A Bit of What I have Been Cooking

Between the kids being home for the summer and just the plain ‘ole heat factor I have rekindled love for our slow cooker. Super easy to put all of the ingredients in during the morning and get on with your day. (Just remember to turn it on AND plug it in. I have done that too many times.) Plus it doesn’t heat up the kitchen at all.

IMG_2301Slow-cooked lasagna from Tastes Better From Scratch. While it tasted good the noodles were overcooked. Maybe it was me, but the few slow-cooked noodle recipes I have made have all had over cooked noodles. S0 don’t see slow cooked noodle recipes on our menu anymore.

I have also cooked these recipes: (all from my Pinterest boards)

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup, Slow Cooker Garlic Butter and Chicken and Vegetables, One Pot Crock Pot Sausage Dinner, Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, amongst other recipes from my Pinterest Slow Cooker board.

IMG_2460Then there were these beans, inspired by Mandy from Biblical Homemaking blog. I just put a bay leaf and a generous amount of salt, low boil for a few hours. Beans, so healthy, so cheap. They are mainly pinto beans with a few black beans I had sitting around. These didn’t go with any recipe but our kids, especially The Chief, LOVE beans.

IMG_2463Green Chili Posole from Around the World in Eighty Days with pre-packaged cornbread. This was super YUMMY. Then again most food is better with green chili. Can anyway say green chili cheeseburgers!?! One of my favorite foods.

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Our two daughters and I made these Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…SOOO very good. Recipe from The Kitchen Magpie.

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My Favorite-Food Hack

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I am starting a new “series” called My Favorite.

This series will be about anything and everything as long as it is my favorite.

One of my latest and favorite food prep hacks is for salad. I like to buy the container of four small heads of different lettuce. Or the bagged mix. I eat a lot of salad, but unfortunately, we can’t always eat them before they go bad. Such a waste of food and money.

So, here’s my trick. I cut the ends off each root base, wash and shake the excess water out. I then separate each leaf onto a paper towel sheet, cover with a dry sheet. Repeat. The water from the lettuce leaves dampens each sheet and keeps the lettuce moist but not too wet. I do the same with bagged leaves minus the cutting off of the ends. This trick makes the lettuce last much longer.

What’s your favorite food hack?

Prickly Pear Lemonade

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Yes, you read the title right. Prickly Pear Lemonade…as in the cactus. We live in the desert and have an abundance of prickly pear cacti very near us. We have been getting a bunch of needed rain as well. Our oldest son and Miss D went out and picked some pears off of the cactus. He intended to make jelly but didn’t want to go to the store for the needed supplies. After a quick internet search, they settled on prickly pear lemonade.

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The prep was much less intense than one would think. They also used powdered lemonade. The results? Mixed. Most of our household liked it but didn’t go back for seconds. The two that would’ve gotten seconds had a bit of an allergic reaction on their tongues. Me, I thought it was okay. It is pretty though and teaches our kids to be resourceful and use what nature has provided for us.

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Move Over Coffee

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That’s right I have a new favorite caffeinated drink. I have found a second 2:00 pick-me-up. I had been seeing this frog green drink popping up here and there. Heard the word matcha tossed around but it wasn’t until Hubby and I went to Starbucks and ordered one with my new Starbucks app (only works out of town) did I actually experience this green goodness for myself. While it looks more like a science experiment it tastes so refreshing.

If you are accustomed to the sugary coffee drinks topped with a mountain of whipped cream drizzled or sprinkled with more sugary decor than this may taste a bit more like grass to you at first. For me, I drink green tea every morning and steer clear from those sugary drinks so the lemonade makes this is actually like a dessert treat to me.

So what is matcha you may ask? It basically is concentrated green tea powder. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants. The caffeine lasts longer and doesn’t hit you like coffee. It is described as an alert calmness. Pinterest and other places on the web have great benefit infographics to show you just how great this drink is.

Being the spendthrift that I am I found a copycat recipe on Pinterest from beautyandthebeets. It really does tastes like Starbucks. I lessened the sugar by 1/2c and could still lessen it more. I ordered my matcha from epicmatcha. This site is great. It has a bunch of info and great customer service.

If you haven’t tried matcha lemonade you just have to! So good.

 

 

Boom Chicka

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(This is not a paid endorsement.)

If you have ever tasted Boom Chicka Pop’s Kettle Corn, you know the meaning of the word addiction. I can’t buy them…I will eat the whole bag!

BUT I did buy this. I mean how could it be bad. It has all the key ingredients, such as dark chocolate, sea salt, and kettle corn! Plus the bag has all of those “good for you” labels.

Sadly the new popcorn trend failed to satisfy. It was a bit on the weird, too sweet side of food. Three members of our house like the concoction. For me, I will stay with the occasional bag of their regular kettle corn.

Yummy Flashback

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(Me, outside of Cafe de Monde, maybe 6 years ago. Our two oldest and one of our nephews are in the background.)

At a recent grocery trip I literally almost walked passed a sweet find. We went to New Orleans, oh golly, maybe 5-6 years ago with our East Coast family for Christmas. It was a wonderful experience. Our country is so uniquely different with each passing state. Driving from New Mexico through Texas into Louisana was great. From dry, dusty desert to water, swamps, and water everywhere. Our travel got green and green with every mile.

Like good tourists, we spent our fair share of time in the French Quater. One of the famous places there is Cafe de Monde. A historic coffee and beignet shop. Of course, we had to try. Now if you’ve never tried or heard of beignets here’s the Wikipedia definition: Beignet, synonymous with the English “fritter”, is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry. Beignets may also be made from other types of dough, including yeast dough. So, what a nice treat to stumble upon a mix of these nice treats.

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Will have to make these real soon before two of our East Coast family heads back.

 

The Best Muffins

Okay, I know everyone claims to have the recipe for the best muffins, but these are really SOOO yummy and pretty healthy for you. All but one of our kids love them. That one doesn’t like chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate you will not like these either. Whether you are vegan, or just love chocolate, these are great for you.

Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins…Yeap!! Doubly rich, thick and fudgy dark chocolate.IMG_1759

Ingredients

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 medium-sized ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
2/3 c. pure maple syrup
3/4 c. unsweetened plain soymilk
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips

Tips

Start checking for doneness at around 17 min – ovens vary. An ice cream scoop is great for filling your muffin cups. The protein content of pastry flour falls somewhere in between that of cake flour (lowest) and all-purpose flour (mid-range among flours). Whole wheat pastry flour is a relatively low protein flour, high in starch because it’s made with whole grains. It’s a great compromise between increasing nutritional content while still getting a delicate final product. If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, a mixture of equal parts cake flour and whole wheat flour could be used. This way you get the best of both worlds.
Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with paper liners if desired.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a food processor or powerful blender puree the avocado, maple syrup, soymilk, oil and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the avocado puree to the dry ingredients until all the flour is combined. If the mixture is too dry, stir in additional milk. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups and bake for about 22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool.

Serving Size: 1 muffin

I have made these a number of times, varying the recipe a few times. I have used honey instead of syrup and both together, pecans instead of walnuts and no nuts at all, real milk instead of soy. I have made it Keto worthy. (It did fall in the middle though.) This time I did a mix of almond flour and whole wheat flour and I mixed coconut oil and coconut butter. I even added chia seeds. I made some in mini muffin tins which are perfect for toddlers but dangerous for self-control. They are so addictive you will want to eat and eat but they are filling at the same time.

If you make them, let me know.