Tag Archives: kitchen tips

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes & A Kitchen Tip!

Since it’s October I’m taking full advantage of the excuse to celebrate two of my favorite things: pumpkin and horror movies! Both of these things are October staples – and I had plenty of each this weekend! After Body Pump on Saturday morning I whipped up some Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Up first – a tip for cooking bacon!

I learned this tip for Rachel Ray and have since seen it on many cooking shows and articles online. Apparently, restaurants bake their bacon on sheet trays rather than cooking it on the stove top. This prevents 1) grease from splattering all over the stovetop and 2) keeps the bacon from having those “less cooked” spots as it cooks and crinkles up in the pan. Another great tip is that if you bake the bacon up on top of a cooling rack over the sheet tray – all the grease will drop down below! I recently purchased a new set of cookie sheets from Bed, Bath and Beyond so I took full advantage of baking my bacon this weekend – but I have yet to find a cooling rack that will work to put up on top. As soon as I do I’m definitely trying that method!

Bake the bacon in a single layer in a 375 degree over for 12 – 15 minutes.

uncooked bacon

cooked bacon
Tada!

And while the bacon was baking I moved on to making the pancakes!

whole wheat pumpkin pancakes title

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 7-8 pancakes.

    – 1 cup of my whole wheat pancake mix
    – 1/2 can of pumpkin puree (I’d say it’s about 1/2-3/4 of a cup)
    – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    – Enough milk (I used soy milk) to bring the mixture to a pancake batter consistency

Mix all ingredients together until smooth – don’t over-mix! Drop onto a hot skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

whole wheat pumpkin pancakes

Yum! These pancakes were so delicious and filling on a nice, cool, weekend.

I spent most of the weekend being sort of a hermit and getting stuff done around my house while I caught up on TV shows and watched a few movies. And by “watched a few movies” I mean watched the Paranormal Activity movies in marathon format. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, and I swear I never learn my lesson. I absolutely love horror movies, and I enjoy the scary feeling they give me while I watch them but sometimes after a marathon like this (or a particularly scary movie) I wake up in the middle of the night seriously creeped out. Luckily, I’ve discovered that the Animal Planet show “Too Cute” is on Netflix Instant and it is seriously the best cure for a case of the late-night heebie-jeebies! I’m sure I’ll need it again soon, as one of my favorite horror franchises – the Halloween series – is on marathon all this week on AMC. Even though I own all the movies on DVD (except for that terrible third outing that doesn’t count because Michael Myers isn’t even in it) I cannot resist the urge to watch them and/or DVR them when they’re on TV!

Questions of the Day:
What are your favorite horror movies? Or do you like horror movies at all?
Are you addicted to pumpkin too? If not, what is your favorite fall treat?

Kitchen Tips: How to Segment Citrus Fruit!

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So over the weekend I was about to segment a grapefruit to snack on (because eating it the other way – cut in half and with a fork – is such a time consuming process!) when I realized that this might be a useful skill to share with you all 🙂 So here we go…how to segment citrus!

First, cut off the top and bottom of your fruit so that the inner flesh is just showing (making sure you have gotten through the ‘pith’ which is the white part of a fruit closet to the skin). This also makes your fruit stand up nicely on your cutting board without rolling around.

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Next, slice gently around the curve of the fruit to remove the skin and pith – make sure there is no white pitch remaining, that you make it all the way down to the fruit.

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Finally, cut along the white lines separating each wedge of fruit. If you cut along both white edges of a segment – it should fall right out.

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Tada! 🙂

Then use the segments in salads, snacks, or whatever else you need them for. I hope this kitchen tip helps you in your culinary adventures!

Clean Eating: Things I Always Have…In My Spice Cabinet

Today I’m continuing my ‘Clean Eating’ series and moving into the spice cabinet. For me, my spice cabinet is also where I keep my tea, oils, vinegar, and honey so “spice cabinet” or sort of a loose designation. Because of this, there aren’t a lot of actual spices or herbs in this list. Needless to say, I have a full spice rack where I keep dried herbs like thyme, basil, and oregano and also have multiple ground spices on hand that I use frequently such as cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika and curry powder. Those are probably my most frequently used herbs and spices – but here are five other “must haves” that I keep in that cabinet.

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1. Homemade Taco Seasoning.
I wrote about my love (and the recipe) for my homemade taco seasoning in this post. But it bears repeating here. This seasoning blend combines some of my favorite spices in the cabinet, and adds an instant Tex-Mex feel to any number of foods. I not only use it to season taco filling (beef, turkey, pork, chicken, lentils, etc) but also as a rub on chicken or steak and as a seasoning to canned black beans. I do not include granulated onion or garlic in my seasoning mix because I usually use fresh onion and garlic in with whatever I’m cooking; however, if you’re out of those items or prefer to use the ground spices then definitely add a tablespoon each of granulated garlic and onion to your dish. The seasoning mix is also salt-free so that you can season each dish individually to taste.

2. Balsamic Vinegar.
I also adore balsamic vinegar. It’s my go-to acid in homemade salad dressings. And I actually had just run out before I took the picture above so it’s not in the line-up! If I wasn’t leaving for Florida in a day, I would have run to the store for more – but I’m trying to hold off on all grocery shopping until I get back. In addition to salad dressings, balsamic vinegar can be reduced and drizzled over steaks, chicken, or even strawberries (which is particularly delicious). There is just no other ingredient that replicates the aged, tangy taste of balsamic vinegar. Make sure to invest in good quality vinegar for the best results.

3. Local Honey.
I’m not a big sweets eater. To the point that I rarely use sweeteners – I don’t drink them in my tea, or in my morning smoothie. But local honey deserves a spot of this list for two reasons. First, it’s a wonderful remedy for colds and flus, and for helping to prevent allergies. And two, the honey most people keep in their kitchens is a weak, processed version of what real honey can be. Read my entire post on the benefits of raw, local honey here. But trust me, do yourself a favor and invest in some raw, local honey. You won’t believe the difference.

4. Cinnamon.
Although I excluded most spices from this list, I had to include cinnamon because it’s so often underrated and relegated to sweet foods. While I love cinnamon in desserts, French toast, and in my homemade whole wheat pancake mix, it’s also delicious in chili, and other spicy foods. Just a pinch of cinnamon (don’t overdo it – you don’t want to be able to discern the cinnamon flavor) in spicy foods is that “hmm, what is that?” flavor in the background that can really make a dish. I even sometimes throw a pinch into my taco fillings. A pinch of cinnamon is also a delicious addition to your morning coffee. And cinnamon has been found to have numerous health benefits such as the ability to lower cholesterol, lower/stabilize blood sugar, and in some studies has been found to reduce migraines.

5. Olive Oil.
I had to include at least one oil on this list. Coconut oil is another of my favorites, but olive oil wins the day because it’s my go-to oil for everything from salad dressings to sautéing meat and veggies on the stove. I think we all know the nutritional powerhouse that olive oil is, and how its heart-healthy monounsaturated fats support a healthy body. It’s definitely one kitchen ingredient I absolutely could not cook without.

This list was a little more diverse as the ingredients weren’t as clear-cut as other areas of the kitchen like the fridge. In fact, I had to leave out a few items, like green tea and coconut oil, that I truly think of as kitchen superstars. What about you? Any of your favorite items that didn’t make the list?