The Sweetest Thing.

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

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole. October 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 6:00 am

When my partner recently expressed an interest in trying quinoa, Mexican seemed like the right direction because it is pretty much always a winner in our house. I have seen several versions of this idea floating around Pinterest and decided to go ahead and make my own. This is easy to put together and can even be made a few days ahead of time and then just topped with cheese and baked when you are ready to eat it. It is great for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.

 

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Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

serves 6

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 1/4 c enchilada sauce (or one 10 ounce can)

1/2 c frozen corn kernels

1 cup black beans (drained and rinsed if from a can)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz cheddar cheese- divided

-diced avacado, diced tomato, sliced black olives and plain greek yogurt (or sour cream), and salsa for topping as desired

 

1. Preheat oven to 375º

2. Combine cooked quinoa, enchilada sauce, corn, black beans, spices and half of the cheese in large bowl.

3. Spray 8×8 pan with olive oil and spread mixture in pan.

4. Top with remaining cheese and bake.

~ 20 minutes if putting in oven right away

~ 30-35 minutes if it has been made previously and chilled

5. Allow to cool about 10 minutes.

6. Once on serving plates/bowls, top with diced avacado, tomato, black olives, salsa and plain greek yogurt as desired.

7. Enjoy!

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Sunday Reading. October 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 6:00 am

Happy Sunday Folks! Hope this day finds you healthy and happy. I will be spending it getting in some much needed quality time with my honey,making a pancake brunch, taking a long walk with the pup, reading, catching up on magazines, watching Food Network shows on Netflix and roasting a chicken. All of the things Sunday was meant for.

 

Did anyone else’s grandma have one of these when they were little? My brother in law recently came across this and let me have it. It reminds me of my grandma’s kitchen when I was little. I really just love it.

 

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So without further ado, some Sunday links to read while you enjoy your morning tea….

~I made this for dinner on Monday. It was the best pulled pork I have ever had. You should make it. Really.

~”Aging is not something we should be ashamed of — it’s something to celebrate. Because living is an honor. Because time is a gift.” Losing my Dad when he was only 41 gave me a deep appreciation for the important things in this life. I think this article makes a good point about how ridiculous our society is when it comes to the natural signs of aging… of life.

~As a lifetime lover of Sesame Street, I found this article really fun.

~I am a pretty happy person but it doesn’t always come easily. I have said being happy is a lot of work, but totally worth it many times over the years. This article has some great points about what it takes to really be happy, starting with “giving up your assumptions about what will make you happy “

~I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout for many years, but haven’t given it much thought in awhile. I was glad to see that they are evolving to be more relevant to today’s world. The goal of the Girl Scouts is to create strong leaders and I think the skills needed for that have changed over the years. Apparently they are desperate for volunteers. If you have some spare time, you should see if you can help out in your area.

~October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here are some horrifying statistics about to remind us it is still an epidemic.

~Hunger, Obesity and Nutrition are closely related issues with many different underlying reasons. It is not as simple as many people make it out to be. Lack of resources, knowledge and access play a huge role in these ongoing problems. Healthy, real food for everyone is obviously an important issue to me . Here are some more statistics to break your heart.

~On to some happier food news, add these restaurants to your bucket list asap!  The French Laundry has been on mine for awhile, but #2. #3. #6 and #8 were just added!

~As someone who identifies as bisexual, I find it really frustrating when people think it doesn’t actually exist. I really can’t even understand that thinking but it is far from the only misconception about bisexual individuals. I have heard almost all of these at one time or another.

~In the Halloween spirit (and because I recently binge watched 8 seasons of Criminal Minds), I found this article about the appeal of serial killers interesting.

~If you love popcorn like I love popcorn, this just might make your day.

~Say what you will about President Obama, he has accomplished some things that I am pretty excited about. This being one of them.

~I gave up counting calories quite some time ago. I would much rather focus on eating healthy real food than worry about calories but I still found this approach really interesting.

 

What have you been reading about this week?

 

 

Sweet & Spicy Fried Chicken. October 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

This is not the kind of recipe you will see here often, but everyone needs some fried chicken every now and then. If it was up to my love, we would have fried foods a couple of times a week but I try to limit it to once a month or so. Not because I don’t LOVE them, because I certainly do, but because they just aren’t good for you.

This recipe is my take on fried chicken. Since I have a hard time leaving good enough alone, I figured I would take the flavors up a notch by marinating my chicken before frying. I use a combination of honey and hot sauce to give the chicken a nice sweet and spicy flavor under the crispy crunchy deliciousness. After the chicken is fried, I drizzle it with more honey to really showcase all of the flavors.

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Sweet & Spicy Fried Chicken

serves 4

8 chicken drumsticks (or thighs)- bone in and with the skin still on

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup hot sauce

1.5 cups all purpose flour (I used gluten free)

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

canola oil (about 6-8 cups depending on size of pan)

Additional honey and hot sauce for serving if desired

 

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1. Combine honey and hot sauce in a gallon freezer bag. Mix together by sealing and then kneading bag. Add chicken. Marinate at least 6 hrs or overnight (recommended)

2. Start the cooking process by heating the oil in deep skillet (we have a special “chicken fryer” pan). I like the oil to be about an inch and a half deep. Heat oil to 350°. It is very important that you get the oil at the right temperature. If it is not hot enough, the flour will soak up the oil before it fries and it won’t get crispy. If the oil is too hot, the flour crisps up almost instantly but the chicken will not be cooked and the outside will be burned before the chicken is cooked. Your best bet is to use a food thermometer. I don’t do that. I usually just let it heat until I can feel the heat coming off from oil when I hold my hand a few inches above it. This does not always work out.

3. While oil is heating, place flour, salt and pepper in a clean gallon freezer bag and combine.

4. Remove chicken from marinade and allow excess marinade to drip off. Place chicken in bag with flour. Discard remaining marinade. Seal bag and shake to coat chicken.

5. Remove chicken once piece at time, shake off excess flour and place in hot oil. Be sure not to crowd the chicken. Cook in two batches if needed. The oil needs to be able to move around and crisp up the chicken. I cook about 10-12 minutes and then flip the chicken over and cook an additional 10-12 minutes.

6. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels (or coffee filters).

7. Drizzle with honey and more hot sauce if desired when served.

8. Enjoy!

 

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Tuna & White Bean Salad October 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

This is one of the most versatile recipes in my regular rotation- in both ingredients and ways it can be enjoyed. I like to make a batch of this up during my weekly food prep session on Sunday and use it in lunches all week. You can add pretty much any veggie you want to the mix- it is great with avacadoe! I eat this on Wasa type crispbreads,  scooped over spring mix as a topping and dressing in one, mashed on to sandwich bread, wrapped up in a tortilla with some spring mix and I have even made a quesadilla out of it with some fresh mozzarella. It is seriously so good and packed with protein and nutrients.

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Tuna & White Bean Salad

1 can tuna- drained

1 can cannellini beans- drained and rinsed well

1/2 med red onion-diced

1/2 medium green pepper-diced (I also added that one random baby red pepper I had)

medium tomatoe- diced

large handful of spinach- chopped

2 Tbls red wine vinegar

2 Tbls olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper- to taste (I used Borsari which is a local seasoned salt, but plain old salt and pepper work fine)

* for texture purposes, I try to chop my veggies to be about the size of the beans in this recipe

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1. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl.

2. Serve immediately or store covered in fridge up to 6 days.

3. Enjoy!

 

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* pleas excuse my nail. Nails were next on the to do list.

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie. October 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

This is a nice Monday morning treat for you. It tastes a bit indulgent to ease the Monday morning blahs but it is packed with healthy ingredients to get you through your work morning. The almond milk and greek yogurt provide protein while the oats and strawberries provide fiber. Be sure to blend really well to get the oats well incorporated. I usually blend 2-3 minutes. Hope you enjoy!

*I don’t really know how to take a great picture of a smoothie, luckily I can make one that tastes great!

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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

serves 1

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup chocolate almond milk

1/3 cup old fashioned oats

6 oz strawberry greek yogurt (or plain greek yogurt)

1/4 tsp vanilla

 

1. Put everything in the blender & blend.

2. Enjoy!

 

Sunday Reading. October 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am

One of my favorite blogs, Joy the Baker  does a “Let It Be Sunday” post each week with lots of links to read while you enjoy your Sunday coffee. It is something I genuinely look forward to each Sunday morning, so I thought maybe I would start doing one of my own for all of you to enjoy. This is just a collection of things I have come across on the internet in the past week or so. Some interesting, some important, some just plain silly… balance is good! So grab a cup of coffee, snuggle up with your favorite blanket (and favorite pup) and enjoy.

 

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~ My love of wine is no secret. This just made me laugh and I can relate to more than a few of them.

~I am not married, but found this article applicable to my long term relationship in many ways. I especially loved this quote “Don’t marry someone because of who they are, or who you want them to become. Marry them because of who they are determined to become. And then spend a lifetime joining them in their becoming, as they join you in yours.”

~We seem to finally be #bringingbackourgirls.

~ Speaking of Joy the Baker, I can’t wait for this to arrive.

~You know that I love to talk about healthy eating on a budget , this article is full of great advice.

~”Focus on health, not weight, at home”, good advice on How to Parent Healthy Body Image and Why it Matters.

~Great article about poverty, the cycles behind it, the ways we avoid talking about it and what we can do to help here.

~This may only be entertaining to my librarian friends, but the struggle is real.

~ We ate these Kale Pancakes at a Girl’s Weekend Getaway last month and I have thought about them most every day since. Must make soon!

~ There is no way we can talk about what is going on on the internet these days without talking about Ebola. There is lot of crazy and untrue information out there. I think this is an important and often overlooked factor in how we deal with the spread of infectious diseases.

~Hoping this is our next book club pick. I’ll be reading it regardless.

~This made me cry. It was far too close to my heart. It has been over a year since I lost my best friend and one true love Emma and it still hurts like hell. These things have always broken my heart~ in the good way that makes me grateful I ever got to love something so much that it hurt.

~ As a feminist, I have put quite a bit of thought into this issue (among so many others). I find this article pretty on point in identifying the inherent problem in male feminism with this line  “Maybe you didn’t, personally, do anything wrong, but you were still born into a power structure that gave you unjust rewards. The system — whether it’s the patriarchy or white supremacy or capitalism — does not offer special exemptions for individuals with good intentions.”

~ I just really like the idea of Freestyle Gardening.

 

What interesting things have you been reading?

 

Hope you enjoy your day!

 

Kale, White Bean & Sausage Soup. October 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 7:01 am
Tags: ,

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Monday always seems like a good soup night to me. Physically, I have been eating heavier over the weekend and it feels good to lighten things up a little bit. Emotionally, soup feels like a nice big bowl of warm comforting love to me. Pratically, it is easy to get together and let simmer away while you get try to catch up on all the things Monday brings. This is one of my favorite soups to make because it is easy, healthy and hearty all a the same time. It has all the components of a healthy balanced meal in one pot, but is also great with a warm hunk of bakery fresh bread.  (as all things are)

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Kale, White Bean & Sausage Soup

serves 6

 

3 Italian sausage links- removed from casing (mild- hot works, whatever you like best)

1 medium onion- diced

3-4 cloves of garlic- diced

1  can of diced tomatoes

1  can of cannelini beans- drained and rinsed

1 large bunch of kale- torn

6 cups of beef broth

olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

 

1. Drizzle bottom of stock pot with olive oil and let heat over medium heat about 30 seconds. Remove sausage links from casing and cook through, breaking the links up as they cook. Add onion once sausage is mostly cook. Cook until softened. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.

2. Add can of tomatoes (and juice), can of beans, torn kale and beef broth. Stir. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer 30-45 minutes.

3. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste

4. Serve immediately.

6. Enjoy!

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