Archive | April, 2013

Quick Dinner – Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

29 Apr

We are getting to that time of year when things start to get busier at our house. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones either. Outdoor chores like weeding the flower beds, mowing the grass and planting the garden come into play. With warmer weather also comes more outdoor activities – motorcycle rides, outdoor parties, weddings, graduation parties, camping, bicycle rides. That means less time spent at home, which translates to quick dinner options on the weekdays. I don’t want to be stressing about what to make for dinner, or punk out and make something that is quick, but completely unhealthy. Since I am on the path to healthier eating, I’ve been thinking up meal options that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less, but are healthy, filling, and taste great. These burgers fit that bill. You get a burst of nutrient rich veggies from the spinach mixed into the burger, plus the addition of using more baby spinach in place of lettuce. The chicken is packed with protein but lower in fat than your traditional beef options, and frankly more flavorful than ground turkey. The feta cheese adds some dairy, and eliminates the need for additional salt since it helps flavor the meat. I used olive oil mayo that I spiced up with some wasabi sauce, giving the burger a little zing. It complimented the burger very well! Ciabatta rolls were a lovely change of pace from traditional burger buns, and could actually be skipped completely if you are looking to limit your intake of carbs, serving it over a bed of baby spinach with a little smear of the wasabi mayo. We enjoyed these with a large serving of garden salad, and it was delicious!

spinach & feta chicken burgers

Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

makes 4  1/4lb burgers 

1lb ground chicken

4oz feta cheese crumbles

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces

1 small shallot, minced

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all of your ingredients in a bowl, and form into 4 1/4lb burger patties. Pan fry – no additional oil – or grill until cooked all the way through, 10-15 minutes. Serve on toasted ciabatta bread with baby spinach and wasabi mayo. Serve with a garden salad for a light and healthy dinner! Also great for lunch!

The Liebster Award!

24 Apr

Liebster Award

I logged into my email this morning and saw that I had a new comment on my blog. Comments are always awesome (unless they are spam…but sometimes those are awesome for their hilarity) because it means people are actually reading your blog. This one was a double dose of awesome because it turns out I was nominated by a fellow blogger for a Liebster Award. A special thank you and shout out goes to Little Bit Sweet for the nomination. It’s a special nomination for bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It helps get your name out there, and potentially increase your following. You aren’t in any way obligated to participate, but I think it’s a sweet and simple way to spread the word about blogs that interest you!

The rules:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and answer the 11 questions posted by your nominator.
  2. Pass the award to 11 bloggers with <200 followers and ask them 11 questions to answer.
  3. Display the Liebster award in your post.

Here’s my list of questions from my nominator:

1. What’s one thing on your “bucket list”?

I’d honestly love to someday own a little pub or a food truck. It would be awesome to provide people with a cozy atmosphere where they could grab a home cooked bite to eat while enjoying a really good beer. So many people eat pre-made or convenience meals, totally neglecting any nutritional value and totally missing the point of a good meal – to sit down and ENJOY some from scratch cooking.
2. Name something you’re proud of.

I’m proud of how far I’ve come in my 32 years with my cooking skills. I feel like my cooking methods mimic my Bubba’s. From scratch cooking that is healthy, tastes good, and fills you up.

3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

This mostly depends on what is going on. Do I want to stay up till 2am just for giggles? Nope. But if I’m entertained and in enjoyable company, 2am can come around quick. That being said, the latest I seem to sleep in is around 8am. And that’s usually after a 1 or 2am evening out! So I guess I’m both! Is that even possible? Must be.

4. Worst cooking disaster has been…

This would probably be the time I made a batch of english muffin bread…..and forgot to put in the yeast. I pulled the bread out of the oven and couldn’t imagine why I had 2 flat dense loaves of bread. When making a yeast bread, you have to add the yeast. Oops.

5. What inspires you?

People who are trying to get back to the basics. Simple, healthy meals. Canning and preserving. Growing your own foods.

6. If you could visit any time era, which would it be?

This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I’ve been sucked into the awesomeness that is Mad Men, but the 1950’s. I don’t like that women are talked down to and looked at as secondary to the males, but I LOVE the clothing, the parties, the music, and the fact that they always have booze around!

7. What trait do you find most valuable in others?

Honesty. I can’t stand people who are full of BS or lie. I’m bluntly honest, so I kind of want other people to be honest with me too.

8. If you could tell your 8yr old self something, what would it be?

Don’t EVER get a credit card. EVER. Seriously. No matter how grown up you think it is or how awesome the lure of spending money you don’t actually have is, fight it. Because it is so not awesome when you get the bill each month. Especially when you get to the point where you can’t remember what the hell you bought.

9. Favorite book or tv show:

This is way too hard to narrow down. But just to name one, I love the Sookie Stackhouse Series. They are easy reading, great for the imagination, and even better – I get to watch the show the books helped create – True Blood. I dig science fiction, vampires, werewolves, the realm of Fae. I’m a little bit nerdy. I’m ok with it.

10. How long have you been blogging?

Oh gosh, a little over a year. I started blogging as a way to share recipes with family and friends because it was just easier to do it on a website than to try to remember to email a recipe to someone.

11. What’s your best blogging advice?

Blog about what matters to you, in your own voice. Do it because you want to, not because you are looking to have a gazillion followers.

And now, here are those that I nominated for an award! I won’t lie. There are some that have more than 200 followers, but I feel like they deserve recognition, and sharing!

Lightly Crunchy

Dinner is Served

Recipes Happen

The Food and Wine Hedonist

So Woodsy

Craft it. Bake it.

My Rubber Boots

Farmhouse 38

Shenandoah Valley Homesteader

Nutty Kitchen

Homemaking in the Last Frontier

My questions for you:

1. If you could live anywhere, and money were not an issue, where would you live and why?

2. What is your go to meal when you’re having people over?

3. If a zombie apocalypse were to actually happen, would your strategy be to hunker down in your home and wait it out, or pack up what you can and seek a more secure form of shelter? (the zombie apocalypse version could vary – 28 Days Later scenario where they die off – best case. Worst case – Walking Dead where they NEVER DIE!!!)

4. What is your favorite music to cook to?

5. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

6. Describe your blog in on sentence.

7. If you could have celebs over for a dinner party, who would be your top 3 invitees?

8. For the rest of your life, you can only watch one movie. What movie would that be?

9. If your life were a sitcom, what would the show title be?

10. Beef or chicken?

11. What do you do to relax?

Healthy Meal Idea – Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

22 Apr

I’ve been on a blog hiatus recently. Not because I’ve been overly busy or anything. More like I’ve been trying to enjoy the lovely weather when it comes about. Catching up on some spring cleaning chores like cleaning out the chicken coop and run. Trying out new recipes, and revisiting old ones. I am always on a mission for easy, healthy, simple and QUICK meal ideas. Have you ever noticed that most of the easy meals tend to be unhealthy because you are either eating a premade meal made who knows when, preckaged stuff that has so many preservatives you feel almost pickled after, or it’s laden with fat to compensate for flavor? Blech. Enter in the Spinach & Bacon with White Beans. It’s fast. It’s tasty. It’s healthy. It’s LOW FAT. Even with the butter and bacon. Ya, that’s right. But it’s REAL butter. Not margarine. Not anything that’s 1 step away from being plastic. If you are going to ingest a fat, make it a natural one. BUTTER people. BUTTER. Say it with me….BUTTER. End rant.

Anyways, back to this meal. It’s filling. Because of the beans. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for you, keep you full fiber. It was delicious. No added salt or pepper was needed. I used precooked bacon because it’s quick, and it’s lower in fat and calories, and we always have some on hand. Don’t feel like you HAVE to. Don’t feel like you have to use bacon either – you could use some chopped country ham, prosciutto, salami. Whatever. And you can mix up the greens too – collard greens, mustard greens, kale. I just had a big ass container of spinach, which I happen to love, and wanted to use it up. Boy, I’m glad I whipped this up. I think hubs wished I made a double batch. He wanted more. So, I guess I should say this would serve 2 as a lunch sized portion. Double the recipe if you’ve got a big meal eating man in your life. Next time I make it I think I’ll cook up an egg over easy and top the greens & beans with that. And a little parmesan. Wow. I want that right now.

Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

Ingredients

1 pound fresh organic baby spinach

6 garlic cloves, minced

8 pieces pre cooked bacon, chopped

2 cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon REAL butter

shaved parmesan

Add butter to a large skillet, letting melt. Add in your garlic and bacon, cooking until bacon is crisp and garlic is starting to get a little crispy looking – about 3 minutes. Add your beans, tossing to coat with the bacon garlic butter mix. Keep tossing until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add your spinach, in batches if necessary, stirring the mixture around to let the spinach wilt and cook through.

Serve immediately, and sprinkle with some shaved parmesan cheese for an extra hit of flavor!

Breakfast Deliciousness – Strawberry French Toast Bake

8 Apr

Breakfast is that one meal you should really eat each day. My mornings are usually a rush to get  myself showered and presentable, get the dog fed and outside for potty time, and make sure the chickens have food and water. I could rush less if I got up a little earlier, but I’d rather sleep in a little longer. Those precious extra minutes help to make me a pleasant human. Otherwise…you don’t wanna know. That being said, breakfasts on a weekday consist of cereal, a couple of eggs and an english muffin and coffee, or recently, a smoothie.

Saturday and Sunday I usually put in extra effort for breakfast. Percolated coffee. Bacon or sausage. Fresh made pancakes or Belgian waffles. Biscuits and gravy. Quiche. Not all of those items at once, but a mixture of them, making breakfast more of an event rather than just food for nourishment. Enter in the invention of my Strawberry French Toast Bake. I like to keep a couple of baguette cut into sandwich sized chunks in the freezer. They freeze nice, thaw quickly, and are great for impromptu guests or invites to a party where I will take an appetizer. And, they make for amazing french toast. I had a whole one, unfrozen just hanging around and was in the mood for french toast. But I wasn’t in the mood to soak those little rounds and make a bunch of 3 bite french toasts. I wanted something quick, simple, and hearty. I also wanted something with berries. Whenever strawberries go on sale, I buy a bunch and then cut some up into cubes, freezing them for later uses. The berries took it to another level. Served with some bacon it was a very filling breakfast. This recipe will easily serve a family of 6. Hubs and I had it for breakfast on a Sunday, and then throughout the week. It’s fantastic. A must make.

strawberry french toast closeup

Strawberry French Toast Bake

2 cups frozen chopped strawberries, thawed and excess liquid drained

12 eggs

1 1/2 loaves baguette bread, cut into slices and torn in half

1/2 cup milk

sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease a baking dish (I used a heart shape that was roughly 9×9).

In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, spices and vanilla, whipping to combine. Sprinkle some of the strawberries on the bottom of the baking dish. Add in your bread chunks. Scatter the rest of your strawberries all over the top. Pour on the egg mixture, being sure to coat all of the bread.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While your oven is preheating, you’re going to let the bread soak up all that egg mixture.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until top of the french toast bake is golden brown, and the center is set. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.

strawberry french toast

Apple Pie in a Jar – Apple Pie “Shine”

2 Apr

When I think of apple pie, it reminds me of being a kid, playing outside and being able to smell the delicious fragrance of freshly baking apple pie flowing out the open windows in the spring. There is just something about that smell and taste. It’s childhood.

As an adult, I like to enjoy apple pie in different variations. Cookies, cupcakes, cakes, tarts. As a grown up beverage, it can’t be beat. I did an Apple Pie Sangria with a jar of this mixed into the batch. It was AMAZING. Slightly potent, but AMAZING.  The best way to make a batch of that sangria is to actually have a jar of the Apple Pie “Shine” to mix into it. It’s easy to make, and just as easy to drink. My second batch was a little less potent, so I may add another shot of grain to the jars upon opening them. The recipe listed below is my variation of the recipe given to me by a friend. I think it makes something great tasting become epic tasting!

apple pie shine

Apple Pie Shine

1 gallon apple cider

1 gallon unsweetened apple juice

3 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons vanilla extract – do not use imitation

1 liter (plus a couple extra glugs if you are heavy handed like me!) moonshine, Everclear, or the highest proof vodka you can find

Take and put all of your ingredients into a large pot, with the exception of the alcohol. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to dissolve brown sugar and molasses. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Add your grain alcohol, stirring to combine.

Fill clean pint or quart mason jars to bottom of threads on jar, wipe rims and add lids and screw bands, twisting to finger tight. Rinse jars to get rid of any sticky residue and store in a cool dark place. Let “age” about 1 month to get rid of any strong booze flavor. Enjoy ice cold, shaking the jar before passing the jar around with friends! Tastes just like apple pie – in a jar!