Ch, ch, ch, CHIA!

chiaThese tiny crunchy little seeds pack a healthy punch! If you’ve never tried them, give it a shot. According to research, they were a diet staple of the Aztecs and Mayans and are supposed to provide sustained energy. Not to mention, only 1 tablespoon has 150% of your daily recommended value of Omega-3! The suggested serving size per day is only 1 tablespoon and it’s so easy to find ways to sneak them into your food.

My personal favorite way to eat them (Monday-Friday this is my go to breakfast) is oatmeal! I’ve tried to cut back on sugar consumption in the morning time (at least during the week), even though I love a sugary breakfast. If you absolutely cannot live without it, you can add sugar to this but it’s totally optional, and the dried cranberries have sugar in them and add just the right amount of sweetness. And I swear this breakfast starts my day off right.

Oatmeal with Chia Seeds (makes one serving)oatmeal ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. sliced almonds
  • 1-2 tbsp. dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp. sugar, (brown, white, turbinado) optional

Put oats and water into a microwave safe bowl and stir. Heat in the microwave for one minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.

Another great way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet is in smoothies. This is a recipe that is definitely kid approved.

smoothie ingredientsMango & Chia Smoothie (makes approximately 3 1/2 cups, or two smoothies)

  • 1 c. plain greek yogurtblender
  • 1 c. coconut water
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 mango, cut into chunks (no skin)
  • 1 pear, cut into chunks (optional if you want to leave the skin on)

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.

mango smoothie

Feel the power of Chia course through your body and start your day like a super hero!

Gray Hair, Don’t Care (Just Kidding!)

Although I’m not a beauty blogger, I still think this post qualifies under the “Jenuinely Homemade” theme, as it’s done at home! So, a little break from the food posts, to pass on a money saving tip. In the beauty form. Got gray? Unfortunately, I do. After I turned 30, that’s when I decided I needed to handle my business. Although I don’t really think it’s my age that was the cause, but more specifically, THIS person!

Plotting destruction...

Plotting destruction…

That’s my third child, and she’s a handful! Each and every child is so different but in my experience, the last one gives you the most trouble. I joke that every time she does something bad, a gray hair shoots out of my head. Kidding aside, I think it may actually be true.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo this is me and #3 the day of her birth. Look at my glorious natural dark hair. I miss it! She was a great baby, but once she hit one year old, oh my. (See first picture). Ages 1, 2, 3 and 4 for her, and us, have been tough. Moms, I KNOW I’m not alone in experiencing this, right? Please tell me I’m not alone! So then the gray arrived, and dye it I must!

I have had a professional color it in the past but it’s just so expensive to maintain. And if you have to dye your roots frequently like me (about every 4 weeks), then finding a less expensive alternative is necessary. Store bought “box” dye can range anywhere from $5-$12, depending on the brand, and in my experience, doesn’t last as long. I’ve noticed grays coming back within a few days of using that stuff. So I tried these products and I’m glad I did. It’s stronger and pretty easy to use. On a side note, I’m not a licensed cosmetologist. Just a mom with gray looking to save.

Hair coloring essentials

Hair coloring essentials

So the actual color, Clairol Professional Crème Permanente, cost me about $6, and I can use it at least THREE times to dye my roots. The developer was around $8 and I don’t know if I’ll ever run out of the stuff. All the other items (gloves, brush and bowl) cost me less than $5 and can be used countless times, as they are washable. See the savings? You can find all this stuff at your local Sally Beauty Supply.

Not too shabby for a home dye job

Not too shabby for a home dye job

Now, I just want to finish by saying I do love that little girl very much. And although I don’t like my gray hair, and I do care, it’s an easy fix! Good luck gray haired moms! We need it!

Her 4th birthday and she thought the boy on the bag was cute. We're in trouble.....

Her 4th birthday and she thought the boy on the bag was cute. We’re in trouble…..

Top O the Morning to Ya!

So this post has nothing to do with Irish food. I just wanted to say good morning in a less traditional way. So top O the morning to ya! This should give you a hint that I’m going to talk about breakfast. On Saturdays in my house, my family looks forward to a nice home cooked breakfast. It’s our one day that we are not rushed to go anywhere or do anything (except during softball season).

Look at those "farm" fresh eggs! Beautiful!

Look at those “farm” fresh eggs! Beautiful!

On a recent Friday when I was at the grocery store, I found some great looking chicken apple sausage links on manager’s special. Only about $2 and I figured I could use them to make some kind of yummy Saturday breakfast. We also have an abundance of brown eggs because we do the whole backyard chicken thing. So I get fresh eggs on a daily basis. With this in mind, I thought of hash!

This breakfast turned out to be so good, (and pretty looking too!) so I wanted to share it with you. Feel free to substitute the chicken apple sausage for any other sausage you’d like (or can find on sale). Make it your own, and use what you have!

Not done yet, just you wait!

Chicken Apple “Hash” w/ fried eggs (serves 4-5)

¾ pound chicken apple sausage, removed from casing

½ green bell pepper, chopped

¼ onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

½ c. aged white cheddar, shredded

4 potatoes or 5 small potatoes, baked and cut into cubes

4-5 eggs, fried

Pepper to taste

Sliced green onions

Add sausage to a pan (cast iron works great), along with onion and bell pepper. Break up sausage and cook until no longer pink. Add garlic, cooked potatoes and pepper, stirring until combined. Add shredded cheese on top, put a lid on it and turn heat off. To fry eggs, spray your non stick skillet with cooking spray. I use canola oil cooking spray. Heat on medium heat. When skillet is ready, crack eggs, season with a little salt and pepper, and cook on one side for approximately 2 minutes, flip over, and cook for a couple more minutes. Cook the eggs for as long or as little as you prefer. It just depends on how much you like the yolk cooked. Scoop a generous portion of the hash onto a plate, top with the fried egg and sprinkle with the green onions.

*Use your microwave setting for baking potatoes for this recipe. It takes much less time than actually baking them in the oven, and I always do this for any type of breakfast potatoes.

Now THAT'S pretty!

Now THAT’S pretty!

Flax & Almond Crusted Cheesecake French Toast

cheesecake french toast

Yes, I’m posting another “cheesecake” recipe. That’s because I had some leftover cheesecake filling from the no bake apple cinnamon cheesecake bites and there is no way I was letting that go to waste.

If you don’t have any leftover cheesecake filling like I did, don’t fret! You can make a slightly simpler version to speed things along.

Now, if you like sweet breakfast treats, then try this one out. I have a big sweet tooth, but of course, my kids have even bigger ones. Especially #2 (the one who doesn’t eat but surprisingly loves sweets). Hmmm…. Of course, right? So treat yourself and your kids to this delightful breakfast. P.S. It doesn’t even need syrup!

Flax & Almond Crusted Cheesecake French Toast (makes 4-5 whole “sandwiches”)

015

  • 8-10 slices bread (I used whole wheat)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream (or milk if you want to lighten it up)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flax
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, and then roughly chopped
  • Canola spray
  • Sliced strawberries, optional
  • Powdered sugar, optional

Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. In a separate dish, whisk together eggs, cream and cinnamon. And in another separate dish, add flax and almonds and mix together until combined.

Heat a griddle or non stick skillet over medium low heat. You can either spray with canola spray (my preferred method) or melt coconut oil or butter.

Take a piece of bread and add 2 heaping tablespoons of cheesecake mixture and spread around evenly. Place another slice of bread on top. Dip into egg mixture, making sure to flip over and coat both sides. Then add to the flax and almond mixture. Put the “sandwich” on the griddle. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes. This will just depend on your stovetop. You want the exterior of the bread to get a nice toast on it.

cheesecake french toast

So yummy that it’s pictured a second time!

Cut each “sandwich” in half diagonally and place on a plate. Garnish with some powdered sugar and sliced strawberries. Lick the cheesecake filling as it oozes out. Dig in!

*This recipe will leave you with leftover cheesecake mixture. Do with it what you must, whether it be dipping strawberries into it, eating it by the spoonful, etc. If you do not want leftovers, cut that part of the recipe in half.

No Bake Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake Bites

apple cinnamon cheesecake bites
I heart dessert! I love eating sweets, but not so much baking them. Not to say I don’t bake, but I just don’t enjoy it as much as cooking a delightful dinner. But this dessert is no bake, so it’s perfect for the “non baker” in you.

This is a super cute dessert that is great for serving to company. It looks pretty and is easy to eat. These mini cheesecakes are a perfect combination of crunchy, sweet, tart, all in one little bite.

No Bake Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake Bites (makes 30 bites)

These can be found in the freezer section

These can be found in the freezer section

2 packages mini phyllo shells (15 in each box)
1 large apple, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
juice from half a lemon
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Thaw mini phyllo shells. Optional, if you’d like them extra crispy, bake at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes. If not, just let them thaw. Set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Once melted, add apples and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice. Stir together and once it’s melted and gooey looking, turn heat off and let cool.

Silky, smooth, soft whipped cream

Silky, smooth, soft whipped cream

Add cream and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (if not a hand mixer will do) and whip until cream has nice soft peaks, about 3-4 minutes. Start off slow and then up it to a higher setting (I use a 6 on my stand mixer).The cream should look silky and soft. Let it go too far and it starts to look chunky and heads toward butter.Set aside in the fridge.

Fold in the whipped cream and be gentle!

Fold in the whipped cream and be gentle!

 

 

Add cream cheese, vanilla and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until the cream cheese is smooth looking. Add whipped cream to cream cheese mixture and fold together. Once combined, add to a piping bag (or a Ziploc bag with a corner of the bag cut off) and pipe into the phyllo shells. piping

Add apple compote to the top and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pretty, delicious and easy

Pretty, delicious and easy

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

fish tacosEver had a Rubio’s fish taco? If not, you’re missing out! Hands down, they have the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. Most of their restaurants are in California, with a few nearby states also being lucky enough to have them. If you’re not fortunate enough to have eaten at one of these places, don’t despair! As I’ve said before, I love to re-create restaurant food at home, and this recipe pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Not only can you use this beer battered fish for tacos, but it would also be great for a fish n chips dinner. Whip up some homemade tartar sauce and cook up my previously posted recipe for homemade French fries, and you’re good to go.

That's a good looking piece of fish!

That’s a good looking piece of fish!

Back to the tacos. I prefer cod for these tacos, plus it’s on the less expensive side. And it’s mild, so if your kids are not fish fans, start them off on this. I also prefer a lighter beer for this batter. If you use a dark beer, that flavor will definitely come through more.

Beer Battered Fish Tacos (makes approximately 10 tacos)

White Sauce:

1/4 c. mayo

3 tbsp. sour cream

1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

Whisk the above listed ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate. Those $.98 Walmart squirt bottles also work great to put this white sauce in. Plus, it looks purty when you squirt the sauce over the top of the tacos.

We're classy folks!

We’re classy folks!

Beer Batter:                                                                                                                       

1 c. flour

1/2 tbsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. each of garlic powder, onion powder & white pepper

Just a dash of salt

3/4 c. beer (Use 1 can, and drink the rest!)

Fish Tacos:

1 cod filet, cut into approximate 3″ strips (just under 3/4 pound will do)

1/2 head shredded cabbage

Good quality salsa

1 lime, cut into wedges

10 corn tortillas

frying fish

Almost done!

Preheat a deep fryer. If you do not have a deep fryer, you can fill a pan or pot with oil, heat it on medium and go from there. Whisk beer batter ingredients in a bowl. Dip strips of fish into the beer batter, making sure to shake off excess batter. You don’t want a huge layer of batter, you want to taste that fish! Gently put the fish into the hot oil. You may need to do this in two batches, as you don’t want to overcrowd the fryer/pan. Flip the fish over after a couple of minutes. Fish fries quickly, especially if you are doing small strips as called for in this recipe. Fish will be done when it’s floating and golden, approximately 4 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack or paper towels to drain.

Heat corn tortillas on a plate in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel for 1 minute. Now it’s time to assemble the tacos!

On a tortilla, lay one or two pieces of fish, squirt a little bit of the white sauce on top, then add the shredded cabbage, a little bit of salsa, and more white sauce on top. A squirt of fresh lime over the top and it’s ready to eat.

You complete me fish tacos! I hope they complete you too!!!!

fish tacos 2

Chicken Chili with a side of “fries”

chiliChili! It’s all American! Traditionally made with beef, however, over the past year, my family has almost completely switched out ground beef for ground chicken. And we love it! To tell the truth, I like this chili much better with chicken than with beef. I don’t know if Texas will allow me to enter their territory with that statement, but it’s true.

Whenever I make chili, I also make French fries because my kids are chili cheese fries fans. Say that five times fast. My fries are baked so they’re even healthier for you than the traditional fried version, plus they’re super easy. So for the kid in you, see the recipe for my homemade French fries down below.

Chicken Chili (serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. tabasco or other hot sauce (this is completely optional depending on your spice level)
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder or strong brewed coffee
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
This is a real dutch oven, not the urban dictionary definition!

This is a real dutch oven, not the urban dictionary definition!

In a dutch oven (or large saucepan/pot) heat oil and add ground chicken. Stir and break up the chicken, adding the onion and bell peppers. When chicken is cooked (it will no longer be pink), add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for approximately 45 minutes or until thickened.

*If you don’t have a dutch oven, I highly recommend investing in one. They are ideal for soups and shredded meats and are great because they can be used on the stovetop and then transferred to the oven for further cooking.

*If you are a spicy chili fan, you can use a spicier chili powder and also add more hot sauce.

Homemade Baked French Fries

wedges

My “tutorial” on how to cut your potatoes for fries

  • 5-6 russet potatoes, washed and sliced into wedges (cut in half long ways, then cut those halves into halves long ways, then do it again, understood?!?!)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
Golden & crispy

Golden & crispy

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place your potato wedges on a baking sheet and pour olive oil over the fries. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper over the fries (it’s up to you how much seasoning you want on your fries) and then using your hands, stir all of it together to get those fries coated. Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the fries over. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Fries should be crisp and golden.

chili cheese fries 2

A tasty pile of chili & potato goodness

Cabbage Salad with Peanut & Sesame Dressing

dressing and cabbage salad 2

This is so good that I could eat it everyday. Actually last week, I did eat it everyday with my lunch. I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s delicious, and it’s that good! This would make a great accompaniment to any Asian type of dish (i.e. me love you long time house special chicken!) or teriyaki chicken, katsu, chow mein…. you get my drift.

The star of this dish is the dressing. It is incredibly flavorful. It’s pretty much the perfect dressing. Remember how I mentioned in a previous post that dressing tastes better when it’s homemade? Example, RIGHT HERE!!!! This is so delectable and the possibilities for this dressing are endless. It would be great on grilled chicken, or as the dressing for a Chinese chicken salad, or you can just grab the bottle and squirt it straight in your mouth. Whatever floats your boat. And it’s so simple to make.

Peanut & Sesame Dressing (adapted from Jamie Cooks It Up)

Roll out the red carpet, the star has arrived!

Roll out the red carpet, the star has arrived!

  • 3/4 c. mayo
  • 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic (or 2 garlic cloves)
  • 1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Add all ingredients except the peanuts to a blender and blend on high. Then add the peanuts and blend until smooth. Makes approximately 2 cups.

*If you do not have peanuts, peanut butter would be a great alternative. Out of sesame oil and sesame seeds? Use tahini! I’m all about making adjustments and substitutions. Use what you’ve got. Who likes running to the grocery store for one or two items anyways?!?!

Like that bottle up there? Only $.98 at Walmart and they are absolutely perfect for dressings and sauces.

Now onto the cabbage salad. It’s super simple and very affordable. This is a perfect dish to serve to a crowd. I usually only do cabbage and carrots but this time added julienned red bell peppers. cabbage salad

Cabbage Salad

  • 1 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned

Great additions to this salad would also be sliced green onions and cilantro, which also adds great color. Wonton strips would also add additional crunch. Customize it to your tastes!

Now who likes a soggy salad? Not me! So I scoop out individual portions and then squirt the dressing over the top and mix on my plate/bowl. It’s a salad, not a coleslaw, so no dressing it beforehand.

Eat up, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!

I have three young children, so it’s no surprise that we like pizza in this house. But ordering out and having it delivered can become quite spendy in the long run, so I turned to making my pizza at home. Not with a premade crust, but with homemade dough, and oh does that make the difference! We still order out occasionally, but I really do prefer to make it at home, and once you try it yourself, you’ll understand why.

I do have to say that pizza making in my house is not an exact science. As I’ve mentioned before, I do not like to measure, and pizza is the perfect example of cooking using a method, rather than a recipe. Making your own concoctions to suit your individual tastes, and also the tastes of your family. However, the pizza dough DOES need to be measured and you do need to follow a recipe for that. As for the sauces and toppings, that’s up to you.

I’ve made plenty a pizza, and here are some helpful hints I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Use a pizza stone! I received one as a gift and I absolutely love it. It gives your crust a great crispness to the bottom and a more authentic taste. It is definitely not necessary though, any baking sheet will work. But that stone does elevate the pizza.
  2. Cornmeal! I always sprinkle cornmeal on my stone or baking sheet before I place the dough on it. The cornmeal helps to slide the pizza off the sheet easier and also adds a slight crunch.
  3. Use parchment paper to roll out your dough on. This makes it much easier to transfer to your stone or sheet. All you have to do is flip the dough onto the stone/sheet, and peel the parchment paper off.
  4. Sprinkle just a little bit of flour on your pizza dough rolling surface (parchment!) and also on top of your dough. This will help the dough roll much easier and also won’t stick to your rolling pin.

Onto the magical dough. So this is by far the best pizza dough I’ve ever used. I’ve tried a few different recipes and this is THE ONE! I knew it after my very first bite. You can find the original recipe over at Lauren’s Latest. She’s got some really great pictures and tips for making pizza dough so please check it out. I’ve adjusted her recipe to work better for my family size, so if you have a slightly larger than average family, this is the one for you.

Pizza Dough (serving size- 2, 14 inch pizza crusts):

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
4 cups all purpose flour, give or take half a cup

In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix. Once that flour is incorporated, start adding flour in bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but when you touch it, it doesn’t stick to your hands. Once you reach this stage, knead for 3-6 minutes. The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean! Lightly grease the bowl & the dough so it doesn’t dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours. Now it’s time to make pizza!

I’d just like to note, you do not need a stand mixer to make this dough. So if you don’t have one, never fear, your two hands are near! Yes, manual labor it is for you. Follow the recipe, except you use your hands to knead the dough, simple as that. I used this method for a long time before I bought a stand mixer.

Now, onto the pizzas I made. The first was a “kid friendly” pizza, which included red sauce, pepperoni and mushrooms. Like I said before, pizza making is a method, so I’m not going to give exact amounts but just tell you how I made it. The amount you want on your pizza will likely differ from the amounts I like on my pizza. Here goes….

  • pepperoni & mushroom pizzaOrganic tomato sauce went onto the dough first, sprinkled with garlic powder.
  • Then came shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Next was pepperoni and sliced baby bellas (one of my favs!).
  • Last, I sprinkled Italian seasoning all over.

I baked this at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. My oven cooks very slowly, so yours may be done faster than mine. You can tell it’s done when the crust starts turning brown and you can also lift up the crust a bit and peek at the underside. It should feel crisp, and not soft.

Time for the “adult” pizza! I did my version of a “margherita” pizza. Except instead of using basil though, I used kale. kale & tomato pizza

  • First, I spread my homemade softened basil garlic compound butter (see recipe for butter below) all over the crust.
  • Then I sprinkled a light amount of shredded mozzarella cheese over it.
  • After that came thinly sliced tomatoes.
  • Finally, some torn kale and cracked black pepper.

I also cooked this at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. Give pizza making a try. It’s not hard, and the results are worth it!!!

This is great in pasta, on potatoes, pizza, the possibilities are endless!

This is great in pasta, on potatoes, pizza, the possibilities are endless!

Basil Garlic Compound Butter

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 tsp. frozen basil (remember those cubes I’ve talked about?)
  • 4 garlic gloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme

Add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until blended together, scraping the sides as necessary. Scrape butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap, roughly into the shape of a cylinder. Wrap the butter up, twisting the ends of the plastic wrap. Can be stored in the fridge or freezer.