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100 Healthy Food Rules to Govern Your Kitchen, part 3

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What to eat

Learn which foods and food groups to stick with in these rules.

Eat your greens: Greens and vegetables will help give you the health that you need.
Enjoy oily fish: Fish like salmon and mackerel are full of excellent omega-3 fatty acids.
Drink your milk: Give yourself the milk you need, and your kids two to three servings of dairy per day.
Eat wild foods: Berries, fish, and other food you can find in nature is often good for you. Just be sure to research and make sure what you’ve found is safe to eat.
Focus on whole grains: When eating breads and pastas, make sure what you’re eating is made of whole grains.
Eat in two food groups-things that move, and things that grow: If it’s not a plant or an animal, don’t eat it.
Eat food that doesn’t have an ingredient label: Fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods don’t often have ingredient labels.
Eat food your great grandmother would recognize: If your great grandmother would have no idea what it is you’re about to eat, skip it.

Naughty and Nice

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I have two recipes for you today. One is a healthy yummy summer salad and the other is a sinfully delicious chocolate dessert.

Asian Summer Salad
I had the blessed opportunity to bring dinner to a dear friend of mine and knew I wanted to make the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. But I didn't know what to make for a side dish. I asked around for advice, and decided on this noodle salad from The Pampered Chef. Prep time was very easy. Chopping up the veggies while boiling the pasta is the only thing that took time. Just make sure to give it enough time to marinate.

Salad:
8 oz. vermicelli pasta (an extra thin spaghetti - angel hair works well too)
3/4 cup julienne-cut carrots
3/4 cup julienne-cut zucchini
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced green onions
3/4 pound deli roast turkey or chicken breast, cut 1/2 inch thick

Dressing:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 T rice vinegar
3 T soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh gingerroot
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 cup chopped peanuts or cashews
chopped fresh cilantro

Cook and drain pasta according to directions and set aside. Meanwhile, cut, julienne, and chop vegetables and deli meat. Add to pasta. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Toss well. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour to allow flavors to blend. Garnish with chopped nuts and cilantro. Serve cold or warm.

Chocolate Pudding Dessert
Next up is a family favorite and very easy to make. It is often my "go-to" recipe of desserts. Simple, impressive, inexpensive, and delicious. I made it for Father's Day this year and had many people ask me about it on Facebook. So I decided to put it up here. I usually make it with chocolate pudding, but it's also great with lemon or butterscotch pudding. Pick one and tell me which flavor you used!

Crust:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cubes butter
2/3 cup chopped nuts (I like to use pecans)

White Layer:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 container of cool whip (reserve other half for top layer)

Pudding Layer:
2 3 oz pkg of instant pudding (chocolate, lemon, or butterscotch)
3 cups milk

Combine crust ingredients and mix to form pie crust. Press into 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, and set aside. Beat together sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the half cool whip. Spread over cooled crust. Make up pudding using 3 cups of milk. Spread pudding over the cream cheese layer. Spread remaining cool whip over the pudding layer. Sprinkle with additional chopped nuts, if desired. Chill several hours or overnight.

Easy Peasy Bean Taco's

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You know that one time (I'm sure it's only ever been once) where you had something magnificent planned for dinner and then at the last minute plans had to change. Maybe because you were out of a key ingredient, or maybe because you didn't get home from errands in time, or maybe because you were glued to the computer for much longer than needed and therefore ran out of time (that NEVER happens to me). Well, the next time you find yourself in that situation - the Easy Peasy Bean Taco's is your great non-recipe-recipe that will save your butt!

Easy Peasy Bean Taco's
- Flour or corn tortillas, smaller size
- Shredded cheese
- Can of refried beans
- Toppings you like on tacos…tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, etc.

Preheat your oven broiler. Heat up the can of beans in the microwave.

Place the tortillas on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle some cheese on half of the tortilla (you can also heat them up on the stove, whichever you prefer).

Keep a close eye on the cheese, making sure not to leave in too long that the tortillas will burn.

Remove the pan and shmear the beans over the cheese and add your other favorite toppings.

We really liked these tacos, and I loved how simple they were to make. But I’ve gotta say, I think a few grilled peppers and onions would give the tacos nice flavor and crunch…but yeah, that involves chopping stuff AND dirtying another pan. So don’t worry too much about it. These are Easy Peasy Bean Tacos, after all.


What is your "go-to" recipe when your original plans fail?

Deals to Meals

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Deals to Meals is the first food blog I started following (about a year ago). They have great recipe ideas and food storage tips. A unique feature at Deals to Meals is their price shopping feature. Members can log in and check which stores have the great deals of the week. They indicate what items are on sale and rate the sales. They will also help you plan a menu for the week based off of the sales. I have gotten several menu ideas from them - my favorite was the Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

I like to use their system because I can find the hot sale items and don't need to mess with coupons. It's great for planning my weekly menu and also for bulking up my food storage supply.

Deals to Meals is available for price checking in 13 states (pretty much the entire West - including TEXAS). For just $5 a month, you can become a member and start enjoying the benefits immediately!

Are you a current memeber of the Deals to Meals blog? If not, check them out! Tell them I sent you and you'll make my day!!! They are doing a GIVEAWAY for a new BOSCH MIXER and I'm really crossing my fingers on this one! Wish me luck and enjoy your new membership. I know I've enjoyed mine!

Three + One Bean Salad

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another one from The Deen Bros. "Ya'll Come Eat"

12 oz fresh green beans
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing

Bring to boil a pot of water, blanch the green beans for 1 minute. Drain and cool. In large bowl, combine all ingredients.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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from The Deen Bros. book "Ya'll Come Eat"

1 T salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)
pinch of celery seed
5 pound pork roast

Combine spices and rub the spice mixture all over the pork to coat evenly. Place pork in large resealable bag or a covered bowl and refridgerate overnight.

The Deen Bros. give directions on cooking in the stove, but I like it in a crock pot. Put on low setting for 8+ hours. One hour before serving, add bbq sauce of your choice. Serve on buns.

100 Healthy Food Rules to Govern Your Kitchen, part 2

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Shopping

These rules will help you when you’re out food shopping.

Shop for health: Remember that if you buy it, you’re going to end up eating it.

Stop off at a farmer’s market or fruit stand: Even if you don’t have specific purchases in mind, shopping in a healthy food environment can make you more focused on eating what you should.

Plan ahead: Go to the grocery store armed with a game plan to get the most healthy food for your money.

Shop the perimeter of your supermarket: Fresh food is on the outside, manufactured food tends to be toward the middle.

Make a realistic food budget: Get smart about the money you spend on food.

New Orleans Red Rice

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I hesitated posting this recipe, my husband advised against it since it wasn't on his top list of favorites. But the fact that the kids commented the next day how much they liked it made me think otherwise. If you find it bland like my husband did, experiment with different spices. I used ground turkey, but feel free to use ground beef or even ground sausage for a real kick.

1 T olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
2 celery ribs, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
2 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the celery, onion, and bell pepper for about 2 minutes. When partially tender, add the meat and raise the heat to high. Continue cooking to brown the meat and finish cooking the vegetables until tender. Drain any fat from the meat in a colander and return mixture to pan. Add the broth, salt, water, tomatoes, rice, and Tabasco and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

100 Healthy Food Rules to Govern Your Kitchen

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Variety

Follow these rules to keep variety in your diet.

Eat your colors: In order to get as many different phytochemicals as possible, you’ll need to eat different colored vegetables and other foods.

Variety is the spice of life: Mix things up, and be sure to eat a lot of different foods so that you can get a variety of nutrients from your diet.

Eat from different cultures: Eat Mediterranean, Italian, Chinese, and more.

Three food rule: Every time you eat, have a single portion from three different food groups, one of them protein.

Try it, you’ll like it: Take a small taste to find out how you really feel about a food without lots of pressure.

Love herbs and spices: You can add flavor without sugar or salt by using herbs and spices.

~taken from 100 Healthy Food Rules website

Bodell Family Cookbook on sale now!

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Bodell Family Cookbooks
"A Taste of Tradition from the Bodell Bistro"
$13.00 or two books for $25.00

700 recipes
Reprint of old cookbook plus over 100 new recipes in a functional 3 ring binder,
including a book holder, full color section tabbed dividers starring pictures of our family, and an amazingly easy index to find your favorite recipe or plan whole menus.

Perfect wedding gifts, birthday gifts, visiting teaching gifts or get your Christmas Shopping done early for your extended family.

They are going quick and we will not be reprinting!

This cookbook is from my family with many recipes from my mom. Several people in my neighborhood have the old one, but this one is "new and improved". Reply here if interested in ordering!

Food Facts - Bell Peppers

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A wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture, bell peppers are the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world with their beautifully shaped glossy exterior that comes in a wide array of vivid colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown to black. Although peppers are available throughout the year, they are most abundant and tasty during the months of August and September.

Sweet peppers are plump, bell-shaped vegetables featuring either three or four lobes. They usually range in size from 2 to 5 inches in diameter, and 2 to 6 inches in length. Inside the thick flesh is an inner cavity with edible bitter seeds and a white spongy core. Bell peppers are not 'hot'. They contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin, the compound responsible for the 'hotness' found in other peppers.

Choose peppers that have deep vivid colors, taut skin, and that are free of soft spots, blemishes and darkened areas. Their stems should be green and fresh looking. Peppers should be heavy for their size and firm enough so that they will gently yield to slight pressure. Avoid those that have signs of decay including injuries to the skin or water-soaked areas. The shape of the pepper does not generally affect the quality, although it may result in excessive waste or not be suitable to certain recipe preparations. Peppers are available throughout the year but are usually in greater abundance during the summer months.

Unwashed sweet peppers stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator will keep for up to one week. Sweet peppers can be frozen without first being blanched. It is better to freeze them whole since there will be less exposure to air which can degrade both their nutrient content and flavor.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Add finely chopped bell peppers to tuna or chicken salad.

Steam cored peppers for five minutes, stuff them with your favorite rice salad or grain pilaf, and bake in a 350©F oven until they are hot.

Healthy sauté chopped peppers, celery and onions, then combine with tofu, chicken or seafood to make a simple Louisiana Creole dish.

Purée roasted and peeled peppers with healthy sautéed onions and zucchini to make a deliciously refreshing soup that can be served hot or cold.

Bell peppers are one of the best vegetables to serve in a crudité platter since not only do they add a brilliant splash of color, but their texture is also the perfect crunchy complement for dips.

Pizza!

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OK, this is not necessarily a "low cal" recipe. It is a "wow - so much better than the frozen crap at the store!".

A few notes: I did not "crush the fennel seed". I used it exactly the way it came in the bottle. It turned out fine. Always make sure your oven is HOT HOT HOT before you put the pizza in. Otherwise, letting the oven heat up with the pizza inside will give you a soggy pizza or gooey dough. YUCK!

Dough:
2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 yeast pkg)
1 tbsp sugar
5 cups flour
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil

Sauce:
2 medium-large garlic cloves
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
8 medium Roma tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
½ tsp fennel seed
½ tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
salt
pepper

Toppings:
cheese
pepperoni
jalapenos
sausage
bell pepper
mushrooms
olives
onion

To make dough:
Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar in a mixing bowl and let the yeast dissolve and foam. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Mix well and add in the rest of the flour and form into a dough and knead. Place in a clean bowl that's been sprayed with oil and cover with a towel. Let it rise for 2 hours.

To make sauce:
Crush and chop the garlic into small pieces. Chop the tomatoes into small dices. Crush the fennel seed into a powder. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together, mixing in the tomato paste last. Add more or less tomato paste depending on how thick you want the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pizza Preparation:
Grease 2 medium sized pans, or use your favorite stones. Press dough into pan to fill both pans. Use less dough for thinner crust, more for thicker crust. Lift the bottom of the dough and sprinkle a little corn meal underneath the dough (if you have it). Spread the sauce over the dough until it is thickly coated. Assemble toppings and bake at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until the crust is brown.

Keeping up with the Joneses in the blog world

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It's so intimidating when I check out other healthy food blogs. I'm not that person! I know nothing about pesticides, I don't buy organic, and I don't have a library full of fat free cook books. I certainly don't have a list of "approved" foods, and I barely know the meaning of "gluten-free". Sigh . . .

But I am reminded that we should write about what we love. And since my biggest love is my family, I write for them. Don't worry, I don't write ABOUT them (this isn't our family activity blog site), but I write BECAUSE of them.

I have been trying many new recipes, but they don't always turn out the way I had hoped (i.e. a very bland macaroni and cheese). So if I go a few days without any new recipes I am sorry, but be assured I am still here! The most important part is I am still trying. After all, I still have to make dinner most nights so I may as well try to make it the best I can.

My other problem is the amount of distractions from my focus. School is coming to an end, and that always makes havoc of a mother's schedule. As much as we all love baby Jainna, she sure makes it hard to get anything done. Therefore, I haven't had as much time to study out recipes, make a good grocery list, or even take the time to cook. But all these distractions illustrate to me how easy it is to slip back to old habits. So many times I've wanted to trow in some frozen chicken patties or just have hot dogs for dinner.

But enough complaining! I tried a new pizza recipe last night. I don't think the dough was much different from what I've made in the past, but the sauce was new and interesting. Unfortunately I didn't buy all the toppings I would have liked to have (see distraction list above) so it didn't seem like anything exciting when it came time to eat.

Sorry for the rant, and thanks for reading to the end. You deserve a prize! But unfortunately I am out of prizes for now.

the WINNER is . . .

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uhoh! I'm sorry I am a few days late on my first Give-Away! I hope you don't fire me as your favorite healthy family cooking blog. I know you are all on pins and needles waiting to see who wins!

First off, I just wanted to thank everyone for your comments, it's so great to get feedback and to see people setting new goals. Grats to everyone who is striving to live a healthier life for themselves AND for familes. Secondly, I used www.random.org to decide the winner - and no, I did not let my husband enter the drawing (although I did appreciate him leaving a comment).

I did, however, choose a second prize that I will explain after I announce the winner, so keep reading!

without further ado, the winner is . . .



LAURA!!! My sister from Stansbury Park, Utah! Hooray!!! I hope no one gets mad about nepotism, but since more than half the replies were from family, I could't avoid it :) Grats on your new book. I hope you saw all the Food Revolution episodes, you can see them on HULU if you need to catch up on any. I would surely appreciate it if you would blog about your winnings today and encourage your blog readers to follow the FamilyScratch blog to let them know what a fab sister you have!!

And because my sweet cousin LANI was the only one who responded originally to the give-away, I am giving her something special too (dont tell my husband I went over my budget - oh wait, I dont have a blog budget...ooops)! I've recently discovered the Deen Brothers. They are the sons of the ever-famous chef Paula Deen and have made a name for themselves in healthy cooking (something their mother is not well known for). So I ordered two of their books from amazon.com. I'll be browsing both and give one to Lani when I see her this summer at our family reunion.
The Deen Bros. Take It Easy: Quick and Affordable Meals the Whole Family Will Love (Hardcover)
The Deen Bros. Y'all Come Eat (Hardcover)

Both sound great to me and I'm excited to read and cook from them both. Thanks again for being such loyal followers. I hope you will continue to post comments - it really makes my day to know people are reading my ramblings.

Garlic Lime Chicken

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I had to double the amount of spices to get the coverage I wanted. Here is the amounts I used. If your family doesn't like it spicy, you may want to use less cayenne and garlic. The original recipe calls for 2 T butter AND the 2 T oil. I thought it was over kill so I deleted the butter. ENJOY!

2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme

6 boneless skinless chicken, cut into strips or cubed
2 T olive oil
4 T lime juice
1/2 cup chicken broth

Combine spices and sprinkle on all sides of chicken pieces. In a skillet, heal oil over medium high heat. Saute chicken until golden brown. Remove chicken and add lime juice and broth to the pan, whisking up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking until sauce has reduced slightly. Add chicken back to the pan and thoroughly coat and serve.

I served this chicken with rice and veggies. Nutritional information is only for the chicken. Serves 6. Calories 240, Fat 8.8g, Carbohydrates 2.6g, Protein 33.6g, Weight Watchers = 5.5 pts

a creation is born!

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I just created a bean soup that we are going to try tonight. I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes. I had a recipe, but decided to make up my own. Here's what I did . . .

1 can white beans
1 can red beans
1 can pinto beans
4 cans of water
about 1/4 cup dried onion (i'm out of real onion for some reason)
1 cup of salsa (I may add more later if needed)
1 cup of sliced pickled jalapenos (the kind you put on nachos or hot dogs. I didnt dice them because I know the young kids will want to pick them out.)
1 pkg of precooked cubed ham

I'm excited to try it. I love easy soups where you only have to dump the ingredients in the crock pot - no cutting, peeling, dicing, etc.

Re-Vamping the Revolution "Give-Away"

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So apparently my Give-Away was a bit too much to ask of you all since only one person responded. So I am tweaking the rules just a bit in the hopes that more of you will participate (although my Cousin Lani is hoping no one else will, HAHA).



Basically, the main goal of the whole contest was to hear from my readers what your goal is when it comes to healthier eating for you and/or your family. What are you wanting to learn? do better at? hope to achieve? want to teach your family? Why are you reading this blog? Hopefully we can all gain inspiration from each other by hearing other's stories.

So here are the new rules: If you want to win Jamie's Revolution book, post a comment here about any of the following ideas (pick as many as you want)

* why you are interested in cooking healthier for yourself/family?
* what does "cooking healthy" mean to you?
* what changes have you made recently in your diet to be more health?
* what is hard and what is easy about eating healthy?
* any other idea you want to share with us is great too!

If you have your own blog or Facebook page, I encourage you to share these thoughts with your own friends and family too, but it's not required in order to win Jamie's book (extra hugs, however, if you give a link to my blog).

Contest still ends NEXT MONDAY, so post now! I look forward to hearing from you -

Homemade Tomato Basil Soup

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Tomato Soup is on the menu tonight! I am not talking about opening a can of that orange glop, so stop that.  The best part is that you can make it with ingredients from your food storage and it will be healthy and tasty!

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic (or more if you are brave!)
1 tsp dried basil
1 6 oz can tomato PASTE
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth
You also need a regular blender or a stick blender.

Chop the onion and garlic and let them sweat in the olive oil over very low heat until they are tender.  This could take 5-10 minutes.  We aren’t looking for caramelization here, just very soft onion.  Add the basil and stir just until you can smell it.  Add the tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and chicken broth.  Bring it all to a boil.  Once you have a good boil, drop it to a simmer and let it cook 10 minutes or even longer (as long as the heat is really low it will be fine).
 
If you have a stick blender, remove the pan from the heat, take off any clothing that you do not want tomato spattered (it’s gonna happen no matter how careful you are), set the speed to low, and whiz around the pot until the soup is smooth.  If you are using a regular blender, pour the soup into the blender and remove the little cap in the middle of the lid.  Fold a kitchen towel and hold it over the lid – it’s a learned balance of letting air move but containing any eruptions.  Turn the blender on low, whiz the soup until smooth, then pour it back into the pot.  If you did not follow the directions for the regular blender, after you put the soup back in the pot, wash your walls and ceiling with warm, soapy water.

If you have any leftover cooked vegetables in the ‘fridge (or fresh spinach) that you need to use, drop ‘em in and simmer until they’re warm. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches on yummy bread!

Serves 6. Nutritional information: Calories 132, Fat 4.1g, Carbohydrates 18.5g, Fiber 4.7g, Protein 7.8g. Weight Watchers = 2 pts.

Chipotle Cashew Chicken

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Asia meets Mexico for a bang of a dish! This was a new find from my mom's neighborhood/ward cookbook that I stole from her last week. But apparently there is a similar version on Rachel Ray's website at FoodNetwork. It's very spicy, but can be adjusted to your own taste and level of heat desired. We even liked the cashews - and if you know my family well, you'll know we don't usually like nuts. I was hesitant to put the honey & maple syrup in, but I did anyway. In the end I actually didn't notice it, so perhaps next time I'll leave it out to save on the sugar calories. Not sure what that will do to the taste, but I'm willing to try.

2 lbs chicken breasts, cubed
2 T Montreal Steak Grill Seasoning
2 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
1 c onion, chopped
1 c red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can waterchestnuts, drained and chopped
1 c frozen peas
1 T chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 T cumin
2 T honey
1/4 c maple syrup
1 c cashews
cilantro for garnish
cooked rice

Chop chipotle pepper into a paste. This is less than 1 pepper from a can. You can individually wrap the remaining peppers and freeze for future use. Set aside chipotle pepper. Toss chicken cubes in Montreal seasoning and then brown lightly in large skillet in olive oil. Add soy sauce, onion, red pepper and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add waterchestnuts and peas. Stir in chipotle pepper and cumin. Drizzle in the honey and maple syrup and stir. Turn off heat and add cashews and chopped cilantro. Serve over cooked rice.

Makes 6 servings. Nutritional information does NOT include the rice. Calories 556, Fat 26.7g, Saturated Fat 5.8g, Carbohydrates 29.9g, Dietary Fiber 3.0g, Protein 49.6g. Weight Watchers = 12pts

If you take out the honey, syrup, and cashews, and then grill the chicken with a light pan spray instead of olive oil, it helps in reducing the calories and fat. The new nutritional information would be as follows: Calories 329, Fat 11.6g, Carbohydrates 7.8g, Dietary Fiber 2.3g, Protein 46.0g, Weight Watchers = 7pts

Food Revolution and our FIRST GIVE-AWAY!

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Did you watch Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution? If not, why not? I know, it's like avoiding the doctor when you know something is wrong! If you know the truth, you will have to act on it and make changes.

This is a great show to watch with your family. You will never plan your weekly menu the same way again. And hopefully it will inspire you to change some habits and possibly even check out your local schools and see what they are serving the students.

It's only 6 episodes, and a bit scripted, but the point is made very strongly. In fact, it's one of the reasons I started this blog. Jamie helped me realize that cooking from scratch is the first step in getting our family on a healthier path. We don't have to live fat-free, sugar-free for the rest of our lives. But we need to be aware of what we are doing when we buy all that processed food and fast food. Cooking from scratch is exactly what Jamie prescribes.

For our FIRST GIVE-AWAY here at the FamilyScratch blog, I am giving away a free copy of Jamie's book: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals (Hardcover)


Here is how you can enter to win:
1. Watch all 6 episodes of the show. You can see them all at hulu.com
2. Decide (by yourself or with your family) what you are going to do, and how, to commit to eating healthier.
3. Sign Jamie's petition on his website.
4. Make your own blog post about the show and what your goal is. If you don't have a blog, you can make a facebook post, or send an email out to your friends and family (and me).
5. Last, but certainly not least, comment here on my blog about your goal and what you learned from the show.

I will have a random drawing in 2 weeks for the winner (May 17th). Pass this info to your friends and family and encourage them to enter the drawing too!! GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN!

Sweet Potato Wedges & Wraps

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I've recently fallen in love with sweet potatoes and I came across these recipe's on a food blog I've started following.
I was leery as to whether or not the kids would like them, but they did surprisingly well. The kids L-O-V-E-D them. The baked wedges are a great alternative to the fattening Sweet Potato Fries that are selling so well in the fast food restaurants these days.

Sweet Potato Wedges (aka Sweet Potato Baked Fries)
2 large sweet potatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt (or kosher/course salt)
1 tsp thyme
3 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix garlic, salt, thyme and oil. Set aside. Peel, rinse, dry and cut potatoes into wedge like shape, trying to be somewhat consistent in size for baking purposes. Place on large baking sheet in a single layer and brush on oil mixture so that wedges are completely covered. Bake in oven 20-25 minutes until browned and tender. Serves 6.
Calories 240, Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 1g, Carbohydrates 43g, Fiber 6g, Protein 2.4g, Weight Watchers = 4.5 pts

Sweet Potato Wraps
Sweet Potato Wedges
Feta cheese (reduced fat)
Lettuce (I prefer Romaine)
Balsamic Glaze (make a bunch and store or can buy from a restaurant)
Whole Wheat tortilla wraps

Place all items into the center of the tortilla, wrap tightly and enjoy. Serves 6.
Calories 395, Fat 12g, Saturated Fat 2.4g, Carbohydrates 67g, Fiber 10g, Protein 8g, Weight Watchers = 7.5 pts

Food Facts - Sweet Potato

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Although sweet potatoes may be part of the Thanksgiving tradition, be sure to add these wonderful naturally sweet vegetables to your meals throughout the year; they are some of the most nutritious vegetables around. Sweet potatoes can be found in your local markets year-round, however they are in season in November and December.

The sweet potato has yellow or orange flesh, and its thin skin may either be white, yellow, orange, red or purple. Sometimes this root vegetable will be shaped like a potato, being short and blocky with rounded ends, while other times it will be longer with tapered ends. There is often much confusion between sweet potatoes and yams; the moist-fleshed, orange-colored root vegetable that is often called a "yam" is actually a sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place, where they will keep fresh for up to ten days. Ideally, they should be kept out of the refrigerator in a cool, dry, dark place not above 60?F, which would fit the characteristics of a root cellar. Yet since most people don't have root cellars, we'd suggest just keeping your sweet potatoes loose (not in a plastic bag) an storing them in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated cupboard away from sources of excess heat (like the stove).

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Purée cooked sweet potatoes with bananas, maple syrup and cinnamon. Top with chopped walnuts.

Steam cubed sweet potatoes, tofu, and broccoli. Mix in raisins and serve hot or cold with a curried vinaigrette dressing.

Desserts made with sweet potatoes are an autumn favorite but can be enjoyed year round. Try making sweet potato pie, bread, muffins or pudding.

Baked sweet potatoes are delicious even when served cold and therefore make a great food to pack in to-go lunches.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also a very good source of vitamin C and manganese. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron.

Missing in Action

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Boy, time flies when you're having fun! But you may be wondering where I've been and why haven't I posted any recipes lately. Well, I have been very busy the last few days trying out new recipes to tell you about. The problem is, I didn't really like any of them! I started to get distressed about it, but I realized it's OK for me to admit the disappointment and share with you what I learned. After all, this entire blog is a journey for me as I develop and learn all about healthy cooking and I'm so grateful you are on this journey with me.

Spinach & Tomato Phyllo Something-or-Other (ok, I forgot the real name and I already threw away the magazine since I didn't like the recipe).

This recipe had great potential! It came from the current Taste of Home magazine. Sometimes they have great recipe's, and other times I am disappointed. Anyway, it was a layered type casserole. At the bottom you put a few sheets of phyllo. Have you ever used phyllo dough? It can be difficult, but worth it! The first layer was a mixture of chopped spinach, feta cheese, cottage cheese, and a few seasonings. The other layer was just plain tomatoes. After alternating the spinach mixture and tomatoes a few times you finish the top with more phyllo sheets. Brush with water or oil to seal the sheets and then bake until dough is golden brown. I was really excited to try this, but the fact of the matter is that it was just too plain. Not near enough pizzazz! It had a hint of “lazagna” feel to it due to the cottage cheese and tomato. I only wish it had more flavor. I will probably try this again, but add spaghetti sauce and more spice. Maybe I just need to find a good vegetarian lasagna recipe. Any suggestions?

Steak and New Potato Toss
This was another Taste of Home recipe disappointment, especially because I spent good money on steak that I wouldn't have normally purchased for a regular week-day meal. I washed and quartered a bunch of red potatoes, spread them on a baking sheet, and sprinkled with garlic salt and Johnny's Seasonings. While the potatoes were cooking I grilled the steak on the stove with garlic salt and Johnny's Seasonings (are you seeing a pattern of my favorite seasonings?). The recipe called for “red bell peppers” but my Wal-mart is a bit pathetic in the produce section and they only had green. I think it would have helped to look better, but I don't think it affected the taste. I made a vinaigrette and combined everything in a giant bowl. Although the steak tasted REALLY GOOD – the rest was rather bland. I think it needed onion of some sort, I'm not sure what else. I just know it was lacking somehow. If I figure it out, I'll let you know.

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage

This recipe actually turned out FABULOUS! I've made it several times before and it's always a success. The problem came later as I was preparing to blog it and discovered the nutritional value. YIKES! 847 calories and 27g of fat, 18 weight watcher points. Oh my goodness! We're definitely going to have to find a better alternative for the smoked sausage in this recipe. If you have a suggestion, please let me know. I'll post the make-over recipe once it is complete.

Thank you for your patients. I have a lot planned for this week. More trial recipe's and hopefully a good ol' stand-by :)

Food Facts - Avocado

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Avocado season is beginning, one of my favorite fruits! You should be able to find them at a good price through the end of the summer. Here are some things you may not have known about avocados:

Avocados will not ripen on the tree. They must be picked from the tree to initiate ripening. The leaves supply a substance that prevents ripening. This is why they are usually very hard when arriving at the supermarket, its a sign of freshly picked avocado. A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.

Avocados are loaded with nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate. They're also cholesterol and sodium free. Avocados contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas. This fruit is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat.

A few quick serving ideas:

*Use chopped avocados as a garnish for black bean soup.

*Add avocado to your favorite creamy tofu-based dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.

*Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings for a rich-tasting twist on traditional guacamole.

*Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich.

*For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

*For a beautiful accompaniment to your favorite Mexican dish, top quartered avocado slices with corn relish and serve with a wedge of lime.

Meal time makeover - Mexican Bean Dip

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On Saturday we had a family favorite for dinner, 7 Layer Mexican Bean Dip. It's the typical layered bean dip complete with sour cream, guacamole, and cheese served with tortilla chips. We like it so much, we eat it as a meal. On Monday, I was back at the market and while I was in line to check out (don't ever go shopping when hungry), I was trying to keep myself distracted from the candy calling my name to the left of me by reading the magazine titles on my right. I was attracted to the Taste of Home spring edition featuring a fabulous alternative to the classic layered bean dip.

(I was going to take a picture of this fantastic fusion explosion, but it was eaten so fast I never had a chance! So I lifted this directly from the magazine, please don't turn me in!)

Subtract the sour cream, guacamole, and cheese - add in fresh papaya, smooth avacado, and "kick" it with ancho chili pepper and serrano's -- and this MAKEOVER is complete! It's not designed to be a "main dish" so I added chicken. It was still not as filling as I'd like, but Brian ate so much of it, he was full!

Tropical Fusion Salad with Spicy Tortilla Ribbons

2 cups cubed and peeled papaya
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Dressing:
1/4 cup orange juice
2 T lime juice
1 T cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground ancho chili pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Tortilla ribbons:
corn tortillas
salt
ground ancho chili pepper

In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients and dressing ingredients together. For the chips, cut tortillas into 1/4 inch strips and place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and chili pepper. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Serve with salad.

Yields 4 servings: 1 1/4 cup salad with 10 tortilla strips equals 321 cal., 8g fat (1g sat fat), 58 carb., 11g fiber, 9g protein. Weight Watchers=6 pts

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Hey, this is Trish. Hope you like my first recipe post. These are fantastic as a main dish and are also super appetizers for a dinner party. This is basically the same, but I changed the sauce a little to reduce the overall calories and sugar content. Hope you love it as much as we do! FYI, I double this recipe to feed my family of 7. We have some BIG eaters in our house, plus I love having some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Meat Filling
1 1/2 T oil
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 can water chestnuts
1 1/2 c mushrooms
3 T chopped onions
1 t minced garlic

Special Sauce
2 T sugar
1/4 c water
1 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T ketchup
1/2 T lemon juice
1/8 t sesame oil
1/2 T hot mustard
1 t hot water
1 t garlic and red chili paste

Stir Fry Sauce
2 T soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t rice wine vinegar

Saute chicken in oil over high heat till done. While cooking, mince water chestnuts, mushrooms and onions. Remove chicken from pan to cool down. Saute water chestnuts, mushrooms, onions and garlic while you mince the chicken. (Tip: I use a food chopper to mince ingredients, fast and easy!) Mix stir fry sauce up and let the sugar dissolve. Add minced chicken back to pan and pour sauce over. Stir till hot through. Combine hot water, mustard with garlic and red chili paste. Mix rest of special sauce ingredients together add mustard mixture.

Serve in iceberg lettuce cups and top with special sauce! Make a complete meal with brown rice and stirfry veggies.

Nutritional info includes approximately 2/3 c meat with 1 T special sauce. Lettuce is not included, a 1/4 head lettuce has about 25 calories.

8 servings 175 cal, 5.5 g fat, 23 g protein, 7.5 g carb and 1 g fiber. Weight Watchers = 4 pts




White and Green Chili

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Wow this was some great chili! I liked it better than the traditional red chili we've been making for years. And talk about easy - was probably the easiest thing I've made all month!

1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
1 cup chopped onion
2 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-ounce jar green salsa
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp cilantro

In large soup pot, cook ground pork and onion over medium heat until pork is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat and return to pot. Stir in beans, salsa, broth, and cumin. Cover and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Makes 6 servings. 258 cal, 9g fat, 27g carb, 8g fiber, 23g pro., Weight Watchers = 5 pts.

Title name in progress

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It's 1am. I can hear my baby breathing and my husband's wrestless legs. I love both those sounds. I had my gallblatter removed today - it was quite the experience. Just thought I'd share that with you.

Anyway, I've been thinking of the title name of this blog, Family Scratch, and wonder if it should be changed. I want the title to embrace the idea of healthy but not "too healthy", something that explains why I am doing these changes for our family, and also my love of food.

With Brian training for Ironman next year, we often talk of the idea that there is no such thing as an "Iron-man", only "Iron-families". Indicating the essential need of full support from family members. With that in mind, I'm thinking of renaming the blog "ironfamily recipes" or something along that idea. My only hesitation is that it won't make sense to people unfamiliar with Ironman and what it means. I'm going to start listing the blog in various promotional sites, and therefore need a catchy title that expains my niche quickly and effectively.

So what do you think? Please leave feedback and/or suggestions. I'd really appreciate it!

Homemade Sports Drink

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bk here, i'm the husband referred to in the initial post. liz has asked me to contribute to the blog with an eye toward the more nutritious and sports oriented foodstuffs, so here's my first post: Homemade Sports Drink!

1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Morton Lite
1 pkt unsweetened Koolade mix
10 tbs Sugar
2 cups hot water
7 cups cold water

Mix salts, Koolade and sugar in a pitcher. Add 2 cups of hot water (i use hot from the tap) and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly dissolved. Add 7 cups of cold water to create full volume. Makes 9 8oz servings. 53 cal., 0g fat, 14g carb., 14g sugar, 0g pro., 113mg sodium, 32mg potassium compare to Gatorade™ which is: 50cal., 0g fat, 14g carb., 14g sugar, 0g pro., 110mg sodium, 30mg potassium

I've tried this recipe with both orange and lemon-lime Koolade packets and both taste similar to their commercial counterparts. (I like the lemon-lime better though)

The trick to making your own sports drink is to make sure you have the electrolytes as well as the carbs. While the simple carbs are indeed the most important nutritional need during and right after a workout, the electrolytes are also very important.

In that vein, Morton's Lite Salt is a key ingredient because it is made up of roughly half sodium and half potassium. A 1/4 tsp of Morton's Lite is the exact right amount of potassium you need. Add 1/4 tsp of regular salt to get the extra sodium you need and you have a sports drink that is almost exactly the same makeup of Gatorade™.

A big benefit about making your own sports drink is the cost savings. A good price on Gatorade™ is about $0.25 per serving while this homemade recipe is less than $0.04 per serving. Just for me, that's a yearly savings of almost $200.

A bigger benefit with making your own sports drink is that you know the exact source of carbs going into your drink. A lot of cheaper sports drinks (like Powerade™) will use High Fructose Corn Syrup as their simple carb and even some Gatorade™s use HFCS. Table sugar, on the other hand, is 100% sucrose.

I won't go into details about why HFCS is not desirable (that would be a very long and technical post), but sufficeth to say that sucrose is simply a better source of the energy you need during and after a workout than HFCS.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

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I got this recipe from the "Deals to Meals" website. It was very tasty, and a great addition to my list of beef recipes. I used the 97/3 ground beef. If anyone tries it with the turkey or chicken, please let us know!

Meatballs
2 lb. Hamburger (or for a lowfat dish use ground turkey or chicken)
¼ c. onion
1 c. chopped crackers—Ritz, Saltine, etc. (or bread crumbs)
1 egg
¼ c milk
1 tsp. salt
¼ t. pepper
¼ t. garlic salt

Mix together all ingredients. Shape into small meat balls. Brown meat balls in hot oil and cook until nearly cooked through. Set meatballs aside and cook vegetables.

Cut following vegetables in 1 in. by 1 in. chunks:
Green, Red and Yellow peppers
White Onion
Carrots, sliced thinly

Sauté with a small amount of olive oil until tender. Set cooked vegetables aside with meatballs and cook sauce.

Sweet & Sour Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
½ c. brown sugar
¼ t. cornstarch
¼ c. white vinegar
1 t. mustard
1 t. soy sauce
½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. pineapple juice (reserve from pineapple chunks)

Check for right mix of sweet (brown sugar) and sour (vinegar). Adjust to taste. If you like a lot of sauce, double the sauce recipe. When sauce is thick, add meatballs & vegetables back into pot and simmer until bubbling and then serve over rice. Serves 6. 519 cal, 23.7g fat, 30.6 carb., 44.4 pro.

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken

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1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 lbs chicken pieces (breasts cut into pieces, thighs, or drumsticks)
1/2 cup chicken broth

In a small bowl, combine spices. Sprinkle over chicken pieces and rub all over to fully cover chicken. Pour broth in the slow cooker and add chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Makes 8 servings. Serve over rice. Weight Watcher Points: 2 pts. Rice nutritional information not included in analysis.

I am the Spice Girl

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Question #1: Have you ever found yourself up to your elbows in a project and suddenly think "how did I get in this mess?"

Question #2: Have you ever been searching for a particular spice, KNOWING you have it, but never able to find it?

This is what happened to me on Thursday. I was trying to throw a meal in the crockpot before I had to leave for a few hours, but I could not find the turmeric. I knew it was in there somewhere since I had recently bought it for this specific recipe. It was driving me crazy. I looked three times in the "spice cabinet" but I have so many spices and other baking supplies that it couldn't be found. Suddenly I snapped! I was pulling out spices and sugar's like a maniac! I didn't care where they were landing, they were coming out. Before I knew it, the entire cabinet was empty and I was washing the shelves down. I didn't really have time for a cabinet-reorganization project. But I couldn't take it any more.


I was able to find the turmeric and everything else I needed to finish the recipe. So it all got dumped in the crock pot and I left the kitchen a mess. When I came back, I just laughed at how many spices I have. I don't mind having a great variety (which I do), but rather how many duplicates there were. I think I had 3 dry mustard, 4 thyme, and a ridiculous amount of lemon pepper. I also had 6 opened bags of powdered sugar that were only half full (twixits FTW).


My mom taught me to alphabetize my spices, which I do. Do other people do that? It doesn't stay in order for very long, but it helps. I feel so much better with my spice cabinet clean and orderly. I'll post the recipe I was making, it turned out really yummy!

Your new favorite Potato Salad

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Sorry it's been longer than I anticipated for this blog post. I've had some issues with my gall bladder which put me on bed-rest for most of the weekend (more info to follow later). I had plans to blog about egg recipes, but instead I'll just give you my favorite one.

My Aunt Pam makes this great potato salad that every raves over. The secret is in the potato - you bake it instead of boil it. Baking the potato helps keep the shape better and has a texture that keeps its flavor instead of turning to mush. It's not a recipe to use for "dieting", but is perfect for a church barbecue or family party. I know I'm suppose to be posting "healthier" versions, but this is one that shouldn't be altered. Instead - use it only for special occasions.

4 cups red potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
1 cup Mayo
4 slices of crisp bacon
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Put potatoes on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with oil. Cook for 30-35 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add potatoes. Serve warm or cold. Serves 6

It is recommended that you serve this salad on the same day it is prepared since it doesn't keep well overnight.

314 cal., 20g fat, 25.9g carb., 8.9g pro

P.S. I find it easiest to get the pre-cooked bacon. Costco sells a bag of bacon pieces for a very good price. But I should probably quit buying it :)

Easter Egg Extravaganza

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Yup, its that time of year again. We cook dozens and dozens of eggs for our children to color, but do we stop to think who is going to EAT all those eggs? If you're like me, not until after they are all cooked. And you may think boiling an egg is easy, but that's where you'd be wrong! Don't you hate it when half of them burst or crack? So I've done a little research and came up with some tips for successful boils and in a few days I'll post some recipes so you know what to do with all those beautifully colored eggs.

Tips on boiling eggs:
First of all, fresh eggs are very hard to peel – if you bought your eggs yesterday they are too fresh, last weeks eggs would be better. If you need to make hard cooked eggs tomorrow but only have fresh eggs, leave the eggs out at room temperature for 24 hours. To prevent eggs from cracking while cooking: pierce large end with a needle before placing them in the water, this will also make them easier to peel.
How to boil your eggs: Actually, you don't “boil” them at all – is a misnomer. Boiling them makes them rubbery and gives them a greyish/green color. Instead, follow this method:
1.Place eggs in single layer in saucepan. Add a splash of vinegar
2.Cover with at least one inch of cold water over tops of shells.
3.Cover pot with lid and bring to a boil over medium heat.
4.As soon as the water comes to a full boil, remove from heat and let stand.
5.Large soft-cooked eggs: let stand in hot water 1 to 4 minutes, depending on your tastes.
6.Large hard-cooked eggs: let stand in hot water 15 to 17 minutes.
7.When cooked to desired level, drain off hot water.
8.Immediately cover with cold water and add a few ice cubes.



Making Deviled Eggs? Remember this tip: when you buy fresh eggs (because honestly, who knows a week ahead of time that you're going to need to hard-boil eggs?), turn them UPSIDE DOWN on the counter over night. If you do this, your yolks will always be perfectly centered, thus allowing you to make deviled eggs that don't suck.

And the last (but not least ) tip of the day: An egg ages equally in one day at room temperature, in one week on the fridge door, and in two weeks in the back of the bottom shelf.
I will make a post later about using up those cooked eggs. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like me to use, please send it to me or leave a comment for me to contact you. Some idea's I'm already thinking of include Egg Salad Sandwiches, Aunt Pam's Potato Salad, and Deviled Eggs (of course!). Until then...happy coloring!

oATS, Oats, and more OATS!

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It started out a regular morning, getting my daily yogurt out of the fridge and wishing I had some granola to go with it. When I decided that I would immediately make my own. I tried a recipe a few days ago, but burned it because I didn't realize that the crunchiness of granola comes when you let it sit for a bit after it comes out of the oven, instead of cooking it longer.

I formulated this recipe myself from combining several online recipes to give me the ingredients I wanted. I actually made it two times today, tweeking the amounts just a little bit. Originally I had brown sugar and honey. But I felt all the sweetness was not needed. I wanted to take out "half the sugar", but decided instead to take out the brown sugar completely and leave all the honey since I needed the sticky/wet consistency to help hold the granola together.


2 cups rolled oats (I actually used half rolled oats and half steel-cut oats)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3/4 t cinnamon
3/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/4 cup honey
2 T oil
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325. In large bowl, combine all ingredients except raisins and mix well to fully coat the oats. Spread in cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and add raisins. Cool in pan and store in air tight baggies or container.

12 servings, 136 cal, 5.2g fat, 20.9g carb, 2.8g pro

With the yummy smell emitting from the oven, I couldn't resist the urge to make oatmeal cookies. I know they are not the healthiest thing on the planet, but to please my husband I did use HALF the sugar and cut out a third of the butter. You know what, you would NEVER tell the difference! So here is my adjusted recipe taken from the back of the chocolate chip bag:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter (2 cubes)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 T milk (why is this ingredient here? I'm not sure!)
1 3/4 cups chocolate chips
2 cups oats (I like to use half rolled and half steel-cut)

Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In mixing bowl beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs. Gradually add in flour mixture and milk. Stir in chocolate chips and oats. Drop by spoonfulls (I use my Pampered Chef medium scoop) onto un-greased pan (Pampered Chef stoneware rocks). Bake one pan at a time for 12-14 minutes on middle rack until edges are crisp, but middle is still soft. Cool completely. Makes 32 cookies.

182 cal, 9.2g fat, 22.1g carb, 2.8g pro. (I saved 46 cal, 2.9g fat, 5.4g carb, and 0.1 pro. per cookie by using less sugar and butter. Is that significant?)

The best part is that I did not snitch ANY chocolate chips while making the cookies. I did, however, snitch some just now while typing this from the bag. So I guess its not the best part after all. I guess the truly best part is that I made the granola while holding a baby half the time and entertaining a 2 year old the other half.

Sunday Dinner Crescent Rolls

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4 T. yeast
½ c. + 2 T. warm Water
6 eggs
1 c. oil
1 c. sugar
2 c. warm milk (use a microwave on low setting to warm milk)
10-11 c. flour
2 T. salt

In large mixing bowl, mix yeast and warm water together and allow to sit for 10 minutes. In seperate bowl mix together eggs, oil, sugar, and warm milk.

Add egg mixture and warm milk to the yeast mixture. Mix all together until combined.

Add 1 cup of flour at a time until combined together. Continue to mix/knead for 5 minutes on med-high speed. Allow to raise 2-3 hours.

Separate dough into 6 even balls. Roll out each ball until the size of a dinner plate on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 8 pizza wedge slices. With each wedge, roll down ward wrapping bottom skinny bottom piece down and around to make pretty crescent shape.

Allow to double in size (about 15 minutes). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake 6 minutes on bottom rack and then 5 minutes on middle shelf until light golden brown. Once they are perfectly golden brown, brush tops with melted butter once removed. Makes 48 rolls.

Recipe from myfoodstoragedeals.blogspot.com, "The BEST crescent recipe around!". 167 cal., 5.6 g fat, 24 mg chol., 304 mg sodium, 24.9 g carb., 4.1 g pro.

This recipe came from one of my favorite food blogs (myfoodstoragedeals.blogspot.com). It makes a lot, so consider yourself warned. You may want to half the recipe, or plan to give some away to neighbors. I'm sure you could also freeze them for awhile if necessary, but I have not tried that yet.

Sweet Potato and Barley Chili

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1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 16-ounce can red beans, rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped bell pepper (any color)
1/2 cup regular barley (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup water
1 T chili powder
1 T lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Lime wedges and/or fresh cilantro for garnish

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except lime wedges and cilantro) and stir. Cover and cook on low setting for 6-7 hours or high setting for 3 hours. Serve with lime wedges and/or cilantro if desired. Makes 6 servings

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications, "Ultimate Slow Cooker", March 2010. 198 cal., 1 g fat (0 sat. fat), 1 mg chol., 930 mg sodium, 41 g carbo., 11 g fiber, 9 g pro.

I made this soup last week and was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful it was. In the afternoon I started to make it when I realized it was a crockpot recipe that needed several hours to cook. So I sped up the process by putting the chicken broth, sweet potatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic in a pot on the stove. It came to a boil and cooked for about 5 minutes - until the potatoes were getting somewhat soft. Then I transferred everything to the crock pot and finished the recipe. It turned out great! Served with homemade bread.

First Post

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Six children? I have six children? When?... How?... WOW! It's starting to hit me that I have six children. Of course, I knew that this was coming upon us for quite some time, but like some things, it has taken awhile for reality to set in.

I gave birth to our 6th child, 5th daughter, last month. As often happens in our family, it happened with much drama and interesting points - mainly that she was born on the same day and exact minute as our oldest daughter. How weird is that?

So as our family has been adjusting to life with a newborn again, I have been trying to get myself back into the kitchen. I usually like to cook, but pregnancy had a funny way of robbing me of the joy-of-cooking. At the same time, my husband has been increasing his physical fitness and is "in training" to do an Iron Man Triathlon next year. Therefore, I realized I needed to revamp most of my recipes and family favorites to accommodate a more healthier lifestyle and a growing family.

Budget is always an issue at our home. Trying to cook with what is on sale and what we have in food storage is important to me. Now I have the added twist of making sure it is somewhat healthy so my husband can eat with us. It is difficult to cook all the "healthy" recipes that you find online and in books, because they are not often kid-friendly. So I reached a compromise of sorts with my husband. I would cook and prepare our meals more from scratch and with less frozen foods. I am also trying to avoid recipes with a lot of cheese, cream soups and sauces. Not to say that I never use those ingredients, just trying to keep it limited.

I've had several people ask me for my recipes as I've been talking about our family food-revolution. So I've started this blog to keep myself motivated and also share my recipes and findings with others. I'm certainly no professional when it comes to cooking from scratch. Nor am I a health-nut guru who will be touting whole wheat and whole grains are the only way to go. I'm just a mom of six kids and an incredibly sexy husband who is trying to keep the grocery budget in tact at the end of the month.