Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roasted Chicken Sausage and Veggies

Cooler weather.
Fall in the air.
Pumpkins and apples.
Leaves changing color.
Comfort food.
We all love it, right?

Comfort food however doesn't really have a reputation for being healthy.
Something healthy to the rescue please! (and I'm in a hurry)
Enter last nights dinner.......

All the familiar vegetables.

Diced up quickly and placed in a 9 X 13 pan.

Drizzled with a little olive oil and stirred to coat the veggies.

Replacement for the fatty roast...chicken sausage!

I used all 5 of them and diced them up like this.

Seasoning. I picked this garlic and herb but you could choose whatever you like best. I have even done this with a little balsamic vinegar which is very tasty.

And since it is salt free I also added a bit of these good old standbys.

Of course I didn't measure again. Just sprinkle your main seasoning generously all over the top and add a bit of salt and pepper. Then give it a good stir and place in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to roast or until potatoes reach desired tenderness.
Also, give it a stir half way through.

Mmmmm.......Goodness! I love the way the sausage gets a crispy outside when you cook it this way. Comfort food tooth satisfied! I also love how quickly you can prepare this and walk away to finish whatever else you are working on (perhaps painting the trim and door frames all the way down the hall, ugh!) while it cooks.

We had some delicious green beans and sliced apples, oranges, and pears on the side. Which by the way, also took me about 5 minutes to prepare.

Two things I also love besides the quick preparation:
1. My kitchen was very clean since I dumped it all in one pan.
2. Leftovers. I can't wait for lunch today!

The other super great thing is that this is a low calorie meal. If you divide it up into 10 servings you come in around 125 calories per serving. Not bad at all. I happily helped myself to a large serving! So on the next cool evening forget the fatty roast and give this comfort food a try. I promise you will love it!

Roasted Chicken Sausage with Veggies
4 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, chopped in large chunks
8 small red potatoes, diced with skin left on
5 chicken sausages, sliced into rounds
Garlic and herb seasoning (or seasoning of choice)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Directions: Place all veggies in a 9 X 13 pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Toss to coat veggies. Add chicken sausage. Sprinkle seasoning over the top generously. Add a dash of salt and pepper and stir to cover. Place in a 400 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until potatoes reach desired tenderness. (Stir at halfway point.)

Note: Potatoes are on the Dirty Dozen list so make sure to scrub them very well since you will be leaving the skin on. Otherwise, buy organic.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Homemade Applesauce

It's that time of year. Apples are getting really good. Being from the state of Washington I remain a loyal fan! Although, I could really go for a pumpkin donut from one of the Green Bluff Orchards in Spokane. If any of you Spokane people would like to overnight me one, I wouldn't mind! But back to apples......

Some very kind friends from church offered to give me a bushel of apples for free! They have a family orchard so they have an abundance. I kindly accepted those apples delivered right to my front door!

Then I summoned my little helper on Wednesday to get going on something "appley." It's a word.

She loves to help. I am bad at letting her help. I have control issues and 6 year olds using knives issues. So I gave her the fun job.

Using the magic apple machine. She can get the apple on there all by herself.

She loves to spin it!

I love that it peels, cores, and slices the apple in about 20 seconds.

And it leaves very little waste. When I peel an apple with a knife I end up eating the parts I cut off because I can't stand to waste them. Cool trick. When you stretch out the leftover apple peel, it is taller than me. Faith thought that was pretty cool!

When it gets to the end she can slide the apple right off. I take off the left behind core since that is a little tough for her and I don't want her to poke herself.

And she can make it boing! I take her work and slice off any part that has peel remaining and then cut the apple in half. Her slave labor was appreciated.

I tossed the apples into my pot as we worked together and stirred in about 2-3 tablespoons of cinnamon. I also added the juice of one lemon and about 1/2 cup water.

I put that on the stove and when it was warm I gave it a little taste and decided that I needed to also add a little Stevia. My apples were fairly tart. So I of course just dumped it in without measuring but a good guess would be about 1/4 cup.

Let the apples cook way down and stir them frequently. It took about 20 minutes for them to be really good and soft and ready for the processor. I did let them cool but only for about 5-10 minutes.

I was being very lazy and didn't want to get out my big processor because I didn't want to have to clean it. This little one is so much easier to clean! I only had to fill this up 4 quick times to process all the apples. I do like my homemade applesauce a little chunky so if you prefer it very smooth get out the big processor.

I put it in this jar to keep in the fridge. No need to can it because we are going to eat this pretty darn quick! It is very yummy! If I was going to do the whole box of apples that was delivered to me I would probably can them and use smaller jars. I will do another batch soon but I want the apples for other things too.

I actually got 2 jars out of my 20 or so apples. The apples were mostly medium sized ones with a few smaller ones too. I made this Wednesday in less than an hour from start to finish. I have nearly eaten one jar by myself already. No big deal though because the only sugar is the natural sugar from the apples.

If you want some free apples too I know a few people you could ask!

Hmmmm.....maybe I need to make some apple donuts next while I wait for that overnight package from Spokane.

So just a few notes........
-I got my magic apple machine for $9.99 at a kitchen type store. Worth every penny!
It suctions to the counter making it very easy to use. It doesn't work very well with large apples however.
-You can make applesauce without it too though. If you have a sieve for making applesauce you don't even half to peel your apples. Pressing the softened apples through the sieve will remove the peel for you.
-You can also use the grinder attachment for your Kitchenaid mixer if you are lucky enough to have one of those.
-You can just peel, core, and dice up your apples the good old fashioned way also!
-If you have no kind of food processor at all cook your apples a bit longer and use a potato masher or ricer. It will be chunkier but still very delicious!
-If you aren't going to eat your applesauce fairly quickly then you need to can it so it will be preserved. 
-Don't skip the fresh lemon juice. It really brings out the natural flavors of the apples much the way salt works for savory things.
-If you don't care for cinnamon applesauce just skip the cinnamon. You may want to up the amount of Stevia in that case.

Homemade Applesauce
18-20 medium sized apples
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup water
2-3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup Stevia

Directions: Peel, core, and slice your apples. Place them in a large pot with the lemon juice, water, Stevia, and cinnamon. Stir to coat them evenly. Place on the stove and cook over medium heat stirring frequently until very soft or about 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Place in a food processor and process until desired consistency is reached. Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Yields about 4 cups applesauce.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

One Great Cereal

I have had the best of intentions lately when it comes to this blog. I have tried several recipes lately that have all been............


And I do mean that with all capitals! I have really been wanting to get back to some regular posting but every time I make something, take all the pictures, then sit down to enjoy, I just hear a big wa wa wa in my head. No good. Not blog worthy. Back to the drawing board.

It started with this Wild Rice Salad....

This recipe came from the Relish Issue that comes in the paper once a month. It was a wild rice salad with an Asian flair. Miles actually really enjoyed this but to me it was just okay. Nothing I wanted to eat again. So I decided not to share it with you.

Then there was this little gem I thought was going to be such a portion of goodness. I found this while perusing some blogs or maybe it was Pinterest one night. I was so excited to try them. I mixed a little peanut butter with some honey to give it some stiffness and topped the banana slices.

Then came the good part. The chocolate. I dipped the slices in melted dark chocolate. Are you getting excited too???

The first problem came when I was staring at the slice on the spoon wondering how I was going to get it off and onto the parchment without taking all the rest of the chocolate with it and making a huge mess. Toothpick to the rescue!

However, that was extremely putzy, and it was still difficult to get out of the banana without tearing it completely up and making this little puddle of chocolate around the bottom. But I put these into the fridge to harden up anyway and see what would happen. They didn't harden up though so they went into the freezer like other people had suggested. I left them there for a while before coming back to give them a taste.

I will admit the taste of these was great. What was not great was the fact the chocolate never really hardened up enough so they were very messy and they HURT your teeth to bite into because they were so cold. I left them in the freezer overnight and tried again the next day. Even worse. Bummer.

Then there was going to be some Seriously Tomato Pasta with Kale. I deleted the pictures from my camera already. It was nothing to write home about. Bummer again because I was excited to sneak kale into the pasta so my kids would get that nutrition without caring about it too much and to use up some late summer tomatoes.

Then my new issue of Clean Eating arrived this week. I was super excited to try the Breakfast Pumpkin Cake. These ingredients sounded perfect and healthy to me. I figured it would have to turn out this time since it was in the magazine, right?
Surely they have really tested the recipes.

Wrong. They went into the oven for 35 minutes. They weren't done at that point so I gave them 5 more minutes then 2 more. My tester finally came out clean.

They came out looking pretty good so I was excited to dig in for a taste.
I let it sit for a few minutes then turned one out onto a plate. They were cooked but they were very mushy. Miles' cake sat a little longer on the counter so his was slightly better and he did eat it. Mine sadly went into the garbage can. I hate doing that but even after trying to microwave it a bit to cook it more it was still yucky. Sad, sad, day!

My final failure happened just this morning. I have been wanting to work on a bran muffin recipe for quite some time. I used to make wonderful bran muffins and have them almost every morning for breakfast but the recipe is beyond fixing. They were the kind of muffins where you make the batter and keep it in the fridge so you can scoop some out and make hot muffins everyday without the hassle. They had 3 cups of sugar in them. Enough said.

I found these bran flakes thanks to my friend Jess Kubesh. She told me about them and I quickly added them to my iphone shopping list app so I wouldn't forget to buy them.

Look at all those yummy grains and stellar ingredients. And they are at Walmart of all places so the price is great! High hopes I had. High hopes I tell you!

They are such pretty bran flakes too. I searched for quite some time yesterday looking at recipes and trying to fix and tweak things to come up with a delicious but healthy bran muffin that I could look forward to eating.

It was a little disappointing that I only got 11 muffins out of the mix.

But then I tasted them and decided it was super great I only got 11 muffins! They were edible. I ate two of them but I slathered them in my Farmer's Market honey so they would taste good. Ugh!!!!! I am not sure I can handle much more failure in the kitchen before I give up on cooking!

Moral of the story.
Eat the cereal instead.
The Heritage Flakes are awesome.
They have such great slightly sweet flavor.
They stayed crispy in the milk. (which was part of the muffin problem)
Their ingredient list is awesome.
They are organic and non-gmo.
They were $5.72 for a 32oz. bag.
Thank you Jess Kubesh.

Back to the drawing board for me I guess.
Have a wonderful Saturday!

In case you are interested.....some of these recipes have potential and I might work on them. The bananas with peanut butter and chocolate however, I won't do every again.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

It's been too long. That's just how I start every post now I guess. I don't know what is wrong with me.

It was back to school week here in our lovely little town. It is always bittersweet for me. I am the crazy parent that loves having my kids at home with me all summer, but I also love order and routine and a bit of freedom. For example, on the first day of school I sat in the coffee shop with some other moms and one grandma until 1:00pm enjoying that freedom! It was awesome. Especially since the bus is now bringing Faith home instead of me driving to the school. That gives me almost an extra hour in the afternoon but still gets her home only 15 minutes later than I would. It is crazy math I know. I will spare you the details of how that actually works out.

Here is my big baby all ready for 7th grade with his "Are you kidding me mom" smile. Picture taking has gotten difficult these last few years.

Here he is doing a little better because I asked him to smile. You get what you get! We've taken a picture on the first day of school every year by this tree for 7 years now so it's not like he doesn't know what to expect.

Since I am not allowed to come in with him anymore this is what I have to settle for at the school. You see that lady coming out. She was so funny. She saw me with my camera lense hanging out the car window and shouted, "You go mom!"
I love her but why did she get to go in??????

We also take a picture on the porch every year. Notice the difference in 7th grade smile and 1st grade smile.

She isn't embarrassed at all and she was super excited!

I love this girl. She just makes life fun.

This is her teacher, Mrs. Olmschied. She is so sweet and wonderful. I am so excited for Faith to be in her class. It is only her 2nd year teaching. I am into the new teachers. They are young, fresh, exciting, not burned out, and happy to be there! When I asked Faith about her day and the things she loved the most she said, "Mrs. Olmschied's shirt." Fashionista! She is into those kinds of details.

Thank you bus!!! Evan begged me not to put Faith on the bus insisting that there are bad kids and bad things learned on the bus. One would think I would listen to his advice and be really concerned if this was actually coming out of the mouth of a 12 year old. I was willing to take the risk however knowing that this child tells me everything and that she is young so they keep her up front. The bus makes me very happy. Faith has loved it too! The next picture I took has her completely smiling but it is totally blurry. Bummer!

It has been a wonderful first week. Very busy trying to work out everyone's schedules, but it will be nice to get back to the order and routine and some more blogging and creativity in the kitchen of course too.

So onto the food, right?

I was craving something different than my normal Greek loving palate usually asks for, and I want to savor all these days that we can still cook on the grill before winter arrives in like 2 weeks I am sure. Hawaiian chicken came to mind because I had a fresh pineapple that really needed to be used before I ended up tossing it. I hate wasting. You'll love this marinade. It goes together very quickly.

You need 1/4 cup of each of these.

One small can of pineapple juice.

1-2 tablespoons of sucanat or brown sugar if you must.

1 teaspoon of each of these.

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

Place all of that into a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. I cut up my chicken while that was simmering.

Then pour the marinade over the chicken, cover, and place in the fridge for an hour. You only need an hour, but I am sure the flavor would be even better if it had longer. If my chicken breast is thick I cut it into large chunks but if it is thinner I usually cut it into a longer strip so I can thread it onto the skewer, folding it over, with two pokes into the chicken to make it thicker. See the second kabob and the first piece of chicken on it? That gives you an idea of what I mean.

For the kabobs I used that fresh pineapple and made sure I placed it right next to the chicken on the skewer. I also used red and green peppers, red onion, and grape tomatoes. Use whatever you like best but don't skip the pineapple and please don't use canned pineapple. It just isn't the same. I might cry. Also, brush your grill with olive oil to help them not stick.

We ate ours with a simple salad that night but these would be great served over a bed of brown rice as well. You could even add a bit of Teriyaki sauce to the rice water for a little more flavor if you were feeling adventurous!

These were so delicious! Aren't you proud of me for not making them Greek? Miles loved them so much that he suggested I make more last night for a potluck we were invited to. I opted to sit my rear in front of the TV for a change yesterday so I made something even faster, but I am sure we will do this again before grilling season comes to an end. These might even be company worthy!

Wow. I am done before 10am so you can make these for supper tonight if you wish! Hope you've had a great back to school week too or a great start to September!

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs
5-6  boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes or strips
1 small can fresh pineapple juice
¼  cup soy sauce
¼  cup olive oil
¼ cup teriyaki sauce
1-2 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 fresh pineapple cut into chunks
1 large green pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion cut into 1 inch pieces
 cherry or grape tomatoes
hot cooked rice, optional
Put chicken in large shallow dish. Pour pineapple juice, soy sauce, olive oil, and teriyaki sauce into a small pan. Add sucanat, garlic powder, ginger, mustard, and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over chicken, reserving  ¼ -½ cup for basting later. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Remove chicken from marinade.  Thread chicken, pineapple, peppers, and tomatoes on skewers. Grill kabobs over hot coals 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Turn and baste frequently with reserved marinade.  Optional: Serve over hot rice.