Category Archives: Cooking

Amateur Mixologist

vodka*lemon*lavender

 

Over the holidays, I love to create gifts from my kitchen.  But, with just having gone back to work part-time, it had to not only be unique but quick and simple, too. I stumbled upon a few recipes for infused alcohols and after researching them, took on the challenge.  With those and a few tips from my friend Kate Dunbar(seen here), I decided on infusing vodka with two of my favorite flavors~ lemon and lavender.

ingredients~

my favorite vodka

mason jars

sliced lemons

fresh lavender from my garden

instructions~

Pour the vodka and sliced lemons in the mason jars and let it sit sealed in a cool, dry space for 3 days.  On the third day, introduce the lavender sprigs for ten minutes only! Then find a pretty bottle..

I found this great vintage-looking bottle at Pier One and topped with a gift tag.  I had hoped to get more creative with my gift tags, as I did last Christmas like these but ran out of time.

I know Christmas has come and gone but with Valentine’s Day right around the corner~maybe your squeeze will ❤ a little lemon~infused vodka!

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Meatless Monday~ Grilled Cheese Sandwhiches

photo~pinterest

I’m a sucker for cheese~sliced, cubed, in pasta, on sandwiches-you name it, I’ll take it.  So come Meatless Mondays, it’s guaranteed we will have cheese with something.  I try to incorporate ingredients to make my cheese-filled dish as healthy as possible.  So, in my grilled cheese, I use a squash puree in some form(frozen, jarred). Oh, and don’t forget the tomato soup!

Ingredients~

12 slices of a whole grain bread

2 cups shredded cheese(your choice~mix it up half cheddar, half pepper jack)

1 jar of baby food puree squash

1 tablespoon of butter/spread

dash of salt/pepper

olive oil for pan

Directions~

Heat olive oil in pan on medium.  Meanwhile, mix cheese, puree, butter, salt and pepper in bowl. Spread mixture on bread and place in pan.  Cook about 4 mins per side.  Serve with tomato soup and a salad to make a meal.

**Makes 6 sandwiches

Meal Prep~

With the highly anticipated(well, by me anyway) “back-to-school week” upon us, I decided to spend the better part of my Sunday meal-prepping.  In between watching my boyfriend, Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal and the Cowboy/Chargers game~ I was able to get quite a bit accomplished.

Cooked chicken breasts~ to shred and cube for future meals(pasta, enchiladas and sandwiches).  I simply baked them for 50 mins at 375 degrees.  Cooled, shredded/cubed and stuck in the freezer after I labeled the bags.

Made red pasta sauce in the crock pot~I put 2 cans of tomatoes(a few fresh, too) in the blender along with a small can of tomato paste, 4 basil leaves, a 1/4 cup of  EVOO, diced onions and some carrot puree.  After blended, I put it in the crock pot on low for about 5 hours.  Let cool and froze.

Sliced cheese(sandwiches, crackers)~ I bought a block of cheddar from Albertson’s last week for $2.50.  I sliced and bagged it then put it in our “sandwich bin” in the fridge.

Cooked Rice~ We had Chicken Burritos last night, so I tripled my batch of rice in the cooker and will freeze the left-overs.

Today, I am going to boil eggs(for lunches) and pasta(for dinner later in the week).  I am anticipating this prep-method will continue each week, so I cut back on processed foods and ordering take-out.

**photo-momandbabylove.com

Blueberry Butter

photo-bewellbuz

The end of summer calls for anything with fruit. I stumbled across this simple but enticing recipe from Sandra Lee.  Using only 3 ingredients and no baking required, I just may make it a weekly staple in my house, long after summer is gone.

Ingredients

1/2 cup softened butter

3 tablespoons chopped blueberries

1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar

Directions

Beat the butter with blueberries and sugar using an electric mixer on low-speed, until blended.  Shape into a log and wrap in parchment paper.  Chill until firm.  Slice into individual servings and enjoy with crackers or breakfast breads.

Happy Meatless Monday, Everyone!  We are having Baked Ziti tonight but substituting the sausage for eggplant.  What about you?

Ch Ch Ch Changes

courtesy of bareessentials.com

 Last week, at the start of our vacation, I was diagnosed with gallbladder problems.  I was shocked to say the least.  I consider myself a pretty, healthy eater and the fact that a diet high in fatty foods is one of the causes, made me feel a bit embarrassed. Upon further research though, I discovered that anything from being female to taking the birth control pill may cause problems.  In any event, I’ve decided my first choice isn’t surgery to remove the gallbladder, but that I try to treat it holistically.  To combat the attacks,  I need to rid my diet of foods high in fat, as well as a few other culprits.   Here are some of the changes, I am making to my eating habits…

Olive Oil~ I threw out oils such as Canola/Vegetable and am only using Olive oil to cook with.  Even though it contains the same amount of calories, as it’s chemically produced counterpart, it is a healthy fat and plus Sofia Loren swears it’s one of her beauty secrets.

There will be no more fast food drive-thrus in a bind or pizza nights.  This change will benefit my whole family, but will more than likely result in an uprising by my children.

Gluten-Free Diet~ It seems this phrase has been everywhere, as of late.  This star is “GF Free” or that friend is, etc…etc..  I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Atkins or some other fad diets, when seeing “gluten-free”.  But upon further research, it is the healthiest way for me to eat and I am proud to say~I am jumping on the “GF” bandwagon.

No onions~ These  have been the biggest culprit in my gallbladder issues and have resulted in the worst attacks.  So, with all the tears I have shed over these little guys(dicing included).  I am not too sorry to see them go. 

Flax Seed Oil~ the benefits are bountiful in this little seed.  I take a tablespoonful a day and still incorporate this way of cooking seen here with the grain itself.

Vegetable Juices~to be consumed daily

Warm Water with Lemon~First thing in the morning, before my coffee.  Coffee is supposed to bring on attacks, but I have yet to have one after my daily cup.  So, fingers crossed…

When we return home, I am going to meet with Ema Salmon of Ema’s Herbs in hopes she will be able to help me even further.  If any of you have any questions or tips for me, please let me know!

Strawberry Sandies

I feel like I have been going non-stop for the past week. So, yesterday there were no complaints from me, when I rolled out of bed at 9am and then proceeded to stay home for the remainder of the day.  But, by about 3pm, “mom-guilt” set in and I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything.  So, I did what any other American Mom would and decided to bake something semi-festive(recipe here) in anticipation of Independence Day.  The whole process took about 30 minutes.  Which means, if you need a quick dish to take to a BBQ today~this would be great! Maybe add some blue and white sprinkles?  Happy Fourth!

1/2 cup of sugar

  

 

Meatless Monday~

The weather really warmed up here over the weekend.  So, when I was putting this week’s menu together, I knew I wanted lighter meals in lieu of dishes, I would need to bake.  I found this recipe for Chilled Cantaloupe Soup, which will be the perfect complement to tonight’s dinner of grilled fish, veggies and garden salad. With three simple ingredients(that I coincidentally have on hand) and no cooking~it couldn’t be any more appetizing.

Meatless Monday & Weekend Roundup

This was by far one of my favorite weekends of 2011. We started it off with a quiet late-night dinner at The Sidecar Friday night, then Saturday we met up with some old friends down at the beach and finished with a baby shower/family reunion of sorts on Sunday in OC.  It was the perfect balance for me~ couple time, girlfriend time and family time.  The sun made an appearance here and there but all the laughter and smiles made up for the otherwise, foggy weekend.

Saturday night I took this dish for Spinach Orzo to welcome home my friend Heather, who I hadn’t seen in a year.  It makes a great side dish or add a salad and some garlic bread to make it a meal.

How was your weekend?

Meatless Monday~ Eton Strawberry Shots


I am and always will be a fan of whipped topping.  Last week, I was looking for a simple, but elegant desert to serve at my Stella & Dot Event.  With only 3 ingredients(whipped topping being one), these couldn’t have been any easier.  The recipe calls to be served in shot glasses, but I found these square votive holders at Pier One for $1.00/each.  Unfortunately, my creation never made it out of the fridge.  I was so wrapped up with fashion and friends~ I completely forgot about them.  And I must admit, to being  happy I did.  Light, sweet and fluffy. They are the perfect mix of creamy with a bit of crunch. Pure bliss.

Ingredients~
Sliced Fresh Strawberries
1 Tub of Whipped Topping(thawed)
8-10 Meringue Cookies

Directions~
Crush the cookies in a large bowl. Add the thawed whipped topping and sliced strawberries. Stir. Scoop into shot glasses(I used votive holders). And top with a fanned strawberry.

BLTs in a Bowl~

 

Last Friday, I picked up my youngest from pre-school and we headed home for lunch.  I decided to try out a new recipe for BLTs I found here ,that included some of his favorite ingredients.  I explained to him, if he ate it without complaining~  we could have ice cream cones afterwards.  Well, he held up his end of the bargain and we finished our lunch, eating ice cream in the back yard next to our fountain enjoying the warm afternoon. Just the two of us.