Tag Archives: lunch

Live Flavors

As you know, I love food. I love to talk about food. I love to make food. I love to help people find foods that they enjoy. Right now, I am in love with researching different ways in which foods are processed and how that processing affects the flavor and/or nutrition of the food. I do this for no other reason than it interests me. I don’t get paid to do this. It is something that I enjoy learning about and I love passing on new information when I learn about it. Most recently, I have learned about a processing method that does not apply heat, helping to maintain the integrity and the flavor of the original food. Keeping the flavors alive is important in food. Am I wrong? I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. (I know I’m right. 😉 )

Case in point:

Evolution Fresh

There’s a new juice on the block these days. It’s from Evolution Fresh and when I did a side-by-side taste comparison of their orange juice with another brand of high-quality orange juice, I was impressed. (And it takes a lot to impress me where orange juice is concerned because, well, orange juice does not impress me. Juice in general does not impress me.) The first juice was…juice. It tasted just like most any orange juice I have ever had. It’s just juice. And then I tried the Evolution Fresh juice. It was a classic double-take reaction. I did not expect what I tasted. What I tasted was real. It was fresh. It was like the juice my son labored over for 30 minutes one morning, squeezing every orange in the house, just to serve me freshly squeezed orange juice. At the first sip, I had to know more. How did they do it? How did they make this juice that was like actually biting into an orange?

The answer is simple. They don’t heat it. Never. The fresh juice is cold pressed from the fruit, and to process the juice for commercial packaging and sale, it goes through High Pressure Processing. The juice is never heated. And the heat is what kills the vitamins, the enzymes, the FLAVOR of your foods and juices.

I have tasted several more of these juices now, and each one, even the Essential Vegetable, had such an explosion of flavor that I knew I had to make sure people knew about this new company and the amazingness they have to offer.

I really could go on and on about this. But I’ll save it for another post, another day. If you have a chance to check out Evolution Fresh in your neighborhood, you really should. I want to know what you think!

*This is not a paid advertisement. This is just me, really excited about a new thing I tried, and new information I’m learning! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Filed under Food and drink

Lunch With the Girls

My Birthday Month started out a little rocky mood-wise, finding me in a funk that I couldn’t seem to shake most of this week. So when I was asked to meet an old school friend for lunch with her 2 lovely daughters, I was thrilled to find myself escaping the office for my lunch break, something I haven’t done in awhile.

The little cafe just a little over a block from my office was just perfect for us. A nice big table to seat the 4 us, plus a couple dolls. Some burgers and fries and plenty of visiting and laughing helped t improve my mood.

Thanks for the fun lunch, my friend!! We should do that more often. 🙂

Leave a Comment

Filed under Entertainment

Evolution of a Recipe

As a young Cook starting out in the kitchen, I was given a recipe from Mom that has stayed with me ever since. We made it together once, and she wrote it down for me. The original recipe she wrote out was not exactly what we cooked together. I think this must have been the beginning of the end of following recipes “to the letter” for me.

Over the years this recipe has served me well as a quick, “throw it together at the last minute” meal, and it is also a “company worthy” meal, especially if paired with a nice salad. What started in my kitchen as simply “Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli”, has evolved into something that I still call “Chicken & Broccoli”, and yet, it is a rare occassion that broccoli is the only vegetable in the pan/on the plate.

Tonight’s version included nearly 2 heads of garlic (much more than the 6 small cloves called for in the original recipe), carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken, and angel hair pasta. Amounts? You got me! I have no idea, except that all of it together more than filled my very large Stir Fry Skillet and will provide leftovers for dinners and lunches this week.

 RECIPE EVOLUTION:

 ~Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli~

½ lb. spaghetti

¼ c. safflower oil

6 sm. cloves garlic, minced

2 bunches broccoli, cut into small pieces (3 cups)

3 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned, halved and cut into strips (1 ½ lb.)

¾ c. chopped fresh parsley

Black pepper

 Boil spaghetti until AL DENTE; drain. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add broccoli and sauté for 2 minutes, then transfer to a heated dish. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Toss pasta with broccoli and chicken. Garnish with parsley, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

 Serves 6

 cal. 421                        chol. 57mg

carbo. 37g                   sod. 79mg

prot. 28g                      pot. 802mg

t fat 18g                      fiber 2g

sat fat 3g                     calc 159mg

                                    iron 3.5mg

Mom’s notes:

When I made this, I sautéed the garlic along with the broccoli and sprinkled with lemon-pepper. If you use a salt-free lemon pepper, the sodium count from above stays the same. One with salt adds to the sodium content of the dish. I also sprinkled some lemon-pepper on the chicken as it cooked and skipped adding the pepper at the end of the recipe. Most times, my broccoli took longer than the 2 minutes to cook properly, too.

/end Mom’s recipe

For years I have posted online with a group of women. We are bonded together by our love of cooking, but our relationships have grown to be so much more than that. This is where the above recipe was in it’s evolution stage when I was still pretty new to online groups, and this is how I shared my recipe at that time.

Chicken And Broccoli With Pasta Recipe

broccoli flowerettes (approx 1 pound)
boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (approx 1 pound)
4 cloves garlic, pressed (I probably use more than that, b/c we like garlic)
angel hair pasta

In a large skillett cook broccoli until crisp-tender, chicken until done. cook each with as much garlic as you like (we use A LOT!!) cook pasta, toss all together. I sometimes add a little parsley, and lemon pepper. it’s fast and easy, total of about 15-20 minutes. I put soy sauce and parmesan cheese on the table, and everyone picks their own topping.

Serve with Garlic Toast (or Garlic Cheese Bread) and salad.

Fully grown now, and this is the first time I’ve looked at this recipe in, well, I don’t know how long. I wasn’t even sure I’d still have the original copy from Mom. And tonight, I made my much-loved “Chicken & Broccoli”. It was really just my way of using up the vegetables in the fridge that were in need of cooking and taking up my valuable fridge space. Yes, tonight, it was as my recipe above states, except that I used nearly 2 heads of garlic, and added to the pan a head of cauliflower and several carrots. I have been known to include mushrooms and/or zucchini, and any other stray vegetables that may be laying around, just wanting to be added to a sizzling pan of oil and garlic and tossed with pasta.

I have discovered that freshly grated/shredded parmesan is better than the powdery stuff from a can. (Although, I do prefer the powdery stuff from a can when making my garlic toast. A little garlicky butter spread on french bread, and sprinkled with that and then broiled until brown… it’s like a slice of heaven that reminds me of spaghetti dinners from my childhood!) I have served this up to many people, and everyone tops it differently. For a friend who likes spicy food, he would add chili paste to his portion. My kids eat it just as it is, no toppings. I like fresh parmesan *and* soy sauce sprinkled on mine.

My Notes:

If you start the water for pasta at the same time you start the cutting and slicing and dicing, you should be eating dinner by the time the pasta is finished cooking, if you’re using angel hair pasta, that is. I definitely prefer this with angel hair pasta!

I cook this now with extra virgin olive oil, and the pasta gets coated with a generous amount of same to keep it from sticking together in one big clump.

As I said, this is an easy way to use up whatever veggies are on hand. I’ve put just about any veggie you can think of into the pan, and always love how it turns out. I mean, really… it’s cooked in garlic! Everything tastes great cooked in a little (or a lot of) garlic, am I right? 😉

2 Comments

Filed under Chicken, Cooking With Love, Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Imperfection at its Finest

I never said I’m perfect. I don’t even think I’ve ever hinted at thinking I’m perfect. I’m this imperfect little jumbled mess who wants to believe she can “do it all” and cook fabulous dinners every night, too. Yeah, well… I can’t. And I’m ok with that.

I made burnt grilled cheese sandwiches. The kids decided to take over the stove after I burned not only the first side of the sandwiches, but then the 2nd side, as well!!! I’m so glad I taught them how to cook. 😉

I will say that I think I made up for that mishap by making some really great bagels the following weekend.

This last weekend, I made spaghetti sauce. It took me 2 days to get the spices right!!! In the sauce, I used my freshly canned tomatoes from a few weeks ago. I think they lend a different flavor to the sauce, and I’ll have to remember to make adjustments to my cooking when using those in the future.

But… after spending 2 days getting the spices just right, I made a nice, big lasagne using the sauce, that is now lunches for the week with all the leftovers, and I froze 3 bags of sauce for later use.

And then there’s yesterday. The one day I wish nobody would have asked me the question… the ONE day I didn’t want to admit what I made my children for dinner… and the question was asked. And answered. My answer: corn dogs and tater tots… and the reply that came after that was: SHE’S HUMAN!!!! (And no… the corn dogs were not homemade, nor were they organic, blah, blah, blah… they were pure junk food and we loved them!!! But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on eating well and cooking fabulous meals. I still love to cook! I just needed a night off!)

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking With Love

Mom’s Stuffed Green Peppers

4 med. Green Peppers
1 # Ground Beef
1/3 c chopped onion
salt
pepper
1 # can tomatoes
1/2 c water
1/2 c uncooked long grain rice (not the minute rice)
1 tsp worcestershire (I tend to use a lot more than that!)
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese

Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds and membrane. Precook green pepper cups in boiling salted water about 5 minutes; drain. (for crisper peppers, omit precooking)

Cook ground beef and onion till meat is lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes, water, rice & worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer till rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cheese, shredded (about 1 c) Stuff peppers; stand upright in baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

I love this dinner! I like to add baked potatoes and a salad to finish it off, and some fresh baked bread! If you know the next day is going to be busy and you may not have time to get dinner together, this is a great one to do. Make it up the night before and put it in the fridge. Add just a couple extra minutes onto the cooking time!

***Notes

  • Mom has renamed her recipe to “Hidden Pepper” and uses only 1 pepper these days. She puts the single pepper in the middle of the pan, fills it with the mix and surrounds it with the remaining mix. I mostly do it this way, also, except that I use 2 peppers, but I usually double the meat mix, and it’s a great lunch the next day. 🙂
  • I often make life easier for myself and cook up a large amount of rice on a weekend for use throughout the week. Then I’ll just use a few big scoops of the already cooked rice, omitting the extra water in the recipe. I’ve also been known to skip the canned tomatoes and chop up the tomatoes that are sitting on the counter, begging to be used.
  • Admittedly, I don’t follow this (or most) recipe exactly. I add things all the time, or change it here and there. But this is the basic recipe and a good starting point for budding cooks.

4 Comments

Filed under Main Dishes, Recipes

Gettin’ Pickled

Two weeks ago was “pickle-makin’ weekend” at my sis’s house. I joined my parents, my sis and her foster daughter, and my own kids (who had arrived on Friday afternoon with my parents, as I was at a training and not arriving until nearly midnight) for the weekend on our quest to get pickled!

Mom & Dad picked up the cukes and other supplies needed for the pickling extravaganza, including snipping all the dill from the plants in my garden (I was hoping that big ol’ thing that was out-of-control was going to be useful!)

We had a great time all day, the kids were helpful… the girls were helpful by staying out of our way (at least I think that’s what they have made themselves believe. 😉 ) and the boy was helpful and learned how to make pickles, like my Great Grandma used to make!!! I’ll share the recipe with you, and you can see my sis’s video in her post about the weekend (linked in the first paragraph). As a reward for the all the boy’s hard work, the girls did all the dishes while he got to sit and relax. And he got to be the one to try the very first pickle out of the jars!!!

So, why did I wait 2 weeks to tell you about gettin’ pickled? Because it is 2 weeks from pickling day that the hard work pays off and you get to open the first jar and give them a try. Which means that TODAY, while my sis and her foster daughter were here, we opened the jar and watched as the boy child chose his pickle and took the first bite. And it was good. (And he is still alive, so we must have done it right, huh?)

 

 

Want to make your own pickles? Here’s the recipe:

Mom’s Dill Pickles
(Well, my Mom’s Mom’s… so that would be my Great Grandma)

Put 1 quart cider vinegar, 1 quart water, and ½ cup pickling salt together in a non-reactive**** saucepan and boil for a few minutes. Then pour the mixture over small cucumbers which are packed tightly into jars along with garlic, peppers, and fresh dill. (Ratios to your taste.) Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

I got to take home 28 of the 54 jars of pickles, because of my larger family. For those of you who think this sounds like a lot of pickles… well, today for lunch, we ate half a jar. My kiddos love to take pickles for their lunches and I like to put them out as a snack when we have people over, and then of course there is potato salad, sliced pickles on sandwiches, chopped pickles in tuna sandwiches… the list could go on and on… So… I think we might have enough to last us the year…

::Notes taken from my sis’s post:

** We are not bound by these guidelines, but if we want to enter things in the county fair, they must be made to USDA standards. Oh, and it’s meant to be safer.
*** Ratios of water/vinegar have been changed from the original to be in line with what we made. Dad also points out that some of the reasoning for this is that ‘in the olden days’ vinegar was more acidic that it is today.
**** Non-reactive saucepans are a stainless steel, chip-free enamelware pan, or glass pans.

3 Comments

Filed under Canning, Cooking With Love, Recipes

Hearty Breakfast Cookies

It’s time for Back-to-School! With Back-to-School comes the recreational soccer league for my kiddos. To me, this means getting the freezer stocked up with easy to grab-no-go snacks, breakfasts and lunch items. I planned on doing some of that this past weekend, however, when I went to make my baked goods, I discovered I was out of flour (by out, I mean I only had a few cups left… plus lots of whole wheat flour…), so my baking endeavor has been postponed until Labor Day Weekend (a fitting weekend for laboring in the kitchen, wouldn’t you agree?).

I have been asked many times for the breakfast cookie that I use. Since I have not posted it on this blog yet, I will do that today so that you can all join me in making these cookies for yourself and your families next weekend. I generally double the recipe and then I wrap each cookie in wrap and bag them all up for the freezer. Wrapping them individually allows you to grab 1 and not have to thaw the whole bunch of them. They thaw quickly, but you can also pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (1 or 2 cookies at a time, just what you need for the day). These are a favorite for the kiddos for breakfast, lunch and after school snacks. I like to grab one for a late-afternoon pick-me-up at the office.

Enjoy! (This recipe was originally posted at AllRecipes.com and when I printed it for my recipe box, it called for buttermilk instead of water. I suggest using buttermilk!)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs and water.
  2. Mix together flours, oats, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix into peanut butter mixture. Stir in raisins. Drop by ice cream scoopfuls 2 1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 18 – 20 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. Store in an airtight container.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Breakfast, Cooking With Love, Recipes

Benefits of Cooking Dinner

As I was eating my lunch today I realized I should share with you one of the many benefits of cooking dinner at home. If you plan your menus and cook large enough dinners, you have your lunch sorted out for the next day. You save money not once, but twice (or more, depending on the meal and how much is left!).

I often am tempted (and give in to that temptation) to eat out for lunch when I’m at the office. It’s just that it’s so easy to run down the road and grab something. But, oh boy, does that put a damper on the budget! I’d like to go on vacation this summer. Eating lunch out 2-3 times a week sure won’t help me save up any cash for that!

So last night’s dinner leftovers were stored away in a nice lunch container and I brought it with me to the office today. A lovely roast with potatoes, carrots and asparagus awaited me when I realized I was quite hungry and needed a break from the piles of paperwork I was sorting through. I not only saved the cash I would have spent on lunch, but I can now use my lunch break time to write to all of you. 🙂

Comfort Food

Comfort Food. It's not just for dinner anymore.

Comfort food. It’s not just for dinner anymore!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Lunches