A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:

CUCUMBER-JALAPEÑO MARGARITA

Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec

DIRECTIONS

Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.

RAINBOW SALSA

Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

TEQUILA-MUSTARD-GLAZED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad

INGREDIENTS

Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

10 Things We Could Do If We Didn’t Sleep In

Red_Clock

It is 6:23 am and the alarm clock is going off again. You hit that snooze button for the 3rd time. Every extra 10 minutes of sleep feels like heaven in the morning, but is it the best use of time? Are we really getting more rest in those few extra minutes?

Instead of hitting the snooze button, there are many things we can accomplish to get a better start to our day. Here is a list of just 10 things that we could do if we didn’t squeeze in those extra minutes.

  1. Make your bedbed-1158267_960_720
  2. Enjoy your morning shower
  3. Eat a full healthy breakfast6283315247_8548ab4826_o_d
  4. Answer important emails
  5. Check the weather
  6. Pack a tasty and nutritious lunch7890484144_14045908c5_o_d
  7. Double check you have everything and are not forgetting essential items
  8. Take your time and enjoy your cup of coffee or tea, or treat yourself to a cup from your favorite coffee shop art-heart-caffeine-coffee
  9. Get to work on time
  10. Enjoy not being stressed and rushed

Start your day off right and don’t hit that snooze button. Have the peace of mind that you have everything accomplished in the morning so you can focus on the tasks of the day.

Enjoy a Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Feast

Celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with fun and delicious dinner and dessert!

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

RU190409.jpg.rendition.largest

Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 12-ounce bottle stout beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 14-16-ounce package smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 8 small sage leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper; bring to boiling. Add sausage and green beans. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add apples. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples are just tender. Transfer to a platter.

3. Add sausage to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add to platter; cover. Drain fat from skillet.

4. Carefully add remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam); stir to scrape up browned bits. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return sausage and green beans to skillet to coat in glaze. Fold in apples. Return to serving platter. Sprinkle with sage.

Potato Rolls

potato-rolls-480795_960_720

Total Time: Prep: 25 min. + rising

Bake: 15 min.

Yields: 24 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, shortening, potatoes, egg, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down and divide in half. Divide each half into 36 pieces; shape into balls. Place three balls each into greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

4. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm.

Chocolate Stout Shake

p_R158656

Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/8 cup chocolate stout beer or stout beer
  • 1/4 cup prepared chocolate fudge ice cream topping
  • 1/4 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 purchased chocolate-and-nut-covered pretzel rods (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small saucepan, heat beer and chocolate topping until warm and combined. Cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine ice cream and milk, half at a time. Cover and blend until combined. Divide ice cream mixture among 4 glasses. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, if desired, serve with chocolate-covered pretzel rods.

Eco-Conscious New Year’s Resolutions

2016 is almost here, and with the New Year come New Year’s resolutions!  Many people opt for popular resolutions like losing weight or traveling more. But what if this year you tried something a little different and tried to incorporate some eco-conscious resolutions?

Here are 15 resolutions to help get you started on becoming more eco-conscious:

  1. Implement a recycling system, or ensure that your current system is the best it can be
  2. Stop buying water bottles and use a reusable bottle bottles-774466_960_720
  3. Add some indoor plants for better air qualitySpider_Plant_Blades
  4. Unplug unused appliances and turn off unused lights
  5. Make your home more efficient by switching out old bulbs for longer-lasting energy-efficient light bulbs, or install a new digital thermostat for more accuracy and to better regulate the temperature while using less energy4473348751_55a915d276_o
  6. Go Paperless – stop paper bills
  7. Pay bills online
  8. Lower water temperature to conserve energy
  9. Repair, restore, and reuse items, when possible
  10. Use rechargeable batteriesbattery-1071317_960_720
  11. Adjust your thermostat one degree lower in the winter and one degree higher in the summer to help conserve energy15114147602_fb7e282435_o
  12. Buy local produce to reduce your carbon footprintFarmers_Market_and_Occupy_Eugene
  13. Take shorter showers
  14. Try to include a vegetarian meal in your weekly menu6933047123_ddefeb7037_o
  15. Enjoy the outdoors

This is only a short list of ideas. However, there are hundreds of ways we can make our lives more eco-conscious.

May your 2016 be a happy and healthy year!

Don’t Forget Breakfast This Thanksgiving

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, we have the turkeys prepped and the menu planned. If you’re like me, breakfast is the last thing on my mind. Breakfast shouldn’t be too complicated, because from the moment the coffee is brewing, I am busy.

To help make the morning more enjoyable and less stressful, here are several recipes that are quick, easy and delicious. Some of these recipes you can make the night before and reheat that morning. They can even become a new yearly tradition.

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches

2995536015_3a950ae2e4_oMakes 4 Dozen

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for pan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, grated
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Heat oven to 450°F.

Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in a 1/2 cup of milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, the salt, and the nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch of grated cheese, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and a pinch of chopped fresh basil, into each muffin cup. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Spiced Crock-Pot Porridge

img_1555Makes about eight 1-cup servings; recipe can be doubled.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped apricots
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped figs or raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 orange

Toppings: Chopped roasted nuts, jam, fresh fruit, more dried fruit, milk, yogurt, leftover eggnog

Combine everything except the orange zest and toppings in the bowl of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Set the cooker on its lowest cook setting (“LOW” or 8-10 hours), and leave overnight.

If you happen to get up during the night, give the porridge a stir as you pass by. If not, no worries.

In the morning, break up the thin film that forms over the top of the porridge and stir it in. Scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the orange zest.

Serve with toppings. Leftover porridge will keep refrigerated for at least a week. Reheat with a little milk or water to make creamy again.

Lemon Scones

6849616359_e1952942a5_oIngredients

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 egg, plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven 425° F

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and pinch of salt in a bowl.

Add butter and mix in a processor on “pulse,” or rub together with your fingertips until it looks like a crumble or bread crumbs.

Break an egg in to a measuring cup and add milk up to the 3/4 cup mark, and lightly beat with a fork.

Add the egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. (Do not overmix).

Feel free to add extras at this step, such as lemon zest, cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, pieces of apple, or currants. There are unlimited possibilities!

Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Tip: Keep on eye on them, because depending on the size you make, they may cook more quickly. Also, leave some space in between the scones because they grow. Serve plain or with butter or jam.

Eat up and enjoy!

Healthy, Delicious, and Fresh Packed Lunch Ideas

8459976360_3c160f881d_bNow that the kids in back and school, the routines can begin again. In my house we prepare for school the night before by making sure the homework is checked, clothes are picked out, and lunch is packed. Often times, I find that we get stuck in food ruts and pack the usual sandwich and carrot sticks. To battle the food rut I look to the internet to search for new and healthy ideas, and I get overloaded with options.

Here are a few new favorite foods that are loved in our house so far:

Whole-wheat “Pita Pizza” (toasted in the toaster oven and then served cold)Pita_pizza_(17188259486)Organic Ham and Cheese Rolls

Whole-wheat waffle sandwich stuffed with fresh fruit or jelly

6995490557_690963d7ff_oPlain yogurt with a variety of delicious add ins

  • Granola
  • Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Vanilla Extract and Coconut Flakes
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract and Mini Chocolate Chips

food-healthy-meal-grain

Popcorn

Frozen Smoothie

Apple with Peanut Butter

8466410432_65a56dbe8a_oWhole-wheat carrot applesauce muffins

Carrot_Cake_Muffins_(4135137580)Grilled Cheese with Pesto on Whole-wheat (served cold)

Whole-wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Organic Cream Cheese

BLT on Whole-wheat

15169375890_5b513e327cAn other great choice that allows your child to have fun is packing lunches themselves. Here are two really terrific and yummy packed lunches from the Blog 100 Days of Real Food:

Build a Taco Lunch

  • Corn Tortilla
  • Shredded Pork Taco Meat with Bell Peppers
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • and other desired sides100 Days of Real FoodConstruct a Pizza
  • Whole-wheat Pita
  • Organic Tomato Sauce
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Additional Desired Toppings such as Vegetables and Pepperoni, etc.

100 Days of Real FoodDon’t get stuck in a rut because there are a lot of great sources that help you to expand the food options you can pack in the lunches. Whatever you choose to pack, make sure it is delicious and nutritious!

Four Vitamins and Minerals for a Good Night’s Sleep

Our whole lives, we have been told by parents, doctors, teachers, the media, and even our government that it is very important to incorporate foods into our diets that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals support our bodies’ functions by increasing the efficiency of our bodies’ systems. Sleep is one of our most important functions because it allows us to rest, renew, and detoxify during the night. A good, deep rest also supports cell regeneration.

vitamins-521368_640

Some vitamins and minerals that support sleep are Vitamin D, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and potassium.

images-1

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to cause daytime sleepiness. As our modern lives get busier, we are getting outside less than previous generations. Less time outside means we are getting less exposure to the sun, and therefore, not producing enough Vitamin D.

i__m_walking_on_sunshine_by_faerie_angel

You can easily and naturally increase your Vitamin D by spending a bit more time outside, though it takes 2-3 months of regular sun exposure to build up the Vitamin D your body needs. Other options include adding fortified cereal or milk to your diet or taking a Vitamin D supplement.

bread-587597_640

Magnesium and Vitamin B6 are important minerals our bodies need for a good night’s rest. Both nutrients are imperative to the production of melatonin, a hormone produced by our bodies to help us feel sleepy. Magnesium deficiency can lead to insomnia. Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, beans and various nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Salmon, halibut, and tuna are good sources of Vitamin B6.

78_420c

Potassium has been shown to help people stay asleep and have a deeper, more restful sleep. Though we think of bananas as a potassium-rich option, winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and yogurt provide more potassium per serving.

Making sure you are getting enough of these four vitamins and minerals will help you fall asleep faster and sleep better and longer.

Check out the following articles for more information on the benefits of adding these vitamins and minerals to your daily diet.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3501666/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/10686624/Vitamin-D-could-it-stop-modern-diseases.html

http://www.newswise.com/articles/scientists-identify-second-sleep-gene