stories and recipes from a young mom who is still just trying to figure it all out!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The things I eat

I love to write so I never thought of it as much of a chore, however now that I actually have to do it I find myself running out of time in the day! The baby's laundry is piling up and Dylan came home yesterday after getting his man parts removed so the house is a little crazy (and full of muddy paw prints). But at the risk of sounding cheesy, I am going to say it anyway, I wouldn't have it any other way.

So what is a busy girl to do when she is playing with a baby, chasing around a giant puppy and trying to write things that fit into the little category she is suppose to be writing in, and then she suddenly realizes she has to eat?! And did I mention this girl also has to fit into a wedding dress that will be delivered here in a month? Well I will tell you what this girl eats. My favorite thing as of late, scrambled eggs and chorizo on a corn tortilla. You might think this doesn't sound much like diet food and that is because it isn't. I don't believe in dieting but I do believe in good food in small portions. This is sooo simple to make and even though you may think of eggs as a breakfast thing, I actually like this for lunch. It is easy to hold Ally while browning up some chorizo in a pan (less than $2 for a thing of chorizo at Wal Mart!), then adding in some beaten eggs and you can easily with one hand just give it a little scramble. Throw some shredded jack cheese on top, pile on top of a warm corn tortilla and you are full and good to go for hours! If you want to make your own tortillas (which I highly recommend) follow this link to my other article where I have a recipe.

Good food for all those busy ladies out there! Plus it is so full of flavor you will feel like you are getting a special treat for being such a good little mommy! ;)

Monday, January 24, 2011

A new chapter! ... Again

Well it has happened! I will be getting paid to write about one of the things I love most in this world: food! The articles are suppose to be more "newsy" and factual in this particular writing and I need to come up with articles that are interesting to the general food loving public. Stuff like, "How to cut your grocery bill in half" or "How to cook for diabetes". I get paid according to how much traffic goes to my articles, so I am interested in what you guys want to read about! If you have any suggestions for articles or questions you would like me to answer, post it up on my 3 lbs of chicken facebook page and I will be more than happy to take it into consideration. Once my page gets set up for these articles I will make sure the link is known and you can all join me on this new adventure!

As a side note, I have a recipe for you guys! Beau gets paid once a month and it is getting close to the end of our month so I am scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to food in this house. I suppose I could run to the store and just grab a couple things to make my life easier, but I thought, "nah!" I want to try to make dinner for the rest of this week using only the food I already have in the fridge and pantry. Which sounded easier when I first had the thought... but last night I started digging around and I found a half a box of macaroni noodles, some jarred tomatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, and some leftover chicken from a whole roasted chicken I had made the night before. Put it all together and what do you get? Pasta with chicken in a tomato cheese sauce! Yum! I love how that sounds... tomato cheese sauce...

I would have a picture for you, but before I could get out the camera we both had pigged out on it and it was gone! But I can tell you it looked as yummy as it tasted!

Pasta with Chicken in a Tomato Cheese Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 whole onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups roughly shredded cooked chicken
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
a pinch of garlic salt
a pinch of brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
enough cooked macaroni noodles to feed 2 people

In a saute pan heat the olive oil and then add in the garlic and onion. Saute until soft and translucent and then add in the chicken. Saute for 2 minutes then add in the tomatoes. Let it simmer until the tomatoes begin to sauce up. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the noodles) and let simmer for a couple minutes until the cheese is melted. Toss with the noodles and enjoy!

If you happen to have more things in your kitchen than I did then feel free to throw them in your sauce! It will change the flavor a little so stay consistent, but some capers, balsamic vinegar or white wine, etc. would all taste really yummy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flu Stew

A few weeks ago my mom gave me a huge stalk of ginger, claiming that she has decided it is disgusting and does not want to cook with it. (She has never cooked with ginger or eaten it at all but bought a bunch in a recent health kick.) I happen to love the stuff so I happily carted home the fresh stuff and a little sidekick bag of candied ginger.

Ginger is one of those roots that is so healthy for you I can't believe people don't just throw it in everything! You can make it into a tea, eat it candied or pickled or if you please, even just chew on it raw. Or, my favorite thing to do with ginger, use it in soups! You can chop up a little of it and season your soup mildly with the fresh flavor, or use more to create a light and bright soup with the zingy notes that only fresh ginger can deliver.

As I said before, ginger is amazing for your health, and I strongly recommend everyone to eat it in any way you please around flu and cold season. As we have our chicken soup here in America, China has their soup-y tonic that uses a lot of ginger and lemongrass to combat the season's harshest germs. Ginger has a colorful history, including its use as one of the herbs to help combat the plague. It is prized in many Asian and Indian cultures, yet again, leaving me baffled as to why we don't eat it more often here in America. It is also used to alleviate any sort of gastrointestinal ailments (a fancy way of saying it will help your butt not stink up the house) and it has direct anti-inflammatory effects.

But if you are not used to the delightful flavor of fresh ginger (first of all, don't let your first taste be of candied ginger! It can be pretty strong!) try it in a hearty soup. While I was making dinner tonight, my simple veggie soup turned into a dinner targeted specifically at fighting flu germs by using the wonderful things I learned in school to become a natural chef. I am feeling a little germy after taking Boo to the doctors' office and there were many sneezing coughing kids...

I chose every ingredient carefully. I have the ginger and garlic for their antioxidants and cold fighting properties. Then I added onions which has a lot of the same benefits and vitamins as garlic such as vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Carrots and celery for flavor and because pretty much every veggie has some good for you things in them. (yay veggies!) Then chicken on the bone, becuase even though it may be thought by some to be an old wives' tale, chicken soup really does fight colds. In Chinese medicine it is thought to give you energy and chicken has been shown to support the immune system. Perfect for what we are trying to do here! And then my secret ingredient, mostly for flavor and because the high amount of vitamin C, I added 1 whole unpeeled apple with the skin on. And lastly, I used some regular button mushrooms because ancient Egyptians actually thought mushrooms were the key to immortality and would give you superhuman powers... do I need another reason? Beau has named it: Flu Stew!

Flu Stew (ginger chicken apple soup)

coconut oil for sauteing
2 chicken legs on the bone
4 small carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches peeled ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 unpeeled apple, cut in half
chicken broth to cover
salt and pepper to taste

In a stock pot heat the oil. Brown the chicken legs on all sides and then remove from the pot and set aside. Add all of the vegetables and the ginger and garlic and saute for about 10 until they are soft. Add the chicken back in the pot and cover everything with chicken broth. Add in the apple. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Once chicken is cooked, pull it out and pull of the meat and then add back into the soup. Before serving, remove the apple.
If the soup is good but tastes as if it is "missing something" a little more salt and some apple cider vinegar should do the trick to brighten it up a bit. For a heartier soup that you can use as a main course, throw in some pasta!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Give me a break

Americans as a whole are notorious for working way to hard and then crashing into a heap where we then try to recoup ourselves through beer, food, red wine, kit kats or whatever else we feel will reward us for all our hard work. I am incredibly guilty of this unhealthy lifestyle. Once I even tried to live a yogic, serene lifestyle and I worked so hard at being calm and graceful and "one with myself" that I became exhausted and couldn't stand to even think of another day of happy thoughts and early morning meditations. and yet another time I wore myself out with books on other cultures' lives and tried to make it apply to my life so I could take naps at noon every day, eat whatever I wanted in small portions, and reward myself daily just for being me. Sounds fantastic except that yet again, I threw myself into it so wholly that it became not really a lifestyle at all, but more of a race with myself to see just how laid-back I could be... A friend of mine posted on her Facebook wall the other day "Everything in moderation, especially moderation." Aint it the truth?

Today I find myself running running running, and I am finally now collapsing. Nothing went as it should, I scratched nothing off my to do list and the baby has been fussy all day for a lack of naps that she will not lay down for. Every time I lay her down in her crib where she usually will quietly play with the corner of her blanket before she falls asleep, I found her rolling around, throwing her pacifier to the ground and giggling and cooing at the walls. But if I were to give up and take her out of the crib, her eyes get sleepy looking and she starts to scream... so this has been my day. And now Beau will be getting home late, the baby is still not sleeping, the laundry is not done and I was not able to run my errands because my car is broken. But still with everything else going on I have been running around cleaning, making wedding plans and trying to get things done. And now I just can't take it anymore!

So for those times when you need a little break or a "reward" for being awesome, do what I do. Turn to food! Still probably not a healthy habit but it works for me and I figure as long as I am still exercising and my waist is nice and thin (as it is) then what can it hurt? This is my favorite go to snack for days when I feel like I am sort of falling apart. One bite and I am picked right back up and I remember that life indeed is awesome and I don't always need to work so hard. Who is gonna know if I didn't make my bed today anyway??

How to make this wonderful treat:
First I toast 2 Kashi blueberry waffles. Then I slather one with Nutella and the other with creamy peanut butter. And then my favorite part, I break up some 80% dark chocolate into little pieces and sprinkle it around. Sandwich it together and wham-o! Perfection... it is so sweet and so rich and practically makes your teeth hurt, but the sugar rush is always just what I needed, and in case you haven't all heard, chocolate is a mood booster!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Down Home Mondays

Every so often I sit down cuddled up next to Beau and I think, "I will write a little something on my blog." But nothing will come to me. I just sit here staring at the screen, thinking of all of the recipes I have and the dinners I have made and I just sort of wonder if anyone really cares to read about my day to day. Does it matter or make any difference to anyone that Beau and I spent the day ripping out ugly dead bushes from our front yard and hacking down the cactus of ugliness from our driveway? And will anyone gasp with pleasure and surprise when I say that Ally is sitting up by herself now? You might be happy to know I have adopted the "meatless Monday" practice in an attempt to create a happier, healthier planet.

The truth is, I think my life is fantastic and I absolutely love my simple routine of cleaning, making baby food, and doing yard work on long weekends. I take great pleasure in walking the dog around the block. I love playing peek-a-boo with my little Boo and when Beau gets home it is like the sun has just risen for the first time all day. I enjoy making dinner and I don't even really care that I don't have a dishwasher (even if I complain about doing dishes all the time).

As exciting as it all is for me, sometimes I am reminded of a friend who I had in school. She had a baby and I was far from the time in my life where I would ever consider such a thing as a possibility. She looked at me and said, "Sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone thinks my baby is as adorable as I think he is." Could it be, that when I sit down to recount the events of my day or week, that nobody thinks it is as cute as I think it is? It is definitely a possibility...

But regardless, it does help me to unwind and I enjoy looking back at recipes or times in my life. So like it or not, here are a couple more recipes. What I made for dinner tonight: macaroni and cheese, peppered buttermilk biscuits and pan fried potatoes. Perfect for a meatless monday, or in smaller quantities, a lunch for a group! So enjoy! Or don't... but here it is regardless!

Macaroni and Cheese
adopted from The African American Heritage Cookbook (and my memory)

1 1/2 cups dried macaroni noodles
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk
1 cup light cream
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp paprika

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the noodles until al dente.
While the noodles are cooking, in a pan melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly add the cream and milk. Continue to whisk over a low heat until the sauce is thickened. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Stir in the paprika and salt and pepper. Stir in the noodles. Place in a 1 qt. buttered baking dish. Top with the rest of the cheese and a couple dots of butter. Bake for 30 minutes.

Peppered Buttermilk Biscuits
These biscuits are a basic biscuit recipe that I made a little healthier by replacing shortening with coconut oil and adding whole wheat flour. They are hearty and go well with soups or as a filler for smaller meals. Even with the black pepper, they are delicious smeared with jam!

2 cups flour (1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all purpose)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Cut in the oil with a fork or your fingers until it looks crumbly. Stir in the buttermilk and knead until it forms a dough. Roll it out to 1/2 inch thick, cut it with a glass cup, and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Pan-Fried Potatoes

2 potatoes per person, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
mesquite seasoning to taste
chopped fresh oregano

In a large saute pan, heat the oil. Saute the onions until soft and toss in the taters. Toss them with the salt, pepper, and seasoning. Continue to saute them at a medium to medium low heat for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy on some edges. Sprinkle with oregano before serving.

Friday, January 14, 2011

beauty is only skin deep?

Last night Beau had control of the remote and instead of watching some sort of cheesy sci-fi channel or playing video games like he usually does, he flipped on something about Chris Rock talking about "black hair". Not like the hair that is the color black, but African American hair. I guess Chris Rock has two daughters and wanted to do a little research into the thing that will be a future part of their lives. I, being mixed with every other race in the world except for African American, look like a mostly white girl and have white girl hair. It is straight as a board and used to be thick before I had a baby. (now it is sadly thin) So I have never had to deal with exceptionally difficult hair, and when I got pregnant with a half black baby I was out of my mind with worry over what her hair would turn out like. Not out of vanity, don't get me wrong! I was afraid of being that white girl who doesn't know how to do her daughter's hair and she ends up with a crazy mess. Thank goodness for me she does not have very course hair, and lucky for her it looks like it is going to be exactly what I always wanted! Thick and wavy but blow drys straight if she wants it that way... and apparently this is what the rest of the African American community wants as well. I had no idea how much of this particular population is actually wearing fake hair! I knew some of them did, but of the many women who were interviewed ALL were wearing weaves! Not only that, but did you know these weaves come from women in India who sacrifice their hair to the Gods because long hair is a vanity? What do you think that does to our karma to wear someone's hair that was sacrificed in the name of vanity? Hmmm... but anyway. Not only that, these weaves start at $1000! And for what? To have more "white" looking hair.

I was fascinated and horrified all at the same time, and the whole while I was watching these women spread gobs of relaxer (a potent and damaging chemical used to straighten hair) on their head, spend thousands of dollars on weaves and basically spend their lives fighting with their hair, I couldn't stop thinking "what happened to loving who you are? when did we all stop thinking we are beautiful just as we were born?"

It's not just the African American community, it is everybody and every so often I find it starts to seep into my thoughts without me realizing it. The new "thing" around town is for all the girls to wear extensions that create thick and beautiful heads of hair that look always perfect and make me feel like my poor hair is severely lacking. And what about this Bridelplasty?? That silly show on E! with brides all competing for plastic surgery so they can look perfect on their wedding days. Now weddings are not only about having a huge extravagant celebration, but the bride must look completely perfect and flawless. The pressure!!!

The only thing I have to say about all of this is that white girl hair is not as pretty as we all think it is and if we all end up looking the same then this world is going to be pretty damn boring. Remember when we were all kids and our moms told us to love who we are and don't change for anybody? What ever happened to that because I thought it was a pretty good idea! So to all the beautiful women out there:

Brides do not have to be perfect and have perfect bodies. Your soon to be husband is marrying you because he loves you just as you are. Don't scare him away by becoming a bridezilla and expecting everything to be perfect because honey, it won't be. Just as we expect our men to exude confidence for us to think of them as sexy, they want you to love yourself as much as they love you. So ladies, rock your curves, tuck your saggy boobs into a push up bra and throw on some spanx! Your crooked nose and your crows feet are all a part of you and it is beautiful!

And the one that concerned me the most- to all of you beautiful African American ladies out there who are spending so much money on an Indian girls sacrifices or chemicals so that you can look like you have perfect hair... well wouldn't you rather be able to swim in a pool or let your man run his fingers through your hair? Ladies you are beautiful just as you are! Haven't you seen the little Sesame Street girl who sings about how she loves her hair? Show your daughters that her curls are wonderful and unique and rock! Now, I know I have never had to live with wild, hard to control hair (though I know some people who have) so maybe I don't have any room to talk. But let me just say this: I love the 70's female afro! And I love my man's dreadlocks! So I think that we all need to put that hard earned money into a savings account, put down the chemicals, look away from Tyra Banks' hair and show the world that not only do you love yourself just as God made you, but you also love you hair! And p.s. girls: very often I find I am jealous of your amazing facial features and fantastic God-given cheekbones! With such beautiful faces, cheekbones and eyes, who needs long hair?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You Dirty Dirty Rice! ;)

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." so said the famous Mr. Charles D as we all may remember from High School. It is probably a very over-used quote, but I found it to be relevant to this week. It really is the best of times; Ally is getting cuter every day and continues to entertain me with huge smiles and sweet baby giggles. Beau and I are contentedly building our lives together and the dog has settled into his routine here. But it is also hard times... money, screaming babies, sleepless nights in the anticipation of some very mean teeth... So indeed, I am among some of the best times of my life, and some of the hardest. I suppose that is what happens when you have a baby young, but at the risk of sounding cliche, I wouldn't have it any other way.

This week has been particularly hard on the wallet and I am waiting for the next pay check before I go grocery shopping. So dinners have consisted of leftovers in the fridge thrown together into something hopefully edible. Last night we had bean chili with leftover taco steak thrown in, along with wild rice, spanish rice, and some salsa. Throw a little cheese on top and it wasn't half bad, plus I cleaned out my fridge with this one. But the real unexpected treasure was tonight's dinner. I had some ground beef in the freezer which I thawed, and a little bit of basmati rice in a bag stuffed into the back of the pantry. Out of this I made something quite delicious! I believe that part of what made this so very yummy was my chicken broth that I cooked the rice in. The recipe can be found in one of my past blogs. Basically just chicken, chicken bones, onion, celery, carrot, etc. I reccommend always making broth with all of your bones and keeping some in the fridge and some on the freezer. It will save a meal when you have limited ingredients.

Jasmine's Version of Dirty Rice

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper

1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic
a pinch of cayenne
a pinch of paprika
a pinch of whole cumin seeds
a pinch of mesquite seasoning
about 1/2 cup leftover spaghetti sauce
about 1/4 cup canned tomatoes

a little grated jack cheese on top

In a pot with a lid, boil the chicken broth, salt and pepper. Add the rice, turn down to a low simmer, cover and simmer the rice for 20 minutes. Turn it off and let it steam for a few minutes.

In a large saute pan, saute the garlic until golden. Add the ground beef and spices brown. Once the beef is cooked, add the spaghetti sauce and tomatoes to warm them. Let it all simmer together to create a little saucy meat mixture. To serve, put the rice down in a bowl, top with the meat and sprinkle with some cheese.

This really was very very tasty! And so stinken easy I can't stand it. :) I was also able to create a bunch of new baby food recipes while this was cooking that worked fantastic! Using the same basic, steam then blend method I cooked some apples, sweet potato, rice and carrots. All organic for my baby! Then I put some sweet potato in the food processor, a little but of rice and some apple puree. Blend it all up into a smooth puree and watch your baby love it! I would say the ratio was about 1/2 sweet potato, a little over 1/4 apples and the rest rice. (not the best ratio I have ever come up with, but hey, you get the idea right?) Also in my fridge is sweet potato rice, carrot apple, and apple. I am getting very good at this baby food making thing and I just love it! I wish it was as easy to feed grown ups...