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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: black

When you cook steak and chicken, make extra. The leftovers easily make quick weeknight meals.

Steak & Bean Tacos

I like to serve this dish with a green mixed salad and ranch dressing.

2 servings

Ingredients

Half of a leftover grilled flank steak, sliced thin
Original recipe for the grilled steak
2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup medium spicy salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 flour tortillas

Directions

Any leftover steak will work in this recipe, just slice it very thin. Reheat the steak in the microwave or in foil in a moderate oven temperature until warm. Heat the beans and warm the tortillas. Assemble the tacos with beef, beans, salsa, and cheddar cheese.

Greek Salad With Leftover Grilled Chicken

2 servings

Ingredients

8 oz leftover grilled chicken that had been marinated in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 sliced garlic clove, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
Grilled chicken directions
2 Pita breads, warmed
Greek Salad Ingredients
Romaine lettuce, torn into small pieces
Bell peppers, seeded and cut into one-inch squares
Red onions, sliced thin
Cucumbers, peeled and sliced into half moons
Tomatoes, cut into one-inch pieces
Kalamata olives
Pepperoncini
Crumbled Feta cheese
Greek Salad Dressing, recipe below

Directions

I always grill more chicken than I need for dinner because there are so many dishes you can make with the leftovers. Like this one – a family favorite.
Assemble the salad ingredients in individual bowls. (I use pasta bowls.) Mix with some of the dressing. Slice the leftover chicken and place on top of the salad. Serve additional dressing on the side along with the warm pita bread.

Greek Salad Dressing
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Pour all the dressing ingredients into a large jar and shake well.
Place the jar in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors.
Pour the Greek dressing over the salad ingredients as directed above.

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dinnermenucover

How do you decide what to have for dinner? Do you go by what you are in the mood for or what is the quickest meal you can come up with for tonight? If I don’t plan ahead for specific dinners, I usually find myself looking at what is in the refrigerator/freezer/pantry for ideas. That is how the meals below came together – no recipes – just what makes a good match. Chicken breasts and flank steak were in the freezer. The asparagus and salad ingredients were in the refrigerator. I also had a little cream and the mozzarella cheese in the refrigerator. Chicken broth, corn meal and the ingredients for the soup were in the pantry. So they became dinner for 3 nights in the true Italian frugal way. They all passed the test for delicious, according to my husband. If you are looking for something different to make, try the recipes below.

Dinner One

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Stuffed Chicken Breasts 

If you have leftover chicken, as I did, it makes a delicious chicken salad.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole jarred roasted red peppers, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs, divided
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound until evenly thin.

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Cut the roasted red peppers to fit the flattened chicken breasts. Place the peppers on the chicken and sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese on top of each breast. Fold in the sides of each breast and roll the breasts up, jelly roll style.

Place the chicken rolls in a small baking dish (just large enough to fit the chicken rolls) and sprinkle with the Italian bread crumbs and parsley.

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Pour the broth around the chicken rolls and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts) or until the chicken registers 165 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer. Slice the chicken rolls into half-inch slices to serve.

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Oven Roasted Asparagus With Lemon Shallot Sauce

If you are making the asparagus without the chicken dish above, then preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake the asparagus until tender for 15 to 20 minutes. If making the asparagus with the chicken, then use the directions below.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt

Sauce

  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 scant teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Toss the asparagus with oil and a sprinkling of salt in a large bowl. Spread on a baking sheet or a baking dish.

After the chicken has roasted for 30 minutes, put the asparagus in the oven with the chicken and roast, stirring once halfway through, until tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Place the asparagus on a serving plate.

To make the sauce:

Combine the cornstarch and broth.

In a small saucepan, heat the broth, shallot, zest, turmeric and cream to boiling. Boil until thickened and slightly reduced, whisking the entire time.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice.

Season with salt to taste and keep warm. (Makes 1/2 cup.)

To serve:

Pour the sauce over the roasted asparagus on the serving plate.

Dinner Two

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Grilled Flank Steak

For the flank steaks marinade:

  • 1/2 cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 flank steak, trimmed of excess fat

To marinate the flank steaks

Combine all the ingredients except the steak in a glass baking dish. Add the steak and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

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Grill the steaks

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking.

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire. Clean and oil the grill grates.

Remove the flank steak from the marinade and grill the steaks, covered, until grill marks form and the steaks have a nice brown sear, 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn the steaks and continue grilling until grill marks form on the other side and the steak is cooked to medium rare (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a steak should read 130-135°F), 3 to 4 minutes more.

Let the steak rest 10 minutes loosely covered with foil. Cut the flank steak across the grain and serve with the Greek Salad.

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Greek Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, washed, and dried
  • 1 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 medium English cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz peperoncini (Tuscan peppers), drained & sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Place the lettuce in a large bowl and add the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, olives and onion.

Place the oil,  lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste in a small, nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine.

Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the feta and serve with pita bread.

Dinner Three

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Black Bean Soup

Makes about 9 cups

  • 1 pound dried black beans (2 cups), rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, chopped fine
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped fine
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • One 10 oz can Rotel chunky diced tomatoes with mild chilies
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Directions

Early in the morning, place the beans with water to cover in a large bowl and let soak for a couple of hours. Drain and rinse the bean.s

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onions, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic and spices; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vegetable broth.

Add enough water to keep the liquid just covering the beans. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

Stir in the salt. Continue to cook until the soup thickens and the beans are cooked but not mushy, about 30 to 60 minutes more.

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Corn Muffins

12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1⁄4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Butter a regular muffin pan.

In large bowl thoroughly combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg with the milk and melted butter.

Combine with the dry ingredients until just evenly moistened. Do not overmix.

Stir in 1 cup of the cheese. Immediately spoon the batter into the muffin pan.

Evenly sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the muffins.

Bake 18 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.


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Sausage consists of meat, cut into pieces or ground, that is stuffed into a casing along with other ingredients. Ingredients may include a starch filler, such as breadcrumbs, seasoning spices and sometimes vegetables. The meat may be from any animal, but most often is pork, beef or veal. More common today are sausages made from chicken and turkey. The lean meat-to-fat ratio is dependent upon the style of sausage. Speciality sausages with other ingredients, such as apple and leek, are also popular.

In some jurisdictions foods described as sausages must meet regulations governing their content. For example, in the United States, The Department of Agriculture specifies that the fat content of different defined types of pork sausage may not exceed 30% to 50% by weight. Italian sausage must be at least 85% meat. Most Italian sausage contains salt, pepper, fennel and/or anise and no more than 3% water. Optional ingredients permitted in Italian Sausages are spices (including paprika) and flavorings, red or green peppers, onions, garlic and parsley, sugar, dextrose and corn syrup. The italian Sausage i buy from Fortuna does not contain any preservatives or sweetners and is low in fat. See the post I wrote recently on this type of sausage.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates that fresh sausage contain no sodium nitrite and/or potassium nitrite or nitrates. However, cured sausages normally contain one of these preservatives, which are suspected of contributing to cancer. Many people are allergic to nitrites and nitrates, as well as some fillers, such as soy, so beware of these ingredients in commercial cured varieties. Read the ingredients label. There are a number of brands available today without nitrates.

Cured varieties also contain high amounts of salt, necessary to the curing process, which could be a potential problem for those with high blood pressure.

Precooked chicken sausage is convenient. Keep a package or two on hand to accompany Sunday morning pancake breakfasts or to sauté with sliced peppers and onions for a quick weeknight dinner. Two brands that I like are Applegate Farms and Al Fresco. These companies also make excellent breakfast sausages.

Many traditional styles of sausage from Europe and Asia contain only meat, fat and flavorings. In the United Kingdom and other countries with English cuisine traditions, many sausages contain a significant proportion of bread and starch-based fillers, which may comprise 30% of the ingredients.The filler used in many sausages helps them to keep their shape as they are cooked. As the meat contracts in the heat, the filler expands and absorbs moisture and fat from the meat. Many nations and regions have their own characteristic sausages, using meats and other ingredients native to the region to create their traditional dishes.

There are a wide variety of different sausages available throughout the world, however, they all fall into just a few basic categories.

Typical Sausage Classifications

  • Cooked sausages are made with fresh meats and then fully cooked. They are either eaten immediately after cooking or must be refrigerated. Examples include hot dogs, Braunschweig and liver sausage.
  • Cooked smoked sausages are cooked and then smoked or smoke-cooked. They are eaten hot or cold, but need to be refrigerated. Examples include kielbasa and mortadella. Some are slow cooked while smoking, in which case, the process takes several days or longer.
  • Fresh sausages are made from meats that have not been previously cured. They must be refrigerated and thoroughly cooked before eating. Examples include Boerewors, Italian pork sausage, siskonmakkara and breakfast sausage.
  • Fresh smoked sausages are fresh sausages that are smoked and cured. They do not normally require refrigeration and do not require any further cooking before eating. Examples include Mettwurst and Teewurst which are meat preparations packed in sausage casing, but squeezed out of it to serve (just like any other spread from a tube).
  • Dry sausages are cured sausages that are fermented and dried. Some are smoked, as well, at the beginning of the drying process. They are generally eaten cold and will keep for a long time. Examples include salami, Droë worst, Finnish meetvursti, Sucuk, Landjäger (smoked), Slim Jim and summer sausage.
  • Bulk sausage refers to raw, ground, spiced meat, usually sold without any casing.
  • Vegetarian sausages are made without meat. The ingredients are usually soy protein or tofu, with herbs and spices. Some vegetarian sausages are not necessarily vegan and may contain ingredients such as eggs.

Cooking Sausages

Unless you are cooking sausages in a casserole dish or in a sauce, the key to great-tasting fresh sausages that do not get dried out is this: simmer them in beer or water until partially cooked and then finish in the oven or on the grill or stove top.

Fall is a popular time of year to cook with sausage. Tailgating and heartier meals are perfect for this meat. To keep sausage recipes healthy be sure to buy sausages that are pure meat with no fillers and not too much fat or salt. Stretch the amount of sausage used with vegetables and hearty grains.

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Roasted Brats with Apples and Butternut Squash

Serves 8 to 10

Great for busy weeknights. The apples and butternut squash in this recipe go well with bratwurst, but any mild sausage will work.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes
  • 1 small red onion, halved and cut into thick slices
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 fresh (uncooked) bratwurst (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, combine squash, apples, grapes and onion. Sprinkle with oil, caraway seeds, salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Arrange brats over the top. Roast until brats are browned and hot all the way through and the squash is very tender, about 35 minutes.

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Vegetarian Sausage and Quinoa One-Pot Supper

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces vegetarian sausage, cut into (1/2 inch) cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups chopped kale or spinach leaves, lightly packed

Directions

In a large skillet with a cover, cook sausage, onions and sage over medium-high heat until just browned, about 10 minutes. Add cider, quinoa, cranberries, salt and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.

Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is just absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in kale, cover again and set aside off of the heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and serve.

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Chicken Sausage with Potatoes & Sauerkraut

The flavor of the dish will vary depending on what type of chicken sausage you choose. Roasted garlic or sweet apple sausage are best for this recipe. Opt for the crisp texture of refrigerated sauerkraut over canned. Serve with roasted carrots and some mustard to spread on the sausage.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces (4 links) cooked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.

Add potatoes, sauerkraut, wine, pepper, caraway seeds and bay leaf; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

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Mediterranean Penne with Italian Sausage

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise, cored and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Italian sweet or hot sausage, casings removed
  • 3 cups homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the bell peppers, fennel bulb, onion, eggplant and garlic. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the fennel starts to soften. Add the sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage with the back of a spoon, for 3 minutes, or until no longer pink.

Add the marinara sauce, fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes. Stir to mix. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to the al dente stage. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Place the pasta in a serving bowl. Top with the sauce. Add the reserved cooking water and parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

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Black Beans and Smoked Sausage

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small
  • 2 shallots, diced small
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving

Directions

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add carrots and shallots to the skillet and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

Add black beans and broth and bring mixture to a boil. Add sausage, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until carrots are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Serve with hearty country bread.


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Football season is back! And the return of America’s most popular sport means the return of many beloved traditions – including lots of fried and fatty foods washed down with calorie-laden drinks. When football season arrives, there seems to be a different type of energy floating around in the air. Rivalries between friends pop up for 18 weeks or so. Saturdays and Sundays (and now we can add Monday and Thursday evenings) are filled with large quantities of beer and food; not to mention, sitting in front of the TV most of the day.

Your waistline won’t be affected if you skip a workout or indulge every now and then. However, for 18 plus weeks indulging in football style food (chips, dip, pizza, wings…you know…) could lead to weight gain.

Instead of sabotaging your healthy routine, why not do something about it. Create healthier snack options and incorporate exercises throughout the day. Give these  ideas a try next time you find yourself glued to the couch watching football.

Baked pita crisps and cut-up raw veggies served with salsa, guacamole, hummus, bean or other low-fat dips.

Snack mix made with mini whole-grain cereal squares, seeds (toasted sunflower or pumpkin), unsalted nuts, mini-pretzels, dried cranberries.

Popcorn – air-popped or microwaved (save money – to make about 5 cups –  put 1/4 plain popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag, fold over the top a few times and press closed, cook on high for about 2 1/2 – 3 minutes), add 1 tablespoon olive oil or melted margarine high in omega-3’s, low in saturated fat and without trans-fat and seasonings that you like; go light on the salt.

Pistachios or peanuts in their shells slows down the eating.

Salsa: Use in place of mayonnaise-based dips to save loads of calories and fat grams.

Cut-up fruit.

Greek yogurt: Use in place of sour cream for dips. Greek yogurt offers the same flavor at a fraction of the calorie tally.

We all like to munch on crunchy snacks while watching football. However, chips and a dip are not the best option, especially when the whole bag can be devoured in the span of an hour. Why not swap the chips for nutritious veggies? Put a variety of bright colors on the table. It’s eye-catching and full of flavor to lay out carrots, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes or broccoli.

For Subs choose 100 percent whole-grain bread with fresh turkey or grilled chicken, avocado and lots of veggies. Cut the sandwiches in quarters to keep portion sizes in check.

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Who doesn’t like grilled food? Grill instead of ordering in pizza and wings.

Swap the Buffalo wings for lean chicken breast tenders. Chicken breast (without skin) is a great source of protein and a better option than fatty, breaded wings. To get your Buffalo wing fix, grab your favorite hot sauce and drizzle it on the chicken as it grills on the BBQ. Grill sliders with interesting toppings, instead of regular size burgers.

Beer and football seems to be the trendy thing. However, for every beer you drink have a glass of water.Try to limit your beer intake, as beer packs on the pounds. Have iced water with fruit slices in a pitcher. It’s easy to make and it’s full of flavor. (I like to thinly slice a lemon, a lime and an orange to add to a pitcher of ice water.)

During commercial breaks move around. Stand up and stretch or take walking breaks. Create a challenge with your friends and do x-number of push ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, planks, etc.

If you are at the game, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Get up and stretch or walk around the stadium periodically.

Remind yourself to only eat if you are hungry – not just for something to do during the game.

Here are some healthy recipes for your game day fun.

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Barbecue Spice Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 2-15 ounce cans no-salt-added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon barbecue spice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine garbanzo beans, oil, barbecue spice, paprika, chili powder, garlic salt, celery salt and onion powder.

Spread in an even layer in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Roast about 30 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring once halfway through roasting. Cool completely.

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Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lower-fat tub-style margarine (50% to 70% vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 12 cups popped popcorn

Directions

In a Dutch oven heat and stir the brown sugar, granulated sugar, margarine and salt over medium heat until just boiling and sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Add popcorn and toss until coated.

Place coated popcorn in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 300 degrees F oven for 15 minutes, stirring once. Transfer to a large piece of foil to cool.

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Italian Parmesan Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 pound homemade or frozen whole wheat bread dough, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons light butter with olive oil, melted

Directions

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Divide dough into 10 equal portions.

Roll each portion into a 15-inch-long rope.

To shape each pretzel: hold one end of a rope in each hand and form a U-shape. Cross the ends over each other and then twist. Then lift the ends across to the bottom of the U-shape; press to seal.

Arrange shaped pretzels on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with waxed paper; let stand in a warm spot for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl stir together Parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Brush pretzels evenly with the melted butter and sprinkle with the Parmesan mixture.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until browned. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack.

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Yogurt Fruit Dip

Ingredients

  • 1-6 ounce carton plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash ground cloves
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 apple, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 pear, cored and cut into wedges
  • 6 slices fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries

Directions

In a small bowl combine yogurt, maple syrup, the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, the nutmeg and cloves. If desired, sprinkle dip with additional ground cinnamon. Serve fruit with the dip.

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Grilled Shrimp with Red Pepper Dip

Make a double batch of the roasted red pepper dip and add your favorite cut up vegetables in a bowl alongside the shrimp.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen extra jumbo shrimp in shells (about 32 total)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 whole roasted red sweet peppers or use 2 whole jarred roasted peppers
  • 8 ounce carton reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Directions
Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. Thread shrimp onto small wooden (soaked in water) or metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Lightly brush shrimp with the oil.

For a charcoal grill, grill shrimp skewers on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals until shrimp are opaque, turning once halfway through grilling. Allow about  8 to 10 minutes for the shrimp. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place shrimp skewers on the grill rack directly over the heat. Cover and grill as directed.)

Place cooked shrimp skewers in a shallow dish. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours.

For dip: in a blender or food processor combine roasted peppers, sour cream, salt and black pepper. Cover and blend or process with on/off pulses until mixture is coarsely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours. Serve shrimp skewers with dip.

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Smoky Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-16-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1-14 1/2-oz can diced no-salt-added tomatoes
  • 1-15 ounce can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 ounces finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • Reduced-fat sour cream, optional

Directions

Put a large nonstick soup pot on medium-high heat and add the oil and beef. Break the meat up into small chunks with a wooden spoon. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, beef is no longer pink and no excess liquid is left in the pan (about 5 minutes).

Add remaining ingredients except the salt, pepper, cheese and sour cream. Stir, then cover the pot and cook over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly, then remove the bay leaf. Pour into serving bowls or mugs and top each with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

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Healthy Turkey Meatball Subs

Meatballs

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/4 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 bunch of parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Marinara sauce, recipe below
  • 12 small whole wheat hoagie buns or firm hot dog rolls, split and warmed
  • 12 slices (one ounce each) mozzarella cheese, cut in half

Directions

Make the marinara sauce.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further two minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature.

Once the onion mixture has cooled, add the turkey, bread crumbs, egg, salt and parsley and mix thoroughly. Using wet hands, shape tablespoons of the meatball mixture into 1 ½ inch balls and then transfer to a baking pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Bake the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Turn over halfway through baking.

Add the baked meatballs to the marinara sauce and heat.

To make the sandwiches:

Spoon the hot meatballs with some sauce over the bottoms of the rolls. Place a slice of mozzarella, cut in half, over the meatballs. Spread a little more sauce over the meatballs, then fold the tops of the rolls over and serve.

The sandwiches can be assembled and wrapped individually in foil. Rewarm the sandwiches in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes before serving.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (26-28 ounce) containers crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and the salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.


BalancedLunch

Eating a healthful lunch can help control blood glucose, hunger and weight. Lunch is a chance to keep you full until dinner and fit in some important food groups. Get more mileage out of your lunch by including fiber from whole grains and protein from low-fat dairy products and other lean protein sources.

Build a Balanced Lunch

Studies show people who tote their meals with them weigh less, eat more healthfully and spend less money.

When compiling your midday meal, remember this simple formula, even at home: whole grain + dairy/protein +vegetables = healthy lunch.

Include whole grains for the starch portion of your meal. You’ll get hearty satisfaction from grains with all their fiber and nutrients intact. This will be your main carbohydrate source.
The dairy/protein digests more slowly than carbohydrates, helping you feel satisfied and adding staying power to your lunch. Vegetables add color, flavor and antioxidants to your meal.

If you love sandwiches, use a variety of whole-grain breads, pitas and wraps. Choose lean fillings like sliced eggs, tuna fish, cheese or lean meats. Then add interest to your sandwiches with assorted greens, fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, onions, pickled peppers and tomatoes.

But sandwiches are far from your only option when you’re brown-bagging it. Last night’s dinner, anything you enjoy at home can, be packed up and eaten for lunch. In fact, you might want to make extra food for dinner, so you’ll have leftovers to bring for lunch. Leftovers are the perfect food to pack and take for lunch because you can control the portions and calories in the meal to insure it will be nutritious, filling and delicious.

For example, pack the leftovers from last night’s casserole into a reusable container that can be microwaved at the office. Add some carrot, celery and pepper strips for a hearty and satisfying lunch. To take this idea a bit further, try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, make a big pot of chili, chicken noodle soup or rice and beans and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work in a flash.

Keep it cold. For safety’s sake, pack lunch with a reusable ice pack.

Pasta Lover’s Lunch Salad. Make the salad with lean meat or fish, some cubed or shredded cheese (for protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition and use whole wheat or whole-grain pasta. Toss everything together with a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil. Pack into individual lunch containers.

Mediterranean Pita Pocket. Fill a whole wheat pita with homemade or store-bought hummus, tabbouleh and sliced cooked chicken. All you need is a piece of fruit to round out the meal.

Fruit and Cheese Plate. Fill a divided plastic container with assorted cubes or slices of cheese and easy-to-eat fruit, such as apple and pear slices, grapes, berries or melon. Add some whole-wheat crackers to your lunch.

Everything Is Better on a Mini Bagel. Whole-wheat bagels are a wonderful foundation for sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or desk all morning. Start with two mini bagels. Add tuna, smoked salmon, oven baked turkey or roast beef. Top it off with cheese, fresh tomato, onion and Romaine lettuce. Two mini bagels can supply 6 grams of fiber to the meal.

Enjoy Lunch Salads. A plastic container can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. For a Cobb salad, fill it with spinach or chopped dark green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, shredded cheese, lean ham or turkey. Or toss in the ingredients for a chicken salad: dark salad greens, shredded chicken, shredded carrots, sliced green onion and toasted sliced almonds. Pack the dressing separately and add it to the salad just before eating.

Lunches at Home

Include more whole foods and choose lunch items with higher amounts of fiber and nutrients (like calcium, protein and vitamin C). Include fewer processed foods such as cookies, chips and snacks, which have higher sodium, added sugar and saturated fat.

spicypoachedegg

Spicy Poached Eggs

5 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 large eggs

Directions
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, oregano, cayenne and salt. Add the tomato mixture to the skillet with the onions and peppers and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make 5 hollows in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs into each hole. Cover and cook until the eggs set, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot with a small whole wheat roll.

spanakopita-quiche-h-4

Spanakopita Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained well
  • 1 (9-inch) pie crust (homemade or store-bought) 
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill 

Directions
Heat oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add spinach and stir until spinach is dry, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place pie crust in a 9-inch Quiche dish or pie pan. Press into the pan, sealing any cracks. Crimp the edges.

Mix flour with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over bottom of the crust, followed by the crumbled feta cheese. Top with spinach mixture.

Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Pour over spinach.

Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake about 50 minutes or until the top is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly. Cut in to wedges and serve.

chicken-salad-rs-1213081-l

Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Pound it to an even thinness between pieces of plastic wrap.

Place the chicken in a large, wide saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.

Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the peanuts, basil and remaining salt and pepper. Toss and divide among individual plates.

unhealthy lunch

Unhealthy lunch

Lunches For Work

Taking a healthy lunch to work is one of the simplest ways to trim your budget. Most people think nothing of spending $10 or so for a restaurant lunch, but over the course of a month — or a year — the expense can really add up.
Beyond the cost savings, most meals packed at home are healthier than foods from restaurants or fast food counters. When we eat out, we’re often faced with huge portions and fattening extras — like the french fries that routinely come with sandwiches. But when you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.

tuna

Tuscan Tuna Wrap

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ounces tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped black olives
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 2 whole-wheat wraps
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

Directions

Break up the tuna in a mixing bowl and mix in the parsley, lemon, oil, tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper.  Divide the mixture between the wraps, top with spinach leaves and roll up. Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

pesto-turkey-club-1994854-x

Pesto Turkey Sandwich

If you would like a little crunch in your sandwich, add a slice of cooked turkey bacon.

1 serving

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons prepared pesto
  • 2 slices pumpernickel bread
  • 2 ounces sliced turkey
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices tomato

Directions
Spread pesto on the bread. Top 1 bread slice with turkey, lettuce, tomato and top with the remaining bread slice. Place in a large plastic sandwich bag.

corn salad

Corn & Black Bean & Mango Salad

Make ahead salad to pack for lunch. Serve with healthy toasted corn tortillas.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups frozen corn, defrosted and drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Directions
Whisk lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the corn, beans, cabbage, tomato, mango, parsley and onion; toss to coat. Sprinkle nuts on top. Refrigerate in lunch containers with a lime wedge.

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For easy summer meals, visit a local farm stand or farmers’ market and build your menu around what’s available right now, starting with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or melons. They can make delicious main dish salads or they can be stuffed with tuna fish, egg salad or chicken salad. There is nothing more delicious than a Greek Salad with hummus and pita bread or topped with deli chicken or cooked shrimp. When fruits and vegetables are this perfect, you don’t need to do very much to them.

It’s summer and the living’s easy. So why spend any time in front of a hot stove ? You won’t have to with this dinner’s recipes, which require no baking, sautéing, frying or boiling.

This menu is also great for entertaining.

Some Summer White Wines for This Dinner

Sauvignon Blanc

The clean, light taste of a Sauvignon Blanc makes it one of the best summer wines. Whether this wine is drunk alone or paired with food, it makes a great refreshing summer wine. With its herbaceous qualities, it goes well with summer salads, light flaky grilled fish and shellfish. This white wine is also the best summer wine for pairing with tomato-based dishes. Sauvignon Blanc is also sometimes called Fume Blanc.

Riesling

A semi-dry Riesling with its slight sweetness is the classic grape of Germany and many of the best Rieslings originate there, however, you can find excellent domestic Rieslings from California and the Northwest.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is the white grape version of a Pinot Noir and makes one of the best all-around summer white wines. Some of the best Pinot Gris is from France, but in the United States look for an Oregon Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is also called Pinot Grigio in some areas and is made from the same grape. The Pinot Gris from California is often called Pinot Grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy. Pinot Gris is fruity and citrusy with a slight mineral taste. Pairs well with seafood, summer pasta dishes, salads and grilled meats and vegetables.

Appetizer

Assorted Olives

Prosciutto and Pear Bites

Italian crusty bread.

 

Prosciutto and Pear Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 firm pear, such as D’Anjou
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 slices prosciutto

Directions:

Zest the lemon and stir the zest into the olive oil. Let sit while you prepare the appetizer.

Juice the lemon into a large bowl and add the two squeezed lemon halves into the bowl as well. Fill with cold water.

Core, quarter the pear and cut each quarter into 4 slices (16 slices total). Add each slice into the bowl of lemon water to prevent browning, while you cut the others .

Cut each prosciutto slice in half.

Drain the pear slices and wrap a piece of prosciutto around each. Drizzle with the reserved lemon-infused olive oil before serving.

Main Dish

Tomato Salad with Pickled Shrimp

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds assorted tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup diagonally sliced celery
  • Vinaigrette, recipe below
  • Pickled Shrimp, recipe below
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed celery leaves
  • Garnishes: lemon slices, fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Arrange tomatoes and sliced celery on a large chilled platter. Sprinkle with table salt and black pepper to taste. Drizzle with some of the Vinaigrette. Spoon Shrimp over tomatoes. Top with celery leaves. Serve with remaining Vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup spicy tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Whisk all the ingredients together. Start with 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt and taste the dressing. The tomato juice, you use, may be salty and you do not want to add too much. You can always add more.

Pickled Shrimp

Purchase shrimp cooked from the fish counter or deli.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1  1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound peeled, medium-size cooked shrimp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Stir together lemon slices, onion, olive oil, vinegar, dill, parsley, Italian seasoning and garlic in a large bowl; transfer to a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Add shrimp, turning to coat. Seal and chill in the refrigerator 2 hours but no more than 6 hours. Remove shrimp, discarding marinade. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Side Dish

Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1- 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimento or roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

Directions:

Combine beans, pimento or roasted red peppers, onion and parsley in a salad bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously. Pour dressing over beans. Mix gently and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Dessert

Ginger-Mascarpone Icebox Cake

Pair with some bright-flavored fruit, such as blueberries or slices of mango or peach.

Serves twelve.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. gingersnap crumbs, about 2-1/4 cups (from about 40 Nabisco brand cookies)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar; more for the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup minced candied (crystallized) ginger
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease it lightly. Dust the pan with a little sugar and shake out any excess.

Combine the gingersnap crumbs and butter, rubbing them together with your fingertips to combine thoroughly. Sprinkle half of the crumbs over the bottom of the pan and pat down evenly; reserve the rest.

With an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and candied ginger until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the mascarpone and heavy cream and whip until the mixture is thoroughly combined and just holds peaks. Don’t over whip or the mixture may separate.

Carefully spoon half of the mascarpone cream over the gingersnap crust, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle half of the remaining crumbs over the mascarpone cream in the pan.

Top with remaining mascarpone cream and finish with the remaining crumbs. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, warm a sharp knife under hot water and dry it off. Cut one slice, clean the knife and warm it again before cutting the next slice.



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