Monday, December 29, 2014

Tasty Traditional Collard Greens

Today's post is a special one!  For the first time ever on my blog, I have a guest poster!  My handsome and clever husband has agreed to write up and share his famous recipe for collard greens.  First off, let me say that I am generally not a big fan of greens.  In fact, I was not a big fan of even my husband's greens for a long time (despite most people loving them).  However, being the amazing husband he is, he worked on the recipe over several years, and eventually created a collard green recipe that even I could love!  This recipe involves a lot of time and effort, but is well worth it.  It makes a fantastic side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and is the perfect dish to make to bring you luck on New Years Day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

I've been working on creating a healthy (and delicious) chicken pot pie for a while now.  I've looked over a ton of different recipes, and played around with various ideas, and I can say with absolute certainty that I have definitely come up with a winner.  The weather was chilly last night, and my husband built a roaring fire in the fireplace, so I figured it was the perfect night for a hearty chicken pot pie.  To make my pie as healthy as possible, I made it bursting with my favorite winter vegetables.  Feel free to adapt the vegetables to your own taste; just try to keep the amount of vegetables roughly the same to make sure that there is enough filling for the gravy (for example, if you'd rather not use parsnips, increase the carrots from 2 to 3, or substitute a potato instead).  When developing the recipe, I toyed with the idea of finding a substitute for the pie crust (like phyllo), but ultimately decided that real pie crust is the best part of pot pie, so it would be almost sacrilegious to remove it.  So I only used one pie crust as opposed to the traditional two, to keep the calorie and carbs low without sacrificing the integrity of the dish.  The result?  A healthy yet hearty chicken pot pie that is under 500 calories for a nice large serving.  Most's comfort food at its best: warm, filling, and full of rich flavor.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

15 Minute Spaghetti Squash Curry

A few months ago, my brother and sister-in-law came over for dinner and we each made our favorite Asian-style recipes to share with each other.  I made my Asian Lettuce Wraps and they made a Spaghetti Squash Curry.  I was astonished that such a tasty meal (and boy was it tasty!) was so quick and easy to prepare!  You can jazz it up with your favorite sautéed vegetables and/or proteins (I like tofu, red bell pepper, and mushrooms), or you can keep it simple and just serve it as is.   The simplicity of this delicious recipe, has made it into one of our regular family dinners.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Smothered Burritos

Every family has their own way of making burritos, and well, this is how it's made in my house!  By smothering the burritos in delicious red sauce and cheese and baking them, it makes the burritos so gooey and delicious.  It's definitely a fork-and-knife meal, but so worth it.  Make sure to top your burrito with your favorite toppings!  I never serve this meal without plenty of sour cream (or even better, crema), shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and lots of ripe avocado.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cabbage Casserole

In Athens, Georgia, there use to be a great little barbecue restaurant called Jot Em Downs.  Its most famous offering was the Cabbage Casserole; and it was so in demand that it was sold out 90% of the time.  It was seriously that good!  I've been trying to replicate the dish for years, and have yet to nail it down (I'm convinced their trick was using the pork drippings to make a rich gravy/broth to add to the roux), but I think I've finally gotten as close as I can get to the recipe using regular kitchen staples.  However, if you happen to have pork shoulder drippings around, I totally recommend adding it to the recipe to replace the chicken broth!  Regardless, Cabbage Casserole is a fantastic dish to bring to holiday gatherings; I guarantee that no one else will bring the same dish.  I'll be taking it to my family's Thanksgiving this year!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blue Cheese Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

When I reached the end of my pregnancy, I made a ton of freezer meals, so that I would have easy dinner fixings after the baby arrived.  One of my favorites was a dish I created by thinking of a few of my favorite things:  Blue Cheese Chicken & Broccoli Casserole.  This is a rich and decadent casserole; it's definitely not low calorie, but it is for sure high comfort food!  I wanted something that would be soothing and delicious, and more importantly, something my picky toddler would eat without a fight. It did all those things!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

I am obsessed with this Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal right now!  It's so warm and comforting on these cool Fall mornings, and it fills me up all the way until lunch.  This is saying a lot, considering I'm currently nursing a 6 week old baby, and generally constantly starving.  Speaking of which, they say oats are great for your breastmilk supply, so this is the perfect meal for my fellow breastfeeding mamas.  To make it easier on my exhausted self, I make a full batch on Sunday evenings, and then just doling out individual portions in the morning all week to microwave.  It tastes just as good reheated as it does when freshly made!  However, if you want less, simply half the ingredients.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Casserole with a Creamy Green Chile Sauce

The other day, I was halfway through a recipe when I discovered that I was missing a few key ingredients.  Rather than stop what I was doing and make a grocery store run, I decided to get creative and make my own recipe.  What I ended up creating was a Chicken Enchilada Casserole with a Creamy Green Chile Sauce.  It was super easy to put together, and turned out gooey, flavorful, and delicious.  It's also under 500 calories and low carb, though it seriously doesn't taste like it should be either!  I love it when a potential kitchen conflict turns into something beautiful.   

Monday, October 13, 2014

Peanut Butter Fudge (Black Bean) Brownies

So I'm happy to announce that I had my baby boy a few weeks ago!  He was born on September 26th, at 6 lbs 6 oz, when I was exactly 38 weeks along.  

Interestingly enough, my 3 year old daughter was also born in September, about 2 weeks early, at 6 lbs 7 oz.  Their hospital newborn pictures look almost identical; they both have such similar features and coloring at birth.  My daughter is now blonde and blue-eyed and looks absolutely nothing like she did as a newborn, so I'm curious to see how much Stinker (yup, his nickname is Stinker...and sometimes Stink-Stink) will change in this next year.  He, however, was born with brown eyes, so I'm betting he keeps his darker coloring.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkin Bread

When I was pregnant with my first child, I over prepared for everything:  birthing classes, breastfeeding books, baby supplies, etc.  However, there was one area where I completely dropped the ball:  I didn't make any food ahead of time.  I didn't realize how hard tasks like cooking dinner and running to the grocery store would be with a baby.  Instead we spent the first few months of my daughter's life ordering take-out and eating overly processed boxed foods.  This time, I planned ahead.  I made a month's worth of freezer dinners, snacks, desserts, and breakfasts.  One of my favorite items I made was Pumpkin Bread.  It was so easy and quick to make, and tasted so moist and delicious.  I was originally going to keep it pure with no add-ins, but my daughter convinced me to make it with chocolate chips.  I definitely think she made the right choice!  Feel free to mix in your own personal favorite add-ins.  This recipe makes two loaves, and freezes beautifully...if you can wait that long to eat it. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip is literally (LITERALLY!) the greatest dip in the world.  Whenever it is served at a party, it is always the first and fastest to disappear.  In fact, if you need to find me at an event, look for the buffalo dip, and you will find me parked in front of it, eating it with a spoon.  My daughter's third birthday party was last weekend, and I decided to actually make it this time, instead of just being the person who eats it all.  My friend Randi makes an excellent version, so I hit her up for her recipe.  She's an amazing wedding coordinator (Carry Your Heart Events), so this girl KNOWS her party food.  I was so excited about the dip that I completely forgot to take pictures of it before serving (and, as always, it was inhaled as quickly as it was put out), but my husband managed to find a picture with the dip in the background of a party shot.  I zoomed in and cropped it, but it isn't exactly the greatest picture.  But you know what?  Who cares, right?  We all know what it looks like, and more importantly what it tastes like! YUM!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Easy Stir-Fried Tofu

The first time I ever had tofu, I was not a huge fan.  Then one day, at our local vegetarian restaurant The Grit, I ordered something called "The Golden Bowl" and was stunned to realize that the delicious morsels I was inhaling, was in fact, tofu.  I realized then that tofu can be amazing when prepared and cooked correctly...and kind of gross when it isn't.  If you are new to tofu, make sure to reference my earlier post on how to correctly prepare tofu before you try out this recipe (Tofu for Dummies).  This recipe is a great new-to-tofu recipe; easy to make and only takes about ten minutes to cook.  Make sure not to skip the nutritional yeast; it's the best part! You can find it in the bulk section of your local Earth Fare grocery store.  It's a great thing to have on hand to add a cheesy flavor to dishes while upping its nutritional profile.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Low Carb Taco Pie

This recipe for Taco Pie is probably the lowest carb dinner I have on the blog.  I promise you won't miss a single carb though, as this as filling and comforting as a carb-filled casserole.  It whips up quickly and easily, and is easy to amend to your own personal tastes.  I keep mine on the mild side, so that my toddler will eat it, but feel free to adjust the seasonings if you prefer more heat.  Once baked, top with your favorite taco garnishes, and you will be in food heaven!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chocolate & Coconut Oatmeal Cups

My almost-3 year old daughter reached a new milestone this month:  she started preschool!  She is a highly social person who is eager to learn, so of course she adores it.  As for me, I adore having three mornings a week free to clean, write up blog entries, or just simply zone out in front of the computer for a few hours.  What I don't adore?  Trying to get both of us ready in the morning.  With me being 8 months pregnant, and my daughter being in the "I-wanna-do-everything-myself" phase, we are always in a rush to get to school on time.  Fortunately, I found the perfect breakfast for those hurried mornings:  Baked Oatmeal Cups.  It's a breakfast that can be made ahead of time, and is great to eat on-the-go (like in the car on the way to to school).  It's filled with all sorts of nutritional goodness, like rolled oats and flaxseed, but tastes enough like dessert so your kid will scarf it down.    

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cheeseburger Pie

This summer, the dish I have made absolutely the most has been Tomato Pie.  I think I can go as for as officially naming it my #1 Pregnancy Craving.  However, my picky toddler does not like tomatoes, so I needed to come up with a way to combine my pregnancy craving and my daughter's taste preferences into one recipe.  This led to the creation of Cheeseburger Pie!  The dish is incredibly kid friendly, while still allowing you to enjoy the freshness of summer ripened tomatoes.  I simply remove the offending tomatoes from my kid's slice, and place them on top of my own serving--so double the tomatoes for me!  Win-win!  In summary, this is a hot, cheesy, filling dish that every one in your family will crave.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Peanut Butter Pancakes

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've recently been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.  It can be a struggle to find foods that are both low carb and meet my pregnancy cravings.  One of the hardest cravings for me to ignore are pancakes; they just taste so good right now!  Fortunately, the awesome blog Detoxinista had the perfect solution:  grain free Almond Butter Pancakes.  I made them immediately, and while they didn't taste exactly like traditional pancakes, they were delicious in their own right.  The next time I made them, I switched out the almond butter for peanut butter, and upped the cinnamon, and found them to be even tastier to me.  They are a breeze to make, and low carb enough where I can even have a drizzle of real maple syrup on top.  Yum!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Squash Casserole

As many of you know, I'm pregnant with my second child.  Like with my first pregnancy, I developed gestational diabetes around my 25th week.  As I have mentioned in the past, there are a lot of misconceptions about gestational diabetes; mainly that is caused by something that the mother has done (or not done).  This can lead to a lot of guilty thoughts when a woman is first diagnosed.  The truth is, many cases of gestational diabetes are due to genetics.  I live a very healthy lifestyle: my diet is made up of nutritious and unprocessed foods, I exercise five times a week, and I maintain a healthy weight (and healthy weight gain during pregnancy).  Yet the hormones in my body go crazy when I get pregnant, and my placenta starts having trouble regulating insulin, and unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to prevent it.  What I can do, however, is stay on a very strict diet during my pregnancy, that allows my body to handle the diabetes without medicine.  I'm not going to lie: it's really hard to be on a rigid diet when you are in your third trimester; a time when you are starving and just want to eat what you want to eat, when you want to eat.  Instead, I have to eat a certain amount of carbs (not too much, not too little) on a very strict schedule (every 2-3 hours, no earlier, no later).  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Tomato Pie

I've finally found my favorite recipe of the summer:  Tomato Pie.  I could seriously eat a slice of this delicious, fresh-tasting pie every day for the entire season.  It is the perfect way to highlight the deliciousness of in-season tomatoes.  If you aren't familiar with this Southern dish, you are in for a real treat!  The most important part of this recipe is obviously the tomatoes; you want them fresh and ripe.  The best choice would obviously be to pick them from your garden (which is what I did this year), but not everybody has a green thumb (don't feel bad; I don't either. My husband is our family gardener.  I kill plants just by glancing at them).  In that case, you should get your tomatoes from a grocery store that has organic, locally sourced produce, like Earth Fare.  That's right; it's time for this month's Earth Fare recipe! You can get all the ingredients for Tomato Pie from Earth Fare, with help from your garden if you are lucky enough to have one.  As for the tomatoes, make sure to choose tomatoes of the heirloom variety:  Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Black Krim, Ugly Ripe, etc.  You want the big, meaty types of tomatoes that aren't too seedy and liquidy.  This is vital to making a perfect tomato pie!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Southwestern Sloppy Joes

Southwestern Sloppy Joes is one of those recipes that I've been making for almost a decade now, and yet still it love as much as I did the first time I made it.  It's zesty and messy and downright delicious.  It's the type of meal where you should probably use paper towels instead of napkins, but opt for neither, so that you have an excuse to lick your fingers.  I wish I could take credit for coming up with this recipe,  but I actually found it in a Cuisine Tonight magazine, the "Sandwiches & Salads" edition.  Whatever you do, do NOT skip the coleslaw.  It's the best part!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Carnitas

For Father's Day this year, I decided to make my husband one of his absolute favorite dishes:  carnitas!  However, I also wanted to spend the day celebrating how awesome of a dad my husband is, and not just be stuck in the kitchen all day, so I decided to use a slow cooker recipe.  The beauty of a slow cooker is that it can turn the toughest and cheapest of meats into the juiciest, tenderest of meats. The blog Gimme Some Oven has a fantastic recipe that I used as a base, only altering some of the seasonings to fit my own needs.  The result?  Perfect carnitas that only tasted like I spent the day in the kitchen making them!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Garden Gnocchi

Our family just returned from a fabulous beach trip; the last family trip with just the three of us.  Next time, our number will be four! As wonderful as the vacation was, I'm feeling exhausted this week from all the excitement.  I've been too tired to make it to the grocery store, which means our kitchen is depressingly empty.  Fortunately, I sometimes view an empty fridge as a fun challenge, and become motivated to try to create a new recipe using only what I have on hand.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

As followers of my blog know, I love desserts.  I simply cannot have dinner without dessert; it would be like going to bed without a pillow, or taking a bath without bubbles.  You could do it, but why would you ever want to?  My need for dessert is a tricky one, because I also strive to eat as healthy as possible.  Desserts are generally not known for being the most nutritious of meals (and sorry, fruit just doesn't cut it as dessert for me).  So I'm always on the lookout for healthier versions of traditional desserts.  The health food scene has been abuzz lately with talk about Black Bean Brownies, but some of the feedback on them hasn't been great, so I had put off making them.  After all, I don't want my desserts to actually taste healthy.  However, after going five months with an aversion to chocolate (thanks, pregnancy!), I decided to celebrate my return to the wonderful world of chocolate by trying my hand at making a "doesn't-taste-healthy-black-bean-brownie".  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Despite being 21 weeks pregnant, I'm still running 4 to 5 times a week. It's certainly not easy, but I generally feel pretty good after a run, and therefore am pretty motivated to keep it up.  However, the other day when I was getting ready to lace up my sneakers, I was stuck by a different sort of motivation:  I needed to bake and eat sugar cookies. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Avocado Egg Salad

I've been craving egg salad like mad during this pregnancy.  Years ago, when I studied abroad in England, I literally ate an egg salad sandwich on a baguette every single day for lunch.  Across the pond they call it an "Egg Mayo Sandwich", which is a more truthful name for this delicious sandwich.  Unfortunately, it's also a reminder that perhaps it isn't the most healthy of concoctions.  Since I'm trying to stay as healthy as possible during this pregnancy, I decided to make a more nutritious version of egg salad; using predominately avocado instead of mayonnaise.  Of course, seeing as how avocados are the fruits of the gods, it was absolutely delicious.  Now I can guiltlessly give in to my cravings.  Now if only I could find a healthy version of Almond Snickers...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spinach Pesto Pasta

It's time again for this month's Earth Fare recipe!  Like my other Earth Fare recipes, I chose a recipe that represents the spirit of my blog: family friendly, quick to prepare, inexpensive to make, and healthy and delicious to eat.  

Like many other parents, the battle to get my child to eat anything green is an epic one.  And to be perfectly honest, I probably don't eat enough of the green stuff either.  I attempted to get my daughter to try a bite of a salad the other day, and she took one look at the spinach, and stated "I don't eat leaves, Mommy".  (Whatever kid, you spent your first two years  of life eating leaves and sticks every time we went outside.)  After a particularly unflattering moment of jealousy after seeing yet another Facebook post of a mom announcing about how much her kid loves kale, I decided to get creative.  What if I made pesto, but it had a spinach base instead of basil?  A quick google search showed me that I wasn't the first to come up with this notion, which further encouraged me that this might be a great idea after all.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

In case you didn't the announcement in my Lemon Raspberry Muffins post, I've caught a slight case of pregnancy.  I was able to find out recently if I was having a boy or a girl, and since I discovered the result literally the day before Easter, I decided to share the surprise with my family by making Gender Reveal Cupcakes.  When I was pregnant with my daughter a few years ago, I had almost the exact same timing, and that's how I let them know I was having a girl.  I had made white cupcakes with buttercream frosting for Easter, and stuffed the inside with bright pink frosting (buttercream dyed with red food coloring).  This time I found myself drawn to lemon cupcakes.  After a bit of recipe searching, I decided on the always amazing Sally's Baking Addiction, and I'm so glad I did, because these cupcakes turned out delightful!  For the frosting, I knew that it just had to be a cream cheese frosting, and I used the Our Best Bites recipe because it's the perfect amount of sweetness (as in, not too sweet!).  As for the stuffing, I decided I would try to be keep it healthier and instead of using food dye, I would mix the frosting with blueberry or strawberry jam.  Unfortunately, while the flavor was amazing this way, the color did not show up as an absolute blue or pink, so I ended up having to resort to food coloring after all.  Oh well! 

I'm sure you are all curious now to what I stuffed these delicious cupcakes with--blue or pink frosting?  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Asheville Restaurant Round-Up

I have just returned from a fabulous trip to Asheville, North Carolina.  My husband and I went for our 5th wedding anniversary, and couldn't have picked a better spot for food lovers like us to celebrate it! Asheville was packed with amazing restaurants; it was nearly impossible to pick which restaurants to dine at during our short stay.  Restaurants that I skipped that I will for sure check out for next time include:  Early Girl Eatery, Tupelo Honey, Biscuit Head, Zambras, Salsas, and Sunny Point Cafe.  We stayed at a great B&B during our vacation (Carolina B&B), so that eliminated the need to go out for breakfast.  This wasn't a problem though, because the owners of the B&B created some of the best meals we had on the trip.  Overall, we ate very, very well on our trip! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Garlicky Pinto Beans

If you don't love, and I mean love garlic, go ahead and ignore this recipe.  This recipe is for my fellow garlic lovers.  I stumbled upon this recipe in 2009, in the May issue of Real Simple magazine. It embodied what I loved most about Real Simple recipes: the recipe was, well, real simple!  Garlicky Pinto Beans became my go-to side when I needed to whip up something quick and easy.  I almost always have all the ingredients in my pantry, so no running to the grocery store.  Coming up with a fast side dish is one of the hardest parts for me on my healthy eating journey, so I'm always happy to have recipes like Garlicky Pinto Beans in my arsenal.  Without dishes like this, I would resort to eating double the appropriate portion size of my entree (i.e. two burritos instead of one).  What is your go-to healthy and simple side dish? If you have a good one, I'd love for you to share in the comments! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cream of Asparagus Soup

I've always loved Cream of Asparagus soup, but indulge only rarely, because it's so high in calories.  However, with asparagus being in season, I kept finding myself craving that rich, creamy soup.  So I decided to rework the recipe and create a healthier version.  I reduced the amount of butter and cream, and upped the veggies, but I promise you can't tell.  My version of Cream of Asparagus Soup tastes just as rich and creamy as its higher calorie counterpart.  This recipe also gets high marks in my other two important areas:  it's easy and quick to make, and it's kid friendly.  If you find yourself craving this soup when it's no longer asparagus season, don't fret:  it works wonderfully with frozen asparagus too.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

So today I have some news to share. You may have noticed that my blog entries have decreased a bit since January.  The reason? Well, I've been exhausted and sick.  Just the thought of most food makes my stomach uneasy.  Yup, that's right:  I'm pregnant!  Baby #2 is expected in early October.  I had a very tough first trimester, but now that I'm finally in the second trimester, I can start to feel my appetite and motivation trickle back.  Woo!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shrimp Tacos with Sriracha Crema

The seafood used in a recipe can make or break a meal.  My husband actually thought he hated shrimp until I was finally able to get him to try some fresh shrimp while in Savannah.  Now he loves long as we get it from a reputable source. This is a particular problem in a town like Athens, where the ocean is is a good 5 hours away, with no interstates leading from the coast.  Needless to say, most of our grocery stores don't sell the freshest seafood.  So we rely on our local Earth Fare, where they always have a great selection of fresh seafood.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stealthy Chocolate Bars

My daughter is the quintessential picky eater.  At one point, it got so difficult she actually ended up working with a food therapist for several months.  Now she is doing much better, and is much more willing to try different foods.  Unfortunately, she is still very resistant to eating most so-called "Superfoods".  So in an effort to sneak some nutritionally-packed produce into her diet, I came up with my Stealthy Chocolate Bars.  It tastes like dessert, but is made with mostly healthy ingredients packed with vitamins.  My child gobbles these up, while singing "yummy, yummy, in my tummy".  My husband and I both really enjoy it as a dessert too!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kale & Pear Salad

My good friend recently had a beautiful baby girl.  When they left the hospital and returned home, our group of friends set up a schedule for each of us to bring their family a dinner each night, to help them through that tough first week of new-baby transition.  I immediately decided to make them one of my newer recipes, my Homemade Hamburger Helper, but then got stuck trying to come up with a tasty side that would transport well.  So I went to my trusty Pinterest boards to get inspired, and was quickly smitten by a Kale and Pear Salad by the blog Taste Love and Nourish.  I adapted the recipe a little, and it turned out delicious!  It's light, and fresh, and tangy.  It's filled with super foods, and it's a breeze to make.  Transports great too! :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cheesy Hamburger Macaroni

Today's blog post is a special one!  I've been chosen to write and share a recipe for one of my favorite grocery stores:  Earth Fare.  Normally when I grocery shop, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading the labels of every item I'm considering purchasing, and then scanning it on the phone app Fooducate to ensure I'm not getting something with scary ingredients.  I don't have to do that at Earth Fare.  I can trust that everything in the store has already been well vetted.  Their company vision is to be the most trusted organic and natural food market in the country.  Nothing in their store contains high fructose corn syrup, artificial color or sweeteners, synthetic growth hormones, and trans fat.  If other big chain grocery stores did that, half the store would be empty!  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DIY Multi-Surface Bleach Cleaner

I have white counters and sinks, so sometimes I need something stronger than my trusty all-purpose cleaner to get my surfaces sparkling white again.  I was using some pricy store-bought bleach spray for those occasions, when it occurred to me that I could probably easily make it myself.  After a quick bout of googling, I proved myself right by finding a lovely blog called Fake It Frugal, with instructions on how to make your own Fake Clorox Cleanup.  As suspected, it's easy to make and cheap to boot (only 2 cents a bottle!).  One thing to note however, is that apparently a homemade bleach mixture will start to break down after 24 hours unless you increase the bleach ratio.  Even then, it will only be effective for a week after you make it, so make it in small batches.  Yet with it only taking a few minutes to make, it's been no problem for me to whip up a small batch when I need it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

White Tiger Gourmet

I have been meaning to write a review for White Tiger Gourmet for a year now.  Every time I start, I give up, because I feel like I'm not going to do it justice.  Our whole family loves White Tiger.  Some kids start chanting for McDonalds when they get in the car; my picky eater chants "White Tiger, White Tiger!" over and over.  Sometimes my husband and I join in the chant, and find ourselves taking an unscheduled trip there.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ham & Cheese Gnocchi

The South just survived what the forecasters were calling a "historical" snow storm.  Thankfully Athens just received sleet and snow, instead of freezing rain and ice, so we were able to enjoy a winter wonderland this week, instead of a crippling catastrophic event.  Even though the snow is now melting, I'm still finding myself craving comfort food.  For some odd reason, I am specifically craving French comfort food--a Croque Monsieur, to be exact.  

If you've never had the pleasure of eating one, a Croque Monsieur is a decadent ham and swiss sandwich that has been grilled and topped with a béchamel sauce.  This dish, however, is a bit high in calories, and perhaps isn't the most kid-friendly dish, so I set out to recreate the dish to make it more in our family's style.  I decided to reimagine the dish as a pasta; using gnocchi instead of bread, and a white cheese sauce instead of a béchamel sauce.  

This dish, my dear readers, is so far my absolute favorite dish of 2014.  I originally wanted to name my pasta Gnocchi alla Croque Monsier, but I was afraid it would make the recipe sound too intimidating, when nothing could be further from the truth.  It was so quick and easy to make (less than thirty minutes!) and both my husband and kid gobbled it up.  If you keep your portion size reasonable and pair it with a light salad, this meal easily remains under 500 calories. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chicken Taco Soup

Our local weather guys, Athens GA Weather, are forecasting a nasty winter storm for this week.  Which is crazy, because we just had a winter storm two weeks ago, and normally we don't get to see snowflakes but once a year.  Since it's slated to be cold and icy, I've decided that a hot and zesty soup should be on the menu.  At first I considered making a ramen soup that I've been eyeballing, but ultimately went with old faithful: Chicken Taco Soup.  It's easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.  Before I became a parent, I would make it pretty spicy, but this time I aimed to keep it kid friendly.  So if you like heat, be sure to amend the recipe to add cayenne pepper and/or garnish with hot sauce.  Also, this is a great soup to double, since it freezes beautifully.  Finally, this recipe can easily be made in the crockpot, if you happen to be too busy sledding outside to be standing over a stove.   

Monday, February 3, 2014

Orange Chicken

Lately I've been working extra hard to find recipes that I can get my whole family to eat.  My child is a notoriously picky eater, so dinner time can be an epic struggle when I try to serve something like Posole or Moroccan Chicken.  I was therefore excited when Gimme Some Oven's Orange Chicken recipe popped up on my Pinterest page.  It sounded like a dish that would not only be super easy and inexpensive to prepare, but also husband and child-friendly.  I substituted some of the chicken for broccoli to amp up its nutritional value, and served it with a side of sautéed bok choy instead of over rice.  My husband said it was the best Orange Chicken he's ever had, hands down.  My daughter (although suspicious at first) even ate it, which in our house, counts as a huge win.  Success!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blueberry Spelt Bread

Looking for a healthy breakfast or snack that tastes more like a treat?  Let me suggest baking a loaf of Blueberry Spelt Bread.  This recipe is from the fabulous blog My Whole Food Life, which always has great healthy recipes that don't taste healthy.  Blueberry Spelt Bread is a breeze to make, and tastes delicious to boot.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sautéed Kale

Kale continues to be the superstar of the health food world, and I'm continuing to try to find ways to make this vegetable more lovable.  To be frank, I often find kale to be bitter in taste and unpleasant in texture.  After numerous kale encounters, I've learned that it is absolutely vital to get as fresh as kale as possible.  Skip the already prepared kale bags sold in your grocery store, and grab the large unwashed and uncut bunches instead.  The older kale gets, the more bitter it grows.  So stick with fresh!  Sure, it takes a bit longer to prepare, but it is certainly worth it.  This recipe below is simple and savory, and when used with fresh kale, creates an actually tasty kale side dish.  I actually went back for seconds, which is almost unheard for me when it comes to greens!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Infused Water

When I was younger, I rarely drank water.  I lived off Cokes in my teens, Diet Cokes in my early twenties, and Coke Zero after that.  I always felt like they gave me headaches (especially the diet ones), and were perhaps responsible for many other health issues I had at the time.  In my mid-twenties, I decided to give up my daily soda habit, and switch it out with water.  Since then, my afternoon headaches disappeared, my teeth feel consistently cleaner, my energy is higher, and all those annoying little health issues disappeared.  I definitely attribute my water intake to my huge improvement in overall health.