog posts so that I can have a back up for when things get too busy. I have also decided to expand my scope a bit and to not worry about posting everyday. I will still blog primarily about food and recipes (through the scope of life) but I also want to include community events, information (maybe even interviews) about local businesses, my personal musings on whatever may be on my mind,  books I’ve read lately, links to read etc. I am planning to post 3-4 times a week, but I am not going to  get discouraged if that does not always happen.

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I am also trying to learn about the technical parts of blogging. I am really not very tech savvy. I am still trying to figure out how to turn text into links, format things, make a recipes link page etc. I recently purchased a WordPress For Dummies book, so hopefully that helps once I get around to reading it. Please bear with me while I get those things figured out. I do have a decent camera, a computer and an internet connection so I feel I have the most important tools and the rest will get better as I keep learning.

 

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I love constructive criticism, suggestion and advice of any kind, so please feel free to share. What do you like about what you see? What would you like to see more/less of? I want to make this a resource for good recipes and community information for everyone.

 

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Regular posting will start on Tuesday the 23rd- the first day of fall! The start of a new season (my favorite season) seemed like a perfect time to start a “new” adventure.

* I just included some of my favorite pictures from the summer to break up the text a bit :)

 

Heat Wave. July 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 7:56 pm

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days. It is hot. I really haven’t done much of anything besides lay on the couch reading books & drinking iced coffee. There has been some gardening, some visiting, some swimming, an attempted campfire, some dog lovin’  & even tai chi in the park with my grandma too. One thing there hasn’t been much of is cooking. We honestly haven’t even wanted to eat a couple of nights because of the heat & there have been salads, leftovers and take out the other nights. I did finally want to/have to cook tonight. In the effort to not add any more heat to the house than nescessary, I came up with 3 new quick to prepare, no oven needed recipes. I made Browned Butter Tilapia, Swiss Chard with Garlic & Red Wine Vinegar and crock pot Italian seasoned potatoes. Lots of flavor, minimal effort & ingredients. In other words, the perfect summer dinner. Recipes to come soon!

Anyone read any good books lately? I am flying thru my list! (Hopefully starting my new part time job at the library tomorrow will bring some book inspiration my way!

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Fresh from my garden chard :-)

 

Strawberry Blueberry Crisp. July 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 7:20 am
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Nothing says weekend like dessert. Don’t let me fool you, I also think Wednesday or a good hair day or a Sex and the City marathon with your best friend (or yourself) is a perfectly good excuse for a dessert.

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This one just screams summer with fresh local strawberries and blueberries. You could easily substitute any berry. I had actually planned on just making a blueberry crisp until I saw my strawberries needed to be used ASAP. I was very pleased with the results. It is great on it’s own but a scoop of good vanilla bean ice cream certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.

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Strawberry Blueberry Crisp

Filling-

2 cups strawberries

2 cups blueberries

1/4 c sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cornstarch

Topping-

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c all purpose flour

3/4 c old fashioned oats

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter- chilled & cut into cubes

1. Preheat oven to 350*

2. Butter (or use cooking spray) and 8×8 inch pan

3. Mix filling ingredients until berries are coated

4. Pour filling into 8×8 inch pan

5. Mix topping ingredients thru allspice

6. Cut in butter with fingers until  incorporated into pea size clumbs throughout

7. Top berry filling mixture

8. Bake at 350* 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown

9. Enjoy!

* I apologize for any typos, I have had a few glasses of wine this evening in the name of #goodlivin’

 

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