Trying New Recipes

I’ve been in a food slump since Lily was born (Okay, a month or two before Lily was born I began a food slump) I haven’t tried any new recipes for quite a few months, and have not really looked at cooking as an enjoyable experience, when it use to be my favorite part of the day. With taking care of Lily I’ve been rushing through prep and cooking dinner, and lunches or at times just waiting until she’s in bed at nighttime to cook dinner and then I’m too exhausted to enjoy cooking.

I’ve fallen into the pre-made, frozen food rut, Swanson skillet frozen dinner packages, frozen pizza’s, Chicken wings, frozen fish. The only thing in a few months I have made from scratch has been only one recipe that I’ve cooked only two or three times these past few months, everything else is mostly just thrown together quickly.

I’m hoping with this past week of trying a couple of new recipes, this rut might be over. I’ve realized if I wait to give Lily a Farley biscuit when I’m trying to make dinner it gives me about 30 minutes or so to prep and cook something with a few breaks to give her a new piece of biscuit. I’m hoping this tactic can stay in tact and I can start cooking more enjoyable and fresher dinners.

This past week while at my parents I tried a recipe that I’ve been unable to cook at home due to Michael’s rice allergy, It was a recipe I found in a cooking magazine, but was actually an add for Campbell’s cream of chicken soup. I was so excited to try this recipe, and I was so happy how amazing it tasted, I will gladly make this dinner again when I can.

Also this week I was able to make Brownies with cream cheese that tasted just like a delicious cheesecake, and I tried a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies which had pretzels in them, which was a delicious mix of sweet and salty. I am also happy to have finally tried cooking salmon. I’ve tried salmon before as a frozen food and swore off the fish because I thought it was always dry and never tasted good, but this past Christmas I was at a buffet restaurant and the salmon looked to good not to try, so I put it on my plate and picked at it until I ate it all and realized the flavors were amazing, and even went back for a few extra pieces. I’ve read plenty about the amazing health benefits of Salmon and am happy that my palate know enjoys the taste.

I’m hoping I can keep up with this tactic of letting Lily have her Farley biscuit while I create dinner and maybe actually try some new recipes along the way. If I’m really lucky even creating another recipe of my own. I’m looking forward to trying some recipes I’ve found in the cooking magazines at my mother homes, such as peach bars, maple bacon muffins, peaches and cream muffins and a few recipes made with tea.

Have you fallen into the frozen food rut? What have you done to get out of it, or to keep yourself out of it?

Honey Mustard Vegetable Pasta Salad

Every home cook, foodie,and random cooker will have more then one moment in there life when they are trying to cook something and realize they don’t have all the ingredients they need, some cooks have the luck to know off hand what to substitute for what, some don’t even realize you can substitute certain things, and others, call there mothers, like I normally do.

I really wanted to make a simple yet yummy homemade meal, with this heat I sadly haven’t been able to stand in the kitchen for a long period of time to cook, since we no longer have the window in our kitchen to ventilate it best, and with it being close to 30 degrees outside, and me being pregnant it takes a lot out of me, and can cause me to feel faint. Today though I wanted to give Michael a nice summer meal, we have garlic and herb marinated shrimp that we will be grilling, and I wanted something that was a summer side dish, and something that was a cold side due to the heat.

Of course once I cooked the pasta, cut the vegetables and was just about to start making the dressing for the pasta salad I realized I didn’t have a couple of ingredients; I didn’t have vinegar (I know, I’m a foodie how the heck do I not have vinegar!?) and I didn’t have dry mustard either. But that didn’t stop me I substituted dill pickle juice for the vinegar and then I was wondering what to do with the mustard, we don’t have mustard in our house normally, at least not that neon yellow mustard has never graced our past and current fridge(s). That’s when I remembered we have honey mustard in the cupboard! I was so excited to see how it would taste, and look.

I was so happy after tasting it and having Michael taste test it, he loved it, and I did to! The honey mustard gave a little sweet kick to the whole wheat pasta and vegetables that was greatly enjoyed! It isn’t to sweet so you don’t have to worry about that, but its a little side taste to the salad.

Honey Mustard Vegetable Pasta Salad

Honey Mustard Pasta Salad!

Honey Mustard Pasta Salad!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 Cups whole wheat rotini
  • 1/2 Cup broccoli florets
  • 1 tbsp grated carrot
  • 4 cooked slices bacon, chopped up into bits
  • 1 tbsp grated cheese

Dressing:

  • 1 large scoop of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp pickle juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp honey mustard
  • dash of salt and pepper.
  1. Boil water and cook pasta, let cool
  2. In big mixing bowl mix in broccoli, carrots, bacon, cheese and the cooled down pasta.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients.
  4. Pour dressing over pasta and vegetable mixture, mix together until well coated, refrigerate.

If you happen to try this recipe, please let me know how it tasted to you, and your opinions!

Vegetarian Black Bean Burrito

Before Wrapping

Before Wrapping

While I was vegetarian I didn’t have as much time in my kitchen as I was normally use to. I loved to cook dinner with my mother, and alone for my family and would normally be the only one either in the kitchen, or in the attached kitchenette area to cook, but once I became a vegetarian I started to cook my own dinners and my other family members took over cooking for the rest of the family, which meant more people in the kitchen! This recipe though was easy and quick to cook, and really actually isn’t much of a “recipe” and just throwing things together, but does it taste delicious!

I sadly have been unable to really eat this dish for awhile, due to the fact that Michael is allergic to rice so I do not feel like leaving him out while cooking dinner, and on top of that, like i’ve written before Michael is quite the meat eater and this just wouldn’t be good enough for him and he would want meat in his. I am thinking of adapting this recipe so I am able to have my burrito and he is able to have his own, but I can not wait to share this “recipe” with my followers!

Vegetarian Black Kidney Bean Burritos! (Serves 2)

Black Kidney Bean Burrito!

Black Kidney Bean Burrito!

Ingredients:

  • One can of black, or white kidney beans, drained and washed (I only use about a cup)
  • Brown Rice, cooked (I normally just use minute rice and cook up one serving for myself)
  • Monterrey jack cheese shredded (I choose this cheese because it melts perfectly)
  • A couple of leaves of spinach, washed.
  • Large Whole Wheat Tortillas, two

Directions:

  1. Mix in a bowl the shredded cheese and the cooked rice. (I do this because then when eating the burrito the cheese is spread out through the wrap)
  2. Lay out whole wheat tortilla, line spinach leave in middle of tortilla, place kidney beans atop leaves (as much as you wish) then spoon on as much brown rice and cheese mixture you wish. Fold up sides of tortilla and roll the rest of the wrap.
  3. I like to use an indoor grill or panini make to warm up the burrito but if you do not have this kitchen appliance, heat a skillet, put burrito in skillet then press burrito down with a small heavy pan or pizza stone, then flip when one side has a little brownish tinge. When done I like to cut in half and then eat up!
  4. This was one of my favorite vegetarian lunches, it’s quick, easy and you can make extra rice mixture at once to go with the remaining kidney beans and make more for dinner or lunch the next day, so it’s great for the busy vegetarian!

This was one of my favorite vegetarian lunches, it’s quick, easy and you can make extra rice mixture at once to go with the remaining kidney beans and make more for dinner or lunch the next day, so it’s great for the busy vegetarian!

If you have tried this recipe, or just simply have opinions on it, please share, I would love to hear them!

This Girls Favorite Breakfast

I have never been a breakfast person at all. Ask my mother and she will tell you when I was growing up she would have to fight with me to eat my breakfast, most days it came down to me eating a bowl of cereal my mother was carrying while she walked me to school, which once we got onto the school yard and I hadn’t finished my cereal, it was known I wouldn’t, that large field just called my name.

Through the years eating breakfast became more of an issue, I have had issues with healthy eating and one of the main things I would skip was breakfast. Another issue I had with eating breakfast was due to my insomnia troubles, unable to sleep I was unsure of when one day began and the other ended in my mindset and eating a “morning meal” didn’t make sense if I had yet to get to bed.

But since finding out I was pregnant I realized I had to crack down and feed my body more then I was, and that began with the first meal of the day, breakfast. Where I’ve tried different types of breakfasts, eggs, bacon, cereal, oatmeal, fruit salads, yogurt…nothing came in comparison to this quick breakfast, with one of my biggest pregnancy cravings included…apples.

Peanut Butter Co, white chocolate wonderful!

Peanut Butter Co, white chocolate wonderful!

During my first trimester every day I was eating around two apples, and eating apples by themselves for two weeks straight began to get boring and I definitely needed a new way to eat my apple, and to add more healthy essentials for a breakfast so I started another week of the first trimester (close to the end of the first trimester actually) with a new breakfast idea. Of course I turned to my peanut butter, my very special peanut butter that I was able to find at another Remarks market trip. This peanut butter I can tell you I have been looking for, for months, and I wanted a special “recipe” to use it in, this peanut butter is to good just for a PB&J sandwich! The next thing I turned to was my whole wheat wraps/tortilla’s I solely use whole wheat wraps, preferring the taste of whole wheat to any other flavor. Then I turned to cinnamon and I found the perfect mix of flavors for the perfect breakfast, or snack.

Whole wheat, apple, PB wrap!

Whole wheat, apple, PB wrap!

Whole Wheat Apple PB Wrap!

Ingredients:

  • Apple, any type, I prefer Red Gala Or Red Delicious, but whatever is your favorite!
  • Peanut Butter, it doesn’t have to be a special flavor, any type of PB is great!
  • Whole Wheat Tortilla
  • Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Pull out tortilla and slather on as much peanut butter down the middle as you wish!
  2. Slice apple in half, then in half again and cut slivers of apple and place slivers on top of peanut butter (I normally use half a apple for the tortilla and leave half to eat by itself.
  3. Sprinkle as much cinnamon as you please
  4. Fold up top and bottom and roll up the sides of tortilla
  5. Plate (Or not) and enjoy!

I hope you try this healthy, and delicious apple “recipe” for yourself, or for your little kiddos like I plan on doing once little blessing is old enough. Like I’ve said it’s great as a breakfast, or as a snack!

If you have tried this recipe, and have opinions please comment I would love to hear them!

Summer Rolls, best Summer Meal!

Summer rolls are one of the healthiest and creative summer meals in my mind. Where it is not oily and deep fried like the more commonly known spring roll it still has the great ease of eating a “roll” great for picky eaters, small fingers, and great as an snack/appetizer or if you eat enough as a meal.

Summer Roll Prep

Summer Roll Prep

One of my favorite things about a summer roll is that when making them yourself you have plenty of options on what to add in them. Some of my ideas are:

  • Protein: crab, marinated tofu (hoison, teriyaki are my favorites), beef, chicken slices, salmon, shrimp.
  • Vegetables: carrots, cucumber, avocado, bell peppers, cabbage, spinach

Of course I love to add in rice noodles, but some people choose not to add those, but to me they add thickness and make the summer roll more filling. Whatever works for you though!

When making summer rolls, at least for myself, give yourself time! The first time I made summer rolls I was in the kitchen close to two hours just with prep and then finishing and rolling the summer rolls. Some other tips I have for you that I learned the hard way are:

  • Don’t make all the rice paper at once and lay it out…I did this for about 5 and then realized they were all sticking together and by the time I was going to try and wrap them a) they wouldn’t come apart, and b)they were not workable (as in they were stiff)
  • If you can, have an “assistant” (my mother gladly took this spot for me) and have them water the rice paper while you are making the last roll (my mother started watering the rice paper when I was doing my first fold, the timing worked perfectly!)
  • Put your vegetables and protein (ie. tofu or crab) on before you put the rice noodles on, it’s easier to fold in my idea and it makes it easier to see the “fixings” from the outside, making them more appetizing.
  • Put your “fixings” close to the bottom of one side, fold edges in and roll up.
  • If you have leftovers, store with wet paper towels, and do not fully close, let it breath just a little.

Like I’ve said one of my favorite things is knowing there is no set recipe for a summer roll, this meal just screams foodie fun, letting you experiment as much as you want! I’m hoping to have summer roll assembly line once I have my little blessing and they are old enough to eat these sort of solids, they are able to pick and choose exactly what they want to eat!

Have you ever made summer rolls? any tips I didn’t cover? 

Hoison Noodle Stir Fry With Tofu

Marinating the tofu!

Marinating the tofu!

Last year in September I began a lifestyle change of becoming a vegetarian, I loved my new sense of positivity with food that becoming a vegetarian brought me. I loved getting my protein from kidney beans and of course my much loved marinated tofu! I have sadly left behind some of the vegetarian lifestyle I had just a few months ago. I do like to get my protein from tofu, and the added bonus that it is beyond cheaper then meat products helps. After moving in with Michael who is a die hard meat eater (I can tell you Michael has sat down for dinner, and solely eaten pork roast by itself) it has become a slight issue for me to cook vegetarian still. Having to cook in this summer heat in the kitchen is hard enough, but adding the fact of having to cook a vegetarian and non vegetarian meal is sometimes to much for this very pregnant mom to be.

There is one recipe, (Ok maybe it’s not much of a recipe) that I am willing to make two ways. I became obsessed with making this dish when I was fully vegetarian, I would eat it for dinner once a week and the leftovers for lunch the next day. I love the protein and taste of this tofu, and this was the first recipe I had used rice noodles in, which I have fallen in love with.

Most of the vegetables, and the tofu in skillet

Most of the vegetables, and the tofu in skillet

Tofu Hoison Noodle Stir-fry!

Tofu Hoison Noodle Stir-fry!

Ingredients: 

  • Cubed, already pressed  tofu (I use half a block for myself for two meals)
  • Rice Noodles (I mostly eye ball it because some days I like more, some days I like less)
  • Fresh cleaned stir fry vegetables (I like baby corn on the cobs, green beans,  carrots
  • Garlic Hoison (Or regular hoison) Eyeball how much you would like

Directions:

  1. I normally begin this recipe two days in advance, or really early the day before. I begin by pressing my tofu, which I normally do by unwrapping the tofu brick, wrapping it in damp paper towels and wrapping that in a dish towel (to collect the water in tofu) put on a plate and on top of the tofu bundle put a heavy pan (I use a cast iron pot) and place in your fridge. I like doing this 24 hours in advance but if you are strapped for time, half a day should do fine.
  2. The night before, or morning of cube the pressed tofu and place in a Ziploc bag and pour in hoison sauce to marinate.
  3. When ready to cook the dinner, in an oiled saucepan pour in cubed tofu and sear.
  4. In a pot boil the water for the rice noodles and cook the noodles. (I find that if you strain the rice noodles they just mold together, so I leave the noodles in the water until I need them and just scoop the noodles out of the pot right into the tofu frying pan)
  5. When tofu is seared pour in your vegetables and sear them also. (Sometimes I like to add a little tsp. of hoison sauce to the tofu and vegetables just to add a little bit more flavor!)
  6. Add the noodles into the frying pan and pour in the wanted amount of hoison sauce. Cook all together for a minute or so stirring occasionally and then plate and enjoy!

This meal is easy to also change into a non-vegetarian meal and just use chicken, beef or pork instead of the tofu, which makes it a great meal for an ex (or current) vegetarian to cook while living or visiting a meat eater! All you have to do is use separate frying pans for each protein.

I’d love to have your opinions on this recipe, and if you have tried it I would love your take on it!