07 April 2014

My Favorite Chopped Salad

As part of my commitment to eat cleaner and get more veggies in me in addition to losing weight, I've began having a salad for lunch every day. It's homemade, chopped, and delicious. I actually make enough for four to five servings of this salad to store in the refrigerator. The avocado combined with the olive oil give it a wonderful flavor, and the protein source I tend to stick with (turkey salami or deli ham or turkey breast) have enough sodium in them so there really is no need to use a salad dressing or salt. The olive oil also prevents the salad from getting soggy. It's a very healthy make-ahead meal. Win/win!



Ingredients
· 2 cups fresh baby spinach
· 1/4 to 1/2 cup raw broccoli, florets only
· 1/4 to 1/2 cup raw cauliflower, florets only
· 1/8 to 1/4 cup raw red bell pepper, diced
· 1/8 cup raw corn, fresh from the cob
· 1/8 cip tomato, diced
· 1/4 cup diced cucumber, raw with peel
· 1/4 a medium haas avocado, cubed
· 1 tsp 100% pure extra virgin olive oil
· protein source (I love turkey cotto salami!)
· 1 hard-boiled egg white, chopped
· 1/2 oz reduced-fat feta or grated parmesan cheese
· coarsely ground black pepper


Directions
Chop all vegetables and combine together. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir well to combine. Seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

To serve: Give the salad a good stir. Add however much you want to a plate or bowl. Top with your protein, hard-boiled egg white, cheese, and black pepper. Stir well to combine the flavors. Enjoy. (=

03 April 2014

The Grand Return

I have left this little blog dormant for a while, because I've been trying to figure out what I want to do with it. There is only so much family information I'd like to share publicly, you know? Aside from family, right now my life revolves around repairing our family's relationship with God and weight loss. So, I'm thinking I am going to go that route.

As of today, I have lost 168 lbs. It has been a long journey. I still have a ways to go to get to where I need to be, and I want this blog to have a part to play in that.

Stay tuned for more updates.

16 December 2013

Christmas Craft: Reindeer Munch

Today the babe & I made some reindeer much to toss out on the lawn Christmas Eve night. He had such a jolly good time making this that I hated for it to be over with. I'm thinking we may need to complete another Christmas craft this week. Maybe Christmas tree pizza for dinner tomorrow night? Sounds good to me.

You can make you very own munch for Santa's reindeer to enjoy when they visit your house on Christmas Eve. It's easy as pie and super fun! Just follow these simple steps:

The ingredients: raw oatmeal, granulated sugar, festive sprinkles, glitter in various colors, measuring cups, and a jar with a lid to store it all in.


 First goes the oats. . .



In goes the oatmeal. . .



 Next is the sugar. . .



Here comes the sugar!



. . .and some festive sprinkles.



 After more layered oats & sugar, we added in some red, green, gold, pink, and silver glitter.



Project completed!
One jar for Noah, the other jar for Chyanne the Sugar Plum Cowgirl Fairy && Cayden (my niece & nephew and Noah's cousins)



One happy boy with his jar full of reindeer munch for Santa's reindeers to feed on.



Noah had such a good time with this Christmas project!



"Sprinkle on the lawn at night.
The moon will make it sparkle bright.
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam, this will guide them to your home."

10 December 2013

Homemade Salsa

This is my favourite salsa recipe! It goes well with everything I've tried it on. Tacos, enchiladas, nachos, fajitas (like the ones I'm going to post tonight), eggs, for dipping with fresh, raw veggies, etc. You name it and it'll probably taste good. I always make a big batch of it, using a 2 quart canister. It lasts about a week in our home. Any longer than that and I think I would just throw it out. I'm not sure how long homemade salsas last in the fridge when they're not *actually* canned.

This recipe doesn't contain jalapeño. I find the juice of the Rotel (I use mild) + the cayenne pepper gives it all the spice I need. Anym
ore spice and I think it'd have a little too much heat in it for me. My hot, spicy-loving Latino hubby *actually* thought that this salsa contained jalapeños. And he eats salsa that literally says, "XXX" on the bottle just to show consumers how hot it is. Of course, you could always add in fresh jalapeño if you like steaming ears spicy foods. Make sure to wear gloves when handling fresh jalapeños, because those suckers will burn your hands right up! Mild enough for me, spicy enough for him; this salsa is a crowd pleaser.



INGREDIENTS
2 large roma tomatoes, chopped
2 14.5 oz cans Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chiles), undrained
1 large white onion, diced
1 large to medium-sized handful cilantro (leaves only, stems removed)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper


DIRECTIONS
Dump all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend 'til thoroughly combined. Adjust seasonings/spices according to your taste preference. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

08 December 2013

Carnitas Tacos / Tacos de Carnitas

Happy Soul Sunday! Smile. =)

Well, we're still frozen. Err, iced in, I should say. Cobblestone ice is covering many major roadways. We're supposed to get a fresh sheet of ice tonight as the temps will warm up a bit during the day and cause a slight defrost of the frozen ground. In a few hours, the outside temperature will then rapidly drop back down, causing that melted ice to reform into a sheet of ice.

Fortunately for my family, we learned our lesson during a winter storm in 2011 that was supposed to last for a day but ended up lasting for a week, and stocked up on groceries. The shelves of stores are almost completely empty. Here is a photo taken of the meat section at our local Walmart last night:



Crazy, right? But that's what happens when the roads are so iced over that trucks aren't able to make deliveries. It is the same with the mail. They're barely getting deliveries to deliver out to folks.

So, another cold night-in means another good, warm meal in our tummies. That is where these carnitas tacos come in to play. They're so simple to make and the outcome is full tummies & happy hearts.

The great thing about carnitas is that they are so versatile, and can be made to suit the palates of even the pickiest eaters. The slaw (listed in this recipe) reminds me of pupusas, except it's not pickled. Sometimes we don't make our tacos de carnitas with the slaw. My husband likes his in traditional street taco fashion with cilantro, diced raw white onion, and fresh lime juice. I like mine the way most people who grew up on Tex-Mex like things: with shredded cheese, thin slivers of avocado, light sour cream, and salsa. The slaw just changes things up a bit and gives it a nice crunch. Variety is the spice of life. :)



INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
2 to 2 1/2 lb boneless blade pork roast, trimmed *mostly* of fat
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 14.5 oz can organic chicken broth
chili powder
1 small red/purple cabbage, shredded thinly
2 to 4 tbsp Hellmann's mayonnaise
kosher salt
ground black pepper
corn tortillas
avocado, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro, chopped leaves only, stems removed
raw white onion, diced
fresh lime wedges

Optional:
shredded cheese
sour cream
salsa/picante sauce


 


DIRECTIONS
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, trim the fat off your pork roast and give the roast a good rinse under warm water, then drip-dry it or lightly blot it with a paper towel to remove excess water. Once the oil has warmed up, add in the roast and brown on all sides.

While the roast is browning, dice the carrot & onion. Dump the carrot, onion, and chicken broth into the slow cooker/crockpot.

Once the roast is browned on all sides, remove from heat, transfer to a plate, and give the roast a seasoning with the chili powder, rubbing occasionally to make sure the chili powder is really sticking/rubbing into the meat. Season all sides with salt, and place in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until the roast is fall-apart tender, usually about 6 hours or so.

Shred the cabbage. Add in the mayo. Season with salt & pepper. Stir well to combine, then store the cabbage/slaw mixture in the refrigerator 'til it is time to make the tacos.

Remove the meat from the slow cooker and place it in a large bowl. Shred it with two forks, adding in the juice from the crockpot as needed to give it a little moisture and seasoning. Once shredded, cover the bowl to keep warm and set aside.

Heat the tortillas however you prefer, whether in the oven, atop the stove, or in the microwave. Fill each corn tortilla with the carnitas, cabbage mixture, avocado, and whatever else your heart desires.

Note: You don't have to brown the roast on all sides. You can leave out that step if you choose to do so. Searing/Browning it on all sides just gives it more flavor.

07 December 2013

Hearty Beef & Turkey Chili "Whitemalan" Style

It is freezing out. Literally. The high today was 26 degrees F. Tonight we're expecting temperatures in the teens with windchills in the single digits. This is incredible when you factor in that it was in the 80's a few days ago on Wednesday. It iced on Thursday night and into Friday morning. There is at least an inch of it on the ground. Pretty much everything is shut down, and people have barricadd themselves inside their homes. Thousands of people do not have electricity due to major power outages throughout the DFW metropolitan area. It's pretty crazy.

To combat the freezing temperatures, I wanted to make something for dinner to keep us warm and our bellies full. We're chili lovers, so that is exactly what I made for dinner. In this recipe, I used half lean ground beef & half lean ground turkey. We're saving calories here, people. My husband likes big chunks of tomatoes in his chili, so I used whole, unbroken tomatoes instead of diced. It is his Guatemalan preference mixed with my Texas-style chili. We call it "Whitemalan." Feel free to use whatever you prefer. I like my chili with a bit of fritos & shredded cheese. Mmm... frito pie!

Make this on a cold winters (or late autumn) night. Your family will love and thank you for it.

Hearty Beef & Turkey Chili "Whitemalan" Style


 
INGREDIENTS
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1 large-sized white onion, diced
1 medium-sized bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground turkey
2 14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes, undrained
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 14.5 oz cans red kidney beans, drained
6 oz can tomato paste
4 oz can chopped green chiles
ground cumin
chili powder
kosher salt
ground black pepper


DIRECTIONS
Heat olive oil in a large skillet/saute pan. Dump the onion in and saute until it begins to turn translucent in color. Add in the bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook until the peppers become softened and aromatic. Add in equal parts chili powder & cumin (I used 2 tbsp of each - you can use less if you prefer, but we like really taste ours.) Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Add in the ground beef, & turkey. Add more spices (equal parts chili powder & cumin + sprinkles of as much salt & pepper as you desire.) Stir to thoroughly combine the veggies & meat. Cook until the ground beef is no longer pink and the turkey is done.




Dump the canned tomatoes (including juice) into a large pot. Season with the spices (equal parts chili powder & cumin + sprinkles of as much salt & pepper as you desire), and gently stir around, being careful not to burst the tomatoes open. Turn to medium heat and allow the spices to cook into the tomatoes.

When the beef & turkey are cooked through, pour the meat into the pot with the tomatoes.  Do not clean the skillet/sauté pan you used to cook the meat in.





Without cleaning the skillet/sauté pan you used to cook the meat in, turn the heat on that burner to low-medium heat. Pour in the tomato sauce. Fill the tomato sauce can 1/2 full of water to rinse it out, and pour the water into the skillet. Add in the same amount of spices you've been using (equal parts chili powder & cumin + sprinkles of as much salt & pepper as you desire.) Stir well to combine.

Pour the seasoned tomato sauce into the pot with the whole tomatoes/meat mixture. Add in the tomato paste, green chiles, and both cans of beans. Stir well to thoroughly combine. Bring the chili to a boil. Adjust seasoning according to your preference.




Cook & Serve: Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium or medium-high heat. Cover and bring the chili from boiling to a light simmer. Continue cooking for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Cook & Crockpot: Transfer the chili into a large crockpot, and cook on the low setting for 6 to 8 hours.

06 December 2013

The Pottytraining Chronicles

My attempt at the 30 Days Hath November meme was a total bust. I was out of town for nearly 2 weeks in November, and I just didn't have the time to update like I wanted to. I guess we'll try again next year.

Today we start pottytraining AGAIN. Noah was somehow traumatized by the toilet, and it has been a battle for us to try and teach him to use the potty ever since then. Yesterday he grabbed my new cupcake frosting decor kit and said, "Mommy, I want to help you!" I guess he thought I was going to make cupcakes or something. I had no plans to. I just got it on sale for $2 and couldn't pass it up. Right then and there I got an idea. I could use cupcakes as motivation and reward to get him to use the potty! I asked if he wanted to make cupcakes. He said yes. I said ok and told him that if he poopoos or peepees on the potty instead of in his Pull-Up that he can have a cupcake every time he makes, because he isn't a baby anymore, that he is a big boy and big boys don't wear diapers. It was quite an extensive talk and he agreed, so we will see how it goes. It better go well. Together we baked && frosted 48 mini cupcakes after a trip to the store right after it began to ice and sleet. Unlimited cupcakes and a store run for junk food on dangerous roads; that's how desperate I am to pottytrain this kid.

Here are a few photos from our baking fun. We had a good time.
And please excuse my dirty house. We're in the middle of Christmas decorating and things are out of place and strewn roundabout the house.