Category Archives: Recipes

My Oatmeal Review

Through my association with the Sweat Pink Ambassadors I recently got the opportunity to try a free sample of customized oatmeal from My Oatmeal! My Oatmeal is an awesome online company that allows you to customize rolled oats, steel-cut oats, or a blend of the two with tons of flavors, nuts, dried fruit, and other add-ins. Although this is something I could totally do myself at home (like my Banana Bread Oatmeal), it was so much fun to look through the ideas on the site and come up with my own blends :-). I ended up making two 1 pound bags – one with regular rolled oats and one with steel-cut oats which I’ve been meaning to try! In order to keep myself on some kind of path with the myriad of ingredients offered I tried to re-create some flavors I already knew. I used my rolled oats batch to make a “Blueberry Muffin” blend with dried blueberries, chia seeds, ground flax, and sliced almonds. For the steel-cut oats, I made an “Oatmeal Raisin Cookie” blend using dark raisins, walnuts, ground flax, and coconut chips.

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I love the way the site works – as you add ingredients to your blend, the price for your chosen size automatically updates, and a Nutritional Facts label updates with all the pertinent facts for your blend – it helped me keep an eye on calories and protein, as well as how much I was spending! It helped reign me in when I started to get carried away! The Nutritional Facts label is also on the bags when you get them, along with all your ingredients πŸ™‚

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I chose to leave any sweeteners out of my mix, since I rarely eat sweet things I tend to be sensitive to sugar so I wanted to add my own later own – but the site has a great selection of natural sweeteners you can add, and they are slowly increasing their organic options! πŸ™‚

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I cooked up both types of oatmeal as mid-morning snacks this week and loved them both! They are so hearty and filling that I ended up eating lunch really late one day since the oatmeal was really carrying me over. The steel-cut oats take much longer to cook, about 20 minutes on the stove, but the bag gives a great microwave option where you soak the oats overnight and then microwave them the next day. I tried this method (and the stove method) and it worked great for me! I am so happy with My Oatmeal’s products and I’ll definitely be making more blends in the future!

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Check out this deliciousness!

Full disclosure: I received a free sample of My Oatmeal in exchange for my fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own πŸ™‚

Homemade Banana Bread Oatmeal

One of the healthy habits I was able to maintain during my crazy January was eating oatmeal every day for breakfast. Usually, I drink a green smoothie everyday for breakfast but during that month I wasn’t going grocery shopping and definitely didn’t have the time and patience for my usual green smoothie routine. It’s a shame, but rather than dwell on the past I’m going to focus with this delicious oatmeal recipe I came up with as a result!

One morning when I was grabbing myself a ziplock baggie of oatmeal to take to work I decided to mix it up a little. Up until this point, I was usually grab about a cup of plain oatmeal from my large container and add a few shakes a cinnamon and call it a day. This particular morning, I decided to add in a scoop of Banana Bread granola from Nature Box (delicious – by the way!) and headed off to work. When I added hot water at work, the granola broke apart and mixed into the oatmeal but still had that awesome toasted flavor and the nuts/seeds/raisins in the granola mixed throughout the oatmeal. It was really delicious! While I love the idea of using the granola in my oatmeal, I decided to make a homemade version with all the same great flavors!

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Banana Bread Oatmeal
Makes one bowl.

    – 1 cup plain oatmeal
    – 1 1/2 tablespoons dried bananas, chopped (I didn’t chop mine out of laziness, but I think they’d be better chopped up)
    – 2 tablespoons raisins
    – 1 1/2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
    – 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    – 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar (to your taste)
    – Approx. 3/4 cup hot water or milk (to cook the oatmeal)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add hot water or milk and allow to sit and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Alternatively, add cold water or milk and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes, or until soft.

I’m pretty obsessed with this oatmeal blend and I’ve been eating it as an afternoon snack most days – it’s perfect during this last spell of cold weather! πŸ™‚ I love how the dried bananas soften up in the oatmeal – so delicious! I actually ended up making a huge batch of the dry ingredients for this oatmeal in a glass jar and I just scoop out what I need each time. πŸ™‚

Spinach, Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

To get back on track after the craziness that was January/February – I’ve been eating a lot of salads lately. It’s partly in an attempt to detox and get back on a healthy track – but also because I’m absolutely fallen in love with this salad. I think I’ve eaten this exact salad for lunch on the weekdays for the past 3 weeks or so. It’s getting a little out of control, but in a totally great way.

I saw a few different salads in the food magazines I subscribe to that included goat cheese, spinach and beets and took what I liked best from the salads and made one of my own! I forget the exact magazines, because I get too many, but what resulted was a deliciously balanced and healthy salad – and it’s so easy to put together! I always keep nuts, particularly walnuts, in the house and I always have canned sliced beets on hand because I can’t stand the mess of roasting and peeling beets – but I love the flavor. Using these ingredients, I’m already halfway to a yummy salad lunch!

I don’t measure out the ingredients for this salad exactly, I just sort of throw it together (and I usually put 5 together in storage containers for the week during Sunday food prep). I also make a big batch of a simple lemon salad dressing at the beginning of the week and then portion it out as I need it for weekday lunches.

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Spinach, Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Makes one salad. Measurements are approximate – have fun with it!

    – A couple handfuls of fresh spinach, about 2-3 cups, depending on how big you want your salad to be
    – 1/4 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
    – 2-3 tablespoons walnuts
    – 1/4 cup cooked and cooled sliced beets (I use canned – so quick and easy!)
    – 3-4 tablespoons crumbled or sliced goat cheese
    – Juice of a lemon
    – 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a salad bowl or container. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil to serve. Alternatively, whisk lemon juice and olive oil in a container until emulsified and store until ready to use as dressing.

I can’t get enough of this salad. The tang of the goat cheese pairs so great with the sweet beets and the earthy spinach and walnuts. Plus, it’s so quick to throw together! I hope you enjoy πŸ™‚

Lemon-y Salmon Cakes

Well today I want to share with you one of my favorite, quick and easy, go-to dinners!

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I always keep canned salmon in the house just for this purpose. First of all, it can be hard to find Wild-caught Alaskan salmon in the fresh seafood department – and when you do find it, it can be really pricey. Most of the time what you see is Atlantic Salmon, which is all farmed and significantly lower in nutrients (and usually dosed in antibiotics). However, most canned salmon (and it will specify right on the label) is wild-caught Alaskan salmon. I was so excited when I found this out! And I was even more excited when I finally perfected my recipe for these salmon cakes – they really are a perfect quick and easy dinner!

Sidebar: I’ve seen recipes like this that call these Salmon Burgers, and you can do that if you like but to me – if it has breadcrumbs in it, it’s a cake, not a burger. Sidebar over.

Lemon-y Salmon Cakes
Makes four cakes.

    – 2, 5 ounce cans of salmon, drained
    – 2 eggs
    – 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped onion (or 2 teaspoons granulated onion)
    – 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    – 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic)
    – 1/4 cup fresh dill or parsley, chopped (or in a pinch use a few teaspoons of dried dill)
    – a pinch of red pepper flakes
    – 1/4 – 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (start with 1/4 and add until the cakes come together, it seems like I need a different amount of breadcrumbs every time)

Mix all ingredients together, adding the breadcrumbs at the end. Start with 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and continue adding until the mixture comes together. Form the mixture into four cakes. The cakes are relatively delicate – so just form them the best that you can. Heat a few tablespoons of oil (I use olive) in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Serve the cakes on buns, by themselves, or on top of a salad – all three options are delicious! I also like to mix a little lemon juice into some mayo and serve that on top. These salmon cakes plus a quick vegetable side or salad make for a quick and nutritious dinner!

Holiday Eats

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I had a great time relaxing at home with my family, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. My family celebrates Thanksgiving with just myself, my sister, and my parents so it’s a relatively easy-going affair. As my mom put it, we eat when the food is ready! It’s nice to not have to worry about traveling or organizing a large group of people for the meal. It was especially nice this year since my dad had the flu the whole week, so it was much easier on him to be able to sleep and relax without lots of other family/friends around. Not that it was nice that he had the flu! Poor guy 😦

The last day of work before the break, even my afternoon tea was advising me to take a break from work. Such wise words!

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I didn’t take a ton of pictures over the Thanksgiving break because I prefer to unplug and just “be present” and spend the time with family. This may make me a #badfoodblogger but I can deal with that. I did snap a few pictures though.

This year, we used a recipe from Rachael Ray for our stuffing called ‘Simon and Garfunkel Stuffing’, called that because (wait for it!)…it uses parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme! I am absolutely in love with this stuffing recipe. It’s a good basic stuffing recipe, absolutely packed with fresh herbs. This is definitely going to be my go-to from now on! In our house, we always make ‘stuffing muffins’ instead of just a big casserole dish of stuffing for two reasons: 1) instant portion control and 2) there’s lots more yummy crunchy pieces (which lets face it – is the best part) to go around! I managed to take a picture of the stuffing muffins before they went into the oven, but that’s the only ‘Thanksgiving’ picture I took. Trust me – they’re delicious!

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On Friday, my mom and I got up at 5 am for Black Friday shopping. It’s a tradition for her and I to go every year – but we do a very laid-back version of Black Friday. We get up at 5 am and are usually shopping by 5:30-5:45 which is too late for the people who get up really early to shop (or go the night before) but too early for the people who sleep in and shop at a normal time. This, combined with the fact that I’m from a relatively small town, means that there’s barely anyone at the stores. We also don’t go out looking for anything in particular or any big-ticket items. We just like to spend the time together and browse – picking up a movie here and a sweater there. I got a beautiful new sweater at American Eagle for 50% off as well as a couple movies from Target – ‘The Way, Way Back’ and ‘The Heat.’ I also picked up some more water bottles at Target as they had my favorite Contigo bottles on sale for $15 for a 2-pack. I’m happy with the things I bought, but I was more happy to spend the time shopping and chatting with my mom.

On Saturday, my mom and I went out shopping again to celebrate Small Business Saturday. We stopped by a new shop that just opened up called ‘Olives and Grapes’ that sells high-end olive oils, infused oils, and vinegars. We tasted a few different oils, and my mom bought some bottles as gifts for her friends. It was a really nice place and it sounds like they have some great ideas for the future (like hosting nights when chefs come in and prepare dishes featuring their oils!)

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On Saturday, I decided to make some bread pudding for my family with the leftover bread cubes from the stuffing. Someone (a.k.a. me) got a little carried away and we ended up with WAY more bread cubes than we needed for the recipe. So I decided to put the leftovers to good use! I’m always seeing chefs whip up bread puddings from all kinds of ingredients in the final (dessert) round on Chopped so I figured I could do the same with items we had around the house. I ended up with this delicious recipe!

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Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding
Makes 8-10 servings.

    – 10 cups cubed stale or toasted bread
    – 5 apples, peeled, cored and cubed
    – 1/2 cup raisins (I didn’t measure these – just sort of added them to the bread until it looked like enough)
    – 3 1/2 cups milk (I used soy but any will work)
    – 4 eggs
    – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    – 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I probably use a lot more than this because I’m a little cinnamon-obsessed)

Mix bread, apples and raisins together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the milk mixture to the bread mixture and stir gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes (up to overnight) to allow the bread to soak. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Confession: we ate this for breakfast on Sunday, with ice cream and it was amazing. So amazing I didn’t think to Instagram it until after I had finished stuffing my face.

I must have been bit by the baking bug this week, because last night I used the leftover cranberry sauce to bake these ‘Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies’ from Damn Delicious. Not healthy at all, but at least they’re made from scratch and absolutely delicious! After all, the holidays only come once a year!

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Homestyle Chicken & Tortellini Soup

I’m so excited that it’s Thanksgiving week! πŸ™‚ Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it combines some of my favorite things – food and football! And family of course πŸ™‚ We don’t have a lot of extended family in town for Thanksgiving so it’s just me, my sister, and our parents. It’s a nice, relaxing way to celebrate the holiday. And this year my Steelers play Thanksgiving night which should be the perfect way to cap off the day!

It has been very cold and windy in DC lately, which means I’ve spent a lot of time hiding inside from the cold weather. In addition to that, I picked up a cold this past week that made me want to do nothing but sleep. It was a little bit of a set-back fitness wise, but this week I’m looking forward to getting back into it! Yesterday I tried out Jillian Michael’s ’30 Day Shred’ DVD for the first time and truly enjoyed it. I didn’t think I could get that sweaty from a workout in my own home! I’m tempted to take it home with me for Thanksgiving along with a set of dumbbells. Because traveling with your dumbbells isn’t weird or anything. #fitnessbloggerproblems

Also, this year my family has decided we’re going to do a family 5k on Thanksgiving morning. Instead of doing an official race, we’ve decided to just map out a path together at a local park. I think it’s going to be a great healthy activity to start off the day! Considering in past years our morning activities have consisted of mimosas, this is a step in the right direction. Not that we’re not going to have mimosas once we’re back from the 5k! πŸ™‚

Another way I’ve been fighting off this wintery weather is with the ultimate winter food – soup! Nothing truly warms me up like hot soup for dinner. Plus soups (at least broth-based soups) tend to be low-calorie foods. Perfect for my under-active winter I’ve had so far. For dinner last week (right in the middle of my terrible cold), I whipped up this quick and easy Homestyle Chicken Soup that was perfect for how I was feeling. This soup is a super easy basic recipe that you can customize with whatever you have on hand. I made this version based on several things I had around the house that I needed to use up. (I’m telling you – that’s pretty much always what I’m doing)

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Homestyle Chicken & Tortellini Soup

– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 cup carrots, chopped or sliced (shredded carrots work here too)
– 1 cup frozen green beans (or other veggie)
– 1 teaspoon dried dill
– 1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or oregano)
– 1 cup cooked chicken (I used leftover chicken that I keep in the freezer from making stock)
– 3 cups chicken stock (I used homemade)
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 1 8 ounce package tortellini or half a pound of dried pasta or egg noodles (your choice!)

Heat up a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and carrots to a tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper the vegetables, and cook until tender – approximately 8 minutes. Add the dill, marjoram, frozen green beans, chicken, and stock and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and boil according to package directions. I decided to use tortellini since I had some in the fridge and it was a delicious decision! But regular noodle, or egg noodles, would work just as well.

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Such a quick and easy soup! And you can customize it with whatever vegetables you have leftover, on hand. It’s perfect for post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey and vegetables! I know I’ll be using the leftover turkey bones to make some more stock! πŸ™‚

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Things I’ve Been Eating Lately

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a very work-heavy few weeks for me. While I’ve resisted the urge to do a lot of eating out and ordering in, I’ve been mostly cooking other people’s recipes (mostly other bloggers!) instead of coming up with stuff of my own. But along the way I’ve discovered some great recipes – which I wanted to share with you! πŸ™‚

Up first, this recipe for Light Sesame Chicken from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as the take-out version, or to be able to stop my cravings for take-out at all but I was pleasantly surprised! This chicken was easy to pull together and absolutely delicious! Now I just need to perfect a fried-rice recipe to go with it, and maybe I can be free of my Chinese take-out cravings forever! πŸ™‚

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This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Up next, I decided to make Beef Stew in the crock-pot one day because I had some great grass-fed beef in the freezer that I wanted to use up. Plus, when the weather starts to get cold there’s not better than soups or stews in the crock-pot! I following this recipe from Real Simple almost exactly as is and it turned out great! I just made a few basic changes: I used my own homemade chicken stock instead of beef stock, I added a few cloves of garlic (because I’m incapable of making anything without garlic), and I didn’t bother with flouring the meet before browning it.

This is a great basic Beef Stew recipe to keep around as a go-to. And it’s easy to change up with other vegetables as you’d like! Sidenote: I had enough carrot skins, carrot tops, onion scraps, and garlic bits left over from this one recipe alone that I’m going to have to make another batch of my homemade stock very soon!

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Another sidenote: I completely forgot about the peas until after I took this picture, then I stirred them into the remaining stew

Speaking of soups and stews, I took a trip for work earlier this year to a very small town in Georgia. There were very few restaurants in this town other than chains – and I think all the restaurants were in a row on the road my hotel was on. One night, I ate at Olive Garden and I really loved their chicken gnocchi soup. Apparently a lot of people like this soup too because once I started searching for it I noticed about a million copy-cat recipes on Pinterest. I used this recipe from Pass the Sushi and really loved it!

Here are the changes I made:
– I used some home-cooked poached chicken and homemade stock from my making homemade stock post.
– I used frozen spinach (defrosted and wrung out) instead of fresh because frozen, organic spinach is seriously one of the best deals in the supermarket. Seriously, with how much spinach cooks down – just think of how much fresh spinach it takes to make that bag of frozen spinach! Unless you’re making a spinach salad, I don’t see any reason not to always use frozen spinach.
– Finally, instead of using half and half or cream I used one of my favorite healthy-eating substitutions! Puree a half cup of white beans with a 1/2 cup of milk in the food processor and use that instead of a cup of cream. It adds great fiber and other nutrition!

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Finally, on to dessert! I finally ran out of the cookies I was keeping in my freezer (for those of you who don’t know, another trick of mine is I like to make a batch of cookies and freeze the un-cooked dough in little balls so I can pop a cookie or two into the oven when I’m craving one). I really enjoyed the last recipe I used, but this time around I decided to try a new one for Chocolate Cherry Heart Smart Cookies from Kitchen Food Recipes. I forgot to take a picture of them, but I made little dough-balls exactly like before and they are delicious! (Note: I used all whole wheat flour instead of half wheat and half white like in the recipe)

Speaking of cookies, the other night I tried the “3-Minute Oatmeal Raisin” cookie recipe from Carrots’N’Cake the other day and it was ok. I much prefer my method of making a batch and freezing the dough to bake individual cookies later. Just my preference.