Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Omelettes That Anyone Can Make!

Around here, breakfast is a very beloved meal!  Nothing makes the beau more happy than when I wake up at the crack of dawn, stagger downstairs to the kitchen, and make him some breakfast before he has to go to work. While I try to be a nice girlfriend a couple days each week by spoiling him with a hot breakfast before sending him off into the world, there's no way that this is an everyday occurrence...especially when he needs to be walking out the front door at 5:40 AM or 6:40 AM.  I'm definitely NOT a morning person!

So, what's one of our favorite breakfasts to enjoy?!
Ham & Cheese Omelettes

These babies are so yummy!  Better than any omelette I've ever had at a breakfast diner.  And, they're simple and only require a few ingredients
Actually, this general procedure works well with any combo of sausage, bacon, or ham.  I just like using this ham because it doesn't need to be fried!  I just warm it in a skillet--it's already pre-cooked and makes no greasy messes.

I usually serve these omelettes with fresh sliced tomato with salt & pepper, or fresh fruit--just to kind of counteract the cheesy, meaty goodness with something wholesome and healthy.

I don't really have a recipe for these omelettes.  It's more about following a general procedure and just kind of eyeballing whatever quantities you want:

The best omelette is all about having the right skillet and spatula.  I make 2 egg omelettes, so the small (6-8") non-stick pan shown is perfect!  I know many people like 3 egg omelettes, but I think that they are almost too big and they are also harder to flip over. 

I start out by warming my ham in the skillet over medium heat.  I'd estimate that I use maybe 1/4 cup diced Hormel ham per omelette.  

Once my ham is warmed, I add a small pat of butter (about 1/2 T) to my pan and reduce the heat to LOW.  If you cook an omelette on too high of heat, you get a brown crisp on the outside.
As my butter is melting--don't let it brown--I mix up 2 eggs and a splash of milk (1-2 T) with a fork.  Pour your egg mixture into the skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Use your spatula to poke any bubbles that might start forming and to go around the outer edge, pushing cooked egg inward about an inch and letting the gaps fill with uncooked egg.  Once the egg is mostly cooked through--cooked enough to get your spatula under it without it falling apart--give it a flip.

Right away, start adding your filler ingredients.

 These omelettes have ham, cheese, and Pace picante sauce.  Seriously, the Pace is what makes these sooooo yummy.  Everyone who has ever had one of my omelettes always asks me about what kind of sauce I use.  It's the Pace--great for omelettes and breakfast burritos! If I'm out of Pace, I won't even bother with making these.

After everything is on the omelette, I fold it in half in the pan and slide it onto a plate.  If the cheese hasn't 100% melted, I'll usually create a heat dome on the plate with the hot pan turned upside down over the omelette for just a minute while I start mixing up the egg and milk for the next omelette.  

And that's it!  
Simple, yummy Foldover Omelettes.  

Here are some other combos to try:

Sauteed onion, mushroom, garlic, bell pepper, tomato, and squash.

Meat Lovers
Sausage and bacon with salsa and sour cream.

Lump crab meat, tomatoes, and mozzarella. 

3-4 egg whites, sauteed spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Wannabe Amish Friendship Bread

I pinned this recipe a while back from Red Fly Creations because it seemed easy and uncomplicated.  I've had Amish Friendship Bread a time or two, and while it is a yummy treat, it's not worth the hassle to me.  I don't want to wait 10 days and pass along starter bags get the idea.  So, when I saw this recipe, with no kneading or rising or waiting, I was intrigued.  And so this morning, I decided to make it with breakfast.  Totally unhealthy? Yeah. But oh well!  Every once in a while its okay to start the day with a slice of sugary bread!

Cinnamon Bread
makes 1 loaf 
(can easily be doubled to make 2 loaves)

For the Batter:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar (I used 1/2 brown, 1/2 granulated)
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk (or 1 c. milk +1 T. white vinegar OR lemon juice)
1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda

For the Cinnamon Swirl:
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg.  Add in buttermilk, flour, and baking soda.  Pour half of the batter into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cinnamon sugar mixture.  Pour remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.  Swirl using a butter knife or wooden skewer.  Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the center doesn't jiggle.  

(OPTIONAL: Reduce butter to 1/4 c. and add in 1/2 c. of apple sauce, 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, or 1 ripened, smashed banana.)

Try spreading with whipped butter. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Some Juicing Tips

I've been meaning to make a juicing post for a while now, especially considering some of my traffic has come from people interested in juicing.

I started juicing a few months ago in an attempt to trade out all of the coffee I consume with something nutrient dense and healthy.  In other words, I was feeling guilty about spending $15/week on coffee.  Plus, coffee was becoming a meal substitute.  Instead of eating lunch, I would just drink coffee, and I decided that I should at least drink something nutritious if I was going to skip out on a meal altogether.   What better switch than fresh juice?!!?!

So, I set out on my mission.  First order of business: Buy a juicer. 
The cheapest & easiest option would have been to go to Costco and buy a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. However, my old roommates used to have a Jack LaLanne, and it didn't handle leafy greens well, and leafy greens are where your super healthy, alkalizing phytonutrients are! Being a lover of spinach, I didn't want to juice if I couldn't include it. So I started researching the best and most economical juicer options that could handle my beloved and healthful spinach. 
I ended up settling on the OMEGA 8004.  
Pricey? Yes.
Worth it? Oh yeah. 
This masticating juicer might be slower and more expensive than a centrifugal juicer like the Jack Lalanne, but it doesn't oxidize your juice as much by spinning it around so fast it heats up. Plus, you can store the juice it produces for a couple of days, without major nutrient and enzyme degradation. 

After buying my juicer, I tracked the shipping like a crazy lady.
In transit
In transit
Still in transit
YES!!! Now, fruit and veg time.
I went to the grocery store and filled my cart with fresh produce.  I didn't know what kind of juice I was gonna make, so I figured I would just buy a little bit of everything.  After proudly checking out with my $48 in fruits and vegetables,   and getting stared at by the fat couple in front of me with tons of processed snacks, I went home and got started. 

My first juice, The Green Machine? YUCK. My second juice, random blend of stuff? Even worse. 
I was starting to get worried.  Maybe I should mail back the $260 waste-of-money that I just purchased.    I tried choking down my nasty concoctions, gave up, and went to bed sad.

After much trial and error and a few thrown out batches of juice, I learned that there are just some things left better unjuiced.   Like celery.  I love to eat celery, but even the slightest bit ruins a juice for me completely. However, this may NOT be the case with you!  Try celery, then if you don't like it, go for other watery, "filler" veggies like zucchini and cucumbers. I also started getting better at using the machine more optimally and getting a batch of juice made faster.

Did I stick to my initial plan of juice instead of coffee?  NO.  The coffee shop is just such a great atmosphere for homework and productivity, and I'm too addicted to coffee.  I tried going to the library with my juice--on several occasions.  It was freezing cold, though, and all I wanted to do was take a nap in the stacks.  Furthermore, I don't know what it was about that juice and that library, but I was always starving! 

Did I stick with juicing, however? YES.  I'm not die hard or anything. But I do try to squeeze in some juice a couple times a week, just as an added source of nutrients.  Some weeks are more ambitious than others.

Omega 8004

Washed and ready to start chopping!

Juice time!

 My Favorite Juice
2-3 cucumbers, peeled
3 apples, gala/fiji/pink lady
1/2 lemon or 1 lime
1/2 bag spinach, or several handfuls

Feeding some spinach through--clump it up and push it down with the plunger.


When this sieve starts to get full, rinse under running water.  Otherwise, it will continue to get fuller and more blocked up, and you'll lose all of that juice yield.

Alternate your spinach with apples and cucumbers.

After one batch--one container full--this metal mesh gets clogged.  To prevent the machine from getting backed up, it should be removed and rinsed clear.

Yes, much better!

This is a large jar--we're talking 32 oz.  Usually, I'll split one batch like this into two days--just pour it over ice and drink it with breakfast or after classes.  Keep in mind, I also eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Instead of processed snacks, I buy things like baby carrots, grapes, cherry tomatoes, clementines, cucumbers, bananas, etc. I believe that if you don't keep as many crappy foods in the house, you're much more likely to make healthier snack choices.

1. Try not to juice "just fruits."  I know a lot of people juice only fruit--strawberries, apples, peaches, raspberries, pears, pineapples, etc--in other words, lots of sweet fruits.  While these juices are very delicious, by taking out the fiber, you increase their glycemic index dramatically.  Basically, when you drink them, your blood sugar spikes, and over time you can actually increase your risk of getting diabetes.  Don't believe me? HarvardGazette: Skip the Juice, Go for the Whole Fruit
Instead, eat the fruits that you love, in whole form with all of their fiber.  Berries are like nature's candy, so eat them and enjoy them!  I tend to prefer juicing the fruits that I don't like to eat as much--grapefruits, cranberries, and apples, or fruits that can stand alone in a juice with vegetables--pears, apples, oranges, etc. 
2. Lemons and Limes are your friends. To cut the bitterness of any greens--I use mostly spinach and kale--lemons/limes work wonderfully!  Plus, they are low in sugar, boost your immune system, have anti-oxidant & anti-biotic properties, and have an alkalizing effect when consumed. 
3. Try Cabbage. I know, cabbage sounds a little funky.  Especially in juice form.  I was really hesitant to try it for a long time, but eventually, I made the leap and tried it.  And, it wasn't half bad!  Cabbage is especially helpful if you have digestive problems or, perhaps, ulcers.   The last juice I made with cabbage also had carrots, an apple, and a cucumber.  
4. Greens. I like buying spinach, kale, and the NuStar Cooking with Spinach Plus mixture of spinach/baby bok choy/baby chard/etc. I love how I can buy these all in a plastic bag, already washed and ready-to-go! 
5. Don't store your juice longer than 48 hours. Just don't do it.  Too much nutrient degradation and oxidation will occur if you store your juice more than a couple days.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chicken Tortellini Soup

This is seriously in my Top 3 Favorite Soups EVER!!!!
Its hearty, delicious, and easy.
I had this soup last summer when I was renting a room with an oral surgeon and his family.  His awesome wife made it and I fell in love with it!  However, I knew I could do a few things to make it even better.
Every time I make it, I prepare it a little different.   And it always turns out fabulous! This is just the general recipe I follow.  Sometimes I add more broccoli; sometimes more carrots; sometimes more get the idea.

I'd love to hear how this turns out for you!

Chicken Tortellini Soup

5-6 Chicken Breast tenderloins (3/4 lb)
1 T butter
1 t minced garlic
3/4 t Italian seasonings 
5 cups prepared chicken broth (or 1-lg. carton)
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup
12 oz. baby carrots 
1 large head of broccoli
8 oz. tortellini (I use 3 cheese, from Costco)
1/4 t pepper
salt, to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Dice chicken.  Sautee in pot with butter and EVOO.  When it's almost cooked through, toss in garlic. Season with Italian seasoning.  Add in broth and soup.  As soup warms, it will uncondense.  Add carrots and cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes.  Add in broccoli and tortellini.  Cover and continue cooking until tortellini is no longer chewy and broccoli is tender. Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with parmesan cheese, and serve with warm dinner rolls.

For an ugly, but delicious chicken 
dinner recipe, click HERE!
Christine's UGLY Chicken

Thursday, June 13, 2013

5Star Enchiladas

Credit goes to Get Off Your Butt and Bake for this recipe.
Whenever I find a recipe with rave reviews, it makes me want to make it that much more!  When I found this one, people were saying great things about it:
Seriously these are the best enchiladas you can make at home and better than almost all of the enchiladas I've had at restaurants.  We devoured them. Thanks for the deliciousness!
I just made this last night and I have to say it was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for the recipe!!!!! 
Made these tonight for Cinco de Mayo and loved them! 
And so, in the mood for some mexican food, I made these unique enchiladas.
They were delicious!
Even better reheated the next day.

I hate when people serve starch with more starch, so I just paired this up with a fresh green salad with homemade dressing.  It was a very filling dinner and we definitely had leftovers!

I'd love to hear about how these turn out for you!

FiveStar Enchiladas
1 lb. lean gr. beef 
1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1-10.5 oz. can corn, drained
1-4 oz. can diced green chilies
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. chili powder
1/2 c. picante sauce or salsa
2-10 oz. cans mild enchilada sauce {I used 1 mild, 1 medium}
1 can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese soup
10 (6 1/2 in.) fajita tortillas
2+ handfuls grated Mexican cheeses

Preheat oven to 375.
Brown gr. beef.  Drain off & blot out extra grease.  Mix in kidney beans, corn, diced green chilies, and spices.  In a separate bowl, combine salsa, enchilada sauce, and cheddar cheese soup.  Warm up slightly to help un-condense the soup.  Add about 1 cup of sauce mixture to gr. beef filling and stir.  
Put about 1/2 c. of prepared sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Start generously filling tortillas and rolling them up, seam down.  I left the cheese out of my enchiladas because of the cheesy sauce, but you can also sprinkle some grated cheese inside of each enchilada if you'd like. Once all enchiladas are rolled up, cover with remaining sauce mixture.  Top with two generous handfuls of cheese, or more.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another couple minutes, until cheese is melted.  

Creamy Chicken Verde Enchiladas

Monday, June 10, 2013

Garlic Chicken with a Twist of Lime

Want to throw together a quick and flavorful dinner?
Forget the Hamburger Helper--make this chicken instead!

This chicken is super easy and packs BOLD flavor.  Plus, it utilizes ingredients that are usually readily available at no special trip to the grocery store needed.
The guys loved the sauce this made...and I loved that I didn't have to marinate it overnight.
I coupled it with baked zucchini & squash, and some seasoned wild rice.
Oh, and it did have some kick from the cayenne pepper.  I used 1/4 teaspoon; next time I'll only use 1/8 teaspoon (but, I'm a baby when it comes to spicy foods).

Garlic Chicken with a Twist of Lime

2-3 chicken breasts, flattened & cut in half

Dry Rub:
1 t. garlic salt (or 1/2 t. garlic powder & 1/2 t. salt)
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 t. dill (or parsley)
1/4 t. minced onion (or 1/8 t. onion powder)
1/8-1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/8 t. paprika

3 T butter
extra garlic powder 
4 T lime juice

Coat chicken, both sides, with dry rub.  Sauté in a skillet with butter and olive oil over medium heat until golden brown, giving each side a generous sprinkling of garlic powder. Once cooked thoroughly, add in lime juice to deglaze pan.  Flip chicken to coat in sauce and continue cooking just a few (3-5) minutes longer.  Plate chicken, making sure to top with additional sauce.

***If you are cooking for more than 4, or want leftovers, I would double this recipe***