Saturday, October 27, 2012

Get your vegetable on!

Gotta get those veggies in somehow. I am pretty easy to eat my veggies. Now having a little one around, I'm doing everything I can to instill healthy eating and exploring new foods. So far, he's done great. 

Another great recipe that I found here and tried and the boys loved it! So much that I have no idea how many I made because they were eating them straight out of the oven. Luckily, I was able to grab a few for myself. These are great and a great finger food for toddlers. Woah, I have a toddler now.

Baked Zucchini Sticks (Original recipe here from SkinnyTaste) 

3 medium zucchini, sliced into sticks (3"x1/2". Mine were too skinny!)
1 large egg white
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used basil, oregano, garlic powder)
2 tablespoon parmesan cheese (I added more)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
cooking spray
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put egg white in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, or zip lock bag, place breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Dip sticks into egg whites then into breadcrumbs and place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Lightly spray sticks while on the cookie sheet. Cook in oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with marinara sauce to dip in. WOW! These are great and a great way to get your veggies in!

Kid-Friendly, Dad-Approved Dinner

In an effort to be prepared for dinner time ahead of time with these two boys that I live with, I've come up with and found various recipes that help me do just that.

Thanks to various blogs, websites and cookbooks I can continue to find new and exciting things to eat and feed these hungry guys. I never realized how simple Chicken Nuggets were. I find myself saying while making these "Chickens don't have nuggets".

Easy Chicken Nuggets (Original recipe here from Weelicious)

1 lb chicken breast, cut into chunks (I've also used ground turkey too)
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs 
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese grated
**2 tablespoons Wheat Germ (my own addition)

I have sub'd in ground turkey for the chicken and it did not taste any different. I've made these both ways before. I tend to add a little more parmesan cheese and I also added in some dried basil and oregano, about the same measurements as the parsley, to taste.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine chicken (or turkey), oats, parsley, garlic and onion powder and salt. Mix until meat is chopped and everything is mixed. 

Place bread crumbs and parmesan in a shallow bowl or dish, add in wheat germ. There is no taste difference. Keeps the nuggets crisp and just adds to crumb texture. Healthy addition! Form meat into small nuggets, about the size of your palm, but really as big or small as you wish. I would recommend keeping all nuggets about the same size, they will cook more evenly. Place nuggets in bread crumb mixture to coat.

Place nuggets on a cooling rack, on top of foil covered cookie sheet. Lightly spray nuggets with cooking spray (I use olive oil spray). Cook in oven for 15-18 minutes, and serve! These are also great as left overs in the fridge and warmed up the next night. Yum!

Huh, still blurry. Bummer.
These also work well if you want to freeze them. Just stop before cooking them. Freeze them on a pan and then transfer to a zip lock bag. When ready to cook, just pop them out of the freezer and onto a baking sheet with the cooling rack and spray with cooking spray. Cook for 18-20 minutes

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

Fall is leaves, cool temperatures, warm socks, hot chocolate & Pumpkin anything.

I love pumpkin anything, any time of year. Since everyone else is into pumpkin baking and the only thing I've baked pumpkin-wise has been bread, thought I'd give these a try. But, why do it the easy way? Let's do everything from scratch. Don't worry, its not much more work (seriously), I just didn't have the easy stuff (pancake mix) on hand. As I'm stocking up on pumpkin now, the real ones and baking them myself, I might as well make some good stuff with them. These are great for dinner the next day, or any time of day FYI.

Pumpkin Pancakes (from scratch, original recipe by me)

1 1/2 cup milk (soy or dairy-free work well too)
1 cup pumpkin puree (room temp)
1 egg
2 tablespoons apple sauce (in place of vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups flour, white or whole wheat
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
*Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, mix milk, pumpkin, egg, apple sauce & vinegar. If using vanilla add into milk mix. In a separate bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda and spices including flaxseed. Can use more flaxseed if you'd like. Adds a nutty-er taste but hardly can tell. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients just enough to combine. Not mixing too much or the batter will make the pancakes too "heavy". I still haven't perfected this. Poor onto hot griddle and flip over when 'bubbling' begins. 

I'm not the best at cooking pancakes, still working on that. These had a slight enough pumpkin flavor but not overpowering. Personally, next time I'd add more pumpkin, vanilla and more cinnamon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

{Fall into Autumn: Northern Arizona}

Some things I love about Autumn are the the cool, crisp air, the leaves falling off the trees and the changing of the color of the leaves. Living in the desert with plants that don't lose their leaves, and cactus that don't exactly have leaves to lose, makes it difficult to see such things. Not to mention we just left our triple digit friends for the lower 90s a few days ago. Luckily for me, and many others that enjoy this, northern Arizona is not too far away! 

A little climb in elevation, drop in temperature about 20 degrees and a completely different climate exists. We drove up to Flagstaff last weekend and got to see some changing Aspen trees. Explored the hilly-mountainous area around Flagstaff and Jackson got his first hike in.
[Warning: Photo overload!] All from October 7.

Pinecones aren't that tasty.

Look Mom, I found dirt to play in!

Family trip success! Next on the agenda: Snow.   

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Did you think I forgot how to cook or how to post food & recipes? Nope! I just don't post often. I'm still cooking.

While looking through The Pioneer Woman's cookbook for dinner ideas I came across her Pesto recipe and Pizza dough. I absolutely love Pesto but never have basil and always want to make my own. This meant a trip to the grocery store!

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Pesto sauce (recipe below)
Chicken, about 1 lb, grilled & shredded
Cheddar cheese, about 1-1 1/2 cups shredded
Pizza dough (recipe below)
Oregano (to taste)
Basil (to taste)
Garlic salt (to taste)

Pesto Sauce (taken from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook: Food From My Frontier)

3/4 cup fresh basil
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
salt & pepper
1/3 cup EVOO (olive oil)

Place basil, parmesan, pine nuts, whole garlic cloves and salt and pepper to food processor. Put lit on and begin to blend. Adding EVOO as you go. Add enough so the pesto is a sauce and not so thick. Set aside or put in the fridge for a day or so. Can also be frozen in cubes to be used later!

Next, make the pizza dough...which can also be stored in the fridge for a few days.

Pizza Dough (Also taken from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook: Food From My Frontier)

1 scant teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

First combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add flour to the bowl of a mixer, using paddle attachment. Sprinkle in the salt. Turn the mixer on and add olive oil. Finally, pour in the yeast water mix. Stop mixing when it becomes sticky. Allow dough to rise for about an hour before using. If storing in fridge, take out and allow to rise for about an hour before using

Before cooking

And after cooking

Once you have the dough and the pesto, and the chicken is cooked and the cheese is shredded, heat oven to 350 degrees. I lined a cookie sheet with foil so it wouldn't stick. Roll out pizza dough and lay on the cookie sheet. Cover with pesto sauce. Next, sprinkle cheese around. Then, add chicken. I sprinkled with oregano, basil and garlic salt. Baked in the oven for 15-18 minutes. If you want a crispier crust, bake a little longer.

This was delish! I made the pesto and dough a day ahead of time, so that saved time. All I had to do was grill the chicken and shred the cheese while the dough was rising. Good to make a head of time! There were no leftovers :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

October Challenge: Check-up

Even though it's only 5 days into this October Challenge, wanted to stop by and check in. Anyone still with me?

As we get closer to the Holidays and craziness that is the end of the year, taking time for ourselves can be tough. I know I'm learning all about this being a new mom. Can I still say I'm a new mom if my little guy is now 1 year old? Where did the time go? He's so much fun, we love it!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I'm one to speak about crazy schedules, working rotating hours myself, but finding time to do something for yourself is key to keep the sanity around here. Can I get an Amen?! So even just 10-15 minutes a day is HUGE people, huge. I for one cherish a shower like nobody's business!

This challenge was designed made up to do just that. Just taking a few minutes a day to do something for your body will help. And who knows, might even kick-start even better choices and more time to do other fun good-for-your-body activities. 

Day 5: so the 10+1 a day challenge is on Day 5. SO you should be at 14 reps today. Ideas: Squats, Lunges, Crunches, Jumping Jacks, Push ups...or all of the above! Or any combo. It's just a starter and an idea really. Have fun with it. And hopefully by October 31st you can do 40 reps of at least one move. WOW!

My progress: I've been mixing it up with Squats and Lunges. I need to keep up the push-ups as I've forgot about those.

On another note, I'm pretty proud of how I've come to eat so well. I have always considered myself to be a pretty healthy eater but since having a baby, and really in the last 9-10 months I've gotten really healthy with my eating. I basically, unknowingly, follow a Paleo/Vegetarian diet I'd say 85% of the time. Now there aren't any underlying reasons why I'm strict about these diet approaches, because I'm not, the food choices and varieties just appeal to me and are easy to eat. I'm not picky and am always up for trying new and different foods. And our meals at home that I make aren't super "weird" either. We still have meatloaf, spaghetii, tuna noodle casserole, hamburgers/turkey burgers, to name a few. I find my breakfast, lunch and some dinner choices are just more healthy. With my work schedule there are a number of days each week that we don't get to eat dinner together, and other meals, so making my own quick, easy to pack meals are..well...easy for me.

Another Instagram photo: New FitFluential tank top from ViewSport. Working out :)

Not sure any of that made sense? But oh well. I can tell things are working, so whatever I'm doing is working. I feel good. 

Motivation to everyone. Keep up the good work! Happy Weekend friends :)


Flashback Friday: From nearly 2 years ago, we carved Pumpkins and had some Pumpkin beer. Halloween wasn't cold here, still 90 degrees.