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.

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!

Fried Greens Meatlessballs, a Delicious and Healthy Summer Snack

Photo Courtesy of food52.com
Photo Courtesy of food52.com

Summer is a fantastic time to visit the farmer’s market and buy all fresh and in-season produce! When I go to the farmer’s market, I will leave with armloads of delicious, fresh produce. Sometimes, I purchase more than I can use. To fix the problem of excess produce, I have taken to the internet in my search for recipes as to not let them go to waste. I stumbled upon a fantastic recipe from Food52, Fried Greens Meatlessballs. This recipe is great for using any leftover greens and turning them into a yummy snack or appetizer.

Serves 3 to 4 as an appetizer

  • 1 bunch greens
  • 3
 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1
small yellow onion, diced
  • salt, to taste
  • 2
 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 
cup cilantro
  • 1 
tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1
 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 
cup crumbled feta
  • 1 or 2
eggs
  • oil for frying

Pulse greens in a food processor or finely chop with a knife—they should be small but not puréed or mushy. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the oil, onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cilantro, and cumin seeds. Stir for 30 seconds.

Add greens to pan and sauté for a 1-2 minutes, until they have wilted. Turn the mixture into a large bowl.

Let cool for five minutes, then add the breadcrumbs and feta. Mix well, then taste for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Crack one egg into the bowl and mix. Squeeze a small ball of the mixture and if it holds together, begin portioning out the remaining mixture into small balls. If the balls do not hold together well, add another egg.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add balls to pan—they should sizzle when they hit the oil—then turn heat down to medium or medium-low. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Use a fork to flip the balls to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes or so.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden In Limited Space

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With Summer approaching and fresh vegetables coming into season, we begin to plan yummy veggie dishes to share with our family and friends. Farmer’s markets begin to open, and many people will venture there to pick up their produce. However, there is another option available: growing your own vegetables. There are many ways to grow your own veggies, even if you do not have a large yard for a garden. Here are several great places you can start a garden with limited space:

Walls 

outdoor-pallet-furniture-28Hanging organizers or up-cycling pallets can create vertical garden planters that can be hung on exterior walls or fences. These hanging gardens can help keep your outdoor area clear, and can also brighten up your outdoor space with a lush look.

garden-gardening-garden-ideas-painted-garden-pots-cans-hanging-garden-pots-cans-via-pinterest

Patios or Steps

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If you have a small outdoor space such as a patio, terrace, porch, or steps, you can use the space by planting your vegetables in pots. Almost any vegetable can be planted in a pot. Some even do particularly well in pots, such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and herbs. There are even varieties of berries that thrive in pots.

Indoors

WindowSillGarden

Vegetable gardens don’t need to be planted outside. Many vegetables will grow happily in a sunny window. Use long plant boxes that fit in the window to create a small veggie garden. When doing an indoor garden, stay away from vegetables like squash, since they spread as they grow and they can take over the planter. Vegetables that work best in small planters are vertically growing veggies, such as tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and herbs.

Community Garden

2007_Comella_community_garden_ClevelandOH_1353039387

Many people want to grow their own vegetables, but don’t have the space to do so. To accommodate the growing demand for fresh produce, community gardens have been created. These gardens are typically on public plots of land, and you can rent a plot in the garden to plant and care for yourself. To find a community garden near you, visit the American Community Garden Association.

Enjoy all of the yummy produce, whether it’s home-grown or from a local farmer’s market!

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The Organic Effect

What would happen if you only ate organic food? To answer just that the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL conducted a study on the effects of eating only organics. Watch this short video, The Organic Effect, to see the results.

The decrease in the amounts of pesticides present in the body after eating only organics is astonishing. Buying organic when possible is a great way to have less exposure to chemicals and pesticides used in conventional items. “There were a whole number of chemical removed from my kids’ bodies and I don’t want them back.”

For more information on the study and the full report, click HERE.

26 Eco-Conscious Ideas for Earth Day

With Earth Day fast approaching, now is the time to start incorporating some eco-friendly ideas into your everyday life. In my search for fun ideas I came across several great ways to not only celebrate Earth Day, but keep the eco-friendly ideas going throughout the year.

  1. Plant a tree
  2. Clean up a park, lake, trail, river, beach, or other natural site 
    538px-U.S._Navy_Master-at-Arms_2nd_Class_Justin_Sosa_and_his_daughter_pick_up_trash_at_Truman_Annex_at_Naval_Air_Station_Key_West,_Fla.,_Sept_130921-N-YB753-026
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Plant a garden 12035372145_d495f33afc_z
  5. Start a compost pile
  6. Make an indoor herb garden
  7. Implement a recycling system, or ensure that your current system is the best it can be 6881231757_3cb80f7652_b
  8. Pay bills online
  9. Stop paper bills and bank statements
  10. Limit your water usage
  11. Reduce energy consumption
  12. Lower your water-heater temperature to save energy
  13. Visit a farmers’ market vegetables-353926_640
  14. When shopping, bring your own reusable bags
  15. Ditch the plastic water bottles and use a reusable bottle instead
  16. Bring your own coffee mug when visiting a coffee shop DSC_0741
  17. Check your home for water leaks
  18. Plan a vegetarian meal once a week pizza-442058_640
  19. Skip the baths and take a shower
  20. Take a shorter shower
  21. Adjust your thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree lower in the winter to save energy
  22. Eliminate excess junk mail by removing yourself from unnecessary lists Pile_of_junk_mail
  23. Use rechargeable batteries
  24. Unplug appliances when not in use
  25. Wash laundry in cold or warm water
  26. Have a picnic

However you decide to spend Earth Day, be sure to try to lessen your impact on the planet by changing one thing you do. Be sure to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature!

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