Friday, July 29, 2011

Good Morning!

      Stretch, yawn, rub your eyes, throw the alarm clock across the room...and wake up! Breakfast generally doesn't get the attention it deserves at my house. I'm not exactly a morning person, especially not before I get some caffeine in my system and Chris would like to ignore the fact that time before noon exists. On the other hand, the kids are up early and are energetic and cheerful and noisy every morning. So having breakfast foods that are quick and easy to prepare and don't require much thought is very important here. With back-to-school right around the corner it's time for us to start re-training ourselves to get up and be productive in the morning and part of that is getting everyone back in the habit of eating a little breakfast before we scatter our separate ways for the day.
      There are some very easy ways you can save yourself some time and energy in the mornings by just working ahead a little. The next time you make pancakes, make a double (or bigger) batch and freeze them in zip-lock type bags. They reheat nicely in the toaster and the same goes for waffles. Muffins are also fairly simple and if you take time to mix up your own, you can make them as healthy and flavorful as you want. They also freeze in zip-lock bags well to reheat in the microwave. A blend of chopped, frozen fruit and some almond milk run through the blender makes a terrific smoothie and it can easily be a meal on the go if you put it in a travel mug! I added a new recipe to my repertoire last night; a breakfast casserole cooked in my trusty sidekick "The Crock Pot" overnight so it was ready to serve when we got up this morning. YUMMY!
     Since I'm a type-2 diabetic these recipes have been tested to be adjustable for a carb conscious diet and now I get great results from them every time. Hopefully they will help make your mornings a little less stressful so you can have more good mornings!

 The Best Fruit Muffins

 1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour (Whole Wheat is fine but doesn't rise as well)
 3/4 C Ideal Sweetener
 1/2 tsp Salt
 2 tsp Baking Powder
 1/3 C Vegetable Oil
 1 Egg
 1/3 C Milk
 1 1/2 C Frozen Blueberries    (or 1 1/2 C any fruit, drained if using canned)
 1/8-1/4 C Brown Sugar for Topping

     Pre-Heat Oven to 400. Grease muffin pan or use paper liners.
     Mix dry ingredients first, mix oil, egg and milk in a separate bowl then add to dry ingredients. Stir until just blended then fold in fruit. When using frozen fruit or berries, keep frozen until ready to use and toss them with cornstarch to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins! Sprinkle tops with brown sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown on top). Makes 6 large to 12 medium size muffins.

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
(note: I use a very large, 5qt Crock Pot but this works just as well halved or quartered for smaller appetites.)

5 med Potatoes, sliced in rounds - Can substitute thick slices of zucchini for a major cut in carbs
1 med Onion, chopped
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 lb Bulk Pork Sausage, any flavor, Cooked and Drained
2 C Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
12 Lg Eggs
1 can Evaporated Milk (or almond or soy)
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper

     Spray Crock-Pot with non-stick spray. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Layer in the crock-pot  in this order : Potatoes, Onions and Peppers, Sausage, Cheese, repeat. Next pour egg mixture in. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.

 Favorite Freezable Pancakes (makes a large batch, perfect for freezing ahead!)

 4 C All Purpose Flour (can mix half and half with whole wheat)
 4 tsp Baking Powder
 1 tsp Salt
 2 cans Clear Soda (Sprite, 7-Up, Etc-I've even used Diet Crush Orange Soda in a pinch! Diet works just as well)

Mix flour, baking powder and salt, add soda and mix gently until batter is mostly smooth and pourable. I use a 1/4 C measuring cup to pour batter on my electric griddle, set to 350. Turn when edges start looking cooked. This makes thick, fluffy pancakes that hold up well going from freezer to toaster. Have fun experimenting with flavored sodas to create a unique breakfast treat!

 Go Go Gadget Smoothies

1 C Frozen Chopped Fruit, any kind. If using frozen mixed berries there's no need to chop. 
1 C Almond Milk (or Soy)

 Put it in a blender, cover and puree until smooth!  The almond milk adds a kick of protein to help your body digest the carbs from the fruit. My favorite flavor combinations cover all my bases on getting what I need to get into my body in the morning.

1 C Frozen Raspberries (8 grams of fiber!)
2 TBSP Peanut Butter (8 grams of protein! Can also use almond butter for less fat)
1 C Almond Milk (only 3 net grams of carbs per cup and no cholesterol!)

Now, on those mornings where I need a little extra motivation, I put this one in the blender and go!

1 C Chilled, Fresh, Strong Coffee (I prefer mine strong enough to dissolve the spoon, but adjust to taste)
1 C Almond Milk
1/2 TBSP Cocoa Powder
2 TBSP Ideal Sweetener  - I strongly recommend dissolving sweetener and cocoa in the coffee before chilling, tends to get grainy if not.
1 C Halved Frozen Strawberries

If I have this I add a slice of Whole Wheat Bread with 2 TBSP Peanut Butter to get my fiber and protein.

Thanks for reading and have a good morning!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Something Borrowed.....Something New!

     I love to try new recipes and my family is pretty good about humoring me as long as I still include something they recognize. Tonight's menu featured our favorite Kahlua Pork, along with two new dishes :Ginger-Pineapple Fried Rice and a Creamy Corn-Zucchini-Pepper-Onion Salad. My built in review board gave it all a thumbs up! Trying new food is exciting and can be a little scary and difficult with small children who frequently react to a new dish with "Ewwww, I don't like THAT" before they even taste it. This can be disheartening but don't give up! Young children may have to try a new food 10 times before they decide if they really like it or not. Just keep giving them a little bit of whatever it may be and you just might be surprised by them announcing "I LIKE that stuff!" the eleventy-hundreth time you serve those lima beans!
     Getting the kids involved with choosing the food and preparing it can really make a difference too. Once in a while take the kids to the store with you and let them each pick out a veggie to go in a salad. At home, have them help wash their choice and for older kids, they can help peel things like cucumbers, carrots or zucchini. With so many colors and flavors to choose from, vegetables are a great way to start teaching kids healthy eating habits and when you are encouraging your kids you will be more likely to eat healthier also!
     So go ahead, get messy, make mistakes, borrow a recipe and try something new. You might just be pleasantly surprised!

 Kahlua Pork

 3-4lb Pork Roast - Sirloin Roast is preferable but a Boston Butt Roast works just as well.
 2 TBSP Coarse Sea Salt
 3 TBSP Soy Sauce
 1 TBSP Minced Garlic - MUST have this, Powdered is just not as good
 2 tsp Fresh Grated Ginger - again, MUST be fresh
 Few Drops of Liquid Smoke (or 1/2 C very strong coffee)
 1 tsp Accent - MSG (Can be omitted for those with MSG allergies)

     Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Mix everything except Pork Roast in a large bowl then add whole roast to the bowl and coat it with the mixture. Transfer roast to baking pan and pour leftover mixture over the roast. Seal foil around the roast and bake at 350 degrees for about 4 hours. You will smell it and your mouth will water long before the roast is cooked. Roast should fall apart and have no pinkness in the middle when completely cooked.

 Ginger-Pineapple Fried Rice

 2 C Cooked Rice - Brown or White, I recommend Basmati Long Grain White Rice
 1 C Crushed Pineapple, drained
 1/2 Onion, finely diced
 2 eggs, beaten
 2 tsp Fresh Grated Ginger
 1 TBSP Salt
 2 tsp Ground White Pepper
 3 TBSP Canola, Peanut or Sesame Oil
 Add oil to a large skillet or wok and bring to a med-high heat. Add Onion, Pineapple, Ginger and seasonings. Cook for just a couple minutes then add eggs and stir until eggs are cooked. Finally add the cooked Rice and toss everything together for just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and let it set for about 10 minutes before serving.

 Creamy Corn-Zucchini-Pepper-Onion Salad

 1 Lg Zucchini, chopped
 2 C Whole Kernel Corn
 1/2 Onion, diced
 1 Bell Pepper, any color, diced
 1 tsp Parsley, chopped
 1/4 tsp Salt
 1/4 tsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper
 1/3 C Sour Cream
 1 TBSP Olive Oil
      Heat a large skillet to medium heat, add oil, then all veggies with 1/4 c water. Cook only until tender! Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water. This shocks the veggies and prevents overcooking, it also reduces prep time by cooling the veggies for the salad. Once cooled drain all water, add Seasonings and Sour Cream and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Breakfast for Supper

A time honored tradition in my family is having breakfast for supper. Since I had half of my immediate family here this evening it was extremely appropriate for tonight's meal. To make things even better my younger brother worked with me to prepare it! On the menu were : Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy , Scrambled Eggs, and Fried Potatoes and Onions. Good old-fashioned,fattening southern style comfort food. The kind that draws a family together and ties good memories to the smells of buttery biscuits rising in the oven, the sound of potatoes and onions sizzling in a cast iron skillet, the bright cheerful yellow of scrambled eggs with bright green pepper pieces and orange cheddar cheese, the taste of smooth and creamy white sausage gravy, peppery on your tongue and warm and filling in your belly. Then, inevitably, after eating everyone gathers in the living room and talks to each other, catching up on gossip and news until Mom or Dad starts telling a story and everyone in the room quiets down to listen to some bit of treasure from their past. It helps to identify with where we come from, who we are as a family. Their experiences are what have created traditions for us that make us a family others envy openly.
     So while many people serve breakfast food at supper time, this particular menu is something akin to a religious holiday celebration when served at my house. I hope you will take these recipes and add your own to create your own traditional family "Breakfast for Supper" menu!

"The Perfect Biscuit"

 2 C All Purpose Flour
 2 tsp Clabber Girl Baking Powder
 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
 1 tsp Salt
 1/4 c Butter Flavor Shortening
 4 TBSP Buttermilk Powder
 1 C Cold Water

 Mix the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Buttermilk Powder. Cut in the Shortening until mixture is crumbly (resembles Bisquick). Add water gradually and mix gently. The dough will be very moist and sticky, it's OK. Flour the counter top or board with a handful of flour. Tip dough out of the bowl onto the flour. With floured hands pat the dough out VERY GENTLY. Do NOT roll this dough, it is too light and airy and you will get very hard, flat biscuits if you roll it. Flour a biscuit cutter, cut and gently place biscuits on a baking sheet, about 1" apart. Refrigerate for  10-15 minutes. Lightly brush the tops with melted butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Makes about 6-8 Large (3") biscuits. It's a little tedious but well worth the effort for tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits!

Down-Home Scrambled Eggs

2 TBSP Butter or Margarine
1 dozen Large Eggs
1/3 C Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Medium Onion, diced
1 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

  Warm a large (10") skillet to med-high and melt the butter. Add Peppers and Onions and cook until tender. Wisk Eggs, Milk and Salt. Reduce heat to Medium. Add Eggs to pan with Peppers and Onions. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Eggs are cooked when they are firm and not liquidy anymore but are still soft and fluffy. Turn heat off and add Cheese. Mix together gently and serve piping hot!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome to my kitchen!

     The kitchen has always been the heart of any home I've lived in, whether my parents' house, a house shared with friends or my own home. A kitchen is a place of nourishment, education, discussion, frustration, small messes and large disasters. It brings a family together and scatters them when Mama says "OUT!". Injuries are tended to and broken hearts are healed. It is my favorite place to be, the one room in the house that I can still claim as my territory with very few invaders allowed. I do enjoy sharing my creations with people but realized I've been going about it wrong. I have simply been sharing the recipes and telling people the how-to of what I make, when really what I need to be sharing is the whole experience of cooking. So what I'm doing here is inviting you all to come in and "set a spell" and visit with me while I cook. 
    The name I chose for this blog is a reflection of my general life philosophy : Karma :what goes around comes around, put good in, get good out, etc. What you do affects everyone and everything around you. Basically, if you send positive energy, thoughts and actions out into the universe you will receive the same positive energy, thoughts and actions back. Maybe not in the same form and maybe not soon, but it will come back. Here's the catch : the same goes for negative energy, thoughts and actions. My kitchen is kind of a middle ground for karma. I can go into the kitchen in a great mood, bounce around and make a fabulous batch of cookies to give to a friend who is down in the dumps. I can also go in the kitchen so mad I could breath fire and crush small villages, start tenderizing some meat or kneading some bread dough and work out all that negative energy before I release it into the universe. However the danger to that is if I try to cook the wrong thing when I'm aggravated it ruins the food. Whatever I was trying to cook will burn, or not taste right or the lid will come off of the salt shaker and my "pinch of salt" will ruin the soup. So, when you enter the kitchen to cook something (not just warm it up in the microwave), be aware of what your karma vibes are. Are you feeling light and happy, optimistic and focused? Anything you make will come out to it's best potential! Are you distracted by thoughts and/or outside influences? Be cautious and follow the recipe exactly. If you angry and tense, down in the dumps or worried you need to be aware of it and choose carefully what to make. Actions that use a lot of physical energy like tenderizing meat, kneading bread dough, whipping egg whites into meringue or chopping vegetables are good ways to disperse negative energy. Then, when you are calm and focused again, you can move on to the next item on your menu.
   Thank you for taking time to read this and I hope what I share here can be of use to you. Let me know if there is a specific dish you'd like me to try to make. I will warn you - if you request it, you may be asked to be present for the preparation and eating of it also! Have a great day and remember to keep your karma happy!