A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Creating holiday traditions around things other than food

Yesterday, I was signing up for a potluck holiday party. I’m bringing buffalo chicken egg rolls and cranberry white chocolate cookies (recipe for cookies here and I’ll share the egg rolls when I work them out!). A co-worker said “my gallbladder will kill me but it will be worth it!” Part of me smiled at the idea that my food is so eagerly anticipated – I’m still a food is love person at heart. That can get us all into trouble, especially in the holiday season where indulgence can be the name of the game.

Pockets full of holiday adventure :)

Pockets full of holiday adventure 🙂

We’re working on building non-food centered traditions into our holidays. We have a felt tree that we used to fill with candy to count down the holidays. Nowadays, we have activities in each pocket like touring Christmas lights, new holiday books and movies and introducing Oliver to the fine art of homemade snowflakes.

He kept telling me how important it was to be careful with scissors. I'm guessing his teachers say that a thousand times when they have the scissors out at school.

He kept telling me how important it was to be careful with scissors. I’m guessing his teachers say that a thousand times when they have the scissors out at school.

We also work to incorporate giving into our holiday season as much as we can. We adopt families at work and pre-K, as well as kids toys for the Boys and Girls club. O loves putting change in every red bucket we pass (and is disappointed if they aren’t out). Every step we take to pay it forward keeps our spirits on the best of the season. It’s about so much more than food.
image
I’m working on appreciating the little moments of holiday magic in the day. My favorite is turning on the tree every morning. I’m almost always the first up and moving in my house, so it feels like a little moment just for me. Christmas lights just make a little bit of my soul glow and even if they’re only on for an hour while we get ready for our day, it starts the day with a smile.

image
Oliver and I are starting a new Christmas tradition this year. On 12/23 (Christmas Eve-Eve per my inner child), we’re going to camp out together in our Santa jammies in the living room with the tree. Falling asleep under the glow of the tree after reading Christmas stories sounds like a perfect way to kick off our little holiday break.

What are your favorite non-food traditions?

PS Of course there are still some treats! Here’s the recipe for the lovely Gwenn’s sugar cookies. I’m going to try them with almond extract next time for a twist!

image

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mixture will seem a little dry. ** Chill for 2 hours. Roll to desired thickness and cut out. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes at 350 F. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

I decorated these with sugar before going into the oven and icing after they’d cooled. They’re easy to work with, but the dough is a little stiff (which is why it holds up to cutting). Thanks for the recipe Gwenn!

10 Comments »

Cookbook Review: Lighten Up Y’all

For Mother’s Day, I got two new cookbooks and we’ve already tested out several recipes in Lighten Up, Y’all (link just FYI – no perks for me). We’ve loved this one so far so I didn’t want to wait to share it with you!

Love new cookbooks for Mother's Day!

Love new cookbooks for Mother’s Day!

The author, Virginia Willis, is a French trained Southern chef who created these recipes when she herself needed to lose a little weight. I love that the focus is more on making healthy switches than on “diet” food. These are real Southern dishes, with the robust flavors and homegrown ingredients my husband and I grew up with, with a healthier profile.

The introduction talks a lot about Willis’ history as a chef and how her personal history with her family influenced these recipes. It also includes discussion of tools to get started in the kitchen, the rationale behind some of the swaps made in these recipes (like healthier fats, filling up on the good stuff like veggies and using lean proteins) and the approach to the nutritional information that is provided with every recipe.

Yet again, we see the "what you can when you can" approach - small tweaks to your food add up!

Yet again, we see the “what you can when you can” approach – small tweaks to your food add up!

While not every recipe includes photos, the photos that are in the book are exquisite and take me back to my grandmother’s house. My husband and I are both native Southerners (Louisiana & Arkansas) and as such, have a high standard for anything calling itself Southern food. I can promise you that many of these recipes graced the farm tables both of us grew up eating around. She doesn’t give up flavoring ingredients like sausage or bacon, but rather uses them in smaller doses. I particularly enjoyed her sense of humor about the bacon that features frequently in these recipes and about the frustrations of small portion sizes of steak in some recipe guides. 🙂

I totally agree - no matter how much I might logically know that 1 lb of steak feeds 4 people, it just feels wrong!

I totally agree – no matter how much I might logically know that 1 lb of steak feeds 4 people, it just feels wrong!

So far we’ve tried the Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak, the Quinoa Cobb Salad and Darrell’s favorite: New Soul Creole Dirty Rice. That one is such a big hit we’ve already made it twice!

Not the best pic, but trust me it is delish!

Not the best pic, but trust me it is delish!

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 chopped sweet onion, 2 stalks celery, chopped, and 1 chopped poblano pepper (**subbed a bell pepper the second time I made this – still delish). Cook 3-5 minutes until soft and add 3 cloves garlic; saute until fragrant. Add 4 oz sausage and cook another 3-4 minutes (**NOTE: Recipe says use chicken livers or chicken andouille sausage. We used turkey andouille sausage and closer to 8 oz of it). Add 1 tbsp fresh thyme (**subbed 1 tsp dried thyme), 2 tsp paprika and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. She also suggests salt and pepper to taste. I added a couple of grinds of pepper but no salt since we had plenty of salt from the sausage. Add 1 cup finely chopped collard greens and saute for another 5 minutes.

**Note, at this point she suggests adding 1 cup long grain rice and 2 cups water and then cooking the rice with all of the other ingredients like you typically would for rice (bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover for 18 minutes for white rice, 35 minutes for brown). I actually used two packets of boil-in-a-bag brown rice, that cooked as I was prepping the rest of this. I tossed the ends of my sausage links into the water I was using to boil the rice to just a little extra oomph of flavor in there. Then I stirred the cooked rice into the whole dish after I’d sauteed the collards, along with a splash of chicken stock to loosen up anything yummy stuck to the bottom of the pan. The flavors melded wonderfully and it makes this a 20 minute weeknight meal.

This makes 6 servings of 2/3 cup each, with 194 calories. Really, we ate bigger servings than that (probably twice that) as a main dish for dinner and loved it. You don’t taste the collards at all so it is a great way to sneak in extra greens and flavor. Even Oliver was interested in trying it and he’s very anti-greens. Look around for a variety of greens and leaner sausages you could use to switch it up based on what’s available in your area.

The dessert section is going to get a workout this Memorial Day, with a yogurt based pie crust I’m curious to try and several gorgeous fruit based cobbers and cakes. There’s even a healthier brownie recipe I may use for Darrell’s treat at work next week to see if they notice that it is healthified.

This was a great addition to my giant collection of cookbooks, as Darrell has already decreed that the dirty rice will be part of our regular rotation. Have you gotten any new cookbooks? My birthday is coming up in July so let me know if there’s anything I should add to my list. 🙂

 

2 Comments »

Southern Living Super Fast Southern Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Back in October, I reviewed the Southern Living 5 Ingredient Weeknight Meals cookbook (see here). At the same time, I was also sent their Super Fast Southern cookbook to review. You guys may remember that I’m a native Southerner – southwest Louisiana to be exact – and my husband is from Arkansas, so calling a cookbook “Southern” sets the bar pretty high in our house.

Southern Living Super Fast Southern, Oxmoor House 2014

Southern Living Super Fast Southern, Oxmoor House 2014

While these aren’t all classic Southern dishes, there are definitely a lot of pluses to this cookbook and enough truly Southern-inspired dishes to keep things interesting. I love that the table of contents are all photographs of the dishes, so it’s quick and easy to look for something that looks interesting. Like the 5 Ingredient cookbook, there are some handy general tips articles like “10 superfast secrets.” There’s also several sections (sorry for the blurry picture) with an original recipe plus a few minor tweaks for new dishes. I particularly loved the red pepper jelly-brie bites in the snacks section, with blue cheese, goat cheese and feta variations. It made me want to throw a party!

Variations on an original recipe

Variations on an original recipe for quesadillas

The more classically Southern dishes include hot water cornbread, maque choux and pan fried okra (I LOVE okra). I was intrigued by the black eyed pea cakes. They were really easy and a nice twist on our usual New Year’s black eyed pea tradition.

Ingredients:

15 oz can black eyed peas, undrained

2 garlic cloves, pressed

6 oz package buttermilk cornbread mix

1 large egg

1/4 cup sour cream

1.5 tsp Chipotle southwest seasoning mix

I promise it tasted better than this looked, but I wanted you to see the consistency (thick!).

I promise it tasted better than this looked, but I wanted you to see the consistency (thick!).

– Coarsely mash the peas with a fork. Stir in garlic and remaining ingredients. Spoon about 1/3 cup batter for each cake onto a hot lightly greased griddle. Cook cakes 2 minutes or until edges look dry and cooked; turn and cook 2 more minutes.

For New Year's, with sauteed greens and a baked sweet potato.

For New Year’s, with sauteed greens and a baked sweet potato.

These were a nice of change of pace for black eyed peas, although next time I’d make them smaller (maybe a scant 1/4 cup batter?) so they weren’t so thick. As much as I enjoyed these the first day, I admit I really appreciated them as post run snacks for the rest of the weekend because they were portable, good at room temperature and a nice mix of protein and carbs.

Ham biscuits are such a Southern classic.

Ham biscuits are such a Southern classic.

The black pepper honey ham biscuits and shrimp butter are still on our list to try when we’re up for an indulgence.

This makes think of a shrimp dip my mom always made at the holidays.

This makes think of a shrimp dip my mom always made at the holidays.

The desserts were where things got really fun. I loved the idea of topping pie filling with a sugared biscuit cutout with fun cookie cutter shapes for a quick and easy shortcake.

Don't these look adorable?

Don’t these look adorable?

Oliver and I had a blast making the little mini-banana puddings, layering individual serving of sliced bananas, pre-made pudding (gotta love the pudding cups) and Nilla wafers. It wasn’t quite the same as my mom’s classic banana pudding, but for a weeknight it was a fun dessert with Oliver!

Ours weren't nearly this cute, but they were tasty.

Ours weren’t nearly this cute, but they were tasty.

Of course, the most Southern and indulgent dessert in the book is the deep fried Moon Pie. If you aren’t Southern, you may not even know what a Moon Pie is and I’m not sure I’d be able to find them in Nebraska. It’s this layered cookie/cake thing with slightly stale wafers and stale marshmallow filling, covered in chocolate. I don’t love them, but I have to say the deep fried version looks tempting!

Looks like something from the state fair, right?

Looks like something from the state fair, right?

If you’re looking for cookbook that is purely and truly Southern, this might not meet your needs, but if you’re looking for approachable recipes with a Southern twist, definitely check this one out! Everything is straightforward and doable for the average home cook, with lots of pictures and tips to make things even easier.

Somebody gets to check this out for themselves! Just like last time, you can enter by leaving a comment below and I’ll choose a winner with the random number generator. I’ll leave the giveaway open through next Tuesday (1/20/2015). This would be a great way to find new Southern treats before Mardi Gras. 🙂

Disclosure: Just like last time, I was given the book to review and the opportunity to pass a book on to one of you guys but I wasn’t otherwise compensated and all opinions are my own. Thanks!

 

21 Comments »

Thankful Thursday & Slow Cooker Posole

As a working mom, my slow cooker definitely stays near the top of my gratitude list. Rarely does a week go by without using it and this week, we’ve used it twice so far!

My hardest working kitchen tool. :)

My hardest working kitchen tool. 🙂

I thought I’d quickly share the first slow cooker recipe I made this week because it’s ridiculously easy and tasty. It’s a posole-inspired pork soup and could not be easier. I just combined all of these ingredients in the slow cooker, with no browning or pre-cooking:

2 cans drained hominy

1 jar salsa verde

1 onion

1 green bell pepper

1 bag frozen corn

1 pork tenderloin (1 – 1.5 lbs), cut into bite size chunks

1 can fire roasted tomatoes with garlic

1 32 oz box unsalted vegetable stock

Cook it all on low for 8 hours.That’s it. If you wanted to get more complicated and boost the flavor a bit, you could brown the onion, bell pepper and pork before tossing them in the slow cooker but I got great flavor without that extra step. The classic topping would be thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, but we weren’t that fancy on a Tuesday night. 🙂

 

This week, I’m also very thankful that my bill from the first ER visit was a lot cheaper than I was expecting. 🙂 I’m also thankful for my Under Armour Cold Gear tights that allowed me to run last night amidst these glorious Christmas lights.

These flash in a fantastic dancing pattern among the trees!

These flash in a fantastic dancing pattern among the trees!

I hope you find many things to be thankful for this week!

4 Comments »

Surprisingly yummy quick and easy beef and veggie soup in the slow cooker

Last week, we planned a quick and easy slow cooker soup for dinner on Thursday night because I knew I’d be getting home after 6. I polled my guys for their favorite veggies and then just tossed them all in the slow cooker, with a little bit of beef, and crossed my fingers that we’d have something yummy when we got home. Both of my guys inhaled it and any time you can get a 3 year old to eat a big bowl of veggies, it’s a win.
Slow cooker beef and veggie soup - huge hit in our house!

Slow cooker beef and veggie soup – huge hit in our house!

This soup is definitely a good demonstration of using meat as a small flavoring tool instead of the primary focus of a dish, if you’re looking to lighten up your dishes without going full-on vegetarian. I won’t pretend that this is at all swanky or fancy food, but it is quick and healthy and a life saver for a busy working mom. It’s also a great way to use up any bits and pieces of veggies you have in your freezer, fridge or pantry. I confess that part of the carrots in this soup, the first time we made it, were a little baggie of carrots that came as a side choice with something O got as a kids meal somewhere that I found hanging out in the back of the fridge. You could use any veggies your family likes. We have a ton of potatoes from the CSA and probably should have tossed them in. We will next time!

Slow Cooker Beef and Veggie Soup:

Cook time 8 hours on low

Prep time 5-10 minutes (seriously)

Ingredients:

3/4-1 pound lean beef (we used a sirloin steak and I didn’t even cut it into chunks – it just pulled apart when things were done)

1 diced onion *I used a precut mirepoix mixture to save time

3 stalks diced celery *I used a precut mirepoix mixture to save time

1 diced bell pepper
2 cups fresh carrots (I used a bag of pre-sliced coins, plus a small baggie of carrots that came as a side with a kids meal)
1 large bag frozen corn
1 large bag frozen peas
1 large bag frozen lima beans
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic (if you can’t find these, use regular diced tomatoes and add a couple of cloves of garlic, minced)
1 box unsalted beef stock
Seasoning to taste: I used 1 tablespoon of a grill seasoning mix I have and a few grinds of pepper. Your favorite hamburger seasoning or Mrs Dash would also work well.

Literally, just toss all of these things in the slow cooker, put on the lid and come home to dinner later. If you’re lazy like me and didn’t cut the beef into bite size chunks, it should easily pull apart at this point to shred and distribute through the soup. If you wanted to amp up the flavor and had the extra time, brown the beef and saute the onions and celery before adding them to the cooker. We served this with cornbread and it was just as good for leftovers at lunch the next day. I’d tell you how well it froze (I suspect it freezes very well) but we ate it all before we had a chance to put it in the freezer.

* I left this in the slow cooker all day, but this could easily be done on the stove top as well. You’d want to saute the beef first in a little olive oil. Pull it out and saute the onions, celery, and bell pepper, then add back the rest of the ingredients (including the beef) and let simmer until the carrots were tender. By the time the carrots are tender, everything else should have cooked through.

1 Comment »

Random thoughts and a recipe

Random thoughts first:

Turns out, it;s over by steak sauce.

Turns out, it’s over by steak sauce.

We ran out of Worcestershire sauce last week and it is such a rare thing to have on the shopping list, it took me a surprisingly long time to figure out where it was! It seems to be one of those things we always have and yet never buy. Maybe it somehow replenishes itself in the cabinet?

Yesterday, I wore heels all day at work and wow are my glutes sore! I don’t normally wear heels and after a day in them, I was feeling it! Does that count as a workout?

It was a good thing I was wearing heels and a dress (for no good reason – just felt like dressing up). I ended up giving lots of TV, radio and newspaper interviews for something that came up unexpectedly at work. I hate watching myself on TV, but two of the stations told our media coordinator that they wanted me next time they needed to talk to someone at our institution, so that means I must have done fairly well. Despite the fact that I am 36 years old and professionally successful enough that I’m wanted to talk about breaking news, my mother’s question was still “were you dressed nicely?” Gotta love moms 🙂

We absolutely loved the ratatouille we made last week and it froze so well! It’s very simple to make as well, once you get past all of the chopping.

image

Saute 2 chopped onions in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add 4 cloves of garlic (as usual, I used the frozen cubes) and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in 2 large eggplant, chopped (I didn’t peel them) and 4-5 medium zucchini chopped (also not peeled). I tossed the bell pepper in at this point as well (3 chopped bell pepper – I used red, yellow and purple) although the recipe calls for them to be added much later. Add 3/4 cup of water, which doesn’t seem like much for such a large mass of veggies but trust me it works! Simmer for 10 minutes or so and then add 1 large can of tomatoes (28 oz) and a teaspoon of dried thyme. Stir, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes (or until you can get to it to turn it off, which is what happened in my house). Stir in the basil just before serving. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil, but for expediency I used a few of the frozen squares. For something that sounds so incredibly simple, the dish had such great subtle flavors and was unexpectedly delicious. I ate it over polenta the first night and along as leftovers. It froze well and I’ve already had it for lunch a few times!

Ratatouille over polenta - I felt very European

Ratatouille over polenta – I felt very European

More random thoughts:

I apparently do not like the Clif energy gels. I finally got around trying the one I have as a free sample from somewhere. The texture was not appealing! I’m glad I didn’t try the one we got on the course at the Princess Half Marathon. That’s why I always carry fuel I know works for me in a race situation.

The texture was a lot thicker than I was expecting!

The texture was a lot thicker than I was expecting!

Thanks to a sale at the grocery store I picked up a couple of new flavors of Gu to try. I love salted caramel, but trying something new flav0r-wise is good sometimes. I’ll test them out on shorter runs so I’m not far from home if they throw me off!

Espresso love & Peanut butter to try out on easy long runs coming up this training cycle

Espresso love & Peanut butter to try out on easy long runs coming up this training cycle

Today we’ve got a new vegan chili recipe going in the slow cooker. I’ll be sure to update you guys if it is worth making again!

Any new recipes or random thoughts of your own to share? Anyone else consider a day in heels a workout?

8 Comments »

Italian meatball sliders

This weekend, I tested out a Cooking Light recipe from the March 2012 issue that I’ve had flagged forever: Italian Meatball Sliders. I must confess that I took this recipe as inspiration more than following it exactly, thanks to a lack of time and a couple of key ingredients. It still turned out great, so I thought I’d share my modified version and the original (slightly more complicated) recipe down below.
image
This made 6 servings in our house of burgers that were sort of halfway between normal burger size and slider size. You could up or down size them as you like for true sliders or regular burgers.
In a bowl, gently mix:
1.25 lbs ground lean turkey
3 garlic cloves (I use the frozen cubes)
1/3 cup fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup diced roasted red pepper
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 large egg
Once all of the ingredients are incorporated, shape them into patties of your desired size. Be aware that this is very wet and sticky after you’ve mixed it, but they held together well for me when I cooked them so don’t let that put you off!
Cook on your grill or stovetop until cooked through. I used my Griddler (panini-press type device) and it took about 6-8 minutes.
Serve on the bread of your choice – English muffins were the perfect size for us – that has been popped under the broiler topped with slices of mozzarella cheese. As you can see in the picture, we also tried one with feta cheese and that worked well too!
Italian Meatball Sliders
Put a spoonful of your favorite marinara on the bread and cheeese, top with the patty and close the whole thing up. They were really tasty in combination and I think we didn’t lose anything significant in terms of taste but saved a lot of time! We’ll definitely try these out in the future with the Italian sausage mixed in, like the original recipe suggested, but for a weekday, these were a quick and tasty option!
PS We crumbled the leftover patties into our favorite marinara to beef (or turkey, as it were) up our spaghetti sauce for dinner last night and it worked great! I love repurposing leftovers into something new!
 
Cooking Light Original Recipe (March 2012)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces lean ground pork
  • 2 (4-ounce) links turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce
  • 12 slider buns, toasted
  • 12 basil leaves

Preparation

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat; swirl to coat. Add garlic and shallots to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until shallots are softened, stirring frequently. Combine shallot mixture, ricotta, and next 8 ingredients (through egg) in a medium bowl. Shape mixture into 12 (1-inch) meatballs; flatten each meatball slightly.
  2. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add meatballs to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning once. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until meatballs are done. Top bottom half of each bun with 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce, 1 meatball, 1 basil leaf, and top half of bun.
4 Comments »

Cookbook Review: Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide

Recently I was really impressed by Sally Kuzemchak on a podcast about balancing good nutrition with all of the other demands in life, particularly as a mother. After hearing her speak, I went out to buy her cookbook: Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide. Not only were all of these recipes tested by the Cooking Light kitchens, the source of so many recent family favorites, they were tested by Ms Kuzemchak’s own family and kid approved. After playing with the cookbook for the last month, let me tell you this book does not disappoint!

It’s organized into sections based on common family mealtime dilemmas, like crazy schedules, tight budgets, picky eaters or foods for dieters than non-dieters will still love.

Dinnertime Dilemma-based chapters

Dinnertime Dilemma-based chapters

There’s a nice mix of main dishes, snacks, sides and desserts. There are also fantastic little side bars and notes about creative ways to make substitutions or solve common problems.

I have to admit, this chicken turned out dry for me but that may have been my fault for letting it stay on "warm" in the crock pot all day. I love the "crazy trick" notes!

I have to admit, this chicken turned out dry for me but that may have been my fault for letting it stay on “warm” in the crock pot all day. I love the “crazy trick” notes!

In addition to the recipes, there are one page articles that walk you through strategies for things like planning a week of meals around after school activities, raising kids that love veggies, places where take the convenience food shortcut and still feel good about it and other real world questions I know I’ve struggled with as a working mom.

image

I love not stressing about ketchup. 🙂

My favorite recipe I’ve tried so far has been falafel with avocado spread, which sounds far more complicated that it was. I confess, I skipped the avocado spread but whipped together the bean patty (because really, that’s all that falafel is) amazingly quickly and easily and it was SO good!

 

Quick, easy, super healthy!

Quick, easy, super healthy!

We also love the idea of cake pan enchiladas, with the ingredients layered like a sort of Mexican-lasagna as opposed to rolling a bunch of individual enchiladas. So much faster and NEATER and still very tasty! I love that all of these recipes are simple and straightforward, requiring no fancy equipment or kitchen skill.

If you’re struggling with finding healthy meals for your family, definitely check this one out. It has something for everyone and a very real-world, forgiving mentality that makes it easier to get food on the table in an increasingly crazy busy world!

Have you added any cookbooks to your collection recently? I confess I love cookbooks and am constantly collecting new ones!

Have a good Saturday everyone!

5 Comments »

Food bits and bites

Busy week at work and leaving my guys on Saturday for my  longest trip away since O was born, so naturally I have food on the brain. 🙂 My coping mechanisms stay consistent, what can I say. Rather than eating ALL THE FOOD, I thought I’d do a little foodie-thought-brain-dump.

– One of the goals of my new eating plan was to have more true family meals and I’m happy to report that we’ve been doing great with that for the last couple of weeks! O and I have been taking a cookbook or cooking magazine with us on our Sunday morning breakfast dates and picking out something new to cook while we’re there. He’s the one who picked the shrimp succotash recipe from Cooking Light that we loved and he’s also picked shrimp and black bean quesadillas from the Runner’s World cookbook for this week. I’ll be sure to let you know how those pan out!

Taco night! Another O choice and he had a great time building & eating his taco.

Taco night! Another O choice and he had a great time building & eating his taco.

– I recently tried a Pinterest recipe that I’ve pinned several variations of over the last few months, without actually trying any of them! I had a couple of overly ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and decided to try these peanut butter – banana muffins. They were quick and easy – blend up two ripe bananas, 2 eggs, 1 cup of peanut butter, honey, a bit of baking soda and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips and bake at 400F for 9 minutes. They ended up tasting like banana nut bread muffins more than banana and peanut butter, but they were yummy and incredibly quick and easy. I made a smaller test batch with PB2 instead of peanut butter and that also worked well if you’re interested in cutting the calories a bit, although these are already lighter than your average muffin. Definitely try them out if you have extra ripe bananas sitting around!

Peanut butter banana muffins with chocolate chips - yum!

Peanut butter banana muffins with chocolate chips – yum!

– Thanks to this week’s Another Mother Runner podcast, I’ve found a new food blog to follow: Real Mom Nutrition. It is a great resource for real world moms struggling with getting the healthiest choices on the table for our families amidst a thousand distractions and other responsibilities. The blog author has also written a Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide available on Amazon that I’ve ordered. I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out!

– I cannot tell you how many times I’ve grabbed something to eat out of the fridge because “Hey, it’s a power food so it’s free”. Thankfully, most of the times I’ve convinced myself to put whatever I grabbed back in the fridge if I’m not really hungry. I shouldn’t eat just because I “can” – I need to learn to eat only when I’m hungry. Tough, but a worthwhile endeavor.

– While the muffins worked nicely, my birthday cheesecake was a total fail. I used the modification of my pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I’ve used successfully for my last several birthdays, using berries instead of pumpkin and cranberries. However, I learned this week that there is a limit to how many many berries you can put into the cheesecake before it throws the texture off thanks to too much liquid. Oops. It ended up as an ugly birthday cake fail, but at least it is still edible, even if it has to be eaten in a bowl with a spoon.

– Speaking of birthdays, one of the perks of a holiday birthday is getting your gifts spread out over a week or so thanks to delivery disruptions with the holiday. Yesterday I got a very cool gift box (among all of my cool gifts – great new books, music, running gear & windchimes! Thanks to everyone!) with a couple of new recipes from a friend, complete with a couple of the more exotic seasonings I need to make the recipes! Such a great idea! I’m looking forward to trying out the new recipes. Thanks Cara!

New recipes, plus smoked paprika and green curry - two of the more unusual ingredients in the recipes (and a cookbook all about fruit - right up my alley!)

New recipes, plus smoked paprika and green curry – two of the more unusual ingredients in the recipes (and a cookbook all about fruit – right up my alley!)

What’s on your mind on this lovely Tuesday morning? Anybody else with food on the brain these days?

8 Comments »

Shrimp & Corn Succotash Salad

We tried out a new recipe Friday that the whole family loved, so I thought I’d share. This was inspired by a recipe in this month’s Cooking Light magazine. Oliver and I went through the new edition of Cooking Light at our Sunday morning breakfast date last weekend and he helped me pick out things that looked yummy. He also helped me actually make this dish and both he and my hubby liked it, so it was a winner all around for healthy family living! Cooking Light doesn’t have the recipe up yet for me to link the original, so I’ll just tell you how we did it (which was an easier, lazier way than the original).

Ingredients

3/4 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chicken stock

3 cups shelled edamame

Hubby bought lots of individual packets of edamame - I did loads of opening little packages.

Hubby bought lots of individual packets of edamame – I did loads of opening little packages.

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp hot sauce (We added this to individual dishes rather than in the whole bowl, as O was eating)

2 tbsp sour cream

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp ranch dressing seasoning mix (the recipe called for tarragon and dill, neither of which I had so this was my sub)

Saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add the chicken stock, edamame and shrimp and saute for 5-7 minutes or until shrimp are nearly opaque. Stir in the corn, ranch seasoning, salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dish and toss with the sour cream. For the adult dishes, we served this tossed with salad greens and the hot sauce. O ate his alone (and ate it even though all of the components were mixed together! Major toddler victory!) without the lettuce because he’s not so into salad.

Shrimp corn succotash salad

Shrimp corn succotash salad

This was a great, fresh summer meal. I’ll be having the leftovers for cold lunches this week and will definitely let you know if it doesn’t hold up well but I suspect it will. I’ll be sure to update this with the Cooking Light recipe link when it is available. Their version included homemade shrimp stock from the shells, which I’m sure was delicious but my version was weeknight doable. Really, you could probably microwave the corn and edamame and use cooked shrimp (like a cocktail tray)  if you were in a hurry.

We’ve gotten in the habit of eating three different meals far too often (toddler food for O, WW food for me and normal food for Darrell) so something like this, that works for all of us, was a great change of pace. We’ll definitely be testing out some new recipes this summer for the whole family and I’ll keep you posted with the winners like this one. For most of the last two years, shrimp was the only meat O would reliably eat so this was a good starting point for us.

Do you have any new recipes to share?

3 Comments »