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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Like Deja Vu All Over Again!

Last week I posted my menu plan.  What's that saying... the best laid plans of mice and men...  yeah, that's me.  I do make a plan.  But, as often happens, a couple things went astray this week.  Sunday I didn't feel up to doing the prep work, and then wasn't into cooking during the week.  I think it had something to do with the heat and then the rain.  Rain, rain go away!!! We ate, but just didn't follow the menu real closely.  We ate leftovers or something really quick like eggs.  By Friday we were both pretty tired from a busy week at work, so last night I ate granola for supper and MR had PBJ.  He didn't feel like cooking either!  The second thing that happened is that I thought I saved some recipes, and now I can't find them.  I am so annoyed, because I now have two packages of cream cheese in the fridge, and can't find the cheesecake (yes it was clean!) recipe!

The up side of all this is that my menu planning is a little easier because I have some planned items from last week that will go on this week's list!  So yay for me!  That makes it easier for my planning, and also keeps me from spending too much at the grocery.  I spent a lot (for us) last week because I went to Giant, Trader Joe's AND Whole Foods!

The first recipe up is Prosciutto Wrapped Beef from last week.  I am really eager to make this.  It looks awesome and easy.  Two of my favorite food things!!!  So here we go.....


SATURDAY
Prosciutto Wrapped Beef and summer squash

SUNDAY
Cheesesteak bell peppers (yet another recipe I didn't use last week)

MONDAY
Stuffed Zucchini This is from The Gracious Pantry.  She has tons of awesome recipes,  I will sub quinoa for the textured vegetable protein because I guess that is mostly soy and I don't eat soy if I can avoid it.

TUESDAY
grilled steak and salad

WEDNESDAY
Chili - I know this isn't a summer food, but we have a lot of ground beef that we need to use before the next cow arrives later in July or early August!

THURSDAY
Hot Dogs - these are a little iffy for cleanliness but we always buy Hebrew National brand.  I won't eat the bun but we get whole wheat buns at Trader Joe's for those who do.
Slow Cooker Baked Beans The Naked Kitchen is another fabulous site for great recipes, especially if you are vegan

FRIDAY
We're going out!

I will also make granola (this is a weekly use recipe for our house) and maybe some Paleo muffins or something to make breakfast easy.  Leaving the house at 5:30 in the morning means I have to be able to grab a quick breakfast sometimes!

So that's my plan for the week.  And by posting it in my blog I know where to find the recipes when I want them!  I put them in Pinterest too, but sometimes I find that I have so many recipes out there that I can't find the one I want!  


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Planning to eat!

Weekly menu is up!  I have been a little lazy about planning lately and I can definitely tell the difference.  I need to take the time every week to plan my menu and do my shopping.  We had a family reunion at my house last week so, while it was great, it also threw off my usual routine.  And, well, I love routine!

So back at it this week!  I went to the grocery store early because of the Dragon Boat Festival (see previous blog).  We will go to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's tomorrow.   And here is the menu.

SAT - zucchini "noodles" with Sarah's Marinara.
I cook some ground beef first for protein.

SUN - pizza with cauliflower pizza crust.
This is from the book Wheat Belly.  I tried another cauliflower crust recipe and it didn't work very well, so will try this one and let you know!

MON -   Cheesesteak bell peppers
I love a good, greasy cheesesteak, but I am trying to avoid the bread.  (sigh)

TUE - grilled steak and grilled squash.
Couldn't be easier as long as you remember to get the meat out of the freezer!

WED - prosciutto wrapped beef 
This looks pretty easy and very tasty.  The site I found it on gave it 5 stars or something, so I am going to take a shot at it!

THU - paleo rosemary pot roast   This is my go to pot roast.  The flavors are incredible and I highly recommend it.  My family loves it, and we sometimes use the leftovers (if there are any) for sandwiches... in pre-bread days.  Well, they still eat bread.

Do you sense a little bit of a theme here?  I have beef to use before the next cow comes!  We are eating a lot of red meat lately!  I also plan to make apple walnut bread (paleo), pumpkin spice muffins, cheesecake, egg salad and tuna salad for breakfasts and lunches. I will also make clean rice crispy treats for #1 son.  If all those recipes turn out, I will post them for you.

I was hoping to clean up a dessert recipe I posted the other day, but I just don't see that in the cards this week.  Soon, though!

Have to get to the Dragon Boat races for the face off between the neighboring towns at noon!  Have a clean eating week!






How a Dragon Feeds a Family

Not my usual clean eating-related blog, but it is about food, so that counts, right?

Once upon a time there was a man, a pastor of a local church, that believed that together we could end hunger in our county.  Listed as the 13th  richest county in the nation in 2012, Calvert County, MD has over 10,000 families who rely on food pantries to provide their next meal.  That pastor, Robert Hahn, envisioned a community where churches, schools, non-profits, businesses, and neighbors joined together to ensure not only that people were fed, but that the root causes of that hunger could be uncovered and our neighbors could be equipped to become self-sufficient.  Pastor Hahn reached out to his colleagues and his community, and End Hunger in Calvert County was born.

End Hunger is so much more than a food pantry where families can get a box of macaroni and cheese.  They have partnered with local farmers so that live foods can be harvested, and clients can eat fresh, local produce.  Locally raised meat has been donated.  Classes are held regularly to help clients with shopping on a budget, and cooking healthy meals for their families.  Recently, End Hunger started End Hunger Works, a workforce development initiative that collaborates with business and organization to provide career opportunities to local residents. As of this writing, they are offering their second free 15-week electrician training program.  Participants who complete the program will be eligible to work in the local Union Residential Program.  They will also be able to apply to the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee electrical apprenticeship program.  How's that for equipping to self-sufficiency!?

End Hunger is innovative and forward thinking with their food pantry and their End Hunger Works program.  But they also are creative when it come to their fundraising.  Today, they will host the first ever Dragon Boat Races on the Chesapeake Bay in North Beach, MD.  http://endhungercalvert.org/dragonboat/  All I can say is... this is going to be EPIC!  I have been going to the Bay every evening this past week to watch the practices, because you sure don't want to do this as a team of 16 paddlers without practicing!  I have been telling everyone about it all week!  It's so exciting, and it's coming to my town!  There are 20 teams signed up, so it's definitely going to be a fun-filled day.

It's so amazing to be a supporter of such an inspiring community-wide group.  I have always supported the local food bank wherever I have lived (and that's been many places!), but never before have I seen one that goes so far to ensure that healthy options are part of the program.  And certainly not to knock any of the food banks in other areas, because they are an essential part of any community, but I think only End Hunger would use dragons to raise money to feed families.  End Hunger in Calvert County.... it's not just another food bank.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summertime is s'more time!

Even though I am always looking for new recipes and yummy things to make, I rarely watch cooking shows. I watched Cupcake Wars once because a neighborhood bakery was competing.  They were the first ones out of the competition so that was sad.  So, last night I saw a rerun of that Jeff Foxworthy cooking competition.  I don't even know what it's called, and don't care enough to look it up.  It was kind of cute, because it's all these regular folks who do something else for a living, but really love to bake.  The producers were careful to ensure there was something for everybody:  The firefighter, the guy who loves his truck, the guy who thinks he's the best at everything but it kind of a douche, the professional woman, the southern belle, the college student, the mom with pearls, and the crybaby.  (Stop crying!  jeez.)

Last night one of the recipes they had to make was gourmet s'mores, using a recipe of one of the judges.  They had to make graham crackers, and chocolate for the top, and even homemade marshmallow!  They looked amazing.  I had previously tried my hand at making marshmallows... epic failure by the way, which is why you didn't hear about it.  But I didn't really have all the ingredients and I was trying to sub.  I don't think you can sub anything when making marshmallows.  They are pretty touchy.  Because I knew www.thegraciouspantry.com had a (mostly) clean marshmallow recipe, and www.thenakedkitchen.com had a graham cracker recipes, and cripe, who CAN'T melt chocolate? I could make my own CLEAN version of s'mores!  YAY!  Gracious Pantry says the marshmallows aren't totally clean because of the gelatin.  Ah well, you can't have everything and, let's be honest, if you can get this close, isn't that a win!?  It is in my book.

I think on the show they had four hours to do the whole thing.  Let me tell you, it will not take that long!  I think it took me about an hour or an hour and a half from start to finish.  

First, make the graham crackers.  Because it takes a long time for the marshmallow to get really fluffy and firm, go ahead and start that while your crackers are baking.  Then once you have the marshmallow on the crackers, melt your chocolate.  Don't dip into the chocolate too soon, but allow it to cool a bit so your marshmallow stays firm.  I will remind you later.

FIRST!  Make the graham crackers.  




I have made slight modifications to The Naked Kitchen's ingredients list and directions because I wasn't making regular crackers.  Instead, I opted to roll them and cut them into little circles, as they did on the show.  So if you follow the link above, I chose not to add the egg wash and coconut crystals to the top before baking since I would be putting marshmallow fluff and chocolate on top.  I still poked holes in the top with a fork because I didn't know if that might keep them from cracking or was just for decoration or what.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (the coarser the grind the better)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (for a cinnamon graham use 2 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp pasture butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg white
  • 6 tbsp raw coconut crystals
  • 2 tbsp raw honey or coconut nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Add the butter and with your fingers, fork or pastry cutter work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a texture like coarse wet sand.  (It will seem very dry, but if you dig into it with your hands you will feel the "wet sand" texture.  Don't add any extra ingredients thinking it is too dry.)
In a small bowl whisk together 1 egg white, 6 tablespoons coconut crystals, honey and vanilla.
Add the egg white mixture to the flour mixture and stir until you have a crumbly dough (like a pie crust dough).
Sprinkle a little flour onto a piece of parchment paper the size of a baking sheet. Place the dough onto the parchment and sprinkle a little more flour over the top. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. 
Cut out biscuits using a small round cookie cutter.  (I only had a small juice glass that was the size I wanted so used that).
Transfer to a fresh sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Bake 12 minutes or until browned.
Immediately remove to a wire cooling rack. The crackers will crisp as they cool.

SECOND!  While the crackers are baking, start your fluff.




On the link above, The Gracious Pantry then puts them in a dish and makes actual marshmallows.  I stopped when it got to that part because I wanted fluff and, let me tell you, this was some serious fluff!  I think it's important to make sure you have a very clean bowl and beaters.  Because it was like making meringue, I even chilled mine a bit.  I thought it might help.  Not sure it made a difference, though. The fluff needs to be used right away if you want to pipe it through a pastry bag.  If you have leftover, I suggest you follow the link (above) directions on making them into marshmallows.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin (total of 1/2 ounce)
  • 1 cup honey 
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

Directions:

Stir gelatin into water in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds.
While that’s in the microwave, pour the honey into a large mixing bowl.
Add vanilla.
Add warm gelatin/water mixture.
Blend on high for 12-15 minutes until the mixture is white and fluffy and has quadrupled in size.

Transfer about 2/3 of the fluff to a clean pastry bag and pipe onto cooled cracker.  Get almost to the edges and make sure you put a good helping on each one.



LAST, but most certainly not least!  Melt some chocolate for dipping

Ingredients:
1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate chips 
1 TBSP coconut oil

Melt chocolate and coconut oil together to make of good dipping consistency.  Allow to cool slightly before dipping so fluff doesn't melt.

Once cool enough (but not hardening), dip the fluff covered crackers into the chocolate, coating the fluff and top edge of the crackers.  Cool in the refrigerator to allow chocolate to harden.  If you like, you can make a double batch of chocolate and dip again once cooled.  I'm going to!



And because once I get started I just can't quit, I decided to make more graham crackers the next day.  I dipped the tops of the graham crackers in melted chocolate, allowed to cool in the fridge a little, then piped marshmallow on top.  I then dusted them with unsweetened coconut!  Snowballs!!!!



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Workin' for a Livin'!

The good news is, I started a new job on May 6.  The bad news is, the commute is a little longer.  The good news is, I really like my job.  The bad news is, I don't have as much time for testing recipes and researching interesting clean eating information.

So here I sit on a Saturday morning with my first cup of coffee.  The house is quiet because only I would get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday when I don't have to be anywhere.  But 6 is a whole lot later than 4:45, so I feel like I slept in!  And I am pondering what to make/eat this weekend.  I have no plan.  I always have a plan.  But, gosh, I am just tired!!!

That got me to thinking that probably a whole lot of you are just too tired or too busy to be dealing with a lot of prepping and planning.  You might still have younger children, end of school events, or a plethora of other things to keep you busy.  But you still want to eat clean.  So how do we do that?  Heck if I know.  HA!  Actually, I think it still can be done.  We just have to really simplify.

One thing we can't skip is the list. I love my lists.  Just look in my purse.  Well, don't really because ... ACK!  Never know for sure what you might find in there.


Okay, this ^^ is what you'll find there.  It is very scary!  But in that mess, there are lots of post-its, old bills and envelopes with notes scribbled on them.  So scribble out your menu for the week on whatever is handy.  Just make sure it's not the back of the service bill for AC.  Must pay the AC guy!  (Never tick off the AC guy.)  Here are some of the simplest things I can think of to make and might go on my menu this week:

MON - Baked beans and burgers
*If you don't want to deal with the slower cooker, try Honey Lime Slaw instead

TUE - Tortilla Soup
*This makes a fair amount so you can have it for lunch the rest of the week, or make them eat leftovers of soup later.  That will really save some time!

WED - Black beans and rice
Saute half an onion (or so) and one or two cloves of garlic (crushed) in 2 TBPS olive oil.  Add one can of rinsed and drained black beans and one can of Mexican style stewed tomatoes.  Stir and heat through.  Serve over brown rice.  (About 4 servings)  This recipe can be doubled or tripled for a larger family.

THU- Black bean quinoa salad
*I like this one because it uses quinoa which cooks very quickly.  Another good one to make extra of for your lunches.

FRI- Breakfast.   bacon and egg sandwich   Or, depending on how your week has gone, just make some eggs and bacon, a little side of fruit.  Just wash it, don't even slice it... or better yet just give them a whole banana... it's the end of the week for cryin' out loud!

What I like best about this menu is that I have most of the ingredients in my kitchen most of the time.  When you get a chance to go to the grocery store, just be sure to stock up on pinto beans, black beans, quinoa, tomato sauce, brown rice, eggs, and bacon.  You can make a lot of quick, clean foods with those ingredients and a few spices.  Plus this is the time of year that all the good stuff will be coming into season.  Summer time is the time for lighter meals, so grab the berries, tomatoes, cukes, whatever they are selling at the roadside stand, and ENJOY!